Power Conditioner and Surge Protector

Hi all,

I would like to know if it's worth spending the money for a Power Conditioner or Surge Protector. There are so many different brands and prices. Does anyone have thoughts regarding these items? Does it make any improvement to your audio equiptments? Will it eliminate the hum coming out of your speakers? Does pricing and different brands make a difference?

I was looking at this model from Panamax:

Panamax M5300-PM

Is that a good conditioner? Right now I am using a cheap $ $5.00 power conditioner that I bought at HomeDepot.

Thanks for any advice!!
I would personally avoid any of these as more often than not they can be detrimental to the sound. in particular dynamics can be compressed. I am however talking of more high end models which can be well engineered in the power supply department in the first place. Far better in my opinion to get a very good power cord, or a good jitter buster between dac and transport (monarchy DIP), or a high quality passive transformer isolator after a dac or preamplifier e.g the sound enhancer by vintage audio lab. All these refine the sound in a way I expect you would like the conditioner to work. Conditioners can also be a hit and miss proposition even for cheaper units with less than ideal power supplies.
Jump up the level and enjoy the extra money spent wiser.Yes it absolutly makes a differance.My brother was using computer power surge suppresor.Gave him my power wedge cond.He was floored at the level of performnace differance.Only when all things are there though,cords,cond,interconnects,ect.
It often makes a big difference, but units and results vary.

My best results have been obtained using BPT Balanced power products.

Dynamics never suffered- with Pass X-250 amp no less.

Tube amps I've owned benefited as well, as did the digital front end.

My bet is you'll never really know until you try.
Surge protection is not a bad idea. However most of the damage I have seen (many years in an engineering capacity and background is BSEE) involves nearby lightning coupled via phone lines. Problem is that this is not all that easy to protect against - need rather fast acting protection. As to a power conditioner, unless you have a particularly hostile electrical environment or own particularly badly designed equipment it isn't going to help (or for that matter hurt) anything because you are protecting against something that isn't there.
Get rid of your power strip!!! Throw it in with your x-mas lights. Plug amps direct in the wall. Pick up a something like a BPT or Shunyata product (used) for all your other gear. There are endless threads on line conditioners. I would stay away from Panamax and Monster.
Dear All,

I believe the question is 'worth spending the money on'. Some of the products mentioned cost a small fortune. I certainly have never tried such high end conditioners before and fore the price they ought to work bloody well. But if we are talking about your add ons to a 4-5k system then the cheaper products for a few hundred dollars are often poor and not worth the effort. If I had to use hundreds of pounds to improve the sound of my system, I'd also be looking to upgrade my system to get better engineered products!Having said that in the value for money stakes i second shunyata as they do seem to be one of the better ones. Furthermore a bit of blu-tac under my speakers can totally transform the sound of my system for pennies, as can a $400 super tweeter, or placing a weight on top of my cd player, or using a cd mat, try coiling a copper wire of various thickness's for about 6-7 turns on your speaker and interconnect and mains cable and you will be astonished at the subtle changes that can occur. All of these can lead to a more refined or tonally fulsome sound and the list of tweaks is ENDLESS in the pennies cost bracket. so lets get things into perspective here regarding value/ system cost .
I use a PS Audio Power Plant Premier for my source and pre/pro, TV and cable box and plug my amp (which can draw a lot of power...Spectron MK2) into the wall. The only thing I might consider plugging the amp into is a Shunyata Hydra-8 but I don't see the benefit as this point since the Spectron uses isolation transformers and power supply regulators in its power source section.

The PPP (AC regenerator) does help with the sound and picture on the TV but it is limited to 1500 watts. It will help with any hum that isn't assoicated with a ground loop situation and/or leakage from the amp itself.

Both are plugged into a dedicated 20 amp line which is a good idea to have to isolate noise from other circuits in the house to some degree.

Some of this depends on if you live in area with 'clean' power, dips and surges in the grid or lighting prone areas. There a passive surge/spike and conditioner like the Shunyata can be worth it.

Furman also makes good products, imo.
I am using the Richard Gray Power House, which is capable of handling 6200w of continuous power (per manufacturers specifications). I can not go in depth technically, but here's some answers to your questions above:

1)"I would like to know if it's worth spending the money for a Power Conditioner or Surge Protector ?" - Yes, but not just any product. Please contact each dealer you are considering and tell them your requirements. Not all will fit your needs.

2)"Does it make any improvement to your audio equiptments?"
- This depends on the product purchased, if it will be able to give you the head room needed without choking out power and sonics.

3)"Will it eliminate the hum coming out of your speakers?"
-First make sure that the "hum" is not from other epuipment. The conditioner should eliminate "noise" from your AC line.

4)"Does pricing and different brands make a difference?"
- I have a hard time with the pricing issue, as audiophile equipment price ranges drastically varies. It boils down to if the conditioner/surge protection will really suit your demands.

Prior to purchasing the PowerHouse I did alot of research on line. I even talked with a local manufacturer to see if a transformer/surge protection unit could be built. I came across the RGPC products and talked with Dick McCarthy on and off for about 3 months. Total research was about 5-6 months of just gaining knowledge. I ended up purchasing the unit because it has everything in one component. The powerhouse is a 5 kilowatt isolation step down transformer. Its a 220v unit stepped down to 120v using a 30 amp breaker. It is totally isolated, completely removing groung loop. The head room is plenty, enough for a complete home entertainment syst. plus more.
The bottom line is when I plugged my equipment directly into the power house I did not go WOW! expecting some magic to happen, but what I did notice is that there was much more head room giving more depth and width to the sound. Bass was more extended and there was more blackness to the background. There wasn't any annoying hum or clicks and pops from switches being turned on and off which I still got even when I had previously installed all dedicated outlets.
The unit does have some draw backs, one being weight which is nearly 400 lbs.
Well, i have been a PS Audio Premier owner for just over a year now and it has been a ride from hell. All 4 units that i have had in my system have failed.
Fans going krazy, unit overheating.
Unit shutting down / rebooting every 2-3 minutes
Output voltage drop to 105volts while input was 122volts.

For me at least, it has been a very unreliable product.
I will be sending this one back (4th time) and will be asking for a refund.
I will be looking for other alternatives.

Call RGPC and talk with Dick McCarthy. If he can't answer your questions he will get back to you with the answers. Surge protection, conditioning and transformers are to be considered just as important as another component, if not more important (not to stir up debate). Whatever product you use this is the starting point of power feeding your system. Like I had said I researched for quite some time and probably could have done more, but felt confident with my purchase. The only thing you want to remove from your sound is the annoying garbage that comes through an AC line, WITHOUT limiting its headroom. Take your time and gain as much information as possible and challenge the dealers, even if you are not technical as myself. Everyone wants to sell their product, but unless it fits your specific needs its of no use.
I always LOVE discussions about power. It's so nebulous, but hey, when people hear what they hear, it doesn't really matter why.

One thing that gets me is the idea of spending thousands on a power cable from outlet to component, but hey, what's in the wall? What kind of Romex is in there? Is it oxygen-free copper? What color is the jacket?

I love how my local high end dealer sells power cords to people in 100 year old houses, some of which still use knob and tube for power. Wait, tube did you say? THAT is an idea. I'll market knob and tube power downgrades, since we all know that the old tube sound is the best sound...

I picked up a Shunyata power cord and adapted it for my washing machine and now my clothes get SO MUCH CLEANER!

All that said, I use power conditioning on my gear. And All my projects call for dedicated/isolated for system feeds. I think that's the best place to start. Going further IMO involves iso transformers, and I *love* the solar idea. Why not regenerate utility power with flywheels? Decouple from the grid entirely. Use ceramic flywheels for complete isolation, but make sure it's oxygen-free ceramic...
Most people have homes whereby only on set (two) outlets are on a particular wall where their audio equipment sits. Therefore, you need a power strip of some sort of power house/conditioner just so you can plug everything into it. I typically will recommend that several dedicated outlets are run directly to the house circuit breaker panel. To help to eliminate ground loops, I recommend three sets of outlets at a minimum. 1) use a power conditioner/power house to plug all low level components, into the same device and then to the same outlet on the wall directly to the house panel. This means pre-amp, turn table, cd player/transport/DAC, tuner, etc. plugged into this device. 2) power amp plugged into the other outlet. if you have two mono amps, this is where you need the third outlet. my ground floor dropped considerably and music is so much better this way. it doesn't cost much to have an electrician run dedicate power outlets to a room. My house has a raised foundation, so it is relatively easy for me to do this myself. But if you find yourself in a situation where there is only one set of outlets on the wall, what do you do? The circuit breaker, wall wiring, etc. can only handle so much current. So dedicated outlets run directly to the house panel is the way to go. The cost is really low to do this, and all low level electronic devices plugged into the same conditioner/power house device to a dedicated outlet to the panel and the amps have their own outlets to the panel.

I used to own a Panamax 5300, and don't recommend it for audio. I also do think that budgeting for power protection as part of an audio system is a very good idea.

The fastest way to become a believer in power protection, conditioners, and UPS gear is to have something important get fried, or to lose important work when a brownout triggers your surgebox to do a quick shutdown. In the IT world (where I earn the pay that finances my audio habit) better Surge Boxes mean CPUs and Motherboards living longer; Power Conditioners mean HDs, SSDs, and Monitors living longer; and a stable UPS means not losing work when surges/spikes/brownouts happen. The quickest way to fry a power supply or CPU is usually via the phone line. Having a UPS that can clamp your phone line in pico seconds is more often than not money well spent. When T-Storms approach, I err towards the conservative side, and unplug the wall sockets and disconnect the DSL.

At the same time, audio is very different. Devices that will protect your IT gear will also tend to adversely affect your sound.

I know this b/c when I first got into audio I connected everything to a Panamax M5300 that was advertised for audio but designed for IT. It protected the gear fine, but also absolutely killed the soundstage. Panamax makes solid gear for protecting computers and non-audio electrical devices. Their products are not so great for HiFi.

For myself, I’m content to compromise sound quality slightly to extend the lifespan of my gear. Initially, I also couldn’t justify spending big bucks on power protection for what was at the time mid-fi audio gear. As the gear improved so did the conditioners/surge protection.

Presently, for my mid-fi media system I’m using a PS Audio Duette for the Pre/Amp; and a TrippLite LC2400 plugged into an APC surgebox for the flat panel and BluRay. For the HiFi I have 2 Transparent PIMMs for the Pre and Amp respectively, with a 3rd PIMM for the sources. (I found the PIMMs on A’gon on closeout) Prior to the PIMMS I was using a Shunyata Hyrda-4, which I sold. In hindsight, I would have kept the Hydra and sold the Duette. The PIMMs provide a substantial sound improvement, and at 65% off could be rationalized as a “viable purchase.” :-)

YMMV, but it’s pretty miserable when you have to decommission a CPU due to a power hit. I couldn’t imagine losing my Akurate 2200 2010 that way, and so have it connected to surge protection.