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Got Power Conditioning? First Steps With Alan Maher Designs

KEF R Series

I haven’t the time to sort out exactly how this ought to go, but one of the things I’ve been asked a lot is:

“If I want to get started with AMD Power, where do I begin?”

This is, unfortunately, hard to answer. One, because Alan’s site is confusing. That is, there’s some info on what you’re getting, but very little information on which to get or when.

I’m going to leave the what (as in WTF) pretty much untouched except for this: Alan sells a/c power filters, that is, filters that attempt to deal with the noise present on the power line. The problem, as Alan sees it, is that everything is connected to the same set of wires. More specifically, those connections are to a large extent bi-directional — whatever is connected to that system also impacts it, sometimes positively and sometimes not so much. Alan’s approach is to treat power from the perspective of the whole house.

First up in Alan’s product line is the ubiquitous use of Circuit Breaker Filters (CBF). These little boxes target local RF/EMI (among other things) and simply sit on top of things (either physically, or with a zip-tie). Where to put them?

– Zip-tied to the power mains coming in to the panel from the street.
– Zip-tied to AC male and IEC connectors of your power cords.
– Above and below power supplies in or on your components.
– Behind an AC duplex, but installed on a non-AV circuit that is on the same electrical phase.

I’ve heard of folks using them on top of just about anything, including speaker cable terminals, power supplies, or even inside of (say, sitting on caps) or sitting on top of your gear. The more the merrier. I have something like 15 of these scattered around my system, wall jacks and panel. They’re pretty cheap (~$25 each) and Alan is constantly running bundles and package deals, so pricing is rarely much of a problem. Here’s some more detail around what they are. Consider yourself warned. 😉

AMD Circuit Breaker Filters

Next up is the Reference II and Reference III combo. Alan recommends 3 of the RefIIs and 1 of the RefIIIs to start. Alan sells these as a package for about $600, and believes one such package should work for the entire home. These are plug in filters, designed to work on the circuit as a whole. He calls them “parallel filters”. All of these go on the circuits that are non-a/v. Just plug them in and forget them. They’re designed to actively eliminate (or at least attenuate, depending on the severity of the problem) certain kinds of noise that rides on your power lines.

The RefII targets noise from switch-mode power supplies and are supposed to be placed at the source of the problem. Think: the other socket in the duplex that houses your refrigerator or other appliance that’s on a lot and dumping a lot of noise.

AMD Reference II

The RefIII targets ground wire noise. You should plug the RefIII into a dedicated duplex (any outlet with nothing plugged into it) so it can address earth ground issues. You only need one of these for the house, Alan says.

Ok, so that’s the start. There’s quite a bit more on offer from Alan, including power cables with the headshells stuffed with the same stuff the CBFs are (a power cable that actually does something), power strips made with Bybee filters, and more powerful broad-spectrum parallel filters.

His product suite is in constant (ok, annual) flux as he refines his approach. Right now, he’s transitioning to a new set of products he’s called “Scorpion”, which come in a variety of flavors. The plug-in filters (called Scorpion Pulse-Gen), go both on A/V and on off A/V circuits and provide more hi-freq noise attenuation. They’re reasonable, too; he’s offering 3 for $170 right now on his FB page. Also in the Scorpion line, there’s a Scorpion flavored CBFs and a new offering as well, some strap-on Scorpion cable filters (SCF) which essentially a variation on the CBF that’s designed to better bring more focus on cable geometries (they’re tubes, not boxes, that you strap them to your non-AMD cables — including power, speaker and interconnects, if you’re so inclined — with electrical tape).

Ok, I should wrap this up here and start thinking about the next post (Second Steps?). In sum, I can say this — the cost for entry is pretty low, and considering that what he’s doing is not only different (in that its holistic), but reasonably priced for the level of complexity he’s attempting to address (the mess that is your home), his approach is interesting.

And from one consumer’s POV — it’s good. Really good.

About Scot Hull (996 Articles)
Founder, Editor and Publisher at Part-Time Audiophile and The Occasional Magazine.

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