Converting voltage from 110V to 230V. Using American amps in Europe.
Oct 19, 2008 at 1:48 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 22

PrzemekDraheim

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I've been thinking of buying a tube amp for my Grados, solid state is what I use now. Not being able to listen to many amps in my area I have to rely on opinions provided here at Head-fi. With Grados being American headphones, most talked-about amps for them are also American (or come from North America), like Melos, Mapletree, etc. I would like to buy one of them but voltage seems to be an issue. American voltage is more-less 110V and European is more-less 230V. How can I use American amps in Europe? Does a simple voltage converter/transformer do a trick or should I expect hum, noise or big boooom.

Any help would be appreciated. Any tips from Head-fiers who live in Europe and use 110V amps?
 
Oct 19, 2008 at 1:55 PM Post #2 of 22

omendelovitz

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MAD amps should come with a Euro Power option - in fact most amp makers offer some kind of International Power option w/o having to use converters. A word of advice, don't rely on power converters as they do not adjust the frequency, only the voltage/current. This leads to a shorter lifespan on most electronic equipment at best. Take your time and look around the forum. There are many good tube amp makers that offer amps in Europe and to Europe.
 
Oct 19, 2008 at 2:04 PM Post #3 of 22

PrzemekDraheim

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Frequency, this is the other big problem.

I know many amp makers offer settings for USA and Europe. Gilmore Amps, Mapletree Amps and probably many other brands. I did some research before asking this question. They all can be custom built to suit my voltage and frequency. But what about buying used gear with American settings?

I would love to buy Melos amp for my Grados so lets focus on this one. Can I use American Melos in Europe? If so, what do I need? It would be sad to see a Melos die on me because of voltage or frequency.
 
Oct 19, 2008 at 2:19 PM Post #4 of 22

omendelovitz

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Be careful with Melos. If you have no skill to diagnose/repair amplification Circuitry, realize that Melos amps are old and have no official support (out of business some time ago), so if it dies you are stuck with a very expensive brick.

If you wanted to properly 'fix' a NA power supply amp to make it Euro friendly, you'd have 2 options IMO - for wall-wart style designs, find a wall transformer matched to the original power supply's OUTPUT (be very careful here, make sure you know what you are doing) that is suited for European input; for toroid/transformer designs, replace the transformer/power cable/power input connector (if applicable) with a unit suited for Europe.

N.B.!!!! Be sure you know what you're doing in either of the above option or you will damage/destroy your new toy
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and see your money go up in smoke.

My suggestion: buy new Euro compatible or wait for Euro version amps to go on sale in the FS forum. They don't come by as often as the NA ones, but they do come...
 
Oct 19, 2008 at 7:03 PM Post #5 of 22

atbglenn

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You can always purchase a step down transformer inexpensively on ebay such as this 200 watt unit for only $9.95 If you need more power they have them as well. Make sure the amp will handle 50HZ

Item # 170272287311
 
Oct 19, 2008 at 10:34 PM Post #7 of 22

omendelovitz

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Quote:

Originally Posted by PrzemekDraheim /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Can Melos handle it?


not likely.
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 12:37 AM Post #9 of 22

omendelovitz

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There is, but it would have to be custom work and likely a little expensive. You'd have to find someone with a good knowledge of electronics and/or electrical circuits. Good luck in your search.

Ever thought of the Musical Fidelity X-can V8? It's a tube amp, and quite popular here. Another excellent choice would be a PS Audio GCHA, which can be gotten in 220v.

Good luck.
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 1:01 AM Post #10 of 22

cosmopragma

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Quote:

Originally Posted by omendelovitz /img/forum/go_quote.gif
There is, but it would have to be custom work and likely a little expensive.


The OP is living in Poland.Plenty of knowledgeable EE students and overall low wages means custom jobs aren't expensive, at least not by our terms and in relation to the cost of the amp itself.
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 2:48 AM Post #11 of 22

omendelovitz

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Quote:

Originally Posted by cosmopragma /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The OP is living in Poland.Plenty of knowledgeable EE students and overall low wages means custom jobs aren't expensive, at least not by our terms and in relation to the cost of the amp itself.


that also depends on the relative wages that the OP makes and finding an EE student that knows what s/he's doing and is trustworthy.
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Oct 20, 2008 at 11:13 AM Post #13 of 22

omendelovitz

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Quote:

Originally Posted by PrzemekDraheim /img/forum/go_quote.gif
It is important as I can get that Melos quite cheap.


Good luck. Have you seen the prices on even the not-so-mint units?LOL
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Oct 20, 2008 at 10:34 PM Post #15 of 22

Lad27

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Quote:

Originally Posted by PrzemekDraheim /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Frequency, this is the other big problem.

It would be sad to see a Melos die on me because of voltage or frequency.



Not as much of a problem as suggested in this thread. I'd dare to say there's no problem at all.

The only component carrying either 110/60Hz (US) or 220V/50Hz (Poland) is amp's power supply transformer. Everything past it is DC. Transformers used for power supply applications are not designed around specific frequency. It will work as good at 50 or 60Hz. In fact the same transformer will have slightly less loss at 60Hz than 50Hz (again, negligible for this application). In case of toroidal transformer, the difference is even less.

Your solution is as simple as it was suggested once in this tread. Get a step down transformer - primary voltage 220V, secondary 110Vac. Make sure that it is connected right way. Toroidal type would be better than standard transformer (the one looking like a cube).
Make sure that power rating is sufficient. 200VA will give you almost 2A at secondary, that should be enough for Melos. If power rating is more, not to worry, all you lose is space.
Also make sure that all terminals are well insulated and cannot be accidentally touched (build some enclosure) and you are good to go.

Enjoy your amp, don't worry about frequency/voltage issue. There is none.

Cheers,

Lad
 

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