Tag Archives: audio cables

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Take only pictures

If you hike a bit you’re bound to see signs about leaving the land as you found it.

“Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”

The origins of this saying aren’t as clear to me as its meaning. Do no harm.

This simple idea might be good advice for more than just hikers—it can easily apply to our sometimes misguided desire to enhance, improve, and modify our stereos.

What would happen if we ran all our urges to make things better through the lens of do no harm? Or, put another way, asking ourselves if we’re fixing a problem or adding sugar to cover bitterness.

When I think of expensive audio cables with control boxes to modify performance or additive/subtractive circuits like tone controls I have to ask myself a basic question. Is this an enhancement or a means of preserving what’s natural?

When we add a Power Plant to our stereo system we’re fixing a basic problem with our home’s AC. That’s an act designed to do less harm.

When my cousin Don added a spring reverb to his car audio system that was an enhancement that veered away from our ideal.

The difference between doing no harm and making things better is a fine one indeed.

It’s worth asking the question.


Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Yes, audio cables make a difference, but if you follow certain rules regarding capacitance, inductance and shielding, you get most of the way there. Expensive cables are in many cases a joke, but bless the guys who make a fortune doing this as they are delivering something many audiophiles want and if people want it, give it too them.

Cables matter

Oh boy. I saved this and the next Fact or Fiction for last. This is a real viper pit of a question and those loyal readers of this blog know my answer before I even write it. Of course they matter, but only if we’re a bit open to proving that to ourselves.

I suppose we’ll begin with the most reviled of them all, power cables. Tomorrow we’ll tackle signal cables.

I am told our company loses credibility among the professional engineering crowd whenever we suggest power cables matter to sound quality. And, here’s my answer to that. I am sorry, but that doesn’t change the facts—nor am I incentivized to soften my stance. That the idea power cables matter makes little sense to someone who believes they have the electrical world figured out is something I won’t waste anyone’s time defending. If you firmly believe this to be true—that with your wisdom and knowledge you’re convinced it cannot be true—you should skip today’s post because you’ll be simply wasting your time.

The biggest head scratcher for people is this: if there’s several hundred feet of copper wire between the power pole and your equipment, what’s another 6 feet of expensive wire going to matter? As we’ve seen so many times throughout this Fact or Fiction mini-series, how you phrase the question makes all the difference in the world. Posed in the standard way I just described it makes no sense whatsoever. How could it? Let’s try asking it another way. In an AC circuit is the interface between the middle noisy load important? Now, our answer might look a bit different.

The notion in most people’s heads is that the powered equipment is at the end of the long copper power chain. This is actually wrong because it’s in the middle of the AC circuit (think of an AC circuit like a loop where the equipment is in the middle, the AC source at the opposite end). Furthermore, our equipment is both inductive and noisy. In fact, chances are good the point where the AC comes out of your home’s wall is the noisiest environment in your home—an environment hostile to good sound.  This is why shielding your power cables is so important.

“Whoa, skippy. Who cares if there’s RF and EMI on the power line? It’s all eliminated in the power supply anyway.”

Ahh, another good point, but again, a little myopic in favor of supporting a philosophy in opposition to what we in the high end already know. Thing is, power supplies might look good in a schematic but that’s about the only place. If the equipment grounds (which are tied directly to the AC plug ground) are noisy then there’s sonic trouble. What we hope for is to shield and deliver as unfettered and clean power as possible to our equipment.

At the proverbial end of the day, it’s easy enough to sonically compare a stock power cord with a decently shielded heavy gauge version.

You won’t have to go back and forth more than just once.