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There have been many threads on this topic with just as many opinions here on Audiogon.
I use the Porter Ports and really like them, but there are a lot of alternatives.
Here's a good thread to read:
There are far less choices available with isolated ground outlets. I could be wrong but I do not think for example that the Porter Ports are isolated ground. I have tried the PS audio outlets ( not the more expensive gold plated outlets). The cheaper ps audio outlets are nickel plated and at least to me don't sound very good. I do use isolated ground outlets and have been using Hubble 8300 outlets sourced from Voodoo cable. I have been using these for 5 years and feel no need to change them.
I use PS Audio Power Port Decora style outlets and I find them to be a good value at their price point. I've had no issues with grip and I believe I had an improvement with noise floor with the Power Ports in place.
I've also used the Albert Porter Porter Port Hubbell outlets. I use these outlets in all of my isolation transformers. Again no issues with grip at all for even the heaviest power cords I have. The improvement I believe I got when these were installed was lower noise floor and an overall cleaner sound.
Peter, thanks for providing the link. Mofi, as the link indicates an isolated ground receptacle has no internal connection between the safety ground contacts of its two outlets and any surrounding metal structure, or conduit if present. In a home environment the safety ground contacts would typically be connected through an insulated wire to the central grounding point at the service panel, where safety grounds, AC neutrals, and earth ground are all connected together. A separate path to that ground point is required for the surrounding metal and the junction box, typically via conduit.
So the AC safety ground connections for the equipment are not truly isolated, of course, as that would be a safety hazard. What is changed with respect to a conventional outlet is just the route by which the equipment safety grounds are connected to ground, with the goal being a reduction of the amount of noise that is coupled into the equipment.
There's lots of info (and also lots of confusion) on the web about isolated ground receptacles and wiring. One brief excerpt from this paper by Bill Whitlock of Jensen Transformers, who as you may be aware is a renowned expert on such matters as they apply to audio:
So-called ÂtechnicalÂ or ÂisolatedÂ grounding schemes can sometimes reduce electrical noise in the safety ground system. It is most applicable in situations where conduit may come in contact with building steel, water pipes, gas pipes, or other structures which may be grounded and carrying noisy currents. Special insulated ground or "IG" outlets (generally orange in color) are used, which intentionally insulate the green safety ground terminal from their mounting yokes or saddles. Therefore, safety grounding is not provided by the "J-box" and conduit, but by a separate insulated green wire which must be routed back to the electrical panel alongside the white and black circuit conductors to keep inductance low. Most often, wiring is not "daisy-chained" to outlets on the same branch circuit, so noisy leakage current from one device has less coupling to others on the same branch circuit. However, inductive coupling from phase conductors to the ground conductor (a major source of ground voltage differences between outlets) is not reduced.Thanks for the implicit compliment, btw, but I am by no means the leading expert here on electrician-type matters. That would be Jea48 (Jim); perhaps he'll see this thread and comment further.
Al...as usual your comments are highly informative and greatly appreciated! I'm still kinda confused about the "outlet" part of this.
I have dedicated 20 amp lines that run from my service box to the outlet in the wall. So do I or don't I have isolated grounds? The outlet is only wired to themselves, (i.e. no other outlets are in series with them). There are also no metal conduits or anything else involved. The wire runs straight from the box to the outlet which are Porter Ports.
I guess I have never heard this termed as "isolated grounds" before. I have absolutely no noise from my setup.
BTW, you are "my" expert in everything electrical as related to audio...don't sell yourself short :-)
Have you considered an isolation transformer? Plitron sells good ones; see the Medical Isolation line of transformers. For $500 or so, you can do yourself a lot of good. It might have been Absolute Audio who did an article on this 10-15 years ago. The only downside is that they growl if they are doing much of anything, so you want to install them in their own electrical box outside the listening room. Of course, that means the electrical inspector.
I use an isolation transformer in front of every major power supply and every component, and skimp on wall connectors - just industrial grade, isolated ground. Hubble is very fine, but I use them very sparingly. Oh, and oversize wire, especially for long runs. You might want to try that too.
Mofi, thanks! In answer to your question: First, the Porter Ports are apparently not isolated ground receptacles, because IG receptacles are required to have a small triangle symbol on their face, and are usually orange in color.
However, if I understand correctly that what is running from the outlet back to the service panel is just a three-wire cable that is not enclosed in metal conduit, and that is connected to nothing else along the way, then it seems to me that you are getting pretty much all of the benefit that an IG receptacle would potentially provide. The idea behind an IG configuration is to avoid connections between the AC safety ground contacts on the outlets and any ground point other than at the service panel, which is what you've got.
A minor point of difference, though, which I suspect is unlikely to be of any practical significance: RF noise picked up by the metalwork of the junction box itself, acting as an antenna, could be conducted onto the safety grounds in your configuration, but might be effectively isolated from the safety grounds by an IG receptacle. RF wouldn't be directly audible as noise, of course, but might have audible consequences by intermodulation or other effects that can occur in the component circuitry.
Also, I'll mention that conduit vs. no conduit can have its own set of pretty much unpredictable tradeoffs. It can be beneficial as a result of shielding effects, but as explained in the Bill Whitlock quote I provided above it can pick up noise from conduit or other metal it comes in contact with, and couple that noise onto the wires it contains.
Finally, if an IG receptacle were to be installed where there is no conduit or other path for the junction box and the non-isolated metal parts of the outlet to be connected to ground, aside from via the ground wire in the cable, from a safety standpoint and I suspect also from a code compliance standpoint the isolated and non-isolated ground connections of the outlet would have to be connected together. Which would essentially convert the IG receptacle into a non-IG receptacle.
Hope that clarifies more than it confuses :-)
Porter Ports are a Hubbell hospital grade outlet and are not an isolated ground design; just FYI. And running dedicated lines does not mean isolated ground. There is a lot of information on the web pertaining to the wiring of isolated ground circuits. Such as https://www.google.com/#q=wiring+diagram+for+isolated+ground+receptacle.
Also a good method to minimize the occurrence of ground loops is to plug components into a high quality power strip but be sure not to overload the circuit. And of course one must be cognizant of local electrical codes.
Slight correction to my previous post. Revise the last major paragraph to read as follows:
Finally, if an IG receptacle were to be installed where there is no conduit or other path for the junction box and the non-isolated metal parts of the outlet to be connected to ground, aside from via a single ground wire in the cable, from a safety standpoint the isolated ground connection on the outlet and the non-isolated metalwork on it and the box would have to be connected together. Which would essentially convert the IG receptacle into a non-IG receptacle. And I suspect doing that would not be code compliant because the triangle marking on the outlet would be incorrect in that situation.
I think for the amount of money one has invested in their audio systems that it makes sense to upgrade the standard cheap outlet that is used by most electricians. Given that, I think the PS Audio, the Porter Port and the Voo-Doo Audio outlets represent a good value and I personally wouldn't spend anymore money on an outlet above and beyond the three mentioned above.
I've been experimenting with receptacles for years. Each receptacle has it's own characteristics and some equipment/cords seem to to better with a specific receptacle. If you looking for dynamics and great tight bass the Teslaplex is probably the best choice. They seem to be better with high current equipment. For certain components/systems they could be fatiguing. The Maestro has the most natural sound/presentation of the receptacles I have tried; however not as good as the Teslaplex in the lower frequencies. A combination has worked best for me.
Apparently your ears (and mind) are closed, or you would be able to hear the difference.
You still haven't said what outlets you have tried that led you to your authoritative conclusuion. I suppose that based on your belief that they are a sham, that you haven't tried any; in which case we are back at square one. If you haven't tried them, you are not qualified to comment on them.
If you haven't tried them, you are not qualified to comment on them.
Nope. ANYONE can have an opinion REGARDLESS of whether or not they've "heard" a piece or not. We are ALL entitled to an opinion. If you choose to acknowledge said opinion that is YOUR choice/issue.
This notion that audiopills (sp) have regarding "qualifying conditions" is laughable IMO.
How can a person form an opinion on something that they have not experienced? It is then no longer an informed opinion, it is a wild guess.
And as far as you are concerned, if you think that it is valid to have an opinion on a product that you have not experienced, I would say that it is you who are "laughable".
How can a person form an opinion on something that they have not experienced? It is then no longer an informed opinion, it is a wild guess.Or it could be based on technical understanding, technical analysis, or (hopefully well trained) technical instinct.
While I always hold Roxy's opinions in high regard, in this case I must agree with Mapman, whose opinions I also always hold in high regard. An unequivocal, unqualified, absolute, all encompassing statement such as the one I have quoted is tantamount to saying that technically based opinions invariably have zero place in audiophile pursuits. I would disagree with that notion.
One does not have to jump out of an airplane at 10,000 feet without a parachute in order to be qualified to express the opinion that it is not a good idea. Similarly, those with sufficiently good technical backgrounds can SOMETIMES correctly make "a priori" judgments about issues that fall within their areas of expertise.
Furthermore, those who HAVE tried a particular product and express an opinion about it can often be presenting information that has no more value than a "wild guess," not necessarily because they are imagining things, but because they may be attributing the perceived difference to the wrong variable (which is very easy to do in audio, IMO), or because their lack of understanding of the technical aspects of what is going on may mean that their findings would be inapplicable to other systems and circumstances.
Now certainly science, engineering, and technical understanding have a long way to go before they can explain and predict everything about what we hear and how a product or tweak will perform. Any good circuit design engineer will tell you that some things, as a practical matter, can't be analyzed and are inherently unpredictable. So the question becomes where to draw the line between what may be remotely within the realm of possibility, even though it may be counter-intuitive and/or not fully explainable, and what definitely deserves a place in the Twilight Zones of audio. Obviously opinions will differ widely about where to draw that line. But it seems to me that where to draw that line with respect to any specific tweak can and often should be the subject of legitimate debate.
In this case, although I have not personally experimented with audiophile-oriented outlets, as I presume Schipo has not, my opinion nevertheless differs from his, and I do believe that differences and improvements can be realized in many cases via that kind of upgrade. Although I would expect that any such comparisons, if performed in a properly disciplined manner with possible extraneous variables being well controlled, and across a wide variety of components, would provide results that are component, system, room, listener, and recording dependent, and that are not strongly correlated with price.
But I respect his right to express his opinion, and I consider it, along with the claims of some of those who have upgraded their outlets, to warrant legitimate debate, not summary rejection.
IMO. Best regards,
I think it's one thing to be skeptical but quite another not to be willing to get to the bottom of things by actually investigating these claims which, in the case of wall receptacles, have been around since Jesus was a second lieutenant. I would have suspected real skeptics would be a little more curious, but hey! that's just me. Recall the first thing that happens in the scientific method is observation, and somewhere in there is investigation. Without which you just get a whole lotta who shot John.
Al, thanks for your response and expounding on the topic so accurately and concisely (as usual).
Knowledge is always the key to effectively mitigating any risk, large or small.
An appropriate euphemism would be "look before you leap".
Its that simple, I think.
When someone figures out a way to effectively try everything, please let me know. I may be the first to sign up, if it works for me.
Meanwhile, the reality is each individual will have to make up their own minds regarding value propositions and how to most effectively spend their time and $$$$s.
Reality is such a downer sometimes. At least most of us are free to choose how we spend our time. That's a big +++.
About 2 years ago I was looking to upgrade my phono-pre. The owner of the store told me to bring my phono-pre and we would compare it to his. I listened for about 30 minutes and couldn't tell the difference between mine and his. Mine retailed for 2000.00 and his retailed for 3500.00. The owner of the store said he heard a slight difference but it wasn't worth the difference in price.
The way I see it If I could not tell the difference in a phono-pre that cost almost 2 times as much as mine am I going to hear the difference with a 50.00 AC outlet?
It is always good to understand how something works but it is not a requirement to take advantage of the results. The benefit of understanding is to be able to create a system model and optimize for best results without so much trial and error. I'm sure the people who are able to do that want/need to leverage their knowledge for income. I don't blame them, it takes time and money to do the experimentation and analysis work.
I know that putting dissimilar metals together is not optimum- ie. gold plated contacts are great; but the mating parts need to be gold as well. I can believe that Nickel plating doesn't sound as good. Ni and Cd have a +2 ionic charge compared to +1 for Au, Ag and Cu. This is likely more critical for IC's; but what materials and plating are typically used on powercord plugs? What plating is used on the screws and backing plates of the Electrical Outlets? These metal mismatches may have minimal impact as new; but they will corrode eventually which means local heating and voltage drops.
I have had dedicated power since 1988. I got the idea from a buddy who already was using dedicated, filtered power for years prior. I have no idea how my system would sound without dedicated power lines.