Hello bdp. We did a renovation of an already finished basement that allowed installation of dedicated 20 amp lines for a music listening area. I suspect what we did is sort of a basic/minimum. Were we building anew "from the studs", as it were, there are a couple of additional things we’d have done. Basically all we did was run 3 separate lines w/standard Romex cable from an existing sub panel. I had 3 duplex Cabledyne (cyro’d Hubbell) outlets installed at the end of each run. That doesn't represent a personal position on the merits of cryo treatment, simply that the Cabledyne outlets were well reviewed and affordable and cryo’ing is what Cabledyne does to them.
Ideally, I’d have liked to install a separate panel connected directly to the line from the street and supporting only the 3 new lines. Separate grounding for it as necessary. Not in the budget. Our sub panel does have a few other circuits on it but, fortunately, not the main house power draws. My thought is if you contact a local A/V store (or audio store) you can get a recommendation for an electrician they’ve used to do installations. Pretty sure it is not rocket science and a competent, licensed electrician will be able to give you good advice.
I've had good experiences with a 5kva balanced power transformer. Next move I plan to run a 240V line to the listening room, where a 10kva or larger transformer can be plugged into the wall and output several isolated 120V threads to the audio system. That meets electrical code. (It's against code to put the transformer at the basement panel and run the transformer's 120V outputs through the walls to 120V outlets.)
Not sure if this is against forum rules or not, but there was a very informative thread on a different forum on this topic
I went through this back in around 2006 or 7 and got some great technical/code sorts of insights from a few contributors far more knowledgeable than me. I gave all of it to my electrician to review, and it helped.
Here’s what I know:
I wouldn’t use existing wiring, would use 20 amp lines with correspondingly heavy gauge wire, would have an electrical contractor that gets the inspector to permit/ approve it (and if possible, somebody who has had experience wiring stuff for studios or halls).
Unless you have the ability to get a completely separate service for your system, you are, as far as I know, going to be sharing ground with the household system, which has the potential for noise. There are tricks about which leg, etc. but the idea of a big-assed isolation transformer is a good one.
Do more outlets and lines than you think you need- way cheaper in the long run than having to break walls and have a new mess on your hands (with all your delicate gear, records, etc. whatever already in place).
I have an Equi=Tech big box sitting in storage- I thought I’d be relocated by now; there are some specialty panels made by audiophile companies, but I suspect the real hands-on folks may say Square D brand or equivalent is fine (that’s what’s currently being used in my NY house, 60 amp subpanel, plus a 240 volt line for one isolation/step down plus an additional isolation transformer for my tone arm air compressor).
I’d look at electric as part of an overall plan for the room- are you doing separate air conditioning system- Mike L followed certain practices used for studios to keep air rush quiet; also, I’d think about whatever current state of the art is in filtration to minimize dust but that’s a peeve of mine;
lay-out for signal cable routing;
lighting and how that relates to electrical- lights can be noisy;
I actually got rid of my AC conditioning boxes once I put in the dedicated lines, I thought the system sounded better without conditioning;
I’m sure there are other things I can’t thing of now, but happy to talk, I’ve been sketching out my new "room" for several years, in the process of waiting to relocate. My plan is still a separate structure and build-out from whatever house we buy or build and its electrical system, i.e. separate service to the "studio" which can also be a zoning/code issue;
Oh, structural- springy floors suck though you can deal w/ that;
noise suppression- I never thought about sound proofing, but did it for my compressor room, which is adjacent to the listening room, used mass loaded vinyl. That stuff is crazy heavy and there’s some good stuff about how to best use it if you are open to the studs.
I didn't do built in treatment in my listening room, but aftermarket bass traps, diffusion and some absorption. Mike L. probably has one of the more over the top rooms in the States and I know he's refined what he originally had done after living with it for some years, so he'd be good to talk to and is a nice fellow.
And a comfy chair. Like the Spanish Inquisition. :)
Great, thanks fellas. Your insights and referrals have given me a good start. So far I have concluded to proceed thusly:
- Verify the availability of empty spaces on the electrical panel (there is no sub-panel; it's just a moderately-sized three bedroom house) in which to install four 20A lines of 10g Romex wire (dgarretson, I'll check into the Cardas), each terminated in a duplex outlet---one for analog sources, one for digital, one for power amps, and a fourth for the remotely-located ESL's and subs). Sufficient? Ghosthouse, you state you had three duplex outputs put on the end of each line; so if I use the already existing outlet wall locations, I can have more than one outlet on each line? That sounds good, because the left and right channel ESL's and subs are of course on opposite sides of the room from each other, therefore obviously needing to be on different outlets (or really long power cords!).
- Alternatively, would the benefit of having a sub panel installed (feeding only the music room) justify the cost to do so?. Does a sub panel provide a good amount of isolation from noise-causing appliances (heater and air-conditioner, washer/dryer, computers) on the main panel?
- No separate ground needed; in fact, not a good idea (or, apparently legal!).
I'm not going to go crazy with this, just basic, like you ghosthouse. I'm becoming more bothered by noise as I get older, plus my system is more transparent than ever. Whart, the only negative in this house is a suspended wood floor; I've been on a concrete slab for years now, which I love. On the other hand, far less seismic activity up here in the NW compared with S. California! The equipment will be located by an exterior wall, the stiffest part of a suspended floor, but I'll get under the house and jam some 4 X 4's between the ground and floorboards.
Thanks for the link Erik (love that spelling---wish my parents had used it instead of a "c"!).
The music room itself already sounds good, with no flutter echo (and I haven't put in my 13 ASC tube traps yet), and it's 15' width will allow me to set up my Tympani T-IV's. I'm stoked!
Ghosthouse, I too thought of checking with my new local high end shops (I already miss Brooks Berdan, Ltd., his son Brian Berdan at Audio Elements, and Randy at Optimal Enchantment) for an electrician recommendation, and paid a visit to Pearl Audio in downtown Portland yesterday morning. Store hours on their website and storefront window state they open at 10:00 AM. I waited until 11:00, when I had to leave. Uh oh, not a good sign.
I’m also in Portland OR and just gone through build out of my room (details in my system description)
i think you have most of it but please consider one line for each channel so you can support monoblocks later on. Personally I still use my SR Powecells so only actually use two of my five lines but never hurts to have them.
I also installed a Torus WM 75 transformer to isolate the system from the rest of the house, not cheap but very effective. There are also other tricks like using an Environmental Protections EP 2775 ground filter to help isolate from ground noise, again details in my system description
unfortunately the hi if dealers her in Portland are not what you are used to in LA, I still do most of my business with the folks I used to work with, but Jonathan Tinn at Chambers Audio has some excellent lines and very good service. Send me a private email if you’d like to check out the system some time and see how I approached the issues you have. I may also be able to recommend an electrician you could use
BDP- I don't think a separate subpanel in itself offers better isolation, but where it is attached to the service line relative to the other breakers might- you need someone with better electrical chops than me;
Contrary to my earlier advice about a million separate dedicated lines, there are benefits to keeping (at least the analog stuff) on the same line if possible, to minimize the differences in grounding potential among different dedicated lines; downside, apart from current demand issues, is running a separate "distribution box" ( high quality "power strip" ala the UK style of wiring hi-fi) power with at least one more, and several longer "audiophile power cords" that, together, can be pricier than electrician wired in wall dedicated lines;
the isolation transformer is a great way to minimize electrical system crap, particularly in combination with a dedicated line; these transformers hum so where you locate it relative to your listening area is important.
good luck, have fun- these kinds of projects are pretty satisfying in the sense that you accomplish something without just buying "gear" and the improvements are well worth the investment in my estimation, even on a relatively modest level (The electrical work I had done in NY wasn't that involved or costly, and I was dealing with finished walls, not open framing in an area of the house most distant from the basement/service entrance).
Hey BDP...again, good luck to you. You certainly got a good number of tips from the members to at least consider.
I wanted to mention PorterPorts as another option for your outlets. I can’t swear these so-called "audiophile" grade outlets make a big difference to the sound vs a cheaper builder’s grade outlet (I never did any A/B testing)...but, neither the Cabledynes or the PorterPorts (i.e., cryo’d outlets from Albert Porter, A’gon member) are that expensive and I’m not an extravagant spender. Anyway, might as well go for something like them given this opportunity you have.
For me, in the lessons learned category...
I have a very modest APC H-10 power conditioner on the middle line. Sources (e.g., CDP, DAC, TT & phono-pre) are plugged into this. Amp (power & pre) go direct to wall outlet(s). During winter, when the heat pump kicks on - even though it’s on the main panel and not on the sub panel for the dedicated lines - there’s enough (momentary voltage drop from the furnace power draw?) that I can hear the APC click on and respond as it is designed to do. I don’t hear any change in the music; the APC intervention is VERY brief...but this is why, if we had the budget and time, I would love to have installed another line from the street to a completely separate panel (not just a sub panel) to power the audio gear. Maybe Whart’s & Folkfreak’s transformer suggestions would fix this without a 2nd line going to the house. Dunno.
@bdp24 for what it’s worth, I recently completed a similar project. My electrician installed a 20A circuit breaker/line at the bottom of the panel far away from large appliances and anything on a dimmer.
All existing wires and cables exit through the top of the breaker box. For the dedicated line he exited directly through the side of the box with Southwire Romex 10-2 wire.
He kept the wire run completely isolated. The run enters a junction box and two Southwire Romex 10-2 wires then make their way into two Furutech GTX-D (R) wall receptacles.
I have an amp and phono pre occupying the two outlets on the left receptacle and my turntable occupying one outlet on the right receptacle.
Regarding grounding, nothing additional was installed or done. The electrician grounded the line with the existing house ground.
there is a noticeable difference in noise floor, dynamics and less line level noise. These particular outlets take quite a while to break in. Some suggest 600-800 hours.
good luck with your planning/install.
Ghost- I’ve used Albert’s outlets and they are good, in fact, I think he sells them cheaper than some of the standard Hubbells; on the pump snap, yes, I have a pretty large air compressor for my tone arm, and even the smaller one that came with it originally (a 1/2 HP Silentaire) made a NASTY snap through the signal path when the motor kicked in and out. Simply putting it on a dedicated line didn’t eliminate it, neither did an aftermarket device-- a small box-- wired into compressor motor. What saved me was an isolation transformer. No compressor pump snap over the system when that sucker kicks on (and I upgraded to a 1 HP compressor with a 13 gallon tank). You don’t even have to use "audiophile approved" ones- I have several, one is a 240 volt step down that was originally used for my home theatre (which I don’t use anymore for that), but another is a medical grade unit branded by Tripp Lite that has a 15 amp breaker- it hums, but it is my adjacent closet so with soundproofing, you don’t hear it at all. (Right now, i am only running 1 of the 2 motors, so 1/2 horsepower- when that mother kicks on with both motors, it really draws current. Not the kind of thing you normally want anywhere near an audio system).
Hi Whart...is this the Tripp Lite unit you mentioned?
To clarify about what I was describing (hopefully this will be of value to BDP, too) ... it's not an audio related pump but rather the house heating system heat pump coming on and causing a very brief voltage sag that the APC corrects. Fortunately, no noise is heard through the audio system when this happens. Funny though, a nearby closet light switch on a totally separate circuit WILL cause a nasty snap audible through the system if it's turned on while the gear is powered up. Put a piece of tape over the switch as a reminder and I just don't flip it when the system is on.
Ghost, no if you go to the Tripp Lite home page, and search for medical isolation transformers, you will see what they offer- mine is an 1800, I think, comes with both a 20 amp and 15 amp plug. Not as cheap as the one you flagged, but not crazy money- I think around 600 US. Here it is: [url]http://www.tripplite.com/isolator-series-120v-1800w-ul60601-1-medical-grade-isolation-transformer-6-...[/url]
Yes, I realized you were talking about a heat pump that had no direct relationship to your system. Notwithstanding dedicated lines, separate subpanel, etc. there are a couple of lights and appliances in my house that when operating, can be heard through the system, and my solution is the same as yours- Don’t throw that switch! :)
Oh, it is Ghost! Thanks again everybody, the research continues. Thanks for the invite FF; I'm actually just across the border in Vancouver, Washington. A nice, quiet, all-residential single-family home neighborhood---no light industry or other noise creators. Portland's teeming with construction, bulldozers everywhere! I coincidently had already checked out your room and eq in the virtual section. Wow, I'm embarrassed ;-( !
Sure would Bill, I’ll get over there and find it. I gotta include that Forum in my daily routine; I’m not a regular like I should be. I met Steve in the Tower Records in Sherman Oaks in the mid-90’s, and arranged to interview him for Mike Fremer (to be published in The Tracking Angle). Never followed through!
eichlerera05-14-20 " ... I'm about to run two dedicated lines into my stereo room using a dedicated breaker panel.
For grounding should I drive two copper grounding rods into the earth (one for each circuit) or can I connect both lines to one grounding rod?"
Neither. That wouldn't meet code. All grounds must return to the grounding bus bar in the service panel.
The earth does not possess some magical mystical power that sucks nasties from an audio system.
The ground rod must connect to the safety equipment grounding conductor of the branch circuit wiring. The branch circuit safety equipment grounding conductor must be connected to the equipment ground bar of a sub panel or main electrical service neutral/ground bar in the main electrical service panel. Period!
Lightning loves Auxiliary Grounding Electrodes. Audio equipment not so much. Good for a quick high energy buzz though.....
euchlerera---I too had thought that was something that might be done, but in reading the various threads I was referred to here (thanks again guys!), I learned that it absolutely should NOT be done, and is illegal anyway! The grounding arrangement is for the entire panel, not for separate breakers on it. You would install new grounding only if you have a separate new panel installed (as mentioned by ghosthouse) in the house. But I seem to recall Harry Pearson years ago saying that he looked into doing just that in the house in Sea Cliff, and was told that two separate accounts to the same residential address was not permitted. Perhaps that is a local or state issue, or perhaps Harry was given incorrect information, I don't know. I don't think I would do it anyway!
For clarity, and Jea can correct me here, but I think "separate panel" means separate service from the street. I think part of this is pure electrical code which is national (and then locally implemented, correct Jea?) and part of it is zoning, e.g. if you had a guest house on your property that zoning law allowed you to rent, you could conceivably get separate service directly to that guest house- separately metered so that the renter's electrical use could be billed separately from the main house. I had a preliminary discussion a couple years ago with the electrical inspector in Austin, in contemplation of my build out. The first thing that amazed me, coming from New York, was that you could actually get the person on the phone!
There was one property we had looked at several years ago in Austin that was a very run down piece of serious modern design- it had been used for a tech company start-up and had 400 amps of service :200 on one line, and two separate 100 amp lines coming into a single building. I have no idea how that was approved.
First, my response on 05-14-2016 8:56am was in response to eichlerera’s post.
Dedicated breaker panel? I read that as being an electrical sub panel fed from the main electrical service panel. "Dedicated breaker panel" for his audio equipment.
As for an answer to your question above, I would have to say no. To me a separate panel does not mean it is fed by a separate service fed from the street.
Agree. The AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) has the final say. In the case of an electrical service supplied to a building structure I would add so does the utility power company.
NEC Code adoption state by state.
I think most people would be considering installing a new sub-panel, being fed from the main panel and dedicated to the system room, not a new, separate service line from the street to a new, second main panel. With the sub-panel, no new grounding need be nor should be installed. A new, second main panel would require it’s own grounding, but I don’t think many are contemplating that, though ghosthouse would like one. I wouldn't mind one myself, but that's not gonna happen!
As an alternative has anyone considered installing the Tesla battery pack so as to take you off line for dedicated listening?
A few years back I also looked into installing a fuel cell. Actually not that expensive but at the time the only ones available were too big for my needs
i suspect over the next few years there will be a wide variety of off grid whole house power options available
Jea- yeah, i tried in NY and the local utility guy told me to get lost- i didn't say it was for audio, but we have separate buildings on this property and they still said no. I gather if I paid for it, they might reconsider, but I'm trying to get out of here. In Texas, seems a little more flexible, at least where zoning is multi-purpose. We shall see.
Folk- i use one component that has lithium battery packs, the Veloce line stage. It works great, sounds great, never an issue with charging, running time, etc. That shop in the UK that makes those oligarch speakers Living Voice? has a battery system for audio- pretty pricey.
Well, I have looked into the matter of AC outlets, and I do believe I'll pay to find out if my natural inclination towards needing to see a technical rational for a supposed source of sound difference is too strict. I'll get a Furutech GTX-D(R) and see if I can hear an improvement in the resolution, depth, and lack of grain in my system. If I can't, will I admit it ;-)? Is my system transparent enough to allow me to hear it? $150 is not too much to know I have good electrical continuity, in any case.
Something occurred to me today: Doesn’t the fact that a digital device is connected to a, say, pre-amp negate the benefit of having the two on different circuits? And if that is the case, is it so only if the connection is unbalanced? If the connection is unbalanced, by being electronically connected don’t the two therefore share a common ground, which facilitates the transfer of noise? My two digital pieces are connected to the others via balanced cables with XLR’s; does that, plus being on a different circuit than the analog pieces, insure that their self-generated noise will be kept out of the pieces they are connected to? That would be nice.