Sound Better w/Amp Directly Into Wall Then Thru Zero Surge

I’ve been breaking in a Pathos Classic Remix. It’s lovely at small things, but when things got complex, the soundstage flattenned, the sound compressed, and the top end got sort of hashy.


When my last amp and speakers got fried from a surge, even when plugged into a Shunyata Hydra, I decided I needed some more serious surge protection. I was directed to a Zero Surge brand protector. I have been plugging the Classic Remix into the Hydra and that into the Zero Surge.


My previous amp, a Unison Research Unico was quite improved going through the Hydra in terms of the sound, but, again, that was going into the wall.


With the Classic Remix plugged into the Hydra (and the Zero Surge), I decided to plug the Classic Remix directly into the wall. Immediately there was an improvement with the dynamic bloom and lessening of the harshness when the music got big.


I’m wondering how much the Zero Surge was reining in the dynamics? I need to try comparing the Hydra directly into the wall with the Pathos plugged in, as well as trying to plug the Zero Surge directly into the Zero Surge. But, boy, it seems as if something was limiting the current to the Pathos.


But I have heard that some manufacturers say to plug their apps directly into the wall. How do I protect my equipment (without going to crazy expense)?


One other thing - I called Zero Surge and Jim, the guy I spoke to, told me that there's nothing in the Zero Surge that would cause it. "It's just wire", he said. 


So I’m wondering what is happening in or to the amp to cause this change in sound? Again, the rep from Zero Surge today said that there shouldn’t be any difference. "It’s just wiring."

Emphasis added.

That is exactly what the issue is! When you plug your amps into the wall, there is less voltage drop because there is less wire. The voltage drop is easily measured with most any digital voltmeter. A voltage drop also means there is current limiting. It should not be surprising then that direct into the wall can sound better, since the power supplies in the amplifier will be working closer to the design spec.

+1 Richard at Shunyata also told me to plug my amps directly into the outlets.

I am in the process of running a dedicated line. Are going gonzo with 50’ of $3K of Oyaide copper wire and Oyaide copper outlets. My only question will be if I can eliminate the Shunyata Triton/Typhon or still use it for my preamp. If I sold the T/T, I could cover the whole cost of the AC improvement. Time will tell.

+1 for direct wall plug in… after multiple experimenting no more returns to the topic. 

Amps with Linear Power Supply draw current from the mains in short narrow spikes of very high amplitude.  Such current spikes cause larger voltage drop than expected.   It can limit maximum output peaks reducing dynamics.  For less than maximum peaks most amp should be regulated well enough to supply desired output voltage.   My Benchmark AHB2 is line and load regulated, plugged into high current bank of Furman Elite 20PFI that has tight non-sacrificial over/under voltage protection.  MOVs I installed (BoltShield) in the circuit breaker panel also offer some help.  Most likely they won't reduce voltage to safe level,  but anything helps.  Lightning creates very short pulse that will be further reduced by filtering coils in series or even transformer itself (limited frequency responce).   Unfortunately nothing will stop direct hit, so I always unplug during thunderstorm or when traveling.

Interesting to me (and to the dealer) is that the sound seems to be changing, possibly depending on the time of day. At least this morning, the sound was emphasizing the top end of things. Aspects like cymbals and sibilance were quite pronounced. The bass was fairly tight. 


Mid-afternoon, however, the top end was tamed and the extreme bottom end seemed bloated. I heard it through the headphones as well as the speakers, although the bloat was more apparent through the speakers.


I'm planning to keep a journal for a couple of days to see if this change is consistent, and consistent with the time of day.