110V/50Hz equipment in a 220V/60Hz country.


I am living in the US, where I have
bought a couple of decent pieces
of high end equipment. I am considering
buying a couple more pieces, at a higher
price level, to upgrade my system, but have
the following problem: I am from Europe,
and there is a good chance I'll be
back in Europe in the next 2-4 years.

What are the acceptable options
regarding stereo equipment if I move,
apart from selling everything except
the dynamic speakers and starting
from scratch?

Given the difference in cycles,
is simply buying transformers
for voltage conversion
an acceptable option? Other options?

The equipment in question is
pre and power amp, SACD,
DVD-V and A, tuner.

Thank you!
I just tried selling a piece of equipment (bass alignment filter) to a country with 50hz. The potential buyer contacted the company (B&W) and they said that the difference in cycles would burn up the transformer.
That being said; I would make sure anything you buy can be converted by the factory to 50HZ at a reasonable price.

The frequencies of course are the other way around:
US is 110V/60Hz etc...
Sorry about that, thanks for your comments.
You might consider a PS Audio P300 or 600. I think you can order one that'll output 230V at 50 or 60HZ with input at 120.

Regarding transformers in general, if an increased frequency is applied to a transformer the inductive reactance of the windings is increased which causes a larger volts drop across the windings and a proportionaly smaller drop across the load. So an increase in frequency should not damage the transformer

However a decrease in frequency will decrease the inductive reactance of the windings and lead to an increase of current through the windings. If the decrease in frequency is large enough the increased current flow will damage the transformer

So generally transformers can be used at frequencies higher than normal but not usually below. In your case you are more likely to experience longer term problems with the power amp than the lower power items (pre, source, etc) but it is all dependent on the tolerance and build quality of your units

If in doubt contact the manufacturer(s) as they will be able to tell you if the transformers fitted to their units have enough tolerance to handle both 50 and 60 Hz. Usually in respect to frequency a lot of equipment will operate satisfactorily in the range 45 - 65 Hz without modification

Regarding the voltage ratings, if your units are designed for 110vac then they will either require wiring changes to operate on 220vac (if provision has been made to allow this) or replacement transformers or external step-down transformers (this may not be practical for the power amp side of things)

Hope this helps, regards, Richard

I use a PS AUDIO power plant which solves the conversion problem in the first place and is a recommendation in the highest order anyway!
You also can use a very simple transformer - available up up to 1000 VA - which I did for my WADIA's before I had the PS AUDIO plant. No problems whatsoever, though some "experts" warned me of having major hums or similar surprises.
However, I would recommend having the power amps converted at the factory before moving.
Good luck!
I used a US 110V/60Hz Pioneer PD-54 Elite CD Player on a 220V/50Hz electric power system using a step-down transformer for a few years. The step-down, of course, reduced the voltage by half, but did not affect the Hz cycle. The unit performed without problem, but then the laser diode burned out. I do not know if this was transformer induced. There was also a degradation in sound quality, resembling the type of sonic deterioration produced by jitter. Because of warranties, and uncertainty about problems, I would have the manufacturer switch the transformers for you, if they can agree to do this for a reasonable charge. Some might refuse to do it at all because of sales policies. Otherwise, use the PS AUDIO power plant, or a quality step-down/step-up transformer (I use a CuestaSystems PowerSwitcher, but there are better ones).
What has been said above is largely close to the experiences I have made. I live in Europe and I am using Spectral equipment of 120VAC provenience. I feed the preamp, as well as other audio gear through a PS Audio 600, which is set to input 230VAC and will output US voltage. For the big amps I am using Equitechs (www.equitech.com) of sufficient wattage, which will also use 230VAC at their input, but deliver 120VAC at their output, with the added advanage of balancing the output, which means about 6db less noise in the powerline. (The Spectral Monoblocks cannot be inernally converted to a voltage different to what they were made for.)
I am in Australia (240v/50Hz), and have had some experience with your dilemma. With most US made equipment, changing to a different voltage has been thought of in the original design. Some make it extremely easy (I have a Rowland preamp with dip switches for different voltages), some fairly easy (e.g. Pass Aleph 3 required a jumper resoldering), a few will require a new internal transformer (if you dont want to use an external one). Almost every company I have asked will respond to questions about how to reconfigure their equipment. The rare exception being Spectral. I use a Spectral power amp through an external stepdown transformer without any problem. I am unable to say if the sound is degraded, but I am happy with it. Any equipment made in a 220/240v country is more likely to be easily changed (e.g. Plinius, YBA amps)
Thank you all for the responses.
Most of them have focused on the power amp,
I must admit I am just as worried about the CD and tape
player. Can the change in frequency affect the operation?
(this may be a very naive question, but anyway.)

Cheers, and thanks,
Hi Vas, some (rotor) motors depend heavily on cycles to keep the right speed (TTs, cdp's & tape players use motors). So, IMO you're best converting these machines to EU (if that's where you're headed!) standard 230/50. Surely manufacturers can oblige when the time comes... I shouldn't worry -- or am I too optmistic?

Motors in cdp and tape decks are dc motors so frequency change does not have any impact. However, TT motors tend to be ac and frequency change will affect its operation.
SFstereo is dead on. You need not worry.
I seem to be slipping lately! Thanks for the info, SF & Detlof.

I just moved back to the states after 3 years in the UK. I ran all my equipment through transformers; ie, at 110v but 50 Hz...no problems. However, as a PS Audio P300 owner (which I aquired 6 months before leaving England), I highly recommend that option for all the gear expect the power amp! Converting the P300 to take 220v input is very simple, a couple internal switches. Then all you need is a new power cable for the P300, and you're in business.