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  1. #1
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Power conditioning

    What are peoples' thoughts on power conditioning and related issues?

    I've been told that you generally don't want to use something like a surge protector on a power amp, as it will choke off the power. But what about something like the Shunyata Hydra power conditioners? Will these work OK with a serious power amp (700 watts/channel, 160 amps peak-to-peak)?
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  2. #2
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Anderson
    What are peoples' thoughts on power conditioning and related issues?
    From my perspective, there are two separate sets of issues: voltage regulation/consistency and RFI content. I have been lucky in the first regard in that I get consistent readings in the 120 volt region with nary a brownout. Less fortunate folks living in certain areas of California, for example, often benefit from power regenerators like the PS Audio Power Plants. These are switching amplifiers which resynthesize the AC at whatever voltage ouput you please.

    I do, however, suffer from the second issue. This is a topic where the outcome varies widely based on one's environment and frequently put into the snake oil category. All digital devices generate RFI and will happily send such back into the AC. Not to mention radiate fields in the immediate vacinity. This is one reason I am hesitant to use a computer based front end. In my household, I have two desktop computers, two laptops, a router, two wireless access points, four cordless phones, three cable boxes, and four DVD/CD players. Not to mention computerized washer and dryer, microwave, and dishwasher. Consequently, I find benefits to using power conditioners and aftermarket power cords which employ multiple RFI shielding / filtration techniques in my systems. Many years ago, I began using a Monster Cable HTS-1000 in the main music system for low level devices and found it offered a subtle benefit. That unit was really not designed to handle high current amplifers. Consequently, I ended up using a pair of Harmonic Technology Magic cords for my 10 amp monoblock amps. Similarly, over a longer period of time, I replaced the cords on my preamp, turntable, speaker power supplies and CDP with those optimized to combat RFI. I moved the HTS-1000 to my vintage system for use with the the CDP and phono preamp. I use a JPS Labs Power AC+ cord with the Threshold amp. I have two more relatively inexpensive Monster units that are used in my video systems as much for surge protection as anything else. I plug the receiver into the wall via another JPS Labs AC+ cord.

    Benefits? A subtle removal of a kind of high frequency hash that blurs detail and imparts a false brightness to the sound. Sound emerges from a blacker background. The result is not rolled off highs but rather clearer high frequency reproduction devoid of noise. Not night and day differences, but noticeable (at least to me and other trusted ears). Some folks like our former member Woodman used to say that a power cord couldn't possibly affect the sound. That of course was his opinion and devoid of direct experience. I have not tried the higher end units like the Shunyata you mentioned or the Nordost / Isotek Thor. These are supposedly intended for use with higher current devices so as to not limit their dynamics. I know that Harry Pearson uses a Thor with the big Nola system along with Valhalla power cords everywhere.

    rw

  3. #3
    Suspended PeruvianSkies's Avatar
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    I currently use two of the Belkin Pure AV PF60's, which have a high-current outlet in the back that is designed for power hungry amps, which is what I plug them into. I use two of the Belkin units to further isolate the video and audio, so the TV, Cable box, DVD player are all plugged into the one unit for video purposes, while the audio components are plugged into the other one. I have noticed zero interference with this method, even when I attempt to cause interuption just to see if it works (i.e. connect a vacuum sweeper or power saw to the unit to see if it causes any hiccups) and there were none. It regulated the input/output levels and kept a steady stream of power to all components. I have also noticed that it takes away all of the background noise that is so typical with alot of surge protectors or power bars, especially with video and audio connected into one.

    To me, the proof is in the pudding. I have tried my setup with and without the units and the difference is overpowering. Even my wife noticed...and that's saying something! I also have these units connected to a PS Audio power plug, which also seems to help with the steady flow of strong power, plus my media room is on a separate line from the rest of the house.

    I have never personally used any of the 'high end' stuff like Shunyata, but have heard marvelous things about them, so I am sure they would work just fine. For my budget the Belkin stuff works great..I think their MSRP is about $500/each, but you can often find great deals on them. They are REALLY impressively put together too!!

  4. #4
    Suspended PeruvianSkies's Avatar
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    One more thing: I also use the Acoustic Zen "Tsunami" power cords, which have also made a vital improvement in the noise reduction and improved performance.

  5. #5
    Audiophile Wireworm5's Avatar
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    Frankly, I didn't know what a power conditioner was, I had heard about them. Then I walked into a music instrument store where they sell guitars and stuff just to look around. There I saw an Art power conditioner for $125. I didn't have the cash on me to buy so I went home and read about it and thought that it might make a difference. So I went back the next day and bought it.
    Like E-Stat I wouldn't say it made a huge difference but what it did do was clear up the high freq. to the point that the majority of my cd's sound airy or more live like. This is with my three power amps and receiver plugged into it. So I've been going through my cd collection again because I want to hear how they were meant to sound.
    My brother got one also the better model, for his sat. radio which he was getting interferance on. And let me tell you my brother collects surge protectors if you can believe it. He has like ten of them in his tiny room. Anyways the surge protectors couldn't eliminate the background noise but the power conditioner did.
    The power conditioner for me was the best upgrade I could have done and I wish I would have gotten one sooner. Do different manufacturers brands make a difference? I don't know.

  6. #6
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeruvianSkies
    I have never personally used any of the 'high end' stuff like Shunyata, but have heard marvelous things about them, so I am sure they would work just fine. For my budget the Belkin stuff works great..I think their MSRP is about $500/each, but you can often find great deals on them. They are REALLY impressively put together too!!
    I think you can get a 2-outlet Shunyata for under $400.

    But my primary concern is whether it will adversely affect my power amp. Can anyone answer this definitively?

    thanks
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  7. #7
    Suspended PeruvianSkies's Avatar
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    I would highly doubt that it would affect your power amp since it comes with a high current outlet, but I can't guarantee anything since I haven't used their products for personal use. So I unfortunately can't give you a definite answer, but if I were a betting man...I'd gamble on it.

  8. #8
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, with dirty power supplies everywhere, power conditioning is almost mandatory, even if it were to have a slightly deleterious effect on the sound.

    Unless the amp has power conditioning built in (hardcore transformers, etc.).

    Which I think the kW does.
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  9. #9
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty Chalk
    Unless the amp has power conditioning built in (hardcore transformers, etc.).

    Which I think the kW does.
    I think it must.

    I posted this thread earlier today, before I got the amp. But honestly, now that I can hear it, I can't tell how the sound is being degraded in any fashion at all.

    It has a dedicated power supply (housed in a unit physically separated from the amp), and three super fancy-lookin' umbilical-cord type connections running from the power supply to each side of the power amp plus the pre.

    After about 15 minutes of listening, I thought to myself, "There's no way a power conditioner is going to make a bit of difference with this setup."

    Whatever conditioning is needed is apparently already done in the power supply itself. Wonderful - that's four Ben Franklins I can spend elsewhere.
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  10. #10
    Audiophile Wireworm5's Avatar
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    You can't hear it cause its not there. Maybe your amp has a conditioner built in it, I don't know. But what's happening is at least on mine is the voltage drops particularly on heavy bass music. So during these dynamic swings your speakers aren't working at optimal performance. The conditioner levels the voltage to at or near 120 so the speakers are always working at their optimal level.
    Just my .02 cents

  11. #11
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    I have read that unfiltered/unconditioned power can make turntable spin at much unstable speed.....

    -JRA

  12. #12
    Forum Regular hermanv's Avatar
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    More exotic turntables use special motor drive or control units. For turntables mere mortals can afford, the motor speed is controled by the frequency of the power line, not the voltage.

    Although the 60Hz isn't perfectly exact, it is very, very close (over the long term it is exact: it is what makes line powered clocks keep accurate time and is compared to a frequency standard signal transmitted by the US Bureau of Standards).

  13. #13
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Just lucky?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Anderson
    What are peoples' thoughts on power conditioning and related issues?

    I've been told that you generally don't want to use something like a surge protector on a power amp, as it will choke off the power. But what about something like the Shunyata Hydra power conditioners? Will these work OK with a serious power amp (700 watts/channel, 160 amps peak-to-peak)?

    I use a Tripp Lite isolation transformer, IS1000, ahead of all compents except the power amps; downstream of the Tripp Lite I have a PS Audio Ulitmate Outlet ahead of my USB DAC and CD player. There's no conditioning or protection on the power amps.I have never noticed any difference to the sound as a result of using these devices. Perhaps I just lucking in having a good power from the power utility.

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