Should Amps be plugged into a power conditioner?


After reading about the amplifier hum, it was mentioned that some knowledgeable people say NOT to plug an amp into a power conditioner. Plug it directly into a wall outlet. Thankfully, I do not have a hum issue, but am curious as to what others say about where to plug your amp into. 

Thank you!


IME, amplifiers are far better sounding when plugged directly into the wall. You trade off filtering for much more headroom. I will take more headroom all day long.

I should add that I have always used higher powered amplifiers. This may not be true of tubed or SET amps as I have no experience with those.

Depends upon the amp and the conditioner.  Conditioners that allow many amplifiers to function without limiting the headroom are very expensive.

The amp's class of operation could be a factor, e.g., class A, AB, or D.  Any knowledgeable opinions?

For me better safe than sorry. Panamax had been my best equipment "shepherd" and protector since deep early 90's and never failed even with STRONG surges. Never cared to upgrade that one.

When I was at a local dealer hosting McIntosh, one of their amplifier engineer/designer was there, and said amps should not be plugged into a power conditioner. The Power Supply, properly designed, does not need it and it lowers the draw rate of the amp. The amp should be plugged into the wall. Pre-amps and sources SHOULD be plugged into power conditioner(s) since they pull power more consistently.


If you’re using a power conditioner for your amp, try plugging directly into the wall and see if you notice a difference in SQ. I did.

Going on 25 or 30 years ago, a dealer in Philly sold me on these power conditioners he carried (a brand I've never hear of since).  He was skilled at selling me on stuff, and he swore up and down that ALL my eqipment should be plugged into it and (I paraphrase) it would make the background blacker, soundstage deeper, and just about every other good thing you could do to a sonic presentation.

Anyway, after I bought it I called Cary Audio up to see how they felt about me plugging my amp into it (this was back when they still provided telephone tech support), and the gentleman I spoke to sort of gave me the impression that he was not all that crazy about the idea.  I have used that power conditioner off and on, but I don't plug amps into it.

Depends upon the amp and the conditioner.  Conditioners that allow many amplifiers to function without limiting the headroom are very expensive.

This ^^^^^.

Some amps (mainly higher end amps) go to great lengths to optimize the power supplies in the amps.  Others can definitely benefit from a good conditioner.  It's just not a one size fits all rule of thumb.

I got a chance to buy a used Lightspeed 3200 for $10, so I gave it a try.  Wow....really nice with my old tube amps, but can't say what it'd do with other amps.  YMMV


In general no unless perhaps if one has a power conditioning device capable of delivering the power and current the amp demands without breaking a sweat. Pencil neck conditioners need not apply with most power amps. Otherwise the power conditioner will be a bottleneck to performance rather than a help.

Thanks to all for your feedback. I should have mentioned what my model my amp

is. It is a AR 300.2. Kind of old, but still a very good amp

Prior to purchasing the Shunyata Everest 8000 and a bank account’s worth of power cords, I spoke with various people and researched the topic of plugging power amps into the wall.  My integrated amplifier, the MA12000 at 300 watts per channel of not class D power had a definite McIntosh recommendation of plugging it directly into the wall.  My MA12000 and two REL S812 subwoofers each plug into their independent circuit on my Everest and I’ve never found anything but benefit from using the Shunyata.  Take a look at this review with reference material and components used at the end of the review.  I’m not suggesting that you do the same.  In fact, as previously mentioned, I purchased these with a ninety day guarantee of 100% refund if returned.  I fully expected to return the Shunyata and their Midas power cables.  I didn’t…

I've been very happy with my 200 watt amp from Spectral plugged into an Equitech 2Q which is a "balanced power" unit.  I use very high level MIT Cables power cords to and from the Equitech and found a benefit with these MIT pc's. I would not be without the 2Q. My cities power is not excellent; as many others are not either. YMMV. I decided to buy the 2Q by an in-home trial. It was a no brainer on listening; but not cheap. 

Definitely directly into the wall… and preferably into a dedicated direct line. Perhaps some very unusual  amp / terrible power situation it would be better… but I have not experienced it or heard of it. 

My dealer recently brought over a conditioner specifically designed for just the amp. I wish I remembered the name… it was high end, you’d recognize the name. The audition lasted about a minute… although I spent more time with it. Definitely restricted dynamics. 

One of the most respected power conditioner and cable companies, Shunyata, specifically designs the Denali and Everest lines with both high current and low current zones. The high current zone is designed for pre and power amps.  The low current zones for digital components.  I use a Denali and plug my integrated amp into the high current  zone and do not get hum.  SQ is improved over directly plugging the integrated amp into the wall (quieter background, more detail, better bass definition, timbre,  imaging and staging). I do not hear any reduction in transient speed, leading edge, and there is better impact.  Well designed conditioners like Shunyata, Audience, Nagra, Etc. will bring improved SQ to high current components.  I would not chance plugging in any of my components directly into the wall and chance damage from surges.  

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I have found many with big transformers actually limit the dynamics 

Ansuz D3 totally different technologies using powered mini Tesla coils over 100 

and different type of sign  waves making a very substantial improvements 

add to this their digital Ethernet hub and some of their cables magical .

my brother currently has them and I have been part of demos vs some  much more expensive products and this range from Danish Audio Group is pretty special .

Borresen Xmodel Loudspeakers and The excellent AAvic integrated amps 

and Axxis entry level gear is very good and decent pricing. Well worth checking out.

I have a decidedly mid-fi bedroom system, NAD C700, Cullen Cable Gold Series power cable, into a Furman Powerstation 8 Digital Linear Power/Surge Protector, then into a hospital grade receptacle.  I can detect no difference between directly into the wall or through the “filtering” receptacle on the power conditioner/surge protector.  I simply can’t be without a surge protector because where I live we commonly have thunderstorms, don’t want to fry my equipment.  Reviews on it are good and so far there’s only been a couple of outages and no damage.  I’m sure a higher end, more revealing system may have different results, but FWIW this works for mine.

Interesting thread. I have a Shunyata Denali power conditioner and have had an Luxman L-507ux MK2 integrated amp plugged into it since purchase. I’ve had the same performance described by jsalemo277 above. Having never tried plugging the amp into the wall directly I have no idea if the less restricted dynamics ghdprentice described of might be obtained by doing so.

So I’ll try that out tomorrow and see.  The pre-amp portion of the integrated might be negatively impacted by decoupling it from the Denali, so I’ll try and notice if there is any noticeable issue there as well and report back.


My Pass Labs mono blocks are plugged directly into to separate wall sockets, which is the recommendation from Pass Labs. Other components with less current draw are plugged into an Isotek conditioner. 

I have used  power conditioner for around 17 years I thought it made a difference in the sound quality of my Denon 4308 and the picture quality of my plasmas, (oleds presently) . Denon still gives me phone support and always asks if I'm using a power conditioner and to unplug it and plug it straight into the wall, I have a lot of power surges here with every thunderstorm once the power goes out the unit stays off until I turn it back on. gives piece of middle in the middle of the night when the power is going in and out..

From the info in the preceding posts, it would appear that plugging my amp directly into the mains socket would be preferable. Unfortunately, my mid-century home has ungrounded circuitry in most areas, including my listening space. When the amp is plugged directly, there is a small amount of current flowing through the cabinet that can be felt by touch. I found that by connecting the amp to my  Panamax conditioner resolves this issue. I hope to upgrade the circuitry, at some point, but in the meantime I'll have to use a conditioner for my amp.

I’ve also been very happy with my McIntosh MC500 plugged into my Shunyata Triton/Typhon Combo. I’ve  never had any issues.

 About a year and a half ago I purchased a Furman Elite mostly for the surge suppression. Got tired of unplugging every time there was a T storm. According to the manufacturer, the outlets for power amps had zero limiting on power/current draw, so I even gave up my dedicated 20A circuit for my amp and plugged it into the Furman along with everything else. My system is dead quiet and I swear the soundstage expanded, wider and deeper. I can detect nothing but improvement from this thing, and I no longer freak out about the weather....

Hi to all,

 I had the same concern about plugging amps into the wall. I decided to write to Andy at Synergistic Research and this was my response.

Almost all power conditioners limit current, which is why you hear recommendations to plug the amps directly into the wall. However, All Synergistic power conditioners are completely non-current limiting. In fact, the cells have slight capacitance, so they can provide more current on demand than the wall itself. So, not only can you plug the amps into the PowerCell 12, you SHOULD. Amps can benefit from conditioned power just as much as any other component when the conditioner can provide enough current.

I have a Shunyata Hydra 6 and my amp is a McIntosh MC 7300.  At one time I contacted Shunyata directly and the head tech person told me to plug the McIntosh directly into the wall.  FWIW.

When I purchased Emotiva’s differential pre-amp (XDA-3) and their power amp (XPA-Dr3, ~ 500w/ch) together with their own power conditioner, their recommendation was to NOT plug the power amp into the conditioner but straight into the wall outlet. 

Dedicated line from panel to amp. Everything else goes into the power conditioner. After experimenting, this arrangement has worked best for me…. Just sayin’

For whatever it's worth, in my experience with my Parasound Halo a21+, plugging it directly into the wall or into my Black Lion PG2R conditioner/regulator dedicated power amp section has resulted in no significant improvement. Furthermore, other tweaks made on this specific amp has resulted in no significant improvement, like Patrick Cullen PC and purple fuse. However, the PCs and fuses upgrades have had very significant improvements on all my digital gear. Point being, you always have to find these things out for yourself with your particular system in your listening environment. There is unfortunately no shortcut.

All of my components are plugged into my MPC1500. C2700, MC611's, MCD600,MP1100. I have never had any issues. The MPC1500 has both switched and unstitched outlets available. When there is the threat of storms in the area which is frequently this time of year, I unplug the MPC1500. 

@ghdprentice  did it also shrink the sound stage? What about tonal balance? How about rhythm  and pace? Tone? 


Do you use any of the hifi  receptacles or the hifi  plugs? 



Current delivery and immediacy seems to be the defining point. At least in my system anyway. I was plugging my amp directly into a high quality outlet to much better effect (another important thing to consider btw), until I got a good deal on a used Chang Lightspeed power bar and filter that touted “unlimited current”.
With that in place and everything plugged into it, literally no difference than plugging the amp straight into the wall in terms of dynamics and scale. But a slight improvement on background there from what I can tell.


It amazes me to hear all these different opinions here, some of them based on the equipment they have bought.

Something I learned a couple of decades back was to make sure your power was as clean as possible to your equipment in the first place. What I always suggest to everyone regardless of their equipment or what they want to spend on a power conditioner (or two...) is that they look after their power coming into their equipment first. Make sure you have dedicated lines to your equipment and that this power is not shared with the rest of your home. Only after this is done can you start comparing ’line conditioners’.

To be fair and to note, I have a couple of upper-end Chang Lightspeeds that I still power my preamp and non-power hungry components into. But any power delivery component such as an amp or subs are plugged directly into the wall.

To this day, and in 3 different homes, this has been by far the best configuration. (all direct comparisons because none of these homes had dedicated power panels to a music room to begin with)

Direct hands-on comparison:

My system includes a pair of 220wpc amps driving an easy load (Harbeths). It always sounded OK, but never quite like what was promised by the most credible published reviews. Cable upgrades, room treatments, vibration mitigators, all made some difference, but I felt there should be more.

After extensive research, I added an Audioquest Niagara 5000 conditioner and full set of complementary AQ power cords. Invested about $7000 total. The transformation was dramatic. Holographic soundstage, more realistic imaging, and vastly improved reproduction of tiny details, such as room ambiance. Overall, one of the biggest sonic improvements I’ve experienced in any system I’ve ever owned.

And oh yeah, the addition of the conditioner also improved headroom. Yup, that’s right. Maybe it was just a matter of better transient response making everything sound punchier, but the improvement was dramatic..

The ponit is that every setup is different and a successful power-conditioning strategy calls for the research required to make an educated decision. In my case, I had a 7-year-old house with combined utility power & rooftop PV. No ground hum or aluminum wiring, but during the day, a lot of inverter noise. I blindly tried a few $3-500 power conditioners that were little more than surge protectors, and heard no difference. It wasn’t until I took the time to understand the technology that I had such profound results. I’d never consider running my system today without the AudioQuest power-conditioning in place. I’m sure that analogous Shunyata gear would also provide significant improvements.

Properly designed conditioners, like the sophisticated Niagara line do a lot more than reduce audible noise. One benefit of the Niagaras is that they effectively create reservoirs of power that provide the energy needed by an amplifier to reproduce peaks. Randomly matching a crappy $500 conditioner with a beefy, current-hungry amplifier can certainly limit dynamics. But if you take the time to do it right, you stand a good chance of greatly improving your sonics.

And the quality of your amplifiers doesn’t necessarily obviate the need for power conditioning. Michael Fremer himself still uses a Niagara front end for his Dartzeels (!), even after having his entire house wiring, all the way to the curb, replaced a few years ago.  Even running a dedicated line to your system can be effective, but in some cases, you need more.

Bottom line is that every system is different and every owner has to decide what type of power conditioning (or amended house wiring) is most cost-effective in his or her specific case. You can’t make an across-the-board statement one way or the other, even re:parameters like headroom, w/o first spending time on self-education and analysis on the order of the effort you’d make when shopping for speakers.

I speak from personal experience.

+1 Mesonto,

There will always be advocates for both cases (conditioner vs. directly to wall). In my system I have my amp directly to the receptacle, as I tried it through the Panamax M5300-PM where it collapsed the dynamics a bit....and seemed to compress bass speed. Signal components go through the Panamax.

What truly made a huge difference: 2 dedicated lines for the amp and the conditioner, high quality receptacles (Furutech GTX-D(G), Furutech GTX-D(R), and Oyaide R1), and upgrading my power cords away from my first Pangea power cords.

I suppose it depends about the power conditioner that is used, many do limit dynamics.

However, I have found that plugging my amps into my Niagara 7000 improves the dynamics, and overall sound quality over just plugging the amps into the dedicated wall outlet.


Should they is a judgement call and I encourage you to test with your ears.

I have a Shunyata Delta power conditioner and plug my Moon 860AV2 into it.  I like the sound and I also appreciate the protection.  (I also have a whole house surge protector.)

Current limiting starts at the power cord. Any time you have a glorified power strip, like so many so-called 'power conditioners' seen marketed to the high end audio community, the power cord it uses will have a voltage drop.

We recommend to our customers that unless they have a real power conditioner (like the old Elgars, or possibly one or a pair of the higher powered PS Audio units) that they plug directly into the wall. This is not only because of the sole power cord issue I just mentioned but also because most of the 'power conditioners' we've seen don't do much at all or can have deleterious effect.

The guy doing the teardown at the link doesn't understand how the Elgar works and these date from the 1970s not the 1990s :) so they usually need refurbishment to be reliable (they are designed for 24/7 operation). Elgar got out of the conditioner market in the early 1980s. 

The Elgar is a good example how how power conditioning should be done. It has an enormous power transformer through which the AC line moves. It has taps for various power supplies for the low distortion oscillator, housekeeping circuits and the large feedback amplifier. The output of the transformer is compared to the oscillator which is sync'ed to the AC line frequency. The feedback signal thus generated is amplified and applied to the transformer, bucking its Voltage (IOW 'regulating') and correcting distortion; this is done without current limiting right to the upper limit of the unit's spec- in the case of the one at the link, about 30Amps!

The PS Audio Regenerators also use an oscillator and an amplifier, whose output is converted to the AC line voltage by a transformer. Feedback allows it to also maintain low distortion.

If your conditioner does not do these things its likely so much junk. It might help in low current applications for isolation (such as seen in the Furman units) where power amplifiers should not be involved. If you don't have active circuitry to allow the conditioner to maintain low distortion of the output AC waveform, its not really going to work. You may have had good results with whatever you're using, but if you have a real conditioner the results are far more palpable.


My power spikes minimum 3 x a wk.ihave to use them and have several types most high end.i might lose some sound quality but not 30 k worth a Mac 1.25 and several others even through the surge protectors. The emotiva amps go into safety mode even though high end surge protectors and sound conditioners.they have some type of protection from factory.other amps dont.i have several amps that are 20 amp high watage sometimes 1 amp 1 plug all on 20 amp lines because sound cond only do so many amps. I wish I could plug directly in to the wall but can't risk it.most manufactures state plug directly to wall. Sometimes it's a compromise. Enjoy the music.stay calms the savage beast.

Luv the atmosphere comments and his knowledge has always seemed more valuable and correct to me wish more manufacture would comment without bias like he has done 

I've used power conditioners for a long time from an Adcom ACE 515 (still in my video system) to my current Bryston BIT-15. I always plug the power amp into the outlets designed for them as I like a single switch that turns the entire system on...power amp last on and first off using the amp's switch (the Bryston doesn't have the ability to do this itself). No hum, everything dynamic as it should be with zero difference between plugging the power amp into the wall or the conditioner (yeah, I checked that out). I use one of the "garden hose" Pangea AC cables for the Bryston.

I have found that the common suggestions about amps and power conditoners etc. are suggestions not rules. I configure my system and then listen to it. Sounds so basic, but I haven't always done my due diligence. I did listen to my Griffon EVO plugged into my Everest and then alternatively directly into two didicated lines. It sounded better directly from the wall, more present. Three weeks ago I tested the new 30 amp version of the Shunyata Typhon. First using one with both EVO power cords into the same Typhon, then using two Typhons each with the twist lock 30 amp umbilical and my other components plugged into the duplex outlets on the back of the Typhons. This configuration opened up the sound along with other sound improvments that I cannot unhear. The final solution I picked was two Typhons with umbilical cords that are plugged into the Swiss Digital fuse system, then from that box to the amp is an Audioquest Dragon High current power cord into the Amp. This solution is expensive, but has totally changed my sound to one I find grain and harsh free.

The point of my rant is to try as many combinations as you have the patience and resources to try. The engineer types are right most of the time, but the output is what we are after as determined by our own ears. 

Ralph, would appreciate your opinion on my situation. My system's power is supplied by an EQUI=TECH 5Kva wall unit running six dedicated lines, two to the front end, four to the amps (Audiopax M100 monoblocks)  and REL Subs. Am able to dedicate each outlet to one amp and one sub. 

Run the front end through the two lines near the rack. In the case of the phono pre the line is filtered again through a BPT 3.5 sig plus in series with the ET wall unit. Do you estiimate this setup to be optimal. The general wall outlets are daisy chained so obviously subject to noise polution.


Current limiting starts at the power cord. Any time you have a glorified power strip, like so many so-called 'power conditioners' seen marketed to the high end audio community, the power cord it uses will have a voltage drop.

is a strip acceptable for all but the amp, or are you saying that everything should plug directly into the wall?

@dentdog Anything with a transformer (like an isolation transformer) is subject to the distortion made by the transformer itself. Generally speaking, to avoid excess distortion from the transformer it must not be loaded past 50% of its rated capacity. You'll have to work out the math (Firefox has a security warning on my machine that suggests the Audiopax site doesn't have a proper certificate so I couldn't make out how much current the amps draw) to see how you sit. Obviously a passive power transformer cannot correct for a line Voltage drop and it will pass distortion that is already on the line.

@immatthewj Power cords (and power strips) have a Voltage drop across them (Ohm's Law), which is why power cords and the like have an effect on the sound of the equipment used with them. You really want to keep that to a minimum. The more power the equipment draws the more effect the power cord can have; feedback in the equipment will help it reject AC line Voltage effects. So the efficacy of power cords and such vary from system to system, sometimes by quite a lot.

I use a power strip in my system but the amps are not plugged into it- they run off of AC lines of which they are the sole user. My preamp is pretty heavily regulated so it tends to be immune to power cords and the like and the rest of the system hardly draws any current, so it works pretty well. 


The Spectral Audio manual says to plug their amps into the wall.  I don't use any devices to clean or regenerate power for any of my audio equipment.

I plug mcIntosh mono amplifiers into a transparent power isolator. It doesn’t restrict anything and is designed to remove lots of magnetic Radio frequency noisy stuff along the way. It cost around $6000. Also well insulated power cables are kind of important too. Just spend some money and get a nice box that you can plug your gear into and I think you’ll live more happy.

Plus it offers a hydraulic surge protector which is appealing. The purists don’t like surge protectors but I don’t see the problem and my panel has a surge protector but I don’t wanna take a chance and destroy a very expensive amplifier because of some stupid lightning bolt due to a large tree I own or whatever.

I use a power strip in my system but the amps are not plugged into it- they run off of AC lines of which they are the sole user. My preamp is pretty heavily regulated so it tends to be immune to power cords and the like and the rest of the system hardly draws any current, so it works pretty well.

@atmasphere , thank you; as always you provide helpful input. I posted a question on powerstrips a year or two ago, and I will spare you the entire story (because you would get bored and stop reading in short order) but I ran three dedicated lines into my listening room quite some time ago,

and then

I read some posts that made me question what I had done. First there was a thread about dedicated power lines which attracted several replies and also seemed to generate a few other threads on the subject, and although there was not exactly a universal agreement on the subject (surprise!) the take away I kind of got was that one dedicated line would be preferrable to multiple dedicated lines due to the interaction of grounds and neutral wires on the neutral bar. And not only that, I did not route my three dedicated lines in the wall with a lot of space between them, so I guess if rf is the reason for dedicated lines, I’d say that I didn’t achieve anything by that.

Therefore I put all my gear (CDP, pre, amp, sub) on one duplex. In order to do that, I used my glorified power strip for the CDP and the pre and I plugged my amp and sub into a 3 into one adapter/plug that I plugged straight into the wall.

I guess my other option is to connect the duplex that I am using to another duplex (in a series, if I am using the term corr4ectly?) which would give me two more outlets (on one dedicated line) and I would no longer have to use the glorified strip and the 3 into 1 adapter plug. I have kind of been holding off on that because where I have the 3 gang outlet box for my system is not the most comfortable place for me to work.

I have my McIntosh MC611s connected to a Shunyata Typhon T2/Denali 6000/S v2/Omega XC PC combination. I know McIntosh professes a direct connection to the wall, but they should hear what the Shunyata combo does to the sound. Although percentages are difficult to quantify in audio (I will give it a try), there is easily a 50% increase in sound improvement (bass, midrange clarity, soundstage). 

Does this apply to integrated amps as well? I've done both--plugged them into the wall and conditioners. I've never had any hum issues with current int amps or vintage.

I've done both--plugged them into the wall and conditioners.

@bluorion  , do you hear a difference?