I keep being reminded of how much power cords mater

I went through a major upgrade a couple years ago. I quickly upgraded my speaker cables and interconnects. But just listened for about a year. Then one by one, in absolutely no hurry adjusted my venue, and USB, power cords… etc. it seems every month I consider and optimize one thing. I know what my system sounds like.

I noticed a couple weeks ago that I still had a Cardas Clear Beyond power cord on my preamp… but that I still had the Transparent Ultra power cord I had purchased for it in my storage room. Hey, I’m 70… my memory was never good… not getting better. Cardas Clear Beyond are good… when you need a little warmth… I do not. I put the Transparent back in… A great shift in the balance, adding detail without loosing the warmth and midrange balance. A very happy and perfect adjustment. (A friend is a real Cardas fan… I had bought as an experiment, and never swithed back).

That got me thinking, what was on my Audio Research Phonostage? I looked. Turns out it was the original Audio Research cord… they are now very heavy copper with 20 amp connectors. So, I took the Cardas Clear Beyond power cord and put it on the phono stage. Wow, what an improvement. Just in case I had not recently tried a stock power cord, this reminded me why one uses high quality cords.

The power cord for my phonostage is definitely not done. I am pretty sure that a Transparent would be better on my system… but I’ll have to try it… or maybe an AudioQuest. So, my odyssey is not over. But each small change ultimately nets a better sounding system.

Looking back at all the increment changes that have mattered in the last few years… the improvements between direct lines, cables, interconnects, power cords, positioning seem to add up to as much improvement as the upgrades to all my components. But the cost of these probably only 15% of the components.


Had a guy over one time and it was all, Why do you do this? Why do you do that? How can those Cable Cradles do anything? Quick demo. Okay, that's amazing. 

BUT, power cords? No way!

I went to my old cables drawer, pulled out one of my many freebie black rubber power cords. "According to you, this will sound just as good as what we've been listening to?" He could see what was coming but stuck to his story. 

So I put another record on, plugged the freebie in, and let him listen. Then swapped the M101 Supernova back in. 

And swear to God, the second the needle hit the groove he says OMG! Hadn't even got to the music. Still in the lead-in groove. That's how freaking obviously better it is.

Caelin Gabriel of Shunyata was here with a couple of his early Shunyata Powersnakes, half a dozen non-audiophiles who never heard anything like this before, every single one of them had no problem recognizing the improvement. 

Wire is a component, okay? Power cord, interconnect, speaker cable. Any of em. All of em. Every bit as much a component as the amp, preamp, speaker. 

The Caelin visit was 30 years ago. That's how long this has been true. At least. If not longer.

Would upgrading the power cord on a turntable have an effect?  

I have upgraded all my other components so far.  I have a VPI Classic 3.  

As much as my brain keeps coming up with reasons why it shouldn’t matter, my experience says, you have to try it. I would love to hear from someone who has tried it. 

Agree.  Of course, the cartridge is really an important component of the turntable.  So if power cords make a difference on other components, why not a turntable also?  


@millercarbon I would value your opinion on this subject - have you tried it on a TT?  

Funny you ask, one of my very first mods was remove the black rubber pc from a Basis turntable motor and hard wire a better one. Wasn't sure it would work, and being inexperienced I used a really cheap ($75) power cord, that wasn't even worth trying to sell.

That pc on the turntable motor made about as big a difference as when it was used on amps and stuff. Since then I have done this a couple other times. Most recently was the motor on my Origin Live Sovereign.

This time I decided to use a pc that, while very expensive, had no real market value due to being a prototype. So cutting it down a bit was no big loss, and I was expecting a nice improvement. 

Instead, not so much. Turns out this particular pc was too stiff. Even trimming most of the conductors, even just the few that were left were awfully stiff. I am used to thinking in vibration terms, they had to be transmitting a lot of vibration right into the motor. 

So I tried eliminating this wire for the last few inches, and used the most flexible wire I had in house, cheap ordinary lamp cord, to go from the motor to a IEC connector just a few inches outside the motor pod. The IEC is then isolated on a rig attached to the back of the rack. Now any pc can be used.

Doing it this way finally got me the expected improvement. So the moral of the story, once again, everything matters. PC matters, and isolating the pc matters just as much. 

Incidentally, it's not just the pc. I've upgraded the motor controller power supply as well. Converting from AC to DC battery is huge. Turntables and phono stages are great for this because current demands are low and so something like an ordinary motorcycle battery will run a turntable for days. Connected to a AC charger, something interesting happens. The turntable is then always run off the battery, but can be run with the charger on or off or completely unplugged and disconnected. Guess which one sounds best?

So even when being run off a battery, if connected to AC then ripple or RFI or whatever junk is riding on the AC gets a free ride right across the battery. 

I upgraded my speaker wires, digital cables and power cords to my amplifier and BlueSound Node 2i.  I heard a huge difference in speaker wires but not on the power cords.  Still wonder if using a digital cable was a good idea because by doing so I lost MQA streaming Tidal.

@ghdprentice nice!!!

@millercarbon and all…I haven’t tried swapping power cords on a turntable but please help me understand how a power delivery to the turntable motor alone can make a positive change on the sound. I know everything matters and I’m willing to try this but a power cord for a turntable motor just powers the motor…it shouldn’t have any impact on sound quality unless…there’s electrical noise from the motor that travels back into your outlet or power conditioner via that cord that contaminates power for other components negatively impacting their performance(phono stage, pre, amp)…did I just answer my own question here?

@larry5729 you lost MQA by adding digital cable? Unless it’s the cable between your BS Node and your DAC…BS Node won’t output MQA and your DAC might not support MQA regardless

The turntable motor is a key component. Actually every bit of a turntable is critically important. It’s just hardly anyone ever changes just one component part to realize it. My second turntable mod was to replace the Basis motor with a Teres. Not only the motor but the motor controller. Even the pod the motor is mounted in affects the sound. Even the bolts fastening the motor to the pod. Are washers used? What material? What torque? You think I am kidding? I have experience with each and every one of these, done one at a time so as to know what does what.
Look around, vast majority replaces the whole turntable with a (hopefully) better one. I’ve done that too. But that teaches you next to nothing compared to experience gained one incremental mod at a time. 

The motor doesn’t just turn at a constant rate. That’s the ideal and the way everyone thinks, but the truth is every squiggle of the groove is a drag slowing it down. The result is a pattern of acceleration and deceleration every bit as complex as the music itself. Improve the motor, the power supply to the motor, the housing and the way it is fastened, all of that and it brings greater drive and life and vibrancy to the music. You have to hear it to get it, and I have, many times.

One of the biggest things I’ve done is go to battery power. This eliminates a huge amount of noise riding on the AC.
So there’s your answer. The motor is incredibly sensitive to power supply quality. Anything improves that improves the sound of the whole turntable.  

Use Clear Beyond on both my int. amp and phono preamp.  For that matter use Cardas of one grade or another for speaker and interconnects, digital spdif, etc.so you might say I'm a Cardas guy.  But no question each time I go to the next level with a Cardas cable I hear improvements.  Greatest improvements have been stepping up the power cords.

This post is truly one for the religious.  In religion, people believe what the high priests tell them and engineer their lives and experiences to match the standardised requirements.

 One can say that religion and politics are necessary forms of crowd control, fortunately believing is an individual’s right. Should you think imagination and BS that is certainly your right. This post needs not a high priest as it fits comfortably.

@millercarbon    I see a company offering "upgrade DC power supply wall warts".  Would these also make a difference on a turntable or phonostage?

And there are always those who worship Pegan gods and then there are the Atheist's.  

If you are non believer then move on. It is not prayer in school.  I fixed you typo too!

You should open your third eye and become enlightened. 

This post is truly one for the religious.  In religion, people believe what the high priests tell them and engineer their lives and experiences to match the standardized requirements.

If you consider mere "power delivery to the component" sufficient, why worry about better speakers? Don't they all achieve "sound delivery to the ears"?



Transparent is a sonic match for Audio Research (ARC). Not sure if Cardas has the same aural presentation and sound?  Which Ultra model do you own? Original, MM2, GEN5 or GEN6 ?


Happy Listening!


Cardas was a fantastic match for some of my previous components. But, you are quite right not a good match for ARC, at least REF level.


I am very impressed with Cardas’s approach that they start very warm at the bottom and become more neutral as you go up the levels… basically matching the need from budget to high end in components. This has been my experience as well.


My Transparent are Gen 6 (?)… the current model. After my component upgrades I tried some MM2 (as well as some other brands), verifying their efficacy… then upgraded.


@millercarbon    I see a company offering "upgrade DC power supply wall warts".  Would these also make a difference on a turntable or phonostage?

Results are all in the details but in general, yes. Wall warts use different methods to get DC, but the one thing they all have in common is cheap parts. Cheap parts in audio equals poor sound. 

The first wall warts I upgraded were for Synergistic Research Active Shielding. I had Michael Spallone do them, because even though it was totally something I could do, he has a lot of experience doing this and has tried a lot of different diodes and caps and knows which ones work best. Hands on experience is the coin of the realm here, something to bear in mind when reading posts. So I had Spallone do it, and the difference was night and day- deeper, liquid, layered. All from a better wall wart.

Soundsmith uses wall warts for their Strain Gauge phono stage. Fantastic system, just a little light in the weight department, sounds exactly like the little wall warts don't quite have the balls for true deep extension. Or maybe its the hair thin wires they're expected to transmit the power through. Or the flimsy little connector. Probably all of that together. 

Anyway, there are several upgrade options (including the wire) and all have been tried and recommended to work by actual SG owners. Comparing costs and likely results I decided to go with a full on-board DC battery and gain stage upgrade by professional recording engineer Rens Heijnis in Belgium.

So I guess you might say this is a bit more than a better wall wart, but same idea. 

In general, if the wall wart is used to supply power to audio circuits then yes there is all kinds of room for improvement. Sometimes though this is not the case. The wall wart with the Townshend Allegri Reference preamp is used only to power the display and remote. So no difference there. But anywhere the power is drawn for signal then yes, definitely.

Same goes for the turntable motor. The Teres motor once used on my Miller Carbon turntable was upgraded over time to run on various power supplies. The better the power supply, the better the sound. Pure DC from a battery worked better than anything plugged into the wall.



Thank You for the follow up. I have read that the GEN6 is quite an upgrade over GEN5. 


Happy Listening!


My dealer also told me the GEN 5 -> GEN 6 was the biggest jumps ever and that the Ultra was competitive with the earlier generation of Opus. I have not made the comparison, but I trust him, everything he has told me has been spot on. 



Thank You for the follow up. I spent much time with the OPUS MM2 series. No doubt, that it still holds up in 2022. I can only imagine the OPUS in GEN5 or GEN6...



Happy Listening!

I've compared my fancy "garden hose" power cables to ones supplied with a Pass Labs amp and a Bryston power conditioner...no difference. One imagines both Bryston and Pass know what they're doing, but hey...it's hard to compete with the hallowed concept of Expectation Bias...big expensive AC cables make you feel so good about everything because obviously you're smart, clearly have golden ears, and people LIKE YOU!

Fancy, big or expensive don't make a power cord work in a system.  

Expectations bias does work both ways.