Do power conditioners really work? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 44 Old 03-06-2005, 01:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Question:


I see all kinds of Monster Power Conditioner/Surge Protection units when I go into a high end audio store. They do look pretty impressive.

I am wondering, do these things really work? Do they make a noticeable difference in the sound quality or is it just another way for Monster or whoever to squeeze every damn last penny out of the most gullible audiophiles.

I can just imagine the following meeting at Monster headquarters a few years ago:

The CEO of the company brings in all his top salesmen and says,

"OK, guys we need something new. People are starting to catch on to our Monster cable scam. Those poor audiophile suckers believed that our Monster cable made a noticeable difference HA! HA! HA! HA! but some are starting to catch on to the scam and are buying their cable at Home Depot for 1/10th of the price. Now, I still need to keep paying for my mansion, my vacation houses in Aspen, Paris, and Milan and also my Ferraris, my Bentley and my Yachts. We need something new, some new scam to squeeze every damn last penny out of those poor schmucks! Any suggestions?"

His top saleman says to him: "Well, maybe we can make them believe that their receivers and amplifiers actually sound terrible because of "dirty" power. We can sell them really flashy looking power conditioners with cool looking numbers and lights and we will make them believe that their music will now sound "clean".

The CEO says: "Well, I don't know if they'll fall for that one but what the heck, let's give it a try. These poor schmucks really amaze me with their gullibility sometimes so let's give it a whirl."

And in the end, a whole new industry was born. (Oh, and the CEO bought a few more vacation houses, sports cars and yachts!)

So, what do you think? Do they actually really work?

"Tag" man
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post #2 of 44 Old 03-06-2005, 02:51 AM
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Yes, power line conditioners CAN work -- my 6-year old Panamax 1000+ cleans up the AC line beautifully (tested using the infamous "blender" test). And the high-quality surge protection is a definite plus in California's spotty power grid. Now do you need to pay Monster's premium over Panamax or Belden? No. Will it magically transform your system? No.
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post #3 of 44 Old 03-06-2005, 02:59 AM
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They can do alright, depending on your power... But even better is an online (always working, NOT consumer level APC stuff) UPS (with a high VA rating!!! important!) example brand is Liebert
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post #4 of 44 Old 03-06-2005, 05:21 AM
 
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I think they can work too. Just as sheilding your whole house with 1" gold plates - at least it doesn't hurt.

the exact answer, I am afraid, is in the implementation. 90% of the time, you are disconnected from your A/C outlet. and the "power" is supplied by those capacitors which have very low ESR (like in the 40-50 mohm range). so it is hard to imagine that any HF interference could have passed your power supply to your speaker, not to mention all those snubbers, decoupling networks and high PSRR of today's amps.

the interesting thing is that your power supply actually generates a lot of HF interference (independent of what comes from the mains). Unfortunately, putting a power conditioner on the other side of the power supply doesn't address this problem.

Not to mention that it is really questionable how those "power conditioners" condition a/c lines. some of them are really poor at supplying dynamic power, and those "conditioners" actually make your amp starve to death.

But then, maybe that is the effect some of us are looking for?
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post #5 of 44 Old 03-06-2005, 07:08 AM
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Power conditioners work. Whether you need them in the first place or can hear the improvement they make is dependent upon the electrical conditions you begin with. Most single family homes that aren't close to a transmitter (TV, Radio, etc.) or power substation have pretty clean power and really only require surge protection. On the other hand some apartments, condos, and multi-family dwellings (especially older ones) have dirty power and benefit greatly from conditioners.

I would use the power conditioner only for the low power source and pre/pro components. Plug the amps into the wall because some power conditioners limit the amount of current and this can starve a powerful amp.

Bottom line, check your power at different times of day with a scope if you can and if the voltage is stable, at the correct level, and free of noise then forget about a conditioner, it won't make an improvement.

MT
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post #6 of 44 Old 03-06-2005, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
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.


But the question is:


Does it make a noticeable difference in sound quality?


If anyone hears a noticeable difference in the sound quality please stand up so we can analyze if you are simply biased because you shelled out money for your power conditioner or if you have a valid point..


"Tag" man
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post #7 of 44 Old 03-06-2005, 11:30 AM
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Before we limit ourselves to your followup question, we should allow those that have SEEN visible changes to chime in as well. Yeah, I know we are in the amp section, but I have seen various visual artifacts disappear with filtering.

Does that mean everyone needs one or that spending $500+ is necessary? Not sure. It is possible that 90% of people don't need one, 9% need one where a $10 cheapo powerstrip with filtering fixes it, and the remaining 1% have a valid need for something more expensive.

BTW, I don't own one.


Bill

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post #8 of 44 Old 03-06-2005, 11:33 AM
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Actually, they *can* hurt, if they can't keep up with the power demands of the amps.

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post #9 of 44 Old 03-06-2005, 12:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by DMF
Actually, they *can* hurt, if they can't keep up with the power demands of the amps.
Then people should make sure that when they purchase one that they make sure it has some outlets that don't restrict current. Most manufacturers out their should have units within their line that aren't current limiting.

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post #10 of 44 Old 03-06-2005, 01:29 PM
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I'm not sure you can do that and condition the line, both.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that line conditioners don't have value, just that they can be problematic. So one can't use the "can't hurt" argument.

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post #11 of 44 Old 03-06-2005, 02:04 PM
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It all depends on many factors:

1) Quality of power you get from the city
2) Lightning in your area
3) Sensitivity of your equipment

If you get power from the city, and don't live out in the boonies, chances are your power is pretty clean. If you have a lot of power outages or lights flicker, then look into one.

If you get a lot of lightning in your area then look into one.

If you have mass market equipment such as Yamaha, Denon, Sony, etc. They handle fluctuations in power just fine. If you have hi-end "elitest" equipment that is actually built inferior in this department, then look into one.

Chances are you probably don't need one and it won't make a bit of difference unless you like the pretty lights.

A good rule of thumb is that if Monster is pushing something (like expensive cables or power conditioners), its likely snake oil and won't make a bit of difference in your system.
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post #12 of 44 Old 03-06-2005, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by taguirre
.


But the question is:


Does it make a noticeable difference in sound quality?


If anyone hears a noticeable difference in the sound quality please stand up so we can analyze if you are simply biased because you shelled out money for your power conditioner or if you have a valid point..


"Tag" man
YES!!!

Recently added Monster's HT3500...man you gota see/hear the difference.

PQ increase BIG time, took detail to another level, also sound tightened up.....no smearing, very detailed and articulate!!!

Gear: Yamaha RX-Z9 A/V unit...only using the audio portion; system YAPO
optimised for flat response.
Samsung HD-841 w/DVI-1080i direct into HDTV, DVD Audio/DTS
stuff is awsome!! (both via Toshlink & 5.1 analog out)
Voom Sat direct into TV via Component @1080i
Sony KP-57WS500 RPTV
PolkAudio RT20p/CS400i/Fx500i/PSB Subsonic III

Does this help?

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in memory of Justin Wilson
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post #13 of 44 Old 03-06-2005, 04:16 PM
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Another option is to upgrade the power supplies in your equipment... Though you might not want to do that if you're going to void warranties.
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post #14 of 44 Old 03-06-2005, 06:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by DMF
Actually, they *can* hurt, if they can't keep up with the power demands of the amps.
Agree, I have three power conditioners -

Monster Power HTS2500
Blue Circle Music Ring 1200 balanced power conditioner
Furman Power Factor Pro

and my amp is plugged into the wall outlet. But I plug in all other components into the power conditioners. All the power conditioners restrict current and my amp sounds less dynamic, plugged into them.
Circuit City will not sell you a extended warranty unless you buy a Monster power conditioner for surge protection. I think they are nice enough to discount the price of the power conditioner when you buy something big like a HDTV.
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post #15 of 44 Old 03-06-2005, 09:31 PM
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They sold me an extended warranty on my TV. No offer to sell a Monster PC at all.

One thing I did learn is that the warranty division is quite separate from the stores, and while the salespeople likely get a spiff, they probably get a much bigger one from the PC+warranty, making it pay to "couple" the two, even though it costs some sales.

IOW. I believe that the precondition on the warranty is applied by the sales staff, not by the warrantors.

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post #16 of 44 Old 03-07-2005, 11:33 AM
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Typical surge protectors/conditioners can make an audible difference - for the worse, most often. However, after trying a couple, including the Zero Surge series mode unit, which made things sound really bad, I reluctantly tried a Monster HTS1000II, and while it did not make my audio any better, and may in fact sound a little bit worse than without, it did audibly reduce a transformer hum and improved PQ on my Panny plasma TV. For now I will settle for that.

Has anyone tried the Adcom ACE315 or ACE615? They use the series mode circuit also, but I thought they may sound better than the Zero Surge since Adcom is an audio company.

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post #17 of 44 Old 03-07-2005, 12:43 PM
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is this true as "softwireengineer" stated

I am using a Panamax 4300 in my HT.....how bout on a receiver? im using NAD T 752.... should i plug my receiver directly to the outlet??? or are u guys just suggesting this for power amps and subs?
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post #18 of 44 Old 03-07-2005, 02:25 PM
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Receivers have power amps built in, so as far as current limiting, they have the same problem. What are the stated ratings of the receiver amps and the conditioner?

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post #19 of 44 Old 03-07-2005, 03:37 PM
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I have a PS audio UPC in my system right now

http://www.psaudio.com/products/upc200.asp

and it has really helped out my system.

I had some rolling banding on my image from the projector when watching DVDs.

I left the projector plugged in the wall and plugged the dvd player and reciever in the PS Audio UPC (it is supposed to totally isolate whatever componet is plugged in, two zones). And BAM! problem solved...no more rolling banding just a clean image.

So yeah it looks like these things can make an improvement, one that you can clearly "see" :) it will all depend what type of conditioner and what type of power and setup you have though.

Paul Taatjes
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post #20 of 44 Old 03-11-2005, 04:46 PM
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I just got the cheap ($23 after tax) AR power conditioner/surge protector at best buy to try it out. When charging cell phones my tv upstairs would get rolling lines. With the AR surge protector no more rolling lines, and I swear PQ is better overall. So I bought one for my HT setup as well. I no longer hear hiss from my speakers and PQ when watching dvds is a lot better. However I still get some rolling lines when watching some analog channels on cable, my tv is 57in.
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post #21 of 44 Old 03-11-2005, 08:39 PM
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i use an AR surge in my room and bang for the buck!

By the way, i hooked up my NAD T 752 receiver to the Panamax 4300 and it (the Panamax 4300) shut off and turned back on....kinda like it reset itself. I guess, the NAD's power (combined with some of my other devices, i.e. TV, DVD player, DVR) is just too much for the Panamax 4300.
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post #22 of 44 Old 03-11-2005, 09:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Chris009
i use an AR surge in my room and bang for the buck!

By the way, i hooked up my NAD T 752 receiver to the Panamax 4300 and it shut off and turned back on....kinda like it reset itself. So you guys are right, The NAD's power is just too much for the Panamax 4300.

uh..... no...

you have a faulty panamax unit or a faulty receiver

there is no way a mid level receiver will "overpower" a panamax 4300
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post #23 of 44 Old 03-14-2005, 02:29 PM
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nuh-uh! i doubt it!

that only happens when my NAD receiver is plugged to the Panamax...Just to let you know, i also have my Plasma TV, DirecTv DVR, HDTV Tuner and 2 DVD players hooked up to the Panamax 4300.

That never happened before until i plugged the NAD receiver to the Panamax 4300!

with that being said, i decided to plug my receiver directly to the wall outlet. I havent had any problems with it!
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post #24 of 44 Old 03-14-2005, 09:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Chris009
is this true as "softwireengineer" stated

I am using a Panamax 4300 in my HT.....how bout on a receiver? im using NAD T 752.... should i plug my receiver directly to the outlet??? or are u guys just suggesting this for power amps and subs?
Usually the top of the line units from manufacturers of the power conditioners don't restrict current. For Panamax you have to get to the 4400 series.

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post #25 of 44 Old 03-14-2005, 09:39 PM
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They *all* restrict current. You just need to know what the limit is.

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post #26 of 44 Old 03-15-2005, 06:04 AM
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The problem with all the experiances I've had with several brands and multiple models is that despite seeing and hearing dozens and dozens of examples of improvements , it is still anecdotal and encapsulates too many variables to tell with any degree of certainty , how big a differance this will make in your system.
As for restricting current to amps, some units would not be a good choice for demanding amp usage, but most mass market receivers are current limiting anyway and it would be hard to believe that these units would outstrip the line conditioners, I would plug 'em right in to the line conditioners...
A surge surpressor that can take a lightning strike is a good idea , and while much is made about the degrading nature of MOV's (metal oxide varistors), I would tend to think that it would just give me another reason to upgrade in a few years.
I will not deal with this on a brand name basis anymore (I sell three differant brands) because that REALLY starts the "my line condition is better than yours" arguement and I think that you should evaluate what quality level your system would benifit from, and while there were many manufacturers of similar equipment BEFORE Monster Power, there have certainly been a whole lot more since and choices are good....
When I worked at Tweeter I got a 7100SS soooo cheap that I couldn't pass it up , it replaced an older Monster unit which had saved my system a few times and which , even my wife believes, makes an improvement in picture and sound. There are many other worthy brands, so you can Boycott Monster if that pleases you.
I firmly believe that the improvements of most of the better ones outweighs the negatives, but I don't particularly care which one you choose , just do some research and dive in

I think it would be generally more useful if everyone new to these forums is reminded that they are constantly being marketed to and pitched by people who post their affiliations and many others who do not. This is all part of marketing and advertising and you, the consumer, are the targets.
Noth...
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post #27 of 44 Old 03-15-2005, 09:28 AM
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tweeterex, Do you mean the Signature Series 5100 or the 7000?

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post #28 of 44 Old 03-16-2005, 06:12 AM
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my bad...the 7000 sig.... cool blue lights.....I recently have seen Monster guys pushing the idea of their "Backbone" for receivers , which consists of a 2 channel amp, a 3 channel amp, an avs2000ss , and an hts7000ss..as a foundation for HT/Music systems......

I think it would be generally more useful if everyone new to these forums is reminded that they are constantly being marketed to and pitched by people who post their affiliations and many others who do not. This is all part of marketing and advertising and you, the consumer, are the targets.
Noth...
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post #29 of 44 Old 03-16-2005, 08:41 AM
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I've got half that stack in my personal reference system (HTPS-7000SS+MPA2250). Its good stuff!

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post #30 of 44 Old 03-16-2005, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by DMF
They *all* restrict current. You just need to know what the limit is.
That's not true. I can't believe no one has mentioned parallel conditioning a la the RGPC units. While one plugs A chain devices directly into the units, amps are plugged into an outlet on the same circuit, preferably the one next to the RGPC's plug.

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