(1) Source / cdp first, Full stop ..... in my direct and indirect experiences. The better the spinner unit, the more graphic the cable choice sensitivities and the degree of improvement with your selection of cable in matched lockstep to the choice of your ICs.
(2) it's no guarantee of automatic nirvana that all the components have to be all from the same PC brand. It's strongly suggested that you upgrade them all in the same manner as you did with the power amp: via an A-B direct shootout bake-off. Admittedly, it's a good start to include your amp power cord brand in your selection criteria.... However, Power cables -- like all cables-- , have a sonic signature that can be very system dependent.
(3) Raw price point in PCs is no yardstick selection criteria for audio improvement nirvana. Similarly mega-brand units won't guarantee any upgrade either.
For example, with my $12K spinner, the OEM supplied power cord (a quality build kit itself in the $300 range) was put to a direct bake-off against some quality-build units from heavyweight brands such as FURUTECH, SHUNYATA, OYAIDE, LFD, ATLAS, ECOSSE, JPS and others. Many of the latter retail up to the G-note price strata.
The dealer recommended that I stick with the OEM unit .... He was right ... It bested all the contenders and pretenders with MY kit, and absolutely smoked some of the mega-priced brands. The latter do yeoman service now in my B-system ... They just did not work in my A-system.
if you have not yet run in dedicated power lines from the breaker panel to yiur listening room and also added on either hospital grade or audiophile grade receptacles, then don't blow a lot of money on new power cords now.
It is intuitive... Improve it on a cradle-to-grave approach.
A dedicated power line system will give you the performance improvements expressed in multiples when compared to just the "new" power cord inserted by itself at the end in a "standard" power line feed.
when it comes to power cords, i like to upgrade the amplifier cord first.. the amp is the most power hungry of all plus i like to make sure i'm not short changing everything in front or behind the amp source with an amp that's not getting enough electricity..
Treadman, the range of improvement that cab be achieved is quite varied in different ways...
- Very modestly priced components, like my Schiit Bifrost DAC, achieved a significantly higher level of performance with good power and interconnects nectcables
- Higher resolution components tend to exhibit more modest levels of improvements, like my Simaudio MOON phono stage. But then you start to hear an improved level of refinememt i.e. resolution
- My Naim 5i amp, having the best power supply of all, probably exhibited the least amount of improvement, but again, the level of refinement or resolution has exceeded my expectations considerably.
So even though the individual amount of improvement may appear to differ, the overall improvement of the system justified the investment in power cable upgrades for all components in my case.
Thanks for so many informed responses!
I agree with upgrading the source first. But, don't discount the importance of a good PC on the preamp. The preamp influences the timbre of your system, especially a tube preamp since tube rolling can change detail, soundstage, dynamics and colour.
Finding the right PC for your preamp can influence the sonics dramatically. One thing to keep in mind is that the preamp is a low-current draw component and many aftermarket PC's have heavy copper windings more suited for an amp, so
Since you are thinking of upgrading the power stage, I'll second the recommendation of adding a dedicated AC line (if possible). This line will provide you with cleaner, more stable current, since you will now be isolated from the rest of the devices in your home.
For me it was the CD player, somewhat surprisingly. Long time believer in interconnects and speaker cables, i never gave much credence to the idea that power cables could make a difference. Last year i started experimenting. First, i replace my stock cords to the monoblocks with Nordost Shiva cables--more and better bass. Then i replaced the Shivas with Aciustic Zen Tsunamis and used the Shivas for my CD and preamp--still more bass, slightly better soundstaging. Very happy with my system, i thought i was done. I got a deal on a used Nordost Vishnu, just one step up from Shiva, so i did a little A-B test. With the preamp, no real impact. With the CD player--WOW. Slightly more bass but better soundstaging and air and space around individual instruments--really noticeable, for the first time. Could be system/component dependent, but if i were to start over, i'd start with the source first, then the power amps.
For me, upgrading the amp PC first made a big improvement in the system as a whole. Using a high currant cord I got much stronger bass, a wider soundstage and more detail across the board.
Upgrading the source cords further refined the sound to varying degrees, but found good pairings after a bit of trial and error (I have a mix of Shunyata, Kimber Palladian and Clarus Crimson).
I just changed my CD player and tried the stock cord first (it is a pretty nice one as stock cables go), but an aftermarket cord was noticeably better, particularly in the bass, mids and vocals.
The power cord is the most important cord in your whole system. Change all of them. Its easy to make your own.....use top grade components. (oops...I found no difference in the power cord to my turntable...but other than that one....)
You usually match a power cord to particulat component so they don't have to or should not be the same or even the same brand. That said, if you want top of the line they might turn out to be the same, maybe.
It varies which component will be more sensitive to the upgrade, it is hard to advise. In your case I would probably first upgrade your tube preamp cord, then the source and the amp the last.
"Honey, looks like I'm going to need a power conditioner."
"OK, dear, whatever you need."
Ha! It will be another whole thread to cover a power conditioner.
At least your significant other is a real keeper :)
Take a look at my cords, username marktunis
welcome! to the wild and crazy world of power cords!
The pre-amp is the heart of any system, so, start here. Take your time
and listen, listen, listen to the various PC out there! Happy Listening.
I use a dedicated water line to the ice maker in my refrigerator, so the dedicated AC line thing does make sense.
A little update on power cable upgrade.
I picked up two SignalCable MagicPower power cords, one for amp, other for preamp. Many Audiogoners have favorable comments on them so I thought it would be an inexpensive way to start. Have had them cooking for a week now, about 6 hours a day, with a fan and a plasma TV. Hopefully they'll make my Spendors sing!
Dedicated 20A lines and excellent wall sockets like the Furutech GTX-D(r) or the newer NTD is a must and have the highest value/money.
Before one spends more money at power cables (they have to be decent to start with), one should consider upgrading to a better power conditioner.
During the last 6 months, I upgraded my conditioner from the Audience aR6-TS to TSSD and finally to TSSOX. Combined with fuse upgrades (IME Audio Horizon Platinum betters the SR Black), the sound has become incredibly open/organic/detailed.