High current power cables


Hello,

How come some manufacturers offer high current power cables for use with amplifiers and some don't? Is this to say that the companies who don't offer one have designed their power cables to work in any application? 

128x128blue_collar_audio_guy

I errored on the safe side and bought/own the Audioquest Thunder. About the size of a fire hose.

It’s marketing, imo. A 12 ga wire will work on any piece of gear. My 1200 Watt amplifier has a captive cord that looks to be a 14 ga wire. My saw pull 13 -15 amps and I ran it on a 12 ga wire. A 14 ga would work for short distance ie 30 ft. And I’m pretty sure a 14 ga would work on most gear except the highest power amps. But as I said earlier, my 1200.watt has a 14 ga.

So if a mfg has a 12 - 14 ga cable, it would be appropriate for all gear. However if a buyer believes that a 10 ga is necessary for their amp, they will pass by the 12 ga for the 8, 9, 10 ga of another mfg. Many times, marketing is determined by what will sell, not what is appropriate. So if the larger ga doesn't make for poorer sound then, it will sell better than the smaller but still appropriate cable.

To me it is a quandary how so many knowledgeable people don't understand the current needs for an amp.  I use 10ga power cables (not expensive ones) on all my amps.  I recently bought an amp and the seller provided the "upgraded" power cable he had been using.  I looked it up and it was more expensive than any power cable I have ever bougth.  It was 17 awg.  I am confident this power cable is why he ended up selling a fine amp.   Also,  I recently bought a small tube amp (differtnt amp), 10 wpc push pull, 14lbs total. It had poor bass performance and I assumed that was because it was such a small, low power amp.  I was powering it with a 14awg power cable.  After several days a friend suggested putting a 10awg cable on it.  Bass fixed immediately.  I'll never use anything smaller than 10 awg on an amp again.  It is not a big expense to put a generic 10awg power cable on your amp.  And if you still have problems, bypass any filter or regenerator.  Plug directly into the wall and do a test.  If that makes it sound better, then replace whatever you have powering your amp.  Power to an amp in very, very, very  important. 

If 12 ga wire can carry 20 amps or 2400 watts, and your equipment uses only a fraction of that, please explain why a bigger cable would provide any benefit.  It's kind of like having a 500 HP engine in your car at the same time the maximum speed limit is 30 mph?  Sure, you've got a big engine but it serves no prupose?  I've never understood the logic of the oversize cable but I'm happy to learn some science behind it.  

The power cable zealots will tell you that it is not only the gauge but the materials and the construction/weave that matters, plus the termination/plugs. I remain an agnostic and leave the stock captive power cords on my gear alone. I did buy a $99 Pangea to use experimentally on one amp that requires an add-on cord. The cable zealots will tell me that I will have to spend $500 at least to hear an improvement. Go figure!

I see in the June Stereophile that the wire agnostic Herb Reichert is now using a $1K Audioquest Thunder power cord, along with some $3900 AQ Thunderbird ICs for his review of the $3K Holo line stage and DAC. Got to keep the advertisers happy!

@bigtwin Thanks for posting. That is exactly the simple (and correct as far as it goes) understanding that causes people to buy too small a cable.  If you go by your amps power rating, lets say 200 watts, then you need less than 2 amps. An ampacity table will tell you that 26 awg is all you need.   Can you imagine a 26 gauge power cord?  A small to medium amp would run on it--and sound like crap.

In reality, your load is dynamic, not static.   You need to be able to change current values very quickly.  It isn't the steady state current that sizes your cable.  That is the steady state calculation you posted. 

But if people keep using power cables sized the way you calculated, there will be used amps for sale for the rest of us to buy.

Jerry

If small power cords are fine then how come Boulder's top of the line 3050 mono amps use a 32 amp 230 volt custom power cord and custom connectors, maybe the size of the cable really does matter.

Artemis 5:

Wrong.  

Example: Krell Audio Standard

Example: PASS XS300

Many more...

They will function and sound constipated.

Blanket statements don't fly in audio.

In my experience, higher gauge power cables make a difference. Even cheap ones. As it was partially explained in a video posted a few weeks ago- A thicker cable has more copper crystals per linear measure, and therefore more barrier options. So as the electrons wobble in their crystals, there are more boundaries they can bump into- (more options available) to transfer current. It is a faster transfer. Plus, a larger outer surface as well. This is why a thicker cable has more capacity for instantaneous dynamic loads. Which is why you notice improved bass response, bass drivers of course require the most instantaneous power- and improved power availability equals audibly improved performance. Run 10 gauge wiring on your dedicated 20a circuits in your wall. And 10ga cables to your equipment. 

 

If small power cords are fine then how come Boulder's top of the line 3050 mono amps use a 32 amp 230 volt custom power cord and custom connectors, maybe the size of the cable really does matter.

This caught my eye. It could have to do with their short term power output of 6,000 watts (claimed).

The connectors they use are nothing but simple brass. No fancy materials, no fancy plating, just brass. They seem okay with that.

@carlsbad  I would never suggest you run a 26 ga power cord.  I was suggesting that 12 ga wire on a 20 amp breaker is probably all the power/current that is required.  My entire system draws about 3 amps when playing, regardless of the music.  Pretty sure the 20 amp power supply has plenty of instant current should the bass suddenly demand 3.1 amps for a split second?  

+/- 3 amps total draw when playing loud bass filled jazz.

@bigtwin I know you wouldn’t suggest that, I’m just saying that the logic of calculating power cable size based on Average amp load would say it will work. And 12awg likely will be just fine. Some power supplies have large capacitor banks etc and may be different in their needs. But realize your meter will always show the average current. I do see a sub in the background. Sometime subs are a result of poor speaker performance at low frequencies, sometimes poor power cords cause poor bass performance. Finally, sometimes it is a personal preference. I’m guessing yours is personal preference. I’ll try to attach a photo of my system, which uses no subs for 2 channel sound and with 6 wpc, some tubes give me too much bass.

 

@carlsbad For the record, I run a dedicated 10 ga wire off a 20 amp breaker to a Furutech wall outlet, into a Furman power conditioner.  Off this I run Puritan Ultimate power cables to my equipment.  Solid silver interconnects etc....

I never claimed that I don't drink the Kool-Aid.......🤣

As for the sub, I had never owned one and bought it based on the many comments I've seen on sites like this.  It brings something to the party my speakers just aren't able to produce.  Sometimes too much in fact.  Cheers.

@blue_collar_audio_guy - There are a few things that govern the abilities of power cables

  1. wire gauge
    • thicker the wire the more current it can carry
  2. structure of the wire - i.e. solid vs. stranded
    • solid wires can handle a lot more current than stranded wires
  3. wire type - OFC, UP-OCC Copper, and UP-OCC silver
    • the wire type governs the dynamic performance of the cable
    • OFC is OK, but limited
    • UP-OCC copper offers the best bang for the buck
    • silver UP-OCC is too expensive for many people, but the most dynamic
  4. insulation type
    • the better the insulation the lower the noise floor
    • Dielectric Constant (Dk) is the measure used to gauge insulation performance
      • Teflon is 2.2
      • Foamed Teflon is 1.45
      • Cotton is 1.3
      • bare wire inside oversized Teflon Tube is close to Air
      • Air is 1.1
      • Vacuum is 1.0
  5. Geometry
    • more space between the conductors (Live, Neutral and ground) the lower the noise floor

So as you can see - to compare power cables based on their thickness is a bit like saying a red cable will perform better than a blue cable.

 

Unless a person undersrtands the internal structures/materials/geometry of a power cable it is next to impossible to come to a conclusion as to how well a cable might perform.

It is quite possible to construct a 14 gaue cable that will perform much better than many 10 gauge cables. So simply adopting to use a 10 gauge cable might not be allowing an amp to perform to the best of its abilties

There are few companies that make this information available on their web...

  • Zavfino - perhaps the best choice for most cables
  • In-Akustik - more for higher end components
  • Hijiri - for the highest resolving components

So while many companies do make cables using excellent grade copper - they will not fare as well when compared to the brands mentioned above simply because their insulation and cable geometry is not as advanced.

 

Hope that helps - Steve

@williewonka , that is pretty much all fake science, even this statement:

 

structure of the wire - i.e. solid vs. stranded

  • solid wires can handle a lot more current than stranded wires

Having bought enough wire for experiments, test fixtures, etc. I know to be wrong. Differences between solid and stranded will be perhaps 5%.

Regular copper is used for GHz signals. It does not get any more dynamic than that. Please explain how it could be possible that a conductor formulation, suitable for GHz signal conduction, will struggle with the limited bandwidth coming out of my wall socket. Given all the questionable EMI/RFI issues raised, it should be a significant benefit to be "less dynamic".

A dielectric discussion for a power cable is at best a fantasy distraction. I am not an EE (okay Physics), but it took me about 5 minutes to discover that the source resistance of my AC plug is typically << 1 ohm. If my power cable is 10nF, that is > 10MHz. My AC cord could be used to transmit AM radio with ease. I don't think  you could do the math that this matters in any practical fashion for my speaker cable, or even an interconnect. For power cords?

The live and neutral connect together in the transformer or other components in my gear. How does spacing out live and neutral reduce noise? That does not make sense.

This is the problem in the audiophile world. Too many people read things without the background to know there is no way it can be true, and then they tell 10 other audiophiles, and so on, and so on.

 

 

@deludedaudiophile.

 

All I can say is that after making hundredas of cables over a 14 year period - each time investigating each of the attributes listed in my previous post and verifying improvements through painstaking observation. - I stand by my words.

 

Not only that, there are dozens of other members that have tried my recipes and found them to deliver EXACTLY what I had specified they would

There are also dozens, if not hundreds of people worldwide that have benefitted from my cable recipies, from Europe, Eastern Europe, Austria, France, Hong Kong, China, Australia, USA, Canada and a few Nordic countries. And that’s just the people I know about.

Here’s a link to an active thread where dozens of members have tried my cables

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/duelund-conversion-to-diy-helix-geometry-cabling?highlight=duelund%2BHelix

 

Regards - Steve

 

 

 

Solid wire of the same guage can Carry more current than stranded wire, with less voltage drop.

@williewonka people believe all kinds of crazy things even that the earth is flat because they trust their senses. How does that work out?

Stranded wire same gauge as solid is typically within 5% of the equivalent solid gauge. The don't have the same exact diameter. 5% is not going to make a difference in sound.

@deludedaudiophile - re:

Stranded wire same gauge as solid is typically within 5% of the equivalent solid gauge. The don’t have the same exact diameter. 5% is not going to make a difference in sound.

I’m not talking about the difference in diameter of stranded wire vs solid wire,

  • its due to the fact that a solid 12 gauge wire has a much higher current carrying capacity than a stranded 12 gauge wire
  • This makes solid wire much better at dealing with transient peaks, which can easily be heard
  • apparantly, It has to do with the valence electrons moving between the strands, which in turn degrades conductivity and generates heat 

Regards - Steve

 

 

its due to the fact that a solid 12 gauge wire has a much higher current carrying capacity than a stranded 12 gauge wire.

 

No matter how often you repeat something wrong it does not become right. At DC the stranded wire will be within 5% of the solid wire. That is by design. As the frequency goes up you either have inductance which will be the same for both or skin effect. The skin effect will be less for the stranded so it will by any measure be able to handle transients better though being realistic for a power cord they will be the same. That's real physics not the made up stuff you are typing.

If you mean that helix @williewonka , you appear to have made an air core inductor. If it does not work out for audio, maybe you can use it for your car?

 

 

 

@deludedaudiophile - actually my Helix DIY Cables perform extremely well and has been prefered by many people to some of the best commercial cables available, so they will not be going to the car just yet - but thanks for the tip

Just for your further edification - the Helix coil is attached to the neutral, so there is no impact to sonic performance.

  • However, if Helix coil is connected to the Live side by accident - then you will hear anomolies

Here is some light reading pertaining to cable design - it’s a worthwhile read

https://www.psaudio.com/article/cables-time-is-of-the-essence-part-1/
https://www.psaudio.com/article/cables-time-is-of-the-essence-part-2/
https://www.psaudio.com/article/cables-time-is-of-the-essence-part-3/

Also - here is a link to a table showing the current carrying capacities of solid vs. several different stranded wire options.

Regards - Steve

Just for your further edification - the Helix coil is attached to the neutral, so there is no impact to sonic performance.

That does not make any sense. From a circuit standpoint, live/neutral, whether you place in the live or neutral makes no difference. There is still an inductor in the circuit loop delivering current.

Reading what other technical cable vendors have written, it is best to keep ground and neutral at the same potential.

Also - here is a link to a table showing the current carrying capacities of solid vs. several different stranded wire options.

I had to consult with an EE but this took about 5 minutes to "debunk", or at least clarify. Here is the key point that you appear to have missed:

The table below indicates the current ratings of PVC-insulated single and multicore wiring cables.

That derating had nothing to do with stranding. It has to do with individual insulated wires being used in a cable, not single wires. It would apply to two solid insulated wires or two solid stranded wires equally. Basically your whole premise is founded on incorrect interpretation of a chart. Here is a link he sent w.r.t. the electrical code which mimics your chart approximately. He expect those numbers you linked are from an old electrical code.

 

Update. He found this in the 1999 electrical code. EE’s are rather useful. They like solving problems :-)  You will notice the 6, 24, 42 from the chart you linked.

Here is some light reading pertaining to cable design - it’s a worthwhile read

https://www.psaudio.com/article/cables-time-is-of-the-essence-part-1/
https://www.psaudio.com/article/cables-time-is-of-the-essence-part-2/
https://www.psaudio.com/article/cables-time-is-of-the-essence-part-3/

 

Light is not the word I was thinking of. I have a term for this, a twist on an old standby. It is highly applicable to audio it seems, but happens often with academic types. I call it,

"Baffle them with brilliance."

When you can't put forth a clear and concise argument directly relatable to the topic in discussion to advance your argument, your start throwing out all kinds of technical terms, equations, etc. that sound really impressive, and on the surface seem important. It is often effective on the spot, because refuting it takes time to digest what is being said, but once you do, you realize that nothing about what they said was relevant.  That appears to be the case in what I quickly skimmed in the linked articles. It sounds really brilliant, and it would baffle most audiophiles who would think "this guy really knows his stuff". Perhaps he does. However, in the context of our hobby, it is worthless information meant to advance a sale, while not actually providing any relevant basis for even being in the discussion. Case in point, it worked on you.

Like most things in science, Scott Adams has already covered this syndrome in his Dilbert cartoon however, at least in principle.

Please try to stop worrying about power cables.

As long as it is thick enough any power cable does the same job as any other.

Remember the last 6 feet of cable joining your power outlet to your equipment follows miles (literally) of cabling that you mostly don't own.  Your house wiring, the power company fuse (yes all your power has to go through this fuse that you cannot replace), the street wiring back to the 8kV (in the UK) transformer, the supply to that which runs miles probably on pylons, subject to atmospheric and other interference, back to the power station (or windmill).

So how can the last 6 feet countervail all of that?

@deludedaudiophile - There are dozens of sites that all say Solid wire is capable of carrying higher current

E.G. From this link...

Stranded Wire vs Solid Wire. Which One is Best and Why? (electricaltechnology.org)

Advantages of Solid  Wire

  • Perfect termination and connection
  • High ampacity as compared to stranded wire having the same size (Gauge).
  • Clear sound (less noise due to low attenuation) and good transmission performance with high frequencies
  • Lesser resistance and anti-corrosive in indoor/outdoor applications
  • low voltage drop and suitable for long distance applications
  • Less costly as compared to stranded wires.

I Have provided

  • the the key points that influance cable design
    • i.e. the Coles notes version 
  • I've provided my findings of years of experimenting
  • I've provided supporting links to articles of industry leaders in this field
  • I've provided the thoughts.findings of many other members that have tried my cables and suported my findings

I guess I'm all out of things to provide.

You cleartly have your own views - that's the glory of free speech.

I guess we'll just have to Agree to Disagree

Regards - Steve

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More space between the conductors (Live, Neutral and ground) the lower the noise floor

Radiated or induced electrical noise is proportional to area between wires,  To lower electrical noise pickup Live and Neutral should be as close as possible.  Twisting wires reduces noise pickup further by exposing both wires equally to electric or magnetic fields,  it also reduces inductance further. It might seem unimportant for power cables, but LPS current is  not a sinewave but short spikes of high amplitude. When amplifier demands 5A - spikes might be in order of 25A or more.   Average will be still low, but higher voltage drop during spikes can reduce dynamics. These spikes also produce much higher losses in power transformer - losses in windings (higher rms/average ratio) as well as in core for eddy currents and hysteresis (higher frequency content). Because of that LPS transformers have to be oversized. Of course using 10ga cable will make little difference if home is wired with 12 avg.

Kijanki is right. Consider also, other, reasons why good power cables are beneficial for audio. Lower (contact) resistance for example, quicker rise times when pulling current from the net, less cross-contamination (EMI & RFI) by shielding or by geometry type between components. Sometimes changing one cable can make a difference for another cable in your system. Separation (less noise pickup) can have an effect, don't use sharp bends, cross at 90 degrees. I can also endorse Willie's observations. 

10ga solid core is my minimum

 

@kijanki that is a good point. I am normally dealing on much smaller scales, so don't naturally think of these things. From a pure extracted parasitics view, spacing out the conductors will cause the inductance to go up which will soften power peaks. That may be beneficial for noise. Having an air dielectric will slightly reduce capacitance, but for a power cable, that would be a detriment. The claimed benefit appears to be around reduced dielectric absorption which would be an irrelevant parameter for a power cable, or speaker cable.  Back of envelope suggests it would be irrelevant for any cable in audio due to the comparatively low source or load impedances. It has criticality in some electronics, where very high impedances are used.

Now @clearthink , in another thread I said I was not an acoustics expert, which I am not, but I said my physics are above average. Significantly above average would be more correct.

Now I will ask kindly that you stop the drive by insults that are humorous, but also annoying and distracting to the thread.

I am quite certain I grasp the "facts" to a far greater degree than you, and if you would like to challenge your physics knowledge to mine, I am up for it. Formulas at 20 paces?

I want to ensure that members distinguish me and my posts from the condescending unhelpful posts of another member just above who has a handle rather similar to mine.

deludedaudiophile"Now I will ask kindly that you stop the drive by insults that are humorous, but also annoying and distracting to the thread."

 

I think what has happened here is that I have what Americans call "hurt your feelings" but you need to learn, accept, and understand that "feelings" are not really the issue here if you want to converse in the language of science we use data, facts, and statistics to support a position a simple "that's not true" or "I know better" or "it's not supported" is not a proper, effective, meaningful or convincing response. 

I suggest, recommend, and encourage you to continue your Merit Badges and education and as I may have previously mentioned an internship might also be helpful to you.

@Clearthinker Thank you for the clarification. I will add, that as a newcomer to this site, and renewing an interest in audio that began in High School, I have an interest in learning more about how these things work. But I have to say that I’m having a hard time separating fact from fiction in most of the threads I read on this site, including this one. About the only thing I’m able to take away from this one is that I need to run 10 AWG solid conductor wire from the wall to my amplifier. And my wall socket should served by a dedicated 10 AWG solid conductor. In every house in which I’ve ever lived, 10 AWG runs were reserved for 240 Volt (pulling from both sides of the service feed) highly resistive heater loads like kitchen ranges, hot water heaters, etc. In the meantime, others tell me I’m probably not using more than 25 watts in my amplifier most of the time. I thought the job of the power supply to filter the power, and all those hulking capacitors to supply the power for transients. When I turn my tube amplifier off, it seems to take forever for music to stop playing, it takes time for all those capacitors to discharge. But what do I know?

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I think what's happening here is that there are some users who - for reasons I'll never understand - post under different user names. Then they get confused and have to cover their tracks. I suspect one of the persons involved here has already been previously suspended under other user names.

@cleeds : Yup. Our "deluded" guy.

I suspect one of the persons involved here has already been previously suspended under other user names.

.... this is his 13th username in a short period of time. That I know of. Maybe more.

 

@cleeds : I believe clearthink and clearthinker are two different, legit individuals. I am however sure about "deluded audiophile" dude. I have a list of all his previous usernames (really very easy to spot), the most "prominent" being Audio2Design, Atdavid, Dannad, Roberttdid, and Cindyment. There were a half dozen others he came in with, but they were very short lived, basically created to insult some users, including me. For example, when he was posting as "cindyment" he created a username with my username in it, named "thynamesinnervoice" and posted screenshots of stuff when he was Audio2design. Hilarious!

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@oldrooney 

Thanks.

Your power supply looks great to me.  As long as you are supplying your amp with enough juice that does the job.  Don't overspend for no benefit.

My old Krell KSA50 (D'Agostino's first product, mid 80s) used to play on after power down in distorted mode for about 10 seconds.  Now, that's a proper power supply.  But as you say created by the storage in his amp not by $8,000 six foot lengths of cable terminating 20 miles of supply from the power station/windmill.

Clearthinker stand for clear thinking.

 

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@thyname 

Thank your for your support and understanding.

Yes I have nothing to do with 'clearthink' who does not do that.

I have only had one handle here which is the current one.  If our masters were to exclude me, I would not bother to create another 13 successive handles to get back in.

Life's too short and I'm only trying to help everyone clear the haze.