Impact of Power Cables on Active Speakers

I am a little reluctant to start this new thread as I suspect the user base of Active Speakers for Medium/High End HiFi (as opposed to Home Cinema) is limited. I really rate my Martin Logan (ML) Renaissance 15A speakers (high depreciation in the UK so ‘I got mine for a song’ - as they say). Anyway I wonder if there has been any comparison of Power cables to power up Electrostatic with Active Bass ‘Class D amplification’ speakers such as ML; or in fact for any Active Speakers. I have tested my ML’s with Shunyata Alpha V2 in place of my chunky PS Audio power cables and really cannot hear any improvement.

Hi Brian,

I think that’s the important bit … you’ve tried it yourself and you didn’t feel it was something that made a difference in your setup. I’d class that as a win! :slight_smile:




Brian, this is a difficult subject to be able to come up with anything that may be universally applicable and thus in the nature of advice.

The effect of power cables on any component is difficult to discuss rationally. The electrical basics are well established and those and the requirements for safety will be met in just about all cables offered commercially including those free in the box. So what do expensive aftermarket cables provide beyond assertions, at least usually? That is not to say that that these assertions are incorrect but are hard to justify.

I have long written that I have much experience which led me to the position that those “free” cables are effective and that many aftermarket power cables can have a larger negative rather than positive effect. However they can change the subjective sound for whatever reason. Being subjective it is likely to be subject to equipment selection, user expectations etc. That is why I will no longer make specific recommendations even though I have now found a couple of power cable brands that do indeed seem to offer what is promised, both less costly than some mentioned here.

So what about use with active speakers? From subjective experiment with my active ATCs poor cable selection can impede their subjective quality. This implies that better results may be possible. However the simple ones supplied by ATC with the speakers are perfectly good. I do now use an aftermarket cable but this is more for consistency with the same cable being used for the front end components (where any improvement is far more noticeable). I do not know how this may relate to the ML hybrids or to their precise architecture.


I’ll try a couple of different options on my Von Schweikert Ultra 55s, Brian. I’ll report back in a few weeks :+1:

Hoping to hear absolute consistency, but I’ll try not to let that hope affect my testing.

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Well, it means the PS Audio are not that bad…it is not that cable technology is revolutionised every 6 months, a very good cable, 15 years old, might be better than some very recent cables…

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I still,think PS audio cables represent excellent value for money. Regretfully they do not supply (that’s neither from the US nor the UK importer) a C19 version with a UK plug. So I wasn’t able to consider them for my monoblocs - but that’s off subject.

I am using Shunyata Alpha v2 XC C15 1.75m length cables to each of my ATC P4 crossover/amps which power the ATC SCM 200s. I can’t say what individual difference these made to the active speakers alone but changing the power cables from standard to Shunyata for the whole system, together with Shunyata power conditioning gave a very noticeable improvement to the sound: a much blacker background and greater clarity and soundstage in my view. The sound now appears to emerge from silence in a way it did not do with the standard power cables. I was very sceptical it would make any difference…but I was wrong.


Brian, are you happy for me to PM you on this?

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Of course - go for it

Hi Brian. I sent you a couple of PMs this morning, Normally this will generate a record in my personal profile but neither has appeared so it looks like there may be a problem with the forum software. I would be grateful if you would confirm whether or not you have received anything.

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Just read it now Pete. Thank you so much for the infomation.

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Although slightly aside from your question;
I run active ATC50s (Towers) and a JL Audio Fathom in a 2.1 setup. My signal cables are 7 metres each, power cables 1.2 m each.
I have found that signal cables make far more difference to sound quality than power cables in an active set.
I have experimented with a couple of types and found the very low resistance types with less shielding work best for me, keeping in mind the possibility of interference if poorly routed.
So much so, I now only ever use balanced XLR cables and components.
This realisation came when I first received the '50s and ceased using RCA type cables.
I would not now buy a product if it did not run balanced through XLR connections.

Be well,


I broadly agree with you insofar as ATC actives with their built in amplification is concerned so long as the power cables are half decent ( no real loudspeaker cables either therefore only vestigial wires internally). Whether or not this finding can be applied universally to other set ups like the OP’S Martin Logans with external amps remains unknown though.


Hi Sean,

Just to be clear for anyone reading this in the future - there is absolutely no reason that Balanced (XLR) Audio would be any better / worse / different sounding than Unbalanced RCA Audio … the advantage of Balanced Audio is that it has better induced noise rejection on longer runs.

Any qualitative differences between Balanced and Unbalanced audio will simply be down to which is the better implemented audio circuit (by the manufacturer) or which you yourself objectively prefer the sound of.

I definitely prefer to have the option to use either Balanced or Unbalanced myself if at all possible.



Like you, I have a pair of Martin Logan Renaissace 15 A bought new in 2017. I used to have Martin Logan Prodigy. I like Martin Logan ESLs. Very good value for money.

Assuming that the choice of amp power cables is important (and it is), I changed the really thin original power cables with current Audioquest Thunder high (variable) plugged into a PS Audio P10. It is difficult to say whether there is an improvement or not. In any case it is not worse. I specify that my amp, a Cello Rhapsody Matthew James is also connected to the P10 with a cable of the same type. Difficult to be able to compare between all the brands as it has. But both Shunyata and PS Audio are generally very serious products among many others.

In my configuration I preferred to invest more in modulation cables especially those that connect the speakers to the amplifier and there you really have to be able to compare the cables in situ before buying them because significant differences may exist.

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@Kernel Hi Brian,

I was user of ML speakers in the past and i had Transparent Power Cables since the start but it was almost an entry level, so i never test diferences.

Now for my experience i know that power cables have a huge impact in the sound using with passive speakers.
In theory even being an active speakers it also have an amplification that needs power, so it should have some impact.

But trust your ears, you test and if does not impact or you don’t feel save your money and keep enjoying music :wink:

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All I can say is that I started my journey believing that cables could never, ever make a difference.

Not wanting to completely ignore the possibility that they might make a difference, I bought some inexpensive Russ Andrews mains cables. To my surprise, I was blown away with how the bass had improved on my Meridian active speakers.

I did some further research and ended up trying various Shunyata cables (Delta, Alpha, and Omega) and found them sublime (I ended up buying Alpha’s for the active speakers and Delta’s for the source equipment). This time, I felt the imaging and treble had significantly improved (in addition to the bass) and the rabbit hole had opened…

I then moved on to swapping out the HDMI cables on the TV in our living room and my wife, who is generally not impressed which such things, said something along the lines of ‘wow!’.

I’m now completely sold on the fact cables can make a difference.


Ideally, the intersect between theory and practice is my playground. With any of these, did you ever work out why/how they made a difference? I have heard differences with speaker cables of different geometries and heard differences in analogue interconnects and have ideas as to why; with mains cables, I’ve put it all down to shielding, pure and simple; with an HDMI cable, I can only imagine it’s also shielding, as I can’t see how the digital signal can change in its content.

Like you, I try to marry the theory and practice :slight_smile: and I came up with some partial thoughts on this when opening Pandora’s box!

The thickness of the wires clearly made a difference in my listening of bass frequencies, which makes sense (my opinion, having listened to Russ Andrews and Shunyata). The twist used by the cables is also known to make a difference as this acts as a filter cancelling out common mode noise.

The additional filters built into many Shunyata cables were beneficial in my listening (I assume these are to remove differential noise).

They also use hollow wires to increase the wires’ circumference to reduce the skin effect at high frequencies (where the resistance of the wire increases for high frequencies due to the inductance of the cable). All of these elements can change the sound (I would argue whether this is beneficial or not is down to the manufacturer knowing what they’re doing and the listener’s tastes).

The details of their QR tech are more obscure. This appears to be based on the Piezoelectric effect to reduce high frequency noise (and store small amounts of energy), but using a compound they’ve created. I’m a believer in this technology - while I wasn’t convinced by their original Typhon, the Typhon QR made a real difference to me.

They’ve now expanded this technology so that it’s incorporated in their highest end Omega QR cables, which I think are very, very good, but not inexpensive!


Good man.

Conductor thickness I get, noise management I get, and the twist is pretty standard fare. I use pretty unwieldy power cables myself as they’re foil-shielded and have thick conductors made up of twisted wire.

That makes sense.

Now this is where you lose me. Are we still talking about mains cables? I sort of get skin effect etc in interconnects carrying a music signal, but in the mains supply?