Hi everyone, is it worth updgrading the power cable provided with the Nucleus to a shielded power cable? I was looking at something inexpensive like the Chord C-Power Mains Cable as i can get this for £55. Not considering linear power supply. Is a small “upgrade” like this worth my time?
If you believe it will make a difference I’m sure it will.
yes, i thought i may get this response. I am just asking whether it is worth spending 3% of the purchase price of the Nucleus on a power mains cable upgrade. I understand the benefits they can have for other hifi equipment (amps, powered speakers), but what about the Nucleus?
Well broadly there seem to be two main ‘camps’ or groups on this topic; 1 - yes do it, many power / cable “improvements” make a difference in SQ often on an incremental basis so several upgrades cable/connector/PSU etc add more than a single one on its own; 2 - No it is Snake-oil.
I believe that only you can decide this by trying it for yourself and discovering if it benefits you. Distance Selling regs mean you can order one and return, or some HiFi stores may let you try before you buy.
I can’t speak from any experience so I can’t say that you should or shouldn’t do this. But 3% of outlay is relatively trivial so give it a go and let us know what you think. It all adds to the pool of knowledge.
Shielded power cables only make improvements in the analogue domain.
They work by blocking the ‘leakage’ of EMI/RFI from the power cable itself, to the analogue interconnects in your system, speaker cables etc.
My experience with shielded power cables comes from changing all the power cables in my system, to prevent EMI/RFI interference/‘leakage’ into the analogue chain.
On the whole, this results in a very small improvement. But YMMV. I have a revealing system, and noted a very small improvement. But it was only slight.
You are unlikely to notice any major improvement from changing a single power cable. But as I said. YMMV.
Thank you Martin for your response. That’s what I was after.
Isn’t the Nucleus externally powered? You’d get a lot more bang for the buck upgrading the power supply and the DC umbilical connecting it, than you would the power cord into a wall wart.
I’d ignore the theorists and see what you can get on trial. If you get a Powerblack from Custom Hifi Cables, for example, they’ll send you a money-back demo cable. I found it improved the performance of my Cisco 2960 switch, but couldn’t change the cable on my Nucleus which is moulded into the switch mode power supply. I ended up getting a linear power supply (DC3 with high-output module) from CHC (designed and made by the owner Sean Jacobs who designed the PSU for the two-box Innuos Statement) and that makes a very significant difference.
What you mean is, ignore the science. However, if it wasn’t for the science we wouldn’t have our hi-fi systems.
To look at the question in simple terms, it’s possible that a shielded cable may stop the last metre or so picking up radio noise (RFI), but if this noise really is a problem in your system then noise will probably be present from your home’s lighting and power circuits anyway. And there’s no way a metre or so of shield cable will stop this interference. There’s a really good reason kettle leads don’t have shielding and signal cables do.
Life’s never quite that simple. Advances in hi-fi have also proceeded from suck and see and then later maybe the science develops as a result, allowing one to understand why.
Back in the seventies we thought we could judge equipment’s sonic performance in terms of Total Harmonic Distortion and other measurable parameters, only to find life was more complicated. So I’ll keep an open mind and ears, thanks.
It’s also quite possible that the cables are not offering sonic benefits from the shielding or ferrites, but wire construction, gauge and choice of materials etc. I’m frankly not too bothered: I’m only interested in the sound.
There’s no doubt about it, the whole issue of mains power/power conditioners/power leads is very contentious.
A guy called Russ Andrews here in the UK has built a whole business around producing accessories that ‘clean up’ the quality of mains power.
But I think there may be something in it, but YMMV.
I’ve been trying for a while to find answers to the the question of DC cable noise. Apparently, DC does not have skin effect issues… the juice flows evenly through the entire cross section of wire. Also, DC does not generate EMI. With this in mind, is it necessary to shield a DC umbilical? Does it pick up RFI? Does a twisted pair topology make any difference?
A buddy of mine with a very nice system purchased an SBooster BOTW for his new Nucleus and it made a huge difference… I’m sure most of that was from the power supply, but it does come with a very nice umbilical!
The problem with physical science and engineering, among other things, is that even if it is able to tell us that measurable differences would be seemingly very low, it can’t tell us that those differences are inaudible.
Moreover, psychoacoustic testing as normally done only tells us about what is audible under the test conditions, with no evidence of how this might translate to real world conditions.
improvements in performance on a Cisco switch? hahahahhahaha sorry…
and to those who believe in shielded power cables.
open your wall outlet you plug your super-duper cable in and see how shielded it is in there.
total waste of money
Already gone that. Separate consumer unit, dc blocker, 7.5kVA balanced transformer, screened mains cables for all items, including the switch and linear power supplies throughout. Huge difference, clean mains does make a bid difference, especially the reduction in noise floor (better signal to noise) and clean top end.
It’s not a matter of belief. But it could be a matter of manners. Why you feel it helpful or even interesting to express yourself as disrespectfully as you have done is beyond me. It contributes nothing.
Taking up your technical point, however, people can and do intervene where the mains cabling and consumer units and earthing are concerned. The latter in particular can make a big difference in my experience with much also depending on the installation, distance from local substation and interference from local industrial installations etc. But just getting back to the power cords, I think it’s difficult to be sure from listening what is contributing to the overall improvement: how much is due to the material, construction and cross-section of the conductors, how much to the screening and how much to the ferrites - if anything etc. It could also be argued that the screening plays a role not so much in stopping inward influences as protecting signal interconnects from the influence of the mains cables.
But leaving that aside, you could just listen.
I’m a gear head. There I said it. I ran a stereo store for years and was pitched by all manner of cable companies. Common sense told me that beyond gauge, material purity, insulation, flexibly, etc, it was snake all. Now, I personally might from time to time engage in a little snake oil type guilty pleasure but I was not about to risk my professional reputation by selling bullshit. I sold some of the most expensive stuff you can buy on a good day but I always strove for value, (unless an interior designer was involved).
I had the wonderful opportunity to A/B a lot of gear. Power processing is a category in itself. Bottom line: component included power cables that went from the component to the wall generally did not sound as quiet as speciality cables. Often the most expensive power cable did not sound better than a mid priced one. All this was subjective, my ears and those of staff and customers.
What always made a difference was the power quality in the house. Shit rolls downhill. Supposed great cables won’t help you there and little generic ones only did a great job of helping me hear even more unwanted noise. Power isolation and linear power components helped.
So, as a rule, I use shorter, somewhat thicker, well manufactured, insulated cables. Guys who knew a lot more that me about stereos usually recommended the most expensive stuff. That’s what I considered snake oil.
A moderately priced Furman or other power bar with EMI lift and RFI filtering is all you need. Use regular power cables. Some come with a couple isolated banks so you can run different pieces of gear independently (like CD Player separate from DAC…etc).
Two facts I think we can agree on: (a) we don’t listen to the power cable, we listen to the audio output, so it would be good if we could measure the audible effects, and (b) some argue that we can’t really measure sound quality, but it seems that we should be able to measure if there is any effect at all, especially on such basic factors as noise injection. One article on this:
I wrote a post on this…