Electro Stimulation Ward > Power Conditioning

Why power conditioning?

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I get questions all of the time concerning the need for power conditioning and I seem to say the same things over and over and over....

Let me spread my mantra here as I have done, oh, so many times before.  It may not be a sacred group of words, but it is a true group of words.

My journey to audio excellence really began back in the early 80's.  I was a partner in a live sound company that provided sound reinforcement for many venues here in New Mexico.  One of those venues was the Paolo Solari Amphitheater in Santa Fe and we were blessed to do sound for many great touring acts.  From B.B King to Pat Matheny, Lyle Lovett, David Grisman and so many others.  One of the problems was clean AC.  We pig tailed directly into the panel, but the AC still sounded bad.  We knew this because we were providing sound reinforcement services in other venues that sounded better with the same gear.  Bummer.  Fast forward a couple of years to my sojourn at Quincy Street Sound in Albuquerque.  We were having an issue with power quality there.  Mixes done at night sounded great... ones done during the day...?  Not so much.  It came down to us determining that the incoming AC was being contaminated by the printing shop, restaurant  and dental lab during the day.  Their vacuum pumps, sublimation printers and refrigeration units were screwing mightily with the power quality to the studio, even though we were on a standalone transformer.   We recorded and mixed Sara K's Gypsy Alley there during the evenings.  I still stand by that recording even though it was masters to a Sony U-Matic digital recorder... 14 bits and all. What a cool lady........

We started looking at isolation transformer and other solutions, but they were just band-aids.  Mixing after 9:00 PM became the norm.

This bugged me for years and followed me through a couple of other studios until about 2006.  I had an epiphany.  The commercially available power filtration units: Furman, Monster, Tripplite, et al, were not doing the job.  All of these units during the mid 2000's sounded not so good to my ears.  I knew that there had to be a better way.  When I dissected the commercial power filters I found that they all contained MOV's and had a bandwidth that BEGAN at 100KHz at best.  I had found their profit center and was determined to do better.

My quest took me almost 4 years to develop a series of power filters that I would put my name on.  

Our youngest daughter is a physician.  She is good at her calling and also impressed upon me the following>  "First, do no harm."  This is how I develop my wares.  Every aspect of my  goods has to meet or exceed every parameter of quality AC.  I will not build products that compress or color the audio quality that is going on inside the music.  To me, it is ALL about the music.  I think that any piece of audio gear, be it preamp, source, amplifier, cabling, loudspeaker or power device MUST remain true to the performance.  

Music is one of God's great gifts to us.  We should not screw with that gift.  From a bird's sweet song to Count Basie to Brad Paisley to Megadeath, don't we want the truth?

We have to get the heart of the system beating strong and fully to provide the soul to the rest of the system, no matter what that might be.



Dave, how do you see this evolving?   Would you say there is still a lot of room for improvement - at least in terms of how power quality impacts sonics?

Are we our own worst enemies in that newer technologies are actually eroding power quality (and sonics) faster than guys like you can find ways to counter it?   (I'm thinking of your latest Digibuss as an example).


--- Quote from: mdconnelly on January 25, 2016, 10:50:44 AM ---Dave, how do you see this evolving?   Would you say there is still a lot of room for improvement - at least in terms of how power quality impacts sonics?

Are we our own worst enemies in that newer technologies are actually eroding power quality (and sonics) faster than guys like you can find ways to counter it?   (I'm thinking of your latest Digibuss as an example).

--- End quote ---
Great observations, Mike.

There is always room for improvement.  The questions become "at what cost and to what end?"  Given carte blanche I could produce a dead silent power supply and filter.  How much money have you got?   :lol:

When I started on my power filtration journey there weren't any cell phones or other forms of digital communication.  Just about everything floating around in the air and on the power grid was analog in character save simple switching commands.  Relatively gentle (compared to the instantaneous square wave of digital) rise and fall times.  Digital signals are by definition noise.  Square waves are not a natural phenomena in most cases.  Analog sound is defined by attack, sustain, decay and release.  These forms of noise are easier to address than the on-off character of digital.  We need faster components to handle the noise that is digital.

Digital noise is extremely high frequency (most of the time) and would appear to be a non-issue in the context of human perception that can be roughly 20-20K and up to 100K given brain activity from the excitation of cochlear hair cells.  The problem with high frequency noise are the beat frequencies (comb filters) formed by the interaction of closely aligned frequencies.  Say you have a 1MHz frequency and another that is 1 % off. those two will combine to give a resultant of 10KHz... the harshness that we hear in high frequencies caused by dirty power.  This is just one example and a simple one at that.  There are easily thousands and thousands of different comb filters surrounding us.  With very wide bandwidth audio electronics this becomes a bigger problem all of the time.

That is why I designed the DigiBUSS.  Most SMPS function in the 100K - 500K area.  With parts being of different accuracies, even 2 seemingly identical SMPS can operate at frequency differentials that produce harmonic differences in the heart of the audible range.  This is just considering the base switching frequency and not the harmonic noise series created by the SMPS. While these noise producers are filtered somewhat (required by the FCC and CE in Europe) they minimally meet these requirements due to the expense of gross reductions.  That is where hard heads like me come into the equation.  We have learned that the heart feeds the brain and muscles of the system.  Good power filtration is like the liver, scouring the crud out of the system.

Given all of the cell phones, computers, microprocessors in appliances (our new Keurig has as much computing power as our first home computer), smart grid technology and all of the other crapola that is intended to make our lives "easier" high end audio will always have place for people like me and all of my brothers out there trying to figure out how to make things sound better, whatever that is.

With things in mind I have a couple of ideas in the development pipeline.  Some work out, some don't.  We'll see.

Thanks Dave for that informative explanation.

See my post in the DigiBUSS thread.

LiverBUSS  :rofl:


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