AudioQuest Niagara 3000 AC power conditioner

It stands to reason that any audiophile system would benefit from improved AC power. The rooms in most older homes are equipped with a single duplex receptacle on each wall, maybe two per wall in homes employing more modern construction practices. Behind the wall you're likely to find standard 14-gauge Romex, passing through via receptacles that typically sell for about a buck each. The electrical work meets local code, but audiophiles aren't involved in setting local electrical codes.

Another, newer problem is the proliferation of cheap electronic devices. Computers, computer components, and other electrical stuff is mostly powered by noisy switching power supplies; that noise can find its way back into electrical circuits. So can high-frequency hash coming from wireless routers. And ubiquitous power supplies, which charge their capacitors only above a certain voltage, cause those precious sinewaves to be lopped off at the peaks.


An example of an only moderately bad 60Hz sinewave, courtesy of 50-cent receptacles and 14-gauge Romex.

Audiophile-level systems require power for amplifiers, line and phono preamplifiers, multiple digital and analog sources, ancillary equipment, and perhaps a powered subwoofer or two. Sure, most electrical circuits are designed to filter noise and reject powerline distortions—but still, do you really want to connect all that gloriousness to a length of Romex of questionable origin, terminated with a 50-cent builder-grade receptacle, besieged with noise from inside and out? Exotic power conditioning units, which are intended to deal with at least some of those issues, are de rigueur in cost-no-object audiophile systems and come equipped with a multitude of high-quality power receptacles.

After living for 30 years in a modest home employing code-minimum electrical wiring, I built a new home 4 years ago and became seriously engaged in all aspects of my new home's construction. Before I got started, I'd stumbled across a Stereophile article by John Atkinson that extolled the virtues of having a pair of dedicated AC lines with hospital-grade electrical receptacles installed in his home listening environment;1 I wanted to have that in my new digs. But would my relatively modest system benefit from an expensive AC power conditioner?


Recently, I was talking with Stephen Mejias of AudioQuest—formerly of Stereophile—about my review of the Bel Canto e1X stereo power amplifier. I mentioned that the manufacturer had expressed a preference for AudioQuest power conditioning and AC cabling absent that, they preferred for the amp to be connected directly to the wall receptacle, which is how I auditioned the amp. Mejias offered to send the Niagara 3000 Low-Z Power Noise-Dissipation System ($2995) for review. AQ also sent along a pair of NRG Edison AC power receptacles and a selection of mid-tier AC cables for attaching my equipment stack.

I've installed a number of electrical receptacles, switches, and lighting fixtures over the years, but never in a setup that incorporated 10-gauge wiring, which is stiff, thick, and unforgiving. Installing the NRG receptacles was hard work (footnote 1).

A couple of years ago, I had a conversation with Gordon Rankin, the first person to apply asynchronous USB, the technology currently used in most USB DACs, to audio. Rankin designed AudioQuest's DragonFly series and has his own line of audio electronics under the Wavelength banner. I told him I was thrilled to finally have separate, dedicated AC lines for amplification and source equipment. He told me that my enthusiasm was misplaced and my approach, flawed: All system equipment should be connected to the same dedicated line to prevent ground loops. So, the two 15-amp NRG Edison receptacles were installed on the same dedicated 20-amp line.

Upon completion of the installation, the Niagara 3000 was connected to one of the receptacles with an AQ Blizzard AC cable; my source equipment and amps were then connected to the 3000. The dual subwoofers were plugged directly into the two Edison receptacles—although Mejias told me later that the two subs should instead be connected to the furthermost two receptacles on the 3000's bank of five receptacles intended for sources.


AudioQuest states in their Niagara product literature that up to a third of a high-resolution, low-level audio signal can be masked, lost, or seriously distorted by poor-quality AC power—which is surely true as long as you're free to define "low-level" appropriately. The Niagara series has been designed to not only eliminate AC power noise but also to enhance the delivery of unhindered current to electronics. The Niagara 3000 is the base model in the line that features AQ's Transient Power Correction, which provides a current reservoir specified to provide more than 55 amps of "instantaneous" peak current. It also claims reduced line impedance for current-hungry power amplifiers.

The 3000 also features AQ's Ground-Noise Dissipation System, a patented technology that claims to reduce ground-borne noise without compromising safety or creating ground loops. AQ's Level-X Linear Noise-Dissipation Technology is said to ensure consistent, wide-bandwidth noise dissipation. The NRG Series AC power inlets and receptacle used on the 3000 are said to utilize both high-purity red copper and beryllium copper; beryllium copper is used in springs and other applications where shape-retention under repeated use is required. Connecting surfaces are coated with a thick layer of silver. AQ's Niagara Series offers nonsacrificial surge protection, which can protect equipment from power surges or spikes up to 6000 volts or 3000 amps without sustaining damage.

The Niagara 3000 is designed for shelf-, floor-, or rack-mounting; rack-mount hardware is included in the box. It has only two switches: a power switch on the front panel and another switch on the back panel that controls the activation of the Transient Power Correction Circuit. The default position for this switch is "energized"; otherwise, any connected power amplifiers won't be getting the full benefit of the circuitry. The supplied manual describes connection scenarios where it might be beneficial to disengage this switch, but those situations seem rare.

Footnote 1: Apologies in advance for the boring, obligatory disclaimer, but seriously, do not attempt your own electrical alterations without understanding the risks and being sure you have the skills. Household electrical power can kill you and burn your house down. Plus, a job like this can be performed quite affordably, probably much faster, and certainly more safely, by a professional electrician.—Editor
2621 White Rd.
Irvine, CA 92614
(949) 790-6000

jimtavegia's picture

This cost more than any of my systems. This is the point where I know when I don't belong.

I do have two, dedicated 20 amp duplex outlets and Furman conditioners on all my gear (4 systems). A start at least.

Jim Austin's picture

... so, as editor of Stereophile, a quasi-official position, I'll stand in and adjudicate: There is no price criteria for being a member--just a genuine, sincere love of music and sound. You can keep your card.

Jim Austin, Editor

jimtavegia's picture

I want to start by saying that the newest issue of "Phile" Jan 2021 is one of the best ever. A great mix of gear, industry news, music, reviews of affordable products, and commentary by you and others. I loved the Bob Katz piece (more from Bob if possible) and wonder why I worry about what MY room adds to the sounds I hear.

With the pandemic and too much time I have moved two systems into my main room, 14' x 22' x 8 foot ceilings (suspended). One is all Denon: DRA 397; DRS 810 cassette deck as I still have about 200 commerical cassettes here; and a DN-300cn MK2 slot cd player; and my refurbished Dual 502 with a Rega 202 arm installed with a Q-Up. It all drives my old AR-58's (the last remake of the fames AR-3a) 30+ years old with refoamed woofers twice.

The other is a 21 year old Pioneer Elite VSX 21, Yamaha S-1800 SACD/DVD player; Sony DTC-690 DAT (my first digital recorder); Sony MDS JE330 mini disc recorder. That Pioneer drives a 5.0 home theater system that is used in 2 channel mode 90% of the time into JBL 3-way bookshelf speakers.

My computer is to the right, a gaming set up my son built for me for better recording work, audio out into a Yamaha MG10XU mixer with 24/192 USB IO into a pair of JBL P305 powered speakers using balanced cables. All of these systems are fed AC through 4 Furman M-8LX power rack mount power strips, even the computer and recording systems I have.

The smaller speakers are sitting on top of the AR's so the presentation spot is nearly the same for everything. Computer recording and editing is done with Sony Sound Forge 14. What I have missed all this year is the ability to go out and record local schools and civic music organizations (for free) which is a great hobby for me. I have about 14 mics in my mic cabinet. You never really realize how much fun you have doing the recording work for others when you can't for nearly a year. I miss it so. It allowed for them to hear themselves as the audience does and then work to improve their live performances. It works every time.

This all came to be when I lost my Yamaha M1 amp and C2 preamp to an upstairs shower drain leak right over my gear. No parts were available to repair the M1, so....luckily I had the other systems to fill in for a long while.

I gave my 3 sons a Thorens TD 160, a Yamaha PF 550, and an Sony DD fully auto turntable to get them started. They are now all collectors of lps.

I am now using my newest Project S2 dac in a headphone station by our bed for late night listening on a pair of Audio Technica ATH-50X's. My AKG K701's bought from a review by the late Wes Phillips was a great recommendation and used off the main systems. 2 pair of AKG K-271s are in full use in my studio. I started spending more in my studio than replacing the Yamaha M1, which has turned out well, just another direction for recording purposes.

Thanks, I will keep my card, but still bemoan the loss of my Yamaha M1 amp. 20 watts of Class A and 200 watts of AB did sound very sweet.

eriks's picture

Strongly suggest you audition the modern Yammy integrateds as well as a Luxman, or even a Rogue integrated.

jimtavegia's picture

The idea of recording more became more important to me at that point. I had often complained about the poor sound of some commercial recordings and was curious if I could/might do better with some modest gear. I learned much from digging deep into JA1's work and his comments on his recordings as he provided much info behind the scenes as to what he was doing in his recording set ups. I also studies the K622 recording and photos and the discussions with JA1 and Tony Faulkner. Mr. Faulkner has a great video interview on YouTube with Rode Microphones owner, Andrew Friedman with much to be learned.

So with 3 Rode NT-1A's, 2 AKG C3000, 2 Sennheiser 614 pencil mics, 1 SE-V7X dynamic instrument mic, 1-SE V7 vocal mic. 3 Rode M1 vocal mics, Sennheiser: 2-e835, 1-e945, 1 e-865 condenser vocal mic, Shure SM-58; 2 Behringer omni measurement mics. A Yamaha MG 16XU & MG10XU mixers (with compressors and built in effects and 24192 usb IO; Mackie 1402 VLZ4, Mackie 802 VLZ3, 2-Mackie 402 VLZ4's, Lexicon MX 200 and 300 effects, 2-Tascam DR40 2496 SDHC card recorders, and older DR-2d 2496 recorder, and a newer DR 680MK2 that records 6 tracks of 2496 or 2 tracks of 24192 on SDHC cards and units can be linked to make up as many tracks as one wants. I also bought Bob Katz book on recording as well as The Recording Engineering handbook and Sound Recording by John Eargle. I also added a Yamaha P515 digital piano as I wanted to really start learning how to play.

My audio directions and interest took a 180 degree turn. I have enjoyed every minute of it and learning a great deal. I was never without folks who wanted me to record them or their group and I had many vocalists come to the house who had never heard themselves sign, needed to, started to work hard to get better. Some even bought the little Yamaha MG10XU and a vocal mic to practice at home. THE BEST THING A MUSICIAN CAN DO TO IMPROVE.

So I am well aware that JA1 has gear in his storage facility than I presently own, I have tweaked what I do own to where I am satisfied since now listening is no 2 and recording is no 1.

On a personal note, my wife had cancer twice colon, 6 months of chemo, emergency gall bladder surgery in the middle of chemo, then a spot in her liver became dime size and they removed 80% of that. She is now a stage IV survivor and now cancer free for 4+ years and released by her oncologist.

My turn came two weeks ago the prostate cancer surgery, 4 hours, and now a long recovery from a $70K surgery. My wife's bills were nearly $1 mil. My wife and I took a counseling course to help folks who are dealing with cancer and recovery as it causes much distress within families, we try and help them get through it. Too often life gets in the way of our hobbies. My wife and I of 50+ years have done well I think considering all of it.

Maybe when this pandemic is over I will be able to upgrade my listening systems, but I do know that what I do own is sadly better than what all to many who claim to be music lovers own. If a phone and some headphones works for them who am I to judge. That is a huge % or our population.

If this was too much info I apologize. Life goes on.

Ortofan's picture

... last remake of the AR 3a?

jimtavegia's picture

I don't remember any other 3-way, closed box 12" woofer version being made. You could be right, or not. What is interesting about AR is that at one time they owned over 33% of the speaker market. That will never be duplicated again by anyone.

I always wanted to own a pair of LST, but never quite had the cash when they first came out. AR had some great engineering back in their day as did KLH, Dynaco, Bozak, Quad, and others.

I would honestly say that where I am today is not that far away from where I started in 1971 with a Fisher 500TX, Dynaco A-25's, Teac 350 cassette deck and a Dual 1209 with a Pickering XV-750.

supamark's picture

Have you tried Cakewalk by BandLab? It's a totally free full featured DAW that should do everything Sound Forge does but with a higher track count (and added features). It also uses VST plugins like Sound Forge, and the bundled plugins are good. It was formerly known as Sonar, if you have heard of that DAW, before BandLab picked up the IP from Gibson (I think) a couple years ago. It gets regular updates. I prefer Pro Tools, but it's not free (and Cakewalk does *almost* everything Pro Tools does).

You might find this funny, but I still occasionally use a 20+ year old copy of Sound Forge 4.5 for editing 2 track material. Its wave editing function (drawing out clicks, etc) is still easier for me to use than more modern DAWs.

Mark Phillips
Contributor, SoundStage! Network

jimtavegia's picture

I will take a look. I am always looking for new things to try during this lockdown.

I do read novels for Audible and still use SF 10 for that as it is much easier to edit out mistakes, insert silence and add new material. I started with Cool Edit and really liked that simple program with, what, Win XP. Ah, the good old days.

MOst of what I do is two track, but when I do some choral work the Tascam DR-680 MK2 came in very handy with the 3 mics on the choir in a Decca tree, two mics on the piano at C3 and C5, and then one other track for a soloist or instrumentalist. That allowed me to come home and really mix down something nice as I recorded all that 2496. It also allowed me to add reverb judiciously and take it out until I got just the right amount of space. Oh, how I miss the recording work.

With nearly 3,000 dying every day I should not be as down as I am with my issues, but 2020 has been a very sad period of time for all of us. New music purchases have helped.

I have especially enjoyed the PBS series of Now Hear This with Scott Yoo. I have order the DVD of season 2 today. Already had season 1 and a season 3 is yet to come. Great music and a great education of the greatest composers who ever lived.

Thanks, again. Jim

funambulistic's picture

... considering that their top 'o the line model, the 7000 tops out at $9.5K!

Kidding aside, you have done more with your setup than most "audiophiles" - a nice start indeed!

Tom Gibbs's picture

With an AQ Niagara 1200 and an AQ Niagara 3000, plus the two NRG Edison outlets, along with a variety of upgraded AQ power cords, I have about $8k worth of power conditioning ahead of a $30k system. That was essentially the premise of my review -- would a relatively modest system like mine benefit from somewhat "exotic" power conditioning and accessories. I can answer that with a resounding YES! The noise floor in my system has never been so very low, and one of the principal benefits of good power is that everything attached to it will perform at much closer to its peak potential. It's a win-win!

navr's picture

Both in $10k+ range. Chord recommends to plug them directly into the wall (I assume because for that kind of dough they must have implemented top-notch switching power supplies in their electronics, with all sorts of filtering). Would it be smart to still invest in something like Niagara, in spite of what the vendor explicitly states in their manual and online? Could it be that Niagara and alike are helpful if electronics is much less than $10-15k e.g. 3-5k?

Tom Gibbs's picture

I've had a fair amount of equipment in my system across a significant range of MSRPs since the AQ power equipment took residence in my room, and everything has sounded superb with the AudioQuest NRG outlets and Niagara in place. My current listening environment was custom built with dual dedicated AC lines, and I really thought that would be enough -- but my experience with the AQ equipment has proved otherwise. And while the addition of the AQ equipment really initially seemed counterintuitive to me, I hear blacker, more noise-free backgrounds, and my amplifiers produce more unbridled power -- everything seems to work much more symbiotically, and much closer to peak efficiency. YMMV, but I'd strongly recommend it.

Charles E Flynn's picture

Quite a few "audiophile" receptacles are not available in 15 amp models.

People should know that it is illegal to install a 20 amp receptacle on a 15 amp circuit. (There are many wrong answers to this question online.) Such an installation is a violation of the NEC (National Electrical Code). In most places, the NEC is adopted as a matter of law, not as a matter of suggested reading, so violations of it are illegal. I have yet to see any vendor selling 20 amp "audiophile" receptacles online mention this.

Another issue is the gripping strength of the electrical contacts in the receptacle. Hubbell told me years ago that "hospital grade" receptacles should not be used for appliances that are frequently plugged and unplugged. The equipment used in hospitals has plugs that can withstand the higher stress. Ordinary plugs can be damaged by the repeated stress of being plugged and unplugged into a hospital grade receptacle. It is not pleasant to have a plug disintegrate in your hand, an event that may leave one or more live electrical contacts sticking out of the receptacle.

jimtavegia's picture

All are hospital grade 20 amp. 20 amp breakers are used with 12 GA wire. An electrician did it, so I believe it is rightly done. If mine are plugged and unplugged once a year that would be alot. Set and forget. all of my unplugging is into my Furman M-8LX rack mount strips. They have made a difference as my recording set up has a noise floor of near -80db. Once you open the mics the ambient room noise does come into play, but I am starting off on a good note.

I have also used the FFT display in NCH WavPad to see where the noise is located frequency wise, and what abnormalities there are in recordings I do in Sound Forge. I use SF as I think it sounds better.

Charles E Flynn's picture

I have a Furman Elite-15 DM i in my bedroom.

My Furman unit is not intended for audiophile use, but for closely monitoring the voltage and amperage at one of my very ordinary receptacles. I have fuses in my main panel, and I do not want to blow fuses. After repeatedly noticing that the voltage was very close to the legal upper limit, I called the electric utility company. They said the problem I was reporting was very rare, but does happen, and they would send someone to service the transformer on the telephone pole. No more high voltage.

Anyone planning to buy a Furman product should buy it from an authorized dealer. There is no warranty otherwise. I bought mine from Natural Sound, in Framingham, MA.

Tom Gibbs's picture

Two 15-amp AudioQuest NRG Edison outlets were installed on a 20-amp dedicated circuit. Not vice-versa. That is within code, and is very common practice in a lot of new home construction. Even when installed on a 20-amp line, a 15-amp receptacle will never draw more than 15-amps, and most equipment rated for 15-amps draws considerably less current. 20-amp circuits are generally employed with 15-amp outlets to reduce the instances of "nuisance" circuit tripping -- which is a very real problem with current electrical code requirements. The two AQ NRG 15-amp outlets on the 20-amp dedicated circuit to my listening room replaced two 15-amp hospital grade outlets that were installed by the builder four years ago on the very same 10-gauge Romex-wired 20-amp circuit. As Jim Austin noted, electrical wiring isn't for the faint of heart, and I would definitely concur that when in doubt, get professionals involved! My electrical training came from shadowing my brother-in-law -- who was a master electrician -- for years of home renovation work throughout our extended family.

Charles E Flynn's picture

Thanks for your reply. I understood what the author wrote, and was making a general statement about something relevant, important, and not generally known.

Thanks, too, for explaining why anyone would install a 15 amp receptacle on a 20 amp circuit. I was puzzled by that. There is an article about wiring in dedicated listening rooms at The Other Magazine!, but their website is not working well at the moment.

Tom Gibbs's picture

My pleasure!

Charles E Flynn's picture

The fine print on a Hubbell receptacle box to which I do not have access at the moment states that the UL approval for the product applies only if the terminal screws are tightened to a torque in a specified range.

To give an example:



15A : 14 – 10 AWG
20A : 12 – 10 AWG

Tighten terminal screws securely to 12 - 14 lb-in.

It seems clear that if the terminal screws are loose, the electrical resistance at the point of contact would increase, but it is not intuitively clear why the electrical resistance would also increase if the screws are too tight.

Jack L's picture


Per NEC code:

#10 NM (non-metal) house electrical wire: 30A@60C, max 35A

#12 same type wire : 20A

#14 same type wire : 15A

So 15A wall outlet for #10 wire will be risky unless the audio rig current load is not over 15A rms. So make sure there is no very large power output solid state power amps in the load !!

Jack L

Charles E Flynn's picture

Using a 15 amp receptacle on a 20 amp circuit raises questions I have seen discussed nowhere.

I wonder just what the differences are between 15 amp and 20 amp receptacles, other than the face plate that allows insertion of a 20 amp type plug. I have also wondered if the makers of 20 amp "audiophile" receptacles would be in violation of code if they just took a 20 amp receptacle and put the face plate from a 15 amp receptacle on it, so a 20 amp type plug could not be inserted.

Shunyata has a YouTube video showing the internal construction of their Hubbell-based receptacle versus a typical receptacle:

Hubbell SR-Z1 Outlets

Jack L's picture

Hi Charles

Any electrical walloutlets, like any electrical/electronics appliances/equipment, must get UL certification of rated current load & voltage capacity before allowed to be sold in the market & used indoor/outdoor in USA.

So if the current load exceeds the UL certified rating of the walloutlet, unfortunately it causes fire or casuality, the underwriters involved will have the legal right to turn down any claims thereof.

So play safe before regret !

Jack L

Charles E Flynn's picture

Jack L,

Thank you.

I am not planning to do any code violations myself. I have enough trouble even when following the rules.

Now I wonder if installing a 15 amp receptacle on a 20 amp circuit is a violation of the NEC.

Jack L's picture

Hi Charles.

Technically YES.

As I already posted above, as long as the total loading of your audio rig does not exceeed the receptable's UL cerified 15A rating, you are safe.

Also please check the contactor (fuse) of electrical panel of yr home, hooked up to the 15A walloutlet for your audio rig is also rated for 15A capacity. If so, then you should be OK. Any overload by the load of yr audio rig will trigger off the 15A contactor to cut out the power to yr audio rig.

But if you rig gets a few soldstate power amps with very high output power working at the same time, overloading the 15A walloutlet, the related electrical panel 15A contactor (fuse) will trip & cut off the power to yr rig.

So I woould either replace the 15A walloutlet to 20 evem 30A UL rated one if you still want to keep the AWG#10 power cable.

Jack L

Charles E Flynn's picture


My current situation should be fine, and you have reminded me to put this sign up in my basement. I have made a practice of using industrial quality signs in my basement, as part of the decor:

Mikk's picture

Equipment like this would be a great candidate for carrying out measurements on, not just to verify the manufacturers claims, but also to reassure the sceptics that their money is well spent. Testing would also be great to show whether power delivered from a solar inverter needs/benefits from conditioning.

I’ve seen a few reviewers state that the Niagara gear provides solid improvements, but sadly they're not available in 230v/Australian plugged versions.

Personally, I haven’t had any noticeable improvements when using power conditioners, and using amplifiers even with conditioners designed with high-current outputs (Isotek Aquarius EVO 3) still diminished dynamics, resulting in an overly smooth sound- not what you want when listening to Prodigy-style stuff! Same with either class AB amps (Krell integrated) or D class (Hypex NC500). Admittedly, my experience with conditioners was at a much lower price point than the Audioquest,

Still, I use a conditioner for my source gear for protection purposes, and also to provide a stable voltage/frequency too. Our local power is specified at 230V, and delivered to the premises at 250V.

Tom Gibbs's picture

My new home is less than four years old and was built to current exacting electrical codes using -- especially in my listening room -- dedicated, heavy-gauge Romex wire circuits with hospital grade outlets. I didn't think it could get any better, but I was wrong: the combination of the AQ NRG outlets, the Niagara 3000 unit, and a selection of high-quality AC cords has transformed my listening, and reduced AC line noise substantially. YMMV, but in my situation, the improvements were dramatic, to say the least.

Mikk's picture

That's great to hear. Convenient as well to have all your gear plugged into the one unit, instead of into various wall outlets and power strips.
This would be a great item to buy from a retailer that allows returns, as I imagine that power supply varies considerably from place to place so try-before-you-buy would be pretty important.

An interesting study into THD was carried out in Australia, and might be useful for showing what might be expected (THD-wise) at a regular household outlet (in Australia, at least).
edit- the study was carried out on New Zealand power, by an Aus university.

Mikk's picture

I was referring mostly to the power supplied TO a premises, rather than the quality of installation of an existing premises.

Tom Gibbs's picture

Having had the same electrical utility for over thirty years, I can't say that I've ever had the quality of the power evaluated, but I've never really had any issues, either.

Charles E Flynn's picture

From :

"I can say with clear confidence that the is zero negatives heard when you have solar PROVIDED that you are using a system where each panel uses a micro inverter rather than a total system dependent inverter as these older systems do suffer sonically from the larger inverter. I have 30 panels on my roof each of which has its own micro inverter. This is the way to go both economically and also if you are and audiophile. Solar in my house has been nothing but positive for me in every way including audio"

Briandrumzilla's picture

Recommend pIcking up some power converters from Tosche Station and your system will sing like never before.

eriks's picture

Nice device and interesting ideas.

I'd suggest you audition replacing the PCB's under the inductors with point to point wiring. It may cost a little more to manufacture, but large copper lands under an inductor will couple in bad and unpredictable ways.

Just... try ... it. :)

tonykaz's picture

Those music systems needing giant amplification will benefit from proper wiring receptacles instead of cheap 120 Volt Duplex designs.


Every serious reviewer should have a PS Audio Power Plant regenerating reliable AC power.

Conditioners don't cut-it from an Engineering perspective.

Assured, consistent, reliable, clean AC energy is the foundation of a wonderful Music system.

HighEnd gear is generally available in 240 VAC . ( even cheapo Schiit Gear is available in 240 VAC )

110vac is rather entry/beginner level ameteurish.

Tony in Venice

ps. where are the measurements from Mr.JA? Where are the specifications, if there are any?

georgehifi's picture

" tonykaz: ps. where are the measurements from Mr.JA? Where are the specifications, if there are any?"

Yeah JA what gives?? would be nice to see/read and compare differences if any to what's going in to what's coming out, with some bench measurements, scope screen shots etc.

Cheers George

Tom Gibbs's picture

No measurements are conducted for power conditioners/regenerators and the like, apparently.

tonykaz's picture

Power is the most scrutinised aspect of all electronic gear designing.

These Niagara designs were designed and measured.

Even I, as a civilian, own an oscilloscope. Some Audio gear came with Scopes built right in to the front panel.

I'll accept your opinion that the waveform (with issues) is an accurate representation of what Audioquest are trying to convey.

By the way: I represented Audioquest for a 3 year period of mid 1980s. I liked the Company and it's products especially the Talisman range of Phono Cartridges which I sold zillions of. I wonder if Audioquest manufacturers these Conditioners or buys them from ....? Will you let us know?

Tony in Venice

Tom Gibbs's picture

The AudioQuest Niagara units are designed and engineered in the USA, but are manufactured in Taiwan. The graphic used in the review, which is meant to illustrate the square wave response from a typical builder-grade outlet on a typical electrical system, was not generated from any measurements of the equipment under review. Its inclusion was outside my involvement in the review process.

tonykaz's picture

Thanks for responding and revealing.

For the price of this entire line of product, I expect significantly greater engineering detail. Internal photos look like an improved surge protector device.

Can we have an engineering description of what a Conditioner actually is and does?

My suspicions are that Niagara conditioners are getting reviewer placement because a Stereophile Staff Reviewer now works for Audioquest. Mr.SM brings a whole lot of good-will.

Everything will effect/affect a Music System performance change, so it holds that a Niagara device will as well.

Still, I need to see this device bench analysed in order to justify the hefty price. You look rather technical with your peering eyes looking over those lowered eyeglasses ( like a doubting Judge in a Court trial ), I hoped that you would be providing such a useful service.

Thanks for writing back on this beautiful Sunday morning!

Tony in Venice

Tom Gibbs's picture

AudioQuest has a white paper that explains a lot of the science behind the Niagara series of conditioners. Here's a link:

tonykaz's picture

AQ present a summary of each of the common Power Solutions available, ( with soft judgementals ) it reads like a marketing piece in support for their price point product decisions. Is it an engineering paper?

Thank you.

Typical of Stereophile doing a useful review, I'd hope for and expect a music room comparison reveal, kinda like any of the reviewers would present in an Amplifier Review. The Shunyta and PS Audio people would probably supply review samples ( as they are known to do ).

Tony in Venice

ps. nowadays, Stereophile reviewers have raised the Bar so incredibly high that we now have report expectations significantly beyond what was typical of only a few short couple of years ago.

Tom Gibbs's picture

It's from the manufacturer, so that's to be expected. That said, I thought it offered a very concise and cogent explanation of some of the challenges in putting together a good audio system with an often less than perfect electrical power grid. Regardless of your personal take on their approach, the AudioQuest equipment in use in my system has provided a superb foundation for the rest of my audio stack to shine like never before.

tonykaz's picture

Ok, fair enough. It's better with then without.

Tony in Venice

ps. you seem to be an impressive person

Archimago's picture

So if that 60Hz sine wave graphic:

1. Does not reflect the conditions of your A/C outlet when reviewing.

2. Has nothing to do with the write-up at all.

3. Cannot be used to illustrate what the device is supposed to improve. (There is no before/after...)

Is the illustration then supposed to help imply something about the box!? Who advocated to put that in there and why? How can the editor not recognize that this is misleading?

Jim Austin's picture

... as an accurate illustration of power coming from the wall--of what power conditioners have to contend with. It is from my NYC apartment. On the one hand, the caption makes it clear that this is merely "an example"--not the power the AudioQuest unit is dealing with. I do regret the last bit in the caption--"courtesy of ...," etc., which implies that Romex and cheap receptacles are responsible for the ugly waveform.

Often, including in this case, captions are added at the last moment, sometimes--as here--with too little thought. It was intended to be illustrative of common power issues and nothing more.

If I had had the AQ here, I would have measured its output as well and published that measurement. I did not.

Incidentally, the request to measure power conditioners is reasonable, but we will only do it once we've developed a comprehensive, meaningful set of measurements that can be consistently and efficiently performed. (This is also why we don't routinely measure turntables or digital-data sources.) Perhaps some day we will start doing that.

In any case, please note that the decision to add that graphic and is caption was mine; Tom Gibbs was not involved in the decision.

Jim Austin, Editor

Charles E Flynn's picture

The manual for the PS Audio PowerPlant P3 has a graphic showing THD in and TDH out. In the example, THD in is 3.0 %and THD out is 0.1 %. I have seen one of these units in use in a residential setting, and the results were strikingly similar, with the THD in at 2.7% and THD out at 0.1%.

There must be an expensive Fluke meter that could provide reviewers with such data for products that do not make these THD measurements themselves.

Jim Austin's picture

There must be an expensive Fluke meter that could provide reviewers with such data for products that do not make these THD measurements themselves.

There are power-quality meters that would provide at least some of he desired information, selling for up to several $K depending on features. They're probably not ideal for hi-fi, however, since After they're aimed at diagnosing problems that cause machinery and electronics to fail, and often even that's challenging. (My wife runs a science lab at a university here in the city. A couple of years ago, scientific instruments started to fail for no apparent reason. They hired a forensic electrician, who monitored the power and generated a report. No obvious cause was found for the string of failures.) Hi-fi is a more subtle business.

It would be easy enough to get a snapshot of the power and determine the level of a few harmonics; I could do that with equipment I have on-hand (with, perhaps, the addition of a couple of power resistors). But one needs to have standards that are applicable to hi-fi. For example: One has to balance filtering with keeping the impedance low, including at fairly high frequencies; otherwise you slow down power-supply recharging. That means, for example, that using a low-pass filter to remove the lower harmonics of 60Hz may starve your power supply of current.

In short, we need first to decide what matters for hi-fi and figure out how to measure that. And once that's done, we'll need to establish routine procedures that can be carried out in the course of an already busy production schedule. And all that investigating and routinizing takes time. We'll see.

Jim Austin, Editor

Charles E Flynn's picture

Thanks for the detailed explanation of just how complex an undertaking providing such measurements could be, and for a memorable term I had not heard before, even though I have heard about forensic torque wrenches (used to determine how much torque is needed to unfasten something, and to record the measurement using a tamper-resistant method that is admissable in a court of law, or so I was told).

Jack L's picture


Yes, that is why I am pretty skeptical about those brand-named "hi-tech" powerline conditioners, however highpricing, that may affect the music quality.

In today's WiFi-everywhere environment, I am much more concerned about EMI/FRI noise invading our audios than the harmonic purity of the power grid.

That's why I have 4 dedicated powerlines installed for my audio rig only, connected directly to the main electric panel of my house. No more sharing the RFI/EMI polluted household power grid.

So I don't need to drop a bundle to acquire some hi-tech power conditioner affecting the music quality. Instead, I only use simple inline RFI/EMI filters from England (max insertion loss of 44DB 1-10MHz), compact & efficient, for low low price. One for each of my 4 dedicated powelines (1 exclusively for 125V analogue gears, 1 for my 3 active subs, 1 for digital gears only, including my 4K UHD WiFi TV, & finally one for my 220V gears from Japan).

Being very simple straight forward design, I find these English made inline filters do NOT affect the music at all. Fast & clean !

My bottom line is achieved: efficient powerline noise removal & music quality improvement & saving a big bundle.

Listening is believing

Jack L

Donnie's picture

This can be easily done with a 200 dollar PC-based oscilloscope using some basic electrical knowledge (safety). There's no need for the high-priced Fluke gear. In my house I see about 3.5% THD. Others I've measured around here and there have been as low as 2%. Certainly room for improvement and easily quantifiable when testing products, which I would have expected to see in the review of the AudioQuest Niagara. Ironically I live in Niagara Falls, seems I should demo one of these.

Ortofan's picture

... the test equipment and use the same test protocol that sister publication Hi-Fi News already employs for turntable and tonearm measurements?

Jim Austin's picture

Perhaps, if I choose to.

Jim Austin, Editor

Tom Gibbs's picture

In which I wasn't involved.

tonykaz's picture

Someone tells me that these things are Asian. Hmm.

Is it true?

Tony in Venice

Tom Gibbs's picture

Designed and engineered in the USA, but manufactured in Taiwan. Not unlike a substantial cross-section of high-end gear.

PeterPani's picture

During the years I replaced all my new stuff with vintage stuff. My preamps are from 1952 and the six mono tubed power amps from 1956. My past power condition units are unnecessary with these amps. The power treatment with caps,chokes and rectifier tubes seems to be overriding any power problem issues.

Jack L's picture


I still keep my 1960s Dynaco SP-2 & ST-70 combo on backburner, after my thorough upgrade. Yes, their original factory version did sound veiled, noisy & tubey - totally unacceptable for my critical ears.
But after ungrade (including the crucial pentode UL - triode switchable conversion of the output power stage of the ST-70), I do hear substantaail sonic improvemennt.

When I plugged them into one of my dedicated 125V powerlines (with in-line RFI/EMI noise filter) EXCLUSINVELY for analogue audios, I do
hear further sonic improvement.

Jack L

Archimago's picture

So with that picture of the "moderately bad" 60Hz sine wave in the article to suggest that the 50-cent receptacle is perhaps one of the things to blame. And that this presumably results in audible effects...

How did the Niagara deal with that? Is there a "before and after" to show that this device specifically made any difference?

Tom Gibbs's picture

There is no "before and after." That said, as I stated above, my new house was purpose built with 10-gauge Romex-wired, dedicated outlets with hospital grade outlets. I thought that would be good enough, but replacing the outlets with the AQ NRG Edisons was a surprisingly obvious upgrade. Before the AQ Niagara 3000 arrived, I had the twin subs plugged directly into the wall outlets, and they immediately played with better control, deeper bass, and there was a more seamless transition between the subs and the main loudspeakers. I know -- bring on the flame throwers -- but the difference wasn't subtle.

Archimago's picture

Sure. Enjoy.

davemill's picture

It would be great to have objective measurements for audiophile power products. I’d like to see how power regenerators compared with conditioners/distributors.

Although 100% subjective in nature, I found significant sound quality improvements to my system including a blacker quiet background (reminds me of going from a plasma to OLED TV) after adding the following Shunyata Research products: CopperConn duplex outlet, Sigma XC power cable (outlet to Denali),Denali 6000/S v2 power distributor, Alpha NR v2 power cable (Denali to Parasound Halo A21+), and Alpha NR v2 power cable (Denali to TEAC NT-505 (pre-amp/DAC)). There was at least a 200 hour break-in period where the sound quality kept improving. I am actually not sure it is over yet. Did you observe this as well?

Before this change, I was thinking about selling my F228Be speakers. Not anymore! My enthusiastic posts of this topic to the “Revel Owners” thread on the avsforum were censored and I was later banned from posting. Accusations of me being a schill which I am not and promoting snake oil etc. I guess they didn't want to hear the truth. :-)

dc_bruce's picture

And by "this" I mean power conditioners, "power plants," power cords and so on. The reaction of your equipment to these things seems to be pretty idiosyncratic. Quite some time ago, I bought a 20 amp Equi-tech balanced power transformer. It weighs a ton and has a bunch of high quality sockets on the back. It serves as isolation from the power mains and supplies two legs of 60 nominal volts each 180 degrees out of phase. So, the potential difference between them is a nominal 120 volts. Many of the effects described in the review are what I observed, especially with digital equipment and subwoofers. I really didn't observe any difference with amplification. (Krell and then BAT). I'm not enough of a technician to describe how or why this happens. . . but I don't find it to be "snake oil." That said, not every piece of wire I've tried in my system has had an effect, but some have. And I do know, first-hand that a designer of well-respected audiophile amplification equipment is not fond of having his stuff connected to anything other than the wall outlet.

Tom Gibbs's picture

I couldn't agree more, and while the overall improvements to my system have been substantial, it would definitely be a good idea to "try it before you buy it" if at all possible. While I didn't notice a startling improvement with the Bel Canto e1X amplifier -- which already has a world-class power supply built in -- the improved performance from my old Emotiva XPA-1L mono amps boggled me! And I was on the verge of listing them on one of the audio resale sites.

teched58's picture

...the model number is the same as the price. It's like a two-fer: you get a logo and a permanent price sticker on the fascia!

dcolak's picture

connected to this box of snake oil.

NeilS's picture

"...The real eye-opener, however, was when the music stopped: The absolute quiet in my room was almost ghostly compared to the state I was accustomed to."

With the "before and after" drop in the ambient noise level that perceptually noticeable to you, would not the drop in dB also be easy to measure?