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AudioQuest NRG-X3 Review (AC Power Cord)

Rate this product:

  • 1. Waste of money

    Votes: 293 88.8%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 26 7.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 4 1.2%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 7 2.1%

  • Total voters
    330

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the AudioQuest NRG-X3 AC power cord. I purchased it a couple of years ago for testing and costs US $99.95.
AudioQuest NRG-X3 Power Cord Review.jpg

The cord is 16 gauge and is more flexible than my thicker freebie AC power cords. The mating ends connect perhaps a bit more solidly than my generic code. I think the terminals look ugly but they work.

There is no mention of any regulatory certification, UL or CE, on either the cord, box or the website. My generic AC cord has UL stamped at one end and the cord itself. It also has more specifications as far as insulation type, temperature rating, etc. which the Audioquest lacks. I am curious how they export it to EU without CE certification.

I was "delighted" to read the feature list of the NRG-X3:

AudioQuest NRG-X3 Noise and Distortion Advertising.png


We know how to measure both distortion and noise. And company clearly cares about both factors.

My sample is 2 meter and the generic one is what I have on hand at same length.

AudioQuest NRG-X3 Measurements
I started by measuring the DC resistance of both cables. My generic cable came in at 0.13 ohm whereas the AudioQuest was better at 0.02 ohm.

Next I decided to measure the distortion in both cables. To do that, I terminated the cables into IEC sockets at both ends and ran them into the differential outlets of my Audio Precision analyzer. Let's start with measuring the Audio Precision itself without any cable with 20 volts output:
Audio Precision APx555 Loopback Measurements.png


As you see, I used 60 Hz as the tone to mimic mains frequency. Despite the high output voltage, performance is superb with distortion below -140 dB and SINAD at 120 dB. Now let's measure the generic AC cable (treated as a signal cable):

Generic AC Power Cord Measurements.png


There was some variability and slight rise in distortion at 180 Hz. Considering that we are treating an AC cord as a signal cable, this is extremely good result showing that there is little distortion to worry about in a power cable. In a pinch, this generic AC cable is as good as a balanced cable!

Let's now switch to AQ NRG-X3:
AudioQuest NRG-X3 Power Cord Measurements.png


The harmonics were dancing up and down. Within that variability, I think we can call this a tie. There is no reduction in distortion using the AQ cable.

Someone may say that one cable is better than the other in high frequencies so let's expand the bandwidth to 1.2 MHz and see if there is a difference there:
AudioQuest NRG-X3 Power Cord FFT Measurements.png


Nope. They are the same.

I then ran a reverse leakage test. I brought a transformer near both cables in the above setup and captured its AC noise and distortion (changed the drive frequency to 1 kHz to make that easier to see):
AudioQuest NRG-X3 Power Cord AC Leakage Measurements.png


We see that both have similar susceptibility to magnetic induction. This is an extreme test though. Move the transformer an inch and all the interference disappears from both cables.

As usual I like to remind everyone that we don't listen to AC cords directly. We listen to output of our audio gear instead. So let's grab the last DAC I tested, the Topping DX5 and let's see if the performance varies between AC cords:
Topping DX5 Generic AC Cord Measurements.png


Topping DX5 DAC AudioQuest NRG-X3 Power Cord Measurements.png


It doesn't get more identical than this.

Let's switch devices and use the AC cables to power an amplifier, the recently tested Audiphonics HPA-S400ET:
Audiophonics HPA-S400ET Amplifier Measurements Audioquest NRG-X3 Power Cord.png


Again, you couldn't get more identical results. The two graphs have landed on top of each other perfectly.

Conclusions
Company advertising for NRG-X3 is very specific with respect to reduction of noise and distortion. No matter if we test the cable directly or through a piece of audio gear, there is no detectable difference despite the incredibly precise nature of our measurements. This makes statements like this from the review of said cable by Stereophile quite dubious:

"The AudioQuest NRG-X3 delivered more music, made more sense of the music, managed to more fully convey the artists' intentions, and made me a happy guy."

Making more sense of music? Fully convey artists' intentions? Good grief.

Lack of safety standards is a concern. We don't know the abrasion resistance, temperature rating, etc. either. So better not run over the cable or place it next to hot items.

On the positive front, the cable does seem to have lower DC resistance and is flexible. And at $99 price I paid, it is not hugely expensive. So if you bought one, I am not going to chase you. Personally I have better use for my money than spending it on power cord so can't recommend the AudioQuest NRG-X3.

Edit:
video review posted as well:

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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Doodski

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This makes statements like this from the review of said cable by Stereophile quite dubious:

"The AudioQuest NRG-X3 delivered more music, made more sense of the music, managed to more fully convey the artists' intentions, and made me a happy guy."

Making more sense of music? Fully convey artists' intentions? Good grief.
Geeeeech! That does not bode well for Stereophile or AudioQuest. A load of malarky. :facepalm: So much for improving the hundreds of feet of lowly AC mains wire coming into the building this gets used in. :D
 

sweetchaos

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So, about a year ago, I decided to check out a new local audio store, where they sell Paradigm speakers, since I never heard them.

As I was demoing a few speakers, the sales guy asked for my budget, and I said $2000.
Then, a few minutes later, he suddenly switched topics from helping me choose a speaker and started talking about power cables.
Then, he recommended that I spend $1000 on speakers and the other $1000 budget to buy their premium "brand" power cable, because that's where the difference is heard.
This was just after I told him that I have an AVR already.
I was just shocked and said "You just lost my respect and all opportunities for future business." and walked out.

I don't remember the company they sold, but I'm sure it was AudioQuest, considering that they still advertise it on their website.
I can see people falling for this garbage in the 1990's, but in the year 2021?
Really?
:facepalm:

Oh yes, I'll publically shame them.
 

Doodski

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So, about a year ago, I decided to check out a new local audio store, where they sell Paradigm speakers, since I never heard them.

As I was demoing a few speakers, the sales guy asked for my budget, and I said $2000.
Then, a few minutes later, he suddenly switched topics from helping me choose a speaker and started talking about power cables.
Then, he recommended that I spend $1000 on speakers and the other $1000 budget to buy their premium "brand" power cable, because that's where the difference is heard.
I was just shocked and said "You just lost my respect and all opportunities for future business." and walked out.

I don't remember the company they sold, but I'm sure it was AudioQuest, considering that they still advertise it on their website.
I can see people falling for this garbage in the 1990's, but in the year 2021?
Really?
:facepalm:

Oh yes, I'll publically shame them.
That's just horrible. I imagine the commission on that cable must be pretty high to be snake oil selling/pushing it like that. Do you know if it was the owner or a salesperson? I've never heard Coquitlam Audio Video Unlimited before.
 
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ROOSKIE

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Thank you for continuing these type of tests.
I just love them for the humor and the hope that some nice audiofool will be helped from a BS purchase.
I can't accept that some companies are so shady and take advantage of average folks who essentially place trust in them.
What a horrible all around company Audioquest is, so many dubious and outright snaked products.
Really the worst of the worst, Nordost and Audioquest.
 

sweetchaos

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That's just horrible. I imagine the commission on that cable must be pretty high to be snake oil selling/pushing it like that. Do you know if it was the owner or a salesperson? I've never heard Coquitlam Audio Video Unlimited before.
He didn't say. I'll go back there to find out if he's still there and who the owner is.
 

SoNic

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I started by measuring the DC resistance of both cables. My generic cable came in at 0.13 ohm whereas the AudioQuest was better at 0.02 ohm.
That is interesting and might be marginal useful for power amplifiers, towards full load.
CE marking means nothing, they can do that if they wanted, because it is a self-certification.
On the other hand, lack of UL listing (third party) might be worrisome.

The rest of the stuff is indeed irrelevant.
 

Spkrdctr

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More Snake Oil. Luckily I have installed an electronic snake oil barrier to my modem/router inputs. Also the ethernet cable goes into a large grounding box that automatically grounds all snake oil to earth ground. It saves me from having to wipe the oil off of my computer. Works quite well!
 

Spkrdctr

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Speaking of Fraudioquest, anyone notice that Denon sells an "accessories" upcharge for avrs (in the $300-330 range IIRC) for an hdmi cable and reel of speaker wire from fraudioquest?
There you go! A large mainstream audio company selling snake oil along side their real products. More audio junk. Denon is on my list of crappy companies if this is true. I'm down to Yamaha now.
 

MaxBuck

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Really, really low resistance. That's a very good thing, from an environmental perspective.

It would be interesting to calculate how long this thing would have to be in use to pay for itself in reduced line losses.

Should note I voted "waste of money." But if payback were, say, 5 years at typical usage I could see changing that vote.
 
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