A soundstage is a mental construction of the listener based on the tonal accuracy of the equipment. If the soundstage shrinks it means the component may not be as tonally accurate as it should be. Power cables are capable of affecting the tonal balance of an audio component. That’s how they could shrink a soundstage.
Super good question. AFAIK, the best a power cable can do is block noise, and transmit power.
Too good a cable, and it transmits noise and power. Based on this, here is my thinking on an affordable, effective middle ground:
Tone and soundstage are two very separate performance characteristics IME.
The academic studies of psychoacoustics better explains the difference your friend claims to hear - more so than any quasi-technical explanations you’ll find littered throughout the web and this forum.
The only ways a power cord might affect the sound is if it either, a) restricts current (increases resistance) to the point that it limits the amplifier beyond its maximum current draw capability, or b) its shielding is different, thereby causing an increase or decrease in the total EMI of the system. These two scenarios are both uncommon.
What is most likely is that your friend expected to hear a difference which affected his/her brain chemistry (altered mood) which led to a real perception (not necessarily reality) of difference. That’s about as close as a component can get to creating "magic." Remember that all magic is an illusion.
The same phenomenon occurs when one listens to their system while fatigued, or following a stressful day.
My good friend that is in the business and very very knowledgeable calmed that a well made 10ga power cable reduced his soundstage... I’m not saying it will or won’t but why would it? I would like to know the science behind this. I did research on here but not satisfied. I had a pair of Logans and they were wonderful and I used stock power cables and the stage was crazy... I have been making cables for years ( musician ) and know the value on quality... what is the magic?
First of all if this is true I would have to question how "very very knowledgeable" and "well made" and "reduced his soundstage" can possibly go together? Well made would not reduce, and no one with even a little knowledge would claim this. They would say this terrible piece of crap cable reduced my sound stage. So right off we have a puzzle.
But that’s nothing compared to the puzzle of "why" power cords work.
Solve that one and you got a whole pile of money just sitting there for the taking. To even begin to get some idea just look at Ted Denney III, the man is rolling in it, and even he isn’t exactly sure and has to keep constantly experimenting to find out.
As for me, I could pretty much care less. But not much less. It would be nice because if you knew then you could look at the different designs and not waste your time on the bad ones. But nobody knows. So no choice but to go and listen and see what sounds best.
If there’s magic to be had, and there is, this is the only way I know of finding it.
Second of all... it is true.
1 He is very knowledgeable.
2 The cable is certainly well made.
3 Compared to a couple of high end cables he own’s and reps... the sound stage was reduced.
1+2+3= go together
he was kind enough to take part of his busy life to test my cable against some big boys... he is going to keep it for a month or so to burn in then test again.
The conductors inside the walls feeding from the service panel are already only 12 gauge (or maybe even 14). I would compare to an off-the-shelf cable and request a refund...there's nothing to debate if it's a "same length" cable and laid in exactly the same position so as to avoid the issue of EM field theory discussions creeping in...or its just variances in inner ear pressure. Maybe try a different listener?
This is another thread that makes me ask "do you guys even use power cables"?
Why come up to a topic if your own experience is that limited? Power cables are not that tough to figure out yet all kinds of speculations, assumptions and techno-verbiage comes out on these types of threads. Why dumb a thread down guys? When you do that readers just go elsewhere to get real answers.
This is partly why HEA is crashing and burning so rapidly.
To Eric squires - thanks for the link to the article on power conditioners and their benefit for a Stereo System. I just had to send my Krell S550i in for repair - the main processor on the main board burned out. I use a Furman Elite to protect my Stereo from voltage surges/ noise etc. we had a power surge due to lighting. The system kept playing fine - but my digital display ‘went blank’. Other than this all the electronic equipment plugged into the Furman was fine. I pulled the Krell to send it back for repair - upon removing the power cord (an ANTICABLES power cord ) a hunk of the insulator was fractured and fell off. I should have both the Integrated Amp and power cord back this week both repaired and ready to go.
The Furman saved my butt. I will be adding another Furman to my ‘second stereo system this month.
That’s better GK! I think when you come up on this forum talking about certain topics that you should let people know you use a Portable Sony Walkman and ear buds and not an in-room system or one that uses power cables and such so others can see your point of view.
Talking about power cables usually is a different type of topic vs portable ear bud systems.
Michael, I’m certainly not trying hide my system or the fact it’s a Sony Walkman. In fact I mention it quite frequently. 🤗 Your “low mass system” approach helped inspire me. Kudos to you! Maybe you’re just sore I took your approach to the extreme. As I’ve tried to point out to you many times, there are a great many advantages to a very simple battery powered system, none of them actually have much to do with mass. No offense intended. I can always tell when you’re upset and trying to put me in my place. That’s not really an effective way to participate in this forum, at least not with your humble scribe, if you don’t mind me saying so too much.
Power cables have zero influence on sound stage.
Power cables can inductively couple with other cables. This will cause noise from other cables EMI fields to be transferred to the power cable in question. Similarly, when inductive coupling takes place, the EMI field of the power cable in question is transferred to other cables.
Much of this inductive coupling can be mitigated by isolating (not bundling) power cables from other (power and signal carrying) cables.
When isolation is difficult or impossible, the use of ferrite beads can isolate the noise source. This is why switch mode power supplies have ferrite beads on their input and output cables.
Shielding, when done properly, can be effective. I say “properly” because most unbalanced audio cables use the shield as a signal-bearing conductor. This causes induced noise to be brought directly into the signal path. The correct way to shield an unbalanced audio cable is to add an additional layer of shielding which is isolated from the signal-bearing conductors, and tied to chassis ground at only one end (preferably the source side). Typically the most convenient place to ground the shield in audio systems is to the preamplifier chassis, as the preamplifier is the hub of the system.
Going back to the OP’s claim about loss of sound stage, that is due to other factors. Most likely speaker placement and phasing.
@captbeaver and @whostolethebatmobile. You had me at hello. Anyone looked at Madscientist cables? They fly under the radar, which intrigues me further. Yeah they have some Voodoo stuff going on, but it seems to work based on reviews and I’m interested. And they're relatively cheap. Any thoughts?
A shielded power cord would have zero effect on taming a lightning surge. Truthfully, the lightning surge was mitigated by the sacrificial action of MOVs in the power conditioner. The damage that took out the Krell and its power cord also damaged house wiring and related components (panel, sub panel, receptacles, wiring, etc, etc,) and that means rip and replace all of that too. You should hire the services of a reputable certified electrical contractor to assess the damage to your home’s electrical system, and get in touch with your homeowners insurance provider ASAP.
Hey @sleepwalker65 :
Truthfully, the lightning surge was mitigated by the sacrificial action of MOVs in the power conditioner.
The Furman Elite does not use MOV's for electrical surge protection (but may for coax, not sure). It is of a class called "series mode surge protectors." You can read a little more about those here:
Lightning strikes cause damage in large part from an EMP pulse they generate, you can read more about that here:
So, that's why I'm wondering. Hey @tom8899 - Was the power cabled due to the surge, or was this a mechanical problem?
Shielding, when done properly, can be effective. I say “properly” because most unbalanced audio cables use the shield as a signal-bearing conductor.
Exactly, and noise, as well as surges, can be induced from/to the power cables directly. An EMP pulse from lightning doesn't have to travel through the power company's wiring the power line to damage equipment.
EMP pulses from lightning are almost always induced on to utility (any kind - power, telecommunications, etc...) wiring that runs through areas where lightning occurs. It is the combination of very high levels of magnetic flux and the great length of cable that is exposed that results in the massive energy transfer. The only way to mitigate resultant surges is to use a secondary surge suppressor at the main electrical panel board and surge suppression at the equipment that we want to protect. These usually consist of voltage clamps that permit relatively safe levels (up to about 200 volts rms) to exist on the circuit. Most often these are MOVs, but can also include high current zener diode arrays and gas discharge tubes. It’s important to know that these devices are all sacrificial in nature, and need to be checked for functionality on a regular basis. It’s also important to have your home electrical system inspected for damage whenever a major surge is experienced, as extremely large amounts of energy can be dissipated in wiring, receptacles, circuit breakers, etc in the event of a major surge, causing permanent damage and potentially rendering the electrical system a fire hazard. The best measure of protecting our valued equipment is disconnecting from all sources of surge ingress in advance of lightning storms.
My good friend that is in the business and very very knowledgeable calmed that a well made 10ga power cable reduced his soundstage... I'm not saying it will or won't but why would it? I would like to know the science behind this. I did research on here but not satisfied.Its all about voltage drop. But first:
I want to understand the actual physical properties the 4 feet from the wall to the amp that make all these audible changes.The in-wall wiring has very good performance on account of being solid core. But solid core is not legal for power cords.
Now about the voltage drop- depending on the amp a voltage drop occurs across the power cord. I've seen on the bench a 2 volt drop across the power cord rob a 140 watt amplifier of about 40 watts- obviously this can be significant. In addition to the voltage drop there is a high frequency component. This is due to the fact that power supplies are composed of a power transformer, rectifiers and filter capacitors. The rectifiers can only turn on if the filter capacitors are at a voltage less than that of the power transformer. At this time current charges the filter caps and then the rectifiers shut off. This might be only a few milliseconds with a high slew rate and so is a high frequency event. If the power cord lacks the bandwidth to allow the current to flow unchecked, the result is the power supply won't be properly charged.
This has a measurable effect on amplifiers. In case anyone has any doubts, it is easier to test the effect on the amp rather than measuring the power cord itself. The output power, distortion and output impedance are the things to be measured. You will find that power cords most definitely have an effect on these things!
If your power cord is warming up, or is getting hot at either end, its a good bet you have a problem. You may not think this can affect audible things like the soundstage, but if power is restricted, distortion and output impedance are higher, it will affect not only that but other things like tonality and detail as well.
So bottom line: this is a measurable phenomena as well as audible. The audibility relates directly to the measurable changes caused by the power cord.
Perhaps it has something to do with a thinner wallet?
From a cable company that has incentive to say the opposite...
" but the fact is that a power cord, so long as it's well-constructed and undamaged, correctly sized for the load, and driving a reasonably well-designed power supply, should make no difference whatsoever to the sound of your system. The same goes for these other non-signal cables. If they seem to be working, don't mess with them." - Blue Jeans Cable
I think a key word there is non-signal cable
I recall my first upgraded power cable, hooked up to my Stax headphone amp. I was sceptical and would not pay more than $50.00 as an experiment. I was surprised just how much benefit it gave, increased dynamics and bass in particular. I assumed it had something to do with its greater thickness allowing more current to pass, something which would be most noticeable for peaks of volume which would explain bass and dynamics. I mean we don't use skinny power cords in heavy duty applications. I assume that sometimes at least, such as for spikes in volume, our audio systems are working as heavy duty systems and need heavier cords.
However years later I still wait for any measurements to back this up or to show anything happening. And yet there is a significant industry devoted to power cords, conditioners and the like. Surely someone has data somewhere.
I worked with the electrical engineers, for almost 6 years as a post-doc, and I saw them regularly doing basic measurements of electrical properties. So why is the audio field so lousy about basic measurements such as power handling characteristics of cords..
Note that I don't expect data proving that humans can hear or prefer such things. As a one-time experimental psychologist working in human perception I know how difficult it is to get clean data from messy human subjects, and I frankly don't expect to find it in this field. I recall in that one of the PhD. engineering students in the lab I worked in was the first person to come up with measurements of the interaural amplitude differences needed to give a sense of direction in stereo hearing. You can't get much more basic than this in the science of stereo yet this work wasn't done until the early 1970's. However I don't believe he published these results even though he ended up as a professor at MIT.
Of course my other main beef is the stupid "it's all in your head" type of explanation. In this instance the problem was that a good cable gave bad results. This is the opposite of confirmation bias so this was obviously not what the person wanted to hear. It is no kind of explanation to glibly claim that we have good science here. We don't get too far beyond basic data in acoustics such as the stereo measurements noted above, before as one of my profs used to say, there is a lot we don't know before we don't know that.
So why is the audio field so lousy about basic measurements such as power handling characteristics of cords..@edstrelow I know someone working with power distribution and they have very expensive measuring equiptment for checking a lot of things. The cost may stop us somewhat. You want to see if a cord affects the current/power in your home when your system is connected to it. Their end game is also a bit different than highend audio, they want to find some problems to fix them and save money (or just check that the system works) and they work with much, much higher currents and voltages.
Of course the sellers could get better at measuring things and showing that measurements for us consumers. Like: "Given this type of disturbances on your power line our cable lowers the disturbances this much".
years ago I was helping my electrician rewire an old building. I was drilling holes though basement joists that were about 2 inches thick as I recall. The drill I was using was on a 100 foot extension cord and was laboring to get through the joist. My electrician told me to use a heavier cord. Upon getting a heavier cord ( maybe 10 gauge) the drill stopped laboring. That was an early lesson in not restricting power. Joe