Do power cords really matter?

I'm sure this has been discussed ad nauseum in the past, but while reading an ad for a power cord, I've had a very simplistic thought on which I would enjoy hearing other's opinions.
Case in point : The idea of dedicated lines appealed to me, but as we will be moving in the not too distant future, I just grabbed a left over roll of 14-3 Romex and strung about 60 ft. through the basement, and terminated in a box w/ a couple of audio grade duplexes. I did run the ground wire directly outside to a separate ground rod. (I realize for optimum performance I should have several runs to separate amp, digital, analog, etc.) My question is this: am I really to believe the last 6 ft. of power delivery can be that critical, when it has already traveled a much greater distance in ordinary wire. As we use outlets for convenience only, why not just terminate a 6 ft piece of Romex w/ high grade connectors? Are we just buying eye candy? Have we been duped w/ the hype?
Without having studied power conditioners, perhaps they can actually "clean" the raw power electronically?
Thank you for enduring my Sunday morning musings - all opinions cheerfully received.
Best regards,
If people would stop thinking of power cords as an extension of the wall outlet and instead think of them as an extension of the power supply ( with the potential for various amounts of tuning / filtration / impedance alterations included ), this "debate" might have ended a long time ago.

Yes, they do matter. Sean
I now believe in BOTH good quality outlets and good quality power cords-- and I've actually tried a bunch of both of them. How could one believe that one is important but not the other? Sean said it well. Cheers. Craig
Yes, in my limited auditioning of different power cords, they do make a difference. However, I have found that in-line power conditioners for each components makes a much more siginificant sonic difference than power cords.

My in-line power conditioners take the place of power cords and each power conditioner costs about the same as a very nice power cord.

Therefore, I now have three Foundation Research in-line conditioners. Two LC-1's for the source and pre and an LC-2 for the amplifier.

However, before investigating, auditioning, and perhaps purchasing power cords or any other equipment, I would recommend that you first install three (not just one) dedicated circuits/lines using a min. of 12 ga or preferably 10ga for your components with a seperate ground or no grounding at all. This inexpensive step alone will really clean up your electrical line and minimize any AC noise currently reaching your components.

Your amp will really benefit from having it's own dedicated line. Your source (assuming it's a digital source) generates lots of AC noise back into the line into the pre and/or amp as well. Therefore, the source needs it's own dedicated line.

The above will not make your system sound better, but will really help when it comes to auditioning any component in the future including power cords.

Not this again. A power cord is not an extension of a wall outlet. It is an extension of the cable leading to the wall outlet. And yes, there are all sorts of ways you can play with that power. But not to worry, Tburn, you are not the only person in the world who finds the notion that this can affect the sound implausible. Still, there will be those who believe that it does, which is why such products exist.
The best response to this I ever heard was it's not the last 6' that matter, rather it's the FIRST 6' that make such a big difference.
I ordinarily defer to Sean in matters technical, finding him a knowledgable and reliable guide. But here he is wrong. The power cord is not an extension of the equipment power supply, it is the termination at the equipment of a long transmission line extending back all the way to the generation plant. All those miles and miles of copper, aluminum, transformers, switches, pole jacks, and various paraphernalia to the contrary notwithstanding there are, as bomarc notes, individuals who are convinced that the last 60 inches make a critical difference.
Will, if i get my act together here ( i'm working on it ), i'll soon be doing some testing that should be able to document the differences amongst power cords. Once i can do that, i should be able to come up with a design that is a more effective "filter". If the filter action is high enough and someone has enough "junk" coming into the line, the cord should be able to make an undeniably audible difference. Sean
Many of us do believe that power cords make a difference. Some of us believe that they make a huge difference. My suggestion is that if you are truly interested in knowing/hearing the difference, try borrowing power cords from a few of your audiophile friends. Listen for yourself, then decide. (I'm assuming, of course, that you are unbiased enough to give it a try).

In my humble opinion, they make a huge difference.
Tburn, you don't have much to lose by tryng a few different brands. There are some very good quality pc's around here at Audiogon at very reasonable prices which can easily be sold if not to your liking. You stand to gain an improved listening experience. Bishop, have you ever tried a few different power cords?
I don't "believe" they make a difference, they do. It is simply a matter of trying a few and unless your a poor listener or have a crappy system you will notice a difference. I really don't care anymore about the science behind this. There are many scientific explanations for why they make a difference, and hundreds of opinions to the contrary. I'm a musician and have better things to do than debate the obvious with a bunch of sourpuss pseudo scientist objectivists. Every method of testing has its flaws, trust your ears. Good luck.
A lot the talk about cables uses terms like "hospital grade". Would you feel safe if you were in a hospital ICU, hooked up to a respirator that is keeping you alive; and all it had was a two prong toaster cord?? Yes, cords do matter.
I seriously believe that power cables make more of a sonic difference than interconnects and speaker cables. I'm especially impressed with power cables utilizing the WattGate IEC connectors and power connectors.
I recently purchased 3 Virtual Dynamics pc's for my Cary 303, Rogue 66 Magnum and Odyssey Stratos. The difference coming out of my speakers was not subtle.
I,m not an engineer, but the music definitely sounded better.
My remark to my wife was why don't component mfg.'s recognize and acknowledge the benefits of a good pc.
Gentlemen - thank you all very much for your input. Seems the consensus is that a properly designed pc can make a difference, regardless of how subjective this topic may be. No doubt there will never be a clearly dominant argument to this debate, beyond what each individual hears in his own system, and come to think of it, I guess that's all that matters anyway. Peace ...
Sean said it!
I think they do. The background is a little quieter. There is a great seller on audiogon HCM that has lots of cables at closeout prices I got a Mit one for under a hundred dollars and its great ! There is a large diminishing return of investing in cables and such so tread lightly !
You know, there is Yamamura Quantum for sale for $675.00!!!Buy it and you will hear...for this money, you can not get wrong! Really!
I have changed all my stock powercords and haven´t look back
I think power cords make a huge difference .. it's awfully quiet without them. I have tried a few different power chords, mostly from expensive RF test equipment (I borrowed them from work) and I have heard absolutely no difference.
I wouldn't buy those expensive ones. I made an "Alan Maher" DIY power cord and the bass tighten up. As long as it's cheap, I'll highly recommend it. :)

"As long as it's cheap"? As long as it works ...
I recently read an article in Scientific American about using house electrical wiring to carry computer networking (i.e. internet) signals. I don't remember the details but the engineers were using higher frequencies carrier signals to avoid the noise generated by the household appliances that apparently resides at lower frequencies. They discussed all the issues discussed here like interference from outside the house, the fridge washer etc. It is very likely that the high end power cords all act as a high pass filter that removes a lot of the crap that is carried on the power lines.
There are certainly a class of cables that do have various types of filtering. However many just attempt to minimize resistance and inductance. These tend to be optimum for power amplifiers.
My " golden ears" tell me that a good power cord makes a significant if not huge difference.It is debateable if they make a bigger difference than the interconnects, but so as not to make an argument, I'll say they both make substantial differences. I would like to thank our in-house boy genius, Sean, for getting me a start in the right direction regarding good cables. I have no regrets storing my stock power cords in the closet.But system synergy is crucial.Once you've decided on your electronics,experimentation with power cords,interconnects, and speaker cables is recommended and fun,if you're a true audiophile.One of the nice advantages of this website, Audiogon, is you can buy a good used cord and if it doesn't work in your system, you can re-sell it on this same website to another fellow audiophile and try another one. I love this hobby.
Thanks to PsychicAnimal and Bob Bundus, i just snagged a handy piece of AC related test equipment off of Ebay. You plug it into the wall ( courtesy of a power cord with an IEC jack ) and it gives you three distinct views of your AC signal via an o'scope ( o'scope not included but i have a few ). Not only can you check to see if your 60 Hz sine wave is symmetrical or how much distortion it has riding on it, you can also check for common mode noise, noise between either the hot to ground or neutral to ground, etc...

It can do all of this simultaneously if you have a scope with enough inputs or multiple scopes. One can literally watch the changes in AC noise levels, small spikes and surges, etc... as they occur. I've been doing this for the last two days while at work and it has been pretty interesting to say the least. This should be an even greater help to me once i finally start testing PC, PLC's and noise filters.

My business partner, who is a "non-audiophile" and scoffs at the things that we "tweakaholics" do, was so intrigued by this device ( along with the Audioprism Noise Sniffers and Quiet Lines that i showed him ), that he "snagged" them from me for the long Memorial Day week-end. He wants to check out the AC in his house as he's been having a lot of interference on his Amateur radio gear lately. I'm sure that he'll be experimenting with his HT system also since he's got all the "goodies" to do so now. Hopefully, he'll see the value in working with "tweaks" and become more interested in such things. I could surely use the added "brain capacity" that he could offer when it comes to doing some of the testing / designing that i want to do in the near future. Sean
Good to know you like your new toy...I was going to buy it but realized you'd get the most out of it. Bob Bundus had told me they use one where he works, so when I saw it on eBay I knew what it was. From what you're saying, it could be possible to feed this to a computer and be able to plot differences between power cords and other components, as well. Excellent.
Huh? Funny that I read this thread. I just went through the power cable question myself. I'm sure a bunch of you will tell me I'm crazy. But you can read the letter ( slightly altered to protect the innocent ) that I wrote to the company that made the power cord. They didn't write me a response to my letter as of yet, but I'm sure their swamped with all the orders their getting. The letter follows........

Funny thing though.... One of my audiophile friends ( who has 25+ years experience in sales ) recently got a job at a local store. So I took your cable to his store to see what he thought of it. Since we were at an audio store their were plenty of other power cable brands lying around as well. The first thing out of his mouth when he saw me was " It's all a bunch of nonsense, people looking for away to get your money. As long as you are getting good current to your equipment the size or kind of the cord doesn't matter "

I of course challenged him to prove his point, which he did. We spent 5 hours ( using the exact same equipment ) trying different cords, in different ways. He also ( by the way ) agreed with the theory that I told you. If you do intend to only change 1 cord, change the one to the power conditioner ( from the wall ) Well we did find that the best sonic improvement was by changing the cord to the power conditioner. But we also found that we gained a significant sonic difference ( money wise ) by making our own cord, which cost us about 25 bucks! ( his cost ) Remember, this freshly made cord had absolutely no burn in time. We came to the conclusion that basically what most of the so called " High End " cords were doing was altering the sound. You know, a little more bass here, or a little more treble there. Kind of like different tubes will alter the sound of a system. Of all the cords we listened too, I found an old Shunyata Sidewinder to be most to my liking, which my friend gave to me ( since he didn't carry the brand, and he only gave the customer $25 trade in for. )

Is there a perfectly neutral power cord? I don't think so. But then what is neutral? I mean really, does anything sound like a live Acoustic performance?

BTW, check out this guy's website, he is real down to earth and blows away a lot of nonsense in the audio world.

Conclusion, Most likely I will never own a cord that costs over the $$$ that I paid for each of your cords. Especially since I now know how to make my own. And I really don't see the advantage to owning a more expensive cord. There are plenty of ways to tweak a system without having a cord that is the size of a boa constrictor.

Thank you for all your time.
Interesting question with the normal two sides of opinions with the responses.

On the one side you have the "does not make a difference" who has given it the hours of listening and has determined that there is little to no difference. Since this type of person has never been exposed to interconnects and speaker cable that sounds better than lamp cord it isn't much of a surprise that the systems they listen to power cords in won't reveal the type of change that happens with power cords.

The person who has heard distint and not subtle changes with power cords has probably had an exposure to i/c's and speaker cable that made quite a difference to the system and moved on to trying power cords. In a system tuned to a level of resolution that reveals the finer levels of detail power cords make an incredible difference.

If you listen to some power cords and can't hear much if any differences don't jump into making your mind up that they aren't worth spending money on, find out what your system is lacking that keeps it from showing you the differences they are capable of making. If you are going to jump on any of the opinions offered in response to a question like you asked use your head to tell you whether or not the guys hearing a difference have arrived at that opinion through their ability to be fooled into believing they heard a difference or actually did, or the ones who say they have definitively determined PC's make no difference because they didn't hear it, or they have not been exposed to a high enough resolution (due to their limited cable exposure) to be able to hear it.

It comes down to whether you are going to be satisfied with believing you have arrived at a high resolution or actually have it in the end. If you can be happy thinking you can get the best with inferior power cords more power to you.

Don't give up on them until you can hear the difference, being able to hear it is where it's at.
Yes, I do believe that power cords can give audible differences and also improvements, but I think some people exaggerate the importancy of power cords with regard to audio systems. You must not forget that in the 1960's and early 1970's "audiophiles" were listening to equipment that were using ordinary lampcords as power cords. Albeit this "lacking" of exotic power cords many systems sounded very good and musical. That is the most important thing: a system should sound musical. I don't give a damm to hyperdetail, "extended" reverberation tail of musical instruments and voices and ambience retrieval to the nth degree. What I want is music.

03-24-07: Dazzdax writes:
What I want is music.
What you actually want is for the music to sound more real.

Forget detail, ambient retrieval etc. All those things could remain the same ... but add more dynamic gradation, and the music will sound more real. That's what good power cords really help with. That's what you want and that's what you need.

I hope you'll agree that in the first place the system should sound in balance and musical. Power cords can give a bit more dynamics, yes. Or a bit more bass slam, or more ambience retrieval. But should not alter the whole presentation of the music that the system and not to forget listening room already deliver. If there is a "major" change towards the sound due to application of special power cords, I would say that one is rather screwing up the inherent qualities of the system.

Aintitgr8: "Interesting question with the normal two sides of opinions with the responses. On the one side you have the "does not make a difference" who has given it the hours of listening and has determined that there is little to no difference. Since this type of person has never been exposed to interconnects and speaker cable that sounds better than lamp cord it isn't much of a surprise that the systems they listen to power cords in won't reveal the type of change that happens with power cords."

So, you're saying that everybody who says PCs don't make a difference has never had experience with high-end ICs and speaker cable? Just wondering how you came to this highly scientific conclusion. I must have missed out on the survey.

Answers like Aintitgr8's are the reason audiophiles are so often scoffed at.
If there is a "major" change towards the sound due to application of special power cords, I would say that one is rather screwing up the inherent qualities of the system
That sounds pretty fair.

However, on good midrange digital components (CD players, SACD players) there can be a "major" change with a decent power cord. That was my first experience with after-market power cords (a Cardas Golden Ref on a Arcam Alpha 9) and I was unprepared for the improvement.