Everyone likes to think cables are just wire, or maybe certain wire, or connectors, or whatever it is that will enable them to believe its something they can do just as good or better and save some money to boot.
I even bit on this one once or twice myself. The champeen of all times though is this guy I know who spent thirty years working on DIY cables. Power cords. Interconnects. Speaker cables. Dude copied every design, sometimes even bought stuff just to take it apart and copy or reverse engineer.
One day he was so proud he called me up and raced over to impress me with the pinnacle of all his work that he swore sounded just as good as the $4k interconnect he had copied for much less. Believe me, if you are gonna go DIY you will be glad I am not able to show you the look on his face when he realized his masterpiece was not even nearly as good as the cheapest (about $175) interconnect in my system.
The truth is, if you are looking to save some money with a DIY that is as good as the best you could just buy for the same money, the truth is there are none.
So there's your answer: name your budget, listen to as many as you can find within that range, buy the one that sounds the best.
Sorry, but the above post is just not reflective of the truth in all situations. Far from it. Some folks know how to do things right and happen not to be in audio industry full time. There are DIY guys that are every bit as talented as some builders as designers in the business. They just decided not to do it for a career. This is a great big world and it produces many talented people who through years of DIY experience and learning have the knowledge and make very special finished builds. We can learn from them and make some great builds in time. The web is full of wonderful audio DIY threads and information.
When it comes to a power cord you can certainly build one for $100 that will outshine many costing up to $1500. It can be done and is being done. One fellow Agoner liked this $100 cable better than his $3000 power cord. So OP I have one for you and it is very easy to build.
1) Buy the Duelund 600v Polycast 12 gauge bulk wire from Parts Connextion. Here is the link....https://www.partsconnexion.com/product47657.html
2) You can certainly purchase the expensive Furutech AC plugs if you like as they are good. I have found these to sound wonderful with no need to spend more money....https://www.partsconnexion.com/CONNEX-83387.html
You twist the Hot and Neutral along the length of the cord. The twist will have a natural feel or fall of every 2 or so inches. You then twist the ground around the twisted pair of hot and neural in the OPPOSITE direction. This twist is every 3-4 inches. Remember, you lose lenght as you twist especially on the ground. Plan/purchase accordingly.
Be careful when stripping the wire not to nick or cut any fine strands. This is important and takes some skill and experience. Purchase a meter to practice on if you must. You can find nice auto wire strippers which make for clean and perfect wire strips every time.
Do not shield as unshielded sounds better. More open and resolving.
You can cover with black 1/2 inch Techflex nylon expandable tubing for a professional look. Use 3/1 double walled, adhesive lined shrink tubing on the ends. 2 inch is fine.
These will need break in. At first things sound a little nervous and closed in. After a week you will be thrilled. Many Agoners have sold power cables costing up to $3000 in favor of these.
Another tip. Do not over tighten the AC plug set screws on your stripped wire. You want to tighten well and be sure the wire is clamped securely. However, avoid giving it all your might and then some as this will break or damage some of the fine strands.
Now if you don’t have any experience building power cords and don’t know how to properly terminate the end plugs, then let someone else do it that has experience. Incorrect wiring is potentially very dangerous. This is not a 2 volt speaker cable, but 125 volts!
@grannyring Bill, I'm using the same twist geometry, except with bespoke 10awg stranded dead soft silver wires and a tinned copper braid shield. Also inexpensive but high quality IeGO connectors. Lately I've been molding LessLoss 64x Firewalls (DIY version) into the build. This is a big step up.
Sounds nice @dgarretson ! How much did the wire cost?
I've heard good results with Oyaide Tunami power cord & Furutech connectors. No doubt its far from the last word in resolution but has made a marked improvement in my system.
You want power cords to be the opposite of high bandwidth.
Use shielded, plain copper. Consider snap on ferrites in the class D amps.
Also, my luck with Furutech locking banana plugs was so bad Ill never use them again.
The next time your driving down the highway, look at those massive power line towers.
1) the hot and neutral are separated, sometimes up to 100 feet apart.
2) capacitance allows high frequencies to pass, blocking low frequencies.
3) inductance allows low frequencies to pass, blocking high frequencies.
The power coming from the wall is 60Hz. This is low. Capacitance is bad, Inductance is good. Separated +ve and -ve allows 60Hz to pass unimpeded.
4) there is not a single piece of multistrand wire in our grid system, nor is there a single piece of multistrand in any phono pre-amp made by man. It introduces a type of distortion caused by micro-arching between strands. Multistrand is more easily 'snaked' between components, while solid core is a pain to manipulate. Chose between convenience and power delivery.
There is a carrier signal in our power. It is how the electrical stations communicate. Capacitance allows this signal to enter your system, Inductance blocks this parasitic signal.
Conduct a simple experiment;
buy 12/2 wire from your big box store
carefully cut away and discard the exterior jacket (run your knife blade along the center, making sure not to nik the insulated cable)
buy the absolute cheapest connectors you can find
buy electrical conductive paste
clean the bare wires, lightly coat in paste, attach connectors
spread the 3 wires apart (I know, I know, I know, this isn't to code. but we're audiophiles)
This is now your baseline. Now compare to store bought power cords. Draw your own conclusion.
If your find an apparent 'volume' loss, listen more carefully. You've actually reduced noise (specifically the carrier signal used by the power company).
Not one of you will try this. It's too simple, and cheap, and therefore must be wrong.
grannyring...thanks for being so willing to share...
I have tried it. Not bad for the little money, but not near the musicality and realism of the build I outlined above. It was a little hard sounding and lacked refinement. In addition, solid core can be very dangerous when used in power cords. If the owner bends or removes them often, as many Aphiles do, then you are certainly stressing that solid core conductor and weakening it with every bend. Not good.
Granny, thank you. You are correct in your observations. The baseline cable isn't yet perfect. It's the start. It's step 1.
Go to ham radio sites. They use X and Y capacitors. These capacitors connect the hot to ground, neutral to ground, and hot to neutral. I can't remember which goes where, but when done properly, they completely remove the parasitic signal from the power grid. They also remove those 'things' a cable picks up (radio, tv, wireless router etc signals). You then need to carefully wrap these little things with electrical tape.
I figure I better do this now.
Cardas makes a 12 guage Litz wire. Don't get their 9.5awg, it doesn't fit most connectors.
You will need a soldering pot, lots of solder, and patience.
Litz wire may have multiple strands, but it is not multistrand wire. We need to remove micro arching between the strands. Litz accomplishes this.
Remember to keep the hot and neutral wires separated. In a power cord, capacitance is the enemy.
By far and away the BEST power cords I have had in my system came from the below video series:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2QAqTNmvFM
A neighbor built them for our audiophile group and all of us had the same experience - FANTASTIC! The clarity, soundstage, dynamics, and even tonal balance upped the quality of all of our systems.
Hey Select, I have been making my own cables for 40 years. First of all equipment location is critical. You want to keep your power amp or amps far away from your low level equipment. Mono amps next to the speakers are ultimate. You want to keep the speaker cables as short as possible. I use Kimber 12TC which you can buy in 50 foot rolls for $1700. I agreed to make cables for several Hi Fi friends which covered the cost and left me 10 feet of cable which is exactly what I needed. I use WBT 0610 Ag bananas to terminate the 12TC. Heat shrink is use to tidy things up. I do not use a cover as I think the cable is sharp. There are less expensive versions of this extremely low induction cable. The more power you have the larger the gauge you want to use. I use 10 gauge twisted three conductor with a foil shield cable for power cords. I terminate with Wattgate AU gold AC plugs. The cables are built to length, as short as possible the shield is connected only at the wall ground. For audio and digital cables I use Canare DA 206 cable with their RCAP-C RCAs and Neutric Gold Canon connectors. The shields are always connected at the proximal end only with RCAs. All cables are cut to length and the equipment is positioned to minimize cable lengths with the exception of the amplifiers. I do agree with keeping Lt and Rt channels at equal length even though it probably does not make much difference. DA 206 can be run over 1000 feet without degradation of a digital signal. I have run double blinded tests with several other very expensive cables and no panel was able to tell the difference. Some of the other cables were better looking and their companies are much better at marketing than I am. But, the theory that if it costs more it must be better is seriously flawed when it comes to Hi Fi equipment and accessories. I could give a hoot what something looks like. I only care about performance and durability.
I second what Boxer 12 said . I have used both Oyaide's 10 gauge Tunami and 12 gauge Black Mamba with great results . The connectors I found at the time were Japanese gold plated copper plugs and iec connectors .
I seriously doubt there is better copper than Oyaide's 102ssc .
For speaker cables I use the Analysis Plus Silver oval 2 .Better than the AntiCables I had used - ymmv .
In regards to DIY power cords, I highly recommend that you try the Deulund 600 VDC power cable that grannyring linked above.
I owned the Tunami V2, Black Mamba V2 and Nanotec 308/307 PC and they have been superior to ALL PC except Verastarr which slays everything...
The 600 VDC is like the Tunami or BM V2 but on steroids with beautiful tone and dimensionality but I am warning you that it is quite addictive :)
@grannyring and other gents...
All my PCs are DIY made and they are much cheaper than big brands power cords. It seems Duelund Tinnes copper are very good and I am tempted to give it a try.
However, I was told that Duelund power cord 600dc and tinned copper wires, works better with older tube design gears, is this true?
Does anybody used it with new generation of Dacs, news preamps or AMPs? if so what is your feedback.
BTW, does any body has tried to use fancy AC plugs with these cables? and is there a big difference to do as such?
I'd appreciate your comments...
No, not tube dependent at all on the Duelund. I use them in SS and tube systems. They will help SS gear sound more like musical tubes 😁
Guys anyone got recommendations for connectors ? I can get the Furutech NCF range at trade prices I think I will go with them. I pulled the trigger on Nanotec 308 at 33% discount, so $99 for 1m, I think its a no brainer. I did consider the Acrolink 7N-PC4030 Anniversary, its made by Mitsubishi in Japan, same copper quality as the Furutech DP-4.1, the Pink 450 a metre job, so the Acrolink at 110 for 1m seemed a bargain. I quite fancy the Oyaide connectors but Chris at VH Audio stated the Furutech NCF were the best connectors available.
On the partsconnexion website, there is a receipe for a woven power cable using the same Duelund wire. Have you built this cable and compared to the 2 twist plus ground counter-twist you propose? It may be of interest to know whether the type of twist using the same wire could make an audible difference in a power cable.
I have tried DH Labs and Furutech cables and find very litlle between them from and overall performance perspective.
DH Labs Power plus is among the nicest for amps and their Encore cable is great for components
UInfortunately, using standard bulk cable IS NOT the best approach to get the very best sound out of a power cable, because they use "old fashioned’ an noisy cable geometries.
Using a braided or a helix geometry will yield significantly better performance from all components.
See the following link for an extremely high perofrmance Helix power cable - they may look complicated, but are pretty simple to build http://image99.net/blog/files/category-002ahelix-power-cable.html
I use Sonar Quest silver plated copper plugs/IEC’s and find them to offer great value at a very reasonable price and their IEC grips like a vice.
Someone above mentioned Duelund - I have just converted my speaker cables to the Duelund 12 gauge stranded tinned copper with Polymer insulation and was blown away, so I have more of that wire coming so I can upgrade my power cables as well.
Regards - Steve
Steve, the Polycast is not meant for speaker cables really. It is made for power cables. The Duelund 12 gauge stranded and tinned copper in COTTON sounds better for speaker cables. Far more lively and open. Smoother with more realism and purer, more natural tone.
You are in for a real treat when you try it. Just use the extra Polycast wire for additional power cords.
Steve, the Polycast is not meant for speaker cables really. It is made for power cables.
Yep - an opinion shared by others, but I had some thoughts...
I previously installed the oil/cotton variety in some interconnects and found it to be very good, but I had noticed that leaving a spare piece of the wire open to the air that the oil had begun to dry out after only one week
A couple of other DIYer’s also thought this might be the case, which might impact performance in the long term if the wire dried out completely
The polycast would not have this problem and therefore would have more consitant performance over time, so that is why I selected it for the speaker cables.
Because of the design of my Helix speaker cables the Duelund would be more prone to drying out because the wire is open to the air.
Could the cotton also be effected by room humidity? - yet another reason for my choice to use the Polycast.
However - the Duelund Polycast has surprised myself and others, with it’s excellent performance and at a reasonable cost - BONUS!!!
I have already installed the Polycast variant in the speaker cables and it is proving to be extremely good.
Far more lively and open. Smoother with more realism and purer, more natural tone.
Yep - that is how I would sum up the Polycast wire also :-)
FYI: I have also tried the Mundorf solid silver/gold bare wire in my interconnects and found it provided slightly more details and more accurate imaging than the Duelund wire - but at considerably more expense
Going forward - I will be using Duelund for the signal and live conductors in the Helix Speaker and Power cables and the Mundorf in the Helix Interconnects.
- I will still use the silver plated stranded Mil-spec wire with teflon insulation from Take Five Audio for the neutral conductor on all cables.
One fellow DIYer compared the two and noted...
- Mundorf - provided more details - but sounded a little "dry"
- Duelund - was a little less detailed, but more engaging
I think when you get into wire of this calibre it becomes a matter of personal preference and for me, budget :-)
- I would love to try the mundorf on the speaker and power cables, but it would be quite expensive for the gauge required AND would the improvment be worth the expense?
- I originally became a DIYer to make this hobby more affordable (LOL)
More Duelund polycast wire is in transit as I write this and should be here next week. It is detined for my power cables - so I will provide an update here once it is installed.
Regards - Steve
You should simply clean the stripped ends of the Duelund cotton wire with rubbing alcohol. Clean throughly and no issues. The Cotton version is far more natural sounding with better tone and realism. The Polycast is more closed in sounding. Not as smooth. You really should build a set of speaker cables with the 12 gauge Duelund in cotton and you will experience first hand how much better it is than the Polycast for speaker cables. Don’t let assumptions based on ICs cloud your thinking here.
I found the Mundorf wire very lacking in bass as in where did it go? I also found the upper mids a tad rough compared to Duelund. The Neotech silver-gold wire is better sounding than the Mundorf based on my experimenting. Neotech is smoother and more musical. Also, the bass is far stronger than the Mundorf.
- thanks for your Neotech/Duelund/Mundorf observations. I might give the Neotech a try.
I found the Mundorf wire very lacking in bass as in where did it go?
Interesting, because I found the mundorf had a little more bass details and provided a more accurate image over the duelund and I found no problem with bass. In fact the bass was more detailed, with a little more depth, especially the deep LFE’s on Pipe organ music - definitely more "growl" to the lower notes.
It could be due to the different cable geometries we are using?
But I hasten to add that I am talking about incredibly small changes/improvements here. As I said above - I think we are in the realm of personal preferences, after all, everybodies hearing is different :-)
Neotech is smoother and more musical.
Which "frequency band" (i.e. high, mid, low) did you find the neotech was smoother?
Have you tried combining any of the different wires (I have not - yet)
Cheers - Steve
Smoother in the upper mids and highs. I have not mixed wire. Not mixed Duelund with Neotech Silver/gold etc. ..
- I have just switched two power cables over to Duelind 12 gauge for the live conductor...
- On the Node 2 there was some improvement in midro details pertaining to venue acoustics
- On the Simaudio Moon phono stage similar improvements were more noticeable, with more micro details and a more life-like image
- Both sound smoother and present more body in the mid/upper range
I think the phono stage, being higher resolving than the Node 2 (but not by much) accounts for the more noticeable improvements.
Regards - Steve
You are a hard worker! I have found the Duelund sounds rather nervous and ragged until broken in. Give it a week and report back. This wire really does change and improve with burn in time.
I admire your willingness and diligent efforts. Wow! You are prolific.
I have just switched two power cables over to Duelind 12 gauge for the live conductor
What type of cables did you use for your neutral and ground side? Also what was the difference you found in comparison to using same awg for neutral and ground side in your helix design ?
I would also like to thank to both Grannyring and Steve for your discussions and willingness to share your experience with your cable construct and findings. You guys are doing a fantastic job!
@tjhuler - I use stranded Silver plated Mil-spec hookup wire with teflon insulation from Take Five Audio... https://www.takefiveaudio.com/products/1826-mil-spec-10-awg-silver-plated-copper-wire-red-cryo-treated/ https://www.takefiveaudio.com/products/1095-mil-spec-12-awg-silver-plated-copper-cryo-treated-red/
There are many other brands of wire out there, but I like the above because they maintain the helix spiral and offer pretty good performance at a reasonable price.
By comparison, Duelund is a much more flexible wire and does not maintain the helix as well as the Mil-spec does.
I did try duelund for the helix neutral on an interconnect and found it did not provide any sonic benefit over the mil-spec
For the live conductor I use a 12 gauge for components or 10 gauge for amps and power distribution boxes ...
- I use a double run of 12 gauge Mil-spec (i.e. 9 gauge combined) for the neutral on all power cables - mainly to keep the diameter of the finished cable to a minimum.
- For the ground I use a single 12 gauge copper wire designed for use in a conduit - from Home Depot
- I have not tried a dual run of wire fro the live
- I’ve found having a heavier gauge neutral provides better performance
- I have built a 14 gauge cable for my TV and it improved the picture and sound a lot
- For PC's with only a two pin (figure 8) IEC connector I still employ a ground wire, but leave it unatached at the connector
- All wire I use for mains cable is rated for 600v and 200 celsius
- I avoid Solid wire because it can break with continued bending
Hope That halps - Steve@grannyring
- thanks for the feedback :-)
After just 30 hours burn in the improvements are noticeable - I’ll post an update next week
thanks for your input about Duelund 600V power cord.
Can you show me your photo of the cable? I want to see the braid.
PCX recommend normal 3 way braid which is different than yours. Can you tell me what is the difference?