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Audioquest Niagara 1200 Review (Power Conditioner/Surge Protector)

3125b

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All you 'experts', what surge, overvoltage, overcurrent and filtering do you have in front of your precious gear?
None - there just aren't any power related issues where I live.
But if I had this much money to spend, I'd get a good online UPS, the Eaton 9SX 3000I costs 1300€ for example.
 

pma

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what surge, overvoltage, overcurrent and filtering do you have in front of your precious gear?

1:1 230V isolation transformer with low stray capacitance to supply notebook or preamps if needed. It helps to interrupt signal ground loops even at higher frequencies. Makes overall noise of the whole audio chain measurably lower.
 

restorer-john

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1:1 230V isolation transformer with low stray capacitance to supply notebook or preamps if needed.

I need one myself. My old isolation (1:1) is so old* I don't trust it anymore.


*older than me
 
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Alcophone

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Hello @amirm, old friend. :) As one of the potential fools who (somewhat) happily exchanged lots of cash for supposed snake oil of the Niagara variety (twice, even), I thought I'd chime in.

I participated in a loaner + review program for the Niagara 1000 and later the 1200, organized by Todd the Vinyl Junkie. My reviews are on Head-Fi: Niagara 1000 review, Niagara 1200 review. I wound up buying the Niagara 1000 some months after my review and later upgrading to the Niagara 1200 (to get a second high current outlet).

Long story short is that the Niagara 1000 made no clear difference in my headphone rigs at work or at home, and a profound difference in my speaker system at home.
Due to time constraints at the time of the review I have not tried a one by one test to see which component seemed to benefit how much from it, but maybe that system would be a helpful starting point. I used a Topping DX7s as the DAC and preamp at the time, and a Schiit Vidar as the power amp, as well as a Rythmik F12G subwoofer. My source was a Surface Pro 4 on battery power. Speakers were the ELAC BS 403, which are not very efficient.

Of course it's impossible to know, and therefore reproduce, whatever issues my AC power my have, so whatever "conditioning" was apparently effective here may not be needed somewhere else, even with the same components. Some people report hearing radio stations or the neighbor's wireless phone through their system!

Both models have two separate banks of low current outlets - you mentioned how noise in one outlet might affect another, which it well might, but maybe you can test whether that is less the case across those banks. It's weird that the banks are mentioned in the manual, but not marked on the power conditioners. From my second review, hopefully accurate:
The five non-high current outlets on both units are divided into two banks, the two outlets next to the high current outlet(s), and the outer three.
If you have some PowerLAN adapters flying around, those are essentially AC noise generators by design and might be helpful test tools. You'd think a good power conditioner would seriously mess up their ability to function, at least reducing throughout.

As far as the differences between the low and high voltage outlets are concerned:
One of my tests in the original review was with a dimmable torchiere that was very talented at making a Tripp-Lite Isobar buzz like mad. It induced a light buzz in the low current outlets of the Niagara 1000 and none in the high current outlets, for what it's worth.
Another funny test was getting my vacuum almost stuck while the torchiere (with an LED light bulb) is dimmed a bit, making it flicker a lot. I suspect that indicates voltage fluctuations.
Audioquest Niagara 1000: With either the torchiere or the vacuum plugged into the high current outlet and the other device plugged into one of its regular outlets: no flicker. With both devices plugged into its regular outlets: a lot of flicker with the dimmer at 90% & the vacuum almost getting stuck.

The Audioquest Thunder power cord was also provided and a giant pain to deal with, and I couldn't hear a difference with it anywhere. For what it's worth, Audioquest's reason for its alleged need here isn't the thickness, but that it uses the same directional wiring as inside the Niagara. My attempt to summarize the thinking there is that when you extrude copper, you'll get impurities on the outside that are oriented in one direction of the wire due to the extrusion process happening in one direction, and that radio frequencies are so small that these small impurities are very susceptible to them, and so you want to orient the wire such that the induced noise gets drained away. Garth claims to personally listen to all used wire to determine its orientation, for instance in the Upscale Audio video about the Niagara 3000.
I don't have the furthest clue how that is supposed to work with the bi-directional nature of AC current, but hey, that's the claim.

He also says that using a Niagara power conditioner on a 15A circuit has similar benefits to using a 20A circuit in terms of instantaneous current availability. From the video transcript at about 5 minutes in:
What we've done with transient power correction is up to 25 milliseconds I have a circuit that can actually give that power supply of the power amplifier the current it needs [...] on demand.

My suspicion is that most of the benefits I heard stem from that capability rather than any noise having gotten cleaned up. That would also explain why you don't get a benefit with a low current DAC - just a thought.

Amir, have you ever tested one of those noise meters, as used in the Upscale Audio video? Could be fun as well to see what they pick up.

That's it for now. Are you not entertained?
 

Labjr

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Darko and Audioquest have a business relationship, that much is known. I am yet to see an Audioquest product that is doing something great... maybe their DACs, but the objective measurements tell us otherwise.

@amirm It is a bit of a waste of time measuring cables, power conditioners and such... Those who know the truth, know it already, those who believe in advertised value are not going to be swayed by yet another objective review. Your time is far too valuable for that.

Every little bit helps. Why do you think people join these forums? There are admitted former snake oil customers here. They come to be deprogrammed. Sometimes they need an intervention.

BTW, I remember when Darko went all in on MQA. He flipped overnight. It happened around the same time he shut off the comments on his site. Was like he sold his soul to the devil. I never went on his web site after that. Then Audiostream disappeared when Lavorgna couldn't take the heat. Computer Audiophile went into the witness protection program. :D
 

Balle Clorin

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This
The overvoltage cutoff is an excellent function. We have a lot of solar feed-in in Australia and huge distances in our grid. Voltages vary massively.

My take on the device is, it worth a few hundred dollars for sure. Not $1k, that seems excessive, but it surely does not justify being portrayed as being total snake oil. That is not remotely fair. It's a decently made (internally) and a good looking product.

All you 'experts', what surge, overvoltage, overcurrent and filtering do you have in front of your precious gear?
I have A Professional overvoltage surgeprotector from where electricians buy stuff it cost 70 usd, in addition I have this power distributor with surgeprotection and filtering, 100 usd. It does not affect the sound or noise at all but protects my gear.
https://emf-consult.com/nettbutikk/produkt/stikkontakt-24-mskittenstromfilter-og-overspenni/


This one actually reduces measured noise from a dimmer in my appartmen, no effect on sound quality ,…

https://emf-consult.com/nettbutikk/produkt/nettfilter-for-it-og-tn-16a/


The Hifi brands like Audioquest are selling this and similar stuff way overpriced. The internals cost less than 10usd and the principles for surge protection and filtering are well known. And nothing fancy or difficult to justify the silly high prices
 
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mash

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First thanks @amirm for doing the review. Definitely helpful and informative.

That said, I would add my vote to asking for a couple of reviews on similar products that are better executed at a more reasonable price point. The power in my area (US Midwest) is generally reliable but I have had some past issues that would dicate some level of surge protection. At a minimum, I'd like to find a quality surge protector that is not based on snake oil engineering and doesn't cost thousands. The marketing noise that goes with these products is so extreme that figuring out which products are reasonable and which ones are snake oil is all but impossible for non-electrical engineers.
 

wje

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Want to see Megabuck DACs measurements the most

Yes. Excellent request. I was watching OCD Hifiman on You Tube last week as he was trying to make the point that a $22K DAC he sells is the best he's heard, to date. :D:facepalm:
 

Ismapics

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John Darko, jajaja he is just another talking head reviewer like so many in Youtube. However non of them would exist without a gullible audience of un-knowledgeable men with money to spend (as most women wont bother spending money on cables and plugs). He is not the only one that fall into this Audiphiliac (whatever that means) Thomas, Z, Recovering and the British nutty guy. Their only claim is to have golden ears and no knowledge. But Darko takes the cake, he likes his AudioQuest, Meze and Hegel, ahhh those are the sponsors of his site. What a coincidence. umm
 

Ismapics

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Lets not forget that the industry - Audio Gear - has a lot to blame for the existence of these products. In general there have been improvements to audio and response over the last 20-30 years and competitors that have broken the code of great performance for no that much $$. Topping, SMSL, Schiit and NAD (others) that gaining any improvement will cost a lot in research. So lets make a quick buck with stuff that there is no way to easily disprove by the average consumer. Then they go like Non Conductive Wooden Speaker Cable Raisers , "you can't measure it, but for sure you can hear it". These are just companies looking for the expandable buck here and there and giving high end (whomever are left) stuff to sell and make their 40% gross margin on.
 

EdW

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If you really want to clean up the harmonics and noise on the mains supply then use a constant voltage transformer . . .but there are a few downsides
1. They are very bulky
2. They are very mechanically noisy (50+dB spl). - need to locate remotely
3. And not very efficient (typ <90%) - so they need ventilation
4. And they are ugly - but perhaps that doesn’t matter since you won’t be putting them in your living quarters!
 

F1308

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Don't tell me it is not available in pink or stratosphere blue but just in that silver/grey ?
 

EchoChamber

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I played a lot with AC filters in the past (many my own build and design - rarely “approved” audiophile products, but I tried some of the most popular ones)… Subjectively, I felt most will make the sound worse. Less is more, but if you decide to go for it, make sure you can get a full refund if you decide to return it.
 
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respice finem

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The overvoltage cutoff is an excellent function. We have a lot of solar feed-in in Australia and huge distances in our grid. Voltages vary massively.

My take on the device is, it worth a few hundred dollars for sure. Not $1k, that seems excessive, but it surely does not justify being portrayed as being total snake oil. That is not remotely fair. It's a decently made (internally) and a good looking product.

All you 'experts', what surge, overvoltage, overcurrent and filtering do you have in front of your precious gear?
My humble Furman allegedly has "overvoltage protection", probably meaning shutoff when overvoltage occurs (never happened so far).
Regularly occuring overvoltage would be a case for an "online" UPS with true sine wave output? That said, the output quality of those is often "underwhelming", they can be noisy, and the bigger ones are not cheap either...
 
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