Have you ever sniffed your AC ???

If so, what did it smell like ??? Hopefully, you didn't get carbon residue from sticking your nose too far into the socket and "arcing out" : )

Honestly though, i just received an AudioPrism AC Line Sniffer in the mail today. I had posted a wanted ad to either buy or "rent" one of these units. I had purchased several Audioprism Quiet Lines and wanted to see if i could find optimum points of installation for them. Another inmate contacted me and was thoughtful enough to ship his out to me on a "temporary basis". After using it a bit, i think i'll keep it ( just funnin' Ross ).

If you're not familiar with Quiet Lines or the Noise Sniffer, Quiet Lines look like little "wall warts" without any cord coming out of them. By "wall wart", i'm talking about the little black or white plug in transformers that come with cell phone chargers, video games, cordless phones, etc... These contain what are called a "parallel line filter". In English, it is simply a tuned circuit that is designed to trap and filter AC line noise. You simply plug them in and they work ( supposedly ).

The Noise Sniffer is a box with a front mounted speaker, a volume control and a two pronged power cord. Needless to say, it's not too tough to work. You plug it in, adjust the volume and listen. Hopefully, you won't hear much at all. If you do, that simply means that your AC line is "dirty" and has noise on it. The more noise that you hear, the more severe the problem. This noise can be coming from the outside lines or from something that is pumping noise back into the line right in your own residence. As such, you can somewhat narrow down exactly what is creating "hash" within your AC system by doing some simple detective work.

By plugging the Noise Sniffer into various outlets around the joint, you can see which outlets ( or devices ) are generating the most noise. Obviously, the usual suspects will be the fridge, computer, etc... You might be surprised what you can hear and track down with this little device though.

I first plugged in the Noise Sniffer at work ( that's where i had it shipped to ). I am in a large commercial building with TONS of electrical devices running all over the place. MAN, was there a nasty, hashy buzz coming out of the speaker. Talk about annoying. This happened in every outlet i tried. I assumed that i would get this, as i had run into major problems with noise and interference coming into my test equipment before. I had also assumed that a large commercial building like this would be a LOT noisier than my personal residence. BOY, was i WRONG.....

Once i made it home, i plugged the Audio Sniffer into an outlet in the HT room. BZZZZZZ, CRACKLE, POP, POP, POP, etc... Wow. Just as nasty and possibly even worse than at the shop :( Besides the continual nasty hash and grit, the "popping" was on a time schedule. It appeared to be coming through about once every second. I proceeded to check several other outlets, all with the same results. I began to wonder "is there ANY place with clean AC" and "what the hell is giving me that damn POP" ??? After doing further testing, i don't think there is such a thing as "clean AC".

In the instruction booklet, it talks about testing various outlets, finding the noisiest ones and installing a Quiet Line filter in those spots. Well, if that is the case, i would need a filter for EVERY outlet in the house. Not ONE was any better than the other, they were ALL terrible !!!

Out of curiosity, i tried plugging the Sniffer into one of the outlets in my Monster HTS-2500 PLC in my computer room system. I was overjoyed. SILENCE !!!! I proceeded to crank up the gain and put my ear very near the speaker. Ever so faintly, i could barely hear the "pop, pop, pop" of whatever it was. Well, the "lowly" Monster had gotten rid of 98% of all the noise. I decided to try some of the other unused outlets on the HTS-2500. Since i'm not using the outlet labled "Amplifier", i plugged the cord in there. Now i could hear a very plain "POP, POP, POP". However, all of the other hashy, crackly grit was gone. Evidently, the amplifier section on this filter doesn't have quite as much filtering. One might expect this though given the power demands of an amp and the increased cost of filtering at higher current levels.

Having found this out, i ran over to the living room with the HT system in it. I wanted to do a comparison between the units. I plugged the Sniffer into the HTS-2000 PLC that i am using there. All of the outlets gave the same initial response as the HTS-2500 did. Dead quiet with an extremely quiet "pop, pop, pop" way down in the bottom of the speaker. Plugging it into the "amplifier" outlet on the HTS-2000 gave me the same results as the 2500 again. "POP, POP, POP" but with no hashy grit. Okay, these "power line conditioners" and "filters" REALLY do work.

By this point in time, i had played around / done enough investigating and wanted to find the source of that damn "pop". I plugged the Sniffer into an outlet, cranked up the gain and started pulling plugs out of the wall room by room. I assumed that it was something connected to a timer or a clock, as it seemed to occur every second or so. I think that i narrowed it down to one of the clocks in the master bedroom. With two alarm clocks and a VCR in there, i was sure that i had found the culprit. Since my girlfriend was trying to go to sleep, i was greeted with .... well, you get the idea. I'll have to try tracking it down further sometime tomorrow.

As to seeing what the Quiet Lines did, i plugged the Noise Sniffer into the bottom outlet of a dual wall socket. This outlet is on the same circuit as my system in the computer room. I cranked up the gain and heard nothing but hashy grit and popping. I took a Quiet Line, plugged it into the outlet above it aaaaand..... silence. All of the hashy grit was gone. The "popping" was still there, but it was DRASTICALLY subdued. Needless to say, i was SOLD and SOLD BIGTIME on these little "wall wart filters". The fact that you could plug them in ANYWHERE and "suck up" noise makes them as versatile as you could possibly ever hope for.

I proceeded to install a Quiet Line into an unused outlet on each of the PLC's in each of my systems. I figured that putting it as close to the source of where the components are getting their power is as good as it gets. This should filter some of the junk that "sneaks by" the PLC itself AND "snag" any garbage that is being pumped back into the line from some of the noisier ( i.e. "digital" ) components. Kind of a "two fer one" type of deal if you ask me.

I'll have to hunt down the source of my "pop, pop, popping" sometime later this week. Hopefully, some ferrite on the power cord at the source will take care of that situation. I'll also be looking for other good places to install the rest of my Quiet Lines.

I'll keep you folks posted as to what i find. Knowing what makes noise, how to treat it at the source, etc... is always good to know. In the meantime, I can't begin to recommend the Audioprism products enough. I've already noticed a reduction in treble smear and seem to have a blacker background. As to those that doubted the benefits of AC line filtering, hearing is believing. Or should i say "NOT hearing is believing" ??? Sean
Thanks Sean, excellent and very helpful. Can't use the noise sniffer in this our 230VAC country, but have used the Audioprism wallfartremovers to good effect. Thought it was my imagination, doubting Thomas that I am, but now I see, it wasn't. Cheers,
Hi Sean, Detlof: Any negative side-effects with the "wallfartremovers" (choking dynamics, etc)?
I've been curious about the Monster HTS2000/2500. Good to hear they work as advertised. Also good to hear about the AP Quiet Lines. I think I'll give 'em a try.

Greg, i can't see these doing anything to limit current supply to the equipment since they work in parallel to the line going to the gear. There is nothing in series with the component draw, so i can't see it affecting ANYTHING with the components other than having a lack of noise feeding into them. Needless to say, i haven't noticed anything but benefits with them. I have had them running prior to using the "sniffer", but have changed my "plan of attack" slightly since i could literally "hear" how well they worked. I previously had them spread out through the house whereas i now have them as close to the system as possible. As mentioned though, i do have a few more spares and will be hunting for a place to install them.

If someone is interested in these devices, two good sources for them are Oliver at Delve Audio ( listed here on Agon ) or Bes at Music Direct (www.amusicdirect.com). If you have a local dealer that you like working with, try contacting them. I'm sure that they would appreciate the business. Sean
Greg,no need for me to pipe in. Sean has said it all!
Sean, I have been using Quiet Lines for a long while and posted my positive results as well. My experience was much as yours, except I did not have the benefit of the noise sniffer. Instead, I listened to my sound system, moving the Quiet Lines from place to place.

The best results were had by placing one or more filters at or as near the source of the noise as possible. I have one at my refrigerator, air conditioner, microwave, both televisions, my computer and even on the circuits powering the bathroom vents.

The only possible negative is devices that use AC lines to talk to each other. These are outside lights that chime a bell or light a light when a person walks into the passive infrared beam. These are helpful to make you aware of a person approaching your home or garage.

Other devices such as wireless doorbells work along the same lines of technology. After plugging in the Quite lines, these devices no longer work. I guess this is a small price to pay for audio excellence. Just wanted to "warn" other Audiogon members that some of their gadgets may no longer work, once the power is scrubbed clean.
HTS 2000 series is a great product by the money invested.
You want to kick it up a notch, raise the HTS from the floor.
Want to do it again put spikes underneath, still not satisfied? Want a different flavor? put some sandwich bags filled with sand and place the HTS or your favorite conditioner on top and you have very good chances of improving ....
Do you want better imaging and soundstaging?
GIVE IT A TRY !!!!!!!
Vibration is there spoiling your signals
If interested can provide DIY Cheap things to try and see how up or down in tweakdom you are.....(by this I mean that in spite of your $ investment if you don´t take care of the environment where you place your equipment there are a couple of nice surprises waiting)

Want to go ballistic.....try daisy chaining the HTS you might end up with a nice sound without having to wart all your home around
Happy listening
I would like to thank Sean for his detailed post. I also use the Audioprism Sniffer and the wallwarts. They are excellent. I have also used an expensive Oscilloscope to verify that the Sniffer was both catching all the noise and not firing on a clean circuit. The sniffer is accurate. One additional use is to see how much junk many very expensive digital transports, DACs etc. put BACK out on the line. Put a multiway plug into a clean AC source. Plug in the sniffer and then plug in the digital device. Here is a cause for filtered power cords.
When I got my Sniffer, I discovered horrible noises above and beyond the typical "buzz", coming from where the computer was plugged in (ouch, has to be on same circuit as the stereo). Turns out it was due to daisy chaining (I know, I know) 2 power strips. Screwed a six way splitter over the wall outlet, un-daisy chained the strips, and noise was gone (at least after the UPS is charged up).

Next, got a somewhat random popping noise before and after an Adcom ACE-515. Turns out I had the TV plugged into one of the low level outlets. Moved it to an amp outlet, and popping noise was gone. In both cases, I believe that the MOVs were firing due to inappropriate loads.

Now for the big news: if you think that "digital" components necessarily make more noise than "analog" components, play around with a Sniffer. I'm using PS Audio Ultimate Outlets on the output of a P600 to keep the noisy gear from polluting each other. The Sniffer takes the guess work out of getting that last bit of performance.

My entire system is plugged into 3 dedicated circuits. Do you feel they would be of value there? I would need only three; the number of cirscuits.

If I plugged the warts into my dedicated lines, would they cause my "wireless" dimmer switches to not work?


For clarity sakes, when I mentioned Daisy chaining HTS´s the idea is not to overload the outlet but by judicious use of them enhance the filtering for low power consumption components.
Albert: I was using these prior to borrowing the Noise Sniffer myself. Using the Sniffer simply woke me up to how effective they really are. You can literally hear first hand how dirty your AC is and how much cleaner it is with the Quiet Lines. It is one HELLUVA "before and after" demonstration. The same goes for a good PLC. My partner at work was literally amazed and now wants to invest in a good PLC for his HT system. He's always laughed at my "audiofool gadgets". Not this time though.

Thanks for the "heads up" about the QL's putting the "whammy" on some "wireless" components. Running into unexpected problems like that can make you pull your hair out. I can already see someone installing these and then having to call an electrician to see what is wrong with the wiring. You probably just saved someone else a few bucks and a LOT of headaches....

Pls1: If you use some type of filter or choke at the power input of the digital device, you can minimize the problems that you mention. Once the digital device generates the noise, not only is it sending the RFI back into the line, it is using the power cord as an antenna. The use of ferrite chokes directly at the power cord as it goes into the IEC inlet to the unit or even WITHIN the unit at the power leads feeding the IEC receptable can help prevent / mimimize this from occuring. You can use one larger ferrite on the outside of the power cord or individual ferrite beads within the unit.

I also use a modified TG Audio "Linesucker" between my PLC and the transport / dac on one of my systems for this very reason. It simply adds more filtering going both in and OUT of those units. As such, it should minimize crosstalk given the common connection at the PLC.

Mrowlands: I'd be curious as to see how much one of those "fancy outlets" actually reduces the noise in terms of dB's. I have a HARD time believing the claims of some of these specific products. Then again, i would have never dreamed that the little Quiet Lines could have been nearly as effective as they are.

To everyone else : ) As to the source of my "popping", i've been able to track it down to something on the second floor. After tripping EVERY breaker in the house, i finally found which circuit it was on. After unplugging / turning off everything on that circuit ( or so i thought ), i still coulndn't get rid of it. I'm wondering if it is a problem with an actual outlet or a GFI ??? Whatever it is, it is QUITE strong. It is present in every outlet in the house, from the second story down to the basement. This one obviously requires some more time to figure out.

For the record, i will be buying one of the Sniffers. I can see TONS of different uses for it. One could even test the effectiveness of various "hi end" power cords that are supposedly "filtered". All one would have to do is build an adapter that went from a standard female wall outlet ( to power the Sniffer ) to a male IEC and you'd be set. Since i've been working on several different "home brew" power cords, i know it will be money well spent. I can now actually "listen" to the differences in designs and see what is most effective.

Thanks to AudioPrism for making this unit and to "my secret connection" for lending me the Sniffer. It has REALLY opened my eyes to something that i took for granted. It also confirms the excellent and very informative series of articles that i just read about AC "grunge" in AudioXpress. Sean
Would you do one more test and let us know the results? You mentioned that you "proceeded to install a Quiet Line into an unused outlet on each of the PLC's in each of my systems". Would you now check that configuration with the sniffer and let us know the resulting differences from before when you checked the results of using just the PLC?
Thanks and happy listening!
Myraj, that should be no problem. I'll have to wait till tomorrow or Thursday though. Sorry for the delay, but i've got a long list of requests : )

For those that are interested, here's another interesting article written by David Magnan that someone was kind enough to forward to me. This one may really tickle the fancy of the DIY'ers in the group as he gives some very explicit directions on how to build "the ultimate parallel line filter". He also goes GONZO on making recommendations as to how many QL's and other similar products you need to use. As enthused as i am about seeing how effective the Quiet Lines and PLC's are, i'll still have to draw the line somewhere. I think that most of you folks will agree. Sean

I've been using Quiet lines. I have never used a "Sniffer". So far I do not think I can tell a difference with, or without them. I have left them in for days, then removed them to see if I detected any more grain or noise. I think anything I detected was more psychological. However, there is a likely reason for this--and I was curious if anyone could confirm what I suspect. The quiet lines shunt noise to the neutral line (not ground). On my system the dedicated lines are run two live poles out of phase at +/- 55 volts--so there really is no neutral pole. This is a very effective way of filtering out noise, and may be why the quiet lines are not effective (but they seem to do no harm either). Does anyone know, if in my configuration, they can (from a technical standpoint) filter noise with 2 live poles, or am I just not getting the benefit because the dedicated line is already so isolated (via toroidal transformer) and filtered that their effect is minimal?
THANKS Sean & all others for "showing me the way to the next" ...mega tweak. And I thought I was well versed in things audiophile. Well, live (read &) learn, I suppose!
I have started to work with the Magnan site suggestions with filters and these work , there is no placebo effect. Let me bring your attention to the effect described in Magnan site regarding the pausing of the CD player that resinchronizes and improves sound quality. I detect this in my system. Peruse the info , worth looking into it.
Sean, I'm wondering if you're thinking that the PS Audio Ultimate Outlet is just an outlet. It's really got a type of transformer in it (check their website for the hairy details), and from "earballing" it with the Noise Sniffer, I have no reason to doubt the 40db spec. It definitely blows away a Quiet Line in terms of noise reduction.

Mike R.
Thanks sean, a few questions: 1.) have you compared the Enacom/Combak A.C. Cord End Audio Compensator to the Audio Prism Quiet Line with the Line Sniffer? Dave Magnan claims that the capacitors in the Enacom are superior to the ones in the Quiet Line, and I was wondering if this resulted in a detectable improvement in noise elimination. Second question: 2.) have you experimented with the Audio Prism Wave Guide or ACFX? --For your information, the POPs are my main problem. These are not mysterious, well-timed sequences like yours, but random bursts created by the turn-on/turn-off of appliances in my apartment. I have identified the culprits one-by-one, and they are really no surprise: refrigerator, door bell, computer, answering machine, TV (I never had light dimmers and digital alarm clocks to deal with). Living in Europe, I am limited to Enacom (which I use in multiple arrangements), at least until Audio Prism puts out a Quiet Line with Schucko plug, which should come out in a few months, I am told. Of course, the Quiet Line is tested at 240 V and thus can be used in Europe, but I do not want to use it with adaptors at all. Last question: 3.) Has anyone tried out the D.I.Y. line filter system that Dave Magnan outlines: the one with the 4-10 microfarad 400-600 DC metallized polypropylene film caps? All in all, I find extremely interesting the claim that parallel line filters can bring about a larger improvement than series filter type conditioners.
Slawney, nice to see you here again! Why don't you want to use the Quiet Lines with adaptors? Do you think it would degrade their performance? If yes, how do you think would that be possible? I use adapters with them and as I said above, I think that using them was beneficial. Cheers,
Detlof, always good to hear from you. Knowing that you live in Switzerland and use Quiet Lines, I had thought that you were using them with adaptors. Adaptors degrade performance, because the conducting materials, and connection points of every adaptor I have ever seen are mechanically and electronically inferior to most every audio plug. It is even a luxury to find an adaptor with a ground connection! Some adaptors make me ask myself, "are these things legal, safe?" They are particularly pernicious with heavy-weight audiophile AC cords, which tend to short them out if the weight distribution is not right. Also, adaptors seem to introduce unwanted impedance and inductance. As far as the Quiet Lines, I do not think adaptors would significanely degrade their performance, but I do suspect that it would make it impossible for me to install the Quiet Lines satisfactorily in two important places (refrigerator, and washing machine), because of the narrow space between the appliance and the wall socket. How far out of the socket does the Quiet Line stick out with the adaptor you have, Detlof?
Slawney thanks, you make excellent sense and I thought as much. That's why I have never used adaptors with "serious" stuff, rather I have resoldered or recramped some of my connections or have used high grade US receptacles in the wall to good effect. As far as your question is concerned, I'll use a measuring tape when I'm back at home and I'll let you know.
Slawney, its 6.4cm from the wall to the end of the Quiet Line with adaptor. Cheerio,
Thanks Detlof! Perhaps I can squeeze the Quiet Lines in after all! In the meantime, I have been using multiple Enacoms throughout the house. More expensive, but with Schuko plugs, and the capacitor unit is attached via a flexible power cable that can be routed to the side. Based on my experience, I would highly advise these. The caveat is that (pace Magnan) you must use at least 2 or preferably 3 Enacoms on the main power feed for your system (1 is not enough). Also, the total cost for equipping your entire home with Enacoms is alot higher than Quiet Lines, and I wonder if the performance justifies the price. A/B comparison: Enacom -vs- Quiet Line?