DIY AC Cable advice


I would like to make some power cords for a DAC and CD Player/ Transport. I currently use Elrod signature cables and was curious if there was a DIY cable that has an Elrod type of sound? Budget would be in the $500.00 price range.

Thanks,
Scott
andirocks
I haven't heard Elrod, but have tried more than a few commercial and DIY PCs over the years. I'm currently settled on Furutech DIY solutions. Try Alpha 3 bulk cable with rhodium plated solid copper plugs at close-out pricing from Parts Connexion. A 1M PC is inside your budget.
Good advice from Dgarretson. I happily use the Furutech Alpha 3 cords on my monoblocks, but they are unshielded. For source gear, I suggest Furutech FP-3TS20 or Neotech NEP-3002. Both are shielded and both are made with with PC-OCC copper. I prefer gold (not rhodium) plugs and iecs
I suggest connecting all three wires (N, L and G) at each end but connecting the braid shield to ground ONLY at the plug end. Good luck.
Agree with Mitch2 on using shielded cables for source components, especially digital.
I have built a cord using Acrolink 7 nines copper and Oyaide C-004 and P-004 connectors which I think sounds outstanding on my W4S Dac 2 DSD. Very dynamic, smooth, and detailed all at the same time. It replaced several 'trys', some of which were actually pretty decent, including a Tek-Line PC12?, TG-Audio HSRi, Pangea 14SE, and a few others. I think Acrolink's 7N is a significant step forward from the 6N wire from only a year or two ago. And whatever they are doing with the 'stress free' manufacturing and the new dielectrics must be contributing as well. Very refined sound.
I also use the Acrolink 7 nines copper cord (as recommended by Keithtexas) with excellent results. I must confess that I have not heard the Elrod cable and so do not know the "Elrod type Sound". Moreover I not have a stand-alone DAC and so cannot predict how the cable will interface with your DAC. I made two cables, one used on my McCormack LD2 analog preamp and the other on my Odyssey Khartago extreme power amp. I used Oyaide C-009 and P-009 plugs. Oyaide manufacture connectors using various materials to enable you to tailor the sound you desire by using one or other of their connectors. I used the 009 connections because they provide a warmer sound.
How much DIY effort do you want to get into?

If you simply want to put a couple of connectors onto some bulk cable, then ignore this post.

If your DIY skills go beyond that and you want to actually make your own high performance "cable" then click on

DIY: Spiral Power Cable ($$80)title

I've tried Power cables up to $1500 and they do not compare to the tonal qualities (extremely neutral), dynamic performance and low noise floor that these cables provide.

They take around 300 hours to fully burn in, but you may even hear better performance after around 450 hour - depending on the attached component(s)

Regards...
Hello williewonka and thank you for your extensive insight on DIY power cables.  Could you please be more specific as to which power cables you compared yours? Have you compared your cables to a Harmonix Studio Master or X-DC2? Also, am i understood you correctly that you preferred Sonar Quest Silver Plated Copper IEC/mains connectors to Wattgate and Furutech? Could you please be more specific as to what was better with SQ vs. Wattgate and Furutech? Tks, for your time.  Appreciated
Here are a few other DIY power cord options.
1. Western Electric Wire: Triode Wire Labs is known for good-sounding power cables at reasonable prices.  Based on what I have read about the wire they use, I believe their 10-plus and 7-plus American Series cables are made from NOS vintage Western Electric 10awg wire.  I believe well-regarded power cords that were formerly made by Mojo Audio  were also constructed using  this wire.  I suggest starting with the WE 10awg wire, and either braiding it (as done by TWL) or twisting it, and then connecting it to the very good Furutech FI-11 (Cu) plugs and iecs.  Of course, you can experiment with different plugs but the Furutech plugs and iecs are the best sounding I have used (including Oyaide) and the FI-11 copper plugs/iecs are synergistic with the NOS WE wire.  I suggest using 4 of the 10awg wires (twisted, or braided like the TWL 7-plus cable) for power amps and two 10awg wires (twisted like the TWL 10-plus) for source components.  If you twist the 4 wires, I suggest connecting the positive and negative in a star-quad configuration where the opposite wires in the twist are connected to each other.  The ground wire should be wrapped/spiraled around the primary conductors  in the opposite direction of the twist used for those conductor wires.  If a shield is desired (highly recommended for source components and preamps) use a tinned copper braid shield placed directly over the primary conductors and then wrap/spiral the ground wire around the assembly, outside of the braid shield.  I would connect the braid shield to ground only at the source end.  Of course, connect the ground wire at both ends.  To be clear, I am not suggesting the end result will be exactly like the TWL cables, because they also treat their cables using aCryoProcessDeep that cryogenically treats the cables with a Helium immersion that is said to "represent the highest state of the art of cryogenic processing."  They also employ something called passive ground plane technology that is claimed to "ensure exceptional passive noise suppression and RFI/EMI rejection."  

2. New Furutech Wire: A manufacturer I occasionally communicate with informed me about new wire being made by Furutech.  These include FP-S022/032/055N, which are  Nano Power cables in 15, 12 and 10awg, that are impregnated with the Furutech Nano fluid (i.e., "We’ve combined our legendary Alpha-OFC conductors, which are treated cryogenically and demagnetized in a patented two-step process, with a new transmission enhancer known as Nano Liquid. The molecules in Nano Liquid are so small (approximately 8 nanometers in diameter, or 8/1,000,000th of a millimeter) that they finely “coat” the Alpha-OFC and smooth out all microscopic surface irregularities that can affect both signal transfer and impedance. That means, quite simply, that there is a greater contact area for the conductor."  Furutech also has new FP-TCS21/31/35 PC-TripleC Power Cable, which uses a fixed angle, continuous transport, forged conductor.  I cannot say which of these cables are better, the Nano or the TripleC cables, but I can say the manufacturer I speak with likes the Nano cables better than the already very good FP-Alpha 3 and I will be receiving some of the Nano cable in 10awg next week so will be able to try it out myself.  

3. Furutech makes 12awg OCC bulk stranded wire in PVC (UL-SJT) that should be suitable for power cables and is nicely flexible.  I suspect this would sound good and would be a good starting point for some "from scratch" DIY power cables.  I would like to hear it in a four-wire, star-quad or braided configuration (aggregate 9awg) similar to that discussed above in option 1.

With any DIY, and particularly power cables, do your research and make sure you are confident in the materials and construction because these will not be UL approved so the end result will be used at your own risk.  
mitch2 Thank you for your respond. However, if i understood correct, williewonka suggests that Sonar Quest Silver Plated Copper connectors, for about $30 for both ends vs. about $80-200 with Furuthech, sonically, are as good or better. Thats what i’m trying to clarify.
I've used Belden 83808 Teflon insulated, double shielded, 12 gauge silver plated copper and wattgate connectors to make a very nice power cord. Stiff but good sounding. A little black tech flex over the red Teflon looks nice, too.
DVAVC - Apologies for the delay in responding
RE:...
Hello williewonka and thank you for your extensive insight on DIY power cables. Could you please be more specific as to which power cables you compared yours? Have you compared your cables to a Harmonix Studio Master or X-DC2? Also, am i understood you correctly that you preferred Sonar Quest Silver Plated Copper IEC/mains connectors to Wattgate and Furutech? Could you please be more specific as to what was better with SQ vs. Wattgate and Furutech? Tks, for your time. Appreciated
Here's a quick summary of what I have tried...

  • My first power cord was 10 gauge Fututech bulk cable with gold plated copper IEC and Mains connectors from Vanguard
  • Followed by DH Labs Power Plus (same connectors)
  • I then tried various braided variants i.e. the three conductors were braided - I tried Romex, inexpensive Extension Cord and conductors from  DJ Labs Power Plus bulk cable
  • At this time I discovered the Silver Plated Copper Sonar Quest connectors, which improved the performance of cables even further (see more details below)
  • I thought I had reached the performance limit of DIY when I tried removing the conductors from the DH Labs Bulk cable and braided them - this resulted in improved dynamics, more clarity and larger image
  • I then tried a Signal Cables Silver Resolution, but found the braided DH Labs to be better, so I sold it
  • Around this time a friend brought round a couple of very expensive cables from Neotech
  • While playing with power cables I also experimented with IC's and the very latest design of that has a helix neutral would around the signal wire.
  • Since this worked so well I thought I'd try it out on a power cable in my previous post
Personally, I have tried (on loan) a very expensive silver power cable from China (cannot remember the name) and the Silver Revolution PC from Signal Cables.
A friend brought two expensive Neotech Power cables - one around $1500 CDN. 
At the time of these auditions, I had been using my braided Furutech cables, which I found outperformed each of the cables identified above.

I am now using yet another variant of the spiral power cable which can be seen here ... http://www.image99.net/blog/files/be8de0c383c5434907610d6b55049e69-75.html

This has improved on the performance of the braided Furutech cables and the older Spiral design above by a considerable margin.

IEC/MAINS connectors:
I have not tried Furutech connectors - just their bulk cable

I have tried Wattgate Connectors and did not like their cable clamping design. I also found them to lack the dynamics and imaging of the Silver Plated Copper from Sonar Quest

The Gold Plated Copper from Vanguard are a little more affordable, but again, the dynamics, Image and clarity of the Sonar Quest are better. However - even the Vanguard outperformed the Wattgate

If you have any more questions ask away :-)

Regards...



 



Thanks williewonka, appreciated. Will definitely try this soon. I bought Sonar Quest rhodium plated so far, was curious to try them Have you try those?

Dvavc - Based on cunductivity, silver being the best, I did not bother trying anything else.

Other metals may be harder and more durable, but I consider conductivity to be the most important asset of any metal used in audio applications.

Having removed the plugs from the outlet several times since they were installed, I was pleasantly surprised to find the silver plating had not worn through to the copper, so it must be quite thick, which is good  and considering skin effect, could mean the bulk of current transfer is via the silver plating.

Another factor is that when using some other metals as a plating finish requires a third metal to be used as a base on the copper before the final finish. The combination of three metals with differing conductivity introduces yet more barriers to the flow of current.

So I stuck with the simplest approach - silver on copper 👍

Regards
Williwonka- Great information and very timely for me. 

I have two questions, if you will. 

1. What stud size on the spades?
2. Do you have additional sourcing information? I can only find tin plated or really expensive spades, e.g. Cardas. 

Thank you. 
1. They would be #8 or #10 - 10 gauge spades
2. There are a number of electronics retailers online - like this one

https://www.grainger.com/product/3M-12-to-10-AWG-Standard-Fork-WP5825290/_/N-qe7?EndecaKeyword=spade...

I have not tried this company because I have a local supply company

The plating is immaterial since the crimping and the clamping plates in the connectors punch right through the very thin plating layer

Any more questions - ask away :-)
Thanks, I was looking for bare copper, and having a hard time.