Basic Tinkering Advice - Power

Having read numerous posts on power tinkering (conditioning, PSU’s and cabling) I wondered if there could be a thread for those that have very limited technical knowledge to come away having an idea on where might be a good place to start.

This thread would of course be for all, but especially for those like myself that have followed Roon’s initial excellent optimal setup guidance (dedicated ROCK NUC, Core, Output and Control on separate devices, fully wired setup) and looking to take things further with power in mind.

Some observations I have made over recent months / years:

  • When I first got into higher end hifi (Arcam then Meridian) the general consensus (a dangerous word I know) on order of focus was nearly always source first (I guess NAS or Router in the network world, depending on whether you are streaming or using local library), yet in the network world that focus seems to have switched to the end-point being most important.
  • Numerous hi-end manufacturers (and most recently now Roon) appear to offer Linear PSU ‘upgrades’ but none that I can see offer power conditioners - maybe a different skill-set, but if it was that important I’m sure they’d buy in the expertise.
  • Some manufacturers (Meridian included) even go so far as stating they do not recommend conditioning on their active speakers and only supply stock ‘B&Q’ power cables with a pair of £50K speakers which to me is a signal of how important they view the power cable in the audio chain (but even they have come out with a linear PSU for their Prime headphone DAC/Amp).

Some general questions I would like to ask, slowly getting into more detail but hopefully without being too technical are:

  1. In order of best bang for your buck, what priority would you apply power ‘treatments’ given the following components:
    Router / Modem
    Network Switch
    Rock NUC

  2. Does a good (whether it be linear or switching) PSU negate the need / advantages for conditioning; Does a good conditioner negate the need for a good PSU or would a good PSU and good conditioning compliment each other? Assume with no conditioner the 1st 4 components in the list are located together and powered off a standard power block.

  3. Are there any basic principles to simplify decision making that are less contentious!

As well as I have tried to make my system neat and tidy (pics in the appropriate thread), it is not lost on me that I have so many components, all with their stock PSUs and cables running into a £10 surge protector, and in the case of my end-point and DAC (both with upgraded PSUs) they are plugged into daisy chained surge protectors together with computer monitors, docking stations laptop power supplies etc so I’m trying to understand if I can improve things further in staged approach which I’m sure many without the technical knowledge to understand the various arguments for and against could use a little help with…?

A long thread as an opener but hopefully you have stayed with me and lets see what comes up…

I use passive filtration on those mains powered components that have the potential to benefit from it. And importantly plugging a component in to it protects the rest from it, as well as isolating it from mains born interference. After that the main priority is the end point. That powered properly will bring you 80% plus of any available gains.

gHi Simon, Everything is important, but your network is the foundation for streaming. I have found a combination mesh wifi/ hard wired setup works best for me. If you know your budget, you can plan your setup accordingly. Tweaks can come once your setup is dialed in.

I use a power regenerator. PS Audio P5. It’s their previous model and manages voltage in and out, including line distortion. There are a variety of conditioners out there. What you’re looking for and price point are keys to that. A dedicated output for your setup is generally a reasonably priced project to undertake. Helps keep noise of your system incoming power line.

Forum and product research is half the fun…Enjoy…

I think the value proposition is really interesting here and see 2 mindsets:

Mindset 1 (traditional IMHO): I wouldn’t consider it irrational to spend a significant amount on mains treatment / products when my source was a multi thousand £ Meridian CD Player and audio processor, but that mindset is challenged somewhat when my (and many other’s) source is now effectively the 1st four items in my list (from router to ROCK NUC) worth in the region of £750 - and certainly not designed internally to optimise audio quality by any stretch of the imagination. Its hard to imagine that spending c£500 on a linear PSU to feed a free router or £20 network switch could have a significant positive impact and that’s before considering filtering, conditioning or regeneration.

Mindset 2: However another mindset could be that it is in fact these products that are most likely to benefit from the investment - they are simply not built with audio in mind so the stock ability to handle mains pollution is particularly poor, whereas you could reasonably expect the multi thousand £ equipment to already do a very good job.

Moving onto the second part of the setup which for most would be an endpoint and DAC + Amp onto speakers or (like me) headphones, this is typically where people are spending the most £, but it does seem somewhat counter intuitive to spend such a large proportion on the end rather than the beginning of the chain.

In the reality of the network world I guess this this because the signal stays in the digital domain throughout all the prior components and is far less susceptible to quality reducing impacts. However, ROON seems to complicate this a little further as the core does a lot more than just send network packets of information to an endpoint. Even though the signal stays digital the core transmits via PCM over ethernet, so even without DSP it is getting more involved with the signal than most typical network player solutions. This could be a fair argument for why the ROCK NUC might be the best place to start with mains treatments.

So to sum up with a question, do people feel that it is more worth concentrating on mains treatments at the beginning or end of the chain and how would you divide the 2 points: end = from ROCK NUC onwards for reasons above, or end = from endpoint onwards.

Computer Audiophile forum is all over the topic. I’d visit there…

The purity of power supply allows components to work better and the all important clocking function to be as accurate as possible.

Power is regulated after it comes in, hence why Meridian aren’t bothered about cables.

There is a view that all stages should be powered separately as they influence one another a bad way. By powered separately means completely separately , thus spaghetti.

Re Network switches etc, apparently wi-fi works very well, so that removes at the switch/power supply/re-clocking issue to some extent.

Wireless can work well, but it depends heavily on how you are using it and it comes with its own set of caveats. In short, you have to figure out what suits you and your installation best.

I have to look back at how I have approached it over time. I worked on power and system intereconnect first so that the analog audio system was optimized.

What I have been doing now is the work “up” the chain from there. I have been evaluating my DAC and picking the one I like the best. Then back through the USB and the NAA system to improve that. I use really high quality power supply for those devices. Then I moved back to the core computer running roon. I used a MacMini for a long time, I tested the NUC and I have settled on a different machine the Small Green Computer line of Sonic Transporters.

I have also migrated from NAS to internal or direct attached storage…

So I am working from the speakers outward rather than the other way. I found that I was able to make the changes in the system and hear the sonic changes more adeptly in this manner.


There several very long forum threads on computer audiophile discussing these and many other methods to improve audio.

Here’s what I’ve done and recommend,

In order of importance, power is paramount as our gear is ‘simply’ modulating power into the music we hear.

Run dedicated power circuit(s) if possible. 10awg, 15A breaker.

If this is not practical or possible. An active power regenerator is a good choice. PS Audio are at the forefront in the US in my opinion. Look for the recently discontinued P5 or P10 models used. Passive can be done well too, but neither active nor passive are done well on the cheap.

If this is not in the budget, replace the power strips with something better built with a metal case. No need or desire for much ‘passive’ protection. The cheap caps will muck things up more than truly protect. Replacing the outlet in the wall with one that is built to a better spec is worthwhile, need not be expensive, nor audiophile branded.

Move components supply to two different circuits, even if these are shared. Place the digital items; monitor, DAC, computer (all with potentially noisy SMPS) onto their own power strip, and place all the devices with better and/or internal linear power supplies on their own strip. Move things around and listen for changes.

I believe all of these must be done before different power cables are truly worthwhile. At minimum, use over spec’d in AWG, even if from Home Depot, choose 10 over 12 over 14. Clean the plug conductors with isopropyl alcohol, scrub with scotchbrite first if at all hazy.

Since power and then signal flows from wall to source to amp to speakers, I focus on improving power to my regenerator, then source (DAC) then preamp then amps. Not a great analogy, but if the creek runs dirty, it’ll run dirty a mile downstream too.

None of these negate the need for one another. To realize the additive benefit, start up stream.

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I use a Dussun X1200 which I haven’t turned off for about 5 years.

What components do you think they are?

I don’t think, I know! But they are components that have unfiltered PSU’s and also switch mode PSU powered kit where they might inject noise back into the mains as my solution prevents that. I don’t plug kit into it that has excellent performance like Never Connected PSU’s or my LPS-1 when I use it. So, as an example, my Hypex Ncore powered amp is plugged into it, not to benefit the amp but to protect other things that have to be plugged into the same distribution block. And in the past my old school Quad 405 with Net Audio boards used it because it very audibly benefitted from the filtration.

Stock power cables and Torus isolation transformation here at home. You want something massive that won’t limit power or mess with the sound. Most power conditioners run into this problem and that’s why manufacturers often recommend against the use of passive conditioners, especially for amps. You plug all your audio gear into this. Different models available for different amps/size.

@zoom25 -

Question, can Isolation transformers be safely run with regenerators (Such as Purepower or PS Audio). I spoke with a tech at Furman and he advised that mechanical hum can be induced…

You have any info on that? Thanks…

I’ve read of someone using the Torus at the wall and then connecting the PS Audio to the Torus. Haven’t read it the other way around. The reason was that the 20A and larger Torus shouldn’t mess with power delivery due to their size.

EDIT: Regarding the hum, I’ve tried putting the iMac on my Torus and that can cause it to make acoustical (mechanical) noise. The noise can be heard from a foot away from the chassis. If you adjusted the brightness from minimum to maximum, the pattern of the hum would change. So it can possibly happen.

With my audio gear (Class D Amphion amp, Bryston BDP-1, various Teradak LPS, Dangerous Source) it’s free of problems and runs silently.

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