Analog Corner #307: HiFiction X-Quisite ST, AC Power, PS Audio

I'm an audiophile and live in North America—seems like a perfect fit for the Facebook group Audiophiles - North America, right? Wrong!

On my first visit, I noticed that a group member had asked for speaker cable suggestions. Another member posted a picture of a 100' spool of 16-gauge lamp cord costing $14, accompanied by the suggestion "This is all you need." The implication: That's all anyone needs, because cables are "snake oil.

I responded, "Do you think the people marketing this product considered inductance, capacitance, and resistance?"

"You don't even know what those are" came the reply. Soon after that came this from another group member: "You're old, you're deaf, and you have a shitty room."

This was my welcome to this Facebook group, composed, apparently—and here I'm talking about the loudest people in the group, not necessarily the majority—of cable deniers, A/B/Xers, and "if you can't measure it, it doesn't exist" types. It went downhill from there.

I used to be a stand-up comic years ago, subject to booing, screaming hecklers, like the crowd that chanted "Root! Root! Root!" trying to get me off the stage so that their heroes, Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band, could perform (footnote 1). Compared to that, what these audiofools were throwing at me was lightweight, tossable, so I stuck around to observe months of seething resentment, anger, and outright hatred.

I was psychoanalyzed, accused of corruption, and of course of being a "snake oil salesman"—never mind being elderly (guilty) and deaf (not guilty). "You've never taken a double-blind test!" one said. Of course I have; I posted a bargraph showing my quite good performance at Harman's "blind" speaker-testing facility (covering up the initials of other familiar audio reviewers who didn't fare as well). I came in second best, which proved I was "deaf." That's when I left the group, which I concluded from the comments also consisted mostly of people who believe that "snake oil" is any audio gear that costs more than they can afford.

Jump-Cut To HiFiction's X-Quisite ST phono cartridge
A few years ago, HiFiction AG (footnote 2), the company that produces Thales pivoted, tangential-tracking tonearms and compact, precision turntables, bought EMT's cartridge-manufacturing business and moved the assets to its Turbenthal, Switzerland, factory (footnote 3). In addition to manufacturing and servicing EMT cartridges, HiFiction recently introduced a new line of cartridges featuring a unique, patented, "monobloc" ceramic transducer element consisting of a one-piece, high-strength ceramic cantilever and a square coil body, eliminating the joint almost always found in cartridges using aluminum, boron, sapphire, or diamond cantilevers. The stylus is an "X-diamond" MicroRidge type that fits precisely into a hole in the cantilever, where it's affixed with "tiny quantities of a technical adhesive."

321acorn.cart

You can read more about this unique design on the Analog Planet website. You'll see animation demonstrating HiFiction's (convincing) claims for the "direct shot" technology as well as a microscope photo of the coil windings adapted for the ceramic core.

Sufficient output from a nonferrous core requires a strong magnet circuit. HiFiction uses a Neodymium-Armco magnet in a design that's said to reduce eddy current loss to a minimum. The magnet is built into an aluminum holder designed to ensure direct mechanical energy flow.

The ST's layered body is made from titanium, aluminum, and wood—the wood is the arm/cartridge interface—while its armature is wound with silver wire. The ST weighs 16.6gm, which, while heavy, is in the same ballpark as the weight of other exotic MC cartridges. Output is claimed to be 0.29mV, generous for a nonferrous armature. Achieving higher output requires more coil turns, so the internal impedance is relatively high for a low-output MC, at 20 ohms. HiFiction recommends loading the cartridge at 400–800 ohms and setting the tracking force between 1.9gm and 2.1gm. Channel separation is rated at 35dB (L–R, R–L) or more, with 0.1dB channel balance. Claimed tracking ability is 80µm; the frequency at which this measurement was made isn't specified.

While the wooden-box presentation is striking, removing the X-quisite from said box is tricky: The cartridge is screwed onto the inside of the box; to remove it, you must unscrew it from the back of the box while holding open the heavy lid, which will close on your hand as you grasp the cartridge's stylus guard so that the precious cargo doesn't fall out when the screws come loose. It's an acquired skill, made all the more anxiety-inducing by a less-than-secure stylus-guard fit.

Another reason for anxiety is that the middle-line ST version costs $13,160. The more costly "Extreme Exotics" edition, featuring among other things coils of 24k gold, was originally intended only for a Hong Kong distributor, but recently I was told it might be available elsewhere for you even bigger spenders. The gold version costs $14,510.

Forget about using the X-quisite in an SAT arm. It won't work (footnote 4). The cartridge is too long and squat for the SAT's headshell (even though, at 22.5mm long, it's within the IEC-DIN standard's 25mm maximum length). With a suitable spacer, it probably could be made to fit, but I decided to mount it on the Kuzma 4Point, where clearance wouldn't be a problem.

When I went to set SRA with my digital microscope, I discovered the stylus was MIA. I don't recall having bumped or bruised it, but it's possible it happened as I executed the tricky initial removal from the box.

How, after an evening of stupefying listening, I destroyed a second sample of this $13,000 cartridge is too painful to report. As every other cartridge supplier will attest, in 30 years of reviewing analog audio, these two X-quisites are the only review samples I've ever broken. X-quisite designer Micha Huber, thank you for your understanding.

As they say (whoever "they" are), the third time's the charm. Instead of installing it on the Kuzma, I put the third X-quisite on the tonearm of a turntable-tonearm combo I have in for review. Said turntable and tonearm are familiar to me thanks to months of experience using familiar cartridges, the Lyra Atlas Lambda SL and Ortofon Anna D, so it's a suitable platform for evaluating the X-quisite.

As with the previous sample, I found that because of the MicroRidge stylus's angular insertion into the cantilever, achieving the specified 92 degree SRA required raising the tonearm's tail to well beyond parallel to the record surface. Otherwise, the sample mostly met the published specs that I could measure. Oscilloscope-measured channel balance was within a dB, while L–R/R–L separation was an excellent 30dB. (The oscilloscope method usually produces numbers somewhat lower than actual, a point proven to me by Soundsmith's Peter Ledermann, but for setup purposes, the oscilloscope method suffices.) Tracking at the minimum recommended VTF—1.9gm—the 80µm band of Ortofon's test record (which tests tracking at 315Hz) produced a very slight buzz. It sailed through the same track at 2.1gm; the cartridge meets its trackability standard.

Using the Hi-Fi News test record, horizontal and vertical resonant frequencies produced ideal results (11Hz lateral, 9Hz vertical) but also some unusual—perhaps superior—cartridge behavior. Most cartridges begin to wiggle as they approach the resonant frequency, then move a lot more at the resonant frequency. Not the X-quisite: At 12Hz, it was calm—no movement at all. At 11Hz, the resonance so excited the cartridge that it almost jumped the groove. At 10Hz, it was quiet again. It was the same for the vertical resonance. These resonances appear to have a higher than usual "Q." Perhaps in his manufacturer's comment, Mr. Huber will explain why.

Ypsilon's Demetric Baklavas advised against using a cartridge with an internal impedance higher than 10–12 ohms with that company's MC16L step-up transformer, yet the 20 ohm X-quisite loved this transformer, producing some of the finest sound I've heard from the MC16L/VPS100 MM combo. This, despite HiFiction's recommended load of 400–800 ohms and the MC16L's 200 ohm load (when terminated at 47k ohms into the VPS100's input). "Loaded down" the sound was not.

Conversely, you might expect the X-quisite, with its relatively high 20 ohm internal impedance, to work poorly with a current-sensing phono preamplifier like the CH Precision P1, which, like other current-sensing phono preamps, prefers low internal impedance cartridges, in the single ohms or lower. But that combo was just as satisfying, though different. Sometimes you just have to listen. (Hear me, Audiophiles - North America?)

HiFiction's claims for its monobloc-ceramic technology—"absolutely pure transmission of the musical signal from the diamond tip to the coil body (and thus) supreme detail resolution...and extremely natural sound"—proved to be more than advertising or promotional hyperbole; it is easily audible fact. The X-quisite was the fastest, most direct and flat-out exciting-sounding cartridge I've heard, with among the most natural, open, silky-smooth upper octaves. Its sound was free of artificial ingredients—no hyperdefined edges or peaky, tipped-up top end to produce fake excitement; no resonant tricks to create "sensuous warmth" not found in actual music. Indeed, I concluded after months of listening that the X-quisite's excitement was not caused by any transient artifact or timbral coloration, since those eventually become annoying. Nothing about the X-quisite's sonic performance produced annoyance, ever. Everything about it produced sonic pleasure and musical excitement and discovery—even on very familiar albums.

This cartridge didn't just let me know where the microphones were placed; often, in some recordings, it announced their location, so well-organized was the stage, so well-focused and stable were the images. I've experienced that in few other cartridges.


Footnote 1: In fairness, considering that RBSATSXB performed songs with titles like "Boogie 'Til You Puke" and "My Wig Fell Off," I too might have been trying to hurry Mikey off the stage. You can hear 'em on Qobuz.—Editor

Footnote 2: X-quisite, HiFiction AG Tosstalstrasse 14 8488 Turbenthal Switzerland Web: x-quisite.ch. North American Importer: Wynn Audio, 20 Wertheim Ct. #31 Richmond Hill, ON L4B 3A8 Canada. Web: wynnaudio.com.

Footnote 3: You can "visit" the factory with me here.

Footnote 4: Michael Fremer has since found that the X-quisite cartridge can fit on the SAT arm, though it's a tight fit.—Editor

ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
DougM's picture

How you performed in a double blind test of speakers is irrelevant to cables. You're comparing apples and oranges. It is a testament to your audio acuity skills, but nothing else. I'm a firm believer that cables do make a difference, even power cords, which are the most controversial among even audio lovers. The only testing I've done with power cords was switching the standard removable ones that came with several of the guitar amps I have, and I could clearly hear a difference among them. The problem I have with cable manufacturers is the extreme prices of some, which is far beyond any reasonable profit, based on the engineering, production, and other overhead costs. What I find even more disturbing is the voodoo science they use to explain what makes their wires better than others. Since we know that everything that we can hear can't be measured, why can't they just admit that they've found certain designs that work, based on listening tests, instead of inventing pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo to explain it? It only serves to increase distrust, even among fans of their products.

Jack L's picture

HI

Bingo !

Whoever cable nayers should go to have their ears tested.

So, IMO, what are their excuses:-

(1) sour grapes : can't afford to own quality cables.

(2) ignorance:-
(a) believe in the myth of "everything existing must be measurable."
(b) bank on blind tests (A/B & A/B/X) without knowing blind tests
when not executed properly so often yield null result.

(a) The current limited measurement technology fails to measure a lot of
audios related to what our ear actually hear. They measured the
wrong thing.

(b) I read a paper on the problem of blind tests, to which I agree.
So often blind tests ended up with no conclusion. Why? Using the
wrong protocols.
Most most blind tests are carried out without the tested candidates
FIRST getting familiar with the sonic signatures of the test
equipment to be used, room acoustics there, etc.
The tests are carried out ASSUMING the test candidates already fully
familiar with the test venue conditions. This will make any such
tests invalid. Why?

Simple analogy of the problem: a new born baby once born to this
world never knows anything else not even their parents. It takes
time for the new-born baby to set up a module of its parents in its
brain in order to recognize the faces & voices of their parents. But
nobody else yet.

This human nature issues also apply to the test candidates who
are strangers to the new test venue conditions. How can they give
valid test results when totally "blind" to the new test environment
to them !!! ???

Yes, power cords sound different though not as obvious & substantial
as signal cables.

So I design/build audio & power cables using only 99.99% pure silver conductors for my rigs & for my audio friends with discerned ears. Otherwise, they would wreck my band accounts to finance those cable
vendors assuming pure silver cables being available in the market.

Listening is believing

Jack L

Pittiplatsch's picture

It's hard to believe that cables don't make a difference in sound with respect to sonic characteristics and reproduction quality. And not only for systems above 1000k. However you find situations where some audio lovers find also power cords an adequate choice. I discovered in a flat some one mm2 two gauge cords in the wall of a living room and the owner told me that this installation was initially used by her audiophile husband to drive his speakers. Obviously, it worked but I didn't had the opportunity to test this construction in terms of sound quality. Some times ago, in internet auctions I found an used pair of LS3/5A cabinets for sale together with a bell wire-looking connection, so it raised some doubts also about the condition of the speakers...

In general, I rather prefer cables also used in studios by sound engineers, neutral, durable and hopefully, not too expensive. Within the same aspect of convergence between audiophile world and studio engineering which was raised also in some contributions at stereophile.

Jack L's picture

Hi Pittiplatsch

Well, we got to understand the way of music auditioning is pretty different between recording engineers & audiophiles.

I got a recording engineer friend who told me what he got to make sure, as his job, every music notes played by the musicians/artists there MUST be recorded with full upfront DETAILS, period. So they practically don't need to go for exotic wires/cables for this purpose.

Audiophiles, IMO, want to ENJOY the music as a leisure hobby or kill-time. No job & time limit pressure like recording in the studio.

Different ballgame, my friend !

Listening is believing

Jack L

Pittiplatsch's picture

as you like. It's up to you. In the same way you will find not a small amount of audiophiles who prefer for several reasons exactly those characteristics needed for sound producing and enjoy their music. Both ways (or should I call it rather philosophies?) have advantages and disadvantages, which we mostly know. If you are increasingly bored by the sound of your components you are always free to change some of them or in the worst case the whole chain.

Jack L's picture

Hi Pittiplatsch,

Thnaks goodness I'm still happy with my audios, mostly home brews. Otherwise I woud not spend min a few hours a day enjoying my music whenever I am free.

For those audio fans who get somewhat bored with the sound of their system & look for a change, I would suggest change the audio interconnects, the easiest & very affordable way, IMO.

Many years back, I replaced ALL the audio interconnects of my rig with cables I design/built of 99.99% pure silver solid conductors. I am so gratified with the sonic improvement that I would not look back for any cables non-silver.

Listening is believing

Jack L

thatguy's picture

There seems to be so much anger in a hobby that should be all about enjoyment.

Poor Audiophile's picture

If Mikey or you or whoever says they hear a difference with more expensive cables, who are "you" to say they don't? It's so arrogant! Too many people want to "save" us from spending our money!

Glotz's picture

And Michael's system is far more expensive that most average stereo or home theater systems.

It approaches $1 million!

What he describes is still a base line way higher than most people have even heard or experienced.

Not your typical HT setup. Not even close.

I do understand where DougM is coming from though. HP audio marketing sometimes overshadows sound engineering through hyperbole, because of the need to stand out in a crowded field.

Joe Whip's picture

I have a 27 kw Generac whole house generator with a transfer switch and have not had any of the issues described here by MF with my 2 channel room or separate HT. Not sure what could be going on,

John Atkinson's picture
Joe Whip wrote:
I have a 27 kw Generac whole house generator with a transfer switch and have not had any of the issues described here by MF with my 2 channel room or separate HT. Not sure what could be going on...

I suspect that when the generator and transfer switch were installed, the house wiring's primary ground was interfered with.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

FredisDead's picture

Mikey destroys not one, but two cantilevers to 13K cartridges and then when he is sent a third it is the best cart he has ever heard.
Then he gets 18K worth of AQ gear "on loan" and it too is magically the best. Jim Austin-haven't things reached the breaking point yet? The Fonz is jumping shark to shark.

Glotz's picture

Super insulting.

Michael Fremer's picture

1) I bought the cartridge after the review
2) The gear is PS not Audioquest and yes IT IS "ON LOAN" UNTIL I CAN GET MY ELECTRICITY BACK THE WAY IT WAS, SO I CAN RETURN THE PS AUDIO REGENERATORS
3) if you have a problem with that, I have a problem with you.

FredisDead's picture

unlike you, everything I earned in life is something I worked for and then paid for. Where would you be without the late great Wally?

Joe Whip's picture

Interfered with, that would seem to be an easy fix, certainly cheaper than the PS Audio stuff,

Michael Fremer's picture

Numerous consultants working on this and the ground issue seems to be the major culprit but the "bypass" is probably the best solution so that's going to be done and not at "industry accommodation prices" you can be sure.

RH's picture

" no resonant tricks to create "sensuous warmth" not found in actual music"

Do you mean to say the cartridge didn't add additional warmth "not found in THE music" - as in it didn't add artificial warmth in to the source signal?

Or did you mean to say, as it actually seems to read, that " "sensuous warmth" is not found in actual music? That is, real, live music does not exhibit any "sensuous warmth"?

I would find the latter a very surprising statement. For me, one of the defining characteristics of live music - be it acoustic, and even to some extent electronic - is a warmth, even a "sensuous" warmth, that goes missing in much of hi-fi playback. Most reproduced sound is to my ear squashed, reductive. A real sax sounds so huge and warm compared to the kazoo version on most hi-fi systems.

When I play my acoustic guitar there is a rainbow of easeful, sparkling overtones on a warmly resonating substantial wooden body.
"sensous warmth" describes what I hear almost exactly.

Most acoustic guitars played back on hi-fi sound to me closer to black and white timbrally, and lacking warmth.

That's even true of the electronic instruments I play (bass, guitar, keyboards). Playing keyboards through a decent monitor or on headphones, there is, again, a richness and complexity, a type of warmth in that regard, that seems stripped away in keyboards on recordings.

Do you not find any of this to be the case in your experience?

Cheers.

Michael Fremer's picture

......

RH's picture

Ok, thanks. That makes more sense to me.

DG1961's picture

One idea. I suggest having a qualified person open up your main breaker panel at home. If the neutral and ground busbars in your main panel are connected together you have effectively created a ground loop between the ATS and main panel. Ground current will flow (doesn't matter if generator is on or off) and unwanted noise voltages/currents will be created. Generac assumes your main panel has isolated (from each other) ground and neutral busbars in your main panel, so they provide a bonding connection in their ATS. I can't speak for your home, but here in Central Ohio it is common to have neutral and ground busbars in main power panels connected. I know from my work in the data center industry that these small voltages can drive computer networks bonkers. It can definitely do the same to audio signals. Good luck - the answer can be found!

Michael Fremer's picture

For an informative and constructive comment. Yes it appears that there are a few ground loops in my wiring based on consultations so I'm hopeful that once this is all sorted out I'll be back where I was if not better. There are two ground rods sunk into the ground outside my home and I think that's one too many....(among other issues that might include what you suggest).

Charles E Flynn's picture

I regret that I cannot provide a precise title and page reference at the moment, but Rex Cauldwell, who has written a series of books for Taunton Press titled "Wiring a House" (currently at edition 5) has advocated having more than one ground rod. He has even suggested that in particularly dry locations, the ground rods should be watered from time to time, to increase the conductivity of the soil.

This posting is not to suggest that Mr. Cauldwell has the last word on the subject, but to suggest that this is a topic worth exploration.

It is my impression that Mr. Cauldwell is unpopular with some electricians, because his suggestions to comply with the National Electrical Code (the NEC) while going beyond it with innovations based on sound engineering principles are not welcome.

scottsol's picture

I suspect Cauldwell was concerned with safety, not the purity of the electricity.

Charles E Flynn's picture

The Kindle version of "Wiring a House" 5th edition shows the grounding plan at "location 2305 of 7873". There are no page numbers that correspond to the printed edition.

PeterPani's picture

the cantilever of my Lyra Clavis DC ($2000) in 1995 after several months usage. I still suffer somehow. A traumatic experience.

Jack L's picture

Hi

Hopefully you don't get PTSD now !

Jack L

BillK's picture
BillK's picture

Less than 100 hours on it, I was changing LPs when I got a slight static shock that made me jump a bit and I felt a scratch on the back of my hand. I was concerned I might have bent the cantilever and with much trepidation checked and… it was completely gone.

I looked with much fervor once but never found it.

MhtLion's picture

Not sure about the transfer switch, but I know that the inverter usually have such an impact. Even a fairly expensive inverter can have a negative impact on the sound quality. So, bypass the dirty grid - instead get the fresh power from a home generator or solar panels - usually doesn't work for audio gears like us. I wonder how a Tesla inverter works. Would it also downgrade like others? I'm curious to find out.

Michael Fremer's picture

Yes, I've heard from many readers that inverters and solar panels are bad for audio....

JRT's picture

...uses big batteries and inverter(s) to power the audio gear in his mastering studio.

There are differences among various inverter designs.

hb72's picture

Not sure, but I would think there is quite a difference between inverters for photo voltaic power generation (DC -> AC of rather coarse quality) and those from generators, which I'd assume should produce a nice sine wave (provided it runs with synch frequency?)... unless of course the nice sine waves the Generator produces need to be reconstructed by inverters to one of different frequency or perhaps voltage level...?

edit: -rudy- has posted below some helpful details on generator / inverter.

General comment, no proper power regeneration device in use here, only a couple of cheap ifi AC power filters to combat what small SMPS do to sound, and I feel with the author MF of this article. These things that do not exist in some peoples mind, are nonetheless capable to take away the joy of music some other people would experience otherwise.

best regards
hb

TNtransplant's picture

Thanks a lot MF, just when I'm able to look at the front page of my morning NY Times without needing to run back to bed with the covers over my head, you have to remind me of why it's still a real good idea to avoid Facebook enabled idiots, very expensive cartridges -- especially those with complicated presentation packaging -- despite sounding amazing, and undertaking any home improvements to ensure uninterrupted power.

I'm going back to bed with an old portable CD player, headphones, CD's and a bunch of batteries.

Michael Fremer's picture

Believe me, the first night after the transfer switch was installed I beat myself upside the head for not consulting with a few experienced power people about the possible consequences of inserting a giant switch in the electric service......ugh.

JRT's picture

You have my condolences and empathy on the temporary loss of system playback quality from poor quality electrical power. Good that you found a temporary fix.

Please follow up with more information as you better identify the problems and resolutions. It is an interesting topic.

Also, do a web search on Bill Whitlock to find various papers and presentations, much of it on grounding, balanced impedance analog signal interconnections, and transormer coupled differential input. All of it, but perhaps more especially the grounding related information, should be interesting to you in your research into solving your electrical problem and in avoiding other problems.

TNtransplant's picture

Just purchased a vintage Gibson Byrdland (co-designed by Billy BYRD and Hank GarLAND) so have been listening to lots of Hank Garland lately. While Garland did sometimes record with a L-5, not so sure he's playing it on Running Scared.

Seems Garland was likely at the Feb 27, 1961 Running Scared session (and yes, Buddy Harman drums), but Grady Martin and Harold Bradley were also present, and think they more often handled acoustic rhythm guitar on dates with Garland. If so, I would suspect Garland would have been on electric L-7, ES-345, or the Byrdland that he was using the following month backing Elvis at the Pearl Harbor concert.

Did find info that suggested Garland was playing his Stromberg acoustic archtop on Only The Lonely.

BTW - looking back at your fine 2015 review of Jazz Winds from a New Direction vinyl, realize you're into vibes but not so sure if Gary Burton really "overshadowed" Garland -- both are superb IMO -- but in any case Garland's 1961 accident surely ended any chance of him becoming a star. Listening to After the Riot (thanks much for turning me on to that!) it's clear that Garland is a much more creative jazz improviser than any others on that album, including Chet Atkins.

tonykaz's picture

Mr.MF probably should be running a full 240 VAC instead of one side ( 120 Volts ).
and, probably should've had a proper engineering design with permits and inspections. The entire civilised world, including USA, runs on 240 Volts.

Stationary Power Plants are pricy for small consumer needs, probably could've got by with a couple of suitcase sized Honda Generator Sets.

At the least, Mr.MF is not in Texas where their Grid is in near crisis and half of California is trying to escape to a bit of laissez-faire governance .

Tony in Venice Florida

ps. The PS Powerplants will finally provide a solid foundation for trusting Reviews from this address.

Jack L's picture

Hi Tony.

Japan runs on 110V50/60HZ & Hongkong on 220V50Hz like China.

Are these places "civilised world" ?

Jack L

tonykaz's picture

You are semi-correct in that Japan seems locked into an obsolete Voltage Standard for residential. It does seem un-civilised but it has the Powerful Effect of eliminating/constricting Imports from the USA and most of the gray importing like the work I do in exporting nice Audio Gear to Japanese collectors.

Step-up transformers are common for international travellers that buy nice stuff overseas but Japan strives to maintain differing standards.

All well designed gear seems capable of handling all of the World's Voltage systems, now a days.

Civilised : Europe including Russia and India, most of the Western Hemisphere and most of Asia. Let's include Canada for good measure. I'll even include Ireland.

240 volts comes into every USA home and was always the obvious choice for Audio Gear dating back to the 1950s when we were running kilowatt Ham Radio Rigs. 240 rated recepticals and wiring are all built to a much higher Standard than the cheapo 110 volt duplex receptacles with push-in 14ga. wiring. often connected and/or spliced with wire nuts.

Tony in Venice Florida

AudioBang's picture

Benefits of 240VAC vs 120VAC:

Eliminating ground-based neutral with its parasitic ground loops
See Bill Whitlock's Grounding whitepaper -
https://www.jensen-transformers.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/generic-seminar.pdf

If you have large power amps with lengthy power feeds, converting the amps to 240VAC is like upgrading from a 10AWG to 7AWG and there will be a definite improvement in listenability - ease, better defined bass, wider imaging...
After converting to 240V and hearing the difference on my Krell amps I changed out about 40' or so of 10AWG to 6AWG and got another similar jump in sound quality improvement.
The Vince Galbo/MSB AC Wiring whitepaper is a good resource on this -
https://www.msbtechnology.com/faq/house-power/

Rich M
Avon, CT

Jack L's picture

Hi.

It depends on the current load & the cable run.

As per NEC (stranded copper@75C, 45%-100% power factor) for say 30A load current, 110V60Hz the longest cable run should be within 25 feet. For cable run up to 50ft, AWG#6 should be used.

But for 240V60Hz, the cable run can be extended to 50 feet.

Sorry, my NEC handbook does not show any AWG#7 exist !?

Better sound or not will be another story.

Jack L

AudioBang's picture

What was said is "converting the amps to 240VAC is like upgrading from a 10AWG to 7AWG". Perhaps I should have referenced the exact verbiage in the referenced AC Wiring whitepaper - "Because the amp is now running at twice the voltage but half the amps (current) the wall wiring looks twice as thick to the amp as it does at 120 volt (ohms law)." Or perhaps better said in my own words, "would be effectively lowering the wire gauge by three sizes."

Additionally, the AC Wiring whitepaper makes clear that this is about lowering wire resistance to improve transient current delivery not about NEC specifications/recommendations based on maximum steady state current and breaker size.

I've communicated with Vince about his recommended wire gauge chart that in my case, I went from 10AWG to the whitepaper's recommended 8AWG and then to 6AWG and found that the jump in SQ from 8AWG to 6AWG was the same in magnitude as going from 10AWG to 8AWG.
"Better sound or not" IS The STORY.

I hope you are not trying to create a pissing match with me.

Jack L's picture

Hi

To avoid misunderstanding by the readers out there, please be more specific (or precise) in your interpreting of whoever's white papers re yr "240VAC" topic.

Sorry, me being in the electrical engineering industries for decades dealing with electrical engineers in hydro/nuclear power plants day in day out, we talked basing on electrical data as there was no room for guessing.

Are you sure you interpreted correctly the white paper; "lowering wire resistance to improve TRANSIENT CURRENT delivery" ??

Before I going to tell you what cable electrical properties affecting the "transient current " delivery in a cable. Let me tell you from NEC handbook re resistance of AWG#10 & #6 power cables:

Depending on the no. of strands built up the power cable, AWG#10 measured 1.15 - 1.26 ohms per 1,000 ft run, & #6 = 0.386 - 0.444 ohms per 1,000ft. So for home audio, the DC resistance in such short short run of power cable from the wall outlet does NOT matter at all to the "transient current delivery", OK !

When the cable with AC current running through it, forms a complex AC circuit: electrically DC resistance, inductance & capacitance which forms "characteristic impedance" of the cable against the AC current passing thru it.

On top of such AC impedance, the insulation shell covering the cable also cause delay to the "transient current delivery" depending on the materials used to build the shell.

Ideally vacuum = 1 with absolutely no insulation dielectric delay.
Next best is AIR = no insulation. Most common insulation material used for electrical use is PVC : 2.03 or delayed by 50%.

For HIFi audio use, we always go for audio cables insualated with polyester PE (2nd to air !!), then Teflon TFE/FEP, then polypropylene PP. Much better sound but more expensive.

FYI, the 99.99% pure silver interconnects I use air as primary insulation & Teflon as secondary insulation = minimum music signal delay !

Jack L

-Rudy-'s picture

I'm curious...and maybe a little concerned. When I got a small backup generator for the house (big enough to run furnace, fridge, chargers and some lamps), I made certain to get an inverter. A generator creates only a rough sine wave output, whereas an inverter converts it to DC and then regenerates its own cleaner AC. Not so much for an audio system, but many appliances and HVAC systems today use some form of computer for their controls, and the dirty power from a plain generator (vs. a clean inverter) can possibly cause issues.

Not knowing exactly which Generac you purchased, I'm hoping it was an inverter. More expensive, but possibly "cheaper" in the long run if your household electronics are getting clean power.

(And yes, I'd still us a PS Audio regenerator even if I were using an inverter...although when the power's out, I keep my "big" system powered down and unplugged from the wall until power is restored.)

hb72's picture

.. the generator / inverter topic better.

Jack L's picture

Hi

The problem is so often the power downs & backs up again in fraction of a second. Such intermittent power interruptions occur so fast to do damage to sensitive instruments beyond our notice. This happens so often in my areas.

Jack L

Charles E Flynn's picture

How different surge protectors respond to a surge (Video: 4 min. 13 sec.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqR4N9LH0Qs&t=67s

Jack L's picture

Hi

Some specifying engineers specify 1 nanosecond (1/1000x1million second)
for surge protectors response time !!

It depends on AC suppression technologies, MOV, SLSD, etc etc. Though some protectors manufacturers claim the suppressors they use can responds so fast, the entre protectors will responds much much slower down to picosceonds due to inter-reaction of the inductance of the cable
leads inside.

Jack L

Charles E Flynn's picture

Jack L,

Thanks for the info about advanced surge suppressors.

Since my electrical outlets have no ground connections, I should not be making use of surge suppressors that dump the surge to the ground wire.

Years ago, a neighbor had a direct lighting strike on her apartment. All of her electronics were destroyed. In my apartment, across the hall, the electronics that were plugged into Zero Surge devices had no damage, and the few that were not wound up being replaced.

Jack L's picture

Hi

Yes, lightning is the nature instantaneous killer for whatever/whoever.

As per on-site real-time power surge monitor research by IBM as presented in IEEE, some 39.5% (if I still remember correctly) damage in electronics in USA is done by lightning.

Scary !!!

Jack L

PS: take shelter instantly when golfing in case lightning strikes !

Hans Christian Christensen's picture

Of course there is difference in cable sound. Some more, some less compared to each other.
The Germans have now a way to measure the sound of cables.
See the link here: https://www.lowbeats.de/messungen-fuer-lautsprecherkabel-neue-testmethode/
So that sould shut up the misbelievers/ also called the people that needs hearingimplants.
Speakercable gives sometimes less than interconnect, but digital and powercables is the place where you can upgrade much, for a few dollars or euros.
I use Xindak PC-03 power cable. Price around 130 euro, and the more expensive one from Xindak, is not worth its money.

Regards from Denmark

Jack L's picture

Hi.

BINGO ! You got critical ears like mine !

Jack L

davemill's picture

I posted my very positive impressions regarding the addition of a Shunyata Research Denali 6000/S v2, Sigma XC, and 2 Alpha v2 NR power cables to their Revel Owner Thread. I honestly said that this change made the difference of me liking my Revel F228Be's versus replacing them. I was called a shill even though I said that I have no vested interest in the sales of Shunyata products. They are doing very well without my input. Anyway, my posts were deleted and I was banned from posting to that forum. I appealed but was not given the ability to post again.

At the time I posted, they were discussing the concern of being exposed to beryllium. I guess this should have been a clue that this is an very odd group or they wanted to make an excuse for not buying a Revel with a beryllium tweeter because they can't afford it.

davemill's picture

I find it interesting that Michael spoke with someone from AudioQuest regarding his power issue and ended up with a couple of PS Audio power regenerators! This scenario may represent a fairly extreme power issue but I can't help to wonder how a pair of AQ Niagara's would have performed whose price would be similar.

My money would be on one Shunyata Research Everest with an Omega power cable. This assumes its 8 outlets and central location would meet the needs of the system. Overall price for this distributor and cable is $15K.

scottsol's picture

Michael was already using AQ Niagara units before the backup power generator was installed.

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