The usual top two I know of are Siemens and Square D which has a couple of different lines.
I think Federated/Federal (can't remember the exact brand name) should be replaced when found. They were driven out of business for selling breakers that didn't break.
GE is very popular but I've read reliability issues with the breakers.
Making sure it is properly grounded is more important than anything else. Don't ground it near the house ground.Actually, you should follow NEC and local code, which will require grounding the panel with your house ground and the utility's ground. Cutler-Hammer panels have tin-coated bus bars, which are preferable to aluminum bars, imo.
I like Siemens for two reasons: (1) it's German, and (2) their high duty breakers and their regular breakers have the same part number. That means, IMO, that their regular breakers are made to high duty standards (i.e. 2000 on-off cycles).
My audio sub-panel is Siemens, and I also use their circuit breakers for on-off switches, and haven't had a failure, though it's only been 4 years.
I agree with cleeds: ground the panel with your house ground, or you may end up with a ground loop. Siemens, by the way, has a surge suppressor option.
Yep, Siemens and Square D offer in panel surge suppression, though I'd probably recommend it at the service entrance instead of a sub panel. The extra impedance of the line between the main panel and sub panel can keep the surge voltage high.
Always follow the NEC AND local codes. Always. If you don't know what that is, hire an expert who does.
Now one "trick" if affordable is instead to run a 220V line to a wall mounted step-down transformer instead. This will give you the lowest impedance, and a great deal of noise immunity. However it's so rarely done I doubt most electricians would be willing to do it in a home.
Plitron manufactures toroidal transformers. They are affiliated with Torus. Torus builds a dedicated toroidal powered breaker box. This 'box' is no different from your standard breaker box, except that it houses a toroid to purify the electricity going to your stereo.
In my opinion, this is an overthetop exercise. The top of the line Equi=tech stand alone unit does the same thing. The advantage of a stand alone unit: it's close to your gear. This way you have short runs of power cords, they won't pick up 'stray' signal (rfi).
I'm sure I'm not alone. Once you feed your gear 'balanced' power, you'll never go back. Try the Equi=tech, you'll be amazed.
There is the Isoclean Zero Ohm breaker panel, but I’m not sure if they make it anymore since it’s not listed in their current products (used pure copper elements and gold plating). At $5k, I don’t think it’s in your budget, since balanced power is not. I have seen some panels that have a built-in isolation transformer, but I can’t remember the brands.
Like Eric said, Siemens or SquareD. In my case, I went with SquareD because it was available locally. Use 20 amp breakers instead of 15 amp. Run as many circuits as you want. Use a single run of Romex per outlet. You can have two runs of Romex connect to one breaker (but check local code on this).
You can get cryo treated Romex here:
I’ve used this vendor many times and he is excellent. Even though he’s Canada location, he ships via USPS Priority from New York to anyone in USA. Prices are in CAN (just multiply his price by .77 and you get USD - for today’s exchange rate).
I have noticed a difference in sound between the awg of the Romex. A 10 awg Romex can carry a lot of current and is great for amplifiers. However, source/preamp equipement is more sensitive to the awg and will blare somewhat (push to hard) with larger gauge romex. Amplifiers are much less sensitive to this. Using a 12awg Romex for source/dac/preamp is probably better. I actually use a double-run of 14awg Romex for my preamp outlet (essentially a 11awg run).
Of course, choose good quality outlets. I recommend Furutech FPX Cu (unplated copper) as a minimum. It’s a good neutral sound that is fairly inexpensive You can go with gold-plated if you want a warmer/softer sound or rhodium plated if you want the detail/punch/resolution.
Balanced power can be a good thing, unless the equipment manufacturer connected the neutral leg of AC to ground. With normal utility power that’s not a problem, but with balanced?
unless the equipment manufacturer connected the neutral leg of AC to ground.
For electrical safety and electrical safety standards the current carrying neutral conductor is never connected to the chassis of equipment. That has been the standard for at least the last 60 years.
Prior to around the early 1950s and earlier some, maybe many, manufactures of audio equipment did connect one line of the mains, of the 2 wire cord and non polarized plug connected equipment, to the metal chassis of the equipment. Usually the metal chassis was enclosed in a wood or plastic case/enclosure and the knobs were made of plastic or Bakelite non conductive materials. The user was protected from coming into contact with the metal chassis. Depending how the plug was plugged into the electrical wall outlet there was a 50/50 chance the chassis was HOT with respect ground.
It seems most look at dedicated lines as a way to isolate noise. MSB looks at it differently. According to MSB, the main goal should be to lower resistance. These are their guidelines that I followed and it has made a very nice difference for me. This dedicated line also only cost me about $300 to implement:
For those whose homes aren't near a utility transformer and line noise is indeed an issue (i.e. listening at midnight yields better results than listening at 5 pm), here are a couple of products that you install at your panel that don't cost a ton of money and could make a difference. I don't have these products currently but I am curious about them. Any input from people who use these would be much appreciated:
Agreed. I know MSB well (I own the MSB Analog DAC, which is awesome!).
Vince Galbo taught me the importance of the lower reistance theory years ago and I rewired my old dedicated room with 6 AWG; it made a tremendous favorable difference.
In my new house, I am using 6 AWG for All my dedicated audio outlets (Furutech GTX-G) and each outlet will be on individual 20A circuts. These all run to a dedicated service sub-panel in my room which is connected to the main panel by a 2 ought aluminum run.
Per the MSB topic -- one thing I have discovered through power cord experimentation and testing is that the larger gauge solid-core A/C power wire will have a natural roll-off of high frequencies. This was very apparent to me when I constructed a power cord using three 16awg solid-core conductors for each of the live/neutral/ground on my power cord. What happened was that I lost high frequency detail. It made my equipment sound "lo-fi" and it actually caused the midrange/midbass frequencies to blare some. Using 18awg solid-core worked better, but the best was when using 20awg solid-core conductors (my power cords are now all 6 x 20awg, which makes a 12awg power cord).
That being said, if you are using a larger gauge solid-core Romex, such as an 8awg or 6awg, this may naturally help roll-off or remove any high frequency noise coming in from the power grid. Just make sure you are using solid-core. Stranded THHN (or similar) won’t do the same thing. Stranded wiring will actually help accentuate high frequency problems. I would just make sure that the equipment power cords are able to support the high frequency charge/discharge required for your equipment to obtain those charges fast enough for the power supply. Rhodium plated outlets and power cord connectors (such as Furutech) will definitely help in restoring the high frequency detail.
#10awg solid copper wire is the largest found in Romex. #8 and larger conductors are made from stranded wire.
The largest single solid insulated wire manufactured, per NEC (National Electrical Code) is #8. I might add a real pain in the a** to work with.
For those thinking of using #8awg or #6awg wire for a 20 amp branch not only must the wire size be reduced at the receptacle to a maximum size of #10awg the wire that connects to the 20 amp breaker in the electrical panel must also be reduced. (Of course where the wire is stranded a crimp wire to fork lug could be used.)
Something else to consider when using #8 or #6 Romex is the number of conductors in the Romex. IF you use 8-3 with ground or 6-3 with ground you take the chance of an induced voltage being transferred from the Hot and neutral current carrying conductors onto the equipment grounding conductor of the Romex cable because of the design, geometry, of the cable. Though I have not seen 8-2 with ground, let alone 6-2 with ground, Romex apparently it is manufactured. Two conductor with ground is what should be used to minimize induced voltage onto the equipment grounding conductor.
As for the MSB article, I don’t think the differences in SQ the listener hears, whether the wire is 12, 10, 8, or 6 gauge is necessary due to the resistance of the wire. Though for a long run VD, Voltage Drop, might come into play where the connected load is a power amp of a descent size, wattage. If that was the only reason VD would not be an issue for a dedicated branch circuit used to only power a preamp or a digital front end connected load.
So what is possibly making the differences with the different sizes of branch circuit conductors? Not sure, but I wonder if it has something to due more with impedance caused from inductive reactance of the power supply of the audio equipment.
Stickman451, there is an equi=teck 1.5RQ unit on Ebay at a good price. It has enough to run the front end without limiting power. I have a Balanced Power Technologies 3.5 on my front end and it does wonders, but they are out of business and somewhat expensive. I suspect the Equi=tech will do the same and the price is right.
@jea48 - thanks, I haven't looked at 8awg or 6awg Romex, so I didn't realize they were only available in stranded. Also, you're right on the outlets only allowing a max 10awg wire, though the Furutech outlets do have multiple inputs, so you could splay the 8awg strands into two bundles for the Furutech outlet inputs, but probably not recommended. It's best just to use a double-run of 10awg Romex if you wanted less resistance to the outlet (and keep solid-core wiring). This gives you an equivalent 7awg.
It's interesting that a single solid insulated 8awg wire is available, and individual wires could be used in this case. However, they must be run in conduit from the panel all the way to the outlet (per electrical code). Romex is the only thing that can be run bare in-walls or in attic without having to run through conduit. And your right that it's probably a freakin pain to work with (too stiff and can't bend enough at right angles). 10awg Romex is hard enough to work with.
You are correct; the greatest difference is heard when running these lines to AMPs, especially big wattage amps. However, when I replaced my dedicated 12awg line with the 6awg (in my previous room) for my 'front end' pre, phono, and DAC i got positive results; not as dramatic as with the dedicated amp life lines but still an improvement.