These 27 power cords should cover the majority of possible “flavors” when it comes to power cords. So, whether you plan to mix n’ match or stick to a single loom – I hope the survey will serve as guidance.
Expensive doesn’t always mean better – just different. The question is always how much you’re willing to pay for that difference. This seems to be especially the case over $2,000 – where signatures get pretty unique.
One thing should be clear, you could get a lot – without spending a lot. The Atlas Eos 4dd and Vovox Textura are great examples of this.
For the curious, I’m still experimenting with a combination of Furutech DPS-4, Snake River Audio Cottonmouth Signature, High Fidelity Cables CT-1 Ultimate, and the Audience Au24 SX power cables. These cables seem to get me closer to a balance I’m looking for – which is a natural sound.
The Greatest Lesson
The biggest takeaway with this review was to actually spend time with the cable – at least a few days. When you binge on power cables, the “context switching” may affect your impressions. You’ll actually get further, quicker if you resist the urge of constantly swapping in and out cables.
So, instead of going through many cables in one sitting, listen to that cable over a longer period – with a variety of music. You’ll start to get a better grip of its strength and weakness. Sometimes “it grows on you” and sometimes it gets worse. Remember, it’s about how your HiFi system makes you feel. And with this knowledge, you’ll be able to accept or reject a power cable more confidently.
Power Cable Findings
These were a few interesting discoveries made during this journey. I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has experienced anything similar (or different).
- The majority of the power cables were tuned more neutrally. Meaning an “even” amount of tonal color or energy across the spectrum. Nothing too warm, too bright, too energetic.
- The stereo seems to take the character of the power cord used at the amplifier the most. The exception seems to be a few digital sources – such as the Chord Electronics DAVE.
- Pure digital sources (no analog inputs or outputs) with linear power supplies don’t seem to react as heavily with the power cords. The Innuos ZENith Mk.3 SE and Mutec REF10 being a couple of examples.
- 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.
- Use the power cord with the truest timbre at your source. It’s impossible to correct timbre after this point.
- Higher priced cords generally use higher quality materials – which generally results in better resolution, timbre, and smoothness. The sweet spot seems to be around the $1,300 mark for a high-end cable.
- A power cable does sound different depending on what it’s connected to – probably due to power supply design. But if you’re comparing the same set of cords on that component – the relative differences are generally similar. Just at different degrees.
- 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.
- (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.
- For example, I had this 14 AWG (Sanlung, not sure if that’s even a brand) one that came with a 2U Dell server. One thing I’d like to mention, this cable weighs more than twice the other 18 AWG standard cords.
- As far as tonal color, it was truer than some of these higher-end cables. It was also quite dynamic. What it lacked were smoothness and dimension. There were “gaps” and an obvious roughness – but it was raw. Music didn’t quite really flow but was still enjoyable. And although I could listen to it for a couple of hours, anything beyond that and those edges start to become a little abrasive. Anyway, I’ll keep this cable here as my sanity checker.
Finding that balance in your system is tough – and neverending. One of the easiest ways to find synergy for a system is to try out a bunch of cables. You have to admit, it’s easier than lugging around amplifiers, DACs, and speakers. And it could be quite rewarding. You’ll start to realize – once you’ve got your cables down, it’s easier to move forward in a stereo system.
Now, onto speaker cables…
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