Let me preface this by saying I'm what most would call an audiophile, but not so much a videophile - but only because I'm waiting for the home theater format wars to end and technology in general to evolve sufficiently to drive prices down to where I'm comfortable that I'm getting something that I'll be happy with for years.
At any rate, I have had poor experience with Monster Cable. I first tried their audio and video cables 10 years ago. I didn't see any difference between their video cables and the stock cables. The audio cables were noticeably different than zip cord - and the difference was not a positive one. The top end became rolled off, and the bass became louder, but very muddy.
After a while, I found the Acoustic Research cables a previous poster noted, and they were a very nice upgrade. For audio cables, I highly recommend KimberKable 4VS (the cheapest cable they make); even in a high-end home theater I wouldn't use anything else (although cables go in to the tens of thousands of dollars.) The only exception to using Kimber 4VS IMHO would be if you had a dedicated home theater room (complete with room treatments), very high-end speakers (which, with one exception, I've not seen below 5k for 5 speakers [sub not included]) and watch mostly concerts. If you meet all of those criteria, I'd say buying more expensive audio cables would be worth while. My recommendation then would be a small, relatively unknown brand called "Reality Cables" by Gregg Straley. You'll find them on the 'net - realitycables.com I think. These are what I use in my audio system, and though I've experimented with many cables costing as much as $1k for a 3-foot run, I've not found any cables that beat these.
Power conditioner: very much needed for a couple of reasons. First, a good power conditioner will clean the transmission line, eliminating various things that will affect your sound, and maybe your picture, too. More important, however, is the ability to keep constant, clean current running to your components. Sure, your components are built with a tolerance for fluctuating input voltage, but ideally you want constant voltage going to your components. For this, you'll want a power regenerator. I've tried several of these - Monster, Belkin, and the new APC. The new APC models are clearly superior to the other two IME. For home theater, I would recommend the APC J15. I use the higher-end APC S10 for my audio components, and when I finally buy home theater components I'll likely use the J15, unless I sink $15-$20k into my home theater (as I have with my stereo;) in that case I'll probably bite the bullet and buy an S15 or even an S20. The power regenerators bring you everything: stable current, clean power, and spike protection all in one box. They are worth their weight in gold, IMHO.
Good luck, and please let us know your final solutions for your home theater!
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