Romex and breaker switches

I did a search and have read previous posts, but I still have some questions. I had an electrician install dedicated lines in my listening room when we built our house 20 years ago. I bought simple hospital grade outlets from a big box store and did not specify the gauge of the romex or anything else. I need to clear out my dedicated listening room soon for new hardwood to be installed and figured now would be a good time to revisit and improve my dedicated lines. I have already bought a pair of Oyaide R1 duplexes and intend to have them installed side by side behind my equipment rack. My question is-is there a particular variation of 10 gauge romex that would be best? I have looked and there are quite a few variations including 10-2 and 10-3 and I have no idea what to buy or for that matter, if some other wire that would do the job and not be prohibitively expensive presents a better option. I will need a 20 foot run for each duplex. Also, can someone help me as to whether the breaker switch on my panel matters much and whether I should opt for 20A, 30A, or other? I now know that all runs from my duplexes to the panel should be to the same leg. I will make sure that happens. Any other recommendations or advice about romex/wire to use and breaker switches given my decision to go with Oyaide R1's would be most appreciated. 
Synergistic Research will sell you a spool of their treated 10 gauge Romex at very reasonable cost -- the put it through their quantum tunneling process. I got mine via Scott Walker
You don’t want to put a 30A breaker on a 20A circuit. For a 20 amp circuit 12-2 romex would be the correct gauge to use. If you use 10 gauge it will be difficult to terminate on the outlet. BTW,12-2 has a hot a neutral and a ground. A 12-3 has two hots one neutral and a ground. 10 gauge ( 30 amp ) is used for something like a clothes dryer!
Thanks to both of you for your responses. Yogiboy-the Oyaide R1 includes a specification that it will accept 10 gauge wire. I figured-perhaps wrongly-that using the lowest gauge romex or wire possible is potentially beneficial for current draw/flow. Both my amp (ARC Ref 150SE) and preamp (ARC Ref 6) draw a lot of current and for that reason presumably only accept a 20A component-side IEC.
I heard that a Synergistic Research employee fell into the Quantum Tunneling processor and wound up in Bangalore in 1932. Or at least he thinks it's 1932...
You don’t want to put a 30A breaker on a 20A circuit.
Agreed! If you are using a 20A receptacle, you want a 20A breaker.

For a 20 amp circuit 12-2 romex would be the correct gauge to use. If you use 10 gauge it will be difficult to terminate on the outlet ... 10 gauge ( 30 amp ) is used for something like a clothes dryer!
There can be advantages to using 10 gauge wire on a 20A circuit, including reducing voltage drop. It is difficult to work with, and using a pigtail into the outlet does make it easier to terminate.

It's not all optional really. You can't use a 30 amp ckt without using a specially configured receptacle. It's no longer a "t" shaped neutral prong with a straight prong hot plus ground. It's shaped differently and your equipment would be unable to connect to it. And you can use a 10 awg wire on a 20 amp ckt but you couldn't use a 12 gauge wire on a 30 amp ckt. There's no limitation to how large your wires can be no matter the ampacity of a ckt. If it were me, without a doubt I'd install a 10awg 12-2 plus isolated ground bx cable. Hell, I'd definitely install an isolation transformer in the picture too if I were running a dedicated line. That would be a bigger gain than choosing 10 vs 12 awg. Pig-tailing a 12 gauge solid to a 10awg gauge solid wire is definitely not difficult. 
Make sure when you say "dedicated"' that it means all three legs are running directly back to the box. Many electricians will share the neutral, which is legal but undesired for audio purposes. Joe
Go for the 10-3.  20 amps is more than enough.  15 amps is as well. 2 15 amp circuits is 30 X 120 =  3,600 Watts.  With a 20 foot run, the costly, cryo-treated, blah blah blah cable is simply bragging rights.  It's your money.  But get good quality breakers.  ABB is the preferred brand.  The Oxide outlets are very good.  If you want the pretty carbon fiber, super duper covers - again, your money.  Metal, brass or stainless steel works as good if not better.  Carbon fiber is resistive and won't shunt any applied energy (interference) as well.
"There can be advantages to using 10 gauge wire on a 20A circuit, including reducing voltage drop. It is difficult to work with, and using a pigtail into the outlet does make it easier to terminate."

Not only is this a Code Violation, this is a MAJOR fire hazard.
Tha ampacity of the wire cannot exceed the ampacity of the
If running multiple circuits, separate neutrals (although not
necessary} is a good idea. 

Jeff {retired electrician Local 41 IBEW}
I'm with Jeff. Run two 20 amp 12-2 lines directly from the breaker panel. Use whatever breakers your box takes Murray for Murray, etc.
Dedicate one circuit to the power amp. 

No pig tailing bigger wire to smaller. No using a 30 amp breaker - you want it to trip if there's a problem!

I heard BX painted metal flake electric blue sounds best. As long as the flakes in the paint are aligned by an electrostatic cyrocoating process.
Contact Chris at VH Audio.  He will be able to steer you in the right direction and he has all you need at his facility.
"There can be advantages to using 10 gauge wire on a 20A circuit, including reducing voltage drop. It is difficult to work with, and using a pigtail into the outlet does make it easier to terminate."

Not only is this a Code Violation, this is a MAJOR fire hazard.
Tha ampacity of the wire cannot exceed the ampacity of the
You misread what I wrote. It is certainly within code to use 10 ga. wire on a 20A circuit, which requires by definition a 20A breaker. There are large potential advantages to doing just that, and it has worked very well in my system. It is actually a fairly common practice and exceeds the NEC, which only sets minimum standards.

For your short runs I'd recommend 12-2 wire on 20 amp dedicated breakers, as others said it will be easier to attach to your outlets, and should you ever decide to switch out your outlets in the future it will be easier and lessen the possibility of damaging your AC outlet when you have to push the outlet back into the outlet box (I've been there and actually broke some high-end outlets).
In my main system, I have six dedicated outlets that are between 50 to 60-foot runs. I experimented with 12 and 10 gauge wire including cryogenically treated wire. I honestly could not detect a difference in sound or performance, however, I realize for peace of mind many will suggest 10 gauge wire and/or specially wire.
I do hear a difference with cryoed vs non-cryoed AC outlets.
@fsonicsmith - have the electrician install two seperate runs of 12-2 or 10-2 - one for each outlet.

Also if the runs have to go through studs, have the electrician drill seperate holes for each cable.

Have them position the cables at least 1.5 inches apart

The electrician will maintain it makes no sense and you should go with a single 12-3 or 10-3, but be adamant about this. 

I have tried both and two totally seperate runs of 12-2 on the same leg  as detailed above provided better sound quality than a single run 12-3 on the same leg.

I believe the improvement was due to Proximity Effect. (google it)

There are differing opinions on whether the effects of this phemonima is a real concern - some go into long winded mathamatical proofs prooving it to be of no consequence, but in my book - actual observation trumps anything else.

FYI - I used Pass and Seymour MRI plugs (no ferous materials used) - they clamp like a vice and are reasonably priced

Regards - Steve

Thanks all!
It took me a while, but I think I now fully understand the concept of the common ground in 10-3 or 12-3 wiring to be avoided. I will go with two separate runs of 12-2 and as williewonka suggests, have the electrician drill separate holes for each run and keep the runs as separated as possible. I gather that the consensus is that the quality of the breaker switches aren't likely to make SQ better?
Can someone recommend an isolation transformer that is up to the task but not drastic overkill? 
williewonka-I wish I had seen those Pass and Seymour outlets before I dropped $250 on a pair of Oyaide R1's! 
@fsonicsmith how are you planning to use an isolation transformer within your set up? 
 how are you planning to use an isolation transformer within your set up?

I was thinking that it would be mounted to a stud along my breaker panel in the basement. If it needs a shelf, one could easily be built alongside, above, or below the breaker panel. 
I can certainly endorse the Torus wall mounted transformers like the WM75BAL I have, but they’re not exactly cheap
10 gauge Romex used on robots when extreme precision is required is of exceptional quality and can be triple shielded. Would be great for your wiring. German sourced. 
It will depend more on your amps, but I would install the 10ga so that if you end up with amp(s) that are really power hungry you WILL get better sound out of them. I have four dedicated lines to my room, one for each mono amp, one for analog (pre and phono) and one for digital/mechanical (CD and TT). I let the CD and TT share since they are never used, or on, at the same time. This might be over kill, but at least with my system, I do hear a difference versus 12ga. YMMV.
Good listening,
I currently use 2 runs of 10-3 in one conduit for a distance of 38 feet. Of course you must use 20 amp breakers and receptacles.
Worting with the very stiff 10 ga, I went with surface mounted boxes. With the depth of the box in the wall cavity and the depth of the surface box, I had more than enough space to properly fold the 10 ga into the box with no damage to the receptacles.
audioslain02. It is perfectly within code to use a larger wire size, code specifies a minimum size not max. Think about it, if for example you have a long cable run of 14-2 and, doing the math you find a higher voltage drop than acceptable you would leave the breaker as is and move up a cable size to reduce the voltage drop since larger cable means less resistance.

As far as folding the cable into a standard box, larger cable is stiffer, I wouldn't recommend pigtails, I'd install a larger box to allow more room to gently fold the cable tails in.
Another question. Our living room (including / TV / surround amps / stereo system / powered subwoofer) is at the back end of our house with a peaked ceiling that does not allow for attic access, making rewiring a pain for any electrician. Our house is about 25 years old and we probably need a new breaker box as well; in truth, the whole house should be re-wired with additional circuits upstairs and down. If I wanted to add seven dedicated lines to our living room, could an electrician run the lines on the *outside* of our house and then drill through the back wall to install the separate outlets? This would involve about 50-60 foot runs from the location of our current breaker box, but would be the shortest distance from box to outlets. Our cable TV, internet and phone lines come in this way, but I don't know what the rules are for A/C. Please forgive my ignorance and thank you for your help! -Mark
Do you know Ohm’s Law?
 What voltage does an Audio Amplifier run at?
What is the Impedance of your speakers?
What would be your total (Maximum) current draw, for this circuit ( voltage )?
Then do a direct conversion from this voltage to 120 volt circuit, what is the multiplier?
What is the maximum current draw at 120 volts direct relation multiplier.

Certified Electrician work below prefered -

Stay away from big wire for 120 volt home plugs, they are not constructed physically for wire sizes over 12 gauge, no greater than 20 amps, danger!
 I’m sure that worst case scenario you would ever draw more that 13 amps at 120 volt.
Make sure all plugs are on the same buss bar in the panel, or if you do run a 20 amp circuit, wire (12/2 prefered forcing you not to have the extra hot wire to split the red and black onto seperate busses, which is a potential noise disaster), 20 amp single pole Breaker and 20 amp 120 volt plug ( or plugs as you can configure 2 duplex 20 amp plugs on the same 12/2 wire and 20 amp single pole breaker).
 Ground loop hum could be a disaster negating any benefits to having all this powerful equipment. Can be caused by cable satelite or cable TV coax, all those multi switch and amplified devices should be on the same bus also. Your cable company or satalite dealer will supply you with a coax ground isolation device, as this is most times the main culprit for audio system noise.
 Stranded copper not required ( or allowed most times) for 60 hz electrical wire.
Audio circuit conversion done by your amplifier creates the frequencies needed for audio so stranded wire for skin effect at these various frequencies is probably a good idea. ( more conductor surface area). Depending on the frequency electrical elements travel on the surface of the wire only.
Why would you want seven dedicated lines in one room? Your house probably has 200 amp service. If you do that it doesn’t leave much for the rest of your home. You can run the AC lines outside using a conduit to protect the wires from damage!


Why would you want seven dedicated lines in one room?
Because there are advantages to dedicated lines.

Your house probably has 200 amp service. If you do that it doesn’t leave much for the rest of your home.
It doesn’t work that way. A 20A line will only deliver 20A if that’s the load placed on it. In any event, having 200A service doesn’t mean your utility can actually provide 200A and - in many cases - it won’t. You’d need to perform a "beast of burden" test to be sure.
That makes no sense to dedicate one room with seven dedicated lines. How many circuit breakers will be left for the rest of the house? Not many!
That makes no sense to dedicate one room with seven dedicated lines. How many circuit breakers will be left for the rest of the house?
You can have as many breakers for the rest of the house as you like. If there aren't enough spaces in your panel, you can get a larger panel, or install a sub-panel.

+1 yogiboy
Why would anyone need 7 dedicated lines in one room? That is ridiculous!
I use 8 gauge teminating in a surface L5-20R. Plug is a L5-20L with 8 gauge to box with 4x20amp receptacles. 20A breaker.

Why would anyone need 7 dedicated lines in one room? That is ridiculous!
I am asking out of ignorance and respectfully seeking advice from those with experience installing dedicated lines to improve sound performance. I warmly welcome constructive criticism, but telling me something is ridiculous doesn't help much without explaining why or suggesting what I should do instead.

I suspect the builder of our modest two-storey house probably installed the minimum number of circuits. So, for instance, on the single circuit for our living room, we're running a MicroSun floor lamp, the blower for the gas fireplace insert, a single 18" Velodyne subwoofer, a 65" Samsung plasma television, a Tivo DVR from our cable provider, an Onkyo receiver used as a surround preamp, a Muse Model 100 amp for the large Tannoy center channel speaker on which the TV sits, and an Acurus A150 for the two surround speakers (yet to be installed). In addition, the same circuit powers our current primary stereo: a Wadia 781 CD player, an Audio Research LS-15 (tubed line-level) preamp and a beefy Levinson 431 amp driving Genesis III full-range floor-standing speakers, which also serve as the main L/R for surround sound. We utilize a couple of power conditioners to protect and provide more outlets, one in the main stack and one one in the surround stack. When we hook up the surround L/R signal to the main system via the LS-15, is there any surprise that we pick up a low-level 60 Hz hum? The result is that we rarely use the surround system and utilize the primary stereo for listening only to music. We have about 2,000 CDs, roughly 95% of which are classical music.

The primary system sounds glorious, especially with well-recorded CDs. At an average cost to us of about $17 per CD over the past three decades of collecting, our goal has been to make them sound as good as possible. Our main system is sometimes too revealing of the original source, so we have a second system in our bedroom upstairs that is more forgiving: again, a Wadia CD, Audio Research preamp and a Levinson amp driving a pair of ProAc EBS speakers. The older British ProAcs provide no imaging at all but fill the room with beautiful music, no matter how limited the original recording. I suspect this is due to roll-off at higher frequencies, where 20- to 30-year old CDs can sometimes sound shrill and artificial.

Back on topic, if I have my house's wiring replaced (or even just add several new lines), I'd expect to get a new, much larger panel to accommodate the dedicated outlets, not only for the living room but possibly for two or three other rooms as well, as there is too much load on the existing circuits. Our old panel is getting rusty, and the breakers are available to anyone who walks up our driveway and around the corner of the garage. My main questions are whether it is legal and practical to run dedicated lines for the living room on the *outside* of the house (where there is no attic access), whether each outside line would require its own metal or PVC tubing from the new panel, and how many dedicated lines I actually need, given the above components and considerations. What should have its own dedicated line and why?

Thank you to everyone for your help and advice. I'm always amazed by and grateful for the depth of knowledge and generosity of the Audiogon community.

With kind regards,

Mark Hubbard
Thank you for your PM, Larry, and thanks as well to everyone for your suggestions!
The average home theater / stereo is going to need 1-2 dedicated circuits. These are usually 12 gauge with 20 amp outlets.

One each dedicated circuit, you can install several receptacles for equipment.

Each circuit run with Romex will have it's own dedicated ground and dedicated neutral as part of the Romex. Sharing neutrals / grounds is really not compliant with modern NEC...

If the power is wired correctly, there is no need for 7 dedicated circuits, 10 gauge wire...30 amp breakers...
This is all over the cliff, I mean seriously.

Are you listening to a stereo?...or...
are you arc welding?

Dear Forum;

I'm in the same process of adding a single dedicated line.  

I know there have been some posts on this subject, specific to Cryo treated Romex.   I understand there are some knowledge forum users on the subject of power and electrical wiring and I wanted to ask the forum a couple of things based on my extensive reading, because there were a couple of things I was not able to determine.


The electrical line to my analog audio system, support several receptacles and powers several other items. My goal is to run a dedicated electrical line to my audio system to 1) reduce the load on this line and breaker, and 2) by running a dedicated line to my audio system and removing the connection to other receptacles, I can improve electrical noise (?) and improve sound quality.  


I have an electrician to do the work and will need to run a dedicated line from a arc protector type (upgraded) breaker – one slot left in box, approx.. 45 feet to a PS Audio Receptacle.   I currently have plugged into this receptacle, a Furman 15pfi power conditioner.


Based on my extensive readings here and other forums, my understanding is that Cryo treated Romex inherently affects the sound quality (even after burn in), and there is much debate about this and it seems mostly about preferences. Some say it collapses the soundstage in favor of detail. Please, this post is not about the differences of Cryo treated Romex. I have made the decision to NOT install Cryo Romex, as I feel there are other areas to improve sound quality, staging, etc.. etc. and I have already done so. Again, the goal is to reduce the load on this single line/breaker and hopefully improve sound quality by isolating it.   

I cannot find any information on Synergistic Research website on their Romex.

My question is this: Is it better to run a 12/3 gauge Romex and use one of the sheathed or covered wires as the ground? From what I have read, this seems to be important. I read that it helps with noise and grounding. Or is it more important, or better, to use a 10/2 gauge Romex with the unsheathed or uncovered Ground wire? I may not be able to fit or run a 10/3 Romex with sheathed wire to be used as ground.

Also, should I be installing a 20 amp breaker? The PS Audio receptacle supports 15 or 20 amps. I believe I can still use the Furman 15pfi on this line, correct? This just improves the current flow?

Thank in advance for your input.

Post removed 
My home is all-electric, and the two-channel stereo system is in the living room, along with various lighting fixtures, the alarm system  and leads to outdoor lighting.  I had an auxiliary circuit breaker panel installed off the main panel and had the electrician run a separate 20 amp circuit for my Bryston 4BSST2 amplifier, and a 15 amp circuit for the pre-amp, CD  spinner, DAC, Stax headphone amplifier and FM tuner. These units are plugged into one power strip to ensure polarity and eliminate hum.   BTW: You should get a licensed electrician to do the work and have a code inspector sign off; otherwise your home fire insurance might be void. 
Thanks all;
Brayeagle, are you saying you had two separate lines ran from two circuit breakers to the stereo area?  And when you say "these" units are plugged into one power strip, do you mean all the components except the amp?
Yes, two separate lines, each from a circuit breaker. The 20 amp is for the 4B amplifier, the 15 amp is for the remainder.

The power strip is plugged into the 15 amp line. 
Do not listen to what Chaz said about electrical code. He clearly doesn’t know what he is talking about- for instance, stranded wire, otherwise known as THHN, is run almost exclusively in EMT metal conduit for commercial and industrial applications in North America, which is exclusively 60Hz.  Stranded wire is used for dryer cable, stove cable, 6AWG cable for hot tubs and subpanels, and then there are service conductors. 

Also, do not listen to anyone who tells you to use 12/3 or 14/3 or any Romex or BX 3 conductor cable for common neutral and two hots on the same leg. That is a fire hazard and is against all electrical codes. Shared neutral is permitted in split phase when the hot conductors are wired to opposite legs. That is because the neutral return current is 180 degrees out of phase between the two hot conductors, which reduces loading on the neutral when both circuits are loaded with similar loads. This works best with lighting on both legs. Don’t try putting a clothes washer on one leg and your lighting on the other unless you want to replace lightbulbs every month. 

Bottom line is that you should only make changes to your electrical system if you are qualified. Otherwise, pay a licenced electrician to do the job right, and get permits for the work and have it inspected by the proper electrical safety authority.  
I agree with sleepwalker65.  The last paragraph in his post is worth repeating for those of us who are NOT licensed electricians. 

DIY electrical wiring isn't for amateurs.

- - George