Power Cords - Just Say Yes

I'm the biggest cable skeptic on the planet. I've never been able to tell the difference between one speaker cable over the other. I've never a/b tested because I just can't handle that sort of thing when all I want to do is listen to music. The power cord however is a whole different beast. I know. I just replaced a 18/3 that was powering my Rogue Cronus Magnum for two years with an Audioquest NRG4. I know some people aren't fans of AQ but that's what my local guy sells and I support him 100%. He sold me a broken in demo which is exactly what I wanted. I didn't do an a/b test and I didn't have to. I pulled the old one out and tossed it in the copper recycling pile and replaced it with the AQ. I fired up my amp this morning and let her warm up. I pulled out Sylvain Luc & Bireli Agrene's 'Duet' and hit the play button on the remote. Right off the bat I had to blink my eyes to make sure I was actually in my house. Everything tightened up with a dead silent background. I feel like a fool for waiting so long to come around on this one. I'm still skeptical of whether or not I will notice a difference when I replace the power cord to my CDP, but if you tell me I'll notice I might believe you. Either way, that's my next investment.
yes! cables make a difference. if you dont use a power conditioner or power regenerator, you should notice that your cdp power cord upgrade will give you the biggest sound improvement.
Don, I too drug my feet for a long time with PCs. I am still shaking my head but they do work. For the record I don't believe in the $1k+ cords, but the ones up to a few hundred dollar ones seem to be the sweet spot.
You are the newest poster boy for Getting Over the Pride and Trying Cables.

Your frank admission is helpful for several reasons; one is that you admit pride played a central role in preventing you from actually trying a comparison. It should be obvious that when one merely listens to different systems in different environments it is impossible to tell the role cables play. ONLY by A/B comparison - which as we have been saying all along, it's not necessary to do so in a blind test as the results are strikingly obvious - in the same rig can one hear the difference and find out that not only are power cords, but ICs, Digital cables, and speaker cables capable of such dramatic changes to system sound.

Now, just imagine if other hard-headed skeptics softened their arrogant attitude enough to actually TRY some different cabling. The audiophile world might become a better place in many ways. :)

Donjr, welcome to the System Builder club! You now are on the road to much better sound and a far more lovely experience.

The sad thing is that for some people the price of experimentation has to be virtually nil before they are willing to entertain a change. I will simply say that being cheap holds back one's rig FAR more than most think. This is one of the reasons why I say, "The greatest impediment to building an audiophile system is the audiophile."

Donjr, now, let's reason a bit. You just have heard for yourself how PC effects amp/pre. Trust me; EVERY wire in EVERY spot effects a system's sound. What are you waiting for? Put the new PC on the cdp. You'll hear a different presentation simply by moving the PC from amp to cdp.

In my experience moving PCs from amp to cdp you will likely hear more definition and detail as the source is improved, but will also likely have some diminishment of macrodynamics if the stock cord is put back on the amp.

Now, consider; if you hear that change, then what of an entire loom, an entire system of cabling influencing the components and speakers? Uh, huh. You need to make up for lost time, my friend! :)
Doug and Don,

The problem is that our ears can trick us. Look at the systems on audiogon and it doesn't take long to find systems with every tweak in the book employed. Nobody wants to be a sucker. I do have an upgraded power cord for my amp, but I spent less than $100 for it so I figured, it can't hurt. But some people spend thousands. I just think everyone should balance common sense with listening assessments. For me, if the product fails the common sense test, I don't necessarily rule it out, but I sure as hell limit my spending to the budget arena. And make no mistake, power cords fail the common sense test. Any audiophile that refuses to beleive that his ears can trick him is going to find himself separated from a lot of money with dubious results.
Yes they generate an incredible income!
"I'm the biggest cable skeptic on the planet"

Sorry, that title is already taken!!
I have some mod priced power cords scattered throughout my system, I though I found nice improvement with them and did not give them much more thought untill I had the oppertunity to demo Stealth v-10 dream cords.
These are a totally different animal... my system became cleaner, clearer... even with my powerline conditerior I never experenced the sound improvement that I have with these.
That is the good news now for the bad, they are very expensively priced at list price you could buy a good preamp or more!!!
I was somewhat like the op in not believing power cables could make a difference. Then I bought a Pangea. Cheap but yeah it made a positive difference.
I STILL think spending more than 10% of equipment cost on cables is foolish (better to spend that money on the actual electronics)
But sure, better cables can sound better.

Funny how no one changes sides from 'cables matter' to 'all cables sound the same'. But DO switch sides to yeah 'cables matter' from 'all cables are the same'... after finally finding a cable they can hear making a difference.
I had a dedicated circuit added a couple of years ago with a Porter Port and I couldn't tell the difference. It finally occurred to me that my 18 awg stock power cord made that investment a bit ridiculous so I might as well complete the chain. I could have done it for less money and probably should have picked up a Pangaea from Amazon with free shipping but I really wanted to look at my dealer in the eyes as he told me "you're going to notice a difference". He did in fact say that but I still didn't think I would be able to decipher the difference. After all, I went from spool speaker cable to Chord Company Carnival to Audioquest Rockefeller without ever noticing a difference. I haven't had a hearing test in a long time but I do know my hearing isn't all that good. That's why I was a bit shocked with this power cord. I'm never going to chase cables because it doesn't make sense to me. I'm glad I have pretty speaker cables with batteries in them but the power cord gives me a
sense of pride in myself. For the first time I feel like a got something for my money. This is in my system which isn't all that resolving. I might be able to hear differences in speaker cables in someone else's system, just not mine. That's a good thing for me because it's one less area of concern.
Yes, I have heard the differences!
Power cords indeed DO make an improvement in every component in my system. You also do not need to spend megabucks for a great cord.
AMEN to the improvements invoked by swapping in quality power cords.

(1) Please note that some power chords (and particularly the plugs in those cords) work better than others with the particular kit you are running: it requires some swap-in/swap-out auditioning to see which works best for you.

(2) Dedicated power lines with quality hospital grade plugs (or better) will give you as much a further improvement as the new power cords themselves.

(3) Point (1) is echoed with a further quantum leap improvement for getting "right" quality speaker cables and ICs tailored to your system. To only go #(1) and #(2) on the upgrade path without invoking #(3) is a significant restriction/omission resulting in only a nominal first step in the sonic improvement journey.
I just had a bummer moment. I bought a Pangea Ac14se and it doesn't work. There's a problem with the component end. I have to wiggle it to get it to maintain power. I thought I must have hosed my cdp power but when I put the stock cord back on and gently move it the problem doesn't persist. I'm a little concerned about the quality control with the Pangea cord. I might return it and get an Audioquest NRG2. That would be about the Max Id spend for my modest system (cdp). I bought this cable through Amazon from Audio Advisor and one of the twist ties was off the cable. That kind of makes me wonder if Chinese laborers smoke pot for lunch or I was sold a used cable.
Ok. I took the plunge. I just ordered 1, 2m and 4, 1M power cords to replace my stock 2M cords. Nordost Vishnu and Blue Heavens. I'll be getting the QB4 to hook them up to. 1655.00 hope it helps. I've never liked stock cords anyway.
I always heard arguments like "ears can trick us" or "if you anticipate improvement, you will hear improvement" or "its a perception thing, you hear what your subconscious wants ". Not only regarding cables but everything else related to audio. Anybody with common sense would most probably agree with these arguments.

But IMHO, the price is the sole and only detractor in all cable discussions. Most of us just can't get rid of this bias before listening to cables. It's like comparing two cars sharing same performance, styling and everything else but with one costing 5K $ less than the other. People will generally see the most expensive as crap and the cheapest one as a giant killer. Am I saying I can justify or acknowledge very high priced cables are all always the way to go ? Absolutely not ! Do they make a difference in my system ? You bet ! Especially power cords !

If you tell me you can bring me better cabling in my system for less money, I will tell you I'm an open minded guy. Bring them on ! If you can't deliver well.... what else do you want me convinced of ?!

So, I've got my own way of dealing with the matter : I buy very expensive cabling, used, at a fraction of the original price. My mind tells me I hear improvement in my system while my conscience tells me not to worry about it.
Well said Donjr.
The power cable is the 1st replacement step towards musical bliss!
I would say the first step would be to upgrade what's behind the wall. Like in plumbing, you start with bigger pipes and you go down in size when you reach your fixture. So if you use a bigger gauge power chord and the wire behind the wall is a smaller gauge you won't get the full potential of the power chord.

11-04-12: Jaxwired
Doug and Don,

The problem is that our ears can trick us. Look at the systems on audiogon and it doesn't take long to find systems with every tweak in the book employed.
That's a non sequitur and a gross generalization. That some A-gon systems feature several tweaks in no way proves that "our ears can trick us." Since we're audio enthusiasts for the way things sound and the way the music makes us feel, then whatever "evidence" you have that "our ears can trick us" is irrelevant. You are advocating for an alternate reality--the artificial reality of spec sheets and jury-rigged A/B tests trumpeted at Audioholics vs. the personal realities of what we hear--over time enough to eliminate wishful thinking and imagination--on our own systems in our own houses with our own music.

Nobody wants to be a sucker. I do have an upgraded power cord for my amp, but I spent less than $100 for it so I figured, it can't hurt. But some people spend thousands. I just think everyone should balance common sense with listening assessments.
What are you, the expenditure police? What's next? Are you going to cruise the Hamptons to inform people that they spent too much for their houses, cars, or boats?

For me, if the product fails the common sense test, I don't necessarily rule it out, but I sure as hell limit my spending to the budget arena. And make no mistake, power cords fail the common sense test.

We're not in it for common sense. We're in it for the joy of music and the discovery of ways to connect with reproduced music in our homes. If you want to preach common sense to audiophiles, why not grab a lance and tilt at a few windmills?
Any audiophile that refuses to beleive that his ears can trick him is going to find himself separated from a lot of money with dubious results.
OTOH, maybe the real sucker here is the one who's so quick to believe the pronouncements of Peter Aczel and the minions at Audioholics vs. what he can hear with his own ears. And really, isn't audiophilia all about what you can hear with your own ears, and which combination of components and tweaks does the best job of evoking an emotional response similar to the one we feel when listening to live music?
There are a few people on audioigon who have extensive experience and backgrounds in electronics and audio equipment. I have noticed that they are not the 'true believers' when it comes to wire. I would suggest you check out their systems, then stop and think for a moment. One member, who's opinions and advice I would wager is the most respected on this site, has stock power cables on all his equipment except for a $90 power cable on his CDP. My 2 cents.
Has anyone ever tried a slightly longer run of wire terminated with an IEC plug (panel>breaker>wire>IEC plug>component) instead of the usual situation where the wire is terminated at an outlet (panel>breaker>wire>outlet>plug>aftermarket cord>IEC plug> component)? It seems a little "crazy," but you'll have a few less connections and no need for a different type of wire than what is already in your house.
Ketchup, Dont think that would pass code :-)

I'm working on a test fixture to do a controlled test of AC outlets, some folks swear that they make a profound in performance of the system connected to them. We will see rather hear if that is the case. I'm making it so that it can later be used to test power cords.

Should have the systems page up for the AC Outlet test early this coming week.

AC Outlet

AC Outlet Shootout

Good Listening

I would like to know from a technical point of view why silver wire sounds different from copper. If not, why is silver used so often in audio applications.
Success comes to those who do/try, while the rest make excuses.

That's not theory; that's application. :)

11-11-12: Amarquis
I would like to know from a technical point of view why silver wire sounds different from copper. If not, why is silver used so often in audio applications.
For starters, silver is 8% more efficient conductor than copper. That means it's faster and is capable of more extended bandwidth. The extended bandwidth has at least two effects: 1) Rise time of all waves are at least 8% faster. This rise time difference has an effect on everything, especially the leading edges of notes and how quick and fully formed they are. 2) Whereas cupric oxide (oxidation of copper) functions as an insulator, silver oxide (oxidized silver) is at least as efficient a conductor as silver itself. This means that silver wire's conductivity and speed should remain intact as the metal ages and oxidizes. As copper oxidizes it gets worse.

"That's a non sequitur and a gross generalization. That some A-gon systems feature several tweaks in no way proves that "our ears can trick us." Since we're audio enthusiasts for the way things sound and the way the music makes us feel, then whatever "evidence" you have that "our ears can trick us" is irrelevant." - Johnnyb53

I don't have to prove that our ears can trick us. Some things don't need to be proven with a study, they are obvious to any clear thinking person. But I will say that ever attempt to prove that audiophiles cannot trust their ears that I've ever read about in the last 30 years has determined that audiophile cannot trust their ears.

As for being an audio enthusiast for the "feeling" as you put it, you seem to be advocating it's ok to spend money on audio products regardless of whether they work as long as it makes you feel good. That's the non sequitur and a laughable argument. It's not ok for one person to cheat another person even if the cheated person is happy and oblivious. And in the vast majority of cases people would object to being cheated if they were convinced the product was not performing.
Well, really, what's the point of listening to anything at all if we can't trust our

Should we instead simply rely on double-blind listening tests conducted and
published by people hostile to subjective evaluation, or just skip right to
Jaxwired's pronouncements and listen only through what he approves as
practical and cost-effective?
I should be getting a Nordost Vishnu 2M power cord and 4 Nordost Blue Heaven 1M power cords tues and will hook them up 1 by 1 to hear the differences before letting them settle in. Soon I'll have a Nordost QB4 hooked up for a further experiment in sound differences, if any, and finally an octet of Gold Lion KT-88 tubes that I'll run on one side of my amp, leaving the stock ones on the other side running my tuner in mono and stereo modes. I've done this with speaker wires and speakers (one left side one right side) to really hear if there is enough of a difference. The tubes will be equally biased. I hope 2,015.00 make some improvement, even though the prices of the individual parts were better than retail cost. I've been hearing how much difference power cords make I figured I'd give it a try. Stay tuned.
Wow, talk about an inability to think clearly. The point of listening to music is to enjoy it. That has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not our ears are infallable measuring devices of sound quality.

My premise is pretty simple. Listening tests as the sole indicator of sound quality improvements is unreliable. People that put full trust in their ears to detect sound quality improvements will likely end up spending money on products that actually offer zero improvements. That's it, my entire premise.

If you disagree with this premise, then you feel that your ears are infallable at detecting sound quality improvements and that you would never be fooled by a snake oil type product. Good for you. You're entitled to beleive that if you like. Many people seem to agree with you. I think that is a misguided view point and is contrary to available evidence.

And no, I do not claim to be the god like arbiter of all things worthy in hifi. I do however suggest that people use common sense, reason, and logic along with listening tests. Be aware that you can be fooled and proceed with caution to avoid being cheated. The list of ridiculous products claiming to improve sound quality is very long and every snake oil product ever sold had true believers buying it. Why? Because they "trusted their ears".

Who cares whether it passes code or not? The point is to see if there's an improvement in eliminating power cords from the equation. It's a test. But, if I hard wired my components and it made my system sound better, I would deal with code which would never be an issue anyway. Nobody would ever see it. It's your house, you can do what you want.

Your tests look interesting. I look forward to reading your conclusions!
Polk432 ....

Not wishing to sensationalize the obvious or trivialize the important.... but does this upgrade pathg also involve a pathway (now or later) for swapping in quality audiophile grade wall power plugs and/or a dedicated power line?

The effects of these other tweaks individually and together -- as prominent as to the insertion of a quality power chord -- are not subtle.

I've used HUBBELL hospital grade wall plugs as well as eventually migrating up to the goldplated all-Cu FURUTECHs. The improvements from the HUBBELLs to the FURUTECHs are incremental and "bang-fer-yer-buck" depends on how revealing your system is.

I would start with the HUBBELLs or equivalents: they are the inexpensive and logical first step minimum "ying and yang" extension to the insertion of any upgraded new power cord.
Your insurance company, for starters.

In the event of ANY mishap, a departure from building code (particularly where it is an override instead of a mistake) will likely void your insurance coverage.

Not Recommended IMO' when a properly grounded dedicated line to a quality hospital grade wall plug at a minimum, (with an option of migrating up to gold plated all Cu models) will get what you want.

There is a reason why they use these are required in hospitals: to eliminate the risk of a spark or arc when you plug something in.
The 4 new power cords that I just added do make a difference right out of the box, so maybe they'll get better with some burn in, or maybe not. I do have a dedicated line, and I'm getting a Nordost QB4 box in a few more days, 8 Gold Lion tubes for my amp, so hopefully I'll be done for a while.
I will simply say that being cheap holds back one's rig FAR more than most think. This is one of the reasons why I say, "The greatest impediment to building an audiophile system is the audiophile. 11-04-12: Douglas_schroeder

"being cheap holds back one's rig FAR more than most think.?" I disagree. The greatest impediments to building an audiophile system have more to do with the audiophile's knowledge, experience, and funds; an audiophile's bank account in this economy is frequently an impediment. I'm confident that knowledge and experience often teaches audiophiles that cable quality matters in music reproduction. The decision to purchase more expensive cables only ocassionaly has to do with being "cheap," but for many it comes down to a choice between buying necessities and buying luxuries. Affordability becomes more important when finances are constricted. $1k (or more) power cords for many that are interested in quality audio are considered a luxury. Millions of people, audiophiles included, who formerly had good salaries are now unemployed or under-employed. Ones unwillingness to spend money on expensive power cords in these times isn't only a matter of being "cheap." I have no doubt there are many audiophiles that are not Fortune 500 executives or doctors making 6 to 7-figure salaries a year. I believe it's more often prudence rather than cheapness that stops many from buying more expensive cables now. Those who don't believe in the importance of cable choices are part of a different discussion.
I think that anyone knowing just a small portion of what is music and electronics would concur to Foster_9 comments.
Is there such a thing as a "cheap" audiophile in this day and age?

Assuming an audiophile is one that will go to any length to achieve good sound, the lengths (financially) that one might go to is greater than ever. Can it be done for less than 6 digits, since that is where one willing to go to any length would find themselves these days?

Given this perspective, I am cheap. I have spent barely over 5 digits on my current collection of gear. Plus I question the value of everything and anything I consider buying. I do not think I could be called an audiophile accordingly.

Does not bother me a bit. Few good things tend to be associated with the term. I much prefer "music lover willing to go the extra mile".

Love this entry from the "audiophile" entry on wikipedia. Kinda sums it up nicely.



There is substantial controversy on the subject of audiophile components; many have asserted that the occasionally high cost produces no measurable improvement in audio reproduction. For example, skeptic James Randi, through his foundation, has offered a prize of $1 million to anyone who can demonstrate that $7,250 audio cables "are any better than ordinary audio cables".[18] In 2008, audio reviewer Michael Fremer attempted to claim the prize, and said that Randi declined the challenge.[19] Randi said that the cable manufacturer Pear was the one who withdrew.[20]

Criticisms usually focus on claims around so-called "tweaks" and accessories beyond the core source, amplification, and speaker products. Examples of these accessories include speaker cables, component interconnects, stones, cones, CD markers, and power cables or conditioners.[21][22]

There is disagreement on how equipment testing should be conducted and as to its utility. Audiophile publications frequently describe differences in quality which are not detected by standard audio system measurements and double blind testing, claiming that music contains elements which cannot be measured by electronic instruments[23], but without providing an explanation for those claims.
Mapman, If you enjoy your system, great. Too often people buy cars and other things to impress or please others. Questioning the value of everything and anything is a great way to go the extra mile weather you have the money to burn or not. Happy listening.
you are a bright light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel. Hang in there.
Foster_9, how about we add back my initial comment in my paragraph, which you omitted? It makes a difference when it reads thus:

The sad thing is that for some people the price of experimentation has to be virtually nil before they are willing to entertain a change. I will simply say that being cheap holds back one's rig FAR more than most think. This is one of the reasons why I say, "The greatest impediment to building an audiophile system is the audiophile."

You swung the discussion to an extreme of $1K power cords and Fortune 500 salaries. That's quite the shift! My point, regardless of level of experimentation - for instance, perhaps sub-$100 power cords used - was that some people are SO cheap they won't tolerate even the thought of spending money on anything which is not supposedly guarnateed to improve their audio experience.

As I indicated that is "...one of the reasons," not the sole reason. As you suggest there are several reasons, including tight budgets why people can't experiment. My point was that some people are cheapskates, and I think they justify it by listening to the voices of those who have done little to no comparisons/testing of such matters. It's all a bunch of, "I think,...." versus putting up even modest amount of money to conduct a comparison.

You indicate that two of the reasons why audiophiles fail to achieve good sound are, "...knowledge, experience," which I assert can be gained through actually trying things such as aftermarket cabling, rather than sitting on one's opinion. :)

BTW, I did not say that being cheap holds one's rig back far more than other causes; I said that it holds one's rig back far more than the audiophile may think.

I believe you misunderstood my intent. My point is that at whatever level of cost, the decision to choose "value," i.e. disinterest in spending anything - note that I said, "virtually nil," - more on something not considered proven to improve is a big reason why many audio systems do not perform well.

Mapman, seriously? Six figures? You push the analogy to six figure systems? I think you are making the same stretch here as Foster_9. It's a long stretch to go from my complaint of people being cheap and willing to spend virtually nil to six figure systems.

Why is it that when aftermarket power cords are mentioned as a means to overcome insipid system building you guys jump to the 1%er argument? :)
Not sure where that will get me exactly, but thanks for the kind words Rok.
"The sad thing is that for some people the price of experimentation has to be virtually nil before they are willing to entertain a change."

IT might be about money but in my case it is more about how to spend or invest ones time best.

I do not have time to try every tweak I might, regardless of cost. What I have meets my needs currently already so there is little value to me. I'd rather spend the time listening. WHen I hear a problem or determine something might be better, I take some time to investigate what the problem might be, do some research on options to resolve it, chose one and try it,including repairs to what I have if that might be the problem.

I've spent considerable time bringing my system up to snuff over teh last 5 years, but spend increasingly less and less these days. Its more about value, which is a subjective thing, than cost. One must be careful and selective to attain value.
Mapman, Good thought. Personally I really don't care how anyone spends their money or what they believe so long as they don't spend my money or censor my beliefs.

But, while I'm at it - Douglas_Schroeder's comment above about success coming to those who try is striking absent of a caveat to the effect that failure is commonly attendant to any enterprise deemed worth undertaking, that a risk/reward analysis is a prerequisite, and that a fool and his money are often quickly parted.

Sometimes these 'disputes' seem to me to be founded on evidence not much different than that underlying the 'witch' hysteria which permeated the middle ages, extending as late as the 1600's in Salem. But as late as the late 1900's, perhaps even still, when it comes to children in the care of others. Yeh, hysteria is still alive and well. And, except to the degree it exists, IMHO, it still appears in this hobby. I think Jaxwired's views have a lot of merit. Folks buy into a lot of stuff because of what they are told but which they have not personally experienced. Witness, when asked, those folks cannot really describe the differences in specific terms or why it would or should be heard through their admittedly low resolution systems. Many folks, I think, really are looking for acceptance in the crowd by buying into some fairly esoteric stuff on nothing more than faith in the concensus of the crowd. Nothing new here, move on.

FWIW, for anyone who cares, I'm only slightly less than agnostic about wires. I've heard differences, I know they exist, but I'm very selective about what I buy and why I buy. I try to avoid having to buy wires to replace tone controls by careful component matching in the first place. But, wow, have I blown a lot of money on tubes! :-)
Re DS's bit about 'cheapness' being a detriment, IMHO this is a classic pitch to embarass vunerable folks into spending their money. I mean who wants to think themselves a cheapskate. Personally I save that for how rich people tip service people, not how they spend their money. :-(
I can AFFORD to buy Wilson and Pass, simply because I ACTUALLY buy Polk and Marantz. I was always taught, Live below your means.
Doug, when you describe some audiophiles using words like "cheap" and "cheapskates" you get my attention, since this pursuit is expensive and seldom cheap. Even an audiophile with a modest system has spent some considerable capital. I get your points however. I overlooked the "nil" part of your statement.
Fairy Tales for Fairies!
Polk432 I am looking forward to your thought of the Nordost QX4 unit. This unit has intrigued me, however their is not a lot of info. I have heard that plugging a SS amp into it has a very interesting effect?
Powder, I actually have the QB4, more of a grounding devise, with an all tube system running through it. The 4 new Blue Heaven power cords really made most of the differences to me. As far a the Qx goes maybe a Qx2. The other devises are more than I'd want to spend. I feel the money would be better spent on upgrading equipment.
Sorry, I meant I may try the Qv2. Try some power cords first. They made more of a difference than going from Electro-Harmonic Kt-88 tubes to Genalex Gold Lion tubes. I'm still burning everything in. Good luck.
Been down this road with my dad's system. High end dCS digital stuff, B&W 802 speakers, Transparent Reference level interconnect, power conditioners, the works. One of the more recent changes me made was add a Transparent PLMM with MM1 technology. It is a very expensive power cable. There is no question that it made a difference. Generally speaking I believe in the efficacy of at least that brand power cable after years of tinkering.

Now to my system, I just picked up a Bryston BHA-1 headphone amp and a pair of Grado PS1000 headphones. The DAC is an Ayre QB-9. It is a great setup but the Grado's are unforgiving headphones in that fatiguing, raspy sort of way. Well I purchased them anyway knowing that there is a good chance that some of that rasp could be cured with various tweaks.

The first tweak I tried was a $200 High Performance Powerlink. I put that on the DAC. Immediately my overall enjoyment level went way up. A lot of the fatigue seemed to just disappear. I was not convinced so I returned the demo unit and replaced the stock cord. Sure enough when I listened to my system over the next few weeks something was just not right.

So I tried a better one. At $500 the Premium Power Link adds a Transparent Network Box to the cord. I had this in place on the DAC for two weeks. There is no question that it was an improvement in every way. It changed the whole character of the system. The peakiness of the highs were more pleasant, I could listnen louder, the bass was punchier and had more articulation, and I just got the general sense that the system was more refined and there was less noise and more music. It sounded a lot more like my dad's setup.

I returned the demo unit and now I am simply unhappy with my setup with the stock cords. But before I returned it I did one last experiment. I put the Premium Power Link on the headphone amplifier instead of the DAC. Well all the improvements described above were gone, but now I had a much wider soundstage and better imaging and separation. It was a totally different experience then using it on the DAC.

My conclusion is therefore that I need one high end cord for each component.

Are these products ridiculously marked up? Yes I am sure if I cracked one open what is inside would not be terribly expensive or impressive looking. However, there seems to be something about the geometry of the cable, the materials used, the network box, and the length of the cable--they seem to know how to optimize and build these things and they just work. And they do get better as you go up the line.

So I believe they work, I have heard them and I covet them based on empirical testing. Overpriced, but they work.