or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › Display Devices › Ultra Hi-End HT Gear ($20,000+) › Power conditioner claims... BUSTED!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Power conditioner claims... BUSTED!

post #1 of 122
Thread Starter 
You folks here might find this interesting. I just went to do a service call at a local client's place who has an 8 year old Runco 852 CRT projector that just died. I pulled it out, and as I was leaving, the client also asked if I wanted to repair a surge protector that 'died some time ago'. I said sure, so he gave me a Panamax single rack space 1000+ surge protector/line conditioner shown below. I'd like to dissect it here for you non PC board people to show how some claims are unfounded. First, I link you to these stellar reviews here (OK, one isn't so stellar):

http://www.audioreview.com/cat/acces...0_1590crx.aspx

Now, I give to you the pictures below. Too bad they don't just show up, but I'm too lazy to Photoshop tonight..

The first picture is one that many of you have probably seen, there are a whole lot of these out here. THey have a nice LED display that shows the incoming voltage, there's a dimmer circuit for the LEDs, and a couple of the outlets are delayed by 10 seconds or so to prevent power amp turnon thump, a nice feature. These retailed for somewhere around $400 new from what audioreview says. This unit is maybe 8 years old or so.

THe second picture shows the main PC board. THe small PC board in the back left corner is for the dimmer control. THe main board has a bunch of chips on the left side that are for the turnon delay relays and voltage comparators for the LED panel on the front. Note that unlike most other circuits, there are no low voltage transformers that provide low levels of power to drive the chips. Instead Panamax decided to use a voltage dropping resistor, a cheap way of doing it. One of those resistors has gotten so hot that the color bands are flaking off of it. It's to the left of the orange/brownish colored capacitor in the middle of the board, the PC board under the resistor is also discolored.

Then we have a number of 10 or 15 amp open relays that turn on the back power outlets. these are open contact relays, the cheapest that you can find. I would have expected to at least see completely enclosed relays. Not so.

Now, for the power conditioning/surge protection. There's 5 MOVs which protect against incoming overvoltage. Most, if not all current electronic devices already have these installed in their power supplies. Second we have a TINY toroid coil that in my opinion will do NOTHING to the AC power going from the input cord to the receptacles.

The second picture shows additional circuitry for the LED display.

Now, I realize this unit isn't indicative of regenerative supplies, etc. I'm just dissecting a typical mass marketed $400 'conditioner' that is nothing more than a fancy power bar with minimal surge protection built into it. THhe claims written into the reviews area are nothing short of bogus. In my opinion.

Oh and the PS of course: This was the first unit in the customer's system to fail. A number of the cheap electrolytic caps used to filter the DC in the unit dried up and died. Classic!
LL
LL
LL
post #2 of 122
^ Thanks for your detailed post. I've always suspected that this was the case, that's why I have always purchased basic surge protectors. The "power conditioners" just never seemed necessary. Thanks again for the great info.
post #3 of 122
Never once have I ever considered a power conditioner, nor would I. Neither would anyone else i know.

Doesn't everything use some form of stabilised PSU anyway that can handle mains variations.

It always amazes me reading people make outlandish claims regarding sound stage, tightening bass, PQ or whatever.

What is it they say about fools and their money?
post #4 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by coldmachine View Post

Never once have I ever considered a power conditioner, nor would I. Neither would anyone else i know.

Doesn't everything use some form of PSU anyway?

It always amazes me reading people make outlandish claims regarding sound stage, tightening bass, PQ or whatever.

What is it they say about fools and their money?

Monster cables and power conditioners. They bring to mind the myriad of additives and devices that are supposed to increase the mpg in my car by 30%. They've all been tested and they're all BS.
post #5 of 122
Curt

I read your post and indeed there does not seem to have much in this "Power Conditionner", but do not you think that the subsequent posts generalization are a tad extreme? You have dissected just ONE and from this ONE people can infer they are all the same? Interesting...
post #6 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by FrantzM View Post

Curt

I read your post and indeed there does not seem to have much in this "Power Conditionner", but do not you think that the subsequent posts generalization are a tad extreme? You have dissected just ONE and from this ONE people can infer they are all the same? Interesting...

My thoughts were in no way based on the OPs disection, just experience and common sense.

I in no way infer they are all the same. I am sure many have all sorts of power conditioning circuitry inside. Its the necessity I question ,and the validity of the outlandish claims made regarding performance increases.
post #7 of 122
Thread Starter 
Frantz, I did put the disclaimer into my post...I did say that I dissected what I considered a 'typical' $400 conditioner. I was merely trying to point out the lack of anything that provides more than basic surge protection inside the unit, and what's in it already exists in literally every electronic device.

Compare my dissection to the wonderful claims at audioreview, and you really have to start questioning the sanity of some of the posters there.

The masses once again buy into marketed hype.
post #8 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curt Palme View Post

Second we have a TINY toroid coil that in my opinion will do NOTHING to the AC power going from the input cord to the receptacles.

Why do you believe that?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curt Palme View Post

Oh and the PS of course: This was the first unit in the customer's system to fail. A number of the cheap electrolytic caps used to filter the DC in the unit dried up and died. Classic!

Was the unit located in a high heat location that compromised the caps?

Cheers, John
post #9 of 122
Thread Starter 
In order for a coil to have a substantial amount of a filtering effect, it must have some inductance value. Two turns of wire around a small core is like putting a proverbvial finger in a dike. That would also be why other power conditioners have substantial coils and capacitors in them. Here's one example of a conditioner that _could_ have some effect on incoming AC with lots of noise on it:

http://www.inouye.bc.ca/

I've met Brian Inouye, and while he and I fundamentally don't agree on lots of things, he does seem to have some grounded basis (pun intended) on what he builds.

The conditioner was at the top of a wall unit that is open to the unheated garage in the back, so I'd say that this system was actually in a cooler location than most. It's a cheap capacitor that gave way, located next to a resistor that was underrated that gave off a lot of heat.

Again, a tiny inductor and a single cap won't do squat to the incoming AC waveform.
post #10 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curt Palme View Post

Frantz, I did put the disclaimer into my post...I did say that I dissected what I considered a 'typical' $400 conditioner. I was merely trying to point out the lack of anything that provides more than basic surge protection inside the unit, and what's in it already exists in literally every electronic device.

Compare my dissection to the wonderful claims at audioreview, and you really have to start questioning the sanity of some of the posters there.

The masses once again buy into marketed hype.

OK- whose gonna send Curt a Richard Gray power conditioner to dissect. Art, if you didn't throw the one you had the broke down away, you couuld send it to Curt??
post #11 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curt Palme View Post

In order for a coil to have a substantial amount of a filtering effect, it must have some inductance value. ......
Again, a tiny inductor and a single cap won't do squat to the incoming AC waveform.

http://www.butlerwinding.com/inducto...mon-mode2.html

Cheers, John
post #12 of 122
If you want your power "conditioned", run DC.

A nice battery bank will give you the blackest noise floor possible.
Dress your room into a faraday cage, kill the AC power, dim the (DC) lights (or candles ) and enjoy the best music possible.
Everything else is a cop out...
post #13 of 122
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jneutron View Post

http://www.butlerwinding.com/inducto...mon-mode2.html

Cheers, John

I understand that, it's all fine and dandy. I still say that there is negligible if ANY effect of that tiny inductor and capacitor on the incoming AC waveform.

I'd love to see a RGPC unit...
post #14 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curt Palme View Post

I understand that, it's all fine and dandy. I still say that there is negligible if ANY effect of that tiny inductor and capacitor on the incoming AC waveform.

It supresses hf garbage. That is not negligible.. and it is not a inductor per se, it is a transformer.

Do you think the inductor has to be physically large to do this? Don't forget, it's not being required to store the 60 hz energy that transfers through the unit, it merely has to present a low shorting impedance to the hf stuff.

Your statement is consistent with examination of a switchmode xfmr and saying it can't possibly transfer a kilowatt...because the xfmr required to do that at 60 hz is huge.. It's the frequency that determines the size.

You saying "you don't think it works", certainly doesn't make common mode chokes any less effective. They work quite well.

Curt...you are talking about that green core with the two red wires, right? That's what I'm referring to.

Cheers, John
post #15 of 122
Thread Starter 
Yes, that's what I'm talking about. I'll also say that a ferrite bead as found on many power cords will do the same thing. IN addition, virtually all electronic product already has this built into the power supply and/or incoming AC port. This prevents noise from the internal device's SMPS from coming out, and also prevents extraneous noise from coming in.

IN addition, there's massive filtering on the DC outputs of all regulated power supplies, moreso if the supply is not regulated as with many power amp output stages.

So convince me again where this small coil/transformer makes a difference in the Panamax?
post #16 of 122
Hey Curt,

Here's the power conditioner I use http://www.equitech.com/products/rack/modelqpro.html

Do you think this coil will do something.

Cheers
post #17 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curt Palme View Post

I'll also say that a ferrite bead as found on many power cords will do the same thing.

No, actually it wont.

The job of a ferrite bead is to absorb. It does so by eddies within the ferrite as a result of the magnetic field rate of change caused by the rate of change within the current of the wire.

The object we have been talking about is a transformer. But unlike a normal ferrite, this xfmr has the primary and secondary running the opposing line currents in it. It is not optimized to absorb, but to get in the way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curt Palme View Post

IN addition, virtually all electronic product already has this built into the power supply and/or incoming AC port. This prevents noise from the internal device's SMPS from coming out, and also prevents extraneous noise from coming in.

So then you actually are agreeing with me, as you said....""This prevents noise from the internal device's SMPS from coming out, and also prevents extraneous noise from coming in."" For you to say such, means that you do believe them to be effective, contrary to your initial statement.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curt Palme View Post

So convince me again where this small coil/transformer makes a difference in the Panamax?

I have no need to. You already said it.

Whether or not the equipment plugged into the panamax has those same common mode chokes has never been part of the question. You contended that it was too small to do anything, but now you concur that it indeed capable of doing something useful.

Cheers, John
post #18 of 122
Thread Starter 
What I am saying is that the current electronics already has these devices in them, adding secondary units won't do anything. The transformers in the devices I've seen (toroid and all) are a lot larger than what's in the Panamax. I'd therefore say that the ability to supress larger spikes is better than what the Panamax can do.

Since posting the first post, I changed no less than 6 electrolytic capacitors in the Panamax. Construction date of the unit internally was mid 1998. The one main tiny filter cap was completely open, 5 others were way off spec.

So, due to the lack of filtering, the poor engineering and poor reliability of the unit, I say that you're better off leaving a unit like this out of your a/v system.
post #19 of 122
Much like any other "audiophile" power product we see that it is all hot air and a richard gray product would be as pathetic.
post #20 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curt Palme View Post

What I am saying is that the current electronics already has these devices in them, adding secondary units won't do anything..

We agree. Your initial statement was that it was too small to be effective at anything. That was what I questioned, as that statement was not correct.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curt Palme View Post

The transformers in the devices I've seen (toroid and all) are a lot larger than what's in the Panamax..

They have to be. The purpose of transformers is to transfer energy from the primary to the secondary. They do so by storing the energy within the core of the transformer, so large powers require large cores to prevent saturation.

You are talking about two entirely different applications with two entirely different sets of characteristics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curt Palme View Post

I'd therefore say that the ability to supress larger spikes is better than what the Panamax can do..

A transformer by design, is not supposed to convert time varying signals to heat. A very good transformer has the ability to sent transients right through itself into the secondary windings, as transformers per se, are not designed to be absorbers of bad stuff. They will to some extent, but that is not a design feature.

A device which is designed to absorb spikes or prevent them from getting past, like the common mode choke is designed to do, will be far more effective at spike alleviation than a simple transformer of any size.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curt Palme View Post

Since posting the first post, I changed no less than 6 electrolytic capacitors in the Panamax. Construction date of the unit internally was mid 1998. The one main tiny filter cap was completely open, 5 others were way off spec..

That does not indicate that the choke is ineffective. It indicate merely that the capacitors failed. There are many mechanisms for this to happen. Inadequate forming, poor paste formulation, overheating, inadequate manufacturing quality, inadequate derating..
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curt Palme View Post

So, due to the lack of filtering, the poor engineering and poor reliability of the unit, I say that you're better off leaving a unit like this out of your a/v system.

You have not shown that lack of filtering was the issue with the capacitors, nor that the unit lacked adequate filtering.

Poor engineering has not been indicated directly. It may be that poor engineering was responsible for an inadequate derating, or damage to the lytics during assembly soldering, but the case for poor engineering has not been clearly demonstrated.

It may well be that the manu had inadequate QA, and that system did not find the capacitors which were of poor quality. If you recall, a few years back there was a cap manufacturer that messed up it's paste formulation, leading to a rather large incidence of cap failures on motherboards. This unit may have suffered that same fate.

Poor reliability, on the other hand, you have absolutely shown. To answer your last question, I agree. This unit would have been better off not in the system.

In fact, standard MTBF practices always indicate less is better, if well engineered.

Have a nice weekend Curt, it was a pleasure talking to you.
Cheers, John
post #21 of 122
Curt appears to be overlooking the gazintas I think.
post #22 of 122
jneutron are you sticking up for this pathetic unit from Panamax? This is not the audio asylum where people will buy your bull ****.
post #23 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluray_1080p View Post

jneutron are you sticking up for this pathetic unit from Panamax? This is not the audio asylum where people will buy your bull ****.

My my, what an interesting attitude.

Please re-read every post I have made concerning this topic. I have always discussed the engineering aspects of the electronics. Nothing more, nothing less.

I am not sticking up for the unit. I agreed that the unit has performed dismally, agreed that it was not reliable, and afforded several possible reasons for that poor performance.

Nowhere did I indicate the relative merits of the device, just the function of one of the components within. Confusing a common mode choke and it's function with that of a transformer needed to be clarified.

Please think twice before posting such a silly set of sentences.

Cheers, John
post #24 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluray_1080p View Post

jneutron are you sticking up for this pathetic unit from Panamax? This is not the audio asylum where people will buy your bull ****.

Did somebody pee in your cornflakes?

I love the rational debate and discourse that you get around here.
post #25 of 122
So then we have concluded that power conditioners as advertised deliver on the promises made ?

Art
post #26 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curt Palme View Post

So, due to the lack of filtering, the poor engineering and poor reliability of the unit, I say that you're better off leaving a unit like this out of your a/v system.

I completely agree. Panamax has never been known to even subjectively improve sonics among audiophiles, only to current limit if used for amps and
to degrade sonics.

The negative for Panamax doesn't necessarily disprove that power conditioning can't be helpful for audio with the right system and room.
But many power conditioners cause as many problems as they do assistance with the audio - except for high quality dual conversion UPS as recommended by Frantz, power regeneration like PS Audio Power Plant Premier (but even that can current limit on high power amps and I don't recommend for that)
and perhaps some balanced power units from Furman or Equitech.
post #27 of 122
Id like to see the inside of a Richard Grey unit. Anyone seen or have pictures of that?
post #28 of 122
Thread Starter 
I'll bypass jneutron's post to me for now, too busy but I'd like to challenge a couple of his points.

I think we agree on the basics though..

My point here is that according to most reviews online, this is a stellar product that will change your sonic world. I posted to prove otherwise.

In my world, whether you believe that a conditioner/surge protector makes a sonic difference or not, it should be overbuilt to the point that it's the last thing to blow up. They should take surges with ease, and use high quality parts in it to outlast whatever is plugged into it.

In this case it was low quality caps sitting next to heat generating resistors that slowly caused them to lose value.That's very common with low end electronics. Same with this piece of crap.
post #29 of 122
I had 2 MAX 1000+ one died about 2 years ago. The other I threw in the scap can right after that.

It said OVERVOLT and its companion that I had in the rack ( a second 1000+ ) was working just fine.

There is a relay that opens in this situation. well, I closed the relay manually and sparks shot accorss the room and landed on my rug and almost started a fire in my new house!

The max 1000+ units were some of the 1st PANAMAX units and failed quite a lot. They were disscontinued due to other failures and yes they were junk!.

I found that my system main amps actually ran warmer with the MAX1000+ units just at idol with no signal applied for amplification.

I replaced both units with two pro pieces and the amps run much cooler at idol beleive it or not. I thought this was all in my head but I did some measuring and in deed the amps are not running as hard with the new units that will remain namless.

They are pro audio pieces and not "audiophile" pieces so you wont find these in Stereo review.
post #30 of 122
Curt, I don't know about this specific model, but most Panamax products carry a lifetime warranty. Why not have the customer call them and send it back if that's the case?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ultra Hi-End HT Gear ($20,000+)
AVS › AVS Forum › Display Devices › Ultra Hi-End HT Gear ($20,000+) › Power conditioner claims... BUSTED!