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Do power cords have their own sonic signature?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
I'm pretty much ready to go power cord hunting now (and will probably try a balanced power regenerator as well), but unlike interconnects, reviews on PCs have been much less forward about whether they act like EQs like how some ICs can, or not. So, is there such a thing as a Neutral Reference PC? One thing that I very much do not want, that most PC reviews I've read seem to mention, is more "bloom". I just want a lowered noise floor without the PC touching any part of my system tonally. Most of all I'm afraid adding a PC out of the blue will warm up my system or something. It's been very hard figuring out whether this will happen from most of the PC reviews I've read so far. So, any comments or thoughts on this? Suggestions on what to try would be cool too.
post #2 of 28
Powercords do have their own sonic signature.

I use a mix of Siltech Ruby Hill and Siltech SPO-18MF power cords. Both are very good with the Ruby Hill being substantially better and relatively overpriced.

The SPO-18MF (now replaced by the SPX-20), is fairly neutral and appears to make high frequencies less grainy and gives an extra depth to bass.

The Ruby Hill is basically more of the same, but seems to clean up the midrange as well. The Ruby Hill makes the whole setup sound much more natural with vocals becoming clearer. It also adds a certain "sweetness" to the sound in the same way that tube amps sometimes do. The Ruby Hill IMO is expensive for the performance it achieves though.

I have heard very very good first-hand reports of the Shunyata range. The Anaconda, King Cobra v2 are exceptional. The Taipan is widely considered to have the best performance/price ratio.

--Jatinder
post #3 of 28
I'm afraid I feel like siding with Ricky on this one...
post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 
Jatinder,

I'm very glad to see Shunyata listed among your rather short listing there. While I'm not quite ready to scale the heights to power cords that cost half my system (I've seen the pricings on those Siltechs and King Cobras before), I can fit the lower end Shunyatas into my price range...but even that will be more then I want to spend at the moment on a first major power cord. Still it's good to hear it confirmed that power cords do have their own flavor...I'll be cautious about that. That's one reason I haven't tried the Shunyata Black Mamba yet...along with decreased noise floor, I've read it provides a smoothening effect to things. Even though that's read as a benefit usually, it's not something I want too much of myself. Too much smoothening loses transient snap and speed IMO.
post #5 of 28
I'm on the fence about this one. OOH, I see how better power could change things like noise level. I don't see how it could directly manipulate things like tonal balance. OTOH, I recently got to try a Shunyata Python w/ one of the cdps I was auditioning. W/ that addition, vocals (which had previously been in line w/ the band and didn't quite sound natural) moved forward in the soundstage to where they should be (depending on the recording) and gained a natural warmth. After looking up Shunyata reviews on AA, most of them did indeed mention that if Shunyata has a house sound, it tends toward the warm side, getting less warm as you go up to the top of the line. The question is did the Shunyata merely let me hear the player as it should be heard, or did it somehow influence the sound? I plan on trying a few different power cords, so I can decide for sure.
post #6 of 28
It's like saying the hose that you used to pump gas into your car affects the cars performance.
post #7 of 28
It WOULD be nice to have a double-blind test of power cords... I mean it's not so incredible that ICs could have different sound, so you can forget about DBT (if you're feeling charitable), but power cords??? First you'd need to tell me WHY they might even have a chance to make a difference! Aside from resistance... and why can't you just buy an AWG 10 cord or something and be done with...

Power conditioners, now, I suppose there's some chance for them... anyway, I would venture to say that if you don't have a power conditioner, power cords are DEFINITELY a waste of time... it's like spending money on IC when your source is outputting random garbage...

But if you already have a power conditioner, what difference does a power cord make? The transformer on the other end is there for a reason you know
post #8 of 28
Do powercords affect the sound or performance of an electronic unit?

Simple physics proves that they do. The powercord is an electronic component that forms part of the powersupply. As such, it affects the capacitance, impedance and all kinds of other things of the power supply. The effect it has varies with current flow, and the loading on the component etc.


Quote:
It's like saying the hose that you used to pump gas into your car affects the cars performance.
Well this is a very good analogy - as long as you're driving the car whilst still filling it up...


Mass spectrometers and electron microscopes - these units quite often come with particular power cords with which they're "calibrated" for use. Using other powercords (which effect the power supply and possibly "contaminate" the electronic components perhaps resulting a greater noise threshold) can quite dramatically alter the results of using a spectrometer or microscope.

--Jatinder
post #9 of 28
I have wondered much about this too. Some powercords have built-in filters and I assume that anything would be possible here, one can suspect that they could also filter out musical content.
I have three powercords and there are sonic differences between them, but it seems mainly to be about that they do more or less of the same.
I don't think that you have to be so afraid of bloom. It is more about reduction of harsh noise. In one sense this makes the presentation smoother but you also get improved detail and soundstage, so I think it is another kind of softness you are afraid of. Also, the improved bass response makes the overall presentation less bright, but I think that you will like this change.
You get a smoother presentation, but with increased transient response and slam (when it is in the record).
post #10 of 28
Haven't you all read "THE THREAD ?

The lower end Virtual Dynamics cords seem to be bit too warm for my taste. The Reference is very nice. I have not heard the top of the line Nite but the word is they are the most neutral of all in terms of tonal balance. All of them seem to improve the soundstage and instrument separation.
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally posted by jatinder

Mass spectrometers and electron microscopes - these units quite often come with particular power cords with which they're "calibrated" for use. Using other powercords (which effect the power supply and possibly "contaminate" the electronic components perhaps resulting a greater noise threshold) can quite dramatically alter the results of using a spectrometer or microscope.

--Jatinder
Hey this is most interesting to hear! Do you have a link or something? Do they come with a standard power conditioner too?
post #12 of 28

Re: Do power cords have their own sonic signature?

Quote:
Originally posted by Vertigo-1
One thing that I very much do not want, that most PC reviews I've read seem to mention, is more "bloom". I just want a lowered noise floor without the PC touching any part of my system tonally. Most of all I'm afraid adding a PC out of the blue will warm up my system or something.
Hmm, a fine can of worms you have opened up, I think.

Where does transparency end and coloration begin? How do you know if the bloom introduced by a PC is not part of the true nature of your component that was not resolved by its cheapie stock cord? Wouldn't a lower noise floor allow other aspects of sound reproduction to more easily come to the fore, and in that process change a components sound signature to some extent?

Since I am sensitive to brightness, I asked the manufacturer of my current fav PC if that cable was sonically focused upon high frequency extension. There was a significant pause before the answer came (somewhat slowly) that their cable was transparent and would not introduce anything that was not already there. I had a private little chuckle but ordered the PC anyway. It's a great cable and I recommend it highly. It did bring a bit of a bloom in the midband but I fantasize that it is only bringing out the real truth of my system, which is voiced strongly towards the midrange anyway.
post #13 of 28
I like the Virtual Dynamics Power 3 cords. They're cheap and I don't think they have much coloration to them. I did notice a much lower noise floor with them connected to my amp. I have one on my amp and one on my DAC.
post #14 of 28
i know its a bad idea for me to enter this thread, but perhaps it'd be good to get a perspective from someone who doesn't practice audio voodoo, but still has an open mind.

Quote:
Originally posted by jatinder
Simple physics proves that they do.
...

Mass spectrometers and electron microscopes - these units quite often come with particular power cords with which they're "calibrated" for use. --Jatinder
lets be careful how we speak of the physics. think about plugging in you're super $600 power cord into a power strip, then into the wall. doesn't that sound silly? then think of plugging your $600 power cord into 150' cheap copper extension cable, that is surrounded by other wiring and other interference. sounds really retarded, right? but thats essentially what you're doing. the "clean" power is coming off the power line outside, not out of your wall.

Quote:
I'm afraid I feel like siding with Ricky on this one...
Quote:
It's like saying the hose that you used to pump gas into your car affects the cars performance
on the other hand the source of power to your unit is OBVIOUSLY important, or there wouldn't be such a big deal with the power source in the amps that sound the best. what power cords/conditioners CAN offer is filtering and other networks that help get the wall power clean again.

all in all, I'd have to venture a guess based in science, my own, and my father's experience -- that a good sturdy power cable (maybe generic hospital grade, i can see why you wouldnt want the one that costs $3.50 at the grocery store) with one of those little torroids that are at the ends of monitor cable (i forget what they're made of) will make as big or bigger aide to a system as a huge expensive cable. you can get those toroids they have at the ends of monitor cable for about $10, they are are inductors that essentially become resistors at high frequency, chopping off any RF that might have gotten inside the signal. This could then conceivably reduce any oscillations and instabilities inside the amplification stage.

There. now you can both have something to think about, becuase i'm not on either of the sides on this issue, so you don't have to look at me as an enemy. as i train my ears more i hope for them to be the final judge, but when you have a huge fancy looking piece of cable that took a hunk out of your bank account, how could it not sound better to you? this is the only thing about this i fear.
The exciting and invigorating thing is getting new stuff, not the end product of what you have. thats why we're such good consumers. i'm as guilty of it as anyone.

this stuff has all been said before with much more skill, but whatever. i seem to enjoy flapping my jaw.
post #15 of 28

I found a GREAT one

Let me start off by saying that I have no direct ties to the company that I am about to sing the praises of. I have however, spoken to the owner of the company, who also builds each cable himself, several times. I heard about this guy through a mutual friend and am now an ower of a couple of his power cables.

It is a little known company in Jersey called Virtual Image. I first heard of this company shortly after CES this past January from a friend was an exhibitor and used some of his PC's in his room at the show. So, I contacted Al, the owner of Virtual Image, and he sold me a couple of cables. At this point, I was using Ensemble Megaflux PC's. After doing alot of A-B listening, I took the V.I. and Ensemble cables to a friends house for him to listen to. We both agreed that the V.I. cables, "The Sledgehammer", barely edged out the Ensemble, which has recieved many rave reviews. This was about 6 months ago.

Then, about 1.5 months ago, Al called me up and said he had made some improvments to the Sledgehammer and had also made a new cable he called Piledriver. He asked if I would be interested, what audio nut wouldn't be, a chance to upgrade!!! I said sure, I'll take them.

Before they arrived, Al called again and told me to start by placing the new Sledgehammer only, on my preamp. So, when they arrived, that's what I did. I noticed an immediate difference. The bass was a little tighter and the mids seemed to open up a little more over his previous cables.

I then took out the Piledriver and placed in on my CDP, CAL Audio CL-15, and I sat down to listen. I just about fell out of my chair!! My wife was in the next room, she came in and asked what I had done to my system. The bass was jaw-droppingly clean and tight and the highs just seemed to go on forever. I just could not believe what I was hearing. After about 20 minutes of listening, I called Al up and all I could really say is "WOW!!!!".

So, I would recommend that you try the Virtual Image power cables. If you would be interested, PM me and I can put you in touch with him.
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