Power cords, a trip into the unknown!

DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2010
6,134
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523
La Jolla, Calif USA
I have recently been listening to several power cords and attempting to figure out what I am hearing and why..... This has been a very interesting trip. Firstly, it seems that power cords do indeed make significant differences in your sound, why, I have no idea. Secondly, I have noticed that the connector at both ends seemingly plays a VERY big part in the picture and lastly, the cost of the cord seems irrelevant to the performance.
I took the liberty of removing the power connectors on all of the cords under test, I really wanted to see the make up of the cord structure. Probably to no one's surprise, the vast majority of cords are simply nothing more than copper stranded wire with on occasion a foil wrap for insulation. The biggest differences seemed to be where the plugs were concerned, all the way from expensive Furutech's down to garden variety Leviton's and no name iec's. My amp requires a 20 amp iec and the quality of this was usually the determinant as to how the cord sounded....the best being the Wattgate plugs then the Furtech's and on down to the no name brands...
Now here's the shocker, I listened to a well known manufacturer's cable that is priced in the multi thousand's and likes to compare to some snake name ( sure reminded me of a snake) and then i took the cable apart......

The inner workings were no surprise, what was surprising was the plugs that were used....frankly and this is IMHO, they were no better than the middle of the road inexpensive Hubbell's. I then took a friends advise and tried some cables from the Swedish manufacturer Supra....Very inexpensive and not terribly great to look at. Certainly not reminding me of any type of snake or other piece of jewelry. I attached a couple of middle- to top of the line- Wattgate's ( far pricier than the Hubbell's) to this cable and sat back and listened.
Guess what guys, I think I have a way of saving you some serious dough:)

Which brings me to my point, sometimes the sum of the parts is better than the whole...anyone else experienced this kind of revelation in our hobby:confused:
 

fas42

Addicted To Best
Jan 8, 2011
3,973
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0
NSW Australia
Right up my alley in fact. Yes, unfortunately, the power cord is part of the circuit, the power supplies of the components they run to, and have an impact if only because of their ability to reject RF interference to a lesser or greater extent, and attentuate high frequency noise coming down the copper. What I do now, which is very different from previous efforts, is to add some very high frequency filtering at the plug in the wall, followed by a DC blocker, and some very wide bandwidth filtering just before the cord goes into the component. The cable itself is bog standard hardware issue, but I give it a strong twist along its full length to help it reject further noise pickup.

It probably could be a lot better, but it works well enough so far to give me acceptable sound. Each of the elements of tweaking done to the cable seem to help, and at some stage I will need to go through a painful process of truly assessing what is most important, and which is largely irrelevant, has no real value ...

Frank
 

Phelonious Ponk

New Member
Jul 1, 2010
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have an impact if only because of their ability to reject RF interference to a lesser or greater extent

Remove the if and we're in rare agreement. If it is simply a power cord and not some kind of filtering device, there is nothing else it can do. Well shielded? We're done here.

Tim
 

microstrip

VIP/Donor
May 30, 2010
17,061
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I have recently been listening to several power cords and attempting to figure out what I am hearing and why..... This has been a very interesting trip. Firstly, it seems that power cords do indeed make significant differences in your sound, why, I have no idea. (...)

I agree on these points, but one important aspect is that there must be synergy between the power cables and the system to have "significant" differences. Most of the time when you change power cables the differences are small, but a few mark the sound of a particular system in a strong way (either for the good or the bad!).

I could not find a correlation with a sound type and a power cable. The effect seems to be too system dependent. The same cable used different systems had different sound properties. Also, most of the effects I find in power cables performance are associated to the perception of bass frequencies and spaciousness and overall balance.
 

RBFC

WBF Founding Member & Super Moderator
Staff member
Apr 20, 2010
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Albuquerque, NM
www.fightingconcepts.com
Do you feel that there are internal structural differences in the connectors (IEC and Pronged) that could restrict current or similar performance parameters?

Lee
 

ack

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
6,348
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610
Boston, MA
I have recently been listening to several power cords and attempting to figure out what I am hearing and why..... This has been a very interesting trip. Firstly, it seems that power cords do indeed make significant differences in your sound, why, I have no idea. Secondly, I have noticed that the connector at both ends seemingly plays a VERY big part in the picture and lastly, the cost of the cord seems irrelevant to the performance.
I took the liberty of removing the power connectors on all of the cords under test, I really wanted to see the make up of the cord structure. Probably to no one's surprise, the vast majority of cords are simply nothing more than copper stranded wire with on occasion a foil wrap for insulation. The biggest differences seemed to be where the plugs were concerned, all the way from expensive Furutech's down to garden variety Leviton's and no name iec's. My amp requires a 20 amp iec and the quality of this was usually the determinant as to how the cord sounded....the best being the Wattgate plugs then the Furtech's and on down to the no name brands...
Now here's the shocker, I listened to a well known manufacturer's cable that is priced in the multi thousand's and likes to compare to some snake name ( sure reminded me of a snake) and then i took the cable apart......

The inner workings were no surprise, what was surprising was the plugs that were used....frankly and this is IMHO, they were no better than the middle of the road inexpensive Hubbell's. I then took a friends advise and tried some cables from the Swedish manufacturer Supra....Very inexpensive and not terribly great to look at. Certainly not reminding me of any type of snake or other piece of jewelry. I attached a couple of middle- to top of the line- Wattgate's ( far pricier than the Hubbell's) to this cable and sat back and listened.
Guess what guys, I think I have a way of saving you some serious dough:)

Which brings me to my point, sometimes the sum of the parts is better than the whole...anyone else experienced this kind of revelation in our hobby:confused:

I had started a thread on power cables a year ago... interesting read, for sure. My opinion hasn't changed - assuming the right gauge for each application, they can affect impedance between the component and the wall (i.e. how fast they can deliver impulse current), and they can affect noise (both in the power line and as potentially radiated by the cord around it). This means they can easily have detrimental effects as well, so it depends on the cable; and it surely implies that none of the above are by virtue of definition potentially anything more than just theoretical, thus not _necessarily_ audible. But truth be told, I had a number of power cords that radiated so much noise that severely affected my phono, just like I had a number of others that did in fact reduce line noise.

On the snake you mention, this is why their Black Mamba CX is the sweet spot (if one cares about that brand) - don't have to overspend to get their "best". And what you really pay there is two things, IMO: 1) the patent on the unique helix construction (and indirectly, the rights to the professor who invented it, which they then licensed); and 2) the cryo treatment of the wire and connectors. Mind you, I am not making any claims that these things are worthy of any price or whether they have technical merit; what I can tell you though, is that, if you read the paper and patent, it sure looks like induction-based impedance can be reduced - to what effect, I don't know.

I also use a custom power cord made out of 3 10AWG individual wires from Home Depot - very thick as you can imagine - with Wattgate 330 connectors; this connects my sub. I can't tell the difference between it and the stock that came with the sub. But I can also tell you that the 330's metal parts are just brass, so how good can that be. The 350's are better. Still, if you compared the 330 against the Furutech and found the 330s better, that's a bit of a surprise to me - unless you meant the 350's are the better ones, or Furutech uses something worse than brass...

At any rate, my personal lesson on all this is: try before you buy, and absolutely do not overspend.
 
Last edited:

JackD201

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
11,738
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Manila, Philippines
I wish they didn't make a difference.
 

DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2010
6,134
145
523
La Jolla, Calif USA
Do you feel that there are internal structural differences in the connectors (IEC and Pronged) that could restrict current or similar performance parameters?

Lee

I do believe that it is possible that the design of the connectors inside the plug ( prong or iec) may have something to do with the performance. This would make some sense as the connection at the plug to the wire could induce losses. One interesting thought, which I think Frank may have touched upon in another thread, is to solder the wires directly to the component in question. Thereby, doing away with any potential loss due to the plug. I did not do this so I have no basis in this regard.

One other thing that I had forgotten to add to the post...I noticed a nice improvement with all of the cords when I lifted them off the floor, similar to what I do with all my other cables ( speaker and ic's).

One of the claims to fame of the Supra cable is that it is a "low radiation" design. Electrical radiation might also be an effect that could impact other gear and lead to degradation.:confused:
 

RBFC

WBF Founding Member & Super Moderator
Staff member
Apr 20, 2010
5,138
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585
Albuquerque, NM
www.fightingconcepts.com
I use Supra Sword Anniversary but unlike Frank would never solder them to any component.

Soldering a wire to a $100 Philips HTIB is quite a different matter than soldering it to a $100K Lamm amp.....

I would never solder it either. Bye-bye warranty. More cost for repairs after warranty expires as well.

Lee
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
I only mention Supra cable because Davey found what I did several years ago. It is an extremely well built and relatively inexpensive cable from Sweden. The Supra Sword is their 20th anniversary cable IIRC. Fellow member here KeithR turned me onto Supra 5-6 years ago
 

RBFC

WBF Founding Member & Super Moderator
Staff member
Apr 20, 2010
5,138
20
585
Albuquerque, NM
www.fightingconcepts.com
I do believe that it is possible that the design of the connectors inside the plug ( prong or iec) may have something to do with the performance. This would make some sense as the connection at the plug to the wire could induce losses. One interesting thought, which I think Frank may have touched upon in another thread, is to solder the wires directly to the component in question. Thereby, doing away with any potential loss due to the plug. I did not do this so I have no basis in this regard.

One other thing that I had forgotten to add to the post...I noticed a nice improvement with all of the cords when I lifted them off the floor, similar to what I do with all my other cables ( speaker and ic's).

One of the claims to fame of the Supra cable is that it is a "low radiation" design. Electrical radiation might also be an effect that could impact other gear and lead to degradation.:confused:

How about resoldering the connections inside the plugs using better technique, etc.? That might be a workable test...

Lee
 

es347

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
1,577
19
460
Midwest fly over state..
I only mention Supra cable because Davey found what I did several years ago. It is an extremely well built and relatively inexpensive cable from Sweden. The Supra Sword is their 20th anniversary cable IIRC. Fellow member here KeithR turned me onto Supra 5-6 years ago

Went to their website and no pix. Is there a site with pictures??
 

j_n

New Member
Nov 18, 2011
39
0
0
Welcome to the forum JN :). How about saying more? Not about him not knowing of course :).

uh, ok..Hi guys..man, you found me fast...maybe I shoulda used another moniker??

Seriously, he is not alone.. It is a very difficult topic to explain, as you well know..

I'll look over this site's ability to host pictures first..what's the max size here?

Cheers, John
 

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