The best power conditioner we know of isn't a power conditioner. At least not in the normal sense of the word. It doesn't filter. It unfilters.
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OP only thinks he needs a power conditioner. In reality we've all learned that he really just needs a smattering of inexpensive tweaks from SR and others. In fact ....anyone who thinks they need any new piece of gear should really focus on tweaks. In the bigger scheme of things a $150 fuse is really going to make a more meaningful sonic improvement over a new amp, source or speakers....let's just be clear on this up front. If you are in any way shape or form basically pleased with your system, DO NOT even think about upgrading equipment when you can tweak your way to sonic bliss.
Correct. Well said.
Its one thing to upgrade when you have a component you just can't stand. But any time you are basically satisfied and just want a little more you can get that and then some with tweaks, and with a lot less short term risk and a lot more long term value. Good to see you coming around on this one.
~ 15 years ago I was co-owner in a company I named Audio Tweakers, so I get it BUT replace will with can.
I have a bunch of scientific and esoteric Machina Dynamica tweaks including his springs to isolate all my components, New Dark Matter, a must have to significantly improve the sound of any CD/DVD player
If OP owns a house, running a dedicated 20AMP line would be very beneficial
As to PCs, I have owned quite a few different brands (PS Audio Premier Power Plant, most expensive; Furman, Equitech, and BPT)
For the last 2 years I have been very happy with my Core Power 1800, to which I will be adding a Deep Core. These 2 MIGHT make a dedicated line moot, or close enough
I can hardly say what is "best," but I've owned a few brands over theyears (Furman, Shunyata, Isotek) and I am really happy with my recent purchase of Isotek pwer conditioners (Titan and EVO3 Sigma). I bought these after hearing a demonstration by their sales representative. The big change was between no conditioner and their relatively inexpensive powerstrip with built in conditioning. The smaller improvement, at progressively higher price was still worth it to me, but, declining marginal utility is clearly at work here.
Whether you need a conditioner may depend on
where you live and the effect the grid has on your line voltage. It can be unstable and/or have noise. I live in a city and the power to my house is dirty. I’ve ruled out noise from appliances and devices inside the house since my electrician rewired my service panel plus installed a subpanel with two dedicated lines.
Adding a Core Power Equi=Core 1800 (balanced power) to my system lowered the noise floor significantly and improved the music presentation in every way.
Right. But not for the reasons you think. You're still getting noise from your appliances, and everything else for that matter. All that happened was you improved that one little thing. You can do the same for every inch of wire both before and after the conditioner. Which you could have done instead of the conditioner. And let's see that thing cost $1800 that would get you, ... uh huh.... right. You could have skipped the conditioner and had even better sound with unfiltering. Way better. And that's to say nothing of the panel and lines. All because it doesn't work the way you think. Oh well....
Right. But not for the reasons you think. You're still getting noise from your appliances, and everything else for that matter. All that happened was you improved that one little thing.
Improved a major issue to the noise floor. I'm living in an old rowhome in an old neighborhood with shared lines, shared transformer and ungrounded houses.
Of course, appliances are adding noise; they're wired to the panel on both legs. Tweaks could be used here, but right now I'm satisfied with the improvement.
The Inakustik AC-3500p has done an amazing job in my system. The difference between it "being in the system" vs "not being in the system" is significant. For me it is a worthwhile investment and the price is less than the budget you have set.
Check out the thread on this power conditioner, here on Audiogon. I was a skeptic, but am a believer now.
Richard Gray has been around for decades with various reviews.. I honestly never gave them a second thought as I tried and was generally satisfied with quite a few different brands over the years. Fast forward... a friend of mine who’s ears I trust recently bought a Richard Gray SubStation and raved about the increase in dynamics and the jet-black quieter background/ lower noise floor. So he loaned it to me for a weekend trial and the first five seconds sold me... It was everything he said and more.,.and I had to have my own. It’s not leaving my system and all my “audio buddies” familiar with my system agree. I’ve had it several months and as far as I can tell there are no negatives. Not particularly inexpensive but considering its transformational abilities, worth every penny of it. Good luck.
An Isotek dealer in my area has a dedicated main power panel for the audio system function, including multiple isolated lines running into each demonstration room. Even then, with a noise meter plugged into the power, there was plenty of noise on the line. When the meter was plugged into the Isotek gear, there was either MUCH less noise or no detectable noise. The audition of music also showed there was a substantial improvement in sound even if there was no actual "noise" that could be detected from the listening position without the conditioning--the sound seemed less artificial and more relaxed (without sounding dull or lifeless) and the soundstage more realistic (soloist seemed to be in a natural space rather than pasted to a spot).
Don't you love it when you ask a simple question and most of these people don't answer your question?
If I wanted to buy a power conditioner my 1st choice would be the Shunyata Denali 6000/S v2. They just came out with this new model and two friends of mine bought one and they both had the "older" model and they raved about the older model. They both claim that this newer model is significantly better. One friend owns an Ayre stereo amplifier (I'm not sure which one) that he bought a few years ago and has been very happy with it. He has been upgrading his system in the last few years and has improved his system to the point of where he now now feels the Ayre amp is his weak link. He was planning on upgrading it. He has a very nice system. When he plugged the Ayre amp into the new Denali conditioner he said it was so good that he no longer feels the need to upgrade the amp anymore. The Denali 6000/S v2 retails for $5000.00 which I know is out of your budget but you may want to consider stretching the budget if possible.
The other model that gets tons of great reviews is the Audioquest Niagara 5000, unfortunately this one also sells for $5000.00 but you can find these used all the time for $2500.00 to $3000.00. You may also be interested in the older Denali 6000 model as these are starting to be seen in the used market as well because of the new model.
The cool thing about a conditioner is, when you buy a better preamp, you have improved one piece of equipment, when you buy a power conditioner, you improve every piece of equipment in your system. Pretty cool. Good luck with whatever you choose to do.
I highly recommend the designs by the guy who started QRT well before the Nordost collaboration. ADD-Powr has product to condition the power and electrical environment that beats anything else out there. Plus, the tremendous audio improvement for the price is incredible. Check out Wizard and the Sorcer X2 or X4. Price range is $2k - $4k.
You will not be disappointed.
I spent years messing with power conditioners. I tried many different devices, both series filtering and parallel filtering, and multiple different DC blocking solutions as well. Eventually I realized that power conditioning gives gains in some areas but has too many negatives in other areas.
The best power conditioner was not a conditioner but the Nordost QB8 power strip. I did not want to believe it was better than all my other stuff, because it just seemed like an empty overpriced box. But it was.