Fuses that matter.


I have tried six different fuses, including some that were claimed to not be directional. I have long used the IsoClean fuses as the best I have heard. No longer! I just got two 10 amp slow-blows WiFi Tuning Supreme fuses that really cost too much but do make a major difference in my sound. I still don't understand how a fuse or its direction can alter sound reproduction for the better, but they do and the Supreme is indeed! I hear more detail in the recordings giving me a more holographic image. I also hear more of the top and bottom ends. If only you could buy them for a couple of bucks each.
tbg
M. Spock-

Here is the information you requested...

Social Security: 4b76 #9877 274à
Drivers: $^&::}_
Bowling Average: 1000

The soup, deed, rings, and interconnects I have sent UPS, tracking number here.

Unfortunately, all of my fuses are directional, so I have sent you a pair of mittens instead. I trust this will meet with your approval.

Awaiting your instructions.

Truly,
Bryon J. Cunningham, esquire
Audiofeel, have you given any consideration to a long cold shower?
I replaced the Gold Hi Fi tuning fuses with the Supreme tuning fuses in four components with excellent results. The gold made nearly no difference but the supreme was clearly a step up.
Here are the putative explanations I've been able to find for why a fancy fuse might improve sound quality...

1. Lower DC resistance
2. Less voltage drop
3. Lower microphonics
4. More conductive materials
5. Better electrical contact between fuse caps and fuse wire
6. Better mechanical contact between fuse and clips
7. Better conductivity due to cryo treatment

For the folks who know about these things, do any of those seem plausible?

Bryon
Bryon, If these fuses make "major difference in sound" as Tbg stated then why manufacturer's don't install them in gear they sell - they do install many other expensive parts. Perhaps they feel that the difference in not so "major" (if any) and not worth price increase (even when amp costs $50k). Do you know of any manufacturer, even very pricey one, that installs "supreme" fuses in stock gear?
Kijanki, manufacturers don't want to alienate other fuse manufacturers or prospective customers as they don't want to alienate cable manufacturers or customers. I know several manufacturers who privately express opinion on fuses.
04-29-12: Kijanki
If these fuses make "major difference in sound" as Tbg stated then why manufacturer's don't install them in gear they sell...

Hi Kijanki - That's a fair question. I suspect that if fuses did indeed make a major difference, and a manufacturer was aware of it, he MIGHT be inclined to include them in his products.

On the other hand, there are very well respected manufacturers who do NOT include accessories that many audiophiles consider essential to good sound. Most amplifiers, even quite expensive ones, come with generic power cords. My Pass amp came with the same power cord as my microwave. If you believe power cords have an effect on sound quality, then why don't manufacturers include better ones?

Power cords are just one example. I am also aware of a $12K preamp from a very well known manufacturer that has a $55 off-the-shelf power supply. Are we to believe that the manufacturer thinks that a preamp's power supply is unimportant to its sound quality?

In other words, I think that "Manufacturers don't use it, therefore it doesn't affect sound quality" is not a valid inference.

Having said that, I will repeat that I am not convinced that fuses affect sound quality, in spite of a personal experience in which they seemed to. I am open to both sides of the argument. That is why, in my last post, I asked folks to weigh in on the plausibility of the technical explanations offered by manufacturers of fancy fuses. I know you have considerable technical expertise. Do any of the items on that list strike you as plausible?

Bryon
Hi Bryon,

Sounds like you've done a good job of unearthing the kinds of explanations I'd expect to see offered for the supposed benefits of upgraded fuses. I suspect, however, that few if any of the offerings provide a quantitative perspective on the factors you listed.

Re item 3, I have no idea why reducing microphonics in an AC line fuse, if indeed there are any microphonic effects to be reduced, would have any effect on sonics.

All of the other items would have the effect of reducing voltage drops across the fuse or its contacts with the holder, and thereby increasing the voltage provided to the component. In the case of Class AB and Class D amplifiers, that draw widely fluctuating amounts of current, fluctuation of the voltage provided to the component would also be reduced.

That sounds good until we look at it quantitatively. Here and here are data sheets for garden-variety fuses whose characteristics I believe typify the kinds of fuses that would be used in audio components.

It can be seen that the higher amperage fuses, that would be used in power amplifiers, have voltage drops at maximum rated current in the rough ballpark of 0.1 volts, or slightly more in some cases. That drop would be somewhat less at the derated current levels they are presumably used at. For 1 or 2 amp fuses, such as might be used in line-level components, the voltage drops are generally a significant fraction of 1 volt at maximum rated current, and slightly more than 1 volt in one case.

In the case of Class AB and Class D amplifiers, fluctuations in the voltage seen by the component that would result from fluctuations in the amount of current being drawn through the fuse would be some fraction of that 0.1 volts.

Even if the upgraded fuses reduced those voltage drops and fluctuations to zero (which they won't, of course), would such small differences have any audible significance? I suspect that with some components in some systems at some line voltages there might be a marginally perceptible difference. However even if there were a difference, I don't see any reason to expect that it would be consistently in the direction of being better. Especially given that at many locations these days the AC voltage at the wall outlet is higher than the 120V or thereabouts that the components are presumably voiced at.

Best,
-- Al
A characteristically thoughtful and well informed answer. Thanks, Al. You have raised the level of my skepticism about what I MIGHT have heard when I installed the fuses.

I think I will A/B the ordinary and the fancy fuse and see if I can reproduce the effect. I may even experiment with direction. :-0

Bryon
After thinking about this for a while I now believe in directionality.

Facing your speakers and having your back to them, should produce a noticeable audible difference.

Even my pet dog Tommy heard the changes in a series of deaf, dumb, and blind tests.

Thanks Al and Bryon
I just think that if there is really a "major difference in sound" manufacturers would upgrade their fuses. Power cords either don't cause "major" difference" or manufacturer assumes you replace them to your liking. Unfortunately fuse in my Rowland 102 is inside protected by 5 years of warranty that is void upon opening of the unit. Why then Rowland decided to use standard fuses? Manufacturer's use other expensive components like Teflon caps - why wouldn't they change component that causes "major sound difference"?

Take into consideration that thermal energy to melt the fuse is described by I^2*t factor. With the same time and same current resistance of the fuse has to be pretty much the same to cause the same amount of heat, unless melting temperature is way lower - not likely with the silver in comparison to low melting point of special alloys used in fuse construction.

Don't get me wrong - I've never tried Hi-Fi fuses, but before I pay $100 per piece I'd like to understand why manufacturers don't use them and how they were able to reduce voltage drop without use of special alloys.
Refuse the re-fusers, or fuse with them...it's that simple.
04-29-12: Bryoncunningham
Here are the putative explanations I've been able to find for why a fancy fuse might improve sound quality...

1. Lower DC resistance
2. Less voltage drop
3. Lower microphonics
4. More conductive materials
5. Better electrical contact between fuse caps and fuse wire
6. Better mechanical contact between fuse and clips
7. Better conductivity due to cryo treatment

For the folks who know about these things, do any of those seem plausible?

Of course they seem plausible. Well, with the exception of cryo treatment. Every skeptic worth his salt knows that cryo treatment is like hunting the snark, you can't see it and you can't measure it. But can you hear it? That's the question. Answer at 11.
Well, if this is an issue of lower voltage drop or microphonics then I will pass, since my amp has line/load regulated power supply while case is made of solid billet of aluminum - not likely to vibrate.
"Well, if this is an issue of lower voltage drop or microphonics then I will pass, since my amp has line/load regulated power supply while case is made of solid billet of aluminum - not likely to vibrate."

Well, at least not at high frequencies.
Some kind of unfriendly ghost doesn't want me to A/B anything. When I decided to A/B grounding pigtails in a friend's system a couple weeks ago, he suddenly blew a tweeter. The replacement tweeter still hasn't showed up.

When I decided to A/B my Hifi Tuning fuses 2 days ago, I removed the fuse from the amp and cracked the fuse housing! It still works, but taking it in and out of the amp 10 times to A/B is a bad idea. I talked to Pass Labs yesterday (they are really nice guys, btw), and they are sending me another fuse housing free of charge. Should be here in a couple days. So I will in fact A/B these little suckers.

I'll report back about whether I hear Magic or Placebo. Admittedly, they sound similar, but I'm doing my best to keep honest.

Bryon
For now I've decided to ignore opinions about high end fuses and avoid using them unless somebody gives me one. It just seems like a simpler way to go, and hey, I have to take a stand someplace. Please feel free to ignore this opinion.
For me, when the day comes when my sound is not right, and all options I know of to correct the situation fail, I might try replacing a fuse just to make sure the ones there are not defective, but again all I would practically care about is the right power rating and size so the dern thing blows reliably when it should. That is the main function of a fuse after all and no doubt that is when they matter the most by far!
Mapman,

Your ARC Pre will reward you if you gave the fuse holder a clean (deoxit) & added a Hifi tuning fuse. Short of buying new music, probably the best way to blow $35 in your system IMHO.
Good to see people getting their humor fuses lit in this thread! I don't know about high-end fuses but cheap ceramic ones made an obvious sonic difference in my Manley Stingray II. It shipped with ceramic BUSS fuses, which blew in the filament-exploding sense. So I bought identical value BUSS fuses in glass and they blew in the pejorative sense. I mean, serious degradation of sound quality, hard and edgy. So I sourced some BUSS ceramic fuses like the stock ones for around a buck each and the Stingray sounded right again. Go figure. But the difference was real.
Wrm57, aren't you concerned about your masculinity in admitting this? Certainly your chances of getting into heaven are harmed.
Wrm57, The glass fuses sounded hard and edgy? Hmmmm, that's interesting, that's what fuses sound like when they're installed in the wrong direction.
Geoffkait, yes that is interesting. I *think* I reversed the glass one--it's something I'd be likely to do--but I can't recall for certain. Once the ceramic went in, I was happy again and thought no more about it.
My sincere and premature congrats with flipping this precious topic to the next page. wires are just out of fashion nowdays LOL!
Don't forget to try them ǝpısdn uʍop. This may give different results. Even on the top half of the world!
Thats so cool. How did u get those letters upside down?

05-03-12: Podeschi
Thats so cool. How did u get those letters upside down?

I did it the easy way here
"I did it the easy way here"

New toy! Useful! Thanks!
˙ɹɐǝƃ oıpnɐ uɐɥʇ ʎoʇ ʍǝu ɹǝdɐǝɥɔ ɥɔnɯ
¿ʇno sıɥʇ ʞɔǝɥɔ oʇ ƃuıoƃ ɹoʇɐɹǝpoɯ ǝɥʇ sı ʍoɥ
I read that it is better to replace fuses with circuit breakers, when possible.
I can't picture a circuit breaker doing any better than a fuse. They have pressure contacts that may not make as good of a connection as a fuse. Audio gear rarely blows fuses. Also, a fuse makes a good connection, which would result in less noise in my opinion.

Breakers are safer in dangerous locations, and more convenient. But, otherwise I can't see any gain. My Air ran a lot today, and the breaker in the breaker panel (for A/C) is humming again. I'll replace it, but I wonder if it's generating electrical noise too.

A lot of TV sets have fuses, and you don't see any bad results from them. They did try circuit breakers in TV sets, roughly the sixties, or seventies, I believe, and those did go bad. Some did cause some picture noise. I've never seen a fuse do this in a TV. They either worked, or blew.

Actually, has anyone ever had to get a noisy fuse replaced?

Fuses work. I figure if it's not broke, don't fix it. No new (unknown?) problems this way.
See this thread for a discussion of the advisability of substituting a circuit breaker for a fuse. It is not a good idea IMO.

Regards,
-- Al
The Audio Magic Nano-Liquid fuses are by far the best I have tried.

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue61/audiomagic_nano.htm
Hifisoundguy, if you think so. I imagine they make your Bose speakers sound good for you.
The alleged benefits of the Nano fuse are obviated by my ability to buy 6 new CDs, several LPs ( I get nice used ones locally), or years of ear wax removal kits for my $60...and that's just one fuse. If there was a "fuse loaner" program out there I'd gladly participate in it, otherwise count me out as a gear specific and selective "Luddite/Philistine seeker of free fuses."
-----------THE RESULTS ARE IN--------

Today I had an opportunity to A/B the Hifi Tuning fuses with the stock fuses. As I was alone, I was not able to A/B/X. For those of you who believe that that invalidates my observations, you can stop reading. For everybody else...

The answer is Yes, I heard a difference between the Hifi Tuning fuses and the stock fuses. Here's the good part...

I preferred the stock fuses.

I suppose that makes me a fool twice over. First, for buying the damn things. Second, for initially preferring them. In my defense, I didn't hear much of a difference when I put the Hifi Tuning fuse in my *preamp* a few weeks ago, and so I didn't actually prefer it to the stock fuse. When I put the Hifi Tuning fuse into my *amp* a few weeks ago, there was a noticeable jump in headroom. But I could NOT reproduce that effect today. I therefore suspect that the initial jump in headroom was attributable to...

1. My imagination.
2. The possibility that the new fuse was clean and the old fuse was dirty.
3. The dog turning up the volume while my back was turned.

Returning to today's results...

What I DID hear today was a "phasiness" with the Hifi Tuning fuses, which sounded like a combination of decreased clarity, softening of transients, and slight loss of imaging focus. This was most perceptible in the bass during fairly loud playback.

For those of you who think this is all nonsense, I don't really have a good response, since I did not A/B/X. So I am prepared to endure your ridicule.

Bryon
Hi Bryon,

As you might expect, I'm not surprised.

Among the three possible reasons that you hypothesized for the non-repeatable initial perception, btw, I suspect that reason 1 was not the cause, and it was due either to differences in contact integrity or to actions by the dog. :-)

In view of your findings, and the comment by Wrm57 on 5-1-12 as well as my technically-based comment on 4-29-12, it would be interesting if some of those who swear by the expensive fuses were to undertake a comparison between a number of different kinds of inexpensive fuses, performing the comparison in a manner such that the possibility of extraneous variables affecting the results is eliminated, per my post of 4-28-12.

Best,
-- Al
Hifitime , my Bose 901's has never sounded better after putting two coats of Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Glue on the paper cones and dust covers !!....

The purpose in doing this is to tame breakup resonance modes. In doing these coatings on these paper cones, you are able to extend the frequency range on both ends and avoid ugly response peaks in the midrange of these paper cones.

In all the years that Bose has been selling these 901's I'm amazed that they have not tried using treated paper cones !!...
Bryoncunningham...maybe you put 'em in backwards.
I got more HiFi Tuning Supreme fuses in. The only one I have installed so far went into a prototype dac where I had an IsoClean fuse that had been Tesla coil treated by SR and painted by me with AVM. The result is typical. The sound stage became more realistic and the transients sharper. The other two will go into one of my preamps and into my phono stage.
Hi Wolf - I tried them forwards, sdrawkcab, miɿɿoɿɘb, uʍop ǝpısdn, and ndsıpǝ poʍu ɐup qɐɔʞʍɐɹps.

Hi Al - I agree it would be interesting to test a number of different cheap fuses. If my listening tests are valid, then there is an audible difference among at least some fuses. But like cables, more expensive doesn't always mean better.

Bryon
Nothing beats a "realistic" soundstage. However, if my soundstage became more realistic my agoraphobia (not to be confused with "angoraphobia", an irrational fear of certain sweaters) would set in, and nobody wants that. To test fuses, I think you need 2 absolutely identical systems, or at least 2 identical pieces of gear with and without the "special" fuses. Then have somebody switch them without you knowing and allow for break-in time, perhaps allowing time for a visit to your therapist to help you with the compulsive side of your hobby/fetish ...there ya go!
In MF Shunyata Triton review, Caelin Gabriel invented the DTCD Analyzer that can measure anything that conducts current. He found even fuses measure differently. So theoretically fuses should sound differently in a component but like everything else, it's a function of the component.

In the PS Audio PerfectWave DAC II upgrade, fuses are one of changes. If all fuses sound the same, why bother changing the fuses? I'll let y'all draw your own conclusions.
Knghifi, you are probably right, but who is going to have a stable of fuses lying around and the patience to try each of five fuses in each component to see. I suspect to that there is an interaction between what fuse is in one device and what is in another in your system. This is then further complicated by devices with multiple fuses within them.

Basically, I change one fuse in one component and wait some time for it to settle. Sometimes I have the patience to go back to the original fuse. I can say that I thought the Supreme in the dac had a bigger benefit than those in the amps, but hey that may be the cumulative effect of the fuses.

Wolf_garcia, as the old southern adage goes, "throw me into that briar patch."
I probably mentioned this before but if you have the original stock fuses in the component you can play the old reverse the fuse direction game to squeeze some more out of the system. All you need is a good set of ears. If the component has only one fuse reverse it's direction and see if the sound got better or worse. You can tell when the direction of the fuse is wrong when the sound is relatively harsh or strident and moore distorted. When the fuse direction is correct the sound will be more natural, with relatively less distortion and grain. If there are multiple fuses, reverse them one at a time, listening each time to see if the sound got better or worse. Sometimes it might be a close call, if it is leave the fuse as is and go to the next one. After all fuses have been auditioned for directionality repeat the procedure to verify. At the end of all this your sound should be considerably better than when you started.

"An ordinary man has no means of deliverance." - old audiophile axiom
05-06-12: Knghifi
In MF Shunyata Triton review, Caelin Gabriel invented the DTCD Analyzer that can measure anything that conducts current. He found even fuses measure differently. So theoretically fuses should sound differently in a component but like everything else, it's a function of the component.
I haven't reviewed those particular measurements, but as a philosophical observation I would comment that a measurable difference by no means necessarily indicates the likelihood of a sonic difference. It depends on both the amount of the difference, and the sensitivity of the design to that difference.

Every electrical part in every component has specified and/or measurable ranges of variation ("tolerances") for numerous electrical parameters, and measurable differences will exist even between two parts of the same type that were manufactured at the same time by the same manufacturer. That applies to transistors, tubes, integrated circuits, resistors, capacitors, diodes, inductors, transformers, fuses, etc. A good design will minimize or eliminate sensitivity to those differences, within the range over which they can be expected to occur.

Regards,
-- Al