Charles Hansen of Ayre saved my love for audio

If you recognize the user-ID, you probably associate it with a litany of posts about trying to get rid of an unpleasant dryness, a sort of "reedy" sound in my system, that I've been logging-in to write about, over and over again, for years.

Over that time we've gone from room treatment issues, to power conditioning, to after-market cables, to RF treatments, to treating my IC terminals, and, well, back again, with no lasting success. Each time we've tried something, it's seemed to work for a few minutes (or hours), and then right back to the same old problem. Even the installation of a dedicated AC line made no difference. And the worst part was, I knew there was something actually *wrong* -- and I wasn't just listening in a finicky room, for example -- because what I was hearing was far more noticeable and jarring than any of the room/equipment changes I'd experienced before, and I'd listened in the past under some pretty un-ideal circumstances. Whatever was happening, I just wasn't getting it across in my posts in a way that equipped everyone who was trying to help with the right information to make the right suggestion.

Well, Charles Hansen of Ayre fixed it. And the best part is that he wasn't even trying.

In the past day or two, someone logged in to another high-end audio forum, asking what he could do to "warm up" an Ayre system -- which caught my attention because I'm not in the habit of thinking of Ayre stuff as excessively lean. Mr. Hansen made one quick suggestion and, when I applied the same suggestion to my rig, INSTANT SOLUTION.

Know what it was? Disconnect the TV and the DVD player from AC power when listening to music. Just like that, no more trouble, voila.

I had actually gotten pretty close to this fix by accident, since I had a power conditioner with a toggled power switch, connected to the undedicated AC outlet, managing all of my sources, while the amp and preamp were connected by themselves to the dedicated line, but because *all* of the sources were connected to the power conditioner, I was still dumping the RF crap from the switching power supplies of the TV and the DVD into the signal path whenever the CD player was on.

Now the amp and preamp are connected to the dedicated line, the CD player is connected to the undedicated line, and the DVD player and the TV are connected to the power conditioner, and *then* to the undedicated line. And to think, I only spent about two grand in RF shielding and new power cords and interconnects and speaker wires, that I wouldn't have had to spend if I could write about my trouble in such a way that other people knew what was wrong! :-)

So may I humbly and respectfully suggest that this experience be added to the "permanent record" of tweaker suggestions? So that the next time someone comes in and says, "I've got all of this reedy unpleasantness in my music and I don't think it's the speakers," we might all try suggesting this tweak as an antecedent to any money being parted with? It made all the difference in my system, and saved me from dropping any more ridiculous money on my rig.

Cheers, everyone. Sorry for the long post.

Dave O'Gorman
Gainesville, Florida
I share your enthusiasm about mitigating the effects of RFI generated by switching power supplies. Not long ago I discovered that use of laptops with plug in supplies were clearly detrimental to the pristine, extended, and shimmering quality of good treble in my system. I now routinely go around and request battery-only mode for serious listening.

In fact, I wonder why the industry doesn't offer a cheap one device solution for blocking this type of noise at the outlet where the computer or other device is plugged in. I would buy one for each laptop.
Other things you can try unplugging are:

Microwave, washing machine, dryer, refrigerator, basically anything on your circuits with a switching power supply. Doesn't matter if its on the same circuit your audio gear is plugged into or not. If you went so far as to unplug the TV and DVD, then it wouldn't take much more effort to see if unplugging other appliances makes a difference too. Of course if you are married or live with someone unplugging these things could pose some problems.

I ended up using the Alan Maher Designs Power Enhancers to address noise on all my circuits. Now no more unplugging stuff.
I tried the enacomm filter and it didn't seem to have any effect -- you're satisfied that the Maher Designs PE is truly efficacious?
In fact, I wonder why the industry doesn't offer a cheap one device solution for blocking this type of noise at the outlet where the computer or other device is plugged in. I would buy one for each laptop.

Actually, what are called ferrite toroids are widely used for just this kind of purpose, although I don't recall seeing them being specifically marketed by anyone for audio applications.

Fair-Rite is a major manufacturer of these things, although they sell primarily through industrial distributors and there may be significant minimum buy requirements. They have a very wide range of physical configurations and electrical parameters. I think what would be of interest to us are what they call "Snap-Its." These simply snap around a power cord (or perhaps an interconnect as well), and their magnetic properties create in effect a series inductance within the cable. That attenuates noise and garbage at rf frequencies, while not affecting power line or audio frequencies.

Of course, if the path by which the switching noise is introduced into the system is directly through the air into a component, rather than through wires, then these are unlikely to help.

I should add, also, that I have no experience with these myself.

-- Al
I should add to my previous post that I'm less certain that ferrites would be effective on interconnects than I am with respect to power cords. That is because the inductive impedance they would in effect create in the signal path would probably be small in relation to the load impedance of the destination device. I'm also uncertain how shielding would impact their effectiveness. But I think they could very well be an excellent solution for these kinds of problems with respect to power cords.

-- Al
If you have any other input devices connected to your preamp besides your cd player, unplugging all of them (other than the one you are currently using) will have a similar effect of reducing rf and improving the sound.

It's nice to hear that someone with a voice of authority in the audio business has recognized that unplugging rf-producing devices can improve audio system sound.

I'm very satisfied with the AMD products and find them to do what they are advertised to do. Keep in mind as I mention this that the AMD products replaced a Running Springs Audio Haley in my system which is an excellent product in its own right.

For the benefit of all, Charles Hansen is also a big believer in floating all grounds on your audio equipment. There's been lots of debate as to the safety of that here and elsewhere, but for some interesting reading do a search over on AA for Charle's insights into this.
I've been reading all afternoon about floating the grounds, but it's doubly-scary for me, ever since I had this really stubborn vibration on the front apron of a very beefy amplifier that shall remain nameless -- and after weeks of testing and re-testing with different types of isolation materials, it finally dawned on me that I could still feel the vibration if there was no sound coming from the speakers! I was getting SHOCKED from the chassis of the amp! Eeeepppp!!!!
Dog or Man

Thank you...........Thank you........Thank you.

The best advice I ever had, and boy did it work.

COOL! I've still got some latent buzzing in my rig, but it's of a different type altogether and I think attributable to something going on inside the CDP. Will keep you posted.
I had an extra power conditioner and removed
the television and blu-ray player from my audio system.

It dawned upon me I was getting noise from somewhere after I bought my 52" LCD tv and plugged it in to the same power conditioner as my audio system. My other televisions prior to this were not.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE......the tv and blu ray player are far away from my audio system now.
I just added some ERS paper to the inside of my CD player and a second set of "all clear" power wraps on my CD interconnects -- definitely getting somewhere, now!
I had the same problem. I used to have a Tice Titan and power block, as well as a Panamax for my computer stuffs... I upgraded to a BPT 3.5 signature but didn't get to hear the improvement I expected. I suspected the other two conditioners which were plugged into the same line. I unplugged them, leaving only the BPT for my audio system, and then viola!! now I have all my mutlimedia stuffs connected to the Panamax and I plugged it somewhere else. The audio system with the BPT are now on their own. The sound got so much cleaner on the top, blacker background with increased warmth in the mid-body and bass-end dynamics. Get the new BPT conditioner which gives you 10 isolated power outlet of you have no other choice than plugging everything within the same circuit.
Thank you Dog Or Man....your post was huge....thank you, thank you.

It is items like this that would make a FAQ page or troubleshooting tips page useful on the 'Gon.
This sort of information has been posted before and mocked or ignored.

It seems that only when it is backed by an "authoritative" industry source does anyone take notice and try it.

You'd be surprised at what the "amateurs" are up to, and how in some respects their technology is out ahead of the industry.

If you listened, that is.
I for one am ready to listen to anything and everything that amateurs are doing to tweak their systems. This one change as made more difference in my rig than switching amplifiers.
Now that you've seen what reducing rf in your system can do:

1. As I mentioned above, if you have any other components plugged in to your preamp, unplug all of them except the one you are listening to at the moment. Consider using shorting plugs on the unused inputs as well.

2. Try Marigo Ultra 5 power cords, which are designed to eliminate rf. They're expensive, but what you may find is that they will enable you to do well with a much less expensive amplifier. (I believe the manufacturer may make them available on a trial basis.)
Dumb question alert. Why doesn't having the said devices
in the "off" position achieve same effect? I
have my integrated plugged directly into isolated circuit
with my everything else (plasma, PS3, DVD, CDP, HD
receiver, phono stage, & TT) plugged into my BPT (on same
circuit). If everything else is OFF do the power supplies
continue to pollute and produce RFI.

The only reasonable compromise I can conceive for my
situation is putting another power strip in the mix
everything (except TT, Phono, and CDP) and then have that
go into the BPT so that I can just disconnect that one
Having a device's onboard power switch in the off position doesn't solve the problem because many devices (notably your TV and your DVD player) have "switching power supplies" which always draw power and always work, regardless of whether the unit is powered on or not. This is so that the unit can turn "on" when you hit the power button on the remote.

In my rig, the solution was to plug the CDP directly into the wall, and leave all the video gear connected to to the power conditioner, so that I could disconnect the video gear completely from AC mains when I was listening to the CDP. Eventually, budget permitting, I'd probably want to hook the CDP to a separate power conditioner, but most of the benefit of a power conditioner (IMHO) is from filtering out the CDP's and other digital source's RF junk anyway, so I'm not sure that plugging the CDP *into* a power conditioner will yield nearly as much benefit.