Why does an audiophile grade power cord matter?

probably another beaten horse topic but I cannot find answers to quell my question.

Basically, most of us have homebuilder standard supply solid core copper wire with nylon, plastic or rubber sheathing that runs the length of our homes from some cheapo metal utility company supplied junction box to a 5 dollar leviton outlet Joe General Contractor buys at Home Depot. So the current at that 5 dollar outlet is what it is until we hook it up to our system.

So why does plugging in a 1.5 meter or what ever length of audiophile grade xxx hundred dollar power cord matter to go that last couple of feet to our components???
From a purely scientific perspective, the in wall 12 or 14ga. Romex is using pvc as a dielectric and is not shielded and the geometry does not reject all EMI and RFI. If you investigate the dielectric properties of cable, the best is air, but oxidation nixes that, next best or realistic best is VH Audio Airlock cables. It uses teflon aka Fluoropolymer (Dupont is now enforcing the trademark name of "teflon") and the dielectric is lower than teflon/ FP. Thus the most ideal dielectric. I auditioned their (VH Audio) new Olos and Trans cables for line level and amplifiers. Sonically the best power cables I have heard. The connectors were silver rhodium Furutech so cable quality, and quality of connectors plus geometry all seem to be key variables. You question of "why the last 6 ft.".....I don't know why a pulsing signal is changed...filtered...shaped or whatever happens. I find most power cords I use or audition make little to no difference. Audition for yourself and if you hear a positive change trust your ears and beware of grand claims. Many expensive power cables are using the same dielectric as a Home Depot extension cord. I use VH Audio Flavor 4 and LAT teflon 10 awg teflon/FP and they seem to be effective. I use also the VH Audio new Airlock on my Quickies hardwired as bulk wire was cheaper. I had Home Depot wire previously hardwired on the Quickies and yes the sound improved subjectively. Spend carefully. Trust your ears and audition first. Jallen
Well, personally, I don't hear a difference between a mega buck power cord from the stocked cord that comes with the equipment so I just stay with the stocked cords. But I might be in the minority. As one of my audiophile friends told me: if you can't hear the difference, your system isn't high end.

I am sure you can find a lot of posts telling you why a audiophile cord is better. They might be all true but how that affect sound is subjective. Some people can hear it, some cannot. If you are interested in a particular cord, I suggest you borrow one first. Only you can tell if there is a difference and if its price is worthwhile.
I hear the difference I just haven't heard an improvement. I had 2 pair of Quicksilver monos. One had the original power cord which was the equivalent of lamp cord and nonpolarized the other had an IEC socket installed with an "audiophile approved" power cord. Guess which amplifiers sounded better. The amplifiers with the original cord sounded better. I have also tried numerous after market power cords with varied results in several systems. If there is something wrong with the sound of your system and you need to smooth something over or brighten something up you might be able to do it with an after market power cord. I prefer finding the problem.
I never did 'believe' in special powercords either. I tried a few homemade cords.. Then a Pangea only because it was as cheap as i could make myself.
Well, the Pangea did make a difference i could hear right off.
So eventually i bought all Pangea powercords for my IEC use electronics.
I am certain someone can come up with a BS reason which could convince others as to 'WHY' they work.

I have only my fantasy theory.. So if YOU like my fantasy theory, then you too can claim you'know' why cords can make a difference.

IMO it is the last few feet of powercords can dampen to sloppyness of the waveform, and help make it a single waveform. Reducing "SMEAR" sort of, in the AC waveform.
that is MY 'theory' of what aftermarket powercords do.

From the results of all my own fooling around.. That is the fantasy which closest correlates to what i hear when messing about whith my toys.
When adding various stuff together, or not, seems to 'thin out the sound, which I take as making the waveform so tight and thin it actually reduces the power.. Or making broad and more powerful..'See my theory sucks as soon as i try to overindulge in it.. But it works for me.
Eliz....I've heard the same thing before...and to THESE ears, the right power cord makes the most positive difference.
Please define "audiophile grade".

Why do cables or NOS tubes matter? It's the same thing as in most of audio, it cannot be explained, only heard or not heard. I didn't buy the fact that a power cord could make a difference either, but listening has changed my opinions.
If you can't hear the difference, count your blessings and move on. :)

Simply stated a power cord is an extension of the primary winding leads of the power transformer of a piece of audio equipment.

If the electrical panel, wiring, and receptacle are the weak link in the power delivery system, as you suggest, why should any equipment manufacture worry about the power transformer he uses? After all the power supply converts the AC output of the transformer to DC where it is filtered and made near pure DC, right?

I suggest you search the archives here on Agon as well as the Cables and Tweak/DIY forums on Audio Asylum. You will find the answers you are looking for.

You could start here.
"audiophile grade" = anything other than the cable that came with your Dell tower and costs more than 10 bucks, has really cool looking sheathing and nice shiny big connectors at each end, must have a really catchy name that plays on the fluid dynamics and wave theory.

Elizabeth, What is the price range of your Pangea power cords?
Do a search for some pretty exhaustive discussions on power cords. There was a nice one not more than a couple of months ago. Long story short: they do make a difference but you don't have to spend a lot to get an improvement over the stock power cord that comes with whatever it is you buy.

If you can't hear a difference, you're either deficient in hearing acuity or your system isn't revealing enough or you don't feel it's worth it and refuse to come clean even though you do hear a difference (which seems to be the underlying reason).


All the best,
Pangea powercords can only be purchased from Audio Advisor.
The original price (4 years ago? was around $59 for a two meter Pangea (AC) So I bought one. Stuck it on my Forte' 4a amp nad became a believer.

Anyway. right off I have to say skip buying the Pangea AC14, ony go for the Pangea AC14SE for the 14 gauge.
The amp cords, the AC9 both the AC9 and AC9SE are pretty good.
The AC9 and AC9SE should be at LEAST 2 meters long. The cord just does NOT twist around it's axis well in shorter lengths.
Anyway the Pangea AC9 starts at 2 meter for $100

The AC14SE starts at $45 for a half meter to $120 for a 5 meter.

the AC9Se is more and for two meters starts at $200

I sold any AC14 I had.
I own 4 two meter AC9
And 3 four meter AC9
A three meter AC9
2 four meter AC9SE
2 two meter AC9SE
And a few AC9SE
I'm thinking about trying one on my Audio Research CD player. Which one would you recommend?
Ah, thanks for the tip on the AC9se...changed my order to 2m.

I have been using after market cords for a while now, but the way I implemented them was not scientific. I was getting into hifi about 8 years ago when I put together my system, and right off the bat, I used new power cords so I do not know what my system would be like with out them.

Only recently I have a reactivated interest in my system as I had a rough last few years personally but all is well now.

I have a mix of cords and just ordered a Pangea AC9se which will go to amp.

Kimber PK 14 to source and pre
PS Audio from 2005 that cost around $200 to amp

Not sure what model the PS is?
Thanks Jea48 for the link. That info helps make some sense why the last few feet of current are impactful.

the current at my $5 Leviton may be "dirty" but once it enters the power cord, its a new ball game and at its most pivotal point of transmission. that is my take on it.
The way I've handled this is to think of PC's like I do spices in cooking, what ever works with your equipment for your hearing works!!! Price can mean nothing but with "better" equipment more expensive/exotic cords have consistently provided "better" results.
If you think it does not matter don't buy one!!
No doubt in my mind that a PC makes a difference. You must have good plugs too AND replace that cheap contractor grade outlet.
For your Memorial Day enjoyment.....

One day there will be a measurement that will explain why power cords "can" change the sound (theories have sprouted). It will come as a surprise and there will still be disbelievers.

Similar to the distortion spec race back in the 70's.....

Amps, back when, had 1% distortion. Now that's High Fidelity!!!!!
Better amps came along that had half that, then a tenth of a % and life was good. Of course an amp with 10 times less distortion is going to sound better. Right??? :-)

Then, with gobs of "negative feedback" (the circuit, not the reputation, smile), we now have amps with .005%. They are the best of course because they have a thousand times less distortion. :-)

But then life got confusing when tube amps made a comeback and sounded better (some think) yet had 100 times "more" distortion. WTF??? Then a Civil War broke out (well, not so civil) between the "spec" believers and the "ear" believers.

"But" (the pause, not the pa-donka-donk one) then a new measurement came along that showed us amounts of odd and even ordered distortion and, as it turns out, the dreaded "higher order" distortion.

It didn't end the war but a lot of middle ground was formed. We still have polar opposite extremists, I suppose to keep the force in balance (you don't mess with the force!). Like the icecaps, they seem to be shrinking in size though.

Open mind = nice.
Fertile mind = not so much.
I also have a 1U Furman Elite 15 I bought back in 2004 which all these pc's are plugged into.

My Bryston owner's manual says to plug the amp directly into the wall that one of these power filter/conditioners will not improve the sound?

I would tend to agree with Bryston about plugging your amp directly into the wall. Amps have some pretty good filtering already BUT there is always a chance that "your" electricity and/or environment may be so bad the it "could" benefit by being in the Furman. I really doubt it but you can't damage anything by trying both ways and see/hear what's best.

The Pangea 9 is a 7 gauge cable and very heavy. Make sure that both ends are not going to strain what they are plugged into.
Photonman - when current is dumped from the amplifier to the load, the amplifier reserve has to be re-charged, and the quicker it can be re-charged the faster it can dump current. This is the reason a power cord matters. Audition a high silver content conductor, and for sure the geometry has to be twisted to prevent RF.

More surprisingly, and I'm not sure how this works yet, try placing a VPI brick near your outlet where your audio power cords enter the wall. Have someone move the brick away while you are listening, and then move it back to the floor approximately 6" away from the outlet. Hear the incredible change in the sound stage. Don't know why it happens but boy is it an eye opener. While I agree with plugging a power amp directly into the wall - it appears some kind of filtering is advised. The VPI brick won't affect high current flow and seems to improve the situation somewhat. But this is why they sell $6000 power conditioners I'm sure. (Not that I can afford one.)

As onemug states - all of this is probably greatly affected by the quality of your power. I live in an apartment in NYC :-(.
05-27-13: Nonoise

"If you can't hear a difference, you're either deficient in hearing acuity or your system isn't revealing enough or you don't feel it's worth it and refuse to come clean even though you do hear a difference (which seems to be the underlying reason)."

You can hear a difference in power cords for the same reason that a sugar pill can cure a headache if the person ingesting it believes it's medicinal.
Just received my Pangea 9SE cable and whoa, this thing is big.

After reading up, I am going to be unplugging the amp from the Furman and go straight to the wall.

Will sound test it soon.
I admit that I do like sugar but my ears like music and an aftermarket PC makes it all the more enjoyable. You don't need to spend a lot to get a lot. Like I first stated, take the time to go back and "read" the thread I mentioned and then see how your statement stands up. You'll find yourself in a distinct minority.

All the best,
06-03-13: Danoroo
You can hear a difference in power cords for the same reason that a sugar pill can cure a headache if the person ingesting it believes it's medicinal.

Danoroo, I find that to be true for many, and it works both ways. If you do NOT want to hear a difference, chances are you won't hear a difference. I have found many surprises when auditioning cables and power cords. I was a power cord skeptic a dozen years ago, but unfortunately, I did eventually hear differences. Not all differences were for the better, some were for the worse.

I still get many surprises, some times I will expect to hear more from a cable or power cord from reading reviews and others experiences, only to be disappointed. However, sometimes I also try something expecting little or negative results, and I'm pleasantly surprised. There are other times that I hear pretty much what I expected to hear.

So while many will hear what they expect to hear, differences or no differences, there are others who find this journey to be consistently interesting, with surprises around many corners.
When I try a new cable I often hope to not hear a difference so I won't have to purchase it. But some cables and cords at reasonable prices do make things sound better.
I bit the bullet and bought an ac9 for my quintet, another ac9 for my amp, an ac14se for my dac and another ac14se for my wadia170 welborne labs power supply.

They made a big difference in sound. More bass right from the start. They do take a while to settle in though and the sound has done funny things. Too much bass, then too bright, now it's getting to be just right. I noticed the sound as having more weight.

I don't get why some people don't think upgraded pc's make a difference. All cable change the sound.
B_limo, Can you tell us please how long it took for the ac9 to be "just right"? Thanks.
We all know they change the sound. Now go back to your original power cords to hear the real difference. Do you remember which one goes where?
Good point Rrog. I've always wondered buying used gear how often the power cord included is not the original one.
The original power cords, to best of my memory, were nothing special, just the same mass produced 18 awg stuff that Dell would give you with your new desktop computer.

no special design or science.

How long did it take for the ac9 to "be just right"?
For amplifiers the gauge of the power cord has to do with current draw. Just because a standard Beldon cable looks ordinary has nothing to do with what is on the inside. Manufacturers have used a variety of cables depending on gauge and the type of shielding. Unfortunately these cables do not have the appearance of audio jewelry.
"5 dollar leviton outlet Joe General Contractor buys at Home Depot."

Ah, I think you're a little high with that 5 dollar quote on the outlet, try about .50 for the el cheapo's the one's most prevelently used. For 5 bucks you can buy a decent commercial grade outlet receptacle, not hospital grade but sure better than the el cheapo model. This should be the FIRST thing changed out prior to a serious investment in power cords. Hell if the cord is too heavy on the end the line bus grips may not hold and cause arcing.