Review (August 2006) - Panamax
By Kevin Nakano
Panamax has been making a name for itself in the home theater and audio market with the innovative MAX product line. The company continues to offer a comprehensive line of home A/V power protection products covering all budgets. Panamax has recently revised its existing MAX line by replacing the analog meters with digital meters. The MAX® 5500-EX is the flagship unit in the latest EX product line. The MAX® 5500-EX is an attractive unit and is available with an optional silver bezel faceplate for users looking for a different look. Unlike the analog front panel meters, the new digital meters are easy to read from a distance and offer three brightness levels (including off) with a push of a button.
Panamax's Isolated Power uses the secondary windings of the internal toroidal transformer so that the output power is completely DC isolated from the input power. The MAX® 5500-EX includes a 10-foot heavy-duty detachable power cord, a pair of rack mount ears, two coaxial cables with F-connectors and a telephone cord. The unit measures 17" x 12.75" x 3.5" (4.1" with feet) and weighs 28 pounds.
The under-voltage and over-voltage shutoff circuitry worked well. The over-voltage protection shut the unit off when the line voltage reached 137VAC and the unit turned back on when the line voltage was reduced to 133VAC. The under-voltage shut the unit off when the line voltage went to 90 VAC and returned to normal operation when the line voltage was raised back to 95 VAC. This built-in hysteresis helps prevent the unit from cycling on and off if the line voltage is near the low or high threshold levels.
The MAX® 5500-EX has a 15 amp main circuit breaker for the input power. There's also a smaller 4 amp circuit breaker dedicated to protecting the isolation transformer in case of an overload. The isolated outputs are designed for digital components that draw little current. The unit has both 12V input and output triggers, which allows it to be easily daisy-chained into a system. The trigger output drive current is rated for up to 500mA, so the input signal is not simply passed on to the output, but instead regenerated using a linear voltage regulator. Our system utilized a Parasound AVC-2500u A/V Controller to drive the trigger input on the MAX® 5500-EX during testing. The fixed 10-second delayed output trigger can be useful when connecting power amplifiers to a system. In our case, we used the trigger for our five-channel Parasound (HCA-2205AT) power amplifier.
Two sets of satellite connections and a set of cable connections provide protection from potential voltage spikes. Satellite connections work over a range from 950 MHz to 2.2 GHz with a loss of less than 1dB in signal level. The clamping circuitry for the satellite connections is set at 25V to handle the 13 and 18 volt control voltages used for the LNBs. The two sets of cable/antenna connections are designed to operate up to 950 MHz with a clamping voltage of 1.4V. All F-connectors are gold-plated to ensure long-term contact reliability. A pair of protected telephone and LAN (RJ-45) connections are also provided for satellite receivers and media servers.
The MAX® 5500-EX is a perfect design for those needing a high performance power protection unit at a reasonable price. In addition, antenna, cable and satellite signals along with phone and network connections can also be protected from mother nature and the power company. The new digital meters are easier to read than the traditional meters used in the earlier MAX product. Panamax continues to offer its lifetime $5,000,000 Connected Equipment Protection Policy on their MAX® 5500-EX unit along with their three year warranty. This is one of the best warranties we've seen in the industry and provides consumers with the confidence they need to maximize performance while protecting their costly A/V components. Although some may find it insignificant, the shipping box of the new MAX® 5500-EX is significantly better than the earlier units we have reviewed, making it less likely to suffer shipping damage.
- Kevin Nakano
Optoma H77 High-Definition HD2+ DLP Projector
Review at a glance
Panamax MAX® 5500-EX Specifications
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