Power Cables... Do they really matter?

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

  1. D700

    D700 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, we’re so used to it we don’t notice it until one travels elsewhere or has a problem. I was setting up a new room last night and my Marantz IEC cords refuse to stay flush in the socket. PITA

    I’ve seen really expensive RCA and HDMI cables do same thing. I much prefer thin and flexible for short runs, to avoid having plugs come out of connectors.
    Big Blue and Brother_Rael like this.
  2. Cliff

    Cliff Magic Carpet Man

    Northern CA
    I took that close-minded approach for years. Until around a month ago. Being as I'm a huge fan of A/S cables (Speaker and ICs), I bought and installed one of these on my 2-channel power amp: https://audiosensibility.com/blog/p...ement-Power-Cable/p/11472112/category=2595837
    I liked what it did so much that I figured I would see what different cables could do for my 5.1.2 Atmos setup. So I borrowed an old Virtual Dynamics PC that's been on my subwoofer for nearly 20 years and put it on my PS Audio Dectet Conditioner. Wow, what a nice change it made. So good that I had to re-do all of my SPLs again to get balance back across all speakers (I'm super anal about channel balance and usually can detect when it's out even slightly). My surround speakers used to be just "there" and now they're alive. I can hear faint sounds out of them that I couldn't previously. My mains have been over-powering my center channel for years whenever there is action/loud scenes. Now, the center stays crystal clear and I don't have to turn the volume up and down to compensate. And the imaging - front to back, side to side is super smooth with no dead zones. So something changed (positively) with phase as well. And this experiment with my surround setup cost nothing except a little time. There are lots of companies out there who offer a money back guarantee if you aren't satisfied with your purchase. So really, you have nothing to lose by thinking a little outside the box.
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  3. Boltman92124

    Boltman92124 Gratefully Listening

    San Diego
    Silnote sure has some premium priced cables of all sorts. The Poseidon GL drops from $395 to $99? Are you using it on amplifiers?
    Thanks for the feedback.
    Oliver Meyer likes this.
  4. Hospital grade plugs are great for things that you don't plug/unplug a lot, but if it's something that gets moved around I'd advise not to as they are a pain to use! I also fear the tight fit would wear/tear on a power cord.
  5. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Yes, I remember the first time I went to continental Europe being a little surprised/frustrated by how hard it was to plug and unplug things (not sure how a British outlet compares). It was annoying for just charging a phone, but it would be great for things I want to stay plugged in long-term. I’m definitely not convinced we have the best solution here.
    D700 likes this.
  6. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Surprise, AZ
    I put them on every component using the 14SE and the huge 9SE for my Furman. I did hear a difference much to my surprise, and the shielded cabling helped with noise and RFI.

    I'm not 'into' this cabling thing but these affordable cables are pretty good and won't break the bank
  7. Ralph Karsten

    Ralph Karsten Forum Resident

    St. Paul MN

    A good case can be made for the fact that such engineers in fact do not know what they are talking about.

    And here's why: If they think that power cords don't make a difference, that is because they didn't bother to measure anything. When you don't make a measurement, you are creating a made up story. So the easiest way to do this is to run an amplifier up to full power, measure its power output, change the power cord and do it again. I've seen a slightly more than 2 volt drop across a power cord cause a loss of 40 watts in the output of a 140 watt amp. Very repeatable- and easy to measure. So it should not be surprising that when you can measure a difference that you might also hear a difference. There is more to this of course but this is a good place to start. As a simple rule of thumb the more power the amp can make the more likely it is that the power cord is going to affect it. There's no voodoo here: just Ohm's Law. All things electrical respond to Ohm's Law and this includes power cords.

    The Romex (or whatever you have- Romex is a brand name) in the wall is actually pretty high performance. If you were to make a power cord out of that stuff it would work pretty well. But it would be dangerous as such a cord is a shock and fire hazard. So the trick is a flexible power cord that exhibits no voltage drop, has good high frequency current capacity (to sustain current spikes at the top of the AC waveform when filter caps are being charged) yet is flexible. That is why there are exotic cords. I'm not convinced though that an excellent power cord has to be expensive. It simply has to work. Of course you don't want either end heating up so good quality connectors are essential (this is also why outlets can have an audible effect- again its not about price, just a good connection). But the power cord itself can be made from materials you can get at Menard's.
  8. Boltman92124

    Boltman92124 Gratefully Listening

    San Diego
    Yeah the 9SE looks like a problem the way I have my stuff set up. Need to navigate through the backs of two racks. Need something less unwieldy. Thanks for your feedback.
  9. Ontheone

    Ontheone Forum Resident

    I think most cabling performance comes down to shielding and noise reduction from RFI as others have mentioned. Nearly every cable is capable of adequate current delivery. The amount of shielding that is needed is very system, environment, and placement dependent. If you don't need the shielding it wont be worth it to spend a lot on the cables. In most cases I'd think something like the AQ NRG-4 should be fine.
  10. Leigh

    Leigh http://orf.media

    They don't to me, so I'd answer "no". And neither do interconnects or speaker cables, for that matter, so long as they are of a certain basic quality.

    It's amazing how much more enjoyable the hobby becomes when you just don't let certain things even come up for consideration.

    Not trolling; he asked the question, and I answered :cool:
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  11. wwaldmanfan

    wwaldmanfan child of the '60's

    NJ, USA
    My buddy loaned me his Mark Levinson No.38 preamp while he was between homes, and had no place to store it. It's a $4,000 component. It has a proprietary, right-angled IEC socket on the underside of the chassis. You couldn't use an aftermarket cord if you wanted to, unless you extended the height of the built-in feet with additional spacers. The cord it comes with is a generic 6 foot, 14AWG SJT cord like you can buy for under $10, except for the right-angled plug. What does this tell you?
    vwestlife and Frost like this.
  12. MGW

    MGW Well-Known Member

    Scotland, UK
    I seem to recall that Russ recommends prioritising the order of cable upgrades as power, interconnects, speaker cables.
    I had already delved into interconnects and speaker cables before I heard that so don't really know if it works or not.
    What I can say was probably the biggest upgrade that I ever made in relative terms was the installation of a dedicated spur for the hifi.
    JNTEX likes this.
  13. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Surprise, AZ
    Not much. When you spend $4K the manufacturer expects that you will upgrade your power cords. My Audio Research equipment came supplied with the same type of cords and in a call to AR about something else I asked if AR expects you to upgrade your power cords and they said they did and that's why they provided generic cords.

    If you can afford a $4K component or a $10K one, the manufacturers surmise that you will do an upgrade and Levinson fits into that mold.
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  14. wwaldmanfan

    wwaldmanfan child of the '60's

    NJ, USA
    This is the right-angle plug needed to connect the Levinson. Maybe you can get a fancy, high-priced power cord with a plug like this, but I don't see the logic of building the amp with this and expecting the user to find an appropriate aftermarket cable with the same unusual configuration.

    Frost likes this.
  15. MGW

    MGW Well-Known Member

    Scotland, UK
    UK mains plugs generally require a little bit more force than European plugs but once insertion is started the process seems to me to be a little smoother.
    Big Blue likes this.
  16. Oliver Meyer

    Oliver Meyer In Audio Heaven Up Here

    Virginia Beach
    I use them on all my stereo components. They're heavy duty and well shielded. Most small businesses want you to think you're getting a deal hence the price difference.
    I have Silnote XLR and RCA cables and like them a lot.
  17. Boltman92124

    Boltman92124 Gratefully Listening

    San Diego
    Probably a better value than the Shunyata Venom 14 I'm guessing. Thanks.
  18. Just Walking

    Just Walking Forum Resident

    Abingdon UK
    Indeed. And IIRC the advice was (or maybe still is) to go for source, preamp, power amp in that order for mains. I think I agree with that - the major impact is with CD (or streamer) then preamp. I must admit I find little difference in mains cables with well designed power amps (however that is defined...).

    I'm going to invest in a radial from a dedicated mains panel (AKA consumer unit in the UK), and to fit a Class 2 mains voltage clamp at that same panel to prevent mains spikes from zapping my audio gear. That is the next audio upgrade.
    MGW likes this.
  19. displayname

    displayname Forum Resident

    This simply tells me the designers of that specific model decided to use a nearly proprietary cable for that unit when it was designed... nearly 25 years ago.

    Using your same presumptive logic, I could counter by saying that ML's entry level products now start at $7,000 and quickly scale upwards - and 100% of their current product line uses standard back mounted IECs which are fully compatible with after market power cables.
    Are we all to assume they looked back at their past model(s) that you referenced and assume they felt aftermarket cables do in fact make a difference, which lead to their design changes?
    Should we assume that this means power cables do make a difference in all situations, with all gear?

    Obviously not.
    amgradmd and Big Blue like this.
  20. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Surprise, AZ
    You're basing your opinion on a single oddball power cord? Poor design by ML if you ask me.
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  21. jfeldt

    jfeldt Forum Resident

    SF, CA, USA
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  22. tmsorosk

    tmsorosk MORE MUSIC PLEASE

    Outer space
    I agree. I've seen some very high end power cords in sound studio's, some were custom made.
    I won't even begin to tell you what a big improvement the've made in the systems i've owned.
    MGW and displayname like this.
  23. wwaldmanfan

    wwaldmanfan child of the '60's

    NJ, USA
    I didn't express an opinion, only stated facts about the proprietary Levinson power cord. I agree with you about the non-standard design, which they corrected in subsequent designs.
  24. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Scottish Borders
    Buy an adapter?
  25. MGW

    MGW Well-Known Member

    Scotland, UK
    That all sounds about right.
    I don't think that the separate spur/ring will disapoint.
    Mine is an oddity in that is a double-cabled spur (because I had enough cable) to a single twin socket, so a spur that is also a ring. Kind of! Or not!
    But don't forget the earthing. It is probably in your post but lost, for me, in the translation from US to English (two nations divided by a common language and all that :D).
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
    tmsorosk likes this.

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