Aftermarket Power Cords ...Everything?

OK I have written before about my negative experiences and general scepticism about fancy aftermarket power cords. However I am always willing to revisit my prejudices to see if they still have any merit.

This question is really aimed at dCS stack owners. Do you think it either necessary or advantageous to use such cords on all 4 components of the stack? I can imagine that there may be benefit for the DAC it having an analogue stage but solely digital components such as an upsampler which is really a sort of calculator or a word clock generator?

I am interested in your views.

Pete, without a doubt (in my system at least) the Power cord into the DAC itself was the most critical. But the degree of the impact really depends on what else you’ve done with respect to the AC main into your audio room. Dedicated AC Lines? Power Regenerator? Isolation Transformer? Cable dressing? :wink:

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Thanks Anup. Yes, dedicated AC lines. As for cable dressing that makes me feel guilty. However it is virtually impossible as the space between the wall ( with power outlets) and my equipment rack is around 12 cm and into that I need to squeeze the 13 or so cables for the dCS stack, power and signal cables for turntable and PS, two box phono stage, headphone amplifier, preamp, NAS, switch and PS . Cable dressing is desirable but effort has shown it impossible to resolve satisfactorily in practice.

Actually since posting I have realised that I can find out for myself. I have loads of fancy power cords all of which I hate. So I can easily swap one in to the clock or upsampler only and see if the sound changes for better or worse or, as I suspect, remains the same.

I am currently trying a new power cord into the DAC and have also tried it with the preamp. In both cases I may now have to eat my words about my scepticism regarding aftermarket power cords in general.



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Well I have now gone to one of my spares boxes and fished out the best of the disliked aftermarket cables that I have. I ran it into the upsampler and it went like this:

1st 10 secs " There you go, no difference to the stock cord"
2nd 10 Secs " there is a slight difference but too small to worry about"
4th minute " This is unbearable. Now I remember exactly what I hate about this power cord " (NB: Flattened soundstage and softened transients).

So it looks like that few minutes may cost me another few hundred pounds :frowning_face:.

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I’ve stopped doing this to myself. As Anup and you both note, the place to start is with the power itself. Anything that can [reasonably] be done to improve power reliability and purity, while insulating the system from the trash behind the wall socket, is the first step [or sometimes an incremental set of steps over time]. The better I made my power, the less the actual cord choice mattered. I agree that the DAC [and turntable/phono preamp] may matter most, but depending on the system, the power amps can also be significantly affected. But again, fix the power, and a properly engineered mains cable should perform just fine. I’ve said it on many occasions, that I want to understand why a cable should perform better/worse/similar as compared to something else. I am genuinely tired of the audiovoodoo. A company or designer that explains their engineering and why it matters, rather than touting some exotic property of their material—most cable companies are assemblers, very few actually make the materials that go into their product—simply gets more traction with me.

But no matter how good a cable is, by itself, it is highly unlikely to fix what’s wrong with the signal it is receiving. Now maybe a [poorly designed cable] might soften some harshness. And I suppose someone could try to design a mains cable that is customized to someone’s home power to make the best of it. But neither of those solutions can be as effective as simply fixing or improving the power. And improving the power has the benefit of helping all components.

By the time one has purchased just a few decent “audiophile” power cords, one could easily put an isolation or balanced transformer [I like Plixir, Equi=Tech, and Torus, but there are other very good choices], or power regenerator [PS Audio has a good sale going now], or whatever flavor of good power conditioner one wants, into one’s system. Once I got my power where I wanted it, I was able to standardize on mains cables. There was some debate between my ears about the mains cable from the Torus power conditioner to the wall socket, but repeated listening convinced me it was probably more about what was in my glass at the time. :wink:

Pete, I will be interested to hear about the power cord you are trying out.

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I agree with all you say in principle. Dedicated AC lines to the system are essential and may even be preferable to power conditioning, in the right circumstances like mine where there is nowhere to put a conditioner (also depends on the conditioner of course; it’s certainly not a level playing field).

I will let you know what I am testing in due course.I have only had it a few days and I don’t want to go public and say it’s X and it’s fabulous and then find the Achilles heel next week.

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Agreed, though I would caution anyone who hasn’t been down this path before: a dedicated mains circuit only improves your system’s competitiveness with other appliances and demands in your home. If your power quality inbound is poor [apartment building, long distance to nearest utility transformer, old lines, etc.], a dedicated mains circuit will simply reduce the odds of it getting worse. It can improve the system power if it previously shared the circuit with some other noisy/demanding devices. But it doesn’t improve the utility power.

Makes sense. After reading so many postings on various forums from USA correspondents over the years regarding your power utilities and the power supplied thereof I think that we are more fortunate over here.

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I have heard from some folks at dcs that a clock is far more sensitive than the dac and if one has to choose between a better power cable for a dac or clock it should be clock.
eager and curious to hear your observation and tests around this.

Thank you for that information which was unexpected and very interesting.

As you are eager for an answer tomorrow I shall move the test cable from the preamp where it is currently doing duties to the clock and then to the DAC and vice versa to try out your theory/advice in general terms.

Of course this is predicated on the possibility that that the test cable is better than the stock cable to begin with :thinking:


How interesting. I have, as mentioned, all signal components and amps (including clocks) on the same Iconoclast BAV power cables, and all power-conditioned on the Torus AVR2-20. The sound is simply superb. I have tried a number of power conditioners, including the PSA regenerators, which were previously my favorite, and many mains cables both expensive and less so. This has been the combination that allows me to say “I am done.”

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Having now tried it my first observation is that the alteration to the resulting sound from changing the power cord to the clock was greater than I intuitively anticipated.

So is the subjective result better with the fancy power cord into the DAC or clock? The answer is that the sound changes for both but not in the same aspects so there is no definitive answer.

In any case the answer has to be that as I now know that all dCS components are affected it is either necessary to change the cords for all of the boxes ( if the change is considered beneficial) or for none of them ( if the change is considered retrograde). Otherwise one is like a man with a car with four bald tyres who can only afford a single new one and is wondering which wheel to put it on.


if anything, for aesthetic reasons, I purchased some “decent” after market AC and other cables… most of my digital and XLR connectivity are all McIntosh branded (but made by a vendor in Florida) and my AC Power cables for high draw components are Aural Cappuccino, and for low power consumption components Gutwire B10… both in the $350-$400 price range, so not the $10K to $50K stuff that some go crazy with… but like I said, at a minimum they’re better than the standard IEC cables and look nice, at best they might just be helping with the sound / single / noise.

Just saw this topic stream. I’ve got the dCS stack of Vivaldi components (w/o the disc player). Speaking at length with Caelin Gabriel, the president and designer of products for at Shunyata, who is another user of dCS gear, his advice was to use their Venom V14 Digital cable for the clock and potentially the Upsampler (if not using USB) while going all out for the DAC. In my particular case I’ve been successfully using the Venom on everything digital in my system (even my upstairs JVC NX9 projector) to great effect. For the DAC, which is plugged into the Shunyata Everest conditioner, I use his Omega QR-s power cable (I know crazy expensive). In any case, I am also using the Venom for the various LPS’s that drive my Cybershaft OP21A-D master clock, and JS-2 from Uptone that drives a Roon Nucleus and Uptone EtherREGEN switch. The Venom cables are great price performers and do a great job of both preventing noise from entering or leaving devices they attach to, including wall receptacles.