Do "High End" Power Cables Make a Difference ? - Page 14 - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #131 of 219 Old 04-05-10, 06:46 AM
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Re: Do "High End" Power Cables Make a Difference ?

Jason_Nolan wrote: View Post
There's always a definitive answer on any subject, just ask someone they'll tell you. Then you can ask someone else and they'll tell you.
Then you keep doing this till you decide you have enough answers to make up your own mind, and that is the definitive answer.

Ive said before, if you 'think' a cable makes a difference, whether you can measure it or not, then it does make a difference. Even if its placebo putting your mind at rest, as long as it is at rest and you can forget about your cables and just enjoy your system, then IMO that is all that matters.
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post #132 of 219 Old 04-07-10, 08:32 AM
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Re: Do "High End" Power Cables Make a Difference ?

I think fundamentally (for me), it comes down to:

a) making sure someone isn't being ripped off
b) making sure people enjoy their system
c) science!

Notice where science is on that hierarchy
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post #133 of 219 Old 04-07-10, 10:28 AM
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Re: Do "High End" Power Cables Make a Difference ?

People pay prices that would make me feel like I am getting ripped off all of the time. There are different priorities in making a purchase and enjoying a system. The best we can do is try to inform and explore, but it is not our place to protect everyone from themselves in a manner that we, personally, would prioritize things.

What many forget is that the part of the industry that might be considered overpriced or even "snake oil" funds much of what we enjoy. All of those ads and many of the products we use would never exist if everyone got the best deals and no one ever paid what some of us consider absurdly high prices.

The fact is that the majority of people do not get the best value. If they did, we would have little to talk about and we would be buying everything online and at warehouse stores.

Looking for me, just google my username. I have used the same one for most sites for many years.
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post #134 of 219 Old 04-07-10, 10:35 AM
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Re: Do "High End" Power Cables Make a Difference ?

Ah, well the problem there is that there's no single, universal, metric one can apply to the measure of "value." It's subjective.


Don't worry... nothing new here, I've already made that mistake. Trust me.
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post #135 of 219 Old 04-15-10, 02:46 PM
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Re: Do "High End" Power Cables Make a Difference ?

I met the guy who developed Kimber Cable, at least that is what he told me. He buys several motorcycles every month and sells the ones he doesn't like. Talk about making some cash. I almost bought a bullet bike from him. Just thought I'd throw that out, not sure why.

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post #136 of 219 Old 04-16-10, 01:38 AM
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Re: Do "High End" Power Cables Make a Difference ?

No doubt there are some ridiculous claims that get made by some cable manufacturers, but there are still good value ones out there that provide alternatives but at reasonable prices...
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post #137 of 219 Old 08-03-10, 09:52 PM
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Re: Do "High End" Power Cables Make a Difference ?

In a humble attempt to bring some closure to this topic I offer the following in several parts. First the technical aspects of power cables and the actual electrical differences which can be measured. Then second I believe I can shed some light on the issue of perceived differences and the point that lcaillo has made several times about why people hear differences based upon their expectations. Most of what I will share is based in science and engineering and direct experience.


Many have made good arguments, I will summarize here and add some points of my own. (As a background I worked as an engineer on projects where I had to measure inrush current spikes caused by the startup of motors on systems with super sensitive equipment connected to the same power source. I also worked on a high power (20kv) microwave radar system that was so powerful it would dim down the building lighting in a commercial site that had plenty of three phase power.)

All amps need an AC power source to function. They are designed to operate within a range of conditions such as low v, high v, required current, junk on the line, etc. Most consumer amps can easily operate from a 15 amp outlet. Some pro amps may actually require a 20 amp outlet.

A 15 amp circuit uses number 14 solid copper wire. A 20 amp circuit uses number 12 solid copper. So for the sake of getting the current into your amp, any wire bigger than what is running in the walls is pointless because you cannot get more than is available at the outlet. However, there is a benefit in using stranded wire for power cords (all power cords use stranded). Stranded wire generally has less resistance but typically only noticeable at higher frequencies not the 60 hertz of house power. So a bigger wire size is of no benefit in terms of getting more power to the amp.

As far as shielding, unless you are running a Tesla coil in your living room you will not pick up any junk on your power cord. One item that I have not seen addressed is the amount of filtering that goes on inside the power supply of a high end power amp. The DC power supply for an amp is nothing but a giant filter. It is designed to smooth to a perfect flat line the voltage required to power the amp. How any more shielding on a power cord could improve on this is technically beyond me.

(A note on power supplies inside amplifiers - what happens is that AC voltage first comes into the amp from the wall socket. AC voltage is alternating current which is a sine wave which goes positive then negative over and over. Your AC voltage goes from +120 volts to -120 volts over and over. In this form it is useless for an amplifier. An amplifier needs DC voltage at varying levels to function. DC voltage is a flat line at a fixed level. So, there is a power supply that converts the AC to DC. The power supply first chops the negative part off and flips it up onto the positive side. Then filters take this bumpy voltage and smooth it into a perfectly flat line. The filters are designed to also remove any noise that may have come in on the AC house line.)

Someone mentioned running a direct line to the AV system from the breaker box. This is great advice. The best thing you could do is have a dedicated 20 amp (I have 2) line running to your AV system and definitely use "spec" grade outlets at a minimum. The hospital outlets are nice but spec grade are solid. If you run dedicated line(s) you will have all the clean power you need. An expensive cord will not help you beyond this.

Some use power conditioners which I highly recommend. I use battery backup UPS. I do this for two reasons, one is that it protects the equipment from spikes or brownouts. It is also an awesome filter because the battery can kick in when line voltage is low and deliver consistent clean power.


If a person has a dedicated line to the system and some sort of power conditioning on the line there is no scientific basis for any difference in audio output. Whatever slight capacitive or inductive or shielding that a six foot power cord might bring it will be instantly wiped out when it hits the DC power supply in the amp. It is important to understand that DC voltage has no "flavors" - it is a FLAT line. There is no way for this to carry over into the sonic output of the amp. There really is no way for the cord to affect warmth or depth of sound. So why do we hear it?

It is possible that going to a thicker cord (although no thicker than what is in the wall) could provide some modest improvement during peak power demands this would be more noticed on super loud passages where the amp was running full tilt. Definitely not in some moderate level listening. But in my experience I have never seen a consumer or pro amp be limited by the power cord. You will blow a fuse or trip the overcurrent device in the amp before that happens.

About how we perceive things, I have noticed for myself that when my truck is washed and full of gas it seems to run better. Ever since I was 16 years old I have felt this. And if I just got a haircut then everything is working better! As an engineer I know that it isn't true but it feels like it.

A final example I will give could shed some light on perceptions. This is something I was taught while training under an award winning recording engineer. Artists can be demanding at times and a person must learn to find a balance when working with them. Occasionally, an artist will demand some change that you know will not work or will not get the result they are looking for but will really be a time waster. If they continue to insist I was taught to simply go to a knob that is not in use at the time and not even connected to anything (a dummy knob) and slowly adjust it until they say, "Yes, that's it!" I and others have done this on many occasions. They thought they really dialed it in and we could move on. Finally, I was doing a live sound job at a big hotel in Los Angeles and the director was a real pain. He was telling me that he needed another mic for this and that. I was out of channels and I also knew that it wouldn't work even if I had one. Well he started swearing at me so I grabbed a mic, set it up, then threw the cable under the stage without connecting it to anything. I called him over, adjusted some dials and asked him what he thought. He said that it was now perfect and I should just listen to him next time.


Last edited by goyop; 08-13-10 at 04:00 PM. Reason: clarify some things
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post #138 of 219 Old 08-03-10, 10:24 PM
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Re: Do "High End" Power Cables Make a Difference ?

Amazing explanation, thank you. My buddy and i at work were talking about the power wire thing and both agreed there couldn't be a benefit to a larger gauge cord on the outside of the wall if the wire on the inside was smaller (resistance). This subject came up because of a salesperson from a well known publication that sells audio products through catalog and internet talked me into buying an 8 AWG power cable. Thanks again for your knowledge.
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post #139 of 219 Old 08-25-10, 04:46 AM
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Re: Do "High End" Power Cables Make a Difference ?

Good morning all, looks like an actual civil cable discussion going. Kudos to the staff for keeping it so.

I have not made up my mind completely about power cables, but have noticed differences in several different IC's, and speaker cables in my system. I did however, find a very interesting (but long) video from a seminar given by two cooperating audio companies. I found their testing, and results along with the explanations of them, to make a lot of sense to this layman. I'd be very interested if they make this available freely, as they said they intend to. What do you think?
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post #140 of 219 Old 08-25-10, 07:49 AM
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Re: Do "High End" Power Cables Make a Difference ?

Very debated topic, 11 pgs !

The power cable should be properly rated to supply the equipment for safety reasons. Will it improve the sound (quality) that is for your ears to decide, trial and error...good luck.

The power cable is only one link in the entire chain. What good is it to have a new shiny master link when the rest of the chain is rusted ? Basically, you should consider the entire electrical route from street to home to service panel to the AV room. There are many options to consider.
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