I use a PS Audio Ultimate Outlet (20A) which is simply a 1:1 isolation transformer. There is no restriction of dynamics. It cleaned up some grunge coming in on my AC power lines.
Also, I use PS Audio power cords, they really helped lower the noise floor and increase dynamics.
I don't know how many power supplies you use with your Io, remember that each one draws about 150W. A device such as the EP-15A should be sized accordingly.
Any way to try before you buy or get a money back guarantee?
Enjoy the music.
is a thread I started back in August 2005 when I purchased an Audio Magic Power Line Conditioner. As a Callisto and Io owner, I was quite impressed with the benefits from the AM PLC. I ramble on a lot in my post with the detailed benefits for each component in my system. Maybe the specifics on the Aesthetix models here will be of benefit to you.
As for why Jim White advises against a PLC, why not call him and find out the reason. Perhaps he never tried the AM, Hydras, IsoClean and Sound Application models, to name a few. But I would be cautious with an "regenerating" device.
Thanks guys, perhaps I should clarify -
Oldvinyl, I already own both the Io Sig and the ExactPower. The EP15A powers everything in my system except for the Io Sig. I fear that this may be creating a ground loop, because both the EP15A and the Io are grounded, and there is more noise through the Io than with other inputs (ear to the speaker style, but still).
Jafox, I used to own Audio Magic and traded up to the ExactPower.... the power in my neighborhood, not to mention ambient noise, RFI, EMF is exceedingly bad... I'm in a tall apartment building in midtown Manhattan. The EP15A is often called a power regenerator but is actually an AC sub-cycle regulator... a small class D amp inside does generate a sinewave, but all the EP15A does is compare the incoming AC signal to this sinewave - it does not substitute its own sinewave to the incoming AC - instead, it corrects the incoming AC to match the perfect sinewave generated by the internal amp. Such is the theory anyway!
but you are right that I should just call Jim White and ask him about it. Btw, I loved the AM products, great products (I had the Stealth and mini (non-digital) Stealth), but I needed stronger stuff where I live.
Do you have the Io plugged in to the same outlet as the EP 15A? If you use separate outlets, do you know if they are on the same circuit (breaker)? This may be hard to determine in an apartment building. Also, the ground may be flakey. You can always get a Rat Shack outlet tester.
In my system, I ran a dedicated 20 A circuit and have all the outlets "star" wired. No voltage drops or ground loops. With the Io, there may be some 60 Hz hum. This can be from inbalanced tube sections or bleed through on the heaters. With the gain that the Io has (70 dB or so) it is near impossible to get rid of all the noise.
You can achieve the "star" wiring with a outlet strip such as the PS Audio Power Directo, their Juice Barr, the Nordost "Thor", or one of the IsoTek products. You can also make one up yourself with some outlets and wire.
The "star" wiring will eliminate the ground loop. If you use the line level input on the Io for a CD player (or any other device), I have found that to be a source of ground loops and hum when listening to vinyl. So, when I play a record, I unplug the AC power to my CD player (which is plugged in to the Io).
I have also found that using the XLR outputs from the Io drops the noise floor and any residual hum.
Chasing hum is thankless, good luck.
Thanks for the detailed response. I use the XLR outputs too and love them. I don't have the version with the line level input (and volume controls) - I run the Io to a BAT linestage. No CD player in the system at all, as a matter of fact...
I have wondered whether the hum is intrinsic to the Io, but I didn't notice it much in my prior location. Of course, I might have a bum tube, especially because it is more noticeable in the right channel. But the right channel is also picking up a radio station distantly at certain times of day, so it could just be the physical placement of the gear (which I'm loath to experiment with for obvious reasons, even though it might be the simplest solution!)
Both the EP15A and the Io Sig are in the same outlet, and although there are separate circuits in the house, including an air conditioner outlet that must be clearly separated, I can sometimes hear a pop through my speakers when my wine chiller cycles on and off (not since I've installed the EP15A), and a definite nasty sound when I switch on a high-intensity lamp that's supposedly in a different circuit (even after the EP15A was in the system).
In any case, there's no way for the EP15A's power cord to stretch to an outlet on one of the other circuits.
So the electrical system is far from the best. I own my apartment but wonder if upgrading just the internal apartment wiring will solve the problem - seems like the whole building needs it (built in 1955).
I installed my 3-prong outlets myself - the apartment only had 2-prong when I got it! My Rat Shack AC checker says polarity is fine and grounding is fine on my outlets.
All your 20A outlets have grounding wire running right back to the box? (or a spike in your backyard - I've heard that's the best - unfortunately there is no backyard 110 feet in the air). Impressive.
The one thing I really don't want to do is send my Io Sig and PS (just one thank God) back to Aesthetix - they've gone twice and though I LOVE them to death, (1) I can't do without them even for a short term - I only listen to vinyl and once you've heard the Io anything else is a letdown and (2) the pain and peril of shipping these massive but fragile units 3000 miles and back just drives me insane!
Maybe I should just experiment with retubing, but that gets into hairshirt quality audio of which the Io already has so much of... I've done the NOS tubes (are they REALLY NOS? is your tube checker calibrated? is your dealer honest? is the hype on brand X tube from 1950 really justified? oh no, your tube doesn't have the -C code on it for military grade? and the rest of it) -- it's a road which I really don't want to travel down!
Plus the RFI in the right channel makes me think it's placement... makes me hope it's placement.......
I am running the Io flat out right now. I know I could go down to 72 dB instead of the 80 dB and probably conquer most of the problem right there. But (1) I'm eager to get rid of the problem whether it's very audible or nearly inaudible, and (2) I like the extra oomph of 80 dB with my 103R... it gives off slightly better output than other samples, not into overload range or distortion I don't think, but man I like the sound.
So there you go, complete audiophilia nervosa summed up in one post!
P.S. I've heard amazing things about the Nordost Thor, which the reviewer on whose recommendation I impulsively bought th EPA uses it in between his equipment and the EP15... 'course this would still bring Jim's objections into play...
For my house wiring, the 20 A circuit is dedicated (only the audio outlets, 4 WattGate). They are "star" wired. Yes, the AC+, AC- and ground all run directly back to the circuit breaker panel. The house is grounded with 2 ten foot copper rods and is also tied to the cold water pipes. The breaker panel is 220V, so there are AC breaker on both sides of the 220V (different phases). I made sure that the heavy duty equipment in the house is on the other phase from the audio gear to further isolate it.
Sounds like you need AC isolation (such as the ultimate outlet, it will remove the nasty noise from other devices on the same circuit). The Thor would also allow all devices to operate from the same power and ground (but it is quite expensive and will not help if the ground is not good).
If you converted from 2 wire to 3 wire plugs .... do tell ... where did you get the ground wire??
If you are getting radio reception through the Io, try some shielding to get rid of the noise (such as cryotweaks http://www.cryotweaks.com/product.asp?pf_id=ERS).
For tubes, search around, there is plenty written up. From my experience the best bet is Telefunken ECC83 (12AX7) in the V1 & V2 positions. Get a good NOS matched pair, and there are still places to get good ones.
You can always try swapping the power supply cables to see (well hear) if the noise switches channels. Then at least you'll know whether it is in the power supply or the phono stage. The next thing to do is swap the tubes in right and left channel in the phono stage and/or power supply.
Oh heck, just go all out and get the second power supply. Swap out the EL-34's for some KT-66 and let 'er rip.
Just a warning here: I understand that you MUST take great care when swapping the power umbilicals here. When you power the Io down and then disconnect the power cables between the Audio and PS chassis, you MUST wait at least 20 minutes before reconnecting these cables or the solid-state regulators in the PS will be destroyed. I tend to take a more conservative approach and wait an hour.
Good point Jafox. I don't wait an hour though. Also remember to first disconnect the AC power cable before disconnecting the power supply umbilical.
One other thought about the hum. My SME arm had a DIN-RCA Music Metre silver interconnect that was fine in the first setup. When I moved, this cable picked up hum in the new setup. I tried several well regarded cables and settled on the Nordost Quattro Fil. By far, it had the best shielding (lowest hum). Turns out that it matched ny listening preferences best too.
One way to test this theory would be to simply disconnect the phono leads in to the Io and note if the hum is still there. The next step is to disconnect the hum in to the amo and note if the hum is still there.
Congratulations. I thought I wrote exhausting posts but yours beats mine by a nose!
I don't have an Aesthetix but I do have an EP15A (love it). I too have a hard time imagining it damaging anything, but then again I had a hard time imagining it making any component sound notably worse - until I heard it happen.
My EP15A improves the sound of every component I own, but when a friend brought his Berning ZH270 over it was clearly happier being plugged straight into the wall. Our line voltage is anything but stable, thus the Exact Power, but Berning advises against line conditioners for this amp and in this case he was right.
Does that apply to your Aesthetix? I have no clue!
P.S. The Exact Power will not filter out noise from dimmer switches, transformers, etc. I spoke to the EP's designer himself. His recommendation for dimmers was to keep trying different ones until you stumble on one that's quiet in your environment. Not scientific but it worked. We also had to relocate the transformer for our 12V ceiling lights that backwash the wall behind the equipment rack. The hum was unavoidable with the transformer within six feet.
Star grounding works well for us. Worth a try and costs peanuts to implement.
I've been travelling in Europe on biz but all these suggestions are extremely helpful. I might also have a bad tube somewhere since the problem is worse in right channel than left when phono is selected, so will try swapping those (maybe the EL-34s in PS) s well as PS cables. Wait an hour before turn-off and turn-on - sounds definitely right with the Io.
The radio reception is there even with the Io not selected. I think it's a cable acting as an antenna somewhere.
I turn off all dimmer switches and halogens when listening to music for the reasons given above.
Will report back, and also Jim White's thoughts when I get him this week.
Hi, I have the Io Sig w/VC and 2 supplies. I live in a very RF rich environment near a hospital. On one occassion when trying different ICs I did discover some RF bleed through.No hum with the IO or subsequent RF problems.
Your IC's must be very well shielded and you must exhaustively experiment with dressing the leads and positioning with equipment and try different brands.While not the best, Musical fidelity make a type with RF ferrite clamps on the cable...it may be worth a try to see the result. In the past when I had a Counterpoint head amp this problem would drive me crazy.
Fourtunately the Counterpoint weighed in at about 5lbs so you could wave it in the air and find a good position. Hard to do with the Io.
Also make sure your connectors are scrupuously clean. Any oxidation and the connectors will act as diodes in a cyrstal radio singing through your system.I like the Caig products here not comfortable using any of the silver based contact enhancers as they can be difficult to clean out of the connectors if it does not work out.
I doubt that your electrical system is properly grounded if you had to add new grounded receptcles to replace 2 prong ones. If you have armoured cable or conduit(maybe in NYC) then the outer sheild/conduit may be acting as a poor ground back to the main panel. Get a electrician to seen if you have a "separate" ground wire back to the panel and properly bonded to the neutral at the box. Old vinyl gave good advice on disconnecting and swapping Ic's to discover if the problem is the Io or the amp for hum... working from the source forward to determine the possible cause...don't ignore the dressing of your tonearm cable.
This is exhausting and thankless work but it can be done..goodluck!
Interesting thanks Nkj.
Yes, I suspect there is something off with the receptacle grounding. There is no ground wire, but there may be an armored cable or conduit - the instructions said that the receptacle could be grounded if it made mechanical connection with the box as you screwed it in.
This sounded screwy to me, but then the fact that my AC polarity checker said that the grounding was fine made me think that in fact this had grounded the receptacle.
Perhaps having an electrician in is the next step? Always pricey and frequently unreliable in Manhattan...
A couple of other thoughts:
* You obviously do not have a continuous ground through to the receptcle. If you unscrew the receptcle from the box and leave it in free space then your ratshack tester will show a missing ground. I don't know your electrical code (I'm in Canada) but I understand that in major centres like Chicago and probably NYC conduit is required in commercial/multiunit applications for fire code and protection from pests. If you are comfortable you can mechanically bond a ground wire from the recepticle to the recepticle box with a screw.You'll still have a problem on the other end though with perhaps poor bonding of the conduit to the box... the whole system circa 1955 may not be grounded anyway? An electrician's advice is good here if you are not savy in opening up your main panel for a peek.
* You could try running an extension from your AC outlet to the Io just for fun and see the results.
* If the AC line works (or even if it does not) and you can make the investment in one dedicated circuit back to the panel then this may be worth it to eliminate clicks and pops from other appliances. Decorative panel mold conduit is available to make the run as unobtrusive as possible.
* You are running the Io full out with possibly an improper ground in NYC (RF hell I imagine) so you may have to back off a bit. This is a function of the overall sensitivity of your system from cartridge to speakers and the room interface. I'm thinking this is your real problem!!!
* Try eliminating your power conditioner on the other equipment and see what happens to the hum... make sure you have no other inputs tape,tuner etc connected to your pre. They may be causing a groudloop via the common buss on the pre back to the Io.
* Start swapping cables L-->R and tubes L--R... If you have known good tubes for the PS supply swap them in. If it bothers you enough and you don't want to ship the unit for testing then perhaps buy a complete tube set and try swapping them in (for god's sake mark them first so you don't confuse yourself...ask me how I know)...man I'm getting tired just thinking about it!
The good news is the Io is very silent on my system so I know you can get there with this equipment with proper wire dressing, grounds, and good tubes.
All the best
Thank Nkj. I just opened the receptacle and checked ground with the ratshack tester - and it is just as you describe - grounded when the receptacle is screwed into the conduit box, not when unplugged.
I was going to run a wire from the ground screw to the box as you also suggest, but my multimeter shows continiuty from the ground screw to the receptacle ends, which are firmly screwed to the conduit box anyway, so I don't see the point of a separate wire. Effectively, screwing the receptacle to the box grounds the box, as the ratshack tester shows.
Unfortunately I don't have the skills to check to see whether the conduit is firmly grounded to the circuit breaker box at the other end. It sound like I need to bring an electrician here, and in fact I have been considering a dedicated line for some time.
For now I'm going to replace the receptacle as it was (unless you really tell me a wire from the ground screw on the receptacle to a screw on the conduit box is somehow different from the (ground-continuous) receptacle-ends being firmly screwed onto the box).
Next I'm going to try swapping the Io's power umbilicals, and then the EL-34s, to see if that makes any difference.
I take your point about running the Io all-out in NYC. I probably could use the 72 db setting as well. But the 80 db setting sounds so good in my current system that I'm reluctant to switch.
I haven't been able to get in touch with Jim White yet - he's a hard man to get hold of!
Just realized there's no point in swapping the EL-34s if swapping the power umbilicals makes no difference. And swapping the umbilicals makes no difference - the RF is more in the right channel.
I've just realized two things:
- moving the Io PS power cord around reduces the hum, but not the RF
- the RF problem and the hum may be in the Io tubes. I guess V1/V2 are the candidates for replacement. Perhaps I should try swapping the channel pairs first?
You may be getting close. Definitely swap the front end tubes from channel to channel. Make sure you mark them V1A, V2A, V1B,V2B etc to keep things straight. You may have to work through the whole tube complement to find a culprit.
Bonding of the receptcle frame to the box is really not good enough IMO the box is oxidized cadmium plated and you are trying to achieve a good ground...I'd add a wire from the ground terminal of the receptcle to the box if it were me...you still need to check the other end out with an electrician...this point may be minor if there is no ground at the front end anyway.
Try a sheilded ac supply cord from Belden or Volex(P/N 17604) They cost about $15.00 for a 14gauge type from any of the supply houses like Allied Electronics etc.They give similar performance to some of the high priced highend types for a fraction of the cost.
Lift the ground with a cheater to note the result
Try turning down your gain or if you are really adventurous move your equipment around to see the result...clean your contacts!
Jim has always responded to me...he may be busy or sometimes the spam filters don't let you through. You can give a call otherwise.
Nkj: re opening up the main panel for a peek. I can unscrew the circuit-breaker main panel (it was done recently when I had some air conditioning wired installed) and look at the back of the switch which supplies power to the stereo. Is there any way I can tell whether it is properly grounded at the panel just by looking at it? Or would I have to measure continuity from the conduit sheathing to the switch (or the neutral wire)?
Don't worry - I'm an exceedingly cautious person - I won't do anything foolish. I've built a few electronic kits and rewired various electrical things around the house - lamps, light switches, and (as you know) receptacles, but I have not looked at the back of my circuit box.
Please do not attempt to enter the service entrance if you are not qualified to do so. Your risk serious injury or death.
When your electrician looks at the service entrance (panel) there would be, in modern set-ups, a buss termination where all grounds go to..usually bare wires or green wires This buss strip is directly bonded to the panel. There is another buss strip where all white(neutral wires) go to this is isolated from the panel and bonds to the neutral main coming in. Your electrician would be able to see the two distinct buss strips indicating a grounded panel.If you do not see this it is unlikely that you have a grounded service. Have your electrician look at how the latest addition to your panel (the AC) has been added. Is there a ground from this branch and where does it go insided the panel?...this could be a clue..
Outside of panel Take a voltmeter, set to AC, measure from the wide prong of a receptlce to the ground ...should be zero if the receptlcle is grounded correctly. Also measure from the ground prong of the receptlce to the narrow bar of the receptcle should be 120vac.
I'm not familiar with your codes or practices in NYC. This is general information. You need an electrician to look at the main entrance of the service wires: should be 2 black & a white and possibly a ground bonded to the neutral dependant on the era and the codes at time of installation.
Just ran a wire from the receptacle's ground screw to a new screw and hole I drilled in the conduit box. As before ratshack wire says there is now a ground.
I have a shielded supply AC cord on order as per your recommendation.
I think I will use an electrician for the next step!
In the meantime I will be searching for Telefunken 12AX7s to try in the Io's front end.
Thanks to everyone in this thread... audio's a journey...
Please keep us updated with your progress. It is quite educational.
It's funny, I was just wondering whether to post another update because it seemed maybe it was just me and Nkj at this point!
I got the shielded Belden AC cord for the Io and have exactly the same RF - so that's a no-go. (For those interested, it looks extremely similar to the stock cord, and didn't sound quite as nice - perhaps not broken in, perhaps other differences!)
I will be having an electrician in soon to find out whether my outlet is actually grounded at the circuit breaker box.
In the meantime, I'm investigating Telefunken (and other) 12AX7s / ECC83s. Man have the prices for NOS tubes gone up since I was last looking (about 3 years ago).
I just noticed oldvinyl's recommendation to use cryotweaks on the Io for RF rejection. I may try this too.
More updates as they come...
Wondered how you were making out. Now no one said this was a science!. At least you're only out some frustration and not alot money so far. I really think the ground issue is a red herring with the RF. To be sure ground is good... But I think you have a positioning problem(think antenna), too much gain problem or interconnect sensitivity problem to RF. Look back on the thread did you clean your connections? A simple move of your equipment could solve these problems if it is possible.
I think audio advisor has some rf clamps that can be attached to cables to mitigate RF. Might be worth a try. If you're really stuck I think I have some of those MF cables I mentioned in my black box of used cables that you could try.. I'm sure we could work out an arrangement for a trial if you wanted to go down that road.
I think Nkj has a good point about working to control RF.
I have some Versalab Red Rollers that are used on IC's for the purpose of handling RF issues. They have worked quite well in my system. You are more than welcome to borrow some to see if they help.
Email me off line and we can organize getting them shipped up to you.
I had a similar problem with excessive RF with a phono stage I have since sold. You could here the music from the FM station through the speakers. I thought I had a $2500 tuner, but with no dial. In any case after several helpful pieces of advice from Audiogon members it turns out a major source of the RF was that the phono stage itslef was not properly grounded and eventually with a few tweaks to the chassis we ended up solving the issue. After getting rid of the FM station it turns out there was also an issue with hum, which was quickly resolved by moving the TT and phono stage closer to the floor.
It was almost enough to give up on vinyl, but the trial and error process was worth it in the end.
More news... the motor on my Garrard 301 is exposed in its skeletal plinth, and I thought this could be generating the problem. It has its own ground wire, unusually enough (I haven't seen this in other 301s), and I tried grounding it at the Io. No change.
Then I realized that I pick up the RF even when the TT isn't running, so it isn't the TT. It's the Io.
So next step is tube rolling in the Io, shielding the Io as suggested, rolling interconnects (currently balanced Kimber Select KS-1120 everywhere except from the two tonearms - Ikeda has its own single-ended pair, the Graham has singled-ended Golden Cross; noise is identical with either tonearm/cart).
In other news, I had my carpenter make me up a Graham/SME armboard so I could mount my 2.2 on the Garrard. It's currently running a Helikon Mono. Just roughed in alignment for now (though "roughing in" with a Graham is closer than most other arms) and making music.
Still just one phono stage with one set of inputs, so it's a task to switch between tonearms. But interesting. I might try mounting my as yet unused but intriguing Decca London Super Gold on the Graham, since it's said to like damped unipivots. (I have a Decca International Arm as well but would need to make a new mounting board once again.)
I still remain so impressed by the Denon 103R, which sits on my Ikeda. Maybe there's a synthesis between it, the Ikeda and the Orsonics headshell, but wow. For $250 (I just got an extra one) this cart blows away the Shelter. And it plays mono recordings more noisily than the Helikon Mono, but more musically. At nearly one-tenth the price.
sorry to ramble
currently on: Clara Haskil playing Schubert's posthumous sonata, mono, Dutch Philips Minigroove....... magical.
OK further updates... no response from Jim via email, I'm gonna try calling him next week. I love Aesthetix and they have been nothing but incredibly helpful when I've managed to get in touch with them. That said, and I know they are a small boutique firm, they could use a website with a FAQ and customer service email address which could get questions to Jim and back. (Even when you do call you usually have to leave a voicemail and get a call back.) All this said, I have to say that Aesthetix has handled every complaint and repair for me gratis aside from shipping the unit to them in California. My only problem with them is communication.
I've ordered Caig ProGold (which is now called DeOxit Gold) for the contacts.
Njk, I'm sure that positioning is a problem, since I only discovered this when I moved the entire system across the room to fire the speakers from the long wall. But as I'm sure you're all aware, it's a black art to arrange components regardless of their RF-susceptibility... right now the cables just reach from component to component. I don't have a rack, and all the components sit on amp-stands and footers which are directly on the floor - except the turntable, which sits on top of an (unused) subwoofer.
Add to this that the Io Sig is 2 heavy boxes... well, I guess I have to do it. Positioning is key. I'm just scared that I won't avoid the antenna effect without going all the way back across the room (and throwing out my back again!)
And then there's the cryotweaks recommendation from oldvinyl. I am trying everybody's suggestions, one by one.
A new clue!
I just realized that the RF noise has a soft "chuff-chuff-chuff-chuff-" sound to it, like a steam train but speeded up, as if something were cycling in and out.
This is more akin to very soft white noise and occurs at the same time as the radio station reception.
It is limited to the Io ... when I switch the input selector on the BAT linestage it vanishes.
Any ideas, anyone?
Hi Patrick ,
This is classic and could be endimic to the design. As I had mentioned you are running very high gain for very fragile (small) signals as they get swamped by the RF energy.
The line stage is orders of magnitude greater in amplitude so the RF is riding underneath the line stage signal ..It's still there..
Cables , positioning (think a tuned circuit like an antenna) are bombing the fragile signal and getting through your system. If you had lower gain or inefficient speakers you may not hear it at all. Different cables,tubes, or positioning alter the tuned circuit and may make it go away all together. It is not easy when you are in such a RF rich environment running very high gain of such a minute signal.
Keep trying...try some different front end tubes too...Good luck ,Nkj
I've lowered gain to 72 dB on the Io.... this is fine for both the 103R and the Helikon mono in my system.
Paradoxically though, I have to turn the volume higher on the linestage, which means that I can hear more of the chuff-chuff-chuff and radio station... even though I think the music actually sounds better, more natural and less overdriven.
So it's positioning, cables and tubes now...
So Jim White from Aesthetix got back to me last night with some recommendations:
- swap tubes around to locate the "popping" tube (this has gone away for some reason - maybe it was an appliance in the apartment cycling on and off)
- plug the Io Sig into the ExactPower unit so long as I don't overload the EP with its 400W power draw. I think I'll be fine since I'm currently only using 250-300 watts of the 1300-watt max on the EP
- check to see that my phono cables are shielded; I know the Cardas are; I've written to Ikeda to find out if his is
- if this doesn't work, he can make up shielded power umbilicals for me (for the Aesthetix PS to the Io Sig) - the current ones are unshielded
- in other news, Cello is generously lending me some VersaLab Red Rollers to try
- and (always RTFM) I just realized that the ExactPower manual stresses the importance of locating the unit somewhere far from any preamps or any other components that carry low signals. Duh. I have it sitting next to the BAT linestage and not much further away from the Io itself.
Lots of stuff to try here, and, yes, I will continue to be reporting back. I also have to say, after 48 hours, that 72 dB on the Io Sig is making music sound much more beautiful - on both carts - than 80 dB. Ah.... gain matching. My favorite.
Strange and surprising results
So I tried some of changes mentioned in my last post - with surprising results. The most important change in my mind was plugging the Aesthetix PS into the ExactPower. This however meant moving around a bunch of equipment, and I realized that I'd have to switch the 2 preamps with the Aesthetix PS and the amp in order for the plug to reach. This of course also meant that the ExactPower was further away from the low-signal components, as recommended by ExactPower themselves... so I was killing two birds with one stone. (Or doing two tweaks at once - an audiophile no-no of course!)
Anyway, did the switch, and realized at the same time I could no longer use my speaker-level inputs to my sub. They wouldn't reach to the new amp position. So I checked my sub's manual (ACI Titan) and realized - again to my surprise, RTFM! that ACI prefers you to use line-level inputs, not speaker-level. So I ran a spare pare of shielded interconnects from the second set of main outs on my linestage to the sub.
Fired up the system and it sounded dead. No bass - though if I turned up the sub far enough I could feel the woofer move. Strange I thought, it must somehow have gotten out of phase with the rest of the system. I switched the sub's phase switch to 180 degrees and presto, bass. (Obviously I have an inverting component or two in my system, but am not sure which, and am none the wiser after examining the manuals). In fact, much better sub-bass than I'd had with the speaker-level inputs. So I had a totally unexpected benefit from the changes!
In addition, the radio station had entirely vanished from speakers! Yay! But I was still getting the chuff-chuff-chuff sounds, and occasionally a very low hum or buzz (varying at different times). I moved the ExactPower even further away from the other components and this improved, but it's still there a bit.
But there was still something un-musical about the presentation... I didn't find myself drawn into my favorite songs as much, and the soundstage seemed slightly off.
So I powered everything down, unplugged the Io Sig from the ExactPower, plugged it back into the wall, powered back up the Io, waited the allotted 10 minutes for the PS to stabilize, then one by one powered up each of the other components.
And what do you know - the music's back, and the radio station is still gone. Seems it WAS position of the components - as Nkj suspected - that was the major culprit here. And Jim White's basic dictum - plug the Io directly into the wall - is vindicated.
I still have the chuff-chuff-chuff and hum to deal with, but everything I've listened to so far since this final change has been way more musical:
- Glenn Gould, Goldberg Variations (original Columbia ML 6-eye)
- Sibelius - Symphony No. 2 - Barbirolli (EMI UK colored postage stamp)
- Feeles - The Good Earth (Coyote/Twin Tone)
- Cat Stevens - Teaser and the Firecat (A&M brown label - prefer this to Island)
Will continue to report back. I have just the chuff-chuff-chuff and hum now.... in both speakers, slightly different sounding in each ... MUCH less annoying than the FM.
I think the next step will be to get the shielded umbilicals from Jim.
Thanks for everyone's patience during this typical audiophile journey, full of mistakes and wrong turnings but ultimately a happy ending...
Btw... I took this opportunity to add pictures of each of my components to my system profile, in case anyone wants to check out all this stuff we've been discussing... click the system link below.
Here's the latest:
The chuff-chuff-chuff (like a steam engine) is growing louder - much louder - and is now more audible in the left speaker than the right. There is a buzzy 800 Hz-ish tone as well. The radio station has vanished since I moved the ExactPower. The Io is plugged back into the wall with stock power cord.
The sound can be isolated to the Io, regardless of which cartridge used. It does not occur on any other linestage inputs.
Cello's Red Rollers, which he so generously lent me, did not have any impact on the problem. Cello, I'll be shipping these back to you - thanks for letting me try!
Jim White thinks that I need a power filter between the wall and the Io, and recommends the single-outlet Duke from Running Springs Audio. I have contacted them and they will be shipping me an audition unit. Jim thinks this will be more important than using shielded power umbilicals.
In the meantime, however, the sound has grown louder, and continues to have that cyclical chuff chuff chuff, which makes me suspect an internal component in the Io. Perhaps a tube.
So shifting front-end tubes is my next task.
More as this develops.
thanks for all the continued advice, guys
First tube-switching results:
I just switched the front pairs of 12AX7s - V1L and V2L into V1R and V2R.
The chuff-chuff cyclical sound and the 800 Hz buzz have now switched to the right channel. Still audible from the left, but much louder from the right.
I am now going to mix and match the tubes (I have marked them all.)
Another update... haven't been able to get in touch with Jim for a second consultation, but now I'm fully convinced it's the front end tubes that are contributing to at least part of the choo-choo sound and buzz.
In the meantime, I've taken the gain down from 72 dB to 68 dB, which has at least ameliorated the noise.
I guess NOS tubes are the next step. Or maybe those Tung-Sol 12AX7s.
You can try a quad of Ei 12ax7 tubes at $10 each. I use these in the Aesthetix Io's first stage as I have not yet been able to find a quad of Telefunken or Mullard that are as quiet as these.
FWIW I have had good luck in sensitive Counterpoint products with RAM branded soviet and Yugo tubes from Roger Modjeski. Expensive but may be worth a try in your case.
Let us know how you get on.
I have found that Telefunken ECC83 (12AX7) in the V1 and V2 position significantly reduces noise level and provides incredible transparency.
Another ideal choice would be RCA black plate 12AX7/7025. A matched quad selected for low noise would suit the bill.
Tungsram 12AX7s are way less expensive and also dead quiet.
Try writing to Albert Porter directly and see what advice he might have.
He has been playing wiht Aesthetix and rolling tubes in them for quite a while.
I'll address to things that you have brought up on this thread. First, the noise problem. I own a Janus and was hearing something very similar to your description. I replaced the 12AX7s in my phono stage with Kevin Deal's Platinum grade GT12AX7Ms ($35 each for lowest noise and microphony). They sound superb and have lowered the noise floor to levels below that of the stock tubes when new. I can't recommend these highly enough. After rolling in Teles, Bugle Boys, and some very nice Mazda chrome plates, it's clear that these GTs are everything that Kevin claims.
Second, I use both a Running Springs Duke and a TG Audio Bybee Sucker line conditioner. I have connected my gear to these in every way you can imagine. Currently, the JC1s are running into the Duke and the Janus and my Ayre player are hooked up to the TG Audio unit (it has full digital/analog isolation). Regardless of what I have done, the one inescapable conclusion is that the Janus benefits enormously from line conditioning.
Wow, swift batch of responses! My quartet of Tung-Sols arrived and they are now in the V1 and V2 positions as the unit warms up. I'll report shortly whether this has solved the noise problem.
Meanwhile, Jim and I have been playing phone tag... neither of us is easy to get hold of at the best of times...
And Lenny at Running Springs is gonna have a Duke for me to audition sometime soon, I hope.
Well, that didn't work.
Still the same chuff-chuff-chuff with buzz, louder in one channel than in the other.
I'm gonna move the Tung-Sols to V3 and V4 next. *sigh*... I have a feeling that this unit's going back to Aesthetix for a checkup.
And a complete report on tube swapping...
V1 & V2
With the new Tung-Sols in this position, the chuff-chuff-chuff was audible in both channels, but much more so in the left channel, with the buzzing sound in both.
V3 & V4
With the original tubes back in V1 & V2 and the Tung-Sols in V3 & V4, the chuff-chuff-chuff was more even between the two channels, and the buzzing sound was inaudible. (!)
V5 & V6
With the original tubes back in V3 & V4 and the Tung-Sols in V5 & V6, the chuff-chuff-chuff was clearly audible through both channels, perhaps even louder, and the buzz was back.
With the original tubes back in V5 & V6, and two of the Tung-Sols inn V7, the chuff-chuff-chuff sound is equal in both speakers (and on headphones), and quite loud - can easily be heard over the music. Now no buzz again (or much less)
I have a bunch of NOS 6SN7s. I decided to try brown-base JAN Sylvania "Chrome Domes" from Kevin Deal at Upscale Audio (probably 1950s) in V8 to see if that made a difference. Once again, the original ECC83s went back V7.
One thing I noticed in each instance is that the tubes in the left channel were appreciably hotter to the touch than the ones in the right channel. Perhaps this relates to the fact the noise was louder in the left channel? EXCEPT in positions V5 and V6, where they were equally (really) hot, and again in positions V7.
Bafflingly, the chuff-chuff-chuff is now much louder in the RIGHT channel... completely opposite to before. I'm replacing the stock 6SN7s in V8 and turning off the unit.
Right now I'm flummoxed. I've emailed Jim with my results, and I have a feeling I'll be returning the unit to him, with PS.
I'm really frustrated. I had become convinced that the noise was due to bad tubes.
I applaude you efforts to try and resolve an issue as frustrating as this. I had a similar problem with another phonostage that tested my patience thoroughly. Buzz and hum were prevalent in both channels and after several experiments with cables and positioning (solid state unit so no tube swapping), the phonostage went back. Turns out it was an grounding issue involving the chssis. While the vendor fixed it, the whole ordeal left a bad taste in my mouth. It's no longer in my system. Sometimes you just have to move on.
I have an Io also. It is about 5 years old. My Io is noisy (tube rush) but not what you are describing. Based on my experience with the Io, the citical tubes are V1 and V2. You already know this.
Take a look at this link:
I am wondering if this is the issue with your Io.
Have you tried swapping tubes out in the power supply?
If you have a tube tester, it may be time to check out all the tubes.
Hi guys, my Io has the latest resistors, so that isn't the problem.
I haven't tried swapping the PS tubes... no EL34s lying around (or rather there are some, but I'm not sure how good they are). No tube tester either :-(
Patrick, it definitely sound like RF. I bet if you placed the Io somewhere else it would not be affected by the RF. I don't think changing the el34's will do anything. BTW is this noise recently developed?