An unusual challenge has led to an opportunity for increased sales at Maine-based New England Hi-Fi, a provider of high-end audio and home theater equipment, service, and custom installation.
The New England HiFi storefront
A few years ago, several big box stores were built near the company’s showroom. Beyond representing a change in the neighborhood’s landscape, the giant facilities created a major reduction in the power supply, dropping the incoming voltage at New England Hi-Fi down to anywhere from 109 to 115V — far from ideal when demonstrating high-performance components, which are designed for a steady 120-V supply to perform correctly. One of the products in stock, a Panamax M5400-PM, was used to regulate the voltage keeping the output between 115 to 125V at all times.
Damon Loucks, a sales associate at New England Hi-Fi, provides an example: “In the case of power amplifiers, when volume levels are pushed, they need a quick supply of current to achieve an optimal sound. That isn’t going to happen with many power conditioners that do not have ‘high current outlets.’ Most power strips cut the amperage from the wall outlet, while the Panamax products we carry can output at least 12 amps via their outlets, with many having 15 amp outputs. Without high current capability an amplifier’s bass performance can sound flat. If you’re the customer in a demo, it’s easy to assume that the problem is the component.”
Voltage Regulator Demo
New England Hi-Fi used its unfortunate circumstances to demonstrate the benefits of power management on the show floor. Sales associates show customers how their equipment can be plugged into a voltage regulator, which transforms incoming power to a safe, steady voltage rate that is sent on to connected equipment, keeping it performing correctly and preventing damages from surges. The customers can hear the voltage regulator click on when the power dips and see that the performance of the equipment remains constant.
Damon took a piece of wallboard and created this demo using an in-wall kit.
“It’s the perfect opportunity to demonstrate to customers how important power management is to all of their components, from displays to gaming systems,” adds Loucks. “And if that isn’t enough, we plug the store’s commercial vacuum into a nearby wall socket to show the potential for dips in power and more line noise is also created, a visual that is quickly understood by customers.”
The result is that New England Hi-Fi’s sales of power management solutions remain high in a down economy helping to boost their sales. And if a customer isn’t sold on power management in the showroom, they may change their mind after a visit to the service department once Maine’s lightning season begins.
Extending Equipment Lifespan
Damon is a gamer and also says that voltage regulation is important in that it can extend the life of a component. If you do not have enough voltage the components will draw more current and run hotter than normal. Before Damon upgraded to a M5400-PM the Playstation 3 ran very hot. The fan on the PS3 was at its highest output most of the time, yet after integrating the power management solution the PS3 ran quieter. Also included in the home entertainment system is a first generation Xbox 360 (the most susceptible to over-heating), which has never had the “red-ring-of-death” — over-heating which melts traces on the circuit board.
Damon credits this to voltage regulation and states that his brother, who does not use a voltage regulation power conditioner, is on his third Xbox 360.
The power management system also cleans up the current from the wall by filtering out electromagnetic interference and radio frequency interference. Customers who can hear a nearby radio tower come through their gear quickly discover that incorporating a power management component eliminates the noise.