Dirty Power Makes Dirty Music
There are power conditioners and power re-conditioners that work wonderfully for music. They double as power strips and surge protectors as well. So while the price for them may seem high, remember that they serve several different functions and a good surge protector is required for any expensive piece of electronics.
How much you should spend on your power source can depend on the history of your power supply and where you live. Just how bad is the power that comes from your outlet? An electrician or home theater professional can tell you exactly, but for about $100 you can have some fun experimenting yourself. The PS Audio Noise Harvester is a small device that plugs into any electric outlet. The light flashes after line noise charges the capacitor and it discharges as light. It works in much the same way that a flash on a camera works except that the energy it takes from your power line is noise energy.
The Noise Harvester cleans up the noise, or EMI, which runs naturally through every power line. The power from every outlet has some degree of contamination. There is a better technical explanation than I can offer but simply explained, contamination is caused by line crossings inside the wall or at the street level, by dimmer switches, by the wiring, or by the use of just about any electric device near the wire at any point in the power line.
Using the noise harvester as a home testing device can give you some indication about the power in your outlets and also help demonstrate what power lines are affected by other power lines in the house, whether the power line is the same or not. For technical reasons, the power from one line can affect power on another line even if it comes from separate sources. Therefore, installing a direct power line dedicated to your audio system is not always the easy fix to solve the problem of contaminated power.
This is where the power conditioner or re-conditioner comes to the rescue. These devices are not the same surge protectors and you need to understand the difference. A surge protector or power strip does not change the nature of the power running through it. The power strip is just a pass through device. The surge protector is a pass through device with a mechanism to shut the current reaching the outlets down if there is a sudden spike in power coming from the line.
At the very least, every music system or computer system should get power through a surge protector. Sudden spikes in power will blow out delicate electronics and a series of minor spikes over time will reduce the life of those components.
Next week we will examine some specific products. In the meantime, order a PS Audio Harvester and have fun with it. When you are done testing your outlets, plug it into the worst one and let it do its job for you.