Moved Audio Quest cable to my DAC. WOW


I just moved my Audio Quest power cable to my DAC and noticed a more realistic open and better detail. 

I have always been skeptical due to my electrical engineering bbackground.my wife also noticed a better sound. 

The cable never really made any difference on my JC5 amplifier but maybe as someone else pointed out,  power cords make a bigger difference on up front equipment with less sophisticated power supplies. 

Ordered a linear power supply conversion for my streamer.  Will see what that does. 

vanson1

What power cord did you put on your amp?

My experience is that power cords make more difference on the amp.  It could be that the power cord you put on your amp is what made the improvement.  Audioquest makes many power cables that are not heavy enough for an amp.  A generic heavy power cord will outperform an expensive lighter gauge power cord on an amp.

Jerry

"I have always been skeptical due to my electrical engineering background."...he,he.😉

@vanson1

I have always been skeptical due to my electrical engineering bbackground

 

What a coincidence.  These guys also have an engineering background.

_ _ _ _ _

Shunyata ResearchFounded by Caelin Gabriel – Research Scientist

Caelin Gabriel is a former US military research scientist with a background in the research and design of ultra-sensitive data acquisition systems.  These systems were designed to detect extremely low-level signals otherwise obscured by random noise, requiring years of intensive research into the sources and effects of signal and power-line noise interference.  Link here.

 

Purist Audio Design – Founded by Jim Aud – EE & Physicist

From there, I earned my Electronics Engineering degree at Brescia University, and would later study Computer Science for almost two years at Westinghouse. Then I came to South Texas Nuclear, and studied what they’d call today nuclear physics. Link here.

 

Bybee Technologies – Founded by Jack Bybee – Physicist

Jack’s science and physicist background gave him the understanding about negative effects of quantum noise. Link here.

 

Silversmith Audio – Founded by Jeffrey Smith – Engineer

CEO/Designer Jeffrey Smith is a Wyoming native and graduate of the United States Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in General Engineering. He also earned a Master of Science Degree, With Distinction, in Defense and Strategic Studies. Link here.

 

MIT Cables – Founded by Bruce Brisson – awarded 20 USPTO engineering patents.

MIT Cables founder Bruce Brisson began purposely designing audio cables in the 1970’s after encountering the sonic problems inherent in cables typical of the day. Link here.

 

Audioquest – Garth Powell - Sr. Director of Engineeering

Formerly with Furman Power for 12 years.

I too have an engineering background. I also have degrees in Physics and Nuclear Engineering. I enjoy seeing laypeople laugh at engineers.

True scientists are indeed skeptical. Google educated scientists jump on simple concepts and get it wrong a lot.

An engineer will continue to pursue improvements with an open mind as @vanson1 has.

I think the concept that is most often missed evaluating power cords is to look at the steady state/DC equivalent current requirements rather than the much higher currents that are seen for very very short times to support dynamics.

As for all the high-dollar cables mentioned above, they engineering behind them is quite well understood. It is in the marketing area where most of these manufacturers excel.

Jerry

 

well educated, intellectually curious and honest scientists understand and keep the limits of science, what science can/cannot explain or predict, at front of mind

and then there is the ol' marketing department, baiting and casting hooks into wallets... 

Powercords have improved the sound of my components considerably. The DAC for sure, the greatest impact on my amp. But the influence also depends on the power cord design. Some are made for components, where noise reduction over low resistance (big thick conductors) dominate and visa versa. The design also determines the tonal balance effect… so different cords may impart a tonal shift… like Cardas towards warm and Transparent and AudioQuest little to none.

 

I have an scientific and engineering background… and was employed as both. The first thing I learned was to quickly locate the limit of science in explaining and then start observing to determine the outcome.. Didn’t take long for me to drop theories that should impact sound and just listen.


I just moved my Audio Quest power cable to my DAC and noticed a more realistic open and better detail. I have always been skeptical due to my electrical engineering bbackground.my wife also noticed a better sound.

Yup, and digital is just ones and zeros.  It’s amazing how much we don’t truly understand despite how much we think we know, but I applaud you for keeping an open mind and trusting your own ears — many here stubbornly refuse to do this to their detriment.

Ordered a linear power supply conversion for my streamer.  Will see what that does. 

I have a feeling you’re going to be very positively surprised, but let us know what you find if you could.  Which LPS did you get?

 

Thanks everyone for theirs comments and encouragement. 

 

I ordered the LHY 35 watt unit.  I don't have a very expensive system so go middle of the road on most things. 

 

BW 805d3,  mc452 JC5 amps. Some of you guys probably spend $200k

Got kids and too many other interests to go that deep. 

Hats off to those who do though. 

You have  Mac 452 and that's now mid? My how things have changed. Had a pair of MC 275s in '85 same happened . Kids with college degrees now. Back down the rabbit hole!

I, too, had a similar experience with my Aries Cerat Helene DAC, but it was not the PC; it was the interconnect (Nordost Valhalla 2 XLR). I do, however, power the AC with an Audioquest Hurricane PC. The addition of the Valhalla 2s between my source and McIntosh C2700/MC611s was immediately apparent with the highs. McIntosh is known to be a little restricted on top, but no longer with the Valhallas. I was skeptical that the source cabling could profoundly affect the system. I always thought the preamp/amp connection would make the most difference. Boy, was I wrong!!

An excellent power conditioner with shielded power cables to all equipment are highly recommended. It's nothing to do with electrical engineering, but EMF contamination of the power cable between the conditioner and the equipment. Its probably only audiophiles who are aware of this phenomenon.

It’s a curse having an electrical engineering background. It holds you back from getting a great sounding system. You think too much about things, using that hard-learned logic to persuade yourself that things can’t possibly work. I was similarly afflicted, but have now learned to listen first, then having decided if the difference is there, and is tangible and worthwhile, then use that engineering background to work out what’s going on - how can that work? You have to think outside the box too.

I have a much better sounding system now, and better understanding of what matters.

I just moved my Audio Quest power cable to my DAC and noticed a more realistic open and better detail. 

Did you replug the cables BEFORE you moved them?

EVERYTHING EXACTLY as before? [i.e. different length that moved the power cables so one is not over the power transformer of another piece of equipment]

Line voltage checked?

Line noise checked?

Heavy load devices also operating? Hair dryer? Refrig? Heat Pump?

Engineers and physicist have beliefs just like everyone else. Selling stuff alters perspective.

Lack of rigor and confirmation bias accounts for most of what the untrained hear.

@richtruss

It’s a curse having an electrical engineering background. It holds you back from getting a great sounding system. You think too much about things, using that hard-learned logic to persuade yourself that things can’t possibly work. I was similarly afflicted, but have now learned to listen first, then having decided if the difference is there, and is tangible and worthwhile, then use that engineering background to work out what’s going on - how can that work? You have to think outside the box too.

I have a much better sounding system now, and better understanding of what matters.

the awkward middle ground, the 'never-ever land', related to this discussion is the (fair and scientifically well established) argument that when our minds are very strong, and can affect our senses and our perceptions, so sometimes if we are not careful we hear what we want to hear

so if we are not rigorous and careful in how we evaluate a system change, we can and will fall into this trap of sorts -- i think this is an important factor that many in the industry take advantage of, when it comes to selling 'improvements' 

 

@vanson1 

What AQ cable are we talking about here? And what DAC are we talking about? And what streamer are we talking about?

Hi Mr Curious

AQ cable is  1 meter length,  Don't remember the model but cost about $150 . Again middle of the line is my method. DAC is a D90SE. 

My comment was concentrated on power cables and not type of equipment. 

 

Everyone has their favorite brands and preferences and I don't want to go there.

It’s a curse having an electrical engineering background.

 

I thank my Dad for having a real HiFi in the 50’s rather than some piece of furniture w a radio. Lenco transcription turntable, Bogen tube amp and a University CoAx in a box bigger than I was.

And a Mom who sang and played piano.

And as military brat, I got to hear lots of live, unamplified music in parades and concerts.

The Bogen had playback curve selector to match the label. Finding the best sound for the label was my first tweaking experience, about age 5 😎

I knew great sound long before I was an engineer.

Good engineering requires verification and replication. All too often ’improvements’ have untested secondary causes. Or specific to a particular instance.

Lack of rigor and confirmation bias accounts for most of what the untrained hear

It seems there’s no shortage today of those who want to tell us what we see and hear. Politicians have become its most recent practitioners, literally telling us to heed them above all else.

I simply don’t believe that more than half of what I see and hear is illusion. That doesn’t mean we aren’t all vulnerable to illusion because, of course, we all are. But to believe we should dismiss more than half our observations about the world we live in is absurd.

I'm not saying it's illusion but that the ascription is not necessarily the proximate cause.

In the case of the power cord / DAC there are innumerable other factors that can account for the SQ change claim.

Having designed and built professional recording equipment, I was ever on the alert not to be fooled by randomness.

@jjss49

. . . related to this discussion is the (fair and scientifically well established) . . .

After looking at photos from the James Webb Telescope, my hunch is that much more science is unestablished than established. 😮

_ _ _ _ _

@richtruss

. . . then use that engineering background to work out what’s going on - how can that work? You have to think outside the box too.

Great advice!

My hat off to you! Audio streaming has benefited from your Network Acoustics products. Being curious, open-minded and motivated – has led to innovation. It reminds me of the following.

_ _ _ _

When designing and building competitive sailboats for the America’s Cup, some of the best nautical engineers in the world are hired. The high budget allows access to the latest sophisticated testing equipment for hydrodynamics and aerodynamics.

  • In 1983, Australia II beat the U.S’s Liberty. One reason. The innovative ’winged keel’. The traditional axiom of keel design fell by the wayside. It was developed by just one genius alone, Ben Lexcen. He outsmarted the high-priced team of engineers hired by Dennis Connor’s consortium.

A great documentary on Netflix: Untold: The Race of the Century.

  • In 2013, hydrofoils and new composites introduced a whole new level of competition for the America’s Cup. Physics piled on top of more physics. Larry Ellison (Oracle) doesn’t like to lose. He spent between $250-300 million for just this one campaign.

Ellison was one race away from losing the series because of an accepted axiom about sail trim. With a stiff wind, don’t have a deep pocket in the sail – high up near the masthead. This would cause more heel angle – changing the waterline length at the hull. But how would this axiom affect hydrofoil dagger boards?

Ellison couldn’t understand why his boat was slower. He hired a HD video crew to fly over the New Zealand boat while they were practicing. Upon reviewing the footage (frame by frame), one engineer noticed that the sail had a deep pocket in the sail - high up near the masthead. The engineering team reacted in disbelief. It contradicted everything they were taught. Ellison immediately ordered new sails to be fabricated. He won. Even though, he was penalized earlier for cheating with lead weights – forward in the hull.

_ _ _ _

With a new context: what worked before – didn’t work now.

Kierkegaard: Thesis x Antithesis – yields – Synthesis

Or

Old x New – yields - TBD

In both cases above, measurable parameters were the result of the changes: Pointing Angle and Boat Speed.

In both cases the boats were optimized for expected conditions. Had the '83 race been a flat drifter series, the outcome could have been the other way.

Too often in the HiFi space claims are made with no data to back them up. And being universal when they clearly cannot be in divers systems and rooms.

 

@steakster

i could not agree more

the biggest questions about life, civilization, the universe are all unanswered, or woefully unexplained by human's sense of what is 'science'

Now order a digital switch from Silent Angel and you will get a bigger improvement.

I was highly skeptical of power cords, until about two weeks ago. My son took the plunge and got a Shunyata Aconda powercord. This power cord is now on his Devialet Expert Pro 220. The degree to which the sound improved is so surprising. We both sat there in total surprise at the result. The sound just cleaned up so much. Everything more incisive clear and resolved. Timing improved. Not inexpensive, but once heard it becomes hard to deny the value of a specialized power cord.

@jjss49 A very good point to make, and one that I missed. You have to be very careful and honest with yourself when critical listening. You must remain neutral in your mind and not swayed by emotion or mood. Choosing the right time for you to listen is essential, and more than one session, not to reinforce what you think you heard earlier, but to listen again with that same open mind. Also, all types of music.

 

@steakster nice analogy, that program looks interesting too, thanks.

Being around the industry for 40+ years and attending many events featuring "industry gurus" as guest speakers, I’ve observed that the smartest of the smart are able to explain technology in simple, relatable terms. Many in this forum have that "gift."

The term "intelligent ignorance" also comes to mind. "Knowing what we don’t know" is often helpful. Intellectual humility?

I've frequently stated that my daily search for intelligent life on this planet often starts with this forum.  Today was a good startt to my day.

@vanson1

Congrats on an improvement that was clearly beneficial to you.

It sounds like you own AQ’s NGR "X" series cable. IF you purchased this from a dealer (hopefully close by?) you might want to see if you can borrow the upgrade "Y" and/or "Z" series cables for a home audition. If you got a "Wow" from the X cable, you may be encorporating the use of explicit language to describe what you’ll be hearing from the upgrades. Your system is definitely NOT a budget system, so it appears (to me) that you have plenty of headroom for "reasonable" investments in SQ improvements. Worth a try?

@waytoomuchstuff Love the term “intellectual humility.”  I wish more people here would practice that over their intellectual arrogance.  You’re right — we simply don’t know what we don’t know.  This is exactly why most of us simply use and trust our ears.  Not that we’re infallible, but I’ll take our ears over scientific instruments any day and feel sorry for those in this hobby who can’t do that. 

Speaks to a very poor power supply for the dac originally. What’s the name of the dac. Upstream components generally have better power supplies. Amplifiers are the best place for a power cord with a large 10 gauge. Mcintosh doesn’t believe in power cables of quality for some reason.

 Mcintosh doesn’t believe in power cables of quality for some reason.

McIntosh are designed by engineers. They have test gear. They don't have to 'believe'.

If someone could point me to a measured difference between amplifier power cables at the speaker, I'd be eternally appreciative.

My very 1st power cable experience a month ago is the same as yours. Plugged it into the amp first.... "okay". Plugged it into the dac simply because I was curious. WOW.

I’ve switched back and forth with the only 1 upgraded power cable that I’ve got, and always it sounded much better on the DAC. Here’s the strange thing tho, with the dac it was all improvements, so it made a huge difference.

With the amp, well.... hmm how should I describe this. Imagine putting a 500 HP engine into a 1990 Lexus. It felt like "fix your other priorities before you join the big league". It felt like the amp was having an effortless time separating the sound and magnifying the sound, But the sound had grains and digital glare, So I was hearing more of what I didn't wanna hear. 

If you PM me, I’ll let you know how it goes when I receive my 2nd power cord that is going permanently into the amp, ETA 2 weeks.

amureyex

The power cable in you amp is certainly worthwhile. The only issue is it is likely showing up deficiencies you previously weren't aware of. Hopefully a second cable to you DAC will help. Otherwise, you are probably well and truly on the upgrade junket. 
 

Hi Sam,

Thanks for your comment and I'm glad you also found this effect.  I Audio Quest cable made zero difference on my MC452 or my Parasound JC5.

Based on someone's comments,  I moved it to my D90SE. I'm doing the power supply upgrade to my node2i and that will allow me to try a better cable there. 

I might purchase a second Audio Quest power cable and move it to other equipment like my preamp.  

I thought I was done tweaking now that the pandemic is over but that initial power cord move showed that there was still more left on the table. 

Not the first time I read/hear about lower end AQ cables making a positive difference on DACs. But not on the amp. 
Finny. The higher end AQ such as Tornado and Hurricane always performed better on the amp in my system. I’ve not tried the lower end cables though.