How can power cords make a difference?

I have read many threads about how "wonderful" this or that power cord made my system sound. For the life of me, how in the world can a 3 ft power cord make an improvement? Each manufacturer supplys a power cord.I can't imagine them puting something on thier unit that would not meet thier needs. After all, the power comes from the utility company into your house, you run a dedicated line to your equipment, you put a line conditioner/surge protector between your equipment and now you have clean consistant power then magically you have great music. What can 3 feet of $200 0r more power cord make a differance? Sounds like expensive VODO! Am I missing something?
Ssshhhh, don't tell anyone, but you're absolutely right . . . it is voodoo.
Edkoz, you should look into the archives as this thing has been covered ad naseum.
I completely agree with you regarding cords (congrats on not calling them chords), and you'll often see the most adament arguers are also those that insist double blind testing isn't necessary, as the "know what they hear".
If you've got EMI and RFI covered, you're good-to-go. Don't buy into the power cord silliness.
They can't. They don't. Never will. Nope. No way, no how. Don't even go there. Not another wasted moment of your valuable time should be spent on this silly, putrid, over-hashed, science vs. religion, bulemicized weekly, electro-acid refluxed topic. Snake oil, nothing, we're talkin' snake bile here, folks. Don't bother, I'm telling you.

Or...if'n years of schooling don't prohibit you from exploration, you could try it out for yourself, and then choose your rebuttal weapon accordingly. Rest assured that once you've completed your listening test, not only will another thread appear with the identical question, it too will end up in the same place as all those preceding it.
Snofun3 is so right. I don't know what I was thinking sending money to the late Bob Crump for his silly cords. I'm just totally delusional and the vast improvement they made was completely in my head and was a perfect example of that well-understood phenomenon, the placebo effect.

What's a-matter with you folks!? I upgraded my power cord and my amp looks way better.
Thank GOD there are others out there in the audio world that believe that voodoo belongs in another demension other than power cords!!!! Now I feel better knowing it's just not me.
Thank GOD there are others out there in the audio world that believe that voodoo belongs in another demension other than power cords!!!!
Now you see, THAT's the problem. If you're going to thank God, you have to side with the believers. You must choose science or religion in this matter. Sorry, but there are no other paths to enlightened electricity.
It's all voodoo--cords, amps, speakers, all of it. Caveat Emptor! Run, kids, run!
In fact, if you ever see this little guy appear during a listening session, you'll know you've been gouged by the power cord voodoo devil!
I confess, I confess, I killed Papa Doc with my power cord.
Changing a power cord could make a difference. It simply means that either

1) the audio equipment is too sensitive to the input power supplied


2) the electrical supply is falling outside the acceptable range for the audio equipment.

Good audio engineering design requires that equipment be designed to work properly and robustly under a range of power conditions. This is necessary because not everyone's home wiring is the same, nor is each home at the same position on the same electrical grid. Also the quality of electric power will vary with demand particularly at peak load times of the day (for example at mornings when everybody puts the kettle/coffee maker on, or on a very hot day due to air conditioning).

The solution to this problem is not to try different power cords but to find out which of the above 1) or 2) is the root cause of the problem and try to fix that. If necessary change house wiring, get a power conditioner or change the overly sensitive audio component.
Yeah, power cords are a waste of time. Complete VODO! No way they make a lick of difference. Spend your money elsewhere.

In fact, this is the only hi-fi item that's ever been worth a damn. No AC required.
Tvad, you've got it wrong, that thing is just the gateway drug to a life of misery that ends with power cords, magic clocks and Patricia Barber albums.
In fact, this is the only hi-fi item that's ever been worth a damn.
Don't forget this . "Hey good lookin', I'll be back to pick ya up later!"
Yes exactly Shadorne - I wanted the house atop the hill so I could get all the good electrons from the power pole. But instead I get all the crummy leftovers so I gotta use these stinkin' bandaid power cables.
I hear no difference in any power electricity's been shut off!

TVAD, is that eBay item available with a cryo option :-)
What they do is separate the good electricity from the bad. A sort of St. Peter’s Pearly Gates or Santa’s list, if you will.

If they are too short (now we know), then some of the nasty electricity gets through and invades your precious equipment. This filthiness manifests itself in less than absolutely-positively-unquestionably black backgrounds (when it could be blacker than black, mind you), and countless other aural malaise. So it’s molto important to have at least 6 or more feet of really, really expensive cable if you are really serious about nabbing all the sinning particles of power.

Once you accept this as your mantra, you will sleep better at night and I’ll be able to recommend some excellent psychiatrists. I am fortunate to live in a large northeast US city where there are many understanding doctors who don’t mind when I come in for sessions wearing a interconnect for a belt and two beefy PCs for suspenders.

Now, let’s talk about vinyl or compact discs...

06-12-06: Fatparrot
I hear no difference in any power electricity's been shut off!
You're a perect candidate for the Close-N-Play. Cryo optional...and just as silly as aftermarket power cord VODO!

I read your interesting thread on Power Conditioner to the Rescue and how you had very little prior sucess with power cords. This is probably because the Eclipse gave you a proper stable electrical supply and allowed your components to perform optimally.

IMHO, a Power Conditioner is much more likley to make a big difference than a power cord.
Power cords only make a difference if you spend $500 or more. Over $1k? Electric nirvana. Spending oodles of money on power cords increases your tympanic sensitivity and ability to hear (rationalize) electric wonders. This is a fact...

There ain't a power cord out there that can do what a good power conditioner can...a modest cord with a killer power conditioner will do it every time...
It appears that things are not as simple as they seem.
Wrong Aroc, they are as simple as they seem. Hear or don't hear, believe or don't believe. It is that simple.
Be advised though, no one will answer the question asked in this thread and many others like it. "HOW CAN (inset tweak) MAKE A DIFFERENCE?"
Lots of testimonials on either side but no answers.

I have been deceived by the evil VODO god of power cords. My ears say that they make a huge difference in my system, but I know now that it has all been an illusion. Why does my system sound better with good power cords and cables? I am ashamed. But I am too far gone. There is no return. I have been drawn into the power cord abyss and yet I am happy. This shouldn't be. Why do power cords make me happy? Could it be that I am an audiophile? Is that why I keep returning to these Audiogon threads day after day?
It seems that things are not as simple as they appear.
Things appear not so simple, it seems.

Let be be finale of seem
The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream.
06-12-06: Warrenh
Power cords only make a difference if you spend $500 or more. Over $1k? Electric nirvana.

Electric Nirva na ha ha ha !!!!
Shadorne: I put little technical thought into what the Audio Magic PLC is doing to improve the system. But its benefits are dramatic. Simply removing the cheapo Pioneer transport from the PLC results in a mush of sound. The degree of improvement with the PLC, especially with the digital components, continues to impress me.

There is much talk that one needs to start with dedicated lines. And I did this with 2 more lines for the CAT amps and the rest of the system on the third circuit. With the CAT amps no longer being current limited, I had greater dynamics but otherwise I did not hear the multitude of improvements like I did months later with the AM PLC added to the system.

Before I got the AM PLC, I had owned/tried various NBS Statement, PS Audio Statement xStreme and Electraglide Fatboy PCs and really had to strain to hear the difference. But a couple local buddies came to my home and changed all this. Keep in mind this was only after they first convinced me to try the PLC. And the ability to hear such power cable differences was only possible after the PLC was in the system.

I have since recabled the system as well as put much effort into room treatments. Power cable differences are now significant; it is quite easy to hear the difference between a Dominus B vs. a Dominus Ferox PC. A year ago it would have been difficult to hear the difference between the Dominus and the PCs I owned at that time. And that was what I tried to convey in the PLC thread last year.

With 11 power cables in my system, I am one PC away from replacing all the cheapo stock PCs. It is quite a wake-up call to go back now and replace just 2 or 3 of the new PCs with the stock ones. This experience makes it very clear how far my system has come in a year, and it is due to many things....but the PLC was the major factor here.

Two weeks ago I got ahold of a Sound Application Line Stage PLC. I was eager to compare the SA to the AM Eclipse PLC. Initially, the SA destroyed the AM. It seemed like way too much of a difference so I switched back and forth. The difference was repeatable: an incredible improvement in clarity in bass guitar (upper freq range) rhythms. But there was one other factor here: the SA uses a 20A connector; it came with a 20A "mystery" PC. With the AM Eclipse, I used the 15A Dominus. The PLC listening test had been two PLCs driven by two differnet PCs. Was the SA that significant over the AM or was this mystery PC really that significant over the Dominus? With an IEC adaptor, I was able to use the Dominus into the SA, and the benefits with the SA were gone. So now I must do some further investigation as to what is so special about this mystery PC that just crossed my path. I will hunt down a 15A version of this PC and drive the AM to quantify the two PLCs' differences on the front end as well as with the SoundLab speakers and maybe even a couple amps I have in house.

As Aroc infers, this process is not simple at all. And to expand on a comment from Warrenh - cheapo PCs don't last very long in my system. But a few super expensive ones have not survived very long either.

The chicks all dig the real thick ones. That's all I need to know.

Never heard of a VODO though...does it need batteries?

The Audio Voodoo Gods hereby sentence Edkoz to 7 licks with a stock power cord (more flexible) for posting a troll, plus 3 extra for proudly admitting it. What's that you say, power cord atheists? You can't take hearing a grown man scream out in pain? That's easy, just do what you do best -- don't listen! ;^)
Marco, don't forget your KY for those big babies...
I notice a huge difference when I plug my cords into a power source. Unplugged there is a dull almost lifeless sound.
My response was aimed at the objectivists who claim up and down that there is no difference. I have clearly heard differences in a couple single-blind trials. For me that is sufficient evidence for this former non-believer.
This question is for those of you that have experienced huge improvements with changing a power cord (and not the objectivists or unbelievers who refuse to hear any difference);

Aren't you the least bit concerned that your audio setup might be overly sensitive to small changes in power?

Is there any correlation as to where power cords make the biggest difference, for example is this predominantly a tube thing?
Aren't you the least bit concerned that your audio setup might be overly sensitive to small changes in power?
No more than I am about that occasional itch down below, or the price of free trade coffee.

Is there any correlation as to where power cords make the biggest difference, for example is this predominantly a tube thing?
In my experience, yes. Tubes are very sensitive to PC changes, especially push/pull amps & CDPs.
Wow, it's a good thing I stumbled into this thread, I was gonna ask the exact same question.

If VODO [voodoo] gets any closer to the black hole in our galaxy it'll eventually get squashed down to VD, and come out in another universe as Virtual Dynamics.
I agree with Boa2 about tubes and your front end. I would go for a dedicated line for your cdp, an Audio Magic Digital Mini (or any other power conditoner you choose I'm an AM guy) and use the stock cord to go from outlet to power conditioner, and a power cord purchased on
Audiogon to go to your source from your power conditioner. This setup has a very real, palpable, in your face presentation with my rig. My tube integrated is happy with dedicated line and Harmonix Studio Master power cord. Do cords make a difference in sound is a much easier question to answer than HOW do they make the difference. Happy listening. warren :)
I'll agree that, cord manufacturer claims and propaganda aside, there are some reasons to strongly suspect that exactly *why* different power cords can sound so different from one another remains fundamentally something of a mystery. I can think of a few:

> Different cords of ostensibly similar construction, all seeming to have the technical basics covered in terms of guage, shielding, materials quality, geometry, etc. -- in other words, that address every conventional explanation for why power cord construction should matter at all -- nevertheless can and do sound notably different from each other

> Different cords from the same manufacturer, supposedly differing only in their implmentation, intended useage and price but not overall design concept, nevertheless will frequently display quite different sounds, rather than one unified 'house' sound

> Even though a power cord can and will exhibit some elemental consistency of sound across different components with which it's used, power cord sound can also seem to be somewhat chameleonic, with one cord sometimes capable of sounding one way on a certain component but rather different on another

> Power cords are unlike signal cords, in that changing one can seem to change the entire gestalt of a component's sound, beyond just affecting certain aspects of it to degrees

> While most aftermarket power cords will improve on stock cords in most respects such as dynamics, articulation, dimensionality, transparency, etc., it's still not uncommon to find that overall tonal balance can be worse in some areas, or least not improved, suggesting that because a component was likely originally 'voiced' with its stock cord during the design process, any change from that cord may result in an altered balance that's not necessarily better or more accurate across the board

> Swapping between decent quality power cords will often seem to improve certain qualities while concurrently making others subjectively worse (also depending on the program material played), suggesting that it might be elusive to try and pin down concrete reasons for overall objective superiority, even though ultimately some cords are no doubt better than others, just as most aftermarket cords are better than stock ones in most respects

Personally, what it *sounds* like to me, impressionistically speaking -- this is in no way an attempt at a true technical explanation, which I'm not qualified to offer -- is that power cords somehow combine with a component's power supply and the AC line characteristics to form what I dub a "resonant signature". Anyway, that's a mental construct I use to help make sense of what I hear. In my mind, this resonant signature is unpredictable, and not well understood or engineered-in but fairly random when it comes to actual application and effects. I know that an amouphous, atechnical concept such as this won't impress the electrical engineers among us, but the fact remains that their way of explaining power cords doesn't seem to entirely square up with perceived reality for those who listen -- even those of us who (like me) have a deeply inbred skepticism (frequently outright cynicism) for almost all other forms of audio voodoo where no solid technical explanation would seem to be conceivable, and who routinely fault audiophiles for not taking psychology and methodology sufficiently into account. In short, I do think it's a fact that different power cords really do sound different from one another, but doubt that anybody has yet developed a truly comprehensive practical theory as to why in every respect.
Huh, how could I have possibly missed another discussion on my favorite topic?
Sorry Guido, you're too late. All tickets have been sold for this matinee.
There is always the next time.

I think you said that very well, Zaikesman. I agree that we all don't really know how a power cord reacts completely on a certain component. The key is to find that magical cord that does everything right and at the same time is luckily voiced to the power supply and circuit to give you that glorious sound and still preserve the timbre and tonality that the designers had it voiced for. That is why one power cord might sound glorious on my tube monoblocs but not so good on your solid state amp. I think we should all think before recommending cords and cables to a fellow audiophile unless they're using the exact same equipment that you're familiar with. Thanks for a well thought out idea.