Dedicated power lines

Paul McGowan:

If you’re serious about building a high-performance audio system you have to pay attention to the AC power. It’s a constant theme with me because power is the foundation of our systems. There aren’t many great structures standing on weak foundations.

Power Plants solve many problems but they need a head start. One of the best ways of ensuring system performance is through the use of a dedicated AC line. A dedicated line simply means a separate wire feeding an AC receptacle. Stereophile editor John Atkinson wrote about his experience with dedicated lines:

“The sonic effect was nothing short of stunning. Within the context of a power amplifier’s characteristic sound quality, bass fundamentals relatively dropped away to minus infinity, such was the increase in their weight, while the WATT/Puppy’s “hump” in the upper bass became considerably less bothersome. Yes, the characteristic sounds of components were not changed-black was not rendered white-but the differences between those characters was heightened, the overall quality of each enhanced. The sonic contrast knob was turned up a notch, if you will, the blacks becoming a deeper black, the whites becoming more brilliant.”

Most of the AC receptacles in our homes share the same wire. This means the wires feeding your system might also serve kitchen appliances, or living room lights. To be clear, sharing power isn’t all that bad, depending on what you’re sharing it with, but what is bad isthat shared ground. Imagine if your high-end audio system shares a ground with your noisy computer. Why is that not a good idea? Because grounds and power wiring aren’t directional.

By directional, I am referring to an often misunderstood concept that stems from our picture of electricity as water in a pipe. We imagine that our pipe—in this case, the ground wire—is angled down to Earth ground in such a way that all the unwanted noise never runs “uphill” to other components sharing the ground. Of course, this is not true. A shared wire is more like a crowded room.

The best way to deal with shared power is to be selfish and run a dedicated line. Often, it’s a simple task you call an electrician for and in a day or two you’re all set. Plug your Power Plant or system into the new dedicated line and instantly you’re the recipient of better sound. In Music Room One I run multiple dedicated lines. But then, I am an avowed purist. We have a great DIY article in our How To Section, or an easier to watch video I’ll tell you about next.

My son Scott, who owns PS Audio along with Terri and me, and manages our sales, has a great system at home that he wants to make better. He’s in the process of adding a P20 Power Plant but before he does he’s going to do the right thing. Add a dedicated line to feed that regenerator.

We asked him to video the experience of the electrician’s initial visit and he did. Here’s Part One of Installing a Dedicated Line