Power Conditioners

Not sure if I placed it in the correct topic but here goes. I was just wondering how power conditioners work, as I want to buy one. There are conditioners with only filtered inputs and conditioners with some filtered inputs and some unfiltered. I believe the unfiltered ones are for analogue devices. But why should these go into the unfiltered part? If I buy a power conditioner for example with only filtered inputs, will I not be able to put my class A amp in? Or will it have a negative effect?
Here is an interesting comparison between PS Audio and Audioquest, along with some useful information:

They dont Work! Just plug your stuff directly into the wall outlets, otherwise your just adding lots of color and killing dynamics. I have been in this hobby for 40 years and my system has never sounded better With a power conditioner or filter or protector. Put the money into some great power cables or cables for your system. :-)
Matt M
@erik_squires great reading man! Thank for sharing that! @mattmiller thats not my experience, I used to have one and I loved the black background and the greater detail and dynamics.
Until half a year ago, I always went directly into the wall. Whether it was BrickWall, TrippLite or Blue Circle, they all limited dynamic range and soundstage size, resulting in everything else following suit.

With the AudioQuest Niagara 1200, none of that happens. The noise floor goes waaay down allowing everything else to shine. Absolutely no loss of anything across the frequency range. Dynamic range is superb as well. One of the best investments I ever made. 

All the best,
@erik_squires still I am wondering why the power conditioners of for example Vincent or Dynavox have different input types (filtered vs unfiltered). Is that because of the 2 zone topology in your example?
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Hi OP,

I think that the difference is whether they use parallel only parts, like for surge protection, or whether they try to do noise as well.

The issue is that parallel surge protection and filtering simply can’t get down low enough in the frequency range, so you’ll often see them brag about EMI/RFI noise suppression, but that’s in the 100kHz range.

The true series mode surge supressors are ALSO noise suppressors that work down in the 3 kHz range. That’s well down into the audible range of noise.  Some believe that anything in line with the electric company is bad, so they will avoid them.

Personally, I don't want to be connected to the transformer directly.  It's noisy, and may cause surges.  I'm good with noise filtering and series mode protection.


Here is something, that amazed me. I use Tripplite 2400s. I use a few different brands of gear. ALL my Mac gear works perfect, no problem plugging into the conditioner. I have Parasound Zpre3, It doesn’t like the conditioner, It looses, a LOT of the dynamics, top and bottom. Plug the thing direct into the wall, sounds wonderful. I use just a surge protector on it, sounds perfect...

I think the better the Power Supply in the gear, the better they respond to a conditioner. Not uncommon at all to scrimp, there, even in high dollar equipment. I’ve just NEVER seen it in Mac, 25 or so pieces, no problems.
The Parasound, older Marantz, One pair of Carys (6 pacs) don’t sound as good. Cary V12R, it works perfect on a conditioner. Again different Power Supplies, even within the same or close to the same manufacture Cary/AES.
The two respond differently, to conditioners, ones fine ones not..

So if wall warts go into the dirty zone, does it also mean the DAC and the record player? Only amp and CD player have grounded power cables so they go into the clean zone?
For the sake of ground loop issues, all on he same plug, 2 plug outlets, one for the conditioner, one for the surge protector.

Sooo all devices go into the conditioner and the conditioner itself goes into the surge protector? 
I was thinking of doing this: having two plug outlets with each having a conditioner with built in surge protector. One will be the dirty zone, as per @erik_squires example, the other the clean zone. The clean zone will handle the amplifier, the dirty zone will handle the rest (DAC with wallwart, CD player with grounded cable, record player with wallwart, streamer without grounded cable).
There are two outlets on a normal 15 amp outlet. Use one for the conditioner, maintainer, suppressor and one for just a surge suppressor. Not one into the other. Same outlet (circuit) different plug.

Maybe I don’t understand how a surge protector works then.. I thought it would only protect the devices that are plugged into the surge protector?
....different input types (filtered vs unfiltered).

on my APC  power conditionner,  ´´  unfiltered  ´´   is for power amp.
or  subwoofer  .  Where a lot of power is immediatly needed.

´´ filtered  ´´  is for pre amp, Dac , blueray,  etc.
Get the VIBEX Platinum the best on the planet asap.
A while back I was dealing with this question and had some really nice exchanges with recently passed Almarg.

Al, you might not know, had a quite a lot of experience. He summed it up to me this way:

Re my background, I’m a retired electrical engineer, with a little bit of a legal background as well. Specifically:
  • BS in Electrical Engineering, Columbia University
  • MS in Electrical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute JD (Law Degree), University of Connecticut
  • Licensed Attorney and Patent Attorney
  • 33 years experience designing and managing design of analog, digital, A/D converter, and D/A converter circuits for defense electronics, primarily airborne radar systems.
Al said he had hit upon a reasonably priced and, in his view, sufficient solution. Here’s what he suggested and what I bought:

Three things to buy:

(a) Audience Adept Response aR2p power conditioner — found it used
(b) Wiremold Legrand powerstrip (available at Newark)
(c) Shunyata Research Venom Defender AC Power Line Reducer — found it used

Hooking it up:
(a) Audience plugs into the wall.
(b) Powerstrip plugs into the Audience
(c) Shunyata plugs into Powerstrip.

My total cost was $578.

So if wall warts go into the dirty zone, does it also mean the DAC and the record player? Only amp and CD player have grounded power cables so they go into the clean zone?

Dirty/clean is not about having a ground plug.  The ground plug is usually a safety, not a noise, feature.

But anything with a digital power supply and/or processor is something I try to put in it's own, like network routers and switches.
Agree with Eric. Additionally a well designed DAC will have a Faraday Cage AND a linear PSU so you can put it on the clean side.
@hilde45 thanks for making my day by quoting Al

we are so much diminished by his loss
@tomic601,@hilde45 ,
Thanks for posting that, and I miss Al, too. I think he will be remembered here for a long time as being one of the most pleasant, informative and well written contributors here on Audiogon.
+1 for the Linear Power Supply.
I’ll second the Audioquest Niagara 1200, it was worth every penny. I use the Audioquest thunder high current power chord for my amp, and the rest are all Audioquest X3’s. The Niagara is plugged into the wall socket via a Audioquest Z3 power cable. This is all on a dedicated 20 Amp circuit using 12 gauge romex. What I cannot fit into the Niagara goes into a Furman pst-8, another great power conditioner/strip. The Furman is plugged into the same 20 amp dedicated receptacle, the Audioquest NRG. I think my system sounds great. Lots of dirty power here and numerous thunderstorms. All this was very expensive to me, but worth it as I only have to do it once. I’d probably be dead before any of it wears out significantly, if at all.
One more question about these power filters/conditioners (is there a difference at all??). 
They have these markings to put everything in phase. That's wonderful, but how can I put a wall wart in phase? Is there any method to know which of the connectors is live and which is neutral?
First thing, do you have any issues with your system? I forgot to ask.

Second get a multi meter, if you don't have one, STOP.. Don't get hurt, get some help.
DO NOT work on hot circuits, no multi-meter, NO WORK!!! i
If you do know what your doing, are comfortable, and NOT COLOR blind, (I ran into that to :-) )

White = neutral
Black = hot
Green = ground
Bare = ground
red = aux/hot/jumper/assignable

Phase? reverse the black and the white, when there is no ground?
or is it direction on the cable?

These are questions for you, don’t mix them up, yes direction matters.
Cables, normally work better in one position or direction, unless they are already set up that way. Male, female as an example.

OR Don’t use a wall wart, and use a good SURGE suppressor and a maintainer. It’s not a SQ issue FIRST for me, It’s a safety first, protection second. BUT SQ won’t suffer, with good Equipment and protection.
Let it settle for a while, rout your cables correctly...Get them off the floor.
It’s your equipment, I protect my expensive equipment, plane and simple.

Thanks for your post @oldhvymec but I have a hard time understanding what you mean to say :-D

What I try to accomplish with my system is better SQ, less noise. I’ve had a filter before and it helped a lot. Now I want to buy a new one and I want to set it up as correctly as I can. So everything in the correct group and all devices in phase. With the regular power cables it’s easy to put it in phase but the wallwarts and power cables without grounding it’s hard.
You do NOT need them, unless you live somewhere with a lot of lightning strikes. Other than that, there is no need. The filtering in the PSU of your devices are more than adequate. The rest is mostly snake oil or the improvement is so insignificant, it is not worth the expense.

If you have hum or noise issues, they are typically due to other reasons.  Those typically occur when you connect 3 pronged (with an earth connection) plugs to DIFFERENT outlets.  The miniscule potential difference which exists between the different earth points are what causes hum issues (earth loop).  Make sure that ALL your 3 pronged plugs connect to the SAME outlet, making a star connection.
Bull pucky. It's not snake oil, no matter how often someone gets up on their soapbox and yells at passerbys.

 I've measured the AC over the course of many days, all day long and it never varied more than +/-2 volts.

No lightning strikes here either.  All gear is built to a price point and based on tech from many decades ago. I thought everything was hunky dory until I got my Niagara 1200. It was no contest concerning the difference.

To infer that all equipment out there is improperly designed and built i(if you end up hearing a difference) s silly and misleading.

Here, read this from John Atkinson of Stereophile (the king of measurements and always quoted by the naysayers as some kind of justification to rely on measurements only)

The article is about op-amp chips but goes into some depth on the lack of proper measurements and the equipment needed for them. Small things have a very large effect.

All the best,
again. Snake oil. 99% of electronics will already rectify/filter 99% of the noise out of the PSU dc lines reducing down to a miniscule ripple. You will not hear any difference.

İf you are hearing a difference, you must live somewhere where your power company should be taken to court for not being able to provide even the basic service. 
So you do have a noise issue? Is that correct, noise issues that you can hear? Usually ground loops and routing. I've heard some NOISY systems behind lazy cable routing.  A wall wart won't make noise go away when it's a routing issue. Though I've seen a LOT of folks try.. LOL

We never had lightning strikes closer than 50 miles from my home, either until a month ago and lightning stuck a house two block away. Lightning strikes on the mountain, not uncommon. That same round caused some serious brown outs, black outs, and then surges, coming back on line.

It’s your equipment, me, it’s safety first, I protect equipment by maintaining the voltage, 120 on the button. I’ve never had a SQ issue, noise issue, or loosing expensive equipment because a LACK of protection. I just don’t do it. There is NO reason to lose anything..
I’m a mechanic, I stay out of trouble, NOT get out of trouble...

You keep saying "in phase" do you mean on the same rail at the main, your loosing me here. ALL on the same 120 vac rail? There are two 120s and 240 vac between the two. 240 vac single phase.

You keep saying "in phase" do you mean on the same rail at the main

Google it my friend... maybe it’s different in America? 

again. Snake oil. 99% of electronics will already rectify/filter 99% of the noise out of the PSU dc lines reducing down to a miniscule ripple. You will not hear any difference. 

İf you are hearing a difference, you must live somewhere where your power company should be taken to court for not being able to provide even the basic service
100% pure, unadulterated ego speaking here.

If I built it, no one can improve upon it. Instead, look at it this way: something's come along that can truly allow my gear to shine the way it's supposed to.

It's obvious you didn't read the link I provided.

All the best,
+1 @nonoise

Far too many people here post based on belief, not on experience. Of course, i can understand that because I used to hold a similar belief.  It’s true that some of us live in noisier environments so they might benefit more from conditioning.  However, it’s also true that the grid itself is a very noisy environment. 

I ended up buying an Audioquest Niagara 5000.  I was told by the dealer that every person who’s auditioned it at home has bought one.  I plugged it in and the difference was dramatic and obvious within seconds.  No placebo here either as I was skeptical and expecting marginal to no difference it - I’ve owned and auditioned several other conditioners in without such significant results.

I’d suggest what is always reasonable advice - try one in your own system.  If you don’t like the results for cost, move on.  But, fairly significant improvements are available - in addition to protecting your gear.  
In my system,here in Arzona, all the power conditioners I've tried added warts to the sound....takes a bit of time, but that's what they do here.  PS Audio, flattened and narrowed the sound....some of them addred unwanted grain. Most changed something or other that made it seem better at first, but in the end, sent them all back. Everyone should try them and judge for yourself in your system
I may never know if my system sounds better plugged directly into the wall. I can’t afford the risk. Maybe I’ll step up to a nice power conditioner or regenerator eventually, but I’d rather have a flawed system than have no system. I’ve seen too many strange things happen to go unprotected. Wrap that rascal. 
Post removed 
I’ll tell you how noisy my power is.

I switch on / off my lights? I hear a blow in my speakers. My fridge regularly unloads a small current on the ground wire. Result? A plop in the speakers. Even when my neighbour switched on or off his light I hear a blow in the speakers! Unfortunately there is no power filter that I know of that can handle these spikes.

Whenever I use a power filter however, that bit of static noise that you hear all the time through the speakers is gone. It’s pitch black. And that is something worth buying a power filter for already if you ask me.
The reality of power is so completely different than all you guys think you will be blown away to hear my system. Carry on with your little echo chamber. I am so far beyond you cannot even imagine.
I plug my tube amps into my Niagara 7000. First power conditioner I have ever owned that the amps sound better than direct to wall, the sound is more dynamic.

@millercarbon what do you mean to say? Do you have a big ‘ol power conditioner or not?

Don't mind mc. He's a legend in his own mind, ever ready to drop an insult, brag about (you guessed it!) himself, and denigrate others at the drop of a hat, like he just did.

All the best,
I have been introduced to a new type of power conditioner, the first of it’s type I saw was from Germany. However the second one, introduced to me by an Agon member is the one I purchased, is from England.

The one I purchased has two transformers in parallel to support the current load, and it has protection from power spikes, nothing too different here.

Then it has capacitors in the circuit that effectively remove DC from the AC.
Individual for each outlet.
Then there is in the shunt to ground off the AC sine wave. This filter has individual inductors on each outlet that are a high pass filter then in parallel with both the active and another for the neutral short energy back to ground.
What does that mean? Frequencies interpolated in the AC sine wave that are riding on the alternating current are shorted to the ground wire back to the box. The path of least resistance isn’t into your bridge rectifier, stiffening caps, linear regulator, it’s back to ground.

There’s no current limiting, the current carrying conductors are still only added to in parallel, and this draws away the nasty hash from the alternating current.
Others have also commented on the incredible difference it has made.
Being USD$2400 it was cheaper than the German made device, with individual filtering for each output device, so no chance of noisy devices affecting another.

Thank you Agon, for the free advice and the best conditioner I have heard or used.

I have a Datasat RA-2400 that’s a two by 400watts @ 8Ohm amplifier, my TV (I use it as a monitor), HDPlex 200W linear power supply (for my fanless PC server), DAC and the MCP thing for my Synergistic Research Master Coupler X2 20A power cord feeding it - all running through the device. It performs perfectly, and the system is cleaner with no loss of power that I can hear.
That sounds really nice @rixthetrick do you care to share what devices it were? I believe Isotek or Isol-8 does something like that, no?
So the German one is the Inakustik AC-3500P (which I was almost going to buy, I just had a little more money to squirrel away for it)
Then I was in contact with an Agon member, who I asked what he has, he shared and as I was already interested in the Inakustic saw the value in the Puritan.

Puritan PSM156

As for the Niagara products, I have only ever read or been told good things about them also. For me the price / performance was a best fit for my budget was the Puritan.
Audioquest Niagara 1200 is the best! Don't have to mortgage house to get one and it works! Very black back ground and the music leaps from my speakers. I hear what I hear, your results may differ....
I added a Niagara 1200 last year and experienced an immediate improvement in SQ.  Blacker background to music, individual instruments were more distinct, the slightest nuances of music became much more defined.  I'm now changing my system layout by adding a Symposium Acoustics Foundation Rack Ultra.  I'll leave the Marantz theater processor, multi-channel amp, and BD player in my present cabinet/rack and use the Niagara 1200 for those components.  I'm adding a Niagara 3000 for my main audio components going into the Foundation Rack Ultra.  For that setup all power cables are Audioquest Tornado (High-Current and Source).  
The bottom line is that I was so impressed with the outcome of the Niagara 1200 that I am taking everything to a higher level by reconfiguring the system and adding the Niagara 3000, connected to a dedicated 20 amp line, specifically for my main rig.  The Niagara products work exceptionally well.  I stand by them and can't recommend them enough.
@millercarbon knows all. He is never wrong and has the best of the best...for him, probably not for you.

Take a look at a PROPER power supply for an amplifier here:


And another one:


Everything you say you witnessed in the German power conditioner are ALREADY almost all in the power supplies of properly designed amplifiers.

Apart from extreme overvoltage protection and voltage regulation (as I said before, in this case you need to take your power company to court), there is nothing else to gain from spending on a power conditioner.


All large electrolytics are usually supplanted on their side with smaller hi grade mica capacitors around  0.1 -> 1uF to short out the hi frequency noise.

By rectification, I meant to say the peak value of any variation on the txformer output will be caught by the large filter capacitor.  Any hi frequency noise will be snubbed by the capacitors in parallel with the rectifier diodes.

99% of all amps have all these hi freq eliminating capacitors in place.

I bought a power Wedge years ago and it made a huge improvement in my system. When I bought a new system, I also upgraded to a Shunyata Venom strip. It has a Carling breaker to protect your equipment, in the event of a surge, and has a separate power filter that plugs into the strip, so you can use it with or without the power filter.