Is the audio better or are our minds playing tricks on us?
Power cables have the primary function of connecting your electrical device to a power source. While some believe that different cables make a difference to the sound quality of a television or hi-fi system, this is simply not true.
There is no scientific connection or correlation to sound performance based on the cable you use. But, some people swear that they can hear a difference in sound between different power cables. Let’s take a look at why.
Power Cords and their Functions
As we have already mentioned, power cords serve one purpose and one purpose only. That is to power your television, home theater system, or hi-fi unit. While power cords are available in various lengths, thicknesses, and types, they do not influence the sound achieved by your electronics.
Why, then, do some people swear that they can hear a difference in the sound quality when switching cables? Scientists and researchers have once again come to the rescue and conducted the research behind this phenomenon.
Their studies noted that auditory memory does not last long enough for the actual difference in sound to be noted and that it is likely a placebo effect that makes the different power cords sound different for these people.
When changing a power cord, there is no change to the volume, sound quality, or distortion levels of your television, speakers, or hi-fi.
There are, however, benefits to choosing the best audio power cable.
Choosing the Best Audio Power Cable: Tips and Tricks to Follow
Power cords are available in a wide variety of different lengths and thicknesses and are priced from as little as only $10 to as much as a whopping $1500. Depending on where you live, they are found at all hardware, electrical, and even grocery stores.
Choosing a power cable is fairly easy. Let’s look at the factors you should always consider when selecting a power cable to power your devices.
1: Length and diameter of the power cord
The length of your power cord should be chosen based on the distance between your television or hi-fi and your wall socket. Choosing a longer cable might seem like the best idea, but this can lower the resistance of your cable. Select a cable that is a perfect fit with a few inches of leeway.
Diameter really has no bearing, but thicker cables are known to be more resistant to damage and breakage. Choose a thicker cable for strength and durability.
Safety is, of course, one of the vital factors to take into consideration when buying a power cable to power your electronics. While it might seem like a great way to save a few bucks by buying a store-brand cable, power cables need to be certified to be safe.
UL certification is the safety standard for all American power cords. These cords are less prone to causing an electrical fire or shock and are well insulated and safety-tested. Always choose UL certification power cords.
Most home electrical fires are caused by short circuits, faulty plugs, and wiring. Using UL-certified plugs, power cords, and accessories can significantly reduce the risk of these events. You can check to see if your power cord is UL-certified by taking a look at the product packaging or contacting the brand’s customer service department.
3: Plug Type
America and Europe most commonly use three-terminal plugs. While some appliances and electrical goods have two-terminal plugs, the main thing to look out for is a grounding or earth wire.
This wire prevents electrical shocks and short circuits from occurring. Ask a store assistant to help you ensure that your power cord plug has a grounding wire; if it doesn’t, move on to another power cable or plug type brand.
4: Power Output or Specifications
Take note of the peak power output of your electronic device when choosing a power cord. Ensure that the cord you choose meets the requirements of your device and does not overload your device, thinking that it will improve the quality of sound.
This information can be found on the back of your television, home theater system, or hi-fi unit, as well as in the product manual for each of these. Safety should be your first concern when choosing a power cable and your decision should be based on the output requirements or specifications.
When to Replace Your Power Cord
Power cords are fairly hardy and age well. There are not many reasons to change your power cord. As we have already determined, a power cord has no bearing on the sound quality, volume, or performance of your television, home theater system, or hi-fi. If one of these is not working correctly, it is most likely an internal problem, not the power cord.
You will only need to replace a power cord when:
- The current cord is worn through, broken, or damaged.
- You need a longer cord to move your appliances and electronics around.
If you want to replace a power cord, you need not choose the most expensive one. The price of a power cord is influenced only by the UL certification and the brand. More well-known brands will cost more than their generic store-brand counterparts but have almost no influence on the quality.
You can choose the best power cord for your electronics by referring to our buyer’s guide and tips above.
The mind is a powerful thing. While many people swear that there is a difference in the sound quality when changing the power cords of their television or hi-fi, scientists have quashed this and put it down to the brain creating a placebo effect.
Auditory memory does not last long enough to create a noticeable difference.
Choosing a power cord based on its quality is, however, important, and a few factors affect the quality of your power cord. Read our tips and tricks above to choose the best power cord for your television, appliances, and other electronics, and remember to look out for that all-important UL certification.
This post was last updated on 2023-03-20 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.
6 thoughts on “Do Audiophile Power Cables Make a Difference?”
I’m interested in the science that has debunked fancy mains cables. Do you have any links to research please? I don’t believe fancy mains cables do make a difference but I’d like to see details of why.
While I agree with several things you have stated, I totally disagree with your statement that a good power cable makes no difference in the sound. If you have a system with high end levels of resolution the difference is undeniable. This is beyond psycoacoustics and mind tricks. Os obvious even for non audiophiles.
I totally agree with you Virgilio.
To deny this is to associate oneself with the most basic of hifi forum posters, the What Hifi crowd if you prefer. The headbangers, the Oasis fans. The boom and tizz boys, the how loud does it go brigade.
I’m afraid to say that you are completely incorrect – mains cables make a profound difference to the sound.
This endless campaign from people with a scientific backgound to cast aside the experience of thousands of passionate music lovers is offensive and disrespectful. You are effectively saying that we’re fools who have been hoodwinked. REALLY?Why, because you have some kind of superior knowledge because you can measure something with a meter? Sadly you are so ingrained in your measurements and meters you can’t see the wood for the trees – or rather you are unable to hear what is there to be heard.
The confirmation bias is on your side – you decide there can’t be a difference and then you don’t hear it.
I do not have a scientific background, however I do have an MA in Fine Art from the most prestigious art school in Europe. Does that sound arrogant? It’s nowhere near as arrogant as endless “electronics engineers” insulting my intelligence all over the internet.
Let me explain something to you:
YOU CANNOT MEASURE EVERYTHING!
Ask any musician.
Ask any artist.
Ask those who work in the health and care sector.
Any doctor will tell you that we still don’t know everything about the human body, we still don’t know everything about the mind. When we listen to music we ourselves are at least 50% of the experience. THINK ABOUT THAT.
Can we measure why the paintings of Vermeer are sublime but those by Frans Hals are merely comic? Can we measure why the voice of Maria Callas is still spellbinding some 60-70 years on – while Rene Fleming can’t hold one’s attention right now in the present? Why one recording of Arcangelo Corelli is so utterly peaceful while another isn’t?
Can you explain beauty? Why some creatures, plants or faces are so beautiful to the human eye? Why nature itself is so often beautiful? Artists can go somewhere towards understanding that beauty. It can only be partly understood by measurement – proportion or symmetry for example – but in reality we know that’s not even scratching the surface.
My system isn’t quite high end, it’s in the region of 10k money wise. I have a little arsenal of about 7 hifi mains cables, including several Furutechs, two Audioquests, one Neotech and one cheapo Chinese standby. Would you like me to describe in words what the characteristics of each of those cables are? Which “works” with which – and what exactly I hear? It’s easy enough for me to do – but it doesn’t involve measurement! What it does necessitate is vocabulary, the ability to articulate what I hear.
Can you measure image height?
Can you measure instrumental timbre, instrumental colour?
Can you measure instrument size?
Can you measure ambiance?
Can you measure why the Furutechs make music seem “live”, why one Furutech in particular makes any kind of music “flow” so well?
Can you measure the air that so many listeners hear?
You need to remember that NO hifi equipment reaches the shops just based on measurements alone, part of what you hear is the result of thousands of hours of hands on listening by people with far more experience than you.
Please keep your ignorant opinions to yourself. Have some respect for the many individuals who are lucky to have more developed and refined senses than you.
Okay, let’s try again.
Although you work in the industry, I find it quite insulting for you to arrogantly persist in peddling the lie that hi-fi mains cables do not change or improve the sound quality of a system.
So this time, please accept my post for what it is and please have the integrity to publish my experience and opinion. I am one of the many thousands of music lovers who is so immersed in listening to music that they’re able to hear every last subtlety – and to be able to describe those nuances.
Surprisingly – or maybe not so surprisingly – mains cables can make a PROFOUND difference to the music we hear from our systems. Scientists may not be able to measure those differences, but that is immaterial as many of the things that we hear and experience as human beings are as yet a mystery to the “oh so clever” scientists.
I challenge you to respond: to share with the world the music you listen to, the equipment you own, and exactly what you hear. If you refuse to do so, then I’ll take that as proof that although you may “shift” hifi every day of the week – you’ve really very little idea beyond the basics.
What do you do at HiFi shows – avoid the “snake oil” boys?
Demonstrate 20k systems with a few kettle leads?
Thanks Rupert – you’re very heavy on the keyboard warrior here, a little bit insulting, but your passion is evident and I’m not going to disagree with you. Science is about learning and, as we discover things, we change our views. If it was all about absolutes, life would be boring.