Symptoms of UN-CLEAN power

When talking about CLEAN POWER, what SYMPTOMS or effects are caused by DIRTY or UN-CLEAN power? 


My take on symptoms of 'Dirty power'.


RFI - Harsh sound, Grey background, Sounds that blur with each other. 

EMI - Weak & untight Bass, Small stereo image. Missing the Boogie Factor

Leakage currents - short decay of sounds, obstructed sound (can be minimized with correct phasing of equipment)

Too much shielding - splash sounds on cymbals, congested & choked sound

DC - Missing Oomph, Tiny bit of distortion on the transients. General lack of naturalness. Bassdrum that sounds like 'Bonk' instead of 'Bup'

General observation: More capacitance = less high, More induction = less bass.


Love to hear other peoples descriptions.


Dirty power = Electrical noise (hash) = Distortion in the audio signal.

  • Not hiss or hum.

_ _ _ _ _ 


Symptoms of distortion from noisy AC power:



- High notes are ‘etched’ or ‘hard’.

- A vocalist’s voice sounds ‘grainy’ - and/or – has glare when belting out high notes.

- A violin sounds too strident. No tone or timbre. No delicacy.

- The high notes on a piano ‘ring’ unnaturally.

- Cymbals don’t shimmer, they crash.

- Unable to discern individual stringed sections in orchestral music.

- The instruments in a crescendo from an orchestra become confused - indistinct.

- Poor extension. Instead of feathering off into airiness, the notes might truncate.

+ much more



- An acoustic guitar - or piano - seems to have too much harmonics - more than the real thing. It might sound pleasing – but, not true.

- A horn or woodwind sounds too diffuse or bloomy – more than the real thing. In other words, the notes of the instruments have a fuzziness around the edges. There should be a solidity & transparency.

- Unable to determine if an acoustic guitar has nylon or steel strings.

- A vocalists voice sounds electronic – not natural.

+ much more



- Bass is a one-note thump.

- Bass is not tight – too diffuse or boomy.

- Unable to discern tone or timbre in the bass.

- Poor extension. Instead of feathering off, the notes might truncate.

- Difficult to follow the bass line. For both stringed instruments and drums.

- Unable to discern individual bass sections in orchestral music.

- Unable to discern bass riffs in orchestral music – while the full 96 piece ensemble is playing.

+ much more

_ _ _ _ _ _

Black background:

- Lower noise floor.

- Ability to easily discern nuance.

_ _ _ _ _

Some of the above symptoms may also be the result of poor room acoustics – or poor synergy between component/component – component/cabling.


VERY interesting reading sofar. 

Before looking for solutions, is it recommended to first find out what TYPE of 'dirt' my power carries so I can select the right remedy?

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The remedy for dirty power is depending on a) the time of the day b) your system itself (they are noise generators themselves and cross contaminate throught the grid) c) the rest of your household equipment d) tha hood you are livin in. If you have a lot of wall warts and computers for example on the same spur as your stereo, you can start with placing them on a separate spur and filter them also. They are spitting out a lot of RFI and harmonics. Clean power is not a one stop solution. A good filtered power bar with DC correction will do wonders. But don’t forget good quality cables and connectors, cable dressing (separation) and correct phasing of your equipment as a starter.


Dirty power can be better described as suboptimal power. The quality of the power supplies in every system vary. So some, people hear great differences, some will hear improvements in de last %.  Some power supplies have better noise blocking capabilities and filtering qualities when rectifying AC to DC. I don't believe in golden ears BTW. Maybe there is a difference in sensitivity of one's hearing capabilities but mostly it is experience.