Hi-Fi Fuses - SNAKE OIL? - or something in it?

There's a lot of chatter about the benefits of those high prices gold plated fuses with silver conductor etc. etc. all over the web and the consensus ranges from FANTASTIC!!! to much more subtle observations.

It makes sense to me, epseically in light of spending lots of $$$ on good power cables, that having a skinny piece of aluminum conductor in a glass tube (i.e. a cheap fuse), in the power loop would be detrimental to the performance of the components.

I decided to revamp my DIY power supply I'd built for the Cambridge Audio 640p phono stage and DACmagic in order to test this out - and since it's a DIY project there is no UL Certification to void.

First, I bypassed the fuse link completely to confirm there would be an improvement and give me the best benchmark to compare against - YEP - BIG DIFFERENCE - much more this, that and the other :-)

So then I started looking for hi-fi fuses - WOW!!! - talk about pricey.

Two fuses for the power supply was going to cost $120+ AND I thought I'd probably have to buy a better quality fuse block to make the most of those fuses.

Then a moment of enlightenment - most power supplies and conditioners are protected by pushbutton breakers and not fuses.

I found breakers of the required current rating and installed them into the power supply. I imediately noticed that there was no deteriation in fidelity when compared to the same unit with the fuse link bypassed - GREAT!.

On reflection, the fuses I had in place were rated at 3 amps - so they use a pretty thin fuse wire in them. If I had used a fuse of a higher rating, i.e. it uses a thicker conductor, then I believe that there would be less of a difference between the fused and bypassed implementations

SO - do the expensive fuses work?

Well the empirical evidence out there would suggest they do
- I do know the cheap fuses are not good!

I know bypassing them does improve the sound - a lot in my case

I know breakers work as good as bypassing the fuse
- FYI a couple of licensed technicians I know WILL NOT change the design of a power supply at all.

I believe the amount of benefit is related to the fuse rating
- but don't go replacing 3 amp fuses with a 20 amp fuse - that's not safe either.

Whilst looking for fuses I discovered AMR Gold fuses priced at $20/fuse.

Now that's definately more affordable than most others at 3-4 times their price.

One supplier I know of in the US is Avatar Aacoustics

If you have had experience with quality fuses please share - especially if they are "modestly priced" i.e. $20-$30 per fuse. And please provide a source :-)

Also, can anypne confirm that Slow blow fuses are better than regular?


Many Thanks
I bought a few for my Lamm ML2.1 (forgot the price, but they were expensive, something about $30,--/piece or even more ?). They broke after a short time. I went back to original fuses and never had that problem again.
Jfrech - breakers also come in a variety of prices...
- thermal $10-30
- thermal/magnetic $40+++

I choose a name brand thermal for $15, because the market is flooded with the "not-so-good product" from - guess where :-)

The nice thing about breakers
- fix the problem that tripped it, then press button to reset
- not - pay another $??? to "Company X"

Unfortunately, fuses are still the cheapest manufacturing solution - so its unlikely breakers will be adopted in components any time soon.

I'm pretty sure good fuses are used throughout the industry, after all, company's like McIntosh have reputations to protect.

The problem is, if a fuse should blow due to a power surge or some other anomaly - what do you replace it with?

The hi-fi fuses offer a good timely solution - until the replacements from the manufacturer arrive :-)

However, if you are into creating your own DIY products, then a breaker is a viable alternative to the fuse that will not degrade the performance.
I've tried some of the Synergistic SR fuses in both my amp and phono stage. I think the improvement falls into the 'decent' category (it certainly is noticeable, but not earth shattering), but I wouldn't buy them again. While the fuse in the power amp has worked fine, the 500mA slow blow rated fuse for the phono stage lasted a day before it opened; the uprated 800mA replacement didn't last more than four days before it too opened; I don't have the heart to attempt yet another replacement from Chris VH. My generic, stock 500mA fuse has been in there for at least three years without incident. Hence, I would have to agree with some of the above posters that have criticized tolerance, rating and quality control in these devices. So, as with anything in audio, you pay your money and take your chances.
"You pay your money and take your chances" true.
People will always have varying results with products.I use the SR Quantum fuses in my amplifier and line stage and there`s a clear improvement in sound compared to the stock fuses.In my experience these premium fuses are a worthwhile and cost effective change.
Jmcgrogan2 - thanks for the kind words - I aim to amuse - sometimes :-)

Didn't want to get into "the fog clearing" or "my ears going through a miraculous transition!" and my all time favourite "the veil has been lifted" - I gotta try wearing that veil someday:-)

Maybe I've created another "hi-fi hyperbole" I can hear it now...

the component exhibited a certain this and that, and lots of the other - highly recommended.

WOW- already used in Levy03's post - thanks for that :-)

A sense of humour keeps us sane, especially in this "hobby" :-)

Keep on truckin'