First, go to the forum search field and type in "dedicated." That will being up an extensive list of threads. If you still have questions, come back here and ask.
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If you want audiophile wire, you can buy cryo-treated Romex from Ven Haus Audio. I haven't tried it, but I have tried a cryo'd interconnect and an AC outlet. I like the difference, so the Ven Haus wire might be worth it.
Another good idea is a premium AC outlet, hospital or audio grade. And some people use isolation transformers on their dedicated lines--bigger ones, in the 3 to 5 KVA range.
Ven Haus AC wire
Go to Virtual Dynamics web site. Look at the BX armoned 10ga. cryoed house wire. They also had cryoed outlets and breaker at one time. This is what I use from my sub breaker box to my outlets in my dedicated ac line. I also have an isolated ground which really helps with noise. PS audio also makes some very nice outlets that I use in my HT system. Brian
Couple of other hints--the amp rating you want to achieve and length of the run has an effect on the gauge of wire you use. For example, if you are using a 20 amp breaker (in order to acheive a 20 amp circuit), you need to use a heavier guage wire than standard romex. And if it's an unusually long run, an even heavier gauge still. Head to your local home store and browse a DIY book on electrical circuits--they generally have a listing of NEC tables (National Electrical Code) that you can reference.
BTW, I ran dedicated 20A circuits to both my reference rig and my home theater, and there is huge upside. I didn't go for any of the exotic materials, basically because of the 80/20 rule. I was able to get huge gains (80% improvement) by just getting the dedicated circuit in place at a low cost--standard 12/2 romex and hubbel outlets (at 20% of the cost).
Thanks I've learned a lot, I appreciate the help.
A few questions remain:
1) I will have a new breaker box installed as part of this project. It happens to be about 10' from the audio equipment. Many have recommened a sub panel dedicated to the audio equipment. Is this just convenience? What are the benefits of a dedicated subpanel for audiophiles? I understand that if I use the master panel, I should keep the audio circuits in phase which each other and out of phase with other large electrical equipment. Maybe that's why a subpanel is recommended...
2) I plan to install 10ga wire for my amplifier. Some recommend that front end equipment are all plugged in on the same circuit using 12 ga, not 10ga. Why is that? Is inductance an issue with smaller equipment that draw less current? I was thinking that I would have three dedicacted 10 ga circuits in the end: one for amp, one for digit front end, and one for analog front end. Or, one 10 ga for amp and one 12 ga for everything else. What's best for front end components?
3) Does silver contact enhancers really make a difference?
4) Why is Square D so popular among Audiogon'ers compared to other widely used whole house surge protectors, say from GE for example.
1) Don't put in a subpanel if you're 10' away from your new breaker box. The situation for a subpanel would be where a long run is required. Then running 6 gauge to the subpanel might help reduce the voltage drop.
2) 10ga minimizes the potential voltage drop along the run. Definitely use it for the curcuit your amp will plug in to. For your preamp and source equipment, 12ga might be just fine. After using 10ga for all my dedicated circuits I met Lloyd Walker (of Walker Audio): he's one of the people who'd recommend using 12ga for the source equipment. His comment to me was that the 12ga better matches to the current being pulled across the circuit, smaller diameter, less resistance, less skin effect. I'm not clear on the explanation, I just remember he was quite clear in his opinion, and I trust his knowledge about audio and electronics.
3) Silver contact enhancers do work and will make a difference. I strongly recommend using Extreme SST from Walker Audio for both your AC connections and all the rest of your audio cabling connections. The difference can be dramatic. (Lloyd Walker offers a full refund if you're not satisfied with the results.)
4) Some of the Square D stuff is very well made and some units use a full copper bus, not aluminum. The copper bus is the critical difference for our purposes. (I believe that Square D today makes a broader range of "built to a price point" panels, so the quality may not be the same across their entire line of panels as was once the case.) In my installation, we used a commercial Siemens breaker panel with copper bus. Whatever brand you use, use the the same brand for your circuit breakers - not good to mix and match here.
"His comment to me was that the 12ga better matches to the current being pulled across the circuit, smaller diameter, less resistance, less skin effect. I'm not clear on the explanation, I just remember he was quite clear in his opinion, and I trust his knowledge about audio and electronics."
Skin affect at 60Hz?
If you are willing to pay the extra money for 10 gauge wire, then go for it. You will have less voltage drop, less surge drop, and a more robust system. You need to make sure all of your circuitry, such as breakers and receptacles, support 10 gauge wire; as some do not and you DO want this to meet NEC.
Regardless of which gauge you use, make sure you use a good quality receptacle, such as a Hubbell. See http://www.hubbell.com/
Actually, if you are a real glutton for punishment, you can bring in 220 VAC and rewire your transformers in all of your equipment! This quadruples the efficiency and halves the surge currents.
Oh, I forgot to mention, put in a dedicated earth ground for your system. I have done this several times in several homes and it has always helped reduce EMI interference and made a whopping difference in FM reception. That being said, I wouldn't do the work for the sonic improvement, but it sure is worth it for FM.
I didn't think about this when I first installed it, but FM, as with all broadcast, is transmitted with respect to the earth, so a solid earth ground really cleans up reception.