Technology Showcase: Power Conditioners

New solutions offer better control of AC line noise, surges, spikes, and voltage fluctuations. 5/05/2009 6:20 AM Eastern

Technology Showcase: Power Conditioners

May 5, 2009 10:20 AM, By Kent Morris

New solutions offer better control of AC line noise, surges, spikes, and voltage fluctuations.

Power, especially in sound and video systems, must be controlled. From the access point in the building and on, unfiltered power is a danger to each component in an AV layout. Fortunately, manufacturers have been introducing better solutions to address the issues of AC line noise, surges, spikes, and voltage fluctuations. These protection devices vary in price and performance based on intended application and differing views of corrective procedures, but they all share the purpose of improving source power for the myriad of products dependent on AC. Here is a look at some of the latest offerings from companies oriented toward the commercial-installation contractor as well as a sampling of products designed for use in home-theater environments.

With its finished-aluminum front panel, the Alesis PowerTrip 8 fits well into high-visibility equipment racks where the product’s appearance is as important as its performance. Sporting eight rear-panel AC outlets with a breaker-protected 15 amps total and twin-tube downward illuminators with a dim feature, the PowerTrip 8 can light its rack mates while providing them with RFI- and EMI-filtered power, along with a quick-response (<1 nano­second) surge-suppression circuit. An LED readout meter for incoming voltage adorns the center of the unit, making the PowerTrip 8 useful as a power-management device.

In a similar vein, the new American Audio PDP-950 serves as a top-of-rack power conditioner with an aesthetic bent. It features a large LED display of voltage, along with two pull-out dimmable rack lamps and an innovative USB port for powering an external gooseneck work light. A front-panel circuit breaker flanks a switched AC convenience outlet that provides quick connection for temporary devices. Seven switched outlets and one unswitched outlet on the rear section complete the picture for this 1RU offering.

American Power Conversion (APC) has a storied history in backup systems, and its S10BLK with the optional AV S Type Universal Rail Kit (SRAILKIT) delivers protection and conditioning in a reliable package. The battery provides pure sinewave power for an equivalent source level to connected equipment, making for seamless AC flow whether the device is online or in battery mode. The S10BLK eliminates voltage fluctuations as a source of signal degradation and power supply stress with automatic voltage regulation. Its RS-232 port allows for simple monitoring and control of the unit. Related data terminations are protected as well with S10BLK’s integral dataline surge-protection design. Connected components are safe even during battery exchanges because of a clever hot-swap architecture bolstered by an automatic battery self-test function. The unit’s USB port is put to good use with the included PowerChute software designed to maximize the performance through logical control of shutdown during extended power outages.

One important aspect of power control is AC-voltage regulation. The PR8 Pro from Applied Research and Technology (ART) maintains all eight outlets within 5V of industry standard, even when the voltage drops to 97V or extends to 137V. In circumstances beyond the unit’s parameters, the PR8 Pro will initiate a shutdown of the equipment in order to protect it from damage. A front-panel master breaker makes resets quick and easy, while the backlit LCD display simultaneously shows incoming and outgoing voltages. A handy Output in Regulation indicator glows whenever the system is stable. An unseen complement of EMI/RFI filtering devices and spike-protection circuits ensure the connected gear is given a steady stream of clean power. Finally, four of the eight rear outlets feature wide (1.25in.) spacing to accommodate wall-wart-type plugs.

Technology Showcase: Power Conditioners

May 5, 2009 10:20 AM, By Kent Morris

New solutions offer better control of AC line noise, surges, spikes, and voltage fluctuations.

Known for producing a plethora of media-system accessories, Belkin has addressed the need for power conditioning with its PureAV Home Theater Power Console PF60. Designed to look like a home-theater component, the sleek PF60 offers 13 programmable outlets running through an array of six isolated filters the company terms Phase 6 PureFilter that are engineered to prevent cross-contamination of noise among components. An automatic overvoltage protection circuit removes AC from connected equipment when it senses a dangerous level, but it continues to monitor the line and will restore power when the voltage returns to a safe range. The PF60’s front-panel display conveys input voltage and output current for each bank of outlets, whose switch and delay functions can be individually programmed.

As a pioneer in balanced power, Equi=Tech has espoused the benefits of dividing incoming voltage into ±60V relative to ground to create a high-voltage version of a balanced audio line. The company’s Model Q is a power conditioner able to garner the respect of world-class engineers and musicians alike. The Model Q boasts military-grade components and heavy-duty operational devices, such as its half-million-cycle switches. The Model Q is available in sizes ranging from 1kVA to 10kVA, with a minimum of 12 AC outlets including a front-panel GFCI-protected circuit for constant-need devices such as master clocks. Unique features such as a bifilar wound transformer and a typical 97 percent efficiency rating combine to produce an elegant solution for safe, clean power.

ETA Systems has just introduced its Hybrid Power Station (HPS) for use in mixed-component designs. The HPS provides power conditioning through an isolation transformer for digital gear and a second section with surge diversion and noise filtering for analog equipment. The digital portion supplies 5 amps, while the analog section can deliver either 10 amps or 15 amps, depending on the model— PDI-1800NA or PDI-2400NA, respectively. Built as a 2RU box, the HPS offers a direct solution to the need for protection of differing devices in an audio system.

When the need arises to protect and condition power amplifiers, most products are unable to deliver the reserve capacity needed for the transients amps face in the real world. Furman Sound, however, is now offering its Power Factor Technology (PFT) with the ability to provide 45 amps of instant reserve current in the P-1800 PF R power conditioner. The PFT system minimizes line impedance for connected high-drain devices such as powered loudspeakers by providing the backup power amps require. For high-gain instrument amps, Furman has added its Clear Tone Technology with additional noise filtering focused on the musical range of frequencies. The P-1800 PF R also features a dimmable front-panel voltage display, a Littlite-compatible BNC connection on the rear panel, wall-wart AC outlet spacing, and a front-panel USB charging station. Diagnostic status indicators grace the front panel, and the company’s Extreme Voltage Shutdown system detects and protects itself from out-of-range voltage problems.

For custom-design situations or when a unique approach is necessary to meet the spec, Interact Power has several viable options. The company specializes in both fully customized products designed to a specific goal and commercial off-the-shelf models with standard features and common options. For example, the company’s 51102 series is a 1RU rackmounted power distribution and conditioner available in 15-amp, 20-amp, and 30-amp versions. They come standard with EMI filtering and transient protection. The clear zinc front panel can be private labeled and colored, making it ideal for onsite advertisement at the front-of-house and switching positions.

Technology Showcase: Power Conditioners

May 5, 2009 10:20 AM, By Kent Morris

New solutions offer better control of AC line noise, surges, spikes, and voltage fluctuations.

Touted as the first company to design and manufacture voltage-regulation products specifically for the audio industry, Juice Goose is now offering the RM series of power conditioners from Emerson. The 20-amp RM-120-10 centers its front panel around an LCD display for volts, amps, watts, volt-amps, frequency in hertz, power factor, kilowatt-hours, and time of day readouts. There are 10 outlets on the rear and two on the front, along with a covered master power switch and an array of indicators for power on, proper grounding, and surge-protection status. With 40,000 amps of surge protection and up to 60dB of AC line-noise filtration, the RM-120-10 delivers plentiful protection.

Sequenced power conditioning is offered by Lowell in its new ACSPR-SCS4-2009-RT2. This 1RU box packs a four-step power sequencer with surge suppression, alarm interface, and contact closures for remote power trigger control, along with nine AC outlets. With a choice between rocker and key switch control, the unit presents a simple interface in addition to a straight­forward green-and-red ladder up/down LED array designed to illustrate the unit’s functions in realtime. The delay time among the sequence steps is adjustable from .5 seconds to 10 seconds, and connections for the alarm interface, trigger, and remote switches are via plug-in barrier-strip terminal blocks. The device’s surge suppression is rated as GSA Grade A, Mode 1, Class 1 for endurance, and it meets ANSI C62.41 and UL 1449-2 compliance requirements, meaning this product can be installed in demanding projects with confidence.

Though the company is best known for installation racks and associated hardware, Middle Atlantic Products provides an extensive array of power systems designed for the home-theater market through its Exact Power division. For commercial applications, Middle Atlantic recently introduced two Multi-Mount rackable products: the PD-2015R-NS and the PD-2015R-HH-NS. The former is a nonswitchable unit while the latter employs a combination switch/breaker for the front AC outlets. Both models can be mounted either horizontally or vertically, and they feature three-plug orientations to accommodate various wall warts. A 4in. depth, coupled with a space-filling 20 outlets, means a single Multi-Mount can handle a tall rack packed with equipment. For further protection, the unit’s 9ft. main AC cable uses Middle Atlantic’s exclusive Signal Safe structure to minimize the effects of magnetic fields on nearby components. The Multi-Mounts are UL-listed and TIA/EIA-compliant, and they feature reversible rack ears for ease of installation in almost any situation.

In audio, the name Monster Cable Products is generally associated with premium cabling, but the company also offers a wide range of power conditioners under the Monster Power moniker—including the top model Pro 7000’s balanced power configuration. For more accessible control of the incoming AC, Monster has the Pro 3500 with a healthy dose of the firm’s technology provided for power conditioning. Based on Monster’s PowerCenter topology, the Pro 3500 is built using the company’s patented Clean Power filter circuit, sporting separate filtering domains between digital and analog outlets. The Clean Power circuit works in conjunction with surge and cross-component protection to improve the performance of connected audio and video devices. Convenience features include twin front-panel outlets, dimmable connection points for 12V LED lamps, and a full information display and diagnostics center.

Straight-ahead power distribution in a convenient package is the hallmark of the Numark RC-8. Its sliding, pivoting dual lamps are dimmable and useful for illuminating the racked items below. A large LED display shows incoming voltage, while a row of eight RFI/EMI filtered outlets populates the rear panel. Surge protection is handled by a quick-response clamping circuit, and a 15-amp circuit breaker stands guard as a protector of last resort.

Technology Showcase: Power Conditioners

May 5, 2009 10:20 AM, By Kent Morris

New solutions offer better control of AC line noise, surges, spikes, and voltage fluctuations.

High-end home-theater systems require extensive power protection. For this, Panamax offers the Max 7500-Pro. The 7500-Pro contains a 720VA isolation transformer designed to deliver proper power to digital displays and their source drivers. It features a mechanically oriented ground-loop isolator, and it is IP-addressable for use in automation systems as well as to provide remote diagnostics capability. Automatic voltage monitoring, voltage regulation, and balanced power round out the performance aspects and complement features such as autodimming meters and DC trigger inputs and outputs. There are 11 outlets: six switched, two high-current, one front-panel, and two continuous.

Phonic brings the rackmounted PPC8000 to the market with an eye toward uncluttered lines. Its front panel is populated with twin pull-out lighting tubes, a dimmer pot and on/off switch, an unswitched outlet, an illuminated power control, and a resettable circuit breaker. For the rear, there are eight AC outlets grouped into four pairs. Conditioning and protection consists of a triple-mode varistor along with RFI and EMI filtering.

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PS Audio has introduced what it claims is the world’s first no-setup network-addressable power conditioner: the Power Play 8000. With three zones of control, the product allows control of any connected device from any Internet appliance. The Power Play 8000 does not require a static IP address, and it can respond to any web-enabled device thanks to the industry’s first use of a cloud computing structure. Remote restart is a given via the 10 filtered outlets, in addition to power up/down and status indication. A logical graphical calendar is used to schedule power times, and the built-in autoreboot function means it can monitor the Internet connection and restart the connected modem or router when the connection fails. Spike protection, surge suppression, and over/under voltage control are included, as are common-mode and differential-mode AC cleaning.

The latest power product from Raxxess is the PD-800VM, a rackmounted conditioner with an LED voltage display, a pair of dimmable tube extension lamps, and a front-panel unswitched outlet. It provides an extended 12ft. main lines cable, a front-mounted circuit breaker, spike and surge protection, and RFI/EMI filtering. The rear has unevenly spaced outlets to accommodate various plugs. The entire unit is wrapped in steel with a powder-coated, cold-rolled faceplate.

Richard Gray’s Power Company (RGPC) products highlight its patented parallel-power delivery system with its control over delivered current and elimination of devices between the power source and connected equipment. The RGPC 600 RM Pro is a 2RU product with six outlets on the rear plus a front outlet. It is designed to power a typical midsize home theater and improve its performance. Twin banks of triggered low-voltage outlets allow for power switching, while the included TV Guard extends protection to the coax cable.

Though it’s not as visually appealing as other conditioners in the lineup, the Rotel RLC-900 delivers plenty of power and protection. With a rear panel divided into zones by types of connected component, the RLC-900 can sequentially power a system correctly without the need for elaborate external measures. Considerable thought has been given to appropriate filtering and isolation, making the RLC-900 a contender—even among its more attractive brethren.

Samson Technologies’ PowerBrite PB15 Pro brings cool-touch, long-life LED lamps to the table along with surge protection, peak-voltage-spike clamping, and RFI/EMI filtering. The PB15 also features rear-rack lighting through its built-in and adjustable LED gooseneck lamp. Nine outlets, eight rear and one front, are available up to a maximum of 15 amps.

SurgeX has a solid reputation for power protection, and its SX1115-RT continues the theme by employing the company’s patented Series Mode technology—which is designed to withstand multiple surges and do so without ground contamination. The SX1115-RT is a 15-amp, 1RU system capable of remote control in larger power distribution schemes. Its switched outlets can be controlled either through low voltage or contact closure, and it can also be interfaced with the SurgeX SEQ sequential controller. Protection includes impendence-tolerant EMI/RFI filtering, Inrush Current Elimination (ICE), and Catastrophic Over/Under Voltage Shutdown (COUVS)—out-of-range voltage self-removal.

Tripp Lite’s rackmountable LCR2400 adjusts to varying line-voltage swings to provide a steady supply of useable power. In fact, the LCR2400 can provide 120V from a low of 89V to a high of 147V. As a full 20-amp model, it has the ability to control a midsize system on its own, and it features seven diagnostic LEDs for status indication and a full complement of surge- and spike-protection circuits.

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