By Ross Whitney – Technical Sales and Support for Torus Power
There are many myths about electrical power and how it can affect audio and video systems. Today we will look at three of the most pervasive myths.
The first myth is the most important one because if you believe it and follow it you could die.
People who ought to know better (but don’t) position themselves as experts, on the Internet and elsewhere, and spew forth advice like:
“…buy ground lift adapters that disconnect the grounding pin from the power cord of each piece of equipment. However, one device must be grounded properly. In my studio I have ground lifters on everything except my main mixer. The entire system is grounded through the audio wire shields that connect to the mixer, but only the mixer is connected to the power line’s ground through the third grounding pin of its power cord.”
“There is no safety issue with removing the ground pin from the power cable…because the amp is grounded through the TV or Avr (whatever unit it is physically connected to that has a ground pin).”
“…some…offerings…have removable ground pins. This feature does away with the need for the cheater and keep the audiophile nature of the better power cord intact.”
Here is the reality as expressed clearly and eloquently by Rod Elliott of Elliott Sound Products in Australia:
“It is not uncommon to see hi-fi equipment with the earth (ground) disconnected from one piece of equipment or another, usually to prevent a hum loop which ruins the listening experience. However, there is nothing quite like being electrocuted to really ruin the experience should something go wrong!Remove featured image
First, a quick word on electrocution. It is not fun, and electricity kills a great many people worldwide every year. A current of 50mA (barely enough to make a low wattage lamp even glow) is sufficient to send your heart into a state called ‘ventricular fibrillation’, where the heart muscles are all working out of synchronisation with each other. Little or no blood is pumped, and you will die within about 3 minutes unless help is immediately at hand.
Sometimes (but less often), your heart will simply stop. If this happens, it is possible that with external heart massage that it might re-start, and occasionally it might even re-start by itself – rare, but it can happen. The result of fatal electrocution is that you will no longer be able to enjoy the hi-fi that you have spent so much time and money putting together, and all other earthly activities are similarly curtailed.”
The second myth goes something like this: “Why should I need any external power product?
My amp (preamp/processor/source/display) has perfectly good noise filtering built right in.” The reality is not that simple. Noise filtration is only one aspect of power management. A full-featured power product also offers total isolation from the electrical grid, high instantaneous current delivery capabilities, surge protection and automatic voltage regulation. Consider surge protection for a moment. Power surges/transients/spikes can damage or even destroy your valuable equipment. It is extremely rare for an audio or video component to include even the most rudimentary form of surge protection so it’s up to the user to provide effective protection.
The third myth can be stated very simply: “All power products are pretty well the same.”
Let’s start with a quote from a friend. Arthur Kelm is the VP of engineering at Capitol Studios in Hollywood and a leading authority on power, grounding and noise. In an interview in Mix Magazine in 2009 Arthur had this to say:
“…to me an isolation transformer is mandatory.”
So all it takes to reduce or eliminate noise in an AV system is an isolation transformer, right? Well, not quite. A wise person once said a picture is worth a thousand words. Have a look:
Curve A shows attenuation against frequency for a standard Toroidal Isolation transformer.
Curve B shows the improved reduction in noise and interference using balanced (also known as symmetrical or technical) power.
Curve C shows a further improvement when the standard Toroidal Isolation transformer is combined with an external EMI/RFI filter.
So how, you may ask, do these three myths relate to Torus Power products? In the case of myth number one, when every piece of equipment in your system is connected to a single Torus Power unit, each piece of equipment has an identical ground reference, resulting in the virtual elimination of those pesky ground loops. No need for cheaters or snipping ground pins – ever.
Myth number two says that a quality component will have noise filtration built in. Maybe so, but does the component offer protection from catastrophic power disturbances?
Every Torus Power product offers at least one surge suppression circuit. You read right – some Torus Power models are available with two different types of surge suppression for a full extra layer of protection for your valuable gear.
The third myth, that all isolation transformers are just about the same, is dispelled by the above graph and has been further laid to rest by hundreds and hundreds of satisfied Torus Power customers. NBT’s superior noise and interference handling coupled with Torus Power’s complete isolation from the power grid, high instantaneous power capabilities and solid surge suppression all combine to form the two strong pillars of performance and protection that put Torus Power in a class by itself.