I've got a Primaluna integrated tube amp and I'm considering upgrading the power cord. How significant is it compared to upgrading speaker cords and interconnects? Just wondering if I'll notice the same positive effects.
I upgraded the power cord on my Threshold T-200 to a top of the line Synergistic model, and I was absolutely astounded by the improvement in the sound...it was not subtle...dynamics, clarity, dimension and nuance. My local dealer was kind enough to let me take home a number of cords and try them in my system...and there is something to be said for doing that rather than buying on advice...system synergy is key. The power cord actually made a bigger difference in my system than speaker wire.
No doubt ther's a positive change for the better,but its not easy unlees you can find a lender with multiple cables.This will make life a lot easier to you and you wallet....Its not always about the highest price either.. Its what works for you,and your system...
I was a power cord skeptic about 5-6 years ago. I still can't explain why they should affect the sound. However, I am now of the mindset that the power cords affect the sound, good or bad, more than interconnects or speaker cables do. As always, YMMV.
Mcpody is right: every cord will show an immediately audible difference and sometimes dramatically better and sometimes even worse than stock cord. Trying out several different ones is the best way to go. I use Cardas Golden and they work for my systems.
Tvad wrote: "Every improvement in audio has its genesis in power delivery. Better power delivery results in better sound."
This is true. However, it remains to be shown that a good-quality, inexepensive Belden cord can be bested by the megabuck cords. We're not talking rocket science here, all we're trying to do is get the AC from the wall to the component. Spending more than $50 or $60 for a power cord is for the hopelessly optimistic...
Those who hear a difference with expensive power cords can choose to purchase them without admonishment from those who don't hear a difference, and those who don't hear a difference with expensive power cords can choose to not use them without reprisal from those who do hear a difference
Tvad, While I can appreciate what you say on one level, that of a reiteration of an endless dispute over the efficacy of a tweek, or any other of the many irresolvable issues in audio, I have a bit of difficulty accepting the admonishon from some one who was willing to give the controvery life by making a positive indorsement to the tweek knowing its history.
Gnugear, FWIW, I have 3 Primaluna Products and I use Belden PC to my total satisfaction in these units. I have NOT done extensive testing of all of the various power cords available, let alone in the Primaluna's. I'm sure if someone did they would find some that they felt performed better. The good thing is that I have never noticed a deterioration from the use of better constructed cable when I have tried them, I just judged the differences I percieved as not being worth the money. So if you go that route just try to do it thru in home auditions before purchase.
I do not feel this way about IC's and Speaker cable. It can change the performance levels of electronics and speakers positively or negatively, irrespective of cost or construction issues. But, beyond having good benchmark stuff available a reasonable prices, you should have a definable goal, otherwise you're chasing the wind and your $100 bills down the road.
I consider Canare Star Quad 4s11 a great starting point for a new audiophile. Its cheap, heavy guage, neutral, and is hard to improve on without spending lots of money. A true benchmark IMHO.
I personally, and generally, prefer Cardas 300b IC's in mid-level high fi electronic's, especially SS. If for no other reason that its a bit on the warm side of neutral and I find electronics in that catagory a bit on the cold side of neutral.
Thats MHO and reflects what I would tell my son to do if he were just starting out.
FWIW probably 90% of the other contributors would do something differently - thats the way it goes. Have fun trying to sort it all out! :-)
After going through a bunch of pretty good equipment, I have yet to hear cables that have the sonic impact of an upgrade to my source, preamp, amp or speakers. I have had good luck with the previously mentioned Belden cord, the Asylum cord (Belden or Volex with better ends), the VH Audio cords, and some home brew cords using the VH Audio wire, and special shielding/vibration damping material with high quality ends. Before I would venture into the $500+ PC territory, I would try to have everything else dialed in first, including speaker cables and IC's. To answer your specific question, I would start at the lower end and work upward. You can't really hurt anything going with the Belden/Volex or Asylum cords, and those should be an upgrade to your stock cords. Another tip is to clean and polish the ends of whatever cords you use. Deoxit and ProGold, or Brasso should work well. I would also suggest borrowing a higher priced cord from a buddy just to see if you notice a difference, before spending big bucks on one.
Science or snake oil. The jury remains out on esoteric power cables. Ever wonder why the likes of manufacturers such as Krell, Pass Labs, Levinson and others, do not supply esoteric power cords? Makes one wonder in a way. After all what those products cost and few dollars more is of zero consequence to provide a power cable,other than what is usually supplied. Although I use aftermarket power cords myself for amp,preamp and CDP. For me where I live is more of self survival. Seeing as Florida Power & Light continue to struggle with their service after the hurricanes of 2004, and 2005. Power cords I have used is DH Labs, Audioquest,PS Audio and Shunyata. And at times have returned to the cable that came with the unit.
I think to get a good idea of what a power cable is faced with, we need to visit the Nelson Pass white paper on Power Supplies. link below.
In this paper we see the end delivery and what the power cable is actually faced with in certain amplifiers and the components used in those products, such as transformers, capacitors,etc. Interesting reading at the very least.
FERRARI, good link. I have a Pass Labs amplifier and I'll be honest, I have not found earth shattering improvements with an aftermarket power cord with this amp(power cords tried were up to $700). However, it is not the case with ALL amplifiers and other components. I think the differences you hear or don't hear with upgraded power cords on the amps depend on the power supply design and quality. For example, a $6 Volex power cord sounds excellent. A Shunyata Taipan Alpha Helix cord does sound just a bit better, but not what you would call a huge difference. I had several McCormack amps, where an upgraded power cord always made bigger difference than I experienced with the Pass Labs amp. So I don't think that any general rule applies here. It has to be determined on a specific amp with a specific power cable only by trying.
That being said, I know someone with a Primaluna integrated using a Shunyata Taipan Alpha cord and says it is a very nice improvement.
".... I'm considering upgrading the power cord. How significant is it compared to upgrading speaker cords and interconnects? Just wondering if I'll notice the same positive effects."
IMO 1. yes 2. maybe
I feel the power end of things, as has been recognized above, is where to start messin' with wires.
Foundation. gotta get a good one... naturally, that's taking for granted good components are already in place.
thereafter, getting as good a speaker wires as is possible is next.
Finally, ICs. those last two moves are debateable... but I feel PCs are top o' the list accessories.
Results do vary with PCs, as with any legit component. Generally speaking, larger AWG on power amps is a good thing. though not an absolute.
I've tried a fair amount of pc's on all my components. Whenever I get one in to try, it makes the circuit. Why not? I've yet to try Tvads notion of the $7 cord, but likely will at some point. For ex. I tried a highly recommended Purist Venusta pc once for a couple weeks. Put it right onto my pre which is where all had said it would work well. Didn't care for it at all. Good for me. As at a grand a pop, I saved a grand right there.
Tastes and system syn play a big role in what folks believe is or are great matches or devices, that and philosophy.
the litmus test is the Audiogone "Buy & Try shuffle", or if fortune is your's, borrow and listen. Then, there's the "Rent it and see" bit, too.
if the trepidation is are wires smake oil... myths... or a waste of funds, I'd say given my experience with them, "No. They impact a system as much as any other aspect of it."
Wires and isolation and as Fishboat said above, 'room treatment', can also embelish, detract, tame, or give life to the experience of home audio.
it all matters. how much, and how much you wish to spend to get how much, is really the answer. Great components alone, without some delving into what peeripherals can do for them is like putting recaps on a Jaguar. you'll likely not see what they are really capable of if after market (OEM) wires aren't investigated.
Upgrading PCs doesn't always guarrantee the positive improvement. The PS audio PCs chokes my 400xi and the 4 bsst amp. (sibilant/ bright HQ) but it works on the CDP with some improvements for better details. I went back to the stock PCs, both amps sound good as used to. PCs make difference but not necessary for the better.
"I am now of the mindset that the power cords affect the sound, good or bad, more than interconnects or speaker cables do"
I've heard this occur as well -- and thought the same thing at times -- but I wouldn't state it as being any kind of hard and fast rule, since there's also times I've heard other cables make more of a difference (especially speaker cables) -- or, to put it another way, times I've heard power cords make less of a difference. Really all depends on the gear and cables in question, and I think it's too variable to generalize.
"Mcpody is right: every cord will show an immediately audible difference and sometimes dramatically better and sometimes even worse than stock cord"
Actually, Mcpody never said that -- reread his post.
What Jeff_jones wrote proves it ain't always so:
"Tried 3 or 4 power cords on amp, cd player, pre's, etc...Made no difference whatsoever"
It happens. Whether it's a matter of system resolution, the listener's ears, or maybe components with superior power supplies, or pristine wall power, we don't know. But not everyone who plays around with power cords is convinced, though it seems that at least 90% of Audiogonners on the forums have concluded power cords are a significant factor.
"...it remains to be shown that a good-quality, inexepensive Belden cord can be bested by the megabuck cords. We're not talking rocket science here, all we're trying to do is get the AC from the wall to the component. Spending more than $50 or $60 for a power cord is for the hopelessly optimistic"
Without needing to come off as defending "megabuck" power cords, this is a personal opinion, even if it's not presented as such. And if I don't miss my guess, it sounds like one lacking extensive basis in actual experience with "megabuck" cords, in which case it could be a less meaningful opinion for the rest of us than many others posted here. Hey, of course "it remains to be shown" to anyone who's never tried to disprove it, but even if you did try and didn't alter your opinion, that still wouldn't prove the situation couldn't be different for somebody else. This statement has the ring of a pre-formed conclusion, based on some Platonic but inadequate conception of what might constitute "science" in this arena. But the blithely spun quip "all we're trying to do is get the AC from the wall to the component" glosses over relevent, scientific factors. In audio, making your mind up in advance of listening can be self-satisfying but self-deluding. I agree there's no magic involved with audio, that price isn't always directly tied to anything tangible or provable, and there are many things in the high end -- expensive cables certainly among them -- which often don't come close to being intrinsically "worth" what's charged for them. But, whatever our reactions to high end prices, none of the foregoing necessarily means that gear with an exotic price tag, determined mostly by market (and marketing) forces, won't also sound better enough to be "worth" the extra expenditure for those who can afford it. Bias probably runs both ways here: audiophiles of sufficient means who spend "megabucks" will no doubt sometimes be influenced to assert gear superiority for just that reason, while audiophiles of modest means could be just as influenced to deny those claims and assert the equivalence of whatever they can afford (or at least until they hear something better). But ya know, since this is a subjective hobby, which is only about pleasing one's self, at the end of the day it really doesn't matter if we operate with some biases that can't be "proved".
"Ever wonder why the likes of manufacturers such as Krell, Pass Labs, Levinson and others, do not supply esoteric power cords? Makes one wonder in a way. After all what those products cost and few dollars more is of zero consequence to provide a power cable, other than what is usually supplied"
I have to say I've never understood this argument, which has been made before. It's like asking why speaker manufacturers don't include fancy speaker cables, or why mass-market gear comes with freebie interconnects but high end gear doesn't come with any. This is no mystery to me at all: since most audiophiles prefer to choose their own cables, and consider them to be components in their own right or very nearly so, why would it be incumbent upon electronics makers to include fancy power cords, or any indictment of them if they don't? Why should power cords be singled out for this critique? (Maybe it has to do with the fact that in yesteryear, lest we forget, many power cords were simply built-in and IEC sockets weren't de riguer.) In fact, it would probably make more sense in this context at the present day and age, to ask why high end electronics manufacturers provide any cheapie power cord at all -- maybe they should just omit it altogether. But since the tradition of providing an indifferent cord can't affect anything too much one way or the other, I certainly don't take this practice to be suggestive of some kind of double-talking malfeasance.
"I too would expect that speaker cords and interconnnects will make much more of a difference than a power cord (after all at least they are in the signal path)"
Should we take this as an implicit admission that you've never experimented with power cords? Look, a lot of us felt this way once upon a time, until we tried a power cord on something where it made a significant difference. And the assumption that a power cord isn't "in the signal path" -- acknowledging the conventional useage of that phrase with which we're all familiar -- is emminently challengeable when you look at it as being part of the power supply, and realize that what we hear as the output signal actually *is* the power supply, as modulated by the input signal.
"I had several McCormack amps, where an upgraded power cord always made bigger difference than I experienced with the Pass Labs amp"
I used to have a DNA-125 and found cords made a pretty fair difference, not the biggest I've heard but sizeable. Now I have a DNA-500, a far more revealing and wider-envelope amp that draws at least twice as much wall power, yet somewhat to my surprise find that with it the same cords make considerably less difference (though still some, and still enough for me to care, just not knock you over the head type). This could be taken as evidence for the power supply quality theory of cord impact, something Sean has written about on these forums, but for which I haven't always found corroborating results. Personally I still tend to feel it's something of a crapshoot, not necessarily with obvious or consistent explanations.
"I take the power cords that come with PCs, put them in the freezer for one month. Then use them. Significant improvement"
Aside from not being able to figure what "power cords that come with PCs" means (I thought a PC *was* a power cord, when it wasn't a personal computer), I wish this to be a mild jibe at the Beltians, but it ain't pointed or funny enough so I'm afraid it's the real thing. Well, it's a delusion if you actually think you can reliably tell the difference between something like a cord which you reauditioned after a one month layoff for "treatment". Audio memory simply isn't that accurate, nowhere near. Now, I admit I don't believe that the temperature of a freezer could do anything permanent to metal -- and also admit I haven't tried your experiment (or even played around with any real cryogenically treated gear, for that matter). But regardless of what opinion one might hold about the freezer jazz, to determine anything useful either way, you'd have to obtain two examples of the cord to be treated so that one could be held out of the freezer, allowing direct A/B comparisons to be performed at the end of the lengthy interval. (And if you're a freezer believer they probably ought to be done blind.) Anything less is merely wishful thinking (or, I hope, a put-on, but you can never be sure with audiophiles when Peter Belt is out there running around loose.)