Something less than a Power Plant

My system would require at least a P12 for headroom.

I will not have such money in years. While earning that money, I need something that costs at most give or take 1000 dollars/pounds/euros, preferably less, and conditions my power enough for a sonic improvement.

Right now I just have a relatively inexpensive APC power strip that does its job of reducing some hums and buzzes, and maybe the sound is a bit clearer.
I want to step up, one step, the regen is two steps away.

I suggest taking a look at the AudioQuest Niagara 1000 AC conditioner.


I was just going to suggest the Audioquest but @Elk beat me to it. I had one and it’s fantastic bang for the buck.

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iFi Power Station is a good holdover conditioner until you can buy a Power Plant and probably easy to source for you. I’ve had one in a secondary system since October and it does it’s job. Another option if you’re in the EU is the Puritan Audio line conditioners.

I compared the ifi power station and Niagara 1200 in one of my systems and preferred the Niagara. I also have a Stellar P3 in another system but did contrast and compare and would place the P3 a little higher than the Niagara 1200.

With all that said, the differences between each unit was relatively small and very much system dependent to achieve good synergy. I think the Stellar P3 and P12 offer the most flexibility to achieve good synergy because you can turn regeneration on and off for some of the outlets, as well as switch between Sine wave and Multi wave.

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While certainly not the latest and greatest, I found the Adcom ACE-515 adequate for many years. I still use one on my secondary stuff. It sounds better than no conditioning, offers some protection and I see them on the used market for $100 quite often.

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I have two Adcom ACE-515s: one that I use for auxiliary components (e.g., some internet bits and pieces) in my 2.1/7.1 system; and one that I use in my office system - powering a low wattage integrated amp, Qol signal processor, Denon DVD-2900 transport and Jolida tube DAC. Whether or not they foster any material sound quality improvement is probably debatable, but I especially like the power up/down sequencing these provide and the peace of mind that they will prevent a bad power spike from damaging the equipment plugged into them (or at least die trying).

Depending on your price point, this ifi active filter and power station is excellent.


Primary tip for budget

  • Isotek Syncro Uni and Isotek Sirius (if both are used, budget will include decent power cables)

Secondary tip for budget

  • Audioquest Niagara 1000 or 1200

The Isotek Syncro Uni will give glimpses of serious high end, as it provides a better way of taking care of DC and incorrect sinus than most DC-blocking devices (less jitter and distortion is left, compared to Supra Jennings DC blockers and a likes). It’s worth twice the price and has nothing to do with dc-problems (even if it solves dc-issues), it’s a way of getting late night listening experience daytime, and getting more emotion, detail and better low level listening.

Niagara is the all in one solution, but it is not the end game. It can take a part of the soul out of the music (more thin sound). It’s good though. Syncro Uni will be in use in the long run even if you get a P20 (makes P20 better even though power plants include DC-blocker).

Sirius is a complement to Syncro Uni and can be swapped for an upgrade at a later time.

As an alternative option, a used Entreq Cleanus might be worth exploring.

PS Audio power plants are the most musical solution I’ve heard.


Great post and ideas.

Isotek and Audience make nice conditioners sub$1K.

I own an Isotek Polaris ($500), and a Audience a2Rp (upgraded -$900).

Keep a careful eye out and you could land a used Stellar P3 for not too much more than $1K. You could not run big amps with it, but source gear would be fine.

Anyone who could give a comparison of the IsoTek Sirius and Niagara 1000?
They’re actually available at the same price right now.

Can the Sirius handle a high-current Class A amplifier?

Well, it’s actually pretty obvious that the Niagara 1000 is a better option at the same price.
Then again it’s not. I don’t want too much in the way between the wall and my amplifier…
Herb Reichert did review the Niagara 1000 beginning with the presumption that it might take some essence out of the music. For him it didn’t and he heartily recommends it.
Then again… Is there a bit of a conspiracy here as I’ve seen so many Stereophile reviewers having a Niagara product and not a Power Plant? Why not a Power Plant? Hmmm…?
Then again… It’s hard seeing Herb Reichert as a corporate interest driven man. Could it be they forced him to state the Niagara takes no soul out of the music…?

Fremer says he uses two Power Plants in the latest Answer to Paul…

Interesting. The Dectet is an excellent passiv unit, especially also in comparison to the Isotek stuff.
In the end the PPs are the way to go.

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Fremer uses two power plants, although he used conditioners until someone completely screwed his incoming power power supply. In his recent article in Stereohile he says the regenerator vs conditioner issue is suspended until he gets his power fixed.

I’ve used a regenerator, conditioners and universal power supplies.

I use UPS for computer and servers. Most consumer versions will not have enough headroom supply for decent audio, unless it is very undemanding. They are very cheap and ideal for servers and computers, but do need replacing every few years.

In Europe we have had a legally enforceable code for the quality of the power supply, going back to 1980. In the UK we also have a National Grid, don’t know about the rest of Europe, so we are not prey to local suppliers.

My basic understanding is that the basic issue is that high impedance supply will result in large voltage swings if the draw is heavy. So this will depend on the hifi equipment you are using and how demanding it is. The EU code includes a maximum impedance rating and in the UK the impedance is generally better than the legal requirement.

The other issue is noise: (a) borne on the mains, (b) from EMI/RFI, and © from components feeding into your mains distribution unit.

Wiring systems also differ. In the UK we use ring mains, apparently illegal in the USA. Of course standard voltages also differ depending where you live.

The iFi Power station seems to be the most popular and effective budget device with full cross-contamination isolation, so I bought one for my office.

When I changed from highly demanding amplifiers to Class D, I changed from a regenerator to a mains conditioner. My regenerator had transformer hum. I went for the Shunyata Venom, in part due to the excellent build quality.

My circumstances only serve as an example, and with different amplifiers and different quality mains I regeneration might be needed.

Wondering how @Arenith is getting along on this and perhaps details of his system can be provided.

Currently not getting along at all with my budget, haha.
Details about my system, well, my Electrocompaniet ECI-1 is pure class A and is drawing 500W so for a regen I’d need at least a P12 which is quite an investment.
At the moment I’m mainly interested in a reasonably priced power strip with some conditioning and individually isolated sockets.

Isotek, Dectet, iFi… Hmm.