I would stick with direct wall plugs and remove power cords from wall when your not using the system.This way you have protection and you can sleep at night!
10 responses Add your response
I'd be interested to hear other's opinion on amps with the Hydra. I have my Pass Labs x600s plugged into a Hydra-8 with Elrod Statement cords all around. I found the dynamics and detail to be improved overall, so I kept them that way. The sound was maybe 1 db lower through the Hydra, but the soundstage was more accurate, detailed, and realistic. I can do some more comparisons in the future, but I'm wondering if the type of cord on the Hydra makes a difference. I've never had another 20 amp cord to try on the Hydra, so the Statement is all I know.
Big power amps have less delicate components in them, far more power supply capacitance, large transformers and other 'bulky' electronics that can tolerate and absorb power surges better then most other audiophile hardware. So - Yes - they are inherently less vulnerable.
That said, ANY unprotected, plugged-in AC electronic device could be taken out by a bad lightning hit or surge. So, you always take a bit of a chance by assuming that any built-in surge/lightning protection (which may be just a simple fuse or fusable link) will be able to handle the type of surges that you encounter in your area.
I guess the bottomline is - If you feel that the amps sound enough better without protection to justify exposing them to a bit of risk, then I say go for it. They are the least likely of your devices to be affected by surges.
As for disconnecting the amps when not in use, I highly recommend against that except when you know that a storm is heading your way or you will be away for an extended period, as the Pass X- and XA-series amps are known to need about 3 full days of powered-on settle-in time to sound their best. That was a revelation that other X-series owners told me when I had one, and was easily proven in my own system. My X-250 and X-3 amps sounded cold and gritty when I shut them off after short periods of use. But after about 3 days of use or powered-on idling, it sounded much more relaxed, liquid and smooth. This was a very reproduceable condition for me. Of course, you may have a different situation, so try it yourself.
Personally, I never turned my X-250 off or unplugged it again... no surges, no problems, better sound...
There is some missing but relevant context in your question that may explain your results, and help eliminate the issues you are describing.
Were you running the Pass amps on their own dedicated line- by themselves- before switching them to running through Hydras that were also providing current for other electronics such as your TT/ CD player? If so, then your results will never be positive because you are adding current load for additional electronics comparing to single electronics current load when running direct. The direct vs. conditioner comparison should only be made running the amps direct vs. running through the Hydra-- with no other electronics plugged into the Hydra that the amps are on. Adding other electronics onto the same line will always skew/degrade results--not because of the Hydras, but because of the total current load on the circuit at your panel and the line that runs from it.
Do you have the same gauge and quality of power cable running from the Hydra to your wall as you do on the amps? There is no point to having heavy-gauge high quality power cables on your amps if you are then summing that current through a lesser quality, or small gauge power cable running to the wall. Keep in mind also, that you are going from two separate power cables to the wall for each mono, to a single power cable to the wall(with Hydra). The power cable you choose to feed power distributors-conditioners should be at least the equal of power cables upstream.
The previous poster made a good alternate suggestion, however, the Hydras do not impede current, and engineers from Pass have tested and approved of Hydras feeding Pass amps, so the problem is likely the result of system or electrical context. I would be happy to make a few suggestions if you would like to e-mail.
BTW - I used an original Hydra & an Elrod Signature3 powercord to drive BOTH my Pass X-250/X-3 amps, which both had Shunyata PC's themselves. Most of my front-end equipment was on the Hydra as well.
I used it that way to keep the sonic advantages of the Hydra in the entire chain, and because I never personally noticed any reduction of dynamics, even during full HT impacts. But remember that this is MY particular system in MY room with MY power conditions and MY hearing, so YMMV.
In a more general view however, the ORIGINAL Hydra does not offer ANY surge suppression at all - just a fuse (which I even replaced with a Copper Slug). It is a fully-passive design, so it shouldn't get in the way of the dynamics. That is the biggest difference between Hydra and Hydra-8, as the latter HAS surge protection which, in my mind, COULD cause a dulling of dynamics when the Hydra is shared with a bunch of other equipment, just as Grant describes.
Bhouser is correct about leaving the Pass Labs amps on all the time, the sonics do really change when you turn them off. I had an X-250 and left it on at all times even when I went on vacation. I haven't tried a hydra yet but use the Elord Sig 3 power cord on it and it works great with dedicated lines.
You may want to contact Peter at Pass Labs and ask him his advice as it is always free and good advice.
Another idea that works well for high current amps, use a PASSIVE not active line conditioner. Richard Gray equipment is excellent. Audio Research Corp uses these conditioners exclusively,because they don't limit the power that high current amps need. Most active conditioners like ps1200's still cannot handle the bigger amps. The fact that you have sound degradation is based on two likely limitations of the device you are using, lack of adequate capacity to handle your amp's power needs, and it's circuitry is adding color to your signal line. Look at the Power Substation that Richard Gray makes,20amp as well as it can come in 240 volt option that you run a dedicated 240 volt line, which completely isolates your system. From a protection standpoint it can take a direct hit and will be able to protect your amps. Best of luck.
Good amp don't need the power line conditioner, I agreed with Norfish, sound improved noticeably with PS Audio-Ultimate Outlet High Current 20amp type, used one pair-one by one on ur monoblock, leave pre-amp, CD player or Transport+DAC plug in the line conditioner, thus will sound rightly better.
" Real YOT "