Power Cables... Do they really matter?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by PinkIsTheSky, Oct 7, 2019.

  1. PinkIsTheSky

    PinkIsTheSky Old Blues Man Thread Starter

    Alright, so I got XLRs for a balanced connection, I got 12 Gauge speaker wire, I plan on Bi- Wiring next...

    But what is this hubbub about power cords now? Is this seriously something worth looking into? Some of you who have been participating in my threads over the past few months know that I have made a major upgrade to my system. Y'all may have also picked up on me being pretty new to this world of higher end gear.

    So in my current setup, I can push the volume to any level without any hiss or distortion, so my question is, what could an upgraded power cord actually do for me? Is it worth it to spend, say $80 dollars on a pair of cords for the Pre Amp and Amp? Why?

    Looking forward to hearing what Y'all have to say!
  2. displayname

    displayname Forum Resident

    In my opinion, the biggest thing they do is lower the noise floor. What that translates to is better sense of space. Potentially wider soundstage and imaging. But I'd probably also budget a little more than $80.
    Some components are said to be more prone to power cable updates than others. I believe most people start with power amps, but I've heard positive remarks about phonostages and streams as well.

    Now will they make a difference in your system will depend on several variables. Is the system transparent enough? Is your gear sensitive to power cable changes? Do you live somewhere with "dirty" power (usually cities and/or industrial areas)? Do you already have a power conditioner in place? How about a dedicated line?
    My opinion, it's worth a try. If you buy used cables you can always sell them for a fairly minimal loss if you feel like it doesn't make a difference. I wouldn't expect any miracles. I think if you really want to see a big impact with cables, change ALL of your cables at once, full loom including digital, audio and power cables. That's when you'd likely see a big difference because it would be making the cables the only real variable.
  3. Oliver Meyer

    Oliver Meyer In Audio Heaven Up Here

    Virginia Beach
    Silnote. $99 GL power cords. Can't go wrong
    sushimaster and Slippers-on like this.
  4. PinkIsTheSky

    PinkIsTheSky Old Blues Man Thread Starter


    So maybe it is a down the line upgrade when I switch rooms and inevitable need to re wire everything.

    I'm pretty confident I wont need to replace the XLRs any time soon.

    My thing, is I was looking to squeeze the most out of my system as possible, I am running out of things to upgrade lmao.

    I don't have a power conditioner yet, would that be any more worthwhile?
  5. displayname

    displayname Forum Resident

    Again, depends on who you ask and what your situation is. Power can be a huge problem for some people that can't be ignored. I'm guessing that's not you at this stage. It can also be an area where you are simply squeezing out the last drops.
    I'm not saying I do or don't think it will make a difference. I've seen it make a big difference, and I've seen people wonder why they spend $100 on a 3ft power cord. I think it's pretty situational.

    Here's what I can say, none of it is going to hurt. I think if you progressively upgrade all your power cords and add a power conditioner over time, you might not notice a difference with each individual one. But if one day after it's all upgraded, you decide to swap back to all the stock cables, I think you'd notice. But not in all cases honestly. One lesser XLR/RCA in the system could completely negate all the upgrades to the power cords if it has noise leaking in from RFI or something (pretty unlikely).
    But I am saying if you don't have a power noise issue now, don't expect changing one or two cables to blow your mind. I think full loom is where you see the big impact. But that's a big expense to do it all at once.
    Cekootje, JNTEX and PinkIsTheSky like this.
  6. PinkIsTheSky

    PinkIsTheSky Old Blues Man Thread Starter


    Hmm, well this pretty much answers my question. At this point my room is a bit small for the gear I have, so I believe the next change in quality will come when I move the gear to the main room. I want to get into room treatment, but it seems kind of daunting...

    I plan on building a studio in my garage next year, so I will inevitably need to bite the bullet eventually.
    displayname likes this.
  7. displayname

    displayname Forum Resident

    You'll be amazed at the improvements you can get with proper placement and practical room treatments. Sometimes just little things like the decor can help.
    Cote Dazur, Jim N., thxdave and 3 others like this.
  8. JNTEX

    JNTEX Lava Police

    To me, they matter as much or more than interconnects. @displayname has given you good advice.

    I have seen cords improve amps considerably. It's my subjective opinion, and a lot of people will say otherwise.

    One can spend 80 bucks on a cord, or 4K. So, there is an endless slope of $ spent per amount of listening improvement.

    But, it is all subjective.
    WayneC, Tim 2, MGW and 1 other person like this.
  9. draden1

    draden1 Forum Resident

    Des Moines, IA
    In my experience, they do matter but I did not get into power cable/interconnects/speaker cable changing until I upgraded my other components. The biggest revelation I’ve had in this hobby is when I got a very revealing pair of speakers, it made me upgrade every component in the chain. At that point I dipped my toes in and got aftermarket power cords, interconnects, and speaker cable.

    Yes the cables made a difference, they added more space to the music like described earlier in a different post. What I don’t know is how much of a difference (if any) would they have made if I didn’t already have a very revealing system? I think this happens a lot where people spend a bunch on power cables, interconnects, speaker cables, and expect a transformation in how their system performs.

    I’d recommend going speakers, amp, source, preamp, and then cabling. YMMV, good luck on the journey!
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2019
    Jim N., sushimaster, dennem and 6 others like this.
  10. F1nut

    F1nut Forum Resident

    The Mars Hotel
    IME, yes power cords do make a difference. However, I would start with a dedicated 20 amp line or two before anything else.
    klockwerk, Bricklayer, mds and 8 others like this.
  11. PinkIsTheSky

    PinkIsTheSky Old Blues Man Thread Starter

    I wont be able to wire up the dedicated line until I move my gear downstairs... But its on the list!

    I got all of those checked out, I am on the final leg of this upgrade. I had went from all vintage gear to all new within a month!

    All I can say now is that my system is addicting to listen to and I have trouble tearing myself away...
    Luke Z, E.Baba, JNTEX and 2 others like this.
  12. draden1

    draden1 Forum Resident

    Des Moines, IA
    If you do try aftermarket cords and don’t hear/feel it was worthwhile, my guess would be that parts of the system are bottlenecking the sound. You won’t know until you try it!
    JNTEX and displayname like this.
  13. wwaldmanfan

    wwaldmanfan Born In The 50's

    If you replace all of your cables at once, how do you know which one is making a difference? Wouldn't it make more sense to change one thing at a time?
    Schwinnparamount and parman like this.
  14. PinkIsTheSky

    PinkIsTheSky Old Blues Man Thread Starter

    We will see what happens when I Bi-Wire tonight, see if I can pull any extra details out.

    I plan on investing in a set of "Super Tweeters" to throw on top of my towers, as suggested by a member here.
    displayname likes this.
  15. Frost

    Frost Forum Resident

    Maybe it’s confirmation bias but I understand why power cords are silly (I do hear a difference in interconnects) and despite trying many in very high end systems, I hear zero difference. Further I’ve never seen one in a recording studio where they might matter if they mattered.
    showtaper, Toneh, Bricklayer and 2 others like this.
  16. Balthazar

    Balthazar Forum Resident

    Fortunately, this is not a contentious issue.
  17. Tommyboy

    Tommyboy Senior Member

    New York
    Confirmation bias and silly? Hell no.

    Do they make a difference? Absolutely.
    Twinsfan007, Tim 2, MGW and 4 others like this.
  18. beowulf

    beowulf Forum Resident

    Chula Vista, CA
    Speaking as someone with a full loom of Shunyata power cables such as (1) Delta NR, (1) Venom NR-V10, (2) Venom NR-V12 (which are installed on my audio system) and (2) Venom V14 Digital power cables (which I installed on my HDTV and HTPC). I also have a Shunyata PS8/Defender power strip/conditioner bundle.

    Aside from the ilk of esoteric magic crystals, marbles, etc. ~ I find power cables and conditioning to be the least bang for the buck items in a cost vs. performance ratio in audio video. I'm not saying that I didn't get anything out of them. I did get positive results where I could hear the differences and I'm not talking about confirmation bias, but real world results such as having to turn my volume dial down by a few notches after installing them and measuring drops in the noise floor with an Entech Wideband Power Noise Analyzer, so those are real and actual measurable results. But power cables and conditioning are expensive IMO and I've gotten nowhere near a lift in performance to where installing a power cable has brought about such a significant change that it was equal to a "component level upgrade" as many power cable pushers tout.

    I would only recommend power cables as something to top off your system if you are satisfied with the level of performance you are getting within your current gear. I would tell somebody to upgrade their amp, preamp, speakers and or source components first (especially if they think they may have a bottleneck in performance within their current gear lineup) over recommending any power tweaks.

    I think I spent about $3200 bucks over this last year experimenting with power cables and conditioning and just think there are better ways to spend your money. If you are done upgrading your gear for a long while then tweak on.
  19. Tullman

    Tullman Senior Member

    Boston MA
    Pretty much says it all.:righton:
    displayname likes this.
  20. displayname

    displayname Forum Resident

    Remember you don’t need to rush things. All the upgrades will still be there later. Enjoy your system. Spend some time getting familiar with it’s strengths and quirks. Every system could have something changed, but you need to decide what changes (if any) you want from your system. I also think that it’s much easier to notice changes when you are intimately familiar with your system, and your favorite recordings on that system. But also the recordings that aren’t your favorite. Learn what your system could change to bring a little more enjoyment to recordings you feel are lacking in your system.

    You don’t, but the OP was originally asking if power cords are even worth looking into. If you replace everything at once, you can very quickly and easily see the worth of the principle. If you want to see which cable makes the biggest impact in your system, get a basic/stock cable, and replace each cable one at a time. Changing some cables in the chain may have a bigger impact than others.
    bever70 and F1nut like this.
  21. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Senior Member

    Scottish Borders
    If you have a dodgy power supply, maybe. But before you do *anything* try adjusting the position of the speakers first. That's the most underrated tweak going, and it'll cost you nothing but time.
  22. Just Walking

    Just Walking Forum Resident

    Dave Gilmore's Astoria recording studio. Michael Zimmerling (recording engineer for Simply Red) and recording engineer/producer Ken Nelson (Gomez, Coldplay).

    And Russ Andrews - Hi-Fi mains and cable specialist

    And that is only the ones I know about or have found by searching.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
    Swann36, Tim 2, MGW and 1 other person like this.
  23. Mike-48

    Mike-48 A shadow of my former self

    Portland, Oregon
    Opinions vary widely.
    timind and SBurke like this.
  24. siebrand

    siebrand Forum Resident

    a good current cable can really be an excellent component of our hi-fi system.
    However, as long as it's really good, it must be really a quality cable.
    Unfortunately, there are many people who doubt it (and this, of course, is legitimate).
    Unfortunately, of the latter, there are often signs of derision, "those who buy quality cables are crazy / stupid / gullible" and things like that.

    The only way forward is ... try, try, try.
    But DO NOT try 10 minutes or an hour. NO!
    the cables, ALL the cables, and therefore also the "powercords" must be on the amp and on the source for a long time.
    Often ... the differences are not very big, if we look at all the single parameters. But so many small differences together can mean that the EXCELLENT current cable, when replaced by a PersonalComputer cable, makes its absence felt.

    So ... it is often not "putting the new cable" what makes the difference. Indeed ... it is the removal, which means that we want to put it back soon ...
    Thorensman, MGW and F1nut like this.
  25. Gary

    Gary Nauga Gort! Staff

    Fair warning ~ Anyone trolling will be thread banned.

Share This Page