Is it all in my head??


So I bought a Kimber Power Kord...  yeah, yeah, but it looks prettier than stock, is well built, and having built all my cables myself I appreciated the craftsmanship.

...so, I'm playing an Everest LP--symphony stuff.. and it always sounded noisy and muffled (which is why i decided to give it a spin).  The power cable is plugged into my furman conditioner, and all the other cables are the same.  I swear this LP sounds more "untangled" now (that's the best way i can describe it).

I am an engineer and know intellectually this makes zero sense--is it some confirmation bias?  How can it be.. i didnt buy it expecting a sonic impact, i bought it because i couldn't make one that looks as cool (think of it as a necklace for my rig).  But I swear I think i hear a difference...  tell me it's all in my head.
waltertexas
Power cords do impact the sound.  I was skeptical at first too, but after hearing the difference, I know it's true.  You will get to hear more difference the more stock power cords you replace in your system. 
Confirmation bias is a powerful mental force! Since you were subconsciously expecting a positive result, you indeed had a positive experience! 
Now if someone snuck in overnight and replaced that new PC with the cheap original one (and you didn't notice), it is most likely that you would not hear any difference from the day before!
@roberjerman:  Exactly!!  I think I agree but i think there might be more variables at play... for example, I think the act of moving the equipment and ensuring everything is "connected" might in itself clean off enough oxidation that sounds seem "fresh"?  Actually that is a good way to describe it too...it sounds like someone changed the sheets. :P
If PC's made a difference why are all the enthusiasts so unwilling to do this simple test? 
Polishing the blades on PC's with Copper Brite was a tweak I read about years ago!
 I am retired electrical engineer.   I bye reasonably priced power cables.  I’d buy for geometry and shielding. Pangea  signature series works for me. 
I am not surprised, roberjerman, a well known power cord troll ( he trolls on other things as well ), has shown up. Give this thread some time, and I assure you, others will follow, as he has plenty of company. To not trust your ears, is something I am always amused at. Why are folks in audio land spending money on better amplifiers, better speakers, room acoustics tweaks, etc., and so closed minded to other things audio. Why are so many of these trolls not willing to try some power cords ( they are inexpensive enough ). My guesses are, they know their hearing is bad ( from being in bands, etc. ); do not want to find out, or admit, their hearing is bad; their equipment is old and do not have iec inlets; to hear some of these changes and differences, they have an  " acute " shortage of experience in listening for fine details; the system they have does not have high enough definition or detail. Some of them, as above, have many systems set up throughout their home, and none of them are high definition. Who knows ? Trolling will never stop, because, and this was stated from another power cord thread, " it goes much deeper than the cords themselves ". Keep in mind, I not looking to gain any popularity contests with these trolls. I just call them as I see them. Enjoy ! MrD.
Polish the power cord plug blades? Oh, you mean like Audioquest polishes their silver or copper power cord conductors? 

AUDIOQUEST
HIGH PURITY CONDUCTORS - PERFECT-SURFACE SILVER
 (PSS)
Perfect-Surface Technology applied to extreme-purity silver provides unprecedented clarity and dynamic contrast. Perfect-Surface Silver (PSS) is AudioQuest's highest-quality metal. Solid conductors prevent strand interaction, a major source of cable distortion. Extremely high-purity Perfect-Surface Silver minimizes distortion caused by the grain boundaries that exist within any metal conductor, nearly eliminating harshness and greatly increasing clarity compared to OFHC, OCC, 8N and other coppers.
Welcome to audio! Where you generally first have to hear a given difference or effect for yourself...and then struggle to find the evidence or proof of its existence after the fact.

That’s because there is actually a lot about this hobby that technically seems to ’defy’ common sense. There’s at least one old hobby saying that seems to hold up that goes: "never judge an audio book by its cover"...which means just because an amp is ss, doesn’t mean it will always sound bad, or just because a pre-amp is passive, doesn’t mean it will always sound good, and so on.

People I think make the mistake of trying to grasp the hobby as a set of "rules" that must be learned. After a few decades at it, I no longer think that even applies. For most every rule someone comes up with, there may be anywhere from one to a dozen different exceptions to it...IME, they’re there, you may have to look for them a while to find them, but they’re there. I myself happen to think of this hobby as having far more exceptions than rules, no matter what others may say.

The only thing worse than hearing a difference and not being able to explain it is to insist that the difference cannot possibly exist because it just doesn’t make sense, without having heard it.
[email protected]_nosnibor   I have no quantitative reason for what I hear and I only bought this cable because it looks cool and it would have cost me >50% of the price in parts to build it myself and i cant fabricate my own connectors.  Also, I build most of my own cables from the same wire and it seems like the way I twist, braid or wind it impacts the sound (not always for the better, which contradicts my oxidation theory)...
An ee told me once (and I’m not nearly an ee) that sound was primarily determined by power-vs-length-vs-geometry. Other things like noise cancellation or group delay caused by insulation thickness and material also enter into it. The actual calculations for that sort of thing are often proprietary and not given up easily by those in the know. But, this tends to mean that different components that have different power draws tend to require different power-vs-length-vs-geometry solutions But, the rest of us have to struggle along when it comes to DIY...or copy what we see that works for a given app, or whatever.
I've built speaker cables and IC's, but have never attempted power cords.

my speaker cables vary wildly with geometry... i use the same 12-awg cable for all of them.. i've built about 4 pair so far for critical listening.  
Post removed 
One thing I believe I do know by now, is that the insulation known as PVC is just plain terrible...I mean it’s hot stinking garbage...just no good way to apply it for sound quality’s sake. It’s that smooth, usually black or dark grey, rubbery material that you often see on lower-priced IC’s, sometimes on speaker cables or even pc’s. Almost all the IC’s that come inside the box with new gear have it. It’s smooth in texture, has a matte finish, and gives a little bit to the touch like neoprene, except PVC has much finer air cells within it.

PVC destroys air, openness and the sense of atmospheric space, not just through the mids and highs, but down into the lower mids and can even obscure some bass detail. It has that characteristic "dead", "lifeless" or "rubbery" sound to it that you usually associate with cheaper wires. The good news is that whenever you simply strip off this material down to whatever material is underneath, you breathe massive amounts of life back into the sound and the music. With XLR cables the underlying material will likely braid shielding, in which case you need to cut carefully without nicking up the braid too much. But, it’s amazing how much even cheapie wires will benefit from this! Which makes it easy to try out if you have a pair. But, I’ve tried it enough times now to know that whenever I buy any wires with this jacketing on it, I know definitely that it’s coming off as soon as I buy them.
Infinitely better than trying to cook them into compliance!

That is to say that, IME, most wires that have Very little or no insulation, do not seem to require any break in at all...with the possible exception of silver conductors, which I don't work with much anymore, since I've come to realize I generally prefer copper.
This is, so far, the most reasonable and polite OP that I have seen on topic of cords/cables. Now, if the thread could remain that way...
Personally, I would really appreciate someone pointing me to some sources of sound, scientific information about what factors make up a true, audiophile grade interconnect and which characteristics tend to enhance clarity, treble, bass speed, etc.  I cannot afford trying 20 different types. But, I can distinguish sound quality differences among the various types I already have.  I just don’t fully understand why those differences exist beyond guage and shielding quality.
I have this theory on "cooking" cables too... I think what is happening might be a combination of oxidation and 'listening experience'.  I have a pair of speaker cables I made that are braided/twisted and when terminated are 9AWG equivalent.  I did an internal bi-wire pair so 6AWG essentially.  When I hooked them up, I was shocked at how bad they sounded compared to the non bi-wire cables i replaced (both made from the same 12-awg stock)... but after listening to them for a week, they started to sound better and more detailed (because 8 wires to each speaker are way better than 4 right?!).  Did they sound better? probably not and i kinda' think they still sound worse now that i think about it.  maybe that too is all in my head...
@kumakahn Exactly...unfortunately for us all, there Are no sources of sound, scientific information that relate to sound characteristics like the ones you mention. That sort of thing, AFAIK, is not to be found in science, per se, but only in marketing...hence we rank ametures are having to try to do it all ourselves, basically.

In the early 2000’s I got into it because of the raging debate at the time of which was better, stranded or solid core...I mean about half the manufacturers were saying that stranded was clearly the "greatest" and the other half said solid core - the only thing I knew for sure is that they couldn’t both be right. That’s when I started experimenting myself, however crudely, it didn’t matter to me, with some orphaned wires I had accumulated. The materials used have an impact. Online I looked at topics like dielectric absorption, which was helpful, but drew no correlation between that and sound quality, per se...only measurements, mostly. But, the experimenting taught me more about what relates to sound quality than anything else. It’s just that I had to carry out repeated experiments over time, a few years in fact for me, in order to be sure I was not inferring something that wasn’t there. Even so, I don’t have any scientific "proof" of what I hear, and yet it’s demonstrable all the same.
@kumakahn: If you can record ~5000 samples of 10sec audio clips approx 50/50 split between cable A and cable B, then we can attempt to train a deep LSTM neural network to distinguish the two.   If the computer can learn a difference, then we can work on reverse engineering what it picked up on.
@kumakahn, 

It seems to me, a few decades back, AudioQuest wrote a "manifesto" about what they considered to be worthwhile goals in wire design. I read it, and for the most part, it is about as good a reference as any manufacturer ever produced in layman's terms. The only problem with it was that, while the principles appeared to be rather valid, AQ itself hardly ever followed its own advice altogether in any single cable design of theirs that I ever saw...they were usually compromised, by their own definition, one way or another. 
...not that AQ had any kind of lock on compromised wire designs.
Nobody really knows why or how these things work. If anyone ever did then in no time flat everyone else would too and the resulting competition would drive prices to the floor. That hasn't happened. Because no one has a clue. Just stories they tell to customers who haven't yet figured out design don't mean squat. How it sounds is all that matters. So really, they don't design, they experiment. When you have to throw away a hundred that sound like crap to find one that sounds good then of course you have to charge a fortune for that one percenter. But then not all "designers" even get to the 1%. When you can't sell the sound, sell the story. Always some engineer or wannabe who can't hear (or won't trust his own ears- happens, trust me) eager to buy the story. This is power cords, interconnects, speaker cables (everything, really- turntables, speakers, cones, footers, equipment racks, on and on, the whole friggen industry) in a nutshell.
Kimber braided cables presumably reduce external noise, you know, from an engineering perspective. So where’s the beef? 🐂
I don't care what anyone's profession is, doesn't mean crapola!
Just because one can't hear a difference with power cords or any type of interconnect, doesn't mean there isn't a sonic difference with the music one hears.
It could mean they have not perfected how to listen to music and hear differences, they could be tone-deaf and not realize it, or be using equipment not capible of good sonics.
It's very simple.  Just try a set of AQ Storm PC's.   If you don't hear a very clear SQ improvement, write back and tell us about it.

From my own experience, SQ Storm cables (Tornado, Hurricane) have made the most day/night improvement compared with other equipment upgrades, such as amps, days.  

Obviously I want to hear improvements with all audio investments and so I'm probably biased every time I buy something, it's just that the AQ Storm Series power cables have made the clearest difference. Other pieces of equipment, I've been happy to send back.
Back in the mid 1990s I was seeing this young gal and she gave me the old "it's not you it's me" line.  I begged for another shot, she reluctantly agreed but once she scoped out the Monster Cables I was using she was hooked.  I guess cables are like fancy wheels on a mediocre car, it brings it up a notch. I don't know if cables make a difference but I'm not taking any chances!
All of reality is in your head, so, yes, it's in your head.
I follow a simple formula for happiness with this hobby. Buy the most expensive equipment you can afford. If it sounds better than your old equipment keep it. If it doesn’t, return it.
There are no shortcuts.
You won’t find a formula.
You have to try it out for yourself.
You simply need to start with something and go from there.
Your hearing is completely different from someone else.
You’ll have some overlap but your hearing is unique.
Your amp won’t have the same output specs as others.
Your speaker won’t have the same input specs as others.
If all amps and speakers had the same specs, then one cable would have been settled on ages ago.
Good luck.

All the best,
Nonoise
I am so old that I remember the time when the AC power cord was used as the antenna for many receivers.

Shielding, wire geometry, wire quality, and wire gauge will all affect the sound quality of the power cord. That being said, an expensive power cord won’t polish a turd, so you have to be aware of that limitation.

Some power cords will really make a component sing and you will be shaking your head in bewilderment.

ozzy
Nonoise and ozzy both just hit the nail in the coffin! 
@nonoise,

"Your hearing is completely different from someone else.
You’ll have some overlap but your hearing is unique.
Your amp won’t have the same output specs as others.
Your speaker won’t have the same input specs as others."

Not sure I get that part... That's what the skeptics say to us about fuses, wiring and everything else controversial...that we lack either the educated ear or the technical skill to interpret the results of our own observations, and that therefore we shouldn't even attempt to find out on our own what might be going on. But, for the life of me, I don't get why we wouldn't do so, if we have an opportunity in front of us. Why would audiophiles trust their ears with speakers, with amps and sources...but Not with wiring? Makes no sense to me... I for one am not looking solve the 'mystery of all wiring', just to see if I can unearth the kind of things the makers are not telling me. Your post above makes it look like all investigation on the topic should be banned or dropped. Oh sure, some folks might be in need of starting over from the beginning when it comes to dreaming up an experiment that is dirt simple enough to be factually useful, yeah, I'll grant you that might be a fair criticism, but I mean should we deny other peoples right to experiment...or just maybe be willing to call into question the results on occasion. Just sayin', is all.

Regards
Far more likely that you are hearing a difference than it all being a figment of your imagination. 
waltertexas

If you like the Kimber cable sound and improvement then 
maybe you should stay with using Kimber cables and move up to a higher grade that they make .
Synergy can be an elusive find , so changing cable manufactures could prove positive or negative sonic effects .

nonoise makes a good point , you've started now go from there .



@nonoise,

Maybe I didn't see that you were addressing the OP and not the thread??
It's partially my bad. 🤔
The thread started with power cords and kind of went off on ICs and SCs and I just ran with the last few posts concentrating on speaker cables. 

Some of what I listed can still apply with PCs since not all power supplies are made the same and not all power sources are either when it comes to noise, wiring, substations, geography (as was pointed out on another thread where in the North East, the power somehow corrodes outlets at a level not experienced elsewhere-I'm sure weather has some factor in it as well).

Where I live the power is really quite good and regular, not varying +/-2V all day long and yet every PC I have sounds different. The three best I have are the TWL American Digital, with the Cullen Red Copper and Zu Mission coming in second, with little difference between the two. 

They're all made well with quality parts yet they're all made differently, and they all sound different. I can't explain it.

All the best,
Nonoise
Roger on all that. Thanks.
Nobody can explain it Nonoise, that's the thing. 

Power being good and not varying has almost nothing to do with it. Power where I live is very good if you measure it. All you do is listen though and its obviously a lot better late at night. 

Also almost all noise is local. The worst noise is within your own room and home. Anyone can confirm this very easily. Simply play some music, listen, then go flip off as many other circuits as you can. Come back and listen to the dramatic improvement, better than almost any power line conditioner you can buy at any price.

Unlike power cords where nobody knows why, its pretty obvious why this works.
mrdecibel just can’t seem to help himself.

—- “given this thread some time, and I assure you, others will follow, as he has plenty of company.”

One could also talk about the characters who very predictably enter these threads to retread their usual list of swipes at those who haven’t accepted the claims about after market ac cables. Always with insults and name calling of course. It’s far easier to throw the word “troll” at someone than deal maturely with the points they have made.

And of course it comes with the usual self-serving “critique”: YOU don’t have the hearing and perceptual ability I have” and “YOU don’t have the super high quality system I have” and similar self-stroking.

So lets see how this goes....

—— “Why are so many of these trolls not willing to try some power cords ( they are inexpensive enough ). “

As I have detailed here: I’ve tried high end power cords (Shunyata and others). In fact, I’ve done comparisons in a more carefully controlled manner than I bet mrdecibel ever has. So, that critique fails.

——“My guesses are, they know their hearing is bad ( from being in bands, etc. ); do not want to find out, or admit, their hearing is bad;”

Nope.

I’ve been protecting my hearing with earplugs at really loud events since the early 90’s. I have had my hearing tested regularly for years. The audiologist always remark about how good my hearing is for my age (now 55). My hearing often “measured as” someone 12 to 15 years younger in terms of linearity and frequency extension.

Next....

——“ their equipment is old and do not have iec inlets; “

I’ve owned plenty of equipment with removable ac cords. Have used some of those to test ac cords.

Next....

—- they have an " acute " shortage of experience in listening for fine details;

hmmm

I’ve been obsessed with sound since childhood, grew up with a high end system (starting in the 80’s, KEF 105.2 speakers, Carver amplification), have been heavily in to high end since the early 90’s, have done all sorts of live vs reproduced sound comparisons, have spent time in pro music recording studios recording music, been in post production sound for about 30 years, my day job involves recording sound and minutely tweaking sound all
day long - often literally matching the “air sound of a room with another, or tweaking reverbs to match production sound.

So, no, I don’t have an accute shortage of experience listening for fine details. I have held a job dependant on having that ability for decades.

——“the system they have does not have high enough definition or detail.”

I have used all manner of speakers including many known for excellent resolution - Quads, Waveform (still own some), Audio Physic various models,
moat recently Thiel 3.7 and 2.7 speakers, along with MBL omni 121s which use the same amazing tweeter/mid module as their $70,000 and higher models.

It would be laughable to even bother trying to claim all those speakers are low resolution. And of course, cable companies, shunyatta included, claim it’s a myth you need a super high resolution system anyway. They claim people can realize audible benefits across a wide range from modest to super high end systems.

So...fail again.


——“Trolling will never stop, because, and this was stated from another power cord thread, "

Isnt it interesting that folks like mrdecibel enter these threads to produce a screed about the failings of other people’s hearing, how they must have too-crappy systems to hear what he can hear, and he calls THOSE people “trolls.”

But when you can’t maturely address the points someone else makes and all
you can fire are blanks like the above, the only thing left to you is calling “troll.”

——“Keep in mind, I not looking to gain any popularity contests with these trolls. I just call them as I see them.”

Ah, just dropping in to tweak feathers then, huh?

What was that “T” word you keep using for others again?

Civil conversations are entirely possible to have about cables. There is no need to blow smoke and just make stuff up about those who don’t agree with you.




The same old song.....
What started out as a testimonial has.. again , been turned into a debate about do they or don’t they "power cords".
My only comment is that the op’s experience is what usually turns doubters into aftermarket power cord users. They tried one, and GOLLY it does sound better.Good luck waltertexas!
lol... i did not intend to ignite flames :P  (when ever did a cable comment not)

So, I was in NYC last week and stopped by innovative audio off 58th or so and Lex-i got to listen to an amazing system:  a pair of dan d'agostino relentless driving wilson alexx fed by an MSB reference DAC thru a  d'agostino momentum preamp.  let's just say this was a life changing experience.. for as large as those amps and speakers were, the sound was pinpoint perfect immersive and engaging (holographic even) and I never knew such an experience could be had in high end audio.  

It's one thing to read about it.. its another to spend an hour or so listening to over $1M in high end gear set up with perfection in an acoustically treated room.  After experiencing that, it is now my view that everything matters and that there is no end to this obsession.  

In the end, it all comes down to taste and what it is you are chasing.  For me, I am in love (currently) with dynamic range and power+clarity at low volumes--to this end, I feel the Kimber power kord added a net + to the value prop.


waltertexas

That listening experience sounds totally awesome.  Reminds me of when I got a private demo of the MBL flagship system.  Quite head turning!

Though I’m curious about this:

—-“After experiencing that, it is now my view that everything matters and that there is no end to this obsession.”

You mentioned you were an engineer.  I’m wondering how you determined from listening to that system that “everything makes a diference.”

As an engineer you would understand the importance of isolating the contributions of one part of a system vs another to determine what any particular part of the chain is contributing and to what degree *if any* it is contributing.   So I’m just wondering how you believe it follows from listening to (I presume) a system full of gear you are unfamiliar with that you understood the contributions of every bit to know “everything makes a difference.”

I hope you agree this is a reasonable question to ask. (?)
" I am an engineer" is probably your biggest potential blockade to enjoying hifi. Try just enjoying the improvement and can the need to know why the improvements occur.  
The power to your system comes to it through hundreds of miles of wire owned by the utility company, but what wire you use in the last 2 feet will materially change it? Does this 2 feet of wire "add" something or "subtract" something from the power that enters your house?
The electricity then enters the internal wiring of your pre-amp/receiver and this addition/subtraction remains intact?
Have a buddy play 10 songs for you blind.  Ones that you’re intimately familiar with.  Play each song twice.  Once with the upgraded cord, and another with the stock cord.

Pick your favorite.  If you somehow pick the upgraded cord even 75% of the time as your favorite, well then you’re either fairly lucky or truly can tell the difference.  My guess is you’d guess correctly about half the time.  
Another way to 'think' of the 'last three(six, whatever) feet of power cord is as a LENS, or a set of lenses, that focus the sloppy waveform of the AC into a coherent and better shaped waveform, with a tighter wavefront and less blurriness. Then the endless miles of powerlines menas nothing, as the lens solve the power waveform issues RIGHT THERE!