Outlet shoot out

OK I am doing new outlets this month. What to use?? Standard issue Hubbel hospital grades? PS Audio? FIM? other?? what do you use and why? what else did you try? There have been a few threads on outlets but I don't recall seeing one comparing them, also perhaps a different outlet for amps and sources, anyone try that? This is a relatively cheap tweak(expensive outlets are under $100) and about time I tried it! Thanks for any input.
there's also a new cryo treated outlet from Virtual Dynamics which I'm curious about.
Myself I went from stock, to Hubbel, to the Wattagate 381, with improvement in each step-up. Agree that it would be really interesting to compare these to Ultimate Outlet & FIM, etc. May be system dependent; why not - practically everything else is?
Comparing outlets is not quite as easy as it sounds. If your system is drawing from more than one receptacle, be prepared to replace every receptacle at the wall and in your line conditioner to really hear the true sound of that receptacle. I've never owned any of the "audiophile" receptacles, as buying 4 of them in Canada would cost what I'd consider to be too much money for my system. I have, however, compared the Pass and Seymour 5262 (the Acme is based on the 5242), various Leviton and Bryants, the Arrow Hart 8200 and the Hubbell 8200 and 8300. The Arrow Hart is very good value for under $10 U.S. and trounced the Pass & Seymours and I used them for quite a while. Further experimentation with the Hubbells (using all Hubbells versus all Arrow Hart) has led me to believe that the Hubbell 8200 and 8300 are definitely superior sounding; they are not as "exciting" as the AH, but they are smoother and in my opinion more accurate and realistic sounding. If you don't need a 20 amp receptacle, I think the Hubbell 8200 is a super deal at $12-$13 U.S. and I'd be curious to see how it compares to the "super receptacles". The contacts in the 8200 and 8300 are slightly larger than in the Hubbell 5362, which is sold cryoed by Jena Labs and Soundlab for the big bucks and touted as a "higher conductivity" receptacle, but the increased size of the contact may just be a result of the nickel plating on the 8200 and 8300 series. The copper content of the receptacle (supposedly the reason for the high conductivity) is exactly the same in the 5362 as it is in the 8200 and 8300 series, but the contacts in the 5362 (a 20 amp spec grade that is a fair bit cheaper than the 8300) are brass finished as opposed to nickel plated. The PS Audio power port is essentially a souped up 8300 with more nickel plating. In any event, I think the 8200 and 8300 Hubbells are superb sounding receptacles and I can't really justify spending any more; I think they'd compare pretty favourably with the "super receptacles" at a fraction of the price and should definitely be included if you're doing a "shootout".
Hubbell makes two versions of its Model 8300 hospital grade 20amp outlet. According to the Hubbell spec sheets available on their web site, Model 8300I has nickel plated power contacts. But Model 8300HI (slender/compact) uses brass non-plated power contacts.

I would think the non-plated outlets might have sonic advantages, and I remember seeing a posting to that effect. Can anyone comment?

Both of the last two responses are right on. I use the Hubbell non-plated and had them cryo treated by Purist Audio. This makes the highest performance outlet even better.

By the way, Hdm has described the Hubbell PERFECTLY, it is not "in your face," but has layers of depth, very low distortion and a neutral sound.
Hi Tim; I've used and more or less compared FIM (wrote a rave review on them), Acme silver plated (non-cryo); Hubbell audio grade, and P&S hospital grade. I've concluded that the outlets that will sound best in any given system depends on on the character of the AC power supply itself. My AC system tends to be bright and so (I think) copper outlets provide a richer, warmer and more musical character than the silver Acmes which are too bright for my taste (in MY system).

That said, I use four 20 amp Hubbell audio grade outlets for all source components and pre-amp. I plug my amp into a FIM or a Hubbell (the FIM is a little more dynamic, more live, and smoother, but slightly brighter too). I got the Hubbells (don't know the numbers) from The Cable Co. @ 2/$25.). These outlets are all installed on dedicated AC lines, so unlike Hdm's excellent observations, I CAN change one outlet and compare it to others. I tried using all FIMs and music became overall too bright, and I went back to mostly Hubbells-- with just my amp plugged into a FIM.

BTW, I plug my Vand. 5 speakers subwoofer amps into non-dedicated lines with Acme silver plated outlets, and the Acmes work well here because these amps only handle 125 HZ and below, and the Acmes provide for quick and articulate bass.

I haven't tried PS Audio or Wattgates. Outlets are every bit as important as power cords IMO. I think you need to do some experimenting. Cheers. Craig
I agree with Garfish. It is impossible to call any one outlet the "Best". I have a combination of FIM outlets and Hubbell outlets in my system. As component changes occur in my system, so do my choices of the combination, making me believe that our choices directly reflect our systems. (Sounds like cabling, doesn't it?) Knowing the change desired (tonality, dynamics, bottom end, etc.) that is desired is only half of the battle. I can say that from my experience, those offset screwdrivers available at your local electrical supply house are well worth the money!
Has anybody tried the outlets that Purist Audio offers ? If i remember correctly, these are cryo treated Leviton's that have the contacts coated with copper. Sean
I installed PS Audio Power Port in the wall (hubbell 8300)and got PS Audio Ultimate Outlet (high current) version which sets on the floor for my amp , got much more open/3D sound for my efforts. Hard to isolate what difference the the PS Audio wall outlet made, but you really notice the much tighter grip it has on plugs inserted in this unit. Also when installing wires to Power Port I cleaned the oxidation and used Kontak before re-connecting.

In the literature PS Audio makes a big deal about the 15 coats of polished nickel plating and claims this is much better than standard brass contacts. I am sure if I took the time to try other wall outlet brands subtle tonal differences would show themselves, there was even a thread here recently where author claimed he could hear difference between plastic, brass, or no cover plate on AC outlet.
If i remember correctly, i think that Mr Crump has commented that nickel plating typically tends to sound bright. This could lead to one hearing an increase in "open-ness".

Quite honestly, i've not played around with outlets. As skeptical as i was about power cords ( REALLY skeptical but i've found out otherwise since ), i am even more doubtful about outlets. I can see better contact in terms of "gripping power" and increased surface area coming into play, but the rest of it sounds like a lot of "hoopla" to me at this point in time. There are plenty of those that post here that have stated otherwise though and i DO respect their opinions. As s uch, i've put this on my list of "things to do". It is not near the top of that list though, as i've got other more important ( at least to me ) priorities to take care of : )

I do appreciate all of the info presented here as it will help me to make a decision based on general consensus. Sean
Sean: Yes, it is Bob Crump who has stated that nickel is "bright", and while I respect Bob very much and appreciate much of the advice he has given me over at Audioasylum, I can only state that, with respect to the receptacles I've used, the nickel plated ones (Arrow Hart and Hubbell) were considerably smoother, less congested, and less bright (and at the same time, more open and natural sounding) than the receptacles with brass contacts, particularly the Pass and Seymors that Bob likes. In my opinion, they are a horror story compared to the Hubbell 8200/8300. Perhaps Craig is able to comment on this too, as he has the silver plated Acme, based on the P&S that Bob likes. I would guess that the Acme shares the basic character of the Pass and Seymor it is based on, and in my system that was fairly congested in the midband, quite forward and very bright (and yes, they were fully broken in). This is initially very "exciting" but when compared with the Hubbell 8200/8300 or even the Arrow Hart 8200, it is very quickly quite apparent that there is lots and lots of distortion. The Arrow Hart has a more open midband than the Pass and Seymor, but when compared to the Hubbells, even it suffers by comparison, and that is a nickel to nickel comparison. What I'm saying is that the so-called brightness of the nickel (I don't actually believe this) is in no way translating into the "open-ness" of what I hear in the Hubbells-to my ear they are anything but bright-sounds emerge from a blacker and quieter background in what I would describe as a more "mid-hall" kind of presentation. Yes, they are more open, but this is not based on "brightness". There is clearly less distortion than with the Pass & Seymor or Arrow Hart. I may be able to comment further on this in month or two as I may actually have a chance to compare the Hubbell 5362 (brass contacts) to the 8300, but for now I can't accept Bob's generalization about nickel being "brighter" in terms of power applications with receptacles.
Well Sean I am glad I am not the only one, whom seems skeptical and confused about this issue. Though it is something worth trying, no time better then the present-though I want to gather a few others opinions before I make any life altering choices ;)
Hdm, thanks for the response and personal findings. Like you, i respect Bob and most of the others that are willing to share their personal findings and thoughts. Also like you, my personal experiences sometimes contradict those of others. That is, within the confines of my systems and personal tastes. As such, i might not always agree with someone's point of view but that does not make their opinion any less valid.

As such, that is why it is SO great to have these forums. I am really greatful to the multitude of folks that are willing to step up to the plate and compare notes / share their thoughts with us. That is what makes this a worthwhile place to frequent.

Like Tim and i ( and probably a WHOLE lot of others ) are doing, we are "researching" BEFORE shelling out any money or even going out to audition. It at least gives us a better idea of what to look / listen for and see what is out there.

Based on the general statements above, it looks like the Hubbell's look like a solid starting point. I'm still curious as to see what the thoughts / opinions of the Purist modified Leviton's is like though. Given Purist's reputation, i would think that they would not chance using / recommending a product that was of an inferior design to start with. Sean

PS... Do the Hubbell's have an isolated ground ?
well, i have something really important to do (i just gotta go clean the rocks out of my tires RIGHT NOW) or i would go do an Outlet shootout.

but somewhat seriously, i confess i just accepted the advice of Jennifer Crock and bought her (Jena Labs) deep-immersion cry'od outlets without doing a comparison when i installed my dedicated lines. the complete dedicated line system was a major improvement over my previous standard residential outlets and circuts. but i can't say exactly what the outlets did in the big picture.

anyway, i appreciate the work (it is work comparing outlets....or power cords.....or power conditioners) and feedback that others can use to make their decisions.
Sean: The 8300/8200's I use are not isolated ground, but the Hubbell website shows those models also available in isolated ground, with no nickel plating on the contacts (contact area is smaller, so I'm just assuming the extra contact area is the plating itself-about 1/10 of mm.) Haven't heard them so can't comment and no idea of price. I have had experience with the Leviton isolated ground (with bronze contacts) at both the wall and in my line conditioner (they were the standard receptacles in my line conditioner) and they were no match for the Hubbells I currently use.
hahah... Mike, you had me thinking for a moment. I was wondering how you had gotten rocks INSIDE your tires ??? Then it finally dawned on me as to what you were actually talking about and getting at : )

Hdm, thanks for that info. I'd like to start looking for houses and all of this info will come in handy when i get ready to relocate. Only problem is that the area that i was interested in will become a landing strip for an airport in the near future : ( Sean
Has anyone tried direct to the wall wire?i.e. "hard wiring at the wall end"?
Sean, i should have said "tire treads".....but you got the idea. ;^)

Sol322, the problem is that you don't violate your local electrical codes by "direct to the wall" wireing. have a competent electrician do any high-voltage unless you happen to be knowledgeable. better safe than sorry.

in theory, direct wireing COULD be better. but if you ever had an emergency and needed to disconnect something without a plug to disconnect, you could have a problem. also, any time you needed to move the gear or open it up it would be a safety and logistical challenge.
Since grip and contact area are so important I have been thinking about the twist lock wall outlet + plug Has anyone tried this ?
Over the holiday I backtracked a bit in order to make a comparison. Without going all the way back to the stock outlet & 20A Hubbel, I did temporarily reinstall the Leviton 20A industrial outlet that I had been using previously to the Wattgate (also made by Leviton). After listening for awhile (I didn't previously recall there being such a huge difference between the two) the difference is even bigger than I had remembered.
Basically the Wattgate is just *so* much quieter: with better definition & separation between musical instruments & without the low level grunge & glare that almost sounded like enhanced HF detail (until I got used to not hearing that). However the most noticable & readily apparent difference is in bass authority: the Wattagate outlet really provides more slam, dynamics, even overall PRaT is much improved.
Yes $150 sounds like a lot for an outlet, but it's a cheap improvement sounding more on the level of a major component upgrade. Get a hold of one of these by all means - very highly recommended.

Now my next question regarding outlets.
What happens if I change the outlets in my Chang Lightspeed line conditioners?
Presently appears that they have Hubbel hospital outlets from the factory; after the Wattagate experience I'd be tempted to find out, but I'd need five @ $149; at list that's $750!

Maybe the Purist's etc would make more sense there, at least economically if not sonically?
Only one way to find out for sure - now where's my screwdriver?
It is such a pain in the ass to break in outlets I haven't repeated the tests I made fifteen years ago with everything available then. Back then the Eagle spec grade made for True Value hardware and now out of print was by far the best sounding out there followed by the Pass & Seymour 5242-I.....ACME brought out the silver plated 5242-I and that was a breath of fresh air as it brought the focus back like the old out of print Eagles after a very long and nasty break-in.......I do have a customer who went to the trouble of breaking in some std ACMEs, Cryoed ACMEs and the fancy Jena and liked all of them better than the old Eagles he had in the wall....He liked the Jena best followed by the Cryoed ACMEs....Have another customer who liked the Cryoed ACMEs better than the Jena so there is nothing really definitive in the way of information out there....Lots of folks don't like silver in the AC and I think they need to rethink this a bit as virtually all switches in the signal path of their preamps are silver plated brass....I go with what works here and like the ACMEs myself, but need to do some work on this one of these days.....The good part of this debate is that none of the fancier outlets are expensive so all you lose is some time during the month long break-in these all seem to need....
I have both ACMEs (4) and FIM 880s (4). I'm using the FIMs to run my two channel setup, and the ACMEs for my HT. The racks are co-located so it has been easy to compare the sound of the two outlets. The FIMs in my experience took nearly 5 weeks to run in, and from my point of view did not bloom harmonically and develop of good sense of PRaT until the ~4th week.

The differences between the two outlets is quite audible, although I can't adequately describe the differences for others to make a decision based on the usual disclaimers. I could live with either one. Having said that, I prefer the FIM over the ACME for the following reasons:

- More resolute and deeper bass
- Blacker, quieter background
- Details are more palpable
- Slightly larger soundstage
- Better sense of control
- Slightly richer, warmer, although every bit as extended as the ACME

One area where the ACME excels is midrange coherence. Bass and treble blend more seamlessly. The ACMEs are well run in, so perhaps the FIMs will get better in this respect over time.
Tom, your comments beg the question; if you are using these 2 outlets (Acme and FIM) in different rooms with different gear and different software, how are you able to assign the characteristics so specifically to the outlets?

i don't use either (i use Jena Labs) but was just curious.
Hey Tom, gots too much thump in the FIMs? That is the problem I hear with most all the outlets out there where the thump and the squawk don't match up.....Guess that is why I like the ACMEs as much as I do....Enjoy...
Mike, I use the same dedicated room for my main HT and 2 channel listening. I have a front projector, and remove the screen and center channel out of the way when listening to two channel. The single ended inputs on my Classe Omicron are connected to my HT processor, and the balanced to a SF Line 3 preamp for two channel. I simply switch the selector on the Omicron to choose one or the other. All my gear is recessed into a 2x8 bump out with the outlets lined up behind the racks. It was fairly easy to unplug (all or some) my two channel components and plug them into the ACMEs for comparison. Each outlet has its own 20 amp breaker wired with 10 ga Romex. My main speakers are Thiel CS7.2s.

Hope that helps clarify how I was able to make such a direct comparison between the FIM and ACME.
Bob, I may be in denial on this one and wishing for something that won't happen. We'll see. I mentioned the ACME's superior coherent blend of lows/mids/highs since this is important to me as well, and the one area I find the FIM falls short. You're right, the bass is the culprit. As good as it is alone, it can sound disconnected and disproportionately large.
Tom, thanks for the explaination; makes perfect sense.
Tom, it isn't just the FIMs that lack coherency....Levitons are the worst about this followed by slot attachment P&S followed by the Hubbells...Don't know where the FIMs fit in here as haven't played with them.....Most folks won't hear it that way, but again my suggestion is to go with whatever works as all these outlets are cheap and easy solutions....
I guess it's just my own rig then, but break in of AC components hasn't really been very much of an issue here; most upgrade cords that I've used haven't changed very noticably when broken in, excepting the Virtual Dynamics Signature, which although already cryo'd did improve considerably over the first couple of weeks use.
This Wattagate 381 outlet has only been in use for 2 weeks now, and although it sounds fantastic from day one, it has either improved somewhat more over time or maybe it's me still getting accustomed to the overall sonic improvements. Over the past weekend I sat spellbound & glued to the sofa with remote controls in hand, not being able to stop myself from listening over several hours duration. This hasn't happened in over 4 years, so I know I'm finally getting closer to nirvana. If this gets any better over time I'll be all the happier still. It's as if this outlet has enhanced the effects of all the other tweaks already in place; it's finally all come together.
FYI: I use the Wattagate 381 outlet terminating a single 10awg solid copper spiral twisted dedicated line; at the source is a vintage household fusebox with a ceramic 30A edison base fuse.
Where can the Purist Audio outlets be purchased?
I do product photography for Purist Audio and am good friends with Jim, so I have the latest price list. Unfortunately the outlets are not listed. I'm willing to call for pricing if anyone is interested.
Yes, I would be interested. I understand, from another thread, that the Purist is essentially the same as the Jenna Labs and Worldpower/Audio Excellence. Has this been your experience as well?
I just spoke to Jim at Purist. The outlets he sells under the Purist trademark are a special order Leviton that are then cryo treated. Sales of these are exclusive to Japan. None have ever been sold in the USA. It is possible someone ordered from Japan or entered the country with them in their suitcase.

That being said, he uses Hubbell in his own system, the same series hospital grade I use. Mine were treated by immersion cryo at NASA and the effect was well worthwhile, at least when teamed up with Purist Power cords.

If a group of you want to go together, buy a box or case of outlets, I can get a quantity discount for us for the full Purist treatment. There will be no special packaging or wrappers, but you will have ultimate performance for a fraction of the cost. (This is exactly what I did).

To alleviate any concern, the outlets for Japan are exclusive NOT because they are some incredible performance denied to the US A, but rather the Japanese prefer specialty products that cannot be compared to USA product or imported at discount back into their market.

One more tidbit, several of the outlets being touted here among audiophiles are supplied by and / or cryo treated by Purist Audio.

The last time I visited the factory to do new product photography of Purist products, there was a master case of 144 outlets sitting on the floor. When I ask about them Jim said that he had obtained them, cryo treated them and they were on their way to xxxxxx to be packed with the xxxxxx trademark and sent to dealers.

I suggest we collect as many Audiogoners together as possible and send a batch to be treated. For myself I want Hubbell. There is no reason a number of you cannot form some sub groups and send me other brands. Leviton, Pass & Seymore, Arrow or whatever brand suits your fancy. The whole bunch can go with the Hubbells and save on shipping.

Also, any one of you that can obtain Hubbell at a deeper discount than me, can obtain them for the entire group.

Generally speaking, the fewer ( larger ) packages of product that travel the fewest times back and forth, the lower cost for each of you.

Let me know.