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  1. #1
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    Power conditioner: we need it or not

    I've read an article that state almost like this:

    "Our customers often inquire about the purchase of a power conditioner suitable for a Naim Audio system.
    You absolutely do not need one. Most power conditioners reduce musical performance dramatically. Do not If the power is dirty, you can't improve it with a power conditioner without taking away some of the remaining quality and punch."

    Is the statement for real?
    Are we being 'robbed' by power conditioner manufacturer?

  2. #2
    Forum Regular Kevio's Avatar
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    If the power supply is well designed and your AC wiring is up to code, conditioning will be included and there's no need for external conditioning.

    If a power conditioner is badly designed, it does have the potential to impede performance by, for instance, limiting current available to connected devices.

  3. #3
    nightflier
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    The least expensive option (for now and the future) is to have an electrician come by and test the power at the outlet you plan to use.

    I didn't do that, so I'm not exactly practicing what I preach. Nonetheless, in my TV room, the improvement in video quality is clearly visible with the additional power conditioner, but I honestly can't tell you that it sounds any different, and I've tried all kinds of stuff. I use a power conditioner on my 2 -channel system more for the peace of mind and because it makes it convenient to turn everything off at once. I use third-party power cords because they look nice and I got a great deal on a bundle of them from PS Audio, but I seriously doubt they improve the sound, either.

    Of course, my system is on the warm/lush side of neutral and not exactly very sensitive. Other systems may be much more sensitive to power inconsistencies so this is really something you have to test out for yourself in your own home.

  4. #4
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    I would think, or hope, that article was a bit more specific and not that much of a blanket statement. As Kevio stated a power conditioner can most certainly have a negative impact if it does not allow the max current flow your amp may need on peak demands. This happened to me with my Krell amp. I brought a piece home to try and did not like it. it took the attack, "punch", away from my Krell. On the other hand all of my units have benefit from upgraded power cords and I now use a 10 outlet PS Audio power conditioner that has specific outlets that do not limit current at all. The benefit I notice is a quieter background which gives the effect of better detail. In certain applications the highs have actually become smoother.

    The benefit with any of these products will vary because we all have different items plugged into their home electric feed, we all have different power grids in our neighborhood, and our equipment may vary in how sensitive they are to grunge in the power lines. the bottom line these products have to be tested, auditioned, in your system and you have to determine if you get enough benefit to warrant the expense. Any audio shop worth their salt and carrying a quality line of this type product will have loaner pieces and if not that, then buy from a place that allows 30 day return. Nothing really to lose in trying the products.

    I wouldn't get worked up about the article, if all of these products did nothing or degraded people's gear then the makers wouldn't be in business very long, would they?

  5. #5
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    I use an 'Oyaide OCB-1Dxs' for these equipments:
    - Pioneer 50" Plasma
    - Onkyo TX-SR806
    - Manley Stingray
    - Spark Audio CD-MT40
    Does it enough for my gears?

    I'm looking forward to purchase an 'Oyaide MTB-4' for the CD player and the amplifier.
    And, hook up a subwoofer with the Plasma and the receiver to the 'Oyaide OCB-1Dxs'.
    Is this a good idea?
    Or, just wasting money?

  6. #6
    Forum Regular Kevio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    The least expensive option (for now and the future) is to have an electrician come by and test the power at the outlet you plan to use.
    I think all an electrician would do is check the polarity and check for a safety ground. You can do that yourself. This is not going to detect more subtle problems like weak connections, under-gauge wiring or ground loops. But neither will a visit from your average electrician.

  7. #7
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    This is not going to detect more subtle problems like weak connections, under-gauge wiring or ground loops.
    And a power conditioner is certainly not going to fix the problems caused by weak or corroded connections in your house wiring, or allow under-gauge wiring to deliver more current. It may or may not help with ground loops (and could even make a ground loop worse), but ground loops are in a whole 'nother territory all by themselves.

    If you have any of the above issues the appropriate remedy is to have the problem fixed at the source - repair or improve the house wiring. Otherwise you're applying a band-aid and expecting it to cure a broken bone.

    There may well be some situations where a power conditioner will improve things, but my opinion is that they are one of the more over-sold components in terms of fixing problems that often aren't there. I know others disagree with that position, but like everything else in life there is usually more than one camp.

    (PS, I put power conditioners in a different category than devices that protect against voltage surges.)

  8. #8
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    Zorin, I'm not familiar with that brand of product you use.

    Several conditioners are incorporating the surge protection as well. Conditioning is just various filtering techniques. There are some who claim to be able to regenerate clean power. PS Audio says they can do it but it costs a premium. I've read some articles that says it's pretty much an impossible task. I can't even afford to think about whether regeneration works and I've heard a dedicated AC line can do the same thing.

  9. #9
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  10. #10
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    Zorin,

    You can find commentary on one critics opinion about power conditioners at this website.
    http://www.theaudiocritic.com/cwo/Web_Zine/

    I use surge protectors from APC and Belkin to protect the gear from electrical surges as during stormy weather there tends to be lots of lightning all around my home area. I can't say that I have noticed any improvement in sound from the surge protectors though.

    LeRoy
    Last edited by LeRoy; 06-28-2009 at 05:56 PM.

  11. #11
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Cheap power stripe offers plenty of noise filteration.
    http://www.apc.com/resource/include/...?base_sku=P8T3

    If you have a high gain phono preamp you may benefit from an AC Regenerator, but I wouldn't waste money on a power conditioner.

  12. #12
    nightflier
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    One thing does seem clear, not all your gear should be plugged into the same power conditioner. As jrhymeammo pointed out, a phono preamp would probably benefit from being isolated, but other gear won't. Speaking of phono, one way around the issue is to get a battery operated one - I'm currently running a Sutherland Ph3D, and it's quieter than anything else I've ever tried (not the last word in dynamics, but certainly quiet).

    I guess what I'm getting to is that the less things get cluttered up together or linked to each other, the less interference they will pose to each other and the cleaner the sound. If you think about it, many audio manufacturers understand this well: the greater the gear, the fewer the buttons. Or as Chopin so eloquently put it: “Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.”

    So to the OP, only add a component such as a power conditioner if you actually need it, with the understanding that you may be introducing new problems in the process.

  13. #13
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    A good power conditioner will not allow interference between components. The outlets are isolated. My PS Audio Quintessence has 10 outlets and no problems. Some outlets are free from current limitation for large power amps, some are specially designed for digital sources. If spending good money get a product that's going to do what you want it to. There's a big difference between power distribution and power conditioning. A Conditioner should have the filters, traps and circuits to purify the signal from artifacts introduced from other home and enviromental sources or impurities simply coming along for the ride from the originator or picked up along the way. If the isolation wasn't good in a multi outlet conditioner it would certainly defeat the purpose.

  14. #14
    nightflier
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    Mr.P., while I certainly won't criticize the PS Audio Quintessence on value, the Q10 is actually five isolated pairs, so theoretically at least, you would want to minimize the use of both sockets in each pair when plugging in noisy gear.

  15. #15
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    I have all of mine filled and each is better than with out being plugged into the Q10. If you had 10 outlets and could only use 5..... well, then, you wouldn't have 10, would you. Seriously though, if you have some reference I'd be glad to look at it and what you say makes since for strips that aren't designed for conditioning but it doesn't make sense for a product to allow the same pollution to happen it is designed to protect against. True though, the Q10 has 5 "Isozones" and one zone may be for analog and another zone for digital, I'll have to check the manual to see if any cross interference would happen if mixed sources in a single zone. I tried to download the manual and now I am going to have to reboot because Adobe is going crazy, I hate pdf and Adobe.

  16. #16
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    The manual says "it's recommended not to mix analog, video & digital sources in a single Isozone IF possible". Sort of non-committal but since it's not recommended one has to accept that there could be some effect.

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    I purchased a Monster HTS 3500 power center several years ago when Monster was promoting them for $150, retail was $399. I couldn't pass it up. I do notice a difference with the power conditioner than without. Especially on sources and video and the unit provides surge protection for peace of mind. I doubt I would have paid the $399, but the low price got me interested and allowed me to evaluate power conditioners first-hand without substantial cost. I just wish it didn't have the piercing blue light.

    Every power conditioner provides a Joule rating. As long as you match the conditioner's capacity to your system's needs, providing enough current shouldn't be a problem. I'm guessing an amp capable of delivering 60A may not be the best candidate for a conditioner. I'm also willing to bet a high-end, high-output amp would also have a good power supply with enough capacitance for proper filtering and supplemental power for any source peaks.

  18. #18
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    Zorin, I'm not familiar with that brand of product you use.

    Several conditioners are incorporating the surge protection as well. Conditioning is just various filtering techniques. There are some who claim to be able to regenerate clean power. PS Audio says they can do it but it costs a premium. I've read some articles that says it's pretty much an impossible task. I can't even afford to think about whether regeneration works and I've heard a dedicated AC line can do the same thing.

    The upmarket PS Audio units are amplifiers that supply 60Hz 115 VAC to your gear.
    They take the wall AC rectify it to DC, then amplify it at 60Hz to 115 VAC to run your gear. They provide an ultra clean rock steady AC for your gear. To my mind they are a little in the overkill category. However, AC in lots of place isn't as good as what we usually have in the US. The last time I checked, the line Fq here in Phila was 59.68Hz according to my frequency counter. A dedicated line can't do the same thing as power regeneration. A dedicated line (preferably lines) is always a good thing. I have three. 1 for power amps, 1 for low level gear and one for all video stuff. I put them in myself so the cost was very low.
    ARC SP9 MKIII, VPI HW19, Rega RB300
    Marcof PPA1, Shure, Sumiko, Ortofon carts, Yamaha DVD-S1800
    Behringer UCA222, Emotiva XDA-2, HiFimeDIY
    Accuphase T101, Teac V-7010, Nak ZX-7. LX-5, Behringer DSP1124P
    Front: Magnepan 1.7, DBX 223SX, 2 modified Dynaco MK3's, 2, 12" DIY TL subs (Pass El-Pipe-O) 2 bridged Crown XLS-402
    Rear/HT: Emotiva UMC200, Acoustat Model 1/SPW-1, Behringer CX2310, 2 Adcom GFA-545

  19. #19
    nightflier
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    One way to "see" what kind of noise there is on those lines, especially with conditioners like the Q10 that pairs outlets together, is to use a Noise Harvester, or something similar (I think Tributaries and Furman sell similar units).

    Of course, this brings us back around to the original question: if you need a little LED to tell you what you otherwise cannot hear, then maybe we're making way too much about the "audible" differences in the first place. So if a tree falls in the woods....

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