Simple and Effective Upgrade for Wall Wart Power Supplies


I recently purchased a new DAC that is powered by a 12V wall wart power supply. In trying to extract the best sound from the new DAC, I turned my attention to the power supply and power cord. Upgrading the power cables on my other pieces of equipment yielded great results, so why not try it with my DAC?

I looked into upgraded power supplies and was quickly overwhelmed by the number of options and reviews and I wasn’t really in the mood to drop more money on my source at this time. I reasoned that the little cable that runs from the power supply to the DAC could be improved on but it’s all one piece and I didn’t want to rip anything apart. I had a spare C7 connector power cable lying around and tried to figure out how to include it in the chain. I went on Amazon and purchased an adapter to go from a “female C7” connector (proper name: C8) to IEC connector. I bought another adaptor that went from “female IEC” (proper name: C14) to a NEMA electrical outlet style plug that I could plug the wall wart into. I hooked everything up, turned on the system, and let it warm up. I now had a high end power cable upstream of the wall wart, instead of directly plugging the wall wart into the wall outlet.

The first track I put on was “Bloodflood” by Alt-J. If I had to sum up the improvement in sound I heard from my improved power supply chain, that word would be: ridiculous! There was so much more slam to the music. Dynamics improved along with better instrument separation and a 3D soundstage became more apparent. Since I had a spare power cable laying around, the total cost for this upgrade was $11.16. I highly recommend you give this a try if you haven’t done so already.

Happy Listening!
mkgus
FWIW change the outlet to a medical grade . You can find decent ones in the $40 range . I have Hubbell’s and they put a death grip on my power cords . 
Trouble with a pre-built power supply is it’s a one-size fits all scenario. You would be paying for all the parts of a multi-voltage output design, but only using one voltage. That wasted money could have gone into fortifying the design for your specific application. My builds cost me around $35 for a phono preamp power supply built from scratch. I could make 3 of my power supplies for the cost of the chinese power supply, so going chinese is not a good solution from an economical or performance standpoint. 
Thanks for all the good input about power supplies. I have a wall wart on my DAC and my turntable. I have always disliked them. They are always the first thing to fail. I unplug them, when not in use. I was wondering if these power supplies maintain a constant output voltage when the input voltage drops or do you need to go to a higher dollar supply. 
Voltage regulation comes with a set range of tolerances on input voltage and current draw. You can do a headroom calculation if you know what the regulator circuit voltage dropout is and subtract that from the design output voltage, then finally subtract that from the minimum input voltage to the regulator. If the power supply is designed correctly for the application and input voltage, you will have a positive number. That is the headroom of the secondary voltage of the power supply’s transformer. Finally use the transformer output to input voltage spec, and divide the result by that ratio to determine the input voltage headroom. That’s a fairly simplified overview, but is close enough for purposes of estimation.