Optimizing AC power for stereos

December 12, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

13 comments on “Optimizing AC power for stereos”

  1. Good practical advice from Paul here, my experience is same: home runs to breakers for audio gear, appropriately (if not slightly oversized) romex, and good quality ac outlets. I find Hubble hospital grade outlets indistinguishable from the pricier ‘audiophile’ outlets in my experience and way less expensive.

    While I can’t (won’t) afford ‘power regenerators/conditioners’, I do use medical grade isolation transformers 1Kva is good size to work with my gear. These can be found on ebay for low money if you are keep an eye out for surplus gear.

    AC power is the foundation, agree with Paul. Also basic room treatments, whole nother deal, but equally important. Real diffusers and a little bass trapping make a huge difference. When you get the ac and the room right, then you can know what your current gear is capable of and if it meets your expectations. Most people gloss over these fundamentals, at their peril.

  2. Paul, love your videos but I have to say that every time you film in that room I am distracted by the CD player with an open top. I’ve even seen you read your daily question then lay the paper on/in the guts of this device. Sorry it drives me crazy. Maybe you should write to PS Audio and see if they can send you a replacement lid.

    Merry Christmas to all the folks at PSA.


    1. A thought on batteries. A friend I trust told me the problem with them may be high impedance output making them ‘slow’ to react to sudden large increases in current needed. His solution at least in individual pieces was low impedance capacitors across the batteries.

  3. Paul, it is not “slightly illegal” to use #10 wire on a 15amp outlet (you probably mean the device which is a receptacle) if you use one which is listed for #10 wire:

    5270W-BU Eaton residential grade duplex receptacle, #10 AWG, 15A, Residential, Flush, 125V, Side wire, White, Brass, Thermoplastic, 5-15R, Duplex, Screw, Thermoplastic
    General specifications Product Name Eaton residential grade duplex receptacle
    Catalog Number 5270W-BU
    UPC 32664752186
    Product Length/Depth 1.31 in
    Product Height 4.19 in
    Product Width .69 in
    Product Weight .15 lb
    Warranty Refer to warranty document.
    Certifications UL NOM Federal Specification Classification 6235 01
    Catalogs Residential Buyers Guide Section B
    Date Mon Dec 13 2021

  4. If you want hospital grade: Leviton

    15 Amp, 125 Volt, NEMA 5-15R, 2P, 3W, Wide Body Duplex Receptacle, Straight
    Blade, Hospital Grade, Self Grounding, , Back & Side 8 Hole Feed-Thru Wired, Nickel
    Plated Brass Strap, – White
    Product Features
    Grounding: Self Grounding
    Amperage:15 Amp
    Voltage:125 Volt
    Termination: Back & Side 8 Hole Feed-Thru
    Face Material: Nylon
    Body Material: Nylon
    Strap Material: Nickel Plated Brass
    Color: White
    Standards and Certifications: UL/CSA
    Warranty:10 Year Limited
    Features and Benefits
    ·Impact-resistant thermoplastic nylon cover and body
    ·Smooth Face does not collect dirt
    ·Four corner latches securely fasten face
    ·Large triple-wipe, nickel plated brass “T” contacts for superior contact and conductivity
    · Nickel-plated brass, one piece mounting strap with integral ground contact, for superior ground path
    ·Exclusive triple combination #10-32 nickel plated brass terminal screws, straightslot, Phillips #2, Robertson #1, for
    excellent torque
    ·Back and Side 8 Hole Feed-Thru wiring options accept#14-#10 AWG stranded or solid wire
    ·Apron barrier to prevent accidental contact between terminal screw heads and metal box
    ·Exclusive V-shaped, serrated back-wiring clamps for superior contact and conductivity
    · Convienient break-off fins for easy two-circuit conversion
    ·Backed by a limited 10 Year Warranty
    · UL Listed 498HG, UL Fed Spec WC-596, CSAC22.2 No. 42

  5. I don’t know how much this is gonna cost me, but I’d love to put every room on my house on their own breakers.
    But only two of my rooms are used for either listening to music or watching TV.
    But my bed room bath room and one outlet in my living room is shared with one breaker in my breaker box.
    And on top of all of this, FPL is supplying all of us here in Lake City Florida with dirty power.
    I can tell this when the volume on one of my sound systems is down low.
    But on the other hand, if I could save up about 50,000USD, I would be more then glad to call up PS Audio, and ask them to send me two Steller P20 power regenerators.
    Because I think in my humble opinion, that would really clean up the power around here.
    And in this way, the tubes in my equipment would last a hole lot longer.
    But for those of you that don’t know this, please take notes!
    Dirty power, equals higher electric bills.
    But your power companies will never tell you what I’m telling you all right now.
    But if you’ll just do the math, you’ll see my point.
    A power regenerator will save you from equipment burn out, and plus, it will save you some money on your electric bills.

  6. J.P. I am currently re-wiring my house and am putting at least two dedicated circuits in every room–and, of course, dedicated circuits (home runs) of 10ga cryo-treated wire (w/ PS Audio outlets) to my stereo system (2 home runs since I only need two for my system). A few years ago I had this idea about “dirty power” when I installed my first computer and found a lot of snow/lines on my monitor. I wondered if it was due to shared power (and believe me, I am not an electrical engineer)–so I ran a home run from my service panel to my computer–problem solved. So, I reasoned at that point that in my stereo system, this same problem would be manifest as noise–another home run solved that problem (and now I’m taking that to the next step in my current wiring project). So, I can tell everyone from my personal experience, home run wiring is a very noticeable upgrade.

  7. I changed my receptacles that service my audio and computer equipment to Eaton Isolated ground duplex, which they claim cuts down noise. They are in metal boxes, so perhaps true. They are orange in color. The model number is IG5362RN-BX-LW

  8. I’m always suspect on the quality of the utility power coming into the home electrical panel.
    – Voltage dips, surges, transients, etc.

    Having dedicated electrical wiring back to a circuit breaker in the panel, is still sharing any interference from the power utility and/or from other appliances in the house.

  9. The heart-felt and honest man speaks again. Love your approach, Paul.
    I couldn’t agree more.

    Today I upgraded a couple of AC power cords for my CD player and my Headphone amplifier. Just a couple of NRG AudioQuest 1 meter cables. Nothing crazy, but it sure as heck will be better than my stock ones. Slowly but surely I’m tweaking little by little each year. 🙂

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