Symptoms of UN-CLEAN power

When talking about CLEAN POWER, what SYMPTOMS or effects are caused by DIRTY or UN-CLEAN power? 


Power transformer hum, very faint static noise at 0 volume, fuses blow often, and possibly other malfunctions.

A world-class power conditioner can take the strain off internal power transformers in audio equipment. The end result is better power factor, optimal performance, and longer lifespan without intermittent failures.

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My take on symptoms of 'Dirty power'.


RFI - Harsh sound, Grey background, Sounds that blur with each other. 

EMI - Weak & untight Bass, Small stereo image. Missing the Boogie Factor

Leakage currents - short decay of sounds, obstructed sound (can be minimized with correct phasing of equipment)

Too much shielding - splash sounds on cymbals, congested & choked sound

DC - Missing Oomph, Tiny bit of distortion on the transients. General lack of naturalness. Bassdrum that sounds like 'Bonk' instead of 'Bup'

General observation: More capacitance = less high, More induction = less bass.


Love to hear other peoples descriptions.


Dirty power = Electrical noise (hash) = Distortion in the audio signal.

  • Not hiss or hum.

_ _ _ _ _ 


Symptoms of distortion from noisy AC power:



- High notes are ‘etched’ or ‘hard’.

- A vocalist’s voice sounds ‘grainy’ - and/or – has glare when belting out high notes.

- A violin sounds too strident. No tone or timbre. No delicacy.

- The high notes on a piano ‘ring’ unnaturally.

- Cymbals don’t shimmer, they crash.

- Unable to discern individual stringed sections in orchestral music.

- The instruments in a crescendo from an orchestra become confused - indistinct.

- Poor extension. Instead of feathering off into airiness, the notes might truncate.

+ much more



- An acoustic guitar - or piano - seems to have too much harmonics - more than the real thing. It might sound pleasing – but, not true.

- A horn or woodwind sounds too diffuse or bloomy – more than the real thing. In other words, the notes of the instruments have a fuzziness around the edges. There should be a solidity & transparency.

- Unable to determine if an acoustic guitar has nylon or steel strings.

- A vocalists voice sounds electronic – not natural.

+ much more



- Bass is a one-note thump.

- Bass is not tight – too diffuse or boomy.

- Unable to discern tone or timbre in the bass.

- Poor extension. Instead of feathering off, the notes might truncate.

- Difficult to follow the bass line. For both stringed instruments and drums.

- Unable to discern individual bass sections in orchestral music.

- Unable to discern bass riffs in orchestral music – while the full 96 piece ensemble is playing.

+ much more

_ _ _ _ _ _

Black background:

- Lower noise floor.

- Ability to easily discern nuance.

_ _ _ _ _

Some of the above symptoms may also be the result of poor room acoustics – or poor synergy between component/component – component/cabling.


VERY interesting reading sofar. 

Before looking for solutions, is it recommended to first find out what TYPE of 'dirt' my power carries so I can select the right remedy?

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The remedy for dirty power is depending on a) the time of the day b) your system itself (they are noise generators themselves and cross contaminate throught the grid) c) the rest of your household equipment d) tha hood you are livin in. If you have a lot of wall warts and computers for example on the same spur as your stereo, you can start with placing them on a separate spur and filter them also. They are spitting out a lot of RFI and harmonics. Clean power is not a one stop solution. A good filtered power bar with DC correction will do wonders. But don’t forget good quality cables and connectors, cable dressing (separation) and correct phasing of your equipment as a starter.


Dirty power can be better described as suboptimal power. The quality of the power supplies in every system vary. So some, people hear great differences, some will hear improvements in de last %.  Some power supplies have better noise blocking capabilities and filtering qualities when rectifying AC to DC. I don't believe in golden ears BTW. Maybe there is a difference in sensitivity of one's hearing capabilities but mostly it is experience.

Two caveats prior to responding. I really don’t know how clean my power is out of the wall compared to your situation. We just built and moved into our house. So, the power distribution is new. Our neighborhood was farm/ranch land until the last few years. We have a neighbor that raises camels. Secondly, your equipment throws noise back into the power line, so not all noise comes from your house/utilities power distribution.

I made a major change in power to my system, pretty much all in one go. I was floored at the difference, but to quantify the difference is a challenge. The presentation was more detailed, with more air, silence between notes and better imaging. Everything was just more musical. Listening was less tiring.

For me, power upgrades involved adding a Shunyata plug, Everest conditioner and a Sigma power cord to my integrated amplifier. I had a three pack of Venom and some old power cords… so my power upgrade wasn’t really in one step. Later I added Venom NR to my subwoofers and replaced the remaining power cables with Sigma NR. I purchased items with a sixty day return privilege and my salesperson let me just trade up without any loss of funds, even after the sixty days. So, more money spent on power than any other one component. I intend to add a dedicated circuit, but my current power distribution is from a garage on the opposite side of the house. My listening room is over the second garage, so will need a long run to second panel.

I believe that addressing power is the single biggest improvement to my system. Other changes, balanced analog interconnects and speaker cable were more nuanced improvements. Digital cabling (AES/EBU and Ethernet) improvements were the second largest cabling improvement seen on the digital side. Room treatment is probably up there with power as an important component of good musical reproduction.

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Bigtwin, you already tried to mess up the tread twice. How about letting others answer the question for the OP.


For me, system noisy one day and quiet on others. Especially with tubes.

Having just went through a power upgrade, I can provide my experience. I went from an old electrical panel and one 15amp line to having a new panel and three dedicated 20amp 12gauge Romex lines, good Siemens breakers, each placed as far away as possible, better grounding, and run to quality Audioquest outlets. I kept it as simple as possible after doing a lot of research prior.


My system didn't sound bad before, but it went up several levels after the upgrade. Noise floor dropped significantly, bass strength and definition improved, more detail comes through, and the whole system sounds more 'effortless'. It made a bigger difference than many components I've added and was significantly cheaper.

Power cable influences on equipment has to do with a) less contact resistance b) less rfi and emi pick-up, and transfer to the component c) less cross-contamination from components on nearby other components and cables d) less voltage drop e) less (lower) leakage currents and parasitic capacitance between components.f) quicker rise times/faster current draw. 

But, if the incoming electricity is dirty the effect will be reduced offcourse,  

Sometimes changing one power cable can have an effect on other equipment in your system.You only hear the endresult. A lot of people have heard the change a good power cable can bring to your system. Who I am to judge? If you don't hear it, be happy and listen to some good music.

Love to hear other peoples experiences. 'Facts', 'Engineering' and 'Measurments'. can be discussed in Tech Talk.

I am sure the guys at Morrow Cables would like to help you out. 😉


Nobody is asking you to be onboard. If you are happy with your system then why spend more money? If you just want to accuse others of being fools, then I guess that nothing can be done.

Well designed power supplies are important, but I have to believe that at the level most of us purchase, that this is a given.

You want to understand equipment and I want to listen to music. So, my approach was to rely upon a few people to assemble my system. One sang the praise of Shunyata power and cables. I believe that it takes a major investment in conditioners/cables to be able to verify, or refute the sonic improvements of this equipment. If you cut corners, then how can you be sure that you have tested the technology. Given this as my approach, I ultimately purchased Shunyata’s top conditioner and cables with the understanding that I could return everything for a full refund. Even better, I was able to use the vendor’s shipping department on items, such as cable and a phono preamp that I didn’t like and they charged me little for shipping. So, I read all of the Shunyata marketing information, had a recommendation from someone I trusted and then listened to the results. Again, I purchase based upon results, but those results are in the real world and not just between my ears.

@vonhelmholtz Your answer, or non answer to be more correct is exactly why I have asked the question in the first place.  I believe I articulated the question in readable english.  But what I get back are accusations I'm trying to screw up this thread @acman3, or @jerryg123 attempt at humour.  But no one is taking the question on at face value.  I've re posted it as a Tech question and maybe I'll see a fact based answer there.  Cheers.


Call Shunyata and ask for Richard Rodgers. He is quite knowledgeable and might be able to answer your questions. I was a last six foot skeptic, but I gave up on trying to understand and went the empirical route. I should add that I called him with regards to their digital cables and not power products.  Looked at your system..impressive.

“It’s a given we are not using lamp cord to power our amps.” 

Ummmm if one were to dissect some of these boutique power cords, the nuts and bolts of many of these are nothing more than the aforementioned lamp cords but with a super pretty covering. 

@bigtwin my answer was directed at the OP. Maybe you should pose your question to Paul M or one of the power unit peddlers. 

I only have DC reduction on the digital front end and my phono pre. Otherwise I am pulling my power through my dedicated line to my listening room. DC is the enemy but I do not need a $5000.00 conditioner. Clean juice at my house , no noise, no loud transformers nothing. 

Guess you have some issue? 

But what I get back are accusations I'm trying to screw up this thread @acman3, or @jerryg123 attempt at humour.  But no one is taking the question on at face value.  I've re posted it as a Tech question and maybe I'll see a fact based answer there.  Cheers.

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@vonhelmholtz  Thanks for that suggestion.  As you can see from my rig, I'm not in the "anti cable" camp.  I just really struggle to understand the value of the high end Power Cable as it defies my common sense.  I'm sure I'm not understanding something and would like to understand.  I get the part about shielding out unwanted interference, but that would only mean all cables need good shielding.  And that would never justify power cables costing tens of thousands of dollars.  

@jerryg123   Sorry about that.  Thought it was a liitle dig at me.  We've chatted in the past and you know I don't have a problem with you or your views.  No matter how wrong they may be at times.  🤣

Consider that the power being sent to your speakers, is the AC coming from the wall. It gets adjusted by the transformer, rectified, filtered and passed through the output transistors.

Ideally, the filtration inside the components is such that no noise gets through. However, not always the case.

Any junk that makes its way through, gets amplified with everything else and mess up what is being amplified. One of the reasons systems sound better/worse on some days.

And, it will effect the sound as outlined by @steakster 

1. Excessive brightness 

2. Over pronounced sibilants

3. Strain in the system and the sound doesn’t come out with ease

4. Generally speaking harsher sounding music 


these are all symptoms of when my power gets dirty (between 6pm and 9pm)

After 9pm gets better and especially after midnight it sounds phenomenal night and day difference 


Why do you ask?

Two houses ago, I bought a good power conditioner because I thought I had bad power. It did some, but. Then I moved to the country and my system opened up like I had just bought a brand new everything! Now I’m back in the city and in the evenings, my system sounds harsh at louder levels. Sax and some electric guitars just drill into my head! So the other day I ordered a Entech Powerline noise analyzer. I haven’t received it yet, but I am interested to see what it does.

If you use a power conditioner that offers balanced power it will eliminate noisy AC. Just do a search online. One source is the Equi-Tech website. Once you understand what it does you won’t go back.

Both my Bryston Bit-15 "Enormous Transformer in a Box" power conditioner (bought because it was on sale and has lots of outlets), and my fabulous sounding Pass XA-25 (among other components) are being used with the supplied heavy duty but NOT "boutique" power cords. I challenge anyone to listen to my gear heap and tell me why I need expensive AC cables. However, nobody can meet this challenge as I’m not letting them near my house, and if I find somebody has snuck in I’ll kick them out. That said, I do have a few large fancy power cables because I like they way they look.

Bright, harsh, shrill. And this was from an all tube  system. Fast forward to Equi Tech and Balanced Power Technologies. Also, in my system power cords do make a difference. Looking to move to the country though. Will report back.

Just curious/cross my mind: 

a) How bad does power from an inverter sound? 

b) In this contect, how does my generator (say Honday EU3200i, 3200W) sound (I am actually running 2x 2000 to run the roof AC if needed)?

@falconquest I read one time. All AC 'cleaners' deal with the AC side. All my stuff runs off DC. How much of the AC "dirt" is making it into DC (with all the filtering in the conversion process). Or rephrased: how much different does 100% battery DC look compared to DC made from 'cleaned up' or 'dirty' DC. 

And one step further (recently saw the battery pack at my friends PV system): for those spending $100k or $1000k on their system: Why not make a DC system, fed from a simple bank of batteries (like those used for photovoltaik system all over the country). And charge the batteries (with dirty AC or the sun) during OFF times?


Balanced power is not a “cleaner”. It is a design principle that is explained in the Equi-Tech white paper. This is completely irrelevant when it comes to DC current from a storage source. How are you powering equipment with DC? Or did I miss something?

@christianb5s4 ".. each placed as far away as possible," What is placed as far as possible? the 3 simens breakers? Did you just run 3 new lines to the existing panel and put other breakers in? 


@falconquest I think pretty much all our equipment actually uses DC (there may be few obscure items, but can't think of one right (a light bulb in an amp? turn table motor?). I assume even tubes are DC. Just that it is first converted from AC. And that certainly includes any digital equipment (including all computers). No actually use AC. So why use dirty, unbalanced and otherwise 'bad' AC, if at the end we only need clean DC? Get the point? 

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I understand what you’re saying now. So basically you are relying on the power supply of each component to "clean-up" the AC before converting it to DC. Does that waveform need cleaning? What about fluctuations in voltage or EMF on the waveform? Can your power supply clean this up as it converts that "dirty" signal to DC? I think you can only know by looking at it on a scope. Why wouldn’t something like EMF carry over? What I do know is that with a balanced power unit in my system it is dead silent. If you want a good explanation I would search for the presentation by Garth Powell, formerly of Furman Power and the developer of the AudioQuest Niagara. Search for his presentation "High End Munchen 2015 - AudioQuest Niagara 7000" on YouTube. I would post the link but I believe A’gon won’t allow it. Watch that and read the white paper from Equi-Tech on balanced power and you tell me if it makes sense.

Fatiguing to listen to, glare, maybe muddy under some circumstances, lack of soundstage .I know this is not what you want to hear but when you add a good power conditioner, things will sound so much better! And you’ll know if it’s the right power conditioner, that also applies to power cords. You may want to audition a couple of different brands. Good luck they definitely make a difference. 

Based on this thread, I think most of you would have a heart attack if you saw the power quality in the average studio, and I don't mean the low end ones, I mean the high end ones. It ain't pretty, but they still make great music.



1. Breakers for each of the 20amp lines placed in different areas away from each other. Can't hurt if there's space and was a recommendation by other forum members.

2. Siemens was another recommendation, basically just to use higher quality breakers because again, can't hurt.

3. Ran the individual lines when I had a new panel installed because it made it much easier to do at the same time.

I don’t think I’ve posted to this thread yet. Stop me if you’ve heard this.

I’d start at the meter. Your power company can pull it for you. Are the contacts corroded? What kind of wire runs from that? What is your feed from the street "transformer"? Who are you sharing it with?

What does your main service panel look like? You can pull dedicated lines from it but I’d first check the power coming into it.

I ran a sub panel, once I sorted the main service panel, and took 60 amps for the system, far more than needed, for a big-assed iso transformer. That outputs via 4 gauge to the panel adjacent to the room, from which I’ve pulled a number of dedicated lines, using 10 gauge and Porter Ports. System sound fine.

I listened to it with "dirty power" vs. the iso transformer installed. Didn’t hear much difference. Frankly, the system sounded a little bright at first, but it could have been all the new wire. Or I adjusted to it. I changed cartridges, which made a big difference, but if you are concerned about "clean" power, don’t approach it with after the fact band-aids, sort the basics first, starting with the quality of power coming into your place.

@kraftwerkturbo it’s hard to tell whether or not your system is affected by the “dirt” in your AC.
There’s a lot to consider including power supplies and even the crap your digital components throw back into your power. Add to that appliances, etc.

Only way to determine if a power conditioner will make a positive difference is to try one. Running your source components into a power conditioner would almost always improve the overall noise floor. Amps are different beasts and I prefer running my amp direct without power conditioner.

I use Puritan PSM156 and it does help in reducing noise floor resulting in quieter background and therefore more details. It does help slightly with my amplifier as well when it comes to reducing noise floor albeit resulting in a slightly less dynamic presentation. So I run my amp direct. 


I had all of the sound issues listed in above comments plus my house is old with 2 phase, ungrounded circuits. I purchased a fairly inexpensive Panamax conditioner and the previous grounding problems (slight current running on metal faceplates, sounds scary) was eliminated and background RFI noise was eliminated. I did pop for an Amazon upgraded power cord for my amp (about $25) and that seemed to help with some detail nuance. 

We are in the process of remodeling and I plan on a major electrical upgrade. I may spend the extra for a dedicated 20 amp circuit for the listening area.

If, A) is to install a dedicated circuit. And, B) is to purchase a conditioner to clean up the AC on the said newly installed circuit, then it would seem to me that, C) is to skip A, and go straight to B. 

I put little pieces of tissue paper on the ends of everyone of my interconnects and power cords. Then once a month I go through and I change them all out and collect all of the dirt that’s in my AC power. It’s kind of like once a month I wipe my systems’ butt.   Makes a huge difference, give it a try…… I feel like I’m really using my head…_

@raysmtb1 LOL. Yeah all this talk about clean power is pure craziness. Power is power, as long as your components turn on and once a month you wipe your butt, who needs anything more than that?

@audphile1 Not sure if you are being a wise-guy like your avatar, but you claim that "power is power" is confusing. Evidently, you purchased a 2K Hurricane Power Cord for your Power Amp? So contrary to your remarks, it looks like power handling is a significant financial aspect of your system? Tell me how the Hurricane Power cord cleaned up your dirty power..(?)


@raysmtb1 That statement seems to be throwing shade at yourself, since you have a fair sized conditioner that you are seemingly bypassing. Which leads everyone to believe that, at one time, you thought differently than you do today. In any case, your system is nice, but your cable management is atrocious! ;)

@Goodlistening64. I tried the ideas that I’ve read on these forms about power, and then I talked to some professional electrical engineers, and they explained to me why I was wasting my money. I’m not sure what you found about me hand powered conditioners I’ve only owned a audioquest, which did that thing and I currently have a Mcintosh 1500 but that’s only about power management. They tell you that it doesn’t do any kind of conditioning like a PS audio in the manual.


which did that thing and I currently have a Mcintosh 1500 but that’s only about power management. They tell you that it doesn’t do any kind of conditioning like a PS audio in the manual.


My cable management is atrocious.. I am a victim of. How easy it is to just find what you need on Amazon and it shows up at your house the next day… I’m one of the people that just believe in purchasing a decent cable and it makes no more of a difference, then if you put a coat hanger between Components



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@audphile1 Not sure if you are being a wise-guy like your avatar, …


yeah that


Tell me how the Hurricane Power cord cleaned up your dirty power..(?)

who said anything about AQ Hurricane cleaning power for the amp? My amp is plugged into the wall outlet. It also has a very beefy power supply that filters power and lowers the noise floor. At that point, it is all about delivering power which the solid copper High Current AQ Hurricane does in spades. The design also reduces RF and ground noise. So it is about quality power delivery to the Class A Pass Labs amp. 

My source components, preamp, DAC and phono stage are all plugged into the Puritan PSM156 that lowers the noise floor and allows the components to shine. 
Lowered noise floor = darker background, moore details, less harshness, more natural presentation and bigger soundstage. 

@audphile1 + 10 my Amps are right into the wall no Furman or conditioning at all. HQ power cords are an absolute and help reduce EMI/RFI and Skinning. 

My components are using LessLoss Fire Wire 640X and AL DC Blocks. 

Power Cable C-MARC Classic. Audiophile power cable by LessLoss

Power is power, as long as your components turn on and once a month you wipe your butt, who needs anything more than that?

@curiousjim I am just curious if I might have 'dirty power' (and assuming there is - as is often the case in the esoteric world of high fidelity - no measureable real evidence of that dirt). Interested to read what you find out (going from dirty (city) to clean (country "fresh air AND clean power") back to dirty, but with 'cleaner. 


So I received the Entech Powerline Noise Analyzer and followed it simple instructions. Plug it into an outlet, set it to where the LCD screen says 100. Then plug it into your Power Conditioner.  Sadly, when I plugged it into my Audience AR6 power conditioner, it went from 100 to 93! ☹️. In a video I saw, it dropped from 100 to .05. 
Not sure about any of this, but I wanted to try the device and see my results.

All the best.