PC Tip of the Month

Use a Power Conditioner

October 2020 – by Per Christensson

You should always plug expensive electronics into a surge protector. It is a small investment that can protect your equipment from unexpected spikes in voltage. If you want to take the protection a step further, you can use a power conditioner.

A power conditioner "filters" the incoming power from the wall outlet, providing smooth, consistent current to the connected devices. It is similar to removing static, hum, or clicks from an audio signal. Some power conditioners, like the Panamax M5400-PM also regulate voltage, keeping the output voltage close to the standard 120 volts in the U.S.

Furman Elite-15 PF and Panamax M5400-PM power conditioners

So what's the point of conditioning your power? There are two reasons.

The first reason, which is easy to believe, is that power conditioning prolongs the life of your electrical devices. By filtering and smoothing out the AC power, the power conditioner takes this burden off the power supply of each connected electronic device. The result is your electronics don't have to work as long and last longer.

The second reason, of which I was highly skeptical, is that power conditioning improves audio and video quality. It sounds laughable, but the moment I plugged my Denon AVR and subwoofer into the Panamax M5400-PM, I heard a noticeable difference. The sound was lease more clear, and there was more separation between frequencies. Amazing.

So if you want the best performance out of your electronic devices, use a power conditioner. I recommend a small one for your TV if it is wall-mounted. Please don't plug your high-end flat-screen TV directly into the wall, even though many people do.

Personal experience: I tried both the Panamax M5400-PM and Furman Elite-15 PF for my home theater. The Panamax M5400-PM provided the best audio quality (see review). I use a compact WattBox power conditioner for my wall-mounted Sony A9F, which works great.

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