Power cord guage affecting sound?!

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by PolkaHero, Aug 25, 2005.

  1. PolkaHero


    Jan 5, 2002
    Here's a new one for me. My bandleader said at our last gig that the extension cord I'm using is too "thin" and that a thicker, heavier power cord would give me a punchier, fuller sound. Of course, this is the same guy who prescribes to the "heavier power amps sound better" theory. Is he on to something here? What guage extension cords do you guys use?
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You don't use heavy gauge power cords because they sound better. You use them because they're less of a fire hazard.
  3. Time Divider

    Time Divider Guest

    Apr 7, 2005
    Absolutely. Use of a thinner extension cord will either a) melt the insulation on the cord, or b) pop a circuit breaker or fuse.

    Polkahero, your bandleader may be a good musician, but he doesn't understand much about electricity and electronics.
  4. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    Just use 12 or 14 gauge wire in good condition with good plugs. Nothing heavier will matter, as the Romex wire in the walls of whatever building you're in won't be thicker than 12 gauge anyway.
  5. PolkaHero


    Jan 5, 2002

    Nah, he's not that great of a musician either! :ninja: :p
  6. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    You shouldn't be using anything other than Tara Labs power cables.
  7. And only plug into a white wall socket, anything else will just muddy up your sound to hell
  8. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    So if I plug into the black wall socket I won't need to buy a distortion box?
  9. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    I like the compression I get from those orange colored wall plates...the Tara Labs power cables really enhance that tone too!

  10. Id say the black ones give more an overdrive than distortion ;)
  11. cheezewiz


    Mar 27, 2002
    BWAHHAAAA! !!!!! Tara Labs cables rule! I use one to run my microwave. It heats up coffee 33 percent faster!
  12. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Dude, I run my coffee maker with one...and the coffee is so much stronger, I use half the grounds I used to!!!!
  13. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    I could see that one coming from the title ...
  14. Ok, you guys can laugh, but a too small extention cord creates more than just excess heat, the heat is from voltage dropped along the cord, so the amp may only see 100V instead of 120. The cord being too long has the same effect as if it was too thin.

    So YES, indeedy, the extension cord can have an impact on the sound. Think of it like power compression.

    I have the furman power conditioner that raises low voltages, and lowers high ones, as well as the stock surge protection.

    We played an outdoor gig, somebody ran an extention cord from "across the parking lot to the back of the store" kind of thing, a rather thick orange cord (14 or 16 ga?), standard outdoor power cord. Being the only source of power, amps, pa, the whole 9 yards, it was a bit too thin, and too long.

    I was watching my lights on my power conditioner, there's a different light that lights to display the voltage shifting from 75v to 140v or so. Every time I would hit a low B-low E loudly, the voltage would drop down below 100V. My amp was the biggest thing on that circuit and I was overloading that sucker big time. That was the first time in 20 some years that thing has indicated a problem with the power, and I've played some dive bars in my time. But it finally made itself worthwhile.

    So generally speaking, you'll see voltage drop that is disadvantageous to your sound BEFORE you see the smoke and flames of the fire hazard thing.

  15. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
  16. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    Too long or too thin a power cord will not audibly affect the sound except that the voltage drop will cause the power amp to clip at a lower output voltage than normal. It's not like power compression.

    IOW, it'll clip prematurely on peaks and loud passages. That's not good.