Interconnects and speaker cables are much more important than power cords.
That question is too open ended.It all depends on the paricular system your builiding it upon.Whats the source?The speakers?The Preamp?The amp? If your using a turntable Whats the tonearm? The cartridge? The room setup? You need to address all of these varibles first,before I can answer this general question.
"Is $5000 powercord really necessary?" Of course not, unless you really enjoy being someone's fool. If it were the case that dedicated lines cost this much (instead of 1/10th, as they do) I would be willing to say yes. The difference in this respect is indeed dramatic. But power cords - no way.
Interconnects and speaker cables, that is a different story. These have made a big difference for me. But there is no exact relationship price and quality of match in a given system. It is still easy to be a fool unless you know your own mind and trust your own ears. And personally, I would never spend anything close to $5k on a single cable or wire.
Since my pcs have built-in line conditioners, I'll address your question accordingly.
There is one aspect about some to many ics and scs that might give their significance the edge over proper line conditioning. That is the time-smear affect that seems so common in ics and scs. It's a pretty vast improvement once the time-smear has been minimized or eliminated.
Most would probably disagree with me, but aside from the time-smear factor, I think both are about equal in significance.
If the line conditioner is doing its job, then one should more easily hear the significant gains of well-engineered ics and scs.
If the ics and scs are doing their job, then one should more easily appreciate the signifianct gains of well-engineered line conditioners.
But, then again, this philosophy works equally well toward every other component in a given system just as well.
No component is an island!!! Except perhaps the amplifier :)
I also concur with RD - speaker, interconnect then (way, way back), is power cord.
Is a $5k cord worth it? - well, there were many wanted ads for one particular brand of $4,500 power cord that was alleged to "soundstage like crazy", but I'm quite sure that was the manufacturer's disingenuous marketing hype.
Stand by to ignore some genius with the obligatory "if you can't hear the difference, then your system isn't capable of adequate resolution" statement - there's always one in the crowd.
Speaker cables, IC's and power cables are all "tuning devices", and as such, IMHO its pretty tough to rank them. Just as a certain speaker cable or IC can transform a particular system, so can a particular powercord. To get the most out of a system, all 3 areas should be addressed, or at least considered, and there is no substitute for a demo in your own system. When the right combination of cables is achieved, you will probably know it. Then again, there always might be something better out there...........
Also, obviously NOBODY pays list price for the mega-thousand dollar powercords - its all about supply and demand. A site like this one is perfect for trying different cables, etc.
I take a bit different view, I completly agree dedicated lines for sure. After that I'd start at the scource componets down, my search took me IC then to pc, and yes the pcs made one hell of a difference (see my reviews of Beast and Polestar pcs) now I have new speaker cables ordered (IMO the last link in the chain). I agree that the cost factor is a major concern and I find myself searching for the gems that are far away from the $5,000 pricing but, provide netural presentation without coloration.
All seriousness aside, I too think that it's difficult to organize a hierarchy of cables because it's so system and environment dependent.
If you have dirty AC, power cables might yield the best gains. If not, speaker cables or interconnects might do more. Also, it depends on what cables in the chain you're replacing with what, and then you have how each component might react to the cable.
All the wire makes a difference, and once you start you'll end up replacing it all. A $5000 power cord isn't necessary, and some $5000 cords sell new for a fraction of that...and I mean liquidation prices.
You can get excellent results in a range of $200-$700 (I know it's wide). Look for used cabling, and take a serious look at the lesser known fabricators selling cords at auction. You can find some really good stuff there.
I've done several things that have helped me immensely in this area of audio:
1) Ask manufacturers/dealers to try a cable in which I am interested. I do this under one condition. That is, I will buy the cable from them if I am going to buy it at all. Otherwise, I'll buy it used, and won't bother the manufacturer/dealer about it.
2) Unless the music is simply unlistenable with the cable swap, I listen for AT LEAST two days with the new cable in the loop. When I go back to my original cable, it's always startling how it performs quite differently than I had remembered.
3) I've stopped paying attention to the price of the cables, in the sense of anticipating what they 'should' sound like because of their pricing. Naturally, we still have to be able to afford whatever it is that we decide to buy. But if we buy used, we can try out $200 IC's, or we can try out $1400 IC's, and not lose any money on the re-sale, should we decide they are not for us.
I believe that too many people make conclusions about cabling even before they get started with experimenting. Sure, there is plenty of cable babble and voodoo out there, but I don't even read it. I just buy various cables and try them out. Re-selling them is a snap. And while I'm certain that many people would not necessarily agree with my (and my wife's) conclusions about a particular cable's effect in our system, the differences between two cables are often huge, and easily discernible.
There is no 'have-to' in this arena. I just think that many people miss out on the potential for significant improvements in their system because they say NO even before they get started.
Just my 2 cents,
What most of us audiophools do is spend time and money on cabling when other issues should be addressed first...like frontends, amps, speakers etc...because in most cases it is the cheapest and easiest way to change the sound of your system. So in that case it is an endless search to alter your systems presentation when you feel the need....like tone controls.
That has brought me to this conclusion having been on this merry-go-round myself....the better the components in the system the better any cable sounds. Put classic "best bang for the buck" cables like Kimber PBJ and 8TC in a balanced high resolving system and they are hard to beat, damn hard to beat and you can spend as much as you want. Put them in a middle of the road system and they sound maybe "ho-hum. It's not the wire! I have tons of cables laying around, some reference, middle of the road, mega bucks and cheap and I put the Kimbers mentioned above in my system and they outperform just about everything I've tried, mind you not hundreds of cables but quite a few.
CJ Premier 14
Mcintosh 501 mono's
Put classic "best bang for the buck" cables like Kimber PBJ and 8TC in a balanced high resolving system and they are hard to beat, damn hard to beat and you can spend as much as you wantI disagree completely, and I can't help reading such claims as reckless. You're saying that anyone could expect to hear the same quality of reproduction with the PBJ in the chain as they would with a Cardas Golden Reference? Or a Jena Labs Symphony? A Purist Venustas? An HT Cyberlight? Not possible. If your hearing is good--as in you have an ear for learning an instrument, or a language--then I'm stunned that you could make such a claim.
I agree with Pops. Based upon the questions and virtual systems shown on this forum, too much attention is paid to cabling at the expense of front end components and other issues, primarily room acoustics. There are tons of sub $200/meter interconnects and cables, while not state of the art, are very good to excellent performers. Unless you're in the $5,000+ per component range, an incremental $2,000 or $3,000 is nearly always better spent on anything but cables. You don't have to agree with me, but there's really nothing stunning or reckless in this position.
I am thinking if the main objective of any interconnect is to carry signal from "A" to "B" in natural and uncolored way then that same interconnect should work the same way on another high resolution system. If it is not then definitely it is the equipment that is the problems. Otherwise, the interconnects are nothing but a tone control to tweak the system to sound differently.
When you have a revealing system, the whole concept is to reduce the noise floor of your source especially for high end CD transport/DAC. Power conditioner is a good start and to me it is a "must" for any good setup. The other important area to look at is the interconnect from DAC to preamp. These two aspects remove the noise floor significantly in my system while the speaker cable and interconnect between my preamp and amp remain unchanged.
In addition to getting other enthusiasts opinions which can be useful but usually conclude little, wouldn't it be a good idea to also consult the manufacturer of whose cabling your using or interested in and let them give guidance specific to their product? There is rarely a broad brush stroke answer for such a specific situation. Broad brush stroke answers have contributed to some of the confusion and wasted efforts most of us have experienced.
Just a thought. Don't slug me.