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Isolation Transformers, Power Regenerators, etc. (Read 5302 times)
MarkBlair
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Isolation Transformers, Power Regenerators, etc.
04/01/11 at 17:15:03
 
I have a hum-related thread going on the SE84C+ forum, and I've noticed a few similar threads on other forums.

However, in the bigger picture of general hum/noise reduction, I'm just curious if anyone else has employed solutions like isolation transformers, power regenerators (like the PS Audio Power Plant Premier), line conditioners, and the like -- and what your results have been.

And I'm particularly interested in any good bang-for-the-buck solutions.

In fact, I noticed that Steve even mentions the PS Audio unit in his discussion of why the Mini Torii's tube regulation is so useful (on the Mini Torii's web page).

Anyway, any thoughts or suggestions?

Mark Blair
relatively new SE84C+ owner (with just a slight bit of noticeable hum)
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« Last Edit: 04/01/11 at 17:42:06 by MarkBlair »  
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Brett
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Re: Isolation Transformers, Power Regenerators, etc.
Reply #1 - 04/01/11 at 19:34:28
 
I get to try out a PS Audio Power Plant Premier tonight! I'll post impressions afterward.

I've always had a slight hum issue with my Zen kit that I've deductively traced to the power transformer. It'll be interesting to see if balanced power has a positive effect.

I see that PS Audio has a new line of power generators. They are calling them perfect wave. They note that output impedance is improved, which implies that the Premier's output impedance was higher than desired. My novice impression is that a high output impedance would slow it's ability to provide current quickly on demand. Perhaps not such an issue if the device it is powering has a proper power supply.

Removing all the marketing fluff, these power generators are essentially an amplifier reproducing a 60hz sine wave. Obviously the load of the power supplies will vary drastically and so the question is can it be designed to drive all these different types of loads optimally. My guess is probably not.

I've wondered how much a high current isolation transformer (converting single ended power to balanced) would help by comparison. It may be that much of the benefit that a power generator offers can be accomplished with this much simpler device.

Here's a DIY that is appealing.

http://www.audioasylum.com/audio/tweaks/messages/55.html

The smaller unit provides nearly 4 amps balanced. Plenty to drive a DAC and Zen amp. $210 for the transformer only at Digikey. This would be fun to build.
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« Last Edit: 04/01/11 at 19:44:47 by Brett »  
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MarkBlair
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Re: Isolation Transformers, Power Regenerators, etc.
Reply #2 - 04/02/11 at 03:09:04
 
Brett -

Very curious to find out if the PS Audio Power Plant Premier makes a significant difference.

And I'm probably not inclined to build my own isolation transformer at this time (which probably explains why I purchased the SE84C+ instead of getting the kit) -- but I'd sure like to know whether it could address my specific hum situation (as described in my thread under the SE84C+ forum).

Mark
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will
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Re: Isolation Transformers, Power Regenerators, etc.
Reply #3 - 04/02/11 at 19:52:27
 
I have not tried one, but bet it is good because I believe I recall hearing about them from some respectable Decware types....the TrippLite isolation transformer. They make two 500 watt units...the IS500 and the IS500HG, HG being Hospital Grade. I have been tempted by the the HG because it is built better with good outlets. The HG retails over 300, but I saw it for as little as 225 online.

Even though my minor hum is not in the way to me (only slightly audible at reasonable volume settings and without music coming through the speakers) I'm wondering what another level of cleanliness with power might do. Everything I have done to refine the power has done much more than work on Hum, refining every detail.

Since you have been reading about the PS Audio rigs, it might be interesting to compare what the TrippLite does. If similar, and the store will allow refunds, the price is a no-brainer.

I look forward to any reports about any solutions you all try. Cool
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« Last Edit: 04/03/11 at 05:13:16 by will »  

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, TORII MkIV, MorrowAudio SP7 cables, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PI Audio Uberbuss...PI, VHaudio DIY, Neotech DIY, Cryoparts DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
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Brett
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Re: Isolation Transformers, Power Regenerators, etc.
Reply #4 - 04/02/11 at 20:58:59
 
Well the Power Premier is certainly a positive influence. Can't find anything wrong with it's effect on the music. Everything it does is for the better. Hum is still there if you listen for it.

I've plugged in my USB to digital audio re-clocker, DAC, and Select. It's fun to think about each piece of gear in the system benefiting from cleaner sine waves.

Naturally a typical piece of audio gear has to have a built in AC to DC converter (Power Supply) so as to be plug and play.

It's an interesting situation where adding this power generator yields a process of converting home AC power to DC to then create new AC power for your gear which then coverts AC back to DC. So even with this added complexity the end result is cleaner.

Thinking about your system in this way leads to concepts of running an all DC system powered off of battery banks stored in the garage to eliminate this AC problem altogether. How cool would it be to have a system where the only existent AC signal was the music?

Here goes trying to explain what I'm hearing...

First thing I noticed is that the music sounds much more hearty and weighted. The bottom end much more present and articulate. this with the added clarity leads one to crank it up and when I did it was surprising how much more volume I could use without it getting brash.

I'm going out on a limb to try and describe the effect it's had on the tone. It feels like the vibrations in the room are gripping more definitely and I can feel myself vibrating. So in other words I can feel the music even in the middle frequencies rather than just hearing it.

Thinking of the music as the super complex air ripples that they are, there is a sense that the peaks and dips of the ripples are sharper and cleaner which in effect has a better hold over the room. Another way to put it is that the system has more speed which has yielded cleaner sonic tones and sense of pressure that is realistic in scale.

It just sounds amazing.

It's interesting to note that the unit has meters for incoming voltage and THD, as well as output.

Last night my house power was running at 120v. This morning it is reading 123v and 2% THD.

It's outputing a steady 120v and .4 THD.

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« Last Edit: 04/03/11 at 09:03:46 by Brett »  
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JLM
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Re: Isolation Transformers, Power Regenerators, etc.
Reply #5 - 04/03/11 at 21:12:43
 
Years ago I home auditioned one of the original PS Audio units and even owned battery powered Tripath and DAC at two vastly different residental wiring/power situations.  None made any difference.

But power abberations (that's the technically correct term) are a localized phenom.  In fact the most dramatic experience I've ever heard was at the first Decfest that Steve hosted.  He's in what might be described as an older light industrial neighborhood and after 11 PM, the sound cleaned up quite noticeably.
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4krow
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Re: Isolation Transformers, Power Regenerators, etc.
Reply #6 - 04/04/11 at 02:45:38
 
Power, AC and DC have been a fascination for me for decades. I too, have owned numerous power conditioners including PS Audio, Tripplite, Brickwall, and BPT. I've owned them all in separate homes and AC situations. Each has some benefits, but also limitations. But as far as addressing hum problems, n Undecidedone have had much, if any effect. Using a DC/battery preamp was the best solution that I ever tried. As mentioned before, hum is a local problem associated to a single unit. So many times, it has been a power amp. I know this by disconnecting the input and just turning it on and listening to the hum from the amp. I wish I had some easy suggestions, but usually, I have just replaced the amp. The only other experiment is to remove the earth ground, but I know you have already tried those things...good luck....  :-/
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Decware 34I.3 integrated amp/Forte' 3 bass amp/Velodyne SMS-1 bass mngmnt system/Decware ZOB speakers/BESL subs/Cayin cd22 cd player/BPT 3.0 power cond. PS Audio P500
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Pale Rider
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Re: Isolation Transformers, Power Regenerators, etc.
Reply #7 - 04/06/11 at 18:47:44
 
I came across this thread after noticing in the Mini Torii manual that Steve states:

Quote:
It makes little sense to invest too much in a power cord if your going to plug it
directly into the wall outlet because far more of a problem than the cord itself
is the dirty power coming from the outlet. What does make sense is to purchase a
simple isolation transformer rated for 500 Watts or so and use that to decouple
yourself from the grid and all the nasty harmonics that float in it. Then take a
good power cord plugged into the isolation transformer and you will have a result.


Right now, I have my office headphone setup on a Monster AVS-2000 and HTS5100 MkII. An office is an electrically noisy place, and so am wondering if I might gain some benefit to add an isolation transformer in here. I have exceptionally low hum on my Taboo, and when listening to music, I cannot hear it. But with no signal, my amp is not "dead black."

I found some good prices on Tripp Lite 500W and 1000W units at Amazon, and so it would be a low risk affair to try them out. All totaled, my equipment falls well under 500W, but is there some rule of thumb on how much "spare room" is enough?
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Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
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will
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Re: Isolation Transformers, Power Regenerators, etc.
Reply #8 - 04/06/11 at 19:38:48
 
Pale Rider. This makes sense to me. And 4krow, your comments also make sense to me. If you have a ground problem in the amp, good power will help the sound but not fix the hum. Though it can be totally the amp, hum is not always totally, or even partially the amp. It can be the amp's interaction with ground issues with other components, power cables, interconnects, cable layout, or leaked over noise from other appliances, rheostats, computers etc in the circuit or leg of the circuit board, bad receptacles, loose ground connections....or from transformers before your house....lots of stuff can contribute even if you isolate the primary offender as the amp.

Everything I have done to refine the power coming in...hospital grade plug, Alan Maher filters, Brickhouse...have helped lower the hum a bit while improving the "Black" and this is why i have been looking into this subject....not because my hum is intimidating, but because any hum is interfering with the sound.

Embarrassed

Pale Rider, check this out http://www.provantage.com/tripp-lite-is500hg~ATRPC00T.htm

I am considering this one...inexpensive and I believe with a 30 day unconditional return, but I will call to corroborate that if i decide to order.

Good Luck!

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« Last Edit: 04/06/11 at 19:41:09 by will »  

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, TORII MkIV, MorrowAudio SP7 cables, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PI Audio Uberbuss...PI, VHaudio DIY, Neotech DIY, Cryoparts DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
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4krow
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Re: Isolation Transformers, Power Regenerators, etc.
Reply #9 - 04/06/11 at 19:40:21
 
Lets not forget that an isolation transformer in and of itself only isolates from hash and the effects of some noise. It is important that the output of the transformer is balanced, thereby canceling the common mode noise. Hum as such, is not going to be affected. Only noise that resides on both sides of the line will be put out of phase with itself, producing a null of that noise. The BPT website might help shed some light on this problem as well as the PS Audio site, especially in forums.
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seank
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Re: Isolation Transformers, Power Regenerators, etc.
Reply #10 - 04/06/11 at 20:42:16
 
I've always wondered if the "Transcendent Sound Balanced Power Supply" would improve my system.

http://www.transcendentsound.com/Transcendent/Transcendent_Sound_Power_Supply.ht...

Is it safe to change the neutral line from 0 volts to 60 volts?  

I bought a TrippLite isolation transformer many (>16) years ago and returned it immediately because the transformer hummed REALLY loud.  We tried several and they all made too much noise.

Does TrippLite still have transformer noise problems?

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« Last Edit: 04/06/11 at 20:44:06 by seank »  
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4krow
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Re: Isolation Transformers, Power Regenerators, etc.
Reply #11 - 04/07/11 at 03:02:21
 
Changing the voltage from 0 to 60v with each leg of the power should cause no trouble with your equipment. I will  say however, that I once owned a PS Audio 300, and used it to power a Krell cd player. I can't say what happened, but the cd player quit working immediately! Was it the power supply? I'll never know. Having said that, I have used countless pieces of equipment using balanced power with no other problems.
 I have owned 3 different Tripplite products over the years and have not had any significant problems with hum. Remember, the Tripplite product adjusts the voltage using different secondary taps on the transformer, but does not supply balanced power. And I'm not so sure that the quality of the components inside are really up to the standards of other power equipment.
 I looked at the link 'Transcendent Sound' and the products do look promising. Again, I do not know if the transformers have the same quality as BPT or some of the other brands out there. Also, that unit is able to supply 8 amps. of current. That would be enough for some systems, but it is always wise to add up the total current needs of your system. Lastly, I might recommend a BPT product that I currently own only because of one unique feature. The primary winding of this transformer is rated at 10 amps of continuous current, but it has 8 SEPARATE secondary windings that are also rated at 10 amps each. What this means is that each winding is like having a dedicated circuit that does not interact with the other windings. Pretty cool idea, I think. That means you can totally separate digital from analog, preamp from power amp, etc.
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Decware 34I.3 integrated amp/Forte' 3 bass amp/Velodyne SMS-1 bass mngmnt system/Decware ZOB speakers/BESL subs/Cayin cd22 cd player/BPT 3.0 power cond. PS Audio P500
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Pale Rider
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Re: Isolation Transformers, Power Regenerators, etc.
Reply #12 - 04/07/11 at 05:47:15
 
Seank, I haven't done a kit in a while, but your link to the Transcendent came in just in time to keep me from ordering the Tripp Lite. I may still try the TL, since I can send it back, but I am definitely going to try the Transcendent. I am also investigating 4krow's BPT.

Like Will, I don't have a hum "problem." I am just looking for better clarity, blacker black.
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Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
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MarkBlair
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Re: Isolation Transformers, Power Regenerators, etc.
Reply #13 - 04/10/11 at 06:22:25
 
Glad I started this thread -- some great responses -- thanks!

And Brett, did you decide to keep the PS Audio Power Plant Premier?  Partially because of your comments, I decided to purchase a used one from eBay.

But I'm pretty sure it won't address what seems to be my SE84C+'s very small amount of hum (barely audible at near field listening distances with no music playing) -- so I'm still confused about what's the best bang-for-the-buck way to deal with that.

But the amp sounds so good, maybe I'm just nit-picking...

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Brett
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Re: Isolation Transformers, Power Regenerators, etc.
Reply #14 - 04/10/11 at 08:08:34
 
I like JLM's comments regarding the quality of power varying from area to area. I'm pretty sure the quality of my power here is much worse than my last home. Since living here my stereo just hasn't been as enjoyable. Adding the power plant has made a night and day difference and I've been reminded why I love this hobby so much. After many days of listening it's still an obvious improvement. My buddy will be asking to have this back pretty soon unfortunately so I'll probably wind up getting one for myself.

I think it did reduce the hum a bit. As others have commented, it will depend on the source of the hum rather having balanced power has an effect. I listen at near field as well, but as I've said elsewhere I've heard a few zen amps and normally they are DEAD quiet. Mine has an issue with the power transformer and it's possible there could be a similar issue with your amp.
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« Last Edit: 04/10/11 at 08:14:09 by Brett »  
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