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Thoughts on power conditioners?

Keith_W

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#1
I am pondering getting a power conditioner. However, I thought I would ask what the "objective" view on power conditioners is.

This is the story - the power supply in my house varies between 220V and 260V. I don't think I can hear the fluctuation in power supply, but over the years I have had various equipment failures which have been blamed on the power supply.

For example, my Cary CAD-211AE monoblocks are manufactured in the USA. These amplifiers sound wonderful, but they are unreliable and blow something every 12 months. My engineer believes that these may be due to power supply variations - he noted that the capacitors were under-rated for Australian conditions (particularly when the input voltage exceeds 250V) but would be perfectly safe for the US market. When I asked why, he said that manufacturers think differently to DIY'ers - the most important thing for a manufacturer is to ensure consistent delivery of parts, so they tend to settle on what is most available for a long period of time.

Another example is my JL Audio subwoofer, which has blown its amplifier board twice within five years. It was repaired by a different engineer, but he too blamed power supply variations.

My main motivation for wanting a power conditioner is not so much to improve the sound (although that would be welcomed) - but to avoid equipment failure from power spikes. However, I must confess my ignorance when it comes to electronics, so I have to ask the question to people who would know.

What is your take on this? What is the best type of power conditioner to get?
 

Speedskater

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#3
The word 'power conditioner' is rather undefined in electrical engineering, so it can mean whatever the marketing department wants. Over the course of a year my US power varies (over periods of time) from 111.4/223V to 127.6/255V. It seems that 125V is becoming the new US typical voltage. So some US legacy equipment designed for 110V or 115V won't be happy at 125V. Many power transformers don't like being overvoltaged, however the remainder of the power supply should be able to deal with this voltage range.
If you do get a voltage stabilizer/regulator think about an industrial unit rather than an audiophile one.
As a side note, at work we never had much success using Sola ferroresonant transformers.
 

iridium

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#4
The word 'power conditioner' is rather undefined in electrical engineering, so it can mean whatever the marketing department wants. Over the course of a year my US power varies (over periods of time) from 111.4/223V to 127.6/255V. It seems that 125V is becoming the new US typical voltage. So some US legacy equipment designed for 110V or 115V won't be happy at 125V. Many power transformers don't like being overvoltaged, however the remainder of the power supply should be able to deal with this voltage range.
If you do get a voltage stabilizer/regulator think about an industrial unit rather than an audiophile one.
As a side note, at work we never had much success using Sola ferroresonant transformers.
What do you use at work?
OK to answer because I am asking for the brand & type VERSUS anything thought of shilling/trolling on your part.

Best to you,
iridium.
 

Speedskater

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#5
Both places are now ancient history. But back then we decided to not bother the next time we built a test stand..
But the problems with Solas are:
a] They run hot and need ventilation.
b] They have mechanical buzz.
c] They need to be loaded to about 50% of their rating to have good looking sine waves.
Which is a problem in hi-fi systems because the current is always changing. (Class "A" amps excepted)
 

iridium

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#6
Both places are now ancient history. But back then we decided to not bother the next time we built a test stand..
But the problems with Solas are:
a] They run hot and need ventilation.
b] They have mechanical buzz.
c] They need to be loaded to about 50% of their rating to have good looking sine waves.
Which is a problem in hi-fi systems because the current is always changing. (Class "A" amps excepted)
You probably know 10 to 100 times more than I do, therefore I need a clarification on: "c] They need to be loaded to about 50% of their rating to have good looking sine waves."
??? The only problem that I was aware of on LOW load ratings was that the Solas became very >energy inefficent<.
This is the first time I read that the sine waves suffered.
?Can you follow-up on the reason for the suffering sine waves?

Thank you,
iridium.

Another thought: There is so much political correctness these day; maybe we should start a charitable organization for the Poor Suffering Sine Waves of the World. The donations could be used to purchase Class "A" amps & Power Conditioners to test & then of course dispose of in a discrete manner:);):D.
 

TBone

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#7
I share your concern about avoiding equipment failure from power spikes. My stereo uses layers of power conditioning (no surge protection), video gear plugs into a surge protector. When I leave for any period over night, everything gets unplugged. At home, more concerned about the video gear power supplies failing, just not built as robust. I've had 3 power supply failures over the years, twice the same Samsung Tantus HDTV and once a Linn CDP. Should be noted; they all failed within relatively short period, < 3 yrs span (over a decade ago) at a prior residence w/major fluctuation issues (until they replaced a local field transformer) .

My main motivation for wanting a power conditioner is not so much to improve the sound (although that would be welcomed) - but to avoid equipment failure from power spikes. However, I must confess my ignorance when it comes to electronics, so I have to ask the question to people who would know.
I wouldn't count on my conditioners for surge protection. Does Cary have Aus representation?
 
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amirm

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#8
Very few "power conditioners" have regulation. Usually power conditioner means a few protection devices and filtering components, the former of which does nothing in real life. Reason is that they try to shunt the spike into the safety ground. The safety ground at your audio equipment is so far away from the entrance to your home where the safety ground exists that its high impedance impedes any usefulness in that regard. A surge protection device must be installed right by your meter or your breaker panel of your whole home with very short wire connections.

As to fluctuations damaging the gear, I guess it is possible but I remain dubious. If the equipment is cheaply made and is switchmode power supply, I can see it being closer to its operating point in 240 countries. But in general I would not think that putting in a conditioner would help. Do you have a picture of the offending part in the amp?
 

cjf

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#9
I've been running a Torus Power RM20 for several months now. It's only serving up filtered juice to my mono blocks but seems to do the job.

Below is a series of noise measurements I took at various dedicated audio related duplexes around the listening room. All of these are home run 20amp circuits using 10ga Romex back to the breaker box. You can see in the second to last Pic how much grunge the Torus Power RM20 removed compared to the unfiltered duplexes. All and all the Torus seems to do a decent job but I must confess that I was hoping for the noise measured at the Torus outlets to be much lower than what was shown. Must be those "noisy" Class D Amps :p

My subjective listening tests confirm that music sounds much better now with the Torus than without the Torus in the chain

Preamp Duplex - No Torus/Filtering



DAC Duplex - No Torus/Filtering




Amp Duplex - No Torus/Filtering



Torus RM20 - Filtered Noise Level



Torus RM20 Unit For Amps only
 

Speedskater

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#10
You probably know 10 to 100 times more than I do, therefore I need a clarification on: "c] They need to be loaded to about 50% of their rating to have good looking sine waves."
??? The only problem that I was aware of on LOW load ratings was that the Solas became very >energy inefficent<.
This is the first time I read that the sine waves suffered.
?Can you follow-up on the reason for the suffering sine waves?
Thank you,
iridium.
As I wrote 'ancient history', about 1984 and 1994. Don't remember much more.
 

Speedskater

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#11
a] Surge suppression is one thing and as in an above post, it should be dealt with at the building service entrance, meter or main breaker panel.
b] Voltage regulation is another topic. Each type of voltage regulation has it's problems. The includes UPS's and re-generators.
c] The above 'AlphaLabs' meter reading is unimpressive to say the least. Put a battery powered O-scope on the amps speaker terminals (without changing any controls) to see what is really happening. But what is with the 130 Volt value?
 

cjf

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#12
a]
c] The above 'AlphaLabs' meter reading is unimpressive to say the least. Put a battery powered O-scope on the amps speaker terminals (without changing any controls) to see what is really happening. But what is with the 130 Volt value?
Well it may be unimpressive to you but it sure beats being completely blind as to what value the power conditioner is providing beyond what my ears think. Even if I assume the meter itself is off by 25% its still shows an improvement nonetheless.

Cant say I have an O Scope lying around here in any flavor, wish I did. I'm afraid the cost of one cant be justified for the amount I would use it.

Based on the measurements of the plain wall plug being in the 126-128v Range I doesn't seem that absurd to think a reading of 130v at the Torus is too far off accounting for the level error the meter provides given its meager $150 cost.
 

Speedskater

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#13
a] Many people have the modern day equivalent of a battery powered O-scope, it's a lap-top with a good sound card. Read-up on how to do the test or you can blow the sound card.
b] If you use a meter like that, tape it in place before you start. Make all the wires and cables so that remain in the same position. Make sure that all your system's setting and controls remain the same (and the same music).
 

Mivera

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#15

amirm

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#17
Don't many of them have fans? I miss the days that I could buy a monster APC UPS with no fan. Today it is cheaper to put in tiny heatsinks and then put a fan in there.

I now buy Cyberpower UPS and they come in fanless versions thank heavens.
 

watchnerd

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#18
Don't many of them have fans? I miss the days that I could buy a monster APC UPS with no fan. Today it is cheaper to put in tiny heatsinks and then put a fan in there.

I now buy Cyberpower UPS and they come in fanless versions thank heavens.
I also have 2 x Cyberpower UPS in my office / mixing studio. They're fanless.

 
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