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A question of current delivery and stability, chime in.

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February 6, 2007 2:04:54 AM

So here goes one theory - this does lead to a computer question!

Background -

I'm 25, work at an specialized hifi store in the Bay Area and have had a number of incredible lessons handed down to me from old timers regarding current and stability in digital sources, amplifiers, preamps and processors.

The field I work in is, like the custom build industry, full of opinions and camps subscribing to a variety of notions - some well founded - some founded on brand favoritism... some of it totally batsh*t.

Here is an example of a batsh*t concept that has results EVERY SINGLE TIME as regards clarity and presicion when delivering current to ALL audio equipment.

( drum roll. )

A better power cable.

Really.

Take the average, detachable IEC connected beastie that comes coiled up alongside whatever expensive thing you've just bought and do an A/B test with a third party power cable from, let's say Shunyata or Nordost. Every single time I do this for a customer they're jaws kinda-sorta go sideways and to put a fine point on it - they buy the damn thing. Keep in mind that my shop isn't a pushy bunch of car salesman and some of these things cost $3800 each for 1.8 meters of NASA grade goodness.

The common theory is that your romex is already so cheesy and full of other peoples hair-dryer and electric blender noise that you can't possibly experience more quality without a power conditioning system of some kind - commonly a device known as a regenerator! Guess what doesn't work... regenerators on amplifiers! That's right - Moster Power multisocket devices uniformly limit current to high draw devices hence limiting peak dynamics in an incredibly noticable way.

We call this effect veiling but adjectives bely the fact that it negatively impacts bass control in heavy passages of music, low volume coherency, tonal balance, image, soundstaging, etc.

Fear not - you don't need the circuit protection in most cases for hifi equipment so go ahead and plug her into the wall. That's what the fast snap fuse and safety circuit is for!

Okay now that the amp already sounds better plugged straight into the wall ( in almost all cases this is true, for the sake of this discussion we will assume a positive result! ) switch the standard IEC power cable for a Shunyata Venom, retail $99 or a simalar offering from Audioquest, Nordost or PS audio - whoever.

What you will find is a VAST and systemic improvement due to a cleaner less distorted path from socket to torroid. Feature! - better RF blocking ( lower noise floor ), better terminations at both ends ( less resistance ) and generally a cryogenically treated interior leading to an enhanced durability and surface for transmitting current across a single sheaf as opposed to seperate runs of low grade metal.

So - what would this do to a heavily OC'd PC!?

What I'm getting at here is this - now that we are moving to, in some extreme cases, 1000W power supplies and a deep and abiding need to deliver perfect current to OC'd system just BEGGING for a cleaner more consistent and less resistant power draw.

I'm just really curious as to what the impact would be. My thoughts are that for those having deep stability issues at the target speed may find that plugging in a better power cable would allow for major improvements just as it does in an $80,000 stereo. Hell, they both want juice right.

My one problem is that I do realize most folks tend to use battery backup systems - a wonderful idea functionally - I've no idea how much this would kneecap the effect. My guess is it wouldn't change the available improvement in relation to the already current limited enviroment.

I will be putting together my first PC soon and will test this theory on my own wee white box - hopefully not killing the thing along the way. I guess I just wanted to double check to see if a more stable and higher current available enviroment would improve this whole market. I'd love to hear other theories or feedback from anyone who has a better understanding of the current Vs. stability issue.

Jesus-baby-Christman! This suckers too long! Thanks, sorry, please respond with any thoughts.

Happy February. - me.
February 6, 2007 2:18:41 AM

if you can get the cables for a pc, go for it.

oc that puppy and let us know :wink:
February 6, 2007 2:55:51 AM

Ohhh - you know I'm gonna. 8O

I've never built a machine, have always wanted to though. Hence my interest in what other's have encountered with stability and current.

I'll post a new thread in a couple of months once I've done some trials under safe, watchful eyes - I do think this qualifies me as a hybrid stereo/computer nerd... I can't wait to get my merit badge!
Related resources
February 6, 2007 3:06:02 AM

good luck and keep us posted. :D 
February 6, 2007 3:39:12 AM

My guess - and its only a guess - is that it will make very little if any difference. A couple of reasons.

1) Computer Power Supplies in general are not particularly piccy about the input anyway.

2) Computer Power Supplies are almost certainly (guessing here but they are not that sophisticated) probably pretty noisy anyway. Now I havent put one on a scope and had a really good look so someone who has easy access to a scope might like to have a look and let us know.

3) If the various utilities are reporting accurately our computers are already working quite happily with variable voltages for the various rails as it is - refer to 1 and 2 above - which again would leave one with the impression that within limits the various computer componenets are not piccy either.

This is quite different to audio where human ears are increadibly sensitive to very minor variation from perfect.

Just a few thoughts anyway.
February 6, 2007 3:44:44 AM

i agree, though it may be different a little with a particular set-up and oc.

as for the audiophile in me, well thats a different story, a little. :wink:
February 6, 2007 5:52:49 AM

Thanks,

Pc's in general are given quite a wide tolerance one would think. This community, this business as a whole seems to be based around the serious end-user customizing a functional unit from a ludicrously rich selection of parts. While there are limitations in what products may be coupled due to connections type or more esoteric system incompatability there is still an ocean of choice involved.

So let's symplify - a PC power supply, as far as I can tell - is still a large copper wrap.

Some of the nicer 'bricks' may even utilize a better grade of copper but the design is not unlike the power supplies found in vaccum-cleaners or amplifiers.

When you create a more geometrically straight, low inductance design, you not only quell the need for 'Class A' or 'push to circuit' power at normal operating parameters - you actually remove the harmonic grey noise from the torroid itself. A torroid should not be inherently distorted - it should hold a capacity of charge until needed.

Two power supplies exist.

A - with a normal IEC power cord: braided, low RF reduction ability, cheap copper and poor - but free - conduction at each end.

B - with some sort of reasonable cable - say $100 worth - contains a MUCH higher grade of copper purity, a teflon/airtube RF jacket, Rhodium terminations and all cryo-treated for better geometry on a molecular scale. The whole design is sped up massively due to it's low distortion and high surface area. This means that the current spends less time in the one thing that can harm it's flow - the power cable.


At normal use: speadsheets and light surfing of the internerd!

A - is doing just fine - power running in 'push to circuit' since little is required from the torroid. Some slight and consistent distortion or 'grey-noise' hardly affects any prcedures at any level. There may be extremely minimal wear at the microcircuit level - who can tell?

B - is doing the exact same job with a drastically reduced noise floor. This of course has little impact whatsoever in the experience of the user or life of the system.


Crysis or somesuch DX10 shiny: Tuned for pretty DX10-ness! BASK!

A - Everything in the system is tightly parametered all of a sudden - even with 1000W's of torroid the thing is slipping into 'pull from socket push to circuit' or 'A-B' and since this is a FAR more distorted process of providation the entire system, one would think, is running less efficiently. Heat and lack of peak current means that your OC'd beauty is shuffling around power as it is able via preordained settings. This just sounds like a crash waiting to happen.

B - Because you are delivering a fuller and less 'grey' channel of current the 'sipping' of the torroid is fulfilled up to a higher realm of need. When the 'pull-push' does kick in the torroid is still recieving a more geometrically correct line of energy and at the circuit level there should be less overall chaos, heat and hence wear.

PLUS: The crazy thing is... for some reason your video card and sound are outputting a cleaner signal... neato.

NOTE: THIS written gibberish above is all just as armchair as could be if I'm wrong about the power supply being torroidial in nature... or if I'm just wrong in general about the operations of a power supply... that would suck.

Specifically as regards your 3rd) mention.

I was under the impression that when OC'd components fail it is due to current issues in channeling a large quantity of energy through a preordained path. I think you are right about our computers generally being fine with menial labors though.

I don't know much about OC'ing at all - I just keep seeing these mentions of failures rooted in 'system stability' and wondered if simply applying stronger, cleaner current wouldn't achieve some odd result.

I am looking forward to doing a graphic and sound test as I KNOW the impact these cables have on sources and pre-pros!

Thank you all for your comments.

I'm going to go eat bananna pudding!
February 6, 2007 7:00:19 AM

>power lead makes systems sound better

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

*breathe*

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

*breathe*

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

*falls off chair*

Oh dear.

Please point me to some proper, *double blind* tests where this can be proved. Tests where neither the tester nor the testee knows which cable is being used.

You can't. There aren't any. The whole "need a ridiculous power lead to make your system sound better" fad is a complete load of rubbish.

Yes, I can see that you might theoretically require some kind of power conditioning, especially if you are sharing the ringmain with a washing machine, for example, but for the prices you're talking about you could pay an electrician to put in a completely dedicated spur to your house and that would have the same effect.

Most modern ringmains don't have any noise problems anyway...

Regardless, I know I'm not going to convince you this is total cobblers. You have what you think you know, and no facts are going to change that.

But I challenge you to point me to *one* piece of proper scientific testing where you can see that one IEC mains cable is different to another one.
February 6, 2007 3:02:43 PM

AHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAAH!!?? 8O

Wow. let me guess, you are throwing out the whole industry of 'noise floor lowering cables' - an industry started by the NSA when they needed to hone enemy signals - based on never having actually applied the technology to ANY power source.

Here, try this.

In my business I make a habit of addressing audio or video systems as a whole. There is no part worth the bulk of the budget, it is a system and is treated like one.

I apply better cabling to low level signal, RCA or XLR of quality.

I choose a speaker cable at least 8 feet in length due to 'backfeed' at shorter lengths. Also, of quality.

Finally I choose, or just throw in for free, the correct power cable for at LEAST the source and amplifier.

Why?

Because it has a tremendous - measurable - impact on the quality and coherency of cables carrying that all-important current.

As for power conditioners, they're current limiting devices. I will use them from time to time on low current devices such as DVD players or preamps but 99 times out of a 100 it lowers dynamic range in amplifiers.

I suppose it's pointless to ask you to go to your local shop and do a listening test. It's a stark difference and I KNOW you won't need a blindfold but it seems you've got one on anyways so what tha' hey.

AHAHAHAHAHAHA... oh wait. You believing you know more about power delivery than the company than cables almost all of NASA's projects isn't funny.

It's presumptuous.

Unless you are willing to have a serious discussion, even disagree with a real argument in hand, don't post. Plenty of people I've worked with argue for the inability of a better IEC cable to change performance. Not one in two years I've been doing my job has walked away without recognizing at least ' some unexplainable ' change after I demo to VERY close specs on an amp.

Besides - as fads go - do you really think one could charge $3800 for a tweak!?

Point is this -

You are backing into that sarcastic "prove it to me as I mock it" mode.

Prove it to yourself. Go try it out. Find out if your right or totally off.

Until then, keep assuming you know more than the rest of the world based on what you haven't heard or seen.
February 7, 2007 10:00:20 AM

So, basically, you are saying "don't quote science at me! All these people with a vested interest in charging money for this stuff can't be wrong!"

So, let's see where I am coming from.

I am a PA operator. I have operated PAs for gigs, I have operated PAs for churches, I have operated PAs for concerts.

I have a friend who runs a PA hire shop - who has done PA gigs for 5* hotels, big events, and who regulary supplies systems for audio installs for clubs, posh restaurants and other venues.

I am acquainted with a *very* big PA shop, who set up $200k installs for places.

What do they use for power?

Kettle Leads. Bog standard, IEC kettle leads.

(The bigger events use 3-phase, naturally)


Your response to my original post of "prove it" has been to deride me for not knowing what I am talking about. I would argue that it is you who doesn't know what he's talking about, and, again, would say "show me the evidence".

If you can show me *one* piece of scientific evidence to back up your claims, then I will believe you.

I'd say "I await your response with bated breath", but since there isn't such evidence, that would be foolhardy (and I'd probably suffocate).

I'll leave you with another question - why is it that none of these trick cable manufacturers are willing to participate in double-blind tests? Properly controlled, scientific, measured tests?
February 7, 2007 10:44:37 AM

Take a spectrum analyzer, preferably a FFT digital model, and take a look at the noise on a power circuit. Depending on where you live, there's likely very little noise. As for current loss, I find this pretty unlikely, there's a large margin for error built into most computer equipment. For audio equipment, lower insertion loss would likely lead to better clarity from an amplifier, but one would have to have good ears to be able to tell the difference. Please, don't use NASA's use of a product as an endorsement to its effectiveness, NASA isn't exactly riding high at the moment. Tang sucks. And one could charge 3800, or far, far more, for damn near anything because the majority of people in this world are none too swift, so that argument is moot too. I see where you're coming from in this, worked on a missile guidance radar for the last 7 years, so I know a bit about a need for fidelity, but buying an extremely expensive power cord for an already expensive computer is likely an expense that will net no gains. Get a good cable by all means, but it should still be one of the cheapest components you buy. If you wanna go all out, to hell with monster power and all those other brands, contact American Superconductor and get some of their high-temp superconducting cables:
Best Wire On Earth
February 7, 2007 11:40:58 AM

Very fair argument - if a little bit flat earth - here is your response.

Skywalker sound, Sony music, Apple studios, Rick Rubin, Astoria studio, Phillips Crest studios, NASA, the NSA, the CIA, a number of hospitals, and among many other hifi shops, mine.

All these 'confused' entities and a host more have purchased and utilized to great effect power systems from Shunyata Research - one - of five main brands currently running. They also use a smattering of other similar devices from PS Audio, Richard Gray's Power Company, Nordost and Audioquest. The results they heard through, one can assume, very careful selection add up to millions of dollars spent.

As for the shop I am employed at we show over $4 million in gear with four employees in a 2900 sq ft. space in downtown SF. Guess what? We have extremely good feedback from a customer base of 4900 customers in our database as regards 'noise floor lowering cables' - about $190,000 dollars a year worth of response to one sub genre of tweak.

You do a very specialized bit of work. So do I. I don't work in a 'sales enviroment' as the people we deal with come to us for system design with purchasing already in mind. The only way we can present any hope of a good value is to put together, on their budget, a tremendously well balanced system with SF's small spaces in mind in most cases.

One of the ways that works, audibly to the ear in every case, is spreading a touch of the money to the power cables, interconnects and speaker cables to reduce the noise floor and increase signal flow and speed - giving better accuracy at lower volume levels. All of this adds up to tapping the power supply for less while allowing the source a clean run to the output device. Try it. You'll love it I promise.

I say all this as a means of getting you intrigued to open up your mind towards what you regard as pseudo-science, if that at all. You may discover a new tool for your work and play.

As for science I wonder wich reviewer you would recommend for such a double blind test? Perhaps one of the boys from Stereophile or Hifi+? Even they're finest ranks tend to allow for more subjectivity than you suggest is required for a true study. These are the two most well established rags on each side of the pond as a passing note.

As to the fellow who metioned NASA not riding high - I'm no fan of exploding astronauts - but they have managed to pull off more than any other space agency bearing in mind that the greatest collection of domestic and non domestics engineers and physicists all work where? NASA. I WILL check out the American Superconductors by the way - thanks for the rec.

In the late 80's a man named Caelin Gabriel was among a group of in house engineers working in the intelligence community towards the end of cleaning up dirty 'transmissions of interest' after the fact of interception. The natural layers of distortion from atmospheric to intermodulation to standard line noise was too much in many cases to retreive any useful data. Essentially the noise floor was so high that low level 'enemy' data was lost beneath the peaks of common distortion.

While some of the staff chased amplification of particular bandwidth chambers to no avail, Mr. Gabriel set to treating the one distortion an operator could control - his own system. He utilized a wide array of treatments in creating what amounts to the first high grade power cable this community and when tested among his peers it drastically reduced the overall distortion making data retrieval tremendously easier.

He was working for 'the man'.

Many iterations later his technology was applied to other systems within this field and in the mid nineties he founded a company I cite in these posts, Shunyata.

Along with the above mentioned industry leading studios and 'scientists' I would also mention that hifi is permeated by armchair engineers of wide ranging talent and education. These fellows seem to have no problem accepting the alotment of their 'hobby budget' towards similar products.

In fact, of those that run companies in the top 50 brands worldwide, every single one of them - with the exception of Mcintosh Audio - utilizes some form of after market power cord in their design and voicing of products designed for the anal-retentive ear.

While I understand your reticence in signing on to an untested, by your preferred double blind method, product I urge you to drop a 300 dollar cable in the midst of one of those 200,000 dollar systems. Hell, do it in your own system. It's not an expensive test and it may be a fun and educational experiment. I'm not telling you you're wrong to be wary. I'm telling you to be curious enough to try something before you become that most unfortunate creature - the skeptic.

If it does nothing for your experience and your ears, the only ones that matter, then I'm a loony - and worse - trite salesman with no talent for convincing your discerning tastes.

If it blows your mind then you'll be glad you know something new, right?

Enjoy.

PS - to the guy who mentioned $3800 as chump change to a foolish buyer... you might actually be right in a lot of cases. People really will spend a lot of money on odd things with little to know benefits. That's why a good shop sells products that get results in value proportionate to money spent. In a $200,000 system with a NAIM CD555 it's like getting hit with a 'realness' so stark you just can't take it out of the loop.
February 7, 2007 11:48:29 AM

I checked out American Superconductors - guess what they do - the exact same designs on the industrial end as the hifi companies on the recieving end. Cryogenic treatments, oxygen-free emulsion baths and super-geometric current paths with super lightweight, low density RF blocking jackets!

Sooooooooo... yeah: try telling those guys they're loons too. They look all serious and whatnot. Might throw you in a rolling machine and turn you into superconductor... like some geeky mob hit.

Mkai - Note that I made NO statement on your level of education whatsoever in any of my posts. I don't assume, or argue that you don't know what you are talking about. I didn't assume anything other than if you opened up an arguement with me it had damn well better contain more than just snipy giggling and an unwillingness to find out for yourself if I'm right.

If you want to argue whether I know what I'm talking about refer to te fact that I'm a 25 year old high school drop out who takes too much pride in his job to lie in order to make a sale. I deal in proof on a daily basis and in my demonstrations of any cabling I never tell the customer what I've dropped in the line.

I let them give an opinion. Then I tell them. Then they decide.

That's as clear as I can put it.
February 7, 2007 12:22:42 PM

So, basically your response to "Show me the proof" is "there isn't any".

That's what I said right from the start.

I wouldn't recommend any reviewer, that's the point. Without scientific proof everything you have talked about is entirely subjective.

Hi-Fi magazines, by the way, are there as a vehicle to sell advertising, they are not there to provide unbiased reviews. It's exactly the same as computer games magazines - you buy 6 pages of advertising, you get a good review...

I repeat, again, show me the proof. Scientific proof. I would like to see a proper, repeatable, double-blind test, done with impartial observers.


Oh, and you've still not answered my second question - why won't any of the big cable firms allow double-blind testing of their products?
February 7, 2007 12:30:07 PM

Oh really? I was under the impression ASC's 3G HTS wire was pretty much unique to their company, or are hifi companies still rolling with their 1 and 2G stuff? I'd be surprised if anyone else had their 3G tech rolling already. Their motors are the more impressive than their wires though, 5000Hp and small enough to fit in the trunk of a car....

This conversation is getting kinda off topic, with regard to audio equipment, of course this stuff is going to make a difference, albeit a minor one to most people, especially considering the costs involved. I thought it was originally about whether the power cable itself had any impact on the ultimate OCability of a system? To which, I'm afraid, I would still have to vote NO on. The quality of the PSU and the motherboard volt regs are going to be the absolute deciding factor in that case. Even if the cable made some noticible improvement to the power delivered to the PSU, I can't imagine any benefit would be made to end results; i.e. ulitimate system speed. Too many other factors are involved. I would love to see a study done on such a thing, but I think the outcome is pretty much assured.

The swipe at NASA wasn't entirely serious. They've accomplished a great deal, but that doesn't mean they don't deserve some smack-talking, cuz they've screwed up a lot too. And the fact that people will spend almost any amount of money on any damn thing provided they have more cents than sense should be self-evident to anyone who has observed the world around them.
February 8, 2007 12:17:23 AM

Off topic? Yeah, your right...

Back on topic - I'm getting the sense that the impact on a gaming rig or editing rig would be minimal due to the nature of such a complicated device, built on custom parts and kinda kneecapped for that reason.

I'll try it anyhow as I have a bunch of them on hand I can take home from the store.

I'm also going to try an RGPC pole pig for the monitor and video/audio processing for the hell of it.

If it works remarkably well I'll add a new thread just to report a neato thing one might try.

I think you are quite right on the ASC issue.

They are doing some totally new stuff I can't even get my head around. I was speaking more to they're concern for high grades of conductor, oxygen free chemical baths, extrusion methods and the general 'magic pixie dust' the high end companies use to build specialized power cables.

I do wish I had some purpose for a 5000 hp motor I could fit in my trunk... regardless it's an interesting concept.

2. As to the proof of performance you are looking for, complete with an impartial double blind study in controlled conditions - you know quite well that if there has been one it's been kept one heck of a secret. You also know that even the finest hifi and proaudio companies almost never do these tests as they are a deeply expensive affair and not required to move product.

So, no - I got nothing.

Since you only have but to hear a demo one time to find out how successful these wee cables are though stop by your local shop o' audio one day and try one. They are pretty marvelous and maybe you'll be surprised, who knows.

As they say "nothing ventured, nothing gained."

Good game.

Thanks for the feedback to all you fine technical folks - I'll keep it in mind.

PS - NASA is a little odd, aren't they?
February 8, 2007 1:11:51 AM

Right, that's the feeling I get as well, that the impact will be minimal if there even is an impact because of the vast majority of affected components are downstream. Any regular cable should provide plenty of amperage to the PSU, but from there to the CPU there's too many independant variables. Prolonged PSU life could be one result, but that's impossible to quantify unless you have a few hundred thousand hours of free time for testing.

As far as all those other components, we had a very interesting discussion on the feasibility of liquid cooling the motherboard caps here in the forum a while back. This would be quite a technical challenge, but the resultant temperature stability should lead to improved ripple in Vcore. Another interesting new development is a new completely submerged PSU available from Koolance. Haven't seen any reviews on it as of yet, but I'll definately be watching to see how it performs under stress. I'm pretty sure Fortron Source was a contributer to the PSU, and they of course make damned good ones, so I have high hopes.

ASC really impressed me. I met some of there refs in a conference in DC. They've won the project to build HTS motors for the Navy's new destroyers, 36.5MW motors that weigh only 69 tons and require almost no maintenence in addition to being highly efficient. The application of HTS is going to be a minor revolution considering the sheer number of affected fields. If you like playing the stock market, watch out for these guys.
February 8, 2007 7:53:07 AM

And again, your response to "show me the proof" is "subjective evidence is better than scientific evidence".

Equally, you're incorrect in your assertion that the reason companies don't want double-blind tests is "they don't need it to move product". The real reason is "if they did double-blind tests, everyone would realise they'd been ripped off all these years".

Let's look at another thing. I suspect you're one of these people who thinks that your speaker cable makes a vast difference to the sound? What would your reaction be when you discover that all the major speaker manufacturers use *mains extension leads* - as in bog-standard mains leads from B&Q or another DIY store - to demo their speakers at all the hi-fi shows?

How about something else, then? How about "tell me how a high-grade power cable can make *any* difference at all when the power is coming into your house over many kilometres of aluminium wire"?
February 8, 2007 11:57:01 AM

Of course the quality of speaker cable makes a difference. Skin effect, capacitance and inductance, oxidation, RF interference, all of these can make subtle differences to the frequency and current being carried to a speaker. Whether or not any joe off the street will be able to percieve the difference is quite another matter, but if you want some data look here: Linky

Also, you'll note that OP has come to the conclusion that a higher quality power cable won't make a difference, so let's not fuss, eh?

The bottom line is that with analog signals, better quality cabling leads to better fidelity, period. There should be no argument there. Of course there are tons of gimmicks out there that are rip-offs, look at the stealth fine ribbon in the above link. I also always crack up when I see an HDMI cable for 200 bucks that promises better video reproduction (Video on HDMI is digital- hence it either gets through or doesn't, you can't screw up digital). You don't have to spend a jillion dollars, but it can be worth it to pay a little extra if you're capable of noting the difference.
February 8, 2007 12:41:00 PM

>let's not fuss, eh?

Sorry, but when someone comes along and tries to peddle their snake oil about mains cables it hacks me off a bit.

Wait, no, a lot.

>of course the quality of speaker cable makes a difference

Not really. Once you've got a decent conductor, like thick-gauge copper wire, nothing else matters.

As I said, the major speaker manufacturers use *mains extension leads* as their speaker cable for all the major hi-fi shows - they de-plug them, tin the ends and then use them directly. Works just as well as all this "oxygen free" rubbish.
February 8, 2007 5:12:07 PM

We're not fussing. We're debating. I fixed the link in my previous post, go have a look if you haven't already. I am as far from a snake-oil peddler as one can get. It is plain that the quality of cable had a direct influence on the quality of frequency conduction. As I said before, I've spent the better years of my life working on targeting radars, where frequency fidelity is so important that we spend several hundred dollars per foot to insure the frequency that leaves the transmitters is the same that goes out the antenna. Now, will subtle variations in frequency be detectable by everyone? Probably not. A ton of other factors come into play; the amp and the speakers being the main factors of course. Also, I never said that copper isn't acceptable, though it has large skin effect and is susecptable to RF intereference if not properly shielded. Most good quality cables use copper as a base material. Finally, oxygen-free isn't a gimmick, as copper cables age they out-gas chloride and oxidize, which slightly changes the electrical properties of the wire. Making insulation that resists this thus extends the life of the cable. It's not an unduly expensive property either.
February 8, 2007 6:14:19 PM

Through your question and all the responses I have not noticed anyone discuss why power conditioning equipment is used for computers.

IMHO, battery backups and UPS are used with computers to ensure the voltage range being fed to the computer (power surges and brown-outs included), unless you get real exotic with computer hardware you're not usually dealing with high current surges normally seen in audio equipment needed to drive speakers.

Computers suffer from voltages too high as well as too low, voltages below optimum tend to cause data corruption, voltages above optimum tend to shorten the life of the components.

I may be mistaken but from what I have read on UPS hardware that is well designed, input power is basically used to charge the batteries until an event occurs where proper voltage is not being supplied, then the UPS switches to internal circuit and outputs proper voltage and waveform to the PC.
February 8, 2007 6:30:02 PM

Well, you mentioned it yourself, brownouts, blackouts and surges can all potentially damage computer hardware, especially the PSU, voltage regulation circuitry on the motherboard, and hard drives (head crash). UPS provide a way to gracefully shutdown your computer. Most have surge protection and power conditioning built into them. They are expensive because of their batteries and because of the inverter/filtering circuitry necessary to allow them to provide AC output from batteries. It is a good investment for expensive computers on which valuable data is often handled.
February 8, 2007 8:30:56 PM

Hey CB62,

You of course know that there are specific tolerances on the radar equipment you are talking about. Those tolerances tend to be tighter than most equipment (especially at that output range) because of the need to reduce the noise floor on the receive side especially. The tolerances you are talking about may in fact be much tighter (mil spec) given the waveguides used... The feedhorns (extremely sensitive) on the receive side are in need of a very quiet noise floor to receive data for analysis/display.

Ever work on the TSQ-43? (Tipsy 43)

Was that missile guidance radar ground or aircraft based (just curious)?

I only agree with the analog statement when it concerns ONLY ANALOG. Many audio systems will convert Analog to digital internally on the amp (lower quality devices albeit) then convert back to analog before sending to the speakers. In these cases you are at the mercy of the DACs NOT the input power given.

Just so you know Digital can also be affected by cable grade (just less likely due to most digital transmission technologies incorporating error checking/re-transmit/CRC). Please see the difference in specs between CAT5 and CAT6. The cables carry a rating for a reason. Now this being said those cable types were created for longer distances than most home audio systems would need (whole house audio systems aside).

Given the standard 20' to even 50' run for a home theater you would be LESS likely to notice a difference between a low and medium grade cable (the speakers capability to reproduce the difference will likely be the limiting factor).

On the issue of power supplies. Given that the internals go from AC to DC conversion you are typically at the mercy of the PSUs quality. The quality of internal components such as the rectifiers and transformers can have a huge impact (ripple). On the other side of that is the receiver of the converted DC or the VRM on the MB. If "as stated" you do not have a good VRM OC ability will be limited.

PS... Many PSU have current limiting tech as well (see several posts above).
February 9, 2007 4:09:39 AM

Mkai - 'hacked off? snake oil?' - you are acting like a petulant child-engineer because you don't agree with a basic premise I stated in my original post - a premise I am absolutely 100% deadsure of in one case and hoped to apply to another with help from the knowledge base at TH.

I don't have any need to prove a simple fact to you in this case. What triggered my replies was the fact that you are incredibly set on knocking something you have NEVER experimented with - despite how little it might cost you in time and effort.

That said, the breadth of knowledge of the posters who were nice enough to inform me my attempts would likely yield little to no result is staggering. A few of the things they've mentioned have actually served to better educate me on the subject of PC components and the expectations I can set for them. All in all a nice, grounding experience without a double-blind study...

I got to learn something. Guess what? That's a good thing.

You are more interested in feeling right than finding out you might be wrong, learning from it - and then being right.

Being stubborn and aggressive towards neat-toy-theory is ridiculous.


Also - to Ches and CB62... it is very nice to know the operators that guide missiles haven't reached the point where a video game like interface has removed all need to understand how a guidance system works. I don't know what in the immortal hell a 'feed horn' should be doing but you seem to and it's probably a good thing. Nobody wants exploding astronauts after all.
February 9, 2007 5:02:12 AM

Sol,

Have you seen a satellite dish?

The feed horn is the little arm that hangs out in front of the collector dish.

The feedhorn collects the signals.
February 9, 2007 7:29:05 AM

>petulant child-engineer

How about not starting with the name-calling and the insults and actually answering the question?

How does a power cable make any difference to the sound coming from an amplifier when there are several kilometres of lowest-quality, from the cheapest bidder, aluminium power cable connecting you to the source of the power?

>knocking something you have NEVER experimented with

I'm not prepared to spend several thousand pounds on something which scientifically, logically, and actually, does nothing at all. What is the point?

Oh, wait, I forgot - you think scientific knowledge is trumped by subjective fact. Oh well.
February 9, 2007 7:32:36 AM

Is that maybe why my overclock was unstable at temps of 50 degrees (e6400 @ 2800GHz+ was unstable :(  ) ? Im juicing my 600watt psu and 19inch crt monitor from a single plug split cable....u think the mon is leeching the current my rig needs?
February 9, 2007 1:04:25 PM

No, that's not gonna be your issue. More likely it's a NB/memory problem. Try loosening your timings and upping your NB voltage 0.1V.

Ches, SPG-62 and SPY-1B, shipboard Standard missile guidance.
February 9, 2007 1:55:37 PM

Ahhh,

Working for the squids ;) 

I guess I can forgive ya :) 
February 10, 2007 3:21:09 PM

1 ) feeeeeeeddddd hoooooorrrrrnnnn. oh. okee, thanks.

2) I wasn't so much name calling as applying a description to a willingness to become angry within the context of a discussion on tweaks - I'm not kicking puppies here - I'm holding a theory up for questions. I'll refrain from future character notes from now on though as it is a wee petulant on my end I suppose.

3) As to an experiment, I don't want you to spend a dime. Just grab a couple good cds and head down to any store that offers Shunyata or Nordost or whatever and have them demo A/B/A for you. If you are willing to try it you may have the same positive results a lot of others do. If you still think it's total crap at least you've heard enough to say so.

Mkai - 'Oh, wait, I forgot - you think scientific knowledge is trumped by subjective fact. Oh well.'

Hence my earlier assertation that your attitude is inflexible and a little overly aggressive. Push those tones to the side and you'll find that I've NOT said any such thing. Scientific knowledge is predicated on the evolution of idea to theory to fact. Then facts are reevaluated commonly to produce another, more accurate real world conclusion.

Up til' now I've relied in the context of my discussion on my own knowledge as a person who works with a product he could not have engineered.

I can't do a study for you but I do want to give you something.

I'm going to go bug the hell out of Mr. Gabriel from Shunyata today. We sell a lot of his stuff so I'm thinkin' he might want to iron clad his operating theories.

Besides, it'll be fun to try and translate his engineer ramblings.
February 12, 2007 6:51:39 AM

Pity there isn't a 'reply to everyone' button, but oh well...

I'm not going to waste your time(s) and mine by presenting my CV, but let's just say that a fair amount of it deals with electronics, including a master's degree and a lot of experience. 'nuff bragging, on to the meat of the matter.

The input power cable on any sensitive electronic apparatus, like the really hairy and sensitive audiophile-range amplifiers/speakers can and will make a difference. Particularly if both cable options are about 3 years old or so. Cables do deteriorate over time - never forget that. But let's look at the power supply first:

On a decent switched power supply (i.e. PC, higher-grade amp) there are a lot of filtering circuits to prevent 'noisy' mains power from having much of an effect. Here the only time 'noisy' power will affect the component being fed from the PS is if you have a floating earth or are getting brown/black outs - which can also ____ up your power supply as well.

A linear power supply (laptop/cellphone/whatever charger, common-or-garden home amps, most PA systems I'm familiar with) is less sensitive than a switched PSU, but has a nasty effect of transferring the line noise to the peripheral it's powering. This kind of PS usually doesn't include filtering circuitry, but it can be installed very easily. You just need a tame electronic engineer to do it for you.

Back to the cables. To determine what cable you need for power (IEC or whatever standards be damned for the empirical garbage they are) is very simple. Remember good ol' P=V*I? And the one before that, V=I*R?

P = Power (Watts)
V = Volts
I = Current (Amps)
R = Resistance (Ohms)

Let's say you have a 1000W (P) PSU. The supply voltage is 200V (V).
P = V * I, so 1000 = 200 * x. [Solve for x]. Therefore I = 5A.

So if your cable is a very thin one capable of 4.25A, it will get hot, it will affect audio quality, and you will sooner or later have a farked cable. Rule of thumb for cable thickness: add 25% onto its current capacity and you have the cable you need.

Higher-quality cables do not have the slightest effect on audio quality until it starts deteriorating. The only difference the quality of cable makes is how long until it starts deteriorating. Overloading a cable - no matter its quality - will make it deteriorate more rapidly, if it doesn't melt the insulation and/or cause a short circuit and/or completely bollicks up whatever it's attached to.

To summarise: Higher-quality cable = longer cable life. Higher-Q cable has no effect on signal output quality. Check your mains and fit filters if you're worried about output quality.
February 12, 2007 3:05:22 PM

Mugz,

You should know (in reference to your sig) that EE is just the long way around to becoming a CS :) 

Kind of sad to see so many EEs working as software devs because they can't find work in EE.

EE is like a catch 22 job. You can't have this job because you do not have enough experience. You can not get the experience because no one will give you a job :) .... This is where a paid internship as an EE is CRUCIAL.. Of course the company you internship at basically owns your soul for a few years but at least you will have actual experience under your belt :) 
February 13, 2007 6:28:38 AM

Sad and irritating. I only got put onto the company website because our former IT specialist took off. The irony here is that I'm more qualified i.t.o. IT than the specialist was, except where it came to software and web admin. Hopefully the replacement specialist we've been promised will be arriving soon so that I can get back to some real work.
February 16, 2007 2:56:25 PM

I finally got a moment at work where I wasn't super busy and called Shunyata to see how they've been in business for ten years with no major tests done as to the effectiveness of their product. Turns out They always include in their public demo a spectrum analyzer to nail home the point of what you are hearing. Screw a double blind test, which is costly and would result in no more perceived legitimacy for the one percent who are deeply against this concept, they just point of proof show the attendees a totally different signature after they've blown minds with improved sound.

Imagine for one second you've got a sucsessful small business with 19 employees and you've hired ONE guy, Grant in this case, to prove to the world that this stuff works.

How would you do it?

By demonstrating the product for everything with an interest or a pulse?
Or by spending months or years coalating data that only a few in the community would even know how to interperet?

As for the degradation or mismatching of cables to amp-loads - you are totally right on that - there is more to it though.

The tonal, timbral and rythmic changes are pretty intense, undeniably intense once you've heard them.

The wierd part is how destorted the soundstage and instrument placement can be - very 2 dimensional - before you drop in a Nordost Brahma or Shunyata Copperhead or what have you.

I'm not exactly the right guy to apply EE theory not being an engineer, um, whatsoever - if your ever in the Bay Area please drop by AudiovisionSF and I will just demo the weird little bugger for you.

It is catagorically neat. Especially if you've heard the track your whole life long, know it back to front.
February 16, 2007 3:17:23 PM

>called Shunyata

So, let me get this straight. You called a company with a vested financial interest in claiming that their product makes a difference, and asked them to tell you how they "test" their products.

And you can't see how this is no proof at all?

>screw a double blind test

Because it will show no difference, you mean? Nice and scientific, there. Again, we're back to "subjective evidence trumps scientific evidence". Thanks, but I prefer to spend my money on things which are provable and have a real effect.
February 16, 2007 3:31:40 PM

Sol,

Now if you said that they sold you a better transformer for your amp then I would call maybe on this. However I have to call BS on the rest. Just is not going to make a difference.

Sol,

Being an audio guy what would you tell someone about the Bose AM series?

I bet you will have people on here that say it is the BEST sounding they have ever heard. And they may be correct. But in DD 5.1 or even worse 7.1 what is the truth about an AM series or for that matter any sat/sub series?


Like to hear your response on this.
February 16, 2007 3:35:03 PM

Sol, again I MIGHT and that is a big MIGHT understand this arguement if a long run power or speaker cable was needed. Here give the impediance of the cable and the ruggedness it would probably be of some benefit. But over the standard 6' I think not.. There are actually sound (not audio :) ) electronic principles behind this.

Three things typically affect sound quality of a sound system.

1) Your input source -- Its capability to faithfully reproduce the sound and SEND it to your now output device (amp)

2) Your amp -- which will drive a speaker set at a specified range based upon the ohms of the speakers, THD shoud be lower.

3) Your Speakers -- This is the single largest benefit in ANY system. If you have poor speakers you will not overcome this deficiency in any of the latter products.

Fair statements?
a c 123 K Overclocking
February 16, 2007 4:04:52 PM

I am somewhat dubious about the benefits of a high quality power cord. After all, it plugs into your house wiring which is just standard romex. Would the quality not be dependent on the lowest quality part in the link?
February 16, 2007 4:10:25 PM

Geo,

Bingo we have a winner.... :) 
February 17, 2007 2:04:51 AM

Okaaaaayyyyy...

Now here's the thing - I called Shunyata because I wanted to understand what 'proof of effect' they claimed to persuade fine openminded citizens such as yourself that they're product worked as they claimed.

There response: WE PLAY THE CABLE IN FRONT OF THE LISTENERS, IN THEY'RE STUDIO OR LISTENING SPACE, BLIND. Then once they've reached an opinion we can show them the difference in terms of stabilization of incoming current on a spectrometer.

Y'know what happens? They invest they're heathen dollars in what sounds better... but it's just every major recording studio on the planet... and a couple thousand nerds... and portions of the military...

Man have they had the wool pulled over they're eyes.

The point is to not simply accept what you've been told - try things you don't understand or even agree with. If you are unwilling to assume that we've much more to learn about physics then you haven't any business trying to shoot holes in a fairly established upgrade - why? - you were unwilling to give her the old pepsi challenge.

Statements of fact without field knowledge are rubbish.

As to the old Romex parry: exactly when did the power cable become the 'last few feet' of the chain exactly? The current is effectively taken in from the socket if anything.

Also realize that if all the theories on this series of posts were all true at once - your computer wouldn't be working right now.

Although it is commonly held that romex is crap it does one thing quite nicely... it distributes electricity with little degradation. As for the washing machine next door, microwave at home? You can hear them quite nicely through your speakers, that's true.

Yewt the six feet closest to a stack of hifi equipment is the most noisy and distorted of all... munch on that.

As for Bose?

I sell speakers that range from $269 a pair to $90,000 a pair.

Bose is crap - High frequency bark, muddy lows and no mids in sight.

If a fellow has heard it and regarded it highly that is just fine by me though - let him enjoy it if he owns it - I'll say not boo about it.

That said, if he wants to hear a system (not just two 'all important speakers' :idea: on under valued equipment ) that is balanced and whole in it's reproduction of the source material I'll be happy to put a smile on his face and force a reevaluation.

...I suppose... en garde?
February 17, 2007 5:01:22 AM

Cmon now...


:) 

I was specifically talking about the sub/sat systems performance in 5.1.

I wanna hear your take on it?

You hit the total lack of MIDS on the head but I was hoping for a further extension....
February 19, 2007 7:52:41 AM

>Shunyata

Again, they've got a vested interest in people buying their stuff! You can't expect them to be anything other than biased!

>much more to learn about physics

I'm sorry, but the physics of electricity is pretty much understood. When we get down to the quantum level, maybe we've got something to learn, but electrical transmission follows certain *rules* which don't get bent just because a company wants to make money out of suckers.

>romex is crap

It's not just the mains ring in your house, it's the many miles of aluminum cable between your house and the power generation system. I mentioned this a lot earlier in the thread and you've still not seen fit to respond to it...
February 19, 2007 1:37:03 PM

Holly cow! Interesting thread and plenty of rap on either side. I think the original premise is correct and valid especially in the upper price bracket customer, sitting in a high rise bathed in RF from every spectrum to near light. I would venture a guess that the added capacitance of the larger cable might obsorb some of the "noise". I wonder if the copper going to the amplifier can be affected with standard (oh, let me venture a guess to get to my point) 150r and /or the power lines to get the power to you pickup and drop-off... then... I would have to say that to get that level from RF Harp is testing Fault tolorances in tectonics. to be fair I have seen ppl in high-rises starring right at a 50W near light microwave. Power cable alone wouldn't always save them. RF is here to stay. And only recently we are starting to discover strange harmonic effects in unexpected places. Bottomline AC carriors are seeing all types of noise frequencies "on the copper" but only so many can get any distance before they fade to ambivalence. Networking on the 110 60Hz has been done and is relatively easy. Trick is to find a "what I call "lagrange"" point on the wave harmonic. Not many of them but effective. I imagine in the bay area you would have to fight for them in a reverse FIFO. Might have someone from Silicon Valley pull some regulation on you though along with a cease and desist order.

Chickenwire in plaster on the wall and leave the cable alone.

To TH moderators and contributors, I apoligize for mixing myth with math in a clasical Archamedies style.

TMI 1998
February 19, 2007 1:50:38 PM

Here's a question for the industry of "cables". Why do I have 14 different international cable styles, connectors, and rated lengths? I have an optical cable for my aplifier but DVI for video! :evil:  If I had the money to lets say buy a MacIntosh top end stereo the speaker should be ready for 1595nm G.D.I. ...and DVD, HDDVD, and 1080p 1080i feeds, Why are they not on optical? Seems to me are purses are so tight we outta sell Fermi lab for a sledge hammer based on this same model. :!:

:evil:  There I vented...


sorry :oops: 
February 19, 2007 3:01:14 PM

so... this is totolly highjacking... but

If I plug my Sony receiver into the wall socket... instead of a powerbar... then it will be louder and clearer?
February 20, 2007 8:25:52 AM

According to about half of what has been spouted above, yes. According to the other half, no.

According to electronic physics, research and the real world, you will hear no difference whatsoever - if there is a difference, it is so negligible that it can only be noticed if you are fatally autistic or something. If an audiophile can spot the difference, then we have someone who can not listen to anything above around -15dB or so, else they will suffer severely painful and permanent ear damage.
February 20, 2007 10:10:26 PM

Trin,

If the manufacturer is using things like open core and shielding and and and then you might actually see some correction to the signal/juice on the scope... The problem being what is that correction and what does it affect?

Also with these supposed better cables "they are would obvioulsy be PASSIVE devices" as in they would use NO active measures to massage the inbound power... An active device such as a UPS with power management would provide something different as well.

The claims of a manufacturer can NOT overcome current knowledge of physics.

If I am excited about a product that could supposedly make my large investment sound better.... You could put 2 guage jumper cables in front of me and I might think think they are better (cause bigger is better right?).
I obviously would NOT be taken by something like this but others could be.

This is the same thing as most aftermarket CAI or Cold Air Induction systems on cars. Many "feel" a difference (in the product that they just purchased and installed themselves). When in fact you could Dyno most of these and its sensitive measuring capabilities will pick up minute changes at best... Not saying CAI is a bad thing (need to have the whole thing to make diff, CAI, Computer calibrated to new airflow, and ....)..

That thing called (perceived difference) is a powerful sales tool. You could in fact end up talking yourself into noticing a difference :) .
February 20, 2007 10:12:40 PM

Trin,

The short answer is NO...

Others would like to make you think differently..

Is there a possibility that the fault detection/isolation circuitry is changing your inbound juice? Possibly... Not likely...
April 20, 2007 10:36:22 AM

Sorry to push this back toward the computer world, but has anyone compared the supposid best PSU, a PP&C 1000W. I read many of their white papers on why they do things the way they do, but again has anyone had real expierence with one?
!