Power cords

Is there any truth to the following which, as you can tell from the quotation marks, is not my brainchild (my brain is childless...). I picked it up from the site of a well respected amplifier manufacturer and trust I am not committing some sort of legal or moral transgression by reproducing it here:
"When you plug your power cord into the wall outlet you are in 'SERIES' with all the wire on the other side of the wall all the way back to the power source. The small length of power cord from the wall to the amp is insignificant compared to the miles of wire it is connected to. As long as the power cord can deliver the current and voltage required to drive the amplifier to full power it is as good as it can get."
You are in series with a bunch of wire back to the source. You're also in parallel with a bunch of other home electronics.
Whether power cords make any difference I haven't bothered to find out, since I'm a died in the wool skeptic.
I'm interested to see if your thread attracts (the same old, same old) lively debate or whether others have "cable debate fatigue".
If this amp manufacturer in their literature brags about the quality of the transformers they use, and how well built their power supplies are, which results in a good sounding amp, then they are clueless. Their power supply design is meant to take the outside power and convert it for the amps use. The transformer on the light pole or underground by your street is doing the same thing for your house. And if it is of poor quality, or not operating in top form, it will affect the power the transformer in your amp is converting, just like a poor power supply in an amp results in poor sound.

Look what poor power does to a computer. Why do companies install all kind of power equipment to keep their computers in top form, if it really does not matter?

Would you trust a hospital if they did not control the quality of the power running the machine keeping you or a loved one alive while they are getting well? Would you be happy if they said, it is just power and does not matter?

If "hospital grade" power cords, plugs, and power conditioners matter for the quality operation of delicate medical equipment, and matter to heavy computer users, then they must also matter for transparent, revealing audio equipment.

No rocket science explanation required.

Don't listen to what ANY of us say. Try it for yourself; then you'll be buying more AC cords.
Well, these kind of threads alway teeter on the edge of chaos.
Why don't you just buy a powercord you can return and try it, and trust your experience?

Well looks like Kilerpiglet is right, this is heading straight to the same type of discussion as speaker cables and ICs (as well as all other "tweaks", like cones, shelving etc). It all becomes a matter of belief. The suggestion is always made to try whatever is under discussion so that one can draw personal conclusions. The underlying belief is that any and all of this does have benefits on the sound itself and if you don't hear it, well... The analogy to hospital equipment is interesting, but not quite convincing to me. The reason for any measures taken in hospitals insofar as power lines, the quality of ac etc. might have to do more with insuring longevity of the equipment than ultimate performance. Moreover, I do not see that aesthetics enters into the picture insofar as priorities are concerned with medical equipment (which is not to say that their external design, nowadays, is not given a fair degree of attention), as with audio equipment, which, if I understand correctly, is invariably about the quality of the sound. Since I can make no claims to knowing what goes on in hospitals, I will not try to deduce from the type of wiring and sockets used there what the true motivation might be The notion that something could be done or should be done in home sound system installations merely for reasons of safety, operating stability, where the benefits only occur in extreme circumstances, or longevity of the equipment has, quite simply, vanished. The only thing that is left is that everything, from the shelf on which the equipment sits on to sun spots, somehow affect the "listening experience" (sorry for my use of junk English, I can't resist). It seems difficult to argue against the notion that the ultimate decision should always be based on one's own experience. Again, I am not convinced that it is necessarily so. The sub-argument here is that some listeners have the experience and knowledge required to discern properly. I will not touch this last point for fear that, yet again, lines will be drawn, to no avail. To use medical analogy again, I know for a fact that I cannot conduct proper testing of a drug alone on myself. I may feel that whatever it is I take provides relief or even a cure, but I would not even think of manufacturing whatever it was that in my own experience produced such results with the argument that I will let the user be the judge. We are not always the best judge. So the arguments go around and around until some participant invites another to leave because he is the troubling the A'gon peace. Luckily, its only a hobby. The only negative effect of tweaking and upgrading is on the wallet or in time lost, but, again, one can always argue that any hobby is a waste of time. In that sense audio is no worse, and in many ways better, than a number of other hobbies. The long and short of it, I guess, is personal choice, which, in these matters, I am for without reservation. With my limited resources, I still want to err on the side of more recordings and less hardware.
I agree you need to find out for yourself. And if you're happy with your system with $10 interconnects and OEM power cords that is fine. It does seem though that a lot of the unbelievers have never really seriously tried. If you do try, ignore the price. I recently replace a $1600 cable with a $250 between my preamp and amp simply because it sounds better to me.
Cords make a difference.Though there is a point of diminishing return.
www.diycable.com has a cord that gets you 98% of the way there for under 75.00
Many power line filters are placed "in series" with the existing wiring also. Their benefits are easily noticeable under specific conditions and measurable if you have the proper test equipment.

As such, a smaller amount of "filter action" can be designed and built into a power cord. This too SHOULD be measurable. One of these days, i'll finish up the mods that i need to do to my Audioprism AC Sniffer and do just that. Until then, i do not doubt that a power cord can effect the quality of AC being fed into the component. I too was a skeptic until i tried it for myself. Sean
I doubted. I tried with the option to return. I was convinced. I added another with the option to return. I was convinced. It is certainly worth a test drive.
The only measurement that is truely relevant to this discussion (and that is almost never performed because of its cost) is a statistical analysis of a psycho-acoustic experiment properly designed and executed. All our electrical test equipment only gives us a hint of what our ears and minds are capable of perceiving. -- And yes I have an MA in psycophysics specializing in acoustics. That leads me to believe that anecdotal evidence, based on perception, even without an experiment is worth paying attention to. In fact, I would guess that many designers of high end equipment base what is unique about their designs, in the final analysis, on listening rather than electronic measurement (what good is it if you can measure it but cannot hear it).

I don't mean to suggest that we haven't learned a lot from these imperfect measuring tools or the mathematics that go with them. I'm a strong believer in correcting room anomolies as much as possible and even use digital eq to good effect (so much better than the old filter approach). But ultimately we're talking about music/sound which is perceived by a listener, and the listener is what counts.

What I find strange about many of these kinds of discussions, is that participants often pit electronic measurements against human anecdotal evidence. If your skeptical about anecdotal evidence, the answer isn't to turn to a useful but imperfect machine but rather to properly perform psycho-acoustic experimentation.
I can't see (hear) where scientific measurement matters. For example: This thing has gone on with string instruments. People have made hundreds of scientific measurements and made perfect copies of Stradavari instruments. They still don't sound as good even though scientifically on paper there is no reason why they shouldn't be as good. If they could reproduce them, they would be massed produced by now in China, and be available for 5 easy payments of $19.99 on the home shopping channel.
Power cords act as antenna to RFI and EMI. The ones that are specifically designed to reduce those influences, through cable geometry and shielding, can improve the sound over cords that don't pay attention to it. That's why the 'last six feet' of wire can matter. Now if there isn't a lot of RFI/EMI in the first place in your environment, or if your system has a lot of noise in it anyway, well then, you may not notice much difference.
I'm sorry, but anyone who doesn't have direct and empirical experience on this subject should not be posting on this subject. I don't want to hear about your "scientific measurements" without at least some attempt at a real scientific method, which should require actually listening for yourself. Please, just try. It's easy and cheap enough to pick up some quality off the shelf shielded cable (belden 83802..) and a couple of quality connectors (really, any brand's hospital grade..) then sit back and listen.. huh.. sounds good! better then the stock cable! WHY does it sound better? I DON'T CARE. it just does. In the end, we're talking about MUSIC reproduction, and nothing else really matters.
Sugarbie, your posts sum it up nicely. POWER CORDS DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Even if you have a P600 or 'Perfect AC' they make a HUGE difference, especially on Digital equipment and High powered amps.
Sugarbrie: Who has made a perfect copy of a Stradivarius? There is no such thing. Violins are acoustical devices; we're talking about a cable here, which can usually be reproduced for a few bucks, if you can live without the high-end label.
An interesting article where an army of scientists and experts cannot figure out if a certain Strad is real is at: http://www.metropulse.com/dir_zine/dir_2001/1107/t_gamut.html

Another different article at: http://www.maestronet.com/wwwboard/messages/3565.html

The thing that puzzles scientists is it should be easy to make a Strad copy with today's technology, but somehow it never seems to work. Remember, even all Strads do not sound the same.

As far as cables, I have on more than one occassion purchased more than one of the same cable, and they all do not sound the same either.

The one thing never measured or questioned is the hearing ability of the particular listener. Maybe they just can't hear a difference or don't know what to listen for. In some ways you save a lot of money having average hearing.

Well I don't know much about fancy violins but I have a few old Gibson and Martin Geetars and it's pretty clear that nobody is able to duplicate those for several reasons. One is that the wood is no longer available for the most part and the wood ages with time. Second, every fine instrument has its own voice. Most folks would consider "replicating" such an instrument as simply out of the question. A new copy of a two hundred and fifty year old wooden instrument can never be a "perfect copy." With all due respect Sugarbrie (and I do respect your knowledge of classical music greatly), that's silly.

I will leave the cable cabal to ya all.

Sincerely, I remain
I don't think it's in the 'hearing' per se but rather in 'listening skills' which are acquired via years of experience. I say that because I know my hearing has degraded with age (there's those scientific measurements again) yet I now know how to listen for sonic charactaristics that I did not very well understand many years ago.
& another thing: I concur with Sugerbrie that you can have two of the same model cables yet they don't sound the same. I sure can't begin to explain that!
Pbb if you want to try this out risk free just call Cable Company www.fatwyre.com & get a loaner cord for a couple weeks. The % rental fee is credited to your account & can be applied to any purchase from them, not just their cables. It'll only cost a few bucks for the shipping.
About Strads: every Strad has aged for a couple of hundred years and was played extensively in its lifetime. Is any new copy going to sound the same, even if made identically?

About power cords: audio electronics as a whole, including power cords, are made by ee's according to the same design principles used in all other areas of engineering. Because of the sensitivity of human hearing and the extension of the dynamic range envelope in high end design, many low level noise variables become evident that are off the screen in other applications. Audio design budgets are not big enough to do the kind of R&D, together with mathematical modeling and testing, that is routinely done for similar high resolution problems in areas like aerospace or medicine.

It's important to try to reduce issues like power and vibration control to a reasonably well understood set of principles because without it, you are simply doomed to tweak forever, chronically repeating the same mistakes from person to person. Individual choice and taste will not disappear during the gaining of understanding.
.........IMO, it may be a "matter of belief", but the belief is based on: 1. having an open mind 2. trusting one's senses 3. learning critical listening skills 4. having equipment capable of showing differences between/among wires, components, tweaks, etc., and 5. maybe other factors. Afterall, isn't listening to music what this hobby is all about? Cheers. Craig.
I think we can all agree, at least those of us who believe that pcs can make a difference, it is very component dependant. I have had some some success using inexpensive aftermarket cords on my preamp's power supply and my cdp but in a variety of cords costing $300 or less and yes I know there are many out there that cost big bucks which may "work" I have yet to "hear" any difference on my Bryston 4B-ST amp. That being said, I say try one or a few to see what if any differences there might be. If there are no differences then you'll have more money for software which I firmly believe will bring you more enjoyment than the "angst" of deciding on what side of the fence to fall on this ongoing cable debate...
Thank you one and all for your comments and suggestions. If I can add one thing at this stage, it would be my suggestion to end the discussion on this thread as, contrary to what I indicated before, Killerpiglet is actually incorrect in saying that it would teeter on the brink of chaos. Quite the contrary, on second thought, it is actually very predictable, in that lines are drawn exactly at the same point as for ICs, speaker cables and tweaks in general. I will not go over ground previously covered, although it is even clearer to me now that there are two schools of thought on audio (surprise, surprise), which are built on different premises, and then go on from there to elaborate a web of arguments which are interwoven in such a fashion that they almost become a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. As I have stated in one of my earlier comments, a whole sub-argument, sub-discussion could be generated on the "experienced" or "golden ear" listener notion, as postulated, inter alia, by Garfish. I am sceptical but not cynical. I just can't generate enough excitement from tinkering with the hardware side as in my early days in this hobby. On the other hand, finding a new artist, another good or great recording from one I already know and appreciate, or even a whole new genre (at least to me) of music, especially on my frequent forays to the local used CD stores, still makes me happy. Whatever your way of enjoying the hobby, go for it. This is neither promise nor threat, I may concentrate from now on the music threads instead of the equipment threads, since I have no wish to proselytise and my views, however one perceives them, are probably known by now and , generally, less than welcome on this site. Maybe a discussion on power chords instead of power cords next time around. Good day one and all. Now where's my Gene Ammons/Sonny Stitt CD...
Well, I admit I have my own opinoins on some specific issues re equipment. But I think it's important that we do not gravitate into different camps based on objective v. subjective, or ears v measurements, as this is a false dichotomy and leads nowhere. Anyone in audio needs to use BOTH. Ears and measurements are both important. I do not know anyone who makes a decent speaker, for example, who does NOT tweak the final product by listening. On the other hand there is not a single speaker or cable maker who does not set down measured design parameters for the product. Every part of our systems was made by folk who measure and do math (egads !)too. Take a look at the simplest introductions on some subjects, Dickason on speakers or Rosenblit on tube circuit design, measurements are here to stay.

I think it's very hard sometimes to correlate what you hear with a specific measurment. That does not mean measurements are not important and that we should stop trying. On the other hand, its not so hard to look at the design specs of a cable and ask intelligent questions about the specs and to also ask how much it should cost to make cables based upon those specs. My primary beef about wire is the rediculous price put on it when its used for certain applications and the fantastic hype by the industry that can only exist if we think of wire as some miraculous mystery. The hype, and especially the price tag, cannot survive a sustained look at the design paramenters of cables. If you hear a difference in cables fine...there is no excuse for the cost.

Maybe we can all learn from Henry Kloss who died only a few days ago. I quote from his obituary

" Mr. Kloss was guided as much by his senses as by his intellect. Loudspeaker manufacturers tend to stress the technical specifications of their product, which is like describing a wine by its level of alcohol and tanin or a chocolate cake by its calorie content alone....Mr. Kloss developed formidable technical prowess but avoided marketing by the numbers. Instead, he strove to design equipment for the ear and not the spec sheet." NYTimes,2/2/02

Formidable technical prowess in service of the ear...maybe his greatest legacy?

Sincerely, I remain
Pbb: I can sympathize with your desire to stay away from what can seem like pointless arguments over irreconcilable differences. I would just remind you that you are not just writing to those who respond, but also to the (probably far more numerous) lurkers, a lot of them new to audiophilia. You do them a great service by expressing your skepticism about some of the more inventive claims made for this or that miracle product.

I really worry about the newbie who's told that, "if you can't hear the difference between a wood shelf and a glass shelf under your preamp, there's something wrong with your hearing." There's probably nothing wrong with his hearing, but he goes away discouraged.
I swore to myself that I would never again get involved in another PC discussion. listen to Garfish, Sugarbrie, and Bob bundus. These guys know what they are talking about.
3 cheers to these 3.
The general consensus is that power cords do make a difference (I have been convinced many times over). You may have several feet of Romex in series but...
The same can be said about the cheap appliance wire used in speakers and we all know that speaker cables make real improvements.
Being somewhat skeptical, I chose to make my own PCs AND dedicated lines at the same time from Belden 83802, which is 12AWG/2 with shield, using only FEP (Teflon) as insulation. So the 30-50 feet from my service panel is ONLY this stuff. At $2/ft it was easy to make a separate line for the CDP, pre, and two for the monos.
I must say I hear a difference. My already-dead-quiet system seems clearer, cleaner, maybe a bit more dynamic. No spectral shifts (fortunately). Differences in interconnects are now more readily discernible.
I might buy another 100 ft spool of this stuff if any of you want some for lines or cables. $2.50/ft if I do it.
I think there's somebody out there selling it for $3/ft.
100 ft spool sells for about $200 shipped.
I don't really buy this notion about 6 feet of PC "resonance" that has an effect on the system downstream.
Changing ALL of it to clean copper in Teflon inexpensively just seems like a simple semi-scientific no-brainer without all the high-priced alchemy. Cheers. Ernie
Pbb, with respect, are you sure you are talking about audio equipments? :-)
Would like to think power cable is part of you power supply CKT. The resistance, capacitiance, inductance, and RF shielding on the input side of your transformer may play a subtle role of affecting the regulated voltage in your amp or DAC. And the result is it sounds different for different cable/amp&DAC combo.

Can't figure out a simple equation or ... for a useful engineering prediction. If somebody knows, please post.