Will be reading with great interest.
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To ensure that all the outlets will be equally represented in this test they will be mounted in a test fixture evenly spaced.
What material is the "test fixture" made from? Ferrous or non ferrous? Receptacles can react differently when installed in a ferrous, magnetic, enclosure than in a non ferrous enclosure. For net zero influence I would recommend aluminum with a nylon duplex cover plate.
The test jig with the outlets will be run in prior to the test for at least 24 hours to insure “break in” for the ones that feel that this is important.24 hours?
I would think a minimum of 48 hours would be more appropriate. Some may even recommend 72 hours...
Also I assume each receptacle/plug combination "break in" period will be under a connected load condition. What load are you considering using for break-in?
The control will be programmed so that the next circuit will energize prior to the past one is de-energized to ensure uninterrupted current flow to the system that will be used for the test.
"Make before break".... That is a good idea especially for the power supply of a power amp.
Besides Rx8man's recommendation of including the Maestro outlet, I would also like to recommend trying an Afterburner 8 outlet from Avatar Acoustics.
I chose the Afterburner 8 outlet over the Maestro, Porter Port, Telsaplex and Oyaide R1, GX and XXX outlets.
I know that you have to stop somewhere, but the Maestro and Afterburner 8 are quality outlets. Including them might benefit everyone either involved or reading your findings.
The test jig will be made on a 4ft by 2ft piece of 3/8" thick Black Acrylic (a piece I have sitting waiting for a purpose) the outlets will be 6" on center from each other. As far a cover plates i was thinking Stainless Steel - although the low grade SS they use for covers is slightly magnetic, so I may go with the nylon ones, don't know yet.
The outlets and the indicator LED's will be mounted on the front of the plate the PLC / relays / terminal strip / wiring etc. will be on the back, these will be mounted on a DIN rail.
Break-in will be for a couple of weeks I'll run my two mono blocks at home via the jig with all the outlets energized in parallel to ensure they all have the same break-in time. The amps pull about 800W at idle so that will be about 100W through each outlet or 800mA.
The test would only be meaningful if the system that's used for the test is left on during the entirety of the test, allowing for a seamless switch between the outlets.
I know it is hard to contemplate, but years ago I upgraded my outlets to a Pass and Seymore recommended by Bob Crump (I think it was a 4562 or some similar model #). I didn;t believe it when Bob said it would take a month of break in, but actually living through that up and down roller coaster of a break in period convinced me of the truth of his statement.
Please be sure to break all of these in thoroughly before comparing them.
So many people have opinions and talk even passionatly about what they think, but that is where it almost always ends. I would consider doctors well educated. I like doctors that are capable and exert themselves to do their best but also that let you know they don't know everything and so are willing to look at other possibilities within reason. So I commend your looking at possibilities within reason Pbnaudio. This you have made fun for the thread members too, that is also very commendable too. Now the thread members have a opportunity to support something they seem passionate about, we will see.
I am actually an MD. The one thing we learned with certainty in Medical School is that there was more we didn't know than what we did. I have changed that to sound more reasonable. I did not invent this, we don't know what we don't know. Unfortunately I believe that was said after to rationalize invading Iraq and finding no weapons of mass destruction.
AS for AC ports, plugs and power cables go I am truly ignorant and have nothing meaniongful to add other than congratulating PBN for his efforts.
I like the idea. Just run the test as Peter proposed. First let's find out if there exists an audible difference. Then evaluate further to determine if there is an absolute winner or at least a couple of contenders. If these events prove a sonic success, then I propose the playoff system. Let the proponents of the high dollar outlets put their money where their mouth is by providing their chosen outlet to compete against the winners of round one.
To keep prying fingers out, I'm not so sure my insurance company would like me to leave live points exposed at my place of business with 60+ folks around :-)
Also I plan to make it so it can be used for PowerCord comparisons later, so I'll put some effort into making it look presentable
I think many of us are very interested to the learn the results of your proposed "battle of the outlets".
1. Is there a difference in "sound", for want of a better term, between various outlets? (To me this assessment is more objective)
2. If so is the "sound" of any outlet "better" than the
"sound" of any other outlet/s? (Answers to this question
might tend to more subjective)
3. Biases: Listeners might describe an outlet as "warm". To
a person who prefers "neutral" this could be a negative
quality while another listener might consider this a
desirable quality. Even so the person who prefers "neutral" might consider a "warm" outlet to tame a "cool" or "dark" component.
Each listener will get an brief impression of each outlet relative to the others being tested. However, the possibility exists that longer term listening, say a month or two, may negate or reinforce opinions formed during the "shoot out". Such long term listening would obviously be difficult with a group since the audio system and listening environment being used should remain constant.
Another variable may be the components used. For instance, outlet A may "sound" better with high powered SS amplifiers while outlet B may "sound" better with front end components and outlet C may "sound" better with tube amps etc. PCs and their terminations could also come into play. Of course if no difference in sound is discerned at #1 then this whole discussion is moot. 8^)
This is in way a criticism of your proposed test, you have to start somewhere, I'm just throwing some ideas out.
Peter, let me say I much admire your efforts here. I don't know if you can swing it exactly, but, if at all possible, I would like to see one alternative and that is for one of your duplex choices to be, in fact, no duplex at all - in effect, a true bypass - if in fact that could somehow be arranged, practically speaking. Naturally, in the real world, there just isn't much call for hardwiring straight into the romex (although I've done it). But, doing so temporarily can be a real eye-opener. As I understand it, the system duplex is actually a real chokepoint for harmonic distortion in particular and I know firsthand that temporarily removing it can be a very practical and effective (and very audible!) demonstration for everybody of what a given duplex's contribution to system distortion actually is. No duplex at all should give you all a clear baseline, or rather a 'ceiling', of system performance. As it is now, ahead of the test, I have no reason to expect that any duplex would indeed have the potential of "sounding better than" no duplex at all. That is, I'm expecting that all duplexes will sound, to one degree or another, inferior to the bypass. But, having the ability to compare individual duplexes to a true bypass, in my mind, should give folks a better basis from which to more readily reach a more informed conclusion for themselves as to which one they feel is actually the most transparent of these in this application. As a matter of fact, I personally think this approach can do a lot in the minds of many to cut straight through a lot of manufacturer's hype when you consider that, after all, it may not be a matter of how 'gloriously engineered' a particular duplex can be, but rather how well it can perform its job while simply doing the least amount of harm. I would only add that if you try this idea out yourself, you may find that this is such a good "white-glove test" that further dependence on measuring alone may cease to be as important for you. Your ears will not lie. What do you think on all this? I'm on the other end of the country or otherwise I'd be there for it. Regards, John
"To keep prying fingers out, I'm not so sure my insurance company would like me to leave live points exposed at my place of business with 60+ folks around :-)
Prying fingers? How old are the attendees? :-). Just use masking tape to cover the exposed areas. The advantage of no cover plates, of course, is results for outlets will be clearer.
I'm still contemplating how to conduct the actual test, I'm hoping that someone that have some insight on this will contribute to this tread.
As far as an outlets compatibility with a certain piece of equipment, maybe, don't know. First things first, the test is to determine if there is any difference at all between the outlets.
John, What a great idea, I'm definitely going to incorporate the "ByPass" option into the test jig.
You may want to talk with vhAudio and speak with Chris, or someone you know who has access to a lot of these. He is familiar with many of the outlets mentioned here, and has auditioned many of those used here. His opinions and conclusions have thus far been very accurate with those products I have bought from him. Perhaps he will share how he auditioned them. Apparently from my discussions with him, the materials and plating process are a very important factor. Thus, mixing different materials in the path from AC outlet to IEC female, and male receptacle, and into a component, will be difficult to distinguish what is contributing to the changes in sound, if any. If you test copper, you should test a copper AC outlet in the wall all the way to the preamp, amp, etc. Not having all the materials or even the brands similar would in my mind make a better understanding more difficult. There is always the mix and match philosophy, but knowing what a material does versus another is intriguing in itself. Silver interconnects or speaker cable sound different than copper. Will other materials in another part of the audio chain be as significant or less, or not at all? I too am intersted in this shootout. I have talked with Chris about these outlet upgrades, but not pulled the trigger yet.
If you believe in break-in or know it to be true from experience, then a 2-3 day cook on the Audiodharma would be in order for those who haven't been broken-in already.Maestro,Afterburner 8, Ps audio power port premier,Oyaide R1 should probably be added to this list as members have previously suggested.The same music should be played with each outlet consecutively.Probably a 5 minute take should give a good idea.Listening sessions should be no longer that 50 minutes at a time.Take a 10 minute brain break and back to the music.Number the outlets and provide paper score sheets.Position who you feel are the most experienced listeners in the same sweet spots for the entire test.Keep all listening variables to a minimum,have fun and enjoy.
FWIW Peter, one other thing you might also consider is that one of the duplex choices be an ordinary household duplex for comparison's sake. I know, I know - the number of slots available for testing everyone's preferred duplex is necessarily precious few as far as most everybody is concerned and, on the surface of things at least, we may feel we can all dispense with the garden variety duplex since everyone is already familiar with it. But, to me, that's exactly why it should be included, really. Doing so would establish a true, and essentially repeatable, "baseline" not just for this test, but with any other tests to follow, whether yours or anyone else's, if they were to be done the same way. It may be especially useful for those of us who'd like to play along at home and who've not yet taken the plunge on a designer duplex. The best test results are the ones that correlate to what we already know or are familiar with. But, having both the baseline and the ceiling provided by the "bypass" for system performance for this test may make for a more universal frame of reference for everybody - both for anyone viewing the results and for the individuals participating in such a test as well. If you like, for pre-selected sonic categories it could even invite a numerical rating system (like 1 representing the standard duplex and 10 [or a hundred, or whatever] representing the bypass) along with notes of general impressions. But in general, if you at some point in the future for example, did a follow-up test covering duplex/male-AC-plug combination comparisons, or just a whole new batch of duplexes, you could do the test the same way and have that much more of a meaningful basis for comparing the results for each of the entire tests, side-by-side, with the others. True, for other people following in your footsteps on this, none of this removes the biggest variable involved - the system itself, but that's something that just can't be helped at this point, of course, but the closer to a given standard the better, I would say. Food for thought, maybe. Regards. John
Thanks for the great input here is a list of the AC Outlets to be used in addition to the "by pass" you already suggested. I had to source a new PLC so i now have the possibility of including 12 AC Outlets in the test. 9 slots are taken these 8 plus the bypass.
Audio Magic NanoStream, $69 and WattGate 5266i AC Plug $10
Porter Port by Albert Porter, $41 and HUBBELL HBL5364VBK AC Plug NEMA 5-20 Male Black Valise $15 (Alberts recommendation)
Furutech FPX-G $95, and Furutech FI-11M-G AC Plug $55
Pass Seymour CR6300 Cryo $44 with Pass Seymour 5366XCCV4 AC Plug $10
Teslaplex SE by Synergistic Research $95 and TBD AC Plug $ ?
Hubbell HBL5362-I Heavy Duty Spec. Grade Grande Duplex $16 and HBL5266C AC plug $10
Levitron 5362-W Industrial Heavy Duty Grande, Straight Blade, Self Grounding Duplex $7 and AC Plug Levitron 5266-C Industrial grade $10
El Cheapo HomeDepot Outlet $0.54 with “regular” Cheap moulded power cord $5
Peter, I don't want to get involved in this, but I don't show any existing order for a Porter Port. Let me know what you need unless a friend is loaning you one.
Also, the Hubbell male I suggested is one I choose many, many years ago when I was experimenting with DIY AC cables. Perhaps better choices today but at $12.00 - $15.00 it's a great male to throw in the test.
I have a suggestion for cover plates should you wish to do that test too. My favorite is marked "unbreakable" and made from Nylon. Very low resonance and will not crack if you overtighten the screws. About $1.00 at Home Depot.
The Porter Port should be on its way I had one of my friends order it for me as I DONT do paypal - don't know how many of these you ship - but it is the one you shipped to San Diego last week.
I'll take your suggestion on the cover plates, I was going to use Stainless because of durability and looks but as mentioned before they are slightly magnetic, but then again so are most of the outlets which got here today, but I'll save that for the description of each outlet as I formulate the test and its findings.
The more I think about your planned receptacle outlet experiment the more I believe the results will yield only flawed results.
Some problems I see.
The common board all the duplex receptacles will be mounted to. Vibration....
The fact that the duplex recepts will be daisy chained fed.
Sure hate to be that guy on the end...
The choice of relays used. Mechanical contacts may not be all the same. Some relay contacts may seat better than others. A variable...
How the relays would be mounted and how the contacts would be fed. I could go on and on just about the problems with the relays in the circuit current path.
No relay would be best.
The best way, jmho, is the true and tried way to listen to the sonic differences of receptacles.... Connect the recept directly to the branch circuit and plug the audio equipment directly into the recept.
No relay contacts
No daisy chaining
No vibrating mounting board
Same power cord being used for each listening session.
Your bench test experiment setup has too many variables to be credible.... JMHO....
You bring up some valid points but what we will analyzing is the outlet by it self and all the outlets will have the exact same conditions under which they are to be tested, thus the "best" outlet will surely shine trough.
Vibration - The outlets are to be mounted on a 3/8" piece of acrylic plate - I truly do not believe that this will have any more vibration than the Drywall in your house to which an outlet is normally mounted, actually probably less.
Daisy chaining - There will be none, all the outlets will be connected to a terminal strip with the exact same length of wire. To the other side of that terminal strip a piece of 12 gauge romex will be routed to our main panel where it will be connected to a 20A dedicated breaker. I had originally wanted to feed all the outlets with a uncut piece of wire all the way back to the breaker but their connection points prevent this form happening.
Relay Contacts - Is a valid concern but I have decided to actually hardwire all the components but maybe the Transport to the terminal strip that is fed from the output of the relays bypassing both the AC fuse and the IEC inlets - the elimination of these additional contact points more than makes up for the inclusion of the 20 Amp relay contacts that will switch the outlets in and out. It is in my opinion FAR more important to be able to have a completely seamless switch between the different outlets to properly evaluate if they change the sound or if they don't. The powering down, changing wires, powering up etc. induces many more variables than this test do. Remember only ONE outlet will be engaged at any time but the 2 second overlap between the outlets to ensure that all important seamless evaluation of them.
If this test concludes that the AC outlet have little if any effect on the performance of a system, your post is already the first attempt of discrediting it of which I'm sure there will be a few because you probably will not like the outcome of it - IHMO
I applaud this test. There is no way to make it perfect but you are doing an admirable job of it.
On the off chance that there might be some differences (though I don't see how it could be) you should do amplifier output level matching (electrically) between the outlets. If there are differences, you will want to find a way to compensate for them.
I think you should also try the test with several different audio components, e.g., two different source components, two different amps, etc. Or at least with an amp and a source component. (Maybe you already discussed this.) You will need to do output level matching again or at least be careful about making sure that variations in loudness do not become a variable in the listening evaluation.
I think you already have too many outlets in the test for good experimental design. When we test a lot of concepts in online surveys, we use multiple respondent samples and expose each sample to a subset of the concepts. This is because respondents lose interest and ability to discriminate at the number of tests goes up. In your case, testing with multiple components just adds to the complexity. So you need to think about breaking the test into smaller chunks, such as comparing and scoring two or three outlets at a time, then throwing that "winner" in against 1-2 new ones.
There is also the phenomenon of "order bias." If you test the same outlets with different listening panels, change the order in which the outlets are heard.
I have a few additional thoughts, based entirely on my own experiences of comparing things in my system:
First, do not make rapid switches between outlets. Allow a brief pause.
Second, use short musical selections, If you are using digital, you can prep selections that are clipped to desired length.
Third, do not use the same musical selections for the entire test. I realize this may be controversial, but I have found that it's important to add new material while dropping some of the old stuff as you move through a series of comparisons. The discards can re-appear later on. My hypothesis for why this matters is that the experience of hearing a selection for the first time in the context of a test is very different from hearing it for, say, the sixth time, or even the second time. There is something about "newness." Every device under test should get the benefit of something new in the mix in addition to selections you have heard with the preceding device.
Peter, I hate to see you go to all this effort if everyone is going to approach this from a dogmatic rather than an empirical point of view. This experiment should provide a well conceived data point. It won't and can't provide a once for all answer. As I said earlier, a positive result only shows that under some circumstances one can hear a difference. A negative result shows that under the conditions of the test the listeners did not discern a difference with statistical significance.
I wish I had saved the outlets that sounded so bad in my house. I would have bet money that people could have heard a problem with those outlets.
Regardless of the outcome of your test, its unlikely I will be pulling the AM nanoplex's out of my house, and its equally unlikely I'll be spending 1K apiece for the latest and greatest duplex.
At 40-60 bucks each, the bar isn't very high for demonstration of cost effectiveness. I got a easily audible improvement for $40. Its not clear to me why people are making such a big deal out of this.
If this test concludes that the AC outlet have little if any effect on the performance of a system, your post is already the first attempt of discrediting it of which I'm sure there will be a few because you probably will not like the outcome of it - IHMONot sure what your position is......
I have experimented with recepts though not the Hi-End audio grade ones.
All duplex receptacles are not created equal.
There is a hell of a lot more that comes into play besides
contact pressure of the device.
At present of those recepts I have personally experimented with I am using cryoed Hubbell hosp grade HBL8300H non plated bronze contacts with a brass non plated yoke, mounting back strap.
I have also experimented with different types of recept cover plates.
Any cover plate that has a ferrous material, magnetic properties, will affect the sonics of connected audio equipment, and not in a good way.
If I get a change later today I will reread your post and respond to the rest of it.
Actually a complete system consisting of 2 Mono blocks, a Preamplifier, a DAC /Transport, a Phono Preamplifier and Turntable will be hardwired to a terminal strip, so its not just one component, is an entire system.
The switch between the outlets will be seamless ie. one outlet is engaged prior to the previous one being disengaged allowing the system to be constantly under power during the entire test.
You input regarding the actual physical conduct of the test is greatly appreciated and how it will eventually be carried out will be accurately described prior to it being performed.
I will also start a systems page for the test sometime this week, I'm still waiting for two outlets to arrive. Once this is up I will post a link here, I will try to document in detail the entire build up process of the test jig and the associated equipment.
As always, Good listening
Thank you for your suggestion but I will use the vinyl ones which are relatively in-expensive and non magnetic. Most of the outlets are actually magnetic in one way or another but I will give a very detailed description of each on the forthcoming systems page for the test.
Excellent...I look forward to hearing the results; I have Oyaide R1s here and have a set of Afterburner8 outlets on order as they should be a very fine upgrade.
I've heard Siemens Copper Busbar breaker boxes are a good choice for a subpanel upgrade. People have also mentioned SquareD with bolt-in breakers. Any opinions and advice would be appreciated.
if you compare ac outlets within a stereo system, what is the chance that the results may be extrapolated to an other stereo system ?
i would say that shootouts are usually applicable to one stereo system, with the exception of tubes.
i have found a consistency when comparing tubes in several stereo systems.
I'd agree with the last statements; everything is relative to the system it goes into and the synergy.
I did have 5 Afterburner8 outlets put in today in place of my long-held Oyaide R1s and am very happy with the results. It's early on to be sure but I can tell you the bit of a bright edge that the Oyaides are reported to have (and that I heard) is gone, the tonality of the system seems a bit more true to the original note and the energy and pacing of the system on many different types of music seems to have improved. I am looking forward to the results after break-in!