Does a good sounding surge protector exist?

My and my friends are searching for an elusive product, a surge protector that doesn't limit the dynamics of the music. Between us, we've tried quite a few, Chang, PS Audio (Quintet, UPC, PPP), Equitech, SurgeX, Richard Gray, APS Purepower etc. However, if its a good surge protector without MOVs, eg, SurgeX it severly limits the sound - dynamics and soundstage are compressed, highs cut off...

If it doesn't limit the dynamics significantly, its surge protection is questionable at best eg., Richard Gray, Chang, PSA Quintet. Is there something out there that will protect our gear without making it sound like mid-fi crap? I open the floor...
No there is not. "Surge-protection" just is a synonym for "mid-fi crap". That's why I run everything off of nine volt batteries. I have to change the batteries so often that I don't get to listen much, but the snippits I hear sound pretty much like hi fi crap, which is alot better
I have exactly the same question for my amps. I am glad you posed it and look forward to the responses.
Have you tried the Worldpower PowerWing by Alan Kafton, the creator of the Cable Cooker, Check one out, he has audition units to try, I believe that you'll be glad that you did.


Interesting response,

I have found just the opposite with my customers and Richard Gray.

First of all it depends on the Gray, we sell mostly the largest 1200's which usually make a terrific improvement.

But you might not be aware that you can plug a Richard Gray next to your amplifier on the same circuit and reap the same results, you don't get the MOV, for the amps, but the Gray in of itself will absorb big shocks to the system and still offer a degree of protection.

I never use the small units with big amplifiers, so if you tried a 400 or a 600 you may not have really heard the Grays.
How did the Equitech gear stack up in your comparisons?
I use a whole house surge protector that mounts on or adjacent to the breaker panel. If it limits the sound, I don't know it and I have not had any surge issues since it was installed. They're available through electrical supply houses or the big home building-supply stores.
Did you try a power regenerator to keep the voltage constant. The power from the house circuit is passed through transformers which buffer your equipment from surges. But I just take the risk from my dedicated circuits.
Sounds like you didn't invest in dedicated lines first.

I've owned/own PS Audio passive products (Director, ultimate outlet) and I have never had limited dynamics using these products with extreme amp power draw. I have used regenerators and balanced power units (see my systems) and still as long as I have been plugged into dedicated outlets have never had a problem. PS.... if you don't have a good ground everything else is pointless..

Sounds like you have another problem with your system.. isolation, acoustics, or you just need better amplification (remember double power only give you 3dB)
Cytocycle -- what does a dedicated line/ amplification/ isolation, etc, have to do with surge protection?
Try the Isotel. I can't imagine how it would effect the sound since it does not even do anything unless the votlage excedds a certain level.
Yes, we have dedicated lines. Acutally I find with a dedicated line and the lower noise floor, the restricted dynamics are even more apparent.

My friend emailed Richard Gray and they admitted that they have minimal, if any surge protection in their devices. I believe the Hydra is the same.
I own a APC S20 with battery back up. I don't notice any limiting of dynamics. I actually love the unit. I think it smokes the Hydra 8 that did indeed limit dynamics in my system.
From RGPC's website: "it is necessary to plug in anything that may need surge suppression as you only receive surge protection when you are plugged into the RGPC unit."

ie it is impossible to have any surge protection when the RGPC is wired in parallel with the circuit. When I had the 1200 connected in parallel with the amplifier, there were sonic improvements. However, since Mikeyc38's No. 1 concern here is surge protection, a parallel connection will not solve his problem.

Connected in series, it restricted dynamics to my ears as with anything else I have tried, except may before the ChangLightspeed. Nothing was as "restrictive" as the SurgeX though (SX2120), it smuthered the sound stage and chopped off the highs. the Hydra is not the same. They have excellent surge protection. Not only that when I ran my monoblocks into the wall and then into the Hydra, I found that the amps had greater dynamics running into the Hydra.

Why don't you email Albert Porter? I believe he has dedicated lines without surge protection. He probably could give you some tips on protection without a protector.
I own a APC S20 with battery back up. I don't notice any limiting of dynamics. I actually love the unit. I think it smokes the Hydra 8 that did indeed limit dynamics in my system.

I own the APC H15. No problems. I find it usually delivers around an average of 3 amps... or about 30% of available (rated) continuous power. ( I think it wise to go oversized for a power conditioner/stabilizer and one that APC claims to have thoroughly tested to be capable of delivering high peak current with demanding power amps). The APC H15 has dedicated sockets for a power amp and sub. Although I use both plugs for main speakers only and just plug my sub directly into a wall outlet (if anything the sub is likely the biggest transient power hog and least sensitive to HF to me it seems logical that it goes straight into a wall outlet and no power bar of course).

I suspect that systematic problems of dynamics with several Power conditioners probably says more about the power amp power supply (poor design) than all these "bad" Power Conditioners (how can all conditoners be BAD - unless you are consistently selecting something way to small for the task at hand). Nevertheless Bryston, a respected power amp maker, says NO to any power conditioners. So I think it best to follow the manufacturers recommendations, which I do for the Bryston driving my surrounds.

Does the APC H15 make an audible difference - no effect on the sound of the powered speakers, at least as far as I can tell (switching between direct wall outlet and APC H15). But then again I am a skeptic...and a difference must be possible to detect using A/B blind comparisons for me to accept it.

I do find the APC H15 helps the DSP pre-amp slightly...perhaps some low power digital devices (with poorly designed power supplies) are most susceptible to noise from dirty power or this is just a freak thing. I have a very cheap PC plugged into the same set of wall outlets which might be the cause. All the same, I was not impressed that my Anthem AVM 20 sounded slightly different and regard this as a failing of the Anthem AVM 20 power supply design, obviously not as robust as it could be. (For perspective, my CD player and DVD players seem totally unaffected by where they are plugged in).

To me the APC H15 is a mundane addition that probably yields much more in terms of safety than anything else...surge protection and more. Who can say if it will work with other power amps and not limit dynamics....APC claims they have tested the APC H15 with power amps...and they do have UL certifications on their products and are used by large corporations to power computer databases globally (i.e. no fly by night small corporation making production runs of only a few hundred units...i.e. deep pockets and deep high probability of serious engineering) Nevertheless, I can't promise it will work for you but my experience suggests it might.

Frankly I don't like power bars all over the place (on carpets, inside cabinets, or squeezed behind cabinets).....especially the plastic kind! I worry that one day something may fail, a breaker might not trip, and a faulty power bar melts and causes a fire. So I really like the fact that the APC H15 power conditioner/stabilizer sits in a metal cage, which is intrinsically MUCH safer than a power bar. To me this is ACTUALLY the most important feature. (Power bars stuffed behind components in cabinets being, IMHO, a possible safety hazard)
Gregm: "Cytocycle -- what does a dedicated line/ amplification/ isolation, etc, have to do with surge protection?"

They are complaining/investigating about a lack of dynamics using even passive surge protection... so I'm saying if even passive outlets are limiting dynamics, then they need to look at other variables.. and if you haven't run at least 2 dedicated 20amp circuits to your audio system I think you are missing out on the cheapest biggest upgrade you can do for an audio system.

Oh yeah the Richard Grey stuff sounds boring ...sorry very disappointing compared to other balanced conditioners (BPT or Platinum Power)
Running Springs Audio, Any of them.
Sound Applications devices work for me
Another APC H15 user.

I read this somewhere... not sure if it accurate as I am not familiar with Shunyata.

Hydra Power conditioners do NOT come with power cords. This is because Shunyata believes that power cords are a component not a throw-away.

Is it possible that the Hydra 8 dynamics might have been limited by the power cord you used?

I honestly can't fathom how a power cord (just wires with no active components) could limit dynamics unless it was a lot smaller gauge than the household wiring and seriously too small in a gauge for the required current/power demands of the amp (a "bottle neck" so to speak).

If for a moment, I take off the audiophile hat (it sounds better, as many people swear by Shunyata) and, instead, I put on an Engineering hat; logically, if a power amp dynamics are sensitive enough to respond to the 6 foot power cord copper wire then it really speaks volumes about the amplifier's lack of capacitive energy storage in its power supply (used for transients) rather than saying anything at all about a piece of wire between the amp and the wall outlet.

Sorry for the brief interlude in engineering madness...and back to regular programing.
No you misread what I said about the Hydra, I didn't say it restricted the dynamics, but its surge protection capability is minimal if any at all. You may get great sound but no protection. My friend was using a Mac 2102 amp so I don't think there's any problem with its power supply or its design.
No you misread what I said about the Hydra

Actually, I was replying to the comment by John Barlow on this thread. He stated that he found the Hyrda 8 restricted dynamics in his particular system.

I do understand you are looking for surge protection too (although a huge transformer power supply in a huge power amplifier is pretty good protection to start with!).
The APC H15/S15 looks interesting. I am going to borrow a unit from my friend to try it out. Thanks for the heads up Johnjbarlow.
My friend was using a Mac 2102 amp so I don't think there's any problem with its power supply or its design.

This is an all tube design resurrected from the 60's.

Sam Tellig in a 2001 Stereophile review says,

I hinted to Larry Fish that I'd heard a subjectively more powerful sound with the MC2000. The MC2102 has a smaller power supply, and its output tubes are run at lower voltages. The MC2000's plate-supply voltage was 500V, the MC2102's is 450V. Hence, 100Wpc instead of 135Wpc.


If I'd been immediately impressed by the MC2000—the detail, the definition, the vividness of the sound, the dynamics—I was less impressed—less blown away, at first—by the MC2102. I heard a less powerful, less dramatic amplifier, even though there's only a slight drop in power from the MC2000—from 135Wpc to 100Wpc. Bass was tighter with the MC2000, if memory serves me right. There seemed to be more dynamic headroom. None of this was surprising, considering the MC2000's beefier power supply and two power-supply transformers. The bigger amp simply produced a bigger sound: a deeper, wider soundstage and better dynamics. But I began to warm to the gentler, less immediately impressive, possibly less insistent sound of the MC2102.

I suggest that you may be running into amplifier power supply issues...especially if you are pushing the amplifier anywhere close to clipping. (In this case, a few volts drop across a power conditioner might make an audible difference in "dynamics" that you and your friend heard. When stuff gets close to clipping you get odd effects, as even slight issues or differences may become magnified in the distorted presentation)
Shadorne, my apologies! Yes, I'm less worried about the power amp, its the pre and digital sources that I'm more concerned with.
Look at the Isoclean isolation transformers.
It wasn't until I compared the Hydra to other conditioners, that I determined the dynamics deficiency in my particular setup. The Hydra actually did some nice things also. Warmer and very musical presentation for instance.

I bought the APC unit to address issues that I have with the power company. So far, I am very satisfied. I might consider piggy backing another conditioner just for kicks and giggles.

When I had the Hydra 8, my power cord compliment was: 2 Kubala Sosna Emotion cords to my power amp. To my preamp I applied the Isoclean Superfocus. I first employed a Shunyata Anaconda vx from the Hydra. Then I tried another Kubala Sosna Emotion cord. Cords were not the issue. The Hydra just wasn't the right match for my system.
John, yes I think that is a better way of putting it. Alot of this equipment we buy is system dependent.

As for lack of surge protection on the Shunyata where is this coming from. Here are the specs on the Hydra 8:

Hydra Model-8
• 8 Shunyata Venom Silver outlets
• “Trident Defense System”
• 2400 watts @ 20 amps continuous
• Surge protection (40,000A)
• Four individual, isolated circuits
• 16 element Venom Noise Filter
• Massive CDA-101 copper buss bars
• FeSi-1000 noise-reduction compound
• Detachable 20A inlet
• Aluminum chassis
40,000A protection is enough for me but hey what do I know.
I am using the APC to bridge the gap with power fluctuations. Mainly brownouts that occur during peak usage, generally in the mid to late afternoon during hot summer months. It is working well thus far, as it is very hot and humid in Metro Detroit now.