Syrup on pancakes

April 17, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

In the 1990s, the idea of an AC power conditioner feeding a stereo system was about the same as adding syrup to pancakes: a nice but unnecessary sweetener.

Few people thought of power conditioners, and later AC regenerators, as being essential elements in a high-end chain. In fact, even as late as the early 2000s, most audio systems didn’t pay any attention to the quality of AC power feeding gear or the benefits of protection from surges and spikes.

Today, we’ve come to accept the idea that everything we hear in our systems starts out as raw AC—and the better and safer that source the closer we can get to the music we wish to reproduce in the home.

It takes a long time for a new concept to get accepted into the fold. Just think back to when no one batted an eye at using lamp cord for speaker cables.

I still like maple syrup on my pancakes, but instead of an afterthought or something nice to have, I find it an essential ingredient.

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36 comments on “Syrup on pancakes”

  1. Huh?!
    I’ve been served pancakes (& waffles) with butter & Maple syrup since before
    Star Trek screened on our televisions…& I’m not even a Canuk 😉 (Hi ‘pikpen’)
    Essential ingredient indeed!

    In the 52 years that I’ve lived in Sydney, Australia I can’t say that the electricity
    supply has ever been problematic; even when I owned a high-end audio system.
    Whether I find it necessary or not in the future to employ an AC regen. will depend
    on whether I upgrade myself from an audio enthusiast to being an audiophile again.
    I certainly wont be messing around with a power conditioner, that seem like a pointless
    exercise when you can just go straight to an AC regenerator & do it properly.
    All or nothing, when you’re spending that sort of coin.

    Just once I would’ve liked to have heard Capt. Kirk say,
    “Beam me up Scotty…All OF ME THIS TIME Scotty!”
    I mean we all know how machines can develop intermittent faults from time to time, right?

    1. Since you’d be a good source of information, please explain l the difference between an audio enthusiast and an audiophile. I’m starting to like the Audio Enthusiast better than Audiophile lately I don’t want to misrepresent myself.

      P..S. I was brought up on regular and buttermilk pancakes with butter and syrup. I didn’t know there was any other way to eat pancakes.

      1. Hi Mr. R.,
        So, it’s all about how you want to define those two words
        (just as subjective as audio itself)
        I classed myself as an ‘audiophile’ when I owned a high-end
        audio rig that could reproduce a stunning musical soundstage
        with equally stunning 3D holographic sound imaging.
        However, since the time that I relinquished said high-end audio
        rig & went back to employing a less impressive (more of a wall-
        of-sound presentation) yet equally dynamic & engaging sound
        system, that ended up being more suited to Rock ‘n Roll, I have
        considered myself as an ‘audio enthusiast’ again, since I’m not
        concerned about constantly upgrading my equipment anymore.
        This also has a lot to do with the recording quality of most, not
        all, of the music that I love listening to.
        This is how I define the difference, but it is not necessarily anyone else’s.

        ‘Soundmind’ said once that an Audiophile has a million dollar audio rig & three DSD CD’s with which to show it off with, which is deeply cynical but at the same time hilarious.

  2. I would love to own an AC regenerator. For a lot of us, however, they are not even close to being affordable. Maybe one day the price will fall into a normal persons’ budget.

    1. I’m with you Moonracer. While it’s possible to find basic audio system components, e.g., speakers, amplifiers, and source components, that chosen with care perform very well for a reasonable price, I haven’t seen any well regarded AC regenerators that I would consider affordable.

    2. Yes, I agree, that would be ideal. The problem we’ve had (have) is that at its core is a very powerful class AB amplifier. That has several requirements that cost money: heat sinks, big transformer, lots of caps and output devices.

      I wish we knew of a less expensive way to make that work. Others (and we) have experimented with Class D amps as a less expensive alternative. As a regenerator, they work great until there is a high current demand. Then they fall apart and make worse power than what you started with.

      We’ve got lots of really bright engineering folk. Maybe one of them will have an aha! moment.

  3. I’d certainly agree with Fat Rat, why bother with a mains conditioner, cut out the middleman and go straight for an AC regenerator, the cost of some seem remarkably similar. I’d also ask this. What advantages does a conditioner have over a regenerator?

    I have no experience but mains rebalancing using a rebalancing transformer is another approach to resolving mains issues. If interested I’d suggest doing your own research. Technically I don’t think it’s so straightforward and is less popular.

    Price is always an issue. I don’t know where you are Moonracer but if you do some digging around on the internet you might find some cheaper options. They’re not widely advertised and often not affiliated with hi-fi. If I was being cynical, hence a lower price tag 😉

  4. Here in Texas, my primary concern, and next on my purchase list is an AC “generator”.

    Once I have confidence I have power to begin with, I might be considering an AC regenerator.

  5. When did people think it was abnormal to have syrup ( preferably Maple syrup ) on their pancakes???

    Now when it comes to power regeneration my power comes from this company called ConEd. Do I really need to say anything more?

    I guess I should also point out that living here in the northeast USA we have these pop-up thunderstorms with lightening. Surge protection is also pretty high on my electric power requirements.

  6. The main challenge I have encountered in the power area is that there is not one solution that works for each type of component. I have tried many options. My current setup has 2 Richard Gray 400s. One plugged into the other. I then have power filters plugged into the “2nd in the series” Richard Gray.

    After a host of playing around with all of the connection options (in this current Richard Gray scheme), I found the following to be true. My source components all sound better plugged into the power filters through the (2nd in series) Richard Gray. My preamp sounds best plugged straight into the (1st in series) Richard Gray and my amp sounds best plugged directly into the main outlet (but sounds better with the Richard Grays plugged into the same outlet). Who knows if it is the isolation or the actual power situation that makes it work best.

    Additionally, I have all PS Audio power cords. I have found the more robust ones to sound better on my preamp and amp, however the less robust ones better on the source components. Who knows what’s up with that.

    It seems that each component benefits from from a slightly different setup. That is one main reason I don’t want to go with a single, pricey power generator. Like everything else in this hobby… it’s complicated.

  7. Who could eat a pancake without syrup? I wouldn’t think of listening to my system without some sort of power conditioner. I bought my P-300 Power Plant directly from you, Paul, at the Chicago Stereophile HiFi show (I think) in 1990. It was then a brand new product for PS Audio. You’ll be happy to know It’s still going strong in my system with new caps and an interior cooling fan. Powers my Schiit Freya preamp, CD transport, DACs, and phono preamp. Someday I’d like to get a higher capacity PowerPlant to include my modest power amp. Great stuff.

    1. I bought my first P 300 a year after its introduction and picked up a second unit pre-owned at an audio salon for my families vacation home system. I was so impressed by the sonic improvements the first time I heard a P 300 my jaw dropped to the ground. My son inherited one of them and the other one gave up the ghost several years ago. I was walking around with my hands over my ears (melodramatic) until my new P-12 unit arrived from PS Audio. For me these regenerators are absolutely essential.

      1. I absolutely agree. Mine also took a digger. Opened up the case bottom and three of the caps had puffed out. Easy enough fix. While I was in there I added a computer fan in a hole I had cut in the bottom access panel. They run pretty toasty. That was five years ago. I need a bigger one for my Schiit Aegir amp though.

  8. Hello Paul,

    And the finest Syrup is from Vermont!

    As for power regeneration, I recently purchased a P3 for my GDAC, and M700’s and honestly cannot detect a sonic difference. I guess I have piece of mind (expensive piece of mind) that I have clean power and protected gear. I was trying to enhance the systems dynamics since I feel that my system was lacking the snap of a snare, the tight staccato of the overall kit, some shallow mids, ( I listen to a lot of jazz), etc.
    I do have your reference kit (book and discs) and I believe I cannot position the PSB T2’s any further to enhance the SQ.

    Overall, I have a good system and appreciate all that you and PS Audio do to keep us Audiophiles in good form with technology and a wealth of information relative to this music lovers hobby. We need to be listening to music in the best way possible to appreciate the incredible talents worldwide…

    Tony Panella
    Monkton, VT

  9. In the photo those pancakes look tiny relative to the bacon and blueberries. I like my pancakes bigger, thicker and fluffier.

    I love my PS Audio Power Plant in one of my systems. I also love my Synergistic UEF SE conditioner in the other system. I have not felt the need to try them both in the same system, but I should do that sometime just to see what happens. They both do good things. In both systems I use a LessLoss Firewall module at the end of each power cable. I like the modules because they (supposedly) keep noise from one component from infecting the power to other components, but they also help me manage stiff power cords in the limited space I have behind my equipment stands. The modules have very flexible cords so I can connect stiff power cable ends to them at any angle rather than have to plug the power cables horizontally into the back of my components. Heavy, stiff power cables plugged perpendicularly and horizontally requires a lot of space and they tend to sag at the component power inlet.

  10. Nothing like maple syrup on pancakes. Paul if you’re trying to budget out a system do you suggest putting less into speakers and amplifiers and buying a power plant? Are there situations where the power coming into the home isn’t bad enough to require a power plant?

    1. It isn’t that the power’s bad, it’s just that the power as fed from a distant transformer atop a power pole delivered through hundreds of feet of power cable and shared by your neighbors is never going to be adequate for a high-end system.

      If I had to suggest products that likely don’t matter or care about the power they would include turntables but not much else.

  11. Reading these comments it appears a regenerator works magic or it doesn’t make a difference. My current system sound great to me without expensive power cords or power plants. But if I wanted to go there how do I know I even need it. Is there some AC mains diagnostic test I can administer that tells me I need power enhancement? Or do I use the objective audiophile test; buy it-plug it in- sound better? Yes or No.

    1. It depends on how critical a listener you are. I bought the Power Plant specifically to squeeze the last ounce of reverb tail detail out of my digital organ samples and to clean up a degree of slurring between individual pipe voices when many voices are combined. It’s a resolution thing. Some people appreciate resolution more than others. My power is not too bad, so I was skeptical when I bought the Power Plant, but knew I could return it if I didn’t hear a difference. I immediately heard a positive difference, so I kept it.

      If you want to see how your circuit voltage fluctuates, you could use a voltmeter and stick the red and black prongs into the left and right holes of the receptacle and take multiple readings to see how voltage fluctuates from ideal. To assess noise you could plug in a PS Audio Noise Harvester and watch how often the light blinks. But the only way to be sure is to try the Power Plant and return it if you don’t hear any difference.

      1. Another known hint that you have power deficiencies is if your system sounds better during some parts of the day and worse during other parts of the day. For example, some people find that their systems sound better at night. That may be because at night there are fewer motors and electrical devices running at any one time in your house, neighborhood and elsewhere on the power grid.

  12. I will fully attest with sincere honesty with all of you based on my experience with P3 Stellar AC Regenerator. It works. There is no bullshit about it. The science is there and the results are quite alarming with my system in particular. Also, I think my results or improvements might be a bit more magnified than the average loudspeaker listener because I do a lot of Vivid listening with headphones, so hearing the nitty gritty with all the nuances and so forth are more apparent with me and my general experience.
    What I can say after having the P3 in my chain for about 4 months now are 3 major sonic improvements regardless of how shitty the recording is. #1. Cleaner Highs. I’m amazed at the level of control my system has when sounds get into that freaky upper register. A great example of a track that I can use to illustrate my point is I-ROBOT by The Alan Parsons Project. The intro has an English choir ensemble that sings really high and I thought for years that because the choir sounded really blurry in the highs was a flaw. Wrong. It was a flaw in my system and with the Regenerator those Highs are clear and punch hard with such resolution.

    2) Bass—Sub Bass. Electronic music is the biggest finding and example of how low end and rumble can be used to portray a specific art. Track example. Autechure’s 1993 debut album ( INCUNABULA). I’m experiencing and hearing low end frequencies I’ve never heard in my life before.

    3) Pitch Pitch Black Background. Obviously it is one thing if a recording already has poor microphone placement and you get some hiss, but even hearing that you can make more sense as to why that is. When your power is clean so much of the soundstage and separation makes a lot more sense. It is the best way I can put it. Vocals in general sound a little bit more true to life depending on the recording because the background is so clean. It is really cool and it is a new experience for me because I just used power conditioning in the past and it doesn’t do the job.

    I guess by now you guys can tell how much I love the P3, but in the end because many upon many just don’t know about the science behind clean power I will have to label my AC regenerator as “Syrup.” I know it should be standard for elite level listening, but in the end because of the cost and lack of exposure or understanding upon the many I can’t label or categorize this as standard equipment. AC regenerator is a commitment to audiophile standards.

    Furthering my thought, if one has to research and get help in understanding the science into a specific product and really has to commit into building a little audio nirvana empire for themselves I think that is all syrup baby. 😉

    1. I fully support your attestation Nephilim 81 from my own experience with power regeneration.

      For me it started back in 2002 after I took the biggest financial plunge into hi-end gear that I had ever made. I even took out a personal loan to help fund the purchase which was a big committment for me at the time. Power regeneration was a new concept to me and even to the guys at my local hi-fi shop. I can’t remember exactly what convinced to me to stretch the funds to include power regeneration but I ended up including two P1200s and a P600. (For those who haven’t seen an original P1200, there’s one on the bottom shelf of PS Audio’s ‘museum’ wall. It’s the silver monster with the wavy heat sinks.) My amps were (and still are) a pair of Electrocompaniet Nemos – 600W, class A monoblocks consuming 230W with no input or output attached. I confirmed directly from PS Audio that the P1200 would handle the power draw before committing to them. It turned out that there was plenty of operational headroom. There was great excitement amongst the guys at the shop when they finally arrived. It was such a new concept to us that we set them up at the shop to ‘test drive’ them. After firing them up, everyone was amazed at the sonic improvement. So much so that they asked if they could hang onto them for a short time to demonstrate them to a few other hi-end customers.

      In the time since, I replaced the P600 and P1200s with three P10s. The Nemos have a dedicated P10 each and the third powers the DS DAC and powered subbies. Each P10 continuously draws around 160W.

      Bottom line? The magic is still there! 😉

      1. Hey MikeK. Terrific story, man! And all the power to you! Sorry. That was corny, however your evolution of acquisitions is amazing and the commitment was bold. Something so many people don’t have, but look at you now. You took the plunge and more importantly took the time to listen. I respect that so much, friend. I think that is what building wonderful Hi-Fi is all about. Taking chances.


  13. Paul,

    You have never shown the effect of the regenerator on the equipment. You only show a nice wave coming out of it. And lots of fancy ambiguous words.

    Sorry, I know it is your competitive advantage as a vendor but words are not enough.

    1. Well, actually we have. We’ve on multiple occasion shown this significantly lowered power supply ripple by the use of MultiWave, we’ve also shown the effects of regulation.

      Here’s the problem. No sooner than I show the positive benefits of dynamically regulating the power, filling in the sine wave’s flat-top peak (where capacitors are charged), lowering power supply ripple with the extended charging time at the sine wave’s peak (which is exactly what happens when you add more capacitance to the power supply), then those who don’t wish to believe simply say “that’s nice. But now show us that it actually matters to the sound.”

      There’s absolutely no winning this subject so I choose instead not to waste our time trying to prove to people who do not take the time to actually listen that it is and does what we say.

      I equate it to using logical and persuasive arguments to change someone’s mind of religion or politics.

      It’s not worth the energy.

  14. Every system I have as a Furman conditioner on it as it is what I can afford. This included my computer mastering system as with an MIT power cord I have a -80db noise floor which is very nice. Maybe one day a PS Audio Regenerator.

    Any noise I have in my amateur recordings is coming from my mics, the mic preamps, and mostly the rooms. I was not an early adopter until I saw the improvement in my recording software metering display. Now I am a believer in dirty AC.

  15. What’s most confusing about the regen’s is how it’s been described (to me) that the sound of each one gets progressively better at least up to the P19 level. I understand the amount of components and weight of the iron changes, along with more capacitance etc. What I can’t wrap my head around is that if a component stays within the regenerated rated value of any given Regen, then to my way of thinking the AC into the component should be clean and way better than the line alone. Thus the electronics being fed from the regen should be happy and not notice that there is way more headroom than they need from a larger regen. (I’m talking from the P12 and up with all the bells and whistles.) From the descriptions it sounds like that is not the case. So if one wants top shelf syrup then the P19 is the minimum standard.

    So I’m bulking up on pancakes and syrup so I can heft the thing into my sound room 😉

    1. Don’t know why I had 19 on the brain. I meant P15. Maybe I’m wishing I was 19 again? Maybe that’s how many old fart pills I’m supposed to be taking? Sorry

        1. Nope, just a joint now and then and we don’t share any more. So no worries about “bogarting” ….
          In reality it was probably a weak cognitive moment. I’ll stop short of calling it plain stupidity…

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