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Monster Powerbar HTS1100 results

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hey, all.

I got a Monster Powerbar HTS1100 and have experienced results that I'd like to share. The unit has the completely new, re-engineered Level II v2.0 (the v2.0 being the important part) power filtering.

I use a DVD-A player (Panasonic DVD-A7) and a mid-fi (?) turntable (Dual CD 5000 w/NOS Grado cartridge) fed into a Stax SRS-3030 Classic System II (SR-303 cans and SRM-313 amp).

Our house was built in 1994 and is definitely one of those new-fangle-dangled "code straddler" houses, i.e. ones which look like gingerbread houses (thin walls, etc.), built with the cheapest, thinnest materials that just meet code regulations. If you're in an area that's being developed, you'll probably know what I mean (in fact, even in the upscale neighborhoods this type of building is going on, around here). Anyhow, I've always had this creeping suspicion that my power is **** and that it could use some serious filtering...

I tested wall power vs. HTS1100 on the record player first. Impressions:

Whoa! Horns had a more organic, palpable tone to them, vocals exploded with soul and spirit and the depth shot out to the walls (where it was previously rather close around my head). The words that popped into my head were "Emotion" and "Life" Basically, the sound "exploded into technicolor" (as one tube rolling thread put it), something that, incidentally, did not happen as was supposed to when I put a Sylvania Gold Brand into my EMP. Just the record player improvements are well worth it.

The difference was like going from the headphone out of the DVD-A player (powered but flat and lifeless with no real texture or any hint of a living, 3D anything) to my EarMax Pro (incredible texture, huge gains in the third dimension, rich, full timbres, etc.) To be perfectly clear, it wasn't as striking a change, but it was very much in the same vein; the gain was along the lines of 70% of the "headphone jack-to-EarMax Pro" leap, and that says a lot for the price ($750 for the EarMax, $147 for the power conditioner).

Removing my head from the clouds, if we talk in absolute terms about the above paragraph, I feel that if you consider the new, filtered sound to be 80/100 on the scale of reasonably absolute pleasure, the unfiltered sound was 40/100, half the pleasure afforded with the HTS1100. That's a big deal.

There was also a mechanical hum reduction from the player itself (it still has some with the Monster unit, but a lot less...probably about 30% of what it was before...I think the cartridge doesn't like the metal platter or motor or something, because the pitch and volume shift slightly when you move the tonearm over the platter). Anyhow, there was much more life and the soundstage bloomed.

One thing that wasn't so good about the unit was this: I have a RatShack 9V battery eliminator which I'd prefer to use with my Lil' Rat phono preamp. I was seriously hoping that the monster would get rid of this hum, but, alas, it did not. It works fine with a 9V batter (I guess I'll have to go Plainview...anybody got a used charger and Plainview 9V for me?)

With the DVD-A player, there were noticeable differences, though there were not as pronounced. Where the record player's overall pleasure 'n' organic life factor was doubled, the DVD-A unit was probably enhanced by 24%. This was still a solid noticeable gain, though: the soundstage fairly bloomed (on Stax cans that is a miracle, from what I understand, since soundstage is not their strong point by any measure) and the whole soundstage and the instruments placed in it took on a much more relaxed character. It gave the sound, like with the turntable, more dimensionality; it spread and relaxed. Sibilants became somewhat less brittle and more soothing, though there were still there. The overall strain of the music dropped in a fairly big way.
However, some tunes received more benefit than others, frankly.

For $147 plus shipping (from discountpanamax.com), I feel this was a good deal. Not only that, but I also get decent surge protection for my rig, important in Florida.

To be 100% certain, my gut feeling is that my house's power is particularly crappy, with a dishwasher, a/c, televisions, etc. running almost constantly in one combo or another and in what I feel is a substandard electical framework. Naturally, then, your mileage may vary, but when the going is bad, this thing does it's job.

Hope this helps.

Best regards,
Matt
post #2 of 6
"Basically, the sound "exploded into technicolor" (as one tube rolling thread put it), something that did not happen as was supposed to when I put a Sylvania Gold Brand into my EMP. "

Hmmm.. now who on this board is prone to such purple prose? Let's see...

Matt,
Glad it worked out for you better than the Syl Gold Brand! I know you had some concerns. I like my 1100 very much and would recomend it to anyone who wants good power conditioning without spending the bucks for a power regenerator like the pricey PS Audio products. Rock on!

markl
post #3 of 6
Matt,

Did you get rid of your W100 and EMP combo for a measly Stax setup (j/k)? My goodness, and I thought that you were an AT woody lover to the core! Blah! Oh well, how do they compare anyway, and why did you sell? And that power conditioner upgrade with the Stax really was better that the EMP and W100?!?
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

Well...

...I kinda still am a woody lover to the core.

I had to sell my EMP + W100's because of temporary financial ruin. Luckily, I came out of it fine and with the money I had left over and some money received since then, I was barely able to scrape together enough for the "EIFL Classic Deal." Thanks goes to Mr. Wakabayashi, who is a kind, giving soul.

To address the first sentence, though, as with any radical rig revisions, the Audio Gods Giveth and the Audio Gods Taketh Away, as was so wisely put by...who was that? I forget...

Anyhow, the Staxs' bring you a new level of refinement in the treble and high mids, presenting the true tone color and extremely complex timbre of, for instance, violins and trumpets, in an uncannily good fashion. I play trumpet at and I was startled anew at some favorite recordings of mine that feature trumpet, violin, viola, violon-cello, etc. I've never heard a can do so well in the highs and high mids. However, as noted in the "Quick Impressions" of (shivohum, was it?), they lack body and that's not good.

I am getting over that as I am getting better gear; these have so far proven themselves to be very HD600-like, in that they require a good rig behind them to really shine. I mean, it pisses me off that the rig I loved with the EMP and W100's is not all that great with the Stax's, but I have a feeling in my heart that this is going to make me diversify in good ways. Plus, the electrostatic principle is so unfatiguing. The EMP + W100, I believe, candy-coated the sound just ever-so-slightly to take away the digital glare in my system and they did a damned good job of it.

Even though the sound is far less euphonic right now with the equipment I've got (haven't recieved the DI/O, yet), I do feel in my heart that the potential is there to soundly thrash other cans and I intend upon going down that road. There is an awful digital hash problem and a metallic glaze over the top end which is frankly unpleasant, but not as bad as Grado's, in my experience. If I had to choose between Grado bright and Stax bright, I'd take Stax in a second.

The minute I started listening to the Stax's, there were favorable (vocal smoothness, no female vocal brittleness like I was experiencing with the W100's...this was a subtle W100 problem, though, only affecting certain singers/recordings) and unfavorable comparisons to the W100's. The W100's have body in spades, for one. I've heard Stax's compared favorably over Etys, which I can agree to in some respects, but Etys have more body (as it stands right now).

The Monster HTS1100 has increased analog body by a good bit, so that's a good development (by the way, the Stax's are awesome with vinyl...maybe it is just that they are so revealing of your source that they give you a severe "warts and all" presentation...I'm still finding out, I guess).

One other problem I've found is that these things, surprisingly enough, are not as transparent as you might think. On some recordings I'd even go so far as to call them out-and-out veiled. I thought that with the superior fidelity to the waveform (in principle/on paper), the Stax would be clear as country air, but alas, they're not! At least not right out of the box...they started out pretty bad and though I haven't got 500 hours of burn-in on them yet, they are getting better, but they are not W100's (yet, if ever)! So, feel good that you have some darn transparent headphones.

(Speaking of transparency, it could just be that the SRM-313 amp you with the package sucks...it certainly seems like nothing that stunning. I mean, when I took the EMP out of it's package for a first listen, it was a revelation. Maybe I'll end up with a Signature system...maybe).

Since getting them, the fabled, feared "Giant Sucking Sound" has already started and dollars are flying out of my wallet at an alarming pace. I bought the Monster Powerbar and it has brought a relatively stunning new level of performance to the analog end of things (I am convinced that this is because the mid-fi table must be so susceptible to power crud that it was like having to wait to take a crap: you go from hellacious agony to "normal," but "normal" feels like heaven) and has brushed the digital end up a fair amount.

I have also splashed out on an Art DI/O, which I have just recently learned I do not need to mod the output of, because the Stax amp sends the RCA ins directly to the volume pot. Yipee! I just saved some flash. At least I got the Stancor...

Markl: thanks for the help. I appreciate it and my ears appreciate it and I'm sure my wallet will eventually catch up.

Best regards,
Matt
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Double post

Whoops...double post.
post #6 of 6
I just ordered mine after reading all the positive feedback here on Head-fi. I hope my results are as good!
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