Bob you mentioned powercord changes possibly helping my situation with brightness and Silver cables? How would that help? Also, what brands do you recommend in the power cords? I have a PS audio P300 that doesn't recommend powercords with filters though! I haven't tried better power cords yet, so don't know what it will do. You think it will help??
To educate yourself regarding the how's & why's of upgrade AC cords, you really need to search the forum archives for the multitudes of posts regarding the subject.
Use the search engine on the forum page:
There are dozens of posts already up there, discussing & arguing how AC cords affect your sound & which cords are most preferred.
I don't have the all the electrical explanations (no one does) but believe me from experience with my own rig that changing the AC cord on a component can radically alter its' sonic characteristics, for better or even for worse sometimes.
You have to experiment with different cords to find out what you prefer & how it tailors the sound to your personal preferences.
You do not always use the same cord on all components either; a cord the works nicely on the preamp may very likely not be best for your sources or amps, although it *could* be.
Power cord preferences vary all over the map; there are dozens of them available & it's hard to decide which ones to try.
One thing that all the upgrade cords seem to do is considerably quiet down the background noise; a "blacker background" is an almost universally reported experience.
That factor alone can help to tame brightness considerably, even with a power conditioner in front of everything.
You are correct that filtered cords are best plugged straight into the AC line.
The filtered cords that I have from Custom Power (the Top Gun for source components & the Top Gun HCFI for power amp) works better straight-in than when going through my Chang Lightspeed line conditioner. Same for BMI Eel's or Whales.
However my cords from Synergistic Research are not self-filtered & so those are best through the line conditioner.
I have a Synergistic Reference AC, & 3 Designer Reference Squared AC's, which are fantastic but very pricey.
Also my Kimber PK6 & my Kharma KRC Reference 1a (a silver AC cord) work better through a line conditioner.
One good place to start is Bob Cohen at Cable Company (www.fatwyre.com)
Cable Company has loaners available (AC cords, interconnects, speaker cables, even digital interface cables) for a nominal fee which is then applicable to any future purchase.
They can provide some useful suggestions regarding different cords to try within the context of your equipment (tell them what your components are & they can tell you what cords their customers liked with those components).
They recommend that you begin by first tuning the cord on your preamp, then the power amp, finally the sources.
Once you're well into that, the next thing is to look into shelving, pucks, cones, pods, etc. for further component tuning.
Again this can become frustratingly involving, but the rewards are worthwhile.
Bear in mind with all of this that experiences differ from one rig to another; what worked well for one system may not be the best answer in another system.
Again: experimentation is the only way to know what will happen at your house & what you will like the best.