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bobfa

"Sunday bloody Sunday" an AC Power system story

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As I have started discussing here I have replaced my main audio system and have been upgrading it over time. My first post about AC systems seems to have started a bit of a firestorm here and I was unsure if I would even continue writing here.  So with a bit of trepidation here goes!   Just over a year ago I had an experience that led me to do a lot more research on AC power. 

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One Sunday evening in November 0f 2016 I was working at my computer in my basement office and my son was playing a game on his computer when we heard this rather pronounced 60 cycle buzzing sound.  That is NOT good!  The circuit breaker on the furnace circuit was buzzing madly when the furnace kicked into high fan.  You could feel the panel as well as hear the breaker buzzing, ouch!  So rocking the breaker a bit the buzzing diminished.  

 

But it took a trained person to actually fix the problem.  Over time the wiring in the circuit panel had some loose connections.  Seventeen breakers needed tightening and five neutral lines needed the same treatment including two that were physically loose.  I have been told that this is a common issue with electrical panels due to vibration being induced in the wiring.  I have no evidence to prove that this is a general problem just my one instance.

 

A couple of days later I went to listen to the system to start evaluating a possible cable change…  The system sound had changed. I listen to a group of about 25 tracks as a sort of baseline before I change something. It takes me a while to make sure things are in my mind. The world had flipped, the sound was better on the “before” test!  After about two hours of listening there was more detail a bit more bass and some stage improvements. The change was noticeable but not earthshaking.

 

 I had changed nothing and the system sound changed, WAIT we did change something; one of the loose wires was on the living room circuit where the stereo is.  

 

At this time the system was setup with the Mac Mini running Roon, an ARCAM rDAC, the Rotel gear and a pair of B&W Matrix 805 speakers.  There was an older power conditioner on the system and all bog standard IEC power cabling.  

 

 This is mostly a wake up call for us to check our home electrical systems for safety.  I am pretty sure that this problem was responsible for some issues with a couple of GFCI devices in my home opening up sort of randomly.   I caution against this being a DIY project.  The AC panel is not something to work with lightly.  Seek professional help if you think there are issues!

 

--Bob

 

 

 

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Bob,

I ran into a problem that is similar. If you live in the USA then residential homes have their AC panels fed with two phase 120v lines. My house suddenly had the lights brighten dramatically and erratically. What happened was that the neutral ground line that was common to both AC phases lost its ground at the panel. So instead of having two 120v circuits all the circuits became one 240v line feeding all the individual circuit breakers. It blew out my computer I later found out.

 

I don't know if your electrical problems occurred over several circuits controlled by more than one CB, but if it does and the problems occur simultaneous then this is something to definitely look for.

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I have seen open neutral happen before and it is UGLY!  A review of the homes' electrical system periodically is a great best practice. I have a great electrician that I can rely on!

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Many here in General’s interest in mains and power delivery doesn’t go past their $4 power strip.

 

It’s been highly recommended in other forums, including in professional audiophile press, to run dedicated power lines from the breaker to your listening room. There is even audio-grade mains cabling such as: http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/1002/jpslab.htm

 

After being constantly exposed to one rave review after another of Furutech outlets, I finally gave in a little over a year ago and bought a GTX-D NFC(R) for $240 (can be had for less than $200 from Japan), which is stupidly expensive for a power outlet, but I figured the gear that’ll be plugging into it is a lot more expensive and the power cables themselves are $300 each so what the hell. In the worst case scenario I learn a lesson about trusting user reviewers and have an attractive black outlet with Furutech printed on it. Lots of other reviewers rant and rave about how great pairing these receptacles with the Furutech plates and covers are, about how great they work with Furutech NCF IECs and plugs...the problem is the cheapest high-end Furutech power cable I could find is $1k from TweekGeek. Audio Sensibility is also willing to custom make me some, but those will probably cost roughly the same, maybe a little more. Sigh. I wish I hadn’t tested it a few days ago and found the Furutech outlet clearly superior...maybe ignorance IS bliss.

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23 minutes ago, GUTB said:

Lots of other reviewers rant and rave about how great pairing these receptacles with the Furutech plates and covers are, about how great they work with Furutech NCF IECs and plugs...the problem is the cheapest high-end Furutech power cable I could find is $1k from TweekGeek. Audio Sensibility is also willing to custom make me some, but those will probably cost roughly the same, maybe a little more. Sigh. I wish I hadn’t tested it a few days ago and found the Furutech outlet clearly superior...maybe ignorance IS bliss.

The Furutech AC cable (there's quite a few of them)  can be purchased by the foot/metre. Suggest to buy the plugs, sockets and cable and have your electrician wire in the lot. It takes about 15-30 mins to fit and test each cable. A 12AWG, including the shields takes me about 15mins, to terminate, heatshrink the shields, assemble and test with an IR tester. For 10AWG, this is a different story, the termination distances are very critical and takes longer. Beyond 10AWG is beyond silly since the 'off the shelf' plugs and sockets from Furutech and Oyaide plugs have a 12mm OD limit and 10AWG with the shield is the limit.


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45 minutes ago, bobfa said:

I have seen open neutral happen before and it is UGLY!  A review of the homes' electrical system periodically is a great best practice. I have a great electrician that I can rely on!

The partially open neutral happened at my place, lights roller coaster, and the voltage all over the place. The neutral was partially working at the connection point at the house where the street supply terminates. There's no transformer to allow the voltage to go higher than 230V.  There are no regulatory rules to detect a broken neutral (in my country). Hmm. For my 230V / 110V audio system, there's protection against that, but for the rest of the house, there's no mercy.


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