Power Protection and Filtering by Thor Technologies and Isotek
Storm season is once again upon us with the weather bureau predicting a stormy week for NSW next week. While I do enjoy a good storm, I’m not so enamoured with the collateral damage of a nearby lightning strike. Therefore the point of this blog post is two-fold, firstly to save you the heartache that accompanies the destruction of your beloved Hifi/Home Theatre system by a wayward lightning bolt, and secondly to expose you to a new avenue for improving the performance of your system.
There are two main objectives of a good quality power protection system. The first and most obvious, is protection, to stop your precious audio and video equipment from being turned into an expensive pile of molten carbon and plastic. The second, and less considered, is power filtration, to improve the quality of the power being fed to your gear. Power is the first input to any home entertainment system; it flows through the system, used by each component in turn to create the signal that moves the speakers’ drive units and delivers the pixels on the screen. What we see and hear is fashioned from, and by, mains electricity it’s the ‘raw material’ from which the ‘art’ is created. Your musical or cinematic enjoyment will be reduced by mains noise contamination.
Let’s take a closer look at the how’s and why of ‘Protection’ and ‘Filtration’:
Power surges and spikes are the most common source of damage to electrical devices. A large majority of all electronic failures are power related. Faulty microprocessors, blown power supplies, damaged main or secondary boards and cumulative damage over time are some of the most common problems experienced. Nothing is more frustrating than having several thousand dollars worth of equipment destroyed in a matter of nanoseconds. While external factors such as thunderstorms or car accidents are the most obvious sources of power surges, many spikes can also originate from inside your home. For example, the spikes, surges and noise resulting from washing machines changing cycles, air conditioners, microwaves, fridges and printers will affect everything on that circuit.
Surge protectors are designed to limit excess voltage by blocking unwanted spikes above a certain threshold. A voltage spike may not immediately break your equipment but it could cause them to wear down over time by putting extra strain on the internal components. The clamping voltage determines the maximum point at which the surge protector will divert damaging voltage away from the protected line. In Australia, 240V is the expected voltage, a clamping voltage as close to this mark is ideal to protect electrical equipment from power surges. Depending on the size of the power supply, you will start to see smoke coming out of the back of an appliance at around 280/290V. Given that the industry standard for clamping voltage is between 680 to 710V for most surge protectors, this means that the majority of surge protection devices on the market won’t stop damage to your equipment.
Joules is the measurement of absorption of a surge protective product. If Joules is likened to a sponge, the bigger the sponge, the more it can absorb and the better the power protective product. Joules are sacrificial; they cannot regenerate or be used again so once used up, the device can no longer absorb any excess energy. This can be catastrophic for protection on ‘big ticket items’ as the power protector is no longer a ‘protector’ it is effectively turned into a basic power strip. As power boards commonly sit behind cabinets, shelves or under desks however, unfortunately it is not commonplace for a board to tell you it is no longer protecting. Thor’s Power Check Technology is unique and is critical to protecting any connected equipment. Thor’s Power Check Technology shuts off a circuit automatically once the surge protection properties are used up, instantly alerting the user that the board needs to be replaced.
Filtering & Conditioning
Power line noise is a natural by-product of the distribution and use of electrical power. It is present in every electrical circuit and can pose huge problems with performance, reliability and longevity of any digitally sensitive circuit. Let’s throw a few analogies around, who doesn’t love a good analogy. A high performance sports car will not perform to it’s maximum unless it is run on the very best available fuel. It can have gold plated fuel lines, platinum spark plugs and a state of the art fuel pumping system, but if the fuel tank is full of vegetable oil the performance potential will never be realised. Similarly, your HiFi system is unable to function to it’s maximum potential because the fuel supplied to it from the mains is contaminated. HiFi source components are very sensitive to electrical pollution because the audio signals they process are at a very low voltage, and this signal must be amplified in order to drive the speakers. This causes a cascade effect within the electronic circuitry, resulting in a polluted amplified signal.
There are a number of benefits you will realise from a good power conditioner:
Improved front to back layering and an extended and involving soundstage
Effortlessly natural and open sound and far more 3D vocal image
More attack and definition on the instruments and a Vanishingly quiet noise floor.
Greater overlaying of harmonies, textures and detail
Greater focus and bass articulation
With the above points in mind we have chosen two particular brands to fill out our power protection and filtering portfolio:
Thor– Thor make a great, affordable range of power protection and conditioning products for all budgets and applications. If you have unreliable power quality or are in a lightning-strike prone area, then there is a Thor product for you. Thor Technologies is 100% Australian and proud of it. All research, development and engineering is undertaken in Australia, even today their hardwired range is still 100% manufactured here. They really stand behind the products they sell, and all products are designed specifically for australian conditions and have a clamping voltage of 275V. You can rest assured that A Thor product will catch the spike and stop it before the smoke gets out, guaranteed. Check out their website, give us a call or drop into the store to learn more.
Isotek– Where Thor is a product for everyone, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker, Isotek build more esoteric products, aimed at the purist audiophile. Isotek’s primary focus is on improving sound quality, their products are more about chasing the ultimate in audio performance, power protection is an added bonus. They claim to deliver the world’s best power cleaning solutions for lovers of high-quality sound. All Isotek products are designed and hand crafted in the UK. Check out their website, give us a call or drop into the store to learn more.