Ok. You win on the most original question recently.
I will admit that I never thought of where I should move to get great power. I can say, I used to live in Tucson, Arizona. That is not it… because of the thunderstorms that knock out the power during the summer… they are truly beautiful though.
I now live in Vancouver Washington in an area with no above ground power lines. The power is reliable. But, my system still sounds better with my power conditioner. There are a few individuals that live in places that sound as good without a power conditioner. I guess that are the conditions you are looking for.
So, I can say Tucson, AZ and Vancouver Washington is not it.
I always thought it was $0 to $10K (small) factor in building a great system… whether to use power conditioning or not. The room, speakers, and electronics being far more important. The $10K is, either do a lot of power conditioning or none.
Fyi, my streamer is battery powered (Aurrender W20SE), and a couple of the better sounding headphone amps I have heard were battery powered. So, clearly good power is important… on the other hand, the highest quality preamps, and amps are two box solutions with power is at least half of the design. The best sounding stuff has put a huge investment in power management. I am not sure being located in one of those areas actually negates the necessity of all that power management stuff.
Most people have no way of answering this question. Here is what my power looks like in a scope:
4.2% THD. I live in a suburb of San Diego. Near a substation, mix of residential and industrial users.
Liviing in AK and HI might get you less load but no guarantee the small diesel generator supplying the grid makes good quality power.
Those who think they are running off batteries are not really. They are running of the relatively cheap inverter that came with their battery and if they put a scope on it they might be shocked at the ugly sine wave.
The only way to get a clean sine wave is to get a good regenerator. Here is the sine wave out of mine. 0.1% thd.
In my experience, it is a hit or miss proposition. I think you have to start with a serious audit of the power coming into your playback room. I live in a single family house. I had the meter pulled, made sure there was no corrosion (it's a 2004 re-do, with updates I did, of an 1880's house). The power where I am in Austin, proximate to downtown, is better than what I experienced in the lower Hudson Valley- say 20 miles north of NYC- largely due to the age of the infrastructure. That said, I took steps to make sure what power was delivered was as good as I could get it within reason. I had the main service panel gone over, replaced breakers where necessary, installed a separate sub-system for the main system which takes 60 amps from the main household service and feeds a big iso transformer via 4 gauge to the service panel next to the listening room. From there, I run dedicated 10 amp lines. This is all consistent with good practices.
I'd say relying simply on what the local power utility delivers can be hit or miss. You can be in a remote area, where there is little commerical activity and still suffer from power issues. I experienced that in two locations along the Hudson.
I'm not an advocate of "power conditioners" or "filters"-- I think you throw baby out with bath water. The large transformer probably does something, but honestly, the power here, even in close proximity to downtown Austin, is much better than what I experienced in a low density village along the Hudson River north of NY.
Part of it may be who you are sharing a transformer with. There are a couple of old apartment complexes adjacent, and I don't share power from the utility from either of them.
Here's the Iso-transformer. I am not suggesting that it is a magical solution but I like having it:
Is this a trick question?
I went from a dirty big city to a clean country and back to a clean big city. I kinda think it’s a crap shoot.
2c on transformers: a transformer induces a voltage in the secondary that theoreticaly exactly matches the primary. So the secondary is just as noisy as the primary.
I went from a dirty big city to a clean country and back to a clean big city. I kinda think it’s a crap shoot.
@nevada_matt the quality of your power with off grid solar is totally dependent on the inverter that the mass produced solar company provided. Not likely good.
105 degrees today, so just happy to have power. House was built one year ago. Area was ranches until last few years. Noisy to theater and two channel room, but that can be greatly mitigated. Should politicians be honest, then I will hope for an even less likely situation… clean power.
Antartica with refined solar battery system is any audiophile dream...not much RFI or EMI as in civilization or as in savage urban environment ...Out of blizzard day the noise level may be very low... Visitors are rare...
Bill Gates put his stereo system there...
I plan to do it very far from him...😁
The vibration is the main problem because of the shifting ice plates under you...You must pick the right spot... Far from noisy pinguins...
Acoustic embedding are the same problem as anywhere else...
But joking apart, i live in a small city with well managed electrical grid...my ONE single plug wall used only for my amplifier near the main central panel is very good... more improvement are always possible... But sometimes costs and work needed do not really compensate for the slight increase in S. Q. .. I am lucky...
«Penguins prefer their music underwater and me too in my bathtub »-- Groucho Marx 🤓
According to my PS-Audio Power Plant, my incoming AC at my audio system (Portland, OR) is typically119.5-119.7 VAC with 2.2% to 2.3% THD.
@jaytor Thanks for sharing your data. I too have a PS Audio power plant and enjoy the built in oscilloscope. I've checked my data occasionally over several years and it is always around 4.2% THD. voltage can vary from 114 to 123. I set the output to 119.5 and get .1% thd. Here is a link to the chopped sine waves of my input (same as I posted above).
California electrical grid is not the best managed. Of course, except for audiophile equipment, nobody really cares. Your hair dryer or stove will not notice the difference.
@carlsbad2 - I live less than 1/2 mi from our electrical substation which may help explain the more consistent voltage and lower THD. I don't think there are any manufacturing operations (which tend to operate large motors) very close to me. I don't think I've ever seen the voltage less than 119 or more than 120.5, so it stays pretty consistent.
I also have solar panels with an inverter connected to the grid. Not sure if that helps or hurts.
I have my power plant set for minimum THD, so my output voltage is a touch higher at 121V, but also with 0.1% THD (this is probably the lowest it will report).
Not much difference here with or without the Power Plant.
The location for clean power is not as important as how you bring it into your listening area and how separated it is from the rest of the living quarters. Another expensive endeavor, but what isn't in our hobby.
Might be a stupid question from lack of knowledge on function. All the people who are running battery power for clean low noise sources. Does the power not vary or degrade as the battery powers down? I look at a flashlight that gets dimmer and dimmer as the battery gets weaker. What am I missing here. Not being sarcastic would really like to know.
@sgreg1 Fancy modern battery power supply (like "Jackery") has regulators and complicated circuit that keeps that from happening. Because they are designed to power digital circuits, the power must be tightly regulated. But the true affect on audio is known only to the users. (I dont have one)
Seems physical infrastructure is most important. A rural location with rusty spider-web equipment that technicians have put decades of bandaid solutions on which will catch the forest on fire probably sound worse than a dense city with a new supply. Or maybe finding just the right location in the world with vintage power company gear gives you the right sound lol. possibly.
I live a few blocks from a substation in a major city. I guess it's excellent because on these heatwaves, the system turns into a $100 clock-radio. When the heatwave subsides, the 3D psychedelic rainbow returns. I can't imagine if I was stuck with that bad power ugh.
@mapman ....it does seem to verge on the edge of one, doesn’t it? ;)
I’m within .5 mi. of a major area hospital whose power consumption has to be phenomenal...so my power consumption must resemble a mosquito on the neck of Godzilla. ’Dirt level’, considering the MRIs’ and other SOTAstuff they’re running is either nil or off any conceivable chart....
That, and being in a small industrial clot, I’d assume that during the day...’blotto’.
At night, when most of my ’listening’ (serious or otherwise) is done is acceptable.
And, since I wear aids in my ears (unless ’headphoned’ and eq-corrected)....I can’t hear dog whistles or pin drop impacts either...
There’s a cell tower within 50 yards as well.....
So, class....’Yours uncoolly’ and those about here are so submerged in RFI, EMI, auto & truck ignition racket that concerns over the THD of line volts is likely the least of my concerns.....keeping the AC part of the HVAC up ’n running, Yes.
Not trying to be snarky ’bout it, y’all.... but ..🤷♂️
first define quality.
The vast majority of issues we ensure are noise related.
Noise comes nto from the service provider but from equipment operating on the grid, often right in your neighborhood. I'm talking to you air conditioner, or the millions of capacitor input power supplies not-so-gently clippng the opts off waves and delivering back emf into the power network.
So its us. And its a question of time - what hour? What day? what season?
Get a good filter. And honestly, not all equipment does an equally good job of rejecting noise.
But this is exactly my question. Some people said living away from noise-polluting sources does not guarantee a good sound - such as rural areas with terrible physical infrastructure. So I assumed majority was noise-related, but may not be true. If the power from the source is very poor, thats a problem.
First don't obsess. Second, I thought I was clear the problem is not the source. For a bunch of technical reasons I won't get into there is really no such thing as a poor source. Just pollution between the source and you. Therefore the answer is a filter. When I say filter it could be a passive filter or is one person suggested a regenerator — which is an awesome filter but carries with it lots of other problems like high source impedance.
+1. You can do something about noisy power. It is also relatively cheap and simple to improve compared to others.
How quiet your listening room is really important. If you can drop your listening room to the 20 - 30db range you give your system an enormous advantage.
Of course, you can do something about noise pollution… Moving to the country can greatly reduce this. Or spend a lot of money insulting you room and or house. But that will not reduce physical vibration which improves sound quality from components… from cars and trucks rolling by, airplanes and other urban stuff.
Then there is room geometry and acoustics. Huge impact.
There are so many variables to control. Powers just one.
A long time ago Stan Warren told me the best power he's experienced comes from living near a dam used for hydroelectric power. As long as there's water...
All the best,
I wonder how the use of smart meters impacts our power source. Unlike the old analog meters, new smart meters may not provide any surge protection and send out radio signals to the provider to measure usage multiple times per day. The radio signals may also travel through your entire electrical system. Some people have reported health issues related to the use of smart meters. I don’t know how clean my power is but I have two sub panels between my audio system and the main panel/meter.
This has little to do with what town or city you live in.
Living in a congested apartment complex in any town or city is pretty much a dead end. But, a stand-alone house with 2 dedicated lines installed (one for digital components and the other for analog components) is a pretty good start. Ditch the trash romex and spend a li’l more on the wire for those 2 dedicated lines before the electrician comes over. After that, the right type of conditioners (Audioquest Niagara and a couple of others come to mind) will do the trick.
deep_333 is spot on. Run at least one dedicated 10 awg line with shielded wire or use metal conduit to shield the wires from point to point. You rarely, if ever, see conduit in home construction. This topic is definitely something to think about if you’re building or remodeling your home. Don’t forget about running network cables.
I live in a rural area. It's free of penguins, so far but perhaps the Polar Vortex will change this.
Each home in this neighborhood of large parcels has its own transformer and the nearest sub-station is about a 15 minute walk. Line from pole to house is buried underground, for whatever that's worth.
The gear I had prior to moving to present location was mid-fi so I can't compare. What I can say is that a dealer/friend brought over one of PSA's top-tier regenerators over here and was quite surprised to hear no audible improvement, whatsoever.
On the other hand, we have the misfortune to be PG&E customers. They fail to adequately maintain their infrastructure, which results in wildfires. Paradise was levelled and our town came within a few hundred yards of suffering the same fate last year. If your only power concern is its effect on your audio system, count your blessings!