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Should I invest in a power conditioner?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hi All,

 

I have seem some on line discussion forums that states adding a good power conditioner can improve the performance of the A/V equipments.

I have My iMAC,Benchmark DAC1 USB and a pair of Genelec 6010 speakers all plugged into a APC computer UPS. Do you think investing in a A/V power conditioner can improve the proformance?

post #2 of 15

I am going to post my own personal experience with this topic, since no one else has responded--

 

I have owned two different power conditioner type devices.  Both of them were Monster Power.  My current unit I use is a Monster Power Pro 3500.  I use the 3500 for one specific reason only-- to correct ground loop issues with my common shared ground.  It works wonders for that reason alone.  Without it, my sub-woofer has a constant hum even with no input to it.

 

My previous Monster Power product (and for the life of me, I cannot remember which model it was) was not a good purchase.  I used it with my AV receiver, which is a B&K unit.  It may have done okay for surges and cleaning noise, but it had one problem-- My receiver performed better when it was plugged directly into an AC outlet.  The conditioner seemed to choke the power draw or something of that nature.

 

Now the Monster Power Pro 3500 is a much better device than the previous Monster Power product I had used at the time (it also cost a lot more).

 

To summarize-- if you are experiencing noticeable issues due to poor wiring (like a shared common ground instead of isolated), I would look into a conditioner that can correct this.  Otherwise, I would not spend money with high expectations.  Things could get worse.


Edited by Jamil - 4/20/13 at 2:10pm
post #3 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by LIJOE848 View Post

Hi All,

 

I have seem some on line discussion forums that states adding a good power conditioner can improve the performance of the A/V equipments.

I have My iMAC,Benchmark DAC1 USB and a pair of Genelec 6010 speakers all plugged into a APC computer UPS. Do you think investing in a A/V power conditioner can improve the proformance?

 

All your electronic equipment is able to reject at least some of the inevitable noise from the A/C line. If your power is extremely noisy, it's theoretically possible to see some improvement with excellent, high-cost filtering. Monster doesn't make or distribute any of those.

 

Unless you've actually measured your A/C noise and have traced audible problems to the A/C, it's a complete waste of money.

post #4 of 15

I mentioned above that I use a Monster Power Pro 3500 power conditioner.  This product was suggested for me to resolve the ground loop issues I mentioned above.  Interestingly enough, my Fireface 800 appears to have improved RightMark tests now when plugged into the 3500 than when I ran it in the past.

 

This is an old test I ran several years ago:

 

http://file-shop.com/Audio_Equipment/24bit_44kHz/ASIO%20ASIO%20Fireface.htm

 

When I run the same test using the latest RightMark version of 6.2.5, everything shows as excellent:

 

http://file-shop.com/Audio_Equipment/24bit_44kHz_latest/ASIO%20ASIO%20Fireface.htm

 

My Total Harmonic Distortion appears to have improved from when I last tested this audio interface.  This is most likely due to the power conditioner.  I did not have to use a power conditioner previously when I ran this test, because my sub woofer was not humming due to ground loops.

 

If anyone has interest in seeing the test with my Fireface plugged directly into the AC outlet, let me know.  I'll only do it if someone is interested.  Otherwise, I can't be bothered.

post #5 of 15
A very interesting topic.

No question "clean" power, however that might be defined, is absolutely fundamental to good sound reproduction. "Good" measurements don't guarantee good sound. My experience is that power conditioning can make a massive difference both in poorly and well designed systems.

There are several issues. Everyone's speakers, amplifiers, preamplifiers, sources, cables, home electric infrastructure, utility service, etc. differs. People's hearing and listening envoronments are different. There is also the ever changing atmosphere music is transmitted through. And the noise of your domestic appliances, mobile phone, LED lamps, switching power supplies. And those if your neighbors. And the data being sent via the grid.

And there are elements relating to electicity and sound that engineers are still struggling with. And so on.

So finding the right solutions for your situation is a painful task. To be clear, most audio equipment employs some rudimentary filtering schemes but this is not enough. Some external power conditioners might help with some people's situations. Some desiring might help others. A one page review of a power conditioner is not too helpful unfortunately.

My electricity journy started as I noticed that my system sounded much better at night, in the winters. A few very cold days with sleet the sound of the system somehow stepped up several notches. I confirmed these odd experiences (including the sleet days) with a few local guys in real time so the sample and evidence is terrible but convincing enough for me.

***My goal was to remove the seasonal-daily-hourly fluctuations in electricity and get as close to the sound of those once a year sleet days (not all sleet days were good) as possible. In summary, I wanted "good electricity" days all the time. To be clear, the sound once a year was so good that there was nothing else to ask for from the system. Just euphoria.

My solution, which was not perfect but was well worth the effort, was to replace the fuse box, rewire dedicated lines to my listening room and acquire a relatively popular AV electricity filter in the listening room. That was for a home system which ran tube amps sometimes and solid state gear sometimes. Still fluctuated with season-time-weather but overall the improvement was significant. Just much more musical.

The following guy found his electricity solution. Unfortunately it is not a product you can just pick up at the store but rather a long process. Read the thread - if you really want to improve your listening experience this can put you in the right mindset.

http://www.goodsoundclub.com/Forums/ShowPost.aspx?PageIndex=1&postID=2931

One caveat is that my experience is with full frequency hi-fi, including solid state and 3w tube amps, and that I am a newbie with headphones. I don't know if that matters and I don't know if anyone could provide a convincing argument why it would. There are just too many uncertainties today's technology has not resolved.

Good luck.
post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skooter View Post

My electricity journy started as I noticed that my system sounded much better at night, in the winters. A few very cold days with sleet the sound of the system somehow stepped up several notches. I confirmed these odd experiences (including the sleet days) with a few local guys in real time so the sample and evidence is terrible but convincing enough for me.

 

It is very hard to quantify the improvements in something like this. The experience of music sounding better on cold winter nights, for example, might well be simply due to the extremely flexible way in which we perceive sound. I have an article on suggestion and autosuggestion in my signature which may be of interest.

 

Years ago I did consider a significant rewire for my Hi Fi with dedicated spurs and a separate earth in the garden.

 

It is convincing that clean electricity will be good for the reproduction, but how much effect does it have?

 

I suspect it is not very significant because battery powered systems don't sound better than mains powered systems in my experience.

 

It would be great to perform a blind ABX listening test on battery v mains power.

 

One thing that is great about Skooter's post imho is that it is not a post about buying things. Instead it is a post about doing something and I find this to be most refreshing now that alas Hi Fi has become a crass consumerist exercise.

 

I would also add that I do not wish to invalidate Skooter's experiences in any way, maybe the system is far better with new wiring for the mains. The problem is that getting some kind of reliable assessment of any benefits is very difficult.

post #7 of 15

I remember a sarcastic ADE writing into    EW/WW mag saying he knew of a Hi-Fi enthusiast  who did what Skooter did  but went one step   further and remembering the advice from some " golden ears in the UK to file fuses to make better contact removed the main power box fuses and connected  the incoming  supply direct . He said his house burnt down.

              This   view is prevalent in ADE circles. as is sarcasm over the different "sounds" that audio cable makes.

                  I agree that a mains AC/AC SINE WAVE converter does make a positive difference-NOT  an INVERTER-outputting a SQUARE wave with a stack of harmonics.

                      I also agree with the position on earths -JLH back in 1980 said -[quite rightly] that the ordinary mains earth was full of noise /distortions and yes putting in a "garden earth" is the way I go -as long as the earth is kept MOIST and buried at least 3 FT/1 meter  deep- JLH   originally didn't apply earths to some of his designs but Government regulations applied and he had to advise fitting them. Although many nowadays have only 2 mains conductors  the excuse being "double insulated" -Isolated PCB etc The second means the mains current on the PCB is an inch or two from the rest of the circuit.  Signal cables I am still not 100%  convinced on unless it has large  amounts of capacitance/ inductance.and high resistance.


Edited by duncan1 - 5/2/13 at 3:53am
post #8 of 15

If you are in the market for a mains AC/AC SINE wave converter be careful where you look .Many industrial ones cost  $3000 or more for a 1500W model.

                 Head to JAMECO .COM  a bit over $1000 should get you a domestic version with the same basic spec.

                     Forget INVERTERS no real Hi-Fi buff would use one-SQUARE wave out and a "mile" of harmonics.

                         Jameco-Belmont. CA 94002.

                             And yes I agree!  cold nights do help the sound quality. Most manufacturers are stuck with government regulations and so have to enclose amps completely  to stop children accessing live circuits.

                                 As a result many get hot from lack of ventilation causing increased noise from the active devices and more work for the NEG.feedback.

                                    My last mod in my comments on the 727-11 conversion mods show I took some "drastic" action to reduce the heat -and it works. 

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by p a t r i c k View Post

 

It is convincing that clean electricity will be good for the reproduction, but how much effect does it have?

 

I suspect it is not very significant because battery powered systems don't sound better than mains powered systems in my experience.

 

 

Patrick - Interesting observations.

 

I will disagree with your comments of batteries vs. mains. Whilst on first glance batteries seem like an ideal way to isolate a system from the mains, batteries bring along a whole new set of technical issues that can negatively impact sound. Some of these are understood some are not. 

 

So I still assert "clean" energy, from either mains or batteries, can have a significant impact on sound reproduction. 

post #10 of 15

Hi, Skooter.


I understand what you have stated as far as not being able to measure the difference you hear in sound.  However, distortion either happens or it does not.  You are able to measure the amount of distortion that occurs, would you agree?


I measured the amount of distortion that RightMark showed my RME Fireface had with and without a power conditioner.  My Fireface is not a hifi piece of equipment, so there is no intentional distortion that "sounds good" with this device.

post #11 of 15

Jamil, 

 

My main point was that today there are a lot of unknowns that scientists and engineers have yet to identify and rectify. And many known factors have yet to be rectified.

 

I would agree that one is able to measure some distortion that occurs. Does the distortion you measured at home matter? I don't know. How about factors you did not measure or were unaware of?

 

Electricity that looks good on a basic scope may be hiding all kinds of gremlins - that is a starting point for problems in sound reproduction. The link above has some interesting insights you should check out.

post #12 of 15
Has any one actually tested the dc output of PSU of equipment that some say would benifits from
A power conditioner.

All my homes have been in rural areas , as such frequent power outages are the least of the issues as lights come and go at least once a week . I have had a backup generator as well.

So I have had ups power supplies for 20 years plus various models and use them to this day.

The PSU IN most audio video components is filtered and regulated to meet the manufacturers specifications . Having a square wave verses a signusoydal might not matter . So has any,one here actually tested the output of A PSU with a scope . I can say this I have never heard or seen in video changes in quality.

But I do have a PSA power regenerator after my ups . I do it to feel better about protecting my equipment.

I am guessing no one here has either...

AL.D
post #13 of 15

I used to work for a company in the UK called BT [British Telecom]   Many fully electronic business telephone systems locked up  -had to be reset or the CPU card blew. Nearly every incident was down to bad mains electricity. Equipment for testing the mains costing £1000s  was hooked up to the telephone equipment with print outs via hardware and software. Proved beyond a shadow of doubt that in most cases it was BAD/DIRTY mains other cases were RADIATED interference from electronic equipment used by the businesses/welding equipment etc etc. This isn't a case of BUT/IF /MAYBE this is 100% genuine scientific results from a billion dollar company who took this seriously. So if it effects electronic phone systems it can certainly effect electronic Hi-Fi equipment -NO subjectivism  here !!  

post #14 of 15
First off small world I am contractor in NYC and I just finished a job for your old company.

Anyway I use UPS ,s for all electronic equipment as my lights tweak sometimes. Anyway I recently bought a PS AUDIO P10 power conditioner. It is like a UPS as it generates its own sign wave . But the difference it has very low harmonics meaning very low noise. I feed them with a UPS as there source. I can say I most defiantly hear a better overall sound quality in both tubes and SS audio equipment.

So as I was not a be leaver I am now.

I hope this helps someone here.

AL. D
post #15 of 15

 Agree with every word you said ALRAINBOW- As long as it has more than enough current reserve this is the way to go! A lot of people dont realise how "dirty" the mains electricity is and a low harmonic pure AC sine wave generator crystal controlled is the answer to a lot of electronic  mains derived equipment.problems 

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