Whole Home Surge Protection vs Surge/Line Conditioners - Page 2 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #31 of 48 Old 12-27-2011, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, I read and listened to the tube video and it was very interesting. I'm not surprised with the information.

I'm interested to know if there's a way to scientifically test a power conditioner. For example, when I bought the PC, I was told that I should expect a bigger improvement in audio over video.

If that's true, then shouldn't I be able to measure the differences with REW?

I'm not sure if I could duplicate the exact same graph from multiple measurements (assuming nothing changes between tests) for control purposes, but if I could, then would REW measurements be a valid test?

If there's a fluctuation in db's at some frequency, then wouldn't that indicate that the power condition had some effect?

If this is a valid test, let me know and I'll run the tests and post the results.

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post #32 of 48 Old 12-27-2011, 01:16 PM
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99.9% of the claims about power conditioners are BS, and in few cases would it make any audible difference at all. It's tough to explain. Sometimes you don't need your power conditioned. Sometimes the power is dirty but the power supplies inside your gear can handle it just fine. Sometimes a power conditioner will actually make an audible difference - and even then, unless the problem with your power is constant (as opposed to an old freezer making dirty power when the compressor runs but not otherwise), you might only sometimes notice a difference.

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post #33 of 48 Old 12-28-2011, 08:23 AM
 
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Quote:


If there's a fluctuation in db's at some frequency, then wouldn't that indicate that the power condition had some effect?

It would indicate that your audio/video equipment is defective.
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post #34 of 48 Old 12-28-2011, 12:28 PM
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Any recomendations for a reasonably priced whole house surge protector?
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post #35 of 48 Old 12-28-2011, 12:58 PM
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Coming from a power engineer with Fla Power & Light, protect and condition at the source and not at the outlet.
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post #36 of 48 Old 12-28-2011, 12:59 PM
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Some distribution panel ("breaker box") manufacturers have drop-in surge protection breaker thingies... but personally, I am a fan of Panamax and if I were to buy a new one, I'd go with their current model, SEP-200. It also needs a 2-pole breaker for the box; I think mine called for a 30A but I can't say that 100% as I am not home to check. Could vary between models, too.

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post #37 of 48 Old 12-28-2011, 03:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mathelo View Post

Any recomendations for a reasonably priced whole house surge protector?

I had an Intermatic "Panel Guard" installed a few years ago. Ordered from an electrical parts distributor on the 'net for around $60+shipping. It installs right outside the main breaker box and requires two unused spaces inside the breaker box and two new 15 amp breakers and some conduit fittings to complete the installation.

No complaints yet

Cheers,
SB
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post #38 of 48 Old 12-28-2011, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweetmeat View Post

If that's true, then shouldn't I be able to measure the differences with REW?

One thing you aren't factoring is the following. There's are two factors involved: What is measurable, and what is audible. Just because a machine can give you a readout that there is a difference, doesn't mean that it can be distinguished by your (or anyone else's) ears. That is the main point that most of the people in this thread are trying to tell you. There's no factual scientific basis that any 'power conditioners' (or other such audio nonsense) produce an audible difference, because noone has been able to prove it through double-blind testing. (and I doubt anyone ever will, either)

Want a real improvement in your sound? Get into how your room is affecting your sound, and speaker selection.
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post #39 of 48 Old 12-28-2011, 07:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you to all who have responded with your thoughts and excellent information. I've learned a lot from you all. What I've decided to do is have my father help me install a whole home surge protector, and keep the Panamax for more protection.

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post #40 of 48 Old 12-28-2011, 09:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweetmeat View Post

Thank you to all who have responded with your thoughts and excellent information. I've learned a lot from you all. What I've decided to do is have my father help me install a whole home surge protector, and keep the Panamax for more protection.

That's a very prudent approach. Make sure you also address other incoming lines into the house like the phones and cable. If you need cost effective suggestions just ask.

"I've found that when you want to know the truth about someone that someone is probably the last person you should ask." - Gregory House
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post #41 of 48 Old 12-29-2011, 11:44 AM
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Even when you read reviews of power conditioners in the HT magazines who seem to really want to say something positive of the particular power conditioner reviewed is that the difference with and without them are reported to be quite small. I read that to mean in blind testing you couldn't really tell the difference. I got an APC conditioner/surge protector connected to an APC surge protector battery back up, so if power goes out my Tivo won't miss any scheduled recording. I couldn't tell any difference with the PQ on any of my projectors or any audio improvements with my AVR, so I just figured the conditioner was candy.
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post #42 of 48 Old 12-29-2011, 12:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jlanzy View Post

Even when you read reviews of power conditioners in the HT magazines who seem to really want to say something positive of the particular power conditioner reviewed is that the difference with and without them are reported to be quite small. I read that to mean in blind testing you couldn't really tell the difference.

I couldn't tell any difference with the PQ on any of my projectors or any audio improvements with my AVR, so I just figured the conditioner was candy.

I agree, I can't tell a difference either, however I think it might be possible for others to see a difference if they have a lot of RF interference (like living near an airport). My power seems very steady and I don't have anything hooked up to my circuit besides my home theater equipment. It's not a dedicated line or anything, but I'm just not using any of the other outlets.

I decided to keep the Panamax for a little more surge protection and for the warranty. I also like that I can hook all of my power cords to it and I can turn off (or power cycle) some of the equipment just by pressing a button on the conditioner. This allows me to not have to move the entertainment center to power cycle, which is really nice. It also allows me to push the EC closer to the wall, now that I don't have the surge strip to contend with. And who doesn't like blue lights? lol

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post #43 of 48 Old 01-10-2012, 09:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, I decided to return the M5300 to Best Buy. After I got past the cool blue lights, I decided that there wasn't any audio or video improvements. I do not have any remorse for returning it either. Just thought I would share this with anyone who might be thinking about buying one for themselves.

In addition, if you are planning to buy a power conditioner, I would buy one that doesn't have a MOV (Metal-Oxide Varistor) filter. Those basically sacrifice themselves in the event of a power surge. Maybe I'm wrong, but I also think that they degrade over time, but you won't know it until it's too late.

Furthermore, the M5300 doesn't regulate power. It would just shut down everything powered by the M5300 if the voltage exceeds something like 145. A voltage regulator would ensure that all connected equipment never has more than 120 volts +/- 5 past to it. I've read that most newer equipment can handle voltage fluctuation, so I'm not sure if voltage regulation is a big deal or not.

I've returned to just a surge protector power strip, that's really there just because I have 12 pieces of equipment to plug in.

Finally, if you still want to try the M5300 and you have DirecTv, you CAN hook up the DirecTv coax cable to the M5300 and the picture will pass through. If you want to download movies through their On Demand system, you will NOT be able to hook the coax cable to the M5300. This has something to do with DirecTv passing the internet signal through their coax cable. Hooking the coax to the M5300 also messes with the Whole Home DVR system.

Now, I'm on to finding something to add to my system.

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post #44 of 48 Old 01-10-2012, 01:52 PM
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sweetmeat - what did you do for whole house surge protection? Are you comfortable with it being "sensitive" enough for your A/V stuff?

Thanks
Greg
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post #45 of 48 Old 02-11-2014, 10:10 PM
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Hopefully this still helps some people:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9a-F59UnEY8

This video explains that amplifiers AMPLIFY distortion. Coming out of the wall of basically any electrical outlet there is distortion from a variety of origins, most commonly radio waves and bad wiring (apartments). Distortion in its most basic form is the pops that you hear on vinyl records. High end turntables and processors make it so those pops go away and a conditioner does it in the same fashion. What the panamax or any power line filter does is takes the distortion coming from the wall down substantially. They also typically regulate voltage in order to keep your components safe. Fluctuating voltage is NOT good for electronics specifically for sensitive electronics like A/V equipment and computers. The fluctuation can lower its life span. Thin of your circuits as a river bed and the fluctuation as waves, the more/bigger the waves the faster the erosion. This distortion gets passed on to your amplifier and your amplifier takes the distortion and makes it louder. This is what can cause those hums and pops and unpleasant noises out of your amplifier. The distortion put out is measured in THD %. The higher the THD the more distortion there is in your system. That's how those conditioners improve your sound. 

Now for the human element and other misc. parts. 

Unless you have a very old amp or your amp is terrible there is already lines of defense against distortion. A lot of it is handled by the crossover function of the receiver itself. It realizes those "pops" should not be there and eliminates them. Also the circuits inside of the amp smooth out the signal a little to give you better sound. In most peoples homes, the power coming out of the wall is not too much for any respectable receiver to handle. With the clean-up the receiver itself can handle,an outside conditioner is a bonus. Yes it can help to improve the sound quality and give you cleaner highs and much better lows however, the average person CANNOT tell the difference the power conditioner makes. Your THD will definitely improve, but if you want to save a few thousand dollars on measuring equipment, Id say trust what your ear can pick up. I would still recommend one to protect you very expensive equipment because almost any power conditioner has way more ways to protect your A/V equipment than a regular surge like separate circuits, voltage regulation etc. 

As for cables, Really bad cables can affect the sound of your equipment. Make sure you use no less than 16 AWG for speaker wire because anything smaller will not allow the full signal to transfer unharmed, and make sure it is made out of copper(Easy to find and cheap) or silver (preferred but VERY expensive). The better the metal is at conducting electricity the less hindrance it will put on your audio equipment. As for shelling out $1000 dollars for speaker wire, you wont tell the difference but going with something that has decent shielding and good copper grain and content is usually around $100 for 100' spool retail. And power cables fall in the same boat. Getting an audioquest one is a great idea but anything more than $200 you probably wont tell a difference. HDMI cables under 8' typically do not have signal loss but anything longer you do want higher quality, the sound is what suffers the most in that signal loss. Again a solid HDMI cable for about 9' is around $100 retail who you go with is up to you. I do prefer audioquest but it is a free country. 

 

I hope this helps people out. :)

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post #46 of 48 Old 02-11-2014, 10:32 PM
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I hope people still read this and it helps someone.

Distortion is something that comes out of any wall socket. Think of it when you listen to vinyl and you hear a "pop". That is the same principle. Equipment was developed in turntables and processors to remove that pop and clear it up. Well in essence that is what the panamax you mentioned is trying to achieve, Coming out of the wall the voltage fluctuates typically from 110v-140ish v. Also it is not a perfect sin wave that is going into your equipment what a line conditioner does is try to smooth out that sign wave as much as possible. Many of them have voltage regulators built into them that keeps the voltage at or around 120(think of your circuits as a river bed and the voltage as waves, the greater the fluctuation, the bigger the wave, the more it erodes the river bed. this hurts your circuits and therefore shortens its life span). The sin wave is what carries the distortion and raises your systems THD %. Total Harmonic Distortion is garbage at 10%(highest ive seen) and the lower it goes the cleaner it is. When "dirty" power is filtered out it lowers your THD. - That's the theory

Now for Other factors

What an amplifier does is AMPLIFY whatever is coming into it. So the distortion coming out of the wall needs to get cleaned up(Theory). Your receiver has defenses built in against distortion. The biggest on is its crossover. It detects those pops and says your aren't supposed to be here and eliminates them. Also depending on your speakers, their crossover may kick it out too if it makes it past. The decoders and circuitry helps with it too but the crossover is the biggest helper. Unless your receiver is very old or a pile of crap it has enough built into it that you do not need a conditioner to hear a difference. The average person CANNOT tell a difference with or without a conditioner. A power condition will lower the THD of you system but the instruments to measure are very expensive and your ear is what uses the sound, not the instrument I would still recommend one though. A power conditioner has more roadblock built in to protect your equipment from unruly electricity like the voltage regulation and separate circuits for audio/video/data.

As for Cables, unless your cables really suck you should be set. You just want to make sure it is made out of copper (easy to find and cheaper) or silver (preferred but expensive). Look for long grain copper with some decent shielding. This is typically more than enough for anyone with a home theater system. A 100' spool is about 100 bucks retail. A replaceable power cable helps a lot too. The ones they give you are just as bad as the wiring in your house and if you have a power conditioner before your amp you are ruining the conditioners work with a crappy power cord. I would say about $200-$300 would get you set but much more and you are going overboard. HDMI cables under 8' do not have much signal loss and you can go with a cheaper alternative. But longer than that you get loss and audio really suffers more than picture. in the 9-15' range a cable that retails around $100-$300 should get you more than cover you to reduce loss. 

I really hope this helps!!!

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post #47 of 48 Old 12-11-2014, 12:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SAM64 View Post
Quote:I've read that separating power cords from speaker cords is important to "keep the noise" out.


Keep reading. Some of this crap has no basis in reality.
so i know this is an old thread but is this the general opinion of most of the members here that not only are power conditioners or "high quality" speaker cables of no significant value over the standard gear but that having a power chord from say your surge protector or even reciever crossing and/or touching a speaker cable will not cause any noise or affect sound quality/output in a significant way?

i know from experience that when I had an HMDI cable sitting on top of a metal bar in my component rack that also had a power cable laying across another bar in the same rack that I got some bad distortion or other effect that was clearly audible.

curious if this is still the common opinion or are conditioners perhaps of some use especially if someone doesnt have a great electrical circuit breaker setup and can't make a change to that part of the house but could add something like this to help?

Audio quality aside would it be beneficial to use something like a lower end unit like this (http://www.bestbuy.com/site/panamax-...&skuId=9518319) to ensure equipment is getting the power it should?

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post #48 of 48 Old 12-11-2014, 12:43 PM
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pickering.tim, the Panamax power strip should be fine for low current equipment such as CD players, BluRay players, preamps, etc. And having surge protection, IMO, is important. But, IMO, plugging a power amp into that strip could adversely affect audio quality. If you have a whole house surge protector, you can plug the amp directly into the wall. If not, you can go with a simple surge protector without power conditioner filters. Or an expensive solution like Torus.
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