A Second Noise Floor?

We hear the term, “noise floor” being casually tossed around and it has taken me years and thousands of dollars to figure out what it is and how it impacts the music I listen to.  Then…the floor drops from under you and you’re forced to look at it again to relearn what you thought you had already understood.

My previous understanding was that there was erroneous electrical signal being propagated, absorbed, emitted, etc, that was veiling or hiding frequency within music. It is noise, but not an actual audible sound. I had understood and heard how that acted on speakers, components and amplifiers.  There was a variety of products and tweaks that could reduce the “noise floor.”  Over the years, as I added equipment, products, upgrades and tweaks, I started noticing what emerges when the noise floor drops. Micro details and/or instruments, larger and expanded sound stage, and more realism to the tone of the sound, like the timber of vocals or the metallic, vibrating decay of a piano note.

That’s when it happened. I discovered there was another “noise floor” being impacted that I didn't know existed.

I discovered that my power distributor, the Shunyata Venom V16, has an external chassis ground connector.  This is part of their CGS tech and it isn’t advertised on the product; yet there it is, ready to be used. It is marked for Earth Ground and not Chassis Ground, which I thought was odd; in engineering, those two symbols are not interchangeable. I built my own external Earth Ground Box and created a custom cable to connect the box to the power distributor.  I wasn’t expecting any real benefit, but it was DRASTIC! So drastic in fact, that it destroyed my understanding of  the “noise floor.” The instant I plugged it in, the sound changed.  Snare drums, cymbals, tambourines, xylophones, and various other percussion instruments didn’t just show up in the background.  They came in front and center in the most in-your-face way that it completely altered the majority of the music I listen to. Vocals were clearer, resolute, and separated pin-point from all the other instruments in a 3D space, and not in a subtle way.

I thought, there was NO WAY, bleeding off excess electrical signal into ground is going to suddenly make micro details louder and more evident without changing the volume level of the lead singer and other instruments.  It didn’t make ANY sense…until I realized an important detail.  My music isn’t pure analog; it’s digital. O_O That meant, there was another “noise floor.”  The digital “noise floor.” Packets of information not only relay what instrument/sound is played, but what position it is in and how loud it is. My computer is plugged into the same power distributor and is therefore benefiting from the Earth grounding box. It must be allowing a cleaner distribution of digital packets over USB to the DAC and the DAC is then able to generate and create a more accurate analog signal.

At least, that’s what makes sense to me.  I could be very wrong; but how else do you explain the drastic changes?

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Interesting!  I like experimenting with inexpensive DIY tweaks and have usually had good success.  I read your prior post on building the box so I kind of get the set up. How is the ground wire from the Power Conditioner connected to your box set up? The wall plug is connected by banana plug to wall plug cable which is plugged into the box.  Also, if you were to build your box without concern for the special cable with spades would you only need 2 banana posts?  One for the wall socket plug and one for the Power Conditioner ground wire.  Is there a reason you used banana plugs versus spades or nude?  Thanks for sharing your project!  Sounds like a good project. 

Is there different material in "The Box"? Earthen Box kinda sorta?

I've tinkered, but never with any great success. The noise floor I put up with is a simple test. Select a source and turn the volume all the way up. What do you hear?
I've heard and seen  people put up with noise because they paid a lot of money for their gear. The reality of it is, most of my noise issues were cable routing. I haven't had noise, ever. My Pops taught me well.

Now and then a valve gets a little noisy or an old analog pot or LPad. Other than that there is no floor noise. Cable box power supply was sure noisy though.. I fixed it..


That is why I did dedicated lines (4) to my listening room.

And I used SR UEF Orange Duplex to terminate.

Dead silent, no outside influences on noise. Computer and lights/ceiling fan are on a separate circuit.  This was all my D-In-Law idea as an EE. No need for grounding boxes or conditioners YET!.

It is only an average size room.


I made two boxes, actually.  The first box was made for my custom cable to allow the ground loop spades to bleed off. The 2nd box uses the same design, however, only connects to the power distributor via Banana Plug. The first grounding cable I made was done using a 16 gauge tinned copper wire and an all copper male NEMA 5-15 amp connector.  The other end was a banana plug and that went into the box.  The other connected to the power distributor (to now use the common ground.) 

The Venom V16 has an external port that accepts a standard banana plug, or could be attached via a spade.  When I made the 2nd box, I had room to make some improvements.  The banana plug I used was MASSIVE.  Easily three times the size of the first ones I used.  It's binding post was very thick, which made it hard to drill holes into the copper plates. It was worth it, because it is highly conductive.  Also, for the ground wire, I used 12 gauge braided copper in an 8 inch length.  My understanding is that you want the fattest possible cable at the shortest possible length.



It took me quite some time to figure out what to fill these boxes with. The entire point of Earth grounding is to have a semi-conductive filler that can safely disperse electrical energy. The industrial premium blend tends to be charcoal and salt and some have quartz.

I bought a bag of Hawaiian Charcoal Rock Salt. I also used rock salt, the kind you use with making ice cream; they are very large grains. I also used tree charcoal, broken into various sized pieces. I also used copper clippings from a 24 gauge copper wire.  Then, I literally went outside and took a few spoonfuls of actual local dirt. I put all this in a bowl and mixed it up.  Ratio wise, I think it was 80% Hawaiian charcoal salt, 12% tree charcoal, 5% rock salt, 1% copper filings, 2% dirt.

On the 2nd box, I took a quartz crystal that was still attached to rock and I placed it at the bottom, directly on the copper plate.  It was then surrounded by raised copper plates and the main copper wire coming from the banana plug. That box was connected banana to banana.

I have actually been thinking of upgrading that grounding cable. I want solid copper banana plugs and try for an 8 gauge copper wire. :)

Wonderful thanks for your mix, there are some expensive ones too. MERCY oh MERCY..

Activated charcoal (palm) graphite dust, copper, nickels, old copper pennies, quartz, kiln-dried crushed river rock, non conductive oil. iron dust, quarry salt, Epson salt, a vanilla bean (smells better) finely ground cannabis and some of the remains in Uncle Pete's Urn. He wasn’t worth a crap for anything else.


We found that when copper telecommunication cable was being buried in Yellowstone Park, things weren't 'normal'. That is, though it is true that ground potential changes geographically, it REALLY changes in Yellowstone Park! Electrolysis big time.... So my point is this>>> Elements of the earth don't get along so well when trapped together, and cause reactions, i.e. small electrical reactions. Take copper and aluminum for example. We were not allowed to use aluminum for a copper electrical bond, since they would react with each other over time. 

 One step further folks. Take a box, run a wire to it, and fill the box with various elements/chemicals. The right recipe may yield some sort of benefit. Intriguing.



I am not sure how.  The pics all have to hosted, I can't just insert or drop them in. :(

Any ideas?


Agreed, each geographical area has a completely different mineral mix.  I had no conception on how each compound impacted sound quality, or even if it does. Technically speaking, the engineering at work here is drawing out excess electric current or signal and dissipating it as fast as possible.  Sort of like a poultice drawing out poison from a wound. (not the best visual there, sorry ;) )

A file sharing service needs to used. You upload your pics to your account and then post the link. Each file you create is given a web address. 

@oldhvymec .....Proportions? 

...all but the cannabis...I wager a pinch, no more....
...better things to do with That..... :)

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Oh I really did use the vanilla and my Uncle Pete. That would be a little gold, HE stole from somebody else's teeth and swallowed. He had a gullet and kept his valuables in it, I hear. He tried to pull another fast one and take it with him. Sneaky Uncle Pete.


@guakus , nicely done. Can the box be adapted to accept multiple components? Then they would have the same ground potential, yes?


Sure, why not?  It's a MASSIVE banana plug.  I thought about posting a comparison picture.  It's 3 x the size of what you normally see.

I plugged in using a banana plug, but it will accept spades.  Those can easily stack. :)

@guakus thanks for the pics very helpful.  Is the copper wire from the internal end of the bad boy banana required since all the copper plates are connected?  
My power conditioner does not have an input plug just an external twist nut.  I did read you can also use an open  input (rca) and plug it into your component (neg only) with banana/spade connected only to the ground outer wire on the opposite end.  We’ll see how it works out.  I have made 2 boxes made from scrap wood just waiting for parts/ingredients from amazon in a few days.  Thanks for the inspiration


You're creating an array, sort of like an antenna.  I don't think it's 100% necessary to have the bare wire, but a lot of designs I saw had something similar.  Bare copper wire coil is cheap and easy to get :).  I also got some copper tape just to be extra sure. The one feature that was absolute is the "U" or "V" shaped piece of copper that attaches to the back wall and the banana binding post.

That external twist nut is fine.  It just means you use a spade rather than a banana plug :).

I have seen folks even attach a box to the negative post on each speaker. O_O  I was actually thinking of doing that for my floor standing system at some point.

Assembled my box today. Did reduce noise and improve clarity when connected to power conditioner ground twist nut.  Noise floor appears quieter- not in a big way but worthwhile. Plugging a ground only RCA cable into an open negative RCA plug in my Integrated Amp did not seem to improve results. i posted some pics on my system page as well.

@guakus Thanks for the inspiration and sharing your fun project.

Ok connected my second 6x6 grounding box ( copper plate lined, 45% rock salt, 45% horticulture charcoal, 10% crushed tourmaline) to my Goldenear triton speakers with built in subs.  Used banana plugs from box to the neg  speaker plug.  Wow dramatic improvement.  Clarity, the percussion, background rhythm section stands out now while it was hidden before. Sounds more real really shocked!. 

@guakus were you able to compare whether gauge size/metal type of the wire made a difference in SQ? Or materials you added…Thanks


Yes.  The heavier gauge made a difference.  However, just having a heavy gauge plug wasn't enough.  I was originally using 12AWG tinned copper wire with what I originally thought was a high-definition, gold-plated, banana plug.  I was changing the wire to 10AWG OFC and when I was trying to reattach the plug, it snapped. I discovered that the inside of the plug was plastic.  It was gold plated plastic :(.  So, I get some hefty Media Bridge banana plugs that I was able to determine is solid copper and gold plated.

So, once I changed this wire out, the sound quality was far better.

@guakus Thanks…good that it broke!  Ozzy has another thread going on discussing ground boxes you might want to check out.  Good info there as  well.  He recommends solid silver 16 or 18 ga.  I’m just trying to determine if the cable makes a SQ difference before I purchase more.  I used wire I had on hand basic 16ga copper speaker wire twisting both ends together making it 13ga with gold plated bananas, spades and nude.