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Does a separate mains spur for hifi make a difference?

Discussion in 'audio' started by junk01, Aug 14, 2015.

  1. junk01

    junk01 pfm Member

    LouisB (#11);
    Del monaco (#12);
    Rob400 (#15);
    steveledzep (#17)

    Better at night - the "after 11pm effect"

    You mention the improvements at different times of day and especially at night and remark about how this could be due to elements other than the mains quality at that time.

    I concur. I'm lucky in that inside my home is relatively quiet even though I live on the outskirts of a town and only a short distance from a motorway. However, late at night there is definitely a calm stillness or quietude which does not exist at other times of day and I think that it is infectious making it easier to still oneself and concentrate - whether to listen to music or read.

    This suggests to me that the overriding factor for me is my psychological state. Late at night all I am going to do is listen to music then go to bed. All the extraneous crap that fills my head during the day is gone and there is nothing to distract me from the pleasure of listening. Also, for me at least, after 11pm is "sleep-time" so I feel that my physiological state is also relaxed no adrenalin or cortisone coursing my veins.

    Maybe those times during the day when my boxes are humming and I'm thinking "the hifi's gonna sound rubbish", it does because I'm predisposed to the idea.

    Maybe I should be working on the circuits in my head rather than my house...

    Perhaps the debate should be What's the best pharmaceutical for listening... :)

    Thanks for your comments.

    Junk
     
  2. junk01

    junk01 pfm Member

    darrenyeats (#31): Alternatives to a new radial

    Thanks for the link and its suggestions - it's good to have cheap fixes!

    Junk
     
  3. junk01

    junk01 pfm Member

    Steven Toy (#33): Successful implementation

    Thanks for you comments, Steven, and the details of your circuit. It sounds like your particular circumstances (no earthing etc) made your house an optimum test case for a dedicated radial so it's reassuring to learn that there were decided improvement to the sound quality.

    I suspect that in my house the benefits will not be so clear-cut and I think I'll have to do some testing first to get a feel for whether it's worth it.

    cheers. Junk
     
  4. Steven Toy

    Steven Toy L3 Toy

    I was referring to the cable running from the junction box to the dedicated CU that is actually in the living room. This is 10 mm cable. The 6 mm radials are very short, only a few inches long, as the CU and sockets are mounted on the same board.
     
  5. junk01

    junk01 pfm Member

    Thanks Hipper for the detailed reply.

    I'm interested to hear that 10mm2 proved too much hassle and that even 6mm2 required some effort - it's so much nicer to learn these things before starting rather than during work. Your example shows the unpredictability of the benefits of installing new radials and your emphasis on paying attention to other effects such as ambient noise is well-noted. I certainly wouldn't bother with fancy-Dan sockets. I think that a decent quality unswitched is audiophile enough for me.

    Mains treatment is an interesting and no doubt contentious route. I did read a little about Torus power isolators (I believe that Torus is owned by Bryston), but I'm too ignorant of the subject to have an opinion and suspect that it might be an expensive solution. Although at least it can move house with me.

    What is your experience of mains treatment? What options are there - you mention conditioners, regenerators (I could do with a bit of regenerating myself) and balanced mains? What comments do you have on the pros and cons of these devices?

    What's that I spy on the horizon? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It's a massive can of worms heading to a forum near you!

    Cheers. Junk.
     
  6. Hipper

    Hipper pfm Member

    I will answer your question based on my (limited) experience.

    I looked at power conditioners, power regenerators, a balanced mains unit, and a Vertex Grounding box.

    About eleven years ago when I had more money then sense (now of course I have no money and no 'cents'!) I bought a Shunyata Hydra power conditioner plus various power cables and interconnects. Everything was powered through the Hydra. Overall the system sounded quiet, the darker background you hear about. It was particularly noticeable when removing the Shunyata gear from the system. More recently I decided to experiment again. I'd often heard that removing the amp from the Hydra would make it sound better. It did! It took me ten years to do that! I also removed all the power cords and Hydra and replaced with ordinary power cords and block of sockets. There was no loss of detail but a slight edge to the sound. The Shunyata gear sounded a bit smoother.

    Amplifier hum - I did get this with the Shunyata gear. It would be silent and then for no obvious reason the amp would start humming (at 150Hz). After a time it would go away. Some sessions there was no hum. My amp is a U.S. product and I've read that because it was designed for 60Hz (as opposed to UK electricity at 50Hz) this might be the trouble. I don't know.

    I now decided to try various power sources. I tried another power conditioner, the Isotek Sigmas, which came with a decent looking power cable. This sounded very bright initially, more lively percussion for example, but also was very harsh on certain female vocals. It quickly became fatiguing and unpleasant. I changed the power cord to my old Shunyata Python. This toned it down considerably but not enough for my tastes. Power conditioners are passive devices so don't seem to need cooling. I didn't notice any amp hum with this.

    I tried two power regenerators, the Power Inspired AG1500 and the PS Audio P10. The AG1500 looks like an adaptation of another product. It has only one socket to connect your gear to, plus a male IEC for a second power out connection, my guess being that there wasn't enough space on the back to install any more. It is fan cooled but the fan speed can be turned down so that it runs practically silent. It has no on/off switch. If plugged in the fans are running so to turn it off you need to do so at the plug. I used my amp in it with the other gear coming from the Hydra. It did make a worthwhile difference. I didn't notice any amp hum with this. For £500 it seems good value.

    The PS Audio P10 makes the AG1500 look like a toy, but it costs £4,400! It is passively cooled, does not (in my system) run hot, and has nine UK sockets on the back split into five isolated zones, two zones meant for high powered stuff, amps. It weighs 38Kg, bloody heavy! This was absolutely quiet, and seems to have been well designed with touch screen operation and on-off switch (circuit breaker). You can also adjust the voltage output to what you want. For example it came set to 240 volts but my supply seems to range from 231-236 volts when I listen so I adjusted it to 230 volts. Frequency can't be adjusted so it uses the local frequency (UK 50Hz). The amp hum though seemed to be just audible but never became loud. However with more use I don't hear it anymore and I'm wondering if the P10 made things so quiet that it became more noticeable. This was the best performer in my system. By putting it on decent feet, an anti-vibration platform and using the Shunyata Python power cord it improved noticeably further.

    I trialled an NVA Balanced Mains Unit (BMU, cost £500). This has four sockets on the top of the box and it's own fixed power cord. I had the P10 in my system at the time so it ended up a comparison between the two. The P10 was more to my liking. The BMU seemed a bit grainy, less detailed. It also hummed a small bit but not really intrusively. I didn't compare it to the AG1500 though which might be a fairer test price wise. If power principles are at stake though it seems regenerating is better then balanced in my set up.

    The Vertex gear looks interesting. I tried a Pico Grounding Block connected to my DAC and CD Transport. These are relatively heavy passive boxes (no power connections) that claim to absorb RFI and mechanical vibrations. I use anti-vibration feet and shelves, and a power regenerator, so I may well have addressed the issues the Vertex is designed to solve as it did nothing in my system.

    All this gear should be available for trial and I'd recommend giving it a go in your home system. Only in your set up can you make a judgement.

    What are these improvements I hear? This is my experience, with anti-vibration products, power supply gear, and CD treatment (cleaning etc.). They all seem to reduce noise so giving more detail, more space around each instrument, less smeared transients (the 'hit' of tom toms for example). This means things like piano, rhythm guitar, harmony vocals become clearer, less smudged. Once you 'get' this (I didn't know what to expect and only came across this from internet reading) music becomes even more enjoyable.
     
  7. Purité Audio

    Purité Audio Trade: Purite Audio

    Dedicated radial here and ordinary sockets side by side, no difference whatsoever.
    Keith.
     
  8. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed pfm Member

    You've just made that up ! Surely the converse is true !:D
     
  9. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed pfm Member

    Not sure where you got that from, Junk. Of course you can run a single cable (or any number) from c.u. to sockets.

    As for SPURS v RADIALS, I don't follow football, so can't comment :) Let me reiterate:

    A SPUR is a cable which comes off AN EXISTING CIRCUIT (ring main or whatever) (and therefore is totally irrelevant to dedicated hifi circuits unless you have a dedicated ring, which is a bit pointless, i.m.o.)

    A RADIAL CIRCUIT comes directly from the c.u. to the terminal ( socket or w.h.y.). Think radii, spokes in a bike; the circuits go from a hub (the c.u.) outwards. They don't go round in a ring as most British domestic installations do. To my knowledge, Britain is the only country to not have a domestic system based upon radial circuits. Other countries don't have fuses in their plugs because they'd be superfluous.
     
  10. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed pfm Member

    Doesn't sound like an effective installation, then, Keith. I assume by 'ordinary sockets' you mean those on the domestic ring

    If you've got a 10mm2 t & e from EVEN your existing c.u. with its own RCBO, I'd be scratching my head as to why you can't identify a difference unless you've got a fuse in the plug. Impossible to comment without info.
     
  11. dave

    dave Plywood King

    Cup of seawater here -no whales inside cup, therefore, whales don't exist.

    Dedicated circuit next to standard lighting circuit here. Moving my Naim system back and forth finds less distortion on peaks, greater dynamics and with what appears to be a higher average volume level with no touching the volume control on the dedicated circuit.

    Maybe I tested just the right cup of seawater this time and found a whale?
     
  12. Purité Audio

    Purité Audio Trade: Purite Audio

    Sounds fantastic, higher volume wow, is there also more bass?

    Keith.
     
  13. Purité Audio

    Purité Audio Trade: Purite Audio

    Ah that will be it, I always insist on having fuses, quaint I know.
    Keith.
     
  14. dave

    dave Plywood King

    Yes, 42 more gallons of bass according to my ocilliscope, Keith
     
  15. Hook

    Hook Blackbeard's former bo'sun.

    Have you ever considered that making your original points less absolutist (and your replies less sarcastic) might actually increase their persuasiveness?
     
  16. Steven Toy

    Steven Toy L3 Toy

    All my plugs are fused too. Keith doesn't hear any difference because he doesn't want to or the kit he uses is poorly designed so as to constitute a greater bottleneck.
     
  17. Sue Pertwee-Tyr

    Sue Pertwee-Tyr pfm Member

    No, everything Keith sells is clearly competently designed, and perfect in every way. Just like him.

    Or he's deaf.

    No other alternative comes immediately to mind.
     
  18. junk01

    junk01 pfm Member

    I'm with you now. I think that it was the word "circuit" which confused me. It made me think of a loop radiating from the CU rather than just a single run of cable.

    Junk.
     
  19. MVV

    MVV pfm Member

    I have a dedicated(20a) radial coming from the first upgraded breaker in the consumer unit. I also have a dedicated earth. I felt it made a difference. Last Christmas with time on my hands I plugged an extension into the hall and daisy chained a four gang into it. Plugged the system into that. I really couldn't tell if there was a difference or not. I do live in a very rural area, no heavy power users for over 20 miles and no axe to grind. But there you go.
     
  20. junk01

    junk01 pfm Member

    Hipper (#46)

    Well, a long and interesting explanation. It seems like the PS Audio type of box is the best way to go and I've noticed that on quite a few youtube vids from the US or from shows such boxes are present. I suppose it greatly simplifies getting a reliable supply wherever the kit is being displayed.

    I like the idea of using these boxes, but I think that they are out of my budget. There was a time in the past when I could have afforded and justified it, but now £4-5k would be better spent on the hifi itself.

    I'm glad for you, but disappointed in general, that the P10 was improved "by putting it on decent feet, an anti-vibration platform and using the Shunyata Python power cord". I would've hoped that the P10 would've been a complete solution in itself. I'm a stingy git and I resent all expenditure on accessories, exponentially so as their cost increases. Hifi is an expensive enough rip-off as it is without having to spend more on peripherals.

    Best of all is that this equipment gave you tangible benefits and enhanced your listening pleasure.

    Thanks again for the detailed reply - I'm sure that I'm not the only person who found it useful.

    Junk
     

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