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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have recently pulled 4 each 20 amp 120 VAC dedicated circuits in for my system (using 10 gauge home runs). 2 of my amplifiers come with 20 amp power cords and the owners manual recommends a 20 amp circuit per amplifier. After doing some reading and talking to one friend in particular (whose audio opinion I respect very much), I bought 5 Volex 17603 14/3 shielded power cords. I have also orderd some Schurter 20 amp IEC connectors to fit my big amps and when I installed the dedicated circuits, I used Hubbell Hospital Grade AC outlets on the wall. I have seen recomendations foo Pass & Seymour 5266-X AC plugs. Does anyone think this will make an audible difference in sound. I am not going to pay $500.00 plus for some boutique power cord, but good quality connectors can't hurt. Seems to make common sense.

DISCLAIMER - If this becomes a ridiculous "Power cords make a difference" or "Power cords make no difference" thread, I will ask Sonnie to kill it.

Just looking for some real world experience.

Chuck
 

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Re: NO FLAME, just curious...... DIY AC cords

We don't have many of the ridiculous flame wars here, but we do try to understand the reasoning and science behind what we or others experience. My experience has been that I can't tell much difference in power cords and conectors, but I am curious to hear what others say. Your perspective that expensive boutique cables don't make sense but building your own that you can be pretty sure are overkill to get the best out of your system seems to fit right in here. Keep us posted on what you learn.
 

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Re: NO FLAME, just curious...... DIY AC cords

Looking at your profile I just have one comment. You do have the system set up so that you can get to the back of the amps easily, right? Otherwise, the trade-off between power connections and moving the amps would be obvious, considering the behemoths that you have. What type of speakers did you build, BTW?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Re: NO FLAME, just curious...... DIY AC cords

Looking at your profile I just have one comment. You do have the system set up so that you can get to the back of the amps easily, right? Otherwise, the trade-off between power connections and moving the amps would be obvious, considering the behemoths that you have. What type of speakers did you build, BTW?
I haven't checked my profile lately (add to to do list), but ,yes, I can make it so I can get to the back of them easily. Currently I have 1 Earthquake Cinenova Grande X 3, 1 Earthquake X 5, and a Behringer EP2500 for the sub. I have built and am currently building or modifing a set of Dayton RS 3 ways (Seas H1212 tweeter) with Dennis Murphy crossovers, the accompanying center channel (with the Seas too) and the center is being modified because the XO for the Seas doesn't exist yet, and under construction are 4 Modula M/T's. All these projects can be seen at HTguides "Mission Accomplished" forum. I have also posted some pictures here on various DIY threads.

Chuck
 

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Re: NO FLAME, just curious...... DIY AC cords

Add me to the "curious" response list.

I have my own personal prejudices about the hi-end power cords, but would be interested for someone to explain the benefits objectively as well.

As a DIYer, I hope you build your own and let us know what you think. Seems to me you've got the know how and ability to build something "overkill" for not much green that should compete favorably or outright beat the products you listed.

JCD
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Re: NO FLAME, just curious...... DIY AC cords

I have built the 2 20 amp power cords, and have 3 15 amp Volex cords left. Here are some pictures of the cords. Turns out I could have bought a real pretty cord using the same components for $69.00 plus shipping. I paid $6.00 for mine. :bigsmile: As I was building these a thought ocurred to me. (yeah, I know, dangerous) but if these high falutin power cords make such a difference, why don't you ever see after market gold plated sockets to replace the standard plastic IEC connectors that come on even the most expensive gear. If I am going to hook up a $500 cord, whats another $100.00 for a socket?

Standard Volex 14/3 Belden shielded power cord


Internal blade of Schurter 20 amp IEC connector


Internal Schurter connector (sorry about the out of focus)


Completed 20 amp cord


$69.00 Audio Asylum ccord using the same components.
 

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Re: NO FLAME, just curious...... DIY AC cords

Looks professional!
Of course, now that I've seen your work, I'd expect nothing less.

So, what's the verdict? Do you think they've made a difference?

JCD
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Re: NO FLAME, just curious...... DIY AC cords

Actually, I haven't tried any of them yet. I got the 20 amp cords made tonight and I have the other 3 15 amp cords. I am going to distribute the cordage as such. 20 amp cords to the 2 Earthquake amps, 15 amp cords to the sub amp, outlaw pre/pro, and the denon DVD/SACD player. Each of the 3 amps have their own 20 amp circuit and the low level gear has its own 20 amp circuit. Everything I have read and surmised is that your system needs to be at a certain level of quality before an AC cord will make a perceptible difference. I want to hear if there is a difference, not anticipate a difference, so I am going to change all cords at once for maximum effect, if there is an effect. I always read about reviewers describing very subtle changes in a system, as opposed to the "Oh my God, what a difference" change a new set of speakers or amp can make so I want to prepare my self by listening intently to a series of reference recordings I know real well, then swapping out all the cords at once and relistening. I also have a friend with a very good set of ears that I want to do this with so I get more than my feeble brain in on the outcome.

Chuck
 

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Re: NO FLAME, just curious...... DIY AC cords

If you're curious, you should open up your gear to check the connection that goes between the power and the transformer. You can also take a look at the connection between your other cables and the gear internals too.

I think Secrets did a review of some amps and measured the 60Hz noise introduced by the power supply. IIRC, there were some 60Hz harmonics at -[a lot]dB on the Emotiva MPS-1 while a different much more expensive amp had no harmonics.
 

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Re: NO FLAME, just curious...... DIY AC cords

I have also orderd some Schurter 20 amp IEC connectors to fit my big amps and when I installed the dedicated circuits, I used Hubbell Hospital Grade AC outlets on the wall. I have seen recomendations foo Pass & Seymour 5266-X AC plugs. Does anyone think this will make an audible difference in sound. Chuck
Wow 10 guage runs for each amp that is sweet.:bigsmile:

If you have gone to the trouble and expense of adding 20 amp circiuts than I think the hospital grade AC outlets are a must.I have found that some standard grade outlets have very little contact area and pressure so the full benifits of the rewire might not be achieved.How this will affect sound quality I am not sure but atleast you know your amps will be able to deliver their full output.

I have one 20 amp run for my amps and a 15 amp run for my source components with these plugged into a balanced power unit.I would like to add another run 20 amp run for the amps but unfortunately I have no more room in my breaker panel.

Can't wait to hear if your new AC cables make a difference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Re: NO FLAME, just curious...... DIY AC cords

Check and see if dual or tandem breakers are available for your panel. I had to buy 2 tandems and put other circuits on the tandems and use the full size ones for my 20 amp audio circuits. I got the Hubbells off of ebay for $17.00 and I used Hubbell AC plugs on the cables. In the last 2 days I got a line on a 2000VA Equi=Tech balanced power transformer that I will use for the low level source gear. I am going to try and create a "worst case" scenario for the old power cords and then switch to the new circuits, new cables, and new power to see if there is a difference. Depending upon what happens with that test, I will go further. Stay tuned.

Chuck
 

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Re: NO FLAME, just curious...... DIY AC cords

Thanks Chuck I will look into the tandem breakers.

You just might be able to run a few source components off that 2000watt tranny.:heehee:
That thing will be big and heavy are you planning to put it in a chassis or is already enclosed.(I think Equi= tech were the first to champion balanced AC.)
I am just using a little 500watt Plitron but it is sufficient and it fixed the ground loop issues I was having.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Re: NO FLAME, just curious...... DIY AC cords

I believe it is 75 pounds. Nothing like having a little headroom you know. I have read and been told that the Equi=Tech's have very smooth start up and almost no mechanical noise or physical hum. It does come in a NEMA standard enclosure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Re: NO FLAME, just curious...... DIY AC cords

The EQUI=TECH "transformer in a box" arrived Friday afternoon. It is very large and heavy. I got it mounted and wired on Sunday. Does it make a difference? Does it make a difference! I am finding it to be quite amazing. There is no noise coming from the speakers at all. None, zero, nada. I switched the system to the DVD player and without a DVD in the player, I turned up the pre pro to +10. I pressed my ear against the tweeters and the midrange drivers and NO NOISE AT ALL! Just to be sure, I plugged back into the non balanced power outlets and noise was present without having to get up close to the drivers. Noise is down, as a result dynamic range has increased. Well worth it.



 

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This is an excellent thread topic, but I don't think it fits in DIY Speakers since it has nothing to do with Speakers. I'm gonna move it to the general Home Theater Discussion forum.
 

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The isolation transformer is a fundamentally sound idea whereas the notion of power cords affecting sound quality is...well :coocoo: :R Without trying to be too much of a party pooper, I have to ask, was the hiss in your tweeters audible from the seating position to begin with?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Re: NO FLAME, just curious...... DIY AC cords

Chuck, are these connections soldered?
Wayne: Yes, they are soldered.

SteveCallas said:
The isolation transformer is a fundamentally sound idea whereas the notion of power cords affecting sound quality is...well Without trying to be too much of a party pooper, I have to ask, was the hiss in your tweeters audible from the seating position to begin with?
First, understand that there are 3 stages to this. 1 was running 4 each 10 gauge dedicated 20 amp circuits to the system location. 2 was assembling "el cheapo" DIY AC cords for major components, specifically, amplifiers (3 of them), DVD player, pre/pro, and BFD. 3 was installing balanced power which I did not expect to do this quickly. The right transformer just became available and I bought it.

So Steve, back to your comment. Yes, the hiss was audible at the listening position with the volume turned up to O on the pre/pro which is calibrated to 85 db SPL pink noise. Albeit very, very low and I had to strain to hear it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
As far as I am concerned, I have finished this "Power Project". To recap, I have seen everywhere that power cords make a difference. 97% of these telling me this are people trying to sell me power cords. 1% are people swearing on a stack of bibles that they work. The other 2% are reviewers that are running ads for the people trying to sell me the aforementioned power cords. I found it interesting that not once did I ever read a review or a comment in forums that said "custom" power cords did not work, as in improve your sound. I have read a lot of comments from naysayers that, for the most part, just dismiss the idea and never got to the point of trying it out. As my curiousity increased and read more about it, I came across a thread that talked about Volex power cords. They use very good shielded Belden 12/3 cable, but they have molded ends. I had some higher grade Hubbell AC plugs, and I got some samples from Schurter for their 20 amp IEC connectors. Voila, custom power cord that is very similar to an Audio Asylum power cord that sells for $69.00. I bought 5 Volex cords for $30.00.

Now, personally, I do not see how a 3 or 6 foot piece of wire bringing AC to a piece of equipment, no matter what its configuration, can affect the sound. In all my reading there is no scientific evidence that says it will, but there is none that says it won't! It has also been pointed out occasionally that it is entirely possible that the effects of a power cord to an overall system are not within our realm of measurement.

Since I didn't really think a power cord by itself would make a difference, I decided to give it the best possible arena in which to perform. So I went ahead and wired in 4 20 amp dedicated AC circuits to my system that are terminated with Hubbell Hospital Grade outlets. The wiring consisted of 4 10 gauge "hot" wires, 2 10 guage "neutral" wires, and 1 12 gauge "ground" wire. All wires go straight to the main breaker panel in my house with no cuts, splices, or anything except raw wire to the connector. The 4 circuits were wired to the same phase.

I have also been very interested in "Balanced Power Transformer" technology for some time now. This is something I can see from scientific facts that it would make a difference. Note: I have been working with electronics and electricity since I was 11 years old, so I can understand basic theory. I am also a factory certified tech for Crown, B&O, Yamaha, Nakamichi, and some others I just don't remember. The theory of BPT made a lot of sense to me. I really wanted to get a transformer, but the one I wanted, the EQUI=TECH model was not available anymore at a price I could afford.

Now you may ask yourself "Is this guy nuts to wire such a large amount of power to his sytem?". Don't answer that, but the cost to do 2 runs versus 4 runs was nominal and I had 500 feet of wire, so what the ****. But I also had reason for this many circuits. I have 2 Earthquake Cinenova Grande amplifiers that specifically state they should be plugged into a 20 amp circuit alone. They also come with 20 amp IEC connectors on the back. They weigh well over 100 pounds each and most of that is in the transformer. I also have a Behringe EP2500 that states at full power it will draw 9.6 amps. Then I have the low level equipment, pre/pro, DVD player, HD tuner, HD sat, HTPC, projector, etc.. All of the low level equipment is plugged into a Monster HTS3500 more for the timed/delay capabilities than the power protection. I am also using an APC battery backup for the HTPC and the projector. (Florida is THE lightning capitol of the world).

The results. I started out with all the equipment plugged into a single 20 amp circuit shared with other lights in the house. I plugged in the newly made power cords and no difference. None at all that I could discern. The next weekend I did the attic crawl and wired up the 20 amp circuits. I plugged everything in seperately to its dedicated circuit and used the stock 20 amp cords that came with the Earthquake amps and the Behringer. The Monster's cord was used for it because it is hard wired to the unit. This time I heard a difference. I only heard a difference at the extremes, running reference level on music and movies that have very complex passages and very deep bass. The sound seemed tighter and better defined as if there was more control by the amplifier over the speaker. At normal volumes not much difference was heard. Then I used the custom power cords I made. WOW, there was not any difference between them and the stock cords! Fancy that. 2 weeks later I had a chance to buy an EQUI=TECH 2000 VA BPT transformer. I bought it and installed it this weekend. It made a pronounced difference. The system is quieter, the noise floor has gone down. The bass seems tighter and punchier. I am hearing some extreme high frequencies on music that I did not hear before. This change occurs at all levels of sound from normal listenng levels to reference level.

In the end the BPT made the most difference, the dedicated circuits helped, and the power cords, umm, no thanks. I would still like to try some better "high end" power cords if I could audition it for a while but I am not sure that power cord manufacturers like to give you the option to give back their expensive little cords. (They might go out of business :bigsmile: ). I do not think my equipment is "Audiophile $100,000.00 reference quality equipment but it is very good common sense quality gear. I would wholeheartedly recommend looking into a BPT if your system is at a point where it is very satisfactory but you are looking to tighten it up and get some more performance out of it for relatively little cost. The fact that I know how to do AC house wiring and transformer sub panels has saved a lot of money. I have no idea what it would cost for an electrician to come in and do the work for you. So that is something to factor into your thinking about this. BPT units are also available off the shelf as stand alone units like any other piece of equipment too.
 

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It may just be the huge high-qualiy toroidal transformer, rather than the fact it is balanced, that had the most benefit. Secrets' measurements of the impact of balanced power indicated an improvement but one which I think would be inconsequential because of the dB levels involved. My opinion on that though. I tried a balanced power conditioner myself, and didn't find it to be worth it although subjectively I thought there were miniscule improvements (maybe fooling myself).

However, a huge high-quality toroidal transformer would be resulting in a much cleaner signal going into your components than what the smaller transformers inside your components can generate. I think the benefit would be there regardless of whether or not the power was balanced or not.

Anyway, I think the things I've said are correct. I'm not 100% sure.
 
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