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Buddha
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Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry by JVS.

Jason made a killer blog entry about demonstrating - objectively - the differences between cables and power cords.

Power cables...different?

I hope there is more info that will eminate from this seminar!

Elk
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

Yes, more!

Buddha
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

Hey, Elk, did you see that tumbleweed pass through the forum?

Yup, mighty quiet in these parts.

Mighty quiet.

BillB
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

Well howdy partners.
3 legged dog busts into a western saloon. Gots his sixgun in the holster. Says "I'm lookin for the man that shot my paw..."

Cables: I read the recent review of the MIT CVT cables. Guy says his reference cable might have a little more treble extension, and goes a little deeper in the bass. Shouldn't this be easily testable/verifiable? Without even getting into a DBT debate? If hi-quality expensive cable X allows a greater range of frequencies to be transmitted than hi-quality expensive Y, then why can't we see some simple tests of that? Should be way easier than the battery of tests JA performs on other components.

Buddha
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

Hey, BillB.

It may be the late hour and the vino clouding my brian, but I think many people look at power cords this way:

The electrical component in question is designed to function across a certain set of conditions in terms of AC supply. Whether the power supply is a little high or low, whatever, the device is in charge of rectifying the situation.

(Huh? Subtle pun?)

So, if one cord is 0.2% 'better' at some aspect of delivering what power cords deliver, it should not matter to the device and should not make a difference in terms of sound.

I do not claim that idea as my dogma, it just seems like how things are 'supposed to work' here at the border between today and tomorrow.

We can let more sober heads fact check me tomorrow!

rvance
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry


Quote:
Hey, BillB.

It may be the late hour and the vino clouding my brian, but I think many people look at power cords this way:

The electrical component in question is designed to function across a certain set of conditions in terms of AC supply. Whether the power supply is a little high or low, whatever, the device is in charge of rectifying the situation.

(Huh? Subtle pun?)

So, if one cord is 0.2% 'better' at some aspect of delivering what power cords deliver, it should not matter to the device and should not make a difference in terms of sound.

I do not claim that idea as my dogma, it just seems like how things are 'supposed to work' here at the border between today and tomorrow.

We can let more sober heads fact check me tomorrow!

That sounds perfectly sober (did the fatheads sober-check you?), but I swear- when I got my PS Power Plus X-Stream cables in their velveteen presentation cases at 50% off from Audio Advisor a year or two ago and hooked them up to my gear... the soundstage opened, the harsh upper glare and sibilants were softened and veils were lifted. And I'm sure it had nothing to do with the removable ground, the hose-like girth of the jacket or the polished fist-sized plug.

Actually, the truth is I was having difficulty with a new Marantz Universal SR 7001 during a "break-in" period. It was sounding thin in the mids and a little etched on top compared to my previous player (Kenwood Sovereign DVD-A). I was REALLY frustrated and began pestering the Digital forum for advice. The new power cord seemed to open up the mids, which added the fullness I was missing. I A/B'd the factory cable over and over and couldn't go back once I heard the improvement. I would have returned the Marantz had I not tried the cable. Now, I'm revisiting all my cd's and hi-rez discs and making new discoveries, going deeper and deeper into specious claims of slightly noticeable improvement. But it's true.

dbowker
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

I also have found obvious and definite benefits to upgrade cords, though again I draw the line at ones costing what a full-on component would cost. The benefits do seem more pronounced with CD players, DACs and smaller amps. My Krell seemed to barely register the better cable- perhaps due to it's more massive transformer and power supplies. Still, I have yet to find a component where nothing at all happened.

tom collins
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

the first component i tried a new cord on was the CD. it was the entry level nordost, the shiva - very pronounced difference. one step up, the vishnu - even better, but not as shocking as that first step. if you have a $10,000 piece of equipment, maybe $2,000 for a cord makes sense in a wierd (wired) way? wish i had that problem.

Buddha
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry


Quote:
the first component i tried a new cord on was the CD. it was the entry level nordost, the shiva - very pronounced difference. one step up, the vishnu - even better, but not as shocking as that first step. if you have a $10,000 piece of equipment, maybe $2,000 for a cord makes sense in a wierd (wired) way? wish i had that problem.

So, the higher the price of the gear, the more it is need of intensive therapy from higher priced power cords?

Shouldn't it be the opposite?

Man, I shudder to think about all those high priced designs (from those electrical geniuses) just loafing around waiting for the right damn power cord to finally allow them to function properly.

tom collins
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

"So, the higher the price of the gear, the more it is need of intensive therapy from higher priced power cords?

Shouldn't it be the opposite?"

Yes. Wouldn't you think so? I did, then I listened. My dealer would have taken either or both cords back, so I was at no personal risk.
I have no engineering degree or experience. I'm just the common schlub who wanders into the store. My 10,000 to 2,000 question was pure suposition. Why should you buy a $500.00 piece of equipment and get a 50 cent cord, then buy a $2000.00 piece of equipment and get the same 50 cent cord? I don't know the answer, only the question.

JasonVSerinus
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry


Quote:
"So, the higher the price of the gear, the more it is need of intensive therapy from higher priced power cords?

Shouldn't it be the opposite?"

Yes. Wouldn't you think so? I did, then I listened. My dealer would have taken either or both cords back, so I was at no personal risk.
I have no engineering degree or experience. I'm just the common schlub who wanders into the store. My 10,000 to 2,000 question was pure suposition. Why should you buy a $500.00 piece of equipment and get a 50 cent cord, then buy a $2000.00 piece of equipment and get the same 50 cent cord? I don't know the answer, only the question.

The answer, of course, is that there is no hard and fast answer. There are no shoulds. You listen to the gear, and you listen to various cables in the price range you can afford. Then you make your decision.

My bottom-line experience: The best cables can bring out all that a piece of equipment has to offer. If the best cable comes first in the chain, i.e. before the power conditioner/purifier/regenerator/distributor or the transport/player, that cable will affect everything that follows. Of course, if your equipment offers low-level noise or overblown bass or irritating treble, certain cables will exacerbate the problems while others will mitigate them. Yes, I know, there's that supposed cardinal rule: cables are not tone controls. But rules are sometimes best broken. Since cables do affect the quality of sound, you make your choice according to what you hear.

As I've mentioned in other posts over the years, The Cable Company (1-800-FATWYRE) has a huge lending library of cables, as well as a database in which they record experiences clients have with matching different cables to different components.

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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry


Quote:
Now, I'm revisiting all my cd's and hi-rez discs and making new discoveries, going deeper and deeper into specious claims of slightly noticeable improvement. But it's true.

I know this is an old post but it does note what I also found when I improved my power cables. I find myself going back into favorite CD's and finding more to enjoy. I really didn't expect any real change at all by the cable change but was really surprised. I also like PS adio product, the cheap stuff as befiting my budget.

tom collins
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

i think your reaction is pretty typical when one makes a good upgrade. you want to go back to something you really liked and see if you really can like it even more. usually the answer is yes. its' like, oh that is really good now, let's try x and see if it is better too. we all just want to get closer to the music.

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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

Abd often we do...great hobby

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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

About powercables; think I stumbeled over the simple thruth some years ago after replacing a 20ft extension-cable with one made from the last 22ft from Electrocompaniet type1 powercable. What a huge improvement, why could this be? The EC-cable was running 8x17awg cores while the standard extension was stranded

Since I`m no enigeneer I made up a 20ft extension from 2x13awg, and there it started. Noew I had allready realized that multistranded wires ruins sound quality and dynamics when used in IC`s and speakerwires so it wadn`t totally new to me, but still

After this I`ve improved equipment simply by replacing internal powercords with solid ones, and off course external PC`s as well. Shielded solid. Everything else is a loss.

curtis j
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

1. Mr DUP is a typical skeptic about Audio-Quality
power cords, hope he will be allowed to respond
to our comments some day...
Power Cords do make a difference !

2. Bob Shore comment to have manufactures to show:
"...that the electrical difference[s] makes any audible difference..."

- One way to demonstrate or show the differences is for
the listener to test out the power cord[s] on their
own audio systems.
- As an inventor of a High-Power cord, let us take
a different approach to understanding the 'magic'
even ESOTERIC idea[s], of a High-end power cord[s].

As the power cord carries 120 Vrms 169 Vp-p
this high level of voltage can impress unwanted noise
from the hot-side wire [black] onto the low-side [white] and ground wire [green].
The white wire and green wire are tied together at the power panel on a common 'bus-bar'.
Also remember there is some capacitance between the three legs of the power-cords wires.
The High side wire has two paths to induce noise onto the ground-system.
The ground-system is composed of the white wire, green wire and MOST importantly, the metal frame or chassis
[for instance] of the Power amplifier.

The MAIN question here-then-is where does the 'NOISE' come from ?

Since the power cable's wires are connected to a transformer with their individual inter-capacitance,
this power-circuit makes up a parallel LC tank circuit !

Having this High voltage oscillate in this parallel-LC-Tank circuit this high potential
electrical energy will 'resonante' this LC tank circuit.

This 'sympathetic' energy is therefore the NOISE that interferes with the audio-circuits.

Next question then:
How does this Induced-Resonant-noise affect the Audio signal ?

The input stage of the POWER-amplifier is sensitive to this NOISE which is being coupled through the
'ground-system'into the first stage[s] of the amplifier circuits.
This noise was found to be about 7 to 31 MHz on a network analyzer, with an amplitude of 10mV to 20mV.
With an input signal of 500mV into the Power-amplifier, this noise is -28dB to -34dB.
Noise influences the amplifier by impossing itself upon the incomming audio signal through the ground-system,
causing sound-stage collapse and smearing of the stage image.

[NOTE: Balanced Power-Supply systems are immune]

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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry


Quote:
1
Power Cords do make a difference !

yes, they most definitely do. I can definitely hear a difference when I remove my power cord/

commsysman
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

If changing the power cord makes a difference, the guy who designed the power supply of that equipment is incompetent!

The power supply should be capable of filtering out any RF that enters from the cord, and slight variations in AC voltage should never be more than 1% from changing the cord.

So what else is there that a different power supply cord can change? I have NEVER heard any sensible explanation for a power cord making a difference, despite anecdotes ad nauseum.

Does anyone think they know?

commsysman
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

Glad you found the "thruth"!!!

Does it make much difference whether the wire gauge is the same as the date of the month, too?

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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

How does this noise "interfere with the audio circuits"??.

Did the guy who engineered the power supply forget to put an RF filter in the power supply? Because if he did his job, all of those nasties you describe will be totally eliminated before they get anywhere near the audio circuitry.

To espouse this nonsense, you have to be completely ignorant of basic power supply engineering principles.

commsysman
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

You know, I had a friend who was certain that he could tell me exactly what part of New Mexico his magic mushrooms came from; he couldn't, of course, but the thing that was important to him was that he was certain he was right.

If someone is happy with their particular delusion, why spoil their fun?

Buddha
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

Can you address what Kal Rubison noted in his review of the Bel Canto amp, that even having it plugged in in the same room affected his system's performance, even though the amp was not hooked up in the audio chain?

I mention this purely because you'd think that should not make a difference, but it did.

Could one AC cord be more or less susceptible to allowing noise from the AC line through?

commsysman
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

I would believe that only if I could be assured that he made repeated trials with independent verification and eliminated all other variables; for me, that is incredible.

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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

Incredible?

But not impossible.

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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

I've heard some rock'n coat hangers and amazing 240V dryer cords... No really. 10 gauge dryer cords are amazing. Ethernet too.

It's all about impedance and distance anyhow.

commsysman
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

We need to be clear on this; 10 gauge dryer cords DO NOT affect the audio at all (but you can see the clothing rotate more clearly...).

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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

Hi

The whole cable thing does seem out of hand, in order of importance.

1 - Speaker cable, they make a huge difference that is easily noticeable. Its also technically explainable.

2 - Interconnects, make very subtle differences. Starting to get into black arts.

3 - Power cords, very subtle agian, ever more black arts.

4 - Digital interconnect, impossible to notice. This is past black art into the full blown snake oil catagory.

Alan

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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry


Quote:
Hi

1 - Speaker cable, they make a huge difference that is easily noticeable. Its also technically explainable.

can you explain it?

Welshsox
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

Yes

Different physical properties result in different electrical charistics such as the capacitance, resistance, inductance, reactance etc. These varying electrical properties affect the frequency transmission of any signals through that medium. This is before you even get into the current delivery ability of a particular cable.

Its simple electrical transmission line theory.

Why do you think a cat 6 cable can pass far higher data speeds than a cat 3 ? its the transmission line characteristics.

Alan

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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

Just for grins, I did a SPICE analysis of the effects of two different speaker cables on the frequency response from the amp to the load. For the speaker cable electrical model, the SPICE LTRA was used. This implements the Telegrapher's Equations directly, so it's not just a lumped RLC approximation. For measurements of cable R, L and C per unit length, I went to this page. I took the extreme examples of low-L/high-C and high-L/low-C so I'd have cables that differed by the maximum amount possible in their electrical measurements. For the low-L/high-C case, I picked the Goertz MI-2 Veracity, which has an extremely high capacitance of 327 pF/foot. For the high-L, low-C case, I picked the AVCable 10AWG zip cord. To model the effects of a typical speaker, I used the Stereophile simulated speaker load. I assumed a speaker cable length of 20 feet, which is pretty long.

I've plotted the frequency response contributions of both cables below, from the input of the cable to the input of the dummy speaker load. Green is the AWG10 and blue is the Goertz. I've normalized the data so they both match up at 20 Hz, and referenced the data to 0 dB there. Frequency scale is 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Full scale is +/- 0.2 dB, so it's 0.05 dB/div (you'll see "mdB" on the scale, which is milli-dB). I don't think I'd go so far as to describe this as a "huge" difference.

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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

When I first tried out my SONY SCD-777ES SACD player, it sounded absolutely horrible; I thought it was broken. No one on earth could have called the sound quality acceptable; really BAD!!

The cable supplied by SONY somehow was unacceptable in the interface between it and my preamp at the time, which was an Audio Research LS-2B. Changing the interconnect to several other types gave major changes in the sound quality. Anyone who was present as this situation was dealt with would NOT allege that (unbalanced) interconnects will never make a difference. Been there; proved it; heard it clearly.

Some combinations of equipment are relatively insensitive to the interconnects used between them. Other combinations are VERY sensitive to different interconnects. I will not go into the technical explanation for this, which I have discussed at length based on 30 years of extensive laboratory research in other forums here. The fact that readily audible differences exist is only in dispute among two groups; those who think they have a technical proof that it cannot be so (their understanding of the theory is incomplete and erroneous), and those whose listening experiences have somehow not allowed them to observe these (readily audible) differences first-hand.

As for digital interconnects; good 75 ohm output circuit and good 75 ohm connectors and good 75 ohm load...no problem. In the frequent situations where those things are not all present, you can have impedance mismatch issues, signal reflections, standing waves on the cable, and then big big differences in the sound quality may be easily observed as cables are swapped; the digital signal gets corrupted in amplitude, phase, and wave-shape, so it cannot be processed without errors. No black magic; your comments are amazing to those of us who have been there and observed the READILY AUDIBLE changes many many times (not to mention analysis in a laboratory with a spectrum analyzer and distortion analyzer...).

When you have listened to and heard these differences clearly many times in many situations, and someone says they don't exist, it is really difficult to understand how they can make such statements.

I guess there are still people who don't accept that the earth is round, or think that the sun revolves around the earth. I have a hard time figuring those people out too, but I guess some of them will always be there....

commsysman
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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry

Transmission line theory, when applied to frequencies below 50 KHZ, yields values that are insignificant in speaker cable design or application.

Try about 6 years in an Electrical Engineering school, and then read what you just wrote; you will be embarrassed at how incorrect it is.

(I taught transmission line theory for 30 years, and have extensive experience in designing antenna systems and transmission lines for many applications. I think I qualify as an expert, since Motorola and other companies and government agencies have paid me good money precisely AS an expert consultant in this field.)

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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry


Quote:
Why do you think a cat 6 cable can pass far higher data speeds than a cat 3 ? its the transmission line characteristics.

Alan

Actually, it's because cat5e and up has the four twisted pairs orthogonal to each other by virtue of the different twist pitches for each color/stripe pair. This drastically reduces the pair to pair crosstalk, which enables a higher data rate.

T-line theory does not predict this crosstalk. Rather, it is predicted entirely by the use of static magnetic field theory.

Cheers, John

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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry


Quote:
Transmission line theory, when applied to frequencies below 50 KHZ, yields values that are insignificant in speaker cable design or application.

Perhaps.

Quote:
Try about 6 years in an Electrical Engineering school

Sometimes even that is not enough..

Quote:

(I taught transmission line theory for 30 years, and have extensive experience in designing antenna systems and transmission lines for many applications. I think I qualify as an expert


Cool. That's probably why darn near all my posts have been in response to yours...like minds and such..
Cheers, John

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Re: Power cords have different characteristics? Good blog entry


Quote:
If changing the power cord makes a difference, the guy who designed the power supply of that equipment is incompetent!


True, that is certainly one possibility. If the designer is incapable of a design which rejects line hash, then he gets what he gets..

But most power supply people do not consider ground loop currents and how they affect the rest of the equipment.


Quote:
The power supply should be capable of filtering out any RF that enters from the cord, and slight variations in AC voltage should never be more than 1% from changing the cord.


Agreed on part 1. However, the National Electric Code does not set a limit on (AC) supply stability. They do recommend the voltage droop or sag be less that about 4% as this is considered the threshold at which humans tend to see luminosity variation with incandescent bulbs...even 1% is small fry compared to what's present on the line..

Quote:

So what else is there that a different power supply cord can change? I have NEVER heard any sensible explanation for a power cord making a difference, despite anecdotes ad nauseum.

Does anyone think they know?

Yes.

The line cord completes a loop between the amp and the source equipment. That loop intercepts time varying magnetic fields which are generated by the amp line cord haversine currents, by the fields induced via romex in the wall, by the loop back to the service panel. Faraday's law of induction reigns inviolate, hence the problems..

The integrity of the line cord ground impacts the ground loop currents within the ground, and these currents tend to buck the voltages generated within the loop. But not sufficiently to remove induced voltages at the input (as the loop is not superconductive). (your liking differential balanced systems is indeed a worthy stance, and is the configuration best able to eliminate the primary coupling noise).

Secondary issue is that of how the ground loop currents flow through the chassis, and whether or not the field produced by them is able to couple into the amplifier circuitry.

A common misconception I find, is the assumption that low impedance circuits can be layed out willy nilly without regard to loop area/ground current coupling issues..both within the amplifier as well as within the output geometry of a typical source component. Note: if you read the jensen transformer stuff (I think it was Whitlock), note that at all times only the amplifier input pin 1 current considered... What about the source component?..

A second common misconception I find is the thinking that a ground loop will proclaim it's existance by way of hum or buzz. That of course, is the worst case condition where the coupling is so extreme that it's annoying. However, since there are two major coupling mechanisms, one with frequency proportional coupling, the second with frequency squared proportional coupling, it is possible to have ground loop problems even without hum present.

Cheers, John

paularthur
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Cables, cables, cables!(?)

No component should even be considered for purchase without auditioning it with several interconnect/AC cord combinations.

Cable upgrade priorities should follow the protocal below but AC cords and interconnects should always be considered together.

First and foremost: AC cord
Second: Interconnect
Third: Speaker cables.

Trust your ears.

Paul
P.A.U.L.

RGibran
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Re: Cables, cables, cables!(?)


Quote:
Man, I shudder to think about all those high priced designs (from those electrical geniuses) just loafing around waiting for the right damn power cord to finally allow them to function properly.

~Buddha

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Re: Cables, cables, cables!(?)


Quote:
No component should even be considered for purchase without auditioning it with several interconnect/AC cord combinations.

Sorry, pal..I have to step in and call BS. There is no cable under the sun that will dramatically change the sound signature of a given piece... the differences are microscopic at best..below the threshold of audibility.

importance

room
speakers
electronics(not cables!!)

nothing else matters.

KBK
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Re: Cables, cables, cables!(?)

Sorry NC, I gotta step in and call BS. You are deaf.

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Re: Cables, cables, cables!(?)

I might disagree with Ken about how much a cable needs to cost but there is absolutely no doubt that cables can significantly change the sound of a system, in order of priority.

1 - Speaker cable, very important a change can totally affect the nature of the system.

2 - Interconnects, more subtle but still important

3- Power cords, this is a little more of a debate, im not convinced but i am open to having it proved to me, just nobody has yet

4 - Digital interconnects on Coax, very hard to believe they make a difference at all

5- Fibre SPIDF type interfaces, as long as you have a good quality physically sound fibre cable I can guarantee that you cannot hear any difference between cables. It is just not technically possible that the fibre could have an affect on sound quality. Im sure someone will disagree though

Alan

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