Power Conditioners: Myth, Magic, or Necessary

I own a Granite 860.1 monoblock system which I love.I upgraded the power cords to premium $395.00 models.
I can hear no difference. I bought these upgraded PC's
because I thought I was "supposed to" after reading all the ads and testimonials.

The next logical upgrade for me is a power conditioner.Do these power conditioners actually improve the sound of my system? Or, are they like the "Emperor's New Clothes?" By that, I mean a hype.Are they a tweak for audiophiles obcesssed with perfection?
I am referring to power conditioners in the $500.00 to $1000.00 price range.I live in Riverside, Southern California where the electrical power is as pure and clean as the skies.
In my opinion, there is little doubt that the needs for power scrubbing is related to the power source in your area. It does vary from one area of the country to another. Urban areas are worst. If you live in a rural area and have few "dirty" users in your area, it is concievable that you may realize little or no improvement. Also, things depend on what you have in your house that may interject noise onto the line. If you have few, or no offending items, this would also lead to not hearing a difference.

While I generally maintain that differences in sound can be heard by most people, if an upgrade in power cord makes no difference to your ears, then IMO it is not a cost effective modification for you.
If I were you I would sell those power cords and enjoy the music, why upgrade if there is potentially no gain? Why do you feel you NEED power cords and possibly a power conditioner? is there something you don't enjoy about your sytem? Let me just say I am an avid PC fan but simply put if you can't discern the difference don't spend the money-it doesn't mean your less of an audiophile.
i have old power wedges and dedicated circuits - the improvement i have most noted is they help in the elimination of a static low level hum heard mostly when there is no music playing. i still have to float grounds and they do not not effect transformer hum. all in all a small gain for me.
Power conditioning CAN make all the difference in the world DEPENDING on the component. The only way to really tell is through trial and error. For example, my amplifier (Gamut D-200) does not really like bening plugged straight into the wall. I get deffinite improvement from the sound of the amp when it is plugged into a PS Audio 20 HC UO. My amp even sounds better plugged into a PS audio power plant (unfortunately I do not have a power plant big enough to really plug in into effictively, but I have experimented with my P300, the combo is amazing).

Anyway, my Ayre K-3x preamp is just the opposite. The Ayre much prefers being plugged into the wall and does not like power conditioning of a UO or power plant. The Ayre though does have a lot of power conditioning in the preamps design, and Ayre told me (though I did not 100% beleive them at the time) that I should just plug the preamp into the wall. After some experiementation, I came to the same conclusion.

I would start with a few dedicated 20 amp circuits if you don't have them. The correct power conditionor could do wonders for anyones system however that is a debatable topic, it worked wonders for me.
I have also demoed different power cords, where some were wonderful and some did nothing for my system. It's possible that the power cords you purchased work well for other systems but not in yours. Sometimes you have to demo different brands to find the one that works well for you.
I have an entry level Chang Lightspeed conditioner I've had for about 3 years. I have noticed quieter backgrounds and longer decay to notes. I think it's the kind of thing you notice more it's absence than in it's presence. For the record I live in DC, where I'm sure the power is as nasty as the water!
I was very happy with my audio system. Balanced, beautiful sound, the whole deal. Then I purchased an Audio Magic Stealth Power Purifier. Why? Because it was there, and I read a lot of good press. Now I am even happier. I'm always happy with my sound. I just want to be a little happier, if I can afford it. If you didn't hear a difference with your PCs, that doesn't mean what you think it means about PCs. Maybe they are not doing the job. You may hear the difference with another set. I cannot imagine that you will not hear a difference with the Stealth. The differences it makes in my system are dramatic.
There are a LOT of variables in such a situation:

1) Some equipment is less susceptible to changes in AC delivery due to design and parts used. For instance, a unit that has an iron core ( rather than toroidal ) transformer "should" offer "blacker backgrounds". A unit that has bypass caps on the main filter caps should offer less voltage ripple and a "blacker background". A unit that has snubber caps across the rectifiers should offer a "blacker background". A unit that uses "high grade" rectifiers should offer a "blacker background". All of these simple tricks add up to a more natural, cleaner and more dynamic presentation. The effects are "additive" as they can all work together to improve the system to an even greater extent than if you did just one or two of them individually. Each design change / modification would make the unit in question less sensitive to the AC coming into it. Obviously, there are different combo's of the above that will vary the level of AC isolation involved. Needless to say, all of the above "tweaks" add up to making a more expensive product.

2) Some designs have a poor design / parts layout / parts selection.. Due to internal impedances, improving the power delivery prior to the unit may not make any difference at all. This is kind of like trying to put racing fuel into a "beater" that has no compression and timing that is way out of whack. No benefit what so ever.

3) Some units have line filtration built into them from the factory. This can vary in degree and effectiveness, but it would tend to minimize or at least reduce the effectiveness of filters closer to the AC source. In some instances, putting two filters in series can create a different tuning / slope rate and make things worse or at least "very different". It is also possible to find a combo that works synergistically ( hmmm... i wonder how they came up with THAT name ) where the parts total is greater than any of the parts on an individual basis.

4) Most "high end" power cords are nothing but "snake oil" with phenomenally high profit margins. They do nothing in terms of added filtration. Their main "claim to fame" could be that of lowered series resistance and increased current capacity. While they can slightly alter the impedance of the circuit, most are not designed to do so to any great extent. This would require special geometries, additional electrical parts and / or a combo of the above.

5) Given point 4, other power cords of differing design may / may not make any difference within the confines of your system. Much of this would be both component based and AC system based. Nothing is set in stone as there are WAY too many variables involved from component to component and the AC service ( in terms of types and quantities of noise ) being delivered. Sean
Enrewold: Ok, you must know,things are just so much better in Chatsworth.I see you have no affiliation with the travel bureau for your area.??

Any way seems you should have spent that 800 somewhere else.--You tried these cords elsewhere-- the cd player ? the pre? You might have better results using them there.--What speakers do you have? If the cords don't help;no matter where you use them--don't bother with conditioners.
Any power conditioner, cable or transformer (like torriadial transformers) that contain ferrite, sound grainy

Most of my customers have sold off their PC's and conditioners.

They can tighten up the sound a small amount but at what cost?

Congratulations Ernewald! You live in a area where the electricity is as pure and clear as the skies. (no sarcasm intended) I agree with Tireguy, if there are no differences heard with upgraded PCs, why use them. I am also a fan of Cords and Conditioners. I will add one more unit to the mix, since I have not heard anyone mention. I currently use the Tice Solo Power Conditioner and the Tice Solo Enhancer.
The Tice Enhancer has no filters nor can it remove anomalies or spikes and surges from the power. What it improves, is the depth and dimension of your soundstage. You have heard of cryogenics I'm sure, where a material gets frozen. Tice uses the complete opposite technology. Tice uses High Current Electricity to treat thier component materials.

I have my DAC, DIP, Transport, and Power Conditioner plugged into the Enhancer. My Amps are plugged into the Power Conditioner. I have tried many combos and this worked the best on my system.

I mention this passive unit as a tweak instead of Power Conditioners that you may not have a need for.
The Tice 3C power conditioner is transformerless. It's their latest design, and according to their hoo-ha, is a great improvement over the earlier ones. I haven't owned the earlier ones to compare. All that I can say is, the proof is in the sound, which is absolutely phenomenal - a drop-dead when drop-in difference. The Panamax I owned before is an overpriced power strip, and a lousy company to deal with, to boot.

My experiments
I live in a rural area, about 50 houses around my home. About 300 yards from my house is the HQ of local cable, telephone, and the internet provider’s office.
My home theater system consists of AVA FET valve hybrid amplifier, an omega Star pre amplifier, 3 channel Power amplifier, Onkyo DVD player, Omega star DAC, EFE speakers, Monster 1000 HTS power surge protector and conditioner.
The picture quality and audio is lot better in the late night. .
I assumed the sub optimal audio and video in the day time is from power polluted power and cable TV signal.

I am interested in getting the audio quality during day time and evening.
I followed some of the suggestions
Cleaned the connectors, RCA plugs, metal prongs for the power plugs, speaker terminals etc with De Ox. Separated and spaced the cables, ICs with dowels, and foam spacers... Elevated all the cables from the carpet using Jeweler stands made up of ceramic about 4 inches from the ground.( available at Wal-mart during Christmas season.3 $).I connected
Digital and audio components- to different outlets. I purchased a separate digital power filter with 4outlets for 120 dollars from virtual mode to which I
Connected Cable TV box, TV, DVP player and DAC)
The audio portion improved with less background noise. But video image remained the same.
The new Cables, Composite for the video from better cables com did not help much, component cables from ZU megular improved the color saturation .Fine tuning with Avia video set up disc did not help much with graininess of the picture other wise did improve the color balance. I tried video coaxial cable noise filter and surge protection filter on the Monster 1000.It attenuated the sound.
I purchased a video noise filter from Virtual mode for 6 $.it improved some .Parts express also sells one for 9 dollars.

Using ferrite core on the cable company co ax cable made the picture dark. It did improve the picture a little when attached to the power cable TV digital box.

I checked the RF with a portable AM Radio tuned in between stations. The cable TV box and the DVD player produced more noise. I separated Digital and analog components on the rack and the Cable TV box went on the Top of rear projection TV away fro the analog components.
There is a definite improvement but not in the same league as the Picture at late night or the very impressive audio at mid night.
I purchased Blue circle 86 noise hound/pillows mark2 for 100 dollars each including shipping from a dealer at audiogon.
Connected them to the power outlets directly they do improve, no back ground noise, clearer, better definition, bass .more closer to the sound and video during the day and evening but not the same quality at 2 AM.
I do not want to change the power lines as I live in a rented house, but I will change the power plugs later.
I do not plan to spend S1699 for audiomagic magic stealth.
I am lookig for a cheaper solution.
Will continue later with my further experiments
I do know from experience that, as others above have attested, different components will benefit to differing degrees from AC power tweaks. Your amps simply may not need this treatment to sound good. Or, your system (or ears) could be failing to inform you of the differences, which can range from large down to subtle in nature. And then there are always the matters (as was also mentioned above) of *which* PC you're using, and how contaminated your AC is in the first place.

So I'll just bring up two things additional here. One being that, other than your AC quality straight out of the wall, there's also the issue of stray environmental RFI/EMI to be protected against, and the possibility exists that in your particular location and system, this may simply not be a big problem. The other thing is that in many instances, it can be source components that will reveal the most benefits from an upgrade PC, so before you sell the cords, you may want to try them out there instead just for grins.

I have found that filtered power, and especially balanced filtered power, can and does make a positive (though not life-changing) difference, particularly on my digital front-end, so you may still want to try a PLC out. But after all is said and done, I agree with Tim and the others - if you can't hear an improvement, then be all means get rid of 'em and just enjoy your music!
How to decide if your system needs conditioning is the big question. Some thoughts:
1) If you see an improvement late at night.
2) Turn your volume up with nothing being played. How far do you turn the volume before hearing "white noise"? In my case I hear nothing even inches away from my speakers until the 12:00 o'clock on the volume. Since I listen at 8-9:00 them EMI/ RF is probably not a problem.
3) Try a "noise sniffer" sold, I think, by Quiet Lines or Audio Prism. If this thing has no noise probably not in your system.

Vrsola, you can get a mini-stealth for $499 from one of A-gon's "approved dealers". I forgot which one. They normally retail for $599. It is a 2 outlet version of the Stealth and the mfg'r told me identical in every other way.
Cdchas the right test. I am able to turn the volume up 100% and hear nothing 3" from the speakers. Just for fun I tried plugging everything into a standard outlet with stock cords and at 50% volume I could hear a whooshing noise from my listening position.
As far as the scam of power cords and conditioners, I have come to believe there is a lot of products out there that do little to nothing. I have tried a great deal of power cords and conditioners, and it's the power cord business that I most suspect. I found very little of true improvement in the $50-$700 price range. Most of the more expensive cords I tried di indeed help.
I live in a very quite suburb and receive my power from a pole mounted transformer 50' from my house. I am the only user on that transformer, so if it's possible to get great power I've got it. Power cords, dedicated circuits, outlets and conditioners all help my system. As the system has improved and become more detailed, the need for clean power increases. Perhaps the people who hear nothing have larger issues to address first.
power conditioners
Some basic things which I ignored.
(1)One day I saw the ground connection for my TV cable was broken.This was done by the lawn mowing service person.

(2)The Power cables, speaker cables,Interconnects which I separated them, and elevated from the carpet are on the floor,parallel to each other probably dislodged themselves as they are stiff or by my spouses cleaning efforts.

all the above 2 I corrected promptly

I also obtained a cheap quantum clear power module(about 40 dollars from an audiogon dealer) and connected it to the TV.
Instead of using 2 wall outlets, I used a third one near by.
Now the TV picture is also close to the picture at the late night.The audio also improved significantly,closer to but not exactly the same as late night listening.

The only thing I can say is- Start from basics, check them frequently( cables, ICs, ground etc)
separate digital components including to TV,DVD, CD, DAC and the Cable Box to another outlet and power cleaner.
The quantum power cleaner for 40 dollars is fine and it works.at least for me in TV.