Best bang? New power cord or power conditioner?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by aberyclark, Apr 30, 2012.

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  1. aberyclark

    aberyclark Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Just curious if you had to pick one of the two on a component, which would bring most improvement? Also, what power conditioner price level (generally) do they start to make a difference vs just being a fancy power strip. We are doing some rearranging in living room and I need to organize the power cords. So now is the time to invest in a good conditioner
  2. tubesandvinyl

    tubesandvinyl Forum Resident

    I'd probably pick a good power cord. But both are key. You can get some good conditioners on the used market for $400 +/-.
  3. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Well-Known Member

    I think it depends on your perspective.

    I would approach the question from one of: which is actually likely to make a difference. I am skeptical when it comes to power cords, assuming they are of a basically sufficient gauge (for amps), so if I were to approach this question myself, I would spend money on a power conditioner or surge protector that actually would be DOING something to the power (or protecting the gear), rather than something that I have every reason to believe does nothing.

    Now, if your perspective differs, then it's a more difficult question.

    It is also worth pointing out that there are plenty of "power conditioners" which accomplish basically nothing, and are little more than overpriced glorified power strips, with some kind of token choke somewhere which will hardly have any impact on anything at all (I'm looking at you, low-end Furmans...)

    And of course, if you're considering 'improving' your power, this begs the question: does it need it? Power quality can vary a lot from place to place, or based on what's going on in your house and your wiring, and so a legitimate approach to power requires, in my opinion, actually knowing first what the heck the power is actually like. There may not be much benefit of trying to clean up power that's already clean, compared to situations where it's a mess.

    Now, as far as providing something that actually answers your question, IMO you're not really doing anything very serious about power improvement until you're in the few hundred dollar range and looking at legit voltage regulators or isolation transformers:

    But I try to approach the question starting from an engineer's perspective, and then move on from there into subjective preferences in the beyond.

    If you're really serious, you do something like this:
    Brother_Rael likes this.
  4. LeeS

    LeeS Audio Research Fan

    I'm finding that both power cord and conditioner matter with this new Shunyata gear I am trying. But I get more impact from the Hydra 2 conditioner than I do from the Black Mamba power cord.
    Vinyl_Blues likes this.

    TONEPUB Forum Resident

    Portland, Oregon
    Why don't you go to a dealer, or Music Direct and give something a try so that you have firsthand experience?
    Vinyl_Blues likes this.
  6. ElizabethH

    ElizabethH Forum Resident

    SE Wisconsin,USA
    My experience.
    I started with one small Adcom ACE515 power conditioner.
    It helped a little.
    I made some powercords with instructions from Jon Risch site.
    They did nothing I could hear.
    I got a second Adcom.
    I got a midsized Monster conditioner (5000)
    I put one adcom on the TV.
    I experimented with multiple conditioners, and which one where a lot.
    I bought a demo BIG Monster power conditioner 7000SS for all the audio, except i used an Adcom just for the amp. The Monster 5000 went to the TV/video.
    I bought a Pangea powercord for the amp (I did not believe cords could make a difference, but the Pangea AC( was as cheap as a built cord was, at least when the Pangea first came out.) I could HEAR the cord difference!
    First time.
    I bought more Pangea power cords for everything.
    I bought a Furman REF 20i used close enough to go pick up in person.
    ((Because I tried a midsized one and it did wonders for the sound of my receiver, but it was just a loaner)
    I also bought a PS Audio PPP. It was OK, but any power stress the fan went on. They are fine as long as they are not overburdened.
    I then decided to try a PS Audio P600, as I read it could alter the AC frequency to other than 60hz. (I use mine at 110hz)((they MUST have the extra 'board' which is no longer available))
    I sold the PS Audio PPP (the Monster 7000SS and 5000 are just laying around, now)
    I sold one Adcom to the person i sold my amp to when I upgraded, and gave them a Pangea power cord for it too..
    Now I use the Furman REF20i for all my stuff except the digital. For the digital stuff I use the PS Audio regenerator, P600 at 110hz .
    One should try a powercord. It may or may not make a difference.
    It is a subtle thing, and ones' system may or may not respond to a particular one. (I was lucky i hit the right cord for my amp right off)
    As for conditioners, they DO change the sound, and depending on what one likes, maybe NOT for the better.

    A conditioner usually makes things clearer, less grainy. But some will cause a thiness in the bass or lower midrange. It is a tradeof usually. Takes a perfect combination to not gain one and lose the other to some degree.
    I think that is why such a divergence on which type or which one is best, where some say the one the other person praised, sucks..

    Which one to try first???
    The cord is going to be cheaper. And you can ALWAYS use a powercord.
    Go for a Shunyata Venom 3, or a Pangea AC14SE
    Extra Dry likes this.
  7. el34eh

    el34eh Member

    I'd much rather use a power distributor or generator as these color the sound least. As for power cords ( and yes they do make a difference - and I for one can head said differences ) I'd add that the better ones at the lower end start at about $380/2m and then upwards of $500 as the mid level ones then $800 where they begin to make each component come into its own, after this point it becomes a tad bit scary as we are approaching those from Siltech Cables and Crystal Cable or Nordost territories. And it comes down to preferences and/or synergy within your system. For power distributors look into lines like Orb Audio or Oyaide along with Furutech from Japan as these can be had from $400 to upwards of $650. Just my views on said topic. Yet it's all subjective/objective depending upon whom you talk too - but in the end power are needed - but to my ears both are less colored then using a power line conditioner. Regards,Oscar
    Vinyl_Blues likes this.

    TONEPUB Forum Resident

    Portland, Oregon
    You don't list a power amp or preamp in your profile. What your plugging in will make a big difference. The power cords are going to make minimal diff with a good PLC and almost no diff without.

    You should also check the grounding in your house and if necessary have an electrician repair/re do your ground from the box. This will definitely help some noise issues.

    A good PLC will not cause a thinness in the bass, lower midrange or anywhere else.

    It should not affect tonality or dynamics at all.

    Careful attention to the power in your system should result in a lower noise floor and a less grainy presentation overall. If you have grounding issues, even the best PLC will still have problems. I seriously wouldn't do one without the other.

    I've tried almost all of them and there are only a few that will accomplish this.

    If you can't afford to spend some serious $$ on a great PLC, try the grounding, a few budget power cords and a dedicated outlet. That's a good basic place to start and you'll get even better results when you can step up to a good PLC.
  9. JA Fant

    JA Fant Forum Resident

    Both are important. Start w/ a Power Cord.
  10. motorcitydave

    motorcitydave Enlightened Rogue In Memoriam

    Las Vegas, NV, USA
    power conditioner
  11. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    San Jose, CA
    Power cords first.
  12. simon-wagstaff

    simon-wagstaff Forum Resident

    I go with power conditioner. I picked up a monster one, forget the model, list was 700 bucks but I found a used one on e-bay for under 200 bucks. I am really surprised at the difference it makes, blacks are much blacker, more dynamics. I have played around with power cords a little bit, not much going on there.

    It shouldn't have, but the power conditioner really seemed to make a difference to me. I won't go back.
  13. BigE

    BigE Well-Known Member

    This shoulda been a poll . . . :)
  14. Glen B

    Glen B New Member

    First off, why do you need either one ? What are your current components, and exactly what "improvement" are you looking for ? I am all for upgrade power cords and power conditioning, but that is only part of the picture. IMO, you don't just go willy-nilly swapping cords or adding power conditioning because its the in-thing to do. Depending on where you live and the quality of your AC power, you may find you don't even need a power conditioner.
  15. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Well-Known Member

    Hey look, if you wanna be in, then you gotta do the in-thing.

    Gotta be cool, funky, and hip:

    Get with it, man!

  16. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

  17. Both, but the power conditioner will make the most noticeable difference IMO.
  18. *Zod*

    *Zod* Forum Resident

    Connecticut, USA
    consider this: I just got home earlier today and noticed that nothing in my rack had standby lights on and that the power was off everything. I checked out my conditioner and it was in emergency standby. Apparently there had been a surge/power outtage/whatever, and it shut everything down. I clicked the power button off and back on. Everything came back on. A power cord would not have helped you in this scenerio.
  19. nm_west

    nm_west Forum Resident

    Abq. NM. USA
    The furman ar-pro will still output 22 amps of current with as little as 88 ACV input. :thumbsup:
  20. Leigh

    Leigh Forum Resident

    I would pick room treatments ;)
  21. tubesandvinyl

    tubesandvinyl Forum Resident

    Absolutely, room treatments are elemental.

    OP, what amp/preamp/integrated are you running?
  22. LeeS

    LeeS Audio Research Fan

  23. ElizabethH

    ElizabethH Forum Resident

    SE Wisconsin,USA
    I agree the power conditioner will in the long run be a better thing to have.
    Problem is they cost a lot.
    A pwercord can be a $100 affair. and it can be moved around and played with way more than a power conditioner. So, for the "Bang for the Buck" a powercord beats buying a power conditioner by a mile.
    Though a used Adccom ACE515 or ACE535 would be about $85 bucks.. :sigh:
  24. ***PL***

    ***PL*** Member

    1) High Current power cords to all AMPs (incl. receivers)
    2) Power Conditioner
    3) Power cords to remaining Source components
  25. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    OP's system is listed.

    As much as I am an advocate of good power (receptacles, cords and conditioning), I'd recommend that he upgrade equipment first before tackling cords and line conditioning.

    If he hasn't already, he could upgrade the receptacle at the wall to something which is quality which won't break the bank.

    But ultimately, he needs to upgrade equipment first.
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