power for mc452 and c2600

I'm relatively new to high end audio. Had a mcintosh integrated amp for few years and now decided to upgrade to separates. Just received c2600 preamp and awaiting on mc452 amp due to arrive sometime next week. 

I don't know anything about power conditioners and protection devices. currently using monster surge protector. My questions: 

1. what is the minimum protection device that one would use for my equipment
2. does it have to be a power conditioner or just surge protection
3. how much do these "power conditioners" contribute to the overall performance? Can you objectively measure their effect? Can they worsen the performance in any way by limiting power? 
4. is there a real difference in relatively affordable (200-500) vs. higher price units (1000 and above) ? 
5. What are you using and what is your experience with it? 
6. Your recommendation on units with good reputation under $500

thank you 
anyone who owns one of these please comment 

What would be best for mcintosh mc452 amp?

isotek evo3 polaris

Shunyata VENOM PS8

Furutech E-TP80

ps audio dectet
Setting low $$ limits for this category of products is a mistake IMO, especially with an amp involved. Potential mistakes lurk everywhere and are probable. Learn more. Do nothing in this area until then.

Do you already have a dedicated 20+amp AC line from breaker box to your system’s wall receptable? If not, learn WAY more before proceeding to ask opinions for purchases.

How about NONE...Ive owned a MC352 for 10 years and its always been plugged right into the wall socket directly with never a problem (and I move a lot), the problems start when I’ve used cheap devices in the past (they color the sound badly and rob the dynamics and emotion). The MC452 has a fully regulated power supply...anything but a very high dollar (Dave is right) unit will just get in the way of really great sound But, if you must here is a link to a great affordable product that I have heard is one of the least offensive sounding...And Please Please pull that Monster Cable Conditioner off your system...It should be nowhere near a MC452.


Matt M

I am with Matt and David on power conditioning. Congrats on your purchase, both of those components are great choices to start off your high end journey.

A dedicated 20 amp circuit would be the first thing I would address but if that’s not possible then I would look at non current impeding power / line conditioners.

Not too long I invested in Nordost QRT system and results are nothing short of amazing. One of the highlights of the QRT system is their modular approach, each products in QRT are cumulative and their effects are best heard when used as a system. I would start off with a QB4 and later add a Qv2 and Qk1 as your budget permits.


And once you settled with these components, I would suggest that you look into upgrading the Main Input and Output tubes on C2600 to something like Mullard or Telefunken. As good as the stock tubes, they are no match to one of these NOS tubes. I have tried Telefunken’s and they are very very good.

BTW, I do own couple of Furutech E-TP80’s. It’s a very good ’starting’ power strip but I wouldn’t recommend plugging your amp into TP80.

One thing I must say, you're now stepping into a territory where you wanna work with people with solid background and experiences. I would choose a dealer that has a consultative approach and not just focused on increasing his sales. I have worked with people that has not shy away from spending hours in guiding me through this journey. 

Hope this helps!
I've looked at many forums and have seen this topic discussed to death but still no clear answer. 
 I do not have a dedicated 20amp circuit. Probably will not be possible. 
 I do not need or want a conditioner per se. 
 What's important to me is protection first. And if I can get something that protects my equipment while takes away nothing in terms of current or sound quality, and stay under 1000$. Can I get a good surge protector without power conditioner? Does such a thing exist ? Many people say plug into the wall, but isn't that too risky? 
If you’re only looking for surge protection, I would recommend Environmental Potentials EP-2050 Surge and AC Waveform Corrrction. You would need to hire a qualified electrician.

Chris at VH Audio is a great guy and he will answer any questions regarding this product,

I have a number of thoughts for the OP:

I have not heard a power conditioner on an amp that i liked, compared to going straight in. (I haven’t heard the Audience, which seems to have very strong support from high end community, but don’t know if that is mainly for front end/smaller components, not power amps).
Surge protection is, I think, a little deceptive in a couple respects: first, the big worry is lightening strikes. If your house or your transformer gets hit, I suspect no black box, whole house surge protector or other device is going to save you from damage.
More likely are voltage surges-- that EP 2050 would certainly be one of the nicer whole house units on the market. According to Chris’ description on the link posted above, it does use MOVs, but only for the big hits; otherwise, the MOVs are not in the circuit.
Trying to be realistic about this, maybe one of our more astute electrician types, like @Jea48, or electronics gurus, like @almarg, can weigh in on the peak power of dangerous surges. The EP is rated at 12kVa, but the Eaton I have (it uses MOVs with a set of lights to tell you when to call the electrician and replace the thing) is more like 80kVA peaks per mode. Do you need that much?
I don’t rely solely on whole house. For example, I have a pair of electrostatic speakers that must stay plugged in all the time. For those, I use a box made by ZeroSurge, in Frenchtown, N.J. Uses no MOVs. Well made and I believe they hold the patent and license their technology to several other competitors. Basically plug into a wall outlet at point of use. Will it color or limit the sound of your amps? I don’t know. I never tried it on my amps. In my application, it is keeping the panels charged with voltage, so even if it were colored to some degree, I don’t think it would matter much. It certainly isn’t choking current in that application.
My main system goes through some additional, fairly elaborate electrical work, separate subpanel, to 10kVA isolation transformer with its own surge protection board (40 or 50kVa per mode) plus some EMI filtering, to dedicated lines for the hi-fi. If I was really anal about it, I could theoretically put point of use surge protection on some of the components, too. (All my record cleaning gear goes through a 4 outlet Tripplites; ditto some other accessories, like the record flattener. But none of that connects directly to the system).
My practical answer is simply to pull power in a bad storm.
The other observation- and those with more electrical knowledge can correct me if wrong, but:
-a surge protector of any type or size doesn’t protect against power dips. Those can be hazardous to your gear as well.
-some surges can result not from lightening or other acts of God or the power company, but simply as a result of what is going on within your household electrical system. I’m not sure how fully dedicated lines isolate that since they still share a common ground with the rest of the house, but it may give you some additional reasons to consider the whole house approach, plus something else.

^^^Power products that use choke devices also choke the current. IMO, proper modern designs do not use chokes but other superior technologies for surge protection/power "conditioning" and therefore do not restrict current, especially important with amps. These products cost FAR more than $5-700 when capable of providing unrestricted current to high-draw and/or multiple components downstream. Short of that, better off with nothing but a dedicated 20a line from breaker box to receptacle. Short of that, buy a good power cord.

I would not plug your high power/high current amp into any power conditioner. They limit current draw except for some high-end, expensive conditioners.
Use a power strip with EMI/RFI protection. I use a Furman for my high power amp and conditioners for low current upstream components.
The Furman surge protector has never failed during power outages and spikes, the breaker has always tripped. It is used by pro musicians on stage.


Using McIntosh MC352 amplifier + C2300 preamplifier (similar to your gear), I tried several things in this order.  Each step improved the sound, in my opinion:

1. Richard Gray 400 power conditioner.
2. Dedicated 20 amp lines (2) + PS Audio outlets.
3. PS Audio P10 power regenerator (replacing the Richard Gray 400).

*Note: all gear now plugged into the P10, including the MC352 amplifier.
**Note: Biggest improvement came with dedicated 20 amp lines, which removed system noise (via phono).
Lowrider57 or anyone knowledgeable on this topic:

do you think that one of the cheaper surge protectors/conditioners listed below would be worse than using a furman power strip ss6b?  

I understand I won't get good power conditioning from these, but will they take away from current/sound quality? Will these provide at least the same protection as the furman strip?  Does anyone know for sure or is this speculation? 

isotek evo3 polaris

Shunyata VENOM PS8

Furutech E-TP80

ps audio dectet
As others have stated, the best conditioner for an amp is no conditioner. I don't like to plug my amp directly into the wall due to the power outages where I live, so I use a strip which does not limit power draw.
I've done a lot of research and testing of passive power conditioners (about $500 and under), and even though they state they are non-power-limiting, I have noticed an effect on sonics of the amp (loss of dynamics, change in soundstaging). I'm not quite sure, but I think the Brickwall or Richard Gray allow the amp to operate unrestricted; these are heavy duty surge protectors with filtering. I use a Brickwall and a Blue Circle conditioner for my upstream components. The Blue Circle produces a very low noise floor, but killed the dynamics of my amp (even though it states "non-current-limiting").

Have you used the archives? I like PS Audio products and a search in the archives may provide an answer as to whether or not users are using amplifiers in your list of conditioners. For example...


5. What are you using and what is your experience with it?

I use a Furman Elite-20 PFI  at the top of my rack I and find it an essential part of my system. I have far too many components to not have the convenience of switched and unswitched power sockets as well as triggering.

I can use the one power button on my McIntosh C42 to trigger power to all my other components including my vintage MC2205 power amp which does NOT have the built in trigger input of modern MAC components. I am using most of the outlets the Furman has to offer.

This unit has two retractable LED lights I use regularly to illuminate components controls or vinyl labels when choosing a side. There is a power socket on the front of the unit for convenience to quickly power a light or diagnostic tool or a new component before committing it to your rack.

Perhaps there is a better one? I don't know.  I am unaware of any degradation in sound. I could not live without it.
It appears at this point maybe the OP is asking the same question over and over until he gets the answer he wants, regardless of numerous and clearly stated opinions of those with extended experience to the contrary.

The other possibility at a this point is for the OP to obtain one or another of these units that he is asking about from a place like Music Direct or another vendor that provides a "no questions" return policy. He can then decide if there is any sonic compromise. As to surge protection, it’s kind of like insurance, you buy it, but you don’t really want to have to rely on it given the circumstances which usually give rise to a claim.
I have one of those Furmans with a rack mount face and a 20 amp plug-- used it for ancillaries, it is rugged and never had any false trips either.
Hi whart,

I had a Furman IT-Reference 20i a few years back and it is an impressively built component. I don't doubt a Furman's efficacy as a surge protector, so one of those could meet the OP's primary goal of protection, but IMO it's not likely the Furman model that sells for ~$500 (even used) will handle the current requirements of his amp.

On the 'not so much' side, the top of the line Furman I owned did little to improve sound quality compared to other brands I have since owned and heard in familiar environments. It did a great job of improving the picture quality of my projector-based HT system, but sound quality in my 2-channel system, not so much. FWIW. 

Dave, I've asked this question in more than one thread because I wasn't sure if I was in the correct topic. Also, figured I would get more opinions this way. I'm not looking for the answer I want. If anything, I am more confused by varying opinions. I will weigh all of the recommendations and go with the most recommended approach. I do appreciate what everyone has to contribute. 
Fair enough ei001h. I have found that a good way to separate the wheat from the chaff on opposing recommendations is to view the Virtual System pages of each in order to gauge credibility.

The ideal of 20amp or even 30amp from your circuit box and appropriate gauge electrical wiring would be ideal. I currently use a PS Audio P10 powerplant with PS Audio Power port outlets. (3 pairs) 6 outlets in total. I have 2 (250 Watt Amps) and all sources connected to P10, with exception of turntable and Tube Preamp. No hold back for power, it is there, no ’lag’. Having said that there is a third amplifier (350 Watt) Rotel RB 1590 plugged directly into one of the PS Audio wall outlets it is running B&W 804s. I use a basic Mx82 Furman line conditioner for my Tube preamp and turntable. Primary preamplifier C47 McIntosh connected to P10 for protection.
The ideal of 20amp or even 30amp from your circuit box and appropriate gauge electrical wiring would be ideal
A 30A line would be problematic because it would require a 30A receptacle. That won't be compatible with the plugs on your audio equipment, and I don't see any value in changing them to accommodate the 30A line. It would be better to use a 20A line and derate the cable to 10 AWG, which will help reduce voltage drop on the circuit.

We have been in this crossfire before cleeds. I have 30A breakers and 10AWG (orange jacket) Romex connected to 20A receptacles.  I feel it gives me a touch more headroom for high-current amps and my house is still standing after many years with such. You win on code, but I win on sound.


dlcockrum, out of curiosity, have you or anyone you know compared the 30A breaker with a 20A fuse to see/ hear a sonic difference? I'm no electrician but my guess is the dedicated 20A along with a lower gauge 10awg wire are making the difference you perceive to hear since regardless of how much current your amp is drawing, you're limited by the cable drawing it from the wall. Really like to hear someone with more knowledge to chime in with some explanation. I have a friend who was had this obsession with wanting to feed his Krell KSA-250 with the best power it could reasonably get in his house and after trying all different options including a handful of power conditioners, he finally decided on a dedicated 20A using the same wire you used. He does however unplug the entire system if there's even a remote chance of a thunderstorm.

Hi kalili,

That is one comparison that I have not done. The 30A breaker cost a few dollars more than the 20A and that made it a no-brainer to me for use with my Krell FPB-600C (6,000w/ch @ 1 ohm/115+A peak current output per JA’s measurements), my primary amp at the time of the electrical work. Used a SR UHC 20A IEC power cord from wall or power enhancer to the Krell.

This allowed for the possible instantaneous current draw of >20A on peaks without creating an electrical hazard IMO.

Re: your friend’s decisions vs mine, I ran that Krell through my "at the time" SR Powercell 10 (non-current limiting) power conditioner along with 100% of my other components. Painstaking comparison of that configuration vs amp directly to the wall receptacle proved the former to yield clearly audible superior sonic results.

Sorry that you do not consider my expertise sufficient, perhaps it is not. No hard feelings! :)


You will find a LOT of opinions here, I am no different.

I equate Monster, Bose, Beats Audio with very successful marketing companies and will never have a place in my mind as respectable audio companies.

I do own a McIntosh MC352, a Krell KRC-3 preamp and a lot of other source components.

I have four 20 amp breakers with four runs of 10gauge orange romex to each of my Hubbell HBL5362W outlets. The MC352 has it's own dedicated outlet as well as each of the 2 amps that run my dual subwoofers. My other source components run off another 20 amp circuit and through PowerVAR toroidial filters. I have had no issues running my amps directly from the outlets.

I cannot understand cheaping out on power devices when I know those 2 McIntosh source components cost in excess of $10k.

Plug the amps into the wall and maybe look into Shunyata, PS Audio or Equi=Tech products for protection.
+1 tweaker. Would add CPT to that list and encourage trying amps plugged into the power unit and also directly to the wall receptacle before settling on one or the other. 

A 30 amp circuit breaker on a 20 amp circuit? Would you replace a 4 amp fuse with a 10 amp fuse on any one of your components? Makes no sense!
What makes it a 20A or 30A circuit, yogi? Is it the 30A circuit breaker with 10 gauge Romex (30A rating) that makes it a 30A circuit or a "20A labeled" receptacle that makes it 20A circuit? What if the PC to the amp is verified to safely pass 30A but a "20A labeled" IEC is all that is available? It is only the prong configuration of the receptacle and IEC that makes it a "20A" circuit?

Makes no sense indeed.

For those who plug their amps directly into the wall...
do you believe that in the case of a line spike or surge, that the panel breaker will trip before a quality surge protector?

In my house, my Furman and Brickwall trip before the panel does, (or possibly at the same time). I would like to plug my amp into the wall, but I worry about the breaker delay.
I guess this would be a good reason for whole house surge protection.
@lowrider57 - what is the breaker rating on your Furman? The one I have (and used for some ancillaries, not in the audio chain itself) had a 15 amp rating, though the wall plug for the Furman is a 20 amp type. Thus, the lower amperage breaker (at the conditioner or device) ought to trip first since it is lower rated than the breaker at the panel, which is 20 amp (per dedicated circuit). I know the amplifier becomes part of the electrical circuit, but assuming both breakers- at the panel and at the device are the same rating (and both operating within their parameters) isn’t the breaker at the subpanel or panel "earlier" in the chain? (maybe this reflects my ignorance of household electrical theory and practice in terms of which breaker is going to get hit with the surge first and how the ground and return work- thus, somebody with real electrical chops should probably answer this). My amps (Lamm SETs) are fused at the IEC receptacle on the amp. I do have ’whole house’ but my impression was that this was necessary, but not sufficient, for critical equipment. (I plug straight in).

"Sorry that you do not consider my expertise sufficient, perhaps it is not. No hard feelings!"

dlcockrum, that didn't even cross my mind...! It was an honest question.

Hi Bill,

The main role of the breaker is to protect the downstream wiring in the case of overload caused by malfunction of downstream devices/wiring and thus prevent fires. Not so much the person or the equipment. Read up on GFCI receptacles if the mood strikes you for info on that. Excessive sustained current draw downstream (ie beyond that of the breakers rating) will (should) trigger it to discontinue passing AC to the downstream wiring.

The breaker will be the first to see the spike of current coming from upstream (lightning etc) but may not and often does not respond quickly enough to save equipment (not its design criteria) and likely will not respond at all, at least in any effective way. Thus the importance of faster and more reliable protection devices in the AC link downstream but prior to the audio equipment if incoming surge is a concern. By and large, if these devices use MOVs/chokes, etc. as the sole method of protection, they will do little to protect equipment anyway in the event of an extreme surge on the incoming AC line. $$ "guarantees" are a cruel joke and an indicator of an inferior and incapable product from a company that prioritizes marketing over performance.. Much to be read on the WWW re: the Monster "guarantee" and the weasel words deliberately inserted by their legal team to avoid any type of compensation actually being rendered. Look inside the device for the real story of its value in protecting audio equipment or especially in improving sound quality. If you see "lollipops" (MOVs) and chokes, recommend that you MOVe on to a real product that uses modern and superior technologies that actually work. They usually cost money.

In 30 years of audio, I have only had one component (a TV) damaged by lightning surge and that came in through the cable provider’s RG6 line, not the AC, in an apartment complex. Learned that devices that effectively shield the equipment from incoming TV cable problems are more valuable than the AC-only type.

My power conditioning products over the past 10 years do not contain components for surge protection in the interest of better sound quality. I live in severe-thunderstorm Hades (near Houston) so admit to being a risk taker. So far, so good.


Dave- I can’t disagree with anything your wrote. I have always pulled power to my main system in the case of severe (or even not so severe) electrical storms. We are now in Austin, which probably doesn’t get as much electrical storm activity as Houston, but when we do get such storms, they are pretty intense. As to the MOV devices, I’m inclined to agree. Certainly the cheap power strips and some of the other products you mention are questionable.

What’s interesting is that the surge protection within my industrial/commercial style isolation transformer (10kVa from Controlled Power) which sits outside in a Nema weatherproof cabinet at 400 lbs is in part MOV based, with a warning light that indicates the need for replacement. Ditto, the whole house unit that is side mounted to the main service panel for the house. I have had for some years one of those ZeroSurge units that doesn’t use any MOV (I’m sure I mentioned this above) and that’s what I keep my vintage QUAD ESLs plugged into.

I guess my starting point is to be pretty skeptical about how much any of these devices can protect against a close strike, but I use them, nonetheless, as well as point of use boxes, like those made by Tripplite, for computers and appliance type electronics, e.g., the printer, the paper shredder, as well as my record cleaning equipment.
The current code now requires Arc-Fault type breakers. Those were installed at the service (sub) panel fed by the isolation transformer for my dedicated lines. I was concerned about false triggers, but they have worked fine. The cable point is a good one. I should look at my cable modem/router, which only provides Internet service-- no "TV signals" as such-- we stream video and have otherwise ’cut the cord.’
I think we come out in the same place, no?
I’m relatively new to Texas, but really love it here, despite the heat.
I have had a C2500/MC452 and have been very happy with my PS Audio P10 power plant.
@whart , good point. My surge protectors are 15 amps, the receptacles and breakers are 20 amp. I chose units with no MOVs, but the whole house units all seem to use them. 

On my street, the transformers can go out during heavy storms. My Furman and Brickwall (ZeroSurge) have never failed to trip. I just wonder if a whole house MOV would be sacrificed in these situations.
Good discussion and I learn along with you.

Fully agree and understand both of your posts and think that you have invested in a proper solution for surge protection given the constraints of what is available in industrial power source products (or elsewhere to my knowledge).

MOVs are imperfect as you know, but at least the manufacturers of your products seem to recognize/acknowledge that they are known wear items (sacrificial in nature) and provide a warning system as they begin to fail. I shudder to think how many trusting consumers sit unaware as we write that the MOVs in their inexpensive "surge protectors" have long since ceased to provide any protection and are likely to be unnecessarily limiting current flow to their audio devices.

 I've learned a a lot from your comments and experience. Thank you. 

Getting a dedicated 20amp AC  line or the whole house surge protector is not feasible at this moment. I'm gonna stay away from cheap conditioners. I would like to begin with a simple and  a reliable surge protector without MOV. 

Lowrider, you mentioned you have a brickwell and furman. Which furman do you have?  

Which one would you recommend for my set up: (MC452, Krell KAV500, C2600, MX134, MCD550, Oppo 205) all mounted on a salamander synergy rack.

1. Brickwall 10-Outlet Rackmount Audio Surge Protector 
2. Brickwall Eight-Outlet Audio Surge Protector
3. Furman PST-8 DIG (I think this has MOV)
4. Furman PST-6
5. Furman SS6b
6. BPT Pure Power Center or PPC
7. CablePro - Revelation Power Strip 8
8. Hammond H1584H
9. Wiremold L10320, Power Strip

Has anyone used one of the above for an Amp? Any other suggestions welcome. I would like as many opinions as possible. Thanks 

I would highly recommend evo3-Sirius. It's very neutral and doesn't limit dynamics. It will be a ideal match for McIntosh components which are very clean and natural sounding components.

I believe you can try one in your system risk free from 'the cable company'. 


Thanks Lalitk

In terms of protection, would isotek be better than the ones listed above? Do you have one? 

While I have not compared your list of powerstrips with Isotek directly, my recommendation was based on various demos at Audio shows. They would have been a obvious choice for my 2ch/HT system if I wasn't so heavily invested in Nordost QRT system. 

I think you would appreciate the industry's leading best protection and exquisite build quality of evo3-Sirius power strip with MAC components. Should you choose to go with Sirius strip, I would also recommend DIY Furutech FP-S032N - 12 AWG PC with FI-11 connectors. 

It would be a pretty darn good power strip and you can thank me later :-)

PM me if you need help with the power cord, I will be happy to build one for you. 
@dlcockrum - shout out, remembered you live in Katy from another thread. Are you and yours ok? 
Hi whart,

So kind of you to remember and be concerned. :) Water levels are higher than I have ever seen them here. Great aquaducts in this area (unlike Houston) but not sure how much more they can channel away.

No where left to run...

Your prayers will be greatly appreciated.

You got 'em. From an irreligious jew. Just get the heck out of there if push comes to shove-- we had an evacuation plan post 911 in NY; I got my motorcycle license, my wife got a helmet, and we got a cat carrier for the kitties. Stay safe. I'll speak to the man upstairs fwiw. 
I too have been thinking of you today, Dave, as well as some of the other members who are in the affected area.  And I've been very glad to see that you've been able to post today.

Hoping for the best for you and yours in this terrible event.

-- Al
I could get an Isotek evo3 Polaris for $300 new without cord. Is there a difference between Polaris vs. Sirius ? Is that a good deal, or should I get the Sirius for 500? 
Thank you whart and Al. Things are looking like it is breaking up in our immediate area and the water level is dropping pretty steadily (for now). 

Again, I greatly appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

Others out there that are on your team. Prayers and petitioning are going up.