that's a classic bad setup you described....lots of line noise from those computers.
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You definitely need at least two; maybe three dedicated AC lines on their own circuit breakers. Digital equipment should be on it's own circuit.
You should hear a quieter back ground which should provide you with all around better performance.
Example: more dynamic bass, mids, and highs. Wider and deeper sound stage, providing ones equipment is up to the task. Your equipment should be fine.
If you have room in your main panel run the lines from there. If there isn't room for two or three more circuit breakers you will need to run a subpanal box off of your main panel.
Use good AC outlets, my favorite is the Porter Port. See my reviews under user name Lak, and check out my power filtration system under my systems.
Finally MUCH has been written upon this topic, so do a search on the Audiogon forums.
Still, no one answered this question:
"I guess I'm wondering if adding a dedicated line would really do anything. All of this 'noise' surely travels back through the breaker and onto the main bus bar in the panel right? Then right back out to all other circuits in the house, including any dedicated line I would add right?"
I've wondered the same thing.
"I guess I'm wondering if adding a dedicated line would really do anything. All of this 'noise' surely travels back through the breaker and onto the main bus bar in the panel right? Then right back out to all other circuits in the house, including any dedicated line I would add right?"As in all things concerning this hobby, everyone's perspective is different. Some may hear a difference and others may not. Since dedicated lines aren't something that can be auditioned, perhaps those with lingering questions would be advised to pass on this technique.
On the other hand, professionally installed dedicated lines are generally one of the more reasonably priced audiophile tweaks, and they can certainly do no harm.
In my opinion good AC outlets do make an improvement in all types of situations, yours included. If Im incorrect youre out only about $35 dollars plus shipping per outlet.
Systems Ive worked on always have improved significantly with dedicated AC lines and circuit breakers, although Im sure you can find people that will tell you differently in their personal scenario. In your situation, the way you described your set up, Im sure dedicated lines will make a huge improvement, and should be a first step along with the AC outlet (such as a Porter Port or equivalent).
I cant explain why there will be an improvement, but Im confident you will like what you hear. There are others on this site that are qualified to explain the why part, I cant.
After I added my dedicated AC lines and circuit breakers, the other way I heard another huge improve was with the addition of the Xentech Extreme (5 KVA) isolation transformer. I could live with just the dedicated lines and circuit breakers however I chose not to.
Are there other ways to handle the problem? Sure, some type of power conditioning in conjunction to what you are currently doing, however its more of a temporary Band-Aid (in my opinion) then a fix. Ive tried several products before I installed the dedicated lines and circuit breakers. They did improve the sound however Im offering for others to learn from my mistakes and take a short cut, including saving some money on their journey to better sound.
New isolation transformers such as a 5 KVA Xentech Extreme are expensive however at times can be found used from an electric contractor or on EBay. The correct isolation transformer can reduce some noise frequencies by (-146 dB). Another good option is a Topaz isolation transformer.
My bottom line is enjoy the music.
Thanks again for your insight. I recently discovered i could use a separate circuit by cutting through to another room. This curcuit has only a few lights on it and receptacles not being used. I'll add a few of these Porter Port outlets and see what that does. I also saw that some of these Topaz Isolation Transformers seem to be just plug and play so to speak. They have a standard cord on them and either an outlet or cord coming out. Seems like they can be pluged into an exisitng outlet rather than being hard wired at the panel. Sound familiar?
My lessons learned are similar to Laks, as I have evolved to 6 dedicated circuits with Hubbel outlets, 1 for each for the 2 subs, and 1 for each component (amp, pre, cd and phono). The latter 4 are on a Topaz 4kva iso transformer. An important addition was to add a separate 125va iso in front of the cd to keep it from back contaminating the other 3 circuits. My current AC system is a huge improvement over even a previous single circuit with no other devices being used, such as you are considering.
I highly recommend the bigger Topaz, as it takes both common and transverse mode noise down by 120dB. I found it in a local surplus electrical supply house. This iso has a 90lb iron core so these can be expensive to ship. The size would depend on the rest of your components power needs (should be very conservative - at least 1/3 more capacity than your peak demand).
The smaller Topaz isos do have power cords, such as my 125va, but I would not recommend in room use for anything much larger than this. The larger isos get quite warm (110 deg core) and all hum to some extent.
I would suggest you go forward with a phased approach. First, get onto the next room's separate circuit and upgrade the outlet. Second, run one or more dedicated circuts (separate to the cd if possible) with Hubbel outlets. Third, add an iso in front of the dedicated lines (sources and pre as a minimum). I also suggest you not spend too much time or $ on PCs until you are satisfied with the basic AC system. You may discover, as I have, that there is much less sensitivity to them after the other upgrades.
Good idea trying the Porter Ports and the outlet in another room that has little or no resistance on.
Good point about the Topaz Isolation Transformers seem to be just plug and play so to speak. They have a standard cord on them and either an outlet or cord coming out. Seems like they can be plugged into an existing outlet rather than being hard wired at the panel.
Just be cautious regarding the audible hum of 60 dB which might be annoying if they are located in the same room as the music. Also make sure that what ever equipment you plug into it wont bottom out the transformer, in other words the KVA number is important.
Thanks for your input. Can you tell me more about these Topaz Iso's? Which models, are they hard wired, approx cost? I'm trying to evaluate the cost for all of these potential AC upgrades. Dedicated lines may be tough in my house since the audio gear is located in a room without a basement underneath. It would involve running lines outside the house which would be a mess.
Topaz is no longer in business, however, their products are excellent and can be found used in electronic surplus houses of larger cities. I located 2 4kva isos for $300 and have seen them on the internet at $500 plus shipping (both far far less than retail in the 80s). You will need to connect the iso to 1 phase of the main panel and then connect it to a new panel for the dedicated circuits. Unless you are experienced with this type of thing and understand the electrical codes, I suggest an electrician.
I my opinion, the iso precludes the need for further power conditioners and any that I have tried I have since removed with no degredation.
If you get serious about this, I would be willing to share a picture and diagram via email.