Power Cables

At the risk of stepping into a hornets nest of naysayers I have gotten closer to audio nirvana via power cables.

I love the sound of vinyl and keep tweaking my system to get to what I think of as a great vinyl sound.

I have the BHK 250 amp with the BHK preamp. I originally paired this with a Rega RP6 turntable, ortofon 2m black cart and a Lehman black cube phono stage. Nice sound but I just couldnt past the highs being too bright and grainy. Swaped the Lehman for a Rogue Ares phono stage, nice improvement but still a bit shrill. Dumped the Ortofon for a Benz Micro wood cart, huge improvement but still not there. I was starting to question my PS Audio equipment. Some vinyl sounded great but still some just sounded to bright and grainy.

I decided maybe it was my cables so I called the cable company and talked to one of their salesman who was adamant about starting with power cables. I was very suspect but I figured I had nothing to lose borrowing from their library. He sent me some Shunyata , Wireworld and Voodoo cables. After spending a considerable amount of time with them I went with the Voodoo.

All I can say is they are the single biggest improvement that I have made to my system. They helped bring all of my components together into one very sweet, deep, wide beautiful vinyl sound that I had been chasing.

Go figure, who would have ever thought power cables could do that. Certainly not me!

Amen. I started on a cable journey early this century. Tried Cardas, MAC, Decware, TARA Labs and finally PS Audio and going up the PS Audio chain settled on AC-12 for all my components. Very happy.

Oddly I didn’t try VooDoo Cable power cords, but do use their interconnects as the only analog interconnects in my system, Stradivarius Cremona and one pair of the earlier Stradivarius. LOVE their sound.

I’m a cable believer and power cables really can be the icing on the cake in a system.

A lot of naysayers out there in the world but most of us around here have experienced the benefit of good power cables (and cables in general). I go with PSA AC-12s, like lonson, for power and Belden Iconoclast for everything else. That power cables would make such a difference was the hardest one to accept intellectually but they did indeed improve things considerably.

twperil said At the risk of stepping into a hornets nest of naysayers . . .
Not to worry, our local naysayers are polite. Any challenge you receive will be on topic and will not involve claims you are deluded or deficient in some way. :)

I remain on the fence regarding power cables, not because I assert others do not hear what they claim but because for me power cables have made small differences that may well be attributable to my lack of perfect audio memory, the variables of moving/replacing things, cable dressing changes in the system, etc. On the other hand, I find the PowerPlants do a wonderful job and other cables, such as the Belden Iconoclast, can make a considerable difference.

Elk - that pretty much sums up my opinions of power cables. I find I don’t notice a significant difference on changing any one cable, except maybe for placing a PSA AC-12 to power the P10. Maybe the sum of the power cables on all components makes an audible difference but, like you, my audio memory fails me on comparison when changing them out.

With regard to interconnects, one instance recently that really struck me was switching out my standard RCA Nordost Red Dawn cables between my turntable and phono preamp with dedicated shielded phono cables from Silnote (Morpheus Reference II Series II phono cable - terrible name, I know) made a huge difference. Now a slight hum was totally gone and my table is super quiet. I love the tone and texture of the cables too. Very transparent and lively. With the P10 , table, Creek phono preamp, and cables, I now have to crank up the volume to hear any hum at all to levels I would never listen to. Vinyl is now super dynamic.

twperil said

At the risk of stepping into a hornets nest of naysayers I have gotten closer to audio nirvana via power cables.

Which one are you using ?

In the past year, I’ve used or auditioned HiDiamond P3/P4, Snake River Cottonmouth, Sablon Reserva, Triode Wire Labs Digital American HC and Obsession, and now a full loom of AC-12’s (5) in my living room system. There are substantial, easy to detect differences between them in their effects sonically on tone, tonal balance, staging in all directions, detail, PRAT, etc. While each has its strenghs, just 36 hours in with the AC-12’s and I already have a sense of having taken a big step toward joining the big boys for the first time.

I still make my own cables. The recepy is from my audio dealer. The parts 6x2 shielded hy purity copper wires oxygen free twisted around a 6mm2 hy purity copper wire ground wire. The plugs are Furutech NCF’s. These cables are more than great and you can use these on all the components in the system.20171112_135311.jpg

Almost without exception none of these after market audiophile power cords or accessories have UL or equivalent safety listings.

Aren’t you concerned these products have not been certified to be safe electrically and not a fire hazard? A $5 extension from your local supermarket has a UL label!

Now a common rebuff is that they use UL listed parts. Well first of all that’s compulsory because you can’t really buy non certified electrical parts. But unfortunately that’s not even good enough. The entire assembly must be tested as a finished unit.

Another claim is the cost of certification. Well look at the prices of some of these cords and accessories. There should be plenty of money for testing. And even if not - too bad. Just because you can’t afford it or don’t want to spend the money, that shouldn’t excuse a manufacture from following established safety regulations.

Note that CE is a European standard that allows self certification and is not accepted in the USA.

Glimmie said Aren't you concerned these products have not been certified . . .

Well you may want to ask you insurance company if a fire or electrical injury is caused by a non-listed electrical product, are you still covered?

If yes, then you have nothing to worry about.

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Just to get the record straight. Our power cables all conform to safety standards and go through rigorous testing to prove it.

UL is a private for-profit company. They are neither required nor appreciated by some in this industry including me. Insurance companies do not and cannot deny a claim because of a component that is not UL approved. They must go to some trouble to prove that product was poorly engineered and the cause of a fire. Even if UL approved it and that happens, the company’s are not off the hook.

UL is more about profit than safety, though they do some good along the way.

1 Like

Thanks, Paul

Even if an insurance carrier establishes that a fire was caused by a particular product, they do not deny the claim by the insured. Instead, they pay the claim and subsequently subrogate against the manufacturer of the defective product if causality and evidence of defect is clear.

If you are going to sell electrical products to the public, they should be certified by an independent test lab. If you don’t like UL there are other certified labs such as ETL.

If your products are within standards, then why not acquire the certifications to support that?

Why bother? It does not make the product better, there is no legal requirement, and most buyers care not a whit.

Why is this of concern to you? Can you identify by manufacturer and model name a power cord which is fundamentally unsafe?

For that matter, many of us build our own cables (power, interconnect, speaker), switch boxes, etc. I do not recall any dangerous failures. I have built dozens of mic cables, XLR equipment cables, etc. and have yet to have one fail even when out on location and hauling stuff around.

You similarly have built many, many cables, amps, multi-channel mixers, switchers, speakers, power distribution controllers, room wiring, etc. Has any of it caused a fire which burned down your house?

First, the issue is with primary AC power products. Interconnects and speaker cables are not a safety issue (although at certain power levels, commercial speakers installations become class 1).

And as far as DIY, that’s a risk the DIY-er assumes. I have a 10kva balanced power system installed in my house that feeds all AV electronics in all rooms. It’s basically a secondary electrical distribution system. And it’s un-permitted and illegal. NEC Article 645 forbids a permanently installed balanced power system in a residence. But that is my personal risk to take. I won’t build one for somebody else.

It’s when you sell the product to the general public who may not know of listing requirements or the benefit.

As for PS audio, no I do not believe the products are unsafe. They are professionally very well built. But then why not get certification. Wouldn’t that be an advertising benefit if nothing else? I will question their power cord wire. It’s not as if they bought 10/3 SO cable with a UL listing. What tests have been run for HiPot and flame spread to start with on that stuff?

As for unsafe AC audiophile products, look at MapleShade Audio. That stuff is clearly hazardous.

$1.25 6’ extension cords at the Depot are UL approved. Safe only when used properly but certainly not safe for everything. I wouldn’t use them on my precious stereo.

I design building electrical systems for a living. A couple Chicago Suburban municipalities require UL approval on installed electrical distribution equipment (not just the equipment but the installation). Costs the owners of these buildings a mint! Limits what types of business can afford to build in the villages. Does it improve the installation? Who knows…I don’t see the evidence. Just for reference, I’m associated with maybe 200 new electrical service installs a year. The services range from 600A, 12kV (around 13 MW) all the way down to 100A, 120/240 single phase residential. Sorry, it’s a regulatory racket designed to enrich a few and limit opportunity to many (building codes, in general, walk a fine line between good governance and theft, just my not really that humble opinion).

Glimmie said As for PS audio, no I do not believe the products are unsafe. They are professionally very well built. But then why not get certification.
This has been answered multiple times. Summary: It means little, is expensive and time consuming, PS Audio has rigorously tested its products, and essentially no one shopping for audiophile cables cares.

Similarly, a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval would have little marketing benefit. :slight_smile:

As for unsafe AC audiophile products, look at MapleShade Audio. That stuff is clearly hazardous.
I have never been impressed with Pierre Sprey's products, and find his willingness to record at levels so hot there is often overload distortion highly annoying. His power cords are a bit scary looking, but I bet they are perfectly safe. But a great example of a potentially questionable product.

We have discussed UL listing before, as have many audio sites (as I am certain you know). The discussions tend to go in circles as this one is starting to do so. :slight_smile:

Elk said

His power cords are a bit scary looking, but I bet they are perfectly safe.

Really? A wooden block as an AC plug with prongs made out of hobbyist brass stock?

How about those hookup wires covered with office grade cellophane tape?

You think that is a safe electrical cord?