What is the best non-conditioning surge protector

Currently, I have an AudioQuest Niagara 1200 power conditioner with surge protection. I thought I loved it until I decided to unplug my Atoll IN300 from it and plug it into the wall (just so you know, I don’t have an audiophile duplex in the wall). I was expecting the sound to be brighter with a little more coloration. To my surprise, the Atoll sounded so much better than it did connected to the Niagara. I could actually hear my components and how amazing they really are. So next, I decided to unplug my Pontus ii and Hermes from the Niagara, and the sound improved even more. I’ve had the Pontus for a month and liked it (the soundstage is gigantic) but thought the Qutest had more detail and was wondering why I bought the Pontus. Removing all three from the Niagra, I have fallen in love with the sound of the Pontus and my setup. I think the Niagara’s conditioning completely changed the sound of my system resulting in loss of detail. I have a Furman and hooked up the Pontus and Hermes to it and it sounded the same as when they were connected to the socket. I want to protect my setup so my question is, what is the best non-conditioning surge protector on the market?  


>>>what is the best non-conditioning surge protector on the market?<<<

I guess you would have to try one for yourself, and see how much of an effect they have in/on your system, but my favorite is the very budget priced Tripp Lite Isobar Ultra. 


I make this recommendation, because I have been a Radio Broadcast Engineer for over 25 years. It is common for lightning to strike broadcast towers, and these surges and strikes sometimes find their way into radio station studio and office buildings and equipment, and transmitter sites and equipment in them. I am now retired from broadcast engineering, but I had these surge protectors all over my broadcast facilities, and feel they did the exact job they were designed to do - protect equipment plugged into them. Lightning strike after lightning strike, I never had one blow up. This includes power outages, and switch-overs from utility power, to UPS power, to generator power, and back to utility power. I use them all over my house too. But here's the thing I most love about them; when placed on inductive devices (like my refrigerator, my furnace, or any other device with a motor in it), they prevent pops and clicks from taking place in my audio system, mainly because they filter the AC feeding the devices I mentioned, and control the surge when the inductive devices turn ON and OFF. 

"I could actually hear my components and how amazing they really are. "

Let me guess... you thought the same thing when you initially purchased the Niagara.

We audiophools can’t save our self from ourselves.

With all the glowing reviews, it seemed better than sliced bread.

@stevebohnii Not surprised by what you’ve experienced with an amp plugged directly into wall outlet. 
Just curious what power cords do you use. From the 1200 to the wall and between your components and the 1200?


+1, @maxwave

I would first install whole house surge protection in the main breaker box. And buy a passive power distributor like Furutech e-TP66(G). If you can’t do whole surge protection, I would try a high quality power distributor like IsoTek EVO3 Sirius that doesn’t restrict current and provides protection against power surges and voltage spikes.

You came to the same conclusion I did, so not sure why you want to change.

Furman's SMP feature is a combination noise eliminator and surge protector.  According to the most recent Wire Cutter articles it has among the lowest let through voltages (yes, it beats ZeroSurge).  They also recommend a line from Tripp Lite which is even more basic than that.




Not the answer to your question but a solution to your problem:  PS audio regenerators provide adequate power to prevent the problems you are having.  I have a PP10 for a 200 watt system (200 watt draw, not 200 watts to the speakers) and it sounds great.  the PP10 is the old generation, lots of heavy copper windings, lots of instant power to your amp.  It has zero output impedance to slow current to your amp.  Your Niagara says "low impedance" but doesn't publish a number.  Based on your experience, it isn't low enough.

You may have read my repeated warnings about power conditioners, surge protectors, and even some expensive devices (such as your Niagara) that significantly limit your amp.  So I'm not a typical guy who spent $5k on a device so it must sound good.


>>>what is the best non-conditioning surge protector on the market?<<<

Can't tell you but I've heard a lot and thought a Sound Application unit was alwys the best until I heard a S.I.N. Audio PSD unit. I've now had 3 different S.I.N. PSD units the last one their PSD 10 “Anniversary Edition” unit. Can't say enough about this.   Are there better? I'm sure but this has satisfied me and I'm not looking any further. (Dealer disclaimer) 


@carlsbad I was a huge fan of the P10 for 2-3 years. I just moved to a Shunyata Denali and the sound is night and day better. I loved what the P10 showed me was possible, but the Denali blows it out of the water. 

A lot of these new Class-D amplifiers use switching power supplies. They are not going to care too much what you put in front of them. I have always questioned whether this "lost dynamics" is a real thing or happens for the reasons claimed. I can't say I have experienced it, but maybe it is unique to some amplifiers.

If you live in an area where lighting occurs,  get an electrician to install a surge protector at your mains.


Cheap investment and protection for your entire home. 

I want to thank everyone for their comments and recommendations. I have looked up each one of them and think all are possible options. Problem is, the price point for many of them exceed my budget. I bought a Maestro duplex and installed it on Monday. I have to say, I’m not that impressed. It has improved detail but I feel it has sucked the life out of my system. It sounds thin and hollow. I turned up my sub which helped but I feel the magic is gone. I’m going to let it break in for a few more days and if it doesn’t improve I’m going to buy a commercial grade duplex and send the Maestro back. Has anyone used the Maestro duplex and have gotten the same results

Exactly what I would expect.   Plug it into the wall and unplug it when storms in the area.  

This Belkin surge protector is what I use for my audio, video and computer gear. It may not be expensive enough for y’all who think they have to drop $2000 or more for your components, but it does the job of surge protection right. Do your homework and then check this one out.

After moving to the lightning capitol of the US, I have a whole house surge protector installed and I use Brickwall on my AV system (although it provides minimal filtering, I have not found any issue with its use); also the type of protection that Brickwall provides is non-sacrificial. I believe Surge  X uses the same type of technology as well.

You may want to research them and see if this may be useful for you.

Good Luck!


I have a Shunyata Venom PS8 power strip. You can add a small plug - in power conditioner if you want to. Mine came with a power cord, and the plug - in power conditioner as a discounted bundle. You can use it with or without the power conditioner.

I would also be curious as to what kind of power cord you had connected from the wall to the 1200.


@ozzy - I’m using a cheap Audioquest NRG-Y3. I know I should step up but I want to buy a better power cord for the pontus ii and then upgrade the power cord on the 1200. I’m using a Cardas Clear on the Atoll. I’m sure if I upgraded the NRG-Y3 the 1200 would sound better. I have to say, the Atoll connected to the out sounds pretty good. The shunyata venom ps10 sounds pretty intriguing too. 


After reading your last two posts here, your system will remain seriously compromised and won’t sound best if you don’t fix the foundation of your system. If you plan on using a power distributor/surge protector/conditioner or whatever to feed power to your components then get the best one you can afford with high quality power cord before you spend money elsewhere in your system. 

I agree.

"If" you were going to keep the Niagara 1200 I would put the best power cord you own on it since it will power several components.


Did you over-rate the conditioner so it could handle surge current?  Total Watts with headroom?