Fine Tunes #11 Page 2

If you do, using the techniques described above and in February's "Fine Tunes," locate a pair of outlets on separate legs of positive phase. (Measuring from hot to hot, a voltmeter hooked up to receptacles on separate legs will read around 240V, on the same phase near 0V.) You see the beauty of it? Running each monoblock from opposite sides of your building's 220V center-tap transformer (fig.1) gives you balanced power for exactly zero outlay! Noise and other garbage riding the lines as rogue currents are canceled by their out-of-phase selves: common-mode rejection. Running on both phases of positive, the amps draw equal current, but that current draw is symmetrical either side of ground. In essence, you get all the benefits of balanced power without buying an additional transformer.

Powering monoblock amplifiers from separate 110V phases of the 220V entering the home equalizes current draw either side of ground potential. (Based on a drawing by Victor Tiscareno.)

The well-informed and dedicated audiophile (some will say obsessive) running monoblock amplifiers will want to install a pair of outlets from different legs of positive phase near the equipment and run those back to the breaker box without any other outlets on the lines. (Code calls for three wire hookups on each receptacle: hot, neutral, and ground. As long as the BX cables are the same lengths, the ground potentials will be the same.) Once again, if any question remains, consult an electrician! This is your audiophile brain on 220V, okay? Be well, and fryeth not.

How does this apply to your stereo amp or front-end? Unless you have monoblocks, you have to purchase an additional 220V transformer that---all together now---takes its balanced power from both sides of the utility transformer. Thank you. You may recall that this was recommended by George Cardas in the March "Fine Tunes." Thing is, you typically want a transformer capable of four times the maximum draw of the associated component(s); you can see where that becomes a problem with stonking great amplifiers. By the same token, it's less of a problem for your front-end. And while we're talking about spending money, there are always the Audio Power Industries Ultra Wedges to consider---see Wes Phillips' review in April.

I mentioned before that noise is produced each time the line is cut and another outlet is added to the daisy chain. The higher the quality of the hardware, the lower the contact resistance. Victor Tiscareno posits that the heavier-gauge wire and superior terminations found in most expensive, audiophile power cords are the major causes of the improvements in sound. He's doubtful, however, that differences in sound quality are due to the different filtering effects of the different cords, as many have postulated.

"Filtering would be very minimal at high frequencies," he says. "It's more the quality of the hardware, the gauge of wire, and the combination thereof, plus the inductance of the plug itself. That's why the last 6' before your equipment are so important in comparison to the 300' or so that Con Ed puts before it!"

It's also why, if you're willing to part with a few dollars, you might want to install high-grade outlets along the full length of your chosen dedicated line. That's still only about $60 for four outlets---not much for a good deal of expensive-sounding improvement.

Warning: In March, I mentioned that George Cardas was experimenting with an AC generator driven by a "big mutha" battery. Readers should remember that lead-acid batteries can vent hydrogen when charging---keep them outside!