Power Cables diminishing returns

I'm thinking of upgrading my PCs, but am wondering what the sweat spot is as far as price. The price point after which, you see diminishing returns. for example a $1000 is certainly not twice as good as a $500 cable.
I guess everyone is different depending on their system and hearing. For me personally my sweet spot is around $1000 retail which equates to about $500 used.
$1000 is not twice as good as $500 no matter what vice you are talking about, power cords, cables, cartridges, amps, preamps, speakers, watches, wine, scotch, golf clubs, etc., etc.

The only time $1000 is twice as good as $500 is in cash form. ;)
I completely agree with you, where would you say the price point representing the best value lies
The problem with this question is that sometimes a $500 PC is twice as good as a $1000.00 one. I find that VH Audio AirSines are hard to beat in their price range, but they are not the right PC for every component. Buying used or going the Cable Company route can make a lot of sense, unless you find folks that have found a really good PC with your particular components.
I have also found that used power cords, especially "last years model", hold their value extremely well, maybe better than any other cable or component. I have never compared an over $1000 cord but like many that list for $600 - $800 and often sell used for less than half of list
The higher the price, the sweeter it is for the seller. The lower the price, the sweeter it is for the buyer.
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Sweet spot is whatever VH or Pangea is priced at your comfort level.
You won't feel bad with a cheap ZU Birth either.
My practice with things like power cords that are difficult to audition is to get a general concensus from users and reviews, and buy the best one from that group that you can afford. In my case, it was Pangea. There Elizabeth...I said it!
Brownsfan's comment +1.

The importance of those benefits of upgraded power cords that are technically explainable (low resistance, good shielding against both noise pickup and noise radiation, noise cancelling geometry, perhaps minimization of resistance to abrupt changes in demand for current) are clearly dependent on the designs of the particular components in the system. Many are also dependent on the AC line voltage and AC noise conditions at the particular location.

Also, most or all of those particular benefits are readily obtainable at prices that are relatively low by audiophile standards, as well as at higher prices.

And to the extent that power cord upgrades may provide benefits that are speculative and/or not technically explainable, what basis is there to assume that what is being paid for in the upper parts of the price spectrum is not overkill, that provides no benefit relative to lower priced alternatives?

Finally, keep in mind that an ideal component power supply design, were there such a thing, would have zero sensitivity to reasonable variations in the characteristics of the incoming AC, and would feed zero noise back into the AC line. Perhaps it is too much to expect, but it seems to me that a more expensive component design should approach that ideal more closely than a less expensive component that performs a similar function. And therefore it should be less in need, not more in need, of the benefits that an expensive cord might provide.

IMO. Regards,
-- Al
"Finally, keep in mind that an ideal component power supply design, were there such a thing, would have zero sensitivity to reasonable variations in the characteristics of the incoming AC, and would feed zero noise back into the AC line. Perhaps it is too much to expect, but it seems to me that a more expensive component design should approach that ideal more closely than a less expensive component that performs a similar function. And therefore it should be less in need, not more in need, of the benefits that an expensive cord might provide."

I know that's true from experience. A few years ago I bought a cheap Sony DVD/SACD player to try SACD. After a few days of having it in my system, I came to the conclusion that my system didn't sound right. Honestly, I didn't know what the cause of the problem was. As I was trying some different things, I unplugged the Sony and everything went back to normal. You wouldn't think that type of thing would make such a big difference.

any/all cabling (power cords included) should reflect 10-20% of your system's cost.
Zd542, me either-I've swapped tuners and had the whole system change when playing CD.
I think the variables involved in both ears and gears are infinite, to me the fun of audio is "whats next".

I can get carried away by Bach on a boombox.
It's possible a $1000 power cord could be 3x better then a $500 pc. It all depends on your system's synergy. On your system page you have several different pc's, have you rotated the cords on your electronics/conditioner? This could end up being a free upgrade.
All my power cables are Audience E's. As far as I'm concerned, they're hard to beat for the price.
Unless one burns in the power cords on a cable cooker and or cryogenically treats them, in addition to the usual break in, I suspect it's very difficult to say one has really gone all the way with a particular cord. The costs for burn-in and cryo are relatively small.
08-05-13: Jafant

any/all cabling (power cords included) should reflect 10-20% of your system's cost.

MIT would argue that ;) I agree you Jafant....I have burned through a lot of dough trying cables....haven't tried them all but enough do draw my own conclusion. My opinion is there are a lot of great cable/designs in the sub to slightly over 1K range and after that you get into what seems to me to be the search for extreme resolution. I am more in the musicality camp and some of these flagship and near flagship cables just leave me cold....maybe you need an uber expensive system to enjoy...that I do not have.
In double blind testing audio reviewers could not tell the difference between PC's that were $50 and those at 8K. Several such studies have been conducted --- all with the same results. This would suggest that the "perceived" differences that a cable owner hears is likely rationalization for paying what they paid (or some other psychological reason for the perceived differences). Perhaps there are "real" differences, albeit subtle, in certain systems with fairly unusual system synergies --- but in controlled settings, no one has been able to double-blind distinguish between PC's.

That said, interconnects and speaker cabling is indeed quite a different story --- there the differences can be fairly large. But power cords no. I talked recently to Frank Van Alstine on power cords and he laughed at the notion that people spend over $50-70 for a PC... said, from an engineering standpoint, that anything more is a waste of $.
Agree that the used price on the Audience Powerchord E is a great buy now that the SE is out.
The best diminishing return has stock power cable. It's usually included with component at no extra cost.
Suggest you buy used, if possible. Also, connectors make an enormous difference -- avoid brass and nickel. Duplex outlet makes a huge difference -- Oyaide R1 seems to be the best affordable outlet -- as usual, avoid brass and nickel. Chassis IEC inlet makes a huge difference -- avoid brass and nickel. Without good interfaces, you'll never hear the goodness of a good cable.

Lastly, plating changes the sound. Rhodium, silver, gold, platinum and palladium each have a sonic signature.
It's tiresome listening to the Flat Earth Society explain what a human being hears in terms of math and Newtonian psychics.
A human is a miracle of integrated being that hears with its ears, eyes, brain, CNS ,memory, conscious cells in its stomach and many other ways we know nothing about. Not to mention its soul. Of course if you can't see something you have trouble discerning, as you do with seeing if you can't hear.
Conductors in their 80's who can't hear a 5kz tone, routinely correct players playing 10hz tones!

We humans are several orders of magnitude beyond explanation
by Quantum means, much less by some fool running a double-blind "test".
There are more things on heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your tests , Horatio.

One of them is when you leave the mystical out of the musical equation I don't know what answer you may get, but I do know it will be wrong.
it is not easily heard and they the listeners were not stone cooled deaf as you said. They the listeners listened used a double blind test and could not hear a difference. That Mr. Schubert is the only proper way anyone can evaluate and determine if there is a difference. I myself am sick and tired of the self righteous so called golden eared. Who claim that it is so easy to tell the difference between different audio components. When in fact many blind studies have proven just the opposite. It is more tiresome to hear your rant Mr. Schubert on how gifted you are and blessed. That I should make a special visit to Lourdes to correct my deficiency in the hearing department. I can guarantee that neither my hearing or my common sense are wrong. And I can defiantly say that in a double blind test neither you or anyone else can hear any difference with any pc Mr.Schubert.
But Schubert, if how this stuff works can't be technically explained, or can only be partially explained, upon what principles and upon what basis do the designers of the power cords design them?

The likely answer, as I see it: Upon some combination of trial and error, using a relatively limited number of systems; pet theories, whose applicability across a wide variety of systems is unproven; and, perhaps most significantly in the case of expensive power cords, by overkilling every parameter that the designer considers to possibly be relevant. With the degree of overkill increasing as the price of the cord increases.

Implicit in my earlier post in this thread is the thought that the system and component dependency of those effects that ARE technically explainable, as well as the fact that those particular benefits are obtainable at relatively low cost, can be expected to loosen the correlation between power cord performance and power cord price. Each of the three approaches to power cord design and development that are listed in the preceding paragraph can be expected to further loosen that correlation.

-- Al
Robsker wrote,

"But power cords no. I talked recently to Frank Van Alstine on power cords and he laughed at the notion that people spend over $50-70 for a PC... said, from an engineering standpoint, that anything more is a waste of $."

There are quite a few folks with the mindset that if the electronics (power supply) is engineered correctly and the power cord is engineered correctly and the rest if the system is engineered correctly then power cords don't matter. The same folks argue that since the power has to come all the way from the power plant that nothing matters from the wall outlet to the electronics. It's laughable that all this kind of backwards thinking is still going on 35 years after the cable debate began. I have a sneaking suspicion that many folks just cannot escape the noise floor, even the most illustrious.
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Here we go again, alert the media, the cable police have just shown up again to piss on everyone's parade. LOL!!
Shipo, one needs no golden ear, just being human is enough.
Your ego prevents you from seeing all humans are gifted and blessed, even you.
wow. Interesting, impassioned and highly personal response to a simple stimuli. Seems like over reaction. Double blind testing in a controlled setting is a reasonable way to discern whether actual differences can be heard. And... as Schipo points out... well the data is in and here is what it says... even professional audio reviewers could not distinguish between power cords.

That is not to say that people cannot enjoy one cord over another in their system --- people who enjoy tweeks and derive pleasure from modifying and experimenting with their system may like one PC better than another in their system. And, if so, good for them and it is money well spent. That does not, however, change the fact that trained audio professionals whose living it is to review audio systems could not distinguish between PCs based upon sound alone.
That's funny Pops !

I once heard the Navy Admiral in charge of all Naval Aviation explain why he preferred to recruit engineers as Naval Pilots.
He said that, as a rule ,they were both intelligent and without enough imagination to see themselves smashing into the rear of the flight deck during night landings.
Schubert---Bravo!! Well said above. The trick is always to discern when to invoke physics, when to recognize that physics is not quite up to the task of explaining, and when to recognize that one has entered the domain of metaphysics. You are not far from the kingdom of wisdom.
Aftermarket cord can only introduce extra colors to audio with excessive reactance parameters brought into the power supply(that's why some of us can hear differences). Most of manufacturers advise not to spend money and use the stock one for this particular reason, but they don't realize that audiophiles don't like accuracy and like to shape sound with wires(extremely inefficient by performance and economically according to the today's market prices). For this purpose for shaping the sound the best device is EQ or some basic tone control board on your preamp.
Next stop, AES and ASA agree to double blind testing of cheap power cords vs expensive power cords. NASA is still working out some of the kinks in the Shuttle tiles and doesn't have the time.
I love the spirit and substance of your post above, although in light of what you expressed here, I must say that you were a bit harsh in your exchange with Mapman yesterday in the thread about Ohm Micro Talls, calling them a rip-off. It seems at odds with the view you expressed here. In other words, "value" is in the ears of the listener rather than the perceived material value of the speaker. Still, I really liked your eloquent comments here.
Guys (and Elizabeth). The problem is that the double blind testing did not occur in my living room with my power with my equipment and my music. These tests show that in a particular context, PC's are below the threshold where a difference can be discerned. These tests cannot prove that in no context can any person hear a discernable difference. Come to my house. I will switch out my 6K collection of PC's for the $600 collection they replaced. You can bring all the blindfolds you want. Then tell me you can't hear a difference.

I don't care if other people spend money on power cords or not. With all due respect, I get tired of other people telling me what I can or can't hear. I understand quite well the value of double blind testing and understand equally well the placebo effect. I am not a fool, and I don't throw money around foolishly, which is why I have 6K to put into a bunch of PC's that took my system and my enjoyment to a much higher level. How about I sell you all my $100 PC's, and we will both walk away happy?
I once asked a major manufacturer why they recommended the stock cord and was told too many customers used old or inadequate cords, causing damage, then wanting warranty service. They said the supplied cord was nothing special, but was safe to use.
I then switched to a modest cost after market cord and the amp sounded much better, in double blind listening tests...
Roxy54, guilty as charged, I was harsh on Mapman who is a nice guy. I still think OHM is a ripof but then I've had trouble with them a time or two.

In any event I should have kept my big mouth shut on that.
A bad past experience will leave residual bitterness. I mouthed off on a thread about Talon speakers for the same reason, and later regretted it and apologized. No problem; you're a nice guy too.
Thanks, Roxy.

"Ah music , a magic beyond all we do here ,,,,, "

Albus Dumbledore
Power cables can be the trickiest upgrade of all. Throwing money at a power cable can be a recipe for disaster, if judging by price alone and not hearing with particular components in your system. As power cords can often make the sound better, they can also sound worse than stock cords on certain components.

I currently have a relatively cheap power cord ($200 Harmonic Technology Pro AC 11) on my CD player. I also currently have an expensive ( $2000 Kubala Sosna Elation) power cord on my preamp. Sorry to those who laugh at me, but I can hear the difference. Each cable works well on the respective component, however the $200 Harmonic Tech sounds better on my CD player than the much more expensive Kubala Sosna! I'm happy keeping both where they are (the Kubala Sosna is better on my preamp), but just wanted to share a scenario where more $$$ is not always better for every component. Power cords seem to be component-dependent.

It might be wise to audition cheap power cords, and if you like the sound, buy them. If you like the house sounds of a certain brand on a particular cord, but think you can do a little better, move up the line. But try to determine what sound you wish for, and which power cords might help the most. Different power cables are better at some attributes, while others have different strengths.

Like others in this thread attest, I also believe Audience Power Chord e cables are good power cords. I use them on my mono bloc amps.
Schubert and Brownsfan +1,
Very good and well stated thoughts. As much as I respect science and scientific method it isn't always adequate for everything we encounter. There are in audio things we clearly experience that can't be satisfactory explained with scientific principles exclusively. I simply trust what I hear.
$2000 power cord actually has no more than total of $50 material + work. The rest is marketting and brain shower. What is diminishing return of such product?
Jl35... Where you say "now that the SE is out" are you saying there's now an SE version of the Audience PowerChord? Considering that the SE versions of the RCA and XLR interconnects appear to be the use of higher quality connectors, it would be really interesting learn what connectors are implemented on the SE version of the Powerchord.
According to the Audience ads on Audiogon, there is now an SE Powerchord, available as an upgrade for $300, not sure of new costs. I haven't heard it but very much like the E which has seen a nice price decline on Audiogon. Just picked one up for my CD player.
CharlesIdad, I remember reading Einstein in college where he said if some constant or other in the universe was different by one part in a million the law of gravity would not work.
Thus for him it took more faith to believe in a scientific explanation of the universe than an intelligent creator thesis.