First off, for 1,500 per cord you have all the choices in the world (perhaps that's the problem). It makes most sense to borrow cables from the Cable Company (www.fatwyre.com). They'll lend you anything for a 5% deposit toward a purchase within a year. That means you can listen to just about anything, ANYTHING, decide what you want, and then either purchase from them, or use up the accrued deposits with them and then shop used on Audiogon. The only sanity-saving way to audition power cords.
There are a number of very good power cords on the market that are getting very good press, Elrod, Virtual Dynamics, Foundation Research, HMS, NBS, Purist and AZ, but they each do something different in a system. You need to read the reviews from AUdio mags and on-line reviews and narrow down the list. And then get some cords in and listen to them yourself. Fatwyre.com (the cable comapny) lets you try them out as well as most dealers here at Agon. If you are going to sepnd that kind of ching, hear them for yourself. Do you have dedicated AC lines? That is the first step prior to all of this. IMHO, there is no magic cable, or component.
Bigkidz makes a good suggestion - go for a dedicated line (or two) first. After that, absolutely demo any power cables in your system before you buy. Some good choices are listed above - I would point out that Electraglide and Shunyata have also gotten good reviews/press.
However, I would caution you in jumping in wholeheartedly into multi-thousands of dollars worth of power cords. Power cords do make a difference, but make sure you figure out whether the differences you are hearing are positive ones! For example, oftentimes, that "authoritative bass" you hear in a new PC really is really a recessed trable and exaggerated midbass, which are calling your attention to that range of the spectrum. Unfortunately, I spent too much money learning this lesson the hard way.
Peersonally, this might sound like very strange advice, but I would start by trying out some inexpensive ($100-$300 used) aftermarket cords. Get a couple used here at Audiogon for 50% retail or so. See what you think of these cords. If you hear some differences that will be good; however, it will not prepare you for what you will hear as you move up the quality scale of power cords. After you have a grasp of what these cords do, it is time to move up to a cord that is a little higher quality.
I would progress to maybe an Audience or Acoustic Zen AC cable or maybe a Cardas. Make sure you get it used at a good price, so if you do not like it, you can always sell it. Or you can do the Cable Company route.
I do not recommend that you go straight to the cream of the crop of power cords. Why? This is hobby that is about learning. And if you start with something that may sound awesome, you might just stop there. However... you might have been able to get close or even better sound from a power cord that was a lot less $$$. Knowlege is power. And, if you try a number of inexpensive power cords, you will very much appreciate (or hate) very pricey power cords. Think of the decision this way... When you started out in audio, did you start with ML amps? This hobby is a journey, enjoy the ride.
I will say this about power cords in conclusion... There seems to be a point at which the men are separated from the boys. Basically, there seems to be an extreme gap in performance between what I would call entry level/mid level cords and the really high quality ones. This is a big gap, and if you pay full retail, you could pay A LOT for this extra performance. An example would be the BMI Whale Elite mk2 and the Shark. The Whale is not a bad power cord. It is a little better than most power cords that run about $300 or so retail (the Whale retailed for something like $1k or so...). The perfonmance/sonic difference between the Whale and the Shark is a HUGE margin. Of coarse retail on the Shark is something like $3500 (only a fool would pay this much) for 6'. At Audiogon one can be had for $800 or so. If you stick a Whale on on your source, you may thing the sound was a ltered a little. If you stick a Shark on your source, you may need to confirm you are using the same source (it could easily sould like you just got a $2000+ upgrade to your source).
I agree with Tok. Jump in carefully. The original Synergistic Research AC Master Coupler is the powercord that kicked off the aftermarket power cord industry, and can be had for $125 on Audiogon. This is what I use in my system, and have felt no need to move to more costly PCs. The Master coupler has good resale value (getting from Audiogon what you paid to own from Audiogon), because it is a well recognized product.
One view of aftermarket power cords at this level: you are working to obtain matched quality end to end in your system, to eliminate potential weak links. Before you do the big bucks thing, you need to be certain that your system is sensitive enough to respond.
I tend to agree with the Cable co.Due to the fact that you can afford to spend as mentioned,it leaves the door open wider than for most.I would definately not gamble on other likes and dislikes,becuase what some one else likes you may not. Going the Cable company route in my mind makes the most sense.Good Luck
Jsteigert, I know Dan's system is sensative enough to respond by a long shot. He has some very nice pieces in his system. Just putting a great power cord on his ML transport would totally transform his system's sound (I have a friend with a ML transport, and he just got a Shark power cord that he is 100% ga ga over).
You do not need to spend $1500 per cord, IMO. Brands like Elrod, TG Audio, and Pure Note are excellent and affordable choices.
IMHO, as I stated on a recent thread here, I am very impressed with the Virtual Dynamics Nite. Everything you stated above that you're looking for-more open sound, dynamics and especially detail-all of these were increased with the Nite.
Virtual Dynamics has a try before you buy audition and I am not a dealer or associated with the company.
I simply like their product.
Good luck on your search!
As Greh has stated the Virtual Dynamics cords are very good. Look up there site and talk to Rick. He will steer you in the right direction. Good hunting!
I like Virtual Dynamics AC cords a lot as well (I have three Nite AC cords in my system now... all I can say is wow!). However, I still think you should dabble with some lesser power cords so you really know what kinds of differences their are between different cords.
I use Pure Note Sigma power cords on all my Krells and the results were mind blowing. The company has a great trial period for no risk. Although the company burns them in, I found the big improvement came at about one week.
For more dynamic detail, please try Virtual Dynamics.
Be aware that alot of these power cords, like the Virtual Dynamics, are very inflexible and need alot of room to fit. I tried a VD #2 and I needed at least a good 12-15 inches between the wall and back of my rack to work.
I would go the Cable Company route or buy inexpensive here first on A'gon. One thought for a dynamic PC is the Kimber PK10. I have one on my amp, does a great job (is flexible) and costs $140 new for 4 ft. or can pick one up used for about $100. If don't like, you can sell very easily on A'gon. They also offer a premium model with upgraded Wattgate's.
The Virtual Dynamics are a bit stuff, but once you bend them, they stay in place very well.
$1500! Geez, I can get you 40 great PCs for that! RSVP!
Do yourself a favor and try the Custom Power Cord Company's Top Gun or Top Gun Special on your Front end Components and Their Model 11 plus or Top Gun HCFI for the Amp. You will spend a lot less than 1500. These cord are dead silent!!! And they let hear more of the MUSIC. There is a reason the Top Gun won the TAS Golden Ear award 2 years in a row.
Call The Cable Company and have them send you some on loan.
You won't be sorry.
I want to thank everyone for the excellent advise. It is very much appreciated and I am sure will save me many hours of frustration and many $$$! Thanks again!
I don't see how these responses helped you. Seems to have added to (or verified) the confusion! But, let us know what you do.
[BTW: I use Acoustic Zen Tsunami and Ernie's DIY kit]
Piperdan, out of curiosity, what room acoustic treatments, if any, do you currently use? You do not mention any.
I bought the Virtual Dynamics Nite and 2 Virtual Dynamics Signiture power chords for 1000 dollars (for all three). They were all used chords but in mint condition. They were also cryoed and 3' in length. I could have gotton the 5' for a little more but I didn't need the extra length.
There is a dealer listed on Audiogon who sells at this price. I also bought a Audio Magic Stealth power line conditioner (cryoed and used) for my system. All I can say is I am not looking to change my setup. I am very happy with what I got.