Wednesday, April 23, 2014

New Wire for Power Purifiers and Power Cords

The Thicker Wire Has Arrived

Short version - it's good.

Like it's thinner brother, this wire is copper with Teflon insulation, rated at 600VAC. It's a 4mm2 wire, which is about 11 AWG (compared to 2.5mm2 for the thinner wire). The copper is tinned, which stops oxidation. I've compared tinned and untinned and they are hard to tell apart. Sure, this is not OCC or anything fancy, but for power cords I think the insulation is as important as the copper, if not more so.

When I first tried this wire in a Power Cord with PP++, I was struck by how similar it sounded to the thinner version. This is a good thing. When I did the same experiment with PVC insulated wire, the thinner wire sounded quite good, but the thicker one (4mm2, the same as this wire) sounded truly awful.

I've gone for the thinnest insulation, as the less dielectric the better when it comes to sound quality. Remember that these are high performance cables, and should be treated with care. It's not that they are fragile - in fact you can bend them all day long. Their weakness is 'cut damage' which means sharp things can cut through the insulation. In all out products, the wire is either covered by heatshrink, or by cotton sleeve. So it's protected. Just be sensible. And if you do damage it, we can replace the wire for you.

How does it sound? 
Compared to the the thinner copper/teflon wire, it shifts the balance down a touch - (ie, bit more bass, bit less treble, subjectively speaking) - at least on my system. I prefer the thicker wire as it gives a more accurate and realistic portrayal - again, on my system. I can easily believe that there are systems that will sound better with the thinner wire.

Compared to the "standard" wire - copper/PVC, it's noticeably ahead. There's just more information coming through, more resolution, a wider and deeper soundstage and more bass and treble extension.

Compared to the Kimber (which is about 14AWG) : the Kimber has a fuller, more meaty bass, which is strange as it's quite a bit thinner. I suspect that this might not be the case in the USA on 110/120VAC. 

Basically the copper/teflon wires are much closer to the Kimber than to the standard wires. But they are much cheaper - only an additional $30 for the thicker wire, and $20 for the thinner one. Note that we use the thinner wire for the earth lead. It takes about 5 meters of wire to make a 1.3 meter cord.

Which one should I choose?
For Power Amplifiers go with the thicker one. And if you use 110/120VAC, use the thicker one for everything.
For those on 220/240VAC you can use the thinner one for lower power amplifiers and other components. It's OK to mix thick and thin cords (eg use thick for power amp, thin for preamp)

Note that if you choose the thicker wire, you need to upgrade the IEC plug as the standard plug will not cope with the thicker wire. It's a good idea to upgrade this anyway, as the cost is quite low and the improvement is worth it.

This is called "Eating your own dog food"

Can I buy the wire on it's own?
Yes. I haven't set up prices or ordering yet, but it will cost $6 per meter for thicker one, $4 per meter for the thinner one. As well as making power cords, this wire would make great hookup wire for amplifiers, etc.

These wires are available now for Power Purifiers, both standalone with IEC plug/socket, and the Power Cord version. Also available for kits. Ordering page here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Kegs are barrel-shaped devices, made from two halves, called "smidgens". There is a copper washer in between the two smidgens, and this acts as an amplifier, making the effect stronger.

I first tried this approach when developing the Power Purifier - initially I used Mini Blackdiscus in a similar arrangement, but discovered that the smaller smidgens were more convenient.

They are used in Power Purifiers, with three or six Kegs being the difference between the baseline, plus and double-plus versions. Adding more Kegs gives more treble extension, among other things.

But, Kegs are not just limited to this use; they are great for the DIY Tweaker.

They are effective on many wires - some places where they have worked well include:
  • Power wires, inside component cases
  • High voltage tube power supply - so-called "B+" wires
  • On wires leading to and from power transformers.
  • Other power supply wires
In all these cases, one, two or even three Kegs can be put on both positive, negative and earth wires.

Some years ago, Bybeen Slipsream Purifiers became quite popular for similar kinds of uses. Although I have never had much luck with Bybees myself - they don't seem to do much on my system - others who swear by them tell me that Kegs work a lot better.

Kegs are available on our ordering page. They cost $69 for 3 or $119 for 6

Friday, April 4, 2014

Power Purifiers, Power Cords and Wires

We recently have released our Power Purifier with built-in Power Cord. This was the result of a request, as to whether we could supply a complete cord, instead of having the extra IEC connections.

This resulted in some mad development along with some interesting discoveries. For example, the effect of dielectrics in the outer sleeve of the cord could ruin the sound of the cord. Cotton was the best, or rather, the least bad. For best performance, you can remove this..

Another was that the low-cost plain copper wire I'd been using sounded pretty good with a very smooth and lush midrange. On the other hand, the Teflon/silver plate that sounded good in the short runs used in Power Purifier could not make a good power cord; there was horrible peakiness in the upper mids/lower highs with a sucked out mid bass. On the other hand, this wire did show that there was detail missing from the treble, and punch from the bass when compared to the normal wire.

I put this down to the silver plate - I'd never been a big fan, and I've used Teflon Kimber for years without this problem. So I started looking for wires that were copper and Teflon.

The first to arrive was some Kimber wire. This was meant to be 15 awg, but seemed somewhat larger, 14 awg at least. This sounds fantastic, with the extra detail of the silver-plate wire, but none of the harshness. This however is expensive - $160 upgrade price for a 1 meter power cord (compared to standard wire).

Around this time, I got some reports from people who had tried the Power Purifier and Power Cord in the USA, using 110/120V. The normal wire is not performing as well as it does in countries with 240/220 VAC. What I've found with wire is that generally it's best to use the thinnest wire you can get away with. Bigger wires mean more inductance, more dielectric effects and so on.

However it became apparent that this wire was not large enough for US voltage use. The problem was that I've tried the larger version of the same wire and it sucks. So I needed something else.

Then the second Teflon/copper cable arrived. This one was not designed for audio, and is much cheaper than the Kimber. Initial tests are very promising, but as this wire only arrived yesterday, there's a lot more testing to be done yet. The wire we have now is 13awg, and there is some 11awg on order, which I hope will be ideal for US Power Cords. I hope these will be available mid-April. Prices have not been finalized yet, but are likely to be $20-$40 range to upgrade a Power Cord.