What to do? Converting from 220v mains to 110v

I'm in a bit of a quandry. I'm currently converting from 220v (mains) to 110v (for my US equipment) and I want new "stuff".

I am getting back into the audiophile obsession – I mean hobby - but am living in Europe temporarily (since 1997, not temporary?), where all the mains power is 220v.

So, while my power amp is on 220v (I had it converted while in for service), I’m running my Turntable (Linn Sondek), CD player (Linn Genki) and pre-amp (Spectral) off a 220 to 110v transformer. This transformer is 1.5 Kw, 220v input, 110v output. (I believer the amperage on the circuit the transformer is plugged into is 15A, but I'll have to check.) (To further confuse the issue, I’m actually using a circa 1990 NAD receiver right now. I haven’t listened to the spectral/quad combo since we moved to Germany from England, as one of the components has a “hum”. However, at low to medium volumes the system with the NAD currently sounds, by audiophile standards, pretty “fair”.)

I’m getting the tube bug real bad ($$$) which makes my problem worse as
a) I need (want) a high current available to run an amp that will push my 4 ohm Thiel CS2’s (sensitivity 87 dB/W-m), and
b) I expect any good 20 to 50 wpc (audio research, Conrad-Johnson, musical fidelity…) tube amplifier, or integrated amp, will draw a fair amount of current.

Two questions:
1) How much sound quality am I loosing by plugging my 110v equipment into a transformer/converter? (Bonus question: line conditioners seem to be worthwhile ‘tweaks’ in any high end system; am I in an even better situation to benefit from line conditioning?)

2) I’m looking to replace my amp and pre-amp with a "real good" integrated amp (C-J CAV-50 is the "low-end" frontrunner now, unless I go and spend even more $$); since I plan to go back to America (soon?) should I purchase 110v equipment now and temporarily run it through the 220v to 110v converter? Or, should I purchase 220v equipment and ship it back to the factory for conversion to 110 when I move back to America?

Thanks for your advice.

Jeffrey Young
Your Linn gear is easily user configured for 110 or 220. You might try reading the owners manual.
1) Hard to tell. That depends on the equipment you use and the quality of the transformer. In some situations, if you are not using autoformer type transformer, you may actually see improvement in sound because of power line isolation.

2) If I were in your situation, I would buy used 220v equipment, enjoy them in Europe, and sell them before I move back to America. The cost of shipping and conversion might be more than the lost you take.

Just my 2 cents.
20...50wpc tube amp isn't enough.
I suggest going with VTL MB125 at least.

VTLs aren't user-friendly to reconfigure to 220V but you can get instructions from Bea and reconnect the transformer leads(only if you have enough skill and guts certainly).
Lugnut is correct about the Linn. The Genki can be converted by a switch on the back. Assuming you have a at least a Valhalla or Lingo the LP12 is convertable as well.

As with respect to tube gear: There's are some good ones available in Europe, that I would look into: Cayin TA30, Primaluna, Jadis etc. Prices on these might be even better than in the US. I am not sure about voltage convertability though. Also I am not sure about driving Thiel with a tube amp due to the low impedance (I did read somewhere that Thiel are not ideal for tube amps.

Also one thing to consider: If you move back to the US, you could run a dedicated 230V from the breaker box to your stereo. You even get balanced power for free that way. There's some threads here on Audiogon about running 230V in the US.

Please let me know if you find some good voltage convertable tube gear. I am in a similar situation, since I might be moving again as well.

Good luck,

I think you could use Ensemble Isolink Isolation transformer, which has 220 input and 110 output
There is a lot of stuff these days that is readily convertible. Those that are not are the odd ones out, and frankly the manufacturers ought to get with the program here. I have played around with isolation transformers and in general the effects were bad, akin to poor quality AC. Utterly hopeless on amps, bad on preamps and maybe acceptable on CDPs, if you can stand the ringing, and acceptable on transports/turntables. They are especially bad if you have invested in good AC in the first place. Some isolation transformers are better than others, but generally they need to be massive in order to begin to be transparent. There are a few audiophile transformer products that are acceptable for all but amps, but finding one that steps up or down is more difficult - Ensemble being one, and the PS Audio regenerators have a 220V version that adds a step-up transformer - not what you want anyway.

So I reckon the best thing to do is insist on knowing whether the voltage is reconfigurable before buying - anyone with much electrical nouse will be able to tell by looking inside usually. You will find most are reconfigurable these days, but it is fair enough for someone in your position to let retailers know that you expect the gear to be playable anywhere in the world, and then maybe manufacturers will have to adapt.
I just found out that the Unison Unico integrated and CDP can be converted from 220 to 110 or back. Like many other manufactures the transformers used inside are dual voltage. The conversion only requires a resoldering of the transformer connections.

The Unico might be what you are lokking for in a good tube (hybrid) amp.

Good luck.