AC Power 101


I thank anyone in advance for taking the time to answer a part or whole of this set of questions. I am new to looking at my AC power and probably moving within a year or so and therefore do not want to do anything too expensive to the house wiring. I think that my situation is pretty good now but want to have the cleanest power possible for my situation. Following the threads it seems best to start with the quality of power coming in before employing power conditioners or regenerators.

I live in the country and have my own separate transformer to my home. Does this help? The power comes into an 8 year old Square D 200 amp service to a new addition to the home. The circuit that the stereo is on has only 10 wall outlets on it and nothing else, There are 4 lamps besides the stereo plugged into these. The run from the panel to the stereo is about 40 feet with the stereo being the furthest thing on the run. The circuit is the top circuit in the breaker panel, I think the wire is copper but with some aluminum in the box, in that the electrician said the connections there should be tightened yearly. There is a 240 Jacuzzi circuit in the box, but all the other motors in the home are on a separate service panel entirely that services the main part of the home. Now the questions:
Given all this, do I have a fairly close to a dedicated circuit and the potential for fairly naturally clean power?
Would I benefit from replacing the outlets, and with what? Are there other things I can do that would benefit such as using a different breaker on that circuit? Does a device such a Brick Wall take the place of my current surge protector Panamax and do any of these cover replace cost like Panamax does. I have had two lightening hits in 30 years at this location so the Panamax replace has come in handy. I assume however clean my power is that it is still important to isolate each component from each other. If this is so what is a cost pleasant way to do this without restricting power or otherwise degrading sound?
Best Holiday wishes
Joe
gammajo
I don't believe in naturally clean power. Unless you are running a windmill or solar panels and are completely off the grid. Even then, the appliances in your home, RF from cell phones, wireless networks, etc. is polluting your power from within your home.

Brick walls are not that great. They do something, but their sonic effects offset any filtering they may do.

Buy a decent power conditioner made for audio equipment that has a fuse or circuit breaker for surges.

Clean power to your whole system is more important than isolation. But I would recommend eventually having both.

I hope this helps.

Mike
Tweek Geek
Thanks Mike. Your comments are helpful.
Joe
Yes, it helps that you are out in the country and have a step down transformer dedicated to your house. It will act like an isolation transformer. Being far from city or industry is good.

It is also great that you have a circuit separate from the rest of the house (sans jacuzzi). This is equivalent to a separate subpanel and you can control whether the jacuzzi is on while you are listening. It is good that you have the top breaker and that only a few lights are on the circuit besides your stereo. Is this circuit a 3 wire (hot, common and ground)? If so, you are very close to a dedicated situation.

Are you having any problems with ground loop hum? Do light dim when appliances come on in other parts of the house? Is there objectionable background hiss? If not, what makes you think you need to go further? I would leave it alone for another year until you move.
Zargon- thank you for your detailed response. No hum. no dimming lights, no hiss. It is more of a thing where sometimes you don't know how good it can get until you hear it. When I used Silclear, for example, I was surprised at how much difference it made. This I attribute to more solid connections with less arcing. So rather than eliminating obvious noise, I was interested in achieving blacker backround, better staging, smoother highs etc. if this was possible. I may well just relax and enjoy the music and if money is to be spent, look more into room treatments.
Room treatments and upgraded associated equipment (none of your stuff is even close to the level of the speakers) would make for a far greater improvement than a dedicated circuit. Better speaker placement would also help -- and your amp needs better ventilation. Enjoy!

Have you tried setting the speakers up according to the Cardas method?

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/manufacture/0602/cardas.html
Jeff
I am sorry that my pictures are out of date. There is no TV between the speakers now. I do pull the speakers out some more when listening. I have read about the Cardas method but have not tried it formally perhaps I will.
I write from my own personal experience on this subject. Last spring I read about the benefits of using an isolation transformer with balanced output. This information can be found on Plitron site. (Plitron sells transformers.) The argument was fairly compelling and I will distill it down: First, the isolation protects your components. Second, the balanced output [60 AC volts--180° apart on each AC plug prong] when rectified causes all AC noise to cancel out. Now I built this for protection but the benefit in noise reduction and sound improvement is phenomenal! Silent passages are more silent, the sound stage is deeper, the definition is clearer and the image is more solid. There are some drawbacks. The transformer model recommended in the posted article will, when turned on, mechanically buzz at a low level. I put mine in a closet away from the speakers and I cannot hear it all. You can however buy a more expensive "low noise" transformer that will not buzz according to Plitron. These things are not cheap ($400) and you need a cabinet and switches to build your own. Comparable commercial units cost $2500 and up, so in some respects this is a bargain. The bottom line is this is the best way to clean up AC noise and to my chagrin there is a lot more AC noise than I ever expected.
Rfj - Thank you for the input. That is what I am wondering, if there is noise that I would not be aware on until its stops. I know for example adding vibration control tightened images that I did know could be tightened. Guess I will have to try and see the result.
Joe
The circuit that the stereo is on has only 10 wall outlets on it and nothing else, There are 4 lamps besides the stereo plugged into these. The run from the panel to the stereo is about 40 feet with the stereo being the furthest thing on the run.

Given all this, do I have a fairly close to a dedicated circuit and the potential for fairly naturally clean power?
No.... A dedicated branch circuit is a direct run from the electrical panel to an electrical outlet.

What you now have is a convenience outlet branch circuit.
The electrician that made up the electrical joints inside the outlet rough in boxes had a multitudes of wiring methods he could use to feed onto the next outlet box.

The best way is to make up the hot and neutral wires and extend a pigtail out for the make up on the electrical duplex receptacle. But many residential electricians use the duplex receptacle for make up and feed the branch circuit wire to the next duplex and so on. Daisy chaining..... Some use the terminal screws for the feed in and out. Others use the stab in the back feature of the receptacle. This is the worst. Can and does create a lot of micro arcing AC noise.

Also your 40' run from the electrical panel to the duplex receptacle you have your equipment plugged into could be more like 50', 60' or more in length before it got there. And just guessing the wire size is #14 awg.

Would I benefit from replacing the outlets, and with what? Are there other things I can do that would benefit such as using a different breaker on that circuit?
Yes for the audio equipment. Good chance the existing duplex receptacle/s are residential grade at best 79 cent each.

.
Jea - Thanks for taking the time to respond. Your explanation was very clear as to why my current circuit could be far short of the benefits of a dedicated line.