Power Conditioning experience...

Let me start with a quote…
”The sonic benefits of a good line conditioner include a “blacker” background with less low-level grunge and noise. The music seems to emerge from a perfectly quiet and black space, rather than a grayish background… If you haven’t tried a power-line conditioner, you may not have heard your system at its best.” -Robert Harley, The Complete Guide to High-End Audio
I have never looked into power conditioning units in the past and if I had to analyze why I would suspect two reasons, one is the cost and two being skeptical. While I could understand having something in place to protect all my gear, I didn’t want to purchase something that may hinder the performance either, which is what I envisioned in something “inexpensive”, right or wrong.

Last week I took delivery of a Furman IT Reference 20i power conditioner and I must say that I should have done this a long time ago! As much as I do not want to be over the top in writing this, it can’t be helped. (Let me mention here that it was several days after hooking it up before I was able to give a good listen, more as to why later; so if there was some break-in or warm up period that took place, I cannot comment.)

Let me save some of you the trouble of looking, the Furman unit I have lists for $3500, not cheap! (If one is interested though, shop around.) I realize that there are some here that may not have that amount, or much more than that, in their entire system; I only have experience with this piece.

I am simply stunned every time I play my system and it doesn’t matter the source, digital front-end, tuner or satellite radio from my dish. The differences I hear are many, such as, sound stage - depth and width -, imaging, dynamics, bottom end - weight and tautness - and the “blackness” mentioned by RH. This “blackness” is an interesting one to me as I have questioned it in the past and still find it hard to put into words but when you hear it, or rather don’t, you know it. I wish I was better at my descriptions as even though I know I have claimed a lot, there is more.

Adding this unit has drastically changed my system for the better and I wanted to share this with others; I realize this is a lot of money, whether you can get the same for less money I don’t know, but it is an addition I cannot recommend highly enough. (I realize there are many factors where the effects may differ from one another, but consider RH’s last line in the quote above.) I now wonder how some past pieces I have owned would have performed had I had something like this.

I have questioned my McIntosh gear at times in the area of dynamics and bottom end, as Mac amps are known to be slightly less dynamic and softer on the extremes; these areas have been greatly improved. Other gear may still be better in these areas but I am not sure the differences would be enough for me to give up all I like in the Mac gear.

I mentioned above that it took several days for me to give a good listen, this was due to two circumstances, one I was busy with the holidays and two, I have an issue with a hum when I use the outlet dedicated for the amp, so I have the amp plugged in another section of the Furman while I track this down with Furman, but with the holidays we are missing each other. (It was plugged in on Monday I listened on Friday, hum free.) This has led to some of the most pleasurable listening I have ever done, listening that Friday for some 2 hours straight and 3 hours+ the following day, something I can’t say I have done in a long time, if ever; but song after song I am amazed, even hours later.

I’d like to give a special thanks to AG member Victor Boccalon (Victorbm3) as he also has a Furman unit and gave me great input before I made my purchase, though I still never expected the results to this level.

Hopefully others can chime in with their experience.

I close with returning to the opening quote from RH, in my experience his words are very true, and if anything conservative; that said, I took this quote from the Audio Advisor magazine and it looks like an abbreviated quote.

Why did you choose the Furman?
Glad you got a Furman IT ref 20 --just had one of my audio buddies who was against pwr line conditioners --ie only plugged into dedicated outlets --Well ---he now has his whole system plugged into a ref IT 20 --including his 750watt mono blk amps and he has gone over the top :)--I have the ref IT 20 and agree with the improvements that you mentioned--there has always been alot of discussion on the gon about this --each has to make a judgement on his own --Rich
Great news Brian -- what's the Furman powering -- just the 402?? (as I didn't get a clear understanding in the above)??

Agreed- once you have a taste of what power conditioning can do, you will never live w/o one!
Drubin - The local stereo shop, now closed, carried Furmsan and I tried to purchase theirs in an auction but it went higher than I wanted. After that I found Vic, mentioned above, and he gave it very high praise.

Ontjesr - Sorry I wasn't clear, I have my entire system plugged into it, amp, pre, tuner, DAC and iTransport.
KUDOS on exploring, experimenting and experiencing one of the many realities that "can't work"/"make no sense"/"aren't scientific" in the realm of audio. I've had and appreciated(for the same reasons you mentioned) my Audio Magic Stealth XXX for a number of years now. Enjoy the music!! BTW: That book is readily available on eBay and Amazon. Well worth the investment.
I also have an IT Reference. I've listened with and without it and the difference is substantial; much quieter with blacker backgrounds. More isolation. Cuts down noise from other components. I couldn't imagine living without it. I do not have a dedicated line.
I do not have a dedicated line.
I do, I have two of them, so to speak; I say that because they are only dedicated in that nothing else is on those runs, but they share the same circuit box. One has a hospital grade outlet, I forget the model, and the other is a Porter Port from our own Albert Porter.
Amen jafant...cant believe the differance it makes.Really quite the icing on a system.
For the Audiogon members that own the Furman IT Reference 20i power conditioner;
Do you have dedicated power circuits supplying your entire system?
Does your amp sound different when plugged into the Furman IT Reference 20i power conditioner as apposed to a dedicated 20 amp outlet on a dedicated line? Please explain the difference in sound, conditioner as apposed to dedicated line.
Dedicated lines IMO do not impose greater quieting, than do power cond/filter.... with or without dedicated power lines. Dedicated power lines are good ideas, and they do improve things. Dedicated power cond/filters just do more to allow a system to achieve a higher level of performance. Albeit, som will say otherwise.

IMO, the one aspect of power conditioning I feel is always accurate is this... "With a power cond in place, you will hear less of what you are not hearing now." it's simple increase by subtraction.

If it in fact improves the sound itself too, then you are doubly blessed. For me, they took/take off the edgyness and gave greater apparent resolution from providing a darker back drop to the sound stage and thereby illuminating the images within it.

Can there be limitations? Sure. Limitations to the bandwidth being served, and current being passed. Noticeing these diffs is easy too... just plug right into the wall now and then when demoing conds or filters. this action is what recently prompted me to find a more free flowing power conditioner to replace the one I was using for my power train. I settled on trying a RSA haley. that was a good move IMO and I posted a short review of it here on the 'gone.

I find plugging directly to the power line allows greater dynamic thrust, speed and impact versus going through a conditioner. I don't care for the edge to the highs and mids which accompany that move. So a power cond/filter for me is a given. Which one however remains an ongoing pursuit, though right now things are quite acceptable.
I believe the Furman unit mentioned (and I also hear it is a great unit but somewhat pricy at retail)is also a regenerator and that in and of itself explains a lot. You are receiving a much lower distortion AC from it...whether from a dedicated line or not.

I have a PS Audio PPP and wish it was a 20 amp unit so I could use it with everything I have. It only puts out 1500 watts continous though so I run my main 600 watt/channel amp through a Hydra. I run all my source equipment, HT amp and TV through the PPP and it does indeed make a sonic difference.

One day the unit was off and passing regular unregulated/filtered AC as the lights went off the night before and the PPP shut down when the electricity came back on due to the surge(you just unplug it and plug it back in to reset it) and I turned on my stereo to listen to some music. It didn't have the dynamics and musical nature I was used to. I looked the system over and sue enough the PPP was off. After resetting it, the music came back to the same dynamics as usual.

Perhaps I am just used to the sound of my front end gear being plugged into the PPP but I did indeed notice a difference in sonics when it was on and off.

Point beinig is that I believe in power reconditioning and filtering from good units.

Maybe I should sell the PPP and Hydra 4 and get the Furman...

For those looking for something less expensive, look into the Powervar advertised here on Audiogon.
Picked one up myself recently and the difference it makes was NOT subtle.