This subject has been beaten to death. Buy a cord at a comfortable price for you, try it out and see if it is worth to cost to you. If not sell it and you will have the answer. Only you can determine what is best for you.
The Last Power Cable Question EVER (from me)
Not trying to be argumentative but I can never seem to get an acceptable answer to what I think is a straightforward question. Whenever the subject of clean power comes up, the “power cable” is suggested to be of prime importance in the quest for better sound. It’s a given we are not using lamp cord to power our amps but going past any quality piece of 3-foot copper cable raises questions for me.
The power cable is designed to transfer electricity from the wall outlet to your amp, or power conditioner if you are using one. In theory, the worlds best power cable will complete this task without allowing any outside “noise” to get into the line over that 3-foot span. To the best of my understanding of physics, copper wire does not have the capacity to act as a filter nor does it have any ability to impart tonal qualities. In fact, no sound signal passes through the power cable. Just electricity.
So using what many would consider to be the crème de la crème in power cables, the famed Nordost Odin Gold Reference Power Cable, yours for one easy payment of $34,000, and assuming it does exactly what it is intended to do, move electricity for wall to amp without allowing anything else to interfere, then you are still just getting the same power that’s in you wall line, delivered right into your amp? As dirty as that power may be, how is the $34000 cable NOT just transferring that exact same power from point A to point B? I would love to learn something new today, but my common sense keeps telling me there’s a lot of Kool-Aid in the whole power cable discussion. Someone given an explanation based in fact.
Long ago I asked fundamental questions on audio components (I was a practicing scientist for ten years). I quickly realized that the published parameters and explanations frequently bared little bearing on sonic reality.
I have been startled at the impact of cables, interconnects and power cords. Nordost interconnects have been the very best I have ever heard in my system (look under my ID)… but I had to take them out because they cost as much as my component ($17K) and one of the worst… an $8K interconnect that for some reason fought with my system.
One of the the most cost effective purchases I have made for my system was a $2K Audio Quest Hurricane power cord for my amp. I am sure the more expensive Dragon would sound better… I have to save up.
I gave up long ago (45 years) thinking I could logic this out. You have to systematically evaluate stuff of appropriate cost to determine what works… or if you really want an explaination talk to an electron.
The worlds best power cable will deliver the outside noise the most honestly and realistically without alteration from A to B. I hope this will answer all your questions.
For more info on cables, read my post in "Counterfeit Chinese Cables".
Again you should reach out to an EE or a Cable manufacturer.
This may help and in no way do I use a $35k PC. I like a well constructed cable with OCC copper.
Introducing C-MARC™. A new generation of high performance wire and cable, well-equipped to deal with today’s over-polluted electro-magnetic environment.
Seriously? For starters, this is not something that can be condensed in one post. You would need multiple white papers. Will you be able to understand the information? Second, we as humans cannot explain or understand all the phenomena surrounding us. As a species, we have our limitations. We are not Gods. But just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or that you are not allowed to enjoy it. The cavemen didn’t understand gravity but they knew how to use it. I don’t understand how clocks work but I sure like to know the time. I fly all the time without a clue how airplanes work. Apparently, a lot of people who can afford a $35k power cord see things differently than you. Are they all gullible and easy to part with their money? Think about it.
N.B. When you get a chance, can you explain to me how ac current works? I always have difficulty with that one. Thanks in advance.
What is outside noise? Some PCs are covered with a copper fabric to cut off RFI/EMI. The electrical noise from a hair dryer (for example) can’t be filtered by a PC.
There is no sound signal in PC. Though the design (number and shape of wires) of cable changes the Structure of Electrical Energy (SEE). The quality, thickness, and materials in a cable changes the speed of EE. A good PC changes the low quality SEE in wall line to the high quality SEE (better sounding structure and speed) and delivered to amp. A good PC is like a reservoir too.
A good PC is designed with a collection of different wires. They could be silver, copper, thin, thick, OCC, OFC, silver coated copper, tin coated copper, copper coated alum, strand, solid, etc. The different wires inside a cable generate different energy (which influences different frequencies) and form a better sound structure. Also, faster EE feeds more electric power to the amp. A PC directly affects the shape and energy of the sound of connected component.
Even if internal wires of connected component is inferior, the sound structure formed by PC will stay in same sound form in shrunk or distorted state. Once generated good sound structure by a good PC is better sounding then it’s never had.
The power in wall line is never same once it passes a PC (or any other different cable).
Below is some basic stuff I have learned about power cords. Beyond that, all I can say is YMMV. Some swear they make a huge difference but I haven't noticed that. I have purchased cords up to about $1,200 (Isoclean) and cables from Furutech, Neotech, and Oyaide that are in the mid-upper hundred$. I make cords that are very similar to those by TWL (and using the same OS WE 10ga wire), and I like the sound of my cords for large amplifiers and for my Isoclean power conditioner. Below are some things to consider.
I skipped all the "connect your system directly to the power plant" ...
I bought a Furman P-1800 PF R.
"Furman gave this special power conditioner a 45A peak current reservoir to minimize the detrimental effects of line impedance on your high-current amps and powered monitors."
I have a separate circuit of course, to eliminate motors ... give the Furman an easier start, like giving an FM tuner a good signal. Furman to separate circuit, then everything that counts plugs into the Furman.
@lucky53 : I say you are imaging things when you think you hear a difference between power cords A and B. Particularly if you don't use a switch box to do the comparison. The Mind is prey to illusionary thinking! Hucksters know this and are ready to take advantage and sell the naive wire/power cords costing hundreds of $$$. They want you to believe that the AC power from your wall outlets is somehow polluted and in need of expensive "conditioners."
@jasonbourne52 "How about replacing the power cord on a microwave oven with a boutique cord and see if it bakes food faster?"
I actually did this, measured the results, and it did boil water 10% faster. It also made better popcorn (which was my objective). Word of this trickled up to the designer of the cable who said it made sense to him.
@mihorn : "The different wires inside a cable generate different energy ... and form a better sound structure." This conjecture will get you an F in a college engineering course! The transmission theory of electricity through wire has been fully known since the beginning of the 20th Century!
Here’s a link to Audioquest’s website where the author(s) offer some explanation of how things work, and why.
Here’s an excerpt:
"Many premium AC cords constrict or compress the audio transient as their characteristic impedance restricts the transient current."
I’m a repentant cable denier.
Like @jasonbourne52, the engineer in me (40 years now) says that it if you satisfy the basic requirements of a cable (conductivity, current capacity, quality, safety), anything more (exotic materials, geometries, etc.) is superfluous nonsense (aka expensive snake oil).
However, the curious and skeptical part of me had to investigate what all the hubbub was about. What I found, much to my chagrin, was that I could hear the difference between cables. Some cables, on some components, sound better or worse than others. I can’t explain it, neither can anybody else, but it’s true. I am now of the @ghdprentice school of thought.
I realize that I’m not answering the OPs question, but I don’t believe it can be answered by anybody. I personally believe our fundamental scientific understanding of how electricity works is incomplete.
"Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted"
In theory, power cords should not make a difference. In my experience, only very inferior/cheap power cords make a difference (bad) vs good quality power cords.
is the power cord you are using restricting the flow of electrons, or is it just a sub-optimal design?
Any restriction of electricity, even very small amounts (in millivolts) can influence performance.
Therefore, the written cable specifications are all-important.
The specs you should be looking for are:
Maximum temperature: 105°C or higher
Audio gear with inbuilt power cords are also fine. No need to re-solder a massive power cord to it. Doing so would be an insult to the designers of that piece of audio gear. If the above specifications are met, then you have a perfect power cable.
In the field (IT, networking, onsite, ultra-power hungry servers or large custom installations), it is possible for a cable itself to catch on fire. This is because the maximum tempeature (jacket/insulation) was far surpassed. Turns out they used a very cheap power cord that was also out of shape.
The people who design step down/step up power transformers, electronics engineers, doctors, surgeons, scientists, and even laboratory technicians all rely on power cables that meet these specifications.
If they did not, and required high-end audiophile-grade power cords that cost ten grand or more, their instrumentation would produce inaccurate results and class-action lawsuits would be underway.
To some audiophiles, garden-hose power cables are the way to go. Or that cost is everything when choosing cables. If you want to be that guy, then so be it.
@mitch2 My experience has been the same as yours. Replacing the stock PC provided by Hegel, with a $1500 PC from Furutech, made zero difference in sound. According to Audioquest:
SOLID PERFECT-SURFACE SILVER (PSS) & SOLID PERFECT-SURFACE COPPER+ (PSC+) CONDUCTORS
Solid conductors prevent electrical strand-to-strand interaction, major sources of distortion. Surface quality is critical because a conductor can be considered as a rail-guide for both the fields within a conductor, and for the magnetic fields that extend outside the conductor. The astonishingly smooth and pure Perfect-Surface Copper+ eliminates harshness and greatly increases clarity compared to OFHC, OCC, 8N and other premium coppers. Extremely high-purity Perfect-Surface Silver further minimizes distortion caused by grain boundaries, which exist within any metal conductor.
Once again, it's almost as if the manufacturer is using words relating the sound quality of electricity. As you have pointed out, your amp is going to do all kinds of wonderful things with the electrical current. I'm still not shure how "increasing the clarity" of electricty before it enters your amp can alter the sounds quality from your speakers. Audioquest also states thier PC can handle 20 amps and that is sufficient to accomodate power spikes in your amp. So then any quality 10 AWG wite shouold also work? If $1500 for Furutech made no diffrence, I willl not be spending $7500 with Audioquest.
You need cables with "magical electrons"
they jump around inside the cable, then reach the amp, CD player etc.
By the time they reach the component, they’re bouncing about, having fun.
This DRAMATICALLY improves the musicality and artist intent, emotional tonality/in relation to heartfelt lyrics, and even imaging. All because the electrons are so happy, just being themselves in a blissful state.
For example, in "Just for You" by Lionel Richie, you can be brought to tears.
Such a sincere message from someone who really cares. But you must use magical electrons, otherwise, the performance will sound "too-digital"
For real though, read what I wrote above @bigtwin
I’m not going to answer power-cable related questions anymore lol
There is an excellent video on this site titled "How Electricity Actually Works" posted by @barts on 4/30/22. It goes into great depth concerning the "distributed" nature of circuits as opposed to the "Lumped" model which many "audiophiles" unknowingly use in their analysis of the connections between circuit elements. Lumped parameter systems make circuit analysis much easier to comprehend and they work on the macroscopic level. However, at the level of audio quality on this forum we need to look at a these circuits with a much more in-depth analysis. The graphics of growing & collapsing E and B fields, and the "capacitor" model of the dielectric surrounding the metallic core of wires, are excellent and give a great visual of what is happening on this atomic level.
I am not an EE or research physicist. However, having taught basic physics courses for 30 yrs. I can say that this video is very helpful at dispelling the myth that all wires are the same. I am NOT saying that anyone should immediately go out and spend large amounts of $$$ on new cables. But like most natural phenomena, there is much more to it than meets the eye.
As I mentioned before here (below link), Chinese fake PCs and genuine brand PCs are all made by people who don’t know how to make high quality audio PCs properly. It is the matter of luck the fake or genuine PCs sounds bit better than other copies in your audio system. Only my PC is the properly made and lets you hear the difference persistently. And your audio system is not ready to clearly evaluate the performance of any PCs or cables either.
I think that the original question has been answered, "Essentially, we don't know why or if (depending on who you talk to) they make a difference, you have to try it for yourself and make up your own mind".
Based on the insistence that they make a difference, I have tried four different power cable brands to date and have yet to notice a significant difference, however I am not willing to spend thousands to find out that is what it takes.
On the other hand, I have been running through speaker cables and differences in each are very clear to me.
@bigtwin are you reading the content in the links people are posting? The answers to many of your questions are there. Skinning effects, RFI and EMI …..
For me, I can hear a huge difference between those cheap interconnects that came with tape decks and and old turntables of yesteryear and current $500 interconnects. However, I can not hear the difference between the power cable that came with my $6000 integrated and a $500 aftermarket power cable. I know this doesn’t answer your question, but I thought I’d throw my 2cents in.
Lots of great posts and useful information here.
I’m going to approach this more from the "what" perspective and not so much the "why" aspect. I’d like to point out that I come from the "reverse bias" perspective, whereby, the concept of premium cables pegged the needle on my "BS Meter". 60 hertz is 60 hertz. It doesn’t change. Electrons travel at the speed of light. And, plugging in something that pulls 3 amps into a (factory supplied) power cord rated at 10 amps is well within the current demands of the cable. I was insulted when our cable rep came around and offered to audition power cables with me. I, unapologetically, sent him and his high-priced cables packing. Until the day he asked me "as a personal favor" to take some home and listen to them. When the evening’s listening session was completed, I didn’t just drink the Kool-Aide. I chugged the whole pitcher.
My take on power cords is summed up in one word: AGILITY. Quicker, faster, more energetic power delivery. This is the "what" I referenced earlier. When musical information is presented to the power supply, it reaches back to the wall outlet to get more juice. If the power delivery is slow and/or anemic, the musical elements are there and gone before the power supply says: "’Hey, I’ve got a job to do here!" Microdynamics are undefined ripples vs clear swings in energy that reveal vibrato, trailing voices and instruments, and subtleties. Demands for transients are met with fully defined elements providing rich dynamic contrast. Those "POWS" are "POWS" and not "smushes". Ah, then there’s the improvements in focus and detail. Those formerly hidden spacial queues tell our brains where things are positioned in space a lot more accurately. And, more agility reduces strain and glare.
In, literally, hundreds of cases I have not heard a situation where power cord upgrades did not improve the sound of whatever they were plugged into. From price-driven mass merchant low-fi gear to "reference"systems it was unmistakably better. So, I struggle with those who have had negative results with premium cables. Admittedly, I only have experience with power systems in our region in a "typical" home with equipment we’ve had exposure to. So, I’m not saying that there are conditions where power cord upgrades don’t matter (source, low current, high current, integrated systems, separates, etc). I just haven’t experience one. Yet.
I recently demo’d some PCs in my system. Nothing terribly exotic (or freakishly expensive) but from a maker of good reputation, and recommended by people I trust.
Comparing to OEM PCs, I could hear a clear and unmistakable improvement in my pre-amp, but not my monoblock power amps. The same cables, different components. I bought the cable for my pre-amp and did not for the power amps.
Does the design of my pre-amp make it sensitive to power cables? Does the design of my power amps make it insensitive to power cables? Or maybe the OEM cables from the power amps was better than the OEM cable from the pre-amp. I don’t know.
Also, on a lark, I bought some AliExpress power cables (not clones) over the holidays. Seemingly built very well. Massive. "Silver". Sounded like garbage on everything I tried.
Confounding, this cable thing.
Bingo!!! Trust your ears!!!
What I did was buy 14 awg hospital grade power cable of Amazon for short money and I'm very content with them. I'm powering a LPS, Denafrips Ares II and a Rega Elex R. I went bananas on my interconnects and speaker cables, but when it came to power cables I decided to just get hospital grade and be done with it. Enjoy the music! ✌️
First of all, thanks for making this your last question about power cables. The topic has been beaten to death.
My comments don’t answer your question. They simply provide a way for you to make your own decisions on the topic.
All I know is I have heard the difference between various power cables, and for me, that is all that matters.
I suggest that you listen to some power cables in your system or one you know well, and try a number of different power cables, including some that are very expensive.
If you can’t hear the difference, go with lamp cord. If you can hear a difference decide on your budget.