Are power conditioners good or bad?

C

cameron paterson

Senior Audioholic
Here is a review of a Panamax power conditioner and I was wondering if the things he said were true...

HERE IS THE REVIEW: DO NOT plug your receivers subwoofers or power amplifiers into them. These type of conditioners restrict or limit current and amps need unrestricted current to work they're best. The consequence of this is it can severely affect the dynamics imaging and soundstage of your home theater. I learned this the hard way. From the moment I plugged it in I heard a huge difference in sound. After I checked in on several av forums I learned from others about this problem. If you have a dedicated 20 amp circuit to your home theater plug all your other gear into these but plug your amps subwoofers and av receivers straight into the wall.

This was written by me: Would a Monster surge protector do the same thing to an AVR or Crown power amp? Would it keep them from getting enough juice? My 2500 watt Crown amp has its own circuit. But my 1000 watt Crown amp and AVR and all my components are plugged into the Monster surge protector. Should I try a power conditioner or no?
 
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D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Samurai
Here is a review of a Panamax power conditioner and I was wondering if the things he said were true...

HERE IS THE REVIEW: DO NOT plug your receivers subwoofers or power amplifiers into them. These type of conditioners restrict or limit current and amps need unrestricted current to work they're best. The consequence of this is it can severely affect the dynamics imaging and soundstage of your home theater. I learned this the hard way. From the moment I plugged it in I heard a huge difference in sound. After I checked in on several av forums I learned from others about this problem. If you have a dedicated 20 amp circuit to your home theater plug all your other gear into these but plug your amps subwoofers and av receivers straight into the wall.

This was written by me: Would a Monster surge protector do the same thing to an AVR or Crown power amp? Would it keep them from getting enough juice? My 2500 watt Crown amp has its own circuit. But my 1000 watt Crown amp and AVR and all my components are plugged into the Monster surge protector. Should I try a power conditioner or no?
Honestly this is a topic that has a lot of debate

Some swear by not using them some say they've used them and never had an issue or noticed a sound difference

I hate them I plug my amps and my subs directly into the wall all my other gear I'll plug into a surge protector slash power conditioner but not those

I believe I notice a difference but I couldn't put money in the bank that it isn't the placebo effect

But every system I've ever owned I've had issues with them A B ing back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and I've always preferred plugging them straight into the wall.

When I'm not using them I just unplug them from the wall best surge protection there is lol

But until myself and a few friends do a true double blind test I can't say for sure it's the conditioners it may just be my bias
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
Here is a review of a Panamax power conditioner and I was wondering if the things he said were true...

HERE IS THE REVIEW: DO NOT plug your receivers subwoofers or power amplifiers into them. These type of conditioners restrict or limit current and amps need unrestricted current to work they're best. The consequence of this is it can severely affect the dynamics imaging and soundstage of your home theater. I learned this the hard way. From the moment I plugged it in I heard a huge difference in sound. After I checked in on several av forums I learned from others about this problem. If you have a dedicated 20 amp circuit to your home theater plug all your other gear into these but plug your amps subwoofers and av receivers straight into the wall.

This was written by me: Would a Monster surge protector do the same thing to an AVR or Crown power amp? Would it keep them from getting enough juice? My 2500 watt Crown amp has its own circuit. But my 1000 watt Crown amp and AVR and all my components are plugged into the Monster surge protector. Should I try a power conditioner or no?
Anything that processes the signal (in this case, it's the AC power from the outlet) will limit something, whether voltage or current. In this case, it would be current. The comment about a 20A circuit doesn't take into account the fact that almost nobody has a 20A circuit for their AV system and its peripherals. It also ignores the fact that most people don't drive their systems hard enough that connecting their amplifier would be a problem. At moderate levels, I seriously doubt a power device's effect can be heard but at high SPL/power, it could cause a bit of compression of the power going to the amplifier, but I would bet that the differences are "noticed" because the listener knows it's being used and has been conditioned to notice them by whomever is trying to convince them of something, one way or another.

Power amps don't have the sensitive electronic devices in an AVR, BD player, streamer and other source equipment, so they don't need the same kind of protection. Subwoofers may or may not be the same because some use a DSP or other more sophisticated circuits but that can be handled internally through good design. With the processors used in AVRs, I would strongly recommend using protection. Microprocessors really hate voltage spikes and while one or two spikes may not do much damage, many spikes over a long time will.

I installed a system in a house about 13 years ago and I know they have had nearby lightning strikes because I have been there when they occurred- one time, I was at that house working with the equipment and when lightning struck, I heard a loud snapping sound in that room while the system was in operation- the original AVR still works as it did when new and the replacement (because it has more HDMI connections and updated processing) has never had a problem, nor have the APpleTV, ReQuest music server or anything else in the system.

Best practice- use whole house protection at the breaker panel and local protection at the rack (or anywhere this kind of equipment is used). The local protection handles surges and spikes from motors, switches and other devices that start and stop (refrigerators, light switches, pumps, etc).
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
But every system I've ever owned I've had issues with them A B ing back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and I've always preferred plugging them straight into the wall.
How can you possibly switch between using this and bypassing it quickly enough to conduct a valid test?
 
S

Speedskater

Audioholic Chief
As I often post:

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.


* * * * * * * * * * * * *
But:
  • a] most home audio/video systems don't need one
  • b] the best place for surge protection is at the main breaker panel
  • c] most modern US homes have 20 Amp outlet circuits. But it takes a big home theater system to need all 20 Amps
 
P

pewternhrata

Audioholic Chief
Take the xbox one for example, it already has protection built in, plug into a surge protector and it can become unstable.
I have a vizio tv, somedays it wouldnt turn on of off or would just freeze (only with hdmi input from xbox) didnt know someone plugged it into the surge protector but when I switched it back straight to the wall the issue stopped.
I had 2 monster conditioners, stopped using them for the same reason, stuff acted strange, even remotes wouldnt work all the time.
I do know that they wear out over time (some have audible alarms to let you know) I would never buy one used, or really ever again. Simple surge strip for me and only for equipment that actually needs it.
 
JerryLove

JerryLove

Audioholic Samurai
Take the xbox one for example, it already has protection built in, plug into a surge protector and it can become unstable.
I have a vizio tv, somedays it wouldnt turn on of off or would just freeze (only with hdmi input from xbox) didnt know someone plugged it into the surge protector but when I switched it back straight to the wall the issue stopped.
Surge suppressors don't work that way. They have MOVs which act as an insulator below a certain voltage and become a conductor above it. When you aren't in overload, they literally do nothing. When you are, they provide a shortened path to ground.

If plugging something into a surge suppressor causes issues, it's because there's a malfunction in the way somewhere. Perhaps a bad connector in the PDU, perhaps a bad cable. A properly operating surge supressor does not alter current in normal operation.

It would be like telling me you put an over-pressure valve on your garden hose and the grass changed colors. Either the two things are unrelated, or something is actually malfunctioning (unless operation of your hose requires more pressure than the PRV is set to open at).
 
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JerryLove

JerryLove

Audioholic Samurai
HERE IS THE REVIEW: DO NOT plug your receivers subwoofers or power amplifiers into them.
Don't buy them, they are a waste of money. But I see nothing that suggests harm from using one you have.

These type of conditioners restrict or limit current and amps need unrestricted current to work they're best. The consequence of this is it can severely affect the dynamics imaging and soundstage of your home theater.
This sounds like it will make your sound less chocolaty.

"Dynamic range" is a pretty easy thing to test with a mic. The fact that he's no measurements should help you understand that it's BS.

If you have a dedicated 20 amp circuit to your home theater plug all your other gear into these but plug your amps subwoofers and av receivers straight into the wall.
Again: a different would be simple to measure.

BTW: 20A @120V = 2400W. I somehow doubt you are pulling that.

But, again, if there's interference, it should be measurable.
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Ninja
I've got a monster one for my HT for the fact that it is a rack mount design with more plugs. That's it. It doesn't do anything more than a surge protector would.

I've also got an APC "power conditioner" that is a UPS for brown outs. I expect it to be a UPS only.

The only time a power conditioner would do anything for you is if you have HORRIBLY noisy electricity due to being in a very old apartment or something like that. Even the, the voltage regulation is what really helps with that sort of thing where dips aren't uncommon. Even then, it might not do much.
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Samurai
How can you possibly switch between using this and bypassing it quickly enough to conduct a valid test?
You can't which is why I said in the rest of the post to the op that I'm unable to say whether it is just expectation bias on my part or an actual measurable issue

I don't see a way I could test for it which is why I stated in my post it could be entirely in my head

I just like the old fashioned way of unplugging everything from the wall although I do want to go whole home soon I think you mentioned you did that

And I totally agree with you an avrs being on one I have my prepro on one I think your right in that I don't want to risk some of the electronics in those at all and that includes the rest of my equipment as well

It's just the subs and the amps I unplug from the wall but like I said that could just be old school bias from hearing your supposed to do that over the years
 
S

Speedskater

Audioholic Chief
While doing good ears only listening tests would be a challenge. It's easy to measure changes in the signal-to-noise ratio. With a sensitive RMS battery powered volt-meter. Measured at the audio line output or at the speaker output.
P.S. much smaller differences can be measured than any listener can hear.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
"From the moment I plugged it in I heard a huge difference in sound." That's some good bullshit right there, compounded by how he "learned".....
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
I think the better question would be are they really even necessary for most cases?
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
You can't which is why I said in the rest of the post to the op that I'm unable to say whether it is just expectation bias on my part or an actual measurable issue

I don't see a way I could test for it which is why I stated in my post it could be entirely in my head

I just like the old fashioned way of unplugging everything from the wall although I do want to go whole home soon I think you mentioned you did that

And I totally agree with you an avrs being on one I have my prepro on one I think your right in that I don't want to risk some of the electronics in those at all and that includes the rest of my equipment as well

It's just the subs and the amps I unplug from the wall but like I said that could just be old school bias from hearing your supposed to do that over the years
I don't think that using something like this with a power amp is a problem unless the amp is a power hog or it's being operated near the limits of the power protector's limits. I use a Panamax because it interrupts power at/below 90VAC and at/above 140VAC, which is a much more narrow window than some, which may not do anything at low voltage or interrupt until line voltage reaches well over 200VAC.

I have some old guitar amps that don't need such high voltage because the power transformers normally produce over 300VDC with normal line voltage, so 200VAC would mean component failure in any of them because they don't use voltage regulators that operate in a small range.
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Samurai
Y
I don't think that using something like this with a power amp is a problem unless the amp is a power hog or it's being operated near the limits of the power protector's limits. I use a Panamax because it interrupts power at/below 90VAC and at/above 140VAC, which is a much more narrow window than some, which may not do anything at low voltage or interrupt until line voltage reaches well over 200VAC.

I have some old guitar amps that don't need such high voltage because the power transformers normally produce over 300VDC with normal line voltage, so 200VAC would mean component failure in any of them because they don't use voltage regulators that operate in a small range.
Yeah I have a feeling if there was a way to double blind it Id probably fail epicly

I just remember when I got into this hobby and started researching a lot of people stating to only plug your gear into the wall I was pretty impressionable at the time which is where the bias comes from but if it makes my ears feel better then I can live with the delusion er I mean illusion :D

Although as some have mentioned the same performance can be gotten from products that cost less

One thing I do worry about up here in my area of San Antonio is lightning we get some heavy heavy storms so even when I go whole home surge protection I'll still be unplugging from the wall.

My audio equipment that's my babies! :D

I gotta be paranoid like that gotta protect my babies! ;)
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
Y

Yeah I have a feeling if there was a way to double blind it Id probably fail epicly

I just remember when I got into this hobby and started researching a lot of people stating to only plug your gear into the wall I was pretty impressionable at the time which is where the bias comes from but if it makes my ears feel better then I can live with the delusion er I mean illusion :D

Although as some have mentioned the same performance can be gotten from products that cost less

One thing I do worry about up here in my area of San Antonio is lightning we get some heavy heavy storms so even when I go whole home surge protection I'll still be unplugging from the wall.

My audio equipment that's my babies! :D

I gotta be paranoid like that gotta protect my babies! ;)
I guess the extreme view could be "The best way to make sure your audio equipment is safe from surges is to not even have it". ")

I agree that unplugging everything is going to do the most, but with the thunder storms here and the mature trees surrounding my house, I'm a bit surprised that A) I'm still alive, B) my house and power wires haven't been hit and C) my equipment has never been damaged. You know that "Count the seconds between a lightning strike and thunder" thing? I can't count the times there was really no appreciable time between them and I know some of the trees at the front of my yard have been hit, judging by the scars.
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Samurai
I guess the extreme view could be "The best way to make sure your audio equipment is safe from surges is to not even have it". ")

I agree that unplugging everything is going to do the most, but with the thunder storms here and the mature trees surrounding my house, I'm a bit surprised that A) I'm still alive, B) my house and power wires haven't been hit and C) my equipment has never been damaged. You know that "Count the seconds between a lightning strike and thunder" thing? I can't count the times there was really no appreciable time between them and I know some of the trees at the front of my yard have been hit, judging by the scars.
Yeah it's ironic u mentioned that it was sunny and beautiful yesterday and then ought of the blue about 1030 a huge shot of thunder and we had a storm blow in that came ought of nowhere Texas weather can do that

So far like you I've been lucky knock on wood though
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Samurai
I just need to get off my butt and get that while home put in just with the COVID situation and some family and friends hurting right now a little bit financially I've been helping out there

In hoping by the fall depending on how things go
 

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