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Looking for decent line conditioner


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29 replies to this topic

#1 of 30 MikeVM

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Posted September 29 2003 - 12:37 AM

I didn't really think I needed one before, but...

My new NAD that replaced my Denon AVR has a much more sophisticated DSP section, and seems to be more succeptible to noise. If it's running in surround mode, and the wife starts the dryer, or the water pump kicks on, or any big appliance starts, I get a pop through my speakers. It's enough to make me worry about damage.

So what I'm looking for is something in the $150-$300 range. The Panamax 5100 is currently in the front running, because a buddy of mine has one and likes it. My local audio dealer carries Monster, but I'm leary of anything Monster because of their "all marketing very little engineering" philosophy.

Anyone else have any suggestions of what I should look at?

-Mike

#2 of 30 John Robert

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Posted September 29 2003 - 02:53 AM

Mike:

I've had good luck with the Monster 2600. It was $250 on-line and it lowered my noise floor and solved a nasty ground loop hum for me. FYI, I noticed some aggressive prices on conditioners @accessories4less.com - I think they are also factory auth for what they sell...

#3 of 30 Kevin. W

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Posted September 29 2003 - 02:37 PM

Mike,

Before you start looking at Line Conditioners why not get an electrician in to run a dedicated line or two. Could work out to a similar price.

Kevin

#4 of 30 Matt_Doug

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Posted September 30 2003 - 10:37 AM

Kevin hit it dead on.
use an existing circuit that doesn't have any large appliances on it, or run a dedicated line. There is no power conditioner including voltage stabilizer/regulator that can react fast enough to prevent pops caused by large or power hungry appliances switching on. They only help with sustained prolonged conditions. good luck

#5 of 30 Chu Gai

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Posted September 30 2003 - 12:40 PM

Well judging by your explanation, I don't think you have any of those appliances on the same circuit. The sound is annoying but I don't think it's something to worry about in terms of damaging your speakers. I'm assuming that since your Denon didn't have the same problem this implies the AC noise rejection is worse with the NAD. What remains unkown right now is whether these transients are entering your system through the AC lines or are air born. Let's assume it's the former. Unless you want to start adding capacitors across your AC lines where the offending appliances are, then perhaps a surge suppressor with some EMI filtering just might do the trick. Belkin makes a line of products called Isolators. While they have devices for HT (running close to $100 or so) they also have ones that're more often used in office/computer type environments. Each pair of outlets has an EMI/RFI device which creates kinda sorta isolates each pair of outlets from the other. Since the effect is cumulative, the further you are from the incoming AC, the greater the amount of noise reduction. You can find these products at various office supply stores like Staples, OfficeMax, OfficeDepot, etc. Rather than driving down, why don't you give them a call and see if they've got any in stock. Pricing is somewhere around $25 (i'm guessing) and if it doesn't work, then you can return it for a full refund. If you try this approach let us know if it worked or not.

#6 of 30 Kevin C Brown

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Posted September 30 2003 - 12:42 PM

Quote:
There is no power conditioner including voltage stabilizer/regulator that can react fast enough to prevent pops caused by large or power hungry appliances switching on.

Not true. PS Audio Power Plants for one. And two, if you get any balanced power unit with a big enough tranformer. Believe me, I have tried this: I have my entire system plugged into an Equitech 2Q. I plugged a vacuum cleaner into the other plug in the same receptacle. Turned on the vacuum cleaner. Absolutely no effect on my system. The transformer stores enough energy to deal with this. In the 2Q, it's 60 lbs. Posted Image
If it's not worth waiting until the last minute to do, then it's not worth doing.

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#7 of 30 Chu Gai

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Posted September 30 2003 - 12:50 PM

you listen to your system while vacuuming? Posted Image

#8 of 30 Kevin C Brown

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Posted September 30 2003 - 04:14 PM

I tried it for kicks, because it was a marketing selling point for some other unit. Posted Image
If it's not worth waiting until the last minute to do, then it's not worth doing.

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#9 of 30 Matt_Doug

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Posted September 30 2003 - 04:17 PM

Not true. PS Audio Power Plants for one. And two, if you get any balanced power unit with a big enough transformer.
I too am, as Chu is, curious to know how you heard anything over the noise of the vacuum cleaner. The size of the transformer is irrelevant as transformers and inductors in general do not store an electric charge they regulate electricity flow. As Chu hinted its Capacitors that store an electric charge. and if the charge they store is large enough they can compensate for transient voltage dips. However, capacitors with enough charge to do this for voltage dips caused by refrigerators and electric water pumps are impractical for residential use. Only a stiff voltage supply by your utility over a dedicated line is practical. I tried a Monster AVS 2000 that has a variac (variable transformer) rated continuous to 30 amps, it did nothing for the pops in my system.

#10 of 30 Chu Gai

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Posted October 01 2003 - 12:48 AM

I have a very old POS Sears fan, floor model, works great and blows wind like a hurricane. However, if you switch speeds, it sends out a pulse through the lines. Now if I plug that fan into the same outlet with no surge protector on the receiver or anything else, my speakers pop. If I attach it to the surge protector and plug in the receiver I get a pop (I don't have the Belkin I spoke of). If I plug it into the same outlet but the receiver is on the surge protector, no pop. Maybe I'm lucky. It's not a big spike I'd imagine so no reason to not try an easy, local approach that's cheap and can be returned with 'no foul'.

#11 of 30 Kevin C Brown

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Posted October 01 2003 - 12:50 PM

The Monster 2000 is only a voltage regulator, no filtration. Here's what I looked for: when I turn on the vacuum cleaner, all the lights in my family room dim for a second or two. As far as my stereo, duh, I turned it up loud enough that I could listen for any transient changes at all, in addition to looking at all the display light's brightness. No change in brightness, no pops, no change in audio quality (admittedly, as far as I could tell).

As as for no energy storage in a transformer? Yessiree there is. In fact, I think it was one of the BPT balanced power units, where you have to be careful when turning it on, because there is so much energy that is held in the transformer that it can blow a circuit breaker. Most of the more advanced units have in-rush current limiters to prevent that.


I thought that I knew this, so I checked with an EE buddy of mine. Inductors do store charge.
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#12 of 30 MikeTz

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Posted October 01 2003 - 02:12 PM

Another way to minimize the spikes and surges that cause the pops you hear in your speakers is to use a two tier surge protection approach. The first line of defense is a whole house surge arrestor (like a Leviton #51120) then in your theater room replace the 15 Amp outlets with surge arrestor outlets (like a Leviton #5280).

The whole house arrestor will clamp very high voltage spikes and the outlet arrestor will further attenuate spikes to your equipment. A benefit of this approach is that the whole house arrestor will protect everything in the house. This solution will also be cheaper than most devices marketed to the home theater market.

Now the only thing to worry about is EMI/RFI. You can get a decent passive filter for this problem without emptying your wallet.

MT

#13 of 30 Chu Gai

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Posted October 01 2003 - 03:56 PM

Well actually what the inductor does is store energy in a magnetic field but I wouldn't use it as my defacto means of storing any signficant amount of energy.

#14 of 30 Matt_Doug

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Posted October 01 2003 - 04:37 PM

Kevin C. Brown. You are completely wrong. You do not understand the basic concept of inductance or induction. else you would know the Monster voltage stabilizer and the BPT unit are built around the same transformer technology. A primer on the basics of electricity are a google search away, please avail yourself.
good luck.

#15 of 30 Kevin C Brown

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Posted October 01 2003 - 05:21 PM

The dude I talked to today said his prof in college showed them a little experiment. Battery hooked up to an inductor with a switch in the circuit. The inductor energizes. They disconnect the battery from the circuit by unlatching the big toggle switch. THE ENERGY STORED IN THE INDUCTOR CAUSES A BIG SPARK TO JUMP ACROSS THE SWITCH AS IT DISSIPATES.

Take a look at this too:

http://electronics.h...m/inductor1.htm

Matt_Doug:

Quote:
You are completely wrong.

If it's not worth waiting until the last minute to do, then it's not worth doing.

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#16 of 30 Chu Gai

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Posted October 02 2003 - 12:10 AM

Well yes Kevin. When the magnetic field collapses current will flow but it's hardly a great reservoir of power. If it were, amps wouldn't use capacitors as storage.

#17 of 30 Kevin C Brown

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Posted October 02 2003 - 12:50 PM

Chu- Correct. The primary purpose of the transformer isn't there to provide for charge storage, but it's a nice side benefit for transients.

Ahhh, but most amps don't have 60 lb transformers either. Posted Image
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#18 of 30 Chu Gai

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Posted October 02 2003 - 02:45 PM

small is beautiful Posted Image
Hey Kevin, did you have a problem with your system such that you went balanced power? And out of curiousity, did you think about installing such a unit by the AC mains? Not the one you have rather using an appropriate device.

#19 of 30 Kevin C Brown

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Posted October 02 2003 - 05:52 PM

Chu- I didn't have any known problems, other than just whatever is construed as "normal" power quality in California. Posted Image To be honest, I didn't get it as a way of improving any known or perceived deficiencies, but as a way of not having to ever again worry about power quality.

Actually, think about all of it for a second. (And actually you have played an instrumental role in a lot of this too! Posted Image )

For example, I got all shielded power cords (most aren't, and most people don't know that), swapped all my "std" audio interconnects for ones made from RG59/U, and I am just getting ready to swap all my speaker cable from "std" side-by-side conductors to Canare 4s8 Star Quad wire with twisted pair design that does have some intrinsic shielding properties. ("Shielding" in all the above cases isn't the point though.) The point is that, in a cost effective and scientific way, I'm trying to get the different components to a point where I never need worry about any performance problems. Not that I ever had any, and not that I expected any improvement whatsoever with any and all of those changes.

The balanced power unit was just one of those. For example, most surge protectors use MOVs, but when the MOVs fail you are screwed and you don't even know it. Well, the 2Q has a lit LED that indicates that the MOVs are still useful. And, common mode noise rejection is a scientifically based way of removing noise from an AC line, and is much more effective than filters. And it has an isolation loop for cable TV to remove the ground loop hum I had. And Posted Image, I got a really good deal on it.

That make sense at all? I love the power cords, btw. Belden dual shielded design for ... $12 each from mcmelectronics. Speaker wire is $0.41/ft from markertek.com. And all the audio, video, and digital coax cables from bluejeanscable.com. Not Kimber, not Monster, not [pick your favorite expensive boutique manufacturer], although I did look very heavily at some of the AR stuff. Posted Image
If it's not worth waiting until the last minute to do, then it's not worth doing.

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#20 of 30 Chu Gai

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Posted October 02 2003 - 06:07 PM

I think it's an honest answer. Now you can consider an isolation transformer by the mains feeding your BP unit.





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