How additive is quality of power wiring?

I somewhat understand the known (and consider understanding the unknown) aspects of how the conductor materials, dielectrics, geometry and gauge of power cables affect the performance of equipment. Much of it still mystery.
What really has been mystifying me: it’s clear that a 1 meter power cable is the first 1 meter a power supply sees and the last 1 meter only from the utility perspective. However, for power cables, the shorter the better. If we keep shortening a 7N silver power cable with great dielectrics and geometry, the lot of it, until it’s just the plug connected directly to the IEC part, will we now actually lose performance by eliminating all geometry save what’s in the pins? Let’s say the plug and IEC outlet are of very high quality - we remove them too, rip out the receptable, take out the Romex legs and weld them to the audio component’s IEC inlet. Would we still keep losing performance or would we actually take huge leaps up in performance?
One view is that sophisticated materials and geometry will actually improve the mains AC. Concentrate it, filter it, like fitting a different spray end to a water hose. This view tells us that we need quality power cables as extraneous wire to make performance better.
One general view is that no cable is always the best cable. Very clearly the case with most of signal transmission, but might it be that mains AC is different?

What about the additive nature of the materials and geometry of the wall line? The gauge and grounding are usually the only considerations, however, if power cables make such a difference, why would the same principles not extend further down the line? Audiophiles go to extremes, so why don’t we see pure silver dedicated lines with specialized dielectrics and geometry, also shielding?
Is the purpose of an audio power cable then to mitigate the general poorness of the wall line as an essential filter that costs less to have in great quality considering the short length?

Not really.

See article linked to below. I found this to be very informative. I hope you do too.


It’s certainly informative, Caelin Gabriel is just great.
However, what he is saying there does not fully dissolve the confusion.

“A power cable on the other hand is not transmitting a signal. It is conducting A.C. power and its sonic superiority will be determined by its ability to deliver current (steady-state and instantaneous) and its ability to deal with the EMI effects of the components to which it is attached.”

He doesn’t recommend a power cord shorter than 1m. It is the latter reason… Shunyata goes to great lengths making their cables essentially filters, though ones that don’t suppress current dynamics. And there is lesser room for the complex structure required for filtering and “concentrating” the AC in an under 1 meter length.
Caelin’s approach to me seems like the “necessary filter” approach with as much “doing no harm” as is possible to integrate into that approach. They don’t use what could be called passive components to filter, but really that’s just terminology, it’s all conductor and dielectric, be it a cable or a component. If the entire structure of a cable is specific to obtain specific effect, it’s to me analogous to being a component as a whole.
The necessary filter approach is seemingly very effective, people love Shunyata power cables.

“The transition between the various metals used in a power cable and its connectors can cause electromagnetic reflections and diode-like rectification of the noise impulses as they propagate away from the power supply. If the power cable presents a high impedance to these signals they will be reflected back into the power supply where they will intermodulate”

When the power cable presents a low impedance to these types of signals, they exit (so to speak) swiftly to the mains line, now what if the line presents a higher impedance to these signals? They’d be reflected back into the power cable, no? Would this go on, back and forth, with energy conversion getting rid of some and some inevitably still getting through to where it’s not wanted?

I like what Shunyata is developing, just wondering why wealthy people aren’t ordering dedicated lines from the likes of them. How about a Shunyata mains feed from the utility pole?
Surely there’s a point though where this adding of quality would become ultimately unnecessary. I have a feeling the Shunyata dedicated line would be enough, with a breaker panel on steroids, with a normal but thick enough service feed and a good ground impedance.
As I thought a bit about it, the idea of “no cable” now seems a bit stupid when it comes to power delivery, as the power line is inevitable a cable…

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Some key take aways from the old Galen article that I would highlight in response:

Misconception #3: There is up to a hundred feet of wire in the walls, so the last 6 feet of power cord can’t possibly make any difference.

Answer: “The power cord is not the last 6 feet, it is the first 6 feet from the perspective of the component. As stated in #1 the local current and electromagnetic effects directly affect the sonic performance of the component.”

Misconception #4: There is a tremendous amount of electrical interference and EMI coming from outside the home that we need to protect our equipment from. This implies that we need some sort of power conditioner or filter to protect the equipment.

Answer: “Most of the EMI that affects the audio quality of a system is generated by the audio components themselves. Electromagnetic waves that traveling through space dissipate in power at the square of the distance from the source. Further, very high frequencies that propagate through the power circuit do not survive for long. Power lines present a high impedance to MHz and GHz signals due to the relatively high inductance of power lines.

"A primary source of audible sonic degradation is caused by the power supplies in our audio/video components. Most components use FWBR (full wave bridge rectifier) power supplies that generate an incredible amount of transient noise when the rectifiers switch off. The design of a power cable can significantly affect the reactance of these signals within the power supply. The power cable is effectively part of the primary winding of the power transformer. The transition between the various metals used in a power cable and its connectors can cause electromagnetic reflections and diode-like rectification of the noise impulses as they propagate away from the power supply. If the power cable presents a high impedance to these signals they will be reflected back into the power supply where they will intermodulate, thus increasing the high frequency noise levels of the component. Most power supply filters are ineffective at blocking very high frequency noise components and much of it is passed through to the DC rails. The sonic effects of this include: high background noise levels, blurred or slurred transients and a general lack of clarity and purity of the sound or visual image.”



Okay, found it.

"In the first, Gabriel switched the cords connecting the amplifiers to the fuse panel. First we listened with the Halcro amps plugged into an outlet that terminated approximately 20’ of 10AWG Romex, the standard cable (albeit of thicker gauge) used in residential wiring. This wire ended at the fuse panel. After we’d listened to a couple of tracks, Gabriel unplugged the Halcros and attached them to a really long Shunyata Anaconda cord, which he then plugged into an outlet adjacent to the same fuse panel.

I sat there with my arms crossed, my body language radiating skepticism. Swapping out Romex? I thought. That’s a bit much for Sensible Jason.

Then, without changing the volume setting, Gabriel played the same Fiona Apple track. The difference was profound. Suddenly Apple’s head came into clear focus, along with an appreciable sense of ease and lack of sibilance. The bass tightened up and gained definition, and the entire picture improved to a degree for which I was completely unprepared. After we had all looked askance at each other, Gabriel noted that people often question the efficacy and relevance of power cords by reasoning that because literally miles of wire run from the generating station to your wall outlets, what possible difference could be made by replacing a mere 5’ of cable at the very end? But as this demonstration proved, it’s worth replacing every foot you can."

Every foot you can up to right next to the breaker panel should be as high quality cabling as possible.
That leads me to think - the breaker panel should be upgraded as well. Heck, why not the service feed too. 16sqmm copper service feed would always suffice, I think.

Shunyata has been caught several times fixing these demonstrations. Were the two power cords of the same wire gauge? Did anyone actually look at the cables?

In one demo he showed us how his 14 or 12ga power cord measured better than a cheap 18ga power for instantaneous current delivery on a professional test meter. Anyone see the problem here?

Caelin Gabriel’s bio touts an impressive career in high end military and computer systems engineering. Yet there is no mention of what companies he worked for or any listing of accredited education in electrical engineering. Anyone see a problem with that?

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Only you

I got the impression that after settling away from military business and such, he has worked for: Shunyata Research

Anyway, from one of his demos, as quoted prior, it’s clear at least from the perspective of the ones who heard it, that the benefits don’t end at a 9AWG romex dedicated line and a great power cord. Optimally it should be “a great power cord” as a dedicated line!

The point is he lists absolutely no traceable credentials. And enough with the NSA and CIA BS. My brother, a BSME, works on military contracts with a security clearance. There is no issue disclosing his education and who he works for, Lockheed. You can inquire to Lockheed HR and they will verify the standard dates of employment and position held. Now what exactly he works on is classified but only that.

And as a practicing EE myself with verifiable credentials, I find Shunyata’s technical claims ridiculous. Home depot drain pipe filled with sand or fish tank pebbles surrounding a wire? Forget any patents. You don’t have to prove viability to get a patent, at least in the USA. Where is the peer reviewed science behind his claims. Proprietary? Well you have a patent so why the concern about secrecy?

Just another audio cable peddler. I’m not discounting what you and others heard. I’m sure you did hear a pronounced difference. But based on previous Shunyata demos such as my example above, you need to have expert oversight on the mechanics of the demo. Again comparing and demonstrating the pulse current capability of a fancy 12 or 14 gauge power cord against a commodity 18ga cord is a rigged test. Apples to oranges. How about we compare a commodity power of the same wire gauge to his fancy power cord? When pressed about this his sidekick sales and marketing VP claims it would not matter. Really?

Shunyata exploits the fact that most audiophiles who can afford $1000 plus power cords typically have little to no background in electrical engineering. They obviously have some great skill to have that level of disposable income, they are not stupid people at all. But nevertheless they are being conned here.

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Why do you Care, are you jealous of the man’s success?

I was not a believer of power cable till personally experienced the sonic quality it improved on our power amps performance. Used to have ATC SCM20 speakers powered by AVI2000 150 watt mono-blocks. ATC speakers are power hungry hogs and even 150 watt power amp didn’t seem to be enough for the details and delicacy, which I felt was lacking. The dealer recommended 6 ft APEX power cables for each mono-block (I am not sure if they still around). My goodness, the effect was so evident. After the change the sound became much refined, much lower noise floor and quieter background, a lot of details that was hidden in the coarseness before now became available, it was “right there”. Sound stage was much deeper too, voices and instruments had much clearer lines and distance to each other. It could be the inductance / capacitance matching / conditioning by these 6 ft cables (I am not EE and could not explain). Since that experience, I am firm believer that power cables can have profound impact to the sound. I think the key will be to find the right match.

Ok, you have large power amps. What was the wire gauge of your old cords versus the new cords that improved the performance?

Going to a heavier wire gauge can certainly improve a power amps performance in the areas you indicated. The point is good heavy gauge power cords can be bought on Amazom for about $20 and will have the same effects.

There is no need other than aesthetics to spend large sums on these audiophile power cords.

You still have 50-100 feet of commodity Home Depot quality wiring in your wall back to the beaker panel. Slapping some fancy power on the last six feet isn’t going to change that outside of the old cord being too small to carry the needed current. This “first six feet the component sees” is just hogwash. Electrical energy travels in a loop from your utility transformer to your wall outlet and audio gear and then back to the transformer. There is no “first six feet”

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Because I don’t like charlatans and the high end audio industry is full of them.

If there is no first six feet, then there is no last six feet.


Absolutely correct! Electrical energy travels in a loop from the source to the device and back to the source. It’s a chain. And any chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link.

So there goes the sham that the cable inside your wall or the aluminum cables coming off the street have no effect that could compromise the $1000+ power cord.

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They surely DO compromise it, to an extent. The $1000 power cord can still have significant enough benefit that as a first step, it’s great before spending thousands more on high quality dedicated lines and a substantial gauge service feed. The reasons have previously been explained extensively, though obviously not absolutely.
As I see it the effect of cable previous to the power cord mainly comes down to gauge; line output impedance. Material and geometry must always have an effect but it must become less the farther we go.
A 1m OCC silver power cord will surely reap most of the benefit of OCC silver that can be audibly had, the coherency of electron flow at the crystal boundary scale is had. No matter if they bounce around in whatever “lesser” and “more erratic” manner in an ordinary copper line before that 1m, they’ll attain the material-specific coherence of the cord when running across it.
Geometry (and shielding) of a dedicated line I’d wager would be somewhat important just to give good rejection of noise, emitted and also what’s induced from the ground conductor. If not outright shielded, a specific twist ratio of hot and neutral provides the former. The latter could be mitigated by having the ground conductor running somewhat separately from the bundle, a looser twist around the L-N bundle is one solution… If these things are taken as important, conduits for other nearby lines should be considered to not render the benefits null.
There’s not much practical choice with a service feed other than choosing sufficient gauge.

Just some thoughts.

I replaced the cables from the main supply in the street and the cables are not expensive.

The cable from the street to the meter is supplied by the power network to their specification and cost about £30/$40 per m.

The cable I used from the consumer unit to the wall socket cost about £36/$50/m. I paid a total of £300/$400 for the cable.

This is massively overrated at 27A.

This was probably overkill and for my AV and modern I used Belden mains feeds, which cost about £11/$14 per m.

The main thing is that the cable is thick enough (not an issue), properly shielded and has a drain cable that takes all the noise from the shield to ground.

After the distributor (I use a Puritan conditioner), the power feeds to components are shielded for EM and RFI (and vibration), and I keep them short.

Not exactly true. In my case I have about 25 feet from the wall to the consumer unit, shielded and drained, and from the consumer unit to the 20kV supply in the street a 3-phase cable with 12mm thick conductors in aluminium box shielding.

Internal cables are all of sufficient thickness as required by regulations so that the ground loop impedance is low enough.

The cost of a good clean mains supply is not the cabling, it’s the building and digging to install it.

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Where is this phenomenon documented in a peer reviewed technical journal? I would like to read more about it. Now just to be clear a technical journal is NOT some article in an audio magazine or marketing page from an audiophile cable vendor.

If such phenomenon exists, there would surely be many scientific applications far beyond consumer audio systems.


Audio systems concern sensible perception. It’s not a (strictly) scientific endeavour to achieve a preferable perception of audio playback, it’s about what in the end suits best a given person’s release of neurotransmitters.
About electron flow at the crystal boundary scale - sorry, can’t bother to search you papers on that but it should be obvious that electrons having to jump across numerous boundaries along a length of conductor would affect the EM wave, as opposed to flowing across a single crystal. Would like to read more about it myself, too.
There could well be numerous scientific applications requiring precise conductor materials like OCC, sadly don’t know to name any now. Well, one - If I remember correctly NASA ordered a bunch of Analysis Plus cable for a project that required extreme precision.