at what price point does one consider a power conditioner?

paulwelch250 -- Thu, 09/01/2011 - 21:21

I have had so much fun finding the best speakers, amp, source, DAC, interconnects and speaker cables, I could afford and have changed out every component in my system over last 12 months.  Total new system cost is $7000.  I suspect that my weak link is the Arcam r-DAC, not that it is a bad component just that I think it it the weakest link in my system, as I had a chance to use the Brston DAC in my system and easily heard a nice improvement.  I have no AC conditioner now and have never spent any time thinking about AC conditioning until now.  I use a tube integrated amp which only has a 85 dB noise spec. which in my opinion does not bother me in the least, I can play the system very quiet or very loud and the quiet passages of music track s are just fine, much better than the good old 80s with LPs and first generaton CDs.
Should I consider an AC power conditioner or go for a better DAC?
What unit would you suggest that I buy to heard a worthy improvement?
What if I had the typical entry system, where one was still a happy camper CD consumer: $400 NAD CD player, $800 NAD or Cambrige integrated amp, $1100 towers, would a person typically want to spend their limited funds on an AC power conditioner or instead buy better amp or speakers?

brion -- Wed, 09/07/2011 - 20:01

 You could try one of the Audience Conditioners, the aR2p-T (for Teflon) is killer (for $1695.00, but you can only plug in two units, unless you have a bank of outlets for it).
If you want to spend less, try Nordost's Quantum QBase (around $849 for a 4 unit base; they also sell it in 6 unit size, but I forget the price). Then you could later on plug in the (optional) QUANTUM BASE QV2 AC LINE HARMONIZER, which is $350.00. I don't know others in this price range, except for Shunyata's line conditioners.

vhiner -- Thu, 09/29/2011 - 17:22

I've not auditioned Audience or Nordost power conditioner, but you have a good enough system to really benefit from a good power conditioner.

Shunyata's hydra 4 and 6 can be found on Audiogon for bargain prices ($500-$800) now that Shunyaya has come out with a new line of conditioners. When I hooked my first hydra up, i thought it was the best upgrade I'd ever made except for speakers. Better power conditioners like the ones mentioned by me and brion will enable you to appreciate other upgrades better, IMHO. A well-reviewed conditioner upgrades your entire front end. I'd upgrade the DAC after that.

rossop -- Sun, 10/02/2011 - 12:13

I am not a great advocate of power conditioning. It really depends on where you live and if you have a great deal of RFI and EMI contamination on your power line. Your digital front end followed by your preamp will benefit the most (if you need it). A well designed power amp should not need any at all.
In order to reduce electrical noise and other power line contaminants I would advise running everything from the same outlet via a good quality power strip. Put your power amps and other high current devices closest to the wall and daisy chain everything else after that.
Finally I would find a dealer who would let you borrow some sort of conditioner so you could see what, if any, difference it makes. I wouldn't spend too much either with the system you have. Try a PS Audio Duet out of their Juice Bar perhaps.

JLeeMD -- Sat, 10/01/2011 - 09:24

A good power delivery system (power conditioner/power cords/AC receptacle) forms, IMHO, the foundation for a superior high end audio system.  If you are unsure about power conditioners, try the PS Audio Duet: it's inexpensive yet very good.  Personally, I've spent $10k on a SOTA power delivery system for a $60k minimalist standmount speaker-based system.

TOGA -- Sat, 10/01/2011 - 10:23

I use RSA Maxim and happy with the result a lot.
It's not only about the noise filtering, it's about the change of sound in a positive way.
Music is more beautiful, smoother treble, more powerful bass and sweeter mid.
The last one is Transparent Audio PIR which is also very nice. But RSA Maxim just betters it.

daveg -- Sat, 10/01/2011 - 14:54

 I also own a mid-quality system, Krell KXi400 integrated amp, vintage Yamaha NS1000 speakers and Resolution Audio Opus CD player.

Earlier this year, after hearing a superb demo at the UK What HiFi show I purchased an Isotek Aquarius power conditioner, UK cost was £800. Without a doubt this has been the best and most cost effective upgrade I could have done on my system, I couldn't be more pleased. My partner and my friends also immediately heard the difference in sound, imaging improved, smoother mid and top end. Bass was a little light-weight to start with, but after a few days of use it became natural and settled in. I'd highly recommend trying this unit out as part of your research.

I also just returned from the UK National Audio Show and was transfixed by the Nordost demo, which was all about power and cabling. Their philosophy can be found in this excellent document I've always been pretty sceptical about the hype surrounding power conditioners and cables etc. I'm now a true convert. It can't be underestimated, quality power and cables will improve any reasonable system.
BTW, if you ever get a chance to hear Raidho C1 speakers, they are simply astounding, they blew my socks off. Sublime.

Enjoy your system.

vhiner -- Sat, 10/01/2011 - 16:10

I think there will be agreement among all power conditioning fans that a good conditioner represents a major system upgrade. When I first got into the hobby nearly 20 years ago I used an old Power Wedge and, to be honest, it actually hurt the sound. Then Shunyata, PS Audio, Audience, RSA, Isotek made serious advances in the field and a growing number of jaded audiophiles now consider conditioners not to be band aids for power problems, but a vital component of their systems. If the entire system's job is to translate electricity into music, the handling of that electricity is critical. A better name for power conditioners might be "power managers." Just my two cents.

JA FANT -- Mon, 10/17/2011 - 04:03

I was quite happy w/ my Richard Gray 400 for a few years. Then, I upgraded to the 400 Pro model. Same price as the 1st version, still satisified.

paulwelch250 -- Mon, 10/24/2011 - 10:15

Thank you all for your comments.  Eventually, I will try one. In the last six months: more of my listening has been with MP-3 downloads from iTunes, vs. store bought CDs. I find my planar tweeters to be fatiguing to listen to.  I borrowed a pair of speakers with really excellent soft dome tweeters, found that they nearly have the detail of the planar tweeters and sound more natural with the MP-3 tracks.  Therefore I will be upgrading my speakers before trying out the power conditioners.  Again, thanks for your inputs!

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