How do I know if my current AC is good or bad?

3rdRock

New Member
Sep 11, 2018
11
1
3
Nashville, TN
#1
Even with the Volume control on my system turned to Max (with no source playing), I hear no buzz, pops, clicks, hash, noise, etc.
coming from my speakers... completely silent! However, after all I have been reading about this subject, I understand that it is
doubtful that the AC power coming off my mains is as pristine as it seems. So how do I know if my system would benefit from
having any AC power correction (conditioner, isolation transformer, regenerator, etc.)
 
Oct 1, 2010
932
8
18
Cleveland Ohio
#2
If you have well designed audio equipment, any reasonable power line quality should be just fine. Most power line quality problems are intermittent in nature. Most things that cause problems (like motors, appliances & HVAC) switch on and off from time to time. So if your audio suddenly changes and then later returns to normal, that's a sign of power line problems.
 
Oct 12, 2013
1,650
13
38
Essex UK
#4
AC mains quality depends a lot on the age of your ac installation.
If it is modern and the wiring does not need replacing there should not be a problem.
EMI/RFI are more common problems and you get emi being generated as soon as you turn your system on.In an apartment block other residents EMI/RFI pollutes the mains.
It normally manifests itself as a haze or a veil between you and the music and Entreq/Tripoint ground boxes and cables are very effective. You should be able to hear the improvements they make almost immediately and certainly within the first 10 minutes. The full effect takes about 48 hours to full operation with Entreq but longer with the more expensive Tripoints.
You should be able to demo it at home on a sale or return basis,
 

Folsom

VIP/Donor
Oct 26, 2015
2,822
67
48
Eastern WA
#5
Grounding boxes don't remove any noise. They may change the sound in a way you like, but it isn't from noise removal.

Try some power conditioning. See if it works out. It's all personal preference. If you don't like it, don't use it.
 

3rdRock

New Member
Sep 11, 2018
11
1
3
Nashville, TN
#7
So... the only way to tell if my AC is less than optimal is to get a power conditioner and try it in my system? I guess I was looking for some preliminary evidence of an actual problem before pursuing a solution.
 
Oct 12, 2013
1,650
13
38
Essex UK
#8
Leaving aside, for the moment at least, the benefits or otherwise of grounding boxes and power conditioners which is amply rehearsed on other threads such as the Entreq Tellus thread , can I ask if you have asked any other audiophiles you may know what they think of your systems sound.
People do, of course, have different tastes and people in the trade are likely to have commercial motives, but an experienced audiophile is usually a good reference.
 

3rdRock

New Member
Sep 11, 2018
11
1
3
Nashville, TN
#9
Barry... Everyone that has heard my system (including two audiophiles) say my system is without a doubt, the best they have ever heard. That of course doesn't mean that it can't be better which is why I am currently concentrating on my AC power. Just got my first quality power cord (Shunyata Delta NR) which really opened up the soundstage as well as extending the frequency range. Waiting on delivery now of SR Blue fuses for amp & source electronics. Running on dedicated 15 & 20 amp AC lines now, but wondering if things would be even better with a conditioner, balanced isolation transformer, or regenerator. If my current power quality is good now, then I may be at a point of diminishing returns where a $5,000 to $10,000 investment reaps me only a minimal increase in performance. Such is the norm for this hobby!
 
Sep 4, 2017
103
1
18
#10
There are devices available that will measure line noise. One I've seen used is the Entech Powerline Noise Analyzer which will give a rough indication within limits. This one, sometimes used by dealers who sell power conditioning equipment, may now only be available used (<$100). Another is the Trifled Power Line Meter, which, I believe, costs a bit more.
 

Folsom

VIP/Donor
Oct 26, 2015
2,822
67
48
Eastern WA
#11
So... the only way to tell if my AC is less than optimal is to get a power conditioner and try it in my system? I guess I was looking for some preliminary evidence of an actual problem before pursuing a solution.
Tell us about the gear you have. I'll tell you which ones may be "sharing" with the others.

Even very small percentages can affect the sound. They *shouldn't* but they do.
 

RogerD

Active Member
May 23, 2010
3,187
6
38
BiggestLittleCity
#12
What size breaker is used on your circuit? If it is 20 amp and you indeed have no speaker hiss at max volume your probably fine. I use absolutely nothing from the socket to my system. I do use a grounding circuit that removes leakage from my system. I would not waste money on conditioning and other tweaks. I would try a star grounding circuit if you desire. I spent 400 dollars on my parallel circuit and it is the best money I have ever spent. I happen to have a neighbor who was a master electrician on a U.S. Submarine and he visited me recently. He looked at my system and commented..."you really have this grounded". I said yes and he said "no wonder this is so quiet....actually I have never heard anything like it". He also commented that a heavy ground is the only way to go. Pay no attention to people that say it changes the frequency spectrum to a more listenable sound. They don't know what the hell their talking about. Find a good electrician and he can inspect your mains panel if you have doubts. Good luck.
 

3rdRock

New Member
Sep 11, 2018
11
1
3
Nashville, TN
#13
GSOphile > Yes... I considered getting one of those inexpensive AC line analyzers but after researching them, discovered that a lot of the bad readings these devices reveal really have no impact on sound quality. (They are however, helpful to those selling power conditioners!)
 
Oct 12, 2013
1,650
13
38
Essex UK
#14
Barry... Everyone that has heard my system (including two audiophiles) say my system is without a doubt, the best they have ever heard. That of course doesn't mean that it can't be better which is why I am currently concentrating on my AC power. Just got my first quality power cord (Shunyata Delta NR) which really opened up the soundstage as well as extending the frequency range. Waiting on delivery now of SR Blue fuses for amp & source electronics. Running on dedicated 15 & 20 amp AC lines now, but wondering if things would be even better with a conditioner, balanced isolation transformer, or regenerator. If my current power quality is good now, then I may be at a point of diminishing returns where a $5,000 to $10,000 investment reaps me only a minimal increase in performance. Such is the norm for this hobby!
Thanks 3rdRock
On the face of it it doesn't seem to me that you have a mains problem
Power cables do make a difference and Shunyatas are widely and highly regarded. I have a number of the SR Blues and I am happy with them. I/c and speaker cables also are a good investment
If, as seems to be the case, you don't have a problem with mains quality I would prioritise upgraded cables over the mains products you mention.
I had an Audience Aspect passive power conditioner until recently when I changed it to a new Musical Bliss power block and the latter is much better, but it's only a small UK outfit so not a readily available option outside the UK. IME power conditioners are often as useful for their power block function as anything else and my research on regenerators, balanced transformers etc didn't persuade me of their value.
Although I have not heard it a number of members of this forum speak highly of the Shunyata Denali so you might like to explore that option . Within your price range and again should be available for a home demo.
I am a long time advocate of Entreq along with many members but others disagree as they have every right to. IME their products really do reduce the noise floor and lift the veils but I won't say more as it is all there on the Entreq thread, except that it's within budget.
I don't know what your system comprises but you should also consider a component upgrade if that is within budget. A better amp etc should normally take priority over the above which can be tempting because of their prices
Hope that is helpful
 
Sep 4, 2017
103
1
18
#15
I think most would say that you taken the most important step toward good power by installing dedicated lines. Number two for most is replacing stock power cords, which you've begun. The third step (regeneration/iso trans/conditioner) usually depends on prioritization of remaining issues you're trying to address, e.g., line noise, dynamics, surge protection, voltage consistency, etc. Some of these you may not know you've got until you solve them (line noise often cited here). I'd be looking for a home demo or two. What you hear after removing a demo after it's been in you system long enough to settle may tell you more than what you hear (or don't) upon installation.
 

Mosin

[Industry Expert]
Mar 11, 2012
894
0
0
#16
My experience is that if you play your system at 1:00AM, and it is cleaner sounding than during the day, you have a dirty power problem.

A story:
I mentioned that condition to one of my wife's relatives at a family reunion because he worked for the power company and asked about my power. It turned out that he was the head of service for several states, but I had no idea at the time. This was on a Saturday. The following Monday I was awakened by flashing yellow lights outside my house. There were multiple power trucks, and one of them was carrying large spools of wire. They were replacing the wire to my house all the way from the substation. I also got my very own transformer in the deal. Who knows what all that cost, but I didn't replace a lightbulb for years. Power was perfect and whenever there was a power failure, either I was the only one in the neighborhood with, or without, power. Later, the lady across the street was added, but there was no performance hit.

Unfortunately, the relative retired last year, and the power is back like before, maybe slightly better.
Now, like you, I'm going to have to spend a few bucks to get it right again. :(

Check your wife's relatives first! :D
 
May 30, 2010
14,530
227
63
Portugal
#19
A few basic tests that can be carried with a decent AC voltmeter. Monitoring the AC voltage is the first step, the second is measuring line resistance - connect the voltmeter to the line and switch a power device of known power, such as heater, off and on, taking note of the difference of the readings. Compute the current of the heater I = P/V and then Rline = (V2- V1) / I . Use amps, volts and watts to get a result in ohm!

In order to get a view of line distortion we should use a step down transformer to get around 1V AC and analyze it in a soundcard using an audio spectrometer. Do not use autotranformers for this test, they do not supply isolation. For RF contamination we need a proper RF analyzer.

Surely none of this is intended to replace a proper study carried by people using professional analyzers and data loggers.
 

3rdRock

New Member
Sep 11, 2018
11
1
3
Nashville, TN
#20
A few basic tests that can be carried with a decent AC voltmeter. Monitoring the AC voltage is the first step, the second is measuring line resistance - connect the voltmeter to the line and switch a power device of known power, such as heater, off and on, taking note of the difference of the readings. Compute the current of the heater I = P/V and then Rline = (V2- V1) / I . Use amps, volts and watts to get a result in ohm!

In order to get a view of line distortion we should use a step down transformer to get around 1V AC and analyze it in a soundcard using an audio spectrometer. Do not use autotranformers for this test, they do not supply isolation. For RF contamination we need a proper RF analyzer.

Surely none of this is intended to replace a proper study carried by people using professional analyzers and data loggers.
I think you are right. One way to know for sure would be to have my AC analyzed with the proper equipment by someone who knows how to properly interpret the readings. My cheapest option at this point may in fact be for me to audition a few of the power cleansing devices in my system from a dealer who allows for this or has a good return option. I am currently intrigued by the PS Audio P20 Direct Stream Regenerator. I see where they have a good trial/return policy.
 

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