Why Power Cables Affect Sound


I just bought a new CD player and was underwhelmed with it compared to my cheaper, lower quality CD player. That’s when it hit me that my cheaper CD player is using an upgraded power cable. When I put an upgraded power cable on my new CD player, the sound was instantly transformed: the treble was tamed, the music was more dynamic and lifelike, and overall more musical. 

This got me thinking as to how in the world a power cable can affect sound. I want to hear all of your ideas. Here’s one of my ideas:

I have heard from many sources that a good power cable is made of multiple gauge conductors from large gauge to small gauge. The electrons in a power cable are like a train with each electron acting as a train car. When a treble note is played, for example, the small gauge wires can react quickly because that “train” has much less mass than a large gauge conductor. If you only had one large gauge conductor, you would need to accelerate a very large train for a small, quick treble note, and this leads to poor dynamics. A similar analogy might be water in a pipe. A small pipe can react much quicker to higher frequencies than a large pipe due to the decreased mass/momentum of the water in the pipe. 

That’s one of my ideas. Now I want to hear your thoughts and have a general discussion of why power cables matter. 

If you don’t think power cables matter at all, please refrain from derailing the conversation with antagonism. There a time and place for that but not in this thread please. 
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Actually, if one had a spectrum analyzer then one could see the improvement since it is easy to measure the power output with and without the new cord for a given piece of music.    Once you have it hooked up, there is a LOT you can measure.  Granted, not every audiophile has an expensive chuck of test equipment lying around.  

I would be most audio companies don't spring for the equipment, though.  Too pricey and it is mostly useful for R&D rather than production.



Actually, if one had a spectrum analyzer then one could see the improvement since it is easy to measure the power output with and without the new cord for a given piece of music.   Once you have it hooked up, there is a LOT you can measure. Granted, not every audiophile has an expensive chuck of test equipment lying around
But cable manufacturers could afford this equipment, and they could use the results (perhaps a reduction in the noise floor) in their marketing materials. But they don't. Why do you suppose that is the case?


OP You installed the upgraded power cable on your CD player and you heard an improvement in SQ. You did not say you "I think I heard" or "its my opinion that it sounded better". It sounded better. Period.

Yeah, it wasn’t subtle at all and I wasn’t expecting it either. I think sometimes as audiophiles we can get all excited over a new component and sometimes hear things that aren’t there because we expect there to be an improvement. This was not one of those times.

Don’t let anyone push you off the fact that you can hear a change in your system.

Don’t worry about that, I’m too far down the rabbit hole. Save yourself! After hearing the change in sound when I swapped from stranded core to solid core speaker cables, my curiosity was peaked. After that was experiencing differences in RCA cables. Then power cords. I remember when I first heard these differences, I had mixed emotions. I was happy to learn that you can tweak sound with cables but saddened because I knew if I wanted to get the most out of my system I would have to spend a lot of time (and some money) to figure out what worked best in my system. In hindsight it has been a fun, rewarding pursuit.

I don’t think power cables should be as mysterious as they are. There are a lot of good suggestions in this thread, but I have yet to see a published scientific study covering any of these ideas in depth. I agree with nonoise that it’s a possibility we just don’t yet know how or what to measure to understand certain complex phenomena in the world of audio reproduction.
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So why are you hung up on why power cords make a difference? 

I’m just generally curious what is going on scientifically speaking. Furthermore, once we understand the phenomena then we can design and tweak to produce the results we want. For example, maybe the gauge of the copper fully explains the effect. If that’s the case then we can tweak that one variable and ignore the other ones that could use up our time and money. 

Please explain the differences you hear. 

There are many differences that I hear. The treble went from bright and edgy to natural and smooth. This was most apparent at high volume levels. Whereas before the power cable, the treble at loud volumes would quickly cause listening fatigue, after the power cable, treble at high volume was much more pallatable and realistic sounding. The music overall became fuller and more musical. The bass seems to support the music better and be more coherent. It’s challening to accurately put these things into words.