|Monster HTS 3500 Reference Power Center|
|Home Theater AC Power AC Power|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Friday, 01 October 1999|
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I first used the HTS3500 on my reference two-channel system. This system consists of Martin Logan Scenario speakers, Sunfire subwoofer, Rotel CD transport, Theta TLC and DAC, and Anthem preamp and amplifier. I also used a Bow Technology Wazoo in place of the Anthem electronics. The HTS3500 easily had room for all of my components. I was not expecting a huge difference in results, as this system had its own 20-amp circuit. I was surprised.
I played a multitude of discs while the system was hooked up to the power conditioner. There were several differences caused by the power conditioner that were heard consistently. The noise floor was lowered noticeably. This provided several benefits. There was a lot more detail evident with the conditioner in use. Imaging was improved and the soundstage expanded with most recordings. In the lower frequencies, I noticed much more detail. When listening to Holly Cole’s "Train Song" off of her album It Happened One Night (Metro Blue), the amount of detail in the bass was much greater with the conditioner. The different notes were clearly evident and the decay was much smoother. Eric Clapton’s Unplugged (Reprise) album came alive with the HTS3500. I have always enjoyed this album, but with the conditioner in use, Clapton’s voice became much more palpable, as did the instruments. The imaging and soundstage also became much more stable and clear, leading to a much more convincing experience.
I also used the HTS3500 in my theater system. This system currently consists of a B&K Ref 20, Anthem MCA5 amplifier, M&K MX200 subwoofer, Vandersteen speakers, Denon tape and CD decks, Toshiba DVD, Pioneer laser disc and RF decoder, Sony VCR, Toshiba television, a cable box, outboard comb filter and IR relay system. As this system has more components than the HTS3500 has outlets, I needed to compromise. The devices that had their own transformers (wall warts) were not plugged into the HTS3500. The remainder were plugged into their appropriate outlets, using an extension cord to get the necessary additional outlets onto the digital filter. If you need to use an extension cord, use it only with low-current devices to avoid overloading any of the outlets.
In addition to the sound benefits noted above, I also discovered that the video filters really did improve the picture on my system. I had previously had a problem with grounding in my cable system that caused noticeable horizontal bars to rise through the screen while watching cable. Rewiring and ground loop isolators helped a bit, but not much. The HTS3500 did not eliminate these annoying bars from cursing my screen, but they did reduce their intensity by a large degree. In addition to providing this much-needed improvement with cable TV, the HTS3500 also improved the picture with other sources. While watching many, many DVDs and laser discs, I noticed that the picture was cleaner. There was less video noise and the colors seemed to be a touch more vibrant.
There is not much that is bad to say about this product. It held its own with my two-channel system when compared to other power conditioners. I had to step up to an Equi Tech power conditioner, which costs over three times as much as the HTS3500, to hear even slight improvements. With large home theater systems, the HTS3500 may fall short. With 10 outlets and a 15-amp capacity, the unit cannot handle large-scale, high-powered theaters. One simple solution to this problem would be to employ a second HTS3500. If two units are utilized, it is best to plug them into the same circuit and close to one another, which will minimize any grounding differences. Also, the HTS3500 lacks some of the versatility of more expensive units in regard to switched outlets. While this was not a problem in my system, it might prove an issue if more automation is desired.
The HTS3500 Reference Power Conditioner is an excellent bargain for a high-quality power conditioner and is highly recommended. The Monster Cable line of power conditioners is fairly new and growing. For simple audio-only systems, a smaller unit may suffice. For those with larger audio/video systems, the HTS3500 is a great piece and offers amazing bang for the buck value.
I strongly recommend a power conditioner. A good conditioner like the HTS3500 improves the performance of your whole system, as well as protecting it for a very reasonable price.