Power conditions strike me as giant hydra-headed power cords, which present an interesting possibility. If a unit like the BPT 3.5 does such a great job cleaning up the power coming out of the wall (see review on 6moons.com), how much can that power get re-polluted between the BPT and our components? In other words, does this new generation of power conditioners reduce or even eliminate the need for additional expensive power cords between the conditioner and our components?
I donít have the pcs to put this question to the test, but perhaps there is a reader out there who does; some one can A/B a system with a BPT unit (or other) in place and go from an all basic power cord set up to an all high-end power cord set up and give us a report on what they hear. Any takers out there?
The main difference (when removing extension, and upgrading the outlet to FIM) was a significantly deeper bass, like a half an octave, with attacks that sounded more solid. Immediately apparent, great! Perhaps the main benefit was replacing the outlet, connecting it to freshly stripped and cleaned copper.
I have not tried putting ordinary intervening cables between the BP-3.5 and my components. That would be interesting. I'm presently using all BPT cables, sheilded ones, on components with detachable cables. My power amplifiers are running on the BPT, too.
I find it hard to understand power conditioners by first using hand-waving theory. The performance is more significant and impressive than you would think. You can't break up the system mentally into separate "lumped parameter" but have to think of the power conditioner, cables, and even wall wiring as part of the components' power supplies. Lower-order interactions take place that hand waving doesn't predict. You have RF pickup from the cables, RFI at the power outlet, RF conducted from digital and video components, RF radiated from same via their cables, impedance of the AC power supplied to components at various frequencies, drawdown of the powerline by components (which can alter shape of waveform), energy storage in capacitors and transformer (magnetic field energy), and the imperfections of component power supplies... all of which can interact. Without doing measurements of these, it is hard to generalize from any particular listening test.
General Asylum - I've been testing the BP-3.5, & can confirm what was written on 6moons.... - Jim Stoneburner
6moons audio reviews: BPT BP-3.5 Signature
Head-Fi - First impressions of BP-3.5
BT2 review, owners name
Head-Fi - REVIEW: BPT (Balanced Power Technologies) BP-3 Balanced Power Isolator
Head-Fi - Monster vs. BPT
BPT 2 Signature sounded great
BPT sounds as good as Equi=Tech
SoundStage! Equipment Review - Balanced Power Technologies BP-2 Ultra Edition and BP-Jr. Balanced-Power Isolators (1/2002)
bybee, Positive Feedback
BPT ULTRA ISOLATOR PRODUCTS
BP-2 Ultra and BP-2.5 Ultra, Positive Feedback
Balanced Power BP2 review at Positive Feedback
6moons audio reviews: BPT BP-2+
Perhaps I am the only one who's brave enough to say this here against the prevalent practice? I like to hear from others who also have flirted with different powercords and powerline conditioners and then finally reverted back to stock PC.
The powercords I have used include Shunyata Powersnake King Cobra ver2, Viper ver.2, Python, Straightwire Blue Thunder, PS Audio Lab Cable and Kimber Palladium and PK-10 Gold, MIT Zipcord II. Somehow still prefer the stock powercord's overall neutrality. The stock powercords sound most neutral. Don't expect yo'all to believe it, but it doesn't alter the intrinsic sound and enable any good recording to really give all its best. Different styles become obvious, good performances sound great and great performances simply take my breath away.
It useful to remember that certain manufacturers like Naim, Lavadin, Conrad Johnson advice their customers to refrain from using after-market powercords for reasons that they alter the intrinsic sound and does not really offer genuine improvements.
I would say 95% of high-end power cords sound "colored," most adding some character of their own. They usually do have better bass and extension, etc, but add something. If you use multiple ones, it just compounds the prolem.
A lot of power conditioners are no good, either.
Stock power cords usuallly commit errors of omission. Not quite the bass power or obvious sparkling clarity, but overall can sound more neutral in tonality.
The reason I personally toil over this stuff is that I want to go beyond it all. I want everything. The extra clarity, detail, power, but at same time awesome linearity and neutrality. There being no perfect power cord and conditioner, you must often have to use cords to negate another cords' problems, etc. I compare this to cooking. If you add too much water, you must add a bit more spices, etc.
I use "reasonably priced" aftermarket AC cords on just about all of my gear, mainly because I'm a tweaker by nature and the stock cords were unimpressive in terms of build quality and far more open to RFI/EMI than the shielded aftermarket versions.
In only two cases did I honestly detect anything that could be considered a sonic improvement, one more subtle than the other. However in no case did I encounter any degredation in sound quality, so in the beefy beasts will stay. But everything in the two channel system is plugged directly into the wall; in this case dedicated outlets. No power conditioning units need apply.
I DO use "mid fi" (Monster and Adcom) power conditoning on the home theater equipment (1) to protect very expensive, very complex gear from surges and dips and (2) I think it helps both sound and video. I figure that's because all those boxes, all those interconnects plus six runs of 'speaker cable need all the isolation they can get from one another. And even though this is a seperate, dedicated AC run as well, ain't no way I'm pluging a plasma screen directly into an unprotected outlet.
I admire your chipping in your opinion, especially because you're relating your experience as opposed to merely taking a poke at what so many decry as snake oil without ever having tried a sip.
My take is that the order of importance is -
1. Good independent supply to the equipment -> a new, higher capacity line has often been reported to give significant results
2. Power conditioner-filter or whatever - particularly beneficial in industrial or densly populated areas
3. Power cords ??? Must admit I'm a sceptic but maybe that is because the 240V supplies here maintain electrical "pressure" better.
None of the above is much use IMO, if the component has a marginal power supply. Lots of capacitance is essential as a power reserve.
G'day, mate ... my experience too. This power cord craze seems to be mainly of interest to those poor benighted folks who choose to live in 110v countries. As a result their half mains voltage means they have mains currents twice what we experience.
How about some comment from 240v inmates in Europe and Asia?
I would second your point about the need for a dedicated, thick-wired power spur - say, two or three runs of 30a wallflex connected at the switch board to a 30a circuit-breaker. However, all components should be plugged into the ONE circuit ... if you have multiple circuits (for, say, isolating source components from power amps), you can get differentials in earth potential on the different circuits - which can increase system noise.
However, I can't resolve an opinion on whether shielded power cords are a good thing. Have you played around with these? I have so many power cords with my active system and 6 monoblocks that it is probably pointless - and certainly a great deal of effort - to make up some shielded cords and experiment.
I think in terms of washing hair. AC conditioner is the shampoo and conditioner. The PC is the water showerhead. Good showerhead lets the water rinses your hair clean. Good AC conditioner leaves your hair fluffy, shiny and manageable. No flakes either.
Conditioners clean the power, re-synthesize it (or whatever the f^%#)or filter it.
Power cords ensure that your components are fed a steady amount of juice when peak current loads demand it.
The best/simplest explanation I ever heard was by Steve Nugent at Empirical Audio:
"Amplifiers demand current from the power-line when the capacitors in
their power-supplies become momentarily discharged due to high-current
transients in the music signal. This discharge condition must be quickly
recharged from the power-line, through the power-supply transformer,
during the short periods that the rectifiers are conducting, or a voltage
sag will occur. Such voltage sags can cause audible distortion at the
loudspeakers. If the power-line has significant series inductance in the
path from the power panel to the amplifier (such as a standard power cord),
this can prevent the capacitor bank from recharging in time to prevent a
voltage sag from occurring at the amplifier output transistors. Since
Empirical Audio power cords are low-inductance, the voltage drop across
the power cable will be insignificant during high-current transients,
minimizing the voltage sag. This allows all of the current needed by the
amplifier output transistors and pre-drivers to be supplied when they need it,
resulting in a fast, dynamic response to transient signals. The Grand Slam
provides a uniform low-impedance path for these transient currents, no
matter what spectral content the current has. This is what makes it so
Unfortunately, his explanation completely avoids any mention of very high frequency artifacts/distortions that ride on the AC signal, nor the ultra-high frequency noise circulated within our environments from digital & video equipment, microwave transmissions, and cellphone transmissions. Some designers have felt for some time that *these* noise problems contaminate music playback in a far greater fashion than those created by imsufficient current and/or voltage delivery. More food for thought. The problems are on a larger 'menu' than some might believe.
Steve's designs do take the majority of those factors into account. How effective they are at dealing with them versus other designs is anybody's guess. None the less, i felt that someone should make mention of this lest Empirical products get "blasted" as if they were under-designed, which they aren't. They simply represent what Steve thinks is necessary to achieve the levels of performance that he finds desirable. This is no different than any other product that actually has a skilled engineer designing them. Then again, when it comes to cabling, one does not have to be an engineer or have any type of electrical background to build and market "the best available" ( until Mk II comes along ). Sean
Steve's designs do take the majority of those factors into account.
Steve's statements, cut-and-pasted in the prior post, address the design issues for *his* power cords, and how they interface with power supplies. The statement does not directly address VHF or UHF issues (with his power cords), nor their relevance to their usage with power line regenerators/conditioners. If his designs "take the majority of those factors into account" as you say, they are not taking *all* of those factors into account. Hence my post. His products are well-regarded, and he can certainly speak for himself. He has nothing he need defend. Steve himself can address the "other" factors I addressed, if he so wishes.
How effective they are at dealing with them versus other designs is anybody's guess.
As always, the in-home audition will ferret out whether a design is compatible with one's equipment. There is no substitute.
None the less, i felt that someone should make mention of this lest Empirical products get "blasted" as if they were under-designed, which they aren't.
I truly hope you are not inferring, in_any_way, that I am "blasting" his designs. That would not only be a mischaracterization of what I actually stated, but a mischaracterization of my intent. I've NEVER commented on his designs, nor their efficacy.
They simply represent what Steve thinks is necessary to achieve the levels of performance that he finds desirable.
Obviously. Every audio designer wishes to achieve that, and have customers agree.
This is no different than any other product that actually has a skilled engineer designing them.
What *is* different, however, is that many "skilled" engineers have differing paths to the same goal, whether it be cable designers or amplifier designers. And whether a designer is a "skilled" engineer does not guarantee a successful design, and especially not a fulfilled design. Witness the version 2's, 2a's, 3.5's, etc. etc. etc. You stated that yourself.
I would concur completely with Jon L's post below. In my experience, cords and conditioning are equally important and the use of a good conditioner or cords does not obviate the necessity or importance of the other.
I've had a BPT unit in the past and used many other conditioners.
Power cords from power conditioners to components do matter with EVERY conditioner I've tried. Almost as much/or as much as if you didn't have a power conditioner. Don't know exactly why, but it does.
What's more, the power cord from wall to conditioner also matter, in fact more so. Some of it is because that cord ends up feeding many components eventually. This is no matter how good the conditioner in question is. Again, I don't know why, but it does.
In fact, currently I use a conditioner that is battery-operated, so power goes from wall--> battery--> AC wave regenerator. And even then, when the cord to conditioner should not matter, it still makes a big difference. Clear as night and day.
and I wouldn't have believed it myself, except I hear it. Wish I don't hear it b/c it would save me lots of $.
Perhaps it's not so much that you need power conditioners to clean the power before your components as you need them to keep your components from interfering with each other. In that case the power cords between your power conditioner and your components still matter a lot. This is also my experience and if you look at inmate's systems I think you'll find that many people do this. Heck even upgraded power cords for my Tivos make a difference in the picture whether or not I plug them into the power conditioner or the wall.
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