Dedicated Lines

rossop -- Mon, 02/21/2011 - 16:05

I like to run two lines to my listening room. One for analog and the other for digital. I was advised early on that this was the best way to go. Recently I have been advised that it is best to run everything from the same line. Both Keith Herron and A J van den Hul recommend this approach. Here is an excerpt from Mr van den Hul's Tips and Hints for better sound:
8-4 Power all equipment from a single wall outlet
It’s best to use one single wall outlet to power all equipment by means of a multiple socket mains distribution board. This
avoids large ground loops along the interconnects and the power cables. The power amplifiers must be connected as close
as possible to the mains input of this connector block. The lower power consumption equipment can be connected more to
the other end of your mains connector block.
I have read in TAS and elsewhere that you should have dedicated lines for power amps at  least. Also, some people say that power amps should not require any conditioning at all.
I find this all rather confusing and would like other peoples views on the subject.

Ded Frag -- Mon, 02/21/2011 - 18:35

 Any amp with a properly designed power supply section shouldn't require external mains conditioning. The question is, how many are properly designed? These days I suspect amp manufacturers, especially those supplying the high-end, simply presume you're going to condition the mains before it arrives at their device hence they think they no longer need to bother with elaborate filtering out RFI etc at their end. A cop-out from my perspective.
The single mains supply V dedicated mains debate has raged for ages. Sadly it can be an expensive game to play if you're simply experimenting with the effects on YOUR system in YOUR location. I've found that the only devices I could hear benefit from dedicated supplies are powerful Class A mono-blocks. Someone here may know why that should be the case.

rossop -- Wed, 03/02/2011 - 20:30

I was powering my PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC and transport  from my second  'digital'  duplex. I had been unhappy with the sound for some time. In a word it was bright. I tried many different things  to fix it without success. After speaking with Keith Herron and reading what A J van den Hul had to say I plugged it into my Juice Bar directly behind my power amps. The result was an outstanding improvement right across the board. The bass was a lot fuller and the glare I was experiencing was almost totally gone. I can turn up the volume without cringing. Now streaming from my PC sounds like it supposed to (I think).

As Keith Herron said in an email:
 I like to keep everything plugged into the same circuit in order to reduce RFI and other electrical noise.

This improvement was huge not just slight. I wish I had thought of it earlier as it would have saved me some hard earned. Plus it was free.
Just my experience. Any thoughts?

Twochannelman (not verified) -- Thu, 04/12/2012 - 16:23

Installing a Dedicated AC Line
By John Atkinson • Posted: Aug 27, 2007 • Published: Sep 1, 1991
For less than the cost of a budget power amplifier—a mere $373.45—the electrician ran two new 30A lines to the listening room, one with the hot on one side of neutral, the other on the other. Each had its own circuit breaker and each fed two hospital-grade wall sockets. (These orange receptacles grasp the prongs of AC plugs with a clasp akin to the Vulcan death grip.) All source components and the system preamplifier were plugged into an Inouye AC conditioner, in turn plugged into one of the new lines; power amplifiers were plugged into the other new line.
The sonic effect was nothing short of stunning. Within the context of a power amplifier's characteristic sound quality, bass fundamentals relatively dropped away to minus infinity, such was the increase in their weight, while the WATT/Puppy's "hump" in the upper bass became considerably less bothersome. Yes, the characteristic sounds of components were not changed—black was not rendered white—but the differences between those characters was heightened, the overall quality of each enhanced. The sonic contrast knob was turned up a notch, if you will, the blacks becoming a deeper black, the whites becoming more brilliant.
There is no doubt in my mind that installing these dedicated AC lines was the single most cost-effective improvement I have ever made to the sound of my system. If you can bring new AC power to your listening room without too much disturbance to your house or household—and you can find an electrical contractor who doesn't feel that he would be in danger of diminishing his social status by taking on your work—do it.

Twochannelman (not verified) -- Thu, 04/12/2012 - 16:34

Grant, the sales director for Shunyata Research, told me that "if you install a dedicated electrical sub panel with "whole house surge protection" and dedicated lines with audio grade outlets and super high quality power cords as needed based on your particular system and placement of components within the room, then you may not need a lot of power conditioning boxes."

stehno -- Fri, 08/17/2012 - 15:10

Rossop, in regard to your original post Herron's and van den Hul's advice and your own experience in following their advice would seem to contradictory to my experiences.

It's no secret that digital components generate a bi-directional digital noise and that bi-directional noise goes back inot the wall and will induce sonic harm into other components.  Some say that bi-directional noise will make it all the way back to the service panel and induce harm into other circuits from the panel.

I see only 2 reasons why this advice might provide benefit for all three of you:

1)  If all 3 of you happen to be using inferior or no line conditioning.  If this were the case, then their advice would indicate that the other non-digital distortions such as RFI, etc, induce more sonic harm than the digital noise.  Which certainly is possible.  In my case my source is digital and I have dedicated lines for my 2 components (used to be 4 components) and to assimilate show conditions I'll often times put all components on 1 dedicated line to check what I might be missing when preparing for a show.  I never notice a sonic difference when going from multiple dedicated outlets to one dedicated outlet.  But I suspect I hear no difference because I use some fabulous dedicated line conditioners for each component that include bi-directional filtering (digital noise) capabilities.

2) Another possible reason all 3 of you may benefit by consolidating to a single dedicated line might be that all 3 of you happen to have your dedicated circuits on opposing phases/legs at the service panel.  Some say that this configuration will also induce distortions as the components are each powered by opposing phases of AC power.  My electrician wired all 4 of my dedicated circuits at the service panel to be all running on the same phase/leg.  But even when I had them on opposing phases/legs I did not notice a difference.  Again, this might be attributed to my fabulous line conditioners doing their job.

That's the only 2 reasons why I would think all 3 of you could benefit from such a strategy.  But for me the moral of this story is there is no substitution for superior line conditioners.

As for your last statement in your original post, yes, power amps idealistically should have their own dedicated lines to help ensure the amplifiers have enough juice for any dynamic and/or complex music passages.  But this only applies if your amps draw much current from the wall.  Years ago, I had a power hungry 20amp amplifier along with my pre-amp sharing 1 dedicated line.  When I moved the pre-amp to its own dedicated line the music really came alive.  And the pre-amp was only drawing 26 watts to itself but apparently it was just enough to rob the amplifier of the juice it needed and squashed the dynamics.  Today, my amp is a 200wpc and draws a maximum of 10 amps from the wall.  Hence, a single 15 amp or 20 amp circuit/line is more than sufficient for my amp, my CDP, and even plenty of lighting.

In regard to some of the other comments in this thread I would say:

o  Without exception all AC is dirty/noisy coming in from the street and it does not matter how close one lives to the power station and it does not affect just some components.

o  Never assume a component mfg'er knows the first thing about proper AC filtering or line conditioning.  Some to many component mfg'ers will install a cheap $5 AC filter somewhere behind the IEC inlet to suppress some offending frequencies and think they've done well.

o  Doubling up or piggybacking AC filters/line conditioners employing different methodologies almost always makes a component sound worse, not better.  In other words, installing a superior line conditioner to a component using a cheap $5 AC filter is just enough to give the impression that the superior line conditioner is inferior and degrades performance.  Hence the user is often times left with the impression that all line conditioning is snake oil or is needed only for cheap components.  This couldn't be further from the truth but there's enough of these experiences and testimonies out there that to this day most are unaware of the tremendous sonic gains that can be had from superior line conditioners.

o  Regrettably, most line conditioners or AC filters either do nothing or induce their own sonic harm and simply are not worth owning.  This is perhaps the single greatest reason why line conditioners are considered unnecessary.  Again, this couldn't be further from the truth.  For example: I was visiting a friend who had about $5k worth of line conditioning from a very popular mfg'er.  After about 10 minutes of listening to his new amplifiers I couldn't take it anymore and asked if we could remove the line conditioners and just plug the components into the wall.  It sounded significantly more musical and with much less fatigue. I went home and brought back my line conditioners and it went to a whole new level of musicality.  He sold his line conditioners and bought the same ones I use.  There are a small handful of line conditioners that actually condition the power and generate tremendous musical gains.  But it's like finding a needle in a haystack.  If you do find superior line conditioners, you'll quickly discover that any system not using superior line conditioners simply is intolerable to listen to more than a few minutes.  The music is almost like fingernails across a chalkboard.

o  The advice allegedly coming from a Shunyata Research sales rep has little merit unless he has no experience with superior line conditioning.  But it never hurts to have "super high quality" products, whatever that means.

rossop -- Fri, 08/17/2012 - 18:51

Since I made the original post I got a PS Audio P5 power regenerator. I run all digital from one outlet and all analog from another (from the P5). The P5 (& P10) are both good investments IMO. Apart from improving the sound stage width and depth and making the background more quiet you can program it to turn each outlet on and off when you like which is great for me as my pre takes about 75 seconds to turn on.
I will be using the one outlet to the P5 and wont be using my second outlet at all.

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