Why do power cables affect sound when there's a regenerator in play?

I shared my story on another thread about swapping out power cables and hearing a remarkable difference. I’m sure you’ve all passed this milestone eons ago, but I’m always intrigued by why.

What occurred to me following that was an exercise in trying to understand why power cables affect sound. I’ve read many accounts and hypotheses, but it doesn’t appear as if anyone has done an empirical analysis of the cause. We are, however, well practiced in various build techniques and materials through what I can only gather as trial and error leading to fundamental construction techniques that paved the way for controlling variables that lead to downstream sound effects.

Then it struck me… Why would I hear what I heard… A painful shrillness in the mid uppers with the new cable if I have a P20 regenerator between the cable I replaced and the rest of my equipment?

Isn’t the regenerator normalizing the AC wave into a clean signal despite the “stuff” on the other side of the connecting power cord?

Does anyone have any ideas?

P.S. My short story: The importance of power cable

You are not alone. I struggle to see how the cable could make any difference in those circumstances.

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I think it’s hard not to think of the regenerators as perfect machines, but they are not. I’ve tried a handful of different power cords on my regenerators and each has had a significant effect on the system sound. I’ve also had lesser improvements in sound with different outlets for the regenerator. I’ve just come to the conclusion that others have stated in this forum that the cleaner the power you can feed the regenerator the better the resultant sound from the components plugged into it.

And another factor is that some power cables are not just wire and insulation. Some have shielding, some have other “magic science” the manufacturer applies and it appears that these factors influence the sound of the regenerator in varying ways. . . .

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I see the regenerator as an amplifier. And amplifiers are affected by the quality of a power cable.

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I believe there’s more that affects the sound than a perfect AC wave. Depending on how a power cord is designed it can be better or worse at rejecting RFI and EMI, and also microphonic vibrations, all of which can have an affect on the sound.

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Think of it this way. The regenerator needs an adequate supply of current without restriction. The incoming power cable is always going to restrict the regenerator’s ability to receive that to some extent. Further, when the regenerator is doing its work, it’s putting a lot of strain on the incoming AC in the form of big current draws and noisy power supply activity. The incoming power cable thus has a big role to lay in keeping things quiet and providing a big enough “fire hose” to feed the hungry regenerator.

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I thought Vee was referring to outgoing power cords vs incoming. It’s easier to understand why the power cord feeding a regenerator would impact the sound. More puzzling is why outgoing power cords make a difference, when a regenerator is putting out a perfect AC wave.

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Okay, I didn’t quite get that from his description and forgot about the earlier posting.

Thing is, the regenerator is not a perfect machine. It is not a perfect square wave. And there are so many combinations of modes and settings. . . .I’ve been playing about with power cords in my system between PS Audio AC-12 and Iconoclast/Belden BAV and find that I like it best when all digital components (P15, NuWave Phono Converter, DMP and DSD) are powered by AC-12 and all analog components (Decware ZTPRE, Deware CSP3-25, ZROCK2-25, and SE84UFO3-25 Monoblocks) are powered by the BAV. I wouldn’t have predicted that configuration nor that the differences were as significant as they are. Power cables are mysterious but delightful things.

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Let’s say the regenerator does output perfect AC. If the cable from the regenerator to the component messes up that signal. Allowing noise in, The introduced Induction, Resistance and Capacitance.

All that and other factors change the way the power is seen by the component from the regenerator.

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Sorry guys, didn’t mean to confuse – the cable that was impacting sound the most is the one between the P20 and the wall. That’s the one I’ve been focused on.

I’ve read a lot about noise in the line, but it’s a hypothesis that hasn’t been published heavily as far as I know – as in I haven’t seen any formal or amateur studies measuring noise across the power cable.

Thanks Paul, for pointing out current constriction being a factor. I can imagine what’s happening there, and sounds like a major factor. Arguably current is also constricted at the outlet, so a power cable that is higher AWG than the outlet should be free-flowing enough to maximize current (that is true in my case; the cables are <10AWG where the wall is probably 12AWG). What puzzles me is why current restrictions could seemingly emphasis a certain set of frequencies.

In both scenarios, noise and current – why would either factor cause what sounds like a shift in energy to the mid upper highs?

The only case that I’ve personally experienced that’s emphasized highs, besides this recent power cable observation, is when I introduce silver into my connections – whether they be headphones, speaker cables, interconnects – silver has had a tendency to accentuate the higher frequencies.

I know the Pangea SEs also have silver in them – but I can’t logically construct a reason why silver that’s several components separated from my speakers and not in the direct line of analog sound transmission from source is accentuating highs.

Thinking out loud – I see interconnects at all points changing the shape of the sound. I’ve gathered it happening in these areas:

  1. Power cables, particularly on high current analog devices
  2. Fuses (I’ve heard, not tried) – but it makes sense. The fuse is carrying the power signal.
  3. Low-level interconnects: XLR, RCA, etc.
  4. Digital interconnects: USB, HDMI, I2S, etc.

I’ve been mulling over what it is that’s common across all these – and it looks like the grounding plane is what is common.

So it seems likely to be noise on the ground plane bleeding into the audio signal… which is reinforced by people experiencing improved sound when they begin isolating their digital interconnects from their analog chain.

On a related note, I know noise can be heard as static/hiss across the spectrum when nothing is playing. Are there any studies showing whether that baseline noise is additive to the final sound signal, or consumed by it? Does any effect vary/magnify by frequency? Is noise resonant at certain frequencies? How do lay people like us measure this noise at various interconnection points in our system?

I just accepted the fact that power chords are essentially a part of the power system both before and after the regenerator. Sadly for my pocket book they make a difference. So much so that some of my power chords cost up to 60 to 70 % the cost of the device it is powering

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In my understanding power cabling before and after the regenerator among other effects can be affected by several kinds of radiated noise, which influence the regenerator‘s work and later the way from the regenerator to the components. It’s just as if your regenerator is a water pump, improving the existing pressure and the cabling is the pipes transporting the water.

The regenerator (pump) can’t do anything about losses within or bad influences on the cabling (pipes).

If you see the regenerator as a device also affected by bad outer influences itself which it can’t cure, you realize that it can get as far as there may be situations where an optimally secured pipework without pump can give even better results than a worse pipework including a partly unimmunized pump.

Didn’t know if you knew the Pangea ac9se MkII is actually a 7 gauge cable…

Some have tried using the Pangea ac14se MkII with its smaller gauge from wall to regenerator and also power amps resulting in a less than desireable outcome…choke point

They do indeed. I recently replaced the power cord on my DMP with the reasonably priced Synergistic Research Blue power cord and was quite surprised with the improvement it made. I knew power cords could make a difference, but wasn’t expecting it to improve the sound of a transport, but I took Synergistic Research’s advice and tried it on a source component, where according to them makes the biggest difference.

So, if they make that much difference, why would a “high end” manufacturer not ship their equipment out with cables that make their products sound their absolute best? Do you really suspect the average OEM cable chokes that much voltage coming out of your wall? They are likely at least the same gauge as what is in your walls…

Besides, thin cords must be OK, as Marvin Gaye said, “I heard it through a Grapevine”. And HE never complained!

Hey jmilton…

Actually “high end” manufacturers expect the end user to upgrade
to their own choice and flavor if you would for their power cords…

Accuphase supplies an adequate cord to get the new owner going but
fully expects the new owner to go on from there…

https://www.audioaficionado.org/showthread.php?t=42906&page=3

Mcintosh Labs does the same

It’s not just the delivery of voltage that matters. Power cords, including all other cables, can act like antennas or filters. If your power cord doesn’t filter out EMI and RFI, then it’s acting like an antenna, which will introduce noise into your equipment.

Yes, I knew they were 7 gauge, which is why I thought they could help in my system. The Anticables Level 3s are 8 gauge. The two have completely different construction , so it must be the construction that’s leading to the more open sound.

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Then doesn’t your whole house wiring act as an antennae? How does a power cord filter? I guess it comes down to the measuring of the claims, like Gene states here. If you hear a difference, then no one else’s opinion matters.

Vee …you are correct design construction and materials figure deeply on how these will perform…

Jay Victor Pangea’s designer is using Cardas Grade 1 copper in the conductors and as you pointed out earlier a silver coated (plated ?)
copper shield…

The Best Affordable High-current AC Cable Just Got Way Better
The best affordable high-current AC power cable in the industry has just gotten a whole lot better. Pangea Audio’s AC-9SE has been upgraded as the new model AC-9SE Signature Edition MkII to include premium Cardas Grade One Copper in its conductors. AC-9SE MkII is the AC power cable of choice, for getting superior performance from hi-fi and home theater amplifiers, powered subwoofers, and other high current AV components.

Despite its name, the AC-9SE MkII isn’t, in fact, a nine-gauge cable. It’s actually a seven-gauge cable, which means it’s even heftier than the nine-gauge! (The lower the gauge, the thicker the cable.) This difference is especially noticeable in the bass, where the AC-9SE MkII outperforms power cables costing many times more.

This 7-AWG design with its advanced combination of Cardas Grade One Copper conductors, OFC copper conductors, and Litz wire conductors offers a substantial upgrade compared to the already excellent AC-9 MkII. Furthermore, the AC9-SE MkII contains several times the amount of Cardas Grade One Copper than is used in the AC-9 MkII, and this makes a significant sonic difference.

"Quite Simply the Best Copper on the Planet"
The original version of AC-9SE used OFC, Long-Crystal Copper, Litz wire, and PCOCC copper conductors. The new MkII version goes a substantial step further, upgrading to a combination of 99.99% purity OFC copper, Litz wire, and – most important of all – no-compromise Cardas Grade One Copper, which George Cardas of Cardas Audio developed for his own premium cables.

George’s copper is mined in Arizona, then shipped to a New England factory where it is very S-L-O-W-L-Y drawn into conductors in a process that includes reduction annealing between steps to further purify and meld the copper into what George calls “the most amazing audio conductor I have ever experienced. It is quite simply the best copper on the planet.”

“The bottom line is that the best phono cartridges manufactured in the world, the best transformer winders, and the best cable manufactures in the world are converting to this smooth sounding Cardas Grade One Copper,” George reports.

“It is simply stunning how using a combination of space-age technology (reduction annealing) and ancient drawing process (diamond dies and a slow multi stage annealing) can result in such a refined product.”

The combination of Cardas Grade One Copper, OFC copper, and Litz wire conductors makes the AC-9SE MkII Signature Edition an amazing component for the money, outperforming audiophile power cables that cost far more. So throw away the cheap, stock AC power cable that came with your AV component and make the easy, affordable upgrade to AC-9SE MkII. It will bring out the best in your system.

Because of their high-current requirements, power amps benefit from heavier gauge conductors than normal power cords offer. The AC9-SE MkII is specially designed to deliver the clean, high-current power needed by audio amplifiers – including stereo, mono, multichannel, and integrated amps. It is also ideal for powered subwoofers, power conditioners, and other high-current electronic components.


Good stuff