Power cable dilemma

I have to ask the community for an explanation to account for an issue I encountered this past week. 

I received a Mark Levinson ML-23.5 amp this past week. I plugged it in with a high end power cord I purchased years ago (because it looked better than the cheap cord that came with the unit. Lol). I switched from an ML-9 so I had certain expectation of the sound. After listening for about 30 minutes, I noticed that the amp did not sound very dynamic. I got up to go feel how hot it was and the heat sinks were barely warm. I turned up the volume and listened for another 15-20 minutes. I got up to check the temperature and the heat sinks were still barely warm. Also, I was playing the amp at volume level 28 on my Cambridge 851N. That is pretty high. The sound was still lifeless. I shut everything down and just sat there, dejected. Was the amp defective? Was it just a bad match? Were my expectations too high? I don’t know what made me try it, but I swapped out the power cord with a plain black cord and powered up the system. Unreal. I was now listening at volume level 22 to the same song, with staggering dynamic impact, at what seemed to be a similar volume. Furthermore, after about 20 minutes, I went up to feel the amp and the heat sinks were very toasty! So the question is: what could have possibly been wrong with the original cord that would result in lower volumes and no heat buildup? It is like it was throttling the current. To me, a cord either connects or it doesn’t. It works or it doesn’t. There should not be an in between. Does anyone have an explanation for this?


Yesterday a guy on another forum thought I was arguing with him but as a physicist I was just explaining to him why he was wrong.   

He told me his 14 awg cable was plenty good for any amp up to  2400 watts became that is what the code says. (20 amps).   Since he worked in a hospital, he felt he was an expert and that "hospital grade" was a great upgrade.  I told him that I fully understood his misconceptions and wished him luck.

He asked me if the dynamics and bass that I said he would be missing would be coming in through his house power.....

I challenged him since he believed all he needed was the ampacity in his power cord to run his nameplate current that he should run his amp with a 26 awg power cable.  the boilerplate ampacity of 26 awg is 2.2 amps.  At 120V that is 260 watts.  His amplifier is 200 watts.  He didn't have an explanation why he didn't think 26 awg would be ok, even though his logic said that is 14 awg was good for 2400 watts.

This is the kind of guy who sells a good amp next year because it doesn't have good bass and dynamics.  


@carlsbad One could probably measure the voltage drop across the various power cords with the same program material playing.

If they sound different that it is either that they are providing better power, or doing something with noise.

But I have no idea what the fellow’s 200W draws in terms of current. And a different 200W will likely draw something different if the power supply section is not the same.

So long as you have the right gauge and the connectors are not compromised and the cable not wired incorrectly, power cables make zero difference. Measurements prove that. Double blind listening tests also. I have owned from the most expensive to off the rack cables and they all "sound" the same. Just make sure you are in the 12awg range and you ll be fine. Everything else is psychoacoustics, biases and marketing. Save your money for speakers and room treatments!



seems you heard this statement (opinion) from one source and then asking us is he/she correct? It’s simply an unsupported opinion.

Generally, in high-end audio it’s a good idea to upgrade the stock power cord, but you don’t have to spend anywhere near 2k, there are many much less costly alternatives.  Maybe borrow or buy used with option to resell.