Panamax MAX 5400-PM Home Theater Power Conditioner

by | Jul 19, 2008 | Component Reviews | 0 comments

Panamax MAX 5400-PM
Home Theater Power Conditioner
SRP: $699.95

Panamax’s latest line of MAX AV products comes with a refined set of features that have helped make Panamax a household name. The MAX® 5400-PM is one of their latest power management units specifically engineered for performance and value. Panamax’s Level 4+ Power Cleaning and Filtration is designed to eliminate common symptoms of contaminated power (including loss of detail, pops, hisses, hums and visual artifacts) often associated with dirty utility power. The MAX® 5400-PM features Voltage Regulation circuitry that provides a consistent range of voltage to the connected equipment even with the input voltage varying. The AVM (Automatic Voltage Monitoring) circuits protect equipment against prolonged over/under voltages by disconnecting the power and only reconnecting it when safe power returns. This is particularly important should the input voltage fall out of the correctable range of the MAX® 5400-PM.

The front panel of the MAX® 5400-PM has a USB connector for providing power to a USB device. While not all USB devices are compatible with the connection, it does provide a convenient way to charge USB products. A wired LAN connection and an extra power outlet is also available for the user while providing full protection on the interfaces.

Holding down the main Power button for two seconds activates the turn-on or turn-off sequence for all the outlets. The Bank Status Indicators display which corresponding bank is on or off. When flashing, this indicates the bank is in transition to either off or on. The Ground Isolation switch controls the ground connection of banks 3 and 4. When enabled these power banks have Balanced Power with an isolated ground connection. Alternatively, when disabled these banks have Balance Power with a common ground reference. Depending on the system application some users will prefer one over the other. A Convenience Outlet on the front of the unit provides a quick and convenient way to plug in temporary components such as camcorders and video game systems.

Power Indicators
The Power Indicators
display the status of the
rear panel outlets. The
outlet bank icon will be lit when the corresponding outlet is turned ON. The icon(s) will flash during the startup and shutdown (delay) process. The Wiring OK indicator should normally be ON. This indicates that the wall outlet is properly grounded and Line/Neutral polarity is wired correctly. The Startup and Shutdown sequence is initiated by pressing and holding the Power button.

Panel Meters

The panel meters on the MAX® 5400-PM are digital. The left panel meter displays the incoming line voltage. Should this voltage drop below 90VAC, or exceed 142VAC, the display will turn off and the Unsafe Voltage indicator will begin to flash in “red” indicating that an unsafe voltage condition has been encountered. The panel meter located on the right displays either the output voltage or the actual current draw (0-15A) of the system. Pressing and holding the Meter Lights/Meter Toggle button toggles between the two display modes. Quick press cycles on the Meter Lights/Meter Toggle button changes the meter brightness between four brightness levels. Surprisingly there is no display off mode.


Back Panel
The MAX® 5400-PM has a detachable heavy duty power cord which is held in place with a locking clip that screws into the back of the unit. This prevents the power cord from being accidentally pulled out. A large ground lug is available for connecting to earth ground. Five power banks provide sequential power for amplifiers and preamplifier electronics. Banks 1 & 2 outputs are always on, so it is best to connect components such as DVRs and displays to these power outlets. Bank 3 & 4s include Linear Filtration Technology (LiFT) and are turned on immediately by the front switch or the DC trigger input and turned off with a 10-second delay. Bank 1 through Bank 4 include balanced two-stage Pi filters to virtually eliminate noise on the power. Bank 5 offers a high current output for subwoofers and power amplifiers. Once triggered, power to Bank 5 is delayed for 5-seconds to allow for preamplifier electronics to settle. When commanded off, Bank 5 turns off immediately. The MAX® 5400-PM is designed to provide noise isolation between all 5 outlet banks, preventing noise from one component from contaminating other components plugged into the same unit.

Universal coaxial protection circuits provide protection for cable, satellite and TV antenna connections while achieving optimum signal quality. The new design has the smallest signal loss on the market with less than 0.5 dB of attenuation from 0 MHz to 2.2 GHz. The new design virtually eliminates signal loss. The clamping level for this interface is 75V, which meets the demands of both cable and satellite voltage while minimizing exposure to damaging spikes and surges.

A set of protected RJ-11 telephone jacks are provided for use with digital video recorders (DVRs) and satellite TV receivers where telephone lines are typically needed. The protection circuitry utilizes auto-resetting PTCRs (positive temperature coefficient resistors) and solid-state SIDACtors that provide fast reaction to voltage transients without adding excessive capacitance or resistance to the line. The clamping level of the MAX® 5400-PM telephone protector is 260 volts, well above the typical ring voltage (90-130VAC) and normal operating voltage (48DC). The LAN protection circuits for 10/100 baseT Ethernet lines provide full 8-wire protection with 52V clamping.
The MAX® 5400-PM weighs a moderate 36 pounds and is designed to fit into a standard equipment rack. The unit measures 17″ W x 12.75″ D and 3.5″ H (standard 2U rack mounting) and includes a set of rack mount ears. The long 10-foot heavy-duty 12-gauge detachable power cord provides low loss even with heavy loads on the unit. The MAX® 5400-PM also includes a 4-foot telephone cable, a 4-foot CAT-5 cable, and a 3-foot RG-6 patch cable.

The inside of the MAX® 5400-PM is simple, yet effective and makes the unit a more attractive design. The toroidal transformer seen in the chassis is used for the voltage regulation circuits. This autotransformer is responsible for the boost and buck voltages needed to compensate for the under/over voltage coming into the unit. All of the power lines use heavy 12 gauge wire to ensure high current carrying capability. Common mode chokes and filter capacitors can be seen on several of the boards. MOVs (Metal Oxide Varistors) are also placed between each of the power lines to prevent large transient voltages from damaging the connected components. Panamax has board layouts that are clean and organized with great build quality. Heavy-duty high current relays can be seen throughout the design of the unit. Separate circuit cards are used for the front jacks, rear jacks, and display.

Voltage Regulation
More and more power conditioning units are offering voltage regulation circuits. The MAX® 5400-PM is one of those units that can compensate for line voltage problems. Unlike a UPS which completely disconnects the incoming line voltage and switches to battery power, the MAX® 5400-PM continues to use the input power. Using a toroidal autotransformer from Plitron, the MAX® 5400-PM boosts or bucks the incoming voltage based on the input level. We tested the over-voltage/under-voltage capabilities of the MAX® 5400-PM and plotted them in the chart above using a variac to change the line voltage. The unit can compensate for voltage variations from around 90VAC to 141VAC. When the incoming line voltage is between 90VAC and 105VAC, the unit boosts (Boost 2) the output voltage by approximately 15 VAC. From 105VAC to 115VAC the unit boosts (Boost 1) the output voltage by approximately 10 VAC. The unit bypasses any compensation in the line voltage between 115VAC to 125VAC as this is fairly normal for utility power. Beyond this the unit bucks (decreases) the output voltage by approximately 10VAC. During our tests, the unit detected an under-voltage condition when the utility voltage dropped below 90 volts. An over-voltage condition occurred when the line input reached about 141 VAC. In both cases, the MAX® 5400-PM shut the output off when the unit could no longer provide safe voltages to the connected components.

Our experience with Panamax power conditioners has been great over the years (more than a decade) and with each new generation of products comes an improvement in quality and functionality. Our reference system has been connected to a variety of Panamax products and we have never had any issues. Historically, utility power here in Los Angeles has been very good with few power failures, mostly during bad storms and utility transformer failures. None of our electronic components have ever failed due to power issues when connected to a Panamax power conditioner. The peace of mind Panamax provides us based on our experience with their products is unequaled.
We ran our system with the MAX® 5400-PM providing conditioned power and there was a noticeable improvement in one particular area. During the hot weather season here in Los Angeles we connected a portable air conditioning unit that required significant power from the AC outlet. As a result, the line voltage dropped substantially and caused noticeable issues with the Mitsubishi LCD display we had in the same room. It was determined that the line voltage was dropping far enough to cause problems with the display’s power supply. Connecting the MAX® 5400-PM boosted the line voltage to a normal level while providing full protection and corrected the issue. This is just one example of the benefits of the MAX® 5400-PM. More serious issues that can cause damage to components can be prevented using this unit.


The Panamax MAX® 5400-PM is a perfect balance of features and value for protecting the equipment you love. The voltage regulation and monitoring circuits provide users with value-added features that work well in practical situations. While no one wants to ever see a potentially catastrophic surge enter their house, it’s good to know that your components are connected to a Panamax power management unit that comes with a $5,000,000 Lifetime Limited Connected Equipment Protection Policy. In addition, Panamax provides a 3-year product warranty against any defects in design, material or workmanship to the original purchaser. The Panamax MAX® 5400-PM is one of the best bangs for the buck we have seen.

– Kevin Nakano

Review System

Display: Mitsubishi LT-46148 Full 1080p 120Hz High-Definition LCD Display
Preamplifier/Processor: Parasound AVC-2500U THX-Ultra DTS/DD Preamp/Processor
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Bass Management: Miller & Kreisel BMC Mini 5.1 Bass Management Controller
Front Speakers: Miller & Kreisel S-150THX (L+R) and S-150AC (Center) Speakers
Rear Speakers: Miller & Kreisel SS-250 Tripole® Surround Speakers
Subwoofer: Two Miller & Kreisel MX-350THX MkII THX-Ultra Push-pull Subwoofers
Set-top Box: Dish Network ViP622 HDTV Satellite and Terrestrial Receiver with HDMI
Blu-ray DVD Player: Sony PlayStation3 with HDMI 1.3
HD-DVD Player: Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD Player with HDMI
DVD/CD/SACD Player: Sony DVP-NS900V DVD/CD/SACD Player
DVD Audio/Video Player: Kenwood Sovereign DV-5900M 400-Disc DVD Changer
DVD Player: OPPO Digital OPDV971H DVD Player with DVI Output
D-VHS VCR: JVC HM-DH30000U D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
Media Server: Kenwood Sovereign MRH1 Entre
Remote Control: Remote Technologies Inc. T4 Controller
HDMI Video Switcher: Radiient Technologies Select-4 HDMI Video Switcher
DVI Cable: AudioQuest DV-1 20m DVI-D Cable
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables

Review at a glance
Dimensions – 17 in. W x 12.75 in. D x 3.5 in H, (4.1 in. Including feet)
Weight – 36 lbs.
AC Power
Catastrophic Surge Circuit – Yes
Auto-Resetting Over-voltage Shutoff – 142 VAC ± 8VAC
Auto-Resetting Under-voltage Shutoff – 90 VAC ± 2VAC
Thermal Fusing – Yes
Line Voltage – 120V, 60Hz
Initial Clamping Level – 200V Peak  141V RMS
UL1449 Suppression Rating – 330V
Protection Modes – L-N, L-G, N-G
Maximum Current Rating – 15 A
Energy Dissipation – 2350 Joules
Peak Impulse Current – 72,000 Amps
EMI/RFI Noise Filtration
Banks 1 – 4 – 100 dB, 100 kHz – 2MHz
Bank 5, High Current Outlets – 60 dB, 100 kHz – 2MHz
Voltage Regulation
Power / Current – 1500 VA / 12A
Input Voltage Range – 100-136 VAC
Output Voltage Range – 120 VAC ± 6VAC
Buck Stage – Reduces Voltage in the 125-136VAC Range
Boost Stage 1 – Boosts Voltage in the 109-119VAC Range
Boost Stage 2 – Boosts Voltage in the 100-109VAC Range
DC Trigger Input
Jacks – 3.5mm (1/8″) mini-plug
Voltage and Polarity – 3-24V DC, bidirectional
Current Requirement – 4.6mA @3V, 58mA @24V
DC Trigger Output
Pass-Through – no delay;  Positive = Tip, Negative = Ring
LAN Circuit
Clamping Level – 50V
Wires Protected – 8-Wires
Connectors – RJ-45
Telco Protection
Fuseless / Auto Resettable – Yes
Clamping Level – 260V
Capacitance – 30pf (approx.)
Suppression Modes – Metallic & Longitudinal
Wires Protected – 2-Wire, Pins 4 & 5
Connectors – RJ-11
Universal Coax Protection
HD 1080i/p Ready – Yes
Shielded – Yes
Clamping Level – 75V
Frequency Range – 0 MHz – 2.2 GHz
Insertion Loss – < 0.5 dB
Connections – Female “F”, Gold Plated
Bidirectional – Yes

Company Information

Panamax, Inc.
1690 Corporate Circle
Petaluma, CA 94952
Phone: 800-472-5555
Model: M5400-PM
Source: Manufacture Supplied

[Reprinted with permission from the LA Audio File site,    Copyright © 1985-2008 L.A. Audio File.]

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