Tweak your AC mains for better performance, free


If you haven't done this before or recently, try it. It will improve the performance of your audio system, particularly if you have an older circuit panel in your home. Go to the AC circuit panel. You'll have a main breaker that runs power to all the circuit breakers in your home: turn that breaker off and back on. This will shut off all the power to your home, momentarily. Then turn all the breakers on your panel off and on. By the way, electricians recommend doing this once a year. I hadn't done this in several years (I always forget) but, I happen to remember it because one of my breakers had shut off. Anyway, after I performed this simple on/off task, the next time I turned on my audio system, the sonics really improved. The soundstage had opened up with more width and depth, fullness was improved, and so was the overall resolution and presence of the system. I noticed it immediately, and then remembered that earlier I had flipped all the breakers on the panel. I don't have a dedicated line yet, or any fancy custom audiophile breaker panels, but the results of this simple task proved once again the dramatic affect AC delivery has on what you hear from your sytstem. I can only imagine what one can hear with dedicated lines, custom breaker panels, and audio grade outlets. For me, the best I can do now is a power regenerator that I just ordered a conditioner and a few good outlets. My system: LSA DK Signature Integrated, Modwright Sony 999ES (tube rectified PS 9.0), Acoustic Zen Reference Matrix II IC's, Jolida JD 100, Acoustic Zen Satori Speaker Cable, Shunyata Hydra 4 PLC, various aftermarket PC's, FIM 880 outlets.
foster_9
The utility company has its own switch to turn off your house. Why not call them up and ask them to come around and cycle your switch. Please let us know what they say.
{Why not call them up and ask them to come around and cycle your switch. Please let us know what they say.
Eldartford (Reviews | Threads | Answers)}

What is cycling a switch and what does it involve?
I assume Eldartford is talking about the breaker on the transformer.

The utility provider may or may not respond to that request, particularly if you share that transformer with other households.
Why not just cycle the circuit breakers on the specific circuits feeding your audio system?
Could be that the wiping action of the contacts in the breakers are responsible for the "improvement" you hear.
Reb1208: that's what I thought too.
The improvement you perceive is simply what you want to hear. Creating a clear path from your circuit box to your system is important, but resetting the current from your service to your equipment by interrupting the current is nothing more than switching it off. Nothing magical occurs. Making the path free of obstruction with good wire and connectors is important, but switching it off is irrelevant.
On the other hand, you could not pay your electric bill for a while, I am sure they would be happy to cycle you switch...perhaps having it in the "off" position longer would have even greater benefits than just the the momentary interruption...just a thought....
The improvement that Foster9 is experiencing is probably due to the cleaning that occurs when the switch is opened, then closed again. I do the same thing but take it further by first, opening the 200A main breaker and removing it. Then I clean the copper buss contacts with 600 grit sandpaper and 99% isopropyl. Clean both the buss and the breaker contacts. Finally, use quicksilver gold contact enhancer on the freshly cleaned copper. Do the same for the breaker feeding your audio, then reinstall everything. Maximum results occur once the quicksilver breaks in thoroughly. Please don't perform this tweak unless you know what you are doing, particularly the 200A breaker (the wires feeding the 200A breaker go out to the pole and are live).
I turned on my audio system, the sonics really improved. The soundstage had opened up with more width and depth, fullness was improved, and so was the overall resolution and presence of the system. I noticed it immediately, and then remembered that earlier I had flipped all the breakers on the panel.

You may have a faulty breaker with high contact resistance causing too much of a voltage drop to the AC power reaching your system. I'd call an electrician to take a look at that panel. Any undue warmth will indicate a serious problem.
Tgrisham, as Reb1208 suggests, the wiping action of the contacts in the breakers (especially after a couple years of oxidation) created better surface contact and created a better electrical connection. (I assume this is why electricians suggest this be done at least once a year) That's where the improvement in electrical delivery originated and that improvement ultimately affected system performance in my opinion.

You're being dismissive and presumptuous. I guess that's your style.

It's definitley not a case of a person hearing what they want to hear. I know my system and room extremely well and the change in performance afterwards could even be heard a room away.
Foster_9
Do you normally leave your equipment on all the time?
The once-a-year "wiping action" makes sense to me.
I think the suggestion of turning your breakers off/on by electricians are more the switch as I have found breakers that have not been turned off for years some times have difficulty tripping. The inside of your typical redidentual circuit breakers contacts are like the contacts of relays, and have no metal on metal sliding or wipping going on. When you switch a circuit breaker on it moves a little arm with a contact on it towards a stationary contact like a relay, (take one apart). If you want to read something interesting do a search on stab-lock or federal pacific as these breakers had major problems tripping when a short accured. You may also want to remove the breaker that feeds your audio and clean the contacts on the breaker with progold or your favorite audio cleaner as this can be good also.
I think Shadorne is on the right track. I would worry about the environment of the circuit box-humidity and corrosion. For what its worth, none of my certified electrician friends recommend switching circuit breakers off and on. Is this considered standard practice? Because there is so much voodoo in audio, I have become jaded and, of course, everyone's ears are different, so do whatever seems right to you. This accounts for the sale of $2500+ power cables. Sometimes it is what you believe will happen that accounts for your perceptions. Audio is hardly objective.
Dpac999- I occasionally turn off my system, but most of the time my gear is turned on. Jsawhitlock, whatever the action that took place--I guess it was the mains switch that was responsible for the altered sonics rather than the breakers. That being the case- I definitely recommend flipping the mains switch on your panel at least once a year.
Just had an electrician here yesterday. He did say I had too many breakers on one side of my panel -but nothing more.

[You may have a faulty breaker with high contact resistance causing too much of a voltage drop to the AC power reaching your system. I'd call an electrician to take a look at that panel. Any undue warmth will indicate a serious problem.]
Shadorne (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers)

By the way, I have a volt meter and have checked my AC and it it's a steady 120-121 volts. So I have no voltage drop in my system.

This turned out to be an interesting thread if I do say so myself. By the way, I checked for any undue warmth at the breakers in my panel and it was all cool as a cucumber. Also, I noticed on the top of my panel there's an orange sticker that states: "Important Reminder, trip/flip all circuit breakers every six months to clear contacts. CRITERIUM-WITHEM-LIZKAY, ENGINEERS"
Foster, I don't worry much about flipping the breakers as I try to replace once a year. Glad all worked out for you.
Jsawhitlock...FWIW, when lightning struck a tree about 30 feet from my house, and traveled underground to my house, almost every fuse blew, but not a single breaker opened. Fuses provide better protection than breakers, but insurance companies don't like them because they are too easy to bypass with a penny.
Eldartford, Both fuses and breakers can be troublesome and it appears the fuses did there job for you. I'm in a non lightning area so fuses vs breakers isn't really a concern just earthquakes! Happy Listening
Foster_9 Did you check the voltage with an meter that reads RMS? If you know what that means then I don't have to say anything more, if not, RMS is the true voltage. Most inexpensive meters measure only an approximation of that. Rather than reading absolute value of the voltage the best thing to do is to measure the drop between the input to box and receptacle. Measure it with the system playing. If your system is off there won't be a drop, Ohms law and all that. Or measure it at the receptacle with the system unplugged and again with the system cranking. Of course taking those measurements should only be done by someone with some knowledge. There is risk if it is done wrong.

BTW I think the idea of switching the breakers on and off is a good idea. It's free and it might make a difference. Of course you then have to reset your clocks.
Regalma1, I Don't know what rms is. I have a power regenerator now that does a steady 120 at 60 cycles so the mains voltage is solid.
AC voltage measurement can be a can of worms! Most meters read peak (maximum) voltage which is rescaled to RMS assuming the signal is a sine wave. But what is peak? Actually you need to measure average voltage over a short time interval around the peak, and different meters use different intervals, and will respond differently to non-sinusoidal waveforms. A "True RMS" meter measures the heating effect of the signal, and such meters do exist, but are few and far between.

If you have a signal that is not a pure sine wave and you measure it with a dozen different meters you will probably get a dozen different answers. In the military electronics program that I worked on we completely abandoned rms data and measured everything as peak. Of course the peak was actually an average over a very short sample time interval. By doing this we were able to get data collected on different test equipments to agree.

But this is all overkill for measuring your domestic AC power voltage, where the usual peak-reading-rms-calibrated meter is perfectly acceptable.