Power Cables, High current versions vs Regular?

shapo

New Member
Jul 5, 2018
23
7
3
#1
Some cable brands have High current models designed for amps and power hungry devices and Regular models for everything else.

My question is, does this really make a difference or is this more of a marketing thing?

Because some brands don't different between High and Low current and just have one model that can be used for everything.


Sorry, I posted in the wrong section, can someone help me move this to: Audio and Video Power Product Forum

Thanks!
 

s_c

New Member
Dec 13, 2018
4
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#2
Power cable is most important cable in every system and high current cable is essential for power hungry device, for example, power amp.
 
Sep 4, 2017
115
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#4
And some brands have one designation, not necessarily labeled HC, for both high current and other devices (e.g., Shunyata's NR noise reduction series with three gradations of quality).
 
Oct 1, 2010
937
8
18
Cleveland Ohio
#5
The AC power delivery system is a series circuit. It starts at the power company transformer down the street and ends at your hi-fi amp's input. Think of it like an ordinary metal chain. Replacing a few links in a chain with heavy links, doesn't make the chain any stronger. (while this is an over simplification, you should get the picture)
 

dminches

Active Member
Oct 22, 2011
772
51
28
#6
The AC power delivery system is a series circuit. It starts at the power company transformer down the street and ends at your hi-fi amp's input. Think of it like an ordinary metal chain. Replacing a few links in a chain with heavy links, doesn't make the chain any stronger. (while this is an over simplification, you should get the picture)
That is true, but making the links you can control stronger is better than not, no? I have heard this argument but I don’t get it unless what you are saying is that the “damage” is already done so there is nothing you can do to help.
 

BlueFox

Member Sponsor
Nov 8, 2013
1,137
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Silicon Valley
#7
He was saying he has never tried good power cords. :)
 
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Dec 17, 2018
11
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39
#9
The AC power delivery system is a series circuit. It starts at the power company transformer down the street and ends at your hi-fi amp's input. Think of it like an ordinary metal chain. Replacing a few links in a chain with heavy links, doesn't make the chain any stronger. (while this is an over simplification, you should get the picture)
Doesn't it technically go from power company > breaker > wall > amp > back out to ground? So the amp is basically in the middle, not at the end? That was from a Shunyata interview so not sure if it's reality or marketing spin but at least in my head, it makes sense. Only reason that's significant is that from that perspective, the power cable isn't the last 6 feet, it's actually the first 6 feet of wire the amp "sees."
 
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Sablon Audio

Industry Expert, VIP Donor
May 22, 2015
490
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#10
In my experience, increasing the wire gauge from say 10awg until @4awg has given progressively better sound even on low current draw source equipment. Lower noisefloor, stronger dynamics and bigger presentation. After 4awg the gains taper off, so this seems to be the point of diminishing returns.

That said, you need to choose your plugs carefully as few models are able to accomodate such large wire bulk (eg wattgate goes to @10awg / oyaide 7awg / ncf 6awg / Bocchino @4awg) though you can also make hybrid plugs using the cover section from another brand to accomodate a thicker cord diameter.
 
Likes: shapo
May 30, 2010
14,805
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Portugal
#11
In my experience, increasing the wire gauge from say 10awg until @4awg has given progressively better sound even on low current draw source equipment. Lower noisefloor, stronger dynamics and bigger presentation. After 4awg the gains taper off, so this seems to be the point of diminishing returns. (...)
Are you addressing multi-strand or single conductor? What is the technical reason why such thick wire sounds better?
 

Sablon Audio

Industry Expert, VIP Donor
May 22, 2015
490
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#12
Is stranded wire Micro, solid core is seldom used for mains cords due to regulatory reasons as it would fail the multiple repeat bending tests. I’ll leave others to speculate as to why thicker wire may sound better; I was simply passing on an empirical observation about how it appears to filter mains-borne noise better.
 
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marty

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
1,259
115
63
Far Hills, NJ
#13
I have used a fair number of power cords throughout the years on various pieces of equipment. The reason of course is to try and favorably affect the tonality of your system in a way one finds most pleasing. But the degree to which I've explored this area in the past year has been exasperatingly tedious and intensive but informative and productive. I have auditioned several power cords for my system in as deliberate a series of "single variable" experiments as I can perform. To make a long story short, I've learned that regarding power cables, there are 3 things that are important to consider; 1) the wire itself; 2) the plugs on the ends of the cables and 3) perhaps most importantly, and the most overlooked, the metals used in the receptacles that receive the connectors; namely, the female IEC connector and the AC receptacles themselves. Not surprisingly, each one of these variables has the potential to alter the sound of one’s system.

I can often control the selection the male AC plug, the female IEC plug, and the AC receptacle in many of my experiments, but I cannot control the material used for the chassis IEC connector as I have no desire to alter the selection of the manufacturer's chassis connector (whether they be signal or IEC power connectors). So, there's a limit of what I can and not try. Like many other audiophiles, one conclusion I’ve reached is that material in contact to the connectors at each end of the PC is very important to the sonic end result. This actually make some sense when you think about it. Most power cables typically use identical metals on the Male NEMA and female IEC ends. But the AC receptacle and the chassis IEC connectors are typically not the same metal. An AC connector may be nickel flashed copper, gold, silver, or rhodium plated etc., while the IEC connectors is most commonly gold-plated copper, phosphor bronze or beryllium copper. Let's assume that your cable connectors on both ends were, say, metal A. Why would anyone think that metal A would sound the same next to an IEC connector of metal B as it does for an AC receptacle of metal C? Or metals A or B for that matter? This is something that nobody really talks about. As to what sounds best, it's probably something that it best discovered by trial and error as there are no obvious rules I can find for guidance although some understanding of metallurgy is useful. https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/fun-with-metallurgy.23376/

As an aside, and without commenting on the sound of rhodium as a contact metal in any application (signal or power) as I have done previously, I would like to raise the following question. If rhodium is so spectacularly good as a contact metal, why is it that not a single manufacturer that I am aware of, uses rhodium plated contacts as their standard RCA, XLR or IEC chassis connectors? Hmmm....

That said, let me get to the point of my post on some comparative results. I have recently evaluated a relatively wide range of power cables for my Soulution amps. It should not be necessary to say that as always, specific gear and personal preferences will have a significant "YMMV effect". This is rather obvious. Here's what I found. In my last go around over the past 6-8 weeks, I listened to a pair of Tara Omegas ($7K each), Stealth V18's (6+K each), Stealth V12’s (4+K? each), Tara “The One” ($1800 each) some Kimber PK14 ($300 each) and the ever-so-lowly Ching Chengs that have been much discussed in other threads. Folks I know you may not to believe it, but the hands down overall winner was the ridiculously inexpensive (<$10) Ching Cheng cable. Let me be clear that some of these cables excelled in certain areas. For example, the Tara Omega presented a midrange and top end beautifully with a spatial presentation that had me sitting dead center in the Box seats or lower balcony of Chicago Symphony Hall with my RCA Living Stereo Reiner recordings. The bass was however not as articulate as I had hoped, although extension was outstanding. The Stealth V18's handled bass and dynamics like nothing else and were in a class of their own, although they were ultimately a little dry and "not as breathable" as I preferred for my system. They just didn’t get the “air” right. But in terms of that elusive thing called naturalness, it was the damn Ching Chengs that I kept coming back to time and time again. This was true whether it was the Silver Stealth AC receptacles, the Hubbell 8200 receptacles, Oyaide R1s or Shunyata CopperCONN outlets (I can switch among all 4 easily in under 10 seconds).

However, the ChiChe’s aren’t perfect. Their main liability is that being a 14-gauge cable, they just don't handle massive current as well as the fire-hose thick high-priced cables, especially the Stealth, which are truly extraordinary in that regard. (In fact, if I had an all tube system they may have been a good choice and perhaps my preference). I am left wondering if it is due to their 14-gauge caliber, that when the music calls for large amounts of transient current and sustained power, it seems like the distortion product of the ChiChe's increases ever so slightly as to leave me wanting more beef in the gauge of the cable. I felt similarly about the 14-gauge Kimber PK14 which raises my suspicion that cable gauge might be the culprit. The gauge of the cable is of course but one parameter of the wire itself. The metal used for the wire, the stranding, the insulation, the dielectric, and the grounding are all intrinsic wire properties that supposedly matter. Naturally, I was unable to evaluate each of these as they were whatever the manufacturer chose them to be. However, I do think metal used for the wire makes an obvious difference. For example, I really disliked the silver coated copper Stealth V12 and banished it from the system as the first cable out.

But otherwise, aside from a lack of Niagara Falls power handling capabilities, my goodness, the ChiChe is just a beautiful cable. No other cable came as close to making piano music sound like a piano as this El Cheapo wonder that easily belies its merits based on price. I admit the Tara Omega did a very good job on piano as well although the bass register was its Achilles heel. This surprised me as the reviews by Fremer and others speak highly of the cable’s bass capabilities. They may want to revisit that should they hear the bass and the dynamics of the Stealth V18. No, the ChiChe’s are not the V18’s when it comes to bass and power handling (not sure I know what else is), but still, they are musically pleasing and quite acceptable in this area with good articulation and extension. Aside from naturalness, perhaps the one accolade that most merits their consideration for me is that they simply do not call attention to themselves. I find myself listening to music more, and to the cables less. Rumor has it that’s the objective, right?

And get this, I have no idea what the damn metals are on the ChiChe connectors!! I presume its beryllium copper on the IEC and some sort of silver colored metal (could be tin for all I know but it's probably nickel plate) on the male NEMA contact that sit handsomely in a molded plug that looks for all the world like it cost about 50 cents to make!!

So, this is where my journey lands me for now. I’ve talked to David and told him that I’d like to do an experiment and see if doubling up the ChiChe’s ( 2 x 14 gauge = 11 gauge equivalent) might give me the power handling I desire (the Soulution monoblocs put out over a megawatt into my Wilson Alexandrias) while retaining all the beauty and gorgeous timbres that they currently exhibit. I’ve bought a slew of connectors and hope to have some fun once I receive a few more of David’s cables and perform some surgery. Although I may speculate what causes this and that, the only thing I think I know for sure, is that I really don’t know sh** about what it is about some cables that cause them to sound different (for better or worse) than others. I am also pretty certain that, as many audiophiles already know, performance of power cables really has no a direct correlation to cost. (I know others feel that way about interconnects as well but that has not been my experience).

One final note. I should mention that I have been using the ChiChe PCs on all my low level gear for quite some time and since that gear does not draw any kind of serious current that I think would tax a 14 gauge power cable, I have no reason to explore other power cords in those applications. Although it may happen someday, I just don't envision going there for a long, long time.
 
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Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
6,048
602
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Beverly Hills, CA
#14
Marty, thank you, as always, for engaging in what must be an extremely tedious, difficult and time-consuming comparative endeavor!
 

bazelio

Active Member
Sep 27, 2016
623
114
43
California
#15
@Al M. - If you're using the Tripp Lite (which I also used for quite some time), I suggest having @ddk send you some Ching Chengs. If possible, run them in behind a computer or television for a week, and then transfer to your audio system - both the amp and the Yggy, and heck even the subs. I think you'll notice more openness and air, as I did. I also don't think Ching Chengs are the be all and end all, but they represented a noticeable improvement over Tripp Lite for me.
 
May 30, 2010
14,805
338
83
Portugal
#16
(...) So, this is where my journey lands me for now. I’ve talked to David and told him that I’d like to do an experiment and see if doubling up the ChiChe’s ( 2 x 14 gauge = 11 gauge equivalent) might give me the power handling I desire (the Soulution monoblocs put out over a megawatt into my Wilson Alexandrias) while retaining all the beauty and gorgeous timbres that they currently exhibit. I’ve bought a slew of connectors and hope to have some fun once I receive a few more of David’s cables and perform some surgery. Although I may speculate what causes this and that, the only thing I think I know for sure, is that I really don’t know sh** about what it is about some cables that cause them to sound different (for better or worse) than others. I am also pretty certain that, as many audiophiles already know, performance of power cables really has no a direct correlation to cost. (I know others feel that way about interconnects as well but that has not been my experience).

One final note. I should mention that I have been using the ChiChe PCs on all my low level gear for quite some time and since that gear does not draw any kind of serious current that I think would tax a 14 gauge power cable, I have no reason to explore other power cords in those applications. Although it may happen someday, I just don't envision going there for a long, long time.
Marty,

We are running similar experiences, although power cable brands are different - I have been using Transparent Audio, Quantum by Nordost, Furutech and Shunyata, as well as the Ching Chengs.

I have not carried systematic evaluations, but as I am moving between electronics, I tried to get the best power cable set for each set of electronics - and to confuse things, my preferences depend a lot on the gear. At some point I decided to evaluate everything with the Ching Chengs, but found it would be unfair, as I was limiting the performance of some equipment.

Considering the cable gauge we should remember that cutting the cable in half has the same effect as doubling the area of the section - 1m of 14 AWG is equivalent to 2m of 11 AWG. Paralleling two cables will however double the capacitance, changing the RF behavior of the cable.

BTW, I have found that expensive power cables are only meaningful in complete power solutions. Just inserting a few power cables in a system is not giving us an idea of their full potential - it is why I have used sets of six or eight power chords of each brand in my system. All IMHO, as always YMMV.
 

bazelio

Active Member
Sep 27, 2016
623
114
43
California
#17
Oh for what it's worth, I noticed Ching Ching now has a 12AWG option on the website in the same cable type as the popular 14 AWG. I don't know anyone who has tried it.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#18
@Al M. - If you're using the Tripp Lite (which I also used for quite some time), I suggest having @ddk send you some Ching Chengs. If possible, run them in behind a computer or television for a week, and then transfer to your audio system - both the amp and the Yggy, and heck even the subs. I think you'll notice more openness and air, as I did. I also don't think Ching Chengs are the be all and end all, but they represented a noticeable improvement over Tripp Lite for me.

IME with the Ching Cheng power cords I found little if any break in time was necessary
 
Likes: bazelio

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