How additive is quality of power wiring?

Agreed, it’s called placebo effect, expectation bias. We all have it.

I do have some training in semiconductor physics as part of my EE program. While I am not a physicist, I can tell you that water plumbing principles cannot be applied to electron flow. I think you referring to the old audiophile theory of "micro diodes’ within copper wire. Sorry, that’s a myth. I always ask, if there are these micro diodes, then what is the forward voltage? If the answer comes back as unknown, then how did you observe diode effect in the first place? Again these voodoo theories fall apart when legitimate science and engineering is applied to them.

Yes, I am sure NASA does use some exotic cables. But not for the reasons you may think, Space is a very hostile environment. They need to be assured the wire can withstand extreme external conditions. As for electrical parameters, standard principles remain the same,

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How do you know what NASA purchased the cables for?

I didn’t state any specifics, just that stuff like space probes have some demanding specifications for wire and cables that extend beyond just electrical parameters.

They were actually looking at rise time and impedance under demanding loads, so I guess that has nothing to do with electrical parameters.

Yes, those are important parameters. I am an RF engineer by training myself. The question is what were those cables being used for? I sincerely doubt they were 60hz wall outlet power cords.

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Not explicitly, no… The electrons, though slow-moving, are the basis for the EM wave which we so much care about and how do you think they could take the path of least resistance in the same way with thousands of crystal boundaries per meter as opposed to none?
What means better is up to who asks, of course.

@glimmie

  1. Placebo effect and expectation bias are not the same thing. Placebo effect has nothing to do with audio and shouldn’t be mentioned. It’s an appeal to authority that is false and to the best of my searching has never been tested in the realm of audio. When it’s bandied about it audio it’s rank scientism and should be dismissed.
    Two of the ways often suggested to overcome expectation bias in research are to use multiple observers and to train those observers. I would suggest that audio enthusiasts with experience in listening to many power cables and who make the effort to improve and understand listening (in all the ways that that might occur) are undergoing a kind of training. Then put their observations together with the myriad others who’ve done the same. It can’t be just one power cable, though. We’d need people with experience of four or five different ones all at the same time.

  2. “I’m an electrical engineer and…” this is another appeal to authority that doesn’t mean a lot. How much training? Undergraduate degree? Masters? Ph.D? What’s the field work experience? Is it specifically in audio? Does/has it involved research that goes beyond the principles studied in the training, or is it mostly application of learned information?
    I have a Doctorate in Musical Arts and I know more about the saxophone sonata of Dulcie Holland than anyone else on the planet I reckon. But my advanced degree does not in any way mean I know as much about mouthpiece acoustics as my friend who made that his doctoral research. But we did the same degree and have the same letters. Then there’s the colleague who went in a completely different direction after she graduated and has done a great deal of research into the effect on harmonic series production of different oral cavity shapes as they pertain to accents on different continents. Not everything learned at undergraduate level is strictly “true”. Inevitably it involves assumptions and simplifications for the sake of delivering a fundamental or core principle. It can lack nuance. My point here is that what someone does after completing the training is what really counts when exploring the limits of that training. Which brings me to…

  3. Peer review and Intellectual Property. Where is the value in a research-heavy company like AudioQuest publishing their research? Giving away their IP for everyone to use? Or keeping it in house for commercial advantage? These companies are under no obligation to share with any of us. Ever.

  4. Crying snake oil doesn’t cut the mustard. It’s an easy-out lazy conspiracy theory. If you’re going to say these power cables don’t work then you need to actually do something to refute the evidence (and it is evidence) that, cleanly, thousands and thousands of people who hear differences are wrong. Fir what you’re saying to hold true, ALL designers and manufacturers of power cables must be lying, everyone working for them is mistaken about their value, all of the dealers and distributors are mistaken, and every single person who listens and hears a difference is mistaken. If it a -known fact- that power cables can’t work, you’re actually saying the designers and makers are committing fraud. That’s serious.

  5. If you’ve tried four or five power cables and you hear no difference, fine. Then you can rightly say, “I tried five and heard no difference”, but that’s all you can say. You can’t then extrapolate that out to “nobody can hear a difference” or “all power cables make no difference”. That’s just logic.

  6. Finally, please can you tell us about your room, specifics of your system and all makes and models of all the power cables you’ve tried? Then we might be able to more fully appreciate your personal experience of power cables.

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My room: Home Theater of the Month: The GMG Theater - YouTube

You’re room looks you’d have a blast in there! Nice to know people go all out. I like how you justified it as “an extension”. I’ll try that on my wife today…

A few minor points…

Are you saying you’ve never tried power cables? It seems that way from your post, but I don’t want to assume.

I don’t doubt what you’re saying about people in EE and what they think, but it doesn’t address my point at all about education.

Observation of a phenomenon (subjective) is the basis for research in science. Subjective observation is essential. From there, interested parties might care to look into finding out why. It’s a silly example, but gravity existed before an apple fell on Newton’s head. A proper scientific mind that’s open to finding out what’s reality and what’s not looks at what seems self evident and tries to figure out why. Science isn’t static. There are enough people in the world who have tried these things (along with USB cables, Ethernet switches, equipment isolation, burn in, etc…) and have heard a difference to indicate that there’s something worth investigating to find out what’s going on outside of what’s already published and peer reviewed. What’s currently published doesn’t include everything. If it did we could pack up science now and stop looking.

Experience tells me these things matter. I don’t know the reasons. Doesn’t make it untrue.

One final point. I don’t think looking at a power cable as a thing on its own is the right approach. We hear these things as systems. So we might know most things about how a power cable works, and a CD player, and an amplifier, etc, but there’s not much about how these things interact as systems, which is of course how we experience them. Change one element of a system and we change how all the parts might be impacted. We this in the way noise riding on USB lines might not alter the way a DAC operates, but when that noise makes its way into a preamp we get trouble. Measuring the USB cable tells us only part of the story, and indeed nothing at all about how it’s work might impact something it’s not even directly connected to.

Anyway, it’s probably obvious that I hear differences between the power cables I have to hand: from Akiko Audio, CommonGround Cables, Cardas, EGM and of course standard freebies. Repeatable and demonstrable and yes I can pick the CommonGround, Akiko and standard blind. Price doesn’t tally with preference. I don’t know why. But I do know it’s reality. If I and others can pick them blind, doesn’t that warrant further investigation and an acknowledgment that there’s something going on beyond what’s commonly understood?

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Sorry, @glimmie my reply was written to your response before you removed it.

As a member of the So California IEEE, years ago we were treated to a Saturday tour of NASA JPL in Pasadena. This is where all the deep space probes are monitored. We got to see much of their infrastructure. In the rack rooms I took particular note of the power cords. Just standard 18ga commodity cords we use in the broadcast and mastering industry. Now of course they have UPS systems to provide constant power, but again just Liebert and APC stock equipment.

Now this equipment receives signals from probes beyond Pluto, outside of our solar system. Talk about noise floor! Yet there are no audiophile power cords or power outlets, to find.

What does that tell you? And please don’t say JPL does not hire top notch engineers!

It tells me fir the job they’re doing they find those power cables satisfactory. But geez it’s a pretty different endeavour. Have they tried cables with better RFI/EMI rejection, different geometries and various shielding methods? Are their electronics engineered to generally higher tolerances and better noise rejection in the power supplies? I don’t know, just asking. They’re also relying on a sense for data like we do when listening. There are just too many variables to know if application in one application is analogous to another application. Is a NASA building built differently to a home? Do they empty faraday caging? Thicker concrete? Floating floors? Their own power system independent of the grid?

I’m a musician who knows a heap about my own area and, by extension, a few things about other areas that share common ground to mine. I know how a violin “works” but I don’t have the subtle experiential knowledge of a violinist. Knowledge is like that - you have fundamental principles common to all applications that then get overlaid with specialist knowledge acquired across decades.

Neither of us is going to budge here. You’re not going to listen to power cables (I assume) and I’m not going to discount personal experience or the personal experiences of people I know well and also of those who’ve shared their experiences in forums like this. I’m also not going to discount the experiences and knowledge of experts in this field like Putzeys, McGowan, Myers, WEL, Mark Jenkins, and Garth Powell. Why don’t we agree to draw a line under it and move on?

(I notice those Liebert systems contain power conditioning. The irony, eh?)

So receiving a signal fro deep space is less critical that a consumer audio system? EMI/RFI is not a factor at those minuscule signal levels? You admittedly do not have an electrical engineering background. Yet you propose conclusions based on what?

Garth Powell? What formal training or other official credentials does he posses in electrical engineering?

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Please consider my point about drawing a line under it.

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Well written and thoughtful. Thank you for this dose of reality.

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I use a power conditioner and power cables that are used in more relevant applications, specifically recording studios. I use two brands of power cables, one is the standard cable used at Abbey Road. The first audio conditioner I purchased, about 20 years ago, was made by a company that is one of the largest suppliers of power-related products to hospitals and schools in Europe, from sockets and power strips to full installations, because their equipment needs specialist infrastructure. They’ve been in business for over 60 years. I still have the unit and they still make it.

For all that, I’ve never studied electronics, never used a soldering iron, don’t know a capacitor from a resistor, but I do know when a product makes a noticeable difference to sound quality.

This is not constant chasing of snake oil.

(a) I had a PS Audio Regenerator because for the products I had and the wiring I had it made an improvement. When I changed products and it made no noticeable difference I sold it.

(b) The change in equipment benefitted from conditioning. I have since completely rewired and changed to a much cheaper conditioner that is equally effective and much cheaper cabling, that seems to be even more effective.

I am pretty realistic about the limitations of home audio as I got to quite a lot of live acoustic music (opera, ballet, recitals), perhaps now only about 75 to 100 per annum, but I did get to 200 pre-Covid. I am fully aware that, even with the limitations of home audio, power products are an important element to a good clean sound.

Your interest is AV, not something I have any interest in. Each to their own. I still like going to the cinema, our local cinema opened in 1912, the seats and decor are original and not exactly comfortable, you wouldn’t like it, but they show good movies and sell nice home-made cake, excellent coffee and herbal tea. It has a barrel vaulted ceiling and good acoustics, better than most modern cinemas.

I rather like that ticket prices had to be increased when they first showed talkies in 1929 “owing to Enormous Cost”, presumably of installing a sound system. The top prices of 2/- is equivalent to £8 in today’s money, which the current ticket price (about $10).

These cinemas were run like conveyor belts, you came in the front and left through a back door as the next audience entered. Probably most people here remember that from when they were kids. I certainly do.

Well I didn’t say a conditioner can’t make a difference. It can if you have poor raw power quality. Other than that, no. It’s these six foot power cords that make no sense to me at least. Provided the stock power cord is of sufficient wire gauge to carry the load. For example if you had an 18ga cord on a 1kw power amp and run at high listening levels, a power cord upgrade to a heavier gauge will make a difference. But that’s all it is about. wire gauge when speaking about power cords. Some equipment may be supplied with shielded power cords. But that’s mostly for EMI/RFI egress, not ingress.

Paul, it is well within your resources to set up a blind test room at one of the many audio shows.

Now unlike Audioquest you must allow your full technical setup to be inspected by anyone and allow wittiness behind the curtain to observe the operation…

But as you are convinced there is a difference, why not do it and have a documented verified test which can speak volumes for your view on this subject?

I changed cables partly because the ones I had were too long, they are all now 1m, and EMI/RF shielding does seem to have a benefit to sound quality. It is argued that vibrations can also affect cables, I can’t say I’ve ever given that any thought.

I think @michael_lichnovsky was pretty much spot on. Sure, some people will get taken in with lots of marketing, but I suspect most people make pretty rational decisions based on a range of factors, and a lot is personal preference. You extended your house and spent a fair sum to watch movies, I mostly watch movies on an iPad.

We generally don’t do blind testing, if there is such a thing, because we are consumers, not scientists. That said, my main electronics, an all-in-one box, was purchased after a blind test with another product, switched by the dealer, and I did not know which I was listening to.

It should be said that several forums are heavily populated by engineering and IT types with some sort of engineering background. That may be the case here as well, I don’t know. I certainly am not. My formal science education ended at age 15.

There seems to be a common desire for scientific types to force scientific views on consumers of audio equipment, even though most of them are probably not scientific types and also are certainly not generally stupid. They - me included - just don’t have a head for science and am not interested.

So if a cable results in a perceived improvement in sound quality, no amount of science is going to have any impact on me. I can’t discern the good science from the bad, and I take note that those with scientific knowledge don’t seem to agree that much either.