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lwhitefl
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Audio Power Supply

During RMAF 2008 the presentations in the Nordost room and the Tuning & Setup seminar hosted by HiFi+ (Roy Gregory) emphasized the importance of the house power supply in audio systems. Not only is the electric source noisy but house appliances and indeed even audio devices themselves add noise to the house power grid. Dedicated electrical lines from the main electrical panel to audio systems and the use of power conditioners can greatly improve the power source. But are they alone enough? A completely separate line and accompanying electric meter is not practical in my case. But I am considering installing a separately grounded electrical sub-panel dedicated to the current dedicated electric circuits that drive my audio system. However, I'm not sure if this change will actually improve my audio system power source. If I run separate main electrical cables from the meter (or the primary electric panel) will this additional cable ultimately be contaminated by "back-flow" from the main panel (since everything is interconnected? I would very much appreciate any wisdom on this subject.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Audio Power Supply

The proper solution would be an independent panel fed from the post in the alley. Provide this panel with an independent earth ground point and you will have minimized as many of the possible contaminants in your own house as you can possibly expect.

The larger problem will continue to exist as you are still tied to all the other homes in your neighborhood that are fed from your common line transformer in the alley. They are just as capable of inserting noise into your power lines as any of your own household appliances. This is especcialy true in the summer when air conditioners are drawing heavily on the lines. To a lesser extent everyone's refrigerator, washer/dryer, dishwasher, etc. sits on your incomming lines. In the long run there is no way to perfectly isolate yourself from the problems on the lines until you get AC into your home where you can deal with it on a one on one basis. At that point you deal with the problems with after market power line conditioners, surge devices, under/over Voltage protection and noise filtration.

Start with dedicated lines within your own house with a separate circuit breaker feeding your audio components and go from there.

Welshsox
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Re: Audio Power Supply

Hi

I still believe that the rules applied to power for things like medical scanners, large servers, critical electronics etc can be applied to hifi with equal merit.

Running seperate feeds etc is just a band aid, the only real answer is full inline power conditioning. This is pretty expensive to do, even an industrial grade unit would cost $2-3000 but it would isolate all power and ensure you have a good clean noise free sine wave to run your equipment on.

Alan

Jan Vigne
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Re: Audio Power Supply

Yes, separate lines are just a BandAid but they are the place to being for most people. Make certain the hifi is not on the same circuit with any major appliance. After that, starting counting your pennies, in all likelyhood this is going to be an expensive trip.

I believe the Furman conditioners have received some very good reviews and do not cost an arm and a leg for a modest system's requirements. Anyone interested in such products should also consult Stereophile's Recommended Components listings.

lwhitefl
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Re: Audio Power Supply


Quote:
Hi

I still believe that the rules applied to power for things like medical scanners, large servers, critical electronics etc can be applied to hifi with equal merit.

Running seperate feeds etc is just a band aid, the only real answer is full inline power conditioning. This is pretty expensive to do, even an industrial grade unit would cost $2-3000 but it would isolate all power and ensure you have a good clean noise free sine wave to run your equipment on.

Alan

Can you provide any links to source material for accomplishing "inline power conditioning"?

cyclebrain
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Re: Audio Power Supply

Even the power company adds noise to their power lines in the form of various signaling data. The effect of power line noise and power line filters depends on the quality of the power supply in your audio gear.

Elk
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Re: Audio Power Supply


Quote:
But I am considering installing a separately grounded electrical sub-panel dedicated to the current dedicated electric circuits that drive my audio system.


A dedicated line running from the main panel that powers only the audio can make quite a difference.

The idea of a separately grounded subpanel raises the possibility of two different ground potentials coming into the living space. This is not a good idea. A competent electrician can tell you whether and how this can be done safely.

I don't know what Alan has in mind (he is a knowledgeable guy) but I have a PS Audio Power Plant Premier. It regenerates enough AC power to handle my entire system. It works wonderfully well.

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Re: Audio Power Supply

Hi

This is a link to an industrial power company who are our stragetic partner's for UPS and power conditioners.

To give you an idea we jointly developed a system to prevent power issues on offshore drilling rigs. These are some of the harshest power conditioners in the world, you have no ground and megawatt top drives causing massive brown outs.

http://www.controlledpwr.com/Power_Quality_Applications.html

Take a look at their power purifier range.

Of course one of these units is pretty ugly and not designed for the living room but considering that people will spend thousands on cables then a few thousand for one of these units would i believe be a sensible investment. It could be placed in a closet or basement near your main fuse box.

Alan

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Re: Audio Power Supply

Cool!

It had not occurred to me that there would be no ground on an offshore drilling rig, but I can see that getting a good ground would be a challenge.

If I recall correctly, this type of voltage regulation (ferroresonant) regenerate the power wave as does my Power Plant. However, don't they make quite a humming sound in operation? (I'm not thinking of the motor driven autotransfomers like Monster uses that click and whir.)

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Re: Audio Power Supply

Elk

You are correct in that these units are ferro resonant, they do make a little noise and therefore they would be better away from the listening room.

There is a more modern technology called double conversion or IGBT that is quieter and a little smaller. This could well be the better method for domestic, there is just an old school mentality that a large ferro based unit protects better as the transformer absorbs any spikes. Im not a design expert on these units, more of a user.

Must admit i had not checked the PS audio unit, i made an assumption that they were like Monster and more of a surge protection device that a full blown power regenerator. I need to check them out.

Alan

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Re: Audio Power Supply


Quote:
This could well be the better method for domestic, there is just an old school mentality that a large ferro based unit protects better as the transformer absorbs any spikes.

The original Tice Power Block, which I think it is fair to say ushered in the concept of ultra expensive (relative to the $15 strips everyone had been using to that time) surge protection and line conditioning, was based around one very large transformer which was used to smooth the incoming voltage and absorb spikes and surges. The Tice did not perform any regeneration of the sine wave but rather was designed to look very much like a power supply you might find in a good power amplifier only oversized by ten times. It sold for $2500 in 1990 dollars.

Does anyone know what has happened to George Tice and his company? He of the Tice Clock fame also.

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Re: Audio Power Supply


Quote:
Not only is the electric source noisy but house appliances and indeed even audio devices themselves add noise to the house power grid ... I would very much appreciate any wisdom on this subject.


Here's the best wisdom I can offer: Sit in your usually seat and turn up the volume pretty loud but with no music playing. Do you hear hiss or hum or other objectionable noise? If not, then there is no problem and you won't benefit from a power "conditioner" product.

--Ethan

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Re: Audio Power Supply


Quote:
The larger problem will continue to exist as you are still tied to all the other homes in your neighborhood that are fed from your common line transformer in the alley. They are just as capable of inserting noise into your power lines as any of your own household appliances. This is especcialy true in the summer when air conditioners are drawing heavily on the lines. To a lesser extent everyone's refrigerator, washer/dryer, dishwasher, etc. sits on your incomming lines

Boy is this true. My system sounds much better at 10AM than it does at 6PM. I lust after a PS Audio power station, currenty beyond my means.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Audio Power Supply

That would seem to be an extreme oversimplification of the situation, Ethan. It is advice which should be taken with as much consideration as any other free advice.

Elk
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Re: Audio Power Supply

My understanding is that ferro resonant transformers are very good at absorbing spikes and are also efficient (above 90%). IIRC, they do chew up capacitors however - something that is no big deal for commercial applications but tends to scare consumers who expect everything to last without maintenance.

Do take a look at the PS Audio Power Plant and let us know what you think.

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Re: Audio Power Supply


Quote:
Do take a look at the PS Audio Power Plant and let us know what you think.


In addition to adding a dedicated electrical sub-panel (most likely grounded to the main electrical panel), I'm seriously considering devices such as the Audience Adept Response power conditioner, or the Nordost Thor power distribution center augmented by a device Nordost calls a Quasar QX-4 Electro Magnetic Field Stabilizer. The Nordost room at RMAF 2008 demonstrated the QX-4 by using the off/on switch on the front of the unit. When switched off the QX-4 allowed the power to flow directly through the unit with no conditioning. The difference was easily heard with the sound field sounding smaller with less articulation when the QX-4 switch was in the off position. During a HiFi+ seminar the Nordost Quasar QX-4 was again demonstrated and strongly endorsed during a audio setup and tuning demostration.

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Re: Audio Power Supply

Len

Regardless of its merits ( of which im totally unfamiliar ) im not sure i could have faith in anything called a

" Quasar QX-4 Electro Magnetic Field Stabilizer "

Sounds like a Japanese hybrid go kart !!!

Alan

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Re: Audio Power Supply

Elk

I have to admit thats a pretty impressive looking unit. I looked at the premier model and while it probably would not survive the oil rigs !!! it looks to be ideal for the domestic environment.

The engineering and spec look sound and at $2195 list i would describe it as a good value product even from a industrial electronics point of view. It is absolutely not a snake oil type of product, it has real technical meat on its bones.

The only bad thing is that now im mad at you, youve added something else to the wish list !!!

Seriously though I would definetly like to audtion one of these to see its effect.

Alan

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Re: Audio Power Supply

Cool!

I've been very impressed with their power regenerators, especially this last one. I also get a kick out of being able to see the measured THD of the incoming and outgoing power.

PS Audio, and those that sell them, will let you try them out for thirty days. It's nice to be able to have the choice to send it back if it doesn't perform as hoped.

cyclebrain
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Re: Audio Power Supply


Quote:

Here's the best wisdom I can offer: Sit in your usually seat and turn up the volume pretty loud but with no music playing. Do you hear hiss or hum or other objectionable noise? If not, then there is no problem and you won't benefit from a power "conditioner" product.

--Ethan

While I still stand by my belief that a well designed power supply should not benifit from additional input filters, Ethan's background noise test is oversimplified. If one performs this test and identifies a problem then, yes it is a problem. His test will not identify problems caused by intermodulation sum and difference frequencies produced when playing music. His test also will not reveal any bad behaviour from a power supply caused by power supply load.
An especially tricky analysis when done with a dynamic load such as music. Test signals don't count.

Elk
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Re: Audio Power Supply


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While I still stand by my belief that a well designed power supply should not benifit from additional input filters, . . .


I imagine we all agree with this statement as a general concept. The difficulty comes in defining "well designed".

Some high end products, such as Levinson, already include power regeneration in the units themselves. I do not expect them to benefit much from power treatment.

Another factor is the quality of power delivered to one's listening space.

As with most things audio, try and see . . .

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Re: Audio Power Supply


Quote:
His test will not identify problems caused by intermodulation sum and difference frequencies produced when playing music.


If an amplifier creates sum and difference IM products, that is a function of the amplifier itself. This will not change by adding anything in series with the power line.


Quote:
His test also will not reveal any bad behaviour from a power supply caused by power supply load.


What exactly does that mean, and how does it relate to power products?


Quote:
An especially tricky analysis when done with a dynamic load such as music. Test signals don't count.


But a null test can be used with music to see if anything changes after adding a power product. I repeat my standard $100 offer that you cannot show any real difference by adding a power product. If I need to offer more to get you to actually test this, let me know your price. But you have to promise in advance that you'll post the results no matter which way the test comes out. You also need to send me both recorded files so I can null them myself here. You don't even have to put up a counter offer! So the risk is entirely mine. Game?

--Ethan

lwhitefl
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Re: Audio Power Supply


Quote:
Len
Regardless of its merits ( of which im totally unfamiliar ) im not sure i could have faith in anything called a
" Quasar QX-4 Electro Magnetic Field Stabilizer "
Sounds like a Japanese hybrid go kart !!!
Alan


While I totally understand the skepticism, my friends and I heard the difference with our own ears. I'm skeptical of those that put measurements before hearing in an attempt to define an audio devices merits. I recommend you audition one of these units and post your hearing results.

Welshsox
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Re: Audio Power Supply

Hi

I can understand Ethan's offer.

I can fully understand how a power conditioner can improve the sound of the system by isolating that system from mains noise and crap. This is the approach that several units take and it has strong engineering merit.

On researching this it does seem there is a lot of snake oil stuff around, particularly the very expensive power conditioners that they start talking about resolution, midrange and all that waffle. Ethan is right in that the power conditioner is not in the signal path, the perfect power conditioner provides a pure no distortion sine wave that is not affected by load impedances. Once you have accomplished this no changing of components to magic capacitors or low oxygen cables can improve the sound of a system. For those that challange me to hear the difference, i would challange them to what they are really hearing.

Alan

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Re: Audio Power Supply


Quote:
the perfect power conditioner provides a pure no distortion sine wave that is not affected by load impedances.


Yes, and to be perfectly clear, the power coming out of your AC outlets is not affected much by load impedance either. Unless you're running a DUP-inspired system with 10 KW of power amps. But even if you had a "perfect" AC power source, the power supply inside the amplifier is the limiting factor anyway.


Quote:
For those that challange me to hear the difference, i would challange them to what they are really hearing.


No kidding Alan. Test gear is 100 percent repeatable. Ears vary all over the place depending on volume, time of day, mood, what you ate two hours ago, and so forth. Getting folks to understand this is the final frontier in combating audiophoolery IMO.

--Ethan

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Re: Audio Power Supply


Quote:

Quote:
His test will not identify problems caused by intermodulation sum and difference frequencies produced when playing music.


If an amplifier creates sum and difference IM products, that is a function of the amplifier itself. This will not change by adding anything in series with the power line.


Quote:
His test also will not reveal any bad behaviour from a power supply caused by power supply load.


What exactly does that mean, and how does it relate to power products?


Quote:
An especially tricky analysis when done with a dynamic load such as music. Test signals don't count.


But a null test can be used with music to see if anything changes after adding a power product. I repeat my standard $100 offer that you cannot show any real difference by adding a power product. If I need to offer more to get you to actually test this, let me know your price. But you have to promise in advance that you'll post the results no matter which way the test comes out. You also need to send me both recorded files so I can null them myself here. You don't even have to put up a counter offer! So the risk is entirely mine. Game?

--Ethan

My response has to do with possible interaction of power line noise with an amplifier power supply and an amplifiers load on its supply. If an external filter removes a noise component that interacts with a power supply/amplifier combination it could help.
I'm just trying to be open to some of this crazy stuff out there.
In my world Ethan, I would never take your $100 bet cause I agree with you. What about the possible negative effect of a power conditioner that current limits peaks?

ethanwiner
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Re: Audio Power Supply


Quote:
If an external filter removes a noise component that interacts with a power supply/amplifier combination it could help.


But such interactions don't really happen.


Quote:
What about the possible negative effect of a power conditioner that current limits peaks?


Yes, I suppose that's possible, and is yet another reason - besides not wasting your money - to avoid "power" products.

There's a maxim in the recording world that I believe is also understood by audiophiles - do not pass your signal through more gear than is necessary because all that can happen is degradation. Now, I don't believe the AC line has much to do with the audio signal path, but your logic is correct. Other than filtering obvious clicks, if that's really even a problem, going through yet more stuff can only hurt.

--Ethan

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Re: Audio Power Supply


Quote:
I can fully understand how a power conditioner can improve the sound of the system by isolating that system from mains noise and crap. This is the approach that several units take and it has strong engineering merit.

Yes, I agree Welch. Several years ago I learned that CBS television network engineers use expensive audiophile quality power conditioners in the studio equipment. I can't remember the company/gent's name, but similar in class to Jenalabs and compete's with her in the high end audio realm. I am sure the other networks also use good power conditioners for both video and audio quality as well as protection. Very solid engineering principles are used.

Take care.

Steve

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