Neighbors

August 29, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

One of my readers in the UK, Kevin, asked me a very interesting question.

“I’ve noticed that when my neighbours are away my system sounds better with wider and deeper soundstage, better bass etc. Is this because something next door is having an effect like electrical appliances or is it psychological because I know they’re away and I can crank the system up and relax knowing that I’m not disturbing anyone?”

It’s a very difficult one to answer in a vacuum and without Kevin having a Power Plant in the system.

With a Power Plant in the system, I could have told him with a great deal of confidence that it was the latter rather than the former.

But, no such luck.

If I had to guess, I would think it’s likely a combination of the two with emphasis on the psychological side.

When we feel free to relax and crank up the system magic happens.

But always better with the Power Plant’s safety of knowing the power is never going to be a problem.

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22 comments on “Neighbors”

  1. Paul’s reference to the power plant implies his concern is incoming power. Just about everyone here in the UK has an independent power supply that goes through the meter before the consumer unit. My house is physically attached to the house next door, but the two houses aren’t even connected to the same power cable in the street.

    Unlike virtually the rest of the world, we use ring circuits together with 3-pin fused plugs. The sockets are often fused as well, but are limited to one or two connected receptacles.

    So the neibours are almost certainly irrelevant, what may well count is what else is on the ring your audio is on.

    Recently I rewired and installed three separate spurs to my audio, AV and modem. I did it because it seemed sensible.

  2. When I listen to Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Beethoven’s 3rd, 5th, 6th or 9th Symphonies, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Blondie or The Doobie Brothers so do my neighbours…whether they want to or not.

    1. Noise will always get you. I am fortunate enough to live in a single family house which is much further from my neighbor’s houses than neighbors in apartments are and I use a PS Audio Power Plant ( we get our electric power from Con Ed 😮 ).

      None of this matters. On beautiful days when temperatures are comfortable and dew points are low it hard to resist not having all of the windows open. In spite of greater separation I can still hear the noise from my neighbors. The worse neighbor for noise pollution is a church! Three times a day they play loud recorded church bell music through cheap PA speakers. The distortion makes you cringe.

      Noise will always find you.

      1. In fifty plus years I’ve never had a problem with the purity or the continuity
        of the electricity supply here in Sydney, Australia.
        I can not imagine the trials & tribulations that you folks in the U.S. have to
        go through with your electricity supply.
        From what I’ve heard, it sounds diabolical.

        1. Canada as well, Martin. I’ve been victimized by dirty power most of my audiophile life.
          Our grids are dirty as hell, especially here in Toronto where I live. My P3 is now a necessity to me. Not a tweak. 😉

        1. Tim, You are right. They do cost more and if properly made sound beautiful. I grew up in a Catholic neighborhood. The local church had real bells that were made in Italy. So etched in my brain is how real bells sound.

          I know when the current church is going to play its bell music, so you would think I would be prepared when I hear it, but it still gets me every time. How can they play something that sounds so bad?

          1. There is a bit of “magic” in making tuned bells resonate. The right mixture of metals, thickness, sizing, etc.
            That fake stuff is like fingernails on a chalkboard.

    2. A good dose of Highway Star will the neighborhood going. It always made me push the pedal a littler harder… Blackmore’s riffs made me want to learn to play guitar.

    3. LMAO! I’m so glad I don’t have what most would call neighbors, the nearest might notice if I set off a bomb. As far as electrical service goes no one else is on my transformer so unless someone a mile or so away can cause problems mine is about as clean as it gets without a regenerator. Pardon the late post, just catching up FR. Have a good one!

      OHT

  3. I’m lucky to have clean power to my home. Years ago, I tried a power plant for my source components and it didn’t provide noticeable improvement over the power filter and the Richard Gray combo I have. My system is on 4 different circuits. My front wall has a dedicated 20 amp circuit which currently has only 2 subs on it, network stuff on a dedicated 15 amp circuit, 2 channel & home theater components on the side wall are on on a dedicated 20 amp circuit and my turntable & phono preamp towards the back of the room are on the 15 amp circuit with rest of the room outlets. I do have PS Audio made power outlets and power cables. All these circuits are wired to every other position in the panel, which is supposed to perform better and reduce the chance of hum (though I don’t know technically why). I found early on that clean power really makes a difference. It effects every component, except the network stuff.

    The network stuff is currently on a decent Panamax, but only because it was an extra laying around. As stated in a prior post, they simply work and their performance is unaffected by any power conditioning.

    I’m sure the newer version of the power plant would cause a difference. However, in my current scheme I would need 3 of them given I’m planning to move my amps to the front of the room. My system would benefit greater from other upgrades, as the power plants are a substantial investment.

  4. I use highly sensitive headphones and 2 of my 3 that I own are detail monsters with a ton of scalability. My P3 stellar made an incredible difference and gave good life to my amplifiers (in high current setting) and overall system. Good headphones can tell you a lot! . I am such a big believer in clean power. It matters. When I crank up the tunes outwardly with my cheap surround sound system the P3 helps as well. I guess all in all those PS Audio AC regenerators are god to me, so I could care a less what ASR says about that. Same goes for my neighbors. lol.

  5. Adding the P15 absolutely takes care of the former, but being totally relaxed for a listening session is a component level upgrade. And Machine Head is still in rotation here.

  6. Not sure if others have mentioned this, but louder always sounds better subjectively. That’s why it’s so important when comparing system changes to maintain the same SPL.

    So if your friend in the UK tends to play it louder when the neighbors are away (which sounds reasonable) that contributes to better SQ.

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