Just like a high performance engine requires high octane gasoline to run as it was designed, a high-end home theatre needs clean power to perform at its peak. And just like having your car insured, it is critical to have some kind of protection for your audio video gear. A power conditioner, like the Furman Elite-15 DMi, will do just that for your precious electronics; it will provide clean power and surge suppression. After investing hundreds or thousands of dollars into your gear, it’s simply silly to not have a power conditioner/surge suppressor in your equipment rack.
What exactly does clean power mean? In a North American household outlet, the standard voltage is 120 volts AC. Unfortunately these power lines are contaminated with radio frequency (RF) and electromagnetic interference (EMI) noise caused by other devices connected to the power outlets inside and outside your house. This noise can couple into your audio video components and mask low level signals, in turn compromising the performance of your gear. Low level signals are crucial because they relay the harmonics and ambience in audio, as well as the depth and clarity in video.
In addition to noise, voltage spikes and surges also occur commonly in power lines. These variations in the electrical potential energy can be caused by power-hungry electrical devices such as refrigerators, air-conditioners and microwaves as well as faulty home wiring, short circuits, blackouts, power company load switching and lightning storms. A brief increase in voltage (for less than two nanoseconds) is called a spike; if the increase lasts any longer it is referred to as a surge. Both spikes and surges can lead to premature demise of equipment and in worst cases immediate damage to equipment. As electronic components and circuit boards continue to get smaller, they also become much more sensitive than larger, older components. High voltages can literally fry electronic components in their path.
In other words, the power lines feeding your precious audio video gear can be a huge mess and can substantially compromise the performance of your home theatre.
The Furman Elite-15 DMi linear filtering AC power source can take care of both deficiencies of the power lines; it will significantly reduce RF and EMI noise as well as protect your equipment from spikes and surges. It offers a clamping voltage of 188 V (at 6000 V, 3000 A input), which is the peak voltage that it will pass to the connected devices if an extreme over-voltage occurs. It will also completely eliminate all ground contamination that can be placed in the ground by other devices. The Elite-15 DMi offers 13 power outlets, 3 satellite/cable TV connections and a single telephone line connection. Priced at $599, this is the second most affordable model in the new Furman Elite “i” Series.
The front panel of the unit contains AC voltage and current meters, which provide measurements of the incoming AC line and current loads. Both meters together with a middle horizontal bar light up in a cool blue and can be dimmed with a rear mounted switch. Personally, I think that the meters are a great feature to have – I’ve always been curious about how much current my equipment draws. However, I wish that the meters could be turned off completely because they meddled slightly with my viewing experience (the Elite-15 DMi was placed at the bottom of my open-face A/V rack). Even when dimmed, they are still quite bright. Obviously, this would not be an issue if I placed the unit inside a cabinet or a closed A/V rack. If you plan to use a unit like this in an open-face rack, I suggest considering a different Furman model that doesn’t have the meters (in fact, most of their models don’t have meters). Also present in the front are an on/off switch, extreme voltage and remote turn-on LED indicators, and a single power jack. The front mounted on/off switch is a nice feature that allows the energy conscious user to turn off their entire home theatre system very easily when not in use.
For custom installations, the Elite-15 DMi allows remote control capability via 12V triggering, compatible with modern receivers and pre-amp processors.
The rear panel of the Elite-15 DMi is where all the action is, so-to-speak. There you will find 12 linearly filtered outlets, which should be a sufficient number for an average home theatre. The outlets are divided up into three groups of four outlets, each group designed for a specific type of home theatre component: audio, video and audio/video. The audio outlets provide more juice than any of the other outlets to accommodate power hungry components such as A/V receivers, amplifiers and subwoofers. The video outlets feature additional ultrasonic filtering which helps to deliver the best performance from components such as DVD/Blu-ray/HD DVD players, LCD/Plasma TVs and satellite/digital cable boxes. For home automation, 8 of these outlets can be switched on or off by a 12V trigger. The rear panel also provides 3 coaxial inputs/outputs as well as a single telephone input/output (for surge protection).
To test the effects of the Elite-15 DMi power source, I watched a few chapters from the spectacular BBC Planet Earth series on Blu-ray disc; first with my gear plugged into a $120 Monster Cable power bar and then with the gear plugged into the Furman power source. When plugging power cables into the Elite-15 DMi, I took the time to inspect the unit’s build quality. The enclosure itself is constructed out of solid steel and the front power switch is firm and of high grade. Each power cable fit snuggly into the power inlets.
After numerous times of switching between my gear plugged into the wall outlet and the Elite-15 DMi, I cannot say that the Elite-15 DMi did actually improve any video or audio characteristics of my home theatre. This was not surprising since I don’t normally experience anything visually or audibly unusual with my equipment, except during the occasional power surge. Depending on the state of the electrical wiring in your home, your experience may vary.
But the most important benefits of using a power protector/conditioner are not visible or audible. By far the most crucial job of the Elite-15 DMi is to protect your precious audio video gear from power spikes and surges. It is not uncommon for power protection equipment to sacrifice itself when an extreme over-voltage occurs, in order to protect your equipment. But the Elite-15 DMi was designed to stop power spikes and surges in their tracks, without causing any damage to itself. Protecting your components from dangerous electrical conditions will not only save your components, it will also significantly prolong the life of your components. Even small over-voltages cause damage to internal components in your gear, which accumulates over time, leading to a premature failure of the component.
The coaxial and telephone cable protection is also non-sacrificial. Thanks to a minimal signal loss of 0.1 dB through its coaxial and telephone connections, the Elite-15 DMi did not degrade the video quality of my connected satellite box – something that many less expensive surge protectors are notorious for.
When a power spike or a surge happens, some power protection devices contaminate the ground in the power outlets when protecting the connected devices – unfortunately this method can damage other components that are not connected to the power protection device. The Elite-15 DMi provides its protection with zero contamination sent to the ground.
There are many products in stores that promise to protect your valuable audio video components from various electrical conditions. But the truth is that unless you actually spend a few hundred dollars on a good-quality power conditioning/protection product, your components are not getting the protection that they should be. The Furman Elite-15 DMi provides the proper protection and offers the potential of improving certain performance aspects of a home theatre system. For $599, it offers an excellent value. I strongly recommend one of these units in every home theatre. Furman offers a wide range of power conditioning/protection products that can meet the demands of any home theatre. If you need advice on which product is best suited for your specific home theatre, there is a helpful guide to assist with this in the “Tech Corner” of the Furman website found at www.furmansound.com.
Distributed in Canada by SF Marketing 1-800-363-8855
Furman Elite-15 DMi Linear Filtering AC Power Source
Price: $599 CAD
• Current rating: input: 15 amps, output: 15 amps RMS
• Linear Noise Attenuation: >40 dB from 10Khz – 100 kHz and >80 dB from 2 Khz – 100 kHz – 1GHz
• Outlets:9 (linearly filtered outlet), 4 (linearly filtered outlets with additional ultrasonic filtering for diital or video components)
• Transient Voltage Surge Suppression: 120 VAC – series multi-stage protection – non- sacrificial with zero ground contamination