DIY power cord / cords - really good


How to make a phenomenal change in the musicality of your system, with the equipment you currently have!

The obvious changes will include; quieter/darker background (less noise), richer harmonic structure (closer to the live instruments), much more detail without harshness or a “thinning” of the sound, better hall ambience (when present), lots of things hidden in the mix (creaking chairs, droning air conditioner, musicians’ hands on an instrument, or page turning, etc.) become noticeable, better dynamics, an easier to listen to system.

But….. with all the above mentioned audiophile changes you will have trouble (at least I do) listening for all the changes. You will become involved in the music and when you get to the end of the performance you will realize you “forgot” to listen for that specific event or nuance that you usually listen to, to evaluate. You may have to play the cut 2, or more, times and work hard on concentrating to keep your audiophile hat on, otherwise you will keep getting lost in the music. Don’t you just hate when that happens?

Disclaimer: Please be aware. I am not intimating that you or I can produce a DIY power cord that is equal in build quality and/or sonics of any specifically available retail product. I am, however, saying, quite strongly, that with a little bit of $$ and a lot of labor you can scare yourself at how truly good your system can sound.

DIY power cords using “dynamic filtering” techniques – Dynamic filtering is a term/phrase coined by one well know manufacturer and copied by at least one other, I believe. I/we owe a great debt of gratitude to this manufacture for sharing with the audio community, and therefore me too, some of their technologies and assembly techniques.

As one goes up in a particular retail power cord line there are a number of additions. I have either not yet include, or don’t currently have a way to include, like cryogenic cable cooking; AVM damping, special contact treatment.

So far I have built 6 different power cords using the dynamic filtering, and the single conductor approach.

A company (that shall remain unnamed, you may contact me directly for more details if you wish; through Audiogon ) has graciously included a three part video on their website and YouTube on how to build their entry level power cord. They challenge the DIY’er to build two cords and compare them.

I took their CEO at his word and just went for the final cord, with a few changes. His entry level cord is a three conductor 14 awg solid core (single conductor per wire) cord. Because I have a “star ground” system, only one component grounded, and all the rest of the system grounded through it, I did not need 3 conductors in the first cord I built.

Because the four best cords in my system were Element Basic (about $60 to $70) 10 awg cords, which had bested 3 other PC’s in the under $100.00 price range and a $300 pc, in my system, I decided to start with 10 awg

Cord #1) Ungrounded, two wire
IEC = cheap in the range from $2 to $5, designed for 14 awg or less
Two 10-awg, single strand, slipped straight through outer sheath
1” od, ¾” id nylon reinforced vinyl tubing/outer sheath
Very fine steel shot used for metal polishing
Sturdy three prong plug end.
Placed on preamp. Big improvement in the directions mentioned above.

Cord #2) Ungrounded, two wire
IEC = same as above
Three 12 awg, single strand, braided, ground not connected at either end
1” od, ¾” id nylon reinforced vinyl tubing
Very fine steel shot used for metal polishing
Sturdy thre prong plug end.
Not as good as the 10 awg, although still quite good.

Cord #3) Grounded, three wire (for use on the grounded component)
IEC – same as above ($2)
Three 10 awg, single strand, grounded
3 runs of 5/8” od, 3/8” id nylon reinforced vinyl tubing
Very fine steel shot used for metal polishing
Sturdy three prong plug end.
Two ½” brass pipe nipples cut in half along the long dimension and clamped with hose clamp on the load and neutral tubing legs.
Better than cord#1.

Cord #4) Grounded, three wire
IEC = Marinco 320 much heavier brass and easier to work with at 4 to 10 times the cost.
Three 6 awg single strand, grounded. The wire was ground wire from Home Depot, I wrapped it in
Teflon plumber’s tape and then heat shrink (this wire is too big for the cheap IEC)
Three runs of ¾”od, ½” id nylon reinforced vinyl tubing.
Very fine steel shot used for metal polishing
Home depot, Hubbel Valise knock off plug $7.
Best cord so far, by far. I am sure the 6 awg makes a difference.

Cord #5) Ungrounded, two wire
IEC – same 320 type
Two 6 awg treated as above but entire length cleaned with Brasso before assembly
Two runs of ¾”od, ½” id nylon reinforced vinyl tubing.
Relatively fine BRASS shavings from metal finishing (not nearly as much mass)
Home depot, Hubbel Valise knock off plug.
#5 was not as good as #4. I believe because the brass was shavings and therefore contained quite a bit more air/less mass than the steel shot and the “dynamic filter”ing was not as effective.

Cord#6) Identical to #5 but with steel shot So much better than #5 that no A’ B’ comparison was necessary. I will take the brass out of #5 and refill it with steel shot. I am giving power cord #2 to an audiophile/engineer friend who has donated countless hours of his labor to my system, at no charge.

DAC, an AC conditioner, and preamp now all have 6 awg pc. Both amps have 10 awg, waiting for me to build some additional 6 awg for them.

So, at least for now, I have reached the end of my DIY power cord development. For about $5 per foot for a two leg power cord or possibly $7.50 a foot for a grounded power cord, plus the cost of IEC and plug ends and two to three hours of work per cord you can have a power cord that will most likely compete in the $1,000.00 to $2,000.00 range.

It is very simple to assemble. Special tools, other than a glue gun, are not necessary, but do make the job easier, (ie Dremel for polishing the brass and copper, heat gun for shrinking the heat shrink). If you don’t especially like DIY projects or earn more than $400 to $600 per hour than this might not be the project for you. You can buy retail, save a lot of time, potentially have better part quality, and an even better result.

However, if you don’t fall into either of the two above categories, for in the range of $45 to $60 for each power cord (don’t forget all the labor), you can make a sonic improvement in your system that will be hard for most to imagine.

Oh, and don’t forget YMMV.
Have fun,
Bruce
P.S. My current virtual system http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?vevol&1200440547&view
bruce_weiland
Better link to system.

http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?vevol&1200440547
Thanks for the tips. I am also putting together diy power cords with some success. I just can say yes its worth the effort if u have the time and patience working with the project. Mine has proven to be a worthwhile substantial improvement in my system sonically in every parameter,
and it has awoke my little 1.8 watt SET Integrated Amp to new life.
I hope others will carefully give it a try and do more diy for power cables and ic's as well.
Another tip is installing Deflex pads on the outside of the sleeve and tighten down with tie wraps and then cover up with heat shrink tubing.
The Deflex will really drop the noise floor way way down and add as a great damping material for ic's and I suppose speaker cable and power cords. Although I have only tried it on my power cord with tremendous success.
Don C.
Happy Listening
Don,

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing your experience. I need more info. I will email you.

I know I saw somewhere, someone was using 4 awg. It may be you. I was reticent to try 4 awg, but with your encouragement I think I will.

I was going over my system in my mind today and realized I need at least 7 more power cords. A custom USB cable, some speaker wires and a pair of ICs to compare with my carbon.

Bruce
I'm wondering if we can sell our DIY cables here at A'gon?
Nasaman,

Well I am sure you could, but I would feel a little bit weird doing so.

The un-named, but well known, cable manufacturer listed above has graciously shared some of their research (possibly intellectual property) and results with the audio community allowing me, and others, to benefit from our DIY efforts.

I think building a cord so similar to their's and selling it for our profit would be a disservice to the manufacturer.

Now if you had built a few as you experimented your way up the chain and did not need some of them. I think moving those along to someone who did not have the skills nor interest for DIY, at a nominal price for your labor and materials, MIGHT be OK.

But as an ongoing "retail" enterprise, well I am not so sure.

Additionally, these cords are quite labor intensive, when done correctly. What I would have to charge to get me to build them for others, might not make them any bargain at all.

Just my $.02 (before the coming hyperinflation) on the subject.

Bruce
As to the cost of a 4 AWG grounded cord.

While the parts could be under $70, given the hours it takes to do it correctly, and factoring those hours away from family, friends, or what other activity I might be doing, LIKE LISTENING TO MY SYSTEM, I imagine I would want $750 to $1000 per cord. And then it still might be difficult to get me to build one for someone else.

At that price there are a lot of extremely good power cords on the used market that I am sure would compete well with my 4 AWG DIY and might even have a much better synergistic effect in certain systems.

Having built 6 of these cords, so far, and now with plans for some additional experimentation and at least as many more to build, I think what the manufacturer charges for their cords presents a VERY FAIR VALUE.

Bruce
Hi, Bruce, I'm sending this to a friend, he's a big diy-er, sounds most interesting, so thanks for that. I did look at your system, and noticed the acoustic fins you have around your ceiling. What effect did you notice from using them? Easy to make?
Thanks again
Chas
Chas,

They are really easy.

I made them over 15 years ago. I think I got the idea from Michael Greene and his "audio flags", corner tunes and other things.

I took some wall insulation fiber glass, from an extra roll I had laying around, and removed the aluminum. Then I went to the fabric store and bought some really cheap fabric. Then I asked my wife to show me how to use her sewing machine.

I made a bunch of the right triangle shaped cloth sleeves. I used some scissors to cut the fiber glass to fit, stuffed it into the sleeves, and then sewed up the short length of the triangle. Done, completed, and used for the next 15+ years very successfully to kill slap echo.

I use push pins to put them up. It takes just two.

Bruce
Chas,

Forgot to answer the other part of your question.

They help get the reverberation from the edges of the room out of the sound of your system/music.

Well worth the effort. One could use 3 to 5 per wall to ceiling interface. I used a lot more, because I could.

Bruce
Pictures

I have a 6 page word doc with 9 pictures, some simple captions and the link to the manufacture's 30 minute video on assembly.

It is about 3 mb. Email me if you would like a copy.

If your email severer will not accept a 3 mb let me know and I will see about breaking it into 6 smaller pieces of a page each.

Bruce
Thanks Bruce, I'll see if I can whip a stitch! I do have the old corner tunes from michael green I still have up, they blend in so well I forget they're there. But I do like to experiment, so I'll let you know if I have a breakthrough.
Chas
I had a guy ask me what tubing was used. I didn't really know. I bought all the different sizes I used at Home Depot in 10 foot rolls.

I Just checked. The vinyl tubing, which is reinforced with nylon thread, is for low pressure water use is made by Watts.

The price tag/skew lists www.watts.com. I checked there but did not quickly come across their water tubing.
Several have asked me for the Word doc with pictures. I have that as a single file, which is about 3MB or six individual pages that are 0.5 to 0.8 MB each.

It is easier for me to send the all inclusive file, however, if your email account will not allow you to get a file that larger just ask me to sent each page individually.
Hello, and Bruce or someone send me the files please? I'd like to try this as my weekend project. Happy listening :)
I just sent the file out to a couple of Agoners. If you were not one of them email me through Agon and I will get back to you.
Posted online. You can see pictures here;

http://www.carveraudio.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=39&t=11564&start=0
Bruce
I'm dying to know how your cords are made (specifically) and even more curious about the steel shot...where on earth does that go?
Templetech,

Just paste the link in the post above yours into your browser. It should give you all the detail you need, along with pictures.

:-)

Bruce
I made several DIY PCs similar to Bruce's approach, and packed with Brass powder Cu70Zn30 -300 mesh with very good results. “Dynamic Filtering” technique works well on speaker cables also.
The first DIY or non stock power cord I made consisted of 12/2 romex, a cheap dime store male end and the stock iec from the crappy Quad 63 power cords.

Quite the improvemnt.

This led me to numerous experiments with different ends and wire configurations.

I never could better my Annacondas, however I did get very good results with top of the line male and female connectors and cables from Furutech, but that wasn't cheap.

My suggestion is to replace the molded ends on stock cords with better ones from Furutech,WattGate,Oyaide etc.

Then experiement with cabling choices.

The other tip, is that once you settle on a pleasing sound, replace all your power cords with this recipe.
Hello i know this is an ooolddd thread but the diy cord bug has bitten! Lots of great info..just wondering if bruce is still around here and if so can he email me that file with the pictures and stuff...would be much appreciated!

Cheers all
Just a little warning: solid core AC power cords are illegal for sale as they can be dangerous to operate. If the solid core breaks there is the potential (pun intended) to short to other parts of the circuit. The cable is most likely to fail at the ends by the connectors- its a very real danger.
If you want to try another DIY design take a look at...

http://image99.net/blog/files/be8de0c383c5434907610d6b55049e69-75.html 

It employs a helix geometry and you can tailor the gauge to suite the component.

I use a 12 gauge for source components and 10 gauge for amps.

But I have tried 16 gauge with great results on smaller components.

They are very flexible, so no problems installing them in tight spaces.

Most of my cables are 4-6 ft long and I also have a 9ft extension cable the works exceptionally well

Regards...

Awesome fellas thanks for the info!!
Had a look over that page wilie! Looks interesting!...at the moment i have pretty much bought the materials needed for a dynamic filtering cable...its good to see that those sonar quest plugs have been used....i was looking for a cheaper alternative than all the expensive plugs around...i bought a pair of those and i bought a pair of the vanguard rhodium ones...so am definitely keen to try both cables!!
@grindcore - I have also used the Vanguard, both the gold plated and the silver plated versions.

If you lookup the conductivity of the various metals you will see that silver is the most conductive metal.   Rhodium is far down the list, but is much more durable than the silver plating.

I did observe that the dynamics using silver plated were a little faster - i.e. as opposed to gold plated version of the Sonar Quest, so I believe there is a little impact when using other metals.

I am told that the issues with metals other than silver, is that they cannot be plated directly onto copper - there has to be another metal plated onto the copper first. This maybe the reason for the slower dynamics observed? or perhaps the silver plated version just made better contact.

I found silver plated Sonar Quest to be a lot more durable. The plating is yet to wear off after two+ years of use - and since I am using a Pass and Seymour MRI grade outlet, which clamps like a vice, I consider that very good indeed. 

But from a sound quality perspective - the Sonar Quest and Vanguard  appear to provide a similar audible performance.

Regards...
Thanks again for your info!! Good to hear about those plugs...thank you...

I couldnt find silver plugs in the AU style plug so settled for the rhodium because of its apparent sound signature...that cord will be used for my ear 834p phono which is quit laid back sounding...my system is all tube...and i have never bothered with cables and such before so i dont even know what to expect..if anything when i change them out...working on some diy audio connects as well...anything you could recommend in that department?

Cheers!! 



working on some diy audio connects as well...anything you could recommend in that department?
Funny you should ask about Audio Connects :-)

Same geometry - just a smaller scale...

IC’s...
http://image99.net/blog/files/4127b5fe2694586e383104364360373b-74.html

I highly recommend the KLE Innovations Harmony RCA’s mentioned in the above link - i am yet to find an RCA that even comes close to their level of perofrmance. The Silver Harmony are theri best "value", but their Absolute Harmony is definitely worth the money

Speaker Cables......
http://image99.net/blog/files/d048bbacfce9bcad4a025be804771d9a-76.html

Be aware that both of the above cable take considerable to burn in before they sound their absolute best - but they do sound great from the get-go

Regarding...

i have never bothered with cables and such before so i dont even know what to expect..if anything when i change them

The IC’s and speaker cables should improve things - how much depends on what cables you are now using - but I am yet to find a cable that performs as good as the Helix designs - and that includes some pretty high priced products from some well known cable brands.

Power cables are a little different - I have only had real experience on Solid State components.

The smaller the power supply the more noticeable the improvement - e.g.
- my amp has a large toroid transformer with large capacitors.
- my streaming device/DAC has a much smaller power supply
- the improvements were more noticeable on the streaming device, but the amp did improve on the reproduction of very fine details like venue acoustics and the image was considerably more accurate with more space around artists.

Tubes components may yield a little different results because of their higher working voltages, but I have not had a chance to explore the effect of these cables on tube gear personally.

I did get some feedback related to tube components from one person that tried the power cables and he reported a discernible improvement in sound quality.

Hope that helps



Thanks again very much for all this info...lots of food for thought!! At the moment my rca are store bought car audio numbers...fairly cheap...around 80 bucks a pair...but really want to get in to the diy side of things...my speaker cable is just standard cable 10awg...plain copper! So i think there will be some improvement there! Thanks again for all this!!
The speaker cables look tricky to make!!??
If you are referring to the black/orange neutral wires - they are purchased already twisted, so they are in fact one of the easiest cables to make - but they sound amazing.

Th photos at the end of the link are for a bi-wire cable, which is a little harder but not too bad.

I am assuming that your speaker cables you describe are "twin-lead" with the live and neutral joined by their insulation?

Try pulling them apart and seperating them by 1-2 inches - you should hear
- better image
- improved bass control and depth
-improved clarity

For IC's - I urge you to try the KLE Innovations Silver harmony - they are extremely good

Regards...
none of the above will "make a phenomenal change" but search up the bottle head power cord 

if your transformers are so poorly designed that any AC power cord can make a difference, that is the one that will
@randy-11 - RE:

none of the above will "make a phenomenal change" but search up the bottle head power cord

It sounds as though you have done some comparisons between the cords mentioned and the Bottlehead?

What equipment did you use for the comparison?
Was the cord on an amp, or component, or both?
What was the make/model of components/amps?

Please provide more details as to your findings - I would be most interested to know what improvements the Bottlehead provided and the cords you have compared it to.

I would specifically like to understand in what areas you found the Bottlehead to be superior to the Helix DIY cable and whether the Helix cable was built using the conductors and connectors identified on the web site - or some other products (in which case, which ones) .

RE: ....
if your transformers are so poorly designed that any AC power cord can make a difference, that is the one that will
Well, from my observations, I believe that in more budget based components the power supplies are "generally" the first place where corners are cut...
- The transformers are less than optimal
- the circuitry uses cheaper components
- even the circuit board design traces lack the required density of copper
- Wal-Wart power supplies are the worst form of power supply.

It is not that ANY power cord will make a difference, but I have observed well designed power cords can contribute greatly to sound quality over the stock cables provided with the component.

Some of the components I have used to audition power cables include ...
- Yamaha Mini System
- Cambridge Audio DACmagic
- Cambridge Audio Phono stages (MM and MM/MC versions)
- Schiit Bifrost DAC
- Bluesound Node 2, PowerNode2 and Pulse mini
- Simaudio Moon LP5.3 RS phono stage
- Naim Nait 5i mk II

For some components, I have observed some very discernible improvements in sound quality by simply replacing the power cord - more so with those at the top of the above list

I have also tried the following cable construction techniques and geometries...
- DH Labs and Furutech bulk cable
- Braided Romex
- Braided 12 gauge Extension cord from Home Depot
- braided DH Labs and Furutech
- Helix geometry using Romex
- Helix geometry constructed as per the link in a previous post

The list above is in the order of least improved - to most improved

All components are designed to a price point - the more "budget oriented" a component is the more significant I observed the improvement to be.

As stated - my observations apply the components at hand and may not apply to other components of a similar price point

My observations were collected over a four year period of power cord and Interconnect design and development with intense audition periods.

FYI - Each power cord was allowed to settle and burn in before completing any assessment of its abilities.

Looking forward to your feedback

Many Thanks - Steve
what do you think is a "well designed power cord"?
There are several commercial products on the market that look very interesting...

- Nordost has some very good PC’s. They tend to be very expensive, but they do work - I have observed some good results from 2 of their top end PC’s.

- Anti Cables have an interesting braided design, but I’ve never tried one of their cables

- KLE Innovations probably has a couple of good performers, but that opinion is based on their other cables, which I know are top performers - they would not release a cable if it did not provide any benefit

- The new C-Marc from Less-Loss also looks like a very interesting cable geometry and their older DFPC cables use a braided geometry

As you can probably see - I gravitate towards cables that employ unusual conductor geometry, because from my own experiments with braiding and the Helix design, I find they actually provide some very real benefits which the bulk cables alone do not provide

I have tried (or borrowed) a couple of esoteric cables, one of which cost in excess of $1500 (employing solid silver conductors), but to be honest - they were no better than the cables I made by putting connectors on bulk cable from Furutech and DH Labs.

The best PC I have used to date is my own DIY Helix Design posted earlier.

My first Helix cable was simply made from Romex in order to prove that there was some benefit to that geometry - I was not expecting such an improvement.

I then tried some different combinations of conductors and settled on those posted on the link because they offered the best "VALUE"

One could use better quality conductors, but that would involve some very expensive silver conductors that would drive the cost up and I doubt would offer any significant benefit.

Cables are no different from components
- each offers a certain level of performance
- if one cable does not perform up to the abilities of the other cables (and components) in a system - it becomes the weakest link
- trying to determine which cable is the weakest can be very hard work

I was fortunate to be asked to review the products from KLE Innovations over the course of about 2-3 years, so all of the cables in my system were top performers.

This made the task of trying different power cables much easier, because the IC’s and speaker cables allowed me to hear the differences between PC’s.

I have since developed the Helix design for IC’s and Speaker Cables as well and find it provides exceptional performance and very good value

Unfortunately - not everyone is into DIY, so they must rely on commercially available products.

The list above are just some of the cables I have looked at over the years, but I must admit, many of the products out there are only marginally better than some of the better stock power cables that can come with a component

That does not mean third party PC’s are of no benefit - it just takes a lot of effort to home in on the good ones.

Hope that helps



I'll guarantee that if we did an ABC comparison you wouldn't tell one power chord from another!  IMO
Hi Don,

Please list the one's you have compared.

Dave
I've compared quite a few power chords and D_minor is often a winner
I agree with Ralph above regarding using solid core, it was intended for use in walls etc. 
Recently we were asked to re terminate some solid core pc's from a known UK supplier that makes his own and were pretty appalled at the termination quality, but the main concern was that many of the grub screws had become loose over time, so please do check them periodically if you do make your own..
Hello willie just a question on your ICs the cat 5 twisted pair is soldered to only one end of the rca and nuetra cable...to the outer shield of the rca connector..Then the conductor wire through the teflon tube to the conductor pin on the rca?
Also im just trying to work out teflon tube size in mm which i have done..but the signal conductor wire is 10awg? Or 14awg? Im getting a bit confused with your write up...and is the signal wire completely stripped before its inserted into the inner teflon tube? Cheers mate!!
Ooook! Ive now made..the helix speaker cables...a helix power lead and a power lead like no.4 in the original post..just waiting on materials to make the helix interconnects! Straight off the bat those helix speaker cables made an obvious improvement over the standard cables i was using...very impressed with them! But the power leads i think are gonna take some time to see if there is any improvement in my set up!! Time will tell!!
As atmasphere pointed out, solid core cables are not legal for sale. That is mostly why you need a power cord in the first place. So why not run the in-the-wall run cable directly to your distribution gang or directly to your device?