Audioquest Niagara 7000 hum/buzz


Owners of the Audioquest Niagara 7000, I could sure use some help.

I now own a (used) Niagara 7000 that I like very much, except it buzzes. Sometimes quite loudly. It will buzz even if there is nothing plugged into it but at a much lower level. It seems that with it fully loaded up with tube mono blocks, powered subs and the rest of my system the buzz gets even worse. The buzz can be heard across the room some 15+ feet away.

I have contacted dealers for the product and some say it should be dead quiet while others say it is normal for it to buzz due to the isolation transformers inside.

What have you guys experienced?

I have also contacted Audioquest and the local rep for my area has provided some suggestions that didn’t help. Since I bought it used and I have changed the 20A IEC to a Furutech NCF 20A IEC, he calls it a modified used unit and will not issue a return authorization number for repair. Personally, I think that is pretty crappy, I am not asking for a freebie repair, just some help.

So, again, is it normal for the Niagara 7000 to buzz? Any other suggestion?


Thanks,

ozzy


ozzy
Post removed 
Thanks, its not vibrating the buzz is internal.

ozzy
Post removed 
Thanks Elizabeth, yes, I have checked it well. Unfortunately the transformers are buried underneath several circuit boards. I am using Stillpoints ultra SS footers underneath it so I may try some softer footers.

It seems to get louder when everything is on including a 85" UHD Samsung that draws quite a bit of current. It may be that I am overloading it. So, I will remove the subs from the Niagara.

Any Niagara 7000 owners out there that can comment?
ozzy
Transformer's buzz when there is DC on the line, so it's a shame they didn't use one that was less prone to this, since that's one of the main reasons to use it.

DC on the line happens when a device draws current from one cycle but not the other.

You can either find the culprit in your home (if any) or get a DC eliminator, but I don't know of any in the UK.


ozzy OP

3,753 posts
05-31-2019 11:33am

It seems to get louder when everything is on including a 85" UHD Samsung that draws quite a bit of current. It may be that I am overloading it. So, I will remove the subs from the Niagara.


ozzy,

Do you know if the transformer/s in the Niagara 7000 are toroidal power transformers?

Larger Toriods are more susceptible to buzz, vibrate, when there is DC offset on the AC mains. There is a very good chance the Samsung 85" UHD TV is the culprit causing the DC. Good chance it uses a switch mode power supply.

For a test unplug the Samsung TV from the AC power. Load the Niagara 7000 and then check for transformer/s buzzing/vibrating. If there is not any buzzing you might try a DC blocker on the Samsung TV. The blocker should stop the DC from going back out on the AC mains power. You will need to size the DC blocker for the FLA of the TV + a small fudge factor.

Something else that should work is a 1 to 1  single ended isolation power transformer to feed the TV. DC will not pass through the windings of an isolation transformer. Size the transformer for at least 125% of the FLA or VA rating of the TV.

** TRANSFORMER MUST BE an EI type transformer. NOT A TORIOD. A toriod would more than likely buzz, vibrate.



Jim
.
eric_squires, jea48,

Thank you for your suggestions. 

DC is probably the culprit. I live in the USA (Michigan) any suggestions for a ready made DC blocker to use?
You know, it does hum more in the evening when we are watching a movie, so I will plug in the TV elsewhere tonight. Does it matter if the TV is plugged in but not turned on?

ozzy
ozzy OP

3,755 posts
05-31-2019 3:18pm


You know, it does hum more in the evening when we are watching a movie, so I will plug in the TV elsewhere tonight. Does it matter if the TV is plugged in but not turned on?

Just plugging the TV into a different circuit might help, but I doubt it. Your electrical service is fed from a common power source. The DC is going out on the AC mains. It may even be affecting your neighbors that are fed from the same utility power transformer that you are.

Does it matter if the TV is plugged in but not turned on?
Yes it may. The power supply may be powered when the unit is plugged into the wall outlet.

For a test tonight unplug the TV from the wall outlet. Check for hum/buzz from the Niagara 7000. If the 7000 doesn’t hum/buzz then you can try plugging the TV into a different circuit.

I do not have any experience with these products.

I would send an email and ask, if the TV is plugged into the unit will the unit block DC from going through the unit back out onto the AC mains power.
Make sure the unit is rated for the FLA or VA big enough for the load of the TV.


https://avahifi.com/products/humdinger-dc-line-blocker

https://emotiva.com/products/cmx-2


I know beans about this guy. Notice he does have a 100% feedback rating. Check his US buyer’s feedback ratings. You should also read what the guy says about sizing the unit for the load that will be connected to it.
I would want safety overload fusing protection on the AC line side of the unit.


https://www.ebay.com/itm/DC-trap-blocker-filter-for-toroidal-transformers-assembled-in-case-/1316546...


jea48,

Thank you for your help and suggestions. BTW, I did order the Emotiva product.

ozzy
Just got an email from Audioquest. Now it looks like I can send it to them for repair. A few options...

ozzy
I’d send it to AQ. It’s a great unit for the long haul. Mine buzzed a lot until AQ assisted me in determining the cause. It was a ground loop from my dac. When plugged into a high current outlet the 7000 became very quiet. However if it buzzes with nothing plugged in a different issue exists.
4425,

I probably will. I would like to try the Emotiva DC blocker product first before I send a 100lb unit across the country. 
Did yours buzz through the speakers or just from the Niagara internal?

ozzy
Well I just received the Emotiva DC blocker and it did nothing. In fact with it plugged into the wall and the Niagara plugged into the Emotiva DC blocker the Emotiva unit got super hot!

So I'm back to square one. 

The Audioquest rep says that my Whole House Surge protector (In my Breaker Box) may be the culprit.
Before I get into that,  is there any thoughts or opinions on this?

ozzy
All the whole home protectors are inactive until a surge hits.  The heating up is a clue though. You need an electrician.
erik_squires,

Thanks for your comments.

The Niagara can draw a tremendous amount of wall current. Other products that I have tried before the Niagara also got very hot. So this is normal, but I thought at least the buzz/hum would disappear to show that I was on the right track.

Whole house surge protectors are in constant contact with the electricity flowing through the house and are activated or the circuit is deactivated  when a surge occurs.

ozzy
ozzy OP

3,769 posts
06-04-2019 2:36pm

Well I just received the Emotiva DC blocker and it did nothing. In fact with it plugged into the wall and the Niagara plugged into the Emotiva DC blocker the Emotiva unit got super hot!

@ozzy

Sounds like you are overloading the unit. What is the Emotiva rated for? Max connected load amps rating? Or max connected load volt amps rating? If you are overloading the blocker it will not block the DC offset. ( That is IF DC offset is causing the problem with the AQ 7000.)

Did you verify 100% the Samsung TV was the cause of the buzzing sound, by simply unplugging the TV from the AC mains AC power?

IF the TV is the culprit try plugging the TV into the Emotiva DC blocker. I would think it should block the DC from back feeding onto the AC mains. You could always ask Emotiva Tech Support services to find out for sure.


.
jea48,

Yes I have unplugged the Samsung and it is not the culprit. The Emotiva is rated for 15A. It did nothing to eliminate the hum/buzz, so I sent it back today.

I must say that Audioquest has not been much help. I can't get past the area rep who is more argumentative than helpful, and I am getting more excuses than help. 
According to him, If I send it to Audioquest, he say's they will change the Furutech IEC inlet back to the original and combine the 2 high power outlet banks to one. He claims the problem lies with my incoming AC power. But I have never had this problem before getting the Niagara 7000.

So, to send the unit to Audioquest $$$ plus return shipping $$$ plus the cost of their service $$$ may not correct the problem.

ozzy



Found this.


Trouble-Shooting Guide

I hear a slight buzzing sound coming from the Niagara 7000. Is it damaged?

No, it’s not damaged (or, at least, damage is veryunlikely). If you’re in an extraordinarily quiet room and you hear this buzzing sound only when in relatively close proximity to the Niagara 7000, or only when you place your ear next to the unit, the buzzing is normal and, unfortunately, cannot be eliminated.

What you are experiencing is called magnetostriction. When an extraordinarily high quantity of harmonic distortion is present on an AC line, or when the AC line contains some DC offset voltage that should not be present, even the finest power transformers in the world will react to this problem. In order to reduce or eliminate this distortion, the power transformers try to turn it into heat, causing the transformers’ steel alloy core to hum at 60 cycles per second and all harmonics above that. This has no effect on the performance of the Niagara 7000 or its connected components.

 Ninety-eight percent of installations never exhibit this problem, but that’s no help to the 2% that do. The Niagara 7000 features a very robust DC-blocking circuit that feeds the input or primary to each of the AC isolation transformers, but there are times when otherwise fabulous audio/video component or computer products can nevertheless backwash DC (or a severely chopped waveform) into the output secondary of the transformers. When this occurs, it is necessary to perform some experimentation: Remove each component and its AC cord, one at a time, from the Ultra-Linear Dielectric-Biased Symmetrical Power outlet groups one or two. (The High Current/Power Correction Outlets are in no way connected to these transformers, so these may stay as they are.)

Once magnetostriction is present on a transformer core, the audible noise (saturation) becomes greater as the transformer is asked to pass more current. Moving some products, or a moderately high-current product, to the opposite transformer group may alleviate the problem. Additionally, many computer drives come with external (wall-wart type), switching power supplies that feature chopped AC waveforms. If mechanical noise is present, such power supplies may be better served by the Niagara 7000’s High Current outlets or by using an additional, smaller Niagara Series product, such as the Niagara 5000 or Niagara 500, which does not employ transformers.

If you notice that the slight buzzing sound has increased over time (i.e., was once negligible, but is now quite noticeable), please understand that the Niagara 7000’s AC isolation transformers are like the proverbial “canary in a coal mine.” In all likelihood, the Niagara 7000 has not developed a problem. (If you remove all of the AC output cords and listen for the slight buzzing sounds, you will likely find that they are gone.) However, it is possible that otherwise state-of-the-art components are causing the problem.

 Investigate valve or vacuum tube power supplies. If the tube(s) are wearing, some circuits will offset some DC onto the AC line and back to the Niagara 7000, or affect the AC waveform that the Niagara 7000 feeds. If the components were going into a power filter or conditioner without transformers, you would never be aware of the problem, but transformers never lie: It’s time to replace one (or more) of the power supply tubes!
https://www.audioquest.com/content/pdf/Niagara-7000-Operation-Troubleshooting-Primer.pdf



jea48,

Thanks I have read this and tried every conceivable variation, the buzz has been reduced but still audible sitting 15 feet away.

ozzy 
I would strongly 🏋🏻‍♂️ Recommend isolating the printed circuit boards from the transformer, loosening or removing entirely the bolts holding the transformer to the chassis and using a square of cork underneath the transformer to help damp and isolate the transformer. Wrapping the transformer with mu metal will shield and absorb magnetic fields which are not good for the sound.
geoffkait,

Thanks for the reply.
Inside the Niagara is layered multitiered circuit boards and the isolation transformers are underneath all of that. As far as I can tell everything is tight.
I tried using Fo.Q underneath the hood and placed pieces on top of every cap and electrical device I could and that actually made it worst!.
So I removed it all except underneath the cover. 

There is a canister inside that is filled with Audioquest proprietary compounds that are supposed to silence noise. That is where most of the buzz/noise seems to be coming from.

ozzy
@ozzy,

"The Niagara 7000 features a very robust DC-blocking circuit that feeds the input or primary to each of the AC isolation transformers,"

That would/should block any DC that might be on the AC mains from reaching the primary winding of the isolation transformers.

.

" but there are times when otherwise fabulous audio/video component or computer products can nevertheless backwash DC (or a severely chopped waveform) into the output secondary of the transformers. When this occurs, it is necessary to perform some experimentation: Remove each component and its AC cord, one at a time, from the Ultra-Linear Dielectric-Biased Symmetrical Power outlet groups one or two. (The High Current/Power Correction Outlets are in no way connected to these transformers, so these may stay as they are.)"

With nothing plugged into the AQ7000 the unit still buzzes loudly, correct?

.

Has the unit always buzzed since you have owned it?
If no, what have you changed?
New IEC inlet connector.
Different input power cord?
New wall outlet?
New branch circuit?
.

Is the AQ7000 AC polarity orientation sensitive?

You can easily check for the correct AC polarity through all the mains wiring through the power cord and out the IEC inlet connector with a multimeter.
Hot to chassis will measure 120Vac nominal. (Any color other that white or gray)
Neutral to chassis, zero Vac. (White wire)
Make sure the neutral and ground wires didn’t get reversed when you changed the IEC connector.
.
jea48,

Thanks for staying with this.

With nothing plugged into the Niagara it still buzzes/ hums but not as loudly and would be tolerable.
The only thing changed is the IEC,  and with a polarity tester everything is fine. However, the original IEC was soldered in, the replacement (Furutech is not).


ozzy

It's the design of the transformers or the QC of their manufacture.

Let's face it, even with truly heroic DC blockage in front, there are some transformers that still hum/buzz.  There was a guy with a McIntosh on here a few months ago with an analogous problem.

As far as I can see, nothing can be done.  The manufacturer will staunching blame your incurring AC, the house wiring, whatever.

Perhaps another 7000 unit would hum a lot less.  That quoted feedback above suggests that different examples exhibit different levels of hum.

twoleftears,

I think your right.
But I am surprised at the arrogant tone from the Audioquest rep, leaving me with very little options. I guess buyer beware when dealing with them.

ozzy
ozzy said:
With nothing plugged into the Niagara it still buzzes/ hums but not as loudly and would be tolerable.
The only thing changed is the IEC, and with a polarity tester everything is fine. However, the original IEC was soldered in, the replacement (Furutech is not).

Was that how the unit sounded from day one when you first plugged it in?
Did you contact the seller you bought it from and ask him/her if he/she had a problem with the unit buzzing louder than it normally should?

As for the circuit/polarity tester saying it is correct, fine. I assume that is at the wall outlet. That doesn’t mean it is correct at the end of the power cord IEC female connector. There was a posted message on AA a few years ago where a manufacturer of after market power cords was wiring the IEC connector wrong. He was reversing the neutral and hot wires on the connector. I always check for the correct wiring, polarity, on any aftermarket I use and or buy.
As for the IEC inlet connector you installed. Did you make sure 100% you wired it in correctly? Even a seasoned electrician has been known to miss wire a receptacle putting the hot wire on the neutral terminal and the neutral wire on the hot terminal. That’s why he/she checks to make sure it is correct with a plug in tester.

The reason I mentioned is it possible the AQ7000 is polarity sensitive is because of all the stuff that is packed inside that thing. Just a guess it has all kinds of noise filtering. Hot Line to Neutral Line. Hot line to AC mains equipment chassis ground. And probably even Neutral to equipment ground. The components and wiring designs may be different for Hot to ground filters than neutral to ground filters.


Once magnetostriction is present on a transformer core, the audible noise (saturation) becomes greater as the transformer is asked to pass more current. Moving some products, or a moderately high-current product, to the opposite transformer group may alleviate the problem. Additionally, many computer drives come with external (wall-wart type), switching power supplies that feature chopped AC waveforms. If mechanical noise is present, such power supplies may be better served by the Niagara 7000’s High Current outlets or by using an additional, smaller Niagara Series product, such as the Niagara 5000 or Niagara 500, which does not employ transformers.

If you notice that the slight buzzing sound has increased over time (i.e., was once negligible, but is now quite noticeable), please understand that the Niagara 7000’s AC isolation transformers are like the proverbial “canary in a coal mine.” In all likelihood, the Niagara 7000 has not developed a problem. (If you remove all of the AC output cords and listen for the slight buzzing sounds, you will likely find that they are gone.) However, it is possible that otherwise state-of-the-art components are causing the problem.

Investigate valve or vacuum tube power supplies. If the tube(s) are wearing, some circuits will offset some DC onto the AC line and back to the Niagara 7000, or affect the AC waveform that the Niagara 7000 feeds. If the components were going into a power filter or conditioner without transformers, you would never be aware of the problem, but transformers never lie: It’s time to replace one (or more) of the power supply tubes!
https://www.audioquest.com/content/pdf/Niagara-7000-Operation-Troubleshooting-Primer.pdf

Investigate valve or vacuum tube power supplies. If the tube(s) are wearing, some circuits will offset some DC onto the AC line and back to the Niagara 7000, or affect the AC waveform that the Niagara 7000 feeds. If the components were going into a power filter or conditioner without transformers, you would never be aware of the problem, but transformers never lie: It’s time to replace one (or more) of the power supply tubes!

Never heard of DC passing through the windings of an isolation power transformer. At least not steady state DC. Pulsating DC, yes. Steady state DC, no.

At any rate you need to load the secondary of the unit with a purely resistive load.
Plug a toaster and a coffee maker into it. And anything else you have with a resistive type load. See if the buzz increases with load.
Jim



jea48,

Yes I checked with the seller and he said it was dead quiet. 
The power cord I am using is a Audioquest Hurricane high power, but I have tried other cords. 
I plugged the polarity tester into one of the Niagara outlets and everything showed proper. And I doubt that I wired the IEC incorrectly, I do not take electrical and the connections made lightly. Believe me I double checked.

Update:
I have been able to reduce the buzz/hum considerably with moving some of the AC plugs into different banks. Trial and error, PITA. 
I now also have the JL subs plugged into the Niagara in bank 2 via utilizing a Deep Core. The Niagara still buzzes, but at a much lower level, actually tolerable.

ozzy

ozzy said:
I plugged the polarity tester into one of the Niagara outlets and everything showed proper.
If the outlets on the output are fed from an isolation transformer it does not have any electrical connection/reference to the AC Line polarity of the line side, primary, of the transformer.
Secondary polarity is established by the way the secondary winding is intentionally grounded making it an AC Grounded System.
Polarity could be reversed on the primary side and still be correct on the secondary side. Not saying your Line side polarity is reversed though.

Glad to hear you have been able to quiet the thing down. Sounds like a lot of work to me. I hope the improvement it makes to the sound from your audio system was/is worth it.

One thing for sure your thread should be an eye opener for anyone thinking about buying a Niagara 7000. Especially if there is a problem with the unit. Sounds like AQ is not user friendly.
.
Thanks, I think the key is to balance the power with the outlets and within the 3 separate zones. Sometimes that means mixing the digital with the analog (gasp!).
The reason I tried so hard to make it work is because the Niagara adds such a dynamic boost to the audio music it is like night and day from plugging directly into the wall outlets.

I am extremely disappointed in Audioquest service help.
First thing they want to do is to blame the customer. " Customer must have damaged the unit with the IEC upgrade". So, no warranty, no service, no help.
Not a good business model, in my opinion.

Thank you, and all others for the help.
ozzy
FWIW: My balanced power conditioner used to hum internally. I also have a separate distribution block with an external ground lug. I connected runs of cheap 18awg stranded wire from an external chassis screw of each of my components to be commonly grounded at the lug. Hum gone.

Have you brought the unit of to a friend’s house to see if the problem occurs there?

To find the culprit, beside unplugging components from the Niagara, have you turned off every electrical appliance in the house. On another thread, another poster said that his hum went away when he turned off the bug zapper in his detached garage. Offset can come from any appliance or gizmo.
steakster,

Thanks for the help and ideas.

I do own a Synergistic grounding block that I am currently not using (yet) because I didn’t want to have too many variables. But that is next up.
No, I have not taken it to a friends house because its heavy (90lbs.) and I don’t have any friends...
I will try turning off the breakers in the house soon when the wife’s not home (she creates too much static)...

At the moment, I think with the balancing of the plugs in the Niagara outlets its about as low as its gonna get. And quite frankly, it seems that I am ok with that.

ozzy
ozzy i’m sorry to respond so late. call AQ direct and ask for dustin in customer service. you’ll get somewhere w him. he knows the product and is very helpful. someone probably had already suggested this. the 7000 is definitely worth the time and cost to get fixed. after all selling isn’t possible at the moment. 
i have always found AQ to have superlative and timely service. you’ve unfortunately not hooked up w the right guy. 
AQ number and ask for dustin as mentioned above. 800-747-2770
4425,

Thanks, 
I'll give them a call Monday and try to talk to Dustin.

ozzy
I have also had good results working with Dustin.
Best,
Jim Smith
Steakster,

I just went thru the exercise of shutting down the breakers in the house. With all the breakers off except the one that the Niagara is plugged in, the Niagara still buzzes/ hums.

hornguys,

I hope Dustin can help.

ozzy
A+ for effort.    Sorry to hear that a 'hum' culprit wasn't found on another circuit.   I hope you discover a remedy soon.
Dustin wasn't available so I left a message...

ozzy
Well Dustin didn’t call me back so I called Audioquest again. This time he was there and said he was not aware of my message.

Well Dustin also read me the Audioquest script stating that, " since I changed the IEC it is considered a modified unit, therefore no warranty and if they service the unit it would have to have the IEC returned to the original state before they would check it. That cost and all other service work would be at my cost". Ok, I get that, I did a bad thing changing the IEC inlet... 
I told Dustin that when I disengage the power correction feature on the Niagara and leave the unit in standby it does not hum. So he said, " then don't engage the power correction function". (That reminds me of an old doctor joke...) The power correction feature is a big part of the Niagara 7000 advantage over other power conditioners!
 
I have owned several PS audio power plants, Shunyata, Synergistic and many others and I have never had a problem such as the hum/buzz that I am getting with the Audioquest Niagara 7000.

So, I’m still not sure about sending this heavy unit across country ($200 min shipping both ways) and plus the unknown repair costs ???
What if after I spend a lot of money and the response is again (as the original Audioquest area rep stated earlier), " it must be something in my electrical grid " call your Electric company" ?

ozzy

@ozzy,
This kind of horror story and my own past experience with active "conditioners" remind me why I go passive now.
I hope you find the cure!

Well today I shipped the Niagara for repairs (?).
Got my fingers crossed...

Thanks everyone for your help and suggestions. I still don't get Audioquest attitude. Compare that to PS Audio and you can tell the company that is there for the customers.

ozzy
ozzy,
Just curious if you tried out the unit before converting the IEC to a Furutech and if so I would assume it was buzzing before the conversion?

jetter,

Good question: 
No, the first thing I do when I get a new piece of equipment is to open it up and take extensive pictures of the insides. While inside I changed the IEC.

ozzy
ozzy,
Curiosity killed the cat. Did you put the OEM IEC inlet back in the unit before sending it off for service?
jea48,

No, the original IEC was soldered in place, I had to cut the wires to remove it.
Plus I had to enlarge the opening to fit the new Furutech.

ozzy
Did you cut the ground wire accidentally? 
The ground wire on the IEC had to be cut to be removed.

ozzy