Power - where to start? Mains, chords, conditioner, filter?


I have a decent HiFi setup with all power cables as delivered by the manufacturer of the unit. I am contemplating upgrading the power infrastructure, but is a confused where to start? What makes the biggest bang for the buck? Power chords to each unit, mains blocks, mains conditioner, mains filter? Any advice before I move into this world? 

I have a streamer from Innuos being used for Tidal and Internet radio. A DAC from RME and an integration amplifier from Musical Fidelity. 

I live in a flat in a capital and the electricity is probably good, but for sure the SQ is better late evenings, which to some extent is leading me down this route. 
mtraesbo
In my opinion, the place to begin is with one or better yet two dedicated circuits with 20 amp breakers and wire runs of 10 gauge although 12 gauge would work. In addition to that use high-quality AC outlets. Porter Ports sold here on Audiogon by Albert Porter is a good place to start that won't break the bank.
The use of dedicated circuits usually is a big improvement. If you can't have dedicated circuits at least upgrade the outlets if you have not done so yet.
Great advice from lak, dedicated lines made a big difference in my system.  I also use Porter Ports from Albert.
An alternate route to a dedicated power line might be to purchase a YETI power backup system
https://www.goalzero.com/product-features/portable-power-stations/

A fellow audiophile just made me aware of this unit
- generates a perfect sinewave
- works just like a UPS 
- but with a larger capacity
- handles large transients with ease
- on his system a YETI 1000 will run the ENTIRE system for over 5 hours
- you can leave it plugged in - or not

He swears by it, but I have not used one, so it’s hearsay, but we have emailed many times, so I do trust his opinion and judgement

I would also get a good power cable for the streaming device - take a look at these power cables...
https://kleinnovations.com/kle-innovations-klei-products/klei-ac-power-cable/klei-gpower2-ac/

All of their products are first class and provide stunning sound quality

Hope that helps - Steve
A power strip with a big coil is the entry level:
https://amzn.to/2Ow03Tg
Furman makes bigger, more expensive units. Look for LiFT and SMP.

Shunyata is also a good idea.


Power cords need not be very expensive but using shielded for digital/streamers that are near your analog is a good idea.


Keep power adapters outside your "clean power zone." or use a second strip for them. Especially good for network devices like routers and switches. Alternatively, use a power conditioner with multiple filtered banks like Shunyata or Furman offer. 
There is no purpose, advantage, or benefit from adding potentially expensive, elaborate, or intrusive "upgrades" to your power delivery system if you do not first examine, study, and measure you're current service what is the voltage what is the power factor what is the distortion level and noise of the existing line that is the place to start!
The biggest improvement by far will be to replace all those crappy factory power cords. Literally anything at any price, you could throw a dart, will be a big upgrade. Don't do that however! 

Instead, go and listen. Ideally bring as many home as you can and hear how they sound in your system. Not because they are system dependent but because you know what your system sounds like. Or if you go to a store then at least bring one of your crap cords along to compare. Prepare to be shocked! ANYTHING at ANY price will blow away what you are using now.

BUT here's the thing- if you really do try a lot of them you will eventually find the really good ones will blow away the rest even many times much more expensive ones! The gold standard, not because its the very best but because its been around so long and is crazy good for the money, is the Synergistic Research Master Coupler. They've been making this for well over TWENTY YEARS now and there's a reason- its that good! So good they sell used now for more than mine cost new. Not saying you can't find better. Saying you owe it to yourself to check it out.

That's by far the most important advice I can give- go and listen. Forget construction. Forget reviews. Forget everything anyone here recommends- including me. Just go and listen.
Where to start is to consider the entire power flow set up by thinking of it as an entire system. I first got a power conditioner but it wasn’t until the wall plug, cords et all was changed that the sound morphed like it was top end system that’s a on a medium priced system (compared to many).

Despite having a great system it was lagging/flat and after measuring (scientist friend) here at the house I found out that I have poor dirty power. I did everything I could and the ultimate critic who could care less (my wife) even says wow..... and now she put’s on music..ok then...the fix was all in a bit over 2k. I did months of research. The buzz term is to make a quite noise floor.

I found on ebay LASPADA AUDIO APOLLO II 10 and 12 gauge Rhodium plated power cables...(Wow!)..very reasonable for what they are.

They in turn go into a used Furman it reference 15i power conditioner (more wow also consider AudioQuest Niagara 1000 used on ebay or the top 5000 ) and that plugs into a

Furutech GTX-D NCF(R) Ultimate Nano-Crystal Rhodium-Plated AC Duplex Receptacle with wall frame and cover... maybe overkill but an upgraded plug is key. You can read up on this and what to get until your eyes pop out...But all agree it’s a must.

House can’t be torn apart to put in dedicated 20AMP lines so none for me. (Or I would have gotten a 20AMP power conditioner...make sure to get the right amperage as 20 Amp plugs are different)

Also added a Synergistic Research Blue Quantum Fuse (who would have though that could matter)

as well as a few PS Audio - Noise Harvesters

If your gear is tight on shelves you will have to allow for more room as the upgraded cords require a more gradual bend as they are stiff and large.

Would it make sense to spend less on power cables and rather put that money into one of the PS Audio Regenerator? I see that a more affordable one has recently been released, the Stellar Powerplant 3 @ $2199
There is some common thinking here among the answers, and I agree - start as close to the beginning of the chain as possible, then work your way down.  At the panel/in the wall if you can, then outlet(s).

If these upgrades are not possible/feasible, the thinking about starting at the beginning is still the same.  Start with the cable powering your line conditioner (or start with actually getting a line conditioner if you don't already have one), then your source(s) - streamer and DAC in your case.
It may seem counter-intuitive to upgrade power cords on lower power draw components before your amp, but if/when you do, the "goodness" filters through the whole system, IE. you will be amplifying a better signal/source.
Good luck!
Maybe this is the appropriate place to ask a question I have wondering about for a while. What is the logic or the theory that enables an upgraded power supply cable to improve a systems sound quality? The power getting to the system is at the mercy of electricity supply company the electrical contractor who installed the switchboard, house-wiring and outlet sockets... It is hard to imagine how an improvement in the last few feet in that power supply chain might make a difference?
How is the Pangea Audio AC 9 MKII? I'm new at this power cable stuff and want something for my Krell Digital Vanguard and Vandersteen setup. Also, is isolating the Amp with a dedicated circuit and the rest of the electronics on a Furman PC a good layout?
Can you explain how this works and where it fits into the system?

From above:  An alternate route to a dedicated power line might be to purchase a YETI power backup system
https://www.goalzero.com/product-features/portable-power-stations/ 

A fellow audiophile just made me aware of this unit
- generates a perfect sinewave
- works just like a UPS
- but with a larger capacity
- handles large transients with ease
- on his system a YETI 1000 will run the ENTIRE system for over 5 hours
- you can leave it plugged in - or not


Also, I thought the power conditioners were supposed to really clean up the dirty power coming through the wall.  So why use a power conditioner if I'm going to upgrade the breaker, wiring, and outlet (which is not cheap)?

Cleaning the AC has an impact on sound.  It takes away AC noise that creates the black background, helps with having a clearer sound (less smearing), more definition with bass, etc.  Too much AC cleansing also can hurt the sound where it becomes not as musical for example the piano does not have the wood of the box sound.  You have to try these things to see what you like.


Happy Listening. 

@dtximages - WRT...

Can you explain how this works and where it fits into the system?
Having never use one I cannot provide a difinitive answer, but from what I understand ...
  • plug the YETI into the wall
  • plug your components into the YETI
It seems to be part power generator and part UPS
- It generates clean sine wave power all the time
- if the power goes out it runs off the internal battery

Hope that helps - Steve
I have a difficult time believing you can hear a SIGNIFICANT difference after spending $2,100 for power cords or for a $6,000 power conditioner.

You sure wouldn't be spending this kind of money on a receiver that retails for $3,200 would you?

You guy must have systems costing well over $100,000 for starters and have so much money you don't know what to do with it.  
I have a difficult time believing a conductor can hear everything that 100 musicians play, including how precisely their instruments are tuned. But he/she does.
$2100 power cord is what I have on my $1500 integrated amp and it is so much better than $800, $150, $17 and stock power cords.
To the OP. I would start with power cord on the integrated amp. It should be at least 12 gauge conductors, preferably 10 or 8. 
Some power conditioners can actually degrade the SQ of your system. Right now, I’m using a whole house surge suppressor connected at the meter and my ps audio amp plugged straight into the wall. I’m not worried about surges/lightning strikes damaging my gear. I have been looking at the new ps audio regenerators like the p12/p15 which is a whole different animal than a conditioner. If you purchase in stages, get the dedicated lines, better outlets, and better power cables
The OP is an apartment dweller - no dedicated lines, only better outlets and power cords. Yeah, conditioners and regenerators is a complicated subject.
In any case, nothing will create a situation of perfect power, big custom batteries might come close. The best place to start is to have equipment with great power supply. Then power cords and outlets.
Personally, I am finished with this stuff for now, I simply need much better amp and motor controller for the turntable.
I heard IsoTek power conditioners at an audio show and they made the sound better. They have solution from a couple of hundred dollar to about $5000. The more you pay the more advanced they are. You will have to try in your home to see if they are worth it for you.
@williewonka the Yeti don't seem to be made for audio. It probably works great anyway. If you want to try a (much) more expensive version of the same idea, made for audio, there is Stromtank.

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/superioraudio/equipment/0218/Stromtank_S2500_Battery_Power_Review.htm
I've had an amazing reduction in noisefloor from my torus avr20. Monster of a unit...but non-subtle changes. Feel free to PM me if youre interested in learning more.
For all the nay sayers of upgrading cables, using power re-generators, and dedicated power circuits, think the process through. ALL AC voltages have noise and harmonics, which gets induced to any electrical component near by. So buying high quality cables which shield the radiation of this noise will help reduce the overall noise floor of the surrounding components. Re-generators take the power and completely remakes it to a pure sine wave  60Hz 120 VAC for the U.S.. Using dedicated power circuits removes all the possible external devices such as fans, transformers, and all the other crap we have plugged into our households, however due to the common neutral ground configuration this is only a minor improvement overall. 

Also, I would great suggest using a power regenerator, taking your house AC and completely "regenerating" and removing all the harmonics and noise in it. 
I have used a PS Audio re-generator, which made incredible improvement "removing" noise, it didn't change the sound, it made the sound cleaner and have more clarity. I also replaced all my power cables with well made high shielding AC cables to block any noise that each component might generate from their power supplies. 

These 2 upgrades made significant improvements in the clarity of my music and enjoyment. 
I just hooked up a Transparent PowerWave (power conditioning system).  I've a Linn DSM Selekt and Wilson Sophia 3 speakers.  This combo sounds great.  But I was blown away with the improvement in sound quality with the PowerWave.  You can more clearly hear different instruments and the sound stage is deeper and more realistic.  I'm hearing things in my favorite songs that I've never heard before.  All the power cords are stock, except for the Linn which is using a Nordost power cable with.  I'd see if one of your local HiFi shops will let you demo a good power conditioning system at home so you can hear for yourself the difference they can make. 
I recommend running a fresh dedicated 20 amp line from your main circuit box to the location of your system. Use Hubble hospital duplex devices. Use of power conditioner is optional as needed.
I also live in an apartment and greatly lowered my AC noise floor by powering all my gear from a balanced AC power supply from Equitech, the industry leader .
 Modifying the wiring and plugs in my place were not options without risking eviction .I did later make my own power cords using Oyaide's Black Mamba cables and gold plated copper plugs and iec connectors to great benefit .

A side benefit was that the colors on my television also became richer , with blacker blacks . YMMV
In my opinion, the place to begin is with one or better yet two dedicated circuits with 20 amp breakers and wire runs of 10 gauge although 12 gauge would work. In addition to that use high-quality AC outlets.

Agree completely and that's exactly what I did when I set up my current main system (I located the system in the next room to the main panel).

I use a filter (Inouye - http://inouye.ca/index.php?page=Products) on all front end source equipment (sources, phono preamp, preamp), which makes an obvious improvement, but not on the power amps, which suck too much to go through most power conditioners.
I've done the dedicated circuit,  regenerator,  and selective power cords. The P15 made the biggest,  monumental changes actually, improvement. Dedicated circuit couldn't hear the diff, but then I'm running through a regenerator. Power cord between the wall and regenerator was the most significant PC upgrade, dac next.
Regenerator helps a lot in my case, I have older PS Audio PPP, but it is not enough when wall current is very bad. Possibly their newer units are significantly better. But again, there is no substitute for great equipment. Power cord on regenerator is very important, I can confirm.
My approach was haphazard but each step improved SQ - 
- Room was already on dedicated circuit, only 15A though.
- PS Audio line filter/surge protection.
- Replaced power cords - each one made a step change improvement, currently have Cardas Clear for amp, Audioquest NG4 for filter/surge, and Acoustic Zen Tsunami for DAC.  Fun to try different cords, all purchased used.
- Replaced outlet, using Furutech mid level rhodium.
- After replacing outlet, plugged amp directly into outlet, although I am not 100% sure I would be able to tell a difference in blind testing.
- Still need a cord and filter/conditioner (and outlet?) for the modem supplying the Tidal signal.
- Probably will get a second furutech outlet when I have more equipment to power.
- Thinking about one of those ISI parallel filters (Music Direct, $99, seems like a no brainer, but then I'd also need a second outlet and of course then another ISI, amazing how costs run away in this hobby).
- Also thinking about fuses for the amp.
- Mildly embarrassed that I have done the above yet never cleaned the connecting points for power supply, interconnects, or speaker cable.
- Total regeneration makes perfect sense to me, very common in industries and applications where clean power is a must, this just hasn't risen to the top of my improvements list yet.

Each step made an improvement, the biggest to my ears was the power cord for the amp and the outlet.  I hear more detail including resonances (so less noise), and better micro dynamics (which I guess is also less noise?). 

I have reached the conclusion that like a lot of things in HiFi, the more research time and money you put into power, the more you will benefit. 

Agree that power improvements often have the highest ratio of better SQ per $. 
@williewonka /Steve.  
The YETI charges at a lower rate than the draw on all units.  
1/4" pipe going in and 1" pipe going out.

So while you may be able to pull 300W for 3-4 hours, you can't for 8.  
The answer, of course is get a bigger unit.  But the bigger units are bigger money and require bigger / longer charge times.  

For a 1-2 hour listener there are many options.  For someone (me) who needs 8-12 hours / day, they are coming up short.  
David - thanks for the update on the YETI - Good to know

But it does seem to offer a more affordable opton than the $$$AUDIOPHILE regenerators, provided  your listening session is less than 4-5 hours (depending on system)

I think we will see more units like this as development of battery technology progresses.

There are some pretty exiting developments in the works that offer more power for the same size of battery and will not burst into flames if punctured.
e.g.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9-cNNYb1Ik

Fortunately for me, the power to my house is very good, so I do not use any kind of power conditioner/regenerator.. 

Regards - Steve
@williewonka  / Steve,
I want to disconnect the wall. because I living in a historical building, installing a clean circuit is cost prohibitive.

I want to go off the grid for 8-10 hours a day.

I just purchased:
Samlex Solar PST-600-12 PST Series Pure Sine Wave Inverter

I want to just get a 120Ahr deep cycle 12V battery and charger (~$250). Seems lots cheaper than buying a complete power system. I’m thinking the auto parts store.

Where am I crazy?

I heard some people use marine batteries for that not auto batteries.
@inna5,
I am looking for deep cycle, or Li Ion.  As you pointed out I don't need CCA auto ratings. 
I'm thinking this is about the Inverter signal quality.

Anyone else?  What can be cleaner than running off a DC battery with a pure sine wave converter (top rated, but I don't know what that means).

I don't have such a thing yet, but this sounds too easy.  At 1/10 the cost of fancy cleaners and power sources. 

What am I missing?


 
You would be missing the dynamic swings that require a large power reserve. I am currently using a Audioquest Niagara 7000 and I can’t believe the boogie factor this unit has provided.
For reference I have owned several top of the line units, which include: PS Regenerators, Shunyata, Synergistic, Core Power 1800 etc.

The Audioquest 7000 is the best! You can feel the musical heartbeat.
I also have 3 dedicated 10 gauge lines with all Furutech GTX-R outlets. My power cords include, many Cerious Technologies Matrix, Hi Diamond 4, Furutech DPS-4, and a Audioquest Hurricane power cord. In addition, I also have several Omega Mats in the breaker box and under equipment.
It all matters.
 
IMHO, the higher level of your component quality, the greater the impact displayed by the cleaner power.

ozzy
Hi ozzy: How about an Omega Mat underneath the Audioquest 7000? Or maybe 3-4  E Cards? Just wondering.
yoby,

I do have one under the Niagara 7000 it was very noticeable there.

ozzy
They are the real deal. I was very skeptical at first. They do, however, need a couple of weeks to settle in for the full effect.
I was actually thinking about trying that marine battery arrangement but decided not to put it in the living room.
Maybe you should start a separate more specific thread about batteries, someone who tried might respond.
But batteries are not completely noise free, along with inverters, and dynamics might be somewhat compromised. However, one just got to try it.
davidwillett & inna,
Yes a battery topic would be good. I've been considering a Yeti but why not use direct DC for the front end. I realize batteries have some noise issues as well, but Clearaudio and Sutherland have made it work. Doesn't seem to make sense to convert AC to DC to AC to DC in the components. 
For anyone with more knowledge than I. Is it even feasible to run low power tube amps off of batteries? My amps are PP 300b @ 18W and 480v on the rail.

Of course I’d run the power amps via an inverter.