what kind of power conditioner for front end?

for many years, I used an isolation transformer, plugged into another large isolation transformer, both Soundtrappers, for all my front-end equipment.  That was Stereophiles top recommendation c. 1985, but many power conditioners have come to market since then, many of which are considered very good.  Got rid of the large iso, it hummed too much to tolerate in the same room with the audio equipment.  Amp clearly sounds best plugged into the wall with a good cord. 

I tried a ZeroSurge (which is, I believe, non-destructive, and it shouldn't have limited power, but would protect the equipment from surges), but when I play records, it caused the light above the turntable (plugged into the ZS) to dim and flicker.  The power draw from the phono stage (a Rogers PA-2) somehow affected the other outlets. I'm not sure why, but if the power to the phono pre is sagging through the ZS, that's not good. 

Plugged everything bck into the not-so-large isolation transformer, turntable light remains steady,  Seems to reduce noise.  Plugged everything into an unfiltered power bar (a PS Audio), no light flickering.  It seemed to have clearer and lower bass, possibly not quite as clear and quiet in the top end.  But that is effectively like plugging things into the wall, so there's no protection at all. 

So I'm puzzled. Does "everyone" use some power conditioning on the front-end equipment?  Is there a type of conditioner that is better than others?  How do you know what size conditioner you will need?  I do not want something that hums or makes noise of its own (I understand an AQ Niagra would) - noise is what I'm trying to eliminate, along with some surge protection.   I won't spend $10k unless I heard one that knocked me flat, which seems unlikely. I've never tried a regenerator.


Prepare for a deluge of totally diverse recommendations.

I'll get in first with Puritan PSM 156.  And you're done.

I have large isolation transformer pc, no humming although did hum some years ago when I had over voltage issue and likely DC offset issue. I'd suspect dc offset on ac lines if transformer hum that loud.


Some years ago, did auditions with a number of top line power conditioners, isolation transformer was my favorite and remains my favorite.

Firstly, I am an AQ fan, and use a Niagra 1200 for my front end components.

I have never heard a sound from the unit. My friend with a larger Niagra has never mentioned hearing anything, either.

Second, I only use conditioners on the lower power draining sources like preamp, DAC, streamer, etc. I never use them on high current devices, like amplifiers.

I do have a whole house surge protector at the mains, so I am not completely unprotected.

Here is a link to a nice review between AQ and PS audio-


Of course, if you live in an area that is subject to powerful storms, or just plain lousy electrical service, I can see why you'd want a conditioner/regenerator, but, if you own your own home, then investing in a whole house surge protector would be my recommendation (And, they aren't very expensive to have an electrician install).


I’m a lot like gdnrbob on this subject. That is, I also like the Audioquest Niagara power conditioners. I use the 7000 on my main system and the 1200 on my subs on another line. Mine are dead quiet. BTW, the Niagara 7000 "will knock you flat".

And, I also have a whole house surge protector in the breaker box.


+1 or +2 on the Niagara.  I have dedicated power lines to the amps and the front end.  I added the Niagara 5000 to the front end and it was a substantial improvement over the previous power conditioner- even with dedicated power lines.  I also have a whole house surge protector managed by our power company.  

I hear a quiet hum from the Niagara unit now and then.  The owners manual said this can happen and is due to noise on the power lines.  

I put my previous surge protector, which was not cheap, on my TV and saw nice improvement in the picture.  So it was a win win.

I still have my eyes out for a used Niagra 5000 at a good price and presently still using 2 Shunyata  Hydra-4 power conditioners.  The system is very quiet, but I am curious how the Niagra will pair up.  My system has 2 dedicated lines, both 20 amp.

@lloydc - As you have had good luck with isolation transformers, you might want to consider the Torus line of power conditioners, which are similarly based on transformers. I have an RM-20, which is dead silent, includes surge protection, and may suit you. It’s heavy.

Torus sells direct in North America. Sometimes they have demo units available at discount.

You won't know until you try a power conditioner in your system. And you won't know which one until you try more than one. You really can't go by what others say. I mean, of course you can. But you won't know what's best for your system.

And, btw, you should also try without a conditioner.

I was surprised when I went directly into the wall. I have a new home so maybe that had something to do with it. My next step is dedicated circuits and lines for my front end and the amps. I know this is not possible for everyone--and believe me, there is a WAF also in the mix. But that's my next big goal.

(And, yes, I know there have been a lot of advances in conditioning. I had been using a Running Springs Dmitri for my front end and a pair of PowerCells for my mono blocks; sub amps were always direct into the wall.)

Either way, I don't think I'll go back to power conditioners. Just sounds better without them. Dedicated lines or bust.

Food for thought: experiment and find out.

(PS: But, I'm an audiophile, so I reserve the right to contradict myself later 😂)

I would consider Shunyata (as in Everest) and IsoTech. I recently performed a detailed search. These seem to be the two high performers right now. Also, lots of detailed reviews. 

But auditioning prior to buying a must. Very, very. Very occasionally no power conditioned is better. 

I use the power strip with Add-Powr tech for my front end and it helps the music emerge from a pitch black background. Better than a cable upgrade. I have all of it on my network stuff, and all my source components. The products stack very well together, the next one I get will likely be for my projector and surrounds in the back of the room. I don’t own the flagship product, the sorcer, but they demo it in an A/B at a show in this video. Youtube quality is not great but if you wear headphones it gives you an idea of the difference it makes:


I am using the QRT Octave, a power conditoner from Bills previous company, which was made before Bill sold that company to Nordost (and who immediately raised all the prices) I would say Bill will answer your questions by e-mail or by phone and offer you a 30 day audition to check it out. If you look in the tweak section of A’Gon you will find some products selling at sale prices of 40% to 60% off.

I'm with twoleftears and slaw on this one. I'm using a Puritan 156 on my front end with excellent results. Amps are plugged directly into the wall.

okay @david_ten ​​​​@kota1 I am very intrigued by these ADD-Power boxes. You just plug these into an out let and that's it?

I have dedicated lines and only use power distribution boxes by Furman. System seems quite. 

@david_ten you have a nice system and lots of blue glowing boxes there. I am limited on space in my listening den. 

Inquiring minds want to know what you two recommend.

Thank you. 

The Add Power stuff aren't power conditioners in the way we've all come to understand them.

@juanmanuelfangioli, the Add-Power products are most typically deployed by plugging them into an outlet that is near your equipment.  The Electra-Clear could be plugged right into a power conditioner and everything that gets plugged into that conditioner would benefit. The Symphony Pro, the Wizard, the Sorcer could be plugged straight into an outlet and impact everything else in the room. The Symphony I/O resonator is designed for your ethernet connection. I would recommend calling Bill and discussing, then choosing a product to audition. Leave it in your system for a few weeks and then take it out. If you don't miss it, send it back for a refund. Wait for the sales on Agon, you can find discounts up to 60% on brand new products if you are patient.

@kota1 Thanks I think I get it now. @slaw You are correct these appliances are as the name implies an add on. 

Thanks for the great information.

Go Bears. 

I had to reconfigure my system a few months back and didn't have room for my big Exactpower conditioner/voltage regulator. I picked up this power distributor from Wisdom Cable Technology and it sounds excellent I don't miss the conditioning at all.


@juanmanuelfangioii That’s mood lighting for when "Kind of Blue" is in rotation.

It’s actually a camera artifact. The blue is overtly exaggerated. For example, the TV screen jellyfish image is actually black and white. The blue carpeting doesn’t help. I didn’t bother rectifying it, via editing. Perhaps I should.  : )

I believe @kota1 answered your questions. I’ll add the following:

ADD-Powr "conditions" the power line(s) directly and the components around it (indirectly); depending on the product used. I have the Sorcer X4 which is plugged into the same set of outlet banks (for common ground reasons) as my other components and power conditioner [a SR Galileo SX PowerCell]. It can also be plugged in at a ’distance’ [or on other lines] away from your audio system. Either way, it is easy to trial as the affect / effect is, for all practical purposes, immediately noticeable.

Perhaps i should have noted that I can not install a 20 amp line, which eliminates many of the most recommendable power conditioners.

Jond I love my wisdom power strip, it dethrone my ps 300 ps audio.Jim makes amazing stuff, I can highly recommend him.

He has one listed with power cord as well. OP call him and let him know what you need. He will guide you,

I swapped out my Furman Elite 15pfi for a AQ Niagara 3000 in my 2 channel setup and a Niagara 1200 for my 5.2 home theater system. 



tell me more about Wisdom Cable Technology conditioner/power strip.

You can PM me if you do not want to divulge details here.


Happy Listening!



Feel free to tell me more about your Wisdom conditioner as well.


Happy Listening!


I use a Furman Elite 15 DM I.

I feel it offers sufficient surge protection. It has 3 banks of outlets with separate filtering for each type. And it has displays to show voltage and current output.

For around $400 on sale it is all I think I need. I am not convinced I need anything more than that. Why would I need to spend $5k on a Lumin U1 with a separate power supply if it then needed thousands of more dollars on a power conditioner? That would be overkill IMHO.

Get a VIBEX GRANADA PLATINUM for the best sound its very dynamic and quiet.