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Do I really need a power conditioner?


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#1 of 22 OFFLINE   captaincrash

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Posted December 13 2006 - 05:38 AM

Do I really need a power conditioner?

I've been a audiophile in the distant past - and with all of our computer equipment all we use are surge suppressors. We have yet to ever have one of those devices trigger. Plus the high end power filter/surge supressors appear to be fancy looking gimmicks that the manufacturers dreamed up.

Anyone share my suspicians about these - or alternatively - does anyone have conclusive evidence that we need these? It seems pretty absurd that we would NEED these with our sound and video equipment.

What are your thoughts???

#2 of 22 OFFLINE   John Brill

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Posted December 13 2006 - 06:34 AM

Short and sweet: NO.

I've tried several models and have returned them all seeing and hearing absolutely no difference with them installed. As for surge protections, from my basic understanding of power, these things will do nothing against a nearby lightning strike and from what I've read, don't react quickly enough to completely spare your equipment from a power surge unless it's a small one.

Instead, I've made sure that my home insurance covers power surge damage to electronics and have basic surge suppressor power bars.

#3 of 22 OFFLINE   John Garcia

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Posted December 13 2006 - 06:44 AM

If you want one because you think it will improve the sound, then the answer is no, because it won't. I've used them for years and I can't say my sound improved any. Now for video, I noticed an immediate improvement, which really surprised me. I could verify it by going back and forth, so I know it was the conditioner that was responsible for the difference. My Panamax works like a charm and really does give me piece of mind. I picked it up online from an authorized dealer on a great sale, otherwise I would have gone with something simpler.

I don't know about Monster, but Panamax WILL react fast enough to protect your gear. I have never experienced a surge, but have had a number of low voltage conditions in which the Panamax did its job perfectly.

I can also say that had I not had this unit with the voltage readout, I would have had no idea that the place I just moved into has a major sag under heavy draw, so now I am dealing with a wiring issue - BEFORE any of my gear was plugged into something potentially damaging to my thousands of dollars worth of equipment.
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#4 of 22 OFFLINE   captaincrash

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Posted December 13 2006 - 01:12 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Garcia
...

I can also say that had I not had this unit with the voltage readout, I would have had no idea that the place I just moved into has a major sag under heavy draw, so now I am dealing with a wiring issue - BEFORE any of my gear was plugged into something potentially damaging to my thousands of dollars worth of equipment.

I don't know John if you'll pick up on this - but what did you mean by "major sag under heavy draw"??? I am not sure what you meant by this?

#5 of 22 OFFLINE   Neal_C

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Posted December 13 2006 - 03:58 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by captaincrash
I don't know John if you'll pick up on this - but what did you mean by "major sag under heavy draw"??? I am not sure what you meant by this?

I believe that he means he is getting quite a voltage dip at certain times of heavy electricity use.

I have a Monster power condtioner and use it more as a matter of convenience than anything else. I have 2 audio racks flanking my tv stand. Standard power cords with electronics are just long enough to reach the power conditioner on a shelf under the tv. It basically gives me a place to plug everything in. And I'm sure it can't hurt to have a little extra protection.

Nothing will protect against a close lightning strike.

That being said, most conditioner units have protection circuits where they will shut off if the voltage ramps up or dips off to significantly.

If you want the best surge protection, you should install one in your breaker box. I had one installed in my old house. I think the unit cost about 80 bucks. I had an electrician come out and install it and 2 dedicated 20 amp outlets into my living room and I think my total cost was about $250 or less. The benefit to this type or surge protection is it protects your entire house (fridge, all other tv's, etc).

#6 of 22 OFFLINE   Nick:G

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Posted December 13 2006 - 09:36 PM

Power conditioners are great for video, but are often detrimental to the performance of amplifiers. Power conditioners have transformers in them that will affect the current finally going into the amplifier. I've even A/B'd this to my customers using an expensive Richard Gray power conditioner (amplifier plugged into the conditioner vs. directly into the outlet). The difference is enormous. The amplifiers (a pair of Classe' CA-M400s) felt starved and lost considerable dynamics, especially in the lower range. Source components and monitors only!

Dedicated circuits for your A/V with surge protection at the breaker box is the best (and often most affordable) way to protect your equipment and achieve optimal performance. You can use the money you saved on buying better gear! Good surge strips offer convenience when you run out of outlets at a wall.

#7 of 22 OFFLINE   Arthur S

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Posted December 14 2006 - 08:12 AM

Thomas

John Brill has this exactly right. No line conditioners.

NickG is the owner of Cleveland Plasma, and he is continuing to try to do free advertising on this forum. He was banned previously from this forum, and his posts were removed, (under another name).

His advice is for extreme high-end users. Caveat Emptor!

#8 of 22 OFFLINE   Nick:G

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Posted December 14 2006 - 03:06 PM

Arthur S,

You are ignorantly jumping to conclusions about who I actually am. Let's see...

1. I've never been to Cleveland (the home base of Cleveland Plasma, Extreme Electronics, LLC or whatever they like to be called) in my entire life, nor have I even been to the state of Ohio, for that matter. And yes, I had to GOOGLE Cleveland Plasma, because I didn't even know such a place existed!

2. I live and make my living in the Phoenix, Arizona area and have been selling home theater equipment in both big-box and upscale showroom environments for over 9 years. I have never owned a business in my life (I don't need the headaches; I deal with enough of them already)!

Furthermore, I'd like you to point out a single incident where I have tried to sell or promote a product on this forum. That completely goes against my ethics to begin with. If there's a particular piece of gear that I actually consider to be a good buy, I, like most other people here would probably do what you apparently consider completely taboo by actually recommending it.

If you can just humor me for a minute, I'd like to you take a step back and re-read my prior post in this thread. Nowhere in that post did I indicate in any way that everybody needs to drop everything and buy a Richard Gray power conditioner. I simply used one of their products as an example to explain that in a lot of cases, power conditioners can actually reduce the performance of a power amplifier. Power conditioning companies are in the business for PROFIT. They make money on people who weren't told by their clueless builder that they probably wanted dedicated circuits with under/over current protection for their A/V gear. To this day, a lot of electricians still laugh at me when I ask for a dedicated circuit for a projector. It really isn't that expensive to do, yet people will spend $2,000 on the biggest Monster Powercenter with flashing lights, among other items that are just bling, when they could spent a tenth of that actually solving the problem before it became one.

So, my whole point is that it's okay to be a consumer advocate (heck, this forum essentially is one), but it's really not okay to defame someone just because he has a screen name you that you associate with someone you obviously hate. This forum has set rules about the screen name you can actually use. If I can recall, it has to resemble you actual name. So in my case, Nick:G wasn't taken, and it represents my actual name: Nicholas Gallegos. How many Spanish-Americans do you know live in Ohio? Don't jump to conclusions. I did nothing to deserve that.

I'd be happy to speak with you and/or any of the moderators privately regarding this matter.

#9 of 22 OFFLINE   captaincrash

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Posted December 18 2006 - 11:16 PM

Well... (ahem)...

... I do appreciate all comments that are relevant (and irrelevant). This is a public forum after all and I was just wondering what people thought. Nick - I hear you and will look into a separate circuit and keep the amps off the PC - and Arthur, I appreciate your cautionary notes - they speak volumes for your honable intents. I choose to assume the "best" in all circumstances (publicly)... privately may be a different matter .... and my position (if different) shall remain somewhat private in the interests of encouraging a friendly dialog among all.

That said, may I assert that I have a great curiosity for prevailing videophile opinions and indeed ALL remarks are welcome (by me) as I can sort through any unwelcome self promotion or hog wash - as well as the occasional jewels of wisdom. Now, on Monster Power conditioners ... I googled/found nothing conclusively quatitative to support the use of power conditioners - but I found lots of SUBJECTIVE commentary. Some of the talk I seemed like flowery verbal tech-nonsense - and as such I am not willing to spend big bucks on a device. BUT... I may buy something less expensive to try out just the same if the cost is low enough to me.

I am just curious whether anyone has anything else constructive to share on this subject:

Do YOU think a power conditioner like a Monster Power or ??? made device is useful, effective or necessary for our home theaters? Or... do you think it is NOT of any significant use beyond a common upper end power surge strip???

And again, thank you in advance for your thoughts and opinions. Please refrain from posting any remarks that could possibly be construed in an unfavorable light by any individual... unless... you are certain it is warrented. In which case, thank you for saying what NEEDS to be said.

#10 of 22 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted December 19 2006 - 01:01 AM

Well, you know, it's useful to have a central point to plug all your equipment into. For some people, it's also useful for that device to also provide other capabilities like sequenced turn-ons, 12 volt triggers, outlets dedicated to specific type of equipment (amps for instance), a degree of isolation between outlets, switched/unswitched outlets, and a one point system control. If you're in the market for that, then generally the device is going to also provide some modest surge protection as well as emi/rfi filtration. To some people and to some companies, this constitutes power conditioning. But power conditioning means different things to different people. If you need tight voltage control, then that's power conditioning. If your devices are susceptible to the ring waves that result from a surge, then something like isolation transformers constitutes power conditioning. If your display has bulbs that should be cooled down to maximize their life, then you can consider a UPS that provides that ability to be a conditioner.

Video improvements are certainly possible for a number of reasons such as high frequencies being present on an AC line and typically interfering with the lower channel numbers. The RFI/EMI filters typically do a very good job of that.

With respect to audio improvements because the amps are somehow being starved, I've yet to see any good data from any company that illustrates how their product reduces the voltage drop or current limiting. Now, if in fact your home is older or is tapped out with respect to the electricity needed, the sensible approach is to upgrade one's electrical service and stop trying to put on bandaids for a problem that originates elsewhere. OTOH, one could just buy a more capable amp with larger capacitors, eh? Occasionally one finds that hum has been reduced but by no stretch of the imagination is this guaranteed. It's really a hit or miss proposition.

Everyone wants to protect their HT setup. It's almost a paternal thing with many of us guys. Hell, some of us have begged, borrowed, been nice to our mother-in-laws, kissed our wife's ass so much that we know every cellulite ripple to not only get the system we wanted but permission to put it in a room that she's already marked like a wolf as her own.

Protecting your system to me means protecting it from surges. No, not the little glitches in power that are a normal part of day to day life but the kinds of surges that come from largely catastrophic events like lighting or a transformer coming down in your neighborhood or maybe someone running their car into the local substation. I'm talking killers here. You see, some of live in very lighting prone areas like parts of Florida, the Midwest or parts of Texas. Here, you'll find what's known as a signficant # of cloud-ground strikes. No plug in device from any company is going to protect you from that. Lightning, that's already travelled miles of non-conductive air, thousands of feet of ground, is not going to think twice about that puny, gee I spent a lot of money for it, surge protector. To guard against that, and understand this means you've got to identify what amount of risk you're willing to tolerate, you need to install a whole house system. Many companies, like Siemens for example, call them lighting arrestors. If you're interested in that, I'll give you a link to something I wrote sometime back explaining the rationale in greater detail.

After you've guarded against entry into your home, then you can use plug in devices to address specific concerns. For your HT, you can get away with something in the $20 or so range from a company like Stratitec where you'll be able to plug in all your components including your incoming cable. Remember, all incoming lines need to be protected. If your needs are different and you've got the money, then maybe what floats your boat is a device that sits on the rack with your components. OTOH, one can get a device that replaces the outlet with one that incorporates surge protection leaving you with a cleaner install.

#11 of 22 OFFLINE   karl_burns

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Posted December 19 2006 - 09:56 AM

The audio store gave me a homework assignment:
Play a DVD at 7:00pm
Play the same DVD at 1:00am

If the quality of picture/audio is better at 1:00am than 7:00pm, then I may need a power conditioner.

Please let me know if this is a good test, and if buying a power conditioner would benefit me if the 1:00am playback is better quality than the 7:00pm playback.

Thanks!
Karl
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#12 of 22 OFFLINE   karl_burns

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Posted December 19 2006 - 09:57 AM

If it makes any difference, I have a Rotel RSP985 and a Rotel RMB1075 power amplifier, Samson/SVS for the bass.
Thanks!
Karl
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#13 of 22 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted December 19 2006 - 11:08 PM

No, it's a dumb ass test. It's based on the premise that in the late evening hours the electricity where you live becomes cleaner or less polluted and that, and only that, is directly responsible for improvements you may see or hear. Now the electricity may well be cleaner or it may be not. Without performing measurements you'd never know. However, your state of mind changes throughout the day. Perhaps, after work, after driving through traffic, thinking about the things that went right and wrong during the day, after the kids went to sleep, after you get a chance to unwind, your mood is more relaxed. That in itself can have a profound affect on how you perceive music. Consider that at night, your heat or AC still kicks on, the fridge is still running, maybe someone in a different part of the house is turning lights on, the cell phone is charging, and all that. All those things, which are in your home also affect the electricity. I take it the audio store isn't closed during the day and open only at night.

#14 of 22 OFFLINE   Philip Hamm

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Posted December 20 2006 - 02:01 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by captaincrash
Do I really need a power conditioner?
No.
Philip Hamm
Moderator Emeritus

#15 of 22 OFFLINE   karl_burns

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Posted December 20 2006 - 04:57 AM

Thanks!
Karl
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#16 of 22 OFFLINE   Blair G

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Posted December 28 2008 - 05:02 AM

I'm not convinced they help, at least in my case.

But for convenience it works for me because I now plug everything into a Monster 3500MkII making things clean and tidy, no power bars strewn on the floor.
Had plenty of room in my rack for the extra component (which cost me well under $150 after rebate from buy.com a couple of yeas ago).

#17 of 22 ONLINE   Clinton McClure

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Posted December 28 2008 - 03:53 PM

I bought my Monster Power Center for several reasons.

1. I wanted something which would look nice in my rack and power all my components.

2. I wanted surge and spike protection. Where I live, surges are common, especially during the summer.

I agree that I have not seen a video improvement nor have I heard an audible improvement since installing my power center, but that's not what I bought it for. I also did not buy it for lightening suppression, something it is not designed for.

Quote:
power conditioners can actually reduce the performance of a power amplifier

False.

I have been in HT for 12 years and have yet to see this. The amplifier is still getting 120v AC (actually about 117v metered, even under a heavy load) and relies on power stored in the capacitors when under high demand. If there's that much of a difference, I would guess there is a problem with either the conditioner or amplifier.

#18 of 22 OFFLINE   Kevin. W

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Posted December 29 2008 - 11:59 AM

I bought my PS Audio P1000 Powerplant because the price was right. My PS Audio Duet to protect my Sub and hook my Powerplant to the wall. The Duet also offers an added level of protection and filtering before the powerplant



#19 of 22 Guest__*

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Posted July 09 2010 - 05:09 PM

I am not entirely sure how most of you have not seen a difference between connecting everything into a power conditioner opposed to a standard surge suppressor. The video quality difference can be a bit marginal but the audio quality difference is astronomical. I have found that even the most casual listener can hear a difference. I think most of you are just trying to convince yourself why you shouldn't spend money. Power conditioners are proven not only to make a big difference in sound quality, a little in video quality, but if it has voltage regulations it can add a ton of life onto anything you plus into it. You don't have to go crazy with price and get the really "flashy" unit that displays voltage and amperage, just something that will perform some basic filtration and voltage regulation if you want your equipment to last longer. My background is sound engineering and it is an unwritten rule that everything is connected to a power conditioner. No one out there can name a sound studio or video studio that doesn't have a power conditioner in it, let alone almost everything connected to one. So a definite yes, but you don’t have to go crazy with price, and when all those people who bought the $11 cheap surge suppressor equipment looks bad or even better, starts malfunctioning from a voltage drop, just laugh in their face.



#20 of 22 OFFLINE   avtechx

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Posted February 09 2012 - 07:47 PM

Do you NEED one? That depends. For those of us in the sound recording or live sound world, they tend to be vital. At home, they COULD be, but it would depend on your setup. If you have a PC in your set up with a poor sound card, then a high quality conditioner with EMI/ RF filtering that filters out everything above or below 60 Hz is a great tool to get rid of that annoying buzz (although, a new sound card would probably be much cheaper). Laptops esp. have a problem with power related buzzes- which is why you need a high quality filter, some power conditioners offer EMI filtering, but it only starts above 100kHz or higher (which none of us can hear anyways). [quote name="Nick:G" url="/t/247725/do-i-really-need-a-power-conditioner#post_3039895"] Power conditioners are great for video, but are often detrimental to the performance of amplifiers. [/quote] I think the issue is probably more closely related to the power draw than the cost of the conditioner- I usually use a 20 Amp conditioner with Amplifiers and I've never had a problem. [quote name="Nick:G" url="/t/247725/do-i-really-need-a-power-conditioner#post_3039895"] Dedicated circuits for your A/V with surge protection at the breaker box is the best (and often most affordable) way to protect your equipment and achieve optimal performance. You can use the money you saved on buying better gear! Good surge strips offer convenience when you run out of outlets at a wall.[/quote] Some of us are renters, which makes this "not an option." [quote name="Chu Gai" url="/t/247725/do-i-really-need-a-power-conditioner#post_3043711"] Protecting your system to me means protecting it from surges. No, not the little glitches in power that are a normal part of day to day life but the kinds of surges that come from largely catastrophic events like lighting or a transformer coming down in your neighborhood or maybe someone running their car into the local substation. I'm talking killers here. You see, some of live in very lighting prone areas like parts of Florida, the Midwest or parts of Texas. Here, you'll find what's known as a signficant # of cloud-ground strikes. No plug in device from any company is going to protect you from that. Lightning, that's already travelled miles of non-conductive air, thousands of feet of ground, is not going to think twice about that puny, gee I spent a lot of money for it, surge protector. To guard against that, and understand this means you've got to identify what amount of risk you're willing to tolerate, you need to install a whole house system. Many companies, like Siemens for example, call them lighting arrestors. If you're interested in that, I'll give you a link to something I wrote sometime back explaining the rationale in greater detail./quote] Be sure to look for a UL or CSA rating. All in all, sometimes they can be good, sometimes they can make things worse- a good example of this is cable TV- adding a power conditioner can make a 60Hz buzz from Cable even worse by changing the grounding situation in your set up.


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