Power cable

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Orbe, Oct 5, 2020.

  1. Tim 2


    Alberta Canada
    I've found power cables can make a big improvement in sound quality. Maybe not every time with every component but when you get the right cord in the right place the improvement can be staggering.
  2. vinylshadow

    vinylshadow Forum Resident

    I've been using the OEM stock power cable with my JM Lab Sub Utopia since I got it 11 years ago. But decided to upgrade it and did some research.

    I emailed the JM Lab/Focal rep I've known for awhile about it. He said:
    "In the worse case scenario, you might not hear much difference, but I have always heard very positive improvements on Amplification devices.
    While I have not tried this specifically on a Sub Utopia, my experience tells me that you should hear improvements in "speed" and dynamics.
    Not more power per se, but rather more life and slam."

    He is not an engineer but I trust his opinion.

    So, I started looking into "reasonably" priced cables. On the first page, a poster wrote about going from OEM 18 gauge to 14 gauge copper for improvement.

    I found theses cables that use 8 gauge wires, Anticables.
    High End Power Cable / Stereo Power Cord from ANTICABLES

    Anyone here heard of them or use these?

    I was thinking to try one for the sub but also for the motor drive unit to my turntable.
    hi_watt likes this.
  3. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    Can't imagine having to run my equipment with stock cords, especially after having to do so the past month when I upgraded all the power cords in my system. Have been a DIY guy with power cords for a very long time-probably 12-15 years plus-and continued in that vein.

    Time has clearly marched on and there are some great connectors and raw power cable out there at outrageously good prices. I just spent about $435 U.S. to do 4 cords and actually have enough cable left over to do a fifth, although two of the cords are very short, about 18" as that's all I needed them to be. The $435 also included the cost to have the connectors and the cable cryogenically treated, which I have always found to be very worthwhile.

    So upgraded complete cords on my integrated, phono preamp, power distributor and a linear power supply that feeds a DAC. I also changed out only the male connector on the power supply for my turntable.

    In the context of a $8000-$10000 system, $435 does not seem to me to be an unreasonable amount and the cumulative effect of these cords against what I was previously using, let alone stock cords, which I had to slot back in while doing the upgrade, is significant. More along the line of a couple of major component upgrades. I thought it was a pretty serious bang for the buck.

    Of course YMMV and I do find it interesting that many on 220-240V do not seem to find much of performance upgrade with power cords so there may be something to that.

    I'm a cheapskate so uber expensive cabling and/or power cords does not appeal to me. DIY is the way
    to go with power cords IMO. If you can count to three and distinguish between 3 colours, you can build
    a power cord. And you can probably build the equivalent, or close to the equivalent of $500-$1000
    commercial offerings for $100-$150.
    hi_watt and MGW like this.
  4. Don Parkhurst

    Don Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Vancouver, BC
    You have quite a nice system. So, I am not surprised that the right power cable could contribute.

    I have found that it takes a high resolution system to show the benefits of good interconnects, speaker cables and power cables. I have also found over the years that ending up with just one make and model of cable throughout your system seems to create a more cohesive sound. I used to try to find 'the best' cable of each type and try that in my system, hoping for it to sound the best. But after years of experimenting when the opportunity arrived (borrowing a friends or a dealer demo), it just seems to make life simpler and your music to be a little more focussed and cohesive, to have one cable throughout.

    I also noted that when I have been helping friends who have a very basic system, I aim for well made and designed cables that are a good 'basic cable'. No fancy materials or connectors. Like Audio Note Lexus interconnects and speaker cables, for those with an Audio Note system. I don't expect cables to make anything other than a minor difference on an older, basic system with a 20 year old AV receiver and speakers sitting in the middle of a crowded bookshelf. However, if that system makes music that the owner loves, then more power to them! We are in this hobby to enjoy ourselves.
    hi_watt, MGW, Tullman and 2 others like this.
  5. Ingenieur

    Ingenieur Forum Resident

    For reference: the inverse of resistivity in Ohm - m is CONDUCTIVITY in mhos or Siemens/m.

    Assume a wood resistivity p = 1000 ohm-m
    Concrete 100 (NOT bonded to service rod)

    2' deep x 1' wide x 10' long concrete footer
    Buried to ~ 2'
    Ignore soul p for now

    on top is a wall panel
    Well fastened with power driven nails or screws
    10" x 2" baseplate on footer
    10" x 2" on top
    2" x 6" studs in between, 11 each, 1' centers

    assume measurement from center of middle stud (number 6) and earth at footer
    What is the net R?
  6. Don Parkhurst

    Don Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Vancouver, BC
    I'm sure glad that certain members haven't hijacked this thread :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

    How about discussing the fact that some people have heard a difference and perhaps share the make/model of the power cord that they bought. Also, perhaps share their system information to see whether or not it is a high resolution system and what sonic benefits that they have observed.

    If there are really well made and affordable power cables to recommend to friends and family with a very inexpensive or basic system, that would be good too. Knowing that a well designed and made pair of interconnects or power cable can be purchased for lower resolution/starter systems for a reasonable price would be great to share.
    MGW and Tim 2 like this.
  7. Tim 2


    Alberta Canada
    I understand what your saying, but in my experience affordable cables won't make much difference over generic, imo. My system and many cables are on my profile. If you have questions about specific cables feel free to contact me on this thread or otherwise.
    Tim :righton:
    Uglyversal and Don Parkhurst like this.
  8. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    I don't know those but I suggest only buy cables with metal shielding like these below, Rega is actually making one reasonably priced but I have not tested it.

  9. MGW

    MGW Less travelling, more listening

    Scotland, UK
    That mirrors my experience with Nordost cables in my system.
    Don Parkhurst likes this.
  10. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    Not saying that this is a bad cable, but the prices of power cables now seem to be taking on the ridiculous pricing of the high end in general.

    I used unshielded DIY power cords for years (using JPS in Wall and DH Labs Power + cable), both around 10-11 AWG, terminated with Marinco connectors and then cryoed. They were both a huge improvement over stock and even stuff like the "Asylum" power cord which is built using Belden 19364 (which actually sounds a lot like the Rega cables!)

    The cables that I built recently use Viborg 1606 raw cable, which is 9.5 AWG and is very extensively shielded (available for about $22-$30 metre online depending on Seller), very similarly shielded when compared to the Isotek above, which appears to be around 14 AWG. The Isotek uses what appear to be pretty cheap molded connectors (likely gold over brass) and sells for $395!!

    I experimented with Viborg's budget connectors (nylon bodied and very similar to Wattgate/Hubbell etc. in terms of body construction and much better than any molded connector IMO) at $25 pair (male and IEC) and also their top of the line connectors (VM512 & VF512) both in pure copper as opposed to plated versions (Viborg has all the typical plating options available on their connectors including gold, silver and rhodium for those who are looking for different sound presentations) as I felt I'd pretty much balanced my system at this point in terms of presentation and wanted to keep things as neutral as possible with the power cords.

    The VM512 and VF512 are a bit blingy, but once you look past the bling are incredibly solid and well built beyond the actual copper blades. They're a full 2mm alloy shell so are about 3-4 times as heavy as typical nylon/plastic bodied males/IEC's making them much more resistant to both vibration and EMI/RFI. They also have a full metal strain relief internally, which to the best of my knowledge is only available in the
    really pricey Furutech connectors or some of the other uber expensive males & IEC's out there (uber expensive to me being $300+). The Viborgs sell for $60 U.S. a pair (male & IEC) in the non-plated copper version, up to around $90 I believe for some of the more expensive plated versions,
    rhodium being the most expensive I think.

    I then had both the connectors and the cable cryoed when it arrived, which cost me an additional couple of bucks. I paid $50 for the last cryo session which did a 4 metre piece of bulk cable enough for me to build 4 power cords (two short and two 4-5 footers) and some connectors and my cryo vendor told me I was overpaying him but it's good to support any small businesses during the pandemic from my perspective, including heat treaters lol. I did have to wait to piggyback on a full load to get that price, which is what I have always done.

    So I have power cords that ended up costing around $125-$150 U.S. which significantly outperform what I was using before (DIY DH Labs and JPS) which significantly outperformed stock cables. The DIY I was using before also outperformed a number of commercial offerings that I compared them to years before including the Cardas Golden cord, an LAT international cord, a Blue Circle BC 62, an XLO cord and some others
    that I can't recall priced from around $300-$500. I see the Cardas Golden is now around $540.

    When I look at the Isotek lineup, based on technical specifications there's a pretty good chance that what I built compares pretty favourably to their top of the line cable, which retails for a whopping $3,495. If someone wants to send me one, I'll be happy to do the comparison. ;) To be absolutely fair that Isoteck is using OCC copper as opposed to OFC and I am partial to OCC using it in a couple of other pieces of cable in my system, but I'm not really willing to anti up
    another $3,350 per cord to find out if it's that much better!

    Photos of the Viborg connectors and raw cable below for anyone that might be interested.


  11. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    The finished product.

  12. Ingenieur

    Ingenieur Forum Resident

    What do you do with the shield?
    Floating? Tie neither end to G
    Tie both ends to G?
    Tie one end to G? Which end?


    on a power cable the shield has 2 functions
    Capture EM field from conductors
    Fault path if cable is damaged

    nice connectors btw
  13. Philip Begley

    Philip Begley Forum Resident

  14. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    Tied the shield to ground at male end. Floating/not connected at IEC.
    Ingenieur likes this.
  15. Ingenieur

    Ingenieur Forum Resident

    Do power cable parameters (R, Xl, Xc, etc.) make a difference?

    Is it significant? Going from 16 AWG zip cord to a finely stranded 12? Yes, as far as the physical parameters

    Is that change significant in the whole power chain? imho no

    Is it audible? Not to me, but some CAN detect minute changes. Does it improve the sound? imho no, but to others it obviously does.
    This is perception.

    no right or wrong
    Not my place to monitor the spending of others. It's a hobby, they seldom make 'sense', financial or otherwise.
    But hifi does provide immense enjoyment.
    To each their own.
    Gibsonian likes this.
  16. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    I think you have touched a critical point! Also Stephen Hawkins explains that there 2 fundamental approaches in physics. 1) laws that apply to the macrocosmos, things we easily can observe, like Newton’s mechanics or Ohm’s law, etc. and
    2) laws that explain physics from the smallest space (micro cosmos), which is Quantum physics!
    Both laws are real physics, but the latter is not taught in school and is therefor difficult to grasp, at least by me. I read (very slowly) Stephen Hawkins explanations and it makes kind of sense, but a few months later it has become a distant understanding. Some things I remember are
    - Electrons are electromagnetic waves and mass at the same time and they are all over the place near an atom!
    - electrons are not really flowing but change in energy-level when current applies.
    - electrons can stay connected even when they are large distances apart ( could be light years in theory and they react instantly!) Einstein called this “spooky” but real.
    - electrons “suffer” / “benefit” from a memory effect.

    Currents/power is mainly Quantum Physics as it is about electrons! Yes, there are old laws that describe electricity very well, but they do not explain it bottoms up.

    All this shows that there is a world of tiny details that impact current or the music signal. Electrons interact with dielectrics and external electromagnetic energy and more. There is no Nobelprize winner that has looked into these effect that impact the music signal directly or through power supply, they have more important things to research, but it could explain why many hear differences with good (power) cables!

    Including me, as I just for fun unplugged my 2 Furutech power chords , my power filter and Furutech power strip and Telos Mini Quantum Noise Resonator. All of them gave me incremental gains in the past. Now I plugged them into a super market strip and original power cables. And it sounded “bland”, all the excitement and definition was gone. I listen a bit longer and when turning up volume some enjoyment was there, but nothing like I am used too!
  17. rednedtugent

    rednedtugent Forum Resident

    Funk, Ohio
    Thank goodness you showed up! :tiphat:

    "This is perception." um, YES! :D

    "no right or wrong
    Not my place to monitor the spending of others. It's a hobby, they seldom make 'sense', financial or otherwise.
    But hifi does provide immense enjoyment.
    To each their own."

    Yes! Couldn't agree more!! :righton:
    Philip Begley and Ingenieur like this.
  18. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    I was a sceptic for a long time, being educated as an engineer. But then I got to try a power cable like the OP did and I was positively surprised and could even further improve sound by taking more measures.
    Perhaps the cable in the wall could be improved, but it is usually a quiet stretch. Possibly it is also the reason that the power filter works quite well. There is however another attention area, which is the fuse section/safety switch in the distribution box where the power line enters the house. Also, if possible use a dedicated power line for your sound system.
    MGW likes this.
  19. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    I don't think I disagree with any of the things you say except the cheap molded connectors on the Isotek, The Isotek sequel -cable in question- I think connectors are very well made, the next models up use connectors that might be Furutech - I could be mistaken thought - and so did the sequel too in the past but they probably decided to reduce costs and went for the current molded connectors now

    To me brand name cables of any type that actually make a worthwhile difference tend to be ridiculously priced.

    When it comes to power cords something else come to mind, it might be different in Canada but here every power cable and connectors must have an Australian approval number and be registered, I am not even getting into the legality of a DIY.
    While hopefully unlikely but always possible, the problem comes should there be a fire, electrocution, etc. An investigation would be opened and should it transpire that something was not the way it's supposed to you'll be opening a Pandora's box which can make any savings evaporate.
  20. dreamingtree1855

    dreamingtree1855 Filthy vinyl spinning hipster millennial

    I use a Kimber Kable PK10 ascent ~$450 on my Parasound Halo integrated. As soon as I plugged it in the sound took on a liquid, tube-like shimmer, choirs of angels began singing background on each song, and a literal hologram of the artist appeared in miniature in between my speakers! I was astonished, and I’m looking into mortgaging my house to upgrade to an even more pricey power cable.

    I actually own the cable, got it for free from a rep. I could tell no difference from the stock cord, but it looks cool.
    rednedtugent likes this.
  21. Philip Begley

    Philip Begley Forum Resident

    I'm going to call the power company and see if I can get a shielded/balanced power line direct from the transformer for me and only me!!
    dreamingtree1855 likes this.
  22. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    Yeah, the molded connectors on the Isotek may be fine, I really don't know. It just put me off to see a $400 U.S. power cord with molded connectors :D.

    Seems crazy to me though that every Isotek power cord from $695 to $2,195 is using the same connectors, which they identify as being proprietary.
    In the 220-240V versions they do have a slightly Furutech-esque look to them-not so much in the 120V versions-and even if they are, they would
    appear to be the cheap Furutechs commonly available for around $100 pair for male & IEC. My expectation would be for much better connectors on
    a cord in that price range, but as I say, I'm a cheapskate and perhaps not being realistic anymore.

    The safety/insurance issue is continually raised on audio forums as it pertains to this stuff and I can appreciate that some might prefer to go in
    another direction because of this. I'm not employed in the insurance area but have been a real estate broker for more than 40 years though. I just
    checked and it appears I've been running this way (DIY cords) since 2003 without problem so don't have much of a problem going forward in a similar
    fashion. My thoughts are that although any insurance company might try to mitigate any loss the likelihood of them being able to deny a claim in this area
    if challenged (assuming that they could prove without doubt the cause of a fire or damage was solely related to the DIY, which is another matter entirely)
    is dubious at best. They do, after all, pay out claims on regular basis in situations in which the damage has been caused solely by the gross negligence and
    stupidity of the client (ie. falling asleep smoking, fires caused by candles-there's one in my neighbourhood right now where the claim will probably approach
    $300,000, etc. etc.).

    But yes, everyone should have their own comfort level.
  23. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    It's not just you, it's crazy, any way you look at it, molded connectors or not.
    blakep likes this.
  24. Philip Begley

    Philip Begley Forum Resident

  25. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    Be sure to report back to us with any results or findings. Let us know what they have
    to say and can do.

    Your contribution is appreciated more than you can possibly realize. ;)

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