Next upgrade: Clock or fancy power conditioner?

So I just received my Vivaldi dac and upsampler yesterday, which I’m enjoying, and while I’m rearranging boxes I’m wondering ahead to the next thing. So the next thing is likely the clock or a better power conditioner but I’m severely cramped, aesthetically speaking. I’ll give myself some time to live with this as is but I’m down to 3 options.

  1. the cleanest look would be to ditch my furman elite 15 conditioner for an Audioquest Niagara 1200 which can be hidden. Then maybe some play money for aes, clock, and power cables. The 1200 has some power conditioning but no power reserve.
  2. Niagara 5000 power conditioner, has reserve
  3. Vivaldi clock

With 2&3 there’s no getting around having an asymmetrical appearance and taking up space in my living room. I’ve seen folks both say a good power conditioner and the clock is like a whole new component or dac upgrade, but I can’t tell what folks like more. I’m sure this is system dependent and this is very unscientific (and in a DCS forum to boot) but am hoping for any feedback about your own systems. Oh, and I live in a 2016 condo building. I’m sure it’s well made, but there has to be a decent amount of noise in such a concentrated area.

Vivaldi Dac + upsampler
McIntosh C1100 preamp
McIntosh MC2301 tube monoblocks
Sonus Faber Stradivaris


I would suggest looking at the Shunyata 8000. IMO a more significant add than my Vivaldi clock.

Thanks Jim. Exactly the kind of anecdotal feedback I’m looking for.

Power. I am a huge clock fan, but power comes first. I like the AQ Niagara units (though not what I ultimately chose), but good power helps everything. Then, when you do add the clock, all you will need is new underwear.


I concur with Greg regarding power with, as always, the caveat that my opinion is based on my experience with my system and in my home. The improvement I obtained - which was very obvious - was with the previous generation of dCS equipment. Since that initial purchase 10 years ago I have simply kept the balanced power unit (Equi=Tech) in place and have not tried removing it.

You mention cables. It is the opinion of many here that, for digital interconnects, well made professional cables that meet the required technical specification are all that are needed. In hi-fi pricing terms, these are cheap. Whatever you decide to buy/try, make sure it has the correct impedance (75 Ohm for clock, 110 Ohm for AES). Many very expensive cables sold as digital interconnects do not meet these specifications, and the manufacturers avoid mentioning impedance in their descriptions.

I don’t have any recommendations regarding underwear…

1 Like

I use a Niagara 3000 specifically dedicated for my Rossini and its “master clock”. Nothing else on the circuit. It is a real improvement. Power supply is very important.

1 Like

My vote is for clock because clock makes it right while power conditioning will make it clean. And if I read it right, you already have Furman so, THE clock would make it a wise choice.

I am considering a conditioner so I am curious which one you chose. I think I can most easily audition the AQ options, but am reading about Shunyata, PS Audio, etc… and will appreciate your recommendations!

Greg apologies if I am butting in but Chris, before making your decision do read your dCS user manual first. They do not recommend the use of mains regenerators and if you choose to use one then be aware than any damage caused by misuse ( e.g, by setting an incorrect the output voltage) or by a malfunctioning regenerator is not covered by the warranty. So IMO that totally removes one class of power conditioner from the question.

I have always understood that dCS’ position is “plug it in the wall”. However they do not like to be too prescriptive. In comparison (from a review in the current Stereophile ) the high end amplifier ( and now DAC) manufacturer Boulder were asked if their equipment should be used with power conditioners. The answer was a clear and direct “No”. They explained later that the question of power conditioners is so complex to deal with that it is easiest just to say don’t use them.

Personally before even thinking of buying one I would want to establish exactly what is wrong with the power delivered by the utility company to my premises rather than what I imagine may be wrong. Some years ago I was concerned that I was suffering voltage drops. The power company installed test equipment at my place which ran for a week producing a record of voltage fluctuation throughout. I was right. There was a voltage fluctuation . The test equipment revealed that the voltage dropped from the nominal 240V to 235V for under 5 minutes at 3:00 am on one occasion!

I think that power conditioners may be necessary in some situations. But do not invest on the basis that you are joining a club as this is what all of us audiophiles both do and need to do.


Pete’s right. Consider what one is trying to improve/fix and the best tool for it. I like the AQ power conditioners, and as AQ itself says, there are many ways to improve power, Ultimately, I replaced my PS Audio P10 (which I liked a lot) with the Torus AVR2-20. I still use a P10 on the video side. A close second was the Equi=Tech. My third choice would have been the AQ Niagara 7000.

1 Like

Great points and thank you. It seems to me that some protection from surges is a good idea. I’ve lost power a couple of times this summer.

My past experience corresponds with what you wrote: “plug it into the wall.” I’ve found products that regenerate power have a negative effect. To my ears the music lost some life, but I now live in an 18 story tall building where I am certain there is hash in the ac lines, plus radio waves, wifi, etc…

Technology is changing and I am always interested in improving my sound so after steering away from power conditioning for years, I am paying attention again. I understand that results vary and I want to audition anything myself. Some folks on this board seem to really like products like AQ’s Niagara or Shunyata’s Everest/Hydra so I chimed in to learn from other’s experiences. It may be something I want to try.

1 Like

The Shunyata Everest was a no brainer for me.

1 Like