Every time someone tells you a PC will not make a difference (it's all 0's and 1's!), they are always wrong. The PC always makes a difference, just a matter of degree. No one can adequately explain the science. Neal
The only answer is to try it yourself. Some people hear a difference, some don't. Don't waste your money because of what someone else says they can hear.
There are a couple of ways to approach this. One is buy a new cable from a company with a good return policy. Another option is to buy used. If you shop wisely, you can resell it for about what you paid for it. (New cables subsequently sold used take a BIG hit on their price.)
John Rutan (Audioconecton) believes your best power cord should go to the source first. So, to answer your question- Yes, the power cord will improve the sound quality.
I would suggest something like the AQ Thunder or Hurricane, which are now priced nicely in the used market. ( I heard them at Audioconnection, and knew they worked wonders).
Yesterday I replaced the cord for my Lumin T2 with one on those stupidly cheap (non knockoff!) 5N OCC pure silver PCs from Aliexpress. Think it was ~$60 for a 1.5m length. Low and behold, this new silver PC sounds different. It sounds more immediate and quick and with a bit more treble extension. It's kind of impressive actually. Makes me wonder how far it can go, or if I've already hit diminishing returns. Of course my brain might just be playing tricks on me, but I'm rolling with it, and the sounds seems to be staying constant. Pretty impressive bias I'd say! I'd say try it and give it a shot, with a good return policy (or cheap price) you have little to lose.
A decent power cord makes a difference Everywhere even on my new modem- router combo motorola 8702 which btw has the latest docsis 3.1
IHave a LPS on it horrid of the crappy $10 power supply an aftermarket Pc absolutely gave this better grip and detail
for the $$ Pangea their top cables like the awg14 SE MK2. For$200
using Cardas best Copper is a very respectable cable , I use these on all my LPS ,
and dac, their monster AC9-SE isa awg 7 cable for line conditioners or power amps for under $300 prettygood. Fora real good Pc under $1k tops for myself .
many companies selling power cords even $5k which iam sure great but that’s pretty steep.
I haven’t tried a different power cord with my Lumin U2 Mini- still using what was supplied by the manufacturer. There is a difference between the U1 and U2 Mini’s when it comes to their power supplies so I would imagine upgrading a U1 would offer more potential as opposed to using the supplied wall wart.
I have the new Lumin U2 mini just to stream music into my dac (Esoteric K-03XD), I also upgraded the Lumin power supply by incorporating a PSU made by "Jay Audio", they called it another name, the sound improvement was tremendous. I love it. And that Lumin U2 is awesome. Very stable connectivity. Very good software for music. As for streaming Tidal, I am using Tidal itself not via Lumin app. I even unsubscribed Roon once I got it. The sound quality from the Lumin is better than from Roon in my system. And I am using a NAS to store music.
I’m using a U1 mini and have been experimenting with different power cables. I can definitely hear a difference with my AQ NRG Z3 on the U1. More defined soundstage, tighter bass. I only wish I had more AQ plugs to try on my DAC and Amplifier. The difference was enough to make me a believer in power supplies so my U1 is currently out getting the SBooster upgrade.
you might want to edit your original question to ask will a power cord make an improvement.
It is surprising, how often folks around here, conflate “different“ with “better“ and “cost“ with “quality”.
For a U1 mini or U2 mini, an external linear power supply is probably a more cost efficient first step. I had a T2 with an SBooster, and for me, it was a significant improvement.
To the original question, yes a PC can certainly make a difference you can hear. It's up to you to figure out which one floats your boat at a price you can live with.
I would suggest the lending program from thecablecompany.com. For a reasonable fee, you can demo multiple cables and decide for yourself. If you choose to buy, your rental fee applies to the purchase. If you don't hear an improvement at a price you're willing to pay, you're out only the rental fee.
I've been down both paths, and currently have an X1 with an aftermarket PC.
I was skeptical of pc impacts until I did a blind comparison with a group of both hobbyists and casual listeners. Was comparing stock pc's to midrange Nordost (Frey 2, Heim 2) cables on Luxman M900U monos, Luxman C900U pre and Esoteric N-01XD streamer/DAC.
Even the casual listeners noted better "clarity", especially with vocals and individual instruments, with the upgraded pc's. I was frankly surprised by the repeatability of the results. For my system the priority for improvement was pretty clearly the monos first, streamer and then pre.
As noted, my comparison was to the stock pc's, I still question the "linearity" claims by many of the cable makers but there is no doubt for my system that cables can have an impact.
Ultimately you need to do a comparison in your system to determine if the upgrade cost is justified for you. One suggestion I would add, however, is to do the comparison with cables that represent a major step above your current cords. Doesn't mean you have to go with those but will help you determine if pc's make a real difference.
One thing I did was using the same cable and replaced the connectors to Oyaide 004 and this made quite a difference on the DAC have done the same on the U2 but the male is Oyaide 004 and the IEC is Furutech FI28Gold am thinking of removing the Furutech and using the Oyaide 004 for the IEC let me see if that makes a difference hope it does
Q: Why do the yes answers from long time uses outnumber one no?
Better PSU’s? Youbetcha.
These upgrades are just that @jasbirnandra as you reported from a better power cord. Utlra clean power via a PSU for lack of a better description adds blackness and that equals clarity.
A friend with lots of power cables loaned me 6 different ones to try out on my DAC. I played the same set of well recorded tracks with all 6 and took detailed notes. I was looking for a cable that maintained the excellent dynamics, sound stage and tonality I already had, while giving me great high end extension and emotional engagement with no sibilance or harshness.
Only one of the cables provided that.
Two rolled off the high end - no sizzle on the cymbals. One was so "lively" that there was too much going on - I couldn't focus on the music. The others were a bit harsh on loud vocal passages and loud passages with flutes or trumpets.
If you don't have fairly revealing speakers and if you don't use challenging tracks, you may miss it.
Try testing with Rickie Lee Jones "Living It Up" on her Pirates album. There can be a lot of sibilance on that with the wrong power cord. But you have to test them in YOUR system and change nothing else other than the power cord.
No one else can tell you what it will sound like in your rig. Incidentally, the most expensive power cords I tried lost.
@dougthebiker Each to his own I guess, but why so cagey - no one is going to sue you! (I hope). Your post would be much more useful if you shared the PCs you auditioned.
A recommendation for what the OP should use isn't implied in sharing what worked and didn't work for you, but it does give us brands/models etc. to investigate, or if nothing else, be aware of. I also think it's great when lesser priced underdogs outperform the pricier competition.
Everyone here is grown up enough to understand we are ultimately responsible for our buying decisions (or should be).
I have been exposed to many brands on AG across the wide spectrum of gear that I have never even heard of before, some of which I have purchased and enjoy.
I did play "Living it Up" - great test recommendation - sounds pretty sweet on my system - her album It's Like This has some pretty dynamic tracks too.
The 1’s and 0’s don’t pass through the power cord. An upgraded power cord will only have a noticeable effect over an inadequate power cord that does not deliver adequate power to a power hungry component like an amplifier. Streamers are not power hungry components. A power cord can not magically convert bad power from the wall outlet to good power to the component. If you have bad power you most likely need another power cleaning component to do that. Your likely better off spending your money on connections that actually do transport the 1’s and 0’s.
Power cords can make a significant difference in the sound of a DAC. Regardless of the outcome is of thinking about it. The higher quality the DAC, in general, the bigger the difference. But it also depends on the rest of your system.
I have owned five high quality DACs. For each, I optimized the power cords. They made a difference. But you have to try them in your system and determine if the cost and kind of difference is worth it for you.
I have found that the power cord and interconnect from the same company and level will have the same relative effect… in tonal balance, noise reduction… etc. I have not done enough comparisons to be sure this is always true. This I found odd, and counterintuitive (but what is new), but seems true. I have extensive experience with Transparent, DHLabs, and Cardas. I have some experience with WireWorld, AudioQuest, and a few others.
I posted this response back in 12/10/2013 and get negative feedback so I politely apologized and stopped contributing.
It is my hope that we share information and experiences and not argue and be adverse with each other. I hope I don’t regret posting this.
Something that wasn’t addressed in my original post (which is pasted below) was where to try a power cord. Simple answer is where ever it makes the most improvement :-)
Yes I realize it may sound like a slight handed comment but there are many variables that effect the outcome. Such things as incoming electrical power (how clean or contaminated it is and with what type of contamination it has), the individual power cord itself (what has it been designed and constructed to accomplish and to what degree have things been executed), the piece of equipment being powered (specifically how well designed is it’s power supply), the time of day one is listening to their system (incoming power can be affected by users on the power grid) - are just a few things that immediately come to mind.
Most certainly - power cords are a precise science. Things are measured and tested. Sometimes we find test results are different then predicted results which requires us to examine and determine the cause for the actual performance and gain a better understanding of how things actually work.
Here’s my original 12/10/2013 post, I also added to it as stated:
Reading these responses really covers a variety of issues. And the previous guitar amplifier comparison was a great explanation - thanks Lacee!
We all realize anything with weight (mass actually) has inertia. Inertia is the resistance of anything with mass to change it’s current state. An example is if we attach a weight to a string and twirl the weight on the end of the string in a circle - if we let go of the string, the weight will go off in a straight line at the point the string is let go. The weight wants to go in a straight line and the string keeps the weight traveling in a circle. Another example of inertia is a spinning wheel will be difficult to move off it’s axis of rotation. These 2 inertia examples are the principals used to create a gyroscope, and gyroscopes were previously used to guide rockets. Such practical things as size and speed of the gyroscope wheel, material of the gyroscope wheel’s construction, quality of the bearings, control of manufacturing tolerances, etc. - all affect the gyroscope’s performance. Guiding a rocket to the moon would require an extremely precise gyroscope, while a rocket that merely goes up to reach the outer atmosphere wouldn’t have to be as critically precise.
Now, let’s discuss some common principals of electricity. When alternating current (AC - which is used in our homes here in the USA) flows through a wire, it creates a magnetic field which expands and collapses around the wire with each alternating cycle. Inversely, when an electrical wire passes through a magnetic field, a current is induced in the wire (this principal is exactly how electricity is generated at power stations).
Electrical wires that are run in very close proximity to each other induce each other with very slight signals (what we referred to earlier as Electro-Magnetic Induction or EMI, which this slight amount is critical in our audio wires).
The other type of contamination identified earlier is radio frequency interference. This is when the energy of radio frequency waves interferes with the signals in our stereo system wires (especially low level signals in our interconnects).
A common remedy to protect from these 2 examples of interference is to shield wires to protect against this type of interference / contamination. But shielding has a negative effect on the actual signal being transferred in wire. Let me explain.
The signals traveling in the wire have their own expanding and collapsing magnetic fields. Because these are low level signals (in our interconnects) they induce very weak magnetic fields. All induced magnetic fields expand and collapse at a specific speed or rate - they have what I’ll refer to as an electrical induced inertia. When low level signal wires are shielded conventionally, the induced magnetic fields are impacted - and they are not allowed to freely expand and collapse at the same rate that an unshielded wire would demonstrate.
Anyone ever listen to wires that are identical in every exact way except with one being shielded and one is not (in an environment that does not have lots of RF or EMI interference)? I have - done as a test. The shielded wires are noticeably less dynamic. This is because the induced magnetic fields around the wires are being restricted by the protective shielding.
Does this mean all shielding is bad? Absolutely not. Shielding can be designed to protect from external interference while still not compromising the signal the wire is carrying. But using "regular" shielded wire isn’t the solution. A special wire with special shielding is needed for our audiophile wire.
In this instance, I’ve attempted to explain one simple part of what’s involved in designing and constructing a high quality audiophile wire. There are MANY issues, some very complex - to address.
Back to my original post:
So when someone asks why power cords sound different, you now have a conceptual understanding of why - and can realize it’s not "snake oil." I hope I’ve allowed everyone to realize why power cords make a difference.