Hi, Everybody –
Glad to have some time to post! It’s been awhile…
Like many of you (I’m guessing) I don’t have endless thousands of dollars to throw at this delightful hobby – there is that little matter of having a family to clothe and feed, bills to pay and so on. This means that – again, like some of you – I have to think carefully about my audio purchases and be on the lookout for products that offer very high value at their price.
I consider the vintage RCA 6SN7 driver tube that I blogged about last time and the time before to be just such a purchase. For around $50, it’s made a huge and very pleasurable difference in the musicality of my stereo rig.
But what about power cords?
In all the years I’ve been involved in this hobby, I’ve never bought a fancy, aftermarket power cord for any of my components. I hasten to add that I do believe that different cables can have differing sonic properties. I’ve heard pronounced differences between different speaker cables, for example.
But when it comes to power cords, I’ve been a bit of a skeptic. “Power cables aren’t even part of the signal path! How can they make a difference?”
(This reminds me of one snarky fellow on an Internet forum, who wrote that he knows power cords make a difference, because his amp won’t play music without one.)
But let’s just allow the possibility for a moment that the power cord can have an effect on how well current is delivered to your component from the wall socket, and that this can affect your music. If that’s so, then it might justify paying extra for a “better” power cord.
I started to reconsider power cords because the ANK Kit 1 doesn’t’ come with a power cord at all. Presumably this is because Brian Smith figures that most Kit 1 builders will add a boutique power cord, anyway, so why not let the customer choose the one they want?
Since building the Kit 1, I’ve been running the amp with – drumroll – a cheap cord cannibalized from an old PC. This has been received by my Internet audio forum buddies with the gnashing of teeth, the rolling of eyes and much tsk-tsk-ing. “An amp at that level deserves a good power cord,” they all said. But which one?
As you know, you can spend thousands of dollars on a power cord alone, which just wasn’t going to happen in my case.
Then, the incredibly helpful and upstanding Audiogon citizen known as “Almarg” suggested I try a power cord from Signal Cable. Their MagicPower power cord starts at $69, which, in The World Of High End, is almost giving them away.
As you’ll read in my next post, I’ve made a new pal named Jeff, who lives here in Austin and lent me a pair of Tekton Lore Reference speakers to try out in my room with my rig. He also took one look at my crappy power cords and said, “I think I can help you out.” Turns out he was looking to sell some nicely broken in Signal Cable Magic Power cords! How serendipitous! (I’ve been waiting to use that word for months.)
I now have a Magic Power Cord (10 AWG, which translates into “thick and beefy”) connected to my amp and a Magic Power Digital Reference (12 AWG, which means, “not quite as thick and a little more supple but it still shouts ‘heavy duty'”) connected to my Bottlehead Seduction phono preamp. (I had hoped to connect one of these cords to my DAC but can’t thread the large connector through the smallish hole provided in my equipment cabinet for cable routing. Bummer!)
Here are some comparison shots of my cheapo PC power cord alongside the Magic Power Cord from Signal Cable:
And here are a couple of pics of the two cords installed in my gear:
How does the Magic Power Cord sound? Great… really great! Soundstage is wider, presentation is more relaxed, there’s greater air and separation between instruments and – delightfully – the low end is more authoritative. All this from a power cord!
I can highly recommend the Magic Power Cord (and by extension, assuming the same value proposition, other Signal Cable products). If you are trying to put together a great system on a budget – or even if you have a lot more than I do to spend – they are a terrific bargain! I am delighted!
And now for a shocking announcement:
My Reference 3A De Capo’s are for sale!
Yes, as much as I have adored and often been awed by these speakers for the past three years, my experience with the Tekton Lore Reference convinced me, if not to buy a pair of Tektons (I’m not quite there yet) then at least to dive into the world of VERY efficient, SET-friendly speakers.
More on that, and on some of the choices I’m considering, next post.
By the way, here’s a shameless plug. If you’re in the USA and would like to purchase a very beautiful pair of Reference 3A De Capo’s, check this out!
Until next time, enjoy your music!