Power amps into surge protector/Conditioner or DIRECT to wall? Final verdict?

Just curious. I've heard for years not to plug amp into a surge protection evice. Does this apply to a preamp as well? Are the component fuses enough? Do affordable surge protection/conditioners exist that do not effect sound quality? 
Some of the mid line Furman studio units look nice. Plus you have the SurgeX/Brick devices that look like real winners. However, I'm not wanting any sound quality issues. BUT, I don't want my equipment destroyed as well. 

Thoughts please
Buy something,try it. If you don't  like it,send it back.

You have  been doing what you've been doing for years, so why worry.
Let your ears decide. 

I plug everything into a PS Audio Power Plant and it sounds fine.
I’m looking for something also. I’ve been using an PS Audio Dectet and it’s ok but I’d like to get something better without spending more than $1500 or so. Good surge/spike protection is important 

You may look into Nordost QB8. One of the best power distribution I’ve experienced in my setup. If you like to tweak, you would appreciate their modular approach. 

I got my entire system plugged into QB8, including my mono amps. 
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Use a Furman with SMP and LiFT at a minimum. They start around $180. That's where the best noise reduction and surge protection is. They're also very low impedance, and with power factor correction added (Elite series) they can actually be better than the wall.

More here:
Thanks for the responses. Maybe my real question: Is surge protection really needed if your components have a fuse? A "direct hit" would wipe out many surge protectors and zap your equipment anyway. So do you really need one if electrical noise is not an issue?
No. Listen to tablejockey and elizabeth
Try as many different things within your budget as you can, buy the one that you find to work the best in your system.

As elizabeth says,
That is 100% the right answer.

Please note: you cannot do better than 100%.
So the component's fuse itself is enough general protection from electrical surges.

two things seem key here:
1 SQ
2 device protection


my EXP to date shows some changes will occur to sQ when amps are integrated into a PLC. I’ve only used passive units so far as these seem the least negatively influential on what ever amps sonic qualities.

I’ve used Shunyata, PSA and running Springs passive conds and all with similar but quite varying results. from this small sub section of the arena it does seem the more $$$$ spent on them the less they directly impact the sonics of the system’s components.

often the first noticeable item in how the sound will change revolves around leading edge definition. sometimes its a bit more blunted or eased off. this is not to say these results are unacceptable. they are merely different demonstrations of the musical content.

usually this is a very slight incursion and may well have more to do with the cord supplying the PLC itself as changes here will surely alter how much dynamics are softened or reduced.

albeit, I’ve yet to find a PLC supply PC which totally negates the sonic influence of a PLC.

one should take notice here too, everything plugged into the brand X PLC, active or passive, is being likewise affected. though until one inserts their amps into that fold, does the noticed alterations to the sound become abundantly visible.

on the more ‘plus’ side, the darkening of the back drop may be more desired and a compromise then made.

I can and do go either way on this tact for pre or amps. often choosing to plug only the lower voltage stuff and the pre into a ?? PLC, and not the amps.

that said, all low voltage items do get hooked up! DACs, Disc pllayers, CATV boxes. confusers. streaming units.

screw the phones I’ve got a cell. lol

2 RE protection
at least twice now I’ve had the displeasure of encountering energy surges from lightening. this was true even when the nearby weather was not in full on downpours and quite active.

in fact two of these events saw lightening strike power lines well down the block and it was ONLY the PS Audio passive cond which saved what ever had been occupying its outlets.

the first time ever was a near direct strike on a telephone/power pole near the road's edge and along my property line.

everything went out that time! thankfully, all of the major appliances managed to survive.

PS Audio once apprised of the situation promptly sent along (free of charge) new inserts for the Duets which had been killed.

a big screen tV, a very expensive pre amp line stage, a DAC, ?? were all saved undue near death experiences.

a Krell 250wpc stereo amp survived in spite of not being connected to any passive line cond oddly enough.

all low voltage electronics died. alarm clocks. phones. a Personal Confuser as well bit the bullet and went toes up.

lightening arrives in advance of any rain or douw pours, so when does one unplug everything?

as said in one case, waiting for the sound of thunder was just a tad to late.

yes. unplug it/them all! leaving it plugged in puts all your hopes on one set of contacts or relays to prevent immense electrical surges from crossing over them and sorely afflicting your gear..

what then will one do if they leave the house knowing or ignorant of possible bad weather encroaching the area?

always yank the PC from the wall or device?

what about those bits which their maker says to keep energized all the time?

life abounds with choices… make those which best suit your needs, and saves you aggravation, lost time, and money, when and where ever feasable..

Good luck!

a Krell 250wpc stereo amp survived in spite of not being connected to any passive line cond oddly enough.

They have those big transformers protecting everything after that, kind of how series mode protection works, unless they have enough capacitance coupling the inner to outer coils.

So the component’s fuse itself is enough general protection from electrical surges.

Um, aberyclark no. Fuses disconnect on high current, low speed events. A surge from lightning is high voltage, high speed, and relatively very low current, until it finds a path through silicone. Once the fuse trips, it means the surge has already shorted something. Also, see differences between fast and slow blowing fuses.

Surge protectors activate on high speed, high voltage events. A fuse could take 0.1 second to activate. A lightning surge can occur in microseconds.

Which is why series mode surge suppression is the way to go. Zero activation time to the leading surge edge, and non-sacrificial components.

McIntosh uses Series Mode Protection in their top of the line $10,500 conditioner, but Furman has it in their $180 strips.

Also, cross contamination is real. Use an Elite or use multiple Furman strips to keep your digital/streaming devices from contaminating your clean zone.

aberyclark asks:
So the component's fuse itself is enough general protection from electrical surges.

No. And eriks comment is misleading. Its nothing to do with line surges. The current fuses protect against is current draw resulting from a fault in the component itself. 

Agree with @erik_squires .
Let's say we're talking about surge protection power strips and conditioners. PS Audio and the like are power regenerators and are a different animal.

Good advice from Erik, you want the breaker on a power strip/ conditioner to trip and save the components. Surge protection will work during line voltage spikes, black outs, brown outs. But no surge protector will save you from a lightning strike.

A basic quality conditioner with surge protection would be one of the Furmans or a Brickwall.
And to answer your other question, you would not plug an amp into one of these devices. They have filters or capacitors which will affect or restrict sonics (even though they say non-current limiting).
IME, the cleanest signal for an amp is thru the wall receptacle or with a high quality power strip with no filtering such as a Wiremold.

How can Erik’s comments be misleading? When I had a power failure due to loss of a transformer outside, the fuses on my DVD and amp blew since they were not protected by surge protectors. Breakers on the service panel tripped, but did not save the component's fuses.

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so Lowrider, there is really no point in plugging amps into surge  protection powerstipes, etc since sonics are effected. Best bet is probably make sure equipment is well insured
All talk of power surges is misleading. This whole subject is full of so much misinformation and misunderstanding all I can do is try and hit one tiny bit at a time. 
I also read where devices like surgex, etc...slow down the current to give the protection circuit time to react to any abnormal activity, thus effecting sound quality.

This is all a mish mash to me.
I once plugged a power amp directly into the wall.  Did not sound good.  In fact, it made no sound at all.  The resulting hole(s) in the wall had a very low WAF.
there is really no point in plugging amps into surge protection powerstipes, etc since sonics are effected. Best bet is probably make sure equipment is well insured

I didn't mean to make such a blanket statement. A high quality power strip will not degrade or restrict the sonics of an amp. I believe some Furman models claim that an amps sonics will not be affected. But I have found that an amp into a passive conditioner does affect its sound in some manner.
Check out the Furman line of power stations. Try one that has a 30 day return policy.

Many power reconditioners such as PS Audio are built to accept an an amp since they are taking AC from the mains and generating a new clean signal for the components.

A unit like the Surgex has a lot of circuitry that prevents a clean signal from reaching the components. Compare that to a Furman. A Wiremold power strip has nothing internally to delay or colour the sound.
From the FWIW department, I use a balanced power conditioner that provides surge protection but can also provide enough power for transient spike demands with dynamic music. I have no degradation of sound plugging the amp into the conditioner. It has specific outlets for amplifiers. I suggest a bit more research.
@ebm has provided the best answer.

And @falconquest has added another option (depending on your budget). Balanced power and other regenerators  provide enough power to accept an amp no problem.
Up until now, we have only been speaking about passive conditioners.

Normally I would say to plug the amps directly into the wall outlet. But my amps sound better plugged into the Audioquest Niagara 7000.

When we built our house on a hillside 2 years ago I was concerned about lightning strikes so I had a whole house surge protector installed. I use power conditioners also but to clean up the noise riding the lines coming in.
Something is better than nothing.  Electric quality and stability is always a problem.  I have used, sold, .... many different products.  Each method has its merits.
Nothing works if you have a poor ground.  
No. And eriks comment is misleading. Its nothing to do with line surges. The current fuses protect against is current draw resulting from a fault in the component itself.

So my comment was misleading, but you here assert nothing which contradicts it. I think it was very clear that fuses had nothing to do with surge protection.

You know gang, I was just thinking about how our location can really affect our perception. Ages ago I heard that the Florida power grid gets hit by 1 lightning striker per minute during the rainy season.

Living out in LA, and San Francisco, I don't think I've ever suffered a surge like I lived through in the south with the real thunderstorms Georgia got.

I still keep everything plugged in through a surge protector which I care about.
When a surge took out a Vandersteen amp, tried a few power conditioners..all made the sound worse...got a whole house protector wired into the mains box and find the problem solved.
I still keep everything plugged in through a surge protector which I care about.

Likewise in my case.

FWIW, I have my entire system protected by an Audience aR2p conditioner/surge suppressor ($695), and with my system at least it has no adverse sonic effects. Even if it did have some slight effects, though, I would probably use it anyway because I don't want my system (including the amp) exposed to any more risk than necessary.

I also use a Wiremold UL210BC power strip ($61) to expand the number of outlets (the Audience only provides two outlets). And I have a Shunyata Venom Defender ($200) plugged into the Wiremold, for additional protection and to minimize coupling of noise between components.

I should add, though, that the two amplifiers I've used with these things operate in class A, and hence draw current that doesn't fluctuate significantly as a function of the dynamics of the music (as it would in the case of class AB and especially class D amps). So I would be hesitant to extrapolate my findings to those kinds of amps.

Good luck. Regards,

-- Al

Well I agree that if something sounds good then do it and if it sounds bad then don’t do it. Having said that. Now we can just mention the ongoing battle some have about the value of power cords, and conditioners versus stock cables. Ok. I mentioned it. I will also mention that I have proved to myself on my system, that Power management and cables do make a positive difference in how my system sounds. So given, that and the logic behind power conditioning, I have all main components and as many non-main components as I can fit, plugged into an AQ Niagara 5000. Those that don’t fit are plugged into a Shunyata MPC. Both of those units are plugged into Shunyata wall outlets. This has made a difference in my system by eliminating noise and producing blacker backgrounds. Perhaps other improvements, as well. So I recommend it. YMMV. 
Adding to the commentary on a general level since I do not own a high end power conditioner. I had a main surge protector installed on to the electric panel of the house. Great $450 investment in my mind. Then my DISH got hit by lightning which was located about 60 feet from the house. The energy surged through the DISH cable and into the house frying everything that came in direct contact with the DISH cables. Lost 3 TVs and the DISH boxes and DVD players conected to those cable inputs. The 2 TVs and DISH boxes that had the cable through a basic surge protector were saved. If I had my stereo components set up for home theater without a basic surge protector it also would have been fried since the surge would have come through the DISH cable and into the audio components. Just saying that a basic surge protector works but not making any commentary on SQ. Also be aware of the satellite connection if you are using your audio system as home theater.
@aberyclark, I believe that blanket advice was good, absent context or other additional factors being mentioned.  Without some knowledge of the equipment, an amplifier could literally ruin and fry a low-end surge protector (picture smoke, I've seen it), even electronically controlled, due to high current draw.   Looking on the back of your equipment might reveal 1300 watts (or 1300 VA rating via inductive, capactive measure) or higher.  That's nearly a hairdryer.  Any other equipment would be fine to plug-in, e.g. the pre-amp, DAC and even TV since those are now minimal draw.  This equipment still might not protect against a lightning strike, but an intermittant surge would be okay.  Direct lightning strikes are very difficult to guard against.  When unsure, just unplug EVERYTHING.  Even in the off state, a lightning strike will fry everything along a path if plugged in.  BTW, the fuses are simply to protect equipment from its own internal failure or as a wide swag protection against external inputs out of specification (e.g. speakers).  Lightning will not care about fuses as they either will not react, or not quickly enough, or it will just arc over.  Grounding is also meant to either protect a user or protect equipment but never 100% guaranteed.  GFCI is also only 99% effective.  All of this is why, when weirder things happen, you can still have electrical fires which is why arc-fault interrupters are now code in addition to GFCI requirements in various locations in a residence.
Whole house surge protectors that are installed in the panel and made by the panel’s manufacturer are a great idea.

However, since the EMP from lightning can be induced directly into wiring, it’s a good idea to put a series mode protector near the devices you most care about. Also, home surge protectors still have activation time. Series mode protection does not.

Last time I had control over it, I had both. A D-Square whole house protector in the panel, and Furman Elite at my stereo.  I have repeatedly found that my system sounds better with the Elite than without it.
So just did some reading. Apparently not all "whole house surge protectors" are UL 1449 compliant. Some are listed as "secondary surge protectors." Meaning the manufacturer expects you to have other devices for your electronics, but at least your big electrical devices won't fry. Might be worth checking which you have.

In any event, I suggest using a surge protector near your gear if you are in lightning prone areas.
 I had my utility put a whole house surge arrester on the meter before it enters the house. Everything in my house is protected after the meter. We have some great lightning storms here in Georgia and my neighbors have experienced issues with their appliances during storms while I haven’t. My ps audio bhk amp sounds the best when plugged directly into the wall but I run everything else thru a ps audio conditioner. During lightning storms, I don’t unplug anything and sometimes I still listen to music without worrying.
Look at a UK company called power inspired, they make full sinewave power regenerators for about £500. I use one and it is very good

A point some may wish to consider is that it is possible for potentially harmful voltage transients to be introduced not only from outside the house, but from inside as well.

For example, the only time I’ve ever had the power supply of a desktop computer fail was the day after a plumber had been using a large hand-held electric drill or saw (I forget which) in my basement. The next day a high quality Corsair power supply in a desktop computer I had built, which was in that basement, failed. My suspicion is that it was damaged by a high voltage transient resulting from “inductive kickback” (that term can be Googled for additional explanation) occurring when current to the motor of the tool was shut off.

The computer was “protected” by a cheap power strip/surge suppressor. The computer was turned off when the work was being performed, but as usual the AC switch on the power supply at the rear of the computer was on, so that standby power could be supplied to the motherboard.



Low wattage gear should be plugged into one surge protector (common ground) Big amps (over 100 watts/ch) should have their own dedicated 15-20 amp circuit. No surge protector or power conditioner particularly if the amp has a regulated power supply and is run in balanced mode. If a big amp's power supply is not capable of cleaning things up on its own and handling the occasional surge don't buy it. Line level and phono gear is obviously more sensitive and should be on a surge protector. I lost a preamp to a lightening strike along with all my computers, the garage door ops, the telephones and the burglar alarm. The amps just blew it off.
Frankly, I have never had a power conditioner in my system that improved my sound. I am a bit lucky in that I have my very own lawn wart (transformer.) So, this may not be saying much.
My whole house is protected by surge protection from the power company.   I pay around $5 a month for this.  Not sure how it affects my sound?
I did this because we had 80000 volt wires go down onto 40000 volt wires and our house was one of the first houses to take the hit.  KCPL power wires went down over Aquila Power wires.  It blew light bulbs in my house, blackened some receptacles, blew my tv set and some other things.  KCPL paid for an electrician, all repairs and all devices at new cost; hence me purchasing surge protection for the entire house.   Not sure if it covers a direct hit from lightning. 
Seems to me the best, foolproof protection is to unplug your gear whenever you are away from home or a storm is approaching. Who listens to their systems during a thunderstorm anyway? Cost = $0, Protection = 100%.

The Emotiva is not a surge protector at all, and doesn't seem to offer over voltage protection either.

For the money, the Furman $180 strip is better.


I have a Furman power conditioner (a cheap one bought on Amazon) to protect from spring thunderstorms. Back in the nineties a thunderstorm took out the memory on a Denon stereo receiver and I use at least a surge protector on other devices. Have not noticed any sound difference one way or the other but would buy a power conditioner before I bought an after market power cord and just plugged it in the wall. Back in the "old" days of film I had a color darkroom and a voltage stabilizer which I think is another name for power conditioner that was a must for keeping color temperature from shifting.
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