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I can't be the first to think of this, but I have not read of anyone else doing it. So might as well let the cat out of the bag so to speak.
There is a certain amount of snake oil in cooperate America. As it relates to high end audio, I would say the greatest amount is in power cables.
A number of years ago I purchased a line conditioner for my setup. It was nothing high tech, just something to filter out some of the noise coming through my AC. The unit came with a standard three prong detachable power cord. I decided to upgrade this cord and had a friend make me a DYI cord. Cost was around $65.
To my surprise the sound was a lot cleaner! To my bigger surprise I replaced all my high buck power cables ( I had been using ) on my audio gear with the standard power cables they came with. I couldn't hear much audible difference.
I own a Furman REF20i conditioner which is used for most of my audio stuff.
Also a PS Audio P-600 which I use (at 111Hz output) for some digital gear.
I had both with Pangea AC9 powercords.
I bought a Pangea AC9SE and wanted to break it in fast. So I stuck it as the AC cord to the Furman.
(PS the Furman REF20i came with a 20 amp IEC, but I replaced that IEC with a heavy duty 15 amp Furutech IEC, so I could use aftermarket PC)
I was immediately surprised the sound was better (With the Pangea AC9SE vs the AC9) from my setup.
The same change made no difference with the AC9SE on the PS Audio conditioner. (With the gear on it)
I have settled with various Pangea powercords all over as they seem 'good enough'.
As for the op, and my own limitations.. I would say the 'experiment' says just as much about the listeners HEARING and equipment limitations.. as it does about what matters in power cords.
So I happily present my own experiences, and read others experiences. But say it clearly does NOT cross to 'this is what everyone else will experience"
So others stories are interesting anecdotes, but have no guru/biblical like meaning.
An excellent post! Although- I didn't intend to come off as I was preaching power cable gospel. I will re-evaluate my thinking process for future posts.
For the record. When I had a friend in the high end business. I was always around experimenting with equipment. Since I was a technician by trade he let me fiddle with whatever gear was in the room.
Since then I have gone through serious down grades. The last plus $1000 Power conditioner I had was a PS Audio Quintessence. I sold it because I was moving to an even smaller living space. I now run a Audio Power Industries Power Pack II with no complaints. I sold most of my high buck cables. Well if you want to call them that. Most were Virtual Dynamics. I may still have a couple of Harmonic Tech cables laying around. But as I recall I did do A/B tests using other cables at the power conditioner, and preferred the custom made power cable. Huh? Most interesting.
Anyway, I guess I thought I would throw my thoughts out there for other to try and save a buck in this crazy order priced business.
Thank you ladies, and gentlemen.
What did you start with and the the names of the big buck power cables and power conditioner? Otherwise it is just innuendo, isn't it? Really doesn't mean anything, does it?
What did you end up with, the conclusion, and what you did DIY wise?
Why don't you replace, on the conditioner the "upgraded DIY power cord" with "high buck power cable" that where connected to your components and see if you can hear a difference.
I fail to understand the conclusion.
You bought a line conditioner, used the default cord but you don't mention if that changed anything.
Next you replace the default cord with a better one and that DID improve sound. Or did you never use the default cord?
Finally you replaced the other cords with the default cords and nothing changed.
Is the conclusion that only the cord connected to the line conditioner (and the conditioner itself) matters?
Or that only the line conditioner matters?
I guess I wasn't very through was I? Initially I used the stock power cord that came with the conditioner, and noticed some difference. So I think a conditioner will help to an extent. I don't think paying $1000, $5000, or more for a conditioner is worth it. Just my thinking. When I attached the DIY power cord to the conditioner, I found the sound was more improved.
Let's face it. The quality at the front end has the greatest affect on signal. " Garbage in, garbage out " So having a better power cord coming into the conditioner for whatever reason ( better copper, better shielding etc ) made the greatest difference. And finally " No " I didn't hear much, if any difference when I replaced my high buck power cables on the equipment with stock power cords.
I think the conditioner, and the DYI cord together made the difference. That is not to say you may experience different results by trying the same thing. I don't know your cables, or equipment. But I just can't figure out why they are selling these bib buck power cables, and folks are using a stock power cable on the conditioner. Try it for yourself. If nothing else, simply upgrade your conditioner power cable and leave the other cables alone.
So if you couldn't hear a difference between the "high buck" cords and the stock cords, why did you buy the high buck cords to begin with?
I'm not quite sure what the trick is supposed to be, bcowen.
BTW, I notice you enjoy the gold Furutech FI-11(G) set of AC connectors. I find they mate very well with the Oyaide Black Mamba V2 bulk power cable. Priced at $45.76 per meter, a 3 meter bulk length cable is enough to build two 5 foot power cords with. It's an outstanding bulk power cable for DIY projects, especially at a cost of only $68.64 per 5 foot power cord.
Very good synergy when plugged into a gold Oyaide SWO-GX AC outlet, which is a bit finicky to mate with various AC plugs, IME. The Oyaide SWO-GX AC outlet features gold plated phosphor bronze contacts, while the gold plated Furutech FI-11M(G) AC plug features pure copper blades. IMO, the synergy of the two provides the best of both worlds, with the Furutech FI-11(G) AC connectors providing a very dense tonality, while the Oyaide SWO-GX AC outlet provides good dynamics at the frequency extremes, with notable treble energy and a big bottom-end without sounding ill-defined. Warm sounding but without sounding too lush, to my ear. Definitely on the warm side of things, but very coherent from top-to-bottom. YMMV
The Oyaide Black Mamba V2 is reference quality.
@Duster. Hello...you mentioned that the Furutech FI-11 (gold) has a dense tonal quality. How do you find the upper mids on up? Less than the normal in treble energy? Thanks.
I find the gold Furutech FI-11M(G) AC plug is comparatively darker sounding than a gold Oyaide P-079 AC plug with a more spotlighted treble energy.
I also find the gold Furutech FI-11M(G) AC plug presents a tonality that is similar to, but certainly lacking ultimate clarity and resolve vs. the SOTA gold Furutech FI-50M(G) AC plug.
From an upper-midrange/treble energy POV, I can't say the gold Furutech FI-11M(G) AC plug presents less than normal upper-midrange/treble energy vs. say a bare brass AC plug as a comparison, but it should be a good choice for an application that sounds a bit bright or might otherwise benefit from a somewhat warm sounding AC plug without sounding too lush. YMMV
@Duster. Thank you so so much for your time... really appreciate it. If i may trouble you again.... I am intend to change the male connector first. If it's exactly what i am seeking then I will go ahead with the female connector. In your experience...how much influence does the male connector have over the female in the final presentation? My goal is to just change the male. Trying to make an exact match to my AC Receptacle which is also a Furutech gold. Thanks.
Thanks for that info, Duster. I'll have to order some Black Mamba and give it a try. I'm currently using the 11-gauge Neotech NEP-3002 III with the Furutech FI-11G connectors on both ends between the Furutech GTX-D (R) wall outlet and the modded Furutech e-TP60 distribution box. Although I would have preferred the 10-gauge NEP-3001 wire, it was a bit too big in diameter to fit in the FI-11 plugs (at least from what the published dimensions show). I played around with several DIY attempts in this application, and although it required me to admit my DIY efforts didn't measure up, the Neotech-based cord beat every one of those efforts. I haven't had any motivation to mess with it since, but the Oyaide wire looks pretty interesting, and is certainly priced right as I need less than a meter for this application.
I can only assume the silver plated strands are intended to tune the presentation of the power cord, perhaps due to the PVC dielectric which tends to sound a bit too slow and warm vs. a modern polymer with a lower dielectric constant. Also, a braided shield in addition to the aluminum/Mylar foil shield tends to darken the presentation and affect dynamics. The Black Mamba V2 only features a very thin pure copper foil shield which does not affect the presentation as much as over-aggressive shielding tends to do. Also, the polymers that Black Mamba V2 are not only selected for dielectric quality, they are also chosen for beneficial resonance control characteristics.
What's most innovative to me is the strand lay is optimized in order to avoid the detrimental affect of a typical stranded conductor with an ordinary strand lay. Another thing to note is since Oyaide's source of OCC wire was discontinued, they worked with another Japanese cable manufacturer to design a unique product that performs just as well as OCC according to their marketing information. The performance of the Black Mamba V2 proves its worth, as it's the best sounding power cord product I've experienced other than the VH Audio AirSine power cord.
Unlike previous Oyaide power cords featuring a thin copper foil shield such as the Tunami and PA-23 power cords, the Black Mamba V2 features a drain wire, which I assume is intended to be grounded at the AC plug, and left unconnected at the IEC end, which is what I chose to do. BTW, the Black Mamba V2 is a joy to terminate, since the low-mass dielectric and cable jacket are very easy to strip.
The DIY Oyaide Black Mamba V2 terminated with Furutech FI-11(G) AC connectors was built to use with a Zerozone 50VA linear power supply. I plan to replace the stock IEC inlet with a spare Furutech FI-10(G) IEC inlet I have, but I'll need to implement an inline fuse holder since the stock IEC inlet features an integral fuse holder. I considered the Furutech FI-03 IEC inlet with an integral fuse holder, but the Furutech FI-10(G) is a better quality IEC inlet, and ready to use without further expense.
When I re-did the wiring in the Furutech e-TP60, I replaced the stock IEC socket with the Furutech FI-06(G). Even though the stock IEC was a nice gold-plated Furutech connector itself, I wanted the screw termination rather than the solder lugs. Wish I'd known about the FI-10 back then, as it looks to have the same cutout dimensions as a standard IEC socket. The FI-06 is slightly larger, and required some Dremel-ing on the case to get it to fit. I'm happy with the result, but it would have been a lot easier with the FI-10. :)
Image: Radio Shack 270-0739 Surface Mount Fuse Holders
I think the stock Furutech IEC inlet for the Furutech e-TP60 is their entry level model. It sounds similar to a nickel plated brass IEC inlet but without the sonic signature of nickel involved. Essentially a warmer sound with more natural image outlines that's quite easy to identify as being comparatively beneficial. Obviously better sounding than a nickel plated IEC inlet, IME.
I would expect the effort you put into the upgrade was worthwhile, bcowen. The Furutech FI-06(G) features pure copper contacts, so it may be a superior sounding design vs. the Furutech FI-10(G) featuring copper alloy contacts (phosphor bronze, IIRC), but not necessarily. Pure copper vs. phosphor bronze (and brass for that matter) can be selected for unique sonic signatures that some might find more satisfactory for any given application.
BTW, I found this NOS Radio Shack surface-mount fuse holder (shown above) that looks to be perfect for my Furutech FI-10(G) IEC inlet installation project. The solder tabs and small footprint are perfect for the task. I'll simply adhere the plastic base to the side of the enclosure with silicone adhesive and be done with it.
Are you sure you won't negate the benefits of the FI-10 by running the incoming power through the nickel or tin plated, magnetic steel contacts of that fuse holder? The Furutech FI-03 is only $15 in gold or $19 in rhodium, and both platings are on the same copper alloy (I think) as the FI-10. Solder lugs instead of screw terminations, but you'll have to solder to the RatShack fuse holder anyway.
I understand what you are saying, but the external fuse holder features tin plated brass contacts, not nickel plated magnetic steel, and won't degrade performance any greater than a typical fuse holder that all audio components must have. I'll simply be moving a fuse holder placement from one location to another rather than stepping on the performance of the Furutech FI-10 of which I already own and would prefer to use vs. the FI-03 if given a choice.
I'll put it this way: If I were given the opportunity to design an audio component from scratch, I would not implement an IEC inlet with an integral fuse holder, I would choose to use an external fuse holder like I'll do in this case. That said, if I didn't already have an orphaned FI-10 that's ready to be installed, I would be more willing to consider a new FI-03 for the application. Thanks for sharing your thinking and comprehensive ideas about the issue, bcowen!
TIN PLATED BRASS!??!?!?!?
Isn't that like stopping by Clem's Gas 'N Grub and filling up your Ferrari with 4-year old 87 octane?
Just kidding. :)
It's always nice to use what you already have instead of having to go buy something. I should learn how to do that. :)
The Radio Shack fuse holders arrived. The design features a substantially rigid polycarbonate structure with well-made tinned brass contacts as good as most HQ quick-disconnect tabs I've come across.
If my memory is correct, the "alpha" designation refers to their cryogenic treatment of the copper (or whatever metals they may use in their various products).
If you must use a fuse, then this particular configuration would be the way to go, rather than the cheap(er) Radio Shack part, made with inferior metallurgy. Duster's basic idea is a good one....your idea bumps it up a good amount, and for only a few dollars more.
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