If Power Cords Don't Matter...

First of all, I don’t own any high-end power cords, mostly because I can’t fit them behind my rack. Second, I am not trying to stir up controversy, as you will see from my question. I understand that the people who believe power cords make no difference argue that once the power gets into the component, the AC is converted to DC and the power supply of the component takes over completely. I think I have that right for the most part. So it that’s true, and it probably is from a traditional EE standpoint, why is it that I have not heard anyone say that power conditioners make no difference? I am not aware of anyone with a decent system ever saying that a Niagara or Triton or Audience teflon conditioner didn’t affect their sound, for good or for bad. So if the EE theory is true, wouldn’t power conditioners make no difference either? I have an Audience AR6T for almost 10 years and I think it made a big difference. BTW - I am not talking about Power Plants, which deal with voltage stabilization, which is a different topic.  Obviously, if your AC voltage is way off, it's going to cause problems.  
Everything makes a difference power cords are a great upgrade to any high resolution system.
In my youth, taking things apart, looking at the lightweight common wiring, soldering, parts inside vintage equipment (speakers, preamps, amps, receivers, tape recorders) (McIntosh, Fisher, Scott, Thorens, SME, Viking, Garard, AR, Sony, Panasonic, Teac, Onkyo ...) from late 50's and early 60's, then SS late 60's, 70's, up to current stuff convinced me that MOST (not all) upgrades that came along are like a religion: It works, IF you believe!. Stop Believing, You're Out!

That was the period when those 'now inferior' parts resulted in great success and long lasting reputations for makers. No special fuses, cords, just darn good audio engineering/manufacturing using currently available parts, transformers a big defining characteristic. Specific audio designers solutions yielded small but perceptible differences.

Later, SS, the miniscule traces on circuit boards, the thin fuse wire, the miniscule diameters of cartridge guts, jumpers, and tonearm wiring make you wonder: A FUSE is going to alter the sound? "You better believe it".

Nonetheless, 'why not try?' sets in, and an industry exists. I probably could change my speaker wires back to lamp cord, my Phono Cord back to the temporary $6. one I used while waiting for the $400. Ortofon one. My interconnects back to .... and my system would sound great because the preamp/amp/tubes are noise free, make the preferred difference, the coloration, and the speakers/space make the huge difference revealing anything and everything.

Avoiding or solving problems or mismatches, finding and replacing errant parts, tube type selection, gets you back to great. Upgrading, tighter specs, hmmmm.

Find efficient speakers you love, and then find the color you want to feed them with.

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Just because I don't understand it doesn't make it so.  A long time power cord sceptic was shattered with a demonstration.  I still can't figure out why 6ft of wire can make a difference but I heard it and it was dramatic.  I heard the difference on the lead in grove it was that significant.

I did upgrade my power cables to a bigger gauge but didn't go gonzo on them.  What I haven't tried is using a cheater plug to convert a three prong plug to a two prong.  The theory is that because of the common ground used by all the equipment a two prong plug eliminates all the extra wire causing distortion.

Whacky yes but makes as much sense to me as anything else. I'll report back after my trip to home depot


You Speak as if the mfgs had all the knowledge there is in 1960 or 70 and that no new knowledge exists today. Plus you overlook the need to build to a price point. Sure, the old stuff works and can sound pretty good. Likewise the old cars get you from point a to point b. And if you are satisfied with the old stuff then so be it.  Butt to tell someone that is the best that can be done is totally erroneous You do not have the corner on the market of truth. Especially when you base it on your belief alone. THAT is religion
Many of us have experienced the difference that tweaks can make. Sorry if you haven't. But your inexperience does not negate it's reality 
@chayro the short answer is that power conditioners include components and circuitry specifically to significantly filter stuff other than the 50Hz - 60Hz, 115V - 240V AC power signal. And this filtration can be measured and quantified. These components are not found on a power cable, generally speaking.
Puritan make extremely flexible power cords, more flexible than many cords supplied "stock" with the unit.  They'll fit anywhere you can fit a cheapie PC.
Check out youtube for videos showing just how flexible they are.
I understand that the people who believe power cords make no difference argue that once the power gets into the component, the AC is converted to DC and the power supply of the component takes over completely. I think I have that right for the most part. So it that’s true, and it probably is from a traditional EE standpoint, why is it that I have not heard anyone say that power conditioners make no difference?

You are right to point out the illogic. 

The power supply does indeed convert AC to DC. The way this works, a power supply transformer first converts the line voltage, whatever it is, to the voltage the component requires. This first step is why some components can be changed to run on 120 or 240 or whatever. All they do is use different taps off the same transformer. The quality of this transformer has a big effect on performance, which is why so many manufacturers of top end gear brag about their transformers.

Then next AC is converted to DC using rectifier diodes. These devices allow power flow only one way. So after rectification we have DC. But here again the quality of the rectifiers has a big impact on sound quality. Fast smooth switching diodes yields a nice deep liquid sound. Cheap ones flat and grainy. The difference is easy to hear.

After rectification power supply caps are used to store the power for use by the circuit. Here again both the quantity and the quality of the caps has a huge influence on the sound.

The power supply theory the PC deniers rely upon is that since the power supply is so perfect nothing upstream can matter. But we have just shown nothing about the power supply is perfect! Not the transformers at the beginning. Not the diodes in the middle. Not the caps at the end. None of it. Not one single bit of it. 

If they were consistent they would insist nothing matters. But they know enough to understand this is a non-starter. So they fall back on, well some things matter but not this. For which there is no basis. 

There you have it.
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The same applies to power conditioners! Let's see some measurements of before and after ...
Feel free to post your own measurements. This is a hobbyist's group and not a scientific or engineering forum, so don't expect others here to post them for you. But you already knew that.
Yet Another techno Wikipedia Cut n Paste ...padded out into paragraphs for our ‘Education” Yawn.....
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Most people especially those who don't have background in EE think that electricity is like water, but that is a wrong analogy.  How electricity flows is not very obvious.  Unlike water, before you turn on the switch, the electrons are already in the equipment so it's not like the electricity flows from one place to another.  It's not like that at all.
Right. The gauge of the pipe isn't at all like the diameter of the wire. Voltage isn't pressure. Just because we call amps current, forget all that.
Ordered me my first aftermarket power cable from a fellow audiophile…can’t wait. 
Curious if I will notice it🤞


The weakest spot of power cables is not the wire itself, and not the power plug or the inlet plug, but the termination of wire to either of them and the mating resistance.  It is seldom done right and at full load these connections heat up quite a bit.  Here is a thermal image: https://www.onfilter.com/cable-temperature  The cables are industrial-grade with C15 and C19 inlet plugs.  The loads are ~15A and ~20A on each correspondingly.  You can see that wire itself isn't a problem for heat dissipation, but the connections are - it is hard to discern between the temperature on wire connection to the metal parts of C15 and C19, or the mating parts of the connectors.  Whether this affects the sound is in the ear of beholder, but the lower the heat dissipation, reversely counted, the lower the resistance, and theoretically lower  minute AC voltage variations based on load current.  If you are curious to test it yourself, we use FLIR One Pro for these images.  

I am not understanding what you are saying in your posting below. In high school physics we learned that voltage is analogous to physical water pressure, and current is like water flow in volume. So what you are saying is losing me.

I do believe power cables can make a difference, especially going to from the very basic inexpensive ones to ones that are made for better hifi gears.
danager, congratulations on trying; it makes all the difference.  :) 

Just wait until you work up the nerve to try a comparison of sets. I suspect you will be scratching your head for a long time about that.  

Power cords - glider
Sets - rocket propelled 
I am not understanding what you are saying in your posting below. In high school physics we learned that voltage is analogous to physical water pressure, and current is like water flow in volume. So what you are saying is losing me.

I’m losing you because you’re missing my sarcastic sense of humor. Mr EE lectured us on how electricity is "not like that at all." There are important differences. But instead of taking time to explain any of that he shows off with his clever little insult. I get accused all the time of talking down to people but here we have a guy who starts right off with people "who don’t have a background in EE think electricity is like water, but that is a wrong analogy." Sheesh! 

Wrong. It is an imperfect analogy. But it for sure is not wrong. As my witty little reply makes painfully clear.

I even swapped around gauge of wire with diameter of pipe. The analogy is darn near perfect. Voltage is exactly pressure. Just like water. We even call amps current.

Even getting into math, the analogy continues impressively well. V=IR is voltage equals amps times resistance. Substitute pressure in lbs/sq in for voltage, liters per minute for amperage, pipe flow resistance for ohms, the analogy is almost one for one. Far from wrong.

Imperfect? Certainly. Wrong? Not even. Item #269 on the list of why we would all be better off to ignore credentials and learn to think for ourselves.

PS- troidelover, did you spell it wrong or was triodelover already taken? ;)
Charyro is correct.  With respect to say  amps and preamps, if your AC supply voltage is grossly correct and consistent, boutique power cords and power supply conditioners are unnecessary because the amplification devices, tubes or transistors, use DC current which your amp or preamp produces from its power transformer, rectifier and in some cases, its voltage regulator.  So if you want to improve the quality of current presented to these amplification devices, you would have to optimize components within the amp or preamp, the power transformer, rectifiier or voltage regulator, not add on external tweaks like boutique power cords or power conditioners.
The problem is that it is not plain resistive load for 60Hz voltage.  Typical LPS draws current in very short spikes of extremely high amplitude (5 fold or higher).  These current spikes have high harmonic content (narrow squares), making cable's frequency response very relevant.  In addition all the energy delivered to load comes on the outside of the wires in electromagnetic field.  I'm not even sure if cable should have very low inductance and capacitance to preserve harmonic content of these current spikes, or should have medium inductance and capacitance to provide some filtering of it.  Gage of the wire should also be adequate to 5 fold current.  Also, there are extremely narrow spikes created by rectifier that, when backward polarized, is too slow to respond conducting in reverse direction, to rapidly snap back.  Transformer filters some, but portion of it gets out, I'm sure. 

I'm not saying I know why power cables make a difference, but it is not as simple as I = E/R  (Indian sees Eagle over Rabbit).
Caelin Gabriel takes the view that  the component sits between two power conductors: the hot and the neutral. AC power oscillates (alternates) back and forth at a 50-60hz rate. So power does not pour into the component at all. The component’s power supply is within a complex network of wires and connectors. Due to their obvious proximity, all of the wire and connectors can and do affect the performance of the component’s power supply.

From his view the power cord is not the last 6 feet, it is the first 6 feet from the perspective of the component. The further a noise source is from a component, the less of an impact it will have on the components power supply. The high-frequency noise sources that have the greatest impact on audio and video performance are the system components themselves
Actually you’re going to have to replace all of the wiring from the power station to your house because the polarity is off by 13.438°. Sorry.
These amplifiers also use filter capacitors and or chokes in their power supplies and the quality of those components is important also.
Both make a big difference in any system on any quality of decent gear for many reasons, but the big one is natural tonality, free cords make the gear work but aftermarket cords make the gear shine.
Maybe you should explain how voltage is analogous to physical water pressure.

Gravity and pumps create water pressure and it is held back by a valve. On the other hand electricity does not need to be held back as there is no "pressure". It does does not attempt or want to flow (i.e. no pressure) until a request is made by completing a circuit. A switch can camplete a circuit, but only if there is something connected to it. Unlike a valve, turning on a switch when there is nothing connected to it does not result in electricity flowing.

Their flow rates can be measured but in unconnected ways.
Yes, demand has to be created.  Presence of the voltage in closed circuit creates current, hence magnetic field around the wire.  Load creates electric filed between the wires.  Electric and magnetic fields are always perpendicular.  They are like XY plane with vector Z (Poynting vector) showing direction of energy flow.  With AC both electric and magnetic fields change direction simultaneously, but Poynting vector (direction) stays the same.  Current itself is just a flow of electric charge.  Same amount of electric charge that leaves the source - comes back.  Energy is delivered on the outside of the wire.
I use harmonic technology pro 10 OCC single Crystal power chords and I can tell you they made a big difference so anybody that says power cords don't need their hearing checked.
judge for yourself if power cords do/don't make a difference: 

Man people yawn a lot on this site.  Think it's because they missed their nap time?
Maybe you should explain how voltage is analogous to physical water pressure.

Gravity and pumps create water pressure and it is held back by a valve. On the other hand electricity does not need to be held back as there is no "pressure".

I can think of a lot of ways pedroeb, but this is the one I want to try. Since you think voltage is not pressure, I will put both hands across a 12v car battery if you will hold your hands half an inch above a 12kV panel. Since voltage isn't pressure and you have to complete a circuit you should be okay with doing this. When I am fine and you are fried we will see who still thinks voltage isn't pressure. Deal? 
As always ... the only way to find out if adding / changing a component (unfortunately almost always an expensive one) makes the sound 'better' is a blind A/B listening test. But that's often difficult or impossible to set up because of the required instant switching.

An easy test is: ... https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/02/411473508/how-well-can-you-hear-audio-quality
If you can't pick the uncompressed sample 100% of the time I think it's safe to say you can stop investing.

But isn't part of the fun just 'owning' the esoteric stuff?

7:17am“Man people yawn a lot on this site. Think it's because they missed their nap time?”

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I'm totally convinced that the best way to deal with all of this AC noise/distortion issue is to totally eliminate the WALL AC.....Period! The market is now aflush with extreme, high quality, lithium battery powered portable power generators.....$1000 get you near top of the line. One or two of these, a few solar panels outside and you are done. Or, charge it with an AC charger when you are not listening and disconnect it when listening.
 If you are into the whole alternate energy thing, A few DIY Lithium cells a BMS and a well regulated, quality 12-48VDC to 120VAC inverter and you are in High Cotton!
 Or how about a TESLA Power Wall.....Disconnect the whole freak'n house from the grid.....but be aware all the internal noise generating devices are still connected...Dimmers, Wall Warts, Compact Fluorescents..

 This is the direction I'm headed....DIY cells, BMS, Inverter!
I saw a YouTube video of a bird on a transformer. The bird did not touch the connections or at least it looked like it didn’t. Poof! Gone! There was nothing left but smoke. The best thing I have found to show people power cables make a difference is putting them on a BlueSound Node 2i with a C19 to C7 adapter. All the way from stock to Nordost TYR and several in between. Power Cords can make a difference. I use a Nordost Blue Heaven. It sounds great. 
I'm thinking a solar trailer, to tell the truth. If you have the room. I do.
It cuts the maintenance, I can unplug, fold up and be GONE.. Have Power will Travel. They actually are less expensive. Depends how fancy of a trailer you want to. Full blown air ride, tandem axles and adjustable  hydraulic surge breaks. Still 30 to 50% less than on the roof..

Fruit for though..

@pedroeb how is the pressure vs Voltage  not a valid analogy or metaphor?
As we all know high end audio or the obsession for audio perfection, is an ocd hobby. I think we can all agree on that. I am included in the above label. The topic of power cords is pretty simple.   If your ocd obsession is not strong enough to strive for better sound that it compels you to buy a $500 SR cable then dont buy one.  I can safely say that a couple of these cords at least for amp and preamp definitely improved transparency in my system.  I have been very satisfied with the results and would have never believed it unless I put two in place.  I really don’t care how it works but it works so again if your obsession for audio perfection does not motivate you to purchase a $500 power cord then don’t.  The guess work has been done and the manufacturers would stop making and selling them if audiophiles got no benefits from them in their systems.   I don’t see the demand going away anytime soon.
Have a safe holiday weekend
douglas_schroeder3,152 posts

I've been wracking my brain and finally I'll just have to ask.
What the heck are sets?
+1 three-easy-payments "first 6 feet": yes, that has really helped me understand it.
To Millercarbon

Thanks for your response. I guess I missed the humor, sometimes I do. My handle is mispelled as I struggle with dyslexia. It is hard to type straight when I am tired. It talkes concentration, and where I can, on work or important things I always use spell check.
millerecarbon forgot to mention the regulator, which have improved over the years (to higher speeds, like Hynes, etc)

But it’s still not an ideal situation when the rectifier is ’forcing’ the inversion DC/AC. The line is already alternating w/ caps (only) getting charged at the peak & low of the wave. Never when rising/dropping, where it spends most of its time.

Then the the noise caused by this charging process. Then the power cord trapping noise in a component (blocking path to house-ground). The problems of AC-audio are hard to enumerate...

@troidelover1499 Maybe Tammy at Audiogon Support can help you with a name change to triodelover1499?
Sometimes when you think about all the challenges that are stacked up against them, it's little short of miraculous that audio components work at all.
Chayro’s , miller carbon’s and willy t’s comments are on point.  Expensive power conditioners and boutique power cords will make no difference in the characteristics of the DC current delivered to the amplification devices (tubes or transistors) which is produced by the amplifiers power supply, which incorporates, usually, “filter,” capacitors.  I suspect that some of the anecdotes in posts, above, claiming improvement in SQ from such tweaks are really just descriptions of placebo effects.