A Fraud That Anyone with Common Sense Can See Through
- 21 Oct 2006 11:29
Longtime readers of The Audio Critic are fully aware that many of high-end audio’s articles of faith are bogus. Most of these fraudulent pronouncements about cables, tubes, vinyl, etc., require a little bit of engineering science to refute. A typical example is the absurd practice of biwiring, whose futility is made obvious by the superposition principle, a law of physics not known to everyone (see under downloadable Sample Articles, “The Ten Biggest Lies in Audio,” on this website).
There is one particular audio fraud, however, that requires no science but just ordinary common sense to see through. I’m talking about power cords—yes, those short lengths of flexible insulated cable that go between your wall outlet and your audio gear. The big lie is that they hugely affect the sound. The ads tell you that if you pay $499 or $995 or some such insane amount for a specially designed super cord, you will get a bigger soundstage, better transients, tighter bass, smoother highs, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. Amazingly, quite a few nonthinking audiophiles with deep pockets buy these fantasy cords.
Now, just think about it. The AC current comes into your residence over miles and miles of wire. After it enters the walls of your house or apartment, it again traverses huge lengths of BX cable or similar wiring. After it comes out of your wall outlet through the power cord and enters your amplifier or other equipment, it again goes through a maze of wiring before activating the devices that affect the sound. So, tell me, how does the electricity know where the nondescript lo-fi wiring stops and the super wire—just six feet of it—starts and leaves off? Does the current say, hey, I’m coming out of the wall now, the next six feet are crucial? Come on. The power cord represents an infinitesimal fraction of the AC current’s total path. Even if the wire in the power cord were so much better, it would have to be stretched all the way back to the power station to make a difference! It’s pure bull on the face of it; no science needed.
The fact is that any power cord rated to handle domestic AC voltages and currents is as good as any other. The power cord that came with your amplifier or receiver will give you optimum performance. If you have to buy an extra one, just make sure it’s thick enough in gauge for heavy-duty equipment. If you pay more than a few bucks, you’ve been had. (Besides, as I’ve stated a number times before, your audio circuits don’t know and don’t care what’s on the AC side of the power transformer. What they’re interested in is the DC voltages they need. But that’s engineering science…)