I have halogens on a dimmer in my living room with my HT system. Though I have a Tice AV power conditioner, when I dim the lights I can hear noise comming through my system. This is minimized by turning the halogens all the way up. If you plan on using them, my guess is you'll need to have them on a different AC line than your system. Not having tried this, I'm not sure even that is totally safe. Good luck.
Low voltage halogens provide great outstanding atmosphere lighting for a listening room, BUT, the step-down transformer that is a part of the inexpensive fixtures will make a significant amout of mechanical noise if the lights are set at a moderately dim setting. This isn't noise induced into your system, but it is still a distraction for critical listening. There is an alternative, however. If you go through a specialty lighting supply store, you can get better low voltage halogens, the kind you see in commercial applications like restuarants and museums. These use a remote transformer that can be placed some distance away from the listening position, to reduce noise. Much more expensive than the Home Depot variety, but if I had it to do over again, I'd go that route. Good luck.
Why couldn't you just remotely locate the transformer from the home-depot type lights?
A classic priorities question. Low voltage and dimmers are bad news for audio, separate lines or not. If the look is worth it, then do it, but it has a cost. I have a dimmer in my dedicated room, but I turn it off when I listen (I actually turn off all the dimmers and hologens in the whole house), using my trusty lava lamp for atmosphere. It's on a separate line from the audio, BTW.
I once had (for a few seconds) one of those cheap 'torchiere' up-lights that use halogen bulbs. The first time I switched it on, not only was a large amount of noise introduced that began spitting out at me through the speakers, a nasty and very loud buzz started emanating from INSIDE my amplifier. The light was of course quickly packed up and still sits in a dark corner of my basement. This was one of the ultra-cheap $19.99 garden variety lamps and I would expect some better results from upscale halogen lights of better construction, but still...
To answer Ed's question...on inexpensive halogens, a small transformer is built into each individual lighting fixture, so there is no way to isolate the source of the noise from the source of the light. The Home Depot-type tracks are called "low voltage", but the the voltage running through the track is 110V. The step down occurs at the fixture. True low-volatge systems run 12v through the track, which limits the length of the track run due to voltage drop.
Ok, well I guess that about sums it up! So what's the alternative for lighting? I found a nice set of wall sconces, with a cobalt and red shades but they wanted a ridiculous price for them, like $180 ea.
one alternative would be to use the low voltage lighting system but convert it to pure DC. Some home-brew technical expertise would be essential to accomplish this.
It's easier than that. I installed low-voltage baby halogens atop my window inside frames for dramatic soft lighting of my drapes, but at TERRIBLE acoustic penalty...WITH wall-wart 12v transformers. And yes, they DO radiate into the audio...even when not on the same dedicated lines. OTOH I have in-room incandescents that are dimmed by a normal pot and they're COMPLETELY quiet!
So for $6 just get a rotary or slide dimmer and control incandescent 115 v lights, and leave the low voltage or halogen ornamentals for non-audio entertaining. I'm still surprised at the difference in noise level. I don't even hear incandescent filament "singing", either, from the 40 watt candelabra-shaped bulbs, whereas those baby halogens make muy system sound like my old short-wave receiver!
I have the answer your looking for! We just finished remodling the den, which is where the audio & projection systems are located. My electrician promised me that the low voltage lighting (12 volt) he would put in wouldn't make any sound. Well, I went along with his suggestion, and he was right! He used a unit made by "Elco". I believe the modle number is EL1499R. The cost was just under $26 each at the electrical supply. Each unit has its own transformer, but I can't hear any sound comming from them, and neither can anyone else! The dimmer that we're using is made by Lutron, and is called the "Spacer System". Very cool dimmer; works off an IR remote, and can be programmed for 4 different lighting levels. Hope this helps! Ken
Ken, sounds like you're into h.t., maybe more than just stereo? I'm curious what your system is?
I've been into high-end audio since the mid 70's. My "current" system is pretty much a full blown Cello system, complete with a pair of Grandmasters. During this most recent remodeling job, we ran 5 dedicated 20 amp lines into the den, and used the Cryo-treated Hubbells for the outlets - a huge difference in bass response! As far as the projector goes, I installed a Sanyo PLV-70 into the ceiling, and project it on a Stewart Firehawk screen. The quality of the projected image is awsome, but my true obsession remains two channel audio...
Thanks, that really helps clarify things. Obviously, with your system you would clearly hear any "hum" coming from your dimmers. I will see if I can locate those switches. I can't help wondering if the cryo hubbles didn't also help? I just order 4 myself from Albert Porter.
I think I may have confused you: The dedicated lines with the Hubbells are for the audio & video systems ONLY. Do NOT run the lighting on the same circuts you are running for the audio system - keep them separated, and preferrably far apart! By the way, you will find that Albert Porter is a prince of a guy to deal with, he was kind enough to Cryo-treat some Hubbells I already had a couple of months ago. Additionally, Bob Bundus & Ernie (Subaruguru) who both answered your thread, have each forgotten more than I'll ever know about the technical side of audio. I think my experience with the low-voltage lighting not making any noise was purely dumb luck! Good luck with your project. Ken G.
No, don't worry, you didn't mislead me. I know not to run the lights on the same circuits as the audio. And I usually tune in to both Bob and Ernies posts on the tech side. Both, as well as Albert and so many others here have been very helpful in providing me info on a number of issues related to constructing my listening room.