Clean AC power can go a long way to improving the performance of a home theatre in some cases. Just as importantly it can vastly extend the life of your beloved gear. Unfortunately, the power straight out of a household power outlet is not very clean. The electrical lines throughout your house or apartment are shared among many devices which contaminate the lines, create power surges and interfere with each other. Worse yet, a significant power surge, such as one caused by a lighting strike, can completely damage your equipment. If you would like to learn more about power for your home theatre, I invite you to read an article that appeared in one of our past issues “Power Protection for the Home Theatre”. You can now find it online at novo.press/ in the A/V Articles section.
So how can you provide clean power to your components? You’ll need a power management solution like the Panamax M5300-PM. At $599, this reasonably priced power management centre can purify the power delivered to your components and protect them from power spikes and surges.
The M5300-PM offers Panamax’s Level 4 power cleaning and filtration which can eliminate common symptoms associated with contaminated power. These include loss of detail, pops and hisses in audio as well as hums and visual artifacts in video. The M5300-PM will automatically shut down the power to the connected components if the incoming power dips below 90 volts or exceeds 142 volts. It has a rating of 2125 joules. A joule measures how much energy the unit can absorb and dissipate. The M5300-PM offers L-N, L-G and N-G protection modes, which means that it is equipped to absorb surges between any pair of the three wires: Positive, negative and ground. In addition to all of this, the M5300-PM also provides noise isolation between all its outlets so that one component cannot contaminate the power that is sent to any other plugged in component.
The M5300-PM offers a suite of 11 AC power outlets: 4 that are always on, 5 that can be switched on and off (with the front power button) and 2 high current outlets. The high current outlets are designed for power hungry amplifiers, receivers or subwoofers and feature a five second turn on delay to guard against blown fuses and potentially damaging speaker thumps. The total current capacity of the M5300-PM is 15 amps. Three pairs of coaxial connectors provide protection for cable, satellite and antenna signal lines. Two sets of LAN jacks and one phone jack are also present. The LAN jacks are ideal for protecting the LAN connections for Blu-ray and HD DVD players or gaming consoles. The phone jack can protect the phone line which goes into a satellite or digital cable box. A 12 volt trigger rounds out the package. Aside from various indicators and buttons, the front panel contains a power outlet, LAN port and USB port. The USB port can be used to charge any USB device while protecting it from potential harmful voltages.
Visually, the M5300-PM looks as slick as any good looking home theatre component. The front panel has indicators for each of the power outlet banks as well as digital number indicators for incoming voltage and amperage draw. A single power outlet as well as USB and LAN connectors are also located on the front panel. Its solid chassis and front panel are constructed out of metal, giving it a weight of 30 pounds. An Ethernet cable, a telephone cable and coaxial TV cable are included in the box.
I plugged the M5300-PM’s power cord directly into the wall outlet. The unit’s removable power cord is held securely in place by a sturdy metal cage. The initial power cycle took a few seconds and numerous front panel indicators came to life in a vibrant blue. The voltage meter measured an incoming voltage of 122 volts and 0.3 amperes being drawn with nothing plugged into the outlets. A button on the front panel allows all of the blue indicators to be dimmed but doesn’t allow them to be turned off completely, which would have been a nice feature. These indicators draw unnecessary power and can be disturbing while watching video in a dark room. During my testing I noticed the incoming voltage reading to fluctuate between 121 and 125 volts.
I tested the M5300-PM with the following components connected: Pioneer Elite VSX-84TXSi A/V receiver, Axiom Audio A1400-8 amplifier, Pioneer PDP-5010FD plasma TV and my Starchoice satellite box. I also connected an analogue TV cable to it. After plugging all of these components in, the amp meter reading increased slightly to 0.5 amps letting me know that this equipment sips about 0.2 amps when in stand-by mode (each component was turned off). As expected, the amp consumption jumped significantly when I powered all of the gear on. Power conscious consumers like myself will certainly enjoy having this information readily available. By the way, the power outlets of the M5300-PM appeared to be of high grade and held all of my power cords securely in place.
During the course of the next several weeks, I conducted audio and video tests with the components plugged into the M5300-PM as well as a regular power strip. Although I did not immediately notice improvements, over the course of time a couple of benefits did become apparent. First, I noticed that the M5300-PM was able to eliminate the hum bars (in some instances) that are occasionally present when watching analogue cable TV channels. Hum bars are lines that slowly creep up across the TV screen. I also noticed a slight reduction in the digital noise of some of the poorer quality channels.
The power outlets in my home theatre are installed on a shared circuit with my kitchen’s fluorescent light (unfortunately). Occasionally, when the kitchen light is turned on or off, interference bars momentarily appear on my TV. I tested to see whether the M5300-PM could eliminate these interference bars but it did not. However, this is not to say that the M5300-PM doesn’t actually do anything when the light is turned on or off. Much of its functionality actually happens behind the scenes so-to-speak. In a scenario such as this, if the voltage momentarily reached out of the 90 to 142 volt range, the M5300-PM would have prevented it from reaching the connected components. This is one of the true benefits of connecting your equipment to a power management centre. Power surges or spikes like this can occur when any electrical devices such as lights, hair dryers, microwaves, refrigerators, furnaces or air conditioners turn on or off. To my knowledge, the only guaranteed way to eliminate the interference bars on your display is to install a dedicated circuit from the electrical panel to the outlet in your home theatre, one that is not shared with any other outlets or lighting fixtures.
I should mention that the next model up in the Panamax power management centre line-up, the M5400-PM, may be able to eliminate some of these above mentioned conditions thanks to its additional voltage regulator feature. The voltage regulator ensures that the optimal voltage of 120 (plus/minus a few volts) reaches its connected equipment at all times. The M5400-PM retails for $699, only $100 more than the M5300-PM.
In addition to the power protection and slight improvements in certain aspects of audio and video, the M5300-PM is also a very effective solution for cleaning up the mess of cables plugged into power strips on the floor. Each power outlet in the back has a label for a suggested component which makes it very easy to locate the power cable for each piece of equipment. This is very useful for anyone that regularly tweaks their system. Everyone will appreciate eliminating unsightly power strips from the floor.
In most cases, you should be rewarded by slight improvements in audio and video performance by adding a power management centre, such as the Panamax M5300-PM, to your home theatre. The exact benefits will certainly vary based on your exact setup. Something that you will achieve in every case when using a power management centre is peace of mind. The Panamax M5300-PM gets the seal of approval from me, although if you have the extra $100, I would recommend getting the M5400-PM model.
Distributed in Canada by Lenbrook Canada 905-831-6555
Panamax M5300-PM Power Management Centre
Price: $599 CAD