Pulling the plug

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Pulling the plug

In the early days of separates I cannot remember one amp, preamp, or turntable that had a removable power cord. In fact, they all had a lamp cord with a fixed male socket on it. This worked great, except for one big problem: exporting products to other countries.

When PS Audio was founded in the early 1970s we were a USA manufacturer and seller. We built and sold all our kit in the good old USA, sometimes Canada or Mexico, but certainly never considered selling outside this continent.

That all changed when the Europeans and Asians began demanding our goods too. That's a big problem because North American AC plugs aren't the same as in Europe (God help us they're not even the same throughout the European and UK countries), Asia, or Australia.

No worries, just add a small sack of AC adapters and you're good.

Until you discover power cords do not sound the same. Not even close.

First step? Better fixed power cords and a sack of high-end adapters.

And this sort of works well for a year or so until we discover the growing adoption of a revolutionary new removable power cord system known as the IEC connector.

God save our vegan bacon!

The IEC connector, known formally as the IEC 60320, is today the common power cord interface connecting our amplifiers, CD players, and other gear to the electrical lifeblood of their operation. Back when it was first introduced? A roll of the dice that audiophiles would accept it. 

The genesis of the IEC connector dates back to the 1950s and 60s and a growing need need for a universal standard. Enter the International Electrotechnical Commission. Their goal was to harmonize power connections worldwide, ensuring devices could easily and safely be powered anywhere. The IEC 60320 standard, introduced in the early 1970s, was their answer.

For us audiophiles, the standardization of the IEC connector brought multiple benefits including ease of export/import and, most important, ushered in a new era of the aftermarket power cord, one of the essential upgrades to any high-end audio system worth its salt.

Not everyone agreed. Audio Research founder Bill Johnson famously was one of the last holdouts to removing the fixed power cords for AR equipment. And interestingly enough it wasn't the connector he objected to. No, Bill (formally known as William Zane Johnson) was adamant that power cords made no difference—could make no difference—no matter what. I think he went to his grave with arms folded over the matter.

The ubiquitous IEC connector on the rear of our equipment is a reminder that sometimes, the most transformative changes come in the most unassuming packages.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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