Audio Equipment and Home Theater Audio : What To Get: Power Line Conditioner for Home Theater

What To Get: Power Line Conditioner for Home Theater

I would like to get a Power Conditioner. Right now I use a Belkin Power strip. But my building is 108 years old. The Wiring and Electric Panels are from the early 60's.

I want to protect my HT from the old electric system. What are some suggestions? Price is a consideration.

1) I want the Power supply to be kept level.
2) I want True Surge Protection.
3) Cleans the incoming power from unwanted noise,etc.

What to get and other considerations,Thanx in advance.

My System: Sharp AQUOS LC-60LE847U
Pioneer VSX-53
Oppo BDP-93
Xbox 360S
Martin Logan Motion 40 L/R
Martin Logan Motion 8 Center
Martin Logan Motion 4 L/R Surr
Cable/Connects AudioQuest Type 4 & AQ Connects

I Kill Kids!

Re: What To Get: Power Line Conditioner for Home Theater

Unless the power is so bad that you're having real problems, a full regulating power conditioner sounds like overkill.

I've got my home theater stuff plugged into a Monster HTFS 1000, which is an overgrown power bar with a wired remote that can display voltage and current. I stumbled over one at a thrift store, but you can get it from Amazon for $150. As well as Monster, Panamax and Furman make some nice units.

Re: What To Get: Power Line Conditioner for Home Theater


Not necessarily. A good power conditioner can get rid of noise in the lines, pops, etc, especially if you have motors and CFL's on the same circuit.

Re: What To Get: Power Line Conditioner for Home Theater

True, but a filter will reduce that noise. And, modern electronics aren't as sensitive as old gear that had unregulated power supplies. You'd see the picture shrink briefly on old TVs when there was a power dip.

A sinewave continuous UPS would keep the power steady even if it fails altogether for a few seconds to many minutes (depending on load and battery size). You might find an older model at a computer recycler, which could easily be refurbished by sticking new batteries in it.

Re: What To Get: Power Line Conditioner for Home Theater

I know I'm a bit late to this party, but for future edification, I'd like to weigh in. I'm an engineer with experience in building FOH PA systems, TV broadcast facilities and (most recently) computer data centers. I've also found it necessary throughout my career to design or specify the power systems that feed my creations in order to get the best electromagnetic compatibility.

First of all, the term "power conditioner" isn't based on any standard or law. It can mean very different things. Here's what you really need to know:

1. There are three basic forms of power protection: those that try to stop spurious power line noise and/or transients, those that succeed in stopping spurious power line noise and/or transients, and those that correct or recreate an ideal power waveform.

2. If you're having an actual problem, then you might want to consider investing in a well thought out power supply system, possibly starting with rewiring your house to modern standards. If you're not having any actual problems, you'll just be throwing money away on placebo products.

3. Nothing is going to protect you from a direct lightning strike, so don't even think that a $15 power strip will save you from electrocution.

Let's address your points:

"1) I want the Power supply to be kept level."

If you're saying that you want your AC voltage (both RMS and peak to peak) to remain constant regardless of the "house" voltage, then what you want is an AC voltage regulator (AVR). I've lived in houses with sagging voltages, and have used AVR equipment made by Furman Sound to give me a solid 120VAC to drive the old school Pi-filter style power supplies in my vintage audiophile sound equipment with great success. So if you're using Class A through Class B amplification with traditional power supplies in an old building that you can't rewire, buying a good quality AVR unit may be for you.

OTOH, if you have an inexpensive (less than 10 grand) "A/V receiver", there's a very good chance that it's using switching power supplies and/or Class D or worse amplification. If that's the case, it may not be worth spending $1000 or more to supply a $500 component, and since switching power supplies are not at all fussy about input voltage levels, you can save your money because you really don't need the help.

"2) I want True Surge Protection."

Stating that as a proper noun suggests that "True Surge Protection" is some sort of trademark, and that you're not going to get total surge protection. A more reasonable question is what sort of "surges" (if any) do you have problems with, and how much are you willing to spend? There are thousands of broadcast TV stations that remain on-air while taking multiple lightning strikes. It is possible to engineer a solution. But chances are that your home theater system doesn't have the same amount of money at risk as a large market TV broadcaster, so it would be wise to scale your expectations to fit your pocketbook. If you're not making millions of dollars a day, there's no reason to spend millions of dollars for protection.

For home users, the gold standard in lightning protection (still) is to unplug your equipment from the AC power and any external antenna/cable inputs before a storm comes, and don't plug it back in until an hour after the storm passes. Cost: $0.

If you have other power related problems due to living in an industrial area where things like power factor, load shedding and capacitor bank switching (or maybe a noisy elevator motor in the building) are factors, then you can keep that stuff out of the AC plugs of your equipment by filtering out the undesirable noise. Equipment to do this is typically a bit cheaper than AVR devices. The really cheap stuff uses MOVs, which are self-sacrificing, which means they go bad on a regular basis. Better solutions use LCR filters (Tripp-Lite Isobar, Brickwall brand surge protectors and even a simple isolation transformer will work to do this) and effectively turn unwanted power line noise into heat.

As usual, consider the cost (and obsolescence of the equipment that you want to protect when making a budget. Remember that no protection will make things look or sound better under normal conditions.

"3) Cleans the incoming power from unwanted noise,etc."

My first answer to that is "Why? Is it bothering you?" In most cases the honest answer is "no." I mean, sure you can spend almost unlimited money to (re)create the ideal sine wave to power your equipment with. But if you can't tell the difference, does it really matter? The objective of marketing is to sell stuff to people who don't need it. Do you want to be a sucker? If not, then don't listen to the marketeers.

Bottom line: to protect a $500 A/V receiver and related stuff, a $75 Isobar will probably serve your needs well. One step up is to get an APC H15 power conditioner ($250) with AVR. Anything more would be overkill. If a lightning strike kills your HT system, use your homeowner's (or renter's) insurance and replace it with newer and better stuff. The money that you could have wasted on "shot in the dark" overkill "protection" can be put into a savings account, and used to buy new stuff from time to time. With TV technology changing so rapidly, that seems to be a much more desirable option to me.

Re: What To Get: Power Line Conditioner for Home Theater

@Speed_Daemon, Thanks for the great advice.

I Kill Kids!

Re: What To Get: Power Line Conditioner for Home Theater

Thank you! I'm happy to know that I didn't write all that just to have nobody read it.

I'm more than happy to offer more specific advice to anyone who will reply directly to my post. (That will notify me by e-mail.)