What A Neat Idea

Kingrex

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Feb 4, 2019
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As some background for those that don't know, I am an electrician/Audiophile. I spent 6 years developing my understanding of how the electrical infrastructure of you home influences playback. For the last 2 years it has been an intense focus and my sole business. I have seen a lot of systems and I am fully cognizant the impact proper electrical infrastructure is to audio performance.

This last weekend was the first audio show I was a vendor at. I had a table in the Market at the Pacific Audio Festival. Being so new to shows it was a fun and exciting time meeting so many great people in the industry. Most every vendor I was chatting with got exactly what I am doing. They understand reproduced music is fundamentally a product of the power from the wall that is shaped by the equipment on the rack. But I was a bit shocked how many people I spoke with, after a minute or so were very nice and said the same exact line. What A Neat Idea. It really shocked me that so many people are unaware the importance of the electricity that feeds their system. And I think those that made the comment, blissfully walked away still unaware.

In all truth, when I bough my first high end piece of equipment 6 or 7 years back, I didn't think about the influence the power in the wall had. I only became aware because the toroid in my amp hummed so loud at times, it was heard in the next room. Then other times it was quiet. I questioned the dealer who sold me the equipment and he shared with me a quote an electrician put together for one of his customer where he was adding dedicated runs and dropping ground rods. That was what got me interested in best practices on feeding highly sensitive amplifying equipment.

I hope more audiophile in the US start to grasp the importance of power. It truly is the most important component in your audio system. It is a global component that affects everything. If its wrong, everything is wrong. If its code compliant but not optimized, it is holding back the equipment on your rack from reaching its full potential.
 

Carlos269

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Mar 21, 2012
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As some background for those that don't know, I am an electrician/Audiophile. I spent 6 years developing my understanding of how the electrical infrastructure of you home influences playback. For the last 2 years it has been an intense focus and my sole business. I have seen a lot of systems and I am fully cognizant the impact proper electrical infrastructure is to audio performance.

This last weekend was the first audio show I was a vendor at. I had a table in the Market at the Pacific Audio Festival. Being so new to shows it was a fun and exciting time meeting so many great people in the industry. Most every vendor I was chatting with got exactly what I am doing. They understand reproduced music is fundamentally a product of the power from the wall that is shaped by the equipment on the rack. But I was a bit shocked how many people I spoke with, after a minute or so were very nice and said the same exact line. What A Neat Idea. It really shocked me that so many people are unaware the importance of the electricity that feeds their system. And I think those that made the comment, blissfully walked away still unaware.

In all truth, when I bough my first high end piece of equipment 6 or 7 years back, I didn't think about the influence the power in the wall had. I only became aware because the toroid in my amp hummed so loud at times, it was heard in the next room. Then other times it was quiet. I questioned the dealer who sold me the equipment and he shared with me a quote an electrician put together for one of his customer where he was adding dedicated runs and dropping ground rods. That was what got me interested in best practices on feeding highly sensitive amplifying equipment.

I hope more audiophile in the US start to grasp the importance of power. It truly is the most important component in your audio system. It is a global component that affects everything. If its wrong, everything is wrong. If its code compliant but not optimized, it is holding back the equipment on your rack from reaching its full potential.

The power-supply in audio equipment serves two functions, one is rectification, which is converting the alternating voltage from the wall to lower DC voltages for use internally. The second function of power-supplies is to filter and regulate those lower DC voltages. A properly designed power-supply will be impervious to wall voltage perturbations. If a component is susceptible to noteable changes due to the noise and fluctuation and quality from the power mains at the wall then that component’s power-supply is deficient and does not effectively filter the line noise or regulate the internal DC voltages; from experience I can tell you that there are many high-end components out there with deficient power-supplies; which is good for your business. Think about this for a minute, if you take a Hewlett-Packard, Sorensen, Lambda, and the likes, Laboratory DC Regulated power supply you can use an analyzer or oscilloscope to measure the ripple and you will see how flat the DC voltage is even with dirty, noisy and fluctuating voltage power at the wall.

The other point to consider is the use of toroidal power transformers in power-supplies, toroidal cores do a much better job than laminated transformers at efficiently performing the inductance conversion between windings across from the primary to the secondaries windings, but that means that the noise from the wall makes its way across also which requires more extensive and more sophisticated filtration at the DC voltage end. Laminated power transformers on the other hand are less efficient, or more lossy, which makes them less susceptible to transmitting the power main’s noise from the primary to the secondary windings.

Ironically, in some factions of the tube world and with some applications, unregulated power supplies provide some perceived sonic benefits. Also the tube rollers with the Horizon and Pacific dacs and other tube rectified equipment will tell you that some of the best sounding rectifier tubes are the ones that are loose in their voltage regulation and some with very tight regulation sound sterile and analytical. Some old timers even claim that microphonic tubes sound richer and lush with harmonics. So tight regulation and low noise on the line can sometimes come across as cold and devoid of the organic nature of music.

Don’t over generalize, you are bound to have someone stop by your table that can explain why they are not overly concerned with the quality of the power at the wall.
 
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stehno

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As some background for those that don't know, I am an electrician/Audiophile. I spent 6 years developing my understanding of how the electrical infrastructure of you home influences playback. For the last 2 years it has been an intense focus and my sole business.
I perceive tho art highly insightful and intelligent. There are some who've been dabbling in this hobby for 40+ years who still haven't a clue. For you to attain this understanding in 6 short years is rather remarkable and you are to be commended for your willingness to think outside the box.

I have seen a lot of systems and I am fully cognizant the impact proper electrical infrastructure is to audio performance.
Well, not quite yet fully cognizant. First of all and like anything else, there are superior and inferior means and methods, etc. toward a superior electrical mgmt system. The AC power infrastructure you mention only gets us about halfway there. That's addressing the noisy/dirty AC coming in from the street all the way to the components. The other half is addressing the electrical input signal flow as it travels internally throughout the components all the way to the speaker drivers, right?

Besides, I recall you mentioning line conditioners in a very negative way not too long ago. And though you're correct to some extent in that it seems the majority of line conditioners are inferior - implying they either do nothing or induce their own sonic harm, there still are a few superior line conditioners that IME are fabulous performers.

This last weekend was the first audio show I was a vendor at. I had a table in the Market at the Pacific Audio Festival. Being so new to shows it was a fun and exciting time meeting so many great people in the industry. Most every vendor I was chatting with got exactly what I am doing. They understand reproduced music is fundamentally a product of the power from the wall that is shaped by the equipment on the rack. But I was a bit shocked how many people I spoke with, after a minute or so were very nice and said the same exact line. What A Neat Idea. It really shocked me that so many people are unaware the importance of the electricity that feeds their system. And I think those that made the comment, blissfully walked away still unaware.
That's good to hear because it seems most enthusiasts rarely stray from the status quo and until now anything in the electrical mgmt sector has been deemed an accessory.

In all truth, when I bough my first high end piece of equipment 6 or 7 years back, I didn't think about the influence the power in the wall had. I only became aware because the toroid in my amp hummed so loud at times, it was heard in the next room. Then other times it was quiet. I questioned the dealer who sold me the equipment and he shared with me a quote an electrician put together for one of his customer where he was adding dedicated runs and dropping ground rods. That was what got me interested in best practices on feeding highly sensitive amplifying equipment.
Again good to hear. Though I think it worth noting that dedicated circuits/lines actually do little/nothing to cleanse/purify the noisy AC as they really just dedicate the noisy/dirty AC. Sure they might help a tad to minimize noise from dimmers, appliances, digital equipment, etc, but generally it's impact is quite minimal.

The real benefits of dedicated circuits/lines can be narrowed down to exactly two. 1) Sharing anything AC whatsoever with a high-current-drawing amplifier will rob the amp of the juice needed for complex / dynamic passages. 2) Anything digital like a DAC, CDP, etc will induce a bi-directional digital noise. Implying this noise will go back up the power cable into the wall and induce its sonic harm into other components. Some experts have said this bi-directiona digital noise will go all the way back to the service panel and then out to other circuits/lines and I don't doubt that. Though I'm speculating that the digital noise may diminish a bit if it first has to go back to the service panel.

Number 2 also includes Class D amps. Though Class D amps are not digital, their high-speed switching modules will also induce a bi-directional digital-like noise seemingly identical to that of digital. Hence, dedicated circuits/lines could offer some relief here as well. But like anything else they really benefit from some form of superior ilne conditioning.

In my case, I use what I consider superior passive, dedicated, and bi-directional filtering line conditioners on every component. So I really have no need for dedicated circuits/lines even though I have 4 and use them and I also employ a pair of Class D monoblock amps each with their own line conditioner. Note: I probably would not bother with Class D monoblock amps if I did not have superior dedicated line conditioners attached. But I would never consider owning a Class D stereo amplifier because this bi-directional digital-like noise is shared at the common AC inlet. Then again, and getting back to your OP, if my superior line conditioners were taken away and I could not replace them, I've no doubt I'd walk away from the hobby.

So dedicated lines are beneficial for high-currentl-drawing amps and to separate analog from digital components to minimize the sharing of bi-directional digital noise. But superior types of AC cleaning/purifying is still a requirement and it helps if they are bi-directional filtering.

I hope more audiophile in the US start to grasp the importance of power.
I'd give most about 47 more years. :)

It truly is the most important component in your audio system. It is a global component that affects everything. If its wrong, everything is wrong. If its code compliant but not optimized, it is holding back the equipment on your rack from reaching its full potential.
It truly is indeed. To the best of my knowledge, the playback system's noise floor threshold is determined almost entirely by the quality of AC coming in from the street as well as the quality of electrical current flowing everywhere internally to every component. That's why it doesn't matter how much bling a component has but rather how well the designer acknowledges the existence of this dirty AC and if they've applied superior as opposed to inferior remedies to absolutely minimize the problem..

Another thing. In high-end audio we have two sides of the fence, electrical and mechanical/acoustical as evidenced by the electrical inputs on one side of the speaker drivers and a mechanical/acoustical output as evidenced by the driver diaphragm on the other side.

For the electrical side, I'd venture roughly 90% of the overall quality of musicality we hear can be directly attributed to the quality of AC/electrical current flow. That's how much I think you're on the right path.

There are also numerous other things to consider regarding superior forms of electrical mgmt. Just one example. Cryogenically treating every cable, fuse, plug, outet, inlet, etc that is reasonably possible. And not just any method of cryo-treating but the superior full-immersion method as opposed to the more common but inferior vapor method. When done right, these items are no slouch performance-wise. In fact, if any of these items I just listed are not already cryo-treated or if I think they could be damaged during the process if I ship them out for cryo-treating, I won't buy them. The difference is not insigificant by any means. Even the 12ga and 14ga romex runs I use for my 4 dedicated lines were all double-cryo-treated (regrettably the inferior vapor method) before installing in my remodeled listening room. I used to have everything double-cryo treated until I was introduced to the benefits of the full-immersion method. As one cryo-expert said, the difference between the vapor and full-immersion methods is like eating half-baked cookies.

To the best of my knowledge, nobody is or ever will be fully cognizant of all the benefits of superior electrical mgmt. But really nothing else in the playback vineyard matters much in comparison. Well, except for establishing a superior acoustically coupled speaker/room interface. And as great as those benefits are, that is still a distant second in comparsion to superior electrical mgmt on the electrical side.

Anyway, you are to be commended for your level of understanding and comprehension when so many seem out to lunch.
 
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adrianywu

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The power-supply in audio equipment serves two functions, one is rectification, which is converting the alternating voltage from the wall to lower DC voltages for use internally. The second function of power-supplies is to filter and regulate those lower DC voltages. A properly designed power-supply will be impervious to wall voltage perturbations. If a component is susceptible to noteable changes due to the noise and fluctuation and quality from the power mains at the wall then that component’s power-supply is deficient and does not effectively filter the line noise or regulate the internal DC voltages; from experience I can tell you that there are many high-end components out there with deficient power-supplies; which is good for your business. Think about this for a minute, if you take a Hewlett-Packard, Sorensen, Lambda, and the likes, Laboratory DC Regulated power supply you can use an analyzer or oscilloscope to measure the ripple and you will see how flat the DC voltage is even with dirty, noisy and fluctuating voltage power at the wall.

The other point to consider is the use of toroidal power transformers in power-supplies, toroidal cores do a much better job than laminated transformers at efficiently performing the inductance conversion between windings across from the primary to the secondaries windings, but that means that the noise from the wall makes its way across also which requires more extensive and more sophisticated filtration at the DC voltage end. Laminated power transformers on the other hand are less efficient, or more lossy, which makes them less susceptible to transmitting the power main’s noise from the primary to the secondary windings.

Ironically, in some factions of the tube world and with some applications, unregulated power supplies provide some perceived sonic benefits. Also the tube rollers with the Horizon and Pacific dacs and other tube rectified equipment will tell you that some of the best sounding rectifier tubes are the ones that are loose in their voltage regulation and some with very tight regulation sound sterile and analytical. Some old timers even claim that microphonic tubes sound richer and lush with harmonics. So tight regulation and low noise on the line can sometimes come across as cold and devoid of the organic nature of music.

Don’t over generalize, you are bound to have someone stop by your table that can explain why they are not overly concerned with the quality of the power at the wall.
I attended a demo of an outrageously expensive system, seemingly thrown together because each piece of equipment was the most expensive of its kind. The vendor then commented on how important power treatment is (the power conditioning he was using probably cost more than my system), and proceeded to bypass the conditioners and plug in all the equipment into the regular mains. Sure enough, the sound, which was not promising to begin with, became unlistenable. I think this only made the point that the power supplies in the pieces of equipment he was showing were not properly designed and could not handle even a low level of noise, or that the grounding scheme of his system was wrong. I use balanced power, but even when my system is plugged into the wall, it sounds much better than his system with all the expensive power conditioning.
 
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Kingrex

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Stehno, you jared a memory circuit in me. I have been so focused on code and what I can do with panels, and the grain orienting of branch circuits, I forgot about cryogenic treatment of the cable, and even the bus bars in my panels. I could even do breakers.

While I feel I have a good grasp, please don't take me as smug and a know it all. I am always listening and learning. I know 2 people who are more skilled than myself. One has done hundreds of recordings studio. I am fortunate these people have shared some of their knowledge with me.

One nugget of shared knowledge they imparted was the use of large wall mount transformers. Those people and individuals such as Mike L got me off the pot and into installing a Torus 4.5 KVA triple insulated, surge protected wall mount at my house. OMG. My jaw dropped. I started this business with the intention of not carrying any products ouside my panels, wire and consulting. I had to break with this product only.

I am absolutely 100% convinced a quality isolation transformer is a global benefit to any audio system. I circled the obvious options and landed on Torus. I selected Torus as it works with my primary focus of adherence to NEC, NFPA70 and provides a fully code compliant product to ensure trouble free installation and intact homeowner insurance if a incident were to ever arise. The Torus units I spec are 240 volt in with a 120 volt single phase circuit breaker out. I then take the load to my fully custom UL listed and labeled 225A single phase panel. This panel will accept bolt on AFCI breakers that are a requirement in all residences.

To the point of AC noise in the house, I am in the process of testing Caig Deox Gold. My intent is every CB and lug terminal will be treated. Micro arching does occur at all connection points. Micro pits in metal surfaces fill with oxidized contaminants and slowly erode metal to metal contacts. I have cleaned a dirty panel and the results were astounding. I am going to investigate component equipment connections as well as the electrical power. I am talking with Caig about blister packs of product to send out to each job. I did deox gold coat my boat electronics today. I am taking the west coast consulting engineer specialist for Square D fishing tomorrow. We have been talking supply chain issues and industrial surge supression. This is kind of a test. Its on my electronics, radio, wifi kill switch, downrigger and electric trolling motor. The electronics are all ethernet and digital 5 pin communications. Pretty much what our audio equipment is based upon.

FWIW, I have been specifying ground rods be treated with deox at the connection point, then liquid taped, then vinyl taped. I want that junction clean and at peak performance for 20 or more years.

If someone were to want to add additional filtration after the Torus you could. I don't know anyone that does. I have tried different pieces with or without the Torus. It is far better with everything on it. Even my modem, router and switch. I tried them with the Triplite fed from the main panel and the Torus panel. It was very obvious via the Torus with no Triplite was best. I even ended up disconnecting all my Add Power gear. I could hear a distortion with it after the Torus was installed.

I do see a lot of ground boxes after a isolation transformer.

I still believe in multiple dedicated lines. Amps, preamps, digital, data. They all get a dedicated circuit. I can not see how the distortion an amp creates on a branch wire would not influence the way a preamp or DAC is trying to draw power from the same wire. The panel is much more capable than a 10 awg wire in dissipating the sine wave distortion components put on the electrical system. You can see it on a scope. And you can hear it. I clearly hear each monoblock benefiting from a dedicated circuit, rather than a shared branch. My runs are about 27 feet.

Most of the time after my work, without the installation of a wall mount transformer, a filter will still bring perceived benefits on front end equipment and data infrastructure. Amps is generally better via the wall. Not always. But the overall global affect is always better. Good power lifts everything. Even your refrigerator and HVAC. Walking a job and addressing area such as pool motors and outdoor light receptacles will also eliminate home induced noise by reconditioning corroded contacts that are micro arching. There is an entire house that should be inspected with each project.
 

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heebrog

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Hi @Kingrex. I'm trying to learn more about the influence of power on my hifi so thanks for this thread. Unfortunately I'm not located in Australia where we're using 240V. Can you explain why the transformer in my Taiko Extreme hums when plugged to wall AC even via a line conditioner but not when plugged into my battery/AC inverter with everything else unchanged? I don't have dedicated lines so am trying the battery/AC inverter option but am aware that it has some noise issue of its own.
 

Atmasphere

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The second function of power-supplies is to filter and regulate those lower DC voltages. A properly designed power-supply will be impervious to wall voltage perturbations. If a component is susceptible to noteable changes due to the noise and fluctuation and quality from the power mains at the wall then that component’s power-supply is deficient and does not effectively filter the line noise or regulate the internal DC voltages; from experience I can tell you that there are many high-end components out there with deficient power-supplies; which is good for your business. Think about this for a minute, if you take a Hewlett-Packard, Sorensen, Lambda, and the likes, Laboratory DC Regulated power supply you can use an analyzer or oscilloscope to measure the ripple and you will see how flat the DC voltage is even with dirty, noisy and fluctuating voltage power at the wall.
Power amps usually don't have regulated power supplies. But if they were they would be immune to AC wall power issues as long as pesky ground problems were not in the mix.
 
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Kingrex

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Hi @Kingrex. I'm trying to learn more about the influence of power on my hifi so thanks for this thread. Unfortunately I'm not located in Australia where we're using 240V. Can you explain why the transformer in my Taiko Extreme hums when plugged to wall AC even via a line conditioner but not when plugged into my battery/AC inverter with everything else unchanged? I don't have dedicated lines so am trying the battery/AC inverter option but am aware that it has some noise issue of its own.
Usually a transformer that is physically humming, especially toroidal is DC saturating the core. Maybe the filter you have is not good at blocking DC. A battery AC inverter as long as it is not making its own noise is an excellent DC block. So are isolation transformers. Most filters are too. An old Furman might not do the job.

Do you hear a loss of resolution or congestion in the sound when used with the Inverter? Does the sound get worse or better when in the wall, outside the hum. A real battery/AC inverter is expensive. An EAton 9PX is a good starting point. But yes, inexpensive inverters make noise and generally don't like instantaneous peak draw. So amps are hard to power. Front end gear may work.

Have you changed out all the dimmers on the lights in your house to a quality Lutron Maestro type. Don't have any slide type dimmers or toggles that dim. They should be the type you press a button and they soft on and soft off. The dimming is done touching an up or down button.
 

microstrip

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Usually a transformer that is physically humming, especially toroidal is DC saturating the core.(...)

I think that you are just pointing the more probable reason, perhaps influenced by an high mains voltage - 240VAC. I would suggest trying an extremely cheap DIY DC blocker as designed by Rod Eliot - https://sound-au.com/articles/xfmr-dc.htm . Just three components and If it solves the problem it was surely DC!
 

BruceD

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With my Hi current PSUs I had --both with large Toroidals, hummed slightly-tightened the holding Bolts /changed Powercords/grounding/etc -no joy

The solution was to wind back the Hz Frequency adjustment pot in both my Power Regenerators until the noise disappeared.

Worked beautifully

BruceD
 

Kingrex

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With my Hi current PSUs I had --both with large Toroidals, hummed slightly-tightened the holding Bolts /changed Powercords/grounding/etc -no joy

The solution was to wind back the Hz Frequency adjustment pot in both my Power Regenerators until the noise disappeared.

Worked beautifully

BruceD
Thats a unique solution. How much did you alter the frequency?
 

Folsom

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I think that you are just pointing the more probable reason, perhaps influenced by an high mains voltage - 240VAC. I would suggest trying an extremely cheap DIY DC blocker as designed by Rod Eliot - https://sound-au.com/articles/xfmr-dc.htm . Just three components and If it solves the problem it was surely DC!

That is the way to do it inexpensively (compared to large transformers). Furmans can't do that unless they have the same device in them; which I haven't seen. Series inductors and parallel capacitors don't change DC.

Really though only needed if you have an issue.
 

Amir

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Power amps usually don't have regulated power supplies. But if they were they would be immune to AC wall power issues as long as pesky ground problems were not in the mix.
No, I think even regulated power supply in power amp would not immune them to AC quality.

AC quality is the biggest enemy of Audiophiles
 

Amir

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For the electrical side, I'd venture roughly 90% of the overall quality of musicality we hear can be directly attributed to the quality of AC/electrical current flow. That's how much I think you're on the right path.

100% agree
 

Atmasphere

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No, I think even regulated power supply in power amp would not immune them to AC quality.

AC quality is the biggest enemy of Audiophiles
So- something mysterious exists on the AC line that can't be filtered out??

The best power conditioner made that I've ever seen was made by Elgar. It could regulate line voltage and deliver a sine wave with less than 0.5%THD (in AC lines its the 5th harmonic that is the most troublesome). It could do this without limiting current and their larger ones had current capacity of about 28 Amps @ 117 Volts. These are large units designed for 24/7 operation in commercial/industrial applications.

The 5th harmonic can affect power transformer efficiency (and can cause them to become noisy). But if the power supply is regulated, an efficiency loss in the transformer isn't going to do anything.
 

microstrip

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Atmasphere

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