Today I am taking my own look at a topic that can get rather heated in the world of audio and that is if power cables can make a difference to audio quality. If you had asked me this a few years back I would have said you were crazy and more than likely someone trying to sell me a power cable that you want 100 bucks for.
Even now that I write my own tips and guides to get the best out of your turntable this is a subject that if I am being brutally honest with you, I do not know what side of the argument I fall on. I have done a lot of research and watched so many YouTube videos on this subject that my wife once actually asked “what the hell are you watching?” as I tried to explain to her the theory of how power cables can make a difference to the sound.
There Is A Great Disturbance In The Force!
What makes me kind of think that there could be some truth to this who thing is the fact that if a power cable is not made properly. Or nor even that, if it is how shielded correctly and made rather cheaply. It very well may power your turntable, amp or whatever. However, at the same time, you could be getting some kind of disturbance or interference from the cable that is causing the sound you are hearing to not be as high quality as you would really like it to be. I found this very interesting video on this subject that does show how power cables can make a difference.
What About The Last 10 Feet?
One thing that I often hear brought up is people making their own cables and changing the last 10 feet as that is where the difference really is. I was being a fly on the wall of a heated discussion on the Steve Hoffman Forums and it was very interesting to read what people were saying. I wanted to take a few quotes from people that showcase both sides of this argument one user had this to say, “The short answer is EVERYTHING has an impact on your sound.
I can move my coffee table a foot to the left and make larger changes to my sound than a new power cord does.
And it is a LOT cheaper.
Seriously—others get amazing results with changing that last ten feet of wire.
This is not just a one-off either, there are many other people who are saying the same thing. Some people swear that they notice no difference at all no matter if they use the stock cable or a fancy and expensive cable or a cable that they have tinkered with themselves. One guy made the point that the ear hears what the wear wants to hear and that is something I would tend to agree with. At the end of the day what I consider to be good sound quality may be different from you.
A prime example of this is my nephew who I purchased a first record player for and it was one of these all in one, pretty basic units. The sound was less than great, but he loves that thing and swears that it sounds fantastic. The point I am making is that we all have different standards when it comes to what is good sound quality.
Where There Is Smoke There Is Fire
What makes me not want to say that this is all just crazy talk is that there is so much stuff out there where good honest folks swear that changing the power cables makes a difference in audio.
“Well it’s true, with an improved connection to the outlet, the amp will be more responsive, and the quality of the cable’s conductors, geometry, connectors, and how well it’s put together all contribute to the whole. With better power cables I’ve noticed increased speed and accuracy, reduced noise/anomalies, and just overall improvements, in general, to be appreciated.”
This is a quote that a poster on the Head Hi-Fi Forums had to say and I found it pretty interesting. The audiophile in me knows that the fact that a cable is made better should mean that it is more efficient, offers less interference and so on which in reality should mean that the overall sound I am getting is going to be better. Of course, if that difference is large enough that my near 40-year-old ears can pick it up is debatable.
I would say that for every person who says that this is crazy talk, you get a post like the one I just quoted from that really does make you think that there has to be something there. Another way to look at this is like if you bought a super expensive car and then just slapped the cheapest tires you could find on it because a tire is a tire. Well by that same logic, surely a power cable for a stereo system that is better made, more expensive and just generally better quality is going to make a difference over the massively produced and inexpensively produced stock cable?
When it comes to the debate of if power cables make a difference in audio it would take a much braver man than me to definitively say for sure that they do in fact make a difference. It is a subject I am looking forward to getting more into though and I am hoping to test out some power cables that are designed with better audio quality in mind in the near future. One thing I will say is that be sure to look at some of my other articles such as what to do if your turntable sounds flat and cleaning your vinyl properly as these could be just what you need to get better sound quality out of your vinyl collection before you start spending tons of money on fancy power cables.