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Power cords -- is there a difference?
Old 17th December 2002
  #1
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Mike Jasper's Avatar
Talking Power cords -- is there a difference?

I was unsure where to post this, but since the forum's called "Between a rock and a hard disk place" and since I appear to be in that place, here it goes.

I've been reorganizing my studio lately and one thing I did was change the order of gear in my racks. I finished the project tonight, and as I was about to plug everything in, when I realized I didn't label the power cords.

Dumb. Real dumb.

I know there's a difference in wall wart power supplies -- believe me, I know. But is there a difference in removable power cords?

Let me be more specific. The power cords I've lumped together without labeling include ones for a Drawmer 1969 pre, Apogee PSX-100 converters, Buzz Audio MA2.2 preamp, Lexicon PCM91 reverb unit, MasterLink CD burner, Fatso Jr. whateveritis and a PowerPlay headphone amp.

Anyway, is there a difference? If I use the Lexicon cord for the PowerPlay, and the PowerPlay for the MasterLink and the... you get the point. Have I screwed up beyond belief? Is it time to send out emails to seven or eight manufacturers?

Please help this idiot out.

Jasper
Old 17th December 2002
  #2
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Kent's Avatar
 

As long as they are all IEC (the very common 3-prong hole on the back of each piece of rack gear that accepts AC from your wall) style inputs, you shouldn't worry about it. If any of the cables are significantly beefier/thicker (thicker gauge of wire) than the other ones, I'd use the fatties on whatever piece of gear draws the most current. For other possible uses of 'fatties' please ask Alphajerk for info Check the owner's manuals of your gear for power consumption (Watts) or current draw specs (Amps) and use the thicker cables on the gear that has the higher numbers.

In 99.9% of cases, none of this will make any difference though. Don't sweat it.

I was surprised to see that you didn't list any Manley gear, Mike
Old 17th December 2002
  #3
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Mike Jasper's Avatar
Quote:
I was surprised to see that you didn't list any Manley gear, Mike
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Thanks, man. I've either got the flu or Cedar fever or Sickle Cell or whatever, but I feel like **** today and really needed the laugh.

I guess I'm not the only one here with a caustic, skewed sense of humor.

And thanks for the info. Yeah, they're all IEC connections, I'm just trying to make absolutely sure before I start plugging things in. Like comedian Paul Rodriguez says, you don't have to be stupid to be an idiot.

Morrison from Sweetwater also told me I didn't have anything to worry about, but I thought it would be wise to further verify this. Because he crazy.

Jasper
PS -- For the record, Manley equipment is fine. I just no longer have the desire to get drunk with EveAnna anymore.
Old 17th December 2002
  #4
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alphajerk's Avatar
 

man... there is a HUGE difference with the power cabling... throw all those stock cables away. you MUST get pure silicon sealed silver oxygen floating point triple balanced power cabling in your studio or you are just fully cheating your tone.

Old 17th December 2002
  #5
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Kent's Avatar
 

Crap!!! I was wrong. Disregard everything that I typed.


Anyone else seeking similar information should just reference Alpha's post. Sorry for the confusion.
Old 17th December 2002
  #6
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Kent's Avatar
 

Mike, I think that if you got hammered with EveAnna she would use the opportunity to kick your ass!grggt heh
Old 17th December 2002
  #7
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Mike Jasper's Avatar
AlphaJerk writes:
Quote:
man... there is a HUGE difference with the power cabling... throw all those stock cables away. you MUST get pure silicon sealed silver oxygen floating point triple balanced power cabling in your studio or you are just fully cheating your tone.
Is this true? Or are you just messing with me.

Either way is fine, but... are you guys messing with me?

It's sad that I can't tell, isn't it?

Jasper
Old 17th December 2002
  #8
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e-cue's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by alphajerk
man... there is a HUGE difference with the power cabling... throw all those stock cables away. you MUST get pure silicon sealed silver oxygen floating point triple balanced power cabling in your studio or you are just fully cheating your tone.

lol, a floating point cable?! hahaha
Old 17th December 2002
  #9
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Mike Jasper's Avatar
Ahhhhhhh, you're messing with me.

Pretty funny. You bastards.

Jasper
Old 17th December 2002
  #10
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Kent's Avatar
 

I'm just messin' with ya Although many people, including EveAnna, will tell you that there is a discernable difference in sound when using different power cords, other people will say that it is a bunch of hooey.
I don't want to dig too deeply into that can of worms (eech!) but it should be easy to see how a properly made, good, high-quality, low- capacitance, super-silver mixed with unobtainium power cable will improve the sound of gear model 'X'; as opposed to the use of a couple of pieces of barbed wire in a PVC tube.
If your power supply is starved for 'juice' the product will suffer. Of course there are many variables that I won't go into in detail. Things like power supply design, etc. I'm trying to keep this pretty basic.

But, in your case, don't worry about it. You're good to go
Old 17th December 2002
  #11
Jax
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One place I know of that using thick gauge power cable makes a difference is with your amp, or your active monitors. They draw plenty of current when dealing with lots of sub bass energy and loud, fast transients. The wider and deeper the river, the less resistance for the water.

No, this is not a joke.

I'd go into more detail about how this can alter what you hear, but I don't have the time or energy to dig for it right now.
Old 17th December 2002
  #12
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Knox's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by alphajerk
man... there is a HUGE difference with the power cabling... throw all those stock cables away. you MUST get pure silicon sealed silver oxygen floating point triple balanced power cabling in your studio or you are just fully cheating your tone.

Alpha . . don't forget that they have to be directional as well.
Old 17th December 2002
  #13
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dave-G's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Jax
One place I know of that using thick gauge power cable makes a difference is with your amp, or your active monitors. They draw plenty of current when dealing with lots of sub bass energy and loud, fast transients. The wider and deeper the river, the less resistance for the water.
I just don't get it.. When you consider that you've got miles of ancient wire carrying the stuff to your house, and hundreds of feet of romex or knob-and-tube wire getting to the plug.... i dunno. Sure, there's the wider pipe, deeper river analogies... and somehow those final 3 feet matter? They can "correct" all the capacitance and all the resistance that came before? How?

Putting a 3' piece of excellent wire between all that lousy electrical service conductor and your gear... seems like opening a window for someone who's choking.

-dave
Old 17th December 2002
  #14
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Curious G's Avatar
 

me? gullible?

Quote:
Originally posted by dave-G
... seems like opening a window for someone who's choking.
Great suggestion! I'll try that next time!!
Old 18th December 2002
  #15
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Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by dave-G
I just don't get it.. When you consider that you've got miles of ancient wire carrying the stuff to your house, and hundreds of feet of romex or knob-and-tube wire getting to the plug.... i dunno. Sure, there's the wider pipe, deeper river analogies... and somehow those final 3 feet matter?
I'm totally with you. The only thing that seems to make a lot of sense are the balanced power boxes like the Furman and Eqitech's because they actually have transformers in there to isolate and clean up dirty power. Sometimes they make a huge difference, sometimes they don't.
Old 18th December 2002
  #16
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Kent's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by dave-G
I just don't get it.. When you consider that you've got miles of ancient wire carrying the stuff to your house, and hundreds of feet of romex or knob-and-tube wire getting to the plug.... i dunno. Sure, there's the wider pipe, deeper river analogies... and somehow those final 3 feet matter? They can "correct" all the capacitance and all the resistance that came before? How?

Putting a 3' piece of excellent wire between all that lousy electrical service conductor and your gear... seems like opening a window for someone who's choking.

-dave
Well, in a nice and perfect world (etc.,etc., blah, blah, blah) the cabling running all the way from your local substation then to your house then to your wall socket (I'm greatly simplifying things here) would be more than capable of delivering the current (Amperage) that your equipment is likely to desire. Most household breakers can deliver somewhere near 15/20Amps per breaker and your power amp is not likely to draw that much. Not even all the rest of your gear combined. I'm talking about home studios/SMALL project studios here. It is a different thing altogether in studios with Megaconsoles and 40 Brystons amps in parallelrollz
This is all greatly simplified as I'm trying to make a point. Sure if you have enough gear you will exceed 15/20A in current draw and then you will have to use another breaker and then you invite the potential for ground loops, and all that, but that's not the point of this thread.

Now, if your studio is a converted barn out in the boondocks, and you are running power to it from 6 daisy-chained 150 foot extension cords, then yup, you may have a point there... Not to mention a good chance of starting a fire should the extension cord be laying across a bale of hay and it gets too warmdfegad
Old 18th December 2002
  #17
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dave-G's Avatar
I suppose my analogy and description were based on the model of the home audiophile user (who is the usual demographic that actually buys fancy power cables).

In my old studio, we had a Trident TSM, Otari MTR90 and rack after rack of outboard drawing its power through hundreds and hundreds of feet of standard el-cheapo romex or worse. I'm certain that this is the case in most studios, and perhaps you'd even see old knob-n-tube wiring in some audiophiles' houses. We used the power cables that came with the gear and nobody complained.

So how is it that tacking 3 feet of excellent cable at the end of 300 feet of interior romex and miles of non-audiophile electric-company supply line can correct all the ills that would have plagued an audio power supply if one had been cavalier enough to use 3 feet of cable of a quality that was merely comparable to the romex in the wall?

Seems to me like the equivalent of putting a 3 foot piece of Mogami at the end of a 100 foot Hosa mic cable and expecting it to sound better than the Hosa alone.

-dave
Old 18th December 2002
  #18
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dave-G's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
I'm totally with you. The only thing that seems to make a lot of sense are the balanced power boxes like the Furman and Eqitech's because they actually have transformers in there to isolate and clean up dirty power. Sometimes they make a huge difference, sometimes they don't.
Agreed. I have a Furman IT-1220 in my place and I think it does make a difference here. The noise floor in the monitors (or "dither" as I used to call it) is gone, and I haven't gated a guitar amp since getting it.

-dave
Old 18th December 2002
  #19
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subspace's Avatar
I don't know nuttin' bout all that complercated stuff you's guys is talkin' bout, but I'll tells you what I done here...
When I built the place, they ran a 200 amp line from the commercial service transformer on the pole to my building's box. I've got a 100 amp breaker in the box for the studio, with two 20 amp breakers for the control room. From the breakers to the gang boxes in the room, I ran 30 amp rated wire in 2" conduit. Most offices and homes will just pull romex for this, but industrial buildings usually have at least 30 amp rated cable installed for adequately juicing machinery. I think a studio's console and main's amplifiers qualify for that much attention to power.
I plugged my console's supply straight into the gangbox with the stock power cable and it sounded good. I took a short 2' piece of 30 amp power cable and attached the supply's connectors to it instead. The low end had better definition on transients, less soft and flabby. Hearing this, I went ahead and scrapped the original supply, cords and all, and put in a double rated supply with load sensing. This was a much more audible improvement all around, and I'm now in the process of adding individual supply wires running to every module socket from the supply connector, rather than relying on just the PCB traces.
So, yeah, I'll agree that buying a $1000 power cable and plugging it into your ungrounded 1912 house wiring is a pretty stupid way to upgrade your sound, but at the same time, using a 12¢ computer grade IEC cable to power a $2000 tube amp from a proper 20 amp socket is pretty ******** as well. Putting a voltmeter on your PSUs output to see if it's starved during transients isn't that tough...
Old 18th December 2002
  #20
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dave-G's Avatar
. . . Actually, i'm remided by the tech that we did have a specific hi-amp run to the room with the console power supplies and the amplifiers.

Quote:
So, yeah, I'll agree that buying a $1000 power cable and plugging it into your ungrounded 1912 house wiring is a pretty stupid way to upgrade your sound, but at the same time, using a 12¢ computer grade IEC cable to power a $2000 tube amp from a proper 20 amp socket is pretty ******** as well. Putting a voltmeter on your PSUs output to see if it's starved during transients isn't that tough...
An interesting point.

-dave
Old 18th December 2002
  #21
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Mike Jasper's Avatar
Furman Line Regulator AR-1215 (for example).

Yeah, I guess it probably does provide consistent power. But there's a catch. The sucker buzzes.

I bought two of them earlier this year and that seems to be the tradeoff. If you have a separate control room, no biggie. But if like me, your control room and recording room are the same, whatever consistency you get from the Furman is undermined by that buzz.

I just went out and bought the best Belkin surge protectors I could find, plugged my rack gear into it and now it's quiet. Don't get me wrong. i don't pretend that the power going to the equipment will be as consistent, but I couldn't live with the buzz.

I do plan on keeping one of the Furman's, since it's inside an Isoraxx and when everything is closed up I no longer hear the buzz. So at least my computer, hard drives and CD burners will benefit from consistent power levels.

And fortunately, I bought one brand new and one used, or I'd be cursing myself for buying used equipment. But the new one buzzes just as much. It's very slight on both units. But you can hear it.

So. Anybody want to buy a Furman Line Regulater AR-1215?

Jasper
Old 18th December 2002
  #22
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faeflora's Avatar
 

Try an equitech. They don't buzz.
Old 18th December 2002
  #23
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sonic dogg's Avatar
my house is completely encased in 16 gauge copper plate and every 6 feet i have an exothermically welded pigtail of 500mcm copper cable bonded to 20' ground rods with a impedance test well every fourth one....it cost me one zillion dollars and i DARE any stray spike to set foot within 200' of the place....course i cant afford even a small behringer delay ...BUT IT WAS WORTH IT!!!!!


loved the river analogy BTW.....as a REAL electrician it amused me.......and its really true too.....small pipe...large impedance....large pipe small impedance....the number of strands affects things too as does the annealment of the wire....(soft/hard)....you all do realize that electrons flow on the outside surface of the wire....thus the more strands the greater the range of Hz.....VOILA more surface area........peace
Old 18th December 2002
  #24
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Mike Jasper's Avatar
I just checked the Equitech Web site and learned about its Advanced "Silent Source Technology"™

Thing is, it doesn't claim to be completely silent. Right now, I've got everything hooked up and it's dead silence. The catch -- internal noise once everything is going. Nothing blatant like hum or buzz, just the whole noise floor thing. I have to believe that with Furman or Equitech it'll be lower, but if I get ANY external noise it would pretty much cancel any benefits.

And that's a room problem I'm stuck with for now.

Unfortunately, I don't know of anyone in Austin who carries Equitech, or I'd just go check it out myself. And its Web site is no help whatsoever -- the "Find Dealers" page is under construction.

The good news? My power cables seem to be working just fine.

Jasper
Old 19th December 2002
  #25
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Mike Jasper's Avatar
Quote:
Try an equitech. They don't buzz.
Well, I suspect they make some external noise. I wrote Equitech today asking whether the unit made any noise, and my question was totally evaded.

"Mike when you here what it does you will never be able to go back."

I resent writing a sincere letter to a company asking a specific question, then getting a ****in' platitude in return.

Am I the only one who thinks pro audio manufacturers are some of the more arrogant people alive? And yet, it seems we kiss their asses when they should be kissing ours.

Maybe I'm just cranky. I do still have a cold.

Jasper
Old 19th December 2002
  #26
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Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Mike Jasper
Furman Line Regulator AR-1215 (for example).

Yeah, I guess it probably does provide consistent power. But there's a catch. The sucker buzzes.

I bought two of them earlier this year and that seems to be the tradeoff. If you have a separate control room, no biggie. But if like me, your control room and recording room are the same, whatever consistency you get from the Furman is undermined by that buzz.

So. Anybody want to buy a Furman Line Regulater AR-1215?
What kind of buzz? Mechanical/Acoustical or buzz in the power? I can deal with acoustical buzz as long as it isn't really loud and annoying. That's kind of a bummer though, I was thinking about getting one for my rack of outboard. I'm running right on the brink, the TV is on the same circuit and if it's on long enough we'll trip the breaker. So, I'd assume the power is dipping enough to warrent something like the Furman regulator.
Old 19th December 2002
  #27
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Mike Jasper's Avatar
Jay --

Like I said, I bought two of them, one used, one brand new and, yes, it's an acoustical buzz.

It varies. If I turn on enough items, the buzz gets lower and lower. The 1176 makes it buzz louder, the Lexicon brings the buzz way down to where you can barely hear it -- but you can hear it.

And if the Drawmer's on? That buzzes too. But if I plug the Drawmer into the plain, old Belkin surge protector from Best Buy -- total silence. I like that.

And you're right, it is a bummer.

Jasper
Old 19th December 2002
  #28
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I've got an Equitech 1.5. It does not buzz AT ALL. When I put my ear to it, I can hear a very faint hum. Nothing more.

The buzziest pieces of gear in my studio are my Lucid 8824, and my fricken GML power supply.

You really should check out Equitech. I know I'm bein' all evangelistic and ****, yo, but they've treated me well for the past 2 years. I've called them up with many newbie power questions and a person answered the phone and took the time to explain things to me. The GFCI outlet just died, and they're sending me out a new one without any charge or hesitation. And I have their second cheapest unit.

Sorry to poop on your potential sale, but Furman gear is CHEAP. There's a reason why their power conditioners cost 1-$200 less than equivilantly rated equitech models.

Plus, I will NEVER buy from a company that sells those horrible 1 RU "power conditioners" to poor ignorant "project studio" wannabees AKA MUSICIANS. Those things are a total ****ing rip off. If I met the person who came up with that cheap design and nonfunctional concept, I'd have to make him feel some PAIN. ****er, getting rich by exploiting musicians.

Grr. heh

So my point is, don't discount Equitech just because they gave you a marketing answer. Call em up.

Here's the number: (541) 597-4448

whee!
Old 19th December 2002
  #29
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Mike Jasper's Avatar
You know, that was a great pitch for Equitech -- too bad the marketing guy couldn't have told me that.

I'll think about it. But like I said, nothing in my equipment rack makes noise right now. Not even a faint hum.

And it is a little disconcerting that the unit broke down within two years. But **** happens, I guess.

Must get over this cold.

Jasper
Old 20th December 2002
  #30
Jax
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I use no power conditioning whatsoever, and during the day if the rest of the industrial business park is running at full capacity, I notice the meters on my Furman balanced power waver within 5-10 volts of 110. The variations have never audibly affected anything in the studio during the daytime. When everyone goes home for the night except me, the meters are solidly at 110.

The Furman makes a very faint mechanical buzz that I don't notice unless I'm listening for it. This is with all my gear on and all plugged into it at the same time, except for the *computer which has no need for balanced power. The most dramatic improvements in noise floor are in my console (Ghost) and monitors (JBL LSR 28P's). My mic pres are very slightly clearer and maybe a tiny bit tighter sounding when fed this juice vs. the wall's.

I didn't go the Equitech route because their balanced power units were known to be mechanically quite noisy. They may have addressed that problem since I bought the Furman. In any event, Furman's balanced power unit is less expensive than Equitech's, but that doesn't make it cheap crap.

Hi Faeflora - our own Dave Martin uses one and he's just a dumb musician like me. lol (Don't worry Dave, I'm speaking for myself!)


* - anything with a switching power supply can suffer an increase in noise floor if connected to balanced power.
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