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SurgeX SX2213RL Review - By Amazon Top 500 Reviewer

28 April 2016

I stumbled upon this amazing piece of kit quite by accident, and I’m shocked I’ve never heard of the US company Surgex before because they manufacture seriously excellent equipment. It’s rare that I rave about a product because I’m very picky and I pay a lot of attention to the details behind the gloss, which is where the majority of goods fail these days. This power supply delivers on all fronts though, being well designed, well-engineered and delivering real and valuable benefits to the user, as I shall shortly explain. There’s a lot of interesting technical detail that I want to share with fellow hi-fi enthusiasts, so do please forgive the length of this review, it is quite in-depth. If you just want a general overview you could read the headlines below then skip to the conclusion at the end before you run to buy one. This has to be the best kept secret in the world of AV and Hi-Fi. If Surgex doesn’t get the wider attention it deserves then something is seriously amiss in the World.
Don’t walk to buy one, run – it really is that good!

Here are the headlines:

• Electrical surges, spikes and transients are a lot more common than you imagine in your home, often caused by motorised devices like fridges and vacuums.
• Your ring main transfers these to your expensive AV, hi-fi, computer and other electronics.
• Surges and transients quickly stress and degrade delicate micro circuitry, causing noticeably poor performance, damage and premature failure.
• Normal “surge protectors” don’t actually protect sensitive electronics - ie most modern electrical products!
• This Surgex power supply eliminates surges entirely and supplies six 13A sockets with fully stable, clean, regulated power.
• The result is a massive improvement in equipment performance plus peace of mind that your equipment is safe.
• Obtaining a similar performance boost through equipment upgrade would cost far more. And it wouldn’t even be protected once you’d bought it!

So, this is where the Surgex obliterates the competition because it entirely eliminates surges before they ever reach your precious electronics, unlike a standard Belkin/Masterplug/Tacima etc type surge protector which places cheap metal-oxide varistors (MOV’s) between the line, neutral and earth conductors. If an incoming surge appears at the live wire the varistor shunts the energy onto the neutral and earth lines. To quote the FAQ section at the excellent Surgex web site:
“...this process diverts high-energy powerline surges directly into reference grounds in audio/video systems and delicate, low voltage datalines in computers. Computer datalines are particularly vulnerable because they use the powerline ground circuit for their reference voltage. Sensitive electronic equipment should never use ordinary surge protectors, which divert surges to the powerline ground, because this will increase the likelihood of damage.”
In the event of a large surge (eg lightning rather than most everyday household originated surges) the MOV’s will also have a good chance of blowing up, ending any protection and junking the device.

The Surgex works completely differently and does not utilise MOV’s. No energy is shunted between wires and the protection is non sacrificial. Energy is instead absorbed and then dissipated internally, before it ever reaches the devices plugged in to the power supply. If you’re interested there’s a company video on YouTube showing the output of a Surgex connected to an oscilloscope. The Surgex is hit with a couple of thousand volts surge but the AC sine wave output stays a constant shape, never going over-volt! All you see is a very brief flutter within one sine wave, but the overall wave shape is not altered. Most impressive. And the device doesn’t shut down either, it just keeps on supplying clean, steady AC power. To use an analogy, if Belkin and the like are a bit Dad’s Army, Surgex would be the SAS. And I know which I’d rather have looking after me! That’s why Surgex market this unit as a surge eliminator, not a surge protector. Staying with the military theme for a moment, this unit qualifies under the U.S. Government’s stringent A-1-1 Classification, and Surgex equipment is used by both the US government and military. It's also used by NASA and Carnegie Hall. This is no toy.

In addition to surge elimination this unit gives you three more features:
1) Electromagnetic and radio interference is filtered out, removing hum & crackle from audio, giving crystal-like clarity to tv pictures.
2) “ICE” or Inrush Current Elimination circuitry guards against high initial currents created when powering up large amplifiers for instance, ramping up the power more gently and safely instead.
3) A fully automatic resetting “COUV’s” or Catastrophic Over and Under Voltage module protects attached devices by automatically switching off whilst/if supplied voltage deviates from a 190V to 280V range.

A few words on the box itself:
The case is solid and well made, and I like the shielding on the power switch to prevent unintentional operation. The six power sockets on the rear are good quality with firm actions. Five are switched and one permanently on, even when the front power switch is set to “off” I find it really handy having all my hi-fi activated by one switch, as it saves a lot of fiddling, especially with the sub-woofer!
You’ll notice from the images that there are two XLR sockets on the front panel. These are for plugging in task lamps, in particular the Littlite range which come in either LED or halogen options. The halogen versions can be controlled via the dimmer knob on the front left but LED lamps will only work at full brightness. This is the only thing I’d prefer to be improved but I doubt most folks will ever want to use a lamp, it’s more a feature designed for professional recording studio or stage use. You do realise that this is serious, professional grade equipment by now, right? 

 


I was initially worried about this device being rack mounting, but I needn’t have stressed. The front face is flush top and bottom so all I did was find a set of four stick on feet, attach them to the base and sit it on my standard width hi-fi rack along with my NAD and Cyrus equipment. It looks good and not too out of place, even though it has side flanges for possible rack mounting. If that’s what you prefer, it slots into a 2U high standard 19 inch rack slot. The case is sized at 445mm wide x 280mm deep x 85mm high. The mounting flanges extend another 20mm on each side, making the overall width 485mm. Weight is 5.8kg and no load power consumption is 6W. Some feedback I would offer Surgex is a strong suggestion that they create a stand mount version because I can envision a large hi-fi and home user market! A model with rubber feet, no front flange, no lamp sockets and a more discreet, elegantly placed front logo (the current one is rather big and shouty for up market hi-fi) would, I'm sure, fly off the shelves.

CONCLUSION (and welcome back to anyone re-joining from the headline bullet points)

To put it in a nutshell, anything you plug into your Surgex is fully protected and fed with clean, stable, reliable power. None of the everyday voltage surges, none of the usual EM or RF interference, no inductively induced back-emf from your fridge compressor cycling on and off. And the result with my hi-fi is ....simply amazing! Yes, these things are subjective, and yes, I’m aware of the dangers of confirmation bias. But the reality is that the sound from my hi-fi really is markedly improved, to the same degree as I’d expect from a major component upgrade costing a good four figure sum. And in that respect alone my purchase has more than paid for itself!!! Sound just has more gravitas and presence if I can put it that way. It's as if my amp has been swapped for one twice the power - the soundstage is expanded and there is greater delineation with less struggle. Logically I guess that’s to be expected if the power feed is totally stable – the output is likely to be also, because the amp can concentrate on doing its job, not fighting with and compensating for, a varying supply.

Even more of a revelation has been the difference the Surgex makes to my flat screen HD LED Panasonic. It used to be good. Now it’s genuinely jaw dropping in comparison! The picture has taken on a gloriously vivid, 3D-like quality that almost feels as if it wants to pop out and punch me in the face! Colours are richer and deeper, the image noticeably more stable. It certainly delays thoughts of upgrading to 4K. So, another saving made! Previously, the screen and an attached desk top signal booster aerial were plugged into a Tacima surge protector (yes, the one that What Hi-Fi rave about for no good reason) Whilst powered via the Tacima, channel acquisition was always tricky. Fed by the Surgex all channels are rock steady, and many don’t even need the signal booster at all, which was previously unheard of. Forgive me if it sounds like I’ve gone crazy and I’m telling you this device fixes everything you plug into it, but it really has made a massive difference to the performance of all the equipment I’ve powered from it. It has been a lesson to me on the importance and value of a clean and stable power supply.

I could have literally spent thousands upgrading all my separates to achieve a worthwhile performance upgrade, but I didn’t. Instead, I bought a Surgex and upgraded everything in one go, and at a fraction of the cost. And my equipment will now last twice as long too, without any risk of it blowing up unexpectedly in the meantime either. How happy am I :-)

 

5/5 Stars


 

By Harry Brownrigg

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