Why do designers/manufacturers...?

If audiophile grade feet, power cords, and fuses can really improve SQ, why don't high end designers/manufacturers just incorporate these audiophile grade components at the time of build? Why sell an under-optimized item that can be easily improved upon by the owner or a modder?
IMO they try to sell their product for the least dollar amount vs their compitition.
Regardless what they supply with their products the buyer will still personalize it.
I think a few things come into play here. One, they want to assure the buyer that they design is optimized within the component itself. By admitting a power cord or feet make the difference, would admit a shortcoming within. Although some have added upgraded feet and called it out in the sales information. Two, I think they realize that a system synergy and environmental influences can alter the designed sound goal. Three, maybe they feel that their design can't be improved upon with PC's, fuses, feet, etc. But I really think that they focus on what is in the box and leave the rest to the consumer to experiment. And the benefits are realized by the cable, shelving, fuse, and other aftermarket manufacturers to exist. Or at least in my opinion.
I'm thinking that most mfgrs. see very little value in the tweaks that are heralded by many audiophiles. If the stuff really worked, especially the cheaper tweaks, you can bet they'd be incorporated into the design....

I think it's because most manufacturers realize that accessories like cords, fuses, and isolation components are personal tastes and synergy related items.

Many manufacturers use these devices when displaying their wares at shows, they have their own personal favorites. However, they are smart enough not to force their tastes on aftermarket gear that they do not manufacturer on to their customers. They allow their customers to choose these accessories to suit their own personal tastes, cutting manufacturing costs in the process.
Most manufacturers are completely unaware of audiophile tweaks.
Audio manufactures are like meat butchers, they want to sell the highest quality product at the most competitive price and they will let the consumer "season" it to their taste.
Because they make more money that way-geeezh !
I actually asked that question to two designers of electronics (major designers) --- each were uniform in their response. They both said re: power cords that power cords do not sufficiently contribute to the sound and, as such, they would not raise their costs by way of putting a "better" power cord on their product because it would not enhance the sound. The one designer (extremely well known)said it is an audiophile myth that power cords matter overly --- but that he designs now (like everyone) such that you can put an after market cord on if you desire. he said he does this "because those myths matter in what people are willing to buy... so because they want that flexibility... he would give it to them (even though it matters either not at all in terms of sound/or minimally in terms of sound)."

Are you claiming that most manufacturers are not aware of old rusty springs and/or hair dryers?
For me "Rlwainwright" said it all. Case in point, QUAD ESL 63 loudspeakers still sound wonderful (not perfect) after all these years. If Peter Walker (the designer) thought they could have been improved using audio voodoo, I am sure he would have done it. In fact, he thought so little of audio voodoo he was prepared to argue, and demonstrate at length, things like expensive speaker cable had no noticeable improvement on sound quality. Oops, this is going to upset someone!
Designers are techies, for most if they can't measure it ,it truly does not exist for them. Their brain will not let
them hear it because the brain can not maintain a stasis
with such a reverse of foundation beliefs.

My elderly music lover brain lets me hear how PC x makes a DRAMATIC change in amp Y over PC z because it is in no danger of stasis instability.

In both cases it has very little to do with ears.
Peter Walker was an outstanding designer for his time.
A large number of audiophiles, to include reviewers, claim to hear noticeable improvements when stock fuses are replaced with "audiophile quality" fuses such as Synergistic Research Quantum Red and Audio Horizon fuses. Assuming the SR and AH fuses are not snake oil, then IMHO designers are remiss for not using them.
Because there cheap.
Have you noticed that many tweaks go in and out of style? For a couple of examples, I can remember when people were knocked out by Mpingo disks and green cd pens. That's not to say that all tweaks are ineffective, but I'm sure some are.
Tomcy6, funny that your examples of tweaks that time forgot are two of my favs: Mpingo discs and the Green Pen.
"audiophile grade"

Good is good. Audiophile grade" is slang for stylish and expensive to boot. Style is very subjective and no two people are likley to value exactly the same style.
A good manufacturer is going to put the best (within their design/price point) equipment into/on their units. many of the "tweek" out there are supposition and unproven and fall within the category of word or mouth or one's opinion vs another's. Chassis isolation is incorporated in many high end products. The designer is going to install power cords that meet the minimum + standard for operation of that unit. If they have the time, money and inclination, they may try other's or other devices to see/hear how they sound and if available in sufficient quantities, by reputable manufacturers (that will be around in the long term), they may use it. resonance control, chassis isolation, transformer isolation, proper grounding schemes, properly sized conductors and power cords are not tweeks, they are proper engineering.

A different way to look at it is what "tweaks" do designers do with their designs that are built in already, might not be readily apparent or even advertised, and that potentially could render certain additional external tweaks irrelevant or insignificant?

That's why YMMV, especially when it comes to things like tweaks.
The manufacturers don't put any tweaks in their product, plain and simple. Their designs don't need tweaks, at least that's what they say. Unless you are saying that expensive capacitors are tweaks. Which I don't. We already know they don't put in better fuses or better power cords. And the amp manufacturers just leave their transformers just sitting there with no remedy for the rather large and toxic magnetic field. Sigh.

Are we saying audiophile grade fuses are snake oil?
Certain capacitors and resistors made by various manufacturers have been shown to actually make the "sound" better. For the Engineer, as long as the specifications for that capacitor meet their design requirements, they are good-to-go. However, if they have the time and knowledge, they would try other cap manufacturers as is the case now a days and either place them in their product initially or "upgrade" to them later. It is now science, not snake oil. It is a known fact that certain capacitors and resistors are simply better in the sound of the equipment. But, that wasn't always the case. So, I have no idea if audiophile grade fuses are snake oil or not, as an Engineer, I can't see how that would make the slightest difference in the sound coming out of the equipment if it meets the same specifications as any other fuse. But, the same could have been said for capacitors and resistors. Other than percent tolerance, actual resistance value, power rating, what other measurement was there? But, it turned out that some really did affect the sound. So, maybe "audiophile grade fuses" can do the same. Many, Many years ago, I didn't believe that interconnect cables really affected the sound. Boy was I surprised on blind test and A/B comparisons on equipment to hear differences. I swapped "higher quality" cables in my system and yes, there is a noticeable difference in sound. So, for fuses, mayhap that just hasn't gotten to the various equipment manufacturers yet. Give it time. It is really does affect the sound to such an extent that is should be incorporated in the final design/manufacture, it will be.

Just to follow up. As an Engineer, I knew that transmission lines, cables and wires, have certain impedance characteristics over frequency. They all have a certain resistance, inductance and capacitance, which I knew constituted the "impedance" and varied over frequency. So I "knew" inherently that different interconnect cables "should" affect the sound differently. I just didn't believe it until I heard it. But Fuses? How can a fuse have a different impedance characteristic over other fuses? you know, it is still a wire. A short wire, but a wire, with internal terminals, and is made out of different materials, so, yes, it could affect the signal. To the extent that it justifies spending a ridiculous amount for one fuse vs another? I'm not sure. But I would love to try it out and see/hear.

Manufacturers do not listen the way we do or are as crazy as we are trying all types of things to get a better this or that. They would be better off designing better components that eliminate the need for tweaks such as better power supplies, rectification, regulation etc. But that would cost too much.

Happy Listening.
Tweaks huh? A long time ago we started using toroidal power transformers, and we noticed some odd things. One was that if the amps were too close together, they sounded different. Another was that the bolts supplied by the transformer manufacturers were heating up- in fact were hotter than the transformers!

Turns out that the magnetic field of a toroid is not as compact as they say. The bolts were heating up because they were ferro-magnetic. We switched to non-magnetic stainless mounting hardware and the heat problem went away and the amps sounded better! We moved the transformers in such a way that the amps could sit side by side with no ill effects.

Now we noticed that about 25 years ago yet to this day all transformer manufacturers will supply magnetic bolts that heat up. I don't see anyone in the industry talking about this either. This effect is sonically more pronounced than many tweaks I have seen audiophiles do.

BTW, you can see the links inside a fuse 'dance' when you put power through them. If you think that the fuse does not make a difference you are simply not paying attention. We figured out they were a problem in 1990 when we were designing the MA-2 amplifier. It uses a different kind of fuse that is much larger (the fuse rating is an FNM8 in the MA-2)- we figured out that they sound better that long ago.

I can easily measure differences between power cords. I have seen them rob an amplifier of as much as 40% of its total output power. With an effect that profound, you think it won't be audible? When I have people tell me that power cords don't make a difference, I always ask them to show me their measurements, because I have measurements I have done with a simple 3 1/2 digit multimeter that says they are wrong! But so, far, none of the skotics saying that power cords don't make a difference has ever had any numbers to support their position.

Geoffkait, I'm not looking for an argument, just curious. What do your Mpingo disks do and why do you think they have been forgotten?
The Mpingo discs, even ONE in the room, bring a certain sweeteners and warmth to the upper bass and midrange. But the drawback is you have to find the place or places where they work. For that reason, many audiophiles opt out. Most audiophiles never heard of Mpingo discs so how can they forget them? :-)
I find your post very interesting, because it involves a measurable difference. Are you comfortable in telling us which brand or brands of power cord you found that do not limit current flow? That is obviously important, and now I am wondering about mine.

A large number of audiophiles, to include reviewers, claim to hear noticeable improvements when stock fuses are replaced with "audiophile quality" fuses such as Synergistic Research Quantum Red and Audio Horizon fuses. Assuming the SR and AH fuses are not snake oil, then IMHO designers are remiss for not using them.
11-05-14: Rockyboy

Assuming the SR and AH fuses are not snake oil, then IMHO designers are remiss for not using them.
Are the fuses safety Listed by any recognized independent testing laboratory, such as UL? If not an equipment manufacture could put his company at great risk in the event the fuse did not blow and the equipment was responsible for a home fire.

Same for aftermarket power cords how many aftermarket cords are safety tested by an independent Listed testing laboratory? The only one that come to mind is Shunyata Research power cords. They are UL listed.

As for fuses making a difference I personally don't know if they make a difference. I do sit up and listen when I read a post by Atmasphere they can make a difference. I would be willing to bet the fuses Atmasphere uses in his amps are Listed fuses though.

As for aftermarket power cords from my personal listening experience they do make a difference, YMMV.

I find your post very interesting, because it involves a measurable difference. Are you comfortable in telling us which brand or brands of power cord you found that do not limit current flow? That is obviously important, and now I am wondering about mine.
11-08-14: Roxy54


Not speaking for Atmasphere, but there is a lot more that can go into the making of a power cord than its ability to delivery power to a piece of equipment. How much power does a typical CDP use?
Jea48 is correct, power cords are not just power delivery. The measurable differences don't seem to be profound, but they can affect power amplifiers in particular in a number of ways.

First is the voltage drop across the cable. When I saw 40 watts lost in one of our power amps, the voltage drop across the cable was about 2.4 volts. But a cable has to have high frequency capability as well- anyone that knows power supplies knows why- the rectifiers in the power supply only turn on (commutate being the technical term) when the voltage from the power transformer is higher than that of the filter caps.

Now the amp only drains the filter caps a small amount between AC power cycles. So the result is that the rectifiers only commutate on peaks of the AC waveform, perhaps only for a very brief time! So if the cord lacks high frequency capability, the power supply won't charge up properly and you can hear the result, plus you can measure the power supply voltage as well.

ROMEX works surprisingly well, so the real problem is in the power cord, not the wall wiring unless the building is quite old. However it is illegal to use solid core wire in an AC power cord. Thus, the cable has to flex, can't have any voltage drops (the problem areas are often at the terminations, but the cord itself can heat up from voltage drops as well) and has to have good bandwidth.

If the cord satisfies these requirements it will work fine and won't matter what brand it is.
Perhaps it is as simple as Dealers want large margins so that they can discount because we, the customer, want a discount. We always feel better when we get a discount... :)
So, manufacturers not tweaking, or using the supposed best parts, is perhaps our fault!... maybe :)
We use an IEC connector for the simple reason that no matter what cord we put on the amp, the likelihood is high that it will be discarded anyway in favor of the audiophile's preference.

We do however make sure we have the best resistors and capacitors in the actual circuit, or at least have them optionally available. I have seen too many times where someone thought they could improve the amp or preamp, only to turn it into a rat's nest in the process. Believe it or not, neat wiring often sounds better since stray capacitance is better controlled!

Maybe you could correct my understanding, but I thought most power in the US is at 60Hz? Which high frequencies are you referring on a potential power cord?

What most people don't understand is that the first thing an the power from the wall does when it hits your amp is go through a transformer to cut down the voltage and then hit the rectifier which is converts it to DC. Yes the cap converts that rectified signal to a smooth DC line. I have used some very fast scopes and never seen the DC on that line changing. Most listening at home is well under 30watts so the power through the cord is relatively low. Even if there is fluctuation in that DC voltage, on a SS design is dropped again by a regulator to the rail which gives the whole system margin for any voltage regulation.

The only way one should here an issue caused by the power supply (including the cord) is if the DC voltage fluctuated and unless you have the volume turned up to 11, it doesn't.

I have been to some very big name audio manufacturers and as far as tweaks at audio shows, they use them because the parts are given to them to use, but at the home office, they use cheapo cables and power cords. Either these large companies are just cheap, deaf, or don't believe in tweaks, I don't know, but I am guessing it's the last one. Engineers love numbers and most tweaks can't be proven by numbers.
For cables that rob a system of 40% of their power, that means there the equivalent of a 40 ohm resistor on the cable. Whoever made that cable should be fined and put out of business.
Scvan, sure. How a power supply works is you have the transformer, rectifiers and filter caps. When the amp is running, it discharges the filter caps slightly between each peak of the AC power waveform. The rectifiers only conduct when the filter cap voltage is lower than that of the power transformer. What this means is that current will only flow at the peak of the incoming AC waveform.

That current spike can have some pretty steep risetimes, in order to charge the filter cap properly. A steep risetime corresponds to a high frequency. If the power cord limits the risetime at that frequency, the power supply will not charge up properly.

You can see this in an amplifier by running it at power and then substituting power cords. You can often see a difference in the power supply voltage, even though at the input of the amp the line voltage is unchanged. This is why some power cords can have an audible effect- and its also measurable. Anytime you can hear it and measure it you can also regard it as real.

Now this says nothing about the cost of the cord. It does not have to be expensive; it simply has to work.
why is it " illegal to use solid core wire in an AC power cord"? Is there a fire/heat hazard? Does that mean only that a pc must have multiple strands of wire? What exactly is "solid core wire?" Isn't all wire "solid" in a sense?

I have always wondered about all that stuff - wall socket, plug, wire, another plug, amp input socket - between the romex in the wall and the amp. Is there no way around the fire code?

My stock Pass labs power cords are solid core wire, and UL approved.
Romex is solid core. If you flex it enough, it will break.

A legal power cord will be multi-stranded which means it can flex without breaking.
why is it " illegal to use solid core wire in an AC power cord"? Is there a fire/heat hazard? Does that mean only that a pc must have multiple strands of wire? What exactly is "solid core wire?" Isn't all wire "solid" in a sense?

I have always wondered about all that stuff - wall socket, plug, wire, another plug, amp input socket - between the romex in the wall and the amp. Is there no way around the fire code?
11-20-14: Lloydc

NM, (Romex is a trade name of), sheathed cable is designed by the manufactured and safety tested for its intended use by UL and CSA to be installed fixed in place. It is not intended to be used where it could be exposed to physical damage. In the US NEC Code outlines where NM cable can be used, and not used, as well as the approved wiring method used. Local electrical inspections departments have the final say where it can be used in their jurisdiction. It cannot be used as a power cord.

A stranded wire conductor is made up of several individual uninsulated bare strands of wire grouped together and then covered by an insulating material to form one larger conductor. Typical extension cords are made up of fine strand wire conductors for flexibility. Fine strand wire conductors will withstand more frequent bending at the termination ends of the male plug and female receptacle end than a solid core wire like #14 or #2 gauge wire.

Ya, but if a piece of #14 or #12 Romex are used for a power cord connected to a power amp it will not be exposed to physical damage or excessive constant bending. Well that may be true, but for anyone that uses Romex for a power cord anytime the cord is disturbed at the termination ends, plug or IEC, the solid core wire will loosen itself in the termination connection. Most male plugs use a terminal plate and screw to hold the wire in place. IEC connectors can vary from a terminal plate and screw or a lug where the wire is inserted in a lug and a screw is then tightened down on the wire. Any side to side movement will loosen the termination. Even the slightest loose termination can lead to micro arcing. If the termination is loose enough and the connected load is sufficient the connection will start series arcing. With arcing comes heat. More heat, more arcing, causes a carbon build-up. The carbon then works as a semiconductor. More arcing, more heat, more carbon.... Next comes VD, Voltage Drop, across the loose carbonized connection.

For those of you that use Romex for power cords and the cords are a few years old I suggest you check the plug and IEC terminations for tightness.

What sounds best, stranded or solid core wire? There is Lots of theory on the subject out there to read.
Many of the Hi-End aftermarket power cord manufactures make their power cords using several small solid core wires individually insulated then parallel them together to make one larger wire, be it #14, #12, #10, or even #8. I think I read somewhere #16 awg solid core wire is usually the largest size used. But don’t hold me to that.
Its all about money and inventory. It cost a lot of money to stock expensive "tweaky" stuff. This also leads to higher selling cost. A high volume manufacturer has to remain consistent. There are a lot of consumers, in fact most of them, that dont want to have to pay the increased high price of marked up tweaks.

On the other hand, the manufacturer is the one who knows best what tweaks will provide an improvement with thier product and which ones will ruin the design as they intended.

Bottom line...would you pay the higher cost of a product that has tweaks employed that you dont believe in? Or wait till the warranty runs out and go with what you believe in.

And lastly, who determines what is a tweak vs what is simply smart circuit design. Sometimes the cost of parts for a smart circuit design do cost more. No [one] designer/manufacturer has all the answers.
I think we all know that no matter how good us manufactures design any part of a product, there will always be someone out there that believes it can be improved upon. Too many times a 'tweak' is not better, just different.

".....They would be better off designing better components that eliminate the need for tweaks such as better power supplies, rectification, regulation etc. But that would cost too much......"
11-21-14: Response34
Too many times a 'tweak' is not better, just different.

Very true, and much more common than any audiophile would care to admit.
I don't see as much advertising as I used to for techies who mod gear.

Every component is made to a price point.
Use expensive parts it has to be sold for more.
I can't remember exactly, but way back TAS stated something about upgraded parts that cost $5.00 more than a commercial product would cause the amp to be priced many times more than just the initial $5.00.

So replacing all the spec grade resistors and caps for example, with Dueland or whatever is the soup du jour won't just add their parts cost to the price of the component.It will be multiple times the cost of those upgraded parts.

The reason for this has been lost in time, because I can't remember what their rationale was.

I suppose you can buy a fistful of spec worthy bits and stockpile them in case of warranty issue.
Perhaps having to tie up your money in designer spares is just to costly in case of warranty issues.

A ten cent resistor blows on warranty and all you have to replace is another 10 cent one.

Now as far as the mod issue goes,maybe I've answered my own question.
Rockyboy, It's not true.
Bryston makes wires too.
Huh? Why bring up Bryston? You lost me?