Hmmm. Several of you wrote suggesting my post from yesterday was obtuse. My apologies. I will try harder to be clearer. And I think it's important to be very clear on this subject of power cables. Without a good understanding of the underlying principals of power and how equipment connects to the home AC line, the next parts of why power cables matter won't make much sense. Let's try again, with apologies to those who successfully waded through my obtuseness. Let us use a power amplifier as our piece of equipment being powered. A power amplifier is connected to the AC power through a pair of wires bundled as one in a cable. Most cables have three wires, but the third is a ground and does not provide power, only noise reduction. For purposes of this explanation, let us ignore the ground wire and focus on the two: they are known as the Hot and the Neutral. One is not the beginning of the chain, as is often thought, but rather both transfer power in equal amounts, like a seesaw, back and fourth. It is common to imagine the amplifier sitting at the end of a chain, in the same way a hose powers a sprinkler: a one-way flow of energy, beginning at the transformer feeding your home, and ending with music from your speakers. This incorrect view, held by many, is what we need to dispel before we move on. The power amplifier actually sits in the middle of the circuit, as illustrated yesterday, not at the end. Instead of viewing power as water running one way down a river, consumed by the power amplifier at the end, think of it more like the lazy river pool at the waterpark, circulating in an endless loop. With AC power, the direction of the lazy river changes every sixtieth of a second, like the agitator in a washing machine. Why is this important to understand? One reason is easy to grasp. If our equipment were powered at the end of a long chain, the last tenth of a percent of the chain (our short power cable, relative to the hundreds of feet of wire in walls) would matter very little, provided it was of the same or larger thickness. Picture a car traveling down a long highway in a timed race to the end. If the last few feet of highway was gravel (the power cord), there would be little difference in time, relative to the greater length travelled. But now imagine instead of a long straight highway, we are on a circular racetrack where the same short gravel strip (the power cord) is in the middle and we must slow each time we pass, back and forth, back and forth, as AC power must. I admit I am grasping at straws to form a clear example, but maybe we've managed a bit more clarity.
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