Do Power cords make a difference to a hi-fi systems performance


Sep 19, 2006
Do Power cords make a difference to a hi-fi systems performance

According to markl of forums...

--Yes, they make a difference. This difference is on par with (and can be slightly greater than) the differences aftermarket interconnects (ICs) can make. If you can’t hear the differences between ICs, it is doubtful you will hear the differences between power cords either.

-- I suspect that the reason power cords seem to effect the sound more than ICs is due to the fact that they appear to actually impact the way the component produces the sound, where ICs only affect the way they pass the existing signal on to the next component. Therefore power cables can influence the sound in a more fundamental way.

--They require more break-in than ICs, and break-in effects are much more dramatic than with ICs. Try not to rush to judgment.

--It’s even harder to find a good power cord than IC. There is greater variability in the sound and performance of cords than ICs.

--Many power cords giveth and then taketh away. They offer substantial gains in some areas, but can take away from key ingredients elsewhere. Or, short of actually harming the sound, they can fall short on some parameters relative to the tantalizing enhancements they provide in other areas. This effect appears to be a factor regardless of price.

--Power cords are even more component-dependent than interconnects. A power cord that does not show good compatibility with one component, may really shine with another.

In What Ways Do They Affect Component/System Sound?
The answer is, “it depends”. Much like with interconnects, it varies from model to model and component to component. If I had to generalize, I would say, *typical* effects of adding a high-quality power cord are:

--More substantial sound, more “fleshed-out”, greater body and firmness

--Improved cleanliness of the signal, which equals less grain, improved clarity, and resolution

--Improved soundstaging, greater sense of air

--Greater sense of “ease” to the sound

--Greater sense of energy and power, greater dynamics

--Lower noise floor, letting you hear into the recording even more

That said, effects of power cords are not limited to these bullet points, nor does every cord successfully improve those specific areas.

I’m A Skeptic, Prove to Me That Power Cords Work!
I didn’t believe in them either, until I tried one on a lark a few years ago. It had a 30-day no-hassle return policy-- I didn’t return it, and haven’t looked back since. Yeah, I know there’s all that non-audiophile-grade cabling in your walls preceding your fancy new power cord. And then from your walls back to the power plant are miles more.

But instead of thinking of it as being the *last* 6 feet of cabling, it can be thought of as the *first* 6 feet. It may be more useful to think of it not in terms of *improving* your system’s performance but in terms of *removing the harm* caused it by stock power cabling. It is also possible that the superior power cords act as a sort of “conditioner” on the power line, conditioning the electricity before it enters your component. Generally, fancy power cords also have superior shielding for rejecting EMI/RFI “pollution”, providing a cleaner transmission of electricity to your gear.

My overall experience with power conditioners and especially with power cables has opened my eyes to the importance of having a good, clean power supply to feed your audio gear, it’s truly the “life-blood” of your system, and the effects of correcting shortcomings in the power feeding your gear is not small.

If that’s not good enough explanation for you and you have problems with the concept that power cables can effect system performance, do yourself (and me) a favor—just stop reading! This thread is not for you, and debate about their efficacy will not be part of this review or this thread.

Or, you can try one for yourself and see.

How Much Should I Spend On Power Cords?
A power cord is not a “band-aid” on a bad component. IMO, it should not be used in the hopes of magically transforming an “unacceptable” component to an “amazing” one; if you have that expectation, you will be disappointed. Putting a fancy power cord on a component that doesn’t already ring your bells is throwing good money after bad. Use your power cable budget and put it toward a better component.

Does it make sense to stick a $500 power cord on a $150 DAC, CD player, or headamp? I don’t think so. Common sense would tell you you’re better off with a well-chosen $650 DAC/CDP/amp with a stock power cord. A more interesting question is, “is it worth it to put any aftermarket power cable on a budget component of any kind”? I’m not convinced it is. Chances are that component is going to have a very cheap internal power supply; it will be noisy and flimsy with low build quality. To what extent can adding a power cord change that fact? You can feed it lots of clean power, but then it just runs smack into that unit’s potentially inadequate internal power supply anyway. It may just defeat the whole purpose.

I would argue that expensive aftermarket cords require components with at least mid-fi level or better internal power supplies. My conjecture is that bigger and better-built power supplies will benefit more from adding aftermarket power cords, or at least have the potential for more upside. (Or, maybe more accurately, with an audiophile-grade cord, they will suffer less degradation of performance than they do from their stock cords). YMMV.

OK, OK, so how much should I budget for power cords already? Well, it’s complicated. IME, aftermarket cables are a lot like headamps—they really don’t start getting good until the $250 mark and above. The lower-end stuff just taunts you by first opening your eyes to the possibilities, and then only delivering a partial down payment on what you can now picture so clearly in your mind. This may only succeed in whetting your appetite for something better (and more expensive). The lower-end stuff may not always add enough value to make it worth while to bother with, or, in many cases, they can do several things right, but fall short in enough areas that they will only succeed in frustrating you. Having glimpsed the Promised Land, you will want a cord that takes you all the way there, and that costs money. Sad to say.

And if you start investing lots of money in aftermarket power cords, you really ought to have gear worthy of them. Or else you end up back where we started this discussion--with a $500 power cord on a $150 component.

Like ICs, power cords have different “flavors” or sonic signatures. It may be that in terms of performance, you concede that two particular cords are roughly equal, but you happen to prefer the “flavor” of the one that costs $100 more, it’s just more compatible with your gear, gives you greater pleasure. So, is that difference in flavor and compatibility worth the extra $100? Obviously, that’s up to the individual to decide.

So, long story longer, getting into the power cord game is opening a huge can of worms. Believe me. Personally, I HATE breaking in cables, and I’ve been through so many in the last 5 months, it’s practically depressing. Be prepared to not find the “perfect” power cord on the first try. Or the second. Or the third… Still up for it?

Where Should I Put My Best Power Cord?
Put it on your source. It all flows downstream, to the extent you can improve the performance of your source, you can improve the performance the rest of the signal chain.

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Thanks for the revealing write up Neal! Can anyone guide or recommend me to a good power cable in the Rs. 5000.00 range that would make a difference to my humble system source??
I have found no difference in sound from trying out more than 20 different budget power cables.
While I've found stark difference between just 2 IC.

I imagine unless one spends atleast inr 5k or usd 100 on a decent power cable, the difference will not be prominent.
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Sure. If one ned is terminated in an IEC connector all you do is to take care of the plug end. I have many power cords from the US-some still retain the US plug but go into a power strip that can handle them.

>Can we use power cords bought from United States with cheers
Is there an online store in India (chennai), where I can buy a good extension power cord, to connect my belkin spike buster?
I remain at worst sceptical, and at best, agnostic about power cords, but still, sometimes an idea challenges the thinking, and one that did so for me recently was another of those things found via hifivision: that, from the device's point of view, the cord is not the last metre in many messy km, but the first.

I'm firm believer, though, in plugs and sockets having high enough rating (stops your house from burning down!), and that plugs and sockets have good area of contact and physical grip. It may help to keep those plug prongs clean too.
To me supra power cord lorad 2.5 brought out significant improvements over the stock power cord of bryston.
Supra power cord are very good and value for money. 1.5 mt length with supra connectors , one can get for 8/9 k. one meter for app 5/6 k
This thread was created in March 2007. It went for 10k+ views with 2 replies. Now in one day we have another 8 replies. What are the odds of this OLD thread going past 1000 replies? :p
To me there was no difference in power cords initially. Later when I got a good power conditioner and the changed the power cords between the power conditioner and my equipment, the quality was improved.

In my opinion, there is no use if the power supply till your plug point is already degraded. If however there is a good source of power (completely battery based, servo with a conditioner or something similar) then upgrading the power cord does make a difference.
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