Advice needed on power cables, wall warts, conditioning, electrical outlet

Hi everyone,

I would appreciate any advice on power cables, wall warts, power conditioning, better electrical outlet,  etc. 

If I have a power conditioner, with all of my equipment plugged into it with their stock cables, would upgrading the individual components’ power cable, wall wart etc. really help to improve the sound quality?  If yes, in what order of priority would you suggest?  Looking to make some low/moderate cost "tweaks" where it makes sense.

FWIW, here’s my setup:

  • 15 amp dedicated electrical circuit with standard home grade grounded electrical outlet.
  • Furman PL Plus-C power conditioner (repurposed from my music equipment studio rack) plugged into this AC outlet.  (Furman has a hardwired power cable, so I cannot easily swap it out)
  • All of my audio equipment plugs into the Furman: e.g. integrated tube amp, DAC, Sound Expander, ethernet to optical converter, Sonore Optical Rendu (feeds the DAC via USB), and Small Green Computer Roon server.
  • All components have their respective manufacturers’ standard issue power cord or wall wart.  (Sonore Optical Rendu with their Small Green Computer standard LPS).
  • TrendNet ethernet switch, not on the conditioner and uses wall wart.  CAT 8 to upstairs to my Asus router also wall wart and not on conditioner.
  • Asus router to Verizon FIOS ONT via CAT 8 ethernet.

Any advice and comments would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks a lot!


Stock freebie black rubber power cords are so bad literally everything will be an improvement. Which one you do first hardly matters. For one thing it hardly matters because guess what? You can move it! PC are like everything else bought on the basis of how they sound. 

So give yourself some reasonable budget, and use that as a filter. No point reading up on $1500 power cords if your budget for all of them is $500. Be realistic. Realize price is no indication of quality. Your goal should be to look for the value leader at your price level, whatever that may be. 

Don't waste time with construction, and for sure don't waste time with "what is the best PC for my preamp/DAC/amp, etc". A power cord is a power cord, they review how they sound because they sound the same wherever. 

Cannot emphasize this enough, stock power cords are garbage. I did a demo one time, the guy didn't believe they could make any difference- until he heard the improvement so obviously he noticed while the record was still in the lead-in groove. Yeah. The instant the needle touched down. That freaking obvious.

So budget, read reviews, then buy.

Now, about those factory fuses....


Always appreciate your posts ... hey, what kind of cables are you using?  Have you found a particular conductor configuration better than another?  I'm preparing for a DIY project.  Thanks so much ....

Happy New Year!


I'd recommend you upgrade your AC wall outlet. There are a lot of good ones available on the market. I personally use the Furutech GTX-D Rhodium, if you don't want to spend that much the Porter-Port sold by Albert Porter on this website has a lot of bang for the buck.

Power cords for sure, whichever ones that are in your price range from:



Can you describe the rest of your audio system?  If you have a very complicated setup, it may not be easy to hear differences in power cord, outlet, or power conditioner changes. 

Another way to test for good/bad AC power is with a high resolution video display.  Bad power can show up as visual noise/artifacts.

- Steve O.

I would personally ditch the furman and use a BPIT, balanced power isolation transformer. Balanced power works via physics, CMR, common mode rejection. It’s not snake oil, it’s simple and proven.  Just use the right sized unit and allow for headroom peaks. My BPIT is rated for 10x the current draw I am using..  haven’t found anything more effective in lowering the noise floor.

i would first start with having dedicated outlets installed.....and then see if the power conditioner is really needed or not.   from there, you can experiment with power cords to see if they make a difference or not.

  1. Make sure your electrical system is grounded well. Install additional grounding on your home... assuming you own a home. 
  2. Think of power like water... dirty water.... 
  3. Think of power cables like water filters.... pour in the dirty water, clean water comes out.
  4. Good power supply, cables, etc. 'clean' the power.... lowers the 'noise floor'. Doesn't 'add' to anything.
  5. Put a good quality power cable on your preamp... put in your best source music, listen at low volume and close your eyes. It feels like you are melting into the music. (I assume you have a system that is capable of this if you are considering spending several hundreds of dollars on power cables).
  6. Disregard if you are a 'YouTube cable hater'.

I would replace the wall outlet first with a hospital grade outlet because that will likely grip your electrical plug very tightly. The sequence I went was wall outlet then power cord from that outlet to my power conditioner

@tuberist , +1. Even cheepo hospital grade outlets are better than stock.

As far as changing out power cables, start with Source components first and work your way down.- Advice from John Rutan (Audioconnection).


For good quality at a reasonable price look at Cullen or Audio Envy power cables.


+1 go for the Cullen power cables.  There is a bit of a wait for them to be built, but worth the wait.


In order to feed the beast properly you need a dedicated curcuit. #10 wire from a 20 amp breaker with nothing else on the cuircuit feeding a singular recepticle. Once that's done you can feed one or two power strips. You can piggy back to two if you need it. Conditioners are snake oil. I also agree with a previous post that after market power chords make a huge difference.

@millercarbon has the right idea. Setup a budget first. Power is the foundation of your system. Start with the wall outlet at the beginning of the list. I would include either changing the power cord on the power conditioner or replace it. Furutech makes some products you could DIY the upgrade on the power conditioner. You could DIY all the power cords in your system with Furutech products. Link for DIY power cords

I know your conditioner, had one. Upgrading power cord was not to difficult. You may need new gromet depending on power cord you choose. It made a huge difference. You may want to upgrade some of the wiring while you have the box open. At the minimum change the connector on the end of the cord.

Easy upgrade for Furman, use Furutech FI-15M and 12 gauge Carol cable you can get from Digikey. measure diameter of your existing power cord and chose the 300 or 600 volt which ever will fit the best. 

I'm in a similar situation as OP.  Over the past year I've upgraded every component and now have a very nice sounding system with Electrocompaniet AW250R, Manley Neo Classic 300B pre, Lampizator Baltic 3 DAC, Clearaudio turntable w/ Nagaoka 500 cart, and a legacy Musical Fidelity CD player that I run using optical through my DAC.  Everything is powered through my Panamax line conditioner which has a fixed PC.  And all my PC's are stock.  I've been thinking about giving better PC's a try but have been a bit lost in the constant back and forth about whether PC's matter.  I think I'm ready to give it a try so will be watching for recommendations on good value PC's and appreciate suggestions.  i'm not really sure my budget yet...thinking to maybe buy 3 or perhaps 4 to power my amp, preamp, DAC and maybe Panamax.  If I could spend $150 per cord and get something nice it would be a huge win.  If I had to spend $250 a cord that would be doable.  Could probably even be convinced to spend more on one or two vs the others if I had any idea which would give me the most bang for the buck...Also I'm wondering about my it a reasonable way to go with my system or would I be better off ditching it and going with something else?

I swapped my power Furman Reference Power Conditioner out for Pangea Premier power strips, and I found it was a significant improvement in sound.

Power conditioners are a tricky thing.  They help with hum, but can hurt dynamics... and it very dependent on the type of gear and power you have.   Obviously anything with switch-mode power will likely need more conditioning and isolation.   I'm strictly class A / AB.  

Anyway, if you are willing to live without surge protection, I'd suggest taking a listen to your system without the power conditioning.  I think it does more harm than good 70% of the time and it will free up some rack space too!



Wow!  I am extremely grateful for all of the awesome and practical advice.  Very, very helpful indeed.

Thank you all so much for this Masterclass!

Have a great rest of your weekend.

You can't  go much wrong with Audioquest thunder, X3, and Z3 power cords. Own all three and I'm happy. Also Audioquest Edison receptacle is very nice, grips like a gorilla. 20 amp dedicated circuit Here, run myself, lots saved. All plugged into Audioquest 1200 and the Furman pst-8. Both designed by the same guy. 

I did this experiment:

1. borrowed very high end power cords - significant difference - but not as much as spending the $10K on the pre, the amp, or anything else

2. installed isolation transformer to run separate outlets at 20% of above cost

3. plugged factory power cords into isolated outlets - sounded better than expensive cords into normal outlets (1)

4. plugged expensive cords into isolated outlets - no different than (3).

Experiment proved that in my case, an isolation transformer worked better than expensive power cords, for much less money, and expensive power cords brought NO improvement after the isolation transformer cleaned up the power.

For context, I live half a mile from the nearest commercial user, five miles from the nearest industrial user.

This experiment contradicts the strong opinions of our resident armchair "experts". Use the information as you see fit.

Good luck.

No on Rhodium outlets, the Acme Audio 20 amp silver outlet is much better than Rhodium anything. Silver has the lowest resistance and the 20A grips like hospital grade for much less. I'm not a fan of Furman, Audioquest is much better. What I've learned is all connectors are the weakest link, so get the best for everything including interconnects and power cords. Remember solid silver has the lowest resistance/impedance.

You'll need to replace all the wiring in your home with 99.99999999% OFC, then do the same for the wiring from where ever it is that provides your house's power all the way to your house. Then replace the wiring in any component and speaker with the exact same wire since those manufacturers use the cheapest wiring they can to save money. Only then will you have the best sounding music possible. 




you have about the only believable post on this subject. And since the isolation transformer provides a good low impedance supply, you see the better transient improvement. 

Power cords, unless they are thinner than your house romex, will NOT make an improvement. 


Thank you. I sometimes feel a bit lonely when trying to help someone who genuinely wants to learn.


Thank you so much for your post, that's the kind of information that rewards hours and hours spent on audiophile's forums. I will definitely try an isolation transformer, never thought about that before:) 

Do you recommend any in particular?

Last thing, do you use to connect all your gears to it or just amp/preamp?



2. installed isolation transformer to run separate outlets at 20% of above cost

Using a VooDoo Electra power cord on my PS Audio BHK pre amp and a VooDoo Black Diamond power cord on my BHK250 power amp, I hear a significant improvement in everything over their stock power cords.  The Electra was plugged into my Denali 6000/S power conditioner; the Black Diamond plugged directly into a PS Audio wall receptacle.  I'm using a dedicated 20 amp circuit.  I also have a whole house surge protector in my electrical box.

Care to share the name of the isolation transformer? 

I'm considering a move to Cardas Clear Reflection power cords and interconnects.  I'd like to do some A/B testing using my VooDoo cables against their stock power cords with an isolation transformer in the mix. 

First - good powering and grounding is very important and your basic approach is solid. A filter matters ( i have no opinion on that particular brand and made my own which is awesome) and a single place where they are all grounded to ( a big, good power strip or several connected to one outlet) is a great start. The dedicated outlet too is good.

Well, I’ll take the dissenting opinion on upgrading power cords, not just theoretically - but i’ve swapped a bunch of cables. IMO, its at best "way down the priority list". This may have to do with my power (ok) and my equipment (really good power supplies everywhere). But to a degree that’s my point - get the basics right and no magic cables will be required. 60 Hz AC is just not hard to move about for a few feet, with a couple amps.

You ask about wall warts. Good question. 99% of those are switching power supplies. They suck in two ways: 1 they deliver very noisy power that must be filtered very well (not easy trust me). 2 They back feed noise into your power. You are creating exactly what you filter is intended to remove, but with A PROBLEM>>>>> its on the "clean" side of your filter.


To the degree that you can move those wall warts, TVs, computers, Roon Cores, etc to another circuit, do so. Most will have ground broken before they meet your hifi anyway (TV via toslink, Roon visa ethernet). I put my core in another ROOM.


Next, and this may be overkill, if they must remain, replace those cheap ass ($8) switching supplies with linear supplies ($200+, sorry, that’s way they exist). If there’s no ground connection and they are remote, maybe don’t worry too much. But at minimum plug them in on the other side of your filter. I use one filter simply to block the back feed from digital crap. Note my commercial designs have their very own isolated digital junk transformer. Its costly, complex and necessary. And makes awful advertising copy.


I do use an isolation transformer. You need, amplifier depending, about 1kW to be comfy. Most filter similarly. Many are mechanically noisy. Mine is medical surplus, mounted remotely near my panel, driving the 20A feed.







i would first start with having dedicated outlets installed.....and then see if the power conditioner is really needed or not.   from there, you can experiment with power cords to see if they make a difference or not.

he said he does


Paul McGowan writes:

“When we place an isolation transformer in the AC path we improve one area, cleanliness, by degrading another, regulation and impedance. An isolation transformer helps keep unwanted noise from the system at the cost of voltage regulation.

It turns out that voltage regulation is far more important than clean power. The greater the regulation the lower the impedance the better the sound quality.”

He suggests using an AC power regenerator (which PS Audio sells).


Really good suggestions above.  As mentioned I would replace your outlet(s) with something more robust.  Check your outlets for proper grounding and connection by using one of those cheap outlet testers. 

Regarding power cables the stock black ones sent with equipment are junk and are only meant to power up the equipment.  I was at a demonstration at a dealer where they were demonstrating power cables.  A really straightforward set up from an integrated to the speakers.  Only one power cable was changed.  We started with the stock cable and worked our way up to a $10k cable.  This was a very, very modest system with inexpensive monitor speakers.  My takeaway was that yes the stock cable was junk and the sweet spot for cables was in the $150 to $500 range (full retail). 

As @lak and others have stated the zavfino cables are wonderful.  You won't be able to build a cable that sounds as good for the money.  I have swapped out three of my power cables for the zavfino and they were cheaper than the cables I was using and sound better.  A member of our audio club has also purchased the zavfino cables and they are keepers for him and he has tested and owned more cables than I would ever approach.  They had been offering discounts on purchases.  The only downside of their cables is that they are stiff and if you are between lengths get the longer one.     

Well, Paul is correct. But he needs to continue: its the job of the amp’s (or preamp’s, but that’s less current-demanding) power supply to deliver that power. Regulation of the DC rails can eliminate this issue - if and only if there is sufficient headroom built into the power supply regulator (heat, money...). Large storage "banks" also deliver this.


But its also why i suggested a 1KW (VA actually) or bigger ISO transformer.  If i recall mine is between 2-3K V-A. A large class AB amp might draw 100-150 watts at idle and God knows on peaks (600? 800?) . Remember that every amp on the planet (save a carver) begins with a large isolation and step down transformer at its AC mains. How often does music, with its 10:1 peak-to-average ratio exceed a well designed power supplies ability to deliver r the peak? IMO not often. In general THAT internal transformer will be the limiting factor.


But this is also why i keep harping on the cost-benefit of some tweeks. Even if they "work" would the $500 per wire set be better spent on an amp or preamp that is designed well in the first place? All my testing and listening says yes.


But anyway Paul raises a valid point.

I am running Monsoon power cables and a Niagara 1200. I listened and decided to remove them all and replace with regular highly shielded " stock" cords. I was beyond shocked at how much the stock cords degraded the sound. Soundstage, and musical separation was gone. And my equipment sounded way less musical. I then repulsed in the Monsoons and the Niagara. 

I am moving up the line and will be selling the above. PM me if you are interested and I will make you a great deal. 

Glad to share. Plitron makes a great medical isolation transformer - I use 4 of them.

Will fill in some specifics later today, when Sunday calms down a bit.

Plitron medical isolation transformers are what I use.

Words of caution: isolation transformers tend to hum when they are doing their job, so you want to site these in a utility room. Installation is not hard, but unless you have some experience with home wiring, get it done by a pro. Think of it this way: behind every wall is a large elephant, ever vigilant, straining to get loose and destroy everything. That's the power lurking in the modern home electrical system. When the installation is complete, you will need to involve the electrical inspector, who may want to inspect it. This is essential if you do a permanent installation, because no inspector means no insurance.

Don't worry too much about the length of wire from transformer to outlet. Use oversise Romex for this (for 15 amps, code says AWG14, so use AWG12). Use any hospital grade outlets, which are not the most expensive, just the best, available at your electrical supply store, or from Parts Connexion. Pay no more than about $20 each unless you live in a hot, humid environment, in which case you may need corrosion resistant connection points.

To specify what you need,

Step 1: You will want to put all the electronics on one transformer, everything with a motor on another. To do this, total up the maximum load of each device you will be connecting, usually found on the back of the case or the user's manual. Allow for the future, so add 25% more. Then double the total for technical transformer-thing reasons, and that's the capacity of the transformer that you need. Once you have calculated the capacity of the transformer for your electronics, do the same for the transformer which will run your motors.

Step 2: Torroidal or conventional? Torroidal is better, but can be hard to find. Plitron is toroidal, and used to sell to the public direct from the factory. Maybe they still do.

Step 3: Permanent or portable? Permanent is cheaper to buy, but more expensive to install. For permanent, buy a raw transformer with wires sticking out of it and site it in an electrical box (electrical supply) and feed it with it's own circuit, fed by an oversize cable from the box.

You may have noticed that this involves a bit more than swapping out power cords. It was a bit of a stretch for me to do the whole thing, but it's a hobby, and for me, it's worth it. YMMV

Good luck!

Toroidal transformers are the worst for amplifier power supply.

I thing for isolation transformers should be the same. 

A last note: when the electrical inspector came to inspect my installation, he said it was the cleanest power he had ever seen, comparable to the electrical generating station where he used to work. It may not be as flashy as the Koetsu, but it's just as important.

Why do you say that, @alexberger ? Stray fields are smallest, efficiency highest. Please share - I do hate persisting in error.

Hi @terry9 ,

At least for tube amplifiers all best producers:

Tango, Tamura, Kondo, Audio Note, Hashimoto, Lundahl

don't make toroidal power transformers. In the tubes world toroidal power transformers are for cheap solutions.

I don't familiar what transistor amplifier producers do. Probably they use toroidal power transformers more often . 



@terry9 Thanks for the thoughtful response to my question. I was hoping the isolator installation would be a bit more “plug and play” 😊.  Next steps, talk to my electrician.  Thanks again.

@alexberger Well, toroidal cores are harder to make and much harder to wind. Hence torroids are more expensive. For all I know, it may be prohibitive to shape exotic core materials into toroids.

Certainly my Lundahl silver phono SUT’s sound great, and they’re not toroids - but so do my VanderVeen designed ESL SUT’s sound great - and they are toroids. By the way, I did test my Quad 2905 ESL’s with a Plitron-made VdV toroidal SUT against a stock Quad 2905 with matched conventional transformers, in my own system, and it was just no contest for clarity and definition. Toroid triumphed within a few seconds.

As for tube amplifiers, I can think of no-one better to consult than Ralph Karsten of Atma-Sphere. I had some M60’s, and I’m pretty sure that they had toroids. Also, from a review of M60 Mk II posted on his website, "The two floating output-tube power supplies are fed by separate secondary windings of a massive toroidal transformer".

From the Mark Levinson site, "Unleash the full potential of your music as you go from the quietest lows to the loudest crescendo. The № 536’s toroidal transformer delivers massive power to your speakers".

So, in the realms under discussion, i.e. enough power to run an amplifier, two giants in the field seem to agree with me. Your thoughts?

Hi @terry9 ,

I think it is a function of power consumption.

Typical tube amp power consumption is 100-300 watt. So, for this parameters EI core transformer can be better. External electromagnetic field is less issue for smaller power transformers but a magnetic core quality can be better.

But for big power rating, toroidal transformers have more advantages.

Toroidal transformers are the worst for amplifier power supply.

IMO, nonsense. They contain the magnetic field more predictably, have a higher efficiency, lower weight, or, conversely deliver more power (better regulation). If well designed (key point!!!) there ought to be no difference. I use both and for each application there’s one that fits best.

If you have a lot of data, please present it - i’d love to learn. transformers, even according to practitioners, are partly dark art.


"@alexberger: Toroidal transformers are the worst for amplifier power supply."

The above is COMPLETELY UNTRUE. Toroidals are the BEST transformers for noise and efficiency.

Here is an isolation transformer you cannot beat. At 3000VA capacity and at 2.5% regulation, it can even drive a welding machine... quietly:


To learn more about transformers, you can go to Transformer School.

BTW, Noratel Group is the company that took over Plitron.

Hi @cakyol ,

For tube amplifiers that don't need a lot of power toroid power transformer is not the best solution. 

Most of tube amplifiers (including most expensive) don't use toroid power transformer. Toroidal power transformers are used only in some budget tube amplifiers or in  some very height power tube amplifiers. 


Hi @alexberger,

Our suggestion for using a transformer, especially a toroidal transformer is for the purposes of isolation and smoothing. Both SS and tube amplifiers, low or high power, can always benefit from the low impedance mains supply an isolation transformer brings, regardless of whether it needs to be used IN the amplifier. We were suggesting it on the MAINS side, not necessarily IN the amplifier as a part of it.

Speaking of power, have any of you experienced Furutech's in-wall power cable, - FURUTECH ALPHA-CB10 Power Cable OCC Copper Alpha Treatment 6.23mm² Ø5.5mm?

It is really more like a hook-up wire in that it is a single run, meaning you would have to double up for power or speaker cables.  However, it provides a lot of their top OCC alpha copper for not really a lot of money.  At about $43/meter you could do a 2M, 10awg power cord for about $170 plus plugs, or two 8-foot, 10awg speaker cables for $430 plus connectors.  The XLPE (Cross-linked Polyethylene) insulation/covering has a relatively low dielectric constant of 2.2/2.3 compared to Teflon at 2.1.  I can't seem to find this cable available in the USA - the linked Audiophonics source I believe is in France.