What's involved in dedicated lines

Can those who know explain what is involved in adding dedicated lines. I understand the concept and do not run dedicated lines now. My house was built in the late 50's with limited attic clearance and the outlets for my system are not easy to get to as they are behind a built in cabinet which houses all my stereo/ht equip. I want to know what an electrician would need to do from the panel to the outlets in order to install dedicated lines. I should add that my panel has fuses, not circuit breakers.
First thing I would do is make sure you have enough money in your checking account, Then find a qualifed electrician and get an estimate on doing it right. You really can benefit from dedicated lines, it would be tough to reach your zenith without them.
thanks, but what would the electrician actually need to do? How much do I need in my checking acct?
I think I can be a bit more helpful on this issue. I had an electrician install 7 dedicated lines to my listening room. Basically, you have a number of decisions:

(1) You can either run all of the lines from the main panel......or you can run a big cable (6AWG) from the main panel to a subpanel close to your listening room. If you have space on the main panel and the run is relatively short....I'd recommend runs from the main panel. Unfortunately, I couldn't do this so I had a subpanel put in above my listening room....and runs from the subpanel. Try to put the runs on the side of the main panel that don't have large appliances like refrigerator.

(2) Decide on audiophile grade wire (Virtual dynamics $6/ft, JPS $18/ft, Belkin quite a bit less)......or solid copper Romex. After much discussion and obsessing, I went with 10g solid copper Romex.

(3) Decide on outlets. Your choices are Wattgate, Hubbell, PS Audio, Porter Ports, Lutron, etc. I won't get into this here except to say that I decided on Wattgates.

(4) Make all the runs approx the same length. We can all argue about whether all the wire should be run in the same direction. Can't hurt but your electrician will look at you like you are nuts.....(which mine did).

(5) Don't let them use any staples....all plastic holders for the wire.

(6) If you are running monoblocks, I recommend having some lines run on A phase and some on B phase. Running the monoblocks on opposite phase might provide some cancellation of low level noise and grunge. This is controversial and some will disagree....but I'd read the article below by Jon Scull before you make your decision. I basically experimented with several things and liked the option of trying some things with in phase power and some with out of phase power. Here's the article:


The fine tunes series by Jon Scull answers lots of the power questions. You also should do searches here and on audioasylum. Problem is that lots of the advice conflicts.

Now, for costs. Well, as I mentioned, I had a 6 guage cable run from the main power to a subpanel in my attic with 7 breakers. I then had 7 lines run......6 to my stereo and home theater setup....and one to my projector. They snaked the wire through some difficult walls including the walls that my electrostatic surround speakers are on for the step-up transformers. Had 2 electricians on site for about 10 hours.

Total cost - $1400. I have no idea whether this is high or low or just right. But the sonics in my system have improved tremendously. I also am using power conditioners from Running Springs Audio after considering just about everything including BPT, ExactPower, Equi=Tech, Richard Gray, etc. I think they are superb: http://www.runningspringsaudio.com .

Best of luck with your project!

Gjkphd, a lot of information has been posted on this topic over the last couple of years. Try doing a search on "dedicated line" and "isolated ground" in the archives. Then, if you have questions, I'm sure many of us will be happy to help further.
Harry, great post. I might add that it may be necessary to replace the main service panel as well. Not just for the sake of the hi-fi rig; modern appliances use a lot more juice and are more plentiful than in the days of yore.

Thanks a lot. Main service panel replacement was unnecessary in our case...but in some it might be. Depending on the size of the panel and number of breakers...that can be a big job.


Great feedback! I remember that you were on this topic a few months back & your post generated a lot of inputs for you.

Anyway, can you explain this sentence to me: ".....all the wire should be run in the same direction"

Are you insinuating that the 10 AWG Romex is directional?? or was made directional?
thanks, esp to you Harry for your thorough response. Viridian, I know that my main panel is not up to code and if and when I sell my home I'd have to replace it. Would changing it from the current fuse setup to breakers improve my stereo/ht even without dedicated lines.
Also, I did install some new outlets last year, FIM's, would a dedicated line necessitate using new outlets or can I use the ones I have now by runnning a new dedicated line to it? As you can see my Ph. D. is NOT in electrical engieering!
Gjkphd, changing out the fusebox without running dedicated lines will likely not help much. In fact, there are many audiophile proponents of the old screw-in fuse vs. the modern fuse which resets. However, the screw-in fuse is more dangerous since it is often too easy to replace with a wrong, higher amp fuse (they are all the same physical size) which is a fire hazard.

The FIM's are decent outlets. You might want to save a few bucks by staying with them. There is no need to switch them out from an electrical point of view. However, if you run dedicated lines, you may end up with more of them so you will then need to buy more outlets anyway. The Albert Porter outlets (Porter Plugs) are also very fine and worth looking into. In terms of the number of outlets you might need, my experience is "the more the better": One for each power amp, one for the digital front end, one for analog, one for preamp, one for TV etc. See earlier posts for a lot of discussion here. Harry's recommendation of a power conditioner may reduce the need for some of those outlets by allowing you to combine things -- e.g., preamps, analog setup into one conditioner and digital & TV into another while you plug power amps directly into wall outlets. Good luck.
Thanks Ozfly, can the outlets I use now be converted into the dedicated lines by running different cables to them, or do I have to install new, never before existing, outlets agt the end of the deeicated line runs?
I mean can I use the existing junction boxes that house my existing FIM outlets?
Gjkphd, you can go either way as long as new wire is directly connected from the outlets to the fuse box (specifically, each fuse will service one and only one outlet). As mentioned earlier, there are a number of very good threads on this with lots of great expert advice, like Harry's above -- search under "dedicated line". It pays to do your homework before talking to an electrician since few electricians are used to running dedicated lines for audiophiles.
you can certainly use your old outlets if you wish.
I just unscrewed the fuse (20 amp) to see what else was on the line in addition to my stereo/ht. This line controls my kitchen fluorescent light, one outlet used by a cordless phone, and two other overhead lights. Are there degrees as to how negative line sharing is, or is it the more other items on the line the worse it is? or are some items like a refigerator worse to share the line with? Some of my otgher fuses are 15 amp, it's good that my stereo is on a 20 amp line?
Gjkphd, I am so not an expert on this, it's ridiculous. But, here's my 2 cents:

First of all, if you have an old fusebox, & you plan to keep the house for awhile, it's probably worth it to upgrade to at least a modern 100 amp main panel w/circuit breakers, regardless of your audio issues. (Like Viridian said). Spending a lot of $$ on dedicated lines when you have an old fusebox seems to me like worrying about which Pirellis to buy for your Model T. But that's more of a homeowner's perspective than an audiophile's.

And yes, probably some things like a refigerator, or fluorescent lights, are worse to share the line with. (Hello!) But maybe tell us more about your system, your budget, etc.......
In response to your post Steveaudio, I've been in this home 12 years and am not going anywhere in near future so I will look into the changout from fuses to breakers, how will that be better audiophile-wise?
system incl cary preamp, pass x-250 amp, kora hermes dac, modified sony cd/dvd transport, tuner, acurus pre/processor, nad amp for kitchen and patio speakers, b&K 3 channel amp for surround, and tv and vcr and digital cable box. I have a tara labs line conditioner for sources and all equp have upgraded power cords , b&K and pass amps go straight into the fim outlets,
Gjkphd, some time ago several folks posted about comparing circuit breakers to the old style screw-in fuses. Their conclusion was that the old-style screw-in fuses sounded better, and that the even older glass fuses sounded better than the "newer" ceramic ones. I've never experimented with it, so I can't comment from personal experience.

That said, a major improvement from what you have today would be accomplished simply from pulling, cleaning and then reconnecting the applicable electrical cables, including the primary feeds, in your electrical panel (definitely professional ELECTRICIAN time). If you move forward with the dedicated lines, you'll get this automatically from the new lines. But while you have the electrician in the box, pull, clean and reconnect the mains lines and ground line as well. If you additonally apply some Walker Audio SST contact enhancer as you re-make the connections, you'll get an added improvement.
Gjkphd, like I said, my suggestion to change from a fusebox to breakers is more of a homeowner's perspective than an audiophile's. I honestly don't know how or if it would affect the audio quality. But I've been looking at a lot of houses to buy recently, & an old fusebox is definitely not desirable. Even 150 year old houses in nice condition will usually have updated electrical (circuit breakers). All I'm saying is, if you're going to spend $$ to get dedicated lines, when you're getting estimates, get a quote on this; it might not be more than a few hundred $$, & would be a nice update to your house, help the resale value, etc.

BTW, the fact that you have some 20 amp fuses doesn't necessarily mean they are on a "20 amp line". People use 20 amp fuses all the time (when 15 amp fuses are called for) because the 15 amp fuses blow when they plug in an A/C or something.

I realize this may be a bit O/T for your audio issues; just my 2 cents worth.
thanks you guys, I do have the old style screw in glass fuses and I know that if I ever sell my home I'd need to convert to circuit breakers. And Steveaudio, your point about the 20 amp fuses was not O/T as that was my question, did a 20 amp fuse mean it's a 20 amp line, I guess not necessarily. What I want to do is get an estimate from an electrician and combine fuses to breakers with the dedicated line, maybe save some money if I do it as a package.
If I had an untouched, unmaintained home electrical system since the late '50's, I'd have much, much bigger concerns than sound quality. Have your guy pull a kitchen ceiling fixture and check the condition of the wire entering the outlet box. Betcha' a beer the insulation crumbles right off.

I'd get a new service panel yesterday, and a new lateral from the utility if the current one is anything less than the minimum 100A now required. I'd replace every receptacle and wall switch. I'd inspect and redo the entire grounding system as required, and bring it up to current code standards. And yeah, I'd rewire the branch circuits. Throw in smoke & CO detectors, a fire extinguisher in every bedroom and on every floor, a practiced evac plan with the entire family, and then, and only then could I give a ratsass about *my stereo.

I'd sell my stereo stuff in a heartbeat in order to pay for Life Safety home improvements; I just look into the faces of my family and realize they depend on me to make them safe at home.
Good point, Shasta. Safety first.
thanks for the heads up shasta, a little melodramatic but thanks
Agreed . But not if you've ever seen the Charlie video. When you work at an oil refinery, safety is beaten into your head on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis.

Electricity is an incredible thing that we can't easily do without. How it works can be a mystery and a marvel. When you need to move it from point A to point B, then things get serious. When it gets angry and trys to go to places it's not supposed to - and that's it's natural inclination -then it's ugly offspring rear their heads: Arc Flash, Fire, and Burns.

Do you wear your seatbelt when driving??

Yes. (Dedicated lines to seatbelts??)