Turn back now-while you can!-it only gets worse. Power cord merry-go-round is expensive. Suggest that be one of the last things to work on. If you are happy with your system-then take a look at the Shunyata Diamondback-used should be around 100 and new around 200. Can find the Shunyata Venom new for 79.00.
Wait for a used Flavor 4 Vh Audio ( or do a DIY from VH Audio )to come up. Used usually $200 and probably less DIY..Great amp cord at a modest price........
It's true. Power cords are expensive and seem less influential
than most other cord types. However, an Acoustic Zen El Nino should be about a hundred dollars used and it probably will make a very slight improvement in the sound of your system. Also, as long as it is good condition, a used cord is always a better option. They don't need break in and will always be cheaper. New power cords, and I have spent thousands on them, just don't justify their cost. Have you tried a power conditioner? There are some on the market that would prove a more cost effective power grade than a power cable and they can serve to improve the performance of other components in your system as well.
You don't give us enough info to give informed advice. What kind of integrated amp? What comprises the rest of your system? Power cords, like all wires & cords, are system dependent and there's no "one size fits all" answer. If your system is of sufficient quality and resolution, you may gain great advantage with a new power cord. You might also find it a waste of money in the context of a different kind of system. For what it's worth, I found power cords to offer more bang for the buck improvement than any other cable upgrade. But that's just been my experience. Obviously, others have had the opposite experience.
Photon46 makes some good points; more info would help. Given the available information, a used Synergistic Research AC Master Coupler might be a good entry point. They're well designed, well made, heavy gauge and a near classic. (Can a power cord be considered a classic?) At very least one would make a good baseline for comparing other cords. Google the name for reviews. You'll see them being sold regularly on AudiogoN for ~$140.
Try the cheapest but best secure feeling cord that I tried for a sense of what might be the end result of switching.
Since then my expense budget for cabling went way up.
My favorite cord now however will almost certainly reach your limit or be a bit more. I now use the Audience Top O the Line AC cord the equivalent of the Au 24.
The best cheap cord to try with little risk is just a few bucks. It is the "Absolute Power Cable" from GTT audio. A simple but very well made cable with very good terminations. I think they are continually available for the special sale price of $49.99 ordered directly.
If you suddenly get rich use a continuous cast Ohno sigle crystal cable by Vampire or Neotech amonst others. If you want to get your Significant other hysterical I like the whole Cardas Golden anything, but expect a certain warm coloration and have a strong rationale at the ready to calm her down.
The best resource is the lending library of used cable is available from The Cable Company used cable division. They can steer you into a cord to suite your taste with an incredibly comprehensive knowledge base.
Good Luck but I think your ICs and speaker cables make the biggest change. Power cords are only as good as the power they are fed and if you have "dirty" or wavering voltage you really need a good conditioner and dedicated lines. However that propostion will run a log more dollars than you have in your budget.
The PS Audio Xstream Plus SC is made of single crystal(continuous cast) copper, and won't break the bank at about $150.00 used. You have to be fast when you see one come up for sale though(they sell fast- there MUST be a reason). (http://www.psaudio.com/ps/products/detail/xstream-plus-sc?cat=power-cables) You can't go wrong with this one.
Sorry about the lack of info. I have a Bryston B-60SST integrated amp and run cd through an EAD dac, speakers are B&W 602s3. I'm very pleased with the system, It's taken me a long time to get what I feel is the "right sound". I was now looking to find affordable tweaks. My interconnects are audioquest except for on pair of Monster Cable. I tried a couple of line conditioners, but settled on an unfiltered power-strip.(NAIM audio) All power cables are stock.. Thanks for your help!
The Synergistic Master is indeed a classic as it was the first(@$245)PC that people started complaining that it too
expensive and how could it be worthwhile. Next was the ESP then the original Electraglide at $600.
I would strongly suggest you buy the Virtual Dynamics Nite power cord currently on Audigon for $200. I have tried a lot of different PCs and the VDs are hard to beat. You will hear a significant improvement with the Nite PC and at $200, it is a bargain (orig. $1100 retail). If you buy a new cable for $100 - $200 I think you will find you will hear some improvement and you will wonder if PCs are worth the cost. With the Nite, you will be amazed.
Hi Jimyork... I agree about the VD Nite, an excellent price to performance used... however, its stiffness and weight might be issues for our Newbie... these issues are no small matter!
I also agree with the SR AC MasterCoupler suggestion... that PC is not only a classic with outstanding price to performance but it's a easier to manipulate than the Nite...
The Nite is stiff but adjustable to any set-up required. The weight can be a problem when you have your equipment mounted in high position with no support for the cable and you are using it on a very light piece of equipment - less than 10 pounds.
I'd also recommend the Virtual Dynamics. Another high performance/low cost product is a DIY cord made from Cryo-Parts ACIII cord and Furutech or Oyaide connectors. I find that the Cryo-Parts cord performs extremely well. I was shocked at how much better it was than any of the "flavors" of the VenHaus cords (in my system.)
If you purchase a new power cord for $200 and you get a $200 power cord.
If you purchase a used power cord for $200, you should get a power cord that probably would have sold new for $400! I would try to get a better value by buying a used power cable within your budget.
There is a Nordost Shiva power cord for sale on audiogon for $199 OBO. The Shiva is a very dynamic power cord in it's price range.
My comment about the classic status of the Master Coupler was largely tongue in cheek; sorry if the intended humor was less than obvious. It's my fault for trying to be entertaining, too, instead of just informative. I'm sure it'll happen again. :-)
I've owned close to a dozen Master Couplers over the years and find them to be one of the better bargains in used power cords. Even after having tried other, supposedly better cables.