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A journey in the world of power cords...

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murali

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This is to share with those who believe in after-market power cords for their source equipment and amplifiers, and not to enter into a debate whether power cords make a difference in performance or not (I belong to the former group), and those who have at least entry-level equipment into high-end (don't spend money with budget equipment) and willing to spend for good quality power cords.....
For digital equipment like CD and DVD players, one of the best performers and real value for money, try the XLO Reference 2 Type 10 power cords. These are now mostly available for $100-150 in used market but are excellent. I used it in my Arcam CD player with great result but have now shifted it to DVD player with a better power cord in CD player. That is Tel Wire power cord (telwire.net). Chris' cables are extraordinary performers though a bit on the costlier side (nearly $600) mainly because they come with very high purity copper wires and perhaps the best connectors in the world today, the Oyaide beryllium-copper IEC and male plugs. Believe me, these have established in audiophile circles as one of the best.
An intermediate solution here is Chris ven Haus' power cords (vhaudio.com). I have bought several of his Flavor series power cords which are all very good and reasonably priced. You can configure your own connectors while buying and the prices can vary from about $150 to $400. They have established well in audiophile circles and I use their Flavor-4 cords in my preamp and power amps. I would love to try their Airsine power cord in amplifiers as it has one of the highest reputations and am mobilising my funds towards that in the future.
Van den Hul's The Mainstream power cords are also excellent cables and I found them the best (compared to Flavor-4) in my Rel subwoofers. Here, beware of fakes as The Mainstream fakes flooded the market a few years back and created a lot of confusion. Better buy from an authorised dealer. The latest news I heard is that Oyaide plugs are also now faked and one has to be careful in such situations and try to stick to reputed cable suppliers.
One final point. You will not get any of the above cables with our standard Indian type plugs and I believe the quality of plugs is equally important as the wires. So standardise all your wall sockets and plugs to either US NEMA type or UK type or European Schuko type or others. I have standardised to European Schuko type and use Furutech (another great company making excellent plugs like Oyaide) and Oyaide wall sockets and plugs throughout my system.
Trust someone finds these interesting.
Thank you and good luck in your quest for better and better sound.
> murali
 

marsilians

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OK Murali

You have expertly predicted that there could potentially be a lot of givers and takers on thsi topic. I belong to the opposite side and to keep the conversation interesting, here is article from a sr. engineer at Bryston (a high end, high quality component manufacturer). Roger Russell wrote this article and some of you may realize that he is a very respected and expert authority on the components world.

Bryston Limited - Music For A Generation


To quote Roger "
In sum, it is certainly possible for a six-foot power cord to have an affect on the sound. It is not possible, unfortunately, for this change to be an improvement, at least in connection with Bryston products. "

If Bryston with its quality construction did not see an improvement, it will be a long haul for other components. I base this comment on being a former Bryston owner as well as confidence on a company that gives 20 yrs transferable warranty on their products.

The closest analogy I can state is "if you use an after market power chord for your table lamp, will the light shine better?"
 

odyssey

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Bryston has also not recommended Power conditioners in the past and they have recently done a roundabout and in fact they now sell their own PCs !!

The proof is in the listening for yourself and if you cant find a difference in your setup, good for you :) you wouldnt need to spend more money ;)

cheers
 

prem

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I belong to the camp which finds that power cords make a difference. Whereas Murali mixes and matches his power cords, i do not like to do that. I find that each designer incorporates his sound into his power cords. Hence i prefer to stick to the house sound of the designer. I have had an all JPS, all Shunyata, all Absolute, all Black Sand power cord in my system. JPS and Shunyata have specialised cords for components. System matching is very crucial. For example Absolute power cord costs only $ 50 but it works only on high end equipment. It does not cut ice with low and mid end stuff. They are the most neutral of all power cords i have ever used.

Presently all my power cords are Lessloss. With the Lessloss, i have done away with the power conditioner.

Ditto for outlets. They make a difference. I started with the Hubbell 5362, then to the Oyaide XXX and then to Oyaide R1. Now i have settled for the Oyaide GX. The best bang for the buck is the Hubbell 5362. Extremely musical and relaxed. The Oyaide XXX is very neutral, bordering on dryness. The R1 is very nice with no apparent flaws but i found the Oyaide GX harmonically richer.

My experience has shown it is very important to try power cords and receptacles in your system to see what you like.
 

murali

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OK Murali

You have expertly predicted that there could potentially be a lot of givers and takers on thsi topic. I belong to the opposite side and to keep the conversation interesting, here is article from a sr. engineer at Bryston (a high end, high quality component manufacturer). Roger Russell wrote this article and some of you may realize that he is a very respected and expert authority on the components world.

Bryston Limited - Music For A Generation


To quote Roger "
In sum, it is certainly possible for a six-foot power cord to have an affect on the sound. It is not possible, unfortunately, for this change to be an improvement, at least in connection with Bryston products. "

If Bryston with its quality construction did not see an improvement, it will be a long haul for other components. I base this comment on being a former Bryston owner as well as confidence on a company that gives 20 yrs transferable warranty on their products.

The closest analogy I can state is "if you use an after market power chord for your table lamp, will the light shine better?"

I have said in the beginning of my post that I am not going to enter into a debate about need for after-market power cords.
Talking of Bryston, there are still some true audiophiles who do not consider Bryston a real high-end equipment as far as high fidelity is concerned. This could be controversial but true. A 20-year guarantee does not mean performance but reliability, please note. It doesn't mean Levinson, Krell, Ayre, Theta etc make unreliable equipment though they do not warranty 20 years!

> murali
 

marsilians

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I have always recommend a power conditioner. It will be interesting to read about Bryston's change of direction.

Its the power cords that I have saved money over.
BTW, I have tried Audio Quest, Shunyata and did not see any perceptible difference. Thats not saying for others to open up their bank accounts?
 

prem

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Hi Marsilians

To answer your question how the last 6ft can make difference, pl understand that these power cords alter the way power is delivered to your component. They try and reduce RFI and other hash. Each power cord by the way it is designed can bring about changes to the sound. Either it could be the shielding, or the connectors or the wire material or the way the strands are configured. They bring about improvement by reducing ill effects of the power supplied to your house. Put differently you could call them power conditioners in their own right. I look at power cords and interconnects as tonal controls.
 

marsilians

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I understand your points though do not necessarily agree with them as instrumentation tests that go beyond the realm of human sense organs have not shown a difference with and without.

I would take that fact over a manufacturers claims without sufficient data. I am just being realistic here.
 

dinyaar

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Hi Guys,
Odyssey is correct. Bryston is changing is more ways then one. Now they sell the Torus power conditioner and claim it really makes a difference!!!
Dont know if its high end(probably not) but i have a bryston BP 6/ 4 BSST combo and its very neutral and open sounding. All new bryston are revamped very recently and though proudly SS its much smoother than the earlier ST & SST series amps. I own a ten year old 4BST too which is a harder and clinical sound. True a 20 year warranty does not mean "high end" it just means peace of mind.

Have experimented with power cords too. It does ALTER the sound. Effect is most pronounced in the CDP and least(none) in the power amp. HAve tried Transparent,PS audio, Shunyata, Supra Lo Rad, The VDH mainserver, and the Kimbers. Each of them bring something but i really dont know if its drifting from neutral. In my set up some of these power cords made the set up gain some 'weight'. Did not find more detail or depth though. It also has a lot to do with the quality of power one is getting in the first place i guess.

I would not go as far as saying they are like tone controls as Prem says. Maybe there is a more pronounced effect in his set up. BAsically a well specified lead + good connectors should be good enough for most. Also the cost/performance factor.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject Murli. This topic like biwiring will have valid arguments on both sides.

Regards
 
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prem

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Hi Dinyaar

When i said tone controls i did not mean the coneventional bass and treble controls. What i meant was a richer tone versus lean sounding. With power cords and interconnects you could easily alter the richness of tone. Obviously they do it at the expense of something else, like for example, details.
 

Shuvc

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Some audio components have the power wire running directly into the chassis. How are the cords changed in such cases? One needs to open up the cover ?
 

dinyaar

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Some audio components have the power wire running directly into the chassis. How are the cords changed in such cases? One needs to open up the cover ?

YES one has to open the cover. What u are referring to is a captive lead and u should only get a decent electronics guy to replace after the WARRANTY PERIOD is over.

A friend of mine did this to a Nad 521 cdp. Replaced it with the much acclaimed VDH power cord and was dissapointed with the miniscule improvement(if any)

The cdp cost about 20K and the upgrade about 10K so if he had bought the 542 in the first place he would have been smarter!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and would have saved 2/3 K
 

arj

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A friend of mine did this to a Nad 521 cdp. Replaced it with the much acclaimed VDH power cord and was disappointing with the minuscule improvement(if any)

The cdp cost about 20K and the upgrade about 10K so if he had bought the 542 in the first place he would have been smarter!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and would have saved 2/3 K

I think it would have bee surprising if he did see a result :) a PC can bring about changes..but nothing dramatic !
your point ion the 542 is spot on
BTW the NAD 521 has certain design inefficiencies anyway which were improved by the BEE version
 

murali

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Let me mention here my own personal real life experiences with the world of power cords (and other accessories like stands and racks, interconnects, speaker cables, footers etc) rather than theorising and arguing:
The three attributes I have experienced noticeable changes with such accessories are resolution, transparency and soundstage. Other attributes like warm/neutral sounding, presence etc etc are more subjective with the perception varying from one listener to another. Also, let me reiterate that as had been stressed in some of my other posts, the basic signal starts with the source (CD) itself and even if we assume that the (CD) player reproduces precisely what is in the track, the components down the chain CAN NEVER improve this signal. All they can do as well as the accessories are to take out the smears and "impurities" from the source signal and get it to the speakers as clean as possible. If we understand and agree on this, then it is easier to proceed further.
By resolution, low-level details should start coming out which were not heard earlier when you try an accessory like a power cord or even a $10 set of footers. There are several sounds constituting the music and the more you start hearing, the better your accessory is doing. Transparency is like lifting veils out of the music, more acoustic space among instruments, breathing and more air among instruments and vocals etc etc. If the accessory gets rid of the muddles affecting transparency, keep it. Finally the soundstage. The better the accessory, the wider and deeper your soundstage becomes. The best example is the drum kit which is usually located at the back of the orchestra and even if the kick drum sounds a little feeble (not too loud) but appear to come from the space meant for it, you are doing fine.
When I tried all the accessories and keep many of them, I had gone through all this and can vouch that every accessory I decided to keep showed me some contribution in one or more of the above attributes. I am not a mathematical genius capable of quantifying the improvements in percentages but humble enough to acknowledge the contributions and live happily with them.
A final word. Just because an accessory does not show an improvement in the above lines, it does not mean it is bad, in several instances, the system itself is not resolving enough and it is better to identify and change the component(s) instead of wasting money on accessories. I have come across many who try to drive a state-of-the-art DAC like Reimyo or Theta or Audio Note with a cheap budget transport or player which is basically wrong. The transport does matter a lot. Most transports and players use Sony or Philips and some Pioneer whereas the best are made by companies like Theta, Teac/Esoteric. In fact the older Wadia players had Teac transports which were exemplary but unfortunately the latter does not supply any more to others. My Ayre player uses Pioneer and Mr. Hansen, its chief designer cum owner, has opened stated that he would love to improve his player with a Teac/Esoteric transport if made available.
The other thing is try to listen to a Western classical (from a good recording company) with a huge orchestra when you demo, where there are hundreds of instruments and singers laid out front to back and side to side. Resolution, transparency and soundstage will be best demonstrated here. You could demarcate front to back lines of string instruments, wind instruments, etc etc. If you hear the percussion instruments from more than 10-15 ft behind your speakers and violins and double bass from at least 5-10 ft outside the speakers' width, you have got a wonderful system, no doubt. Your room walls will just disappear.
Just sharing my experiences.
Thanks for your patience.

> murali
 

prem

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I have found resonance control to improve resolution and transparency more than power cords. I think it is important to control resonance first because then you are getting the best out of your equipment. Once you have achieved that you can begin to experiment with power cords.
 

SKR

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After going thru the thread i feel I agree with views of Murali. I also agree that many people do not think Bryston to be really Hi-End audio of highest level. I have owned Bryston 7B monoblocks driving magnepans. But i really never enjoyed them and sold them just after a year or so. But i am not sure about new Bryston models which seems to be really good.
Coming to power cords and conditioners I agree they make difference generally for good depending on what u are using. My thinking is as below.

1. There is no point wasiting money on power cords etc on entry level
products. I don't thing changing cord of NAD will make any difference
There is a upper limit of every product.
2.Power management is a very complex issue and one has to try before
buying. the problem is it is difficult to get a demo on your system.
3.I am also using Tsunami power cord from Oyaide which are good. I did try
the expensive Oyaide cord which Murali is talking about. But i found if i was
using one Tsunsmi along with expensive one the improvements were
neutralised. Using only the expensive one alone gave definitely better
results. Fortunately here in Thailand we can borrow if dealer is good.
4.So mixing various types of cord in a system can give mixed results.
5.Unless your system is really hi-end i will not recommend to invest a lot
on power management.But some investment is needed.
5.for basic to mid-fi system first thing one can do is to change wall
socket as Murali has recommended to PS Audio, Hubbel or Oyaide.Also
cables will have to have American plugs as indian plugs are useless.
6.Next step could be to change the cables.The one coming to my mind is Kimber PK-10 with wattgate or hubbel or Leviton plugs. Also the one Prem has recommended is good. I am forgetting the name.Don't try expensive ones right away unless your system is very hi-end.
7.It is said the grounding of equipment is also very important. Generally all our equipments are grounded. But some experts recommend only one equipment in the entire chain should be grounded not all. This reduces chances of ground loop. Perhaps an electrical engineer can better understand this. I am a non technical person --finance background. Some power conditioners take care of this by isolating each input plug.

My personal view is that power management is very important and can make big difference in a really good high end system.BUT IT IS REALLY A BIG HEADACHE ALSO. there are so many brands available in the market and someone is there to recommend every brand available so big confusion.

I think it is a shame that after buying such expensive equipment we have to keep looking for tweeks for improvements. What good is an amplifier costing say $5k if we need to buy after market power cord to improve its sound. WHY CAN'T MANUFACTURER SUPPLY A DECENT POWER CORD AND BUILT IN POWER MANAGEMENT, AND SAY HIS AMP DOES NOT NEED ANY TWEEK. For this reason I appreciate RED WINE audio amps which run on batteries and does not need good power cable or conditioner. But it is 30 watts only.Power limitation so cannot drive every speaker.
But yes we definitely need to take care of power supply which we are getting from our electricity boards and need protection and power conditioning,better power wall outlet and may be decent power cable in case manufacturer does not supply one.
I appreciate Murali's description of improvements in resolution, transparency and soundstage by using better power cables and power conditioners. He has described so well and educate many of us.Thanks
Also prem's views on various options is a learning experience.
 

prem

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SKR, i completely agree with you on the Red Wine Sig 30.2. Absolutely amazing. Mates perfectly with my Rethm Saadhanas. No other amp, including a few SETs, i have used with the Rethms comes close to the 30.2.

However in my experience it needs a great front end. I experimented with a few front ends. Sounds magical when hooked to the Esoteric but falls apart with lesser front ends.

As far as power management goes i completely agree with you. Its worth investing only if you already have high end equipment.

For most users i would recommend buying DH Labs power cable in bulk and terminating with Wattgates. You will end up with a more than decent powercord for about Rs 2500. The DH Labs power cord does almost everything very well and is a good allrounder.
 

arj

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Power is actually very interesting since it varies as per system, location (power fluctuation and load) and time (Night times usually least fatiguing). I guess figuring out the exact requirement for onself take a lot if resources in terms of Time and money.

In my experience too power can make a huge difference. especially for me it has been in the transport and in the amplifier. I guess digital equipment can get wonders out of a pure sinewave input..while poweramps need a lot of Dynamic capacity. i found my cnditioner to make a great impact..i believe that was primarily because it isolate each equipment socket from the other..

Prem, I do use DH labs with Wattgates for my Dac and my power conditioner and find them pretty good. they came very well recommended.

I echo Muralis comments on the need for a good transport. reading a cd and conversion to digital and then into analogue is a much more complicated process than one imagines it to be and without a good combination of Isolation, vibration control, clock quality in a transport one can really lose the authenticity of the original signal. IMHO it is not just the soundstage but also the richness of the music which can be affected.
 
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arj

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I have found resonance control to improve resolution and transparency more than power cords. I think it is important to control resonance first because then you are getting the best out of your equipment. Once you have achieved that you can begin to experiment with power cords.


completely agree. Managing Vibration control and acoustics bring about the maximum improvement and only after getting these right does it make sense to get into power of course as long as the basic hygene factors in power are still maintined (like keeping the signal cables and power cable separate and if they have to meet they meet at right angles !)
 

marsilians

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Guys,

you are going off a bit re: Bryston. To clarify, in my quote re: Bryston,

I didn't call them as high end? I have alluded to quality and realiability. Which other manufacturer provides a 20 yr warranty?

They are very widely used amongst serious listeners. Are there other brands that compete, yes but the numbers are not that many.

This is also the reason I moved from a Bryston setup to SimAudio and then to Cary and Parasound Halo since I felt they got way more soundstage effects out. But that does not discount Bryston one bit.

Emotiva is a relative new comer and is trying to get there but they have their share of growing up problems. They need to mature a bit more since there are too many support issues with their line just yet.
They offer high end quality at low end prices but I would wait few years as I have tried first hand with their products and was put off by the high sensitive design causing lots of protection faults being raised in the 2 weeks I had them.
 
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