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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, Everyone.

I have found so much conflicting information regarding power conditioners/voltage regulators on the internet and on the forum, I figured I’d ask some specific questions. A little background: Hopefully I will be buying a place this summer, but for now I am renting, so I don’t want to have an electrician do any work on the place. I have recently noticed significant buzzing on my system on certain components (The Intel NUC XBMC box being the worst of them all). Plugging different things into different outlets/power surges has helped some, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I need some form of power conditioning. Now, with HT stuff, I feel like it’s best to do it right rather than do it twice, so I’ve come up with a budget of about $700 (flexible) for this and am deciding between two models - details below. Before I pull the trigger I have a few questions about them and about power conditioning/voltage regulation in general. My System consists of: Panasonic ST50 65”, Onkyo DHC 60.5 Preamp, 5x Genelec powered 8020 speakers and a Velodyne Digital Drive sub. Xbox 360, PS 3 and 4, Wii U, Intel NUC XBMC Box, Apple TV Logi Harmony Ultimate and a switch for wired ethernet. A pretty nice system, but not ‘Ultra High-End’, so I’m pretty sure the argument for not having a power conditioner does not apply here.


From what I understand, there are four functions that these devices can provide:

1. Power conditioning, or cleaning the power signal of noise and junk.


2. Voltage regulation, or making sure the voltage supplied to your components is always within a certain range.


3. UPS, running on a battery backup in the event of power failure.


4. Surge protection, blowing a fuse in the event of a surge to protect your components.


Surge protection is a no brainer, need that. Power conditioning as well, I need that, UPS I don't need but what about voltage regulation?

Is that an important feature on most US power grids that I should make sure I get? I live in Austin, TX.

The models that seem like they would be a good match are the Furman Elite-15 PFi and the Panamax M5400-PM
http://www.furmansound.com/product.php?div=02&id=ELITE-15PFi
http://www.panamax.com/Products/A-V-Components/M5400-PM.php

The Furman has 13 outlets, no voltage regulation, and no Ethernet port.

The Panamax has voltage reg, a port for Ethernet but only 8 outlets (which would not really be enough for the front 4 powered speakers and all my components). In this situation is it imperative that I protect everything going into each of my components, meaning that the ethernet cable must be ‘cleaned’ also, or is that not something that will affect sound quality/noise or endanger my system in the event of a lightning strike? Also, the voltage regulation issue does seem like a pretty big feature to enhance the performance and protect your components. Is that intact the case or is it something that would be more necessary in a country with big power fluctuations? I’d like to get away with using the 13 outlet if possible, but if these features are important than that changes everything. Thank you so much for any input you might provide.


JP
 

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I have had all of my gear connected to an APC Backup 1500 UPS for over 15 years (except my power amp).


There is a lot of lightning in the summer where I am, and there seems to be power company activities that knock the power off all the time.


Lots of spikes and surges.


I have NEVER had any piece of gear fail in all of that time. Most people I know have had multiple equipment failures.


A unit like that costs around $240 or so, and I consider it the best insurance there is against equipment damage.


In addition to providing backup for a few minutes to allow equipment to be shut down, it also has very sophisticated surge protection and power filtering.


This type of unit is considered to be primarily for computers, but it does the job fine for audio and video gear.
 

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Personally I wouldn't recommend APC products to anybody. Very unreliable in my experience, and the most annoying thing on earth is when they start beeping and won't stop until the battery is replaced.


Have you tried troubleshooting causes of the buzzing? It might not necessarily be a powerline issue. In which case you wouldn't need to buy any expensive power conditioning products.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks guys,

I have tried troubleshooting the buzzing. I have been able to reduce it, but not eliminate it. It's not just the HTPC either, my system produces a totally different, very faint, beeping sound when the PS3 is selected also. It sounds like a car alarm going off 2 miles away. I'm pretty sold on the need for a power conditioner, I'm really just wondering if I should prioritize the voltage regulation functionality, and the ethernet cable port in the Panamax and go with that, or if those features are not really important and go with the Furman, which has enough outlets for my front powered speakers and all my components. It makes sense to me that the ethernet cables should be cleaned/surge protected like everything else, but since they are so low voltage i'm not sure that's the case.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raia  /t/1517929/understanding-power-conditioners-and-voltage-regulators#post_24368769


Thanks guys,

I have tried troubleshooting the buzzing. I have been able to reduce it, but not eliminate it. It's not just the HTPC either, my system produces a totally different, very faint, beeping sound when the PS3 is selected also. It sounds like a car alarm going off 2 miles away. I'm pretty sold on the need for a power conditioner, I'm really just wondering if I should prioritize the voltage regulation functionality, and the ethernet cable port in the Panamax and go with that, or if those features are not really important and go with the Furman, which has enough outlets for my front powered speakers and all my components. It makes sense to me that the ethernet cables should be cleaned/surge protected like everything else, but since they are so low voltage i'm not sure that's the case.
If I was you get a dedicated 20 amp line in your house with high dollar outlet,sound like you have a lot static electricity.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for your help, Guys.

One of my New Year's Resolution is to give back knowledge on the forums, instead of just asking questions, so allow me to relay what I've learned:

I really could not find answers to my questions anywhere, so in an odd turn of events I ended up calling Crutchfield. They carry both unit in question and the Rep, Clarence, had experience with both units and was actually very helpful.

The main questions I asked him were about the need for the Ethernet protection and the need for Voltage Regulation, both features off the Panamax. If those were not so important I would get the Furman unit I mentioned with the 13 outlets.

Clarence told me that I wouldn't have to worry so much about noise or dirty power from the ethernet cables, but surge protection is an obvious concern. However, the main switch in my house is behind a UPS, so any surge will be taken care of before it reached my HT switch. Also, my HT switch will be behind the HT power conditioner, so no worries there. As for voltage regulation, he said it was more useful in areas with overt power issues, frequent, noticeable brownouts, etc. What would be actually much more useful in my situation was the 4 high-output outlets on the Furman. These would really benefit my 4 powered front speakers (l,r,center,and sub). So I found a good answer, in summary, the Ethernet port is not important if the main switch is already protected and the HT switch will be protected. Also, a Feature of the Furman that will be even more beneficial than the Voltage Regulation of the Panamax is the availability of high-output outlets, for powering my power hungry powered speakers. So, it look alike I'm going with the Furman. I ordered it the other day.

Have a great weekend.
 

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So, it look alike I'm going with the Furman. I ordered it the other day.
How do you like the Furman? I admit that there might be some snake oil in the marketing speak, but I don't know of any other decent looking, decent build quality component with 12 or 13 outlets controlled by a circuit breaker switch that can protect everything plugged into it and offer a low impedance source for your amplifiers. That is to say nothing of its filtration and power factor technology (which may or may not help) but I don't care as long as it does no harm.
 

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I do have one question though: when feeding a large system that draws a steady 400W at idle, what happens to the power supply in the Furman PFi? Are the capacitors constantly being drained faster than they can be filled and therefore not able to serve their function as a current reserve? In that scenario would one be better off with the cheaper Furman DMi model?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for asking.

Hi AVfile,
Thanks for asking a question and giving me an opportunity to help someone out. I've gotten a lot of info from the forum and I'm glad to give back.
I am definitely happy with the Furman. I agree with you in the 'may or may not be marketing speak' regard to some of the features, but as you mentioned, it's a quality component and I can rest easy knowing my equipment is taken care of. This may be in my head, because I didn't A/B test, but I think the Panny Plasma benefitted from a small PQ improvement also. it has been powering my Genelecs and all my gear fine so far, and the 13 outlets are great. They feel solid, sturdy and well built. I think the Genelecs I have (8020a) use about 40W peak each, I had 5 of them and a Velodyne DD sub along with an Intel NUC, Panasonic ST50 65, Apple TV, and a lot of video game systems hooked up ;-) My stuff isn't all set up at the moment, as I'm waiting to build a room, but what I can do in a day or so is hook my gaming PC up to it, which uses a ton of power (980ti GPU is a hog), and give it a go with my preamp, TV, sub and 2 Genelecs. All that may still be under your power usage, depending on how much you use when you're not idle, and I may not get any useful data but I'll give it a shot. One small caveat - I got a really good deal on the Furman, so I can't help but judge it under that pretense. If I had forked over the full $700 or so retail, I might have been a little more skeptical. But overall, I'm glad I bought it.
 

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Hello, Everyone.

I have found so much conflicting information regarding power conditioners/voltage regulators on the internet and on the forum, I figured I?d ask some specific questions. A little background: Hopefully I will be buying a place this summer, but for now I am renting, so I don?t want to have an electrician do any work on the place. I have recently noticed significant buzzing on my system on certain components (The Intel NUC XBMC box being the worst of them all). Plugging different things into different outlets/power surges has helped some, but I?ve come to the conclusion that I need some form of power conditioning. Now, with HT stuff, I feel like it?s best to do it right rather than do it twice, so I?ve come up with a budget of about $700 (flexible) for this and am deciding between two models - details below. Before I pull the trigger I have a few questions about them and about power conditioning/voltage regulation in general. My System consists of: Panasonic ST50 65?, Onkyo DHC 60.5 Preamp, 5x Genelec powered 8020 speakers and a Velodyne Digital Drive sub. Xbox 360, PS 3 and 4, Wii U, Intel NUC XBMC Box, Apple TV Logi Harmony Ultimate and a switch for wired ethernet. A pretty nice system, but not ?Ultra High-End?, so I?m pretty sure the argument for not having a power conditioner does not apply here.


From what I understand, there are four functions that these devices can provide:

1. Power conditioning, or cleaning the power signal of noise and junk.


2. Voltage regulation, or making sure the voltage supplied to your components is always within a certain range.


3. UPS, running on a battery backup in the event of power failure.


4. Surge protection, blowing a fuse in the event of a surge to protect your components.


Surge protection is a no brainer, need that. Power conditioning as well, I need that, UPS I don't need but what about voltage regulation?

Is that an important feature on most US power grids that I should make sure I get? I live in Austin, TX.

The models that seem like they would be a good match are the Furman Elite-15 PFi and the Panamax M5400-PM
http://www.furmansound.com/product.php?div=02&id=ELITE-15PFi
http://www.panamax.com/Products/A-V-Components/M5400-PM.php

The Furman has 13 outlets, no voltage regulation, and no Ethernet port.

The Panamax has voltage reg, a port for Ethernet but only 8 outlets (which would not really be enough for the front 4 powered speakers and all my components). In this situation is it imperative that I protect everything going into each of my components, meaning that the ethernet cable must be ?cleaned? also, or is that not something that will affect sound quality/noise or endanger my system in the event of a lightning strike? Also, the voltage regulation issue does seem like a pretty big feature to enhance the performance and protect your components. Is that intact the case or is it something that would be more necessary in a country with big power fluctuations? I?d like to get away with using the 13 outlet if possible, but if these features are important than that changes everything. Thank you so much for any input you might provide.


JP
You might just have a ground loop. I have used conditioners in the past and haven't noticed much difference. You should not plug any high powered amplifiers into anything beside a Furman or equivalent design power system. A good amp will already have filtration by design. No, the caps won't be drained as long as total power draw does not exceed available wall power.

Buy both and test both, return the one you don't want. I'd buy the filtering over the power reserve and regulation. A few Volta here and there won't change anything. If this were car audio at 1/10th the voltage, different story
 

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My stuff isn't all set up at the moment, as I'm waiting to build a room, but what I can do in a day or so is hook my gaming PC up to it, which uses a ton of power (980ti GPU is a hog), and give it a go with my preamp, TV, sub and 2 Genelecs. All that may still be under your power usage, depending on how much you use when you're not idle, and I may not get any useful data but I'll give it a shot. One small caveat - I got a really good deal on the Furman, so I can't help but judge it under that pretense. If I had forked over the full $700 or so retail, I might have been a little more skeptical. But overall, I'm glad I bought it.
No need to hook up your PC. Your plasma will use over 500W when displaying a white screen. I'm sure the Furman will still work, just not sure about the extra current reserve being able to do anything on top of that, and I'm not sure how you would test it. I guess it's more of an electrical theory question for someone that understands the circuit.

Understood about the cost. I've seen the 15PFi on sale for $519 USD but here in Canada it goes for about $900 CAD. But I'd rather spend that than $600 on a Panamax!

Thanks
 

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...Your plasma will use over 500W when displaying a white screen. I'm sure the Furman will still work, just not sure about the extra current reserve being able to do anything on top of that, and I'm not sure how you would test it. I guess it's more of an electrical theory question for someone that understands the circuit.

Understood about the cost. I've seen the 15PFi on sale for $519 USD but here in Canada it goes for about $900 CAD. But I'd rather spend that than $600 on a Panamax!

Thanks
True about the plasma. My plasma can pull even more than 500w. And to asnwer the question about the current on the Furman, the Furman can do 15amps continuous RMS. I really wouldn't worry about it's ability to delivery past a 15-amp outlet. If you are running past 15-amps or even 12/13-amps, I would think about putting in a 20-amp circuit.

Also, if you have everything plugged into different outlets today, did you try plugging in everything with one outlet and using a star-ground? Just wondering if that eliminated or reduced your noise/hum. Sometimes this alone can do the trick. Otherwise, it's likely that one or more of your devices is generating that noise.
 

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The datasheet says:

"The Elite-15 PF i has in excess of 3 Amps of continuous current reserve (over 45 amps peak charge) for the most extreme peak power demands.

Input - 15 Amp capacity required
Output - 11-15 Amps RMS (maximum, all outlets combined - continuous)"

My understanding is that because we are talking about AC power the reserve is constantly being charged and discharged at 60 Hz. However the net reserve is 3 A RMS continuous. The peak of 45 A is only available for a brief instant then goes back down. I guess I'm trying to figure out when the extra 3A kick in - only when needed or is it always being used?

Not sure what the 11-15 A output range is about, but I suspect it depends on which outlets are used. It has 3 kinds of outlets: Normal filtered, Extra filtered (for digital/video) and Power Factor technology.

"1 (linearly filtered outlet, front panel)
4 (linearly filtered audio-video outlets, 2 switched via 12V trigger)
4 (linearly filtered outlets with additional ultrasonic filtering for video
components, 2 switched via 12 V trigger)
4 (Power Factor Technology amplifier outlets, 3 amps RMS reserve, reactive
load, over 45 amps peak charge, 2 switched with 5 second delay via 12V
trigger)"

The specs for the Elite-15 DM i say:

"Input - 15 Amp capacity required
Output - 15 Amps RMS (maximum, all outlets combined - continuous)

9 (linearly filtered outlets - rear panel – (6) switching – 12V triggered)
4 (linearly filtered outlets with additional ultrasonic filtering for digital or
video components – (2) switching – 12V triggered)"
 

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The user manual for the PF i says:

Connecting Components to the High Current Power Amplifier Banks

All power amplifiers, receivers and powered sub-woofers should be connected to these four outlets.
Many audiophile and premium home theater systems will have combined continuous current demands below 15 Amps. It is
rare, in fact, for large power amplifiers to draw more than 4 Amps continuously. For superior performance, it is vital that an AC
filter possess extraordinarily low impedance, and have the capability to pass peak current demands far in excess of the RMS
(continuous) current rating.
The Elite-15 PF i was designed to more than meet this demand. Additionally, our transient Power Factor Technology circuitry
effectively creates a current reserve in excess of 45 amps peak up-charge that is cleaner and faster than a dedicated line from
your local power station. This feature eliminates any concern towards the current compression that can result from typical
power conditioners, and the peak power reservoir benefits any power amplifiers performance dramatically. Two outlets are
unswitched, two have a 5 second delay when utilized with the 12V trigger.
It sounds to me like only first 3A RMS (45A peak if you're lucky) will benefit from the "faster" current reserve, after that it has to come from the wall.
So we should be careful what we plug into these 4 special PF outlets and not overload them with a continuous draw of current such as a plasma TV or old tube amp.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
You are correct, Sir. What I ended up doing was actually grounding the Integra Preamp. That helped. Before it only really buzzed badly with my HTPC, I have a NUC set up with XBMC, and just removed the ground with a 3-2 prong adapter. Now that I want to hook a gaming PC up, that might not be too safe, so I did some searching and found it was actually pretty easy to ground the integral without even opening up the case, so that's what I did and it worked. I'm still glad I bought the power conditioner though.
You might just have a ground loop. I have used conditioners in the past and haven't noticed much difference.
 

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@AVfile, Did you end up going for it? What do you think if so?

I bought one! Although I haven't properly tested it because I need to move some components around first, it looks to be very nicely built and doesn't make any buzzing noise even with a big Bryston amp on it.
 
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