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Belden 19364 Power Cords for the Vintage McIntosh MC30 Monaural Amplifiers

11-21-2015 | By Jeff Day |

I'm not entirely happy with the way the Western Electric WE16GA power cords for my vintage McIntosh MC30 monaural amplifiers came out. Similar to when I tried the WE16GA in a pair of RCA interconnects, the WE16GA just sounded a little too forward & direct for my Tannoy Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers.

MC30 with WE16GA power cord

The Western Electric WE16GA sounds fantastic as speaker cables on my Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers, and on my Maestro's Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers.

An Autumn for music

Western Electric WE16GA as internal wiring, Duelund CAST crossover wiring, and as speaker cables on my Tannoy Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers.

LS VOTTs with guitar

Western Electric WE16GA is a perfect match to the Stokowski Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers as speaker cables.

The WE16GA also worked fantastic as wiring in my WRSE's Duelund CAST external crossovers, and as internal wiring for my Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers.

Duelund-WRSE Project Crossovers

Duelund-WRSE Project Crossovers with Western Electric WE16GA wiring.

I've got a lot of Western Electric WE16GA in my Westminster SE & vintage McIntosh system, so I'm not sure if the somewhat overly forward & direct sound that resulted after installing the WE16GA power cords is just a case of 'too much of a good thing', or if the WE16GA just isn't a good match for that particular application.

Either way, I decided the WE16GA power cords weren't working out as well as I would like on the vintage McIntosh MC30s, so I'm going to try something different. I would have put the power cords back on that Yves used in his restoration, but in a dumbo power move I threw them away by mistake (head slap!).

Since Yazaki-san had just recommend the use of Belden 19364 for power cords, I thought I'd give it a try, so I ordered some up from Handmade Electronics ($3.65 per foot). It arrived just a few minutes ago.

Belden 19364

Belden 19364 for use as power cables.

I misspoke earlier when I said the Belden 19364 used tinned copper conductors, it doesn't. I must have looked at the wrong data sheet. Here's the correct one from the Belden web site.

The Belden 19364 has three 14AWG conductors of bare copper (yellow/green for earth, blue for neutral, brown for hot) with PVC insulation, an aluminum foil / polyester tape (Beldfoil®) outer shield, and a PVC outer jacket.

Belden 19364 2

Inside the Belden 19364: "SJT PVC jacket, shielded, 300V, 60º C shielded, Beldfoil® shield (100% coverage), smooth jacket, 20 AWG drain wire (7x28), UL/CSA listed, international color code: light blue, brown, green/yellow."

I was kind of anxious to install the Belden into the MC30 monaural amplifiers, but I decided the best course of action was to run it in for a while on the audiodharma Cable Cooker first.

Belden 19364 3

Belden 19364 on the Cable Cooker getting conditioned.

After I condition it for a while, I'll swap out the Western Electric WE16GA for the Belden 19364, and report back on the results.

 ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

Update: With the Belden 1936 all conditioned, I set about to make some power cords for my vintage McIntosh MC30 monaural amplifiers to replace the Western Electric WE16GA power cords that had not worked out as well as I hoped in that application.

I ordered fifteen feet of the Belden 19364, and Handmade actually sent me about seventeen feet (thanks guys!), so I cut it into three equal lengths for power cords.

Belden 19364 2

Inside the Belden.

On the wall outlet end of the Belden I trimmed back the PVC jacket and the Beldfoil® shield, snipped off the 20 AWG drain wire and the fiber filler.

On the amp end I did the same thing, but I also snipped off the green/yellow ground wire and wrapped the end with black electrical tape to finish it off. As Yves told me, the vintage Mac's only use the hot & neutral connection, so if you decide to connect the ground to the chassis you'll be able to hum along with it.

Belden 19364 with Furutech plug

I then inserted the prepped Belden into the Furutech FI-11M AC connector end and tightened down the connections. On the plug end I did use the ground line to help strengthen & stabilize the plug end, but as you'll see in a moment, it's not connected on the amp end.

Belden 19364 with Furutech plug 2

View of the bottom of the Furutech FI-11M AC connector.

Belden 19364 with Furutech plug 3

View of the top of the Furutech FI-11M AC connector.

Belden 19364 with Furutech plug 3a

Then I slid the plug body on and tightened it down.

Belden 19364 with Furutech plug 4

Tightening down the Furutech's clamp on the Belden 19364.

Belden 19364 with Furutech plug 5

Tightening down the set screws that hold the body to the plug end.

Next up was soldering the live & neutral to the amp end, but first the WE16GA had to come off.

WE16GA on the MC30

WE16GA on the MC30.

WE16GA on the MC30 2

Notice those Arizona Capacitors in the background!

WE16GA on the MC30 3

The first step is pulling out the routing/stabilizer plug from the chassis, then unsoldering the WE16GA.

Belden 19364 on the MC30

The next step is to insert the prepped end of the Belden 19364 into the wire guide/stabilizer, and snap it into place in the MC30.

Belden 19364 on the MC30 2

Then I positioned the wires and soldered them up.

Belden 19364 on the MC30 3

Wires in approximate position, and getting ready to solder.

Belden 19364 on the MC30 4

All soldered up!

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

MC30s with Belden 19364 power cords

MC30s with Belden 19364 power cords.

Update: I installed the MC30s with their new Belden 19364 power cords back into the system, started up the system, and gave it a listen.

With the Belden 19364 installed into the MC30s the upper mid-range forwardness of the WE16GA improved, but was not eliminated. The Belden 19364 sounds nice through the mid-range and up, except for the aforementioned upper mid-range forwardness, being rich, smooth, and tonally natural sounding.

Unfortunately, the Belden 19364 was not an overall improvement over the WE16GA, as the bass response became noticeably prominent, and out of balance with the mid's & high's. One aspect that I really liked about the Western Electric WE16GA was how well balanced it was top-to-bottom, except for that upper mid-range forwardness with the Westminsters it was nearly perfect on the MC30s.

My guess is that with loudspeakers that don't go as low as the Westminsters do in my big room, that you might not even notice the extra bass bump of the Belden 19364, and with some loudspeakers that bass bump might even be a good thing to strengthen them down low. But not with the Westminsters, it throws the bass out of balance with the mid's and high'.

Strike two! Head slap. I should have left well enough alone with the MC30s and kept the power cords Yves put on them.

Vintage McIntosh MC30 Monaural Amplifier

Vintage McIntosh MC30 with appropriately skinny power cord.

I contacted Yves Beauvais of Vintage Vacuum Audio, who did the original electrical & cosmetic restorations of my MC30s, and told him what happened.

"Hi Yves, I swapped the power cords you had installed on the MC30s during your restoration for another pair that I thought might sound better. They didn't. In a dumb move I accidentally threw away the power cords of yours that I took off, and I want to go back to what you were using. Would you mind telling me what power cords you use on your MC30 restorations so I can buy another pair? I hope you're doing great! Best, Jeff"

Yves wrote back and told me that he has used several kinds of power cords over the years, "usually Qualtek 16 gauge, but not always. Sometimes Belden 18 gauge, almost always 3 prong."

Because I accidentally tossed the originals I didn't know which ones were used. When I looked at the MC225 that I bought from Yves, I couldn't really tell which power cord it was.

Yves is sending me a pair of power cords, so fingers crossed they'll be the same as I had on the MC30s before. Thank you, Yves!

I told Yazaki-san about the results with the WE16GA and Belden 19364. He told me, that like Yves, he has had good results with Belden 16 & 18 gauge power cords on his SETs and push-pull tube amplifiers.

After I get the replacement power cords from Yves, get them conditioned on the Cable Cooker, and installed on the MC30s, I'll report back.

LS VOTTs no grills

At that time I'll also try the Belden 19364 on my Mhdt USB DAC, and on the SPEC amp driving my VOTTs, and report back.

More to come!

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