Power Cables - Stock vs. Budget


Considering upgrading my stock power cords, but my budget is limited to the $150 - $175 range (4' minimum) per cord. At that price level, will I notice any real discernable difference?  Any recommendations? Thanks in advance!

gnoworyta

I would upgrade the wall socket first, get a power conditioner second, and get power cables last. For wall sockets you can check Pangea or Synergistic Research. 

+1 @twoleftears then a good power conditioner.  I bought a used Audience AR1p and a Wiremold power strip that now powers my whole system on the cheap.  Then worry about outlets.  Here’s a great comparison of top outlets — I personally like the Maestro, but choose for your own tastes/preferences…

https://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/0114/audiophile_ac_outlets.htm

I found Waudio that's available on Amazon for about $50 to make a significant audible difference for my Pathos Classic One MkIII.  I didn't not detect any audible difference with one on my power conditioner or DAC.  Worth a try for $50.

Audience Forte F3 and lower end Transparent Audio, I use 3 of the Audience, and 2 Transparents and both are excellent, low cost, and maintain high resale value...

For $150-175, I would check out. Probably better than new at that price range, in most cases

 

Here’s my opinion…

A cumulative of 4 crappy power cords won’t make as much positive difference as one great power cable on your amp. So instead of buying 4 garbage power cables at $150 each, I would get the best possible power cord for the total you’re planning to spend and put it on the amplifier and wait to upgrade the rest later.

On a used market:

AQ Tornado or AQ Thunder (latest editions).

Older Shunyata Alpha Helix - Taipan or Python

TWL Seven Plus. Great bargain used and works awesome on the amp and leaves you some cash towards the next purchase. 
 

Order Supra Lorad 2.5 with some nice connectors of your choice. One nice thing about DIY is that you have no "cord clutter". This is a highly regarded cable--hard to beat in your price range.

That is a really good question. While I have a lot of experience putting together systems (for me) from $5K to $150K, I can’t answer it. I think I would continue to invest in components for now. I have bought $100 power cords from Shunyata and others and honestly got no improvement. On the other hand the Audio Quest Hurricane ($2K) I put on my amp was simply stunning… a really significant and cost effective enhancement.

What is your system and venue? There is a place to put photos under your ID. This would be really useful to help answer your question. It is really difficult knowing nothing about your system.

I would invest in components until your average component cost is well over $2K. This is a guess.

150$ on AliExpress buys you some splendid power cords. Way better than anything made in EU or US and sold for that price. I'm constantly on a budget, so AliExpress has become my go-to place for audio cables and accessories (footers and all). Most would frown at the idea, and I do get the ethical / economical issues, but when money is tight and you want the best for that little amount of cash, you have to make a choice at some point. In my opinion a 100$ power cord from our famous EU or US brands is too entry level to make any real difference, while a 100$ Chinese power cord is often build like the more upmarket power cords, and you hear it.

 

 

obviously if that's your budget range for power cords your equipment can't be that good so you probably won't notice that much of a difference, don't waste your money.

@kota1 

 

I would upgrade the wall socket first, get a power conditioner second, and get power cables last. For wall sockets you can check Pangea or Synergistic Research. 

why would you not recommend that the OP get dedicated lines installed first with hospital grade outlets first vs just doing wall outlets?

you suggest a power conditioner......how do you know that the OP even needs one?       

@bshaw

It is a budget strategy, an outlet upgrade effect everything down stream and costs $50-$100. It is a significant improvement and less expensive than $150 a pop for cords. If the OP only needs two outlets he can skip the power conditioner if he is not worried about frying his gear because of a power surge. But if he needs more outlets, higher SQ and protection for his gear something like this Black Lion Audio PG-X has 9 outlets, high quality, and is still less money than a $150 cord at $119:

 

 

@gnoworyta

Absolutely!!

I’m also on board with the wall socket upgrade. It will benefit all devices plugged into it, so it will deliver excellent bang for the buck.

As a retired dealer, we shared many "ah ha" moments with power delivery upgrade demos with our customers. One of our "standard" power cord demos involved a $500 receiver and $100 power cord. Lots of "what the heck just happened?" moments when the receiver was powered back up with the better cable attached. So, the moral of the story is you don’t need stellar gear to hear a difference in power delivery upgrades. Even modest ones.

I like how you’re thinking.

@kota1 

 

i would still do the dedicated lines first, then look at power cords and conditioner last if that is even needed, as again, he might not need the PC and no sense of spending money if you dont have to .

 

 

Don't forget the screws that hold the wall socket! A vanadium/steel alloy sounds better than plain steel.
Don't forget the screws that hold the wall socket! A vanadium/steel alloy sounds better than plain steel.

@gnoworyta Yes, I believe upgraded power cords will make a positive improvement in your system. Within your price range I suggest the following, If and when you have additional funds you cam move up their power cord line to the more expensive ones if you find a need to:

 

"Considering upgrading my stock power cords"

is there any specific problem, you’ve identified, with stock cables? 

@westcoastaudiophile:

 

No specific issue with my stock cords. Just seeking to maximize my system's potential without a large $$ outlay...

When it comes to bang for the buck power related upgrades my experience was the wall socket was HUGE and less than $100. I am sure the increase in SQ was much more than the $99 invested. For power cords I have tried them in ranges from $39 (Signal brand "magic cable) to $1000 (Virtual Dynamic Nite). My favorite power conditioner has been those offered by Black Lion Audio both for features and SQ. All of these were incremental improvements. The one power product that is a knock out has been the QRT/Add-POWR products which are unique. Add-Powr is frequently on sale on A'gon and the website is here:

 

I know your budget is strained, I would suggest Cullen Cables or Pangea Audio as great values and high performance……Pangea only use the Cardas copper models, can find at Audio Advisors 

when funds permit, add a dedicated 20AMP circuit ($200 to $300), and a high quality plug $100? That made a much greater improvement, and improved further the cable upgrades 

Also if you don’t mind doing some work, Danny’s cable a GR-Research is said to be terrific…..I’ve purchased the kit but have yet to build mine

 

I've listened to a range of power cords on a Denafrips Pontus II DAC. Of these, the $95 Supra LoRad power cord was the best sounding of all of the cords that I list below. Surprisingly, power cords seem to make a bigger difference to my ear on my DAC than they do on my phono preamp.

 

The $15 Tripp-Lite Heavy Duty power cord actually sounds surprisingly decent (about 75% of the sound quality of the Shunyata Venom V14 power cord). Of these power cords, the WAudio and the Audience F3 Forte did not sound good at all on my DAC.

Tripp-Lite Heavy Duty: $15

Audiophile AC Power Cable - WAudio 10AWG HiFi Power Cord 3.3FT : $35.99

Pangea AC-14: $44.95

Pangea AC-14 SE MkII: $79.95

Supra LoRad: $91

Shunyata Venom V14: $135

Audience F3 Forte: $150

Synergistic Research UEF Blue: $499

Shunyata Research Venom V10 NR: $600

Get one cable, the best you can afford and put it on your amp. You will be pleasantly surprised.

 

Is your home wired with $2/foot romex?  Don’t mean to be a killjoy, but why is the piece of wire carrying the current the last 6 feet expected to somehow improve upon what it was fed from the street? Perhaps you have a really nice high end power conditioner?  I suppose that could make sense. 

Chocaholic, water filters are placed right before the faucet. Good cables are placed right before your equipment. It is the first piece of wire feeding your system.

Do you want to know more? I can post a video if you want but it might be better in a new thread. 

many, many threads on the Romex issue, surprised it took so long for someone to mention it...intuitively it seems to make sense, but reality seems to say otherwise...

I recently made vh audio flavor 1 and it is a really great sounding cable to ears/ system.It replaced a more expensive option.Diy affords you to add your own ac/iec connectors?...aprox $180.00 after.

@chocaholic

 

While it does not sound logical that the last part of a run would make a difference… well, it does. This is similar to many things in high end audio.

There is a great video, I think from the founder of Shunyata that explains why the electrical system is not like a garden hose… but a lake. There are a number of pretty good explanations around.

Most compelling proof is plugging a high end cord or putting in a direct line and having your system sound shockingly better. You quickly abandon intuition and go with what you hear and then look for reasons… or not.

The Audience F-3 is a great PC for the price of 2 for $249 at The Parts Connection.

@thyname:

Would start with my mono power amps (Van Alstine), then preamp (Primare) and eventually do my sources. All currently have their original factory power cords...

Take a look at Zavfino: 

 

Several tiers at all price levels. If that’s too much money, try Ali Express China cables 

Yarbo cables are your friend. Various models to pick from based on your requirements. I just outfitted my entire system with them after testing them for a while with my amps. 

 

Truly world class for the money.

 

I would skip Cullen as my dealings with him was horrible. The guy never responds on time and erratic.

 

Good luck

 

@rowlocktrysail 

Patrick Cullen is a first class guy super busy with running a business and being a family man. Yes, he's not the best at returning emails, but he does, particularly with a little persistence. As for his products, what are your thoughts? Do you have any experience with Cullen cables?

My experience is they do not cause the congested or restricted dynamic sound stock cords do or even some of the budget Chinese cords. To be clear, a Chinese power cord can be very good, just like any other region producing power cables. His cables (power, interconnect, and speaker) are all very flexible. What other company can boast that claim, while also using quality copper, plugs, and insulation? An added plus is he will not charge more than 200 per cord.

 

To the OP, I heartily recommend Cullen for all your cables needs. 

I have not tried it all. Based on my limited experience, $50 to 150 cords all sound almost the same. Minor difference. $300 to $500 is a good start as you get some good result.

I have some nice Pangea cords up for sale.  Cheap- the magic word, right?  Maybe you can use them. 

OP...How could another listener predict if you can hear the difference? Try some under $200 cables and listen....No other way to "know"

I replaced a Luxman JPA 1500 by Audioquest NRG 10 for my amp Luxman M900u and don't hear the difference.