When it comes to audio and cables, there’s no denying that the science of sending electrical impulses through copper strands to drive a simple coil & magnet motor that’s attached to a cone is technology that’s been around for a while. Over the decades, each aspect of audio reproduction has been refined, with the goal of achieving Hi-Fi sound, where the gear gets out of the way and lets you hear the mix as the person who mastered it envisioned you would. Audiophiles are prone to doing whatever it takes to get as pristine sound as they can, and even something as mundane and detached from the signal chain as a power cable factors into the equation.
The claims made for justifying the cost of high-end power cables roughly fall into three categories. First are the claims a copper power cord is somehow filtering electrons, getting them to behave better. This is doubtful and would need to be proven through rigorous testing that for some reason cannot be achieved through scientifically accepted methods like AB/X blind testing. Following that is the notion that the real upgrade is using a wider gauge than the OEM cord and adding shielding—this can be valid if you are also buying a longer power cable than the OEM provides. Lastly, there is an aesthetic factor to audiophile power cords. Simply put, no other power cords have this over-the-top aesthetic. If you can’t hide your power cords, why not buy ones that look good?
While the question of whether a power cable can alter the sound of a audio component is the source of endless debate, for the sake of this list we will stay away from such claims. But longer, thicker power cables that impress the guests are, fortunately, rather affordable if you shop on Amazon instead of going to a high-end audio boutique retailer. And if brand cachet matters enough to justify a heavy premium—just as it does with watches, sunglasses and women’s handbags—you can always opt for the offerings of Audioquest.
With the caveat that the power cables shipped with your gear are likely as good as they needs to be, if not as long as you need or as attractive as you want, here are some selections for upgraded power cables (on Amazon).
Erase any doubt that your power cable can carry enough current by going with this 10-gauge beast. The 6.6-foot length gives you the reach to make that connection to your power conditioner or wall outlet. This cables also shielded to reject EMI and RFI interference. This cable comes with a 30-day moneyback guarantee and five-year warranty.
Nothing overly fancy here, this one does not have the aesthetic appeal of some other cables. However, this 12 AWG power cable is 10 feet long, making it a great option if you need a longer cable for a high current amplifier or other high draw device.
“Only” 14 gauge as compared to the above power cables, but this is a hospital grade cord. Aesthetically it’s very plain, but the price is only slightly higher than commodity power cables and you get a cable that’s designed for mission critical applications—if there’s any environment where you would not want a power cord to fail or negatively impact performance, it’s a hospital. If it’s good enough for an operating room, it’s good enough for your stereo system. Available in 6, 10 and 15-foot lengths.
If you are the sort who can afford to spend big bucks on power cables, Audioquest can accommodate. The NRG-Z3 does not list gauge but it does make various claims about how its design lowers impedance and helps reject RF noise. Get bragging rights from your choice in power cables, along with a brochure full of technical mumbo-jumbo you can memorize to impress your friends. Get Audioquest.
We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works here.