A few questions regarding power conditioners.

J

JDF

Audiophyte
Hi, everybody. I just have a few questions regarding power conditioners. I have always used surge protection for my AV equipment. I recently decided to switch to a power conditioner based on online research and reviews. I have heard so much conflicting information regarding power conditioners and hope that someone with the appropriate knowledge can give me an honest answer. I purchased a basic Furman M-8x2 power conditioner which apart from surge protection also touts AC line filtering which is supposed to remove noise from the incoming AC outlet to provide the cleanest performance from the AV equipment connected to it. It also performs voltage regulation and has it's own circuit breaker which will trip the unit and turn off your AV equipment should a significant over or under voltage come through the power outlet for whatever reason (this seems like a great feature). There are many reviews online, including Amazon, of people who swear by their performance and that they have noticed a significant difference in sound and video quality from their AV equipment since connecting their equipment to these conditioners. The reviews were even verified with my specific product receiving an A rating from fake spot. I have a very sensitive eye and ear and I personally have noticed zero sonic or visual differences with my audio equipment and projector since connecting them to the power conditioner. Maybe my home is getting "clean" power already. I have also heard that power conditioners are useless as AV equipment already has AC filtering build into their power supplies. I have also heard that if anything, power conditioners can reduce performance as they will increase the impedance of your system by increasing the resistance to the AC path by all of the "conditioning" and routing of the AC path within the conditioner itself thus providing less actual current to your system. I've heard that this can actually damage your AV equipment by requiring more voltage to be applied to your amps in order to receive the same amount of current than you would receive had you plugged your equipment directly into the wall (or simply a surge protector). So here are my questions:

Are power conditioners necessary? Does AV equipment already have line filtering build into their power supplies?

Do power conditioners really increase the impedance of your system?

Are their really sonic differences which some can perceive (I haven't)? Do power conditioners improve sound quality? Do they reduce it? I have heard both.

Thank you so much to those who respond. I just want the best performance from my AV equipment and certainly do not want to add something to my system that is of no use if it is performing a task already being performed by the power supply of my AV equipment. Again, I have noticed zero sonic and visual differences in my system since adding the power conditioner and if the power conditioner is actually increasing the impedance of my system then I will wish to switch back to simply using a surge protector. Thank you.
 
S

Speedskater

Audioholic Chief
as I sometimes write:
Power Conditioner

In that 'power conditioner' is an undefined term. It could mean almost any combination of the following.

a) Noise filter - a low-pass EMI/RFI filter.
b) Surge protector - although it's better to have surge protection at the home's service entrance.
c) UPS - note that many UPS's are not really UPS's!
d) Line voltage adjuster.
e) Balanced power transformer.
f) Isolated power transformer.
g) DC blockers.
h) Regenerators (PSAudio)
i) Power Factor Correction
j) I forget? But I think that there are more.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I would guesstimate that 90 % of us don't need a power conditioner.
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Ninja
As Speedy said... unless you are in a building with some wonky electricity, you don't need a power conditioner.
 
MR.MAGOO

MR.MAGOO

Audioholic General
IF you can install a device between the main power feed from the utility to the home, that may be all that's needed. Apartment dwellers do not have that option, it's either a good surge protector, or plug everything into the wall and hope for lightning never to strike!
 
TheWarrior

TheWarrior

Audioholic Ninja
I've been using APC H15's for 10 years. My main reason behind using them is that the active relay balances the incoming electrical load so that your electronic's power supplies never suffer under/over current which can reduce their lifetime.

In other words, they have been my insurance policy, and as an example, have kept my Emotiva UPA-1's running fault free in that time. (and they have ALOT of hours of usage)

I currently use two H15's on two separate circuits. The original H15 purchased in 2010 lost its relay (which is irreplaceable) a year ago - APC declares their life expectancy to be 7-10 years. There is endless construction in my area and noticeable power fluctuations, so I swear by using them to protect my equipment.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
The point of any unit like this is not to improve sound quality, but protect your equipment and reduce the chance of failure.

We go over this again and again. So job one is whole house surge protection at the panel. This protects other equipment in the house. Pretty much anything in the kitchen or laundry room that plugs in has chips with everything.

Now usually the mains is very stable and clean. It has to be by law. Sometimes however things go wrong. Sometimes this is weather related and sometimes power company equipment can develop faults. So what is needed is units that can shave and boost voltage when it is out of spec and let you know when it is, especially of it occurs over a long period. This has happened to me. My equipment alerted me to what would have been a community disaster.

Now it is optimal if the unit contains a battery and inverter and can go to battery quickly if anything serious happens like a voltage spike.

So it is all protection, protection and protection and absolutely nothing to do with sound quality. Any claims about the latter are totally bogus.
 
S

Speedskater

Audioholic Chief
If you can access the apartment circuit breaker panel, you might be able to sneak in a surge protection circuit breaker. Then you would have whole apartment surge protection.
 
J

JDF

Audiophyte
I appreciate all of the responses. It confirms my presumptions. I will probably sell this power conditioner and go back to strictly surge protection. The power conditioner is bulky and unsightly anyhow. My power company offers whole house protection for I believe 10 dollars per month. Or I will just use my surge protector power strip as I want all of my equipment plugged into the same outlet. I’m not too keen on paying extra every month. I’ve lived in Florida my entire life and I’ve never had any permanent damage to any appliance. We are the lightning capitol of the world. I think I will save the monthly fee for surge protection at the panel and just plug in my surge protector power strip which I already own. Thanks again.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
I appreciate all of the responses. It confirms my presumptions. I will probably sell this power conditioner and go back to strictly surge protection. The power conditioner is bulky and unsightly anyhow. My power company offers whole house protection for I believe 10 dollars per month. Or I will just use my surge protector power strip as I want all of my equipment plugged into the same outlet. I’m not too keen on paying extra every month. I’ve lived in Florida my entire life and I’ve never had any permanent damage to any appliance. We are the lightning capitol of the world. I think I will save the monthly fee for surge protection at the panel and just plug in my surge protector power strip which I already own. Thanks again.
That's a mistake. Those plug in surge protectors give very little protection. Equipment gets increasingly frail and so do all the rest of your appliances, with added complexity. We get reports not infrequently of people loosing all their equipment from lightening strikes. If you are in a rural area which I was until last May, then the UPS devices used to activate quite frequently to protect my gear. Not nearly as often now I am in a major metro, it still does happen.

Whole house protection is not that expensive. Get a quote from your electrician. I suspect actually a lot of equipment failures are due to lightening in the area. I have the strong feeling those little hits are additive. I have whole house protection and UPS units protecting all vulnerable equipment. I regard it as money well spent and actually cheap insurance. I'm pretty sure I would have had some major failures by now without it. I consider it part of the basics. A friend who lives nearby had his refrigerator and dishwasher blown out by lightening and the boards were very expensive. I had protected his audio with a UPS and that was undamaged. Whole house surge protection I'm pretty sure would have saved his appliances.

I admit I have a big investment in equipment. So I also had a whole house generator at our last residence and I have one here. So in severe electrical storms when the lights start to flash I go off grid. It is also a huge pain to be without power and a generator is a very nice thing to have. Prices now for a good 30 HP 20 KW unit are now very reasonable.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
So it is all protection, protection and protection and absolutely nothing to do with sound quality. Any claims about the latter are totally bogus.
In a thread about power cords, one of the people posted about a recording engineer at a studio who swapped several cords and chose the best-sounding one. I explained that it's not only unlikely, it's impossible since the power to the circuits must pass through the power supply filtering before it's rectified to DC and that, as long as they knew the cables were being swapped, there was some level of bias. He then explained that he knows the guy and that bias was impossible.

I find it incredible that people who may be intelligent believe this crap. Another guy posted that putting wooden bodies on phono cartridges makes them sound better and the added mass doesn't matter.

Then, there's this-


It even comes with banana plugs with the old-style Bakelite spacer/insulator. Nice that they allow the buyer to choose their own power cord.......
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
I appreciate all of the responses. It confirms my presumptions. I will probably sell this power conditioner and go back to strictly surge protection. The power conditioner is bulky and unsightly anyhow. My power company offers whole house protection for I believe 10 dollars per month. Or I will just use my surge protector power strip as I want all of my equipment plugged into the same outlet. I’m not too keen on paying extra every month. I’ve lived in Florida my entire life and I’ve never had any permanent damage to any appliance. We are the lightning capitol of the world. I think I will save the monthly fee for surge protection at the panel and just plug in my surge protector power strip which I already own. Thanks again.
Best practice is to have protection AT the service entrance to the building, then use local protection at any equipment locations, to ward off surges and spikes from motors and switches/relays inside. I suspect the power company's protection consists of a meter with some way of shunting surges and spikes but in reality, all bets are off when it comes to lightning because of the magnitude. The fact that you haven't lost any equipment means you have been lucky and not in the main danger zone and, according to several manufacturers of consumer electronics, Florida is definitely one of the lightning capitols.
 
S

Speedskater

Audioholic Chief
If you can access the apartment circuit breaker panel, you might be able to sneak in a surge protection circuit breaker. Then you would have whole apartment surge protection.
Note that replacing a circuit breaker is a DANGEROUS task, it should only be done by someone with the knowledge, skill and safety equipment.
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
He then explained that he knows the guy and that bias was impossible.
OH! The IRONY!

By stating "bias was impossible", you just introduced more bias!

Humans are biased, that is the hard scientific fact that has been validated with empirical data time and again.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
OH! The IRONY!

By stating "bias was impossible", you just introduced more bias!

Humans are biased, that is the hard scientific fact that has been validated with empirical data time and again.
I replied that the human mind isn't controllable in all cases and that if someone knew a cord may be swapped at some point, bias is inevitable.

It's like Steven Wright when he said "I used to think my brain was my smartest organ, but then I realized what was telling me that".
 
G

Gr82bKing

Audiophyte
In a thread about power cords, one of the people posted about a recording engineer at a studio who swapped several cords and chose the best-sounding one. I explained that it's not only unlikely, it's impossible since the power to the circuits must pass through the power supply filtering before it's rectified to DC and that, as long as they knew the cables were being swapped, there was some level of bias. He then explained that he knows the guy and that bias was impossible.

I find it incredible that people who may be intelligent believe this crap. Another guy posted that putting wooden bodies on phono cartridges makes them sound better and the added mass doesn't matter.

Then, there's this-


It even comes with banana plugs with the old-style Bakelite spacer/insulator. Nice that they allow the buyer to choose their own power cord.......
I too was skeptical that the replacement of the original power cable for a TEAC NT-505 (DAC/preamp) would impact the sound quality of my stereo. After all, the owner’s manual explicitly said not to change it or risk fire or something. With the aftermarket power cable in place, the sound quality improvement was remarkable and, so far, no burning or fire. The noise floor dropped dramatically and I found myself listening at higher volumes than previously. At times, the speakers, Revel F228Be’s, seem to disappear which I had not experienced before but had heard others describe.

I probably shouldn’t have been skeptical as my wallet had just suffered through two other replacements: Blue Jeans Cable Canare L-4E6S XLR cables and a highly Amazon rated $15 USB cable to other cables. I fear additional catastrophes involving the original power cable for my Parasound Halo A21+ and my Blue Jeans Cable Belden 5T00UP speaker cables will be next. :)
 
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G

Gr82bKing

Audiophyte
I had purchased a Panamax M5300-PM power conditioner for my system which is primarily for two channel audio. After moving the power cable for my Parasound Halo A21+ from one of the Panamax’s high current outlets to the wall outlet, the sound was more open and dynamic during crescendos. My speculation is that the Panamax wasn’t able to deliver the requested power to the amplifier at these times. I ended up returning the Panamax. It may be fine for other applications.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
I too was skeptical that the replacement of the original power cable for a TEAC NT-505 (DAC/preamp) would impact the sound quality of my stereo. After all, the owner’s manual explicitly said not to change it or risk fire or something. With the aftermarket power cable in place, the sound quality improvement was remarkable and, so far, no burning or fire. The noise floor dropped dramatically and I found myself listening at higher volumes than previously. At times, the speakers, Revel F228Be’s, seem to disappear which I had not experienced before but had heard others describe.

I probably shouldn’t have been skeptical as my wallet had just suffered through two other replacements: Blue Jeans Cable Canare L-4E6S XLR cables and a highly Amazon rated $15 USB cable to other cables. I fear additional catastrophes involving the original power cable for my Parasound Halo A21+ and my Blue Jeans Cable Belden 5T00UP speaker cables will be next. :)
You decided that the power cord should be replaced, knew it was happening, knew it had happened and when you listened, had some expectation of an improvement. That's called 'confirmation bias'. There's no reason the noise floor should drop by changing it- the power supply converts the AC to DC and the power supply voltage isn't in the signal path. The chance of making a verifiable improvement is nil.
 
G

Gr82bKing

Audiophyte
I hear a significant improvement and you aren’t here! I originally believed in this type of reasoning and wasted money on BJC products which are basically one level over the wiring you get at Home Depot and don’t belong in a high fi system.

Members of this forum who believe in highfigh’s response either haven’t tried these type of replacements or have components that don’t justify them. I suggest you read other forums such as audioaficionado. There are many members that value these changes with their wallets!
 
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CajunLB

CajunLB

Full Audioholic
I hear a significant improvement and you aren’t here! I actually believed in this reasoning and wasted money on BJC products which don’t belong in a high fi system.

Members of this forum who believe in highfigh’s response either haven’t tried these type of replacements or have components that don’t justify them. I suggest you read other forums such as audioaficionado. There are many members that value these changes with their wallets!
I’m sure the chord swap helped your midrange to become more Chocolately.
 

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