Yes get Cullen cable ASAP!!
+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…
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.
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.
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?
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:
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.
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 .
@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:
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
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
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.
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.
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.