Analog Corner #315: The Electrical Cure

A 50-year-old corroded meter box with aluminum wire.

Rex Hungerford, Edward DeVito, and Craig Bradley rode into town last week and, together with Audioquest's Garth Powell, solved all the electrical problems that have plagued my audio system for years.

Garth Powell, a name familiar to many Stereophile readers, is AudioQuest's electricity guru and designer of the Niagara series of power conditioners; he is also responsible for the company's line of AC and signal cables. Bradley is a local electrician and audio enthusiast who has done electrical work for me in the past, including replacing dedicated lines—one for the low-power signal components and another for the amplifiers—with a single line, hoping that might solve years of annoying ground hum and other noise issues. You'd think the ground potential would be almost nothing between two sets of adjacent AC jacks on the same circuit, but the ground potential between the jacks remained unusually high, and the hum wasn't gone.

I had tried many times to troubleshoot and fix my ground-loop problem; once, I even sought help from a highly regarded New York City studio-tech wizard. But I had put the problem on hold until, for reasons unrelated to audio performance, I installed a backup generator (footnote 1). The transfer switch inserted in the line damaged the sound to the point where reviewing audio equipment would have been impossible. It was, as Powell described it, the "straw that broke the camel's back."

Two PS Audio Power Plant AC regenerators got me through, a P15 and a P20—many thanks to PS Audio for the loan. But the regenerators merely masked the problem; I needed a "ground up" solution, no pun intended.

Last winter, Hungerford and DeVito emailed me, having read about my electricity issues in those previous columns. They offered to fly in from their Seattle-area home base to investigate.

Hungerford is a master electrician, licensed in Washington state. DeVito owns commercial fishery businesses in Alaska and Maine and is also a high-performance audio dealer, specializing in power-related products including his own Audio-Ultra Performance Series Power Distribution box. Both are avid audiophiles. Both are obsessed with electrical infrastructure quality, and they're eager to spread the electrical-upgrade gospel.

While the two collaborated on my project and may occasionally work together again ("sort of like Mick and Keith," DeVito joked), they later told me that they've started operating independently; see footnote 2 for their contact information.

By the time Hungerford and DeVito emailed, I'd already arranged with my auxiliary generator contractor to bypass the transfer switch with a direct line from the meter box to a new, dedicated subpanel in the utility room adjacent to my listening space. This setup would bypass the transfer switch and the rest of my home's wiring. A win-win, I thought.

During that dead-of-winter visit, Hungerford inspected the property and examined the house's electrical infrastructure inside and outside, starting on my roof where the Rockland Electric line from the transformer across the street connects to the mast running down the side of the house into the recently installed, Wi-Fi–enabled "smart" electrical meter. "The wires are rubbing on the roof," he shouted down from the ladder. "That's not good!" A subsequent inspection indicated no apparent wear.

The meter was new, but everything else out there was old. Hungerford removed the meter box cover and pointed out the heavily corroded aluminum mast wires and corroded clamps to which they were attached nearly 50 years ago when the house was built (for a family named Kuzma; probably related, Franc commented in an email). The old-style meter box clamp had a single ridged contact point. "All of the electricity in your home first goes through that corroded clamp's tiny ridge," Hungerford said, adding "You don't think you hear that?" He also pointed out uncovered outdoor AC receptacles that he said probably "sparked" when wet; that, too, would produce line noise.

Hungerford inspected the auxiliary generator system contractor's work and declared it very well done, which is what I thought he'd find, since the same people replaced our heating and air conditioning systems a decade earlier and did excellent work. "Of course, it meets code and is a very nice job, but code isn't sufficient for what we are after," Hungerford said, precisely mirroring something Powell had told me earlier.

"What are we after?" I asked sheepishly. Well, I could try this: Both Hungerford and DeVito suggested getting Rockland Electric, my power company, to replace the pole-mounted transformer across the street, which serves my home and about a half-dozen others, with a heavy-duty one that I would pay for. DeVito said he'd convinced his power company to do that, but since mine had been replaced within the past decade—and because success seemed like a longshot—I decided not to approach Rockland with a transformer-replacement request.

1121acorny.2

New meter box minus new copper wire, below which is the new main breaker box.

With that idea nixed, Hungerford lit up and laid it all out, starting with a full copper wire strike (mast) replacement to a new meter box (footnote 3). He pointed out the sloppy ground connections, including crimped-wire connections that combined aluminum and copper—a definite no-no, he said. He noted several small, close-to-the-foundation ground rods, which he also didn't like seeing. When he was finished laying out the plan's general contours and a few obsessive specifics, I said to him and DeVito "If I call my contractor, who provided a meticulous and carefully considered plan based on NJ electrical code, and lay this all out to him, I can tell you what his response will be. He'll say, 'Are you f*ckin' kiddin' me? I ain't doin' that!'" I ran all of this by Garth Powell. He was impressed and had a few other ideas. He asked me to connect him with Hungerford.

Hungerford's energy and passion for the subject reminded me of Powell's. They were on the same page. For two days, electricity was all Hungerford wanted to talk about. Get Powell started, and he could only do likewise. When I tried to change the subject—to learn, at one point, what else fired Hungerford's passion—the conversation snapped immediately back to the grid or grounding or electricity-based war stories. Fortunately for me, I love obsessed people. Go figure.

I was a little bit concerned about the two of them working as a team. I expected one of two outcomes. Either Hungerford and Powell would get along well, and Hungerford would incorporate some of Powell's ideas for an even better result, or a high-voltage feud would ensue accompanied by a thermonuclear mind-meld explosion.

They got along well.

Powell provided Hungerford with some ideas that he—Hungerford—liked a great deal. Hungerford gave Powell the benefit of his in-the-field experience, which helped produce a more practical game plan.

A few days after Hungerford and DeVito flew home, I submitted a conceptual version of the new plans to the contracting company Air Group.

I got a phone call from the head of the electrical department, with whom I'd dealt more than a few times over the years. We were on friendly terms. After reviewing the plans, he replied, and I quote: "You f*ckin' kiddin' me? We ain't doing that!"

Bradley, though, was definitely up for it, and his involvement was consistent with how Hungerford and DeVito are used to doing business. After plans are drawn up, the customer hires a licensed electrician to do the work, with Hungerford or DeVito (or a member of DeVito's team) supervising.

On April 1, Hungerford sent a superdetailed plan for bypassing the transfer switch that included replacing the existing electrical service with a new copper mast running from the utility strike on the roof to the new meter distribution box.

1121acorny.3

The new indoor utility room subpanel.

A new 3R panel (footnote 4) mounted directly below the meter box would become the house's new main distribution panel, feeding both the original 200A main distribution panel in my office and a subpanel installed in the utility room a decade ago when we renovated the kitchen. Both of those panels would now become subpanels.

A new copper feeder branch would be run in a PVC conduit across the side of the house from the 3R box into the utility room, to a new subpanel holding four 20A branch circuits dedicated solely to the audio system (footnote 5). In other words, the new feeder branch would service only the audio system and completely bypass the noise-producing home electrical infrastructure including the air conditioner, the pool pump, the heating and hot water system, internet, and cable TV. Of course it would also bypass the transfer switch and generator system, the original goal.


Footnote 1: In Analog Corner #307, I wrote, "After years of frequent power outages due to wind and snowstorms, we decided we were done with losing power and that gasoline-powered generators were a royal pain in heavy snow. We—my wife and I—bit the bullet and ordered a 22kW natural gas–powered generator. A few days ago, the workers arrived to install it." For more of the story, see AnalogCorner #308.

Footnote 2: Rex Hungerford: Web: kingrexelectric.com. Ed DeVito: Web: audio-ultra.com. AudioQuest: Web: audioquest.com. Bradley Electric Inc. (for NJ residents only) craig.bradley@verizon.net.

Footnote 3: The following description is provided for guidance only. All electrical work described herein was done to code by a licensed electrician.

Footnote 4: The "3R" designation indicates that the enclosure has been certified by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) to provide protection for wiring and junction boxes against falling rain, sleet, snow, and external ice formation outdoors but that it does not have a gasketed seal.

Footnote 5: There are now two panels in my utility room. The new one services only my hi-fi system and the home theater system upstairs.

ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
MatthewT's picture

Been looking forward to reading this. The comments are going to be intersting.

CG's picture

Watched the video, and I couldn't help but admire the professionalism of everybody involved.

Except for Fremer, I mean "Freamer", of course...

~~~~

https://centralindianaaes.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/indy-aes-2012-seminar-w-notes-v1-0.pdf

This light reading offers some additional insight into what Mikey wrote about, authored by somebody not attached to this particular project. It doesn't address the subject of nasty signals above the audio band very much, so that's an exercise for the reader as they used to say.

For the hard core objectivists who might be reading this, I'll note that much of these effects can actually be measured if one has the interest.

thatguy's picture

I wish I'd gone to school to be an electrician, there is just something so cool about a well done job like that.

jcanavari's picture

agreed

Archimago's picture

"Moving the home theater circuit to the new subpanel produced a profound improvement; even my hearing-impaired, 92-year-old mother-in-law heard it."

If this is the case, I would be salivating to grab measurements of this level of improvement if in fact this is true and not some kind of confirmation bias. If a hearing-impaired person can perceive this, then obviously it must be grossly quantifiable.

What equipment are we talking about in the home theater system? What improvements did the 92 year old hear? (Noise? frequency extension?)

For this kind of dramatic improvement, the modern, technically astute, discerning audiophile really should be asking for evidence that this is somehow true so we can understand what piece of equipment actually improved (DAC? amplifier?), and magnitude of the improvement. Then we can perhaps learn something about what the problem was (ie. was it for sure a ground loop? 60Hz hum? DC offset affecting amp fixed? Lowering of amplifier distortion when played loud? etc...) and whether the demonstrated improvement really is worth the effort if we lived in an older home potentially needing this kind of electrical work.

ChrisS's picture

Measurements should have been made before, then after the work was done...

Q: Ma!

A: What? You talkin' to me?

Q Yeah, I'm talkin' to you! Who else? What did you hear?

A: What? You talkin' to me? What did you ask?

Q: Yeah, I'm talkin' to you! What did you hear? Did you hear the music?

A: What? What music?

Etc.

Michael Fremer's picture

Actually what we did was, we sat her down for three hours of excruciating double blind audio tests with A being the old electricity, B being the new service and X being an episode of "Ozzie and Harriet". Could she hear the differences "blind"? And more importantly distinguish between Ozzie and Harriet. Unfortunately she passed away from the stress after only four hours. Actually, what happened was, we watch TV with her once a week while we eat dinner together. We've been watching The Crown and she needed closed captioning to understand what was being said at a particular level on the Marantz AV8801 driving a Parasound A-51 power amplifier. Speakers are 5.1 by Joachim Gerhard with an Adam Audio subwoofer. After the upgrade we watched an episode at the same SPL level and at first I had forgotten to engage the closed caption but she said she had no trouble understanding the dialogue, which you didn't have to measure to hear was clearer and that the sound of the system had seriously improved. Of course without following your suggestions, who would know anything about anything? But she has had a far easier time hearing dialog and I hear the improvement too as I do down in my listening room where I don't have to turn things up quite as loud and I can hear further into the sonic picture. I realize that unless I produce evidence and provide it to you to your satisfaction, nothing I claim can possibly be worthy of your attention and I fully accept that, nor could I care less. P.S.: if you actually read the article, which you clearly didn't, or watched the video, you'd know that there was an awful ground loop issue among other audible problems that I've been dealing with for years that are finally solved.

JHL's picture

The subjective Objectivist - a virtually inseparable relationship - assumes and then asserts and then projects that everything can be measured. We've all heard it: "If it's audible it can be measured" is the dogmatic boilerplate.

Well, no. That's a far-fetched theory and it escapes pragmatic application. Regardless, it then falls to the target Subjectivist - and his objective explorations - to disprove, an inversion of logic.

Good reply. Take no prisoners.

thatguy's picture

This is just another example of people being so on edge and ready to attack that they don't bother taking in the information. If only we could listen and take in what is being said rather than immediately turning all our brain power to forming what we want to say next.

Solving a bad electrical supply is completely different than any form of trying to improve a good electrical supply. Yet it gets argued against the same as if someone were saying that their perfectly quiet equipment on a well setup power system got better by doing a magic dance.

Jack L's picture

Hi

Multi grounding must be done with discrete or it would be fatal.

Whatever no. of ground rods are placed to reduce the grounding impedance, ALL ground rods MUST be connnected eventually to the GROUND cable of the street post service entry stepdown transformer. This is NEC code to save life in case of lightning.

I read a report of a horse story of remote grounding of a demo room audio equipment in an audio show. To reduce ground noise, the demo room guy was too "smart" to have planted a remote ground rod into the ground for the grounding of the demo audio rig. But it was a dangerous act against NEC code.

Later the audio show managment discovered it & rectified it. The "too smart" demo guy was dismissed immediately !!

Jack L

Charles E Flynn's picture

Why does the NEC no longer allow aluminum branch circuit wiring to be installed, but aluminum service entrance cables are permitted?

So far, I have seen nobody use a torque wrench when making connections that involve screws, even though too much or too little torque results in greater electrical resistance.

hnphnp's picture

My guess is that Aluminum wiring even though it is a very good conductor, it needs proper termination or else it has high impedance connection points that can result in excessive heat, or arcing. Plus dissimilar metals touching will induce galvanic corrosion...
Many aluminum branch wiring jobs have led to failure or worse, fire, because homeowners too often connected aluminum to copper without proper connectors or termination.
Same reason why knob-and-tube wiring is outlawed. It is safe until you connect to it improperly and then...
Anyway, aluminum is probably allowed on main feeds because the assumption is that licensed electricians know how to connect and terminate it properly, and dis-allowed on branch connections because (a) people don't know how to terminate it or connect it properly and (b) most devices like outlets and switches are for copper only nowadays.

Charles E Flynn's picture

Thank you. I had not been aware of the issue of proper connectors being needed for connecting aluminum to copper.

From https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/516.pdf :

ALUMINUM WIRING

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff and other government officials have investigated numerous hazardous incidents and fires throughout the nation involving aluminum branch circuit wiring. A national survey conducted by Franklin Research Institute for CPSC showed that homes built before 1972, and wired with aluminum, are 55 times more likely to have one or more wire connections at outlets reach “Fire Hazard Conditions”1 than homes wired with copper. That survey encompassed only the wire connections at outlets. It did not address other types of aluminum wire connections and splices in homes that are also prone to fail. No information was developed for aluminum-wired homes built after 1972.

The fire hazard investigated by CPSC occurs at connections with aluminum wire, including receptacles or switches and junction boxes; or the hazards occur with major appliances, including dishwashers or furnaces, for example. There are several deterioration processes in aluminum wire connections that cause increased resistance to the flow of electric current, resulting in damage that is cumulative in effect. That increased resistance causes overheating, sometimes at hazardous levels, when current is flowing in the circuit.

Jack L's picture

Hi

Like it or not, long distance overhead HV (700Kv -130KV) power transmission is generally done with steel reinforced BARE aluminum cables.

Aluminum is used as it is much lighter than copper & resistance to weather corrosion vs copper. Thereofore huge saving in building the power cable towers & replacement/maintenance of the aluminum cables.

Jack L

Charles E Flynn's picture

Thank you. If the transmission cables were copper, we might see some really foolish attempted theft.

Jack L's picture

Hi

Copper? No way. Way way too expensive than aluminum let alone copper's much heavier weight & inviting theft.

BTW, overhead power transmission was part of my job description. I still recall many years back, I got to phone call from a field engineer of a local hydro power company, requesting for help to fix a local area
blackout URGENTLY ! An overhead powerline from a substatation to the local distribution grid snapped dues to high winds or whatever!!

So miles of those steel reinforaced bare alumimum cable (ACSR) had to be replaced urgently to get the power back up to that affected area ASAP.

I asked what type of cable?? The answer I got was: "I don't know !!"
Frankly I woukd not be surprised the so called engineer did not know at all. So I requested a sample of the short length of the down cable.

I received it in an hour by courier. I measured the diameter of the aluminum cable & conductors count, & then cross-referenced it to the NEC specs. I got it.

I knew where to find such 'birdy' cable (all ACSR get a codename of a bird) from warehouse stock. That's my expertise invaluable to blackout instant solution.

By hook or by crook, the miles-length replacemnet overhead power cable was on site in the next day morning. Surely I made some good money for my company for such urgent service .

Jack L

Charles E Flynn's picture

Thanks for an interesting story with a happy ending. The right man was in the right place at the right time.

daveyf's picture

This article hits home for me. A few years back I was having similar issues as MF. My electrical contractor suggested an upgrade from and including the street transformer( as suggested to MF). This is what we did, a new transformer was installed, new 500 amp wiring from the transformer to the new junction box, all new ground rods, and then dedicated and isolated lines into my room. The contractor showed me the connections at the old transformer, amazing that they passed current at all! To say this upgrade was expensive would be an understatement, as we had to dig up the street and the driveway of my property to get the new line in. However, as MF is finding out, the increase one gets in SQ is also very substantial, and IMO worth it.

Jack L's picture

Hi

It all depends.

If it was a standalone single house with no other house adjacent to it,
replacing the existing pole transformer for your house should not be a problem.

But if it was a busy city street where houses are built close to each other, then the stepdown 120+120V transformer is normally SHARED with 2 houses adjacent to each other. So replacing that transformer would involve the consent of the neighboring house.

Jack L

daveyf's picture

Jack, my house is a stand alone, not on a busy street with only one neighboring home sharing the transformer..and yes, the neighbor did approve ( why not, as I was paying the tab). The new transformer was an upgraded version with its own isolation box and mounted on an isolation base. ( Not on a pole). The old transformer ( about 20 years old) had corroded copper connectors, the new model has brass insulated connectors. All of this had to be permitted and installed by the electric Co. Like Mikey noted, it has to be at your expense.

Jack L's picture

..

tonykaz's picture

Your reviewing comments have been suspect because of your defective Power Systems.

The PS Audio P20 didn't mask your problem, it proved that you've been living with problems unrevealed.

All that sensitive audio gear needs a well engineered electrical system that gets regular engineering checks for performance degredation .

Computer gear probably needs isolation.

As you did a bargain Generator System you began a defect compounding.

Proper Generator Systems, like in use for Industry, are specific designs that work to established performance levels .

Homeowner systems are bargain basement noise makers.

You might've saved yourself considerable anxiety by simply investing in a Honda Generator hidden in your Garage ( if you have one ).

Your Electrical Power system kinda looks ametuer hour. You should be 220V for starters.

Tony in Venice Florida

MatthewT's picture

As soon as I read the article I knew what you would post.

tonykaz's picture

I'm an Electrical Engineer !

My Company, General Motors Detroit Diesel engine Div. were key suppliers to the Stationary Power Plant Industry.

This isn't an emotional Laughing matter.

but it seems...

... you can't reason on facts so you present derision.

Tony in Venice Florida

Michael Fremer's picture

What a foolish comment on so many levels. Don't read my reviews.

tonykaz's picture

You haven't shown, described, revealed any of the essential elements for establishing & maintaining a reliable instrument grade Electrical System.

You've spent considerable funds to create a mess. ( good enough for Washing Machines and presumably up-to local Fire Codes )

Tony in Florida

bikerider1001's picture

Or very observant.

Picture #2 clearly shows a 220V system. There are two hots, a neutral, and a ground headed away from the drop, towards the house.

Picture #3 shows a SUB PANEL apparently wired to only one leg of the system. I assume (yes, I know what assume means) that this is so all the electrical components share the same 110V leg, eliminating any issues that may arise from a system using two different legs.

partain's picture

I know less than nothing about the power grid and am likely way out in left field , but , if it were me , I'd try a system totally separate from the grid , except for recharging , based on a Tesla Powerwall battery or something similar . When you're using your hifi , disconnect from the grid entirely and use quality rectification , if that's the term . How could that energy not be clean and stable ?

Michael Fremer's picture

say the inverters needed to turn battery D.C. to A.C. create all kinds of issues...same with solar....so there's that..

partain's picture

I suspect that a single conversion unit must inherently be better than the myriad distribution units and abuses the energy receives on the way to your house .

Jack L's picture

Hi

Bingo !

That's why I've installed a 500A car battery to power the heaters of the twin-triodes of my design/built phono-linestage. 100% electrically separated from the grid power except charging. Pure DC for hours & hours music listening!

Jack L

Robin Landseadel's picture

So it's safe to say your electrical system was sufficiently messed up before this transformation that we should ignore all your previous reviews here?

tonykaz's picture

....note demanding I do his Engineering Work for him or STFU !!!

He alleges that his reviews are for Home Owners.

I don't care about Mr. MF !

I'm reacting to the hubris of the Status & Ego driven Analog promoters.

Analog is wonderful for the old school few that still have their Synapses tuned to Vinyl and ( or not ) de-tuned for format advancements that the entire rest of the Audio & Video World live and work in.

I'm an Analog guy, I own Vinyl and have been Analog since birth.

Recorded Analog is at Best a reflected and deteriorated echo of the virtuoso performance.

There has never been a Recording or a Music System equal to live.

Multi million dollar music systems playing music from storage mediums is a hopeful wish for a fiction to be some kind of real, it never will be.

but...

...it will generate a dopamine release and there-for acts as a mood altering drug.

Which explains the never ending chase for a better high that all this pricy gear is all about: Gear for musical dopamine addicts with deeeeeep pockets.

Regular folks get outstanding dopamine highs from quite average audiophile gear.

then:
There are those Medical People that buy all that Blue lighted Mcintosh Gear, thats Status chasing. It pays the bills for the Dealer Network.

Tony in Florida

ps. The PS Audio Powerplant is an Instrument Grade device

Jack L's picture

Hi

Too true !

But if one knows this audio game well enough like yours truly, you could save a bundle. I might one of some very few audio guys who don't go for brandnames.

Frankly, I switched from CD to vinyl only a few years back & I got much better sound than my CD/streaming which is now demoted to my second priority musc source. Yet I did not spend much money for such conversion at all.

'Cause I am a DIYer who knows enough to get quality sound without wrecking the wallet to finance brandname vendors.

Listening is believing

Jack L

tonykaz's picture

Geez Mr. Jack L , you've said it all.

You are a Virtuoso creator of music systems.

I love your comment and philosophies.

Tony in Florida

Jack L's picture

.

daveyf's picture

I reckon most posters here have never heard what an upgraded power supply to your home, that includes everything from a new transformer on etc., actually sounds like! MF is accurately describing this enormous difference in SQ, so to those who have no experience in something like this, I would say go out and try and hear a system with this 'power supply upgrade'...then come back and naysay, if you can!! Otherwise, maybe believe that the power supply to your system is paramount, and getting it right should be job 1...IMHO.

tonykaz's picture

You may be correct, or may not.

My origin home in Manitowoc Wi had marginal energy supplies, then suddenly got an un-announced significant improvement in Energy Delivery..

Homes here in 'Florida seem to have Electric as their only source of energy and therefore have 220 Volts accessible in rooms. Audio gear functions much better on the higher voltages ( I contend )

Newer homes seem to have a much higher level of electrical engineering applied to their energy systems.

Older homes can have Aluminium wiring with an abundance of poor screw fasteners, crappy duplex outlets being a standard feature of these price point homes. All duplex outlets should be upgraded to prevent any one of them from presenting a noisy connection.

It probably should be said that Vinyl playback is fundamentally simple , I think that it only takes 3 tubes and a moving magnet phono cartridge to play music. Vinyl itself is rather noisy ( in a pleasant way ) so a little bit of supply noise won't be bothersome.

however...

The guys at MSB & dcs have their hair on fire over supply noise, ambient noise, atmospheric noise and all manner of computer chip generated noises. Digit Music Reproduction is far more vulnerable to annoyances from these problems.

Not to worry, ( overly ) :

The entire civilised world is switching over from fossil energy to Solar. A whole new range of problems are about to confront us.

All this started with Ben Franklin flying kites in France 250 years ago !

Tony in Florida

Charles E Flynn's picture

The link in footnote 8 to the YouTube video with title "Major Electricity Upgrade From the Roof Down Produced Sonically Amazing Results!" does not work. It has "youtu.be" .

Jim Austin's picture
nt.
Charles E Flynn's picture

nt.

amco2000's picture

So much talk, so much time, and so many $$$ wasted on trying to achieve a high quality isolated power supply !!!
I live in the electrical supply ¨wild west¨ that is Peru, where the supply company delivers an industrial style Delta 3 phase domestic service, WITHOUT ANY Neutral or Earth, so everything is floating, noisy and subject to dangerous voltage fluctuations.

However, there is ONE basic, simple and obvious starting point that advances through 50-80% of all of the issues discussed, for a relatively modest cost:

1. install a generously rated isolation transformer (with its electrostatic interwinding shield) , to create a TOTALLY Isolated power supply circuit with an Active, Neutral and Earth connection, directly connected at the mains supply entry switchboard.
2. connect the Shield and Earth connection of the output of the transformer to a newly tested and independent ground rod.
3. run good quality independent 3-wire cable (optionally shielded) to a bank of power outlets for ALL Audio-Visual-Internet-Cable TV equipment
4. in the case of coaxially connected Internet or Cable TV, install coaxial cable isolators (about $10 from Amazon) to maintain TOTAL isolation including the entire set of online AV systems.
5. in the case of excessive power cuts or brownouts, optionally add a front up computer quality regulated sine wave UPS.

However, in these 21st century days, there is another simple solution, at least for house owners:: that is a totally separate emergency solar power system circuit for 1 KW or 3 ... also gaining colateral emergency benefits. Note that an isolation transformer also provides significant protection against incoming spikes and sub-second ups and downs.

I am indeed perplexed in reading such a novelistic saga of $$$ solutions by $$$ guru experts, while missing such simple, basic and fundamental issues. Oh well, I guess this is why some guys spend $1000s on PS Audio Power Plants, while¨lost in a lost world¨ , as the great Moody Blues might say ...

PS:: interesting comment by another reader: if suffering such bespokedly terrible power problems, are all the equipment reviews to date severely compromised - Oops !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ?????????????????????

Timbo in Oz's picture

I live in Australia, where the AC MAINS standard is 230V (+/- 10V) @ 50Hz, 10Amps. And there are three cables in each power lead, one of which is GROUND.

BUT - my turntable has a dual-core power cord. And the CDP, and the Tuner and VHS-Hi-Fi VCR - which I use to record concerts from FM.

I did try a large isolating transformer on the AC mains, once, but it made no difference.

The main system is in bits at present, but it was and will still be quite complex. QUAD 63s HP filtered -asymmetrically to the LP filters for the subs.
I'll use several 1/3rd octave Eq'rs to precisely Eq the bass from each sub - they'll be in an array ala Duke le-Jeune. Peaks only as dips in room response are a tail-chase.

With careful use of single earthing cables, when a problem arose, all three systems are now dead quiet. One of them is for HT and TV, and it's in the family-room/kitchen. It's not a big house but it IS as 'green' as I could make it. It faces North and runs due east west +/- 5 degrees. Hard to resist! Northern Hemisphere homes are best facing South.

I've never had any persistent AC mains noise problems on any of the three systems in the house.

Hum? Due to poor placing of LONG pre-to-power-amp cables, near a mains cord.

LBNLeast/ There's a solid-copper 8ft earthing-rod outside, banged into the soil - after a week's wetting into a hole I dug. To which the FM and TV antenna's are earthed, as are all three audio systems.

Overkill?! We get a fair few Summer thunderstorms with lightning strikes, so I got serious. And, we are quite close to the Snowy Mountains and close-enough to the Great Southern Ocean to get high winds.

Lightning strikes are a major cause of bushfires down here, along with the occasional fire-storms.

So the heavy duty coax FM and TV cables have lightning arrestors in-line, that I can open and replace the breaker diodes.

Tim Bailey

Stevens's picture

Had my system reinstalled from the street and the entire house rewired. The incoming power has to be buried underground, then comes up through an armoured pipe into a box containing the meter and isolator that has to fixed to an external brick wall. The supply then feeds into the house underground encased in concrete to the three consumer units, in their own cupboard, a short 3m run. All the cabling to the consumer units goes through steel conduits. Earth loop impedance of 0.49 ohms would be a fail under our regulations, 0.35 ohms is required and I think mine measures 0.19 ohms. I have it wired as three single phases with the audio on a supply otherwise only used for the car charger, and a dedicated cable feeding a single socket for the audio, also buried in concrete, shielded with a drain cable to ground. I didn’t need any gurus, I used a firm of fully qualified electricians, they also rewired the rest of the house and a new kitchen, and it cost less than Mr Fremer.

Jack L's picture

Hi

All cables concealed inside masony/concrete must be run inside steel conduits. This is the universal electrical code.

You need powerline conditioner to filter off RFI/EMI contaminated the powerline leading to the "single socket for audio" from the service entry powerline outside the house.

Ideally, do not share any analogue equipment with any digtial equipment on the SAME power outlet or 'socket'. Because all digitals emiit RFI/EMI noises into the powerline once switched on & will in turn go into any analogue equipment sharing the same power outlet/socket.

I detect such RFI/EMI surges using my wideband EMI/powerline noise digital meter. Noooo kidding.

That's why my dedicated powerline hooked up direct from my house electric panel is subdivided into 2 main circuits: one exclusively for analogues & one exclusiviely for digital only. Each circuit I installed RFI/EMI inline filter. So no more RF noise 'cross-talks'.

Jack L

Stevens's picture

Which universe? In the UK we bury cables indoors under concrete screed in flexible plastic conduit.

The power socket feeds a mains conditioner that has cross-contamination isolation, with pairs of isolated sockets.

The point being, getting power right, especially a new or reinstated installation, should not require any audio gurus, but just good properly qualified electricians. My guys do large complex hotels, doing a house is not rocket science. The only additional expenditure I incurred for audio purposes was about 100ft of screened cable with a drain (NeoTech and Belden) at a cost of about $500 to provide 3 independent feeds to my audio, AV and modem.

Jack L's picture

..... flexible plastic conduit." qtd Stevens.

Ia its British Standards? How can fleiable plastic conduits handle the load of the concrete ?? Rigid steel piping should be used for when embedded in the poured concrete slabs during construction.

I had been involved in many major commercial contruction projects overseas. BS specifies rigid steel conduuting for all electrical wiring when embedeed in the concrete !!

Jack L

Stevens's picture

https://www.tlc-direct.co.uk/Book/4.5.1.htm
It's as much to do with heat, corrosion and not bending cables.

Jack L's picture

Hi

Yes & No !

Yes, strictly for electrical wiring, an licesned electrician will do the job rignt.

No, this is for audio but not for lighting. So audio knowhow will be needed to get the best SOUND out of the electrical wiring.

Hence my post above re RFI/EMI power conditioning which is generally outside of scope of licensed electricians.

Jack L

Stevens's picture

Like most places in Europe, the UK has extremely rigorous electrical standards. Standard floor construction here involves substructure, membrane, 100mm insulation, you then put heating, water and electrical conduits on that and cover the whole thing with about 125mm of concrete screed. The heating and water pipes are PVC these days. The cable I used had a good shield and drain wire. The local authority sends out building inspectors to check everything as work progresses. I had to get the whole house rewired to get a certificate to get it insured. My electricians know about audio and supplied my stereo from a phase entirely separate from the rest of the house. Electricians doing quality domestic installations do a lot of AV and specialist installation work these days and know what is required, including power conditioning, which they wanted to do at the consumer unit. They also know every letter of the electrical code, which I doubt Mr Fremer's gurus do, as they run audio companies and are not full time electricians. They also ran both copper and fibre ethernet cables because they told me my Mesh system would not work properly and they were right.

I don't know why audiophiles think themselves so special. The requirements are pretty basic given the stuff experienced qualified electricians have to do these days.

Jack L's picture

Hi

Nada, my friend. PVC pipes buried in concrete ??? Scary !!

In USA & Canada for example, only COPPER pipes are used to run hot/cold potable water in residential premises.

For storm waters & waste waters discharge, plastic pipes are used.

Jack L

Stevens's picture

It's a bit more sophisticated than PVC: Crosslinked polyethylene PE-Xb internal layer, internal bonding layer, intermediate aluminium layer, external bonding layer, high density polyethylene HDPE external layer. It's a European Standard.

It's easier to work with, flexible, more reliable and a third the price of copper. I assume it's the same as the pipe used in underfloor heating, can easily cope with a layer of concrete.

Copper is still used various places, but for long runs this stuff is much better and cheaper.

Jack L's picture

.

X