One aspect of systems most often overlooked is power management. It can make the difference between your system comfortably surviving a storm, or going berserk with faint acrid whiffs of smoke issuing from valuable, hard-earned home theatres.
When you consider the total value of all the items that go to make up a home theatre or HiFi system, it seems a non-issue to think of even a few hundred dollars of one-off peace of mind insurance. It's obvious, even if the protection device dies valiantly in it's defense, your system has survived!
The more complex the solution, the more power protection becomes critical. Talk to Audio Junction about your best alternatives.
Power protection can mean a lot of things. Most often it means popping a circuit breaker when the current load exceeds the rated load. Examples of this are the little buttons on the end of multi outlet power boards.
The next level of power protection is the type used for lightning strike protection. It simply dumps as much current as it can to earth. There is a limit the the amount it can get rid of in this way and so no consumer power protection devices should ever be expected to survive a direct lightning strike. Instead the best you can hope to do is survive a sidestrike or a sudden power surge on the mains.
This is where the next level of power protection comes in. Over voltage protection either "clamps" the voltage to a maximum allowable level (check reliability of clamping claims) or shuts off the power supply when a preset voltage threshold is reached.
Filtering is offered at all price levels and varies enormously in quality. This DOES translate into picture and audio quality down the line. Essentially the ideal input is pure sinewave AC. Filters take the noisy mains power with all it's spikes and lumps and try and knock the edges off it. Smoothing the signal by varying amounts. There are obvious limits to the capability of this to cope with extreme conditions such as large spikes or static noise.
Undervoltage protection is just as important but usually overlooked on cheaper devices. Without the use of UPS technology, no consumer power protection devices are able to provide continuous up-time on sustain undervoltage conditions. The more expensive can cope with instantaneous hiccups with some capacitance discharge, but this is extremely limited.
UPS technology is the ultimate power protection. In this scenario incoming power charges a battery which runs the devices. Smaller less expensive UPS supported power protection devices offer a few seconds of up time in the case of blackouts or sustained under or over voltage conditions.
The more you invest in UPS, the larger the number of devices you can completely isolate from the mains conditions, and the longer your devices can stay alive for in Out-of-Range mains conditions .
Indeed in terms of filtering performance, a UPS should theoretically deliver perfect sinewave signal at exactly the voltage you select for the life of the battery, irrespective of the condition or existence of a mains supply. It has been our practice to further protect these more expensive UPS devices with their cheaper consumable power baords such as those from PowerGuard. This is placed in line between the UPS and the mains supply. The idea being that the cheaper device should be consumable in the event of amajor extreme event. Thus protecting even the power protection systems.
For most people the most cost effective technology choice for the home use is a power board with spike suppression, filtering and under/over voltage protection. The thinking goes like this:
Potentially far more damaging to your equipment ( and far more frequent) are partial brownouts. You may have noticed your lights dim momentarily some nights.
Particular times of peak load are worst, as the power companies frantically load balance supply and demand, with air conditioners, heaters and nightlights all straining their systems.
During a brownout, your amplifier, and your plasma, and your PC are all trying desperately to supply their internals with the same power they expect, when the incoming voltage may have suddenly halved. This is a recipe for popping things.
Undervoltage protection is the only reliable way of combating this condition. Powerboards that cut supply when undervoltage conditions occur, or preferably UPS with battery backup of mains supply should be considered.