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Power/UPS


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Hi Chris.

 

One segment of gear that I've noticed seems to be missing from the fantastic computeraudio list you created, is clean power and UPS devices.

 

I know this stuff is often the last thing thought about, but it's only when you have lots of power blackouts (which I've had lately), spikes to ruin gear, and electrical noise interference/ground loops etc that you realise how important this gear is. The other thing is computer audio gear needs lots of individual power supplies/multiple interconnects and you soon find yourself running out of power points and potentially overloading circuits. Finally I think UPS is essential for power interruptions, as these often play havoc with computer networks and NAS music servers if they get shut down unexpectidly.

 

I sort of wish that before I started down this multi networked room/computeraudiophile hobby, I bought one big UPS/clean power device for the whole house's load. Sort of like planning for a big office or mixing studio installation.

 

I'm wondering if you could consider this equipment for the recommended list. eg what the pro audioengineers use (they obviously have heaps of audio/computer gear to power).

 

Thanks again Chris

 

New simplified setup: STEREO- Primary listening Area: Cullen Circuits Mod ZP90> Benchmark DAC1>RotelRKB250 Power amp>KEF Q Series. Secondary listening areas: 1/ QNAP 119P II(running MinimServer)>UPnP>Linn Majik DSI>Linn Majik 140's. 2/ (Source awaiting)>Invicta DAC>RotelRKB2100 Power amp>Rega's. Tertiary multiroom areas: Same QNAP>SMB>Sonos>Various. MULTICHANNEL- MacMini>A+(Standalone mode)>Exasound e28 >5.1 analog out>Yamaha Avantage Receiver>Pre-outs>Linn Chakra power amps>Linn Katan front and sides. Linn Trikan Centre. Velodyne SPL1000 Ultra

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hi wappinghigh - You are absolutely right that power plays a big role in all of this. I did a lot of snooping around at RMAF and talked to a lot of people about power. One thing is certain. There are countless ways to go about the power issue and nobody agrees which way is "best."

 

I find it more confusing than any other part of high-end audio.

 

I have a couple products in mind that I will hopefully get in here for review and be able to put them up on the CASH list if they deserve it.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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The young experts at the store tell me that not only can good power conditioning remove noise (which I don't have) from my system, it can extend the life of my equipment.

 

I tell them that I'm still running the integrated amp I bought in 1972, and it doesn't even have a grounded plug.

 

If you have noisy or very irregular power, it's a great idea. Otherwise it's another mystery tweak. And like premium cables, the mark-up is very high, so expect Monster and Panamax power conditioning to be aggressively sold at your local AV outlet. If they're selling something much more expensive than Monster or Panamax, buy power conditioning elsewhere. I'm not saying those brands are superior, but they do the job, are solidly built and are sold at pretty seriously inflated prices. Paying more is simply paying too much. Finding either of those brands at a serious discount would be a better idea.

 

MHO YMMV, etc.

 

Tim

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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There are a number of opinions among audiophiles regarding AC power. Some audiophiles I have discussed this subject with have an obsessive mental problem with power supplies.

 

First, most Europeans and even in Australia use 240 volt 50 cycle current, while here in the U.S. we have 120 volt 60 cycle current. There is a difference in the supply wire used and a number of other differences involved which can result in various problems with audio/visual equipment depending on the area of use.

 

I am not that familiar with current supply outside the U.S., so I will focus on what I am familiar with.

 

Depending on where one lives in the U.S. the power supply can be quite nasty. Different types of interference has proven to be a major problem, finding its way through the power supply and into the audio equipment only if the component power supply is not well designed.

 

Current or voltage drops can cause a number of problems. Some of this is beyond our control because it occurs before entering the dwelling. Inside the home we have domestic hot water heaters, large motors connected with the HVAC system, electric range and ovens, etc. The major appliances cause voltage drops and spikes, as well as pops and clicks from switching on and off.

 

Considering that the main current coming into the house is distorted, and then can vary in amplitude from one minute to the next throughout the day, just what solutions are available? One excellent method would be to use an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS). The type of unit where the incoming current will charge batteries, then employs a DC to AC inverter to supply power to the equipment. A unit which can supply enough power for an A/V system can be expensive, but the output power will be clean.

 

Using this type of UPS will ensure that your amplifier can deliver the watts it was designed to, regardless of the variations in the supply voltage. However, I should mention, it is still debatable that one can actually hear any difference, mainly because even though the main power will vary by up to 10%, quality audio components generally have a reserve power rating that can accommodate such variance.

 

A good UPS can cure voltage problems, but you need one that delivers a "pure sine wave." Many of the UPS units used for computers do not output the pure sine wave needed for audio equipment. One needs to look closely at the specifications and what distortion levels are quoted. Using the wrong type of UPS may result in your system sounding worse than without one. Believe me, I have been down this road. Richard Gray's Power Company makes a very nice UPS, as well as APC.

 

The second option is to use an isolation transformer with a separate power conditioner to clean up the sine wave. Monster offers a few units, but one of the best I hear is the power supply and conditioner made by Accuphase (models PS 1210 or PS 510, but like all Accuphase products, a child may cost less). I use a power conditioner made by Audience which seems to work perfectly.

 

There are a few things that can be done between the panel box and the outlets you may want to consider for your system. A good starting point is to add up the maximum draw in amps of all your components. The goal is to have reserve power, not a 22 amp draw connected to a 15 amp supply circuit. [side Note: two 15 amp outlets on a single 15 amp supply circuit does not mean it will supply a 30 amp draw. No offense intended here, but I know guys with advanced college degrees who would actually think that way.]

 

If using powerful amplifiers, like 400 to 500 watts, you may want to consider running a dedicated 20 amp line, and another separate dedicated line for all the other components. A number of audiophiles will run two dedicated 20 amp lines to conveniently placed outlets and divide the components between them.

 

Surge Suppression: Interference suppressors (or spike arrestors), will rid the pops and clicks that get into your system via the power supply. They are readily available and fairly cheap, a good starting point. But keep in mind that power strips which offer surge suppression will only accept a limited number of hits before burning out. Of course they don't exactly state that on the box. To really protect your expensive equipment one needs a non-sacrificial surge suppressor. Richard Gray's Power Company makes a good one, but limited to a 50 amp supply line. It is installed next to your power panel for the dedicated lines running to equipment outlets, and will suppress several hundred large surges. This type of unit needs to be installed by a licensed electrician. There are also whole-house surge suppressors available from professional electricians. http://www.richardgrayspowercompany.com/

 

Receptacles or Wall Outlets: This is not so much of a problem in European nations, but here in the U.S. it can be. When one looks at a common home receptacle you will notice a good positive connection with the screw down wire connectors on the side. However, internally the contacts are just adequate. A better solution would be to use a quality commercial grade Hubbell receptacle, perhaps one of their hospital grade units. The internal contacts are far superior for just a few dollars more.

 

Power cords: One of the power problems we have here in the U.S. is the lower voltage (120V), which means the current drawn by power amplifiers in particular will cause real problems with cheap light duty cables. Use of a basic heavy duty cable (shielded if interference is a problem) will make a difference. Most quality component manufacturers will include a good cable. Expensive power cords in my opinion are nonsense. They have no real effect on the power supply.

 

Also, a good quality cable should make good contact with the wall receptacle. Check the end of the cable to see that the male plug tines are solid brass and not thin folded brass. I have been told by several electricians (who are also audiophiles) that this small feature can actually make a difference with the flow of power. I'm not sure on this point, but for now I'm willing to give it consideration. Again, whether a difference with power cables is audible has been a subject for debate. Nevertheless, the elimination, or reduction of power cable borne interference is more than likely to result in a worthwhile improvement in sound quality.

 

Daphne

 

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Hi wappinghigh:

 

After writing the long statement on power conditioning I suddenly thought how much Tim's comments rang true.

 

There are layers upon layers of marketing language which hide the performance facts with many power conditioners. AC power does not intentionally cripple the performance of our audio components, it is not a disabling disease. Although, out of frustration, we may sometimes think along such lines.

 

Cleaning up the AC current will offer some improvements in sound and video, and at the very least a good degree of safety against harmful surges. The old sayings tend to apply: "better to be safe than sorry," or "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

 

What one cannot, and should not, expect from any AC power conditioning system is the ability to "uncover unprecedented levels of video and audio detail." This is just not possible. Unfortunately, many of the same outrageous claims made by cable manufacturers are also made about the performance of power conditioners.

 

I know people who own units made by Monster, Panamax and Furman. They are very pleased with the performance and protection supplied from the models they have chosen. However, I fail to understand why some companies seem compelled to make some of the most exaggerated claims you will ever read regarding their power products.

 

PS Audio makes very nice preamplifiers, amplifiers, and a DAC without any wild claims. Generally, the quality and performance will speak for its-self. But PS Audio leaves nothing to chance when it comes to promoting and describing their power conditioners and cables. They fall short of making truly wild claims, they leave that task to tweako idiots writing testimonials in hopes of some free product.

 

Tripp Lite and APC make good UPS pure sine wave units designed specifically for audio video applications. I personally have not seen any outrageous claims from these companies. Just general discriptions and a list of specifications.

 

I should mention that quality pure sine wave UPS units and cheap do not go together. They are expensive, even for units used in the computer industry. The need for one will depend on how often the power supply goes out in your area. A pure sine wave can be created by other methods without adding the complex issue of batteries.

 

Like Tim, I am stunned with the high cost of many power conditioning units. Everyone should take the time to shop on line for the lowest price, or even explore the possibility of a used unit.

 

Then, after all the careful planning, selecting what you feel is the right AC power supply solution, of course, you will get that mysterious ground loop hum from out of the blue, but only before it rains.

 

Daphne

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Daphne thanks a million for your fantastic advice. Especially the idea of running everything on DC batteries. Yep I use 240V and the choice is much limited. Regarding the cost...rather than going down the expensive UPS/Sine wave protection route, I'm seriously thinking of moving over to Battery powered Audio gear as a way of solving this. Something like a Redwine audio amp together with a battery powered DAC. I'd then only connect my MAC (the audiosource) to a UPS (which you need for data protection anyway). That way everything would be running off batteries...therefore end of problem??

 

I mean rather than spending thousands on a big enough UPS for my audiogear, why not spend the same amount on some new (battery powered) audiogear itself?

 

What do you think?

 

AB

 

New simplified setup: STEREO- Primary listening Area: Cullen Circuits Mod ZP90> Benchmark DAC1>RotelRKB250 Power amp>KEF Q Series. Secondary listening areas: 1/ QNAP 119P II(running MinimServer)>UPnP>Linn Majik DSI>Linn Majik 140's. 2/ (Source awaiting)>Invicta DAC>RotelRKB2100 Power amp>Rega's. Tertiary multiroom areas: Same QNAP>SMB>Sonos>Various. MULTICHANNEL- MacMini>A+(Standalone mode)>Exasound e28 >5.1 analog out>Yamaha Avantage Receiver>Pre-outs>Linn Chakra power amps>Linn Katan front and sides. Linn Trikan Centre. Velodyne SPL1000 Ultra

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Hi Wappinghigh:

 

I am not familiar with Redwine audio components. However, running your system off battery supply is quite possible. Just think of being on a boat without an AC generator. There are tens of thousands of boaters who have stereos aboard, from car units to high end stereos.

 

One key factor is the low discharge rate of marine batteries. Connected to a DC to AC inverter, one can power a stereo continuously for almost a week without recharging. All the associated equipment is readily available. The one catch is using the proper battery charger for the type and size of the batteries. Sealed Marine gel batteries have large internal plates and require a specific slow charging rate.

 

Of course you may not be able to have an amplifier which delivers in excess of 100 watts, which means you need high efficient speakers.

 

There are also DC to DC converters which will allow one to use battery powered items, for example: 24 volt battery supplying power to a 12 volt item. There is a tremendous amount of battery technology available on the market.

 

Daphne

 

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