Power cords - a BASIC question

If we have meters and meters of cheap cables inside the walls, why shall we, on the LAST meter or so, use an expensive power cord? This doesn't make any sense... or does it? I told you it was a Basic question... Regards.
Hi Fritz, I have no idea why. I dont care why. Techniclly I do not know what I am talking about so these things never get in my way. Take a listen and see (hear) what you think. After hearing what the better PCs can do it might make sense to you then. I know this does not answer your question but in this hobby listening is what it is all about IMO. I would encourage you to give it a try. Good luck.
Because it is not the last meter, but the first AND last meter. This is AC power so juice is flowing both ways by definition. Also, it is the meter that is closest to the rest of our EMI sensitive audio equipment and antenna-like IC cables.
There's an orthodoxy in the Forum that power cords are important. This is misleading for it implies that upgraded power cords are important for all systems. Power cords can make a sonic and musical difference in high resolution systems, however, unless your system is well optimized regarding the basics of sound reproduction, then power cords should be down towards the bottom of your upgrade plans. Simply put, there are more effective ways to improve a mid-level system than power cords. My problem is not whether power cords "work", but with their pricing. Cabling, whether power cord, speaker or interconnects at the high end are ridiculously priced. Just an opinion.
It can work both ways. I have auditioned power cords that actually degraded the sound of my system. I have an SET based system that is at the bottem of the of the price range when compared to most of the other posters systems at this forum. On my SET amplifier alone power cords (so far) have made very little difference as to the sound of the system. But, on the front end components and also on a spare amplifier that I also use they make a world of difference (not always good). Like any other component I would suggest that you try ones in your price range and see if you like them. I purchase power cords used at this site and then resell them if they do not work out. I have also tried some new with a 30 day return policy as well and it just ended up costing me shipping both ways. Right now I have two new power cords on order that are a bit expensive for my budget and that I have not auditioned. I have however discussed the cords in depth with other users that also have similar systems to my own. These are users that have also had similar experiences with mutualy owned/auditioned (we have both tried it) cable in their systems. These discussions for the most part were coducted outside of the forums, but some of the information that I required came from the forums as well. In other words, you came to the right place. There are quality cords that may make a difference to you available for as little as $60 new. Most of the stock cords that I received with my equipment (namely a CAL player and a Bel Canto DAC) are not even as good as the one that was supplied with our computer), yes, I A/B'd them. I have a Stealth HAC power cord that is too bright for me when used on my digital equipment, but that sounds great on my solid state amp and a Harmonic Tech cord that is just the opposite. You really have to try them and see for yourself.
Lieber Fritz,
Das sind alles gute Ratschlaege oben. I also would say to invest your money first say in good speakers. PCs, as Brulee has rightly pointed out, can make a tremendous difference and if you want to experiment, I suggest you try your preamp and/or your CD player first. Try the used market. I am sure you are familiar with wwww.highendmarkt.de, which carry lots of cables at fair prices. One caveat though, as has been rightly pointed out above, it needs a really high resolution system to hear the differences (good or bad) which PC's can make. Viel Glueck!
While I would agree that power cords seem ridiculously expensive for what you get, I would also suggest that you don't really need to have a megabuck system to get a major improvement out of power cords. I've purchased used/demo cords throught this site in the $200 range that have really changed the character of my system for the better and I'm not really using super high end equipment. I use a cord that I'm extremely happy with on both my Audiolab 8000A (purchased 12 years ago for about $275 U.S.) with phenomenal results and the same cord on a budget, very non-audiophile DVD player (I had an Arcam Alpha 8SE which I sold because I felt the DVD player to actually sound better) with excellent results. I also experimented with a number of less expensive cords and always felt that something was not right. You can also buy just one cord at a time for about $200 and it's pretty difficult to upgrade a major component for that kind of money. I guess my point is that, IMO, power cords are a very effective upgrade if chosen carefully, even with decent budget equipment.
On the "audioasylum" website a guy is selling a well designed powercord for $54 and S&H. HAndmade to a design by some guy named Crump? they are said to be "as good as any $300 cord" I bought one and am happy. So for the "poor" audiophile, I'd head onto that site and order some!!! For the price you can't beat it. The plugs alone retail for $30+
and the wire is great. The guy does it and any profits are going to some orphan relief fund. Good deal.
You'll never know the true capabilities of your present components until you find the right cabling to optimize them. Learned this from much experience, after being a "cable skeptic" for too many wasted years.
Bob hat Recht mit allem was er sagt. To my ears and experience he is right on the money. So do be curious and experiment, it's www.highendmarkt.de of course, not wwww, put one in too many. One word of caution with very expensive power cables at $1000 plus, the law of diminishing returns sets in rather early here. Since you are probably operating with Schukostecker, you can order those also from most US manufacturers, but some will rip you off for this special service, charging a ridiculous extra. So what I have done is to get the PC's in their original configuration and have installed US high grade receptacles in some of my wall outlets. It ain't exactly legal, but it is safe if you do it right and it saves you money. I even tend to think to have heard an improvement in sound with my preamps. Viele Gruesse!
Wow, no nay-sayers yet. Fritz, after playing with designing power cords, it seems that good power cords need to have decent guage, good purity of conductor, good dialectric, shielding and a geometry that provides common mode rejection. The effect seems to be similar to a power conditioner, yet without the limiting of dynamics that you get with most conditioners. If indeed there is a conditioning effect then this might explain why there is a beneficial effect when changing the last meter. Either way, the effect is noticeable and as reported above, not always beneficial.
Fritz, every post has good info - I'll just add by saying I have no idea why they make a difference but they do. My first pc was 2 years ago, went on a transport into a panamax extension cord and the improvement was unbelievable, and the rest of the components had stock cords. I now have aftermarket cords on all components except my preamp which is captured. Even one on my amp, an Eel reference, which btw is an unbelievable cord, made a huge improvement. It does seem that the transport or cd player makes the biggest difference so start at the top and work down to the amp IMO.
The DIY cords mentioned are a Bob Crump/TG Audio design. Bob sanctioned this project as a public-domain gift to the audiophile community. Bob is quite the cable guru; the design is well-engineered, simple and effective, as Elizabeth reported. The husband and wife team are attempting to adopt a little girl from Guatemala via the proceeds of these fine power cords. They offer the recommended matching Pass and Seymour outlets as well. An easy recommendation for both tyros And more experienced 'philes. The prices are very reasonable, especially for the excellent performance, particularly on source components and lower-powered amps. For the cost-conscious, No brand of cable has a lower mark-up, and the cause is highly righteous. Happy to email contact info for those interested.
What may seem like a basic question is frequently controversial because your question makes a lot of sense, and so do many of the answers and opinions posted here. The simple answer is that it makes a difference. I use 2 power cords that cost $150 each, and heard definite improvements, mostly in background levels and bass weight, but I sure can see the point of being skeptical about all the hype and psuedo science as well. Let me relate this one experience that pertains directly to your question. A friend returned a favor by giving me 4 power cords to choose from for my main power source. I had no idea what they cost. All made differences, but not necessarily improvements, one stood out from the crowd and gave my system a touch of magic and soul, (if you will forgive the vagueness of such a statement) it turns out that the power cord I chose was worth around $1500. Being a gift, I was happy to be able to keep that PC for my $2200 receiver. Now if I was shopping for a PC I might look at power cords in the $100-300 price range for it. The difference the PC made was like a jump in class level for my system, and well, it should be at that price, but as Brucel pointed out in another post I also think that you get more bang for the buck by spending the higher percentage of budget on hardware (speakers, amps, sources, etc.). That said, some power cords may have some filtering capabilities that help clean up the AC from your wall a bit, so the fact that power may become distorted by traveling for miles is not the point, the point is that we can do something about it on our end.
So how bout rewiring the house?
I mean it can't just matter at the "last meter". If the opportunity exists to do so, why not just rewire the outlets that you're using for your amps and high end components. Typical house wire is 12guage. These outlets could be rewired with 4gauge wire. Granted, it would still terminate at the same breaker box. But with a higher quality, higher gauge wire running through the house and then using a high end PC to terminate the last meter, I'd think that would make a difference. Thoughts?
Mcoker, many Audiogon members have successfully done just that, but it can get a bit complicated. In previous posts Albert Porter has gone into some details on the subject, and if memory serves me well, uses a dedicated ground. Fritz's question is really a matter of degree. How much can power cords help and at what price do you get diminishing returns? Many posters have had good results with some fairly inexpensive brands, so money is not the real issue. It makes sense if it works. If a listener is certain after
listening carefully that a particular power cord helps get the most out of their system, why not? It is his or her money to spend.
I have found that what I perceive as the conditioning effect of a good power cord can become too much in a long length. There definitely is value in using very thick guage and high purity copper in the wall, and other stuff that has been discussed elsewhere, but when I once tried running very long runs of high-end PC from the switch board to my amp the sound was not good.
It's a basic question that needs a basic answer. Start with going to the powersnakes website (www.powersnakes.com) and reading the faq's section. A common assumption is that the power cord is at the end of the circuit. This is not true. Power runs from hot to neutral through the load. The load is the component. The power cord is in the middle of the circuit, with the component in the very middle.
Power cords do not change sound. They provide current. If they also filter out RFI and EMI, they will give a "blacker" background to the musical signal. Thus the music can change. Each system and locality may have differing quantities of RFI/EMI thus affecting the music differently.
All RFI/EMI must be eliminated for the effect to be at it's most effective. The RFI/EMI around the wires in the walls should be small enough and is not near to IC's and speaker wires to have an effect. Contact areas between power cords and IC's and speaker wires need to be kept to a minimum.
One comment to make is that ALL equipment is 'voiced' to have a certain sound. changing the incoming power (from a wide/rough sinewave to a thin perfect one) may drastically alter the possible sound to a degree that it becomes "bad" My take on this is the "thinness" that comes from too much power putzing.
Systems with digital components are more sensitive to power cables than purely analog systems. Digital components are notorious RF producers and can easily pollute the rest of a system. The filtering in power cords is probably doing more grunge suppression on the ground from the digital component than on the incoming electric power.
In order for a line cord to alter the signal that passes thru it, it would need to have in it the things that are used to alter signals. That is, it would need a filter network of some kind. Filter networds generally consist of capacitors, resistors and inductors. Line cords are made of wire and insulating material only. Also, keep in mind that the internal circuitry of your equipement does not use electricity in the form that it is delivered from the wall to the equipment's power supply. The power supply brutally hacks up the incoming sinewave and reconstitutes it, so to speak, before it is use by the internal circuity. The process itself that the power supply uses to ready the electricity for use is generally far more trouble (RFI) than junk that may be on the house wiring.

Your point about the wiring in the wall is valid. Electricity moves around in a lockstep fasion. If there were such a thing as a good wire and a bad wire and you put these wires in series (a line cord is in series with the household wiring), whatever was happening in the bad wire would also be happening in the good wire.

If you imagine electricity as water in pipes, the pipes have to be full. So, when pipes are hooked together water that moves in one has to moved exactly the same in the other.
Steven: If this were so, then why do various line cords, that do not have any of these features, sound different from one another? I think that you must have left something out. Oh well, back to the drawing board.
The medium that signals pass through must affect that signal, therefore differences in medium = differences in sound and therfore no filtering device is needed to affect sound. I have also had experience where the same brand power cord at one meter and two meter lengths sounded different. I wrote the designer who agreed, and recommended the longer length.
As Rehn said to Stimpy, "SHUT UP, YOU ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY!"