We've featured the AbZorber™ a number of times before in the pages of our Connected magazine but it still seems to carry an air of mystery about it, being one of those products that we are regularly asked about. Is it a mains filter? Or is it a spike/surge protection device? Well, it's both - in a way. Simon Dalton explains.
What are spikes and surges?
A spike is a very brief over-voltage 'event' ranging from a few tens of volts above the highest legal peak voltage (360V for 230V), up to several thousand volts. They are typically under 1 millisecond in duration, are very common and often (though not always) the energy involved is small. Longer duration events are called surges and have the potential to do more damage, but mercifully these are less common (sometimes both terms are used to simply describe spikes but this is not technically accurate).
Spikes are caused by things such as lightning strikes, power outages, tripped circuit breakers, fluorescent lights, refrigerators and washing machines switching on and off. The quality and severity of spike activity varies during the day, and from day to day. Even with well-designed equipment, spikes or transients - if regular - can and will prematurely stress and wear out critical mains-connected parts and their insulation.
Our SuperClamp and MegaClamp devices are designed specifically to 'grab' these voltage surges as they hit above approx 340V - and a very effective job they do too! The only trouble is that they cannot work on the effects of this spike activity within the normal 240V mains supply as this would have a negative effect, clamping the normal voltage rather than just the spikes and surges. This means that spike activity still remains within this normal voltage.
The AbZorber™ (right) shown alongside our Power Purifier™ (left)
In our opinion...
In our opinion, high voltage spikes can also cause audible degradation of Hi-Fi sound by their effect on a Hi-Fi system's power supply and by raising the background noise level in amplification circuits. The spikes saturate the core of the mains transformer, preventing normal transformer operation during the period of each spike and causing distortion to the waveform. Mains spikes reduce the capacity of the power supply by 'strangling' the transformer operation producing subjective effects on an amplifier like softened bass and increased high frequency distortion.
Enter the AbZorber
Ben Duncan spent many hours researching this issue, convinced there must be some solution to the problem. We are not aware of any other product on the market which is able to achieve this, but Ben succeeded and the AbZorber components do indeed work within the normal mains voltages up to 240V, 'mopping up' these residual effects of spike activity.
For best results, plug in the AbZorber as close to your system as possible - a spare socket in the mains extension that powers your Hi-Fi system is ideal. The AbZorber can be used with Hi-Fi and Home Cinema systems of all levels.
By using this technology to clean up your mains, the effect can be surprisingly good. Overall musicality is improved with a more natural reproduction of the music and ambient acoustics and, more specifically, the sound is cleaner and clearer with more musical bass, smoother midrange, sweeter treble and a more detailed presentation.
Like many of our filters, the AbZorber is designed to be used as a stand-alone filter, in combination with our other filters or in multiples. We have one customer who owns six AbZorbers, three for use with his Hi-Fi and three for use in his Home Cinema system! The reason for this is simply because as he added each one there were clear improvements to be heard.
Our advice would generally be to combine the AbZorber with other models of filter first before purchasing multiple AbZorbers, simply because you are more likely to gain bigger benefits by addressing more issues - fit an AbZorber and a PowerPurifier, for example, and you will create a really pure mains supply. If you've already done this, though, we would definitely say it is worthwhile adding another unit, using our 60-Day Money-Back Guarantee to test its effectiveness.
The AbZorber was reviewed in Hi-Fi World magazine in March 2013 by Paul Rigby. Testing the product, Paul observes that the effect is immediate: "your favourite records ... suddenly benefit from a lowering of the noise floor." Listening to the track Fog over Frisco by Yo La Tengo, he noticed how, without the AbZorber in place, the twangy guitar was far too dominant, whereas with the filter in place "bass heft was enhanced and was fully formed while the previously invasive twangy guitar was appreciably calmed".
Again, moving onto Handel's Sinfonia he observes that, without the AbZorber, "the delivery is a sonic mess as each instrument falls over each other". Plug it in and distortion is removed, allowing "the edges of detail to be present and correct".
Here is a good lesson in the importance of listening rather than judging the sound performance of a product on the way it looks; in summing up, Paul states that the AbZorber is "a simple piece of technology in appearance ... but it works hard to remove deleterious noise, improving all aspects of the musical spectrum".
Would this particular device resolve interference issues with my TP-Link Powerline Adapters? If not, is there an alternative device you would be able to recommend?
Customer Service Reply We get a lot of enquiries about interference from Ethernet over mains/Powerline adaptors. Clearly these devices can play havoc with your mains supply quality and inject high frequency RF straight into components and cause all sorts of weird, unwanted noises. The quality of these devices can vary wildly between manufacturer and even models from the same manufacturer. Sometimes just changing to a different brand can help solve the problem.
We produce a wide range of filters to tackle specific issues on the mains supply, the AbZorber is one of those products and I can only recommend you try one. There are many types of interference at different frequencies. From low, mains frequencies up to very high radio interference and it’s very difficult to remotely diagnose and say exactly which product we make will help. Most often it’s a case of simply trying them to hear if they cure the problem, because unless you can actually identify the specific root cause of the problem we can’t really say which product will be best suited.
But the AbZorber is an excellent place to start!
reviewed by Andy 21 Apr 2021
I currently have a power purifier and was looking to try the Abzorber, but would need to stack one on top of the other as space in my rack is restricted. Would this be ok ?
Customer Service Reply Hi Yes, stacking one on top of the other, either way round is perfectly fine to do.
reviewed by John Simmons 15 Apr 2019
I have a basic Power Purifier and am considering the AbZorber. Question, should I upgrade the Power Purifier first or add the AbZorber?
Customer Service Reply Hi. We would normally recommend adding the filters encased in the Power Purifier first - that's the Zapperator first, then the Clarity modules and then the MegaClamp. Keep in mind, though, that this is not a hard and fast rule as adding the AbZorber at any time will be worthwhile. SD