Power Cord Question


My system is more on the budget end but some of the components have detachable power cords with two prong connectors/terminals on the rear. I notice that most upgraded power cords have connectors that plug into equipment having three prongs. Can these 3-prong power cords be used to plug into the rear of components having only 2-prong connectors in the rear without hurting anything or degrading the sound? Thanks for your input.
darkkeys
Perhaps the adaptor you require is shown here> http://www.dedicatedaudio.com/inc/sdetail/214 I picked a few up at one of the stereo shows some time ago for $30 each. Have seen them for sale here on the 'Gon as well. I use one on my DVR and one on my DVD player. Good luck in your search.
The third prong provides a ground path from the chassis of your equipment to earth. The purpose of the third wire is safety - so that if the chassis inadvertantly becomes hot a breaker trips, or at minimum the ground wire provides an easier path for the ac current than from your right hand through your torso and out your left hand resting on a grounded item (i.e. resulting in death, which will subjectively degrade the sound quality of your system). Obviously if you plug the female end of a detachable three prong power cord into a male receptacle on your equipment you won't be connecting the third wire to anything, so it is no different with regard to the third prong than if you simply laid the power cord on the ground next to your equipment. In short, no it will not degrade the sound or damage your audio equipment.
I think what you're looking at is a C7 socket/connector. (The 3-prong is called an IEC.) A few cable companies make cords terminated with a C7--PS Audio is one example (though I'm not necessarily endorsing that product). Visit a site like Audio Advisor and see if the photos match what's on the back of your units.
I appreciate your responses. Very informative. I won an auction for power cords here on Audiogon but thought it may be a waste of money to upgrade two prong power cords with the three prong type. My NAD C372 integrated amp has a two prong receptacle on the rear panel but the new power cords use a three prong female ends, thus my question. I find it strange that my audio components use detachable power cords with two prong receptacles: NAD C372 intagrated-amp, Marantz CC4001 CD changer and OPPO DV980H, but my LG LCD TV uses a three prong receptacle for its detachable power cord. I guess that shows how little I know about the electronics end of this hobby.
Please do as Waveman suggests and get the adapters. That way, as you move up the ladder componentwise, you'll have the correct three prong power cords.
Kudos to Twoleftears and Musicnoise. Here is another info link > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEC_connector As the right honorable Krell_Man suggests, better power cords can improve your results. And don't forget conditioning. The fact that you have already purchased upgraded power cords indicates you are far more knowledgeable than you give yourself credit for. Good listening.........
These adapters may be what you need.
http://www.takefiveaudio.com/mall/shopexd.asp?id=275#
Also available without cryogenic treatment though I haven't tried those.
Can these 3-prong power cords be used to plug into the rear of components having only 2-prong connectors in the rear without hurting anything or degrading the sound?
If the power cord female IEC connector fits the male connector on the equipment, go for it. Depending on the make-up of the power cord, that will determine the sound change of the equipment it will be used on for better or worse. As for the safety equipment grounding conductor, with-in the cord, it will work slightly as a shield beings it is connected only by the plug and wall receptacle it is plugged into.

My NAD C372 integrated amp has a two prong receptacle on the rear panel but the new power cords use a three prong female ends, thus my question. I find it strange that my audio components use detachable power cords with two prong receptacles: NAD C372 intagrated-amp, Marantz CC4001 CD changer and OPPO DV980H, but my LG LCD TV uses a three prong receptacle for its detachable power cord.
Many manufactures of audio equipment are building their equipment this way. Because of potential ground loop hum problems manufactures are using double insulated AC power wiring instead of having to use the safety equipment grounding method.

With doubled insulated AC power wiring the metal case of the equipment is floating and does not need the use of the safety equipment ground. Jmho eventually all audio equipment will be built this way.
A lot British companies make components with two prong iec connectors. They work perfectly fine with 3 prong powercords.
I had a arcam cd player made that way and played it for 6yrs. without any problems. If your house is properly wired, all of your outlets are grounded from the main box which makes it safe.
To clarify, the receptacles on the back of my components look like and are in the same shape as the IEC type but are only of the two prong variety. I didn't realize there was such a two pronged beast until I just happened to look. Like I mentioned above, I was surprised that my TV has a three prong IEC receptacle but my audio components come with a two prong version. I am also familiar with the smaller figure eight type and C7 type plugs. I actually have an older CD player with the C7 type (flat on one side). According to Musicnoise in his above statement, the third prong of an IEC power cord is only a ground and shouldn't degrade the sound or cause any damage by making this connection in a two prong IEC styled receptacle with a three prong female end of a detachable power cord. Hey, this is nice to be surrounded by such knowledge!
Yes, they will fit and work but will not be grounded. If the component doesn't have a third wire ground, it doesn't require one.
Jea48 writes: Many manufactures of audio equipment are building their equipment this way. Because of potential ground loop hum problems manufactures are using double insulated AC power wiring instead of having to use the safety equipment grounding method.

With doubled insulated AC power wiring the metal case of the equipment is floating and does not need the use of the safety equipment ground. Jmho eventually all audio equipment will be built this way. ************

Based on the above explanation is there any reason to go beyond the manufacturers specs by replacing the power cord with another companies power cord in the pursuit of better sound?

By the way, for those who may be interested I have tried the Audioquest series of power cords and currently own Black Mountain Cable Silver power cords obtained through the Audiogon auction process. Two of the three Audioquest cords sound pretty horrible in my system. One of the Audioquest power cords sounded neutral/balanced. The Black Mountain Cable sounds neutral/balanced. Overall, I don't hear any advantage in using any of these power cords over the power conditioner I am using. Adding the power conditioner (Belkin-Pure AV) was a huge improvement. The only difference I hear with adding the power cords is more impact or forwardness, which does not improve the sound quality in my opinion.

Maybe the new cable needs to "break in" but for now the stock power cord sounds better, smooth with no harshness/forwardness. Is this something to do with owning components more on the budget end not allowing one to appreciate the sound of another companies power cord?

Hopefully my ears after years of listening and performing are telling me the truth about these power cords and that what I am hearing (or not hearing) is not because of a limited budget. Well, I don't consider power cords valued at around $600 bucks cheap although I paid nowhere near that amount.
I've tried some of the same powercords you have tried and yes you do have to let them breakin, at least 100 hrs.
The BMC gold powercord was a definite improvement over stock powercords in my system but to really appreciate what powercords can do, you're going to have to go to one that is considerably more than what you're currently trying($600 would be just a little past the starting point)
I've been in highend audio for over 25 yrs. and if you had told me 15 yrs. ago powercords would make the difference/improvement that they do, I would've told you that you're crazy!! But when you hear the higher tier shunyata's, purist audio, fusion cords and others, then you'll know, they can make a huge improvement in your system
and on your power conditioner.
In your system however it may not make good sense or be cost effective.
In other words, would it make sense to put $1000 powercord on a $600 amp? I don't know probably not.
Just my two cents worth.
Eee3, I know what you mean. Although I have a great sounding system there is a lot better out there if you spend the money. In my town there is not any selection in terms of high end audio so to get high end you either have to rely on reviews and travel or use mail order, which makes it difficult. I was in the Pittsburgh, PA area one day and stopped in a shop that had a system hooked up with Macintosh electronics and a pair of B & W 802D's. The sound was beautiful but this caused a problem for me. When I got home, my own system sounded dull for about a month. So I agree that you can get a lot better sound if you spend the money. I suppose that system was valued somewhere around 25k as opposed to my system valued at around 5k. The next issue for me is that I recently started reading Stereophile and this has started me down another path into another realm in audio. I have been buying audio for around 30 years myself and always kept a nice system but until reading Stereophile, etc. and trying things out, I never realized the difference made by interconnects, speaker cables and power cords. Good enough for me was the likes of NAD and Mission, not that any of this is junk. I am happy with the sound of my system but this is like starting over again. Anyway, thanks again for your help. Lots of knowledgeable people and good advise on Audiogon.
Darkeyes, for what its worth, you'll get the biggest bang for your buck with a good powercord, even more so than going to the next component upgrade.
I would recommend you trying the fusion line. Their entry level cord is the predator($550 retail)but you can get it for around $300-$350.
Go to their website www.audiosurroundings.com. The contact person is Eric Love, a very good person to deal with.
He will let you demo his cords, if you don't like you can send back and get your money. The only downside is it takes 150-200 hrs. to break-in.
i don't necessarily recommend it, but you can remove the ground prong and plug directly in without an adapter. check with manufacturer before doing this.
Eee3, I checked that website. That cable looks awesome. Oh, the name is Dark Keys, like on a piano haha
07-25-08: Darkkeys
Jea48 writes: Many manufactures of audio equipment are building their equipment this way. Because of potential ground loop hum problems manufactures are using double insulated AC power wiring instead of having to use the safety equipment grounding method.

With doubled insulated AC power wiring the metal case of the equipment is floating and does not need the use of the safety equipment ground. Jmho eventually all audio equipment will be built this way. ************
=============================

Based on the above explanation is there any reason to go beyond the manufacturers specs by replacing the power cord with another companies power cord in the pursuit of better sound?

Yes..... Many manufactures seem to cut corners when it comes to the power cord. If you check the stock pc it should give you the wire size. Example 18/2, 16/2, maybe 14/2 awg. The first number, before the /, is the wire size number in awg. The number after the / is for the number of conductors within the cable.
I would be surprised if the Amp's pc is bigger than 16/2. (The lower the wire number size, the larger the conductor.
#14 awg is larger than #16 awg.)

When you tried the new aftermarket pcs I am not surprised they did not sound good right out of the box. As others have said you need to burn them in.

Something else, as a rule shielded pc cables will degrade the sound of a Power Amp. For an Amp a heavier wire gauge non shielded cable usually works best.

Shielded pc cables are better suited for digital equipment. The reason being they will reject EMI and RFI noise.
And that works both ways. Interring as well as exiting the digital equipment.

Power cords
.
Jea48, Thanks again. Very informative and useful!
This is the response I got from NAD Electronics concerning power cord upgrades:

****Thank you for your recent request via the NAD Electronics web-site.

No, do not use a new power cord. The one supplied with the C372 is the proper cord for the unit, and meets safety standards.

Best regards,

NAD Electronics
(mg)*************

Anyone agree or disagree with NAD tech support?
Completely agree. There just is not anything else to it. There is no "conspiracy" "ufo" "bigfoot" reason for NAD to tell you that. NAD did not tell you that because they are too cheap to put a "good" power cord in the box - they told you that because it is the truth.
Darkkeys,

NAD told you what their lawyers told them to tell you, whether it is the truth or not.

As for cords, if you believe there is any truth to the fact that a cord can make a difference (I do), here is what I suggest before you invest $500+++ on a new power cord for your already wonderful $800+ integrated amp and your modest digital sources.

A very smart man who also happens to sell hi fi gear told me about these tweaks, and after trying them for myself, I didn't buy any of his gear but now really like him :)

1. Make sure your speakers are set up properly - they should be at least several feet from the walls beside and behind them. They should be resting on the floor on a very sold surface like a heavy board, piece of marble, concrete, etc. and isolated from the support by blutack or spikes (this is one of the most effective tweaks I have tried yet). If they are monitors, they should be on solid stands and the stands are otherwise isolated and set up as described. If the tweeters are not pointed at your ears in your listening position, tilt the speakers so that they are. Make fine adjustments on distance from walls, toe in and lateral separation to taste.

2. Make sure your electronics equipment is protected from outside vibration, and able to dissipate internal vibration effectively away from itself - especially your digital and analog sources. Place them in a good equipment rack AND each unit on large pieces of maple or other hardwood (this is also one of the most effective tweaks I have tried yet). Try brass or other spikes between the equipment and the wood - avoid sorbothane or other pliant material between the source and the wood block, but are OK underneath the block to reduce external vibration.

3. Are you running at least decent interconnects and speaker cables?

4. I would look at spending up to $500 on a used CD player like a Music Hall CD-25 ($300 on Agon now), Jolida JD-100 ($600 on Agon now), Cambridge Audio Azur 640C Version 2 (just sold for $325 on Agon), etc., before spending it on new power cord. You can't add something back in the audio chain that doesn't get off the disk, out of the DAC on the way to your amp and speakers in the first place. The Marantz will play a lot of disks, and the Oppo will play a lot of kinds of disks, but neither one is going to drive the NAD to its full sonic capacity (although I would suggest that the light and somewhat thin case on the Oppo might benefit greatly from a large block of wood beneath it - and a big chopping block is a lot cheaper than $500!)

5. Now that the rest of the audio chain has been physically optimized, you have a better chance to see what improving the power situation can really do for you. There are some synergies here that makes me not exactly sure what is going on.

First, replace the cords on your computer or other electronic devices, that you might leave on and know draw a lot of current, with your audiophile cords to speed break in. Next (>150hrs of burn in) try to unplug the power conditioner and drive your amplifier and sources directly with different combinations of the audiophile and stock power cords you have on hand DIRECTLY FROM THE WALL SOCKET. If your home power is not just crap, you may start to hear big differences in the sound the now broken in cords provide in your system. Typically, hefty gauge wires (smaller number, bigger diameter) work better on a high current amp like the C372, while lighter gauge (larger number, smaller diameter) and well shielded wires work better on digital sources. Experiment directly from the wall socket with the broken in cables and see what you like best. If everything in your system is set up properly and your power supply from the wall is half decent, you should be able to discern differences between even modestly priced but well designed power cords and the stock units that came with your electronics.

If you are experiencing hiss or other background noise problems, you may want to reconnect your power conditioner and experiment further. Power conditioners are tricky and most less expensive ones tend to deaden and smooth out the sound, clipping peaks and transients off the signal (BAD!). For this reason I would only use them if I was suffering problems with dirty power resulting in a noticeably high noise floor. If you identify that you have this problem, then investing in a very good power conditioner that has the least sound signature possible may be necessary and more important than an expensive power cord.

For what it is worth, I am lucky enough to have really clean power in my house because I am very close to the electrical pole, and I replaced all the wiring in my house 5 years ago (not for audio reasons, but it is a significant side benefit). Replacing my budget power conditioner that I thought I needed with a $50 Wiremold super minimalist powerstrip made a huge difference in my system performance, especially on transients. Replacing the stock 18 gauge cord on my Cambridge CDP with a simple 16 gauge shielded cable from an old laser printer made another big difference(!) I listen frequently through headphones and the system is dead quite, even with no signal and the volume turned way up.

Good power cords work by providing adequate current flow and at the same time shielding interference induced by relatively high current and digital noise, via clever geometry or exotic materials, from influencing your other electronic circuits and the low level signals going to the amp via your interconnects and the speakers via their cables. Power cords and conditioners should be noticed by what they don't add to or subtract from the musical signal running through your system. The better they do this job, and the better your system is optimized to reveal these improvements, the more you will notice a difference. If you still don't notice any positive benefit, then you saved yourself some money.

PS - The Cable Company http://www.thecableco.com/ offers demos on cables that you can try in your home with your system. Good luck.
I just re-read Jea48's last post and see that I have reiterated many of his points in my post above. Credit where credit is due...
As Knowthing responded it is both liability issue and a choosing sides issue. If they recommend one brand over another then you will have some mfg. happy with you and others not. If they are not aligned with any cable mfg. it is easiest to stay neutral.
Knownothing, your recommendations are noted. Thanks.

1. My speakers are set up within space constraints but they sound very good anyway. Especially my living room system. It is on a rare occasion that I hear any sound coming from them. They are very large but look as if they are only sitting there doing nothing. All the sound is between the speakers and at times beyond the outsides of them. These speakers do not present themselves as point sources at all in their present position. Before your mentioning proper speaker setup I had noticed many of the systems displayed here on Audiogon show extremely large speakers placed next to walls in very small rooms in relation to the speaker size. I found that odd. All of my speakers, with the exception of one in my living room are at least 30 inches from the side wall and at least 15 inches from the rear walls. The best I can do in my current space.

2. I will have to work at resolving the isolation issues.

3. I feel that I use decent interconnect and speaker cables, which total approximately 10% of the cost of my audio systems. 10% seems to be the standard guideline. I use Audioquest Diamondbacks IC’s along with Audioquest Bedrock (bi-wired) and Audioquest Type 6 speaker cables. Adding these cables to my system made a huge improvement in sound quality in my budget system.

4. Far as a CD player I purchased the Onkyo DX-7555 based on a positive review in Stereophile. This was also before I became aware of Audiogon as a source of information. This CD player sounds good in my opinion but I have aspirations to try out tube equipment in the future, especially amplification.

5. I have never experienced a noise problem from any electronics in my home. I agree with your observation about smoothing or what I want to call balancing out the sound but did not hear any loss in dynamics. I realize my power conditioner valued at $500 is budget gear by Audiogon standards but in my opinion it improved the sound. However, I will try the new power cord directly in the wall. Although I like the sound improvement after including the power condition, it was a change of the sound, which you indicated that a power conditioner should not do.

I appreciate the information you provided as well as everyone else who provided information. I have learned quite a bit in a short time. I now have a lot of experimenting to do.

Back to my original question. I still walk away from this with the opinion that you all feel that it is not a hazard or not necessarily a detriment to the sound by replacing a stock IEC styled power cord of the two prong type with an after market IEC power cord constructed with the three prong type end. The third prong on the after market power cord is simply a ground and should not create a problem for me. ( Recapping what I learned here on Audiogon)

Thanks again for your help.
Darkkeys,

To answer your last question first. Yes, I think it is fine to use a grounded power cord with your two prong ungrounded IEC outlet from your electronic equipment.

The Onkyo is a fine CD player and probably provides a significant boost in quality over the Oppo.

You have the same interconnects as me, and I have AQ Type 4 speaker cable. At least decent, yes.

Good luck with your effort to sort out the effects of the power cords. I realize my preference is for resolution and dynamics over a smoother and softer presentation - why I dumped the power conditioner in favor of a straight shot quality power strip. I don't have any background noise in my system so I can get away with this.

Regardless of the quality of your AC power from the wall, I think there is a possibility for your digital components to cause trouble by feeding interference back into the AC system. I sometimes think cleaning this up is the most important role for a good power condition. Wiremold and Naim recommend plugging your amplifier in the socket closest to the cable feeding the current from the wall and your CD player and other digital components furthest away - a fairly simple electromechanical method of trying to get clean power to your amp.

In any case, good luck sorting out your power cord stuff.
Knownothing, I agree that the power cord directly to the wall sounds better. No compression effect and more resolution especially notable in the treble ranges. Guitar riffs sound clean along with cymbals and other sibilant sounds.

I suppose one of the difficulties of the pursuit of better sounds is that when you add something new into the audio chain, the difference in sound caused by the new addition automatically gives the perception of something better. I think that interconnects may cause the same kind of perceptions. I have seen the debates here over interconnects.

I have a feeling that the ear can adapt to any clean sounding stereo and can distinguish one that sounds like absolute junk. Reminds me of the Hammond organ. Everyone I have played sounds different but most of them sound good. As with stereo, the change in sound is effected by room acoustics as well as the speaker cabinets used with the Hammond.

I suppose the bottom line is to enjoy the art form of music. The enjoyment comes from skill and passion of the artist/musician, not the Hammond or the audio equipment. A song from an artist you can not relate to will sound like trash no matter the quality of of the equipment. A song you love sounds good no matter what you listen to it on. Bottom line in the audio chain is the artist but yeah, nothing like your favorite song on a awesome system.
Agree with all your points. I have done many things to my system and was happy with myself at first because I could hear a difference, but later on decided it was not a "good" difference and reversed the change or changed things again in a different way. Sometimes we can get caught up in the minutia and forget why we are tweaking our systems in the first place, to actually listen to music! Enjoy.