Many popular power conditioners (aka AC filters, aka line-conditioners) are not worth owning as they generally induce their own sonic harm or compromise the sound in other ways.
It's like looking for a needle in a haystack but if you can find one that is worth owning, they generally offer tremendous sonic gains in a number of areas.
So much so, that you will soon realize that no system is worth listening to (for more than 10 minutes) without proper line-conditioning because the ear becomes easily fatigued.
"It's like looking for a needle in a haystack but if you can find one that is worth owning, they generally offer tremendous sonic gains in a number of areas."
The Synergistic Research Powercell 10SE is such a product. Totally transformed my system. Not the first high dollar power conditioner I have had, but will definitely be the last. My SR dealer also sells Nordost and Shunyata and he says that they are not even close.
The Powercell uses only an electromagnetic cell outside the signal path, so no reliability issues like the multitudes that use MOVs, transformers, chokes/caps, resistors, etc. and no worries about current limiting either. I run my entire two-channel audio system and five-channel HT rig through it, including my Krell FPB-600C amp, and dynamics are better than ever.
Agree that power conditioners can lower noise floor and give you balcker backgrounds, enhancing resolution and take away a layer of grunge, but as mentioned they can also contribute to reduced dynamics, robbing the music of it's energy. You will find your Shunyata, Synergistic Research, PS Audio etc...supporters all over Agon. Offerings from these companies have been highly reviewed. Only way to find out how a specific power conditioner is going to work in your specific system is to try. Hopefully you have a local dealer(s) who carry competing offerings and you can compare.
Dlcockrum What other power conditioners did you try before deciding on the SR?
I think it's really dependant on your power situation and how stable it is. I have some buddies in newer housing developements, or areas that have had huge power system upgrades in their area, and they have very little need for anything much above some filtration, and even that is really just a precaution.
If you have a fluctuating voltage, and surges or spikes, that adds quite a bit of variablity to your power output, and power conditioning can help quite a bit.
I have tried Monster, Panamax, RGPC, Shunyunta, PS Audio and APC. I loved the PS Audio, and I think the new Power Plant Premier is absolutely fantastic.
I currently use an APC S15 for all of my gear with the exception of the front mono amps, which just pull too much power for the APC to keep up. The amps run through a PS Audio Duet.
If you have any power irregularities I believe the conditioning helps quite a bit. If you are lucky enough to have a good power situation, I believe that the guys above are correct in that if you don't need conditioning and add it, you will get the signature of the conditioner effecting the sound.
Without previous exp in any area or one like this, it's the same old thing... You're going to have to try some for yourself to really know... if you want to find the truth of things. otherwise, it's all bias and conjecture.
Power conditioners which DO NOT regulate the power or regenerate it, won't aid you with fluctuating incoming power levels. In that case you would look for a voltage regulator... and not merely a power line conditioner or filtering unit.
Some PLCs do both and some only attempt to remove artifacts from the line without providing any stabilization of voltage.
I'm certain this topic will be heavily laden in the archives... but then you won't really know looking therre for the answer.... will you?
On a budget? Look for a Running springs Haley... or some other RSA unit. I found no apparent bandwidth limitations, nor any overt current limitations using mine.
I very cynically took home a Furman 15i power conditioner after extensive research and was astonished at the improvement of everything. The system sounds blacker, more defined and controlled. I experienced no loss of dynamics. I really didn't want to spend the money and was looking for failure in improvement but alas was thwarted in my cynicism and shelled out the money.
System: Sugden 21SE player, Audio Sector DAC, Ridgestreet Poiema 3 digital cable, MAC Mystics ICs, Sugden A21SE integrated, Analysis Plus Oval 9 cables, Analysis Plus PCs, Coincident UHS TRS Triumph monitors on Sound Organization massed stands. Hope this helps.
I had a Chang Lightspeed for years (very good, especially for the money). Then a bought and sold a Furman IT-Reference 20i (top of Furman's line). Great for video and HT but just did not cut it for 2 channel critical listening. Once I sold the Furman, I just went with the two 30amp dedicated lines with Teslaplex receptacles powering everything (analog on one and digital on the other) sans a power conditioner for about a year. No problems with noise, but I did notice that my system sounded much better late at night vs during the day. Overall, I thought the sound was quite good.
Following the Nordost demo at RMAF 2009 where Lars did A/B comparisons with and without the Quantum system and also against a PS Audio Quintet and Audience R6 (the Quantum products made these two sound VERY veiled and lifeless), I was seriously interested in the Nordost power system. The following week, when I inquired about buying the Nordost Quantum system, my dealer told me emphatically that the Powercell 10SE was in another league compared to the Shunyata and Nordost power conditioners (again, he is a dealer for all three).
I also heard the Audience adeptResponse AR6 with the Auricaps and the Running Springs Dmitri and they are very, very good. However, the Powercell 10SE is a totally different technology from any other (it really shouldn't be classified as a power conditioner in the traditional sense) and it differentiates itself in the way that it improves macro and micro-dynamics (especially with my monster Krell amp plugged into it) and creates a cavernous, layered, and realistic soundstage in addition to the traditional benefits of the other top-flight conditioners (very low noise floor, improved detail, tighter bass, richer harmonics, etc).
In my system I found cable choices to make a huge difference. However if I'm listening very critically, as good as the Valhalla power cord sounds, I will go with pure DC. 18 D batteries to be exact.
I've had a BPT 3.5+ in my system for years, following all-Monster years ago. As I've upgraded my system, I've tried Audience and Shunyata, before trying the SR Powercell 10-SE. Not even close - the 10-SE actually IMPROVES the musicality without adding a sonic signature. It takes what's already there and just opens up the soundstage. A buddy of mine was using RSA, demoed the Powercell, and never gave it back. Not necessarily for everyone, but definitely worth a try if you're in the market for better sound.
Exactly my experience, Fplanner 2000. If you want to take your Powercell 10SE to another level still, put a Galileo MPC on it and the included Precision AC power cord.
If you don't already have them, I'd recommend installing 20-amp dedicated lines first. Cheap relative to the better power conditioners, and at least you'll know you're starting with a good baseline to compare power conditioners (if you even feel you need one afterwards). I was going to buy a power conditioner but the guys here at a'gon were pretty universal in their opinion of getting the dedicated lines installed first, and I'm glad I did (also added Porter Ports). My system is overall much more enjoyable to listen to, and I think I'm in a much better position to evaluate power conditioners at this point.
That said, I was looking at Audience because they don't use MOVs that are said to potentially degrade over time in terms of power protection, but I'm also very interested in the Synergistic Powercell that seems to have a pretty happy client base here. Best of luck.
I did install dedicated 20amp lines and Tesaplex outlets.
Whats involved in installing 20 amp lines?
An electrician. I did the same thing as one of my first upgrade steps. $150. including parts in my case.
I should have said my electrician installed my 20 amp lines and AC outlets.
Not a terribly expensive job to install a dedicated 20 amp circuit providing your existing main service panel box can accept an additional circuit. Not sure what the alternatives are other than an upgraded service if you don't have the room in your box. That can get expensive.
What does one find the main difference between a 15-amp circuit and a 20 amp circuit, sonically speaking?