>> 4. AC Power – The Root Of The Problem, The Start Of The Solution.
Lay a solid foundation for your system.
For many cable sound skeptics, the notion that AC cords have a “sound” at all is the most troubling idea of all. Yet, not only is their impact readily audible and just as easily demonstrated, the same independent research program mentioned earlier goes a long way towards explaining why power cords are so critical to system sound.
Once you’ve heard what a properly constructed AC supply can do for a system, it’s not hard to understand why. After all, in a very real sense, when we listen to music through a hi-fi system, what we are actually hearing is the AC power, the raw material that is transformed by the system into music.
Alternatively, think of your system as a sculptor: he can carve exactly the same shape out of many things, but the end result, the feel, quality, and texture, depends absolutely on the material he starts with, marble or sandstone, chalk or wood. That material – its quality and texture – equates to the quality of your AC supply, and how you arrange and cable it is critical to that quality. In fact, the most important single cable in your system is the one that comes out of the wall…
But before you even get to the cabling itself, there are a couple of relatively easy and very cost-effective steps you should take. The first is to provide a single, dedicated supply for your hi-fi system, separated from the rest of the household appliances. It should use good-quality, heavy-gauge cable, medical-grade (or equivalent), un-switched sockets and you should clean all the contact surfaces on these before installation. If possible, you should also provide it with a clean earth post, out in the yard. These two steps will deliver a very real musical dividend – and can generally be implemented for less than the cost of a single audiophile AC cord!
What then goes between the wall socket and your system will actually have a fighting chance. How can those last few feet of cable make a difference? Easily – and mainly by doing no more damage! Modern domestic environments are swamped with RF interference. Badly designed AC cords will act as antennas, drawing more grain and pollution into your musical raw material, as well as raising the source impedance of the AC supply. A properly organized power loom for a hi-fi system must avoid these two problems while also delivering a star-earthed grounding path for connection to your clean earth post. That means using a single lead out of your dedicated socket, to feed a mains distribution block that in turn feeds (and grounds) your entire system. This simple step is the first and most critical one in creating the firm foundation on which your system’s performance will rest.
Still, it is essential to recognize that the AC supply is only one part of the foundation on which your system’s performance rests. By utilizing a Power Distribution Blocks with Power Purification, AC Line Harmonizers, and Enhancers, you can go one step further to limit interference. Such systems correct inaccuracies in the waveform and EMF/RFI that could undermine your AC line quality if not taken care of. It is critical that any action taken to eliminate these inaccuracies be non-intrusive in nature, or else it could compromise the platform that you’ve already established. Placing any sort of device directly in the AC line will always do more harm than good. However, a modular approach, like QRT, can help you experience a lower noise floor, greater clarity and separation, as well as increased dynamic range.