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about power cords  

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Nezer

One thing I don't have is an 'audiophile' power cable (really, I want to hear what Ricky has to say about this). I do have some
...
In my opinion, audiophile power cords are even more absurd that cables, mainly for two reasons:

- The power cable has gone through tenths of meters of plain electrical wire, before the power cord, so the only effect it could have is to filter some interferences in the power line. For that, it would need some kind of inductive element on it, I guess some of them have ferrite cores that could work in that way. A shielded power cable is absurd, because has gone unshielded for tenths of meters before the power cord.

- Even if the power cord has inductive elements to filter high frequency interference, any non crappy power supply at the end of the power cord will filter all interferences, in a much more effective manner that a few inductive elements at the power cord.

Again, it's just placebo effect, and in this case, it can't be another thing but placebo effect. Power cords have no real effect at all.
post #2 of 45
Ever tried it yourself?
post #3 of 45
Well if nothing else, he just keeps coming back for more....

Based on actual listening that I've done with my actual ears, I now *know* with 100% meta-physical certitude that aftermarket power cords do indeed improve the sound of the component to which they are attached-- substantially. At least the Virtual Dynamics products I tried had this positive effect, can't speak to any other brands as I haven't tried any others.

What's more, again based on what I've heard, I now believe that power cables make an even *greater* improvement than fancy ICs. That should really irritate you.

I was skeptical too. See the Virtual Dynamics thread to see my conversion from power cord non-believer to evangelist. I said to myself all the same things you've said above. How is it possible that the last 5 ft of cables can make a difference? Well, as it turns out, it does. A BIG one.

How does it work? Why does it work? I don't know. But my ears don't lie, I trust them.

markl
post #4 of 45
Thread Starter 
The working mechanism should be "by magic".

Just placebo effect, no more, sorry.
post #5 of 45
markl, I to was skeptical about the effects of a power cord as were you but your progression through the VD thread has had me thinking otherwise. Though I am still skeptical of a product with both male and female parts that has the initials VD, but that's just the product not the principle.

I still maintain it's one of the last things to upgrade in a system. Would you agree and to keep it in check with the rest of the systems. Certainly, as a rule of thumb I would have to say don't spend more on the power cable than your interconnects as more might be gained from upgrading them instead. Any arguments here?
post #6 of 45
I had every reason to want the power cord to make no difference at all. It would have saved me what turned out to be *a lot* of money. Placebo effect had nothing to do with it.

Still, best money I've ever spent on audio in terms of my own personal satisfaction with the results.

Just so we know who we're dealing with, are you also one of those cranks that says "all CD players sound the same"? Where do you stand on tube-rolling-- is that all in everyone's head or can better tubes improve the sound? How about the new formats SACD and DVD-A? Are the obvious audible advantages of the new formats all in people's heads too?

In your book, what *does* make a difference? Why not hook up a tin can and a piece of string for your "critical listening".


markl
post #7 of 45
So do you think that the power cable upgrades are more critical than IC upgrades?

I can't believe my troll-bait worked in the other thread. I'm a troll fisherman! ;-)
post #8 of 45
Quote:
I still maintain it's one of the last things to upgrade in a system. Would you agree and to keep it in check with the rest of the systems. Certainly, as a rule of thumb I would have to say don't spend more on the power cable than your interconnects as more might be gained from upgrading them instead. Any arguments here?
To answer this, I'll re-post what I wrote in the original VD thread:

Quote:
1. Someone else said it best when they advised that power cords should be one of the last tweaks in a system you already love. The idea is to add that extra layer of icing on the cake, not to "transform" from a Bose into a Nautilus.

2. It makes little sense to attach a fancy powercord to a low-cost, mass-produced component that has many cost/performance compromises. Although I'm no electrical engineer, it seem obvious to me that adding "clean power" to "dirty" "noisy" or "cheap" components will do little to erradicate the nasties in the system.
My components, a Melos Maestro and a heavily-modified Sony SCD-333ES each have very tricked-out, beefy, well-engineered and thoughtfully constructed power supplies. No, they're not cost no object designs, but they're plenty good, good enough to really allow a good power cable to shine. In fact, the Sony also has Bybee filters at the AC Mains to further reduce distortion in power supply. These components also have higher quality parts in the signal path, components that reject "nasties" and let a clean signal pass.
OK, bottom line, think about your component. Even if it has a removable IC, how good are the parts in there? Good enough to let a POWER CABLE make them sing? If you have your doubts, money should be spent upgrading that component before you swap its power cable!

3. Your Headphone Listening Style (http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showt...listening+style ), will also determine the degree to which you will notice the power cord's effects. Affects like these are best appreciated by people who close their eyes and focus solely on the music. That said, I still think that the astonishing level of change I've experienced in my system would be readily obvious to even a casual listen.

4. Power conditioners are good. Monster makes some effective and low-cost solutions. I've recently scaled back from an HTS5000 to the new HTS1100 in anticipation of getting these cables. Again, VD reco'd sticking them straight into the wall. Well, the 1100 has fewer stages of filtartation than the HTS5000 yet it still has the surge protection. So, long story short, these results were obtained with the cables plugged into the conditioner, despite a reco that they go straight to the wall for maximum effect.

In my history of "tweaks", I would rank the degree of change wrought by the Power 3 in my system thusly:

1. Power 3
2. Getting my Modwright mods for my SCD-333ES (that's a BIG difference)
3. Upgrading to fancy interconnects
4. Swapping tubes
5. Adding a power conditioner
6. Vibrapods (very little, if any noticeable effect)

However, it should be noted that without that existing foundation of tweaks, the Power 3 would not have had as dramatic and noticeable impact, so it's sort of an arbitrary ranking in a way.
Since that post I upgraded my power 3's to Signature Cryos which are fabulous, thank you very much.

As for how much one should spend on Power cables vs. ICs, given the fundamentally larger effects of adding the VD power cords, I would advise spendfing at least as much on the power cord as you would on ICs.

But again, you wouldn't add a $1000 cable from your portable mp3 player to your Altoids amp, nor should you over-spend on power cables.

markl
post #9 of 45
I trust the folks who say after market power cords improve the sound quality but i would like to have it explained in detail what sound quality improvments were noted...ie improved dynamics or wider sound stage, lower and or higher freq extention?
post #10 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by markl
But my ears don't lie, I trust them.

markl
The fact that you trust them has nothing to do with the fact that they may not be trustable, sorry. Is just that you like to think they are trustable, but it has nothing to do with if they are really trustable or not.

Seems that you all like to rely exclusively on your ear/brain combination. That's not very scientific. But then comes again the "no science, please, we're audiophiles" thing.

Placebo effect is not controllable, nobody can get rid of it just by thinking he can control it, nobody can say he's not prone to it. Placebo effect appears unconscioulsy too.

So, I keep shouting: placebo, placebo, and nothing more than placebo!!
post #11 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Nezer
I can't believe my troll-bait worked in the other thread. I'm a troll fisherman! ;-)
What makes you think so??? Just because you called me idiot doesn't mean you have any point against me. It's very easy to call idiot to another person, but that means nothing, I'd say that it tells more about you than about me.
post #12 of 45
Quote:
Originally posted by Ricky
So, I keep shouting: placebo, placebo, placebo!!
Okay, Ricky, you have made very clear over 60+ posts that you think those who buy expensive interconnects and power cables are saps.

You came into the community in the first place to essentially poke fun at my Cardas Neutral Reference review, which is fine by me (I know anything posted publically is subject to debate, and I've got pretty thick skin).

But it'd sure be nice if you'd also, say, discuss some other things here once in a while -- here are some nice threads, for example:

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showth...threadid=13324

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showth...threadid=13268

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showth...threadid=13304

You can continue with your anti-audiophile-cable shtick -- nobody's stopping you. But it would be nice if you'd maybe discuss some other topics too.

I have no idea what kind of rig you listen to (maybe I missed a post in which you've described the kind of eqiupment you have). I have no idea what kind of music you listen to (again, I may have missed a post in which you've stated something related to this).

Of course, you're not obligated to discuss other things, but it'd be nice.
post #13 of 45
Thread Starter 
Jude, you look like a much nicer guy (I'm not being sarcastic at all) than many of the other people that try to rebate my opinions at this forums.

I believe I somehow apologized for my non very polite way of starting the original "about cables" thread. Note that it was not your review, but George Cardas pseudo scienfic comments and lies what upset me and made me think of starting that thread.

Initially, I had no intention of talking about power cords, I didn't even read power cord threads. But I read one, and another poster made mention of me, and said that he would be interested in what I think about the issue, so I gave it a try.

Sorry if sometimes I get too "explicit" and non-polite in my way of expressing what I think, but I think many other people get much more "explicit" and non-polite that me.

I have no interest in continuing this thread, I have expressed my opinions quite clearly, I think anybody knows what I think and how I would rebate other's opinions over the subject of this thread.

I have to add, about discussing about other types of audio equipment, I'm sure that would start more flame wars here, and I'm not interested in that at the moment.
post #14 of 45
markl, where are you located?

There are a few tweaks I still want to make to my Corda before going the power cord route. What power cord should I try first seeing how I'd like to keep it on the cheap (in case I don't hear any difference) and would retain a decent resale value should I decide to go back to cheap cables?

By the time I'm ready to do this the cheap VD will likely be up to $100.

I'm stuck with my sources for a while but I'm in the market for some higher-end stuff. In the meantime, when I'm done with my corda mods here is what my modded system will look like:

Upgraded power caps to Cerafines (2x1000uf, 2x2200uf)
Swap first stage LM6171s with OPA637s (decrease current draw resistor as well to keep the 637 cool)
Outlaw ICs
Cardas cable for HD600s

Although I havent updated my profile yet, I recently hooked my Tascam US428 to the laptop and using it as a DAC. It's actually pretty-good; on-par with the Toshiba SD2109. Plus I have all my music online (in varying formats, MP3 and APE).


PS, Jude, yell at me. Though you do make some good points (it would be nice if Ricky would post in other forums on other subjects) I did, after all, instigated this thread. I'll refrain form instigating another.
post #15 of 45
Quote:
Originally posted by Ricky


The fact that you trust them has nothing to do with the fact that they may not be trustable, sorry. Is just that you like to think they are trustable, but it has nothing to do with if they are really trustable or not.

Seems that you all like to rely exclusively on your ear/brain combination. That's not very scientific. But then comes again the "no science, please, we're audiophiles" thing.

Placebo effect is not controllable, nobody can get rid of it just by thinking he can control it, nobody can say he's not prone to it. Placebo effect appears unconscioulsy too.

So, I keep shouting: placebo, placebo, and nothing more than placebo!!
The psychology of perception is a science too.

For you to shout placebo is as absurd as anything else you've written, if not more so. I don't write about electrical effects of cables, as I'm not an electrical engineer. I write about differences that I hear, as I am the world's top expert on what my particular set of ears is sensitive to.

However, I'm a psychologist who works in toxicology, and DO know a bit about placebo effects. You can shout it all you want, but what we're talking about isn't it. In a narrow sense, placebo effects come out of drug testing, where a drug with no pharmacological activity is used as a control against the test drug of interest. This is necessary, because some therapeutic effects, particularly of drugs that are psychoactive, may not be due to the drug at all, but due to the patient's a priori expectation of a drug to have a particular effect. Here's the kicker...in the absence of a priori expection, there is no such thing as a placebo. Further, if the effects of a placebo are not those that are expected by the patient, that's not a placebo either.

In a broader sense, you can consider two types of processing that are involved in the perception of any stimulus. One type is can be called "bottom-up" processing. That is what we go through looking at the effects of a stimulus from the sensory receptor through the nervous system to the brain. However, this is complemented by what we can call "top-down" processing, which is the effect of the brain on our perception of a stimulus. We do not perceive stimuli veridically, as there are a set of shortcuts which differentially affect perception. C n ou re d th s s nte ce? How, since there are no complete words? Your brain is filling in the blanks...as it does with non-verbal aspects of stimuli as well. This type of processing is not controllable. Your brain will do this to any sensory input. However, that does not mean that it cannot be recognized when it occurs.

However, not all of these sensory shortcuts are hardwired. Some are due to expectation...those very effects that really are placebo effects. These effects, unlike those that are built into sensory systems are not necessarily permanent. To put it simply, expectations change over time. Since they are the critical element in this type of effect, once expectations change, so does the perception. A good listener will use a variety of ways of listening to a cable, or any other component. Over time, some aspects of the perception of the stimulus will change, even in the same system, while others remain constant. The key is exposure to a variety of different configurations over time, while returning to the base configuration at intervals. Those sonic aspects in the base system that remain unchanged are not due to expectation. Those that were driven by expectation will be malleable. You don't have to control your expectations. They change naturally over time. That's one reason why a good reviewer listens for a long period of time before reaching conclusions.

Exposure to stimuli in a variety of situations produces learning, in particular perceptual discriminatory learning, which both alters expectations and increases the ability of the listener to detect subtle sonic changes. People aren't born with "golden ears", they are the result of a long period of training in perceptual discrimination. This phenomenon is real and has been extensively studied. It's not a result of conscious attempts to learn...it simply comes from exposure to a wide variety of audio stimuli, and trying to attend and quantify differences between components...such as you would experience in testing different components in your home before buying, or going to something like the Headroom shows, where a variety of different sonic stimuli are available in the same location. This is another reason why a good reviewer listens to equipment over time...the particular aspects of the audio stimulus of a particular piece of equipment may not be something that he is particularly sensitive to, despite years of experience. However, comparative listening with the component in question over time in different systems may produce the discriminatory learning necessary to hear critical aspects of the sound that component.

I'm not surprised that you don't hear cable differences. If you haven't had the necessary exposure, you simply aren't sensitive to them. The greater the variety of audio equipment you listen to, with high resolution, the greater the chances that you will learn to perceive the differences you are arguing against. Until you have undergone the requisite perceptual learning, you really are stuck with a "tin ear". This is not IMO. This is scientific fact.
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