Shunyata Research Sigma NR
- Price: $3,000/1.75m
The Sigma NR power cord is the ultimate expression of Shunyata Research’s Noise Reduction series. Six gauge VTX™ (hollow-core) conductors equip it to handle the highest-powered amplifiers and yet it is surprising flexible for such a large diameter cable. CopperCONN®, pure copper connectors, are the best in the business. KPIP™ eliminates burn-in issues.
If you enjoy Shunyata’s house sound – you’ll enjoy the Sigma NR power cable. It’s a relaxed and dreamy sounding cable. Its tone is more of an analog-grey. Almost milky in texture.
The Sigma NR provides nice information in decay but remains calm and collected throughout. There’s no grain or sharpness. Consequently, some of the grit and clarity is smothered. The mids are more forward and there isn’t a lot of extension up top. There’s also an undeniable sense of softness that’s blanketed across the sound. This also shows in the bass region.
Also, if you’re looking for a naturally colored sound, this ain’t it. Snoop Dogg sounds a bit like Mary Poppins. A little soft and polite. Like he’s going to bake me a cake. There’s this grey-glaze that doesn’t offer up many variations in tone. Transients are also quite a bit softer.
I think this is a great cable if want something that’s palpable and easy to listen to. Especially if you’re prone to treble fatigue.
|Who should buy this cable?|
|If you need to calm or band-aid an overly energetic system. It has thicker but colorless paint that you could apply.|
|Not a lot of extension or energy on both ends of the spectrum. It doesn’t quite shine or pop.|
|Grey, cloudy, dull, soft, thick, smooth.|
There’s a few things i find troublesome with this review:
The first being that there’s no objective measurements, and it’s all done by ear. Your brain adapts and changes constantly, so that is very subjective. you can’t actually a-b test anything as you don’t remember things exactly as they happened.
The first(and a half): you also mention that one should spend a few days with a power cable, and that it may ‘grow on you’. That should tell you enough about your own state of mind changing, and not the cable.
The second, as you say you’re an electrical engineer, what good would a power cable do, if the wiring inside your wall is still the same crappy stuff it’s always been?
I find non-audiophiles who comment on audiophile reviews – troublesome.
Touché! Exactly what I wonder with these folks
That’s a nasty response for an “open minded” engineer, or is it “troublesome” as in “cannot convincingly answer”? How do you know CH23 is not an audiophile?
Instead you could address the very valid question: did you rewire your house using boutique cables? If these final 3 feet mattered then apparently the wires are a filter (an engineer would want to know that).
Furthermore: any competently designed amplifier already filters out the mains crap.
“here I’ll just call him out as a ‘non-audiophile’, surely that’ll show these pesky evidence-based thinkers and make myself look better to anyone who isn’t already part of my audio voodoo cult”
SNAKE OIL AS USUAL
I have the same question and agree that it should be addressed by someone spending huge money on the “last 3 feet”. I am a newbie audiophile and perhaps that makes me beneath a response, but it just doesn’t make sense. Your home is full of basic wire, perhaps you upgrade the outlet, but then why would that last 3 feet make a huge difference in sound quality? Again, I’m willing to take the plunge if it makes sense, but as a newbie I’d just like to understand the physics here.
I’m glad you’re not one of these Measurement Morons and are open to “hearing it out.” These guys want others to prove something to them, when they won’t even want to prove it to themselves. And these are personalities I won’t get along with in the real world anyway. Truth is, they’re spreading misinformation. I’ve lived and breathed in a world of measurements, zeros, and ones, and absolutes. One reason why I love this hobby is that it’s not so cut and dry. From where I came from – it’s refreshing and intriguing.
Like myself, I think all audiophiles start off skeptical. And that’s healthy. But, as the story goes, a few friends brought over some cables and we gave them a listen. We weren’t sure why they sounded different but they did. It’s most likely due to their balance of impedance, resistance, and inductance (LCR). RFI rejection is also a real thing which is why many (not all) of these power cables are shielded.
I also realize the sound could be altered passively. I recently wrote a review on the NCF Booster. Just place the top portion of this device onto the connectors – and it changes the sound. I’m not saying it’s always for the better, just different. I’m guessing it’s modulating the magnetic field caused by the current going through the wire which leads to skin effect, eddy currents, etc – which could change the power supply’s interaction with the analog section of the equipment. Yada, yada, that all actually makes sense.
There’s also the type of conductor used. A company called Iconoclast based all their cable designs on measurements only. But they discovered there was a different sound depending on metallurgy – even though they measured the same. These are facts from a real engineer who has done this stuff for over 35 years. I mean the all silver Crystal Cable power cord in this review surely sounds different from most of these copper variants. So the metal used in the “first 6 feet” also contributes to the sound.
Now I’m very curious about how these power cables measure to see if there are any correlations to my subjective impressions. I’ll see what I could do there.
So at this point, it should be clear that measurements won’t tell the whole story. And the story it does tell – may not be that important to an audiophile. What sounds good and engages one listener – may be far different from another. And that’s why these companies still exist. And why some are willing to pay a bit more money for a sound they enjoy.
To conclude, just borrow a few cables from the Cable Co or buy a Pangea power cord on Amazon. Give it a listen, realize how idiotic these measurement trolls are, then move on with your journey.
maybe if we compare it like putting a filter for water at home, you get cleaner and sweeter water after you instore a good filter right? cheers.
Oh c’mon, it doesn’t take a genius to recognize he isn’t an audiophile. ALL audiophiles with basic experience KNOW power cables COULD change the sound of a system. There are NO exceptions.
You’re obviously not one either. Don’t you guys have better things to do? Go out and make some friends! Go get laid!
Interesting way of proving your point, I believe it was Cliff Clavin who used this line of reasoning a lot in the fictitious Cheers bar? “It’s a well known fact…”
Revealing is your lack of actual answers and the absence of civility and elegance when politely asked.
In any case, it seems that an audiophile is someone who believes you at your word, is that it? Any hint of criticism brands one a heretic, fairly judged using Monty Pythons finest scientific methods of course.
An audiophile understands that the most important things that gets them closer to what they want – are in the subjective. You don’t understand, because you’re inexperienced in this domain. Measurements are great for repeatability and finding problem areas. That’s it. So if equipment measures about the same – and sound very different – what is the point of following measurements when purchasing gear? For the purpose of enjoying music – very little.
Just because your chemistry professor tells you that this is an optimal composition of cocaine – doesn’t mean you (who hasn’t tried cocaine) could go into a room full of cartel leaders (who are very experienced) and ask them “politely” to prove they have the best quality. If you don’t belong here – you will be dealt with accordingly. Any criticisms, and you won’t be branded as a heretic – they’ll just, with the utmost “civility and elegance” put a hole in your head. It’s a well-known fact.
Apparently, you’re an objectivist and perhaps a narrow-minded engineer. So, what is your purpose here? Are you trying to be a hero? Are you looking for approval? What is it? Because it’s obvious – you don’t belong here.
One more comment, and then you can ban me.
Why do you react like someone caught you with your fingers in the till? A simple and courteous retort on how you want to do your test and what methods resonate in your readership suffices.
Excluding scientific methods is disservice to the readers IMO, but being open and honest about that would be fine and probably means this site is not for me.
The basis for any subjective listening test should be thorough measurements, if only to reveal esoteric implementations like an interlink with high resistance, capacitance or reactance.
Subjectively liking this despite it’s technical shortcomings is completely valid of course.
Note to self: Never get on Jay’s bad side haha.
Although Jay’s responses could be more tempered. I could understand his perspective. He has been doing subjective-oriented reviews since the very beginning. He even mentions it in the introduction of this review and on the about page of his website. So he was upfront on the expectations.
So…you should stop acting like a victim and take responsibility for your own missteps.
A much wiser man than me once said: what you post on your blog should be presentable to your mother and children. I ask a simple question and you go all Trump on me – your prerogative on your own blog of course but it shows what you’re (not) made of.
You pretend to know me and make miles of preposterous assumptions (cocaine, really?).
As it happens I fully agree with you that a terribly measuring amplifier (any tube) may sound very sweet – and still I want to know the numbers so I can make an informed decision.
The cocaine ‘metaphor’ explains a lot to me about your state of mind, there’s no business like snow business right? I’ve never tried it because credible experts told me its a very bad idea, how about you?
My purpose here? I got a reference and started reading, saw your impolite non-answer and asked a question, one you have avoided to answer with as many derogative personal insults as you could muster up.
So let’s try the question again.
Did you rewire your house using boutique cables? If these final 3 feet mattered then apparently the wires are a filter (an engineer would want to know that).
Furthermore: any competently designed amplifier already filters out the mains crap.
Well, a “much wiser man” doesn’t really say much. I don’t pretend to know you – I don’t even WANT to know you lol. You are insignificant and only serve as a punching bag on my lunch break.
Btw, I just showed my blog to my mother and my 3-year old niece. Now, they said this in Chinese so I’m not sure if I’m translating this correctly: “You demolished that mutha fucka.”
Their words, not mine.
What part of:
don’t you understand? I guess I assumed if you can’t read, there was no point in writing a response.
Bottom line: If you want measurements to make an informed decision, you are in the wrong place. And should just walk away. If you were wiser, you would’ve known that. But you’re not – and you look like a fool.
That was absolutely brutal. I wouldn’t wish that assault upon my worst enemy.
Not to add salt to the wound……..but I believe that is an analogy and not a metaphor. Not to mention, a great one at that. 🙂
I think Jay’s point is crystal clear. If you care about measurements, this wasn’t the magazine for you. If you could take a look at the other comments, you’re obviously an outlier. To be honest, there aren’t many publications that perform measurements……..anyway.
By being here insisting for more “proof”- will just incite a more combative response. Like the previous poster said……don’t pretend to be a victim when you’ve just bestowed this upon yourself.
You’ll understand that I won’t take your word for it. I actually expected you to take a guess at my mothers’ profession, but this will do.
Fits entirely that you (allegedly and apparently) translated your biased view of my words to your mother, it’s better that she remains ignorant of the ugly truth.
Glad you think I’m your punching bag, seems everybody wins today. Only one who can swallow an insult is a man.
I don’t care if you take my word for it because you’re not even the target audience. No one here cares either. The fact you think I really told my mother about the blog shows just how clueless you really are (but, just between us, that Ryan fellow is worse).
Swallow that insult. Grow that thicker skin!
Until you’ve taken punches to the face, have a gun pulled on you, and have people spit in your face due to your race – then talk to me about being a man. You are not even close.
Sorry Jay, seems you misunderstood my first sentence “You’ll understand that I won’t take your word for it”. It was unkind of me pushing you over the brink and letting you expose yourself like that.
Good luck with the religion and I wish you all reach audio nirvana. Don’t take the red pill!
Religion? Red pill? Audio Nirvana? Thank YOU, for exposing yourself as a dumb-ass and making your intentions clear. You weren’t planning to be constructive. Go back to your lab and perform some measurements on cables. Then stick those cables up your ass and see if they feel the same.
Hmm, I was clearly and specifically reacting to your last posting, and you’ve made it very clear that my question was unwanted – what would it expose? If a power cable makes an audible difference on a well-functioning system I would very much like to know how, and context matters.
Your responses are aggressively defensive and offer no explanation whatsoever, so excuse me for not being able to be constructive next to the schoolyard bully.
The logic conclusion is that you only want to believe, not know. Ignorance is bliss I guess and you’re welcome to it.
From one dumb-ass to another: since apparently you define the “true audiophile”, I think calling it a religion is quite correct.
i am a engineer from germany. hi!!! i like more with science and the graphs and also measurements. not really big audiophile but enjoy in sound and music
very interesting paper jay. what equipment did you use???? i do hope you measure in the future
but ‘apekool’ you are a big dick. go find yourself a woman. the man was honest. in truth you are the bully. you are trying to start trouble. everyone can see!
also he feels smart and speak great points and you will always lose. you are really the dumbass hahahha. if i am you i will give up and have a beer!!!!!
jay do not let these simple people stop you. good luck!
LOL, what the…thanks, Jorg…
Talk about overkill. These measurement trolls didn’t even stand a chance.
Hi from Australia! I love your Munich coverage. You did it better than the big guys. Keep up the great work!
Jay, from this point onwards…I will call you the TROLL SLAYER!
I don’t believe power cables sound different. They either work in providing sufficient power, or they don’t. You guys are clearly delusional and I’m clearly “not an audiophile.”
But unlike Apekool, I don’t want a hole in my head. So, for that reason, I’m out.
I find it very hard to believe you are an electrical engineer. If the cable doesn’t measure better – either individually or as part of a system – then you’re just pushing BS and probably being compensated by the manufacturers.
Power cables do not change the sound. Period.
Do you really believe that none of the high-end audio designers, for Mark Levinson, Krell, Classé, Bryston and so forth have never figured out that the power cord can make their creation sound better? You think those engineers have been oblivious to that for decades, and still deliver their high priced electronics with a standard power cord?
Laughing out loud.
I listen to high-end systems and i hear lots of technically unexplainable audible differences too. But i learned to respectfully conversate with people who are sceptical. There are two completely different perspectives.
No need to call people troublesome, measurement morons, trolls and all those other unrespectful things just because you don’t like sceptism. And eventually trying to blame them for your rudeness too! If you post messages on a blog on the internet, prepare to deal with different opinions. It’s very unprofessional. This is exactly the behaviour that gets us music-equipment nerds a bad elitist name. Those people don’t belong here? I think your attitude doesn’t belong here.
Most of us are very kind and patient to eachother and we’re always in for a heated conversation. We’ve come a long way thinking it was all bs, but can’t blame anyone for not digging it. He was at least trying to open up an conversation about his thoughts. That should be encouraged and answered respectfully. No need to get all worked up about people questioning your methods. Don’t blame them, use it to your advantage. To not be b*tthurt would give you a headstart.
If people are not allowed to question anything anymore these days, how do we ever achieve progress?
A good painting for example has many unexplainable visual aspects that make it “good” and exites revisiting, but it also has many measurable techniques, brushes and paint characteristics. If the cable would be seen as a painting, the goal is to find correlations between measurements and subjective observations, to make something good reproducable, so it can be explained and made even better. So there’s nothing wrong with the desire to search for hard proof of observations. It’s the basic of all.
Enjoying a painting with eyes, and music with ears is both subjective. You can tell a good painting from a bad one, but it’s highly a matter of taste. Some people just see a painting on a wall and that’s it. The one that looks the best may not actually be technically the best. But generally speaking: The use of certain techniques and paint results in higher quality paintings. So there’s more than only subjectivity to it after all (their point).
If this were not true: making a “good” cable would be like driving a car blind, you could end up anywhere between a crash and your destination. Car navigation would at least make it easier in this scenario, if you get my point. I’m glad many cable company’s use measurements. So your commentsection is making sharp observations when they politely question the objectivity that is kept out of the loop.
Your previous comment to this one shows why you don’t have employment as an electrical engineer doing any real engineering.
Even assuming that there are listenable gains to be made in high end equipment by further improvement of the overall power delivery and supply sub-systems, It is the height of stupidity to expend the type of money involved on these type of power cables, compared to spending that same money on improving the power supply itself.
One of the most insightful things I was taught while obtaining my degree in electrical engineering was the comment made to us one day by a very experienced visiting engineer, “During your career you will most likely come across various people who achieve what on the surface seem to be reasonable results, but it is the professional engineer who can repeatedly deliver results on time and budget, safely and with optimised economy, taking into account all aspects of capital and operating costs”.
“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent full of doubt.” – Bertrand Russell.
Try having a few more doubts if you want to call yourself open minded.
PS : Please do me the honour of calling me “not an audiophile” because based on this website, being an audiophile is no accolade of any kind.
You’re not an audiophile.
1.Power cords are not filters. 2. They cause a change in sound regardless of what wiring is in the walls. 3. Most amplifiers, especially audiophile types do not have a traditional EMR filters. 4. House wiring is not necessarily “crap”. Even so, the effect of a specialty power cord does not increase much after 7 to 8 feet in length.
With that said, the “in wall” wiring does make a difference, and so does the outlets and breaker box.
you do not need to rewire the house as the next question will be how do you handle the crap of the street entering the house? If you rewire your immediate neighborhood , then how do you handle the crap that enters the city? You have to understand wires have electrical resistance, and RFI and EMI effects have very little A ( amperage) > In practice it means micro volts and less under normal circumstances ( not living next to a FM broadcasting studio or military radar systems). The wire will deeply attenuate spot local RFI within meters of that particular spot ( 1 square mm) because of its ohm resistance. Still rewiring the line to the listening room will help and certainly not be harmful if the audio setup is extremely quite by itself. ( for instance the use of ultra low noice VR and components). That makes the last 3-5 meters connected to your components important for very high end systems and the last meter for hifi setups
You see us real electronic engineers are in the know. He called me a troll, the first of 2020 because I questioned him about power cables. I even offered myself to carry out some test with him. I was perfectly polite like the first comment made above. His credibility by his response on this subject says it all. Congrats again Jay you don’t win any discussion by being dismissive of people with differing opinions. Poor show on you. This thread says it all.
Hey, if you’re going to make accusations that I’m being dishonest – don’t try to make yourself look like the victim 🙂
Yes, indeed — their comments should be troubling you, since they are based on an understanding of technology and of scientific method which you clearly lack. (Or hide very well in your business capacity.)
Not troubled at all. An intelligent engineer (and problem solver) realizes when technical methodologies apply – and when they don’t. They are agile and are open to their preconceptions being challenged. And rely on experience when appropriate. When it comes to the endless variables in the domain of human hearing, “dumb” engineers rely solely on reading charts and scopes. But those engineers don’t matter anyway – because they aren’t audiophiles. The problem is – they are trying to police a community to which they don’t have any experience with.
Here is my attitude to doing such widespread cable reviews and it’s just mine while I congratulate the effort that goes into your benchmarking. Cables are a suck and see product, the combinations of what they can do to the sound of audio are more widespread and less reviewer discernible. Not so much for many types of audio gear. You won’t know until you plug in with cables in other words. That gives the review less value. Also cables don’t have the sexiness of audio gear – they are bits of wire After all, making reviews slightly boring. Also there often bears no resemblance of price to audio quality so implying or saying x cable can be benchmarked of many others is a big dichotomy. When you factor in price sometimes being high, what I think it comes down too is a big connoisseur pursuit. We need less of that , not more. What audiophiles or just audio lovers want is big notional improvements they can see, whether it’s a fair one to decide in advance they will get that with cables, with all these factors it’s easy to see or expect they will. A car reviewer wouldn’t review lots of wheel rims if car lovers don’t see any benefit from it or not, whether based on true science or not. I think a better approach is to sell the virtue of good value audio cables or do an article on $50 cables that have improved amps etc. People will then see benefit in that and it may then drive them to buy the more expensive ones in the cable firms line up. This is incredibly niche and I think you have to think of that when putting articles out. Keep up the great work.
Touche ‘ Jay ! ………. Lol.
I find your response much more troublesome.
I bet you do.
For my part, I just added this page to my Bookmarks, I find it absolutely charming. It has been years since I checked this particular branch of the Hi-End scene, and I see it has truly blossomed into a thing of beauty
I love, above all, the choice of words for the names, strangely sincere in most cases: Texture, Zenwave, Requisite, GRAND ILUSSION (priceless!), SNAKE AUDIO COTTONMOUTH (my fav? Idk, it’s difficult to choose one…) GUTWIRE, The Obssession, Reserva Elite (with walnut notes in the retropalate?) Synergistic Atmosphere, Purist Diamond Dominus, Future Dream…
Wow, the competion for finding the most impressive name is becoming ruthless, I find all this quite fascinating.
Best Ultra-Elite Feelgasm regards
I find non-audiophiles who comment on audiophile reviews – troublesome. How true, beautifully said Jay.
You should be ashamed to call yourself an electrical engineer, the lack of any quantitative rigor in measurement and total absence of any explanation for the effects percieved fall far short of any electrical engineer worth their salt that I know.
I bet you find people who question cult leader’s ideals troublesome as well. You’re obviously not very sophisticated nor intelligent. Please tell me why you find non-audiophiles troublesome? Please define “non-audiophiles”? Maybe we can meet in the middle, but doubtful as I have a tough time meeting in the middle with insecure folks afraid of science.
I apologize if my post seemed troubling to you. I understand that you may be frustrated, but please refrain from making personal attacks. Regarding your question about “non-audiophiles”, I would define them as individuals who may not have the same level of interest or expertise in audio equipment and sound quality as audiophiles do. Basically, people who aren’t open-minded to try it for themselves before forming an opinion. I do not find any particular group of people troublesome, as everyone has their own unique perspectives and interests. It would be beneficial for all of us to engage in productive and respectful dialogue, rather than making assumptions or attacking one another.
CH23: I’ve been passionately involved in the hi-if business for decades. It soon occurred to me that folks as yourself are a very, very insecure bunch. So much so that if it’s not printed or “proven” somehow, it must be illusory.
A few weeks back, I replied to a like-mined chap (as yourself) and asked him to tell me what specification(s) proved/demonstrates the Porsche 911 (automobile) to be such a spectacular car -in fact considered to be the finest drivers /sports car ever made ?
His reply: “Depends on 0-60 mph times, skid-pad numbers ….”
It was painful for me to read his reply. And then I thought: “..OMG, folks like this actually exist in droves”
THAT’S troubling. And scary.
Automobile reviews are indeed a good comparison – but not in the way you intend. In fact, the high-end auto magazines do conduct objective measurements, publish the results, and explain how the experience of driving the car relates to the objective measurements. They also explain how/why different test drivers rate cares differently – usually because they emphasize different things. I do not recall any serious reviews of serious cars that say anything like “This car is just fun – I don’t know why but it is.” Rather they say things like “This car is fun because the gear shifting is very smooth, the engine is happy at high revs, the car is so light you can really throw it around corners.” Notice that all of those qualities have objective measurements.
Red cars drive (are driven) faster, sugar pills lower cholesterol (I’ve seen it happen) and expensive power cables sound better. These things are all true.
A non audiophile.
You have to understand that audiophiles are not science people. Sure, some of the statements sound scientific, but that is actually one of the main features of any pseudoscience. Trying to understand this, for you, is probably like an astronomer trying to understand astrology. Believing in something beyond our logical comprehension seems to be very human, and that’s probably why we have always had religions, homeopathy, and pure-silver HDMI cables.
All these cables are really very well made, though. Think of them as beautiful tarot cards.
The only complaint I have is that these esoteric audio products drive the whole audio market up for the actually good stuff.
Why are you saying all wall wiring is “crappy stuff” ? I don’t think you know, in fact I am positive you do not know the wiring in every house.
All you have to do is listen. It is not very difficult.
Well, just do what Garth Powell does. Record the playback a well-mastered track with one power cable, then do the same with another power cable, and put into computer in a sound editing software like Adobe Audition or Pro Tools. Line up the wavefiles and do a difference analysis.
If there’s a difference, then you know that the power cable change does affect the sound. He calls this “Proof by Subtraction” and you can read it halfway through this review:
Ignorants like you will never die out …as it seems. Are you trying to convince your ears with some stupid measurements?? It really shows that you have absolutely NO clue about a HighEnd system (not talking about Hi-Fi for $1.000 as a whole!). Look for a person who has a really good system, ask him to make a listening session with different high quality power cables …and if you still believe that there is no difference (because your high school teacher once said so) then either get your ears checked or your limited brains…or even better : look for another hobby! End of discussion
Why don’t you guys go tell wine reviewers that they are wasting their time instead? A $10 bottle will get you just as drunk as a $300 bottle so why waste your money right?
The difference with wine, as with audio cables is that the right bottle will make your mouth see colours and have a poetic experience just as the right cable will do that for your ears.
Stop trying to tell us what you don’t know and let us enjoy and spend our money however we want.
This cable review is really helpful to me and you’re just wasting your time and mine so buzz off.
Think of it this way.
1. Even pscohological factor is true to your listening. Whether the influence comes from actual hearing, visual or even depending on your condition of the day. When you are visually pleased, you incline to be satisfied unless there is a notable problems or degredation in listening experience.
2. The wall wire theory – Think about the lighting and colors. You see the difference in spectrum depending on whether you are under the day light outside or cool light inside a store. Did the color change? But you see the difference, right? The power cable does the same thing, that’s why companies come up with with materials, different angle of cut, blends, and all, not to mention shielding or shithing of their cables. All those affect the noise and magnetic fields to the component with electricity it receives. So what they need to measure is not the cable alone, but each part of components in your audio components to be scientifically accurate. How far and how much money do they need to spend to proof it? When you can just determine whether you like it yourself or not by hearing them.
I think you are really trying to be negative about the hobby you are into. Why do you try so hard reject industry’s efforts or someone else’s positive experiences? You should acknowledge them and respect others from different segments of price tier group. All in the end, you will benefit from the leading company’s effort in showing off their latest tech or materials.
You don’t believe all these power cable users or consumers are fools or idiots, do you? They can be also very narrow minded about affordable market consumers as well.
twenty freaking seven cables, dude that’s insane, great job
I think you meant to say” burned in” 🙂
what does this mean: “The majority of the power cables were tuned more neutrally”
what is cable tuning? and “more neutrally” than what?
i lost it right on the first line of “findings”
Great question. In this context, I meant uncolored. Meaning an even amount of tonal color or energy across the spectrum. Most of the time you won’t get very extended highs or lows (not always). You also won’t get that euphonic character – which emphasizes the lower midrange. There isn’t a lot of hype, rawness, warmness, brightness – just neutral.
The cables doesnt focus on highs mids or lows is the best way for me to describe neutral. There are cables that give you more bass, more highs etc but neutral doesnt focus on one area.
… would be interesting to note what specific power cords are in use by the large number of ‘audiophiles’ who respond to forums….
no details – no ‘was usings’, no ‘wish I hads again’, – just a simple answer what power cord to what piece of equipment (CD, PRE, INT, POWER) is being used in present day systems…
27 is indeed an achievement as cable auditioning is not easy and gets fatiguing. Luckily I came across the Zenwave PSR-14 early in my demoing and immediately knew it was the one. So I stopped there and have no desire it hear other power cords now. What a cable.
Yeah, it’s a VERY special cable. Thoroughly impressed. Big ups to Dave @ ZenWave Audio.
This is a joke.
Without measurements or even blind testing this may as well have been written in wingding font.
This isn’t a new field. There are devices that people lives depend on, devices that are critical beyond ‘being really good at organ sounds’ where testing has proven no difference beyond shielding and having enough conductive material to meet the current supply required.
Science exists to measure and prove the differences between one thing and another. The fact you ignore proven methods completely is telling.
You say you are an open minded electrical engineer. So am I, does that mean I believe anything without proof or ignore everything I was thought about physics. No.
If you stand by your findings then please prove them. Otherwise there is no findings other than random thoughts you believed you perceived.
If you’re so open-minded, have you tried listening to different power cords? Let me answer that for you. No, you haven’t. And it’s obvious.
Science is just a guide – and not everything could be explained with it (yet). Don’t forget to be human.
Jim: You’re a Joke.
Jim(bo): You’re a ‘Wing-Dink’. As Jay said earlier (and accurately) to someone like minded: Go find yourself a friend. Good luck. You’ll need it.
Do you step into an Audio showroom and demand to see specifications or do you plonk yourself into the armchair and ask to listen to your favourite music?
I rest my case.
I’m surprised the entry level HFC cables aren’t rated any better than what is written here. In your full loom review, you mentioned the Reveal series having a sense of solidity, but somehow that became a weakness here. What changed?
That’s the whole point of comparisons like these. It’s all relative. The HFC Reveal has believable tonality but does sound relatively flatter (doesn’t really layer out the music as well as others). In its own right, it’s a great cable. You just can’t have it all.
I demoed the HFC Reveal, just before receiving the PSR-14 demo cable. The Reveal is not only flatter, but had perhaps the worst bass of any cable I personally auditioned. It was wooly, one note, and off timbre. I hope their expensive power cables are far better. Their interconnects are certainly good.
Yeah, that seems to be the trade-off. I feel like the reveal has truer color than most. And as you’ve said, outside of bass, timbre is actually pretty good. But overall not as dimensionally layered. The PSR-14 is one heck of a cable – but much pricier – and I don’t believe the tone is as true (cooler) as the Reveal.
Do you have experience with the top Acrolink cables from Japan? I’ve got a Pc9100 and wonder how it stacks up to any of these cables in the same price range.
How long did you burn-in the reveal cable? Was this due to a lack of burn-in time?
Which of their interconnects did you try, and how were those like?
Too subjective without any real testing, concentrate on things like good room treatment instead of imaginary differences in power cables
Imaginary differences? Lol.
So which of the under $1,000 cables would you say is the most dynamic, open & transparent?
You might be able to build a Furutech DPS-4 for under $1,000.
I’m using crystal cable exclusively throughout. I just upgraded to the standard power cord for my Bryston 4B3 made a big difference. It was quiet before but not everything is just clearer and more relaxed. I have crystal cable piccolo on my pre, dac, and LUMIN player. I’m very happy with the sound
Great choice of cables. Yeah, there’s an elegance and clarity to the sound without being imposing or distracting. Wonderful cables.
No Black Sand Cable? A little surprised given they are the go to for a few folks including myself. They don’t spend the dollars on marketing and seeking out pro reviews which probably hurts then and a few others like them.
I’m open to hearing them out. Perhaps I could get a cable in.
Fantastic review, thanks so much for doing this Jay!
Personally, I was awestruck by the Snake River Audio Signature Cottonmouth. Right away, I knew that that was the cable for me … it’s like opening a fine bottle of wine, and pouring it in a decanter. The bouchez, flavor, color, everything just works right away. And hardly any burn-in time!
I find that it is especially good for the great post-Romantic composers, like Wagner. The Wagner Tuben now sound like they are meant to sound! Oftentimes it is difficult to tell whether recordings used French Horns instead of Wagner Tuben, but with this cable, it’s totally obvious! It’s more Wagner than Wagner.
Agreed. The tonality and timbre on the Signature Cottonmouth are currently untouchable. Amazing work by Jonny putting together the perfect recipe of gold, silver, and OFC.
With all the cables you’ve tried, did you not try Audio Sensibility cables? Or maybe because they can be bought directly from AS has somehow disqualified them? Many audiophiles use their cables. Probably because OCC Copper is very tough to beat.
I believe I did send an inquiry to Audio Sensibility. And many others. I was curious about their power cords as I’ve heard great things. I’ll have to test them out in another review.
Jay, This review is not even remotely useful.
There were no tests done. You just arbitrarily told us about what you think theses cables sound like. You could have tested the differences and showed what electrical changes were between each cable but instead this article is just filled with non since.
You even contradict your self on why your not doing blind tests and then test using a inferior method that you just stated won’t give you real results because the humans are not good measuring tools.
But what do I know I’m not an audiophile right?
That’s right, you are not an audiophile.
Is this your standard answer when your methods are scrutinized? Where is the elegance and clarity in your responses? How can we take you seriously when you present zero data and react like a five-year old when asked?
At this point Jay is just a troll, giving out responses like that.
It ain’t trollin’ if it’s true! 😉
Beautiful reply Jay! Many thanks for your efforts in your listening review of these cables. There are no ‘absolutes’ in audio and to the people who can’t hear a difference in cables – power to you. But please stop the dissing of those of us that can hear differences, be it good or bad. Go get some friends somewhere else or even better , as Jay suggests – get laid.
I think it is safe to assume Jay did the most extensive power cable review roundup. There are a few threads & articles here & there, but none this extensive. Not even close.
There is probably a scientific method to figure out the sounds, with measurements of capacitance, inductance & resistance, but not all manufacturers publish those figures. That & the construction of the cable, but that would require cutting/opening each of the loaner cables to see the shielding, insulation, wire gauge & geometry.
The review is subjective, but they will give you an idea of how the cables are tuned.
I can also completely vouch for Jay’s review of the Shunyata cable, I had a higher end one from their previous lineup & his review was spot on to what I heard, warm, veiled & intimate.
Given the amount of hate mail I get from the trolls over the years, your comment provides encouragement, Bob. 🙂 I will admit, this survey was done to satiate my own curiosity – but I’m glad others have found it useful.
I honestly wouldn’t mind taking a more scientific approach – but as you’ve realized, it’s not a very good use of time in this hobby. I mean even the Zenwave/Furutech DPS-4 sounds different, they’re pretty much the same damn cable. Though I am very curious about measuring these cables, equipment ain’t cheap.
Yeah, that Shunyata is quite…specialty. 😉
I can respect that you don’t have the equipment to truly measure the properties of these cables. I also understand how boring that could be and it might not feel like its worth your time.
But at that point you have to concede that you personally didn’t feel like measuring the cables and that you know it can be quantitated but you didn’t feel like doing so. Making your review unhelpful for people who would rather see charts and graphs.
We write comments here to help you write better reviews that we would like to read. Dismissing your audience as morons because you’d rather not state you’d prefer the lazy method of testing is rude and unprofessional.
First, if you’d rather see charts and graph, you ain’t in the right place anyway. We focus solely on subjective impressions…
Secondly, I didn’t say you were a moron – I just said you weren’t an audiophile. Which we both know is true. 🙂
So…I’m lazy because you “could respect” the fact I couldn’t afford the equipment to measure power cables properly – but you somehow think I wouldn’t have done it anyway based on what? Your cynicism? You also dismissed the entire review because there weren’t any charts? Damn, that’s kinda rude! Maybe you are a moron. There were plenty of constructive comments, but your comment was utterly useless. I have to keep it real. And hey…don’t dish it out, if you can’t take it. 🙂
Actually, that wouldn’t have been boring at all. If I had the equipment, I would measure them in a heartbeat. No question about it. That would’ve been really interesting as I’m pretty curious about the correlations. But yeah, the more trusted machines are over $10,000. But I’d gladly take a donation in order for you to get a more “helpful” review.
“I’m glad you’re not one of these Measurement Morons”
You did say I am a moron by proxy.
I said your lazy because you know there is a away to do the measurements and didn’t bother. I can respect that you’d like to, but you didn’t state that in your article. If you had I would have cut you more slack.
I was brought to the article via a google suggestion and had high hopes to find some interesting reviews on power cables only to find you listing your opinions on them nothing else.
Then I read comments and find you being rude to other commenters for wanting the same thing as I did.
I felt mislead then angry about how you treated your audience.
You should probably look into getting some sponsors for new equipment to test with as it will go over better with both sides and lead to a much better review process and less stress for you.
Or title your piece in a way that lets the reader know this is subjective so we don’t waste our time.
Lol, I’m not going to disagree with that now. It was clearly stated in the intro: “As always, I’ll be focusing on subjective impressions.” Not sure how much clearer I could be.
This site has and has always been based on subjective impressions. So you have to learn to manage your expectations before posting an irrelevant comment. It’s a great skill to have in life as well. The truth is, I was upfront with the review – and you rudely dismiss and insult me because you “misled” yourself.
Also, when the heck does anyone looking for “interesting power cable reviews” actually finds ones where they have been measured? The answer is: Never. So you’re obviously a fake. And I have no problems calling your ass out.
I said in the title….
I follow a lot of hardware reviews. Its expected that the hardware was tested or measured in some way. You couldn’t bother and act like everybody should know your site doesn’t do this.
Does a title like “27 Power Cable Reviews That Were Done Subjectively With No Charts or Graphs” work for you?
Much better thanks!
Ryan (and other spec-driven individuals),
A couple quick things, and I apologize ahead of time if this seems too combative.
Assuming you believe cables do actually make a difference, do cables with the same resistance x, inductance y, and/or capacitance z sound the same?
If you believe the answer is yes, then by all means, shop by specs and I wish you all the best.
If, however, you believe the answer is no, then… what exactly is your beef with the lack of “measurements”?
I think you can guess which camp I’m in, and just as I believe (and have been lucky enough to experience first-hand) that cars with the same horsepower x, torque y, and very close weight z, drive/handle COMPLETELY differently, cable “measurements” have little bearing on how it actually performs in the real world.
This hobby is the absolute epitome of subjective evaluation and experience, so just enjoy the journey.
No I don’t actually believe they will sound differently in most cases. The sound should be the same as there are no differences in the signal coming out of the other end. There will be differences if its malfunctioning or isn’t being filtered correctly.
If there were differences in the sound you could easily demonstrate changes by recording the play back and you would see different outputs from the speaker.
You would see the changes in the output. Less treble more bass and easily could show that the sound is now heavier.
Easy to test but when people do this they don’t see any differences this is why they don’t. They cant market a product as better if their proof proves them wrong.
So rather than asking me what I think have Jay prove there is a difference.
I’m just calling him out for shoddy work and being rude to his readers.
There are things he could do to make this worthwhile. Testing build quality of the cable listing there features such as rated for x amount of amps and voltage. These would be helpful to both camps without resorting to sounds like x to me.
Ryan, go ahead and prove it to yourself. Download this video with a chrome extension, check out the waveform, and see how they’re different. Then go hide in a corner. And please don’t be lazy 🙂
You didn’t start the recording in the same spot lining up these to see the differences will take a lot of work. The burden of proof fall on you and your testing methods are what we are critiquing. I can be expected to be lazy. I have nothing to prove its your article to defend not mine.
Can I really trust this video you don’t even show the cables or explain your process of testing. You just expect us to believe that thats what you’ve done. (Not that I don’t believe you I’m just bringing up the point)
Stop being so lazy, Ryan! I already did the hard work. 🙂
I want to be lazy! Really though it’s not a good ab test as I can’t start the song at the same point with this video. I also don’t have the software necessary. But if you have free suggestions, I can try.
Lol. Ryan, not only are you not an audiophile, but it appears you’re not even a Grade-8 (grade-6?) graduate:
“…. You could have tested the differences and showed what electrical changes were between each cable but instead this article is just filled with non since.”
Non since ? Non since what, Ry ?
” …results because the humans are not good measuring tools.”
Because the humans are not good measuring tools ???
Your mommy must be proud !
I enjoy and find your reviews very helpful, but this one especially resonated with me because I find cables one of the most difficult elements to shop for for. Any dealer I know only carries a couple of brands and invariably has no extras that can be borrowed (because any decent business will want to keep no or low inventory), hampering any meaningful comparison. You have to rely on the dealer’s recommendation; thankfully I use an excellent dealer, but choice is still an issue. Ultimately, I always like to hear things for myself, rather than relying on a recommendation. I recently purchased an Audience power conditioner, specifically the aR6-TSSOX and I opted for the Au24 SX power cable (based on the multiple reviews I read on the internet, all of which were very strong and I didn’t think I needed to spring for the Front Row thinking how much better can the Front Row be than the Au24 SX given the reviews). Your review of the Au24 SX was spot on in every respect, especially your comment about organ music – the organ passage on my Phantom of Opera CD knocked me out of my chair. I experienced everything you did. The power cables (and interconnects and speaker cables) on the rest of my system are all Nordost Heimdall II’s (based on a recommendation of the dealer I used before the current dealer I use). I didn’t see any Nordost cables in your review population. What do you think of the Heimdall II’s? I hope they are considered good – let me know if you think otherwise.
Again, thanks for such a thoughtful and insightful piece on a difficult and critical element of any good system.
Thank you for your kind words, Joe. I should be doing one of these for speaker cables soon. Should be easier lol. If you have any suggestions, let me know.
Audience does have a more colored sound – but I think they’re musical. Yeah, I would stick to the Au24 SX power cable. The frontRow is a bit specialty for those looking for that type of sound.
I don’t think Nordost was interested in sending cables in. I’ve sent them a few emails. They make good wire though.
Thank you for not engaging the measurement trolls and smacking them straight across the face. I love measurements too, but the sound and music ultimately rule.
Personally my system is not resolving enough to hear major differences in power cables. Your article will be super useful when I upgrade.
Eh, it’s easy to sniff out the trolls these days. And I enjoy giving them a good beat down every so often. lol.
Keep me posted when you upgrade!
Jay, does porcelain = bad?
Some enjoy the porcelain sound – some don’t. Porcelain = less grit and porous detail but smoother, more glamoured overtones and textures.
Wow 27 cables that’s an achievement . Congrats
Can you please share a link for the gear / setup on which the cables were tested on might give me a better perspective.
If you could have or can add cables form transparent or nordost to the mix would be easier to gauge as they are generally easily available to try .
Thanks & Reagrds
Those cables were actually more difficult to get a hold of lol. I think they’re pretty particular about who they send their cables to. lol. As for gear, it was too much to name and I didn’t write all the systems down. I’ll try to do that the next time around.
I’ll just point out that most people here don’t seem to realise or even appreciate the amount of influence the brain has on your hearing, this makes your own ears utterly unreliable in most situations for evaluating only the sound of whatever component you’re testing. There is a reason why any serious test will involve some form of blinding, in fact blinding is considered essential in medicine and for good reason; placebo is a huge factor and has been shown to affect the results of the tests.
“Measurement trolls” you mean people who don’t believe every single bit of codswallop and poppycock on the Internet? Ok sure buddy, whatever you want to think…
Wow…What an unbelievable waste of time and money. I can’t believe intelligent people actually fall for this complete horse crap.
I thought it was a joke at first…
Pretty sure these people are intelligent enough to not pull out their wallets – if they don’t REALLY hear a difference.
You can be sure to hear thing that are not realy existing – only ABX tests can prove that it’s an objective fact not only subjective feeling.
Well done Jay on another comprehensive and thought provoking review.
With so many results, can you clarify whether your comments and conclusions do or don’t take account of the price tag?
For example, from your comments, you really liked the Furutech, but seemed somewhat underwhelmed by the Shunyata – despite the latter being around 3 times the price. Does that mean that you would still favour the Furutech even if they were both identically priced?
Also, audiophile power cords tend to be very inflexible, but some aren’t (even though they look as if they should be). It would have been useful to include this practical consideration where any exanple was significantly more or less flexible than average.
You’re right. If the cable was incredibly unwieldy, I did mention that in the reviews. The only ones that were super tough were the Gutwire, Neotech, and perhaps the NRG. The rest wasn’t too bad. The Audience stuff is probably the most flexible especially given their size and performance.
If the Shunyata and the Furutech were priced the same, I would pick the Furutech every time. That’s just my preference. The Shunyata is musical in its own way, but it’s not for me.
I actually forgot many of the prices of these cables when I did my testing – only realizing what the actual price was when I was finishing up the review. It really just comes down to “flavors” and how much someone is willing to pay for that. However, generally, there’s a nice step up in performance over $1,000, but not too much over $2,000. Although I personally prefer the cheap Neotech or Vovox over many of the much pricier ones due to tonality. For me, if the tone isn’t natural – it doesn’t matter how much it costs.
Were all cables of the same length? If so, what length was used as a point of reference?
If not, do you think that various lengths could alter how the power cord performs i.e. longer contributing more of what it has to offer vs a shorter version of the same cable?
Were there any differences in the grounding scheme you used with any of the specific cords?
Have you ever swept any of these cables for bandwidth & susceptibility to RFI / EMI / microphonics?
Good questions. The only cable I had multiple lengths were for was the Furutech DPS-4. I believe they were only 1m to 2.5m. As far as differences in sound, I honestly couldn’t hear a significant difference with the same cables (they were all built on the same day, the same way). But was a little surprised that the ZenWave variant sounded clearly different, even at the same length, with the same connectors, and wire. I’m curious to know what they’re doing different – maybe another layer of shielding? Not sure.
I tested and wrote notes with systems with different grounding schemes and completely different electrical grids. The “character” of the cable, especially on the same type of equipment (amp, DAC, etc), had a predictable sound relative to each other. This was also with multiple listeners – not just me.
I didn’t do any measurements. But that may change in the future since I’m curious to find the correlations between the objective and subjective. Once resources permit, I’ll probably get some measurement tools in.
We listen with our ears…Simple. A review is one man’s opinion. Simple. Read it and learn from it. Easy.
I’m curious, what was the rest of the system? Source, interconnects, (pre)amp(s), speaker cable, speakers?
Jay, I want to say great reviews!! I really like how you put everything out front on what you were looking for and to the best of your ability what you wanted to get from doing all this. Don’t be bothered by people wanting numbers and specs and everything else “objectively” as that’s not all there is. Yes, it might have been great to have all that information but that’s a LOT to gather on top of everything you went through. It goes to show how much time and effort you put into all of this.
I think you hit a lot of the marks on your thinking with everything you did in the review. My friends and I did a similar “what makes a power cable” when we reviewed all the designs out there and when we made a lot of ours designs to try to find the best we could make for our systems. So we (while reviewing our own designs) did very similar experiments to see what we liked and did not like about the variety of cables we had on hand. The interesting part is on four different systems we all came into liking a style of power cable individually. I think a lot of the cables tend to do similar influences on many different systems. Not 100% the same every time…but always heading in the same direction (sometimes to the detriment of a system).
I would’ve love to get ours out to you to see what you opinions are and if they aligned with what we’ve created.
Hey Dan! That’s why this hobby is neverending. lol.
Looks like we share some of the same philosophies and experiences. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have to admit, you quoting your own website about how you cant tell the difference between two cables in a blind test proving that a blind test is a bad test is one of the funniest things I have read all day.
If you can’t reliably tell the difference in a blind (or better yet, double blind) test, then there is, basically by definition, no practical difference.
You laugh because you’re ignorant 🙂 It’s cute.
My point is, just because someone doesn’t pass a blind test 10/10. It doesn’t prove there isn’t a difference.
It does prove that there is no audible difference once you make comparisons solely on the basis of sound though, at least to your ears.
Imagine being in so much denial you actually don’t believe that your hearing is less golden than you think it is even after something as sobering as a blind test.
I doubt you’ll actually even bother to read this, but here is a link anyway: http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2009/04/dishonesty-of-sighted-audio-product.html?m=1
Check out this video. In the description, click on generic for the first 10 seconds, then on the Audience frontRow for another 10 seconds. Could you really admit that you can’t hear a difference?
Based on a quick A/B I can tell you that there is no meaningful difference. I also assume that you have the decency to match levels and not do anything funny regarding the video editing process.
And no, I don’t buy your bullshit of having to listen to each cable longer, because I know my limits of my auditory memory; it is utterly unreliable past a few seconds. In fact the auditory memory of most people are that unreliable so I’m not even special in that regard.
Note that this is in terms of actual sound quality btw. Regarding that, I think I can also hear noise towards the end for the “generic power cable” portion of the video. I would guess a ground loop is possibly at play due to not-so-good noise rejection from one of the interconnect cables or something, it gets especially audible towards the end.
Perfect! You have good ears! Thank you for confirming you could hear a difference. That generic power cord was actually the best one selected from a pool of at least 15 – and it was “noisy” and edgy, even in person. Levels were matched every time, the only thing that changed was the power cables. So this noise that you hear, doesn’t exist with the other cables. No ground loops or any funny business.
I’ve played this video (unsighted) and had plenty of non-audiophiles describe the differences between the other cords pretty accurately – and this is a freakin’ YouTube video. Also, if you go between the generic and the Furutech DPS-4, you could clearly hear more smoothness and warmth from the DPS-4 – which is what is heard in the real world. And you don’t need golden ears or expensive speakers. Hell, I’m using $20 PC speakers.
Let me drop some knowledge on you. You said it yourself, your auditory system is unreliable past a few seconds. But when you blind test (which are usually done with quick swaps), that short term memory applies differently to different people. Just because it’s quick – doesn’t mean your brain remembers. Sometimes your brain doesn’t “adjust” on a “clean slate.” There are residual “effects” that linger depending on duration, volume, type of music, etc. Also, you can’t really evaluate transients or dynamics properly in that short of the time – which some cables are good or bad at. Sometimes it’s not even related to equipment at all – but your current mental state. This is what I meant by “your mind plays tricks on you.” And why blind tests aren’t absolute – because our brains aren’t.
I only know this from experience and conducting dozens of blind tests with other people. BUT since the purpose is to purchase gear for musical enjoyment – you have to hear a piece of gear over time – and over many familiar and unfamiliar tracks. Blind tests obviously aren’t conducive to what audiophile goals are anyway. They’re only mentioned by cynical skeptics (trolls) who like to waste other people’s time. They’re trying to “save people” from being swindled when their dumb ass won’t even bust a grape in a fruit fight. Or they’re just trying to justify not spending a little bit more money for better fidelity. That’s about it.
It’s obvious you have an interest in better sound – but you’re an inexperienced audiophile. You only live 20 minutes from The Adelphi. You have access to the largest HiFi mall in the world. David at KEF is pretty helpful. And many of those guys would be glad to blind test you on power cables. If you’re not even willing to spend the time to prove it to yourself, especially when it’s so accessible, perhaps you should STFU. I don’t need you to educate me. I’ve taken graduate courses on sound design and psychoacoustics – and even written my own audio codecs. And had that shit paid for. But instead of being a good little boy and learning everything from textbooks and the internet – I take the initiative to learn for myself. Once you’ve done the same, and realize how inexperienced you really were, I’ll forgive you for your ignorance. I just hope you’re just man enough to admit it.
I’ve never seen anyone get OWNED so badly. Tap out HTW!
Thanks Jay for such an extensive review. Though you mentioned cables under review maintained its characters despite change of components, it would be helpful for me to know the various components being used to evaluate these cables, especially the speakers. Thank you in advance,
I actually brought them to multiple systems but primarily the LSA Signature, ATC SCM7, a few B&Ws, Audience ClairAudient, and probably 5+ more over the year. Same for amps. My goal was just to take comparative notes during each session. By the time I was aggregating everything, I’ve forgotten exactly how most of these cables sounded in each of those systems. But was somewhat surprised to see the consistencies. Sometimes the notes for different systems looked nearly the same. If a cable was dark in one system – it was relatively darker in another, etc.
Nice review Jay. For those “is there anything you can do to change the electricity in the last three feet after it has already traveled miles to your house,” there’s this: Is there anything you can do to change the flow of a river after it’s already traveled 1,000 miles to the ocean? Yes, you can dam it up and release it in a controlled, powerful flow. Power cables don’t affect the miles traveled before the current reaches your house, they affect the conditions in the local loop in your system.
I’ve been using a combination of PS Audio, Shunyata, and DIY Furutech cables (with a PS Audio Dectect noise-reduction system). Reading what Jay said about the Neotech, I got out my un-broken-in Neotech and hooked it up to the amp. Sound changed immediately. And was just what he described as the Neotech sound before break-in.
Best regards, Mad Bill
Love the name. Love the analogy.
Yeah, the Neotech is an interesting cable – you have to make sure the connectors are secure and that you have as much of the cable shielded as possible (that foil is a little annoying). I still want to experiment a bit more with that cable. For the money – pretty damn good.
I bought mine ready-made from Neotech. As far as I’m concerned, UP-OCC copper is almost always a guarantee of something good. The Neotech power cable is hooked up to an old 150-watt NAD power amp, with an NAD M51 DAC as source. Speaker cables are Neotech’s NS3001, and the speakers are Buchardt Audio S300MKII. An old Shunyata Python cable seems to work very well with the M51. This nearfield “desktop” system is surprisingly solid, transparent, and realistic. I’m happy. –Mad Bill
Fantastic review Jay! This is a great article that I will be referencing for years to come. I love that all your reviews are based on listening impressions because that’s all I care about… I have read heaps of your articles and have made several purchases based on your reviews. I think you have a very good ear for it and explain what you hear well.
Keep up the good work 👍
Many of these companies aren’t really happy with some of the things I say – but I gotta keep it real. Your support means a lot, Bricki! Much love.
Love your work Jay, what power cable do you prefer on the Chord dave? Also are you using stock power supply/cable for m-scaler? Thanks!
Hey DC, many thanks. I have the Cottonmouth Signature on the DAVE and will be using the SR4 (and SR7 later) on the M Scaler. Currently stock.
I was thinking you were going to use that one, as you mentioned that timbre is something you can not change after the source and this is the most accurate cable for timbre. Thanks keep up the good work!
not sure why i cant reply to Jay’s comment, so i’ll make one here instead.
in that video, I can hear noise, but it should be noted that other than noise there is no noteworthy difference between the two cables even after ext. everything else is the same, I personally cannot detect a difference in tonal balance. as for that Yanny vs Laurel video, interesting video on psychoacoustics indeed, which is why I support measurements. i do agree that blind tests are not inherently perfect, state of mind is a nuisance factor for sure. however, to suggest that a blinded test is overall less useful than uncontrolled sighted tests is dishonest; a blind test controls for many more factors than sighted tests, so it is illogical to conclude that blind tests are worse than sighted tests because blind tests have nuisance factors.
if you’re really worried about noise from ground loops, just get well-made balanced interconnects. that one I can agree with since there actually is evidence to suggest that balanced connections do work. also if your amplifier is properly designed there really isn’t any cause for worry about noise from AC power; I certainly can’t hear any form of inherent device noise from the stock PSU my DX3 comes with through HD 600s.
I’m “not an audiophile” but I was able to easily hear additional smoothness in some of those cables in that video. The generic power cable sounded very abrasive in comparison. The Danacable also sounded a little rough. The Acrolink and Furutech were obviously richer to my ears. I guess everyone hears differently! But…who the hell is crazy enough to spend $6,000 on a power cable???
i did read somewhere that speakers in terms of output impedance are quite different from headphones; generally its much lower for speakers IIRC. this can also mean if a cable has a non-flat impedance curve it might actually affect the output sound in some way if the variation is significant enough; I did see an acoustic engineer making some mention on this.
thing is though, those changes do not require some form of audio voodoo to explain; they can be explained through known electrical engineering principles. i get the sentiment regarding “we don’t know what we don’t know”, but to so quickly assume that there is an actual difference with no attempt at any kind of test controlling is just incredibly bizarre to me.
as for spending $6000 on cables, yeah its nonsense when you can get properly made and spec’d cables for cheap nowadays.
Do you really think I’m “assuming” there is a difference? What’s interesting to me is that you would think someone could listen to 27 cables (actually over 100), write varying notes on those cables, and believe he actually didn’t hear any of those changes. Worse, if you believe he would spend his own time to make it all up or is paid by the cable companies. In fact, many of these cable companies banned me so I had to find other ways to get them in.
Also, there are plenty of other reviewers and audiophiles that are hearing the same things (check the comments). Are they all crazy and part of a cult? Or are you just cynical or choosing to be ignorant? It almost always the latter. We know – because we actually tried. You don’t – because you just like to talk about what you learned from Google and how things “should be.” The interesting thing is that the skeptics (such as yourself) have the same technical knowledge on paper – but lack the experience. But for egotistic reasons – hesitant to fill that gap. Anyone could talk about slew rates, eddy currents, impedance curves, etc. It takes a more interesting person to hear for themselves before they draw conclusions. Science does have a place but to assume you know how the human brain should react to what the charts tell you – is naive.
Also, have you noticed a lot of these null tests show the same result across cables – even when the participants could clearly hear a difference? Hell, there are even headphones that measure close and sound very different. There’s just no way to measure soundstage, clarity, depth, tonal quality, or textural nuances from a graph. There’s certainly no way to measure how someone will feel about what they hear from a graph. And this is what a real audiophile cares about.
My example was Iconoclast cables. Galen Gareis is an engineer who is also an expert cable designer for more than 35 years. He’s also an audiophile – but he didn’t believe cables made a difference. If anyone has credibility – he would be it. He only focused on good materials, geometry, and measurements. Yet, he couldn’t measure or understand why the metallurgy affected the sound. Different copper sounded different in his lab – not just with him, but his colleagues. So they sell variants – but are in the middle of finding out why or how the metal changes the sound. Those are admirable engineers.
Before I reviewed their cables, I was a bit apprehensive at first. Good measurements don’t always mean good sound. In the end, their UPOCC variant ended up being my reference. It actually got me to believe in better measurements. The other conductor variants weren’t nearly as good sounding to me – but they all had similar LCR. And btw, to measure these cables “the right way” you would need almost $100,000 worth of equipment – and they had access to that. So as far as quantitative accuracy, it doesn’t get much better. And you could probably understand why it would be silly to request measurements from reviewers anyway.
I’ve had all of the Iconoclast cables in – and these differences aren’t subtle. Now, if that doesn’t convince to explore for yourself – nothing will.
My advice would be: don’t dive into the technical stuff so deeply. The goal is to get a sound YOU like. And this is coming from an electrical engineer. Once again, go to the Adelphi and actually listen. Stop babbling about shit you don’t understand. Stop being a robot, take the MRT, speak to the nice guys at the shops about cables, and listen for yourself. There are over 1,000 brands there. If you’re too stubborn or closed-minded to spend the time to do that – then why are you wasting everyone’s time here?
Bad engineers say things “can’t” be different. Good engineers ask “why” they’re different. And trolls just repeat what bad engineers say and pretend they know what they’re talking about.
You claim to have a degree in electrical engineering, yet you don’t appear to mention the institute that granted such a degree anywhere on the website.
Kindly share, which school conferred the degree?
“And no, I don’t buy your bullshit of having to listen to each cable longer, because I know my limits of my auditory memory; it is utterly unreliable past a few seconds.”
This oft-repeated trope represents a real misunderstanding about how memory works. Longer-term memory works just fine, not by retaining a 100% accurate image in our minds–either visually or aurally–but in the way that we “characterize” to ourselves the essential points of what we see or hear. I don’t have to have photographic memory to pick out my girlfriend’s face in a crowd, or to realize that her hair style is different today, because my long-term memory is working just fine to make these distinctions. That is, I’ve memorized over time the essential features that characterize her looks, and my memory works just fine even if I haven’t seen her for a day or two. Day-to-day familiarity with your system produces the same results. When I switched from a top of the line PS Audio cable to a Neotech, I immediately heard (listening to equally familiar music of course) that the bass was both stronger and punchier. Those impressions are reliable. Immediate switching for A-B comparisons isn’t needed.
There is a phenomenon called adaptation. It doesn’t affect the memory, but the apparent quality of a perception. Let me exemplify with something from the audio realm. I recently calibrated, video and audio, a Home Theater showroom. For audio I adjusted the reference level at 75 dB. The first few times I played a specific soundtrack (the Wembley concert in Bohemian Rhapsody), it seemed very loud, though lifelike and enjoyable. Over time it didn’t seem so loud anymore. Now, even if I haven listened to it for weeks, I have the same impression that it could be even louder to have the same impact it had in the beginning. It’s not just my own finding, but also of another guy who I worked with to set up the showroom.
To summarize, time doesn’t make you forget what you heard in the beginning, but makes you experience the exact same thing differently.
I bet you can still recognize your girlfriend after not seeing her for a month, but I am not so sure she still seems to you as beautiful (or not) as she did the first time you saw her.
Hi Jay, you described how you listened and relistened to the power cables when changing equipment, to keep your notes consistent and account for the changes introduced by that new equipment.
A year is a long time, so how did you account for room modes and speaker positioning? I assume you used the same speakers throughout as they are the main contributor to the sound color in any audio setup.
It wasn’t to keep my notes consistent but to see whether they would be. So I isolated the notes of each session to each room or new inclusion or exclusion of equipment. At the end of the year, I aggregated everything to see if there were any inconsistencies. The only major inconsistencies seem to be with the Neotech and the Atlas. They sounded different when more hours were on them. The rest kept their signature – regardless of which system they were in.
Although the type of components did change the degree of those signatures, the relative differences were the same. For example, the Crystal Cable will sound relatively more resolving than the other cables regardless of where they’re placed and the Purist Audio Design will always sound relatively more liquid. The only time it was pretty difficult to hear these differences were with digital-to-digital components (servers, clocks, etc) with linear power supplies.
I’m not saying these are facts, because there are always exceptions. But these were my own findings.
So, is it fair to summarize this to the extent that each power cable has its own sonic signature, but that signature is somewhat colored by amplifier or other component in use?
Digital to digital components should actually be completely transparent, so no surprise there.
Pretty much. “It depends” but the relative differences are there. But for something like the Chord DAVE and TToby, the impact is nearly equal even though the components serve different purposes. Digital-to-digital components with switching mode power supplies could be heavily impacted by the power cord, however. So I think this is due to the LPSU (which would make sense from an isolation POV). There’s always more to learn so we’ll see if I find out anything else.
Awesome job. I have much respect for you as a reviewer. Forget about the “scientists” who demand empirical data. Obviously there are differences in sound in these power cords(sometimes huge). You did a great job in reporting them.. Just curious if you heard the LessLoss C-marc power cords that have been getting great reviews. I know you can’t get to all the cords, but just wondering if you ever heard these.
Thank you, Robert. I actually did look into LessLoss last year (I remember their website). I might’ve sent in an email but didn’t receive a response. I’ll give it another look. I might have to do a round 2 lol.
First I’d like to say thanks for your review. I know personally how tiring it can be switching out components that are similar and listening for incremental differences.
It’s a lot more fun to switch speakers and pontificate on the merits of each. Clearly it’s because of the high price charged for some power cables that generates the naysayers. They have a point when you look at the material costs and see what it costs to make something your self. I suspect they are not arguing that the sound is better / different but arguing the merits of value. I’m my case I’m a hobbyist, not necessarily an audiophile. I like to make that distinction because I’m a big believer in DIY. Case in point are my modernized B and W 801 matrix, (Wires, crossover, connectors, dampening , bas filters.) create a much improved speaker. I have other speakers but these were the project ones. For my cables I started by taking home some Nordost home for a trial from a dealer. They ruined my sound like squeezing everything thru a 1/2 pipe. Dealer said I needed to use all Nordost from start to finish. OK. His opinion.
My search to do better than stock cables led me to some Swedes that have been doing this since 1976 and are engineers first, audio guys second. Supra cables by Jenving industries in Sweden. They promote DIY but will sell the very expensive cedar box finished set if that’s what you want. Like a lot of Swedes they don’t seem overly ambitious and market them selves poorly. The cables are superb and relatively affordable. The power plug ends are plastic and frankly cheap looking but there’s a technical reason for it and they prefer the sound of them. I haven’t been able to afford to do very much A/B testing, but I know when I compared to stock, it was night and day and I was happy with the sound. Yes I did run new wire from my fuse box on a dedicated circuit to a new wall outlet. I used Albert Porters porter ports. ( Hubbell) From there it’s all Supra. My point being aside from this brand I’m sure there are other DIY that for a fraction of the price of the boutique brands that will get you 90 percent there if not even better. Amplifier builders, in particular Rogue and Oddessy, will specifically tell you in AB testing they were unable to improve the sound where they test their amps. Take that for what you like because we don’t know the specific conditions. Both did mention to be very careful with the connectors between preamp and amp, that they are away from any power cable. Some amps that I’ve had are impervious to cable changes because of the power supplies used internally, ( Vinnie Rossi in particular will tell you he has an internal filter that puts cable chasing to bed. ) I’m not vouching for him just repeating a statement.
If my budget was unlimited I’d just go to the store and buy the best of everything and not worry that I paid 5 k for a amp power cable and 45k for speakers wires. But it isn’t so I don’t. I always like to chip in with my 2 cents that if you teach yourself to solder and aren’t afraid to “pop the top” on your components really good work can be done for far less than name brand products. I do realize you in fact promoted this in a way in the article but I felt even then the price was too high and wanted to point out an alternative brand as well as the idea that through experimentation great things can be made. Cables / power supply are one of the easies places too start to affordably improve your system. Thanks again, it was a great read.
I actually had a reader send me (supposedly) the exact cable a manufacturer was using. I think it was $30 worth of materials. The cost of the cable itself was $800. When I tried to make the same cable with the wire – it didnt sound quite right. I ended up just buying the $800 cable. I’ll have to find time to revisit. It gets a little time-consuming.
Thank you for recommending Supra. Their digital cables performed better than cables many times their price. I also have a lot of their bulk Ethernet cable. Unfortunately, it didn’t cross my mind to DIY one of their power cables.
I’ve tried plenty of other DIY projects aside from the ones mentioned. But I have to be honest, they didn’t sound as good as some of the ones above $1,000. So I’ve relegated to being the diner at a restaurant and just have the chef cook something up. I’ll just have a sampling and see which fits. This also enables me to hear what’s out there so I know where each cable falls. None of them are perfect – so you probably have to pick 7/10 of the qualities you want. I wish I could have perfect tonal color with a tangible density to go along with it – but they seem to counter balance each other.
I admire your approach and philosophy. I would DIY everything – but that I will have wait until later. When I get into rabbit holes – there’s no turning back for me. And I may be lost forever!
Please let me know if there are any other DIYs you recommend. I’m always open to saving money on great sound. And you’re every bit an audiophile.
Hello and thanks a lot for your great work!
I would like to share with you my similar experience with power cables. I am the writer of a hifi blog and I Don’t do this for working but very seldon when things get to my hands. I have not an enormous experience with power cables (maybe I have heard a little less then 30 power cables) , but I think enough to get to some conclusion. Most of my conclusion are very similar to yours and this is reassuring!
•The trade-off for tonal density (body) almost always seems to be tonal color. It’ll be less “brown” and more “grey.” Which kinda sucks. – Yes, yes, and yes and this is the most frustrating aspect.
•The power cable at the mains seems to set the tone (no pun intended) and noise level of the system. If you use a brighter cable at the mains, your system will have an elevated baseline. As far as body and weight, however, it seems like you could add that upstream – I found the same thing out but were very skeptical on my findings since I have thought that putting the cable I generally like the best in this same position would have the greater effect since it was leading the power to the others. I generally prefer in this place the cable that is more “raw” and dynamically unrestricted. But the most important thing is as you said is that in this position it sets the tone for the others.
The most disturbing things that sometimes I encounter are:
sometimes, but when it happens it is evident, on only digital source like cd transport the bite, on the attack of the notes.
And the most mesterious to me: cables connected to a gear, like a cd player, effect the sound of the system even if you are listening to anouther source, like your turntable. if all the sources are powered on at the same time. I have tried this many times and I still prefer to think is not true but…
Sometimes, for a lot of work or for a coup de chance you can end up prefering a combination of your not best preferred cable then your preferred ones. For example I Always tended to dismiss the wireworld silver elektra 7 founding it as a Strange cable, but in a combination of other cables can work great, better then in an all wireworld contest where the resulting sound is too “religious”.
keep up with your work, and I hope many hifi manufacturs will realize that your space is a great one to be in!
all my best
Wow, very insightful! I’m finding the gray vs brown thing is also applicable to speaker cables. I wonder if that could be measured. You can’t have it all! Sadly.
Your comment about the mains solidifies yourself as the “real deal.” You must’ve spent a lot of time. I think the preservation of “essence” is far greater when you use a raw and dynamic cable at the mains. This doesn’t mean it’ll be tonally warm or have heavy bass but those could be layered on afterward. For that reason, I’m gravitating towards the HFC CT-1U and Snake River Cottonmouth Signature.
As for your observation with different cables affecting the sound of a different source – that is absolutely true. I found this out when I was testing Ethernet cables. I figured using local files played on a server wouldn’t be affected by the Ethernet cable (connected to the server) – but it did. So I couldn’t use the local files played off a hard drive as a control or reference point. Although music wasn’t streamed to the music server, it still changed the sound! Annoying, but that’s how it is. So the impact of a single cable could have pretty huge consequences on how someone feels about their HiFi – which is why I’m doing this in the first place.
Wireworld stuff tends to be very bright. Although I could see how you could incorporate them somehow. Meh. Yeah, it’s really about experimentation. Putting all of the “Finest Cuts” power cables in a system might not be the best balance lol. Every cable offers something different and will probably sound better depending on how you want to balance it. And yeah, the cables you don’t favor the most, may end up being the best for a specific component. Very true.
Thank you for your encouragement, Max. It’s nice to know someone who’s just as curious 🙂 If you have suggestions for speaker cables, let me know. I’ve already started on the next one 😉
Jay, great write up! I think your reviewing style is the best on the ‘net. I know it takes a lot of time to put these together. Sorry for the OT, but I have a question about the Chord Qutest. I thought I read somewhere which input you thought sounded best on the Qutest, but now I can’t find it. Did you prefer the usb, optical or coax?
Thank you for the compliment 🙂 Yeah, gotta put in the work.
TBH, I don’t remember, it has been a while since I’ve plugged it in. My gut says USB. But if you don’t have a Hugo M Scaler, the USB is a safe choice just from its flexibility of source files. If you’re unsure and want to spend more on cables, try out cheap monoprice ones on both, and whichever input sounds better, stick to that one and buy a better cable.
I would like to add something about Wireworld cables. I was once of your same side saying they were bright but now, after some repeated experience, I cannot affirm the same thing.
I think that when we built a system that suits to our taste, we balance with components that actually don’t fit well togheter since the cables that are connecting them are the something that put us in the wrong path. So to balance some umbalanced thing we umbalance in the other way, and this is understandable. But at the end with this kind of system we end up to some strange conclusion when we change some components.
When I assemble a system that is perfectly balanced, that is not bright with all Wireworld cables things are different. First of all I have to say when we use all wireworld cables we have to put the “best” cables on the most front end and following this path if we have less quality cable. The same with power cables. When I say an all wireworld cable system I say ALL cabled with.
So at thie end when I have all wireworld cables and find components that match togheter in a way that it does not sound bright, when I chang other components or other cables things are mutch more predictable. When this happen I never find a silver cable too bright or a copper cable too warm, and cheap cables don’t become unlistenable but are even enough cable.
At the end I like an all wireworld cabled system but I don’t love it,since for my taste is too mutch controlled and educated and well manered, but it is mutch easier for me when I find components that works well togheter with all wireworld cabled system to suit my emotions and taste just altering one or two components or one or two cables. At the end I ended up to the concusion that Wireworld cables are the less, or one of the less, present cables in the market. I am not an advocate of the less, since when we record something we loose some small but absolutely essetial thing in the musical path that can be reinvented only by coloration in the reproducing system. If we don’t reinvent what we have lost the result is good, clean but with no soul!
The same thing I can say for Cardas of which cables, taken in their own , I have always felt lacking in rawness or something else.
The Wireworld is more like distilled water, (no life is possible there if you don’t add by something else, like a component or other cables) and Cardas is a little bit like butter.
After many years my profund respect for these two company has grown a lot. I have to say they havve understood somthing.
“If you have suggestions for speaker cables, let me know. I’ve already started on the next one”. For me you are the indisputed king of cable reviewers, and I think in my 40 years of being in this hobby, also for 20 years as professional selling and distributing, I guess I have listened at the most to 60% of cables you have! For loudspeaker cables…strange beasts. They are not so “fun” to listen to as other cables, even though you can clear ear the difference, but they tend to miss less essentials then other cables. Same differences less missing essentials….strange.. . I don’t add more, waiting you to put the right words for it, which generally you do mutch better then other reviewers.
all my best
I completely agree as I’ve heard very good systems wired with mostly Wireworld. I guess I’m referring mostly to their digital cables. But I’ll have to revisit.
You’re pretty spot on with Cardas. It’s buttery, smooth, liquid, almost this gloss or glaze over the sound. I’m just generalizing but that’s the impression I got when listening to their cables.
40 years is a long time! (bow down) I’m starting to get a few speaker cables in, maybe 27 in total within a few months 😉 I’ll also include some DIY. We’ll see. This time I’ll write notes while keeping track of the amp and speakers used. Wonder what stays consistent – and what doesn’t.
Hi Max: You raise a great (valid) point when it comes to assessing audio cable -of any type; perhaps
it’s revealing what it’s connected to, rather than revealing the intrinsic character of the cable itself.
Secondly, each/every hi-fi component as varying power requirements/demands; throwing a massive #9 gauge AC power
cable on all (or any, for that matter) audio component is unwise.
Any honest cable designer realizes that the ‘secret’ of AC power cables resides in how it interacts with a particular group of components (its internal power supply ). There IS a mechanical impedance-matching quality (so-to-speak) that needs to be addressed, accounted for -and implemented- to obtain the finest results.
And that leads to the third point; the detachable AC power cord should be viewed as an integral part of the devices internal power-supply. In other words as a ‘single entity’.
Years back, I recall a reviewer/manufacturer referring to the “last six feet” as the ‘First Six Feet (that the component “sees”.) That would be a more appropriate and accurate way to look at it.
Finally, there remains so much more to be learned and understood when it concerns cable performance phenomena.
The impact that cabling has on system performance cannot (should not) be underestimated. It is paramount in realizing, in enjoying, the finest playback quality.
Wondering if you have had a chance to listen to Signal Cables? Great bang for the buck, although priced much lower than what you have reviewed. I found a huge difference over the stock PCs and am curious how close they may come to some of these PCs. I was leaning towards Audio Archon cables but sounds like I should consider the Neotech as well.
Also, when you do the speaker wire evaluation, it would be very interesting to see how the Duelund DCA12GA and WE 10 gauge compare to the higher priced alternatives.
Hi Ken! I haven’t heard signal cables but will try to give them a shot. I’ll keep that mind for the speaker cable comparisons. Thanks for the rec!
So, is this like Scientology for audio or something? If someone says something negative about the BS, the leader and his followers attack?
Or maybe like the Emperor and his fine new suit? Do you feel dapper, Jay?
It’s funny how people like yourself try to tie this stuff to a cult or religion. FWIW, I’m an atheist. I believe things I’ve experience which includes what I can see, smell, touch, taste, and hear. Not what some old scriptures are telling me. If religion helps you in a positive way, great. This is just the way I approach life personally.
There’s a difference between someone who is a “follower” and someone who just has an open-mind, experience, and common sense (aka a human being). As you could probably see from the comments, many of these guys are engineers/objectivists – but admit they haven’t tried for themselves and are open to being wrong. Those guys – I respect. They have a personality I could work with. Not due to a belief or an agreement. They’re just more sensible (and intelligent) human beings.
People like yourself – who already call BS on something they won’t try because they think they know it all – are people I wouldn’t get along with anyway. You don’t even have an interest in this hobby – yet make the time to comment on something you have no real-world experience with. That’s, by definition, called “Talking out of your ass.”
So what does that say about you, Bob? Do you often bullshit people? Are you trying to be superman? Who exactly are you trying to save? Are you looking for validation? Dig deep, Bob – because no one’s asking or looking for your help.
So, stop being a follower. Spend your time more wisely, and go out there and make some friends.
Touche’ Jay: You said it EXACTLY how it is with these folks -they have not one iota capacity to see/hear/feel/sense (comprehend) for themselves.
I feel sorry for these folks -until they speak (as you so eloquently put it) ‘Out of their Pooper ‘-lol
I have listened and made a lot of power,speaker and interconnects. I’m an old engineer and was supprised the first time I heard a Nordost Valhalla. It can be quite contextual. Some cables can make a good AV receiver sound excellent. The Vallhalla power cables don’t mix well with other cables. I have also re wired an oppo or two, besides clock mods,etc. It’s a real ear opener.
What a bunch of nonsense! Good grief Jay how do you dream up all this bullshit?!
Funny that doctors, lawyers, software creators, business owners, financial people, all sorts of tech people, in short people who make a lot of money, live and die by numbers, spend their money on this unmeasured nonsense.
Maybe those people listen and make judgments based on what they hear. Or they automatically succumb to the placebo effect around audiophile products.
I think most of sofware creators have technical knowledge and must be immune to this nonsenses 🙂
Hmmmm …. Now I see how some of us (our lineage) derive our surnames.
Way to go Chris. Tell us like it is ! AND remember: ‘The Brown Spot’ Goes
to the Back !
Somebody really believes in their own delusions, then deflects and slams others who know better.
Being raised by somebody who would use such intellectual comments as, “You demolished that mutha fucka.” says a lot about you, Jay.
…. But more about you, Todd.
Jay, great review. Impressive effort taking on 27 cables but I do like these large comparative reviews. i usually find at least one item I have had experience of, which gives me a reference from which i can imagine how the other items would perform in my system – no guarantees of course but a reasonable basis for considering cables I will not find it easy to get on home loan.
Just to touch on a couple of the brands mentioned. Although I’ve had no experience of the Shunyata Sigma NR your description comes close to my experience with the previous generation Alpha HC and the current generation Alpha NR, both of which I own. One thing to note is that these three cables are all filtered. I also own an unfiltered Alpha EF (C19), which I connect my Shunyata Venom UK6 distribution block to the wall socket with, and I have had on loan an Alpha EF C15. The EF cables are more raw and attention grabbing than the NR cables, and there is certainly less softness. As I manage to remove more noise from my system I can see myself migrating to the EF cables, that is if I stay with Shunyata.
The other brand is Audioquest. I’ve not heard the Hurricane HC but I did have on loan a Hurricane Source power cable, which I found to work very well with the Innuos Zenith SE that i had at the time. I would be interested to learn from anyone who has been able to try both HC and Source variants of the Hurricane whether there was much difference with different types of device.
I’ll have to hear their EF cables. But as you’ve heard, the Sigma NR seems to have the house sound of the Alpha NC and NR (which I’ve also heard).
I personally would go for the Kimber Kable PK10 over the Audioquest at around the same price point. I’m using the Snake River Audio Cottonmouth Signature on the Innuos right now – and it sounds superb. Keep me posted!
What puzzles me is your choice of length.
4ft power cable is a waste of money as it doesn’t quite do what it is supposed to do.
6ft is a golden standard and it’s not just a random number. Tried and proven many times by many people. Same thing with short interconnects and speaker cables – they sound way worse.
I’ve compared a few identical cables , the only difference was their length ( 0.5 m ICs to 1.5m ones and 4ft speaker cables to 10 ft ones ). The difference was very noticeable,
with shorter cables sounding harsher and just … Kind of primitive??
First I must say what an impressive test you have performed! However, your tests is for stand alone power cables only, and cables can not fix the entire problem with “polluted” AC power. I miss words on optimized power cables connected to power regenerating devices or power conditioners and distribution to individual stereo components. To see how big or less a role the power cables might play in the big picture. In the process of regeneration, problems on your local power line such as low voltage, distorted waveforms, sagging power, and noise are eliminated and the power quality enhanced. In such a configuration, may be one could save money and buy less expensive interconnect power cabler?
You should also give the PS Audio PerfectWave AC-5 and PS Audio PerfectWave AC-12 power cables a try. They are affordable and get a lot of credit by their owners and in tests.
Could you please do a comparison between Cardas Clear Beyond/Beyond XL and Audience Front Row? I’m coming back after 18 years and about to start again with my Oracle transport, PS Audio Direct Stream, PS Audio Signature preamp and Merlin MXM’s.
Interesting read, I think I’ve a great spot for a MEP 3200 Neotech cable with Furutech FI50 NCF connectors. – Meridian DSP 8000SE Speakers. I think that combination would be utterly schocking impact and 3D creation.
About the Shunyata NR cables I think your setup is more of a ”Sigma EF” model setup where you don’t want any AC filtration from the cables themselves. For me that filtration is necessary as I run a larger home cinema. I think if you use the NR models where you want filtration and straight EF models where you just want it straight you could probably get an even better end results.
Mains filtration blocks next? How about reviewing a Shunyata Denali 6000T v2? How do you deal with noise from NAS, switches, routers, laptops for example?
Hello Jay, and thank you for this round up. I am a little late to the party, but found this just when I needed “anchor” cable for my system. I went with the Triode Labs “Obsession” and could not be happier!!
Was also wondering, since you had 3 of their cables in this line up, what you think of the HFC CT-2? I have one on my PS Audio DSD sr. DAC. Wondering how it stacked up in your opinion against the “enhanced” and the “ultimate”
Thank you for this epic review. The best power cable review i have seen. I will give the Neotech NEP-3200 a try. I have ordered 3m and split it to 2×1,5m power cables. My only wish is that Analysis Plus power cables were included. Perhaps next time.
I cant even imagine how you were able to pull this off! You are the “Navy Seal” of Audio and we are proud to salute you for it and cant thank you enough for your contribution!!! I have definitely learned quite a bit and was so impress that I started a thread on Audiogon called “The Truth About Power Cords and there “Real” Price to Performance” it is starting to get a lot of traction and I was hoping that you could join us. I didn’t mention your page yet as I did not want to steal your thunder. My username is BluMartini and i would love it if you and some of the manufactures listed here wouldn’t mind setting the stage for for the community.
I look forward hearing from you soon.
Thank you for your kind words. Found the thread. I’m not very active in any of the forums, but feel free to link it. I’ll check back in a bit.
I put your review out there for all to see and many are so excited as to what you discovered and how you went about the review!
Did you do any scientific tests on the products in question? Impedance, resistance quality of shielding? Anything?
Even if he made this, it will have no influence on sound – it’s only POWER cable, it cann’t change sound character. It only brings AC to power supply, it has no “contact” with audio signal.
bh: How did yo get so smart ??
That’s some ‘cutting-edge’ talk there !
I didn’t believe in power cables either (you have to excuse me, I am an electronics engineer and scientifically minded, or rather scientific method minded – find out what the laws behind things are, then take make use of them predictably). A friend of mine brought a power cable over to show me how it makes the amplifier generate a different sound in the speakers and it did.
I wanted to have a similar cable of my own, so I purchased a cable with a very similar geometry (even better, as mine is very well shielded) and special power and IEC plugs (regular ones wouldn’t fit the cable anyway, as it is very thick). The result is disappointing, different copper (OFC, presumably), different metal thickness, different geometry, different dielectrics, but is sounds absolutely the same as the stock cable supplied with the amplifier. I heard with my own ears there can be differences (actually there was an improvement in clarity, or I would not have bothered), but find the absence of clear rules, reproducibility, measurement based decisions very annoying. I don’t wan’t to be at the mercy of what some company wants to charge me for the cable when manufacturing costs are nowhere near, and I could look for better offer elsewhere. Part of why people ask about science, physics and measurements is that these things are insanely overpriced.
I agree – a lot of these cables are overpriced. However, “overpriced” is relative to the listener and his/her budget. It’s pretty crazy how much people are willing to spend on “a sound.”
Like yourself, I had to bite the bullet on a few cables because I couldn’t reproduce the sound exactly – even with similar designs, conductors, dielectrics, etc. I wish there were a way to measure for repeatability – but if there were, I guess everyone would start their own cable company. lol.
Also, I am conviced that whatever these cables are doing could be replicated by a different design of the amplifier’s internal power supply. I find it illogical that any filtering, transformer primary winding short-circuiting, or else (I’ve read various explanations of what is actually going on – I mean the ones that make any technical sense at all) needs the power cord to accomplish. It’s a mistery to me why the companies manufacturing the electronic device stick with classic and possibly obsolete power supply block designs, they certainly are aware of the whole audiophile (all sorts of) cable circus and I’m sure that at least out of curiosity did some tests of their own.
Acrolink P4030 II. When you tested this cable you mentioned ” it had a (darker) tone – which I’m starting to think has to do with the Furutech FI-28(G) connectors. I’ll have to confirm at a later time. ” Was it indeed the FI-28? I only mention this because I am building a DIY cord and want to make sure there are other options that are reasonably pried. I’ve settled on the FI-11 A/C. Unsure on the IEC. thank you.
Thanks for taking the time to do and publish this!
“Snake River”, how apt. Make sure you keep your cables well lubricated with snake oil.
I just noticed these comments about Power Cables, and thought I would add my recent experience.
I attended an Audioquest event at a local dealership in the UK.
Audioquest demonstrated their top of the range power cable (Dragon I believe, about £7000) and everyone in the room could notice the difference. I don’t think they were expecting any sales of this expensive cable, but this was just a demonstation event.
They also had William Tell speaker cable which I believe was about £7000 which was then swapped for a £21,000 speaker cable. Again, everyone in the room could tell the difference.
I am not an engineer, so cannot explain why the power cord makes difference. Just keep an open mind, go and have a listen!
Jay, power cord merry-go-round is a painful and EXPENSIVE one, but after years of experimentation, I think your latest addendum is extremely important:
“(Update 8/29/2019): A few generic power cables actually don’t sound that bad. Although most of them are harsh and fatiguing over time. Gauge seems to have some correlation here.”
I have found some generic power cords that harm/change the sound less than mega-buck cords. As you have reviewed, many expensive cords alter the sound signature way too much and cannot be used on multiple components in same system due to additive colorations. IME, some really heavy AWG audiophiles cords completely ruin the balance, especially if placed on source/small components that require very little power. Some generic 18 AWG SJT cords actually can sound better, more balanced and “raw” in those positions.
I believe part of the reason is that by using generic power cords, you’re straying less from the “norm.” Norm being that most of this music is created without fancy power cords to begin within. And since most of us don’t have the luxury to have a system for each genre of music – we want ours to be genre-independent. So as you’ve said, some of these cables completely remove “intent” and instead provide a different listening experience. Not all audiophiles want “the truth” but prefer to be taken away by these colorations (or lack of). And that’s completely fine. At the end of the day, the goal is personal emotional involvement with the music.
Everyone hears a difference when they are told there will be one. Blind test…see who hears a difference then. Remember monster HDMI cables? Everyone could see a difference. Outed as utter rubbish. No difference. Now on verge of bankruptcy. Go figure
After reading this I’m just speechless, and since I’m speechless, I’ll let P.T. Barnum do the talking:
“There’s a sucker born every minute.”
The audiophool industry depends on this. Lacking suckers, the industry wouldn’t exist.
I enjoyed the read, I was a TRUE skeptic. That being said, I still am. I have found that POWER CONDITIONING and cabling can be the biggest issue in a reference sound system. Second is component matching.
Placement, room treatment ect. are fairly easy to fix, with tools for room corrections. Room treatment, too little or WAY TOO MUCH.. (I often see that). Rooms are studio DEAD. I like a room with IT’S own little hidden mysteries.
I found that quality cabling, pure copper, pure silver. Insulation and shielding that conforms to application can VERY much effect PERSONAL sound preferences.
Take a stock Mcintosh PC for their Pre Amps, That cable is a high quality copper # 12 about 1 meter long. 35-50.00 USD about 3 years ago. I never had a problem, UNTIL I DID. We (a buddy I THINK) moved a Mcintosh MX121, and surround system to a Marine environment, on a 45 ft, Delta Houseboat. He had all the goodies, ALL Mcintosh, all expensive, all fairly new.
Pre amp, 2 SS mono blocks and 2 3/rail SS power amps, TTs and there Silver disk spinner. Matched stuff right? YES it was.
It took 2 months to get white noise, pink noise, and the ear bleeding brightness out of the system. It took another month of playing the system, pretty much 24/7 for it to finally settle in.
Every PC in that system had to be upgraded. The power outlets, wire and grounds all had to be upgraded shielded and grounded component to component as per MARINE application requirements. Finally after 3 plus months, it sounded as good as it did in his home.
What does the guy do? He moves the Boat to another Marina. Did it change the sound? YES it did, for about 2 weeks and it settled in.
I learned that DIRTY VAC, MOVING cables, plugging into a different outlets (though treated), and changing locations (house to house or boat in this case), made for and interesting summer of NOISE, and finally, (THANK GOD), the return of that sweet Mcintosh sound.
I personally know what my Mcintosh gear should sound like to ME, NOT you! ALL of YOU have your own set of ears as to what you can HEAR, and are willing to settle for, OR NOT.
A person said, (I don’t know who), “a cable is a potential problem, connecting two more potential problems together”
I started at the marina’s power supply, and conditioned from that point on, I mean that was the only thing that change, RIGHT?
LOL, Two power maintenance and conditioners, a fist full of cabling, and a lot of time later WALA.
Around 1500.00 total in parts and supplies, but about a million dollars worth of learning.
I’ll trust my ears (for now) to tell me when something isn’t sounding right.
Then I grab the TOOLS to figure out what is exactly WRONG. It’s not subjective. Everything I found to be wrong
could be measured, documented and repeated. That’s my personal experience, over and over again. 45+ years
with my 64 year old ears.
Thanks for the information, on the PC’s you gathered, wonderful stuff.
Jay, I came across your review article this morning while looking up the Kimber Kable PK10 and glad I did. I know from other reviews and a couple of email exchanges that we have similar tastes, and that was reinforced here, for example by your comments about the Sablon and the Snake River Cottonmouth. I do have a couple of questions:
– Kimber: Did they have the gold or rhodium connectors? The choice for each end is an option.
– Were you unable to get ahold of the PS Audio AC-12? It is not only in the range of this review – and up to at least recently used in the highly regarded PS Audio listening rooms – but selfishly because I have a slew of them and it would have helped to have that reference point in your comments.
About the Comment section, I appreciate a certain amount of patience with comments, but as one suggested, he was surprised that he hadn’t been banned as a troll. I agree. This comment section is much harder to read – and goes on forever – for having indulged some people indefinitely who aren’t at least now ready to be part of a productive discussion.
Yes I’m an audiophile, but really, what the hell do people think goes on inside of a peice of wire and a couple of connectors? Your system has miles of wire in one form or another inside of it, aren’t you concerned about that? In one out of a thousand times you may hear a difference if you happen across a cable that is making a poor connection or has a loose crimp. With all of the complicated connectors on some of these high dollar cables it is much more likely that any difference you can notice is due to high resistance in the expensive cable.
Does the SR power cable sound the same day and night? Do others?
Have any eliminated the busy time, usually 6pm to 10pm , “noisy” sound?
I read a review of the Shunyata Sigma NR power cable. I just got this cable and I have the exact same impression. The other reviews are great! I support you because there are a lot of This power cable is clogged in the highs and lacks the richness of the lows. The sound is described as dense, but lacking in sonic detail.
The Shunyata Sigma Digital cable has a good high frequency extension and a very good balance of sound.
Anyway, it’s inspired me to support the audiobacon！
Much Appreciated Tads 🙂 Glad you found a sound you like.
Awesome reviews,thank you for your efferts,any thoughts on Audio Envy cables ,your opinions matter.
Second on this. I am almost ready to buy a full loom given how much I liked their speaker cable, but would love to know the thoughts of the cable master
This is the most pathetic commenting I’ve seen from any author, ever. The insecurity screams from reply to every comment, and the religious stance towards “I can hear differences” isn’t even proven with simple ABX-test. Having done that myself I found no difference in decent cable and a more expensive one. I very quickly learned to see through the marketing bullshit the author of this article likes to spout and spend my money on speakers and amps. The fact they never directly answered the question “did you re-wire entire your entire house” with a reply “yes” or “no” is all anyone needs to know about the validity of their claims.
Also, the author claims they can hear differences in cables, but are unable to show the differences exist with high-precision measurement equipment: there’s no need to correlate the heard difference with measured difference, just to show that there is any measurable difference at all. But the author doesn’t want to do that. Instead they succumb to gatekeeping (“you’re not real audiophile”) and attack like an insecure child against people criticizing the snake oil claims.
The author is a nobody selling bullshit hifi-products, that’s why they have time to reply to every comment. There’s no other reason.
Damn, you’re very passionate about this! Well because I’m not paid by any of these cable companies, I depend on trolls like yourself to do it. THANK YOU!!
Jay – I really admire your courage and tenacity in standing up to these wallies. Excellent reviews! I respect you because you have the technical knowledge on tap, but you also have the insight and experience to know that there’s far more to listening to music than measurements. Chapeau!
As for the countless dummies posting on here… the 21st century flat-earthers… when will they ever understand that listening to music is not some kind of scientific exercise? There are aspects of hifi which can be measured, but just as many aspects to the experience that can’t be measured and we don’t understand why some hifi, why some music, sounds magical and some doesn’t.
Without getting too pompous, at the age of 64 I’ve heard more than a few musicians – from Richard Thompson to Janet Baker – talk about music as something deeply spiritual. Imagine trying to measure why Maria Callas is an infinitely greater soprano than Anna Netrebko? Now that would be real nonsense, that would be crazy stuff. We can begin to express in words why that might be, but it’s certainly nothing to do with any kind of measurement! If hifi just existed to see which kit could make the loudest bang, then measurements would just about cover it – but this is about music, it’s art, human creativity – it’s one of mankind’s greatest triumphs. It’s deeply mysterious stuff -and all over the world, all through time, we’ve made music. I’ll be quoting Rilke next!
Frans Hals and Jan Vermeer were both Dutch masters active in much the same period. They used much the same materials, the same grounds, the same linen canvas, the same oils. The paintings of Frans Hals are jolly trivialities, the paintings of Jan Vermeer are timeless and sublime. That can’t measured. When living human beings listen to music – how on earth can that experience be measured? In the same way, we don’t fully understand hifi – okay?
Talk to doctors, surgeons and physicians. They have huge scientific resources at their disposal, centuries of experiment and research behind them. But even now there are significant aspects of our physical lives that still aren’t fully understood, that cannot be measured.
I could go on for pages here…
Wow, Pete. I couldn’t have said it any better. I might have to quote you in a later article lol.
Based upon your review I purchased a Kimber Palladian PK14, put in on my DAC and wow! What a terrific cord! I was so impressed I purchased a Kimber Palladian PK10 to go from the wall outlet to my PS Audio DirectStream Power Plant 12. I’m a happy camper! It also feels good to support a local company, the Kimber HQ is just a 30 minute drive for me.
Yes, you are right.
And this also means that it would be possible that I could hypnotise you and have you believe that a 1985 Sony Walkman playing tape is the best sounding system in the world, and you would firmly believe it.
You can’t impartially test something you already have an opinion of, and just as low cost wine put in the bottle of a much more expensive wine is percieved to taste better, fancy cables and the associated cost and effort to go thru listening to them etc are likely to alter the percieved result.
As you point out, the human brain works in splendid and wondourous ways that are not fully understood, but the impact of preconception is one of the very repeatable and easily observable outcomes.
This Guy is a Total ASS needs to take few pills and calm the hell down. lol
Thank you for this great comparison. After reading the reviews of every cables, I found that the Kimber PK10 Palladian is probably the best cable for me. I would like to know your opinion about the connector options. Gold vs Rhodium plated on this particular cable? I contacted Kimber directly but their answer left me even more clueless. Thanks!
I feel High Fidelity Cables CT-1 Ultimate has more life like than Snake River Audio Signature Cottonmouth
I like both in timbre … this is why I like ultimate more I want to hear accurate timbre with life like.
Can Reveal Power Cable produce timbre and life like at the same level like CT-1 Ultimate ?
The biggest issue with cable reviews it is only accurate for one with similar components. Power cables I like in my system may sound like garbage in a friend’s system. I still pay attention, and if someone raves about one, I will check it out. Great review overall. I do component Beta Testing so “open minds” are needed in what I do and dialing in a system. All cables matter, I wish they didn’t, but they do. Another variable…..
I have had a power cable totally dull my system, or make it too hot. Verified in two other systems by non cable
This is absolute crap and I’m embarrassed that you actually report this as fact. That you actually sat down and physically listened,removed,listened, removed, 27 odd power cables. No one’s audible memory is good enough to accurately do this and then to write about it, hilarious. Funny how no power cable manufacturers provide any measurements of their cables, this itself has me utterly convinced that it is BS and only stupid people with money to spend and the want for something pretty buy into this nonsense. Look at Gene’s videos on Audioholics, he is someone who has the knowledge and debunks all of this as utter nonsense.
Gene is lying to you.
Jay, I believe your original intentions were honorable, and that you have a huge amount of time invested in PC testing for your personal system. Ergo your strong and emotional defense of your work. Sorry to say you invested in snake oil, so don’t be surprised by the slew of technical inquiries after going down that rabbit hole using only an anecdotal approach.
Sure, cables can sound different, though why would you want to change the sound using a PC? So, IMO, even promoting the concept that you can fix your rig by changing the sound with different cables is not only anti-audiophile, but bad for this hobby overall. See audiophile tax. Your research would be better spun as an example on how stay away from colored and pricy PCs.
Audiophile 101, is to tweak your rig by matching components whose characteristics and combination you happen to like – then find the most neutral cable possible so as to not mess it up (I admit that it took me a few decades to learn that – duh).
To compound matters, your rig is the only reference used, so useless to most – because the same cable might sound different in theirs. Therefore, it was not, IMO, out of line, to beg you politely to provide a common denominator spec. of any kind, Otherwise. your review is just some unique personal experience within your rig, and therefore little value to the rest of us, except to – as it turns out – perpetuate the cable rabbit hole syndrome.
All said, I’m sure all of us appreciate your effort in putting together this report. It was otherwise well written
Thank you for your comment, Greg. Hm, I guess I would have to agree to disagree.
The fact that the cables sound different is enough reason for exploration. If there’s potential to dramatically change the sound (and thus auditory experience) of your system with a cable…then, IMHO, it’s within the realm of audiophiles. Instead of finding the most neutral cable…how about finding a cable that you enjoy? Not all engineers master for neutral and many artists will probably say that wasn’t their intent either. From my experience, the right cable makes the difference between being fully engaged with my stereo…and not. That’s enough reason for me (and many other audiophiles) to tune my system with cables.
It’s definitely more of a personal experience, but judging from the emails and comments I’ve been getting, many others have been hearing the same characteristics from these cables. I’ve actually tested in not just my own system, but a few friends as well. We hear the same things. But we each enjoy different cables. And that’s the whole point.
What a great article! I came across it because I need to buy a longer power cord for my Shunyata Hydra 6 power distributor because of a stereo reconfiguration. I have a general question I would like to ask. In your opinion, would using an alternative to the Shunyata power cable impart a sonic difference to all the units plugged into the distributor? Two cables I admire appear in your review, the Gutwire SV-8 and the Snake River Audio Signature Cottonmouth. Thank you, brother, and thank you again for your article. – Jim Kiely
Thank you for a great review and insight Jay, well done. Have you come across of Omega Mikro cable, there is no much review about it, I heard from a friend it is amazing cable.
Never heard of that cable…
That Crystal Cable Future Dream Power Cord is the biggest load of audio w*nk I’ve seen in a long time. A good quality copper line power cord from Clearer Audio with the RF suppressors is all you need.
Finally got ahold of a Kimber PK10 Palladian, the older version, which is the same as the current one except for the cover and upgraded Wattgate connectors. I agree with everything in your review, yet didn’t like it and sold it a few days later. Why? My system uses all PS Audio AC-12’s, which have their limitations, such as in clarity and instrument tonal accuracy vs. the Kimber and others, but have a sense of aliveness and modest warmth that draws me into the music, rather than making me have to struggle through “audiophile effects” to try to get to the music. Better clarity, for example, can definitely enhance the experience, but if details are for the most part more than background or passing in my awareness, I’m not listening to the music. While swapping in a single Kimber at a Supratek preamp and then at a Lampi Atlantic TRP dac confirmed your description, it eliminated the sense of alive, changing the perspective a little and rendering things a little sedate and perhaps a bit dry. From the wall to a PS Audio P15 regenerator, the effect wasn’t as pronounced, but still evident (and a bit more ragged). So while enjoying the AC-12’s, which PS Audio no longer sells in favor of Audioquest’s Dragon and Thunder, I’m keeping my eyes open for alternatives that build on its strengths (I used to have a slew of Snake River Cottonmouth Gold’s, but eventually found the AC-12’s superior). Thanks for your work,
Ditto Gene. The magic that draws you into the music is the nirvana while audiophile effects are 98% what’s out there trying to get there.
Gene, I am with you on PSA AC12. What power cable have you migrated to? I like the liveliness of AC12 but wish have more tonal richness of string instruments. Instrument separation is last on my list as analytical sounding is a distraction.
I appreciate and thank the author for this review, which required a lot of research, patience and excellent auditory ability to write. Sadly few good deeds go unpunished in the electronics world, as evidenced by the bluster posted under the review. I think this is due to two tendencies among men: mistaking aggression for reason and being unaware that they likely have limited high-frequency hearing.
What we need is a listening test to compare the electricity supplies in different cities so I know where to move to with my expensive power cords.
Does electricity generated by nuclear power sound cleaner than electricity generated by coal? Does solar power make the sound brighter? What about wind power? Does the music sound better on a windy day?
Thank you for this, great work. Do you have any experience with the Wireworld Power Cables? I wonder how they compare with some of the others.
There is a reason why audio engineers (who are in this profession because they love sound and music, too) and audiophiles are exact antipodes in the spectrum. The former create and improve the things the latter will play by means of science , the latter improve things by throwing money at snake oil solutions and believing in them, and they obviously do not wish to have that belief shattered by scientific methods. Whatever rows your boat, the important thing is that you’re happy, the guys who make these fancy cables are very likelly very happy that you roll that way too, so is the guy who sells you that stuff, so we’re all happy happy joy. There are much, much worse ways of ripping off idiots out there.
What am I doing here?
Was just wondering the same thing myself, long live PT Barnum !!!
Thanks for the tips about audio power cables. My little sister would like to get an audio system installed for her home theater and record room. I’ll suggest that she look into the right power cables.
I very much enjoyed your cable reviews..But, could you please review Vertere Acoustics HB Mains sometime soon? It is priced well within the range of the cables you’ve reviewed here. I’ve read so many good things about them but would love to see your thoughts. Thank you.
Well, $500, $2,000, $5,000 for a power cord? Anti-psychotics are cheaper… Also, “engineer”, have you tried lithium?
You’re a lunatic and don’t have any objective evidence, enjoy your cables
This turned out to be a very helpful review. I am buying a second Signature Snake River. Whether it was the best choice for my system, I don’t know. But it sounds good enough to repeat my purchase. In my system, at the source, it sounds more transparent, detailed and more authoritative. If the tone changed at all, it was not noticeable to me. They are well-made, supple and win the contest for aesthetic appeal in my cable collection. 🙂 Keep them coming.
Redo all the test with a scope and a spectrum analyzer.
The human ear is not stable enough and the brain is too subjective to provide any reliable comparable data.
There may be much less difference than one think between a 50$ and 5,000$ power bar!
The human ear is more capable than you think. And far more supplicated than scopes.
What specifically will you measure to determine whatever the result will be at the ear? Have you developed a correlation between the two? Are you sure a phenomenon doesn’t exist? How would you prove that something doesn’t exist? Is it strictly scientific to assume absence of a phenomenon?
If the ear isn’t stable enough, lol, and if the mind is too weak, why read audio sites? Why build a hifi? If the human participant is so weak-minded what’s your proposal – Are you going to achieve greater musical fidelity by not listening? Or if you build a system based just on data, how do you answer the questions in the first paragraph?
Are you in audio for data? To make conversational points? I find so many questions arise when the aim is objectivity that I just prefer to resort to the simple practice of listening for effect, which is not unlike seasoning and tasting…and reading restaurant reviews looking for the very common threads and experiences that tie people together. Why can’t audio be like this?
Better put, why is audio constantly plagued with judgemental types whose systems apparently don’t deliver musical satisfaction and whose group findings never really match?
Jay, I greatly enjoyed reading your reviews, and find them very informative. Have you ever tried Omega Mikro cables, and their rather exotic designs? I would appreciate your thoughts on them.
Audio is a fun and interesting hobby with various opinions and preferences. Normally cable believers tell non-believers with strong opinion that we fully agree with your “strong” argument that cables make no difference, we can go and buy cheap basic cables to make system to have sound, or buy good cables for better look. So cable debates can end quickly, nothing needs to be resolved in this case.
Cable believers are usually experienced audiophiles with trained ears. They usually tell themselves that we passed the point to debate about that, let those “strong opinions” guys to enjoy themselves in their setup and think their systems sound at best. It it totally fine to think a shitty setup sounding astonishing,
Reasonable people should see common sense in this world, if this is a snake-oil business, how could multi-million dollar firms like Nordost, Furutech, Ansuz or Zensati survive, in fact, are still going strong? There are famous cable firms across all five continents. Japanese is quite known for not tolerant to scam business, Furutech founded in 1988 in Japan and sell their products domestically, they couldn’t survive in 5 years if high-end cables are scam.
Buenas Jay, me gustaría que conocieras a unos fabricantes artesanos de España, y conocer tu impresión sobre sus dos series superiores de cables las HORUS y OSIRIS, creo que su relación calidad/precio es inmejorable, lo digo como cliente.
Los puedes encontrar en https://www.wires4music.com/
Si puedes ya nos dirás
What about the $2 (sub)standard main outlet where you plug in your $5000 power cable into? What about the house wiring? What about the breaker box? Huge non-linear contact resistances I can imagine. What about the cable from the power company pole transformer to your house? What about the *terrible* magnetic properties of the power company transformer?
I just know all of that makes a difference, but you could only work on what you can change (internal wiring and outlets). I’ll be testing this extensively in the new few weeks.
HI Jay, I enjoy your thorough and comprehensive power cord comparison. Since I am too in the market for a Power Cord, I would like to know when deciding which PC to use, is value ratio need to be taken? For example, an amplifier that costs $3000 is it wise to buy a PC for $1000 or even equal or more than that? Then with a tube amplifier, is it still using the same principle with other solid state amplifier? I am eyeing on the Kimber Kable Palladian at the moment, but itself cost like 1/3 of my amplifier. Big thank you to you and your excellent posts!
It’s not about price, but what sound you’re aiming for. It doesn’t matter if you hit the the right price ratio if it doesn’t sound good. So I would just cover up the price tag, and read the reviews and see which one will complement your system best.
Thank you Jay for your thorough and comprehensive comparison. I do believe Power Cord make a lot of difference! This is very true in a very transparent audio set up especially in the High End audiophile set up. So those who commented otherwise is either they have cheap set up or never heard or own any high end system. By the way, have you tried Oyaide Tunami GPX-R V2 PC before? I am currently eyeing the Kimber Kable Palladian PC. Is it still belong in your Fines Cut category? Thank you Jay, keep posting, I really enjoy your work!
I personally thought the Palladian PC to be really good for the money, but that’s only if you like that type of sound (please read the description). Some readers bought just based on the Finest Cuts award just to be disappointed because it wasn’t the sound they wanted. I haven’t heard the GPX-R, but seems affordable enough to test out.
I have been running the Kimber Kable Palladian for almost a year now and love it. At the time, this power cable in combination with Audioengine’s A2+ powered speaker was an incredible experience. Considering that the A2+ was only about 50 watts RMS, having a P14 (14 gauge) Palladian was perfect. However, I have upgraded to Audioegine’s flagship HD6. These still use an IEC C7 connection but the RMS is now 150 watts. I am beginning to wonder if I need a “beefier” cable. Since all the interconnects running these speakers are a full loom of Synergistic Research’s Foundation, I have been looking at SR’s Atmosphere Excite SX Power Cable. Do you think SR’s power cable would be better than Kimber’s Palladian?
Aside from the Palladian, I haven’t heard the other components so can’t really say. But if you try it out let me know! I think I’ve only reviewed the Excite interconnects.
Hi. Thank you for this interesting compendium. I wonder how you rate Wireworld Electra/Silver Electra power cord against these cables. Can you comment on this issue? Thanks a lot.
When I was trying to find reviews on power cords, this one that you took the time to do stood out to me above all others and has been a benchmark to me of sorts. I wanted to return the favor and introduce another cable/cord manufacture line to you that you maybe interested in as the reviews are outstanding. Not to mention the comments I’ve read from audiophiles I admire and respect. 聖HIJIRI cables/cords.
Here are a few websites to introduce yourself to this line if you haven’t heard of it already.
This is just some light reading for you to enjoy at your leisure. Take care.
Thank for you the list! I’ll take a look for future reviews 🙂
If you wonder why people laugh at audiophiles or why this is a dead and buried industry , just read his review from this “open minded ” electrical engineer.I too a long time ago was an audiophiles audiophile,I even subscribed to the abso!ute sound.But the first time I took a blind listening test my audiophile world came crashing down.Reality can be a bitch.
Im so glad I got out of this cult/industry a long time ago.
Good for you bruh.
Thank you so much for putting the time into this article! I’ve been looking for something like this for so long. 28 cables! This was so helpful for me on my audiophile journey.
Do you think that if you mix and match cables, you can create the perfect sound, or do you think it’s more likely to ruin it? For example, you compared two Audience cables, and stated:
Front Row -If you want a richer, sweeter sound with enormous density. The result is a very tangible and “physically real” presentation. If you’re looking for something more open with more clarity – the Audience Au24 SX is a better fit.
If you had a Front Row on your main feed to a power conditioner and Au24 SX to your amplifiers, would that be the best of both worlds, or a hodge podge of neither here nor there?
My pleasure! Yeah I mix and match all my cables. Just give it a listen and see what works for you. Sometimes one power cable connected to a component will have a larger impact than another, etc.
Have you had a listen to the PCR-14 / 11 copper ribbon power cord ? Thougths?
A yeoman undertaking for sure. Thanks you for your efforts. However, the one thing that is not emphasized but should be, is that you are not really evaluating cables, but rather cables WITH their terminations. For the life of me, I do not understand how any audiophile can listen to rhodium terminations. The sound is just sonically wrong, at least to me. There’s an artifice there I cannot get past and once you hear it (by eliminating it), you cannot un-hear it.
So what I’d like to see is a different kind of shoot out. Take one or 2 cables and test 3 iterations of the same cable with different terminations. I would suggest using the Furutech DPS4.1 with the NCF 50 rhodium terminations, but also build one with. F28 (G) and F48 (Ag) and then tell us what you hear. That would be a very meaningful compare. I suggest the DPS 4.1 because its not only a superb cable, but an accessible one for DIY’s. For a second cable, I might try the ZenWave Copper ribbon, which Dave offers with the Furutech Gold/copper (F28) as well as rhodium/copper (NCF50) terminations (he’ll also make a pair with F48 (Ag) I’m sure for the purposes of this compare.
That simple comparison (same cable, different terminations) should be very productive for potential users top understand the sound contributions of BOTH the cable plus it’s termination as an integral part of the overall sound.
For example, an “audiophile” cable can make bass notes even better, typically “more powerful”. The high end might sound “sweeter” and “more extended”. Well, as you can see, at a typical 1W output which is not an unusual, normal playback level for home systems, there’s no difference between the two cables.
A Hi-Fi mains cable doesn’t directly affect your sound quality, although it has a minute indirect effect. With a high-end power cable, you’ll have slightly less noise and resistance, but the differences are negligible. Still, some people think they hear better sound after connecting a high-end cable.
This thread is hilarious.
And yeah, you are an a–h—, Jay.
No measurement needed for that.
Amazing such a big list power cables and detailed review!
I really like what you say about the Neotech; 3D molding instruments, palpable. But you state the Furutech dps4 is quite on another level.
Which ‘higher’ level cable has also the Neotech 3D capabilities, organic tone and perhaps still quite open sounding if possible haha??
Impressive list of powercables tested, I really appreciate it. It must have taken allot of time. Just like you I like somewhat ‘warm’ sounding cables, with beautiful timbre and natural sound. Im using Audio Note Isis mainscable, this is amazing or the price!
But I want a higher level cable between my wallsocket and mainsfilter. I like what you wrote about the Neotech and Synergestic research, about the 3D molded objects. I would really like to have that with good texture. But the Neotech is not of the same league as the Furutech DPS4.1. The Synergestic research cable is quite expansive and I prefer DIY, because of the high price / qualtiy performance.
Does the DPS4.1 deliver this also? Im willing to pay more for a good cable which sounds like the DPS4.1 and also has the qualities of 3D molded objects and good texture.
Bonjour a tous,
La différence de son des cables secteur sur la hifi est très simplement explicable et mesurable ayant une base technique en électricité, et cette loi physique est connue depuis 1 siecle.
Avec mes meilleures salutations.
On the point of power cables, they make such a big difference in my system. I took one for a home trial, the Shunyata Sigma and was immediately hooked! Ended up buying the cable and the Alpha and Delta as well.
The new Alpha V2 seems to be just as good as the Sigma V1. The Alpha is on my ML320S pre-amp.
Keep up the good work!
This might be the best and most accurate list of power cords on the web, bravo! I wish you would have reviewed Puritan Ultimate cable or Studio Connections power cords.
Thank you so much for the kind words! I’m really glad you found the list helpful. I’ll definitely look into reviewing Puritan Ultimate cable and Studio Connections power cords.