Voltage from outlet question

Hi everyone,

I recently moved to a new apartment and set up my audio gear. I have a Furman power conditioner that has an LED readout with the voltage coming in. At my old apartment it always read 121 or 122 (I think I saw it at 120 a couple of times). At my new place, however, it usually reads between 115 and 117, and I've seen it drop as far as 112. I've never seen it any higher than 118. I'm wondering what impact this might be having on the sound and if there is anything that I can do to stabilize/improve the power coming from the wall outlet.

Thanks for your insight,
Well the actual standard is 120V +/- 5%, which would give a range of 114-126V. My electricity runs fairly stable around 117-118V.

As for what you can do, hopefully Al (Almarg) will drop in with a recommendation. I would think that some sort of voltage stabilizer, or isolation transformer may help. Perhaps something with balanced power...good luck.

It should be 118-121. Call Edison to quit cheating you out of them volts.
All depends onthe age of the biuildingand the sort of power management they use to divvy up the power.
Old buildings (say pre 1960)run far short on power compared to modern buildings (Post 1960 or so)

When I lived in a small efficiency apt itwas TWO apartments for one 15 amp circuit.
Where I now live I have several 15 amp and 2 20 amp circuits plus another 100 amps for the stove circuit and a separate 20 amp for the air conditioner. All for my one bedroom apartment. Big difference.

The voltage at 117 is not a proble, even 112 is OK.
Below 105 I would be worried.

And no, you do not need a tool to boost your power.
If it gets worse,the you might check out what you can do..
One thing to do NOW is replace all your wall sockets..
Do not ask the managerto do it. If you want betterones just go buy some and replace them yourself. If you are totally not Mr Fixit then find someone to do the replacements for you.
Typically wall sockets in apartments are NEVER replaced until they actually fail.
When I move into a new to me apartment, I replace ALL the AC outlets. Right off. But I usually live in a place for 10 to 20 years.. (If you move every year it would get expensive..)
I like Pass & seymour heavy duty. They are ony $3 or $4.
(PS Levitron suck so do not buy those)

If the wires are dirty and the duplex old, swapping them out might get you 2 volts all from just putting in new Duplex and cleaning the wire a bit.
(Just scrape off the surface of the wires Even a screwdriver can scrap the surface a bit. Best not to cut them)
I had this voltage fluctuation issue as well. I got a PS Audio ac regenerator which produces clean, consistent power. It even allows me to set the output voltage to whatever value makes my system sound best. I highly advise this option to stabilize your power. In my opinion clean power is a must for any system to sound its best.
John's reference to the 114 to 126 volt standard is correct, although that pertains to the voltage at the building's electrical service panel. Voltages at your outlets can be as low as 110 volts on a sustained basis and still be consistent with the standard, and may drop to considerably less than that sporadically while still being consistent with the standard. See this reference.

Also, a point to keep in mind is that most of the Furman conditioners which provide voltage readouts have a specified accuracy of +/- 1.5 volts. And a 1 volt fluctuation in the reading, corresponding to its resolution, can be expected to occur at times even if there is no change in the actual voltage.

That said, it is certainly possible that the sound quality of your system is being affected by both the relatively low voltages and their fluctuations. Especially (but not only) in the case of the power amplification circuits, which in most designs are powered by unregulated DC voltages, which will therefore vary in proportion to the AC line voltage. However, the resulting effects on sound quality figure to be highly component and system dependent, and to not have a great deal of predictability.

So the first thing I would do is to take some time and try to assess whatever correlation there may be between the various voltages you see indicated and variations, if any, in the sonics of recordings you are very familiar with.

If you do sense a significant correlation, a power regenerator as was suggested would definitely be a solution worth considering, albeit a somewhat expensive one. That would also minimize or eliminate any adverse sonic effects which may result from noise and distortion on the AC line. But I would add that reported experiences with regenerators are not unanimous, with some people reporting considerable benefit but others reporting compromised dynamics or other issues. As with a lot of things in audio it seems to be component and system dependent, without much predictability.

-- Al
Thanks for all the responses. I am definitely going to change the outlet. I think a power regenerator is probably out of my price range at this point, so I'll go with the outlet change and see what a difference that makes.

Triplite LCR2400 This one will stabilize your voltage for very little money.

Good Listening

Apartment wiring is typically marginal in the best case scenario. Change all the outlets if you will be living there a while. They often use .99 cent outlets for speed of installation, the ones you just slide in a bare wire.... Very little surface contact and a recipe for fire hazards in older units. I changed mine and found 30% with heat marks...
blueish wire, insulation discoloration with hardening and brittle material.