Power conditioners/regenerators advice

Discussion in 'Advice Threads' started by elmoe, May 25, 2019.

  1. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    Yeah, I'd say daisy-chaining power components isn't ideal, but because non MOV-sacrificial-resistor over-voltage protection and hum isolation/DC offset blocking are two different problems, getting a one-box solution quickly turns into high dollar audiosnob stuff. As long as adding the CMX2 to an existing over/under voltage protection device isn't terribly bad if (at the end of the day) it doesn't affect the sound detrimentally. FWIW, I run current protection to medical isolation trafos for my low current source gear, but leave amplification devices only connected to surge protection.
     
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  2. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    This is all pretty complicated. Daisy chaining different power conditoining devices.

    I just learned that my Furman "power conditioner" isn't really doing much conditioning. I want to get a a balanced isolation transformer power conditioner. But I also want surge protection, and if I have DC offset I'll want the Emotiva as well. I've to noise issues in all my gear so learning of these devices is a relief.

    There are these Ebay transformer units that are recommended by Justin of Ampandsound. But they don't include surge protection. The 1000VA version is 400$ shipped. The recommended 500VA version is 200$ shipped. I'm not really sure which one I need, but I will have multiple amps on at once plugged into it.

    I was also recommended these "Equi Core" transformer power conditioners. They look ideal as they also include surge protection. But I'd want the 1000 unit and it's 1000$ shipped.

    Any recommendations about what to do? Im hesitant to spend that much money on power conditioning. But I'm also hesitant to daisy chain 3 power devices together. Emottiva -> Surge protector -> Ebay isolation transformer device. That's probably the order I'd want to go in so that I get clean power and plug my Pangea power cables (for noise isolation and they do actually sound better) directly into the conditioner.

    But that sounds ike a bad idea. And what are MOV's? Should I replace my Furman with something else? Maybe the one @dasman66 uses?

    I think I just fell into a world of pain. But the noise in everything is annoying as hell especially with my uber sensitive LCD-X.
     
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  3. bilboda

    bilboda Florida boomer

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    movs will protect and then fail, similar to the way a fuse fails. It will happen eventually, maybe on the first surge.
    I have 2 of these , 2r15w and 8r15wI with isolated duplex receptacles. Either one can be an endpoint, the one you plug into the wall. The surge protection won't fail at any time, there is emi/rfi filtering. https://zerosurge.com/plug-in-products-solutions/
    Isn't this solved by the isolation transformer. though, which should also prevent dc from the outlet? That's my understanding.
     
  4. bilboda

    bilboda Florida boomer

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  5. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    you’re saying that these will take care of surges, DC offset and power conditioning all at once?
     
  6. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    It would certainly not be ideal to string three devices together.

    You could look into having an electrician install a whole-house surge protector. This would be at the breaker instead of something you plug gear into. This is ideal as it protects everything, including appliances.

    You can measure or have an electrician measure the line to determine whether there is DC offset. Would do that before buying the Emotiva unit, as you may not need it.

    You could also look into running a dedicated line. That may solve the noise issues if they are in fact caused by external noise.

    Noise issues can also be caused by the stereo components themselves. Either ground loops (using RCA cables), or gear that has a noisy power supply. Have you tried using differential gear with XLR cables to see if that eliminates the noise you hear? Maybe also try to determine which component is adding the noise by swapping stuff out?
     
  7. bilboda

    bilboda Florida boomer

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    I do not know that device. The ones I referred to are the ones I have read about. Oh, it's low capacitance .005 pf, not the inductance that I wrote earlier. I don't think they will pass dc current, just ac.
    Further reading may be required. ;) I also don't know if an isolation prevents surges. They should reduce spikes according to this https://www.electricaldeck.com/2021/02/what-is-an-isolation-transformer.html
    Can't remember where I read that dc current does not flow from 1 side to the other.
     
  8. dasman66

    dasman66 Self proclaimed lazy ass - friend

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    Here is a good understanding of surge protection vs isolation transformers

    This has good info as well

    FWIW, I ran Emotiva CMx2 -> ZeroSurge 8R15W-I -> Balanced Isolation Transformer -> amp for a couple years at my office, which has horribly polluted power. If I just ran the isolation transformer, then the DC offset in the circuit caused the isolation transformer itself to hum loudly (although, it did not pass the hum to the amp - the sound coming out of the amp was hum free). Running the zero surge to the isolation transformer cut down the transformer hum, but it was still unacceptably loud. All three were needed to eliminate the problem and provide adequate surge protection.

    Since all of the devices do different things and my load on the circuit was low, I don't really see any problem with this setup (keeping in mind that I am not an EE). I think the primary problem with daisy chaining is that people tend to use all the outlets and may overload the circuit. Or I guess you could end up with a cord that is way too long for the gauge...
     
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  9. Bobcat

    Bobcat Friend

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    I used to have a a transformer to clean power for a few largish computers and it hummed pretty loudly as well. The other thing was that in the winter I could keep my toes warm on it.

    Rob
     
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  10. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I just wrote Justin from Ampamdaound about the transformer conditioners because we had already been emailing about something else. He confirmed that the transformer would stop a surge. Might be an expensive way to stop a surge if it blows up but it fixes the daisy chaining problem if there’s no DC offset.

    I’m actually having a dedicated line put it in for my headphone rig. I’ll probably just get the eBay transformer for now and the better surge protector later.l and keep using the Furman in the other plug. It looks like the expensive transformer is the same but just has more outlets and is much more expensive (and made in the USA)
     
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  11. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    at the risk of oversimplifying the DC offset issue, perhaps just buy the
    iFi DC Blocker
    from Amazon, and return it if it doesn't work?
     
  12. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    yeah it’s an idea. But you need one for every amp/DAC and all my gear is up against a wall with no space for that thing. Hope I have no DC offset but for those who do I bet Emotiva -> transformer conditioner is fine. But I know nothing ha.
     
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  13. Cryptowolf

    Cryptowolf Repping Chi Town - Friend

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    My chain is Emotiva CMXA for DC Offset filtering to a isolation transformer (Power Wedge 131). The combo works for me to reduce transformer hum, provide surge suppression as the fuses in the Power Wedge would blow first, and condition the fluctuating power from my outlet. The order is wall socket -> Emotiva -> Power Wedge. I have three pieces of gear plugged into the Power Wedge: PI2AES, Bifrost 2, and Kenzie Ovation amp.
     
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  14. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    I have been down this rabbit hole. What is this paranoia about dc offset. On AC? and how does it manifest itself?
    In my 4 decades of audio experience it has not come up as a possible gremlin at least not in "stereo speaker systems" yea I refuse to call it 2 channel, of course it is two channel. so are headphones.

    As for MOVs, they are 10 cent devices that degrade almost immediately protecting your stuff from surges and are not what you want in front of your audiophile stuff. Isolation transformers are fine for the computer stuff, server, router, etc but do no justice to amps or dacs, including hp amps.

    I use lots of isolation type conditioners with anything related to digital aside from dacs. Best thing you can do for audio is a dedicated line and then amps and dac into that directly.

    If worried about a surge taking out your shit, call your insurance company and upgrade policy if needed to cover more expensive than normal audio gear. In the long run it will be better for your wallet as well as your ears.

    Good luck with this part of the journey :)
     
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  15. Metro

    Metro Friend

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    For me, it manifests as an audible mechanical hum from the power amp transformer. The loudness may vary through the day. The iFi DC Blocker works for me and eliminated the hum.
     
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  16. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    why do knowledgeable people recommend a balanced isolation transformer? And the Emotiva unit?

    I’m having a direct line put in. So you would just plug all gear straight into that? How would you get enough outlets?
     
  17. k4rstar

    k4rstar Britney fan club president

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    listen to @bixby

    almost all of this stuff is a waste of money and you will learn the hard way. putting additional shit in the AC signal path to your components always paralyzes the sound.
     
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  18. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    A direct line can be one room on one circuit. Keep everything you can off of it except audio. eg. My listening room has 4 outlets of two connections each. But only 2 outlets at the stereo end. Dac and amp go to one outlet. All the digital crap goes into a "power conditioner"/"isolation transformer based" that plugs into the other outlet.

    All the computer drives, router, switch, server goes on another circuit in another room. Ethernet connects the data to the music system.

    A properly rated power conditioner that uses isolation transformers does not have to cost a lot. Used Powervar or Oneac as well as tripplite stuff is relatively cheap although recent massive freight costs may have bashed the value a bit.

    I would not even think of the balanced power stuff until I had my dream $62,000 car and a proper stereo setup, but if you have cash to burn you could try one out. I do know folks who like building balanced power stuff using 240V.

    As for enough outlets. If you have more audio stuff than a dac and amp, then use a straight 15 amp clip strip with no protection and no movs. I had one when I had a pre and the dac and pre went to that and it was fine, amp still straight to upgraded wall outlet .
     
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    Last edited: Aug 25, 2021
  19. totlsota

    totlsota Rando

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    I also find this a painful/confounding topic. People in the US also have (what I think of) as more/better options. Here are some of the related/interwoven topics that I've grappled with and I think get lumped together. I'd say there are 2 levels 1) eliminating genuine issues (like DC offset) and 2) "making things better", which I'm less clear on / have less evidence personally ...
    • Dedicated lines: I have a dedicated line. It was not expensive to do. I plug some things into my normal house mains (laptop charger, LPS for the streamer, etc) and basically just my DAC/amp into the dedicated line. For me, this did get rid of some sporadic noise that I believe was just junk on the rest of my house's electrical loop (fridge, etc). (this is valuable as it may address a genuine issue)
    • Isolation transformers IMO these are very sensible devices that really do seem to be recommended by knowledgeable people. Whilst I was trying to solve a transformer hum issue I tried an Airlink balanced mains transformer. I did perceive improvements but it didn't solve my primary issue (amp power transformer hum) so I returned it. Being generally separated from the power can help with many power issues that cause things like power transformer hum and the like. IMO these devices are worth consideration. They may also correct DC offset I believe. I'd prefer one with no "other features" like filters, etc.
    • DC Blockers- if you genuinely have DC on your AC line this is a genuine problem. DC blockers can credibly help if you have this issue. If you don't have this issue, it won't help of course. I'm not sure if isolation transformers can also help with this.
    • Regenerators/ Voltage regulators: I had a genuine issue with highly variable voltage. First an APC voltage regulator really helped with my amp transformer hum, then an inexpensive high voltage (PowerInspired) regenerator replaced the APC. The actual regenerator itself was physically quieter than the APC box. There are various camps of "regenerators kill dynamics" or "they are great". in my case, for my headphone amplifiers, the regenerator has been reliably better. Perhaps/probably for more powerful proper amplifiers, it would be worse, I can't say.
    • Filters: I am most sceptical of "filters" that I don't really understand. I'm not an electrical engineer (I bet you could tell that already), but I am not clear why I need or want these. I'd love an unbiased engineer to explain to me what is good about "filters".
    • Surge protection - this is a strongly desired feature for me. I'm not sure how much people think this is needed. I do occasionally have power outages and I want to protect my gear. Perhaps it is not necessary, but I feel better about having something. Standard surge protection devices may cause noise with MOVs inside them. There are other ways to do surge protection that don't use MOVs and may be better. I can't really say. None of the products that avoid MOVs are readily available in the UK (brickwall, etc).
    • More sockets - this depends upon individual needs. Also, you may not want to put noisier SMPS devices near your more sensitive devices so this combines with your needs.
    • Ground issues/ground hum: This is a whole different possible source of noise. I do have a separate ground line run from my mains box, and some people go crazy with dedicated earth lines, etc. I didn't have genuine noise issues here so I have no more knowledge on the topic.
    Some general principles at this point:
    • More devices are probably taking away not adding unless you have a concrete problem. Highly debatable, but the simplicity prior helps IMO.
    • In any area where there are people heavily for/against the mean is probably near 0 so you are probably not going to get a massive benefit even if it does "help" (unless you have a specific issue).
    • Noise is a pain because you don't know what is causing it until you remove it. (This is bastardising quoting someone else, somewhere else).
    Minor point:
    • In eliminating transformer hum, one of the most impactful things was little isolation feet that lifted the rubbery feet off of the wood surface. The amp at the time had the power transformer in the same physical box as the rest of the amp. In my case, when the transformer wobble was present - just lifting the device off of the shelf was maybe the biggest improvement. I used 30GBP springy feet off Amazon, not something crazy. In fact, I used 4x 1/2 tennis balls before those and it worked just as well. This is not a "go get crazy isolation feet imploration". It is "if you have power transformer hum, lift it off the hard surface".
    • As already mentioned, having your amp, etc power supply in a separate box (like Eddie Studio B, Holo May, etc) does help to get noisy power away from the
    In future, I'd consider a Torus AVR device because I want voltage regulation and an isolation transformer as a non-intrusive, insulation layer. Otherwise, I'd say plug into the simplest non-crap power strip that provides surge protection, ideally on a dedicated line and doesn't clearly degrade your sound. Of course, as a crappy biased human, that is also hard to determine!

    ... enough from me ;)
     
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  20. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I’m going to buy every kind of device and string them all together and then wind up all the cables in a big knot. :eek:

    Seriously though, if someone like Justin from Amp and sound who designs great amps recommends a balanced isolation transformer it’s hard not to trust that advice. He also said that adding a surge protector to that wasn’t necessary or even a good idea. So I think I’m just going to plug a custom made isolation transformer I’m having made by a Chinese eBay seller - 1000VA with six gold plated copper outlets- into my dedicated line for my headphone gear only (with a Pangea XL outlet) and plug all my amps and DAC into that (except I may keep my Lokius in my Furman “power conditioner” until I get a non MOV surge protector) And I may experiment with putting the Emotiva in front of the transformer to see what happens.
    :punk:
     
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