DIY Audiophile Power Cable: Step-by-Step Instructions

Audiophile and HiFi cables are a somewhat controversial topic in the high-end audio/video industry.  Regardless of how you personally feel about them, one of the great aspects of the hobby is the ability to tinker.  The “tinkering” process often involves changing or adapting equipment, sources, amplifiers, speakers, placement, acoustic treatments, cables…etc.  Beyond general tinkering, there’s an absolute joy and sense of accomplishment in building something yourself.  Much like the incredibly handy people who rebuild car engines, create built-in shelving, or construct LED ceiling star panels, today we will focus on how to build a DIY audiophile power cable. I eventually would like to release a video walkthrough but my home camera skills remain in their infancy.  Consequently, these lovely pictures on my dining table will hopefully provide you with enough information to create your own badass audiophile power cable.

Materials and Tools Needed for a DIY Audiophile Power Cable (10AWG)

Tools:

Materials:

*Note: Purchasing products through any of the links above provide a small affiliate income to help Violet Hifi continue to provide content.  Thank you in advance.

Disclaimer Before Building a Power Cable at Home

While building your own DIY audiophile power cable or any type of cable is stimulating and satisfying, it’s important to note before getting started that I am not a professional electrician, and building cables can be a trial and error process.  While I’ve created my share of cables and will provide detailed instructions, this does not alleviate risk. There’s a reason that cables are expensive and provide warranties to customers.  Failure may occur and could impact your audio or video equipment. Proceed with caution.

Pros and Cons of Building a DIY Audiophile Power Cable

Pros:

  • Significant aesthetic increase over the standard boring black cable provided by manufacturers
  • Ability to match the sleeving color to the accent in your room or system
  • Choice of materials provides a high limit on the quality of your own cable
  • Cost is much lower than most audiophile power cables

Cons:  

  • Time-consuming
  • Mistakes lead to loss of materials
  • Possibility of degrading sound or component not working
  • Cost (some may want to invest in cables commensurate with other parts of their system)
  • Material choices. Many companies have their own manufacturing of specific types of cables including their materials and the amount of strands of copper or silver. In a DIY system, your choices are limited to what’s available in local stores or online.

1.) Measure and Cut the Power Cable

I recommend you measure how long of a cable you require prior to cutting the length for your DIY audiophile power cable. Granted, if you’re anything like me, you may change your setup once in a while (every month). Therefore it may be beneficial to create a longer cable run than needed to accommodate audiophile restlessness a.k.a. the upgrade bug.  Personally, I chose 3ft as I enjoy building cables so if I decide to change components and require a longer length, I’ll simply relegate the cable to another component or space in the house.

Measuring the length of power cable required

Measure the length you need and cut the cable using the wire cutters.  I like to use the box cutter first to draw a guiding line.

Cutting the cable carefully with a box cutter

2.) Prepping the Connectors: Live, Neutral and Ground

The power plug connectors will come completely assembled and you’ll need to disassemble them to prep for construction. This also provides a moment to ensure the cables will be placed in the correct corresponding leads based on their individual designation.

Remove the 2 screws on the top of the plug to reveal 3 pieces: the connector, the body, and the end cap.

Remove the screws to disassemble the connector

Once disassembled, notice the connector head interior labels “N” for neutral and “L” for live:

Connector Terminal Labeling: Live, Ground and Neutral

The screws used for the leads are also color-coded to ensure that the correct cable lines up with the connector:

  • Gold screw = live
  • Silver screw = neutral
  • Black screw = ground

Screw colors corresponding to Neutral, Live and Ground

3.) Remove Cable Sheathing

First, remove about 1/2 inch (13mm) of the outer power cable sheath by carefully using a box cutter.  This can also be accomplished with sharp scissors.  Ensure that you do not cut through the interior cables.

Ground Neutral Live Cable Association

When complete, you’ll see 3 colors of interior cables:

  • Black = Ground
  • Red = Live
  • Yellow = Neutral

At this point, you’ll need to expose the raw copper for proper connection to the plug. If you are extremely detail-oriented and concerned that finger oils or prolonged oxygen exposure will impact the signal, this is the point where gloves become paramount.  Using the wire strippers, remove about 1/2″ (13mm) of the black, red, and yellow cables to expose the raw copper and twist the copper cable on each wire to reduce fraying.

Remove the sheath to expose the bare copper cables

4.) Connect the Exposed Cables to the Corresponding Plug Leads

Review the color connection and label used to ensure the cable is installed correctly:

  • Red cable = Live. Place into the connector hole with the gold screw and tighten.
  • Yellow cable = Neutral. Place into the connector hole with the silver screw and tighten.
  • Black cable = Ground. Place into the connector hole with the black screw and tighten.

 

Cables attached inside leads

In short:

  • Red = Live = Gold
  • Yellow = Neutral = Silver
  • Black = Ground = Black

My wife tells me I have a tendency to repeat myself. That just seems redundant.

5.) Remove Cable Sheathing on the Opposite End of the Cable and Wrap with Painter’s Tape

Now that you’ve connected the first end, remove the outer power cable sheath of the opposite end. It is not required to expose the raw wire yet. Wrap the 3 cables (red, yellow and black) together with painter’s tape to ensure that they don’t catch or snag on the braided sleeving.

6.) Measure and Cut the Expandable Sleeving

This is a true pain in the ass because if you measure the expandable sleeving to be the exact same length as the power cable, there will be too much sleeving.  Since I have not accurately created a repeatable method for how much the sleeving expands, I use a bit more of a trial-and-error method.  In order to not waste the entire sleeving length (which I’ve done), cut it very close to the full length. Then use the lighter to burn the cut edges of the sleeving to reduce fraying. Next, place the sleeving over the painter’s tape-wrapped end toward the connecter side you terminated previously.

slideonexpandablesleeving

The best method to accomplish this is the “bunch and pull” method where you push the sleeving into a compressed bunch and then pull toward the end (think of an inchworm).  When you reach the endpoint, ensure the braided sleeving end lines up with where the cut outer cable sheath starts to expose the red, yellow, and black wires.  If you need to trim the braiding sleeve shorter, use the lighter to burn any cut edges.

Burn expandable cable sleeving ends

Finally, it’s helpful to add more painter’s tape around the braided sleeving to the red, black, and yellow wires to make certain that it does not move during the next steps.

Painter's tape the end of the cable

7.) Heat Shrink Installation

To prepare for the heat shrink, measure the length you would like to be exposed outside of the connector. For my project, I wanted to use the heat shrink to adhere the braided sleeving end to the red, yellow, and black wires but also since this is Violet Hifi, my goal was to provide a decent level of purple exposure for superior aesthetic value. Therefore, I measured 2 inches inside the connector itself and 2 inches of exposure for a total of 4 inches (10cm) of heat shrink.

Measure connector for heat shrink

Thread the body of the connector onto the branded sleeving to the end of the connector and measure the length you would like for the heat shrink to be exposed. Cut the length from the roll of heat shrink. At this point, I also recommend you cut a second identical length piece of heat shrink for the other end.  Next, remove the body of the connector from the cable and slide on the heat shrink up to the edge of the connector termination.

Slide on heat shrink to power cable

Use the heat gun to shrink the tubing and snuggly hug the cable.  Turn the cable during the heating process to reduce the chance of unwanted skin burning and to shrink the tubing evenly.

Heat shrink properly snug against braided sleeve

8.) Reconstruct the Connector

Last step at this end of the cable! Slide the connector body up to the termination end and then slide the endcap on as well.  Use the two screws on the top to attach the body to the termination:

Tighten connector body to the termination end

Finally, tighten the side screw on the endcap to hug securely against the cable.

Tighten the end cap

9.) Prepare the Opposite Side of the Cable

Progress! Now that you’ve finished one side, it’s time to prep the other side. It’s imperative to be methodical with planning on the opposite side since you won’t have the luxury of being able to move pieces on and off due to terminating both ends. After you’ve disassembled the wall-plug side connector, slide the connector end cap, body, and heat shrink onto the cable.

Prepping the opposite side of the cable

10.) Sheath the Cables

Remove the painter’s table and use the wire strippers to remove the sheath and expose the bare copper on the red, yellow, and black cables.  Twist the copper cable ends together to reduce fraying.

Remove the inner cable sheath

11.) Insert Cables into the Wall Plug Connector

Using the same screw and cable color matching utilized on the other end, insert each bare copper cable into the corresponding hole on the wall plug connector.  Then tighten each one down properly.

Tighten screw terminal

12.) Heat Shrink It

Slide the heat shrink flush to the termination point and use the heat gun to clench the wrap to the braided sleeving.

Heat Gun on the Heat Shrink

Revel in the beautiful embrace of heat shrink around your cable.

Finished Heat Shrink on Braided Sleeve

13.) Install the Connector Body and End Cap

Just like on the previous side, slide the connector body and end cap up against the termination side.

Slide Connector Body over the heat shrink

Screw in the main body and then finally the end cap.

Tighten End Cap on Wall Plug Side

Bask in the Glory of Your DIY Audiophile Power Cable

At this point, you should have a finished power cable that looks something like mine.

Finished DIY Audiophile Power Cable

I feel like aesthetically it turned out fantastic and even if there was zero audible difference, you’ve invested in high-end audio and video, and much like organizing a display of your expensive power tools, this elevates the look and feel of your system (especially if friends, family or other audiophiles can witness your power cables in plain sight).

The final step is to connect the power cable to your favorite audio component and dive into a great movie or your favorite playlist. Please let me know if you try this project and comment on your results.  I hope to create a second article with a different Viborg termination in the future.

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