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It's Insane How Much Difference Power Can Make

  1. pervysage
    I never really thought about it much before besides the fact that I had noticed a long time ago that my gear sounded better when it was attached directly to a wall outlet, rather than to a surge protector.

    Recently, I was trying to figure out a issue I was having of gaming on my PC and my aim with my mouse feeling severely different depending on power related stuff. For example, having my ceiling fan on or off would change the responsiveness of my mouse, having LED lighting and regular lights on in the room did the same... just really weird stuff.

    So while trying to solve that issue, I started looking into power conditioners and just decided to try out a random "power conditioner" I came across online on Amazon: the Furman M-8X2 Merit Series. In the end, it didn't really fix the problem I was having with my gaming but when I went to listen to some music as I usually do (I had ended up plugging all my audio equipment into this Furman as well... because why not? The extra outlets were convenient) there was just an immense difference to how my music sounded. I literally exclaimed to myself: What?! Vocals just sounded so much more clear in music that I was familiar with and was really in your face and dynamic like the person is singing right into my ear. Bass sounded so much more clear and controlled... I was just really shocked by the difference. Background noises in songs became a lot more pronounced, instruments, strings and all that just way more crystal clear. If I go back to the regular setup it's like everything was blurred together in comparison.

    Anyways, I was still trying to solve my original issue with gaming so figured I would try a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) to try and isolate my computer and stuff from any "power issues" I may be having in the house. I didn't know much at the time and just ordered a line interactive UPS... but these things just pass through your regular AC utility power to your devices like any regular surge protector would... so it didn't really fix anything gaming-wise. And just for the heck of it, I hooked up my audio equipment to the UPS and my music sounded like crap in comparison. Bloated bass, vocals pushed back and less clear... just unpleasant to listen to in comparison. These are no small differences I'm talking about. It made me not want to listen to my music anymore... lol.

    Tomorrow I have a double-conversion UPS coming in which is pretty much the best you can get in terms of isolating your equipment from power issues since it is constantly converting power from AC -> DC -> AC. I will report back on how that one goes...

    But man, that Furman really opened my eyes. I was originally going to return it if it didn't solve my gaming issues and even though it didn't... damn, I might just keep it around for my audio equipment if the double-conversion UPS sounds like crap as well.

    Maybe something is just funky with the power in my house but this whole experience really opened up my eyes on how much power can make a difference.

    Listening to a Focal Utopia out of a Audio-Gd Master 11 (hooked up through HDMI i2s cable to a Singxer SU-1 USB digital interface which is hooked up to my gaming PC) in case you're curious about what I was using to listen. Also heard the same differences coming out my KEF LS50 speakers.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
    BreadMaster likes this.
  2. CoryGillmore
    I experienced a similar revelation yesterday when I plugged my Sony IER-M9 into my Burson Audio Play for the first time. WOW! Even though it has a slight hiss, it sounds so much better compared to listening out of any of my DAPs. Like night and day. Bass hits harder, vocals more clear, pretty much everything you said. Now it has me wanting a powerful desktop amp with a low output impedance.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
  3. Zenvota
    Im a huge fan of isolation and conditioning, really lets you hear exactly what your equipment sounds like. Good signal integrity and clean power are no joke.

    These are an interesting choice for power conditioning. I use them on 2 headphone systems and my surround system, for my avr and projector.


    Your su1 has isolation from the pc so putting your master11 and precision 1 on something like that should make a really nice difference.
  4. Happy Camper
    Critical equipment in the medical industry use isolation transformers. I use one on my computer and DAC. I keep my amps direct to the wall outlet. Power at night is cleaner and I've noticed better sound from my amps.
    Zenvota likes this.
  5. Jesse Wang
    How much is your UPS? I also wander if the voltage transformer can also affect the sound a lot especially for amp.
  6. Zenvota
    I use the cyberpower pfc sinewave series between the wall and topaz ultra isolators. I get frequent brown outs in my area and the ups' handle it very well. For headphone systems it's no issue, and I have a surround system on them as well, a denon x4200w, an extra 2 channel amp, 2 subwoofers, and an extra subwoofer plate amplifier for bass shakers, all that equipment has filterless distribution(except for caps between the live and neutral for extra normal mode filtering) after the isolation transformer and quadrapole cabling to the avr. The whole system pulls 100-500w, probably 150 on average and 4-500w is all 9 channels and 3 sub amps playing at 90-100db(i.e. the thx eclipse demo). The sound is as natural and dynamic as the equipment can be, and the noise free power from the isolation transformer and power cable(low inductance) has a great effect on imaging. It has a good effect on any power supply as well, the cheap switching supplies in the surround system or the excellent supplies in the headphone system.

    I didn't notice any change after adding the ups, except that the systems stay on during brown outs and power outtages. Brownouts were a pain even when everythings off since all the ht equipment goes into standby +inrush current from the transformer.

    If you've got dedicated 20a lines for power amplifiers than you'll probably want to consider ferroresonant ups, if you need ups, but thats gonna get expensive.

    For improved sound with power though you want to knock common and traverse mode noise, use low inductance power cabling(twisted pair or star quad with the ground outside of the conductors), and reduce impedance between electrically connected components(filterless distribution).
    CoryGillmore likes this.
  7. CoryGillmore
    Tell us m ore about this home theater setup! What speakers etc! I have a modest Klipsch 7.2 setup that rocks. Front stage is X2 R-28F towers, X2 12-SW subs, R-25c center channel. Then 4 R-15m surround channels all on stands. I'd like to upgrade my Onkyo receiver to a Marantz and upgrade the fropnt stage to the Klipsch RP line. Which I'll probably do this fall.
    Zenvota likes this.
  8. Jesse Wang
    Is that mean you have a voltage transformer after between ups and your system?
  9. Zenvota
    Depends on what you mean by voltage transformer. The ups does power factor correction, automatic voltage regulation, and battery with sine wave output. The transformer is 120v in 120v out, acts as a separately derived system, and filtering common/traverse mode noise, but yes the isolation transformer is between the ups and the av systems.
  10. Zenvota

    Its a small room, 11'x14'x8' with the screen on the wide wall.

    System is a denon x4200w, audiosource amp100vs for the top middles.

    LCR are Polk LSIM 704cs, surrounds and front heights are polk monitor 30s, and top middles are polk fxi a4s. Pretty happy with these speakers and probably wouldn't upgrade unless to something with raals and scanspeaks as I don't need massive output just crave amazing fidelity and imaging.

    Low end is 1 BIC v1220 in front, 1 bic v1020 in the back, 2 dayton pucks per seat. I'd like to upgrade these to rythmiks and buttkickers, but for now I can't have too much low traveling outside the room so the subwoofers are isolated with sorbothane and the shakers handle the tactile rumble.

    No room treatment, just alot of furniture but the room has a nice sound too it. Maybe a little boominess in female voices in certain situations, I'm going to look into what I can do at some point, I don't think theres much I can do other than the back wall and first ceiling reflection. Really its just the one resonance that Ive observed and even the room correction seems to have trouble with it, but its not distracting and is only notice in less than optimal recording conditions.

    Now the fun part... I was considering what would improve the sound quality for the surround system and thought, Anthem? Trinnov? Maybe... but expensive, and what's the difference really, a linear supply? some discrete regulation? better circuits for sure, but expensive... After really enjoying the improvements from the ultra isolators and usb conditioning with my headphone system I thought I'd see if I could apply it to the surround system.

    So theres 3 main components to this system, the htpc, avr, and projector. To start was to get the avr and projector on isolation transformers to knock noise on the ac mains. I didnt want to put the htpc on the transformer(isolate the htpc from the avr) and I also didn't want the sound system and projector on the same transformer so I had to figure out what to do for hdmi isolation. Simply enough is using an mm om3 fiber hdmi extender like the AV Access 4KEX300-F(capable of 4k60 444/8 or 420/10, hdr, pcm 7.1). Using these also ensures very strong signal integrity using very short 18-48gbps hdmi cables. I also found an ethernet hdmi extender(Atlona AT-HDR-EX-70-2PS) used for 1/4 of the new price, that didn't use power over ethernet, and paired with an extra uptone ultracap lps1 and smps I had provided full isolation like the fiber extender.

    So the sound system and projector are on separate ultra isolators(a topaz 91001-42 for the sound system and 91095-32 for the projector), and all the main components are isolated from each other. So we have separately derived systems, very similar to dedicated circuits with filtration at the box, unaffected by all the solar panels, lamp dimmers, compressor switching, 120-140db common mode noise rejection, 50-80db of traverse mode, no leakage loops for the projector, and low impedance loops for the sound system.

    Other tweaks included quadrapole cabling, vh audio flavor 4 ac power cords, canare 4s8 dc power cables between the ultracaps and hdmi extenders, and 4s8 speaker wire for the lcr. For the power, varied current draw causes a voltage to develop across the inductance of the cable, and the regulators in power supplies cant dealcwith this noise, the low inductance cabling reduces noise. This always suprised me by what a difference it makes for transparency and imaging.

    Having the ethernet extender on an ultracap lps I tried putting the fiber extender receiver at the projector on one as well. Something about these power supplies, the ultrafast power delivery, the isolation low noise and low output impedance, works wonders for devices that have to do with signal integrity.

    Between the ultra isolator, isolating between the pc and projector, having every aound component on filterless distribution, and quadrapole cabling, the effects on sound quality are incredible. Imaging is significantly more precise, location, size, the height channels became much more localized, object mixes(atmos, dts:x) are just amazing now, and the psychoacoustic wizardy and audio mixing performing at its best is able to put things way beyond room boundaries. Everything sounds so much more natural, instruments, voices, etc. The 704cs had an unevenness to voices and heavy sibilance thats been completely alleviated(damping from the speaker wire maybe? was using 30' runs of straight 16/2 so it shouldve been adequate). My wife watches videos on youtube of people walking around Japan and noted that before all this she kept the volume very low as youtube audio quality and the lower recording sound quality was unejoyable/uncomfortable, but now shes had the volume at normal listening levels and really enjoys all the backround sounds. Bass performance improved as well. I used Audysseys Dynamic EQ all the time before and had to turn it off and actually turn the subs down. Same with music, I prefered dynamic eq on to warm up the sound, and was never particularly impressed with the systems imaging and transparency compared to my headphone system(s), but that changed as well, beautiful wide soundstage, great imaging, very natural sounding instruments, and doesn't blur under the distorted ferocity of death metal.

    It's tough to describe the effects on video. at the very least I was getting anxious to upgrade the projector and now I'm intensely satisfied with the image. Theres an improved detail/contrast, depth/ dimensionality, and solidity to the image. The projector(w1070) has an auto lamp dimming mode that would exhibit pumping and sometimes flickering during brightness changes, that's gone now... It's just so damn colorful and defined. We're watching s3 of jessica jones and the intro is absolutely spell binding. Similarly any time theres windows in a scene as I said depth and dimensionality are so much more profound, or if the camera lense is visible every streak across the image is perfectly rendered... It's really cool... Is it that it's noise free? less bit errors due to excellent signal integrity? Idk but theres no going back, and if I remove a component(the power cabling or ultracap power supply) it loses something or some noise is introduced.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2019
    CoryGillmore likes this.
  11. CoryGillmore
    Jesus Christ...What do you do for a living haha. How much have you put into this? My family and friends think I'm insane with my modest sub 5k Best Buy home theater LMAO!
    Zenvota likes this.
  12. Zenvota
    Fiscally not alot, buying things used, watching ebay frequently. For instance the 704s were 200each(and i mean come on... solid 30lb cabinet, ring tweeter, good woofers, poly cap crossovers... for $200... the list on those are like $700), the isolation transformers 100each(i got the 91092-31 for my headphone system for $30 =p).

    Physically, however, reading, building, tinkering, and planning for years xD
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2019
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