Cables

15 Audiophile Power Cables – Hear for Yourself

Intro

Contents

If you’re interested in the power cables shootout: 27 Best Audiophile Power Cables. The following is just a discussion on a comparative video.

Most audio reviewers find it pointless to record what they hear – and for good reason. There are just too many variables. Including microphone quality, recording device, compression after delivery, and the differences in the end-user listening environment.

It’s impossible to fully assess a piece of equipment from a YouTube recording (“fully” being the keyword). Especially when it comes down to purchasing decisions. However, after tweaking and playing with some recordings myself, I realize there’s some value in sharing these comparisons. Allow me to explain.

That A/B video…

A few months back, I posted a quick video comparison with the KEF LSX and KEF LS50W. It was done hand-held, on a cheap Sony A6500 camera with its internal microphone.

My expectations were low, but I thought it’d be a fun experiment. A few friends remarked “Are you even going to get 100 views on that? Seems a bit pointless.” Well, that video now has over 30,000 views.

With the original files, it was easy to determine which speaker was playing. Even on a laptop. Not too much of a surprise, as there’s a huge tonal difference between these two speakers. And I didn’t need an expensive microphone to hear them. But what about YouTube?

As you know, YouTube (and Vimeo) compresses audio down to 320 kbps. However, many commenters were still also able to hear the differences I heard. They were able to decide which one was brighter or warmer – and even which one had more detail or a larger soundstage. Interestingly enough, a lot of them weren’t even using “audiophile-grade” equipment.

The point is, we’re still able to hear relative differences between these two speakers (in regards to detail and tonal color). That’s still useful information! So that got me thinking “What if I use better recording equipment?”

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Jay Luong

Mr. Audio Bacon himself. An open-minded electrical engineer and software developer by trade. I have an obsession with the enjoyment of all things media - specifically in the realm of music and film. So much heart and soul (and money) go into the creation of this artistry. My aim is to find out which products get me closer to what the musicians and directors intended.

View Comments

    • Some people just can not stand the fact that power cables DO make a difference. It drives them nuts. It IS nuts.

      • Agreed. Most of those guys are just engineers - not audiophiles. I don't think the waveforms lie. I mean, the microphone could hear the differences. So, I guess electronics are susceptible to the placebo effect as well? lol

    • Was this an A/B test between the KEF's a power cable shoot out? Im confused. I tried to read the entire article but could find this on here.

  • Very nice article!
    I have always been a true believer in upgraded pc on all my equipment...the proof is in the sound...if you truly just sit and listen with no distractions then it should be obvious the difference sounds make with a very well made audiophile pc.
    Thanks for a great write up!

  • the power cables -i couldnt hear a significant difference at all - i think the power cable thing is very over-rated

    but the kef speakers - i could hear the difference undeniably - i liked the sound of the b section better

    • Neither could I go listened and listened with my eyes closed and could not hear a difference, using expensive headphones as well. I would save my money and stick with the generic cable.

  • Hello,

    I am the writer of another blog, hifible, thank you for your work, I love it! I can hear differences, and in this set up I really favour the Snake River Audio Cottonmouth (standard version not signature). It has something special in the same way the old school british monitor have. It reminded me of the Spendor SP1 and SP1/2 and of the LS3/5a- It is organic and musical expecially in the reproduction of the silence, it is not electric, not hifisezed.

  • "Again, if you have any recommendations on recording equipment or process, please let me know."

    Outside of doing a A/B tests of two of the same amps or DACs connected with the two different power cables, it would be pretty hard.
    Also in my tests, using a amplifier is much better than using a DAC to tell apart power cables. A heavily shielded power cable will rob the amp of its dynamics. & sound overtly warm vs any non-shielded cables. Though a non-shielded cable with poor geometry will sound bright & shrill.

    An easier way would to identify the inner designs of the cables & test the ones further apart from each other to see if there are distinct differences. E.g. a shielded cables vs a non-shielded cable, a cable with complex geometry twists vs one with straight wire cable Any ones with cooper vs silver etc...

    • Great tips, Bob. I'll keep that in mind for the next recording. I also thought power cables on the amplifier would make the differences more pronounced - but that turned out to be very DAC and amp dependent.

  • Nice article.

    I am another who has no difficulty hearing differences between power cables, and I have tried several.

    For those planning to do multiple power cable comparisons, one thing to keep in mind is that these cables, to varying degrees, don't like being moved. Depending on how much movement, some can take a few hours to settle down again before they perform as intended. Definitely an issue for my Shunyata cables.

  • This is meaningless unless done in person as part of a double blind test. There is no way to ensure that you kept variables the same for each cable. There indeed is no measurable difference in any of these cables and there is a reason that most reputable amplifier manufacturers never provide high-end cables (other than sufficiently large gauge to conduct 15-30A for most home audio) until VERY recently - and that reason is money. There is big money in mega-expensive cables, heck even moderately priced ones so they'd be stupid to ignore that potential revenue stream. But ask ANY engineer for Krell, Mark Levinson, or the men themselves - John Curl or Bob Carver for example - whether an AC mains cable makes any bit of difference provided that all cables are intact and functioning as intended (i.e. not damaged or unable to conduct sufficient electrical energy) and they'll laugh in your face or nicely brush off the question.

    Besides, if you're SERIOUS about this AC mains cabling "issue" then you'll re-wire your entire home. Hmmm....that isn't something many people do, now, is it?

    This is a joke. I got a very good laugh out of it.

  • Can we please end this debate once and for all? Please conduct a double blind listening test in whatever controlled environment to which you have access. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blinded_experiment#Double-blind_trials

    Until you or someone else does this, it's all meaningless conjecture and uninformed opinion that cannot be reproduced in a statistically significant (i.e. better than a blind guess) manner.

    Thanks.

    Tom Collins, Texas

    • Really?!Just wondering Tom,
      Have you conducted a double blind listening test on anything? I have and they are very revealing! Many people do.
      Cables can make a difference, but it is dependent on the resolution of the system AND the resolving power of the listener.
      Just because you can’t hear something, doesn’t mean others can’t .
      Science is not absolute in its ability to explain the physical world. Just ask a scientist!

  • I honestly expected the recording to sound *a lot* better given the equipment being used. I shot this recording of my old Audio Physic Virgo Vs so that the buyer could hear them playing - on my cellphone. I put zero effort into it, I just sat down on the couch and pressed play and held the phone in front of my face. I think it sounds significantly better than what I'm hearing here. There's some actual soundstage width for one, and some real percussion for another so you can get some semblance of what's happening in the lower frequencies.

    https://youtu.be/IuCHON_Xgyo

    Given the quality of the mic you're using, I would've expected something more like this: https://youtu.be/0zQKXwAxiHs

  • I use Audioquest Thunder and Zu Event power cords. My cords are no where near prices at the some of these tested cords. I never really bothered doing AB testing in my system simply because I don't have time. But I like to believe that my power cords make some difference in sonic quality compared to stock power cords. However I cannot see myself spending much more money on a power cord because if you look at inside of audio devices there are number of wires connecting AC maine into the power transformer. So unless these wires are also super high quality what's the point of having an expensive power cord? I think what we hear from PC is how electrons are arriving into circuitry with certain amount of noise. So once reach certain threshold of noise in electricity, sound should be indistinguishable.

    • Many of these cables are well-built - so it all comes down to how it sounds to you. I've probably heard over 200-300 power cables. They all have their own "flavors" and depends on what you're looking to add/subtract.

      Although the relative differences are similar across systems - the magnitude of those differences varies between those systems and the components. For example, the Furutech DPS-4 seems to sound better at the wall or on amplifiers while the Snake River Audio Signature Cottonmouth sounds better on digital gear.

      • Hi,

        Since you have a lot of experience with power cables, can you recommend me a cable which will increase the bass of my LS50 Wireless. I find the bass a bit too lean and the highs a bit shrill and mids a bit too forward especially at high volumes. Very fatiguing to listen to at high volumes.

        • If you want something dark, Atlas Eos 4.0 dd. The Furutech DPS-4 will soften those highs a little and add more meat on the bones. The DIY Acrolink 7N is not as dark as the Atlas and might also be a great pairing (and is a lot more affordable). The Vovox Textura is probably the most balanced one and could be purchased directly. If you have a lot of cash, the Audience Au24 SX.This cable will smooth it out and dense it up.

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