Can I take American equipment to Europe?

Hello All,

I have a chance to move to Europe. Is it possible to take all my American gear (Martin Logan, Jeff Rowland, PS Audio, and others) to Europe and get some gizmo that will convert the electicity for me? Is there any loss of sonic quality?


That gizmo would be a voltage converter. $9.99 at Walmart.

Probably there's an audiophile voltage converter that will cost 10 x as much, and do exactly the same.

there will be no difference in sound, but no doubt someone will come up with some reason why it would sound different.
You need a heavy duty step down transformer that will be able to handle the power required for your system. I personally would not trust the cheap travel converters to be used on expensive audio equipment.
There is a sonic difference between different converters.
Just like different amps and power cords.
The Walmart converter might sound great, thats a broad stroke to say there's no difference in the sonic signature.
My wife (who is European) got one of those converters when she moved here so she could use her favorite hairdryer. The hairdryer fried on the first attempt, and the converter's fuse blew.

I would not hook any of my gear up to a cheapie unit.
Rbrowne is correct, unless your equipment can be easily converted to European voltage. When I was stationed in Europe we used step down transformers of various ratings. They are fairly large pieces depending on what you are running. The small voltage converters won't survive long.
If I was going for a long period I would sell or store my electronics and buy ones in Europe that could also be used on American current; such units are more common over there than here. The speakers will be fine.
There is a piece from Furman that converts both ways and stalilizes voltage too. Quite heavy and expensive but might be worth it. Saw it on ebay, I think it was $1000 for a demo unit, but can't be sure, it was a few moths ago.
Yes you can. In fact many people do it all of the time, military, State Department, contractors, and a slew of government agencies. The most predominant method of using US 120 volt equipment in Europe is with transformers. A transformer merely converts the line voltage, not the Herz, so your clock radio and some devices that rely on 60 Herz will not work. I know companies that have put in 120 volt transformers at the mains coming from major power lines for housing and hospitals. You can use a regular in the house transformer. There are many. You could ask for someone to hardwire a transformer into the house main power and run lines to the rooms where you need the 120 power, again, no 60 Herz. Using a transformer does not cost but a few cents when plugged in and no device is sucking the power from it. When you do use a transformer an important rule of thumb to remember is to have at least twice as much wattage available for the device as the power rating that you are using, depending on the device of course, so that you do not smoke the transformer.

If you truly want your equipment, you will bring it and use transformers, many have before you. Just remember, a turntable with a motor that relies on 60 Herz, will not operate at 50 Herz properly. Also, some equipment that use switches and relays based on oscillating frequencies, will probably not work correctly either. Any solid state or tube pre-amp or amp should work fine. Check the specifics of the receiver. Also, your computer is probably dual voltage, as power for computers is converted to 5 volt DC from the power supply, which should be switchable from outside, or may need to be opened up. I have never seen a desktop computer system with only a 120 volt power supply. They are pretty much universal. Monitors are also auto switching nowadays. I am also starting to see a trend in subwoofers becoming dual voltage. Don't forget the need for 220 volt to 120 plug adapters. Your transformer, depending on type, may have up to 4 120 outlets, you can plug your 120 items in directly without plug adapters. I have used various transformer ratings from 100 watt to a 3000 watt at various times of my life stationed overseas with great success. Oh, make sure the line current from the house can support a surge of 2,000 watts or more in the case of big transformers. Whatever the rating of the transformer is; is the amount of watts that will initially surge through the transformer when you turn it on. It is a onetime shot, much like turning on a high power amp. Most breakers are 16amps x 220 volts in Germany, equating to about 3520 watts available on the circuit where the transformer is plugged in. Any electronic that is plugged into that same circuit will eat at the available watts and can cause a circuit breaker to go off when you power up a monster transformer.
I have spent many years overseas, to include building a house, to pretty much having experienced most of these types of issues.
Good luck with that one .
i'm sure you've already done this, but just to make sure, double check to see if any of your equipment has a switch on the back to convert it that way - that's the easiest, obviously. then all you'd need would be a plug adapter.

i'd also shoot an email to the companies, that's some nice gear and it would be good to see what they say - especially the logans, they would seem the trickiest to convert.

best of luck.
Number 1 recommendation is to have it modified internally by the manufacturer or a very good technician using their instructions. Next would be to use a transformer from 220v to 115vm but for the gear you have, you will need at least 1200w, and it will probably cost >$600. Note each country has a slightly different plug and you will have to plug everthing into a 115v US distrubuter from the transformer. Get a Radio Schack 3 prong tester to be sure anything you plug into has the right grounding. The 50hz standard is only a problem for turntables without quartz lock freq. As audioquest4life, I have done this. Do NOT buy a crap walmart adapter, they only contain a dropping resistor, and don't even work on a hair dryer.
Buy an European PS Audio Power Plan that can take a 220v and convert it to 110v 60hz for your equipment.
Anything which is high-wattage will potentially be an issue (which may be why Jerico's wife had a problem). Hair dryers are about the most toxic appliances ever made. They consume at or near the recommended limit for many receptacles and one would need a mammoth step-down transformer to run one safely, and one that large would be so heavy as to be prohibitive to travel with.

Most audio equipment other than amplifiers are low-wattage. I don't know about your amps/speakers.

There are differences in transformers. Some hum. Bad ones hum a lot. Good ones don't. You can pay for quality. I note that some Japan-made ones are excellent. I use several for step-up duties (producing 120V from mains which give me 100V).

In your case, you will be stepping down, which is easier on transformers than stepping up.
Many thanks to all who have pitched in so far. Any others agree with the PS Audio power plant idea?
You can find a PS Audio device which will switch mains frequency from 50Hz coming out of the wall to 60Hz output (I am using one now - a P300) however, to my knowledge, you will not find one which will both step down the voltage AND change the frequency generated. The only product I know which would do that is one VERY expensive version of a CSE power regenerator (CSE is a Japanese company), and that would cost probably $2000-2500, and probably would not do all your equipment - just some of it. Not all PS Audio power plants (notably the PPP) will accept a different input frequency (i.e. accept a 50Hz input and output 60Hz). The older P300, P500 and possibly P600 will, but they have limited current capacity, so lower power items such as preamps, CD players, and whatnot should work. Higher-power devices are perhaps best sent back to the mfr for a transformer change by the mfr. It may cost more than a cheapo transformer but it may also allow you to sell them used in the market where you reside (which may have a higher resale price than the US - especially given the condition of the dollar compared to the euro since you bought your items).

Remember the overhead required too.
You may wish to look into whether your components are easy to convert. Some are. Many manufacturers with relatively low volumes use the same transformer across all models...and therefore converting voltage costs an engineer very little time to move the taps...move the wires across and change the fuses. Check with the is a couple of phone calls/emails, and you may find it costs about the same to have all your equipment done has buying a big voltage converter.