Power/Line Conditioner


#1

I’m extrapolating from other situations where a good smooth power supply is critical, and not sure if the same applies here. The AC power in most houses is rather “dirty”; even though it comes from the grid, it’s not a nice smooth sine wave like it should be. Certain applications are impacted by this (plasma/led tv’s, color analyzers, sensitive musical gear, etc), and it seems that DAC’s/Amps that are powered by AC, might also be impacted. I know that adding a power conditioner Furman to our tv helped, but now I’m curious if that’s a consideration where some of the table top DACs and amps are concerned?

it also seems like this has been covered here before??? If so…blame it on advanced “CRS” syndrome.


#2

Does clean power matter?

Yes.

Does it matter enough to take steps to get cleaner power than you already have?

That’s a much more nuanced question with no simple, reliable, answer.

For a start it depends heavily on the gear being used. And more so on both how “dirty” your power is and the nature of the “contamination”. And these factors, even if significant enough to warrant doing “something” about them, generally require different types of remediation to fix effectively.

Switch-mode power-supplies, good ones operating at very high switching speeds at least, are generally all-but immune to voltage fluctuations and line-noise at most frequencies. Putting filtering ahead of those rarely makes a usefully measurable, much less audibly-discernible difference (absent a literal fault in the supply).

However, that same SMPS might spew enough ultrasonic noise back onto your AC line to affect the linear supply in an amplifier. So what? You might think. It’s ultrasonic … you can’t hear it. True … to a point. But if it’s measurable, even at levels that are below the threshold of audibility, then your amplifier is still going to try and amplify it, and not all amps are stable (can oscillate) with ultrasonic noise, so that can cause very audible issues in the audible band and at levels that are high enough to hear.

That’s a simplistic example, but a real one.

How well designed and filtered the PSU on your gear is will also make a difference. It might be MORE effective for its intended purpose than anything you can add before it - potentially rendering upstream treatment moot.

Having things like your fridge on the same circuit as your tube amps is probably a bad idea (for multiple reasons). Those nasty PowerLine network adapters, that use your AC wiring to transmit data, tend to cause issues too. Not necessarily audible, as that again depends on many factors, but certainly not desirable.

Absent a way to measure and evaluate your AC quality directly, and the effects of different “treatments” at the outputs of your gear, then you’re down to listening tests and switching different types (or combinations) of filter in and out. And in that vein, if you don’t hear a clear difference with filtering/conditioning in place, I’d spend the money elsewhere.


#3

Regenerators are useful voltage management devices. I have a couple of these from PS Audio (P5 and P12). PS Audio is currently developing a smaller (lower cost) 300 watt regenerator device.


#4

another good system is a true UPS but most of them use switches to move between AC and DC. The best (and most expensive) are the ones that feed the AC into the batteries, then take the DC from the batteries, convert through a pure sine wave inverter and back out to AC. This way the battery absorbs all the peaks and drops, and gives you true uninterrupted power, in a pure sine wave output. But the pricing isn’t fun, and the batteries are expensive to replace.


#5

Here in the United States we have clean power. It starts with clean coal. Then the power is curated in a local power station.


(From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository)

The power then is carried into the house, where master electricians send it to your home outlets.


image
(again, Wikimedia Commons)

So while those of you in other parts of the world, I, for one, am not concerned.


#6

When I learned how common it was for some countries to have no ground wires at all on AC mains, I almost crapped my pants.

If I were in that part of the world, I’d be putting in my own Earth ground, isolation transformers, voltage regulators, filtering, you name it.


#7

Knob and Tube was common from the 1880’s through the 1940’s, and is still compliant with the NEC (National Electrical Code) in some circumstances. It’s always old, so it a good idea to replace it if you’re doing any work. Back when this was being installed, it was either open, as shown in the middle picture, or concealed in a wall.

Article 394.17 Through or Parallel to Framing.** Conductors shall comply with 398.17 where passing through holes in structural members, where passing through wood cross members in plastered partitions, conductors shall be protected by noncombustible, nonabsorbent, insulating tubes extending not less than 75 mm (3 in.) beyond the wood members.*

394.19 (A) General. A clearance of not less than 75 mm (3 in.) shall be maintained between conductors and a clearance of not less than 25 mm (1 in.) between the conductor and the surface over which it passes*

It gets dangerous when people improve their homes by blowing in insulation. Also, in the pictured example, it doesn’t look to me like all of the tubes through wood members are up to code, which requires that the insulating tubes protrude 3" on either side of the wood member.

An entire house would seldom be wired over 60 amps, so not only does this lack a ground, but it wasn’t designed for today’s typical loads.

*NEC, 2014 edition


#8

@Lalakai I’ve got Furman conditioners in every single one of my systems… if only to dissuade the “nay Sayers” who’ll try to dismiss my reviews or impressions because my “power is dirty”

I have a nicer unit with some additional “active filtering” in my PC System but otherwise I use their entry level products in a lot of my non primary systems. I travel with mine as well. Handy units to have honestly. I can say I’ve not noticed much difference audibly between my higher priced unit and some of the less priced ones. But for what it’s worth I’ve got a Furman Power conditioner on the front end of them all.

I had gotten my first one originally when I was having some audible issues in the first home I lived in. Quite old and the wiring in that house even caused my PC to brown out from time to time… I’m in a newer apartment now so I doubt I need the conditioner but again it’s been a nice tradition for me. Plus if something happens Furman has a nice policy to protect\replace the stuff hooked up to it

So to answer your question, I can’t say 100% what difference it’ll make. But I’m one of those people that just drops in a $100 one into a new system just for the peace of mind.


#9

I’ve noticed a difference in my tv…colors a bit more vibrant especially the blacks (as weird as that sounds). I run an isolation bar in front of my PC but thinking of adding a conditioner there also. When we were working with color developing, a conditioner was critical even with a new house…the color analyzer was too sensitive. A toaster, coffee pot, microwave…as long as you have a sine wave input you’re okay, they aren’t picky about the purity. For the questionable situations, I may follow your path…$100 is cheap insurance and an easy way to avoid potential issue.


#10

That’s good to hear!

I actually don’t have my TV running through one but rather the Speakers for the TV in stead, I may switch the plug to the conditioner and see who in the house notices a differance


#11

In my experience Conditioners are very important to the performance of DAC’s and AMP’s. I use the Furman PST-8D because, in addition to smoothing electrical power, it also has isolated plugs for digital/DAC and antilog/AMP devices to eliminate their inherent signal interference. Another consideration is your wall outlet. In my house, for example, I get much clearer sound from the devices in my headphone system when the Furman is plugged into one particular wall outlet compared to another that’s only about 5 feet away. To me the Furman PST-8D is the sweet spot in the market for power conditioners, which vary in price to the point where the cost for some of them seems insulting. I use the 8D with each of my six different stereo systems and have been able to purchase most of them for about seventy five bucks each–B&H, Amazon and other vendors tend to sell them at deep discounts on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and over the Christmas holidays.


#12

I have this under my desk inside a small network rack enclosure. Pyle doesn’t have the greatest reputation but I haven’t had any issues with it and the pigtails are a huge convenience! also I put a rack tray above it to put anything I’m charging via USB onto. it is a very nice setup as all my power bricks and cords can be coiled into a rats nest in one place and out of sight. Takes up a bunch of room under the desk but no more than if I had a desk with drawers.


#13

I get real particular when it comes to these things. A number of years ago I got hit with a power surge, and it wiped out a good chunk of my AV and computing devices. Taking apart the surge protector that was supposed to be keeping my gear safe revealed almost no internal components. Getting the manufacturer to replace the gear it failed to protect was an exercise in sheer frustration too.

Now I won’t buy a surge protector or line conditioner without being able to see what’s in it.

For example, the Furman RP-8: (Discontinued, I think?)

a $105 rack mount Furman M-8X2:

Versus an $80 Isobar IB8RM:

A thermal fuse, MOVs big enough you can’t floss your teeth with them, quality chokes and inductors… Yeah, I’ll take the Tripp Lite, thanks.

I’m not trying to say ALL Furman stuff is canine feces, but… meh.


#14

Please do a dis-assembly of a Trip-Lite.


#15

Like this one?

(That’s the one I posted above.)


#16

Yes, I missed it. I generally like Tripp Lite products.


#17

very nice. thanks. sorry your experience came at the cost of fried equipment, but it definitely helps me.


#18

Glad it helps. I guess my point is, it’s easy to think that a surge protector is a surge protector, but they aren’t all made equally.

I have a habit of delivering those points a little bluntly, so… sorry if I ruffled any feathers.


#19

that’s a main reason I like the true UPS so much; it not only controls the surges and drops but also gives nice conditioned power…but the cost of a true UPS…:-1:

I’m experimenting now with modifying a true UPS, using two 12 volt deep cycle batteries linked, to give me the 24 volts needed for the input. The amp hour capacity is tremendously increased over the standard batteries. It’s bulky and looks like Frankenstein’s baby, but seems to be working. Still need to test it a bit more before trusting it with my computer. As long as I don’t draw more than 600 watts peak, I should be safe.