DAC Being Impacted By Home Power Issue - Help


Over the past year and a half, I've been making every effort to put together an audio system that I could happily live with for a long time. This was important, given that fact that, while I knew it was coming, and was extended for almost 12 months for transition, my forced early retirement, after my corporation eliminated my department, begins on January 1st. So the reality of a much lower fixed income is finally here. That said, I have been able to put together a system that I am truly happy with, in preparation.

And then I ran into my current problem. The last piece of the puzzle was a really high quality, and technologically new DAC. I was more than fortunate that an old friend, for whom I had done a number of significant favors over the years, recently came into a great deal of money and gifted me with an incredible DAC by way of saying thanks. After connecting the DAC to my system, I listened briefly to some incredible sound, and then, the sound started dropping out, almost literally every five minutes. I had a friends brother, who runs his own electrical contracting company stop over to look at the issue. He was able to identify the problem as being associated with my refrigerator and large wine refrigerator, which are on the other side of the wall of my listening room. Every time they turn on, or cycle, the drop in power affects the DAC,

The problem now is finding what I can do to resolve this. Because of the construction of the house, the electrical contractor said the only option would be a VERY expensive dedicated circuit running almost the length of the house. Due to the fact that the first two levels are on slabs, with no pathway, he also said they would either have to start tearing out drywall, or, alternatively, run a visible (but enclosed) circuit along the base of the walls, up the stairs, and across the house to the listening room. Neither of those options are acceptable, or, honestly, affordable.

At this point, I'm desperate, especially with very limited finances from here on out. Is there such a thing as a UPS (and a reasonably priced one) that could be used in a high quality audio system? I would need it to power not only the DAC and associated streaming unit, but also the tubed power amp, and tubed preamp. I've never seen a UPS of any size that doesn't use fans, which would rule it out, and I would also think it might introduce distortion, but, as I said, I'm in desperate straits here trying to resolve this. Any assistance or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

John
nightfall
I have a PurePower 1500 regenerator which has a built in UPS. It has forever eliminated any power problems I might of had. I plug in my entire system to this device which provides a clean steady 60 hz. Not sure of current pricing but you can go to there web site. PS Audio also has regenerators but they do not have ups built in. Remember the ups only kicks in if there is a total outage
Alan
The lowest cost UPS-like device I am aware of that I would have reasonable confidence in, with respect to both the likelihood that it would solve the problem and its suitability for use in a quality audio system, is the APC S10 or S10BLK, manual here. I've seen good reports on it or its larger brother, the S15, from some reviewers and other members here. Unfortunately, though, it costs $900 at Markertek.com (a well known and reputable dealer), although some less well known sellers apparently offer it in the area of $650. Note, btw, that its continuous output power rating is 700 watts, which may or may not be adequate if you were to include your power amp in what it is supplying.

The devices Alan mentioned, btw, while most likely being excellent solutions, cost multi-thousands of dollars.

A question, though: I would expect that the refrigerators are probably not on the same breaker as the outlets supplying the system. If that is the case, are the refrigerators on the same AC phase (breaker panel "leg") as the outlets which supply the system? If so, perhaps the electrician could just move the system outlets to the other phase, and that would solve the problem.

Or if they are already on different phases, what I would wonder is if the DAC is responding to something other than a drop in voltage, such as RFI/EMI that is generated when the refrigerators turn on. If so, and if that is being coupled to the DAC through the house wiring (as opposed to through the air, which seems unlikely but is a possibility I wouldn't totally rule out), an inexpensive conditioner or filter might be the solution.

Good luck, in any event. Regards,
-- Al
APC S10. I have one, and it is AWESOME. Zero noise and it works.
There is a used PS Audio premier power plant on Audio Asylum right now for $800
Alan
I can think of 2 things that may help. The first is to get a long extension cord and try powering your system from different outlets. At the very least, it can be a temporary fix. The other, is to give The Cable Company a call. Not only will they give you some recommendations as to what products may work for you, they'll send you demo units to test in your system first, before you commit to a purchase. There's no reason to take a chance and buy something that may not fix your problem.
Almarg and Bojack recommend APC , does the job very well for the money and it doesn't have a Audiophile stamp of approval or the price would be triple.
I bought a out of production APC 15 for $150.00 new condition for my video, excellent product which definetly help your ac issue with your DAC.
John, your best and imo only move is running a couple of dedicated lines and as it happens that would probably be the least expensive option as well. All the regenerators and UPS's mentioned here change the nature of the sound, and generally not for the better.

You can run the wire on the outside of your house from your main utility box directly to your listening room, punch a small hole and bring the line into the room, add a breaker box and run a couple of lines on the floor to simple electric boxes with outlets. This way you avoid both the costly modifications to your house and the unsightly alternative of running a conduit. You can email me offline for pictures if you need them.

david
Dkarmeli,

The APC S10 does NOT change the nature of the sound, believe me. I am as obsessed about my sound as anyone on AG, and if the APC changed it, I would not have it. Nightfall, try the APC S10, and if it doesn't solve your problem, I will eat my words. Btw, I bought a silver one new for $250 5 years ago, sprayed the front and top black (it turned out great), and it has operated flawlessly and silently since then.
Bojack, depending on our starting point and individual sensibilities our mileage may vary. While according to APC's literature the unit might protect against against power drops,has a fan something the OP expressly wants to avoid.
david
A review in Stereophile by Kal Rubinson (KR4 at Audiogon) of the APC S10's similar but more powerful big brother, the S15, can be found here (scroll down to the middle of the page). There is no mention of fan noise amid his very favorable comments.

I would re-emphasize my earlier suggestion, though, that the first question which should be addressed is whether or not the outlets used for the system are connected to the same AC phase as the refrigerators. If they are, and assuming they are not on the same breaker, a simple wiring change at the breaker panel could very conceivably solve the problem. ZD's suggestion of trying a long extension cord to different outlets may also provide useful information.

Regards,
-- Al
John,

"Due to the fact that the first two levels are on slabs..."

Are you saying that your first and second floor are of concrete slab? If so, then
yes, running a circuit to your listening room will be very expensive.
However, If your second floor is of wood frame then maybe I would contact
another electrical contractor to look at running a dedicated circuit to your
listening room. I am very familiar with holmes on slabs and can tell you that
there usually are ways of feeding a wire to another level and on the opposite side
of the house without breaking the bank. Typically you would look for possibly 2
closets stacked one over the other (or maybe a utility room under a closet, ect.).
A good mechanic would be able to remove the base, drill holes and fish the wire
up to the attic. And then make a drop down the wall where you want the
electrical outlet.
After connecting the DAC to my system, I listened briefly to some incredible sound, and then, the sound started dropping out, almost literally every five minutes. I had a friends brother, who runs his own electrical contracting company stop over to look at the issue. He was able to identify the problem as being associated with my refrigerator and large wine refrigerator, which are on the other side of the wall of my listening room. Every time they turn on, or cycle, the drop in power affects the DAC,
12-12-14 Nightfall
"He was able to identify the problem as being associated with my refrigerator and large wine refrigerator, which are on the other side of the wall of my listening room. Every time they turn on, or cycle, the drop in power affects the DAC,"

Did the Electrical Contractor, electrician, verify the receptacles on both sides of the wall are fed from the same branch circuit? By chance did he turn off the breaker that feeds the branch circuit that feeds the power to the refrigerators and then checked your audio equipment power and see it was dead as well ?


A question, though: I would expect that the refrigerators are probably not on the same breaker as the outlets supplying the system. If that is the case, are the refrigerators on the same AC phase (breaker panel "leg") as the outlets which supply the system? If so, perhaps the electrician could just move the system outlets to the other phase, and that would solve the problem.

Or if they are already on different phases, what I would wonder is if the DAC is responding to something other than a drop in voltage, such as RFI/EMI that is generated when the refrigerators turn on. If so, and if that is being coupled to the DAC through the house wiring (as opposed to through the air, which seems unlikely but is a possibility I wouldn't totally rule out), an inexpensive conditioner or filter might be the solution.
12-13-14: Almarg
Al,

All good points.

I would start first by verifying if indeed the refrigerators and audio equipment receptacles are fed from the same 120V branch circuit. Are the refrigerators located in the kitchen? If so the branch circuit wiring should be a minimum of #12 awg. Do electricians sometimes cheat and feed a lonely duplex receptacle on the other side of the wall from a kitchen circuit? yes.

If the OP's electrician did not check for sure, the OP can by checking the panel schedule on the electrical panel and turn off the breaker that feeds the refrigerators. If the panel schedule is not marked, well then, he will just have to start turning off one single pole 120V 20 amp breakers one at a time until he finds the correct circuit/s. He could plug a table lamp into the receptacle his audio system is plugged into instead of having his audio system turned-on and killing the power to it.

Note the OP said the audio system is on the other side of the wall where the refrigerators are located. If the audio equipment is not fed from the same branch circuit as the refrigerators,the problem could be caused by radiated EMI/RFI.

Solution might be to move the audio system to another wall if possible. It is also a very good chance the receptacles on another wall will be fed from another branch circuit.
He can find that out if he finds the breaker that feeds the refrigerators. With that breaker turned off check for power at the other receptacles in his audio room.

IF the problem is caused by radiated EMI/RFI due to the close proximity of the refrigerators and DAC, jmho, the OP will not solve his DAC problem with a power conditioner. If the audio equipment cannot be moved to another wall and the problem is being caused from radiated EMI/RFI it is possible a thick sheet of steel of sufficient size behind the two refrigerators might solve the problem. (Multiple layers of sandwiched steel bolted together will accomplish the same amount of shielding needed.)
Jim