At 03:22 PM 2008-10-16, Clark Johnsen wrote:
See, I can't quite decide what you dislike more, the price (admittedly high) or the very concept that a mere cord (!) could make more difference than "a transformer, or rectifier or filter". There being no evidence offered, I'll just have to note that on all wide-range high-resolution audio systems I've ever heard, specialty power cords have wrought major improvements. Granted that's just observational data, but it's the only data so far.
Perhaps we shouldn't discuss audiophile products in this forum as most people in this forum have to struggle to find $1000 to spend on a Nakamichi Dragon, we don't need them to have the angst that they need to spend another $1000 on the power cord or they'll be missing something. They will get far more improvement out of the purchase of a Nakamichi Dragon or a CR7 to play their cassettes than changing the power cord on their Sony cassette machine.
I would like to have an engineering explanation of what makes a $500+ power cord worth more than the $20 one that is typically supplied with industrial-strength computer servers.
There are only a few electrical and mechanical properties that can be altered by the power cord. I think the following is a fairly complete list:
Electrical: Resistance, Capacitance, Inductance, Characteristic Impedance of the line, shielding, contact resistance at both ends.
Mechanical: can it withstand X number of insertion/withdrawal cycles and will it fall out in use?
Considering the variability of the power wiring in the walls, the last six feet has only a limited opportunity to make any change to the sound of the component, and if a device is properly designed, the minor parameter variations that typical differences in power cords present are far less than the variations in building wiring.
I think that power cord ROUTING (which doesn't cost much -- a few dollars' worth of Velcro cable ties perhaps) is a far better place to spend one's effort than buying expensive power cords with insignificant measurable differences. Power cords can crosstalk into audio cables.
Any equipment other than a power amplifier that sounds better due to a power cord's parameters is defective in design or current operation. The power supply should isolate the internal circuitry from variations in supply current far greater than that caused by differences in the power cable.
In an audio power amplifier, the above is also true with the exception that if the power cord is causing a reduction in voltage at the amplifier under load, then it should be replaced with a lower-loss one, which is typically available for $20 or so.
Since there are no published performance specifications for any of the cords that I have seen, let's look at a worst-case scenario. If the "bad" power cord has a total of one-ohm resistance (or let's even say impedance at 60 Hz), and you have a device drawing one amp, then this power cord will add a voltage drop of one volt which is less than 1% of the power line voltage. Typical voltage variations are +/- 5% in most areas, with some going down to -10% at high load times. In addition, in most industrial buildings, the maximum voltage drop in the feeders (2%) plus the branch circuits (3%) also adds up to 5%, so it's quite easy to see that the power SUPPLY can have perhaps a +5%/-10% variation and still be within specification. We hope it's better than that, but less than 1% from the power cord (and I suspect far less than that) should not make a difference.
And yes, in an era where we are facing a significant recession and possibly even a depression and in the era that is just past where we were flush with money but there were still homeless people on the streets of Canada and the U.S.A., I think it unconscionable that people would purchase these outrageously priced accessories with such a dubious improvement.
I also think it unconscionable that this amount of money is being spent on toys when similar quantities of funds could be sent to archives (and receive a tax break) so they could preserve at-risk sound recordings of cultural and historic primary sources, despite the fact that primary sources aren't allowed on Wikipedia (for good reason, as I said).
If you wish to spend your money on this and you have decided you can hear a difference, that's great, but I'd like you to think about the difference you hear and equate it with the homeless on the streets, or tapes which are rotting with no funds to transfer them.
Richard L. Hess email: richard@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX
Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.