Power conditioner/protection question


I am assembling a budget system and I need an advice what power line protection or conditioner devices have to be included. The system is initially worth not more than $2000 of mostly used gear. The SS integrated amp (Classe CAP80, 100 wpc) will be the most power-consuming device in it. I live in a small town with (I believe) not many power spikes and irregularities but frequent thunderstorms and occasional power outages. I am not going to use the power protector for cables, phones etc.

Reading threads here I realized that spike protection is essential and the filtration of EMI/RFI noise is highly desired. So now I’m considering a PS Audio Duet surge/spike protector and power conditioner; few posters here said it improved sound quality which is an additional plus.

However, the Duet is around $200 (new). Would it be an overkill to have it for a $2000 system? Or should I buy something cheaper such as some Monster Cable products such as HTS 1000 Mkii surge/power conditioner? Or a Panamax MIP20-MAX Image Pro 20 amp Power Conditioner/ Surge Protector, here on sale for $65? Do I need a power conditioner at all? If not, will something like Furman PL-8II ($109) which is a filter and spike protection is enough?

Thanks for the help.
I have never had an incident that would have been saved from a protector. I also never heard a conditioner that didn't make the sound worse in one way or another. Save your money
I would suggest replacing you wall outlet with a PS Audio Soloist (check their website) to start. If you decide you need more later you can always add on, but this gets you your protection and conditioning at the source to start.
Stringreen, I've never had a harsh word with anyone on this forum, but for Pete's sake, that You've never had a power incident doesn't mean much.
I was leaving on vacation, years ago. That morning, with pretty much 1 foot out the door, the power sagged/browned.
Stereo went OFF. OOPS. When I got back from vacaction and trouble shot, the amp was DEAD. Power company ended up sending me a check for the repair....I was able to tell them EXACTLY what/when/where so they were satisfied. No protection at all was installed.
1. It happens...
2. Surge protection helps
3. Consider unplugging during storms.
4. Try it and see if it really is a compromise FOR YOU.

My original power amp liked the conditioner. Really 'black' background, almost made me 'pop' my ears. New amp, a Rotel, HATED the conditioner and was constricted. New-new amp, on its own circuit / Soloist is fine again.
I don't believe its the worth of your system as a ratio to the worth of your power conditioner. The power conditioner should be good enough to do its job, period. I use a PS Audio Quintet (Duet's big brother). This is a non-limiting unit, which means you can plug your entire system into it w/o sound quality degradation. I used to own a Monster conditioner.

There may be a lot of intangible 'peace of mind' associated with this gear, though if you lived in a place w/frequent storms and/or with inconsistent or bad power I believe there would be some real benefit.

For the price of the Duet, however, I think it's worth it for the things mentioned above, and I would think that's all you really need to step into the realm of real power conditioning and protection (i noticed an improved difference with PS products vs cheaper alternatives, like Monster) w/o it being ridiculously expensive. The couple hundred bucks is worth it in my mind.

If your amp or any other unit has a fuse, technically you can plug it directly into the wall and be safe. In my experience, however, plugging into the wall vs the PS actually sounded worse.

If you want the peace of mind that surge protection brings and/or cannot install dedicated lines, then you could do a lot worse than a Duet.

In my situation moving one of the outlets closer to the system is not an option, so some kind of "extension cord" is required. I've tried a few alternatives and several years ago bought a VansEvers Clean Line (VECL) that has been in service since.

Recent system improvements brought to the forefront a previously subdued sharpness to "S" sounds on vocals. The character of this sibilance varied with each duplex of the VECL, but it was always there. Replacing the VECL with a Duet removed the sibilance with no loss of detail. If anything the Duet has added nuances of clarity and certainly hasn't subtracted anything.

BTW, my Duet only has a CD Player and tuner plugged into it. The amp is plugged into the wall. I do not know firsthand how it works with higher voltage equipment.
Synergy between conditioners and your gear is a reality. They also will affect the sound. you can compensate for this some by chosing the right power cord.

However, my statements are about direct comparisons between a few different conditioners. some limit bandwidth, some current, or so they say. None of my gear has failed due to current limitations imposed by a passive filter/conditioner. Some do 'sound' better than others, depending on your ears and gear.

never having had something like a Duet, and for $200 new? I'd say go for it. PSA has a trial period... like it? Keep it. Simple.

The power cord attahced to a conditioner sure makes all the diff too. Right out of the box though, things will sound good... with PSA products though, even they need to run in a few hundred hours first. The ckt breakers worked on mine for me... saving my gear from lesser and greater current spikes. So I can atest to that aspect first hand.

When a failure to one or both, in my case did happen... PSA SHIPPED ME OUT TWO NEW ONES POST HASTE... AND PRIOR TO THE RECEIPT OF MY OWN FAULTY ONES.

more $$$ will do you better in many areas power conds affect. A Duet however should be the ticket for your systems needs though. A Quintet just has more outlets. But at that price, I'm looking towards a Running Springs Haley.
Hi Magfan.... Evidently peace of mind is valuable to you. By all means use anything you like. I have never had any trouble with gear blowing up. I've had lots of stuff in the past 30 years or so. I maintain that I personally have never heard a protection device that bettered the sound of my system...always did something to make it worse. Yes...changed the sound, but.... I never did this, but during an electrical storm, or before going away on a trip, you could always pull the plugs for safekeeping..
Man, if I was born RICH instead of just GOOD LOOKING!!!

I'd no more run my system, compromised or not, without some form of protection than I would start on a cross country car trip without a good spare!
On Balance, I'd say I am in plus territory.
Minus: Soloist outlet with amp / sub plugged in may not instantly pass enough current at highest volume levels. This on its own 20amp circuit.
Plus: Digital / lowlevel stuff is plugged in thru an isolation transformer. TV and rest thru the rest of the conditioner. It's a Panamax 5510, which cost me just shy of the 4 digit mark. This on a regular house circuit.

I'd further say that if I lived back in ......Florida, I'd have a whole-house lightning thing in the box along with whatever protection devices I ran.

Unplug? Yep. I also would unplug the small dish RG cables to the DirectTV or DishNetwork box. I think my conditioner has I/O space for these and will handle the voltage to the (insert correct name here).
Thank you everyone for helpful suggestions. After some thoughts, I decided to go with the PS Audio Duet. It has 4 receptacles in 2 isolated banks so I can plug in my amp + something else later (a turntable) in one of them and the CD player into another one.
Good to go


I found using a pair of Duets a better way to go. One for front end, and one for power. Past that a Halley for power is yet a better path.

Having one however is better than having nothing. trying out different PCs for it will really help too.

What it is placed upon does matter some as well. Check it out.
Blindjim wrote:


(...) What it is placed upon does matter some as well. Check it out."


Do you mean that the Duet requires a special stand/platform? Or some dedicated legs?
I just had an interesting experiment with the PS Audio Quintet. My gear is plugged into a Monster surge-protector, all it does in addition conditioning-wise is remove the RF noise. I unplugged everything from it and plugged it all into the PS Audio Quintet. I tried CD's first, and found that there was a slight improvement, bass was better in particular, and there was more clarity of articulation. However, when I tried LP's, the effect of the conditioner was extremely detrimental. It was as if the soul had been sucked right out of the music - the soundstage shrunk, dynamics were compressed, and instrumental timbres were flattened and much thinner. Also, even on recordings with fantastic soundstaging, just about all of the ambient noise of the original performance space completely disappeared.

I had previously read here and on that other forum that power conditioners have a much more beneficial effect on digital, and even more so for video than audio at that. I certainly found this to be true, as I said the effect on analog was very detrimental. I am still considering purchasing a Duet just to plug my new plasma TV into, along with the satellite HD box, my DVD player, and perhaps my CD player. I figure this way at least the digital will be separated from the analog. What do people think of that idea? One thing is certain - I will never consider using a power conditioner for analog again, I'll just stick with the Monster surge protector for that, as in my area we have alot of thunderstorms, so surge protection is a must, and does not have a detrimental effect on the system.
I think it's a YMMV thing. I tried plugging in both my tubed pre and SS amp straight into the wall (a PS Power Port outlet) and it sounded slightly less dynamic then plugging both units into the Quintet.
Here’s what I mean…

No, a rack isn’t really needed. The power filters I own, 2 Duets, 1 UPC 200, and 1 RSA haley, all respond to the surface material (s) placed under them… in other words, isolation and damping. I heard a difference in the sound from just laying them onto the carpeting, placing a piece of wood underneath them, using phone books, magazines, hardback books, ceramic tiles, hard surfaces in conjunction with various iso noes such as vibrapods, Bright Star nodes, differing wood footers, etc. Playing with these simple near free items mix, can make changes you may well wish introduced into your system…. It’s not only the cord which matters.

As I have a few different types of these gizmos, I use them differently as well. It allows me to provide greater separation of components and in conjunction with the aforementioned tweaks, and power cords, more fine tunning to the components that are attached to each filter. .

For ex. I use the Haley for the amps, two tubed, one SS, a DAC, and a DVD player. On the haley I have an Elrod Sig III pc. I use a Python VX on one Duet which feeds several rotating digital pieces. The UPC 200 takes care of the personal confuser gear… printer, desktops, cable modem, router, phone.. etc. in combination with a couple power strips of course. The last Duet feeds the Br system.

One Duet is on a component stand’s shelf, the BR is on the carpeting, atop a hard backed book. The haley sits on Brighht star large iso nodes which are on a piece of hard wood, the UPC is on some plywood resting right on top of the carpeting under my desk. I kick it about once a day at least. The UPC also serves as supply to my active SR ic’s and speaker wires.

Seperating components like this wasn’t the initial plan going in… it came about as the direct result of $$$ or lack there of, and my notion passive filtration would less affect the sound than would active conditioning. As it happens, I do enjoy the fact each unit is running off a dedicated ckt as well. Each has a pc more appropriate IMO to the need it serves too. So it’s a more custom tailored approach to suit specific needs on accidental intention..

Each of the filters has supplied at some point amps, preamps, front ends, etc. What is in place wherever now, is IMO the best place for it/them…. So far.

Next up for me in the power feed area is likely better outlets. Mine are simple hospital grade 20A.