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Dr Beat's picture
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Audiophile Grade Power Regulator

Hi all

 I have some power surges in my mains, and though i have a surge protector on my Tacima 929, and now i have also added a Russ Andrews Superclamp, my local dealer is asking me to get an audio grade power regulator. It was explained that this regulator is different from the type that one would usually connect to the laptop or PC. The latter is not audio grade and if you use it, the audio grade is impaired. The mains has blown 3 amps to date, or rather it has caused damage to 3 amps to date.

Has anyone done this before? What is a good brand for this power regulator and what did it cost you? Did you still have problems?

 

Thanks for the help. 

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Re: Audiophile Grade Power Regulator

Dr Beat. This is not your problem. If you suspect there are unreasonable power surges (sags and swells), you have the right to insist that your electricity provider comes and checks (measures your supply) to ensure it meets certain standards i.e. that it is within certain voltage tolerances. The voltage limits currently are to be between (if I recall correctly) 230 volts +10% or - 6%, which gives you a voltage range of between 216 volts and 253 volts. This range would not cause any amplifier any damage (although you would likely hear the difference between the maximum and minimum limit). If your supply exceeds those limits, it is the responsibility of the provider to put in place measures to correct it.

As an electrician, I know that there frequently are these wide differences in mains voltage, but rarely have they been so far out as to cause amplifier damage. There are devices which can be left connected to your supply which will measure all voltage sags and swells over the course of a week. Contact your electricity supplier, and get them to check your supply. In the meantime, if you want to know more, Russ Andrews provides some very good reading on his website about these issues.

Hope that helps.

Dr Beat's picture
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Re: Audiophile Grade Power Regulator

Hi Wireman

Thanks for the advice. Unfortunately, the silly power company technician says his "tests" showed that there was nothing wrong with the "quality" of the current supply. After all, he said, "your pc and other stuff are also drawing from the same mains and have not blown up". BUT, my amp's protection system kicked in several times and had to be sent  to the manufacturer's agent for "resetting", to correct the "PSU Fault". According to the manufacturer, the PSU fault was caused by "Essentially the PSU fault detection
circuit is there to prevent any damage to the loudspeakers or connected
ancillaries (via the pre-outs) if one of the internal power supplies is outside
of their normal operating range. The amp's design is DC coupled and a missing
rail could result in a damaging DC offset being present at an output. Evidently the PSU fault is triggered randomly
and our diagnosis theory is the mode of failure is caused by one of the power
supply rails fluctuating outside of the specification in time to an incoming
mains disturbance and triggering the PSU fault detection circuit."

So, can anyone explain this to me in English? I knew i should have attended that physics class.

So, Wireman, what gadget are you referring to that can measure surges or quality of the current supply to prove my power company's technician wrong?? 

I appreciate your advice. 

wireman's picture
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Re: Audiophile Grade Power Regulator

First things first. I think what your local Dealer's original suggestion of "getting an audio grade power regulator" meant was that you should consider an audio grade regenerator, which, as the name suggests, is a device which totally regenerates the mains electricity to a 'perfect' 230 volts. Examples are the Pure Power APS2000, or the PS Audio Power Plant. But why should you spend upwards of £1500 to cure a fault which, at least at face value, isn't of your making. So let's dismiss that suggestion.


Dr Beat:...the power company technician says his "tests" showed that there was nothing wrong with the "quality" of the current supply...


So your electricity provider has confirmed that there's nothing wrong with your electricity supply... and your amplifier maker (Cyrus?) says...


Dr Beat:an incoming mains disturbance and triggering the PSU fault detection circuit.


...well, they say there is. Classic case of buck passing, and leaving you, the innocent party, helpless in the middle!

A "Superclamp" offers protection against a power surge or spike. A sag in the supply is audible, but of no relevance here. There possibly are other 'quality' issues such as a DC content in the mains which can cause damage, but these things will have been tested for by the technician. So you've done all the right things.


Dr Beat:So, Wireman, what gadget are you referring to that can measure surges or quality of the current supply to prove my power company's technician wrong??


There are many devices, Dr Beat, but none of them cheap. Many electricians use a premium brand of test instruments called Fluke (an unfortunate name I know, but that's Americans for you), but the device(s) Fluke make that you would need to prove your case aren't the standard instruments many electricians would own - they're too specialist. The electricians body, the NICEIC, may be able to point you in the right direction as to any of their members who may own such equipment, but even so, I don't believe it's for you to prove your own case. Besides, the technician probably used exactly this type of device when he tested your supply.

I think your best course of action would be to get in writing a statement from your electricity provider to confirm that the test results of your electricity supply confirmed that they were within acceptable tolerances, and then go back to the Dealer with that proof (your contract is with the person you bought the goods from. I'm assuming here that is your Dealer). If the product is relatively new, and your Dealer is unwilling to pursue the matter with Cyrus on your behalf, then I think you ought to have a word with your local Citizens Advice to see what legal recourse is open to you.

From the information you've given here Dr Beat, after 3 identical repairs, I personally feel that Cyrus are avoiding their responsibility and your Dealer doesn't seem to be as supportive to you as you would expect. Once you get that statement in writing, you will have the proof you need to show that the problem isn't being caused by your mains supply, and that dismisses Cyrus' explanation (EDIT: Cyrus openly state that their explanation is a "theory".. not provable fact). There seems to be a common recurring fault with your amplifier, and you have rights under consumer legislation if the product is not of 'merchantable quality'. If your Dealer cannot/is not prepared to offer a permanent/acceptable solution to you, then your only course of action is a legal one, and your local CAB can advise you.

Good luck.

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Re: Audiophile Grade Power Regulator

Hi Wireman

 

Thanks for the explanation. Yes, it was Cyrus but they have been pretty decent about replacing the faulty unit on each occasion without a fuss. However, to keep going to them to "re-set(?) or repair" the amp is tedious and is a real hassle, (spending time to courier it, etc).

 As i want to avoid a recurrence, i have now bought the RA Superclamp, now attached, as Peter Bevir of RA suggested, to my Tacima 929. Though the RA Superblock, with built in fuse and each socket is individually Superclamp-ed looks better suited for my purpose, but at 440 quid, it's a lot money for an 8 point extension.

 The power company did not appear to be using any fancy bits when they were "testing" my mains. So, i have decided to call a proper electrician (a private contractor) to check the mains again. Perhaps he can then argue on my behalf with the power company chap.Almost like calling you over to check my mains.. Wink

I really appreciate your comments and they have been very useful. Cheers mate.

 

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Re: Audiophile Grade Power Regulator
Dr Beat:As i want to avoid a recurrence, i have now bought the RA Superclamp, now attached, as Peter Bevir of RA suggested, to my Tacima 929. Though the RA Superblock, with built in fuse and each socket is individually Superclamp-ed looks better suited for my purpose, but at 440 quid, it's a lot money for an 8 point extension.


A Superclamp is nothing more than a VDR (Voltage Dropping Resistor). Your Tacima already offers that same protection. The Superblock (you mean the Powerblock?) offers only a different type of that same protection (Megaclamp), nothing more. I think you'd be spending £440 needlessly. Your Tacima hasn't prevented the problem, so it's not a spike event causing it, and a £440 Powerblock with a Megaclamp won't change that. And neither will an extra fuse.


Dr Beat:The power company did not appear to be using any fancy bits when they were "testing" my mains


They should be using a power quality analysier, a hand-held digital device, similar to this: http://www.fluke.co.uk/comx/portal_gen.aspx?locale=uken&page=pqt. If they weren't, I'd call them out again, and tell them to bring one with them.


Dr Beat:So, i have decided to call a proper electrician (a private contractor) to check the mains again. Perhaps he can then argue on my behalf with the power company chap. Almost like calling you over to check my mains..


Well, I am a qualified electrician, and I do install a number of dedicated mains circuits for Hi-Fi and AV enthusiasts. I already have in excess of £3,000 of the best quality electrical test instruments, but I don't have one of these (and I doubt your private contractor will either): they're just too expensive to justify purchasing for occasional use: http://www.fluke.co.uk/comx/show_product.aspx?locale=uken&pid=37819. They record all anomalies on your mains over a period of time, which can then be downloaded onto a computer to see when and where the problems occured. Unless your electrician is fortunate enough to own some kind of power quality analyser, I again think you'd be wasting your money: He can't tell you anything new without one. It's the electricity providers that own these expensive devices!

You seem convinced that the problem is with your mains, and I'm afraid, from the information you've given, I don't share that view. Frankly, if such a severe event were happening on your mains supply, there's a very strong chance that more than just your power amplifier would have failed. Hence my feeling is that the problem remains with your amplifier. As a minimum, I would be insisting that Cyrus should be replacing the power supply - at least that dodgy fault detection circuit - not continually patching it back together.

But good luck Dr Beat. It's a frustrating problem. I hope you get to the bottom of it.

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