Power Cables - Third Party or OEM

For the conversation let's say I am an Isotek or Shunyata user of their Power Conditioners. Both OEM's have an excellent selection of power cords for the conditioner as well as to other components like amps, DAC's, phono stages, etc. Is there a benefit to using the Isotek or Shunyata cables or going with a third party like Cardas or Nordost power cable?

This seems like an engineering discussion versus a listening discussion. The OEM's know their Power Conditioners so that is where i'm stumped. I, like some others here like uniformity and having all their cables from the same manufacturer. Thanks in advance for your input.


I have found that most Power conditioners work best with their own power cables. I believe that when they develop the products, they use them with their own products.

I guess that does mean though that other cables might work just as well, but it can be a crap shoot.

I base this on my experience with my AudioQuest Niagara 7000, the Dragon Power cords performed better than any other cable I tried.

Just my 2c worth...


I believe in synergy and would want as much the same as possible.  That said, I think I would start by trying different power cables, even bypassing the power conditioner so you know what your are hearing.  Pretty hard to try several power conditioners, but maybe not.  I had a nice conditioner and took it out.  My amps like straight to the wall so I went that way with dedicated lines (4) and no power conditioner.  I am a Kubala Sosna fan, and they only recommend their Expander if you need more outlets. Oh sorry, the answer to your question was yes :)  but are those the cables you like?

I wouldn't use either one.  there are great powerr cables at much better prices.

Could be hit or miss.  While using the same brand cables as the conditioner may sound logical, I’d place the priority on choosing cables that possess the sound characteristics you’re looking for in the context of your system and then choose a conditioner from there.  Plus, relatively few cable manufacturers make power conditioners so requiring both to be the same brand will greatly reduce your cable options.  Just my $0.02 FWIW.

@erik_squires I'm getting more into DIY  now as I'm retired.  Do you have a site I can reference that outlines a decent quality build/how-to?  Thanks in advance. 

@fastfreight You are 100% correct! Just plug the power amp into a wall! I am also a Kubala Sosna fan as well.

I made my own cables up from Furutech cables and plugs. The sound changed for weeks while they bedded in. 

@akgwhiz check out VHAudio.  Chris is super nice and gives automatic discounts.

I made long runs of speaker cables with Furutech wire and spades and heat shrink that came out great looking and sounding.  I bought a Ryobi battery 18v heat gun, and it transformed my work from smoke stained heat shrink (bic lighter) to nice looking (heat gun).  It was fun.  I like to solder, but PC's connect with screws anyway I think.



The two I use most frequently are Parts Connexion and Parts Express.  Here is the inexpensive shielded AC cable I use:




I like the PC brand Connex plugs much more than I like Wattgate. 

The thickest, most inflexible, and most phallic cables sound the best. Or whichever costs more or sounds better.. I can't remember it's been some time since I listened to a power cable. 

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Electricity is indifferent wrt brand names so you don’t need to pay big money, unless you want to, of course.

What makes a good power cable?

  • Stranded conductors that are adequately sized for the amperage (14 to 12 awg is typically suitable for front end components, and 12 to 10 awg for amplifiers, stay with the larger size for power conditioners feeding multiple components)
  • Twisted pair or cross-connected twisted quad geometry to lower inductance and improve resistance to noise
  • Ground wire of the same or larger size as the pos/neg conductors and connected at both ends (counter-spiraled outside of the conductors, and outside of the shielding)
  • Shielding - either copper braid, or braid and foil connected at source end (see shielding links below)
  • Connectors with solid grip and a high percent copper metallurgy (gold or rhodium plating for corrosion resistance if preferred, but not necessary)

If you don’t want to DIY from raw materials, several well-respected cable manufacturers sell bulk power cord cable that has most or all of the attributes listed above and that can function and sound excellent when constructed with good quality connectors (i.e., Furutech and others).

Links about shielding can be found here, here, and here.

It's not an engineering discussion, it's a marketing discussion. Of course an OEM will recommend their power cords and not the competition's. The oldest marketing pull is trying to convince consumers that using one brand's product (whether it's recipe ingredients or auto parts) is superior to mixing and matching. It works.

I believe the actual equipment you are powering has a good deal to do with which power cable you choose and maybe more. Not just the conditioner, etc.  In powering my Schiit Yggy LIM DAC I tried WyWires, Kimber, heavy gauge basic AC cable, Tara Labs, Audioquest and a couple others.  The older (maybe 10-15 years) Audioquest (long grain copper, (forgot the model but was about $80) made the Yggy sound fantastic.  Almost every cable slightly changed the sound quality (some were bright, overemphasized  highs, etc) and the only seeable difference in the Audioquest is that it had a ferrite core around the cable.  None of the others had one so it’s possible the DAC just needed that filtering.  I do believe that the longer grain copper is also great but the Furutech had PCOCC so that’s not the only valuable area. 
On other equipment I found some equipment was suited best with one cable but that cable didn’t sound good on another piece of equipment.  My take away has been to try various cables and trust your ears to hear what sounds best in your system and suits your musical taste.  
I don’t believe you need to spend $1000’s on a single cable to get great sound.  After working in the high-end audio manufacturing field several times over my working career and seeing how things work, I believe the only reason for excessively priced cables is that the company needs to charge a high price to stay in business!  This is not to say that cables going $1000’s don’t have the materials and quality to actually go for a few hundred dollars.  Just not what they are charging. 
I remember years ago talking to our marketing manager about pricing a product.  It’s was a new item that actually cost less to produce and sounded better than the previous product.  We said if we lower the price we’ll sell a ton of them!  He said “but customers relate the value of the item to the price they pay. The item would cost less then our competitors and the public would think ours isn’t as good because it’s cheaper”.  He continued “So even though it’s less expensive to make we have to price it so people see value!”.   I’m still blown away by the statement and have seen it in practice in most audio companies I’ve worked in.  The one company I see trying to provide good product to the mass market is Schiit Audio.  I’m sure they’re a few others but they’re few and far between!  No I don’t work there.  In fact I’m retired so I’m always trying to stretch a buck!!!

as long as you're not using crappy OFC wire which some of the most expensive wire companies use that's junk use OCC single crystal round wire or OCC single crystal rectangular wire which is even better than the round either silver or copper will be very good much better than the OFC stuff at any price they charge.

When I had a BPT conditioner, it sounded best with their top of the line power cord...though in general I find power cords somewhat less predictable than other cords/cables...

Unless you have hours and weeks to fart around stick with the recommendation from the manufacturer. 

I built my own using Furutech components. It was fun and I could make custom lengths.