IMO-plug amps and turntables directly into the wall. Digital stuff and pre amps into a PC if you want.
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" It's currently plugged into one of those surge protectors you get for 20 bucks at Staples. The odds are against it (and I'm insured), but I want to be sure a surge doesn't wipe out my gear."
As far as sound quality goes, you just have to experiment and see what you like best. When it comes to protecting your gear, you have to be really careful. Surge protectors can help in some cases, but not always. For example, I don't know of any power product that protects against lightning. If you are not sure, unplug your gear.
Look at one of the Audience aR1p units listed for sale here. Excellent unit that you can plug a decent power strip into and have very nice line conditioning and surge protection. Excellent reviews online. I use one with a CryoParts power strip 2 and feel it is worthwhile in my system. I do plug my amp directly into the wall though the unit is noted to be non current limiting.
Overall, we probably agree on most things regarding power conditioners. That said, you may want to have a look at Furutech. I have a e-tp80. Its not that expensive and I haven't found a situation where it hurts SQ at all. (I still plug my amps in the wall.) Its the kind of line conditioner to get if you don't like line conditioners.Personally, I don't like power products and cables that make big changes to your system. Its always at the expense of something. The Furutech is worth it just to get some outlets to your equipment without making a big deal about it. Thats primarily what I use mine for. I got mine from Cable Co. They have them to lend out.
A $20 protector from Staples (similar to a $10 protector from WalMart; similar to a $30 or $90 protector from other sources) does not claim to protect from typically destructive surges.
Another completely different device (unfortunately also called a protector) does protect even from direct lightning strikes. A technology proven even 100 years ago.
Unfortunately, most consumers don't know the difference between so many different products using the same name. And don't know that direct lightning strikes cause no damage to facilities that use a superior and less expensive solution.
Many even fall for myths about 'no MOVs'. Forget what is relevant - how Ben Franklin made direct lightning strikes irrelevant. The same concepts are why your telco's $multi-million switching computer suffers maybe 100 surges with each storm. And no damage. How often is your town without phone service for four days after each thunderstorm? Never? Exactly. Because protection (that the $20 Staples product does not claim) means protection from typically destructive surges.
Protection means hundreds of thousands of joules dissipate harmlessly and distant from appliances.
An effective protector means no damage even to the protector. Costs about $1 per protected appliance. Is based in concepts that make Franklin's lightning rod so effective. And means nobody even knew a surge existed.
Protectors adjacent to appliances (ie $20 per appliance) do not claim that protection. If in doubt, then post manufacturer spec numbers from each recommended product that claims protection.
"For Drr and Tbromgard - what are the benefits of plugging your power amps directly into the wall??"
I plug my amps into the wall, as well. I'm not an expert on line conditioners, but the biggest reason for most people is to not limit the power output of the amp in any way. Sometimes conditioners can make an amp sound a bit slower or not as dynamic.
Another reason, is that amps are less likely to be damaged by AC than other types of components. In fact, amps are very similar to power regenerators. Heres some examples of what I'm talking about. The PS audio 1000 regenerator is pretty much the same as the PS audio Classic 250. Same thing with the PS 500 and the HCA. When Monster came out with their regenerators, they came out with a line of amps based on them.
I'm sure that some of the other posters will have a lot more to share on this topic as well.
+1 re Truman's comment on the BrickWall surge protectors/line filters. I use this model, into which I connect my entire system, including the amplifier.
I have not sensed it causing any adverse impact on dynamics or anything else. I should add, though, that my amp is Class A, and therefore its current draw is essentially constant and independent of the dynamics of the music. That would not be true of Class AB or Class D amps.
I agree with Stringreen that I have never heard a power conditioner that didn't do damage to the sound, especially analog. Perhaps I am lucky with the power in my area, though, as in my brother's area, a power conditioner results in a distinct improvement.
However, a surge protector is a must if you live in an area with frequent storms, as I do. I like the Monster ones, that basically don't do anything at all to the sound, yet protect the equipment. Basically, they fry themselves in the storm, protecting your equipment. This has happened twice to me, and both times it worked exactly as it was supposed to. You can get them very cheaply on Amazon.
By plugging a power amp directly into the wall you prevent possible current limiting, by a conditioner, to that specific piece of equipment. Many conditioners, including mine, claim not to limit current, though I still feel that is a small possibility and the power amp is what could be negatively affected. I originally plugged the amp into to the Audience conditioner prior to installing dedicated lines to my system and feel it is slightly improved as it is presently configured. Certainly worth trying both ways.
I would first start with a whole house SPD, (Surge Protection Device.), installed at the main service electrical panel.
The closer the SPD is connected to the main breaker of the panel the better. Leads from SPD to mains should be as short as possible.
The best SPD in the world is useless if the electrical earth grounding electrode system of your electrical service has a high Soil Resistivity.
The lower the earth soil resistance, there in grounding electrode conductivity, (Ground rod/s, ect), the better the electrical service grounding system will be able to take a lightning strike to earth.
A low earth soil resistance should be 5 ohms or less per IEEE.
Deep earth grounding
SPD protection at your audio equipment is the last line of defense against power surges.
As far as I know, the only product I know of that protects against a direct lightning strike is a homeowners insurance policy. I was surprised to find this out myself, but I checked with several very good sources and they all gave me the exact same answer. Richard Grey, Shunyata, ESP, Marsh (Monster) and The Cable Company all told me that if your house is hit by lightning, it comes in through the ground and they have no way of stopping it. I really have no reason not to believe them given that they are the ones who actually make the products. Until NASA or Al designs one of these things, I'll keep unplugging my system every time theres a storm.
As far as I know, the only product I know of that protects against a direct lightning strike is a homeowners insurance policy.That is correct.
If a company says their SPD will protect your audio equipment from a direct lightning strike I suggest reading the small fine print.
Discovery Wonders of Weather Lightning Phenomena.
Richard Grey, Shunyata, ESP, Marsh (Monster) and The Cable Company all told me that if your house is hit by lightning, it comes in through the ground and they have no way of stopping it.
Add to that list Brickwall as well, based on first-hand experience. It did not prevent damage to component. (And scared the crap out of me when it hit!)
"That is correct.
If a company says their SPD will protect your audio equipment from a direct lightning strike I suggest reading the small fine print."
Thats a good point too. Making a line conditioner that can't hold up to a lightning strike is not something that a company wants to admit. In defence, though, most of the good companies that offer a guarantee, have a policy in place to back it up. You do have to read the fine print, but its likely that you will be asked to to submit documents like the Dec page of your HO policy, pictures, sales receipts, etc. Basically, they are acting like an insurance company. They're willing to bet that the sale of their conditioners should easily offset any damage to components that they end up paying out. Its a model that does work for them. Personally, the only issue I have with the whole thing is that they should be more upfront about this. Customers may never read the fine print and most retailers will not bring this up during a sale (if they even know). Its very easy to see how a customer can overlook this.
Hi Zd542. It has been observed that some products have protected against "direct hits". Don't forget that a now old trick is to lift the ground when making conditioning devices as a lot more noise comes in thru the ground than is generally appreciated. MIT did this almost 20 years ago. Cheeers. I think AC treatment will remain a investment for the foreseeable.
I have attended several Power Quality and Surge Protection seminars over the years. Proper grounding was always mentioned as being the most important. Not once was lifting the ground said to be good for power quality or surge protection. Especially not good for surges caused by near by lightning strikes.
Food for thought.... The electrical service neutral conductor is intentionally connected to earth at the main service. ( The Grounded Conductor)
So much for lifting the ground.
Poor earth grounding and or improper earth grounding is the biggest cause of electronic equipment damage from surges due to near by lightning strikes.
I've had an Adcom ACE515 since it was new (it's by far the oldest thing in my rig)...my systems have always sounded better with it than without it (I've tested this from time to time...my power amps, one main and one for rarely used outdoor speakers are both in a PS Audio Humbuster III), and I unplug things during thunderstorms when possible (during vacations also of course). The 515 refuses to die...sequencial power up works great, etc. Who knew?