I think RF protection is part of the improvement too
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Power cables effect the system sound. This is a well-known fact.
Its not a well known fact...please state where and when this fact became well known...? It only works acordingly to justify the spending of hundreds and sometimes"God Help" thousands on 8awg copper wire.The power cords that come with your unit are all sufficient in delivering what is needed, adequate current.
It is a fact not known to some it seems.
My ears made the fact as.plain as breathing.
Changes are easy to hear.
I use cables and cords to fine tune the sound to perfection to my ears.
So yes, play and tune your system with cords.
Some deliver warmth, texture and body while others deliver speed detail and transparancy..
No need to spend big money, just play.
First decide what you want more or less of in terms of sound personality. Then read about cords with those characteristics. Now its time to try a couple out.
It always amazes me how much a darn cable can change the sound and my involvement with the music.
You must take some time and effort. Your system and room are unique and a cord's impact on the music will be determined only by your ears and emotional response over time.
Yes cords do play a vital role in finishing out your system to suit your tastes.
The benefit of power cables is far overrated. The benefit depends on RF EMI contamination present. They can reduce noise, but when people start claiming huge improvements in sound, etc., I get a little skeptical. Use a cable of 10-12ga, and this should not limit the current. Shielding is a plus, and don't forget to notice the size of wire in your transformer, and how long it is, maybe 20-22ga. Also, the unshielded wire in your house, all 75ft. of it. Magic in the last 6 feet??? Just eliminate a bottleneck if one exists. There are other things to spend money with a bigger return in MHO. Good matching with your amp and speakers is far more important, and getting the damping characteristics matched well. Jallen
Power cables affect the system sound. This is a well-known fact.
OMG here we go again for the zillionth time. Yes they do so unquestionably. I never used to believe it until I actually tried it. And now I have about $15K just in cables. I gave up a long time ago wondering exactly why though. I don't understand it fully either, but what does it matter? I don't completely understand exactly how my car works either, but I still drive anyway.
I GUESS THOSE OF US WHO HAVE ACTUALLY TRIED AND WORKED AT THIS IN OUR highly resolving systems must be deaf or part of some huge conspiracy? I am amazed at some here on Agon? I must assume that we do not all have the ability to hear the difference. I suppose that is possible as we are all created different.
As far as the argument of miles of wire in the house and throughout our communities before our 3 foot power cord, well why bother with any special wire inside our gear or caps or connectors or any high quality parts? That argument makes no sense to me at all.
Power cords, tube rolling, audio racks, room treatments, speaker wire, IC's, speaker placement, burn - in and tweeks all make a big differnce. If you don't hear them, then that is true for your God given set of ears.
I trust those of you who can't hear the difference either have not tried or really can't. Just don't tell me and others we are not telling the truth or have been tricked.
We must account for the fact that we have differing abilities to hear changes in sound. I choose to believe we are all being honest here and are simply sharing our actual experiences.
I know this to be true in the food business. Not all people share the same ability to taste a change in a food product. As a product manager I have learned some cannot taste the difference when we change a product while others can (blind testing). The same is true for the other senses like hearing.
There are some good responses, but this has been asked and answered so many times so a search might help avoid a new round of "heads in the sand".
Also, this is a fun name calling and pot-shotting topic for arm-chair paper tigers so its hard to sort through the BS when asking seemingly straightforward questions.
Here are a few simple, straightforward explanations in layman's terms..
One of the fundamental reasons any decently designed after-market power cord can make a difference is that noise generated and shared within interconnected systems poses a far greater challenge to resolution and fidelity than externally generated AC interference. Just as it is within electronics themselves, the laws of proximity rule when it comes to the effective treatment of radiated and power supply generated noise.
Power cords are designed to act as sympathetic, noise-isolated extensions of the primary winding within a components power supply. Seen this way, their function takes on a more understandable role. They represent the initial outward electrical interface for each piece of electronics in the system. That raw wire interface can either act as an antenna for radiated HF and ground-borne noise or it can be engineered to isolate the power-supply port from internal and external EMI, RFI interference.
There is no such thing as a power supply that is adequate to filtering or isolating itself entirely from the huge volume of gigahertz noise that surrounds electronics systems and comes from within them. The bigger and more powerful the system, typically the larger the problem an unshielded or unprotected AC port can become. That is not to say electronics systems cannot sound great without after-market cords, or that tons of money must be spent on them, it's just to say that there is real-world science that explains why that they "can and most often do make an easy to hear difference or improvement in recorded or reproduced sound".
In general, power cords do not represent the last few feet of an AC grid leading to a component; they are first few feet from the perspective of each components power supply. Due to the fact that your AC is in principle the_source_ of sound for any music or sound system--AC rectified to DC which carries the signal through the system--it would seem imprudent to ignore the possibility of a difference and not perform the simplest of empirical experiments for oneself--unless the point of discourse is only to make funny asides under strict internet protection :o).
Since no product of this or any kind are being forced on anyone, each is free to try for themselves and make their own determination. Certainly the fact that many of the finest recording studios, mastering professionals, electronics engineers speaker manufacturers openly use and endorse them would seem to dim some of the more ardent "internet posting professionals" erm, arguments...
I found recently that my power cords from one company was changing my sound and tone and affecting its overall dynamic range. I now use Running Springs HZ cords and one of there claims is to not be used as so called tone control. My system was fine with stock cords in places but much better dynamics and resolution with the new HZ cords in. Sometimes you can insert a cord or cable be it a power, ic, or sc, and get a sound change you find inviting only to later wonder if your timing and detail is lacking or just not right. With the HZ cord it didn't change the tone from stock cords at all, it expanded dynamics and detail while allowing the frequency response and tone to be left alone.
I have learned some cannot taste the difference when we change a product while others can (blind testing)BINGO, enough said.
Well, actually I must add, to my experiments/ experience with cables & cords, I'm fortunate to hear and "see" differences between each 1 of them (the higher in price, the more obvious) almost equivilent (or more) when switching with diff components. I actually enjoy sitting down with the non-believers to demonstrate & to acknowledge them the characters differences in cables & cords. Their becoming as a cable believers is my cup of tea, mission acomplished.
I think one of the main points missing here is not that cords and cables make no difference, but that people are preoccupied with them and forget room treatment which I find to be far more important, as I think speaker cables are more important, and interconnects being of high importance. A line conditioner is also important especially for digital and SS equipment. And not to forget, the position of the speakers in the room, the listening position, and a host of other things are so important, cable fixes, all the way up and down the chain are used instead of getting the speakers right in the room. Cables should be used to fine tune the system. Using a measuring system, like a mic to evaluate the sound in the room at 1M, and at the listening position will reveal a lot of the room and characteristics. Don't rely of your Ratshack meter, it is rolled below 50Hz, and above 10K. So, don't go and buy another power cord if you are rolled at 10Khz, it is your meter.
If your room and system is right, and all is right and you hear improvements in your power cords, keep them, use them, and stick by what your hear. Your ears are your experience, so be truthful to that.
Personally, I have heard many power cords in different systems, and in some systems there was a difference, others there was not one of significance. The cords evaluated were the best from Shunyata, Cardas, Audioquest, and many others. Each system will have different RF issues, and others. Trust your ears, not the money spent....
Thank you a lot for answer. It was very well explained. The high frequency backward noise from digital source is well known issue. That's why for digital source is highly desirable to use shielded AC cord or some cable manufactures insert HF filter prior IEC socket to eliminate antenna effect. But I amaze to hear the impact on pure analog system without any clock source.
I have one of Samuel's cords and some of my own design. They all sound better to my ears than stock cords. Bummed to find out after careful AB tests that Samuel's more expensive cords sound even better with my gear than his company's less expensive cords.
I think Samuel's description of how cables work in relation to power supplies and digital noise in the AC circuits near your gear is pretty good. I also think that it is critical to make sure primary signals in low current ic's, speaker cables and even low power circuits inside your gear are effectively shielded from emf and rfi around the high current cables in the immediate neighborhood. In some ways, it doesn't so much matter what is going on with the many feet of unshielded cable in your walls as long as you are effectively dealing with radiation, interference and noise potentially present in the area directly behind your equipment. This is also why it is commonly suggested that you cross PCs with ic's and sc's at 90 degrees rather than running them in parallel, and never bundle low current and high current cables together.
Since you need it explained, Grant (Samuel) is referring to you, Schipo and the others in your group of serial pests who are posting near identical messages expressing your power cord scepticism on every power cord thread opened in the last month or two.
I for one am utterly fed up with you lot. I doubt I am alone.
Next time you log in to Audiogon, check the home page. See the bit where it says "THE HIGH END AUDIO COMMUNITY".
Well, power cords are an accepted part of high end audio.
If you, Schipo, rrog and vernneal don't like it, I would suggest there is an obvious course for you all to take.
WOW!! I find it good comedy to have a person sit next to me who does not believe cables make a difference (note I said difference,not better, good or bad difference has to be ones own choice) and watch their face when the actualy hear the change in sound from a cable switch.
Yes it is INCREDIBLY annoying that a simple wire does make a difference. (and power cords are the most annoying, ITS A POWER CORD!!!) Do not want to know why, do not care. It gives me a headach but, it is true.
>>>"In some ways, it doesn't so much matter what is going on with the many feet of unshielded cable in your walls as long as you are effectively dealing with radiation, interference and noise potentially present in the area directly behind your equipment."<<<
That is essentially true. Improving the wire quality, gauge, isolation and connections between your panel and the wall outlet will render a noticeable improvement in most any system, but nowhere near the improvement *possible* as you move closer to electronics.
Too many people labor under the misconception that components sit at the end of an electrical "hose" and AC pours in like water carrying AC noise and garbage with it. The reality is that components sit between the hot and neutral poles of AC that are rapidly alternating current impulses. Noise that comes from outside the home is minimal and has almost no impact on system resolution compared to system generated and shared noise. Its still a good idea to have system protection from natural weather events or grid surge problems but even these in most cases are over rated. Electronics themselves have built in power filtration that will knock down common spikes and surges that are external to the system.
The bridge rectifiers or switching supplies in electronics--especially within amps and digital transports are often the main culprits in emitting ultra high-frequency noise both as a back-wave and a radiation pattern that surround electronics like a halo and race back through ground. Whatever can be done to mitigate that noise nearest its inception will often net the most obvious results. Obviously, nothing with AC is simple or insensitive so connections, terminations, resistance, reactance, impedance, shielding, geometry and wire type and quality can all play roles in shaping a final outcome.
Of course this is all a process and no one has all the answers. This is more of a readers digest version of what goes on based on experience.
I would never put PC's ahead of room treatment, electronics selection, speaker interface etc etc. However, when viewed as a system rather than as a single PC add on aftermarket tweak to be compared one at a time, replacing power cords in any stock PC system will render fairly irrefutable results in terms of a plainly audible difference. Whether that's good bad or otherwise is in the eye or ear of the beholder.
For those that don't believe their ears, replacing a stock PC on any top quality flat screen like a Pioneer Elite with a good shielded power cord will also render an immediate, hard to ignore result. FWIW.
We tried upgrade power cords on the Pioneer Elite and Sony XBR to find no difference in picture quality.We use isolated transformer power conditioners on our gear and keep the power cords away from the other cables.I imagine this helps out quite a bit since we get some nasty power from our utility provider.Of course others will have different experiences.
Has anyone ever taken the time to go back and compare their chosen after market power cord to the origial power cord after extended listening? Sometimes we can hear a bigger difference by going back.
As I have said before, I have tried numerous power cords and I hear the difference. However, I prefer the original power cords everytime.
There is no doubt that manufacturers select power cords. I owned a 200 watt Levinson amp that came with a huge power cord. The power cord on my Quicksilver Silver 90 monos had a very small power cord similar to a lamp cord. So, it is obvious these products are voiced with the supplied power cord.
I have owned a lot of older Audio Research gear and I love it because their cords were all hard wired. There was no chance of mixing up power cords and another questionable connection is eliminated.
So, when you are doing maintenance and cleaning connections on interconnects and speaker cables do you clean your IEC sockets too?
Most of the supplied power cords on the equipment I have owned were Belden cables. Belden is a large company and wire is their specialty. They have all of the sophisticated equipment you could possibly imagine for testing and evaluating wire and the materials it is made of. Compare this to some guy in his garage producing a power cord that he covered with a braided jacket and finished off with fancy connectors. What equipment do you think he has to ensure his cable is properly manufactured?
Gtfour45, Wow! I didn't realize you are in charge here and all the way from Australia.
What I do realize is that I am in fact entitled to my opinion too and I will post my opinion anytime I feel it is necessary.
It seems we have really hit a sore spot with you. Do you manufacture cables? Do you sell cables?
I am in my 60s and I have a life time of experience in high end audio. I have owned many many systems that would be considered the best in the world. I know the family sound of all of the best known high end brands.
I have recently noticed there are many newcomers to audio and I feel the need to give them straight answers.
On the other hand, you have no feedback here, so, I assume you don't buy anything and you don't sell anything on this site, therefore you are a noncontributor and you have no right to tell Schipo, vernneal, myself or anyone else that we are not allowed to voice our opinion about anything.
Have a nice day.
The examples you provide were amplifiers. Do you find the same phenomena with digital front ends? My experience has been that quality aftermarket cables really improved system performance across the board. Amplifier performance was changed by aftermarket cables, but involved more trade offs and was harder to find the right balance.
I am sympathetic to potential cable fatigue as they do act as "tone controls" and there are so many possible options and they can be so expensive that finding the ones that work best in your particular application can be quite draining.
With that said, this thread is focused on "Why power cable effect overall syste(m) sound?" Your post is sincere and well received. Other indignant but unsupported comments from non-believers are as annoying in this context as the noise we are all trying to suppress in our audio systems. Sort of like an atheist attending theology class and preventing the group from productive study of the history of religion. Analogy well chosen, annoyance with bomb throwers is sincere.
I suggest naysayers start an alternate thread about "Why power cable doesn't effect overall system sound." And they can have a civil and self-reinforcing discussion on all the reasons they feel that way, empirical, theoretical, political and spiritual. I promise I wont harass any of you. (Subtle change in punctuation at end of suggested thread title also carefully chosen.)
I can appreciate your POV and comments. It good to see someone toss in some intelligent context instead of kindergarden size tomatoes--which is what I think the other poster was referring to. I would simply add a few points having read your opinions.
ARC no longer hard wires their electronics and openly endorses some aftermarket power cord designs. They also use aftermarket cords in the testing and development of their electronics, as do many major electronics and speaker manufacturers--the list is very long. These same companies also use aftermarket power cords at major trade shows. There are also countless film and recording studios at the top of the food chain who relentlessly test every facet of the systems that provide their living--and have selected aftermarket power cord products. Bob Ludwig's use of Transparent Audio products is one of dozens of examples.
Belden manufactures standardized power cords in many types and sizes to suit major accounts considering the fundamentals of safety, various connection types, wire sizes and current rating. They maintain great testing and science labs to ensure failure proof designs that will qualify for UL rating. They do not address EMI/RFI rejection or minimize impedance ratings, reactance levels or anything that could be considered performance rather than safety oriented.
I do get the point though that some may find that too many high-end power cords do too much to alter sound rather than improve it and go back to Belden out of frustration. To posit that power cords make no difference however is a difficult position to maintain given simple scientific explanations for their function and thousands of credible experiences. That was what all the dust was up about in this and many threads like it.
And as far as "some guy making cables in a garage" as your comparison, sure there are outfits like that. This is in part what makes life difficult for people choosing products of any type--- especially cables and power products. Anybody can make cables and start a business so its up to the end user to use common sense in his selections for trial.
There are more than a few companies with massive scientific infrastructure, testing labs, US factories and brilliant science minds behind power cord products that are performance oriented and also have UL ratings. It is no easy feat to get into and stay in such a competitive small market for any length of time without making products that hold some intrinsic and broad value.
Everyone is entitled to their opinions and has a right to share them, especially when thoughtfully explained. You are thankfully one of the few that doesn't toss poorly constructed epithets and run away like they are playing a neighborhood game of ring and run.
Ive never tried anything but stock power cords on any of my gear so not sure if they would improve things or not. But if I tried to figure it out from this thread, well fuggettaboutit!
To me, this type of thread is exactly what cable manufacturers want. When this gets hotly debated, each side amps up even more. Instead of writing about subtle improvements you get people writing I was shocked and My wife walked in the room and asked me what I did to my system and My non-believer buddy came over and his jaw hit the floor. This has got to be gold to a manufacturer regardless of what the naysayers are writing.
We are talking about the AC from the wall fellas. If the cord changes that 50 or 60 cycle waveform then the manufacturers can figure out a way to show me that. Ive read their websites, and believe me they can be very creative in their marketing. But go to the Technical Specifications (or similar) page of their sites and you get more marketing, no data, no proof, no before and after waveforms. Why not Its bad for business, thats why. Im not saying they can or cant prove it, but whether or not a cord does anything and whether or not this can be proven will remain to be debated because the manufacturers have no reason to prove anything.
And btw The reason why this thread has gotten so much attention is because the OP stated Power cables effect the system sound. This is a well-known fact.
Knownothing, First of all I would like to say I have never said power cables don't make a difference. I have tried numerous power cords and I hear the difference in each and every power cord as I do with every speaker wire and interconnect. System resolution would have to be at an all time low not to hear the difference. What I am saying is I prefer the sound of the original power cord. Maybe I have a purist attitude in this respect and obviously I am not alone. If a given system does not sound right I simply look elsewhere.
I have tried after market power cords on all types of equipment. I was only using amplifiers as an example because of the extreme differences in the power cords of the two amplifiers I mentioned and to make my point.
I understand this thread began with "Why power cables effect system sound", but it evolved rather quickly.
Power cords are not the only thing up for debate these days. I recently spoke with two well known amplifier and preamp designer/manufacturers in a discussion about speaker wire and interconnects. Both said they did not take speaker wire that seriously and they felt the interconnect was much more important. Personally I have had a change in speaker wire make or break a system. However, I respected their opinion and it gave me something to think about when one of them said the most important thing for speaker wire is that it is efficient since it is tranfering the power.
In this hobby there is no right or wrong and there is no such thing as a perfect system. What we believe today we may find out is wrong tomorrow. The main thing is that we enjoy the music along the way. Isn't that how we got into this in the first place?
Hifitime, As I mentioned in a previous post, the IEC socket creates another questionable connection. This is why I prefer a hard wired power cord.
The manufacturers are under a terrific amount of pressure by reviewers and dealers to make changes in their products and it is not always for the better.
I recently commented on a post regarding the well respected Dunlavy SC IV speaker system. John Dunlavy did not believe in spikes or cones and he did not believe in bi-wiring his speakers. However, the reviewers and dealers pressured him until he finally gave in and installed bi-wire posts on his speakers. I tried my SC IVs both ways and the speakers were more coherent with single wire with no loss in dynamics.
A few years ago or so on another forum a member who had an incredible listening room constructed (~$75K) and easily over $150K of gear swore up and down changing power cables to his powered sub inside the overall speaker enclosure made a noticeable difference in sound. People gave him the usual "no way" for the usual (correct) reasons. He finally did allow some of the other members to come over and do a blind test. Somehow when somebody else touched the power cables they lost their magical powers - he could no longer hear the difference when he didn't know which cables were being used. Funny how what you remember may not be what you actually heard in the first place even though you'd bet money on it.
I would suggest that the real question that should be addressed is not whether aftermarket power cords can make a difference relative to stock power cords (Grant has provided plausible, and in my view, valid explanations for that), but the reasons, if any, that very expensive upgraded power cords may provide additional benefit relative to less expensive upgraded power cords.
Grant, I'd be interested in your take on that. Most of the advocacy for upgraded power cords tends to deal with the question of whether and why upgraded power cords will perform better than stock power cords. But what are the reasons that say a $2000 power cord might perform better than a $200 power cord, the $200 power cord presumably providing the shielding and other factors you and others tend to cite as rationale for upgrading.
Obviously the $2000 power cord will utilize more expensive materials and/or construction techniques than the $200 cord, but how and why does that translate into better sound?
I see no amping up, no marketing, no reports of seeing the pink elephants. I simply answered a direct question. This thread has drawn no overt attention and beside a few low-brow comments has remained relatively civil. And if you believe this type of discourse on a used product sale site has any real impact to commercial markets I have news for you, _it doesn't_. Maybe if a company pushes hard to market their gear here and they sell direct or have agon dealers there would be a small blip... but otherwise you give these forums w-a-y to much credit for having any real affect.. :o)
There are in fact impulse tests that clearly show differences in impulse current delivery efficiency between stock wire and wire that has been designed for lower resistance/impedance characteristics. The problem with posting results of any kind is that then the argument changes to: "oh, well prove that has an affect on sound" or "that's not peer reviewed" or... on and on, round and round we go.
For people that hold unshakeable beliefs, no tests, measurements or tidal wave of anecdotal evidence will be enough because they are not truly curious enough to perform their own simple empirical tests. The argument seems to be the point of their hobby and nowhere is that hobby more popular than here and other chat rooms, where people calling themselves names like zippo rip and run to their hearts content. It is a waste of time engaging in those debates. As far as changing the waveform, that would be a simple task but would imo sound horrible :)
Almarg, your question is posed in a general form and I don't want to get into a position where I am perceived as defending other companies products, design tenets or price models. Nor do I want to speak of our products or philosophies because that was not the point of my participation.
I will say this and leave it at that. Inexpensive designs from my perspective should act as tools to prove that noise-isolated power cords *can* and often do make demonstrable, repeatable improvements in sound and visuals. They should be over-engineered to perform at the highest possible level regardless of a shrinking profit margin because a broad range of exposure is expected. That said, obvious cost constraints apply such as the use of tinned copper foil or tinned-copper braided shielding instead of complex conductor braids etc. Also, having the cords machine made versus hand made can make an obvious difference in cost to manufacture--giving better performance at lower costs..
Once you get into the higher price ranges there is greater freedom to use advanced wire treatments, geometries, more complex hand applied terminations and upgraded connectors. Of course, whether these additional processes that increase the cost of manufacture also increase the performance value in a given context is subjective and should be judged independently in each system. Obvious rules should apply based on the cost of the system versus the cord being considered for trial.
Once again, the most compelling and convincing tests for non-believers is to swap out stock cords for a system of less expensive but well-designed shielded cords. This at least should prove the difference exists. Where anyone might go from there is the subject of many threads here so no need to make this another one of those.
Thank you for your reply. I understand you notice a difference related to installation of aftermarket cords, and that the difference is universally not "better" in your opinion compared with stock power cords. What I think I was trying to say, is that I find a more consistent positive benefit from using aftermarket power cords on digital front ends, but find amplifiers a bit more finicky. I almost always notice an effect with aftermarket cords on sound produced by amplifiers, but just not always a "better" effect, as you suggest. Sounds like you feel the same way about aftermarket cords in all applications. Point well made and taken.
The rest of my post was not really aimed at you, and if you took offense, then I apologize. For the record, I value the effect aftermarket power cords can have on overall system performance, I find that effect is not universally positive in every application, and that care must be taken to match the characteristics of the specific cords and electronics in question. I know of no other method than to use trial and error, or rely on others experience, often gained from forums like this.
As both a consumer of commercial aftermarket products and an amateur tinkerer making my own cords I am fascinated by simple or complex explanations for how they actually work their "magic". People who are not interested in understanding this effect and post their positions on here are taking up electronic real estate and perceived by me as a waste of my time. Do they have a right to post here? Absolutely. Do I have to like it? Not one bit. Your comments do not fall into this camp, are well reasoned and add to my overall understanding of the topic. Again, thanks.
Bob_bundus, Apparently you have not been paying attention. This has nothing to do with being a "Doubting Thomas".
Even though this is a debate, it can still be an enjoyable debate without rude comments. I have noticed the rude comments are coming from the group who are the believers in the fact that these after-market power cords have actually improved their system. If you realize a true system improvement then there should be a certain level of confidence in the debate. Instead it seems the debate is fueled by doubt and buyer's remorse.
When exotic speaker wire first came on the market I told a friend about the improvement it make in my system. He laughed and said "right, it just speaker wire". I was not offended by his comments because knew what I heard.
I didn't need a technical explanation why it sounded better. I still don't care if it is 99.9999 pure oxygen free copper or silver coated copper or pure silver. I don't care what the dialectric is made of, if somebody froze it or if the spades were connected with some special solderless method. I don't care if it is multple strands or solid core. I don't care what the gauge is or if the jacket is pink or purple. Well, I might care if it is pink.
All I care about is if it sounds good in my system. And if it does sound good in my system, there is no guarantee it will sound good in yours.