What about all the miles of non-audiophile extremely thin copper wire in the power transformers of all your components? So why should several feet of a power cord matter?
Looking For 18awg Audiophile Power Cable Options
I'm trying to find some 18awg audiophile power cables and am looking for recommendations. It seems the only ones I can find are of the AudioQuest variety, but I don't like the sound of AudioQuest cables, as they sound too sterile to me (or something, it's hard for me to describe).
I have a music production system and while I use expensive Triode Wire Labs Digital American cables on the DAC, ADC, and production computer/DAW with fantastic and stable results, I've had problems with my other components running on any thicker-gauged cables (powered KRK monitors, microphone power supply, and preamps).
I've tried several different cables on these other components, but I find any cable with a gauge thicker than 18awg results in issues of sound stability. The system needs to run for 12, sometimes 18 hours at a time, and I find that thicker-gauge cables, after about 8 hours, start to render the sound compressed, maybe slightly overloaded, and not as open, which is problematic for mixing and recording.
I started using some 18awg cables with hospital-grade plugs, and while they're definitely a big step up from the stock cables, and the stability of the sound is great, I'm just wondering if there's any 18awg audiophile-type cables out there that would give me improved performance, smoother top end, etc., just from better noise/RFI rejection. The sibilants were smoother when I used the audiophile cables, I think from better shielding, but the stability of the sound of system and vocal chain is of the upmost importance.
It's weird but I guess it has something to do with the digital components handling the thicker gauged cables better for some reason, compared to the analog components.
Any ideas/recs appreciated, thanks for your time!
@acar83 I’m not aware of 18awg power cords. But if you insist, you can most likely build them yourself using high quality hookup wire and audio grade connectors. Check out Parts Connexion for wires, connectors, etc.
What you’re describing as a problem, at least to me sounds like power supply design issues with the components you are using and the cable gauge isn’t a culprit. Just something to think about.
I won’t weigh in on your rationale for wanting thinner wire for some of your gear but would suggest you reach out to Karl at Empirical Design. I have been using his higher gauge ED-316 PCs for years on my digital players and linestages and love them—much more flexible for routing and sound great. He will work with you on custom cables that will meet your needs and is a no BS guy who understands his work.
@audphile1 Thanks for your response. Yeah, I’m not the do-it-yourself kind of person unfortunately. I’m not sure what else could be the problem besides the gauge of the wire delivering more energy than the PS is designed to work with (or something). Could it be that most audiophile music systems are just not run for such long stretches for this normally to be an issue? This is all top of the line pro gear I’m working with, not cheap stuff, so if it’s an issue with design, I’m not sure what to do about it. Unfortunately, in the music production world, audiophile products are pretty much seen as "ridiculous" by most, but I’ve done very extensive tests for years and have no doubt in my mind they can make a difference, for better or worse. The Triode Wire Labs Digital American cables absolutely transformed my monitoring system and enhanced the quality of my ADC’s recording performance, and I’ve had no issues with stability or the sound changing when the system is left on for many hours. I think it’s ironic that it’s only the non-digital components that have an issue. The digital components are all from different companies, too. ADC - Mytek, DAC - Lavry, and then the computer is a custom built PC with an RME AES card.
It seems like the consensus on here is that I’m an idiot for thinking cable gauge is a factor, but I don’t know what else it could be, as that’s the only variable I’ve been able to isolate. And then I think, ok, well current delivery from 18awg is what the gear is designed to work with, but I don’t understand the technology enough to really know what difference massive current delivery would make, I’m just speculating. I do however undoubtedly have the ears to know what I’m hearing. The change is subtle but distinct, and not something I can have happening in a production system for recording and making critical mixing decisions.
Any other ideas are welcome and appreciated. I’ll do custom cables if necessary but if you guys really don’t think it’s the cable gauge, I don’t want to spend a bunch of money on it. Most of this gear is using around an amp of power, so even an 18awg cable is delivering more than it needs. I think the real benefit is more related to keeping the power clear of RFI between the power conditioner (Transparent Power Isolator) and the gear, also it seems high quality connectors make a difference, hence the notable difference with the hospital grade cables. I’ve never really understood the proposed value of flooding the gear with a ton of extra current it’s not needing to operate. Anyway, I’m open to other ideas, if we can refrain from the "you’re clearly an idiot" insinuations. ;) Thank you.
I think that there are two things throwing people off. One is that your components sound different after long periods of use and secondly that thinner power cables provide superior sound. Many of us leave our components on 24/7 due to changes in reproduction after our systems are turned on, but the end result isn’t a reduction in fidelity. If this is a power supply issue where noise is getting back into the system and in a different manner after many hours of use, then speaking with a technical person at Shunyata might be useful. I believe that Shunyata started out trying to provide less noise to sensitive equipment in hospital environments. Richard Rodgers at Shunyata would be the guy to talk to. Their focus has been reducing bleed back noise into an electrical system via their NR power cords. If you have trouble getting through to Richard, message me and I’ll provide his mobile number. I try doing this sparingly.
BTW…. There are a subset of members here that believe that spending large sums of money on power cables is a waste of money and that cable make little, or no difference in component performance. I don’t believe that most post to criticize the rest of us, but rather are trying, in their view, to save us from wasting our money.
@acar83 I would also recommend reaching out to the manufacturer of your powered speakers and or whatever other components you have noticed this phenomena with. Get their feedback on it.
Those are the cables that I use in 14awg. I have three of them and yes, they are cheap and give piece of mind.
Have you guys wondered why @jasonbourne52 is the first poster on every single cable thread? 💭 🤯. Also, why does he always say the same thing on those first posts / replies 🤯🤔?
@vonhelmholtz Interesting, okay, so my theory about the system being left on longer than a music listening system doesn’t hold up, haha. I wouldn’t say it’s a reduction in fidelity, it’s that the sounds starts sounding slightly...denser, less open, kind of compressed, more fatiguing from the density, which changes the way I want to mix and process audio.
@acar83 : I appreciate you following up on your own thread. Clearly NOT one of those “drive by posters”.
I have to be honest, and tell you the truth how I see this: I am scratching my head on this. I never experienced myself a lower gauge (read: thicker) can impact the music playback negatively. While not necessary better than a lower gauge cable, cannot hurt at worst. Even for light weight applications like digital. Assuming same quality cable geometry and built. And even brand and tier. Something for me to investigate further. Thanks
@thyname haha, no drive by poster here, no Sir.
Yeah I don't really know, I just did a lot of testing before I came to these conclusions. I don't really understand the science behind some of this. It's ironic because my digital components are the ones doing great on the big audiophile cables. And when I test this stuff, I don't just swap cables and listen and jump to a conclusion; I let the cable break in or re-break in extensively and/or settle and then assess.
Like I said I don't really understand the ideology behind big cable gauge to begin with. I was just looking at a chart because I couldn't remember the numbers, and an 18awg cable accommodates 14 amps! I have a computer, 2 powered 6" inch monitors, a DAC, an ADC, a stereo preamp, a tube compressor, and tube microphone power supply all on one 15 amp circuit and it's not even at 50% last I checked. So 18awg should be plentyyyy for each of these components...
@acar83 : maybe it will help the people here if you post your full audio chain? Meaning all your components from source to speakers. Or headphones if that’s your thing.
To me, since you have already been using Pete’s TWL cables, it sounds like you have some experience with power cords.
I’m not trying to be a smart ass, but the way that I’ve always viewed this larger power cord or smaller power cord for that matter is that it doesn’t matter how let’s say large it is as soon as it enters the component it goes through a fuse. So if you’ve got a 18 gauge cord or a steel rod that’s an inch in diameter. The power still hast to go through the fuse. then, after the fuse, there’s other electrical things that happened like changing the power to DC that happen. My point being is that don’t these things like the fuse, and then converting to DC act as the smallest common denominator?
@raysmtb1 : how long is the fuse? Do the math. Inches or millimeters. Resistance, capacitance, inductance. Basic stuff. I am not trying to be a smart ass here. Just common misconception all you cable deniers / haters have
@thyname making fun of other peoples equipment is the part of the hobby that I could do without. Yes I’m a Macintosh add a tekton guy. I think they both make fine equipment and they’re both made here in the United States. I think I could probably find plenty of people who wouldn’t have a problem with any of my purchases.
I’m not a full on cable denier. I think it’s a little over blown, I think that interconnects and speaker cables can make a difference. I’ll stand behind the power cord argument. Especially since none of the aftermarket ones, are underwriters, laboratories, rated.I hope that you never have a problem with one of these aftermarket cords, messing up any of that fine foreign made equipment that you have.
I probably should’ve taken up knitting. It would’ve been a lot cheaper than the money I spent hiring people… specialists, helping me build my new idea in Speakers called blueprintacoustic.com. That’s kind of what’s wrong with being an audio file. It’s not really a hobby……riding a bike is a hobby unless you’re going to buy and sell equipment home audio is not really a hobby. Home audio is like buying an expensive home Appliance that you have fallen in love with. I think many people get bored and wish that they could have more interaction with their equipment than just turning it on and listening to music. That explains away why there are so many bizarre tweaks that are available to purchase. There is some seriously bizarre stuff that I’ve seen come up for sale. I don’t think I’ve ever seen things like that and other hobbies. Unless you are a electronics tech, there’s really not much else you can do with your equipment except listen to it.. I don’t know just a crazy thought.
After I had my accident (riding my bike) and became a quadriplegic. I was looking for something to do. I can’t use my hands like I used to so streaming music seem to be something fun. Then I started buying and selling equipment. Three years ago I decided that I thought I had a pretty novel idea and started doing my research and hiring specialist to see if my speaker idea would work. I’m very proud at what I’ve created, along with some other very talented people. In a way it tries to solve some of the hobby issues. I spoke of previously. We designed a hands on speaker system that encourages you to make changes and gives you hundreds of options that no other speaker company does. We’re very proud of how they sound and how they look.
when I retired at 40 I thought I would get to ride my bike until I was around 80. That didn’t work out like I planned….so If any of you out there are bored… I’d love to get to know you better, and let’s talk about speakers!
I apologize to all those out there who love their power cables. I wish I could hear what you do, it would give me something else to goof around with. Best wishes to everyone may you find contentment in our audio hobby.
Big talk for an "audiophile" wanting 18 ga, power cables.
I think I’m done with my participation in this thread. It was a simple question about whether or not anyone knew of cables that would have the specs of the stock cables that professional audio gear is designed to run with but with higher quality connectors and some kind of RF shielding, but clearly that is too much for people to handle.
Yes. Knitting is a good hobby.
And @raysmtb1 everything I see here you posting leads me to believe you are a full blown cable hater and denier. Everything you say is a conjecture.
By the way, you never answered my question on the fuse
oh, and this? 😂😂😂
@thyname i’m not sure what you mean by that everything I say is conjecture…. If you mean, my ideas are based on bad information or incomplete information, this would not be true. i’ll follow the manufacturers recommendations. It doesn’t matter what I think about the fuse, it was put there by an engineer, who knows more than I do about what size fuse belongs there. As far as the power cards, go, I trust underwriters laboratories…. Not some guy who decided to make power cables are on his kitchen table. I can’t believe that people will spend 50 K on a system and then put power cards on their systems that are not. Underwriters laboratories approved. If God forbid something happened and the house burned down, it would suck if the claim got denied because they found all these aftermarket power cords that weren’t approved. Those are the kind of things that they look for when there’s an accident…. Things that have been altered.
That's very true. The difference being those components are in a case, while the power cable is open to contamination and needs to be shielded.
Clean power is crucial. Start with the best conditioner and make sure it gets to your equipment without being open to contamination. Cables are important, but do not use plastic power boards. Go metal for shielding.
@acar83 I own a Benchmark LA4 and DAC3B. They came with 18AWG power chords that they claim are the best they have been able to find. I tried the 14AWG chords that I use on other components and went back to their outstanding recommendation and could not be happier!
Not debating the reasoning behind your thought, but Morrow Audio has cables that may be near what you are looking for: Their MAP-1 uses Litz construction, and the total is 17 gauge. Their MAP-2 does as well, and the total is 15 gauge.
I have not tried their power cables, but own their RCA interconnects, XLR interconnects, digital co-ax, and speaker cables. Great value for the money, and they have a 30 day return policy.
NOTE: Morrow cables need some break in time, I would use at least their 10 day break in service.....so they come to you ready to demo.
Not that I know all the size cables that they can make from, a thought for a custom cable that will not break the bank you might want to check Iconoclast Cable BAV Power Cables. I have had very good results on my purchases.
Bob Howard has made me a number of cables in 2 different ga. Can send contact info if interested.
Very interesting post.
I'm a (very) long term advocate for premium power cables, and I'm trying to wrap my head around the issue of larger gauge cables having performance issues over extended time periods. I have not observed, nor have I made an attempt to properly observe it. I guess this proves I still have gaps in my knowledge base, and have something(s) to learn.
My thoughts and observations:
It would be interesting to know if the sonics you describe with Audioquest has been specifically with power cables or other (interconnect, speaker, digital) cables? It's possible that if this is the "other" catagory, then you might find the power cables to have different sonic characteristics and be more agreeable with you?
Per Audioquest's specs for current power products, models that use 2-prong C7 connectors are 17AWG. If your equipment uses 3-prong C13 connectors, the smallest Audioquest cable (NRG-X3) is 16AWG, and moves quickly to 14AWG with the next 2 models up.
While the sonic benefits of the step up models are very apparent (to me anyway), I don't know if the larger gauge with material upgrades. and other noise, impedance improvements will provide a stable extended use benefit in your situation.
Maybe worth a listen?
I'm not recommending this, but your query reminded me of a discussion here @ A'Gon (20+ years ago) regarding making power cords out of 47 Labs OTA cable (26 gauge solid core copper in a thick polyvinyl insulation).
If you search OTA + power cord some of the posts will come up (most are contained in this thread - one which I took part in).
The OP has left the building!
Hello acar83. There are snap on ferrite blocks that prevent very high frequency signals from getting through cables. They fit over your power cords and are very inexpensive. I suspect, as some have suggested, that garbage generated in the power supplies of some of your gear age getting into the innerds of other equipment and causing the problems you mention. I have had this sort of problem in some of my gear and have had to remove some well reviewed gear to solve the problem. Putting ferrite blocks on all the power cords can't hurt is might be a very inepensive solution. I live near a Navy base and have about two volts of garbage on my power and phone lines. Good Luck!
Hey OP, what you describe does not make much sense. Sounds like you may need some mains clean up and there are many products that will help. You are under the mistaken impression that heavier/ thicker cables will swamp the system with massive amounts of current. It does not work that way. Also do not assume that if wire is able to deliver, say 10 amps (a steady state rating) that it will be adequate for transient dynamics which is what music is, as you know.
A component will only draw the current it needs dependent on the demands of the system, in other words if you connected to the mains with heavy duty truck battery jumpers the system would use the same amount of current.
Start eliminating and narrowing your search by simply connecting a multi-meter to your amplifier terminals with the meter set to DC. Should read no more than a few millivolts and ideally zero.
A word of caution! Any cable thread should carry a health warning. Cables make a difference and to me power cables carry the biggest rewards.