Extra power or cleaner power?


I'm putting a system together and am thinking through some of the factors which might contribute to the overall sound quality. I realize that testing things out as I go is the best way, so I'm asking this question not to get advice about what to do next but to understand how folks understand and weigh these factors.

Let's start with a predicted factor -- the speakers. From the speaker description:

Anticipated speakers: Salk SS 6M
Response +/- 3db — 35Hz - 40kHz
Sensitivity — 90 db
Impedance — 8 ohms
Amplification — 50 watts (or 30wpc, tube amp)
Alignment — Front slot port
Dimensions — 9 W x 20 H x 14 D

Some (atma-sphere, decooney) have suggested on this forum that even a 60 wpc tube would be great for these speakers. So, here's my question —

Assume that I could get a very good 40 wpc tube amp to drive these speakers to sufficient listening levels (85 db at about 10 feet), for my kind of music (jazz, classical), and peaks in my (400 sq ft) listening space.

With these assumptions, the question becomes one of priorities. I could either spend additional dollars to (a) buy a more powerful amp or (b) spend that money on a power regenerator. Also assume that if I do *not* buy a regenerator, I'd still do *something* to improve the power (some kind of improvement but much less expense).

The question is: with those assumptions, what do you think would add more to the sound quality? More power or cleaner power?

Perhaps this is an impossible theoretical question to answer. If so, I'd like to know that, too!

Thanks!
8700e65e 845e 4b1b 91cc df27687f9454hilde45
Better power always IMO.
I'd also vote for better/cleaner power, starting with one or two dedicated 20 amp circuit breakers, proper gauge wire, and high-quality duplex outlets. This way you are a faster track to hear what your system can sound like.
My perception has been that experiences with power regenerators that have been reported over the years have been mixed. They have provided significant benefits for some, but others have found that they seem to compromise dynamics, or have other adverse side-effects.

Personally I don't use a power regenerator, as I believe that the power quality at my location is better than at many others. (My town is zoned almost entirely two-acre residential, with the nearest commerce or industry being more than two miles away). Perhaps a similar consideration applies to your location.

@lak has offered good advice about a low cost approach to improving power delivery to the system within the home.

Regarding amplifier power, keep in mind that the difference between even 100 watts and 40 watts is only 4 db. So to the extent possible I would focus on amplifier quality rather than power capability, within that range.

Best regards,
-- Al
     
@almarg @lak Thank you for your advice. I have heard about mixed results regarding power *conditioners* but not about *regenerators.* This is new to me, and flies against what Paul McGowan has been saying in numerous videos. (I realize he sells regenerators, but I still find him credible.) As for the other lower cost solutions, I'm taking notes!
Audio as a hobby is wacky.
Naturally, we want to reference specs to ensure getting max performance. At the same time, there are so many instances  of what comes out of the speaker, your ear likes it, but it's "wrong" based on tech specs.

Anecdotal experience and "pro" reviews support this.
That being said, I use a  tube amp,turntable, tube phono amp, FM tube tuner, all thru an outdated, PS Audio  Power Plant(GASP!) without negative, audible performance.


Ancient, but I got it cheap here, 4 years ago. No problems.
https://www.stereophile.com/powerlineaccessories/ps_audio_power_plant_premier_ac_regenerator/index.h...
I believe PS Audio no longer supports these, so I will just buy a used P5 if it succumbs to the corona virus.


On movie nights, I have the Plasma on a roll away that I put between the speakers, and the Power Plant doesn't appear to mind. Beautiful picture.

YMMV as always.

I've seen battery powered dacs also preamps from audio-GD with regenerative power supplies. Front ends matter alot and cleaning up the digital chain is imperative before reaching the dac, if you're into digital. The emat+ in the circuit breaker box did wonders to clean up my power in combination with filtering.
@tablejockey , haha - you have a roll away too! I get to watch movies and game with my 65" oled between my speakers 6 feet away and a Marantz receiver for surround sound. Then I push the tv back to the front wall 13ft away for 2 channel.

Switching speaker cables to my tube integrated and moving the tv happens once a week or so and is a minor hassle, but fully utilizing my speaker and tv investment is great. I can still see the tv well enough in 2 channel mode to use as a monitor while listening to Roon/Tidal and surfing the web. Overhead projectors are either way to expensive or don't have the color saturation
Room acoustics from GIK would be my first priority.

After that, here's my thinking on power :

https://inatinear.blogspot.com/2019/04/power-management-for-frugal-audiophiles.html
+1 almarg, lak. Many, myself included use power conditioning for source and digital components only. Have the amplifier plugged directly into the outlet. Conditioning can be simple filtering and/or DC offset blocking. Most likely power reconditioning will not be needed.  

My approach is (was) to purchase the desired components 1st, then cables, dedicated lines, hospital grade outlets, aftermarket power cords of correct gauge, then conditioning.  
+ Al and Mesch

much can be done at the panel and outlet and relatively inexpensive conditioner for small signal devices. Imo power amps rarely sound better in an affordable PC.

on power amps, but the best output transformer you can afford - that will greatly impact the sound quality. Try running it on the 4 even 2 ohm taps ( light loading re Roger Modjeski rip) which will keep amp in class A longer.

of course you might also see if one of Ralph’s transformersless amps will work.

have fun

enjoy the music
brotw-
I don't have a dedicated space, I don't care for a TV in the room. The plasma/dvd player get wheeled in. Couple of connections...good to go! After the show, back in the closet.

TV between the speakers is a sonic killer anyhow.


I'm WAY behind the times. Just do over the air reception-with great results. Plenty of PBS and sub channels. Practically cable for free.
@tablejockey Yes, TV is so overrated, but my kids would suggest otherwise. Really good sounding 2 channel is such a treat, just had to find a way to get the TV away from between the speakers.

The back panel of the TV is within inches of the front wall during listening. Not having to invest good money for a separate HT is great. Half the depreciation of audio and TV gear is another perk.

Back on topic - the OLED certainly benefits from the clean power.
I’d agree with doing dedicated lines.  They’ll probably only cost about 10% or so what a good power conditioner would cost and you can use the rest of the $ to get better outlets and power cables.  Unlike additional amp power, these power-related improvements will benefit your entire system and put you in a better position to decide on a power conditioner or if you even need one at all.  Of course this all assumes you have enough power to effectively drive your speakers, and Jim Salk will be able to to point you in the best direction there.  Best of luck. 
I would only bother with a power conditioner of any sort only after you have sorted out what amp you are using. Many of the 'high end' audio conditioners are so much junk so you can really send $$$$$ down the loo quite easily!


Just make sure your house wiring is up to code- at least in your audio room! I don't run conditioning at home.

The PS Audio regenerators (which are really power conditioners, not just glorified power strips) are some of the best we've seen in high end audio. There is a company called Elgar that made excellent conditioners also- which were never offered to high end audio. Most of them are quite old at this point and so will need refurbishment, but often this is a lot less expensive than most of the 'solutions' seen in high end audio.
I will echo earlier comments that recommend:

1) Spending on a higher quality power amplification (rather than higher wattage amplification)
2) Dedicated 20a AC lines with isolated ground, and hospital grade wall outlets.

I will also toss into the mix an Environmental Potentials EP-2050 that gets installed at the AC service panel and absorbs, dissipates and removes: transient voltage surges and spikes, frequency noise between 3kHz-1MHz, and ring waves.
http://ep2000.com/uploads/EP-2050_SeriesSpecifications.pdf

I had two 20 amp AC lines, circuit breakers, and the EP-2050 installed for about $1700 total.


Clean power over more watts for sure...I would start with a good power distribution strip like Nordost QB8. And then systematically add rest of the power correction components from their QRT line. That’s the beauty of Nordost modular approach.

And please stay away from PS Power regenerator for the reasons Al outlined in his post. The top 5 companies that currently offers SOTA power correction / conditioning in no particular order are -

Audience, Shunyata Research, Synergistic Research, Nordost, IsoTek.

Good luck in your audio journey!
Power conditioning discussions are tricky to navigate. For whatever reason, opinions vary from listener to listener and from system to system regarding efficacy of a particular conditioner. It can make discussing "what's best" an exercise in land mine avoidance.

I listened to a friend's system recently. He had installed a Synergistic Research 12 UEF SE and was raving about it. I did think his system sounded quite good...and better than I had recalled without it. I ordered one for my system, and I didn't care for it whatsoever. I gave it the full 30 day audition period and returned it.

I just installed an AudioQuest Niagara 1200 with a pretty basic AQ NRG-4 power cord, and the results are great...considerably better than the SR 12 UEF SE in my system. 

Anyway, you can't go wrong with installing one or two dedicated 20a AC circuits.



Thanks so much for answering my question -- I suspect you just saved me a lot of money, but more than that, you helped me prioritize how and when to spend. The one comment that gave me pause was Tvad's: "I had two 20 amp AC lines, circuit breakers, and the EP-2050 installed for about $1700 total." 
I was looking at a psaudio regenerator discounted to about that price, and thought perhaps I could save a lot of trouble by just doing one of those rather than running dedicated lines, etc. But it seems there are additional reasons to avoid a regenerator...the comments above seem to suggest that one can spend a lot less than $1700 and it will make a sufficient difference. And thanks @erik_squires for reminding me that room acoustics not be neglected!
iF you go dedicated lines get them on opposite leg of panel from motors, large appliances, furnace, etc....
A point of clarification, $650 of the $1700 total to install two 20 amp AC lines, circuit breakers, and an EP-2050 was the cost of the EP-2050.
@atmasphere

If you've ever taken any apart, I'd be curious to know what you found, in private. :)
@erik_squires , what do you mean by 'any'?
We've serviced the Elgars in our shop. They look very industrial but they are well built.
Thanks for the clarifications. Saving into notes. 
I'd get a good amp (which ought to have a good power supply, which ought to mitigate much of this), and rather than a power regenerator, a good, simple, non-magic noise filter.
A power regenerator sufficient to handle a substantial amp or pair of amps is a big beast indeed.  That's the problem, you will have a significant dynamic source impedance in my opinion.  The reg is, in fact a high current 60 cycle amp.  The idea is GREAT for light, class-A loads. Less great for large dynamic loads. Or at least less cost effective, and somewhere corners MUST be cut. Just sayin.
Now, i realize many filters get mixed reviews.  I'm not sure how or why. I simply build them myself, and the results are always beneficial.  Remember that you are really trying to eliminate noise from the 60 Hz AC power. The Ac power itself is just fine, and the lowest impedance oyu will ever see in the wild.
Sounds like you will build quite the system. Have fun.  get the room and setup right - that's where most probems arise.
Oh, and yes, I did drag a "home run" 20A line to my system.  THEN i added the filter.
Oops, one mroe thing.  Put dirty things (computers, digital streamers, your Roon core) on another circuit, on the other side of the filter.  Otherwise you are locking the noise **in** :-)
OK my two cents. First off, more power does not mean better sounding obviously. I recently got a hold of the Audioquest Niagara 1200 and heard the change in a friends system. It made a very nice improvement in clarity. details, dimension, layering and placement. He uses CJ tube mono blocks in his system.

My general experience is how quiet is the amplifier to begin with? When I repair most components, I install an AC filter choke to clean up the AC. That makes an immediate impact for cheap but very effective. The dedicated lines if you can do them for a reasonable cost makes some difference in my experience but the Niagara made more of an improvement to my ears but I have not done a direct comparison as the lines were installed years ago when I updated the electric in my home.

So more watts is not the answer but filtering the AC in my opinion can have a very nice effect. Borrow one and hear it in your system for yourself first as always.

Happy Listening.


+1 on the AudioQuest Niagara 1200. I have had a few conditioners in my system over the years from Shunyata, Synergistic Research, Sound Application and Alan Maher.

The Niagara 1200 has provided the most discernible positive change among them all. The Alan Maher Studio Reference is close behind.

Ironically, the Niagara 1200 and Alan Maher Studio Reference have been the least expensive by a significant margin.
@hilde45
Some (atma-sphere, decooney) have suggested on this forum that even a 60 wpc tube would be great for these speakers. So, here’s my question —

As you may recall, the future-proof savings $ suggestion was based on some of the sidebar questions you posed - and you not having to buy and upsize your amp(s) AGAIN later (thus avoiding do-over costs) , IF:

1. IF you replace smaller Salk 6s w/larger less efficient speakers, later.
2. IF you truly plan to migrate from a small to much larger room, noted.
3. To open the door to a wider range of speaker options down the road.

We also discussed the possibility you’ll like and keep the smaller Salk 6s longer term, and that a "quality" 30wpc tube amp can work just fine. And, I’d always recommend a better quality amp vs. a cheaper more powerful one.
I have always been an advocate of balanced power. I use a balanced power device and my system is dead quiet. Equi-Tech pretty much wrote the book on this (among others but Equi-Tech communicates it well). In my mind this is the best method for achieving clean AC power.

http://www.equitech.com/articles/bpng.html

As for more power? Yes, more power is better than less power. The reason is not for SPL but for handling transient power demands that can create noise when your amp doesn't have enough headroom.
Please see my system and read the description. It is written not only to share my philosophy but especially intended to help people just like you. 
https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367 The answers to all your questions are in there, you just have to read and study to learn. 

There is even a sense of poetry to it. You will notice for example nothing about speaker frequency response or sensitivity. Instead you will notice the phrase, "Everything either contributes or detracts, and no one single component is any more or less important than any other." One elegant sentence and already you know its not about power conditioners or regenerators or power cords for that matter. Its about finding the one thing you can change so that your system does less harm to the music. 

So then you ask, well which one then? And how do I know? And since the answer is in the music you cross all your technical questions right off the list, and all these technical answers right along with them, and go and listen. You will see.
Ok had to research what a SULK SSM6 speaker was made of,,,SB Acoustics Satori, perhaps as good, or some say superior to my SEAS Thor EXCEL lab speakers.
I plan to add the SB Satori 2.5 way later this year.
anyway, mighty fine speaker you’ve got there..
now to match it...
Jadis used intergrated is most likely out your budget,,a gorgeous I50 just went on Ebay.
like $4K+.
anyway, my best opinion for you would be a used cayin KT88 amp. , if you can find one...,.then have the caps modded to Mundorf SGO.
add some E80’s in the AU section , and your choice on AX’s. KT’s all sound about equal., just stay with stock tubes.
Now you’ve got a class A sound system.
The Cayin I am refering to is the Cayin 70 model, with 4 KT88’s.
later on roll with KT150’s.
Trans are built like tanks, easily handel the 150’s. with no stress at all...
EDIT~~~ Just cked ebay listing on the KT88 70 model,,seems the lab emplyed the 6LS7 as pre tube,,,= not going to work.
You needa tube amp with 12AU7 pre , , either all AU’s or a few AX;’s.
These are superior to 6SL7’s. You need to hear the E80 in a AU pre socket.
Try the Line Magnetic series of tube amps, new + ship about $1400

scratch LM, go with
Muzishare X7, offers 2 AU sections, employ E80CC's. nice amp for $1K+
my years in here, reading, learning, being told things, what to expect.

 use your ears, i was always under the impression of lowest THD, IMD, etc etc was most important, not true, let your ears guide you.

 I learned my lesson.....
once i heard the Carver sunfire, i was astonished, as well as my grail amps, I was watching Pass labs monos, and a couple other pair of monos (because i was always poor, and owning monos are looked upon as having money or royalty in audio,...i now its silly, but, 25+ years of mid tier audio, i was ready to step up to some top tier high fidelity)

 Found a pair of McCormack/Conrad Johnson DNA-750 monos for a steal from a woman who was getting divorced, and low and behold the amps i purchased were owned by a major player in audio (Dan), who replaced the capacitors with teflon all around, and they are superb, ive not been happier........ This weekend im driving into Indiana, to meet Klaus, to pick up my Kismet + hand made upgraded monos he made special for me. 

Im so happy, I have 2 preamps i will consider using for these monos, I will for the first time in a long time, unhook my Carver sig 600, and break in the Odyssey mono blocs. I have an older Onkyo p-308 in pristine condition, which will add more depth to the sound, or the Sanders Sound Preamp with 20K in capacitance, but a much more neutral, pure/straight wire sound.

ill be having a great weekend, but the wait will be well worth it, as its expected a 4-7 month warm up for these ODYSSEY MONOS to fully break in.  im rambling, yes, this is what 11 molson canadian biers do to me. plus the anxiety of knowing im picking up my Odyssey monos, to break them in, ive never left amps on for extended periods, only for 24 hr warm up, then when done listening, i power off, these Odyssey amps will be a test, as im unsure if ill leave on for the ecommended time, ill most likely power off after 24 hours of listening, and resume break in for 24-48 hrs on the weekends, until they are broken in.  

man, have i rambled, im sorry.

on track: let your ears, arm hair & neck hair tell you what sounds good.
when the hair stands up on your arms and neck, and you have an elevated feeling of "wow" THAT is the moment you know you have found your amps.

 thats what happened to me with my speakers, after probably 2 minutes, i was sitting down, listening, and i had this feeling of holy ******, then i KNEW these speakers were for me. once powered by my Grail amps, the search was over ( for many years anyway)

enjoy the hunt, demo a lot, different amps, speakers, sources, etc etc.

 ok, need to crack another,
goodnight y'all !

happy hunting!!!!
p.s.

 more power.
you will NEED the power for crescendos, and power chords during program music!
 dont get low power amps.

 ive been there, my speakers are only rated at i think 250W, and my amps are 650W @8Ohm- they sound amazing, effortless.
  
which is why im nervous about the Odyssey amps rated only at 200+ W @8 Ohm will be enough for my speakers.
With the high current, they will be just fine, as Klaus guarantees,  I have no doubt ill be happy.
The Odysseyswwill be driving a pair of heavily modded cerwin vega D-9's new crossovers, sealed mid. they will b  great
Thanks to further commenters. I'll research what you've added. It's clear that this should be a later consideration, and whatever I decide -- for whatever amount -- the tips about audio hygiene (e.g. how to separate things) seems enduring.

Some of you have settled into a final listening space, and have run the lines you need. As my system builds, I have a listening space in mind. But as we also draw up plans to renovate our basement, there may be future spaces for my gear. The renovation presents inexpensive opportunities to run dedicated lines from the get-go, and I'm glad to anticipate that with any architect we hire.

Still, in the meantime, I wanted to know if a simple appliance might serve, and it seems that there may be some question about that. Settling the amp, first, is the general (if not unanimous) consensus.
I've used a Panamax power conditioner/ surge protector for over 20 years. I've lived in houses with dedicated circuits and without for my system, have had different  components through the years but always had the panamax just got a new one last year. In all that time no matter where I  lived or if it was connected to a dedicated circuit I've never noticed any noise or hum in any components never noticed collapsed sound stages hooked to it or not, actually never really had any problems. Just my take on it of course I never ran 1.5kw mono amps where a 20a dedicated circuit might be worthwhile. 
@djones51 Thanks for the rec. It's hard to know what advice to take, especially when people have different amps, rooms, and expectations for their system. I really do not expect my system to be huge, with huge power requirements. I know that some systems here are enormously complicated affairs, complete with NSA level tweaks. I'm not planning on going there with my hobby, though no disrespect to those who do. I'll look at the Panamax.

I would vote for more power; HOWEVER, it will all depend on your room which you should consider as well.  Some rooms are more acoustically satisfying than others so I’d recommend you consider that early in your buying cycle.  
Exactly. hilde45 also shared in another thread - he’s starting in a smaller room vs. future larger room (maybe), and this is where less vs. more power topic came up too relative to people asking about power and room size relative to his selected 90db efficiency speakers.
I should add that my conditioning consists of a PS Audio Ultimate Outlet (a Balun transformer) an IEC input and using a PS Audio dual outlet. To this I use two Emotiva cmX2 filtering strips that provide filtering and DC offset blockage. This conditioning system is used for digital components only, one X2 for transport and DAC and one for DVD player and TV,  and is on it's own dedicated line. My amplifier and preamplifier are each on their own dedicated line, sans conditioning. Total cost for the three conditioning units and three power cords costs ~$500 ( all bought used except one X2 at $129. 

I would suggest that one would do well starting with using a single X2 for digital. 
Clean efficient power IMHO is better, than an abundance of power. Most components only operate at a fraction of what they were designed to do because they do not have a good power delivery system.  Ideally one should be prepared to look towards their power delivery representing  25-30% of the total MRSP value of their system. That is all in with Power Chords, Conditioner and or Distributor. That does not mean that they would have to actually spend that amount. Especially if they are taking advantage of sourcing through a Used market. 
There are currently good deals running on Agon right now for Conditioners and Power Chords, under 2K - which would enhance any system. 

Good Luck
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