Explain to Me How Do Power Cords Make a Difference in a System?
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dj_mocok

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Been using stock power cord for everything.
Never really complained, but I am just wondering, how much do power cable can make a difference in your system? And how?

I am not a believer (yet), and also not a non-believer, since I've never experienced an after-market power cable before.
If it can really make a difference in my setup, I don't mind getting one.

My current setup is :
NAD 542 ---> Audiogeek Nitrogen ---> SRM313 (stock power cord) ---> SR404

Do you think upgrading the stock power cable of the Stax energizer will make an improvement, considering my setup overall?

Given that my source is an entry level CDP, I wonder whether I could detect any difference if I upgraded the stock power cable that comes with the 313 with something else. (plus that I can't change the 542 power cable, so it will still always stock cable)

And yet, if the "difference" is like a 1% improvement, I won't bother for it, especially if I had to spend like 100 bucks + for the power cable.

I hope someone can give me a objective, non-biased answer for this.
Thanks.

PS: I am not trying to ignite a flame-war between a power cable skeptics and the believers here, but just in case if a "discussion" happened, could we just talk about it civilly?
 
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mjg

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it was said here once before, though i can't remember how it was said, or who said it, but it's so true:

How important is the power cable in terms of significant quality in audio? Without it, you wouldn't hear anything hehe..

Well it's true, with an improved connection to the outlet, the amp will be more responsive, and the quality of the cable's conductors, geometry, connectors, and how well it's put together all contribute to the whole.

With better power cables i've noticed increased speed and accuracy, reduced noise/anaomolies, and just over all improvements in general to be appreciated.

I believe it has alot to do with the quality of the power supply, though even in some of the best power supplies a quality power cable will make a significant difference.

Anyhow, it's really difficult to sell the idea to skeptics, you will have to try for yourself, a good start is with a signal cable magic power AC cable, or even a quail cable will do the trick...

Signal cable was my first upgrade power cable and alot of people love them for their price and quality. Should set you back about 45 bux, so worth it.
 
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bigshot

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And to provide the alternate viewpoint...

What difference does three feet of fancy cable make when the wiring in your walls and the wiring all the way to the power plant are standard zip cord? If there was a conductivity problem, it would be in your walls, not the few feet of cable connecting the wall socket with the amp.

A power conditioner is handy if you've got line noise from a refrigerator, xerox machine or A/C unit buzzing in through the power line, but for most applications a stock power cord and a fused power block is fine.

Unless of course you sleep better at night knowing your power cord costs more than most people's entire stereo systems.

See ya
Steve
 
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Edwood

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At the very least, you need to have a minimum gauge power cord for more power hungry components.

Some higher powered amplifiers actually require a larger cable to allow more current flow. Otherwise the cable can get too hot and cause a fire. Mind you this is beyond the realm of nearly all headphone amps.

Without considering audiable improvements, I have seen power use go up slightly when using a thicker power cord "snake". This would indicate to me that a smaller stock cord was not supplying as much power as the thicker one was.

Or it could be that the thicker cord has more resistance and makes my amp more inefficient. Heheh, you decide.

-Ed
 
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Jose Perez

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I will say this, since this is the only way I could possibly believe that only changing out the power cable can make a sonic difference in your system:

Until you take control of the power being fed into your system, any change you may or may not hear from changing out a cable or a wire or a cap or any such tertiary component is illusory at best. Because if you are counting on the local power company and all of their "lowest bidder" sub-contractors to provide clean power to your system then you are only fooling yourself. Once you install a true method for conditioning the power coming into your home, then you can start to make PREDICTABLE and DEPENDABLE changes and then and only then can you say that you truly hear changes from a cable change or some such thing.

For the record I do believe that cables can make an audible difference, but like I said, only after you take control.
 
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dj_mocok

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I see. That's why I asked whether upgrading power cable will give a sound improvement in my setup, not in general.

I don't have any dirty power here, or at least not that I am aware of.

I don't know how power hungry is the SRM313, but I guess, not that power hungry.

And if there can be a slight improvement, say upgrading the power cord, with my current setup, will I be able to notice the difference? (it's not high-end audio setup)...


So what do you reckon?
 
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bhd812

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I have heard big differences in power cables on cdp's/dac's/power amps..

My meridian is power cable lovin! anything I put in her she reacts differently, where as my RSA amps have made no difference at all..

if your still using the nad542 I believe you can not plug in a aftermarket power cable so unless you want to hard wire something you have no choice there...either know I believe it would make a big difference in sound.

You sm-313 might make a difference but I just dont know, I guess it depends on the quality of power supply inside that stax puts in...you might wanna ask stax owners if they heard any difference in any stax product..then go to a local dealer and take a loaner set of power cables and test it out.

mostly every power amp or speaker amp I have tried power cables on make the biggest difference I heard froma cable yet...then again I didnt notice anything in your setup so I guess you need not apply....

whats your setup again?
 
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tyrion

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I don't know any of the science behind the reason for any differences but I can say that I notice a bid difference going from a cheap computer pc to a Soundstring pc (others as well) with my xr-2 phono stage. I would never have believed it if I didn't hear it for myself. I can't say it makes a difference in all components but it did in the xr-2.
 
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bigshot

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Edwood
Some higher powered amplifiers actually require a larger cable to allow more current flow. Otherwise the cable can get too hot and cause a fire.


Wouldn't Underwriter Laboratories have already taken care of that for you?

See ya
Steve
 
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markl

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Power cables effect a system like IC swaps. What areas are specifically effected depend on the particular power cord you try, just as it would which IC you try. Swapping power cords effects the sound at about the same level as an IC swap. Some people find that effect non-existent, to all but undetectable, to others its a huge difference, and all points in between. If a person can't hear or appreciate IC swaps, they won't be wowed by a power cord, either.

I didn't believe in power cord swaps either until I tried one on a lark a few years back with a return policy. I didn't send it back. Since then, I've now had at least 15 different power cords cycling through my sytem, and each one has its own unique character, just like an IC. Power cord swapping on a budget is incredibly frustrating. I'm having a heck of a time right now trying to find good sub-$150 power cords. I never should have sold the better cords I had. Oh well.
 
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DarkAngel

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AC cords can make a difference, but only as part of balanced spending allocation with overall cable strategy used in conjunction with effective power isolation/conditioning (many conditioners degrade sound which complicates things)
Also keep in mind some audio gear benefit less from upgraded AC cords because internal power supply design makes great efforts to clean/stabilize power inside unit.

The miles and miles of cable rationale.......
Is misleading because between power station and your home the high voltage current/cable size is stepped down at several points to lower and lower voltages, the final step down is probably done on transformer a few blocks away from your home. Then the larger guage cable coming into your homes breaker box is divided into smaller gauge wire circuits to power different outlets.

This is why many audiophiles that own home put special dedicated audio circuit from breaker box using high quality large guage wire to special audiophile outlets for audio system alone to use........not only controlling last 6ft of a AC cord but from breaker box to plug on audio gear is upgraded.
 
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michaelhwolff

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Quote:

The miles and miles of cable rationale.......
Is misleading


If I may expand on what Dark Angel said:

Here is a simple analogy: The water that is in the water main that services your local neighborhood is pretty much constant and indistinguishable with regard to quality, ph factor etc. etc. So that water has indeed traveled many miles to get to your water faucet. Now lets associate the water with the raw electrical power coming to your house. And, we are going to associate your audio gear in the same light as your mouth and taste buds.
It's obvious that there are several factors which might change not only the taste of the water drastically, but how you react to it when drink it. Copper pipes, lead pipes, rusted pipes,,, and then filtration for the water such as carbon or reverse osmosis,,,,even the cup that you put the water in. Can you tell the change in the taste of water when it is drank from a paper cup?

Assumption: So the power cord can change how your audio gear responds to the power just as your taste buds react to how the water has been changed.

Since we have seen all the variables that can happen to the water in such a short length of time, how about those power cords. How do they change things. EASY to answer.
Power cords for audio gear are made of everything from silver wire, silver ribbons, copper, platinum etc. They have different connectors which greatly impact the "flavor" of the electricity...Then power conditioners and so on and so on. The process becomes very easy to understand because of the water example. In its primal state the water is still water and the electricity is still electricity but they have been altered. Your audio gear, if sensitive enough along with your ears, are as sensitive to that change as your taste buds in your mouth are.

Wheew,
Hope someone agrees.
Regards,
Michael Wolff
 
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Welly Wu

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DarkAngel and MichaelWolff have pretty much nailed it on the head. For your particular Hi-Fi reference system Dj_Mocok, I would say that it is not yet "there" in terms of considering an aftermarket power cord. I am not putting you or your Hi-Fi system down. I am simply saying that unless you either upgrade your source component to one that has a detachable IEC connector or modify your current NAD C 542 HDCD player as such, it would be a waste of money to buy a power conditioner or a power cord for now. My most solid reason is that your current system does not allow for the consistent application of both a power conditioner and aftermarket power cords so your results will be slightly unpredictable. The best time for considering a power conditioner and audiophile power cords is when you can utilize these products consistently for all of your components and after you have lived with the stock configuration for a very long while so as to be able to gauge the sonic differences -- if any -- by combining critical listening skills and musical enjoyment together. Again, I am in no way, shape, or form belittling you or your Hi-Fi system, but I honestly think that there is a right way and wrong way of doing things for everything and Hi-Fi is an expensive way to learn. I will close by saying that I wanted to be honest with you and I only wanted to help if I could.
 
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dj_mocok

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Yeah,

That is why I asked this question first before jumping in, I don't wanna spend money for something that doesn't change anything.

Because as you said, the C542 doesn't have detachable power cord, so I am stuck with the stock power cord, and by changing the energizer power cord only whilst still using the stock cable for the main source, the CDP, I am not so confident with the improvement it will bring.
 
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bigshot

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Using the water analogy...

Unless you control the pipes all the way from the source to the cup you drink out of, the water could become contaminated at any point from spring to dam to municipal water system to the pipes in your walls to the faucet you fill your cup with. Replacing just the faucet will only guarantee that one tiny step in the chain is clean, not the whole journey from source to you.

That's why you get a reverse osmosis filter system to clean the water at the tap... or you get a power conditioner to clean the line you plug into.

Line problems are usually a result of something introducing noise that's plugged into the same circuit (air conditioner, refrigerator, etc.) or fluctuations in line level from your power company (brownouts). Neither of these things are helped by getting an expensive cord. You'd do a LOT better to get a separate power drop to your house, wire it with cables as thick as sequoias into a line conditioner with a hefty buffer and plug into that. Then maybe... MAYBE a fancy power cord might make a microscopic difference.

People buy into expensive cables because they are the cheapest aspect of assembling an audiophile rig. People say to themselves, "I'll never be able to afford a $5,000 CD player or $12,000 speakers, but I can afford a $200 power cord!" That's putting the cart before the horse.

The truth is, that expensive cables are the least effective way of improving your sound... getting better speakers, a cleaner source or a better amp will always make MUCH more difference. Once you've done all of those upgrades to the ultimate degree, then you might as well go the extra few bucks to get nice cables to hook everything together. Perhaps it might make a tiny improvement in the sound... But for a midrange system, buying fancy cables is like throwing money in a hole.

See ya
Steve
 
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