Use of Power Conditioners vs. Direct into the Wall

I'm considering the purchase of some quality power cables and maybe a Shunyata Hydra-8. A couple questions:

1. Should my Amps (Parasound Halo JC-1 Mono's) go into the Hydra--or direct into the wall?

2. I have Seven total components (amps, pre, phono etc.). Is it advisable for all of them to go into a single Hydra? I saw a review comment in Absolute Sound that seem to indicate usate of the Hydra-8 for front-end components...and Hydra-2 for the Amps. (Separate Hydra 2's or just one for a pair of mono's?)

One Hydra 2 for a pair of monos and one HydraX (however many outlets you need up to eight) for the front end.
You should first determine how many dedicated lines you have available for your system prior to considering distribution. If you have a second, separate line (dedicated circuit breaker) you should separate the amplifier from the rest of the electronics on that line. Amplifiers and low-current, noise sensitive electronics -- always-- benefit from being isolated from one another, even more than isolating analog from digital.

If you do not yet have separate AC lines you should strongly consider adding a second line for amplification prior to adding distribution. Putting in a dedicated circuit/s for amps will usually be a relatively inexpensive but extremely worthwhile upgrade. Make sure the AC wire from each dedicated outlet running to the AC panel is exactly equal in distance to the others so you do not introduce ground-loop hum.

Once that is settled, you should first compare and choose distribution for your line and source electronics. Keeping the amp on its own AC line, try it with/without its own distribution to determine which works best. In most cases, the difference will be obvious whether for better or not straight away.


Grant Samuelsen
Shunyata Research
Earzona - I use Furman Elite 20PF. I don't know how it compares to Hydra but it has three separate banks of 4 outputs each: High Current for power amps, Audio, Video. Each of banks has separate appropriate filters.
I have a Panamax similar (apparently) to the Furman above. It has, in addition, an isolation transformer of 400va, which is used for all low current / digital stuff.

Amps? They have there own circuit and PSAudio Soloist outlet.

I can turn my stereo up all the way with no input and it is dead quiet.
My experience is Ive only seen improvements using power conditioners when the speakers were inefficient. Otherwise useless to me.
My suggestion would be to get an isolation transformer. They seem to work the best, to me at least
Interesting diversity of responses-which I appreciate fully. Thanks all. For the record, I do not have dedicated lines in my home. Just using the existing outlets in nearest proxmimity to my system. Would consider changing this--but I expect I may be moving soon and would prefer to wait for the new digs. Thanks again for your help.

Ask 50 audioholics the same question and you’ll get 52 answers most likely.

I’d not lose any sleep over having my dedicated power lines not being of equal lengths, but that is funny stuff.

Having dedicated lines however is a step up all by it/themselves, however.

Amps, depending on their quality level will receive less and less benefit from power line filtration or conditioning most of the time. Naturally, if your incoming power is quite poor only conditioning or filtration is going to assist you in removing those artifacts and grunge from the lines…. Dedicated ckts won’t. Dedicated ckts, WILL provide a fatter pipe filled with juice for the amps, or other components.

Starting at the beginning seems best IF you have the resolve and of course own the property itself. Running dedicated ckts is a moot issue if in an apt., rental or leased property.

2 dedicated 20A ckts should suffice for your current situation. One for power components, and the other for the front end items. Given the cost running a third can’t hurt, and one never knows ….

Once done and that ckt run in for a couple weeks, with lamps, fans or just the gear itself if you want, check it – them out. If things sound great, the need for power line conditioning can wait a bit. If still more dedication and/or funds, is present, try out conditioning for the front end items first. Thereafter, try a smaller one, which implements no bandwidth suppression or current limitations for the amps.

Truth be told, prior to adding filtration of a sort, put some better outlets on them ded ckts first! Lots cheaper and you should see a definite gain in smoothness and blacker backgrounds…. Even if their only Hosp or spec grade outlets!

Elsewise you simply won’t know for sure what needs addressing and what doesn’t.

Least I forget, if you run ded ckts… use the same phase. Choose the one in the box the major appliances aren’t on if possible. Eg., water heater, fridge, microwave, freezer, washer & dryer, etc. If at all possible place you ded ckts at the closest point to the incoming feed on the bus you select.

You can tweak the ded ckts by the type of wire you use to run them with, the outlets themselves, how the outlets are mounted in their boxes, how the wire is terminated to the outlets, etc. Get as crazy as you want there… but don’t concern yourself with any disparity between the actual lengths of their individual runs. The length of the run matter only in the selection of the wire gauge being used… and I doubt you would need more than #12… at worst a #10. you could also consider running each ckt ‘s wires in their own PVC conduits to further isolate them if run in quite close proximity to other power or com lines, and especially if non shielded wire is chosen.

However, I have 4 20A ded ckts. All are standard #12 romex. None are in conduit. Things sound quite good to me & others, so there’s that note on the “How crazy should I get?” addendum.

I’ve tried a few PLCs including Shunyata, PS Audio, and running Springs Audio. Of the three brands, the RSA haley provided the least amount of noted dynamic loss while in use with my various amps. Each has it’s own signature or flavor and I’d not allow popularity alone, to be my guide with PLCs selecting.

In fact I use a PSA Duet for my spinning gear and mass fi stuff. The Haley supplies mostly my DAC, preamp, and a PC digital source. Sometimes I’ll connect amps to it, sometimes I won’t. As I said above, there’s a flavor which is additive or subtractive using conditioners and even passive filters…. Which you may or may not like in certain cases…. Or at certain times.

The curious thing about PLCs, active or passive, is you can have dirty power and things can still sound mighty good to you. Consequently, adding a very good PLC to the system should only allow you to hear your system better. Cleaner, clearer and more musically. Less proficient ones will reduce the bandwidth, here or there and come across as if the sound has been slightly compressed. True too there may be some lessening of the leading edge severity or impact…. This aspect will range about from maker to maker, model to model, in varying degrees… and why many prefer to run good amps, like your Halo’s right into the wall.

A quite notable thought on all the ‘passive’ units I’ve used and prefer to use, is that the feed cord will definitely provide it’s voice to the downstream items as an additive influence. I’ve found the supplying power cord to the “whatever cond or filter”, is as key if not more so than is the power line cleaner upper. In fact the voice of your system can and will be changed more by it than will a great conditioning device. It’ll pay you to spend some time addressing that link, I assure you, to whatever extent you desire.

Other power cords on your various pieces will also alter, enhance, or im-prove things for you. I’ll guarantee you this much, things will at the very least change. Nearly everytime, with different power cords on the same device!

I’ve run both tube and SS mono block amps…. They like many squeakers dig power. Unimpeded power that is….

Good luck, and do try comparing PLCs, some are better than others and price isn’t always representative of how they’ll work in your rig.
Thanks to you too, Blindjim, for your thoughtful response. You've given me plenty to consider.

Follow-on question...sorry, but I'm a zero when it comes to electricity. Adding dedicated lines for my gear SOUNDS like it would be an expensive and disruptive project. Can someone set my expectations re: cost and degree of difficulty/mess that would be invoved? Thanks again for all the insight.
I had a licensed electrician install two 30 amp dedicated circuits using 10 gauge Romex and one 20 amp dedicated circuit using 12 gauge Romex for a total of $500. Saturday (off the clock) work for him so I got a good price. It took him about 2 hours and there was zero mess.

Blindjim gives excellent advice in his thread above and I absolutely concur with his detailed recommendations on how to run the lines and also the positive effects of receptacles and power cords.

Regarding power receptacles, I recommend the excellent Porter Port for $36 or, for the best possible sound, the Synergistic Research Teslaplex for $95. Many like the Oyaide R1, but I found it to color everything plugged into it with its own sound which my golden-eared wife describes as "hi fi sounding". You can go for the receptacles now (with or without dedicated lines), enjoy the improvement, and then take them with you when you move.

Next would be selection of power cords. Sticky subject as everyone has their opinion. They do make a significant difference if your componentry is up to par. Try some different brands from a dealer than offers free in-home trials and compare. Keep all your cabling and power cords within the same brand family for best results.

Lastly, on the subject of power conditioners, I have owned and heard many, many well regarded and expensive conditioners and only one has drastically improved the sound of my system with zero drawbacks: the Synergistic Research Powercell 10SE. At $5k retail, it is certainly a major investment but well worth it in a well-heeled system. I run my Krell FPB-600C amp (2400w/ch @ 2 ohms) and all of my two channel and HT equipment through the Powercell and it actually IMPROVES dynamics (even with such a massive current load), creates a cavernous and superbly articulated soundstage, and provides a totally black noise floor. Other products may impress you initially, but ultimately they will reveal limitations/drawbacks that will result in their removal.

Good luck.
Earzona,use your money for MUSIC! If equipment needs thousands for dedicated power lines, thousands for power conditioners, hundreds for power cords; it isn't designed worth a damn. Parasound Halos are fine components. Any power conditioner good enough for computers and hospitals is plenty adequate. Tripp-Lite has been around for decades. CWS is an on-line supplier. Be sure whatever you get has enough amp capacity, the component instruction manuals will give you their amp draw. Add them up and see what you get. If very serious, get one for your input devices, and one for amps. A decent power conditioner will clean up RFI on the line and keep a solid 110-120v feed, adjusting for peaks and dips in the voltage. Good Listening.


Figuring you own a home, open up your braker box and look at the name on it, GE, ITT, Pacific Electric, Cuttler Hammer, etc, (also see if you have any blanks or unused spaces on it… if not, you’ll merely need a thing called wafer breakers instead of std ones), get a general idea of how far it is from the box to the place you want/need to put the outlets, then stop by one of the Adult Toy stores in your area, Lowes, Home Depot, Builders Square, etc... and ask them what all you'll need to install your power lines. Your material list costs will come to under $150 I'd bet. Front to back, incld spec grade outlets. Surely less than $200 and why I said put in 3 if possible. AS One never knows.

Here’s the argument as I see it on all this power line abbra ka dabbra magic, snake oil, and factual contention.

The further up the food chain you go with high end audio usually, the products become more articulate and sensitive to many changes. Upstream component changes, cabling, isolation changes, etc. it’s on the same lines as relocating speakers… even at times some minor changes there will affect the overall depiction of the sound.

As power is the one common denominator to all of a system, and not a lot of people are entirely up to speed on electricity, & electrical services in general, it remains for many a dark subject and one which they’d as soon not mess about with or invest more time and money to improve upon. I mean in that regard, “it’s working fine enough. Always has, and as I’ve bought better stuff the sound has also improved, so all that talk about cables and adding still more junk to the incoming power lines must just be more bull.”

Parenthetically speaking, it’s almost like those who say the shorter signal path is the best, and use only a CDP with volume controls directly feeding their amp. Well… you throw in a very very good preamp into that mix and those people likely will change their tone…. As did I. In fact I was a commercial & industrial electrician and when I heard all this rhetoric on incoming power I scoffed at it almost abusively, but felt I had to see for myself. I did and it isn’t hype.

Nope. It ain’t. So I’d ask those who quantify these areas as total loss of investment to qualify themselves a bit more by asking them if they have ever done such things, to what extent, and on what sorts of gear?

If ya ain’t ever jumped out of a perfectly good airplane just for fun, or I suppose any other reason, ya simply DO NOT KNOW!

HERE’S THE FACTS… do you need dedicated power lines?
YEP. The better question is HOW WILL THEY HELP?
BLACKNESS OF BACKGROUND IN THE PRESENTATION, AND LESS AFFECTED FROM THE REST OF THE HOMES GIZMOS… dimmer, chargers, appliances… etc. Thus adding another level of smoother operation, and greater resolution by subtraction.

Nope. Better put, Will Better power cables help?
Yep. Again, eg., HOW….
Again, eg. See above.

Beneficial? Way More often than not.
HOW? THIS AREA GETS A BIT MORE COMPLICATED… depending again on the system and how or where one is applied, but most often a much greater impact is felt here, and aking to the addition of better cabling. The idea of ‘how much better’ remains in the ears of the beholder however. I’d say at least, a noticeable one.

There are numerous analogies I could submit I guess, but the best might be this, until you’ve actually been to the Lourve Museum in Paris and seen a Rembrandt or da Vinci in person, until you’ve been to St Peters Bascilica in the Vatican City and seen the various works of the master sculptors first hand, swam with the sharks off the coast of Mexico, or stood atop a living volcano, checking all that out on the Discovery channel or Learning channel, just isn’t the same. It ain’t.


…. And my answer would follow along these lines… Why did you buy what you bought instead of lesser expensive gear? They would both have made good sounds. Why’d you do mono blocks instead of a stereo amp? Why’d you spend $10K on speakers instead of $6K?

Do you put regular unleaded gas in your Porsche, ‘Vette, Lexus, or Infinity, and outfit it with recaps?

Why do birthday cakes have icing on them, they don’t kneed it, do they?

The ‘icing’, the finishing touches for a fine system or to make a very good system spectacular, are these peripherals. Isolation, room acoustics, power line acutramen, cabling, etc.

Years ago when I first was pointed to this site I found over and over again, these words as it pertains to one’s audio rig… “Everything matters and everything makes a difference”. The sole caveat to that is, your ears and your system components are the only limitations to perceived gains. If the rig isn’t resolving enough to exhibit noticeable minor gains, or your ears aren’t capable, or the rooms acoustics disallow such things due to uncontrolled bass resonances & reflections, well there’s that. Look to them first.

But if it is, and you are, and you don’t look into such things, then you simply won’t know what the full voice of your system can really be. True too, you’ll spend less. Have some more time on your hands. Be less audiophobic and still have a decent deal going on for yourself.

Always will there be those questions for the audio nut. Always will there be too, the incidental ‘point of diminishing returns’ wherein the gains become smaller, the differences yet slighter, and the costs dramatically increased.

For the money, within reason, addressing power line issues (known or unknown) via ded ckts, ($100 $500) is very cost effective. Power cabling too is a valid beneficial aspect to investigate for oneself. Power conditioning again, is quite system dependant though not as acute as perhaps, matching a 2wpc ch SET amp to High sensitivity speakers. Will all that make your Halos sound like Cords? Probably not. Will it make your speakers sound like Rockports? I’d doubt that too.

Will it add refinement, involvement, give you more of that “they are here rather than you are there” business, and add more life into the musical presentation? I’d bet more than a fair amount on it… and did…. And yes in my own very modest home, and about as modest gear, it sure did! Think about that for a second… if an old nearly totally blind guy wit severely encumbered means, and an immense abhorrence to new concepts, can do such things and further realize improvements on even a modest level, it’s quite possible for anyone to do them and very likely surpass my own levels quite easily.

To get some inkling of what a ded ckt will do before you actually put one in, (leaving off the gear only) turn on all else in that room and the adjacent areas… then flip off the breakers until you find the one (s) feeding it… unplug all else from the ckt, and turn off the lights if any are attached… then reengage the breaker and listen to your gear for a while, it’s only a small sip of what’ll happen, as a ded ckt has nothing else running on it… no other splices, joints etc, but forget that if you have flouescent lighting attached to that line as the transformers are in play on the neutral and ground.

Call the Cable Co….. throw in some Hospital grade outlets for $8 ea, or as suggested some Porter Ports for $36… and go from there. Try some of the cheaper more popular filters and if not pleased simply resell them. That’s almost exactly what I’ve and other’s have done so we could see for ourselves.

Very good luck
Mr. Jim just gave some excellent advice :)
Fellow Gon''re all terrific. The last few entrants hit me right where I live:
* Yes, I have jumped out of a perfectly good airplane;
* Yes, I buy the best fuel for my Porsche;
* Yes, I know exactly why I spent the thousands (over many, many years) to build a system that excites me;
In short....yes, I have a problem (like many of you)...but your advice has helped me understand to manage it more intelligently! Thanks! All the advice and feedback has been terrific.