Sound quality comparisons of PS Audio DACs

This, of course, is precisely the argument which was historically used against interconnects and speaker cables.

I genuinely applaud your effort to remain objective and open to previously unknown phenomena, but nah, it’s not the same thing at all. There have always been and always will be EXTREME viewpoints on each “side” of the speaker cable/interconnect debate and lots of tests of varying types have been done over the years with most concluding that you stop realizing any measurable, reproducible, statistically significant sonic improvements at a certain point - usually tied to a price continuum. I.e. signal cable quality matters, but there is a $$ level at which one is simply “wasting” (see my note at the end) one’s money except for the improvements one is imagining.

But anyway…the power cable is not in the signal path, and to my knowledge, there have been no studies, demos or simple measurements that show an expensive power cable (or fuse) making a difference on the DC-side of any audio component’s power supply when compared to a standard non-defective cable of equivalent AWG and length – much less in the sound.

I’ve seen the videos; including Shunyata’s and Audioquest’s and read the reports about how simply switching out a power cable drastically (or slightly) improved the sound in a demo system at an electronics hi-fi show and where all other variables are allegedly held constant. None of them have convinced me. BTW, the “I was a skeptic until….” pitch has been used for centuries to sell all kinds of junk.

And I’ve listened to systems (including my own) with different power cables and, every time I’ve had control over the setup or when the switch was done transparently in a system that I could see all parts of, my ears have confirmed what my EE background and common sense tell me. There’s no difference in the sound. Same for fuses. I will say that power conditioners and filters are a different story. Dirty power can have all kinds of weird effects on audio and video systems, but unless a cord has a filter built in, and can somehow actively correct phase or ripple problems, it’s a non-starter for me.

You may not think so, but I believe that a better analogy/comparison is between expensive power cables and digital cables. No matter what anyone says in a sales pitch or testimonial, it has been proven that there is no measurable effect or statistically meaningful confluence of opinion on picture quality when replacing an otherwise undamaged and properly constructed HDMI cable with an expensive variant. I think that’s about where the power cable situation is. You have a small number of companies in whose interest it is to convince a number of people that these products alone can improve their audio or video systems.

I apologize again about dragging this thread off topic, but that was not my intent. People including me just can’t seem to let any comment about expensive power cables go untouched. I’m not saying that power cables CANNOT POSSIBLY make a difference, just that I haven’t seen or heard any evidence in a trustworthy setting which would demonstrate that they do, and that in all cases where I played around with them, I never heard any difference. There is no scientifically legit explanation out there for why an AC mains cable can “improve” your systems’s sound. Also please note again that I am not commenting on AC line filters or conditioners, which I know from experience can improve both image and sound quality in certain situations.

To clarify what I said much earlier - by “wasting” I mean no judgment - people have opinions on things and spending more on something you think is worth more than a similar item is so common as to be beyond debate. I don’t buy a Ferrari because I want to go fast and enjoy doing it and there’s no other way to go fast and have fun. I can go as fast and corner as well in any number of cheaper alternatives, backed up by real measurements. I do buy a Ferrari because I think it’s better than a Corvette or Lotus, and there’s a certain cache about it. It’s a preference. In that manner I will continue to view hyper-expensive power cables as Veblen goods (in the smaller confines of the “audiophile” world, rather than the market at large).

1 Like

P.S. I tend to agree with Mark Waldrep on this topic and for anyone who’s interested, I would check out his ongoing “battle” (LOL - and it has become a battle) with “high end” cable manufacturers.

I think he also knows the owners/management of PS Audio personally and has a good relationship with them.

P.P.S. One of my favorite things to do with regard to audio when I make a change is to have my wife listen to a system before/after the change and guess what’s different (within reason of course). She’s usually pretty spot on. I decided to test her one day and switched the polarity on the right channel of one of my systems and then switched it back while playing a song familiar to her (in this case Santa Monica by Everclear) and she immediately said that when it was out of phase (which she of course didn’t know) the sound wasn’t centered, the vocals sounded like they were coming from around the outsides of the speakers rather than a singer in the middle, and the bass wasn’t good. When I corrected it she identified the difference. So I do trust her ability to discern differences, and I’ve twice - as a check on myself - had her listen “to” different power cords with her being unable to distinguish the difference.

Actually, it is. We listen to current, modulated by a musical signal. The cleaner the incoming power, the more clear and transparent the sound. If this were not true, PowerPlants would have no impact on the sound. But they do. If a power cable provides for cleaner power - the primary hypothesis for how they work - they could easily have a beneficial impact on the sound.

I am not a big proponent of power cables as I have found their impact to be modest. I can easily accept they make a tremendous difference for others. There are many things in the world for which we have inadequate and incomplete explanations. I have no patience for voodoo explanations.

Agnosticism is the healthiest approach for all aspects of this hobby.

Well the point regarding conditioners and filters (and PowerPlants) is that they alter the AC waveform in such a way as to make it conform to what every U.S. audio component’s power supply was designed to convert to various DC rail voltages - a mostly clean 120V RMS (~170V p-p) periodic waveform with a standard frequency of about 60 cycles per second. Of course we all know these basic facts, but the point is that the primary thing that power treatment does is provide a clean, steady waveform. A passive cable can only hope to provide some level of filtering. But the cable MFG’s that I was referencing also make claims about how their cables can conduct MORE current and in so doing provide for higher dynamic/transient power draw “requirements” that we are supposed to believe a standard AWG equivalent cable cannot. That’s where I draw the line. If a cable can demonstrably reduce “noise” or other spurious energy caused by household appliances or coming in from the grid, that’s great, but if a listener has legitimate issues with respect to AC quality, a passive cable based filter likely won’t be enough, and tere are other ways of accomplishing - dedicated circuit/breaker, power conditioners, power filters, and each of those obviates the need for an expensive AC cable.

So it’s back to that Shunyata ‘demo’ where we are supposed to believe that their cable allows more energy to reach the DC-side of a component’s power supply (presumably amplifiers because standard source components like CD players and DACs do not have high transient dynamic current requirements).

Those are literally the only two theoretical benefits one might hope to achieve with a power cable alone. And it doesn’t cost more than $50 (depending on economies of scale of course) to do this.

Directional copper, copper purer than 99.9999%, over-engineered cable geometries and jacketing for extreme RF and other EM interference rejection, larger equivalent conductor diameters than any current draw requirements will ever necessitate, etc. are not necessary and cannot measurably improve the performance of a component, electrically at the DC-side of a power supply, or sonically in a fashion that is repeatable and statsitically significant (i.e. a confluence of listeners agree to the same “improvement”). In any case, most of those things are also not going to justify a $1,000 pricetag anyway - for the manufacturer (again, depending on economies of scale) or for the listener.

But again, these are essentially Veblen goods. If you can afford it and if your opinion is that it improves your system, more power (pun intended) to you and your components! I think what makes this subject difficult to talk about without ending up hurting feelings and egos is that on the one hand, you have people who either can’t afford or don’t want to spend money on expensive cable tweaks constantly being told that this means their systems are “Inferior” or on the other hand people who can afford these things and who insist that YES, they (power or digital cables) make a drastic difference, even if no measurement or specific principle of electrical or electronics engineering can really back up the claims and they’re sick of being told (or perceiving that they’re being told) by envious fellow audiophiles in the first group that they are fools or that their brains/ears are playing tricks on them.

And it can go on and on and on…

Is it just me or is this thread insanely ponderous… Instead of trying to convince anyone that what they’re hearing is incorrect just listen to what makes you happy - life’s too short. If you’re happy with a less expensive DAC like a dlink 3 and a home depot power cable that’s great you’ll save yourself a lot of money in the process. No one is saying anything is inferior other than you. I envy you in a way but to be fair your incessant lecturing is really getting tedious and it seems like you’re arguing with yourself at this point…


A new word for today. I had to look it up.

Yea - me too… it means “conspicuous consumption”. My power cables would definitely fall into that category - don’t want to get into the rest of my system - that would be much worse…

Geez loueez–if power cables make no difference to you, then you’re ahead of the game. Think of all the money you happily save! Same for anything else in the signal path. Let’s not get carried away, it’s just wire.
A good friend connects his zillion dollar Wilsons to his McIntosh with rip cord and he’s immovably happy. He wears “the smirk of knowledge” and he couldn’t be happier.

If you read anything I wrote as “incessant lecturing” then I’m not sure what to say. I’ve had a few conversations directly with two individuals on this thread - which involved some ponderous and perhaps too verbose meandering and you’re free to read them or not read them, period. Ironic, then, that this appears to be your very attitude about cables. Whatever floats your boat, and nobody is making anybody buy expensive cables or read posts in this thread. Nobody is “arguing” with anybody else, so yeah maybe I’m having this conversation with myself. Oh well…

Veblen good is one way to describe the phenomenon. Case could be made for snob and/or bandwagon effect when talking about cables (or components) too.

Also just noticed the snarky response from someone else to the “…good weekend” comment. LMAO bunch of prickly curmudgeons around here, eh?

Yup. Guy I know connects his Project Everest 67000s with basic radio shack wire. Also uses that for the jumpers on his bridged McIntosh power amps.

P.S. (mostly) back on topic, after running it for the majority of the afternoon I find the sound of the Brooklyn DAC+ to be very similar to the D-Link III I mentioned, on par with the DS Jr., which had mellowed out a bit just before exchanging it. The exchange was made primarily on the basis of software quirks/bugs/glitches and what seemed like excessive heating than on sound quality, which I can only imagine was going to continue to improve. But the MyTEK is a very expressive DAC - excellent dynamics too. The midrange has settled down and wonder how it will sound when/if they put the 9038PRO in the next generation.

Just was amused by the conversations you were having with yourself. I agree whatever floats your boat. Most people that are into this stuff let their ears be their guide. While it’s interesting to note that “current, modulated by a musical signal” is what we listen to I find conversations like this, where someone is trying to objectify what I should be hearing, kind of nauseating. Like you I’m “sick of being told” what I should hear by those who can’t hear or don’t want to hear it themselves. You’re right though I don’t have to read this thread. I couldn’t resist though. Please continue. Lets get back to the “Veblen goods” conversation…

Yeah I’m sick of the cables conversation too, as well as the rest of it. Sorry for engaging in it for so long.

Did you have the DAC+ or previous iteration of the Brooklyn? How would you compare it to the DS jr. (or do you have the DSD Sr.)?

Or - Unimaginable Horror! - others are absolutely correct and are indeed hearing better sound with aftermarket power cords, worth what people are paying for them.

Ha ha ha…see what I meant? It’s literally not possible for me to drop the subject without being made to bow before the sacrificial altar of accepted dogma at PS Audio.

Just tell me what I need to do in order to be clean again. If I produce the receipt for a couple of $1000 AC mains cables, do I have a chance of being in good graces at some point, or was the offense of questioning the Church of the Super AC Cable too much to ever overcome?

You’re right - the more that I think about it Snob Effect is a much better description of the situation.

And BTW, I never questioned ALL aftermarket cords nor did I impugn the use of said cords in ALL situations, but building straw men is fun, so I’ll bow out for now.

I am not expressing dogma - or even taking a position of whether power cords make a difference or not. Rather, I am merely pointing out that there are a myriad of experiences and motivations which do not fit into your world view.

No one here cares if you own expensive power cable or not. And nobody is questioning what you hear in your system, be it cables or DACs. The negative reaction you are experiencing is occasioned by your insistence others do not hear what they hear, and they buy expensive cables and components only to impress others.

No one responds well to arrogant condescension. This is why I earlier asked you to please tone down the rhetoric.

Again, your views are welcome. Just be respectful of others and their opinions.

1 Like

A good friend connects his zillion dollar Wilsons to his McIntosh with rip cord and he’s immovably happy. He wears “the smirk of knowledge” and he couldn’t be happier.

OMG- Blasphemy ! Transparent cable or nothing.

Hopefully this may help your friend:

1 Like

Thanks for the laugh. My girlfriend is a psychiatrist and my son a PhD psychologist. Both are at the ready. But Albert is like the light bulb that needs to be changed—you know the old story about the psychiatrist and the light bulb, I’m sure.

I had that, “uh oh” feeling again when I saw that this thread had so many new posts since yesterday.

The issue is, you don’t want to miss out on something if it’s interesting, so you kinda have to read it. And you don’t want to post about it if you haven’t read it. Though like a lot of news and opinion today, you start the day less tense if you take it in small doses. Maybe we should get folks from various camps to aggregate our news from the forums for us. “Headlines from Yesterday in the Wire Debate…” ; )

KCCK - to sorta get back on topic, I agree with the differences you noted between the DS and Manhattan. I thought you were even sort of conservative in your statements about the differences, which I found to be dramatic - but just as you state.

Nahkliahos - I just found that cxp had answered my earlier question about the GCD having an ESS Sabre chip. While I have not heard it in the GCD, I have had (and still have) a number of devices with them (ESS chips), and there is something of a “family resemblance” among them IMO.

I think what Ted is doing with his FPGAs, etc. is another order of device. Almost apples and oranges, if I were being dramatic. They’re maybe both fruit, but different kinds, even if grown in the same orchard. Actually it’s more like the skin was grown in the same orchard, but not the fruit. I would be surprised if the GDC has a family resemblance to the DS’s sonically. But, y’know - I dunno ; )

Akin to not being able to turn away from the horrific automobile accident?

I agree the DACs sound decidedly different.

It has been a long time since I have heard a GCD, but I recall there is some family resemblance. PS Audio DACs tend to have a somewhat forward sound, a in sitting perhaps row 10. Lots of detail, but not tipped up to make you feel you are sitting in the musicians’ laps. They also possess a certain clarity which is often missing from others.

Let’s get back to it… and to the “heart” of it all…

I have a Junior… as a normal, emotional consumer, I look at the Senior and wonder if I should have pulled the trigger. How much more better is it for my musical enjoyment? I will levy the value side of things, but I can’t walk into a showroom and compare.

This modern loss of showrooms is really not healthy for any of us, consumers and producers… it will reward the Bose-y promoters more than anything anymore. I don’t have the information to compare. So for me, buying something I could not hear… well I went for the “same but cheaper” unit… this was a risk reduction move for me.

Cables: sorry I can;t help myself… they are meaningful to a point, then stupid. I had the opportunity to take home a “couple hundred pounds” of speaker cables from a dealer I got to know cheap up to stupid expensive (alt least stupid to me)… there is no doubt some were just awful, and the bad ones all had the same characteristic: bright and harsh… they were the cheapest by the way… but once I hit a point… can’t remember the dollar threshold but it was in the hundreds, they stopped sounding better. Interestingly enough, they all did sound DIFFERENT from each other. This taught me a huge lesson…1) buy quality but you don;t have to spend a ton, 2) DIFFERENCES don’t get yout more musical connection… remember it is about the music, no? At least it is for me.

So, back to the Junior vs spending more money… as a consumer, I still wonder. I love the sound of the Junior, or more acuratly, what it does for my enjoyment of the music. This makes me lust for the more expensive unit… but what would it do for my enjoyment? Again, the price is secondary to me… I will make that value judgement AFTER I understand its delivery of music emotions.

Unfortunately, we live in terrible times for local dealers and I just won;t get that knowledge. Yes, I do value A/B ing… I’ve been listening to and buying this stuff for literally 40 years… I can sniff 'em out pretty quickly.

ANother note: I purchased a Benchmark USB DAC when it came out… reviewes were all outstanding… it sounded great but was dead when it came to emotions… I was never happy with it… I suspect I never would have purchased it if I heard it first… this played into my risk mitigation move when I purchased the Junior.

Bruce in Philly