Power regeneration & regulation if necessary in your home/area, might well be something to continue on with. That said, and I'm not a big fan of Monster anything, you might want to save up some more $$$ prior to making your selection.
If your voltage is stable but your post suggests it is not, maybe a passive cond will help.
My suspiscion is the level of regulator and cond you are using is simply low... and your own recent exp says about as much, given the results from the outlet direct are/were superior to those from the power 'fixin' apparatus on hand.
many of the devices made today do operate thru a range of voltages... from 110 - 125 volts. Mine stays right around 117v. New house & new service, now 5 yr old. Modeerately infested sub urban area.
Brown outs & low voltage situations would concern me too. I'd like to find out just how low they can or do go personally. If under 110 I'd likely opt for a pretty good power regenerator like the Premeir from PSA or some mo' upscale industrial unit from Square D or the like.
I live in an area where thunder storms are fairly regular. Lightening does indeed cause damage even if the stuff isn't energized too, though low voltage gear suffers more readily than do well built amps, as do abrupt off & on power cycling or interruptions from things like tree limbs touching the power lines..
For me these items are a pretty big concern so I use PSA & RSA routinely. If I could afford more I'd opt for a better RSA unit than my present Haley as I have no low voltage issues and don't require regulation..
Otherwise, if things sound great out of the socket... play your stuff that way. Mo betta power conds will genarelly provide you mo betta results.
Other's here might be able to point you towards one for $600 which can help. I'd say again, a larger investment there likely will be required for your particular situation.
I have been in the industry for 20 years, and good power conditioning can make a huge improvement, but bad power conditioning can suck the life right out of a system.
I heard a demo of a $2,000.00 Richard Gray vs $4,000.00 worth of Monster power conditioning the the Richard Gray made the system sound way better!
Nowdays there are even better conditioners than the Richard Gray, for $600 there is nothing out there that I would recommend save up and buy a good unit.
Kphinney, prior to your discovery, did you have all your gear plugged into the Monster? Amp included? I found my amps sounded better going straight to the wall with preamp and sources going to a passive conditioner (PSA Quintet). However, your post is food for thought. I'd like to pull my conditioner out of the picture and "remember" what it sounds like that way. It's good to do these kind of tests once in a while.
Save your money. I went through multiple conditioners that INCREASED the noise level in my system. Even my wife, who could care less about audio, agreed that the conditioners were making the system worse. IMHO they are a snake oil product in audio.
I am convinced your power conditioner was ruining your sound too. Brown power with voltage drops is not the same as "dirty" power resulting from digital and/or high frequency noise, and does not have the same affect on audio performance. Presumably your APC is dealing with the brown power problems?
I have yet to hear a power conditioner that improved the performance of an even reasonably noise-free AC supply from the wall. PC's definitely make systems I have heard, including my home systems, sound "different", often "smoother" but not better if the AC is already fairly "clean" IMO. Dynamic peaks get clipped and smoothed over, so everything starts to sound like Steely Dan's early to mid-seventies mega-overdubbed mush.
This doesn't mean that there aren't conditioners out there that can significantly improve system performance by scrubbing noise from the wall supply in difficult AC environments, or reduce pollution from your digital gear back into the AC lines - I use a power conditioner with my sound system in my office in a highly polluted office building electrical environment, but this is the only place I have found a benefit to date. In agreement with Mingles, I am especially dubious of putting something in the line between the wall and your amp - in fact I am temped to hard-wire my amp at home directly to the AC supply line in the wall!
If you need multiple outlets, try this piece of gear instead of a power conditioner in a reasonable AC environment, plugging your amp into the first outlet or directly to the APC, and your digital components into the last outlets used -
Finally, I wonder if you tried unplugging your APC from the wall and running your system off the battery alone for a few minutes. That might provide the best sound you can get, albeit for short listening periods!
All of you making things too complicated. This is a simple scenario to explain. He unplugged the equipment and by doing so he deguassed his system. And if any cables were unplugged and plugged back in they got cleaned. Mike
Degaussed my system? Now I'm lost. All I know is that with everything plugged in to the Monster it sounds like "A", with the Amp in the APC and everything else in the Monster it sounds like "B", and with everything in the APC it sounds like "C". I mixed and matched a few times, but never ran my amp right into the wall -- I went thru tubes too quickly for my comfort that way.
IMH listening experience the music sounded fuller, less congested, and more full in B than A, and more so yet in C than A or B.
So, I'm now running C and my Monster HTS 5100 is S.O.L.
"Power conditioners" designed for computer and industrial applications, cheap (<$2k), and even some expensive audio power conditioners use low-quality passive parts and inexpensive power cords and receptacles, all of which are in the AC path to your equipment. Bad for sound, period.
If you cannot/will not spend the $2k++ required to buy a high quality audio-specific power conditioner (and the right one at that), save your money and your sound. Install 20 amp dedicated outlets with 10 gauge Romex and audio-specific quality receptacles and call it a day.
"I have yet to hear a power conditioner that improved the performance of an even reasonably noise-free AC supply from the wall."
Huh. Ever try a Synergistic Research 10SE? How about a Audience Adept Response AR-6T, a Running Springs Dimitri, or the Nordost Quantum?
If not, how are you qualified to make such a statement?
I think my post messed up the HTML. I meant to say A < B < C. Let me see if I can fix this by doing this:
trying to get rid of the bold.
Thanks for bringing these units to my attention - I have not listened to any of these yet... that I know of. It is possible I have heard some of these expensive and very well reviewed products in demonstration systems without knowing it, but they are all fairly new products and I have not been auditioning much gear recently.
I have previously tried in my home or listened to many units from the usual mid and hi fi suspects, Monster Cable, Panamax, Furman, Belden, Shunyata, etc. Most are much less expensive than the units you reference. I still suggest that many of these simpler and widely available products can offer improved performance to consumers living in compromised power environments such as apartments or condos, commercial buildings or houses with old or complicated wiring layouts. In my current house with dedicated electrical circuits for my audio systems, all new 10 and 12 gauge wiring, and new breakers and outlets I find the wall offers better sounding power than any of these moderately priced alternatives.
Interesting that one apparently needs to spend upwards of $5K for the power conditioners you recommend as effective (the Nordost is a little less). That is a lot of money. One of the retailers for the Audience Adept Response AR-6T is Gene Rubin, who also sells the Wiremold power strip I recommend. In fact, Mr. Rubin suggests there is no real benefit over a good power strip in power conditioning until you reach the level of sophistication and expense of the Audience.
So perhaps we are both right. I haven't tried some of the latest and more expensive power conditioners (yet), and your point that these units may be so good that they noticeably improve the power supplied to quality audio gear, even in the best of AC environments (dedicated large gauge lines with quality receptacles).
I look forward to the day I can pay $5K for a power conditioner and and justify it as a reasonable expense compared to my overall system.
Sorry, I meant "Belkin" power conditioners, not "Belden".
Fair enough, Knownothing. Well said.
Merry Christmas to you too!
"I am especially dubious of putting something in the line between the wall and your amp - in fact I am tempted to hard-wire my amp at home directly to the AC supply line in the wall!"
Don't! Its a code violation. You need to be able to disconnect the amp from the AC line.
"Install 20 amp dedicated outlets with 10 gauge Romex and audio-specific quality receptacles and call it a day."
That will certainly help clean up the power on the lines IN your house, but it does nothing to improve the quality of the power coming TO your house. IMHO, I would edit your statement to say, "Install 20 amp dedicated outlets with 10 gauge Romex and audio-specific quality receptacles and get yourself a Pure Power One 5.0 from Silver Circle Audio and THEN you can call it a day."
I agree that a dedicated line may be a good idea -- I have one with 10 guage run straight to a 20amp fuse, but as Timztunz points out it's only as good as the power coming into the house -*to and extent*.
So what of the breaker? It's only a trip switch. It has no internal shielding and for $10 I wouldn't expect it to. Your breaker box has one large mains coming in and (in most cases) two large copper bars running from the mains to the breakers. Any line noise in the house is carried along the A/C current to the breaker box and then redistributed throughout the rest of the house. It's not unidirectional.