Power Cable or Power Conditioner?

Right now I am running a AES Signature SuperAmp and AE3 preamp with a Cary 303 100 CDP through B&W CDM7nts. They are all plugged into a 'Tripplite' power conditioner/surge protector. Right now Im not sure if I should start replacing power cables (if so which ones first) or get a new power conditioner. Ideally I would get a mid level Monster Conditioner or if I really stretch a used PS Audio PS-300. (not sure if I can afford this) I would like to spend under 500$ for a conditioner (any suggestions) and I would absolutly refuse to spend more than 100$ on a power cable. (anyone have thoughts on Blue Circle Power Cables they seem reasonably priced and well made?) Long story short..HELP! Someone steer me in the right direction!
I've done a lot of experimenting with power conditioners and power cords. They can make a pretty big difference, and I think it's narrow-minded to say you refuse to spend more than $100 on a power cord. If it can make for a 20 percent (or greater) improvement in sound, it might very well be worth spending $500 or more on a cord. Anyway, I've owned the PS Audio PS 300, the Shunyata Hydra, the Richard Gray 400S units, etc. I've ended up with a Monster Cable HTS 100 unit on my Quad 988s and another one on my Pass X1 preamp and Electrompaniet CD player. The Monster is about 90 percent as good as any of them -- in my system, at least. I use a PS Audio 20-amp Ultimate Outlet for my Pass X350 amp. My power cords are Shunyata Sidewinder, Sidewinder Gold and Taipan. So, to answer your question, I think it makes a lot of sense to just get the Monster Cable conditioners and some of the lower-priced Shunyata cords. (I've owned the expensive Shunyata cords, too.) Treat the front end of your system first. Don't underestimate the difference power cords can make. I was highly skeptical, but I've heard the difference and seen the light.
I agree with the poster above-- unless you've tried it, you wouldn't believe what good after-market cables can do for you. They make they greatest difference on the front end, I and others have found, and I heartily recommend trying some of the Shunyata line, which sound absolutely splendid. The Sidewinder or Sidewinder Gold can be found on Audiogon if you're patient for around $200-225 each; the Black Mamba is better (warm and richer) for a CD player, by runs used around $400-425.
if you completely trust your wall internal wiring you can be ok without power conditioner.
power cord in many cases turns out to be more critical component than interconnects.
You might consider getting rid of your power cords altogether and purchase in-line power conditioners for each component.

A good or better power conditioner will almost always will provide better soundstaging, sibilants, and lowered noise-floor over a good or better rated power cord.

I'm using Foundation Research LC-2 and LC-1 in-line power conditioners. They are very good at what they do but are hard to find.

I also used a good quality Tripp-Lite surge protector/noise filter and Transparent PowerLink Plus from the Tripp-Lite to the Creek 5350SE Integrated amp. Compared to a stock power cord, the Transparent with the filter networks took out some of the hardness in the sound, brought out more of the harmonics and increased the transparency - worth every $120 of the price.

I bought a Monster Cable HTS-2500 2 months ago to replace the Tripp-Lite and that made a even more worthwile improvement. Now the harmonic structure is even better, the transparency is greatly increased, the images are better focused, the upper and midbass are fuller with more impact and the sound is more naturally sweet. The improvement in musicality is easily perceived.

The Monster Power Center HTS-2500 brought a more worthwhile performance improvement than the powercord. You can find a good used HTS-2500 on Audiogon for about $150.00. Hope my experience helps you.
In my previous post, I meant the Monster Cable HTS 1000. Anyway, happy listening.
There are some great recipes for power cords on the audio asylum website. For under $100 you can build a power cord that would cost considerably more. The major cost to you is time. It will probably take two hours to make your first cord.
The Harmonic Discord website has recipes also if you want to look around more.
I've used some of the less expensive power line conditioners and as a rule I think they get in the way of the music. The better ones (i.e. ps audio/tice) sound a lot better and actually work.
Good luck
Hi Squiddy. Here is another thought. I have tried the Virtual dynamics PC's. They are to be used without power conditioners direct into the wall. Now I do both. I use the VD audition on the amp directly into the wall. I have a panamax surge protector plugged into a monster hts1000. The monster is plugged into a VD cryoed power 2 extension cord into the wall. Friends were in on the weekend. They haden't heard the system before the cords and we played dire straits "loud". "Iron Hand" from "On Every Street". The sound was clear, deep, powerful. We listened in awe. We had heard them perform this live when they had toured. The point of this is you have a choice. You could pick up a used or discontinued monster hts1000[highly recomended] and get a vd power cord and use it on the amp. Later you could put a vd extension cord on the monster and lift its performance again. Do lift your power conditioner off the floor or carpet. Bricks work nicely.
Nrchy is right. Most of the power conditioners I've heard mess up the sound -- either just a little or a whole lot. And I'll bet he's right about the cords, too.
9rw, Nrchy already pointed out that cheap power conditioners will sound bad and he is right. You then use his qualified statement as proof for your unqualified statement that 'Most' power conditioners mess up the sound.

Sorry, but you are simply wrong on this point.
Wow thanks for all the help so far. But I guess Im still kind of torn...seems like monster will make an improvement over my Tripplite but some feel monsters will make matters worse? As far as power cables...should I start with the my CDP?
i would get a ps300 with mw first, it is one of the best improvements you can make, try running your front end and pre thru it. later get cords, have ps labs and jp master ac very good prices used, anyone in ks area welcome to listen to my system . mike
Hello: It is my belief that a direct connection (with a quality power cord) to an AC wall outlet is the best method --this is particularly true I feel for power amplifiers. The caveat here is that, ideally we would have 2 or 3 seperate AC lines (on the same electrical phase from the electrical box) in which we could connect our audio equipment. Naturally, some of us (including myself) reside in an apartment with limited AC outlets and questionable AC quality. Which brings me to my suggestion; simply try a power extender strip with detachable AC inlet--(Wireworld electrifier about $50 or PS Audio --$200). Purchase a decent power cord (XLO PL-1500, approx. $150, or Kimber PK-14 also about $150) to connect the outlet strip and then plug all of your components into the power bar-extender starting with the highest power cosumption component first (amplifier), then preamplifier etc. If at all possible, try connecting any digital component into a seperate AC outlet. CD player's/DAC's really do put a lot of noise back into the AC line.

From my experience, power conditioners/surge protectors tend to "soften" the sound too much --impairing transparency, focus, clarity and dynamics.

peter jasz.
I would recommend picking up a high quality used power conditioner first. You can find a used AudioPrism Power Foundation II or III in your price range used and start from there. Its like buying good cords for all your components at once. Then you can upgrade your cords when you can afford too. I bet you won't go back to stock again! :)
I don't know where you live but in most places the power company doesn't consider voltage fluctuations of twenty volts to be excessive. Your equiment will work under these conditions but it will be handicapped by what's coming in the wall.
I know it's not what you want to hear but I think you will be much better off to bite the bullet and go for the ps audio P300. Regardless of what comes in the house the ps audio will constantly supply you with the power you need. I don't know enough about the Monster power conditioners. I looked at them once at a stereo shop but wasn't impressed by them or the salesman. I'm not sure the perform the same function.
Actually I built another power cord yesterday. I only needed a four footer and I calculated the cost to be about $46. I've seen and heard a lot of power cords and I know you would have to spend over $200 to better these cords.
In your price range, the Tice Solo AV is a great product. I would start there and then try some cords as your budget permits, as the cost of three decent cords will add up fast.
I second the above. Get an A/V Solo and as soon as you can get the power amp out of there. I bought a Tice PC3 power cord for my power amp and the difference is HUGE!

The A/V Solo is really good but it's definitely entry level. I use two isolation transformers in series for my digital. One is plugged to the Solo's digital outlet and harbors my CDP and another transformer which in turn isolates my DAC. It works wonders.
Regarding Stehno's post, most inexpensive AND expensive power conditioners sound bad. And the lowest cost Shunyata cords sound better than cords costing a lot more. Anyway, I'm just trying to help Squiddy by giving him another point of reference. If Stehno thinks all the expensive power conditioners and cords are just great, he should go back to his Kenwood/Bose 901 system and Britney Spears CDs and enjoy.
Ah the controversy..gotta love it!