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Thread: Do mains cables make a difference??

  1. #61
    Join Date: Nov 2015

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    I'm Oliver.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marco View Post
    Nice one, Oliver - looks good, and I'm glad you can hear a genuine difference!

    For me, using mains leads that are properly designed for hi-fi purposes, such as you've now built, is simply a case of 'good housekeeping', in the same way as we don't use the 'freebie' interconnects that sometimes come supplied with gear, or no longer hook up our speakers with bell wire, as there are clearly better alternatives available.

    And the same applies with mains cables, proving that you *can* do better than use cheap 'kettle leads'. I've really no idea why some folk struggle so much with that concept - certainly those who are clearly capable of trusting their ears and making subjective decisions elsewhere in their system

    Anyway mate, ignore the naysayers, trust your OWN ears and senses (always over ALL else), and enjoy the music!

    Marco.
    Thanks, Marco.

    I really didn't want to hear any change as that's better for my bank account but here, it's clear that there is an improvement, not just a change. I spent probably 4 hours today playing music and swapping the cable in and out and yet every time I took it out, I could hear what went with it. Blind tests with the help of the gaffer just reassured me that it wasn't bias so I am happy with the result.

    Purpose built. If any one wants one building.........just kidding

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  2. #62
    Join Date: May 2018

    Location: Sweden

    Posts: 37
    I'm Andreas.

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    I had an interesting experience recently having never tried or even thought of a mains upgrade.

    I have a Brio-R that I tried to upgrade to a Hegel Röst. It became clear quickly that it wasn't for me, but I wanted to like it and kept plugging it in for a short while now and then to play around with speaker positioning etc.

    One day, as usual, I get fed up with the sterile Hegel and plug the Brio in to enjoy some music for the evening. I sit down, hit play and my attention is immediately drawn to a guitar track at the beginning of a familiar song. There should be no reverb tail revealed with the Rega, but I am hearing it loud and clear. I spend half a second ticking off a mental checklist until the thought of power cables enters my mind and what do you know, upon inspection I have plugged the Röst's lead into the Brio by mistake.

    I listen to a few more tracks to form a reference, switch back to the lead of the Rega and yes, the difference in noise floor and thus detail is substantial.

    I decided to try a lower end lead and ended up with a used Supra LoRad SPC (£30) and I consider it my most cost effective upgrade.

    What do I think is going on?

    The Brio is a cheap amp. There is no money to spend on a decently constructed mains lead. The Röst has more flex and I would guess they went for something with a reasonable shield. I can't explain an immediate difference in noise floor in any other way.

    To further confirm this - If I switch the Röst's default chord to the Supra with the Röst, the difference is noticeable but subtle. Nothing like the dramatic effect it had on the Brio, and if anything the higher resolving Röst should make the case more clear.

    I don't think you can add anything with a mains lead, but you probably should make sure you're above some basic threshold in terms of keeping crap out.
    Last edited by MasterTape; 15-05-2018 at 00:16.

  3. #63
    Join Date: Apr 2018

    Location: Cornwall

    Posts: 108
    I'm Dominic.

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    Of course mains cables make not just a "difference", but a major improvement in sound quality and anyone who disagrees is in denial.

    There is a rational explanation for this and it is so obvious I am amazed there is any argument about it at all.

    A mains cables isn't just there to convey leccy from the wall socket without spilling it on the carpet while doing so, it is the means by which the hi-fi system gets all it''s power that it needs, so a cheap "freebie" cable costing mere pennies to manufacture has inherent limitations from the outset. The build quality, metallurgy and dimensions of the wire can be variable, the connectors too leave a lot to be desired as well, so when your system needs more power to perform the cheapo cable responds by limiting the current it can deliver and reacts by heating up.

    That is the starting point in the debate, so when you replace it with a "better" cable, what you are actually doing is taking the substandard cable OUT and installing a cable that has better current delivery characteristics. As you move up the mains cable heirarchy the same rule still applies in that each upgrade you make moves further away from that cheapo basic cable and "better" than the one you have just replaced, with less imperfections at each step upwards although none of them are perfect because that cable simply does not exist.
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  4. #64
    Join Date: Apr 2012

    Location: Southall, West London

    Posts: 35,782
    I'm Geoff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nonuffin View Post
    Of course mains cables make not just a "difference", but a major improvement in sound quality and anyone who disagrees is in denial.
    Some might take exception to the bit in bold.

    Have you compared the current delivery abilities of a standard kettle lead to a fancy 'audiophile' mains cable? Is there a study anywhere into these characteristics? I'd have thought a kettle boiling water would demand more current than any normal piece of Hi-Fi equipment.

  5. #65
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 78,585
    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

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    Post of the year for me, so far, Andreas! Especially your last sentence, which neatly sums things up:

    Quote Originally Posted by MasterTape View Post
    I don't think you can add anything with a mains lead, but you probably should make sure you're above some basic threshold in terms of keeping crap out.
    Indeed. That's the reason why ones properly designed for hi-fi purposes, where due attention has been paid to shielding, etc, make a difference, and audibly improve upon what's offered by a bog-standard 'kettle lead'.

    The naysayers are simply looking at the wrong area (basic electrical theory) for why such genuine audible differences exist, when reality suggests it's all (or mostly) about reducing noise!

    However, of course results will vary from system to system (and mains to mains), depending on how much of said noise is present, and therefore needs addressing. That's probably why some people hear differences, and some don't, although I also think there's an element of knowing what to listen for (in the music), if there isn't much noise to address, and therefore the difference provided by an 'audiophile mains lead' is small.

    The way you discovered the existence of that difference in your system is most interesting, simply because you weren't consciously 'testing' yourself for it, as is normally the case, when one buys an 'audiophile mains lead' and compares it directly against a bog-standard 'kettle lead'. You heard it completely by accident, when you weren't expecting it! And that, for me, proves it was real

    Also, as you correctly say, the difference between your Supra and the Röst was subtle, which is exactly as it should have been, because the Röst had already addressed most of the noise issue, and so any further benefit brought about by the Supra, perhaps due to its superior shielding and/or materials its constructed from (wire, plugs used, etc) was simply 'icing on the cake'.

    The above is really the only reason why mains leads designed for hi-fi purposes can make a difference, and so the better they fulfill that purpose (as outlined above), and the noisier the environment they're used in, the more of a difference you're likely to hear.

    Most of their benefits, however, can be achieved without spending ludicrous amounts of money, as long as the mains lead you're using tackles the right (problem) areas, rather than simply looking like an audiophile's 'wet dream', with a price tag that would befit the cost of a full (top-notch) system!

    Enjoy your music, my friend

    Marco.
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  6. #66
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

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    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by walpurgis View Post
    Some might take exception to the bit in bold.

    Have you compared the current delivery abilities of a standard kettle lead to a fancy 'audiophile' mains cable? Is there a study anywhere into these characteristics? I'd have thought a kettle boiling water would demand more current than any normal piece of Hi-Fi equipment.
    Indeed. Let's not stray into any form of absolutism or make rude judgements on people.

    Whilst I agree (in part) with Dominic's post, I don't think that the main reason why genuine differences are heard with mains leads, designed for hi-fi purposes, is to do with current delivery, but rather with shielding and reducing noise, such as RFI.

    Basically, the more your mains lead acts as an aerial for noise, the worse it will make the equipment it powers sound.

    Marco.
    http://www.thestainedglasscompany.com

    "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do" -- Milan Kundera.

    BE HAPPY EVERYDAY!

  7. #67
    Join Date: Aug 2010

    Location: East Midlands

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    I'm Hugh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nonuffin View Post
    Of course mains cables make not just a "difference", but a major improvement in sound quality and anyone who disagrees is in denial.
    ...or they might possibly be a discerning person, possessed of common sense and a working knowledge of Basic Electrical Theory and Practical Physics.


    ( "possibly" for Marco's benefit. )

  8. #68
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

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    Lol - the problem is, as I said, I don't think the answers lie in Basic Electrical Theory and Practical Physics [which in matters such as this, objectivists often seek to apply in too 'black and white' a way], certainly in the most obvious conventional sense, but rather in tackling the issue of noise.

    As ever in audio, it pays to apply a little lateral thinking!

    Marco.
    http://www.thestainedglasscompany.com

    "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do" -- Milan Kundera.

    BE HAPPY EVERYDAY!

  9. #69
    Join Date: Apr 2018

    Location: Cornwall

    Posts: 108
    I'm Dominic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by walpurgis View Post
    Some might take exception to the bit in bold.

    Have you compared the current delivery abilities of a standard kettle lead to a fancy 'audiophile' mains cable? Is there a study anywhere into these characteristics? I'd have thought a kettle boiling water would demand more current than any normal piece of Hi-Fi equipment.
    Let's not confuse a kettle lead with a freebie computer mains cable - they are poles apart.

    The kettle lead can deliver a constant current for the kettle to boil, whereas the freebie lead is usually destined for computers and such-like which have considerably less continuous current demands.

    In the hi-fi context then a proper *kettle lead* sounds better than a freebie low power *computer lead* which is what is given away for free in the box.
    CD player = Vincent
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  10. #70
    Join Date: Apr 2018

    Location: Cornwall

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    I'm Dominic.

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    The absolute start of the debate is how poor a 5 amp IEC lead that cost just pennies to make, not how "wonderful" an upgrade cable is and it is pointless squabbling any more until and unless that is grasped.

    I busted open one of these cheapo leads a few years ago and was mortified at just how flimsy it was. The wire was less than 0.5mm in diameter and was blackened rather heavily, there was no solder or screw holding the wire onto the terminals in the moulded plugs. Never used one since.
    CD player = Vincent
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