Power Cables... Do they really matter?

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

  1. fish

    fish Forum Resident

    NY, USA
    We know....

    Uglyversal, MGW, bever70 and 4 others like this.
  2. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Power Cables; Nothing Else Matters.
    fish likes this.
  3. Slippers-on

    Slippers-on Forum Resident

    St.Louis Mo.
    I've been trying to find such post but cant...any leads?
    hi_watt likes this.
  4. Luke Z

    Luke Z New Member

    Spokane Valley
    I have been able to hear all of the Shunyata cables including prototypes when they were being designed. I could easily hear differences in power cables, interconnects and speaker cables. What has been your journey with interconnect/speaker cables? They seem to build upon the foundation that a good power cable provides.
    beowulf likes this.
  5. dial

    dial Well-Known Member

    I had 2 pairs when there was only the choice with Monster. Now I have Audioquest (4 pairs + 1 Powercord), Oehlbach, Van den Hul, Straight Wire & Audio Agile powercord 2. Also on second system Symo blue, Supershield (now discontinued) and a Mogami.
  6. tlowe

    tlowe Life Explorer

    IMO, just my opinion (please dont knock my head), there are no such things as audiophile power cords or audiophile speaker cables...there are only high and low grade cables. Just buy high grade industrial power cable, studio level or professional speaker cables and DIY.
  7. Fredtones

    Fredtones drumtones

    London England
  8. fish

    fish Forum Resident

    NY, USA
    Lots of disinformation I can tell you that!
    Absolute false specs and claims based on peoples distaste for Class D topography. I found allot of that going on!

    Problem is the amps it shares its price point with dont get many reviews either.
    Slippers-on likes this.
  9. Slippers-on

    Slippers-on Forum Resident

    St.Louis Mo.
    I remember when the amp first hit there where guys buying it left and right...then they sold them...and still cant hardly find used one....cats are buying them used and holding on to them.
  10. aorecords

    aorecords Forum Resident

    The guys from the HiFi Podcast recommend starting with your power strip/conditioner and/or amplifier.
    Grego likes this.
  11. ChrisR2060

    ChrisR2060 Forum Resident

    North Carolina
    I have replaced the OEM power cables that came with my ps audio stack, with cheap 14awg Zongyun cables found on amazon. The connectors seem to be very high quality.
    Could not really hear a difference.
    Now, last weekend, I have replaced my power outlet, a standard $2 one that came with the house built in 1996, with a nice Hubbell 5362 I believe, and holly cow! Soundstage and imaging took another dimension, and not subtle. I was blown away.
    I had to strip the wires to connect the new Hubbell, so maybe that's what made a difference, but I was astonished, as I have zero belief that power cables and outlets could possibly change anything.
    Really surprised; I actually feel like a clown sharing this.
  12. Ilusndweller

    Ilusndweller S.H.M.F.=>Reely kewl.

    Columbus, Ohio
    There is a scientific explanation for that. The new outlet has smoother surfaces, is manufactured to tighter tolerances, and exerts higher pressure on the plug contacts. All 3 factors will lead to a higher real area of contact:apparent area of contact ratio.

    "When two surfaces are mated to one another, actual contact only occurs at various isolated points (the asperities) called junctions. When the areas of all the junctions are summed, one obtains the real area of contact. On the other hand, the area of contact which one determines through geometrical considerations of the actual part on a macroscopic level is called the apparent area of contact. The real area of contact is usually much less than the apparent area -- sometimes a thousand or more times less [11]. Typically the real area is about 1% of the apparent area. The diameter of typical junctions has been estimated to range from 1 micrometer to 100 micrometers [12].

    Considering only the real area of contact, it is the protruding asperities which will make contact with the opposing surface (and its protruding asperities). On an atomic level, because a force is being applied to push two surfaces together, bonding will occur somewhere in the junction if the two materials have compatible structures. The extent of cleanliness and other factors such as temperature and environment also play a role. This is due to the nature of atomic forces.

    Figure 1 shows the force versus distance between two surfaces [13] which is similar to the inter-atomic force vs. distance between two atoms [14]. Being in the trough signifies bonding and somewhere in any given junction there will be atoms which are in the trough. Thus there will almost always be some bonding between two unlubricated surfaces when an external force is applied. How much bonding occurs over a given junction depends on many things including the force applied, the compatibility of the crystal structures, material properties such as Young's modulus, how closely the two surfaces mate to one another on an atomic level and how clean the surfaces are. As two surfaces are properly cleaned the friction coefficient can become very large due to adhesion effects, sometimes even exceeding 100 [15]. This type of cleaning can involve sputtering in a vacuum chamber."

    11. W. Glaeser, Lecture notes, Wear Fundamentals Course for Engineering, Intl. Wear of Materials Conf., ASME, 1989.

    12.E. Rabinowicz, Friction and Wear of Materials, John Wiley and Sons, New York, 50, 1965.

    13.J. Ferrante, J. Smith and J. Rice, Microscopic Aspects of Adhesion and Lubrication, Elsevier Science Publishing Co., New York, Tribology Series, [7], 1982.

    14.W.D. Callister, Jr., Materials Science and Engineering-An Introduction, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York, 15, 1985.

    15.Y. Kimura "Some Problems in the Adhesion Theory of Friction," Fundamentals of Tribology, eds. N.P. Suh and N. Saka, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 385-391, 1980

    Not to mention all the crud on the old outlet surfaces.

    "2.3.1 Tribo-Surfaces

    Surface properties are very important and play a major role in determining wear behavior. After all, wear occurs at the surface. As wear progresses, the surface can change in such a way that a transition occurs in the friction and wear behavior. Some important features of the surface include its geometry and its mechanical, physical, and chemical properties.

    Geometrical parameters include the macroscopic shape of the contacting surfaces, as well as the microscopic shape, amount, and distribution of the asperities. An asperity is simply a protruding part on the surface of the material -- a high point. Mechanical properties include macrohardness, microhardness, Young's modulus, shear strength, and fatigue properties. Microhardness is different than macrohardness since a material is often a composite with smaller distinct constituents which have varying hardnesses. Physical characteristics include crystal structure and associated lattice parameters, thermal conductivity, and the ability of a material to work harden. Chemical factors might include chemical composition of the surface or how clean one is able to make a surface. Miedema states "any two metals can be bonded strongly, provided that the initial surfaces are clean" [8]. These are just some examples. In addition, many of these depend on the chemical environment in which sliding occurs.

    Initially two tribo-surfaces (disk and counterface in this research) are covered with layers of oxides, sulfides, and other solid compounds. On top of these compounds there are films of adsorbed gases and hydrocarbons. Without these surface layers, the mating surfaces could bond more strongly. Once sliding occurs, tangential motion at the interface disperses these contaminants at the contact points and cold welding can occur at these junctions. As sliding continues, these junctions are sheared and new junctions are formed. Wear debris is formed by this continuing adhesion and fracture of the mating surfaces. This is one example of a possible wear process.

    The act of wearing is a dynamic process, that is, the system is constantly changing and the process of wear can change some of the factors mentioned above. While the surface parameters affect the wear behavior, wear can also affect the surface parameters. In a stable or steady state wear situation, the change in the surface properties is negligible as wear progresses. To properly design a stable tribosystem one needs to understand the interrelationships between friction and wear and their effects on the tribo-surface."

    8.A.R. Miedema and F.J.A. den Broeder, Zeitschrift Metallk., [70], 14-20, (1979)

    Its all about creating chemical (metallic) bonds, more = better.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2022
    tlowe, jeff kleinberg and jfeldt like this.
  13. DaBigBadWolf

    DaBigBadWolf Well-Known Member

    Pittsburgh, PA
    A friend of mine built his own power cable from a recipe he found on line, he brought it over to my place one day. BOY was I pissed off. Because now I was shown that power cables do affect the sound> Seriously?!? I was convinced that it wouldn't matter, CONVINCED. Now I had a buy a whole new bunch of cables. :disgust: I went with VHAudio in an effort to improve without breaking the bank.
  14. fish

    fish Forum Resident

    NY, USA
  15. Ilusndweller

    Ilusndweller S.H.M.F.=>Reely kewl.

    Columbus, Ohio
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2022
  16. wgriel

    wgriel Forum Resident

    bc, canada
    Did that with a friend a couple of years back. He's got a very resolving system, and a local dealer sent him home with a couple of high priced after market power cords. I remember one was a top tier Audioquest power cable.

    This was around the time that the buzz around power cables was really ratcheting up here and I went in expecting to hear some big differences. Initially we were blown away by the Audioquest, so we decided to do some switching. This wasn't a real scientific experiment or anything, just a single blind test where one of us listened in the sweet spot, the other swapped (or didn't swap) power cables while the listener made notes on what they were hearing, and attempted to pick which they liked the best. At no time did the listener know which cable they were listening to.

    Well, basically neither of us could hear any differences whatsoever when we didn't know which cable was which! It was actually disappointing to me as I'd been quite swayed by all the testimony here. But lesson learned, I'll take other folks subjective evaluations with a large grain of salt going forward and I will put anything like this to the test before putting any money down.
    Tony C., vwestlife and Ilusndweller like this.
  17. Ilusndweller

    Ilusndweller S.H.M.F.=>Reely kewl.

    Columbus, Ohio
    As Ive been saying all along, IMHO knowing what is what makes all the difference in the world (except to a small % with superb hearing and systems) when it comes to cables. Been there, done that with interconnects, used to be just like the 70% on here (in a recent survey) who think they can differentiate cables. Then I blind ABXd and tossed all my conclusions out the door(except copper vs. silver which I could pick out blind ABX). Like Ive also stated, until people take the time to blind ABX, they (except those with superb ears and systems) just will never get it. If people know what is what, most (except those with superb hearing and systems)will hear whatever they want to hear based on whatever.

    $0.02 and ymmv of course as you may have much better ears and system than me.

    Last edited: Jan 14, 2022
    tlowe, wgriel and vwestlife like this.
  18. Jim Hodgson

    Jim Hodgson Galvanically Isolated in Greenpoint

    Brooklyn, NY
    Can’t argue with the geography, but I’m wondering about the perspective.

    Wouldn’t the nature of AC power delivery place that 6’ power cord first (not last)?

    And wouldn’t the nature of AC power delivery find that amp dead center between two power conductors (not at the end of one)?

    No doubt 0.005% is a minuscule percentage of the total … but I’m not sure why that would imply anything about its significance. In reality, that 6’ power cord isn’t miles away, it’s center stage—at least from my perspective (and that of the component it’s connected to, I think). So in the end, given that current and electromagnetic effects are local, why shouldn’t our concern with that 0.005% greatly outweigh our concern with the remaining 99.995%?

    I think this is a tough question, actually—and probably forms the basis on which we’re all free to develop our own concerns. One thing I have to acknowledge, though, is that last-6’ is an argument against replacement power cords reinforced by legions. Mine’s the minority view for sure.

    I ran across this old (9/28/01) post by Bob Crump (TG Audio) on Audio Asylum the other day. Seems relevant.

    Now that I am about to incur everyone's wrath for being outspoken and not professional let me say that the differences between ICs in general is nowhere near the gross differences found between different speaker wires or power cords.

    Bob’s power cords were never the priciest, never the fanciest, but always the best IMO—at least back in the day. Don’t know how they would rank among today’s best. But, my lack of awareness may speak in further support: no inclination to find out.

    (Before anyone speculates negatively, TG made pricey interconnects, too.)
    dennem, MGW, jeff kleinberg and 2 others like this.
  19. COBill

    COBill Forum Resident

    Colorado, USA
    That's the approach you should take with all audio gear; I've had hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment in my home on audition from local dealers that were all reviewed very favorably that I ultimately chose not to purchase because they didn't make an improvement.

    Everything I own (including power cables) made a "you've got to be kidding" improvement in my system that went away when I switched back.

    Some of it was highly reviewed, some perhaps not, but it all improved what I heard in my room.
    jeff kleinberg, fish and wgriel like this.
  20. beowulf

    beowulf Forum Resident

    Chula Vista, CA
    I actually started with speaker cables as I was having an issue with some speaker wire I was trying and thought something sounded tizzy in my system. I was using a mil-spec silver over copper that a lot of people were raving about and was getting some noticeable tizziness in the upper range, especially when it came to cymbals and once I heard it, I couldn't un-hear it. So I went through a process of elimination and eventually found it was my speaker cables that was causing it.

    I know Dave from Zenwave and he sent me a couple pairs of his OHNO UPOCC cables. I was a night a day difference, first the tizziness went completely away and there was just something really right about the way they sounded.

    I eventually tried different interconnects, but did not get the lift that the speakers cables gave me. I did try a Duelund Silver Silk in Oil cable that was really unique sounding with my DAC and kept that, but I mostly use the Decware brand Silver Reference interconnects that I always had when I got my amp as I haven't found anything that really blew me away as far as interconnects go.

    I got measurable and listenable results with the Shunyata cables with an Entech Wideband Noise Analyzer, but they are expensive IMO as far as a price/performance ratio goes and I think money would be better spent elsewhere, for instance, I could have bought a better turntable with the amount of money that I spent on that Shunyata loom and enjoyed that much better.
    hi_watt likes this.
  21. but but but… night and day differences… it wasn’t subtle… my wife heard it from the other room…
    Ilusndweller and vwestlife like this.
  22. jeff kleinberg

    jeff kleinberg Senior Member

    Are you for real? Trolling? I swapped to a ps audio outlet, didn't hear squat. I bought a RSA HZ power cable and my mind was blown. Is your system revealing like mine? I think I may need to try the furutech outlet, and cut the wire a bit:)
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2022
    Ilusndweller likes this.
  23. jeff kleinberg

    jeff kleinberg Senior Member

    As you should. A power cable really changes the tonality and dynamics of a component. To accurately discern between two, you need to have your own system, with your own source playing material you know well. I like to use Ringo screaming "I've got blisters on my fingers" on my German The Beatles. The clarity, distance from listening position, his height, 'Thickness" and decay of that last hit are all very useful for evaluating differences in presentation among cables. How much I enjoy the preceding few minutes is clearly the most important factor. Put the new cable in, listen a week or two, or as long as the return policy holds. Then put in the previous, see if you miss it. Do, buy it, don't, bye bye. Power cables are hit or miss and all though they change the sound, its not always easy to tell whats better, just different ways to tell the musical story. I still can't believe I bought fancy power cables, but zero regrets. Everytime they come out my system suffers. Unlike the still points that stifled my old Classic 3D.

    Last edited: Jan 15, 2022
    wgriel, hi_watt and Ilusndweller like this.
  24. Ilusndweller

    Ilusndweller S.H.M.F.=>Reely kewl.

    Columbus, Ohio
    Jeff and I have shared a number of pms regarding cables and I very much value and respect his opinion on this topic. He opened my mind when it comes to cables and SQ. I dont doubt that the above does indeed apply to a small % of audiophiles with excellent ears and systems. :agree:
    jeff kleinberg likes this.
  25. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    So you should, there is no point in wasting good money if it won't make any difference to you. I have spent money on audiophile power cords which I am keeping. I would spend much more if the good ones weren't that expensive. I have little to complain, if it wasn't for threads like this that ignited my curiosity I would still be using the $5 crap most people use.
    Hanks3, jeff kleinberg and wgriel like this.

Share This Page