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Isolation Transformer builds
Old 18th July 2019
  #1
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deuc647's Avatar
Isolation Transformer builds

Hey all, I was wondering how many of you all have built or installed isolation transformers to either get zero out line noise or deal with problems in ur lines? Im about to install a couple cryo treated power lines and just thinking about either building one out or buying one. I really am looking for that super black background to make music with. So who has em, wants em or have any ideas or schematics or recommendations on this? Thanks guys.
Old 19th July 2019
  #2
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I'm not an expert on the subject, but I do use the furman IT 1220's at least to cut back on line hum. It seems impossible to wire a rack where there are really never any power cables that aren't that close to line cables...let alone getting a band all miked up and plugged in.

That said, I doubt if a transformer alone will take out any issues that are upstream in the line. It will just flip them two balanced and then back again no?

I've heard some people say good things about AC regenerating UPS's, but don't have any experience. With so many things going to SMPS, I wonder how much it matters beyond power line and cable crosstalk.
Old 19th July 2019
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanC View Post
I'm not an expert on the subject, but I do use the furman IT 1220's at least to cut back on line hum. It seems impossible to wire a rack where there are really never any power cables that aren't that close to line cables...let alone getting a band all miked up and plugged in.

That said, I doubt if a transformer alone will take out any issues that are upstream in the line. It will just flip them two balanced and then back again no?

I've heard some people say good things about AC regenerating UPS's, but don't have any experience. With so many things going to SMPS, I wonder how much it matters beyond power line and cable crosstalk.
Im no expert on this either Ryan, from what ive read, balancing power will cancel out noise just like nulling does in a daw. But thats just what i read. Regeneration is probably the cleanest cuz its a pure sine wave of power, but can get expensive fast. i have a Monster AVS 2000 and i know it does work but I do lose some high end in it, being music oriented and not an audiophile, I can add high end back in via EQ so i think im trying to get the blackest background so I have a perfect canvas to print on, where reverbs sound endless and delays are infinite. This has pushed me to try some very odd approaches to my set up like cryogenically treated 10 awg thhn lines and furutech outlets.
Old 21st July 2019
  #4
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
Great thread subject. I do not have a balanced power isolation transformer box at the moment but I’m set up to incorporate one. Plan is one of the 220v Furmans, then feed the smaller Furmans I have off it. I’m OTB and and have internally Star ground my console and made it the central hub with all other gear being grounded back to it. I shorten AC lines coming from gear and route them away from audio lines coming in. I’ve never measured my noise floor, I just know I can put everything at unity gain and bring up the monitor mix into the ear bleed realm and it’s nice clean hiss. It wasn’t always that way. If I put the monitor mix at a normal listening setting there isn’t much to hear. Some wouldn’t even know the system was on if they came in the room. Building a new power supply for the console made a huge difference also. Have the console more headroom. It use to crap out when I pushed levels into the red and now it just keeps sounding better the harder I push it. I’ve considered changing the VU reference levels to +6 rather than +4 because of this.
Old 22nd July 2019
  #5
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Im still lost on the whole star grounding thing, thats something i need to look up and research more. Im sending the wire off this week to be cryo treated and itll be back in a 5 days, after that it should take a day to install, hopefully ill hear some difference and be happy with it, but if not, im gonna have to get a transformer and get to building a 10 outlet unit.
Old 22nd July 2019
  #6
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deuc647 View Post
Im still lost on the whole star grounding thing, thats something i need to look up and research more. Im sending the wire off this week to be cryo treated and itll be back in a 5 days, after that it should take a day to install, hopefully ill hear some difference and be happy with it, but if not, im gonna have to get a transformer and get to building a 10 outlet unit.
I know what cryo treating is, but give me the short version of how it helps with noise floor. And your referencing a wire. Are you running it to a grounding rod?

In my old studio I had a 10ft grounding rod right outside my studio. I had a single solid copper wire from the rod to the console. I put a bus bar on the back of the console. Then every rack and piece of gear made its way back to the bus bar via a solid copper ground. This helps to give every piece of gear the same ground reference. It worked great. No lifted shields on AC power cables or audio cables. I never had ground loop issues. I’m about to do it again in my new room. I have an exterior wall so it should be easy. Also, the panel is on this wall so I can run a 220v home run to the room and put a Furman isolation transformer/power conditioner in the room. Should quiet things down even more.
Old 22nd July 2019
  #7
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deuc647's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian M. Boykin View Post
I know what cryo treating is, but give me the short version of how it helps with noise floor. And your referencing a wire. Are you running it to a grounding rod?

In my old studio I had a 10ft grounding rod right outside my studio. I had a single solid copper wire from the rod to the console. I put a bus bar on the back of the console. Then every rack and piece of gear made its way back to the bus bar via a solid copper ground. This helps to give every piece of gear the same ground reference. It worked great. No lifted shields on AC power cables or audio cables. I never had ground loop issues. I’m about to do it again in my new room. I have an exterior wall so it should be easy. Also, the panel is on this wall so I can run a 220v home run to the room and put a Furman isolation transformer/power conditioner in the room. Should quiet things down even more.
From what ive read, so that this is a BIG ASS GRAIN OF SALT, it makes the molecular structure more uniform and a better conductor. The twisting of the wire is what cancels out the noise "supposedly". Im doing the cryo treated 10 awg stranded thhn wire because it doesnt cost that much to try out($150). Will it work? Who knows, im just going the audiophile way to see if it brings any improvement to a studio scenario. Same with the furutech GTX-D ncr receptacles, 280 each but what if it brings a significant gain to my area? If not, its only 560 im out, ive wasted more on a month supply on alcohol lol. Im just exploring all ends, the bad thing is i cant just if the home run to the breaker box is going to have the most gain or the cryo wires.

your star grounding sounds legit, i wish I could run a rod on the outside wall, but i got the sides of my house with stamped cement last summer. One thought ive ran into is what if all this cryo wire and expensive outlets is off set by an isolation transformer? Im really looking at the isolation transformer very very closely right now.
Old 22nd July 2019
  #8
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deuc647 View Post
From what ive read, so that this is a BIG ASS GRAIN OF SALT, it makes the molecular structure more uniform and a better conductor. The twisting of the wire is what cancels out the noise "supposedly". Im doing the cryo treated 10 awg stranded thhn wire because it doesnt cost that much to try out($150). Will it work? Who knows, im just going the audiophile way to see if it brings any improvement to a studio scenario. Same with the furutech GTX-D ncr receptacles, 280 each but what if it brings a significant gain to my area? If not, its only 560 im out, ive wasted more on a month supply on alcohol lol. Im just exploring all ends, the bad thing is i cant just if the home run to the breaker box is going to have the most gain or the cryo wires.

your star grounding sounds legit, i wish I could run a rod on the outside wall, but i got the sides of my house with stamped cement last summer. One thought ive ran into is what if all this cryo wire and expensive outlets is off set by an isolation transformer? Im really looking at the isolation transformer very very closely right now.
The isolation transformer works the same as an audio isolation transformer. Used to break the physical pathway and lose the noise. Cryogenics is used to make metals stronger. Not sure if it makes them conduct better. I’m not sure twisting AC lines will cancel noise. It’s a hot and a neutral (Black/White) and a ground. The neutral is the return to ground. I’m not an expert but I don’t think the hot and neutral get combined like a high and low in audio. Or I’ve got this concept totally wrong. Guess I’ll consult with Mr Google.
Old 22nd July 2019
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian M. Boykin View Post
The isolation transformer works the same as an audio isolation transformer. Used to break the physical pathway and lose the noise. Cryogenics is used to make metals stronger. Not sure if it makes them conduct better. I’m not sure twisting AC lines will cancel noise. It’s a hot and a neutral (Black/White) and a ground. The neutral is the return to ground. I’m not an expert but I don’t think the hot and neutral get combined like a high and low in audio. Or I’ve got this concept totally wrong. Guess I’ll consult with Mr Google.
The twisting of the wire is supposed cancel magnetic field omitted. Also that running the ground the opposite way does something too. Like i said man this is all audiophile stuff that im gonna take in to consideration to see what really happens. If it works ill be happy, if not, i wont be out much, but the isolation transformer is definitely going in to play.
Old 23rd July 2019
  #10
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Quote:
Like i said man this is all audiophile stuff that im gonna take in to consideration
Beware of the audiophile world! There's so much snake oil for sale over there, that I'm surprised there are any snakes left on plane Earth! I think the audiophile cable vendors alone go through thousands of gallons of snake oil, every day...

In other words, what you have been told simply is not true: freezing your wire won't make it conduct better, nor will it make it any "quieter", nor will it help to cancel noise. And no, twisting power cable conductors will not cancel out noise, the way it does in UTP or balanced audio cables. It helps a bit with some forms of interference, yes, but not hugely, and you'd never notice the difference in a studio. You could run flat parallel cables, or grossly twisted cables, and you'd never, ever be able to hear even a slight difference.

What is important in studio power, as others have pointed out, is good low resistance grounding, star grounding, and power conditioning. The best form of power conditioning that really works well, is a proper full-time on-line sine-wave UPS. But that's a lot of dollars! If you live in an area with lousy power where the voltage is all over the place, then a simple power conditioner that automatically switches taps might be an option, but the ones that do it fast enough and cleanly enough for a studio are also pricey. Third best is an ordinary isolation transform, which is what you are doing. But it seems that you intend to wind it yourself? Are you qualified to do that? Do you understand what is involved in getting it right and doing it safely? Do you understand all about current, voltage, resistance, impedance, capacitance, inductance, reactance, magnetic flux, eddy current losses, phase, frequency, power, energy, and all the rest of basic electrical theory? Do you realize the consequences of changing the impedance of your power supply which is what you will be doing? How did you calculate the diameter or your wires on the input and output side? Etc. If you didn't understand an of the terms above to the point where you could write about the relevant equations from memory, then you probably should not be trying to wind your own electrical transformer... Just go out and buy one, from a reputable manufacturer.... one who does NOT supply to the audiophile community...

- Stuart -
Old 23rd July 2019
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian M. Boykin View Post
The isolation transformer works the same as an audio isolation transformer. Used to break the physical pathway and lose the noise. Cryogenics is used to make metals stronger. Not sure if it makes them conduct better. I’m not sure twisting AC lines will cancel noise. It’s a hot and a neutral (Black/White) and a ground. The neutral is the return to ground. I’m not an expert but I don’t think the hot and neutral get combined like a high and low in audio. Or I’ve got this concept totally wrong. Guess I’ll consult with Mr Google.
Twist does reduce noise in data lines...my understanding is that is the difference between Cat5 6 6a and Cat7. higher twist. Those are super high frequencies though...
Old 23rd July 2019
  #12
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deuc647's Avatar
Hey Stuart, im definitely not gonna wind the transformer myself at all, im leaving that to Toroid out of Maryland. Ill just wire it up simple style with some x rated caps on the receptacles. Ur probably right about the cryo wiring, but its 150, its nothing to lose right now. Ill just get it done and move forward with it, its still a long process, and i know about audiophile snake oil, it cant be some weird **** going on there
Old 23rd July 2019
  #13
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First on cyro treating wires and cables:
While there may be a small measurable difference, as soon as the wire is handled or flexed that small difference disappears.

* * * * * * * * *
There can be advantages to large (3 to 5kV) Isolation Transformers wired as Separately Derived Systems.
This Middle Atlantic white paper has all the info:

"Integrating Electronic Equipment and Power into Rack Enclosures"
'Optimized Power Distribution and Grounding for Audio, Video and Electronic Systems'
https://www.middleatlantic.com/resou...te-papers.aspx
Old 23rd July 2019
  #14
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Originally Posted by Speedskater View Post
First on cyro treating wires and cables:
While there may be a small measurable difference, as soon as the wire is handled or flexed that small difference disappears.
Ive read this more than once, should I even do it then? That is a decision i need to make now because I have the conduit and 10 stranded thhn already in hand, was just waiting on payday to send it off, if not i cant put all the wiring int the conduit and get to putting the dedicated lines in this weekend.
Old 24th July 2019
  #15
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Quote:
Beware of the audiophile world! There's so much snake oil for sale over there, that I'm surprised there are any snakes left on plane Earth! I think the audiophile cable vendors alone go through thousands of gallons of snake oil, every day...
Indeed. Instead of $280 receptacles, the OP should just buy $14 hospital grade receptacles and spend the money saved on more recording gear. Same with $32/LF power cable versus the much less expensive MC cable and Romex. Installed properly, the latter two wiring methods are just fine.

Quote:
In my old studio I had a 10ft grounding rod right outside my studio. I had a single solid copper wire from the rod to the console.
In America that's a code violation and a safety issue. Here if you just use a code-compliant star ground, your system grounding should be fine.
Old 24th July 2019
  #16
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Quote:
Ive read this more than once, should I even do it then?
I consider it a waste of your hard-earned money.
Old 24th July 2019
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle View Post
I consider it a waste of your hard-earned money.
Absolutely. Totally agree.

- Stuart -
Old 24th July 2019
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle View Post
In America that's a code violation and a safety issue. Here if you just use a code-compliant star ground, your system grounding should be fine.
Huh, I’m in Texas and did it upon the advice of an electrician and local codes. It’s in conjunction with regular code based wiring and not in place of. It’s an extra ground. No grounds are lifted what so ever anywhere. I’m currently adding new cables to some of my gear that do not have 3 prong cables with a ground lug and I recently bought some La4’s that the grounds lugs were cut off, so I’m replacing them also. I’ve always been able to solve ground issues by fixing the gear correctly and not lifting grounds. Learned this two ways, first one was an article by Eddie Caletti about star grounding a Soundcraft 200b. Theory is, you can’t have too much ground. The bigger the better because it drives the reference closer to 0 which is what you want. Second way was, I’m a fire fighter (which is also why I don’t lift grounds and follow codes) and I was standing in an AT&T sub station in the middle of San Antonio Tx one day and they had huge copper beams running through the ceiling that every piece of gear in the building was grounded to. A star grounding scheme from hell. So that one ground wire from the rod to console is big, and makes the console the reference hub of the rest of the studio. It works.

Side note, another trick my electrician friend taught me is to “water” the grounding rod. It get dry here in Tx, so you just water the rod like it’s a plant. Makes the rod ground to literal earth better.

Side note, that studio had a metal roof, so we grounded the roof to make a faraday cage so to speak. Just some extra protection.

Ground is your friend and the goal should be to get every piece of gear referenced to the same ground potential.
Old 24th July 2019
  #19
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deuc647's Avatar
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Originally Posted by Seattle View Post
I consider it a waste of your hard-earned money.
Ur probably right, ill just go ahead and get the wiring installed this weekend and skip the cryo parts. Ground for me is a hard one to conquer due to the stamped concrete around the main panel, is there anyway of getting around this?
Old 24th July 2019
  #20
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
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Originally Posted by deuc647 View Post
Ur probably right, ill just go ahead and get the wiring installed this weekend and skip the cryo parts. Ground for me is a hard one to conquer due to the stamped concrete around the main panel, is there anyway of getting around this?
Are running an entirely new circuit from the panel? The panel should already be grounded to a grounding rod. That may be enough. Also, if your audio gear is plugged into outlets on different circuits making sure the circuits are in phase and on the same leg in the panel can help. Also, putting all other circuits for that room on the other leg can help. This requires moving circuit breakers around so consult an electrician.
Old 24th July 2019
  #21
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Originally Posted by Brian M. Boykin View Post
Are running an entirely new circuit from the panel? The panel should already be grounded to a grounding rod. That may be enough. Also, if your audio gear is plugged into outlets on different circuits making sure the circuits are in phase and on the same leg in the panel can help. Also, putting all other circuits for that room on the other leg can help. This requires moving circuit breakers around so consult an electrician.
Same panel, yeah i was planning on moving things around because i have a dryer breaker on the side my dedicated outlets are going. This is the main panel so im just hoping it was grounded properly(same panel new circuit), no that i have any issues with grounding except for my MPC, but I was looking for that super black background. That is what led me to the whole audiophile type installations, but i think a simple isolation transformer with the dedicated circuits should be enough. Ill make sure the breakers are on the same phase also. Just looking to tighten up on as much as i can.
Old 29th July 2019
  #22
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The ground rod connection to Planet Earth has nothing to do with day-to-day AC power quality. It's there for safety during thunderstorms, high voltage power company problems and to keep the Neutral potential low. It should only be connected to the main breaker panel. Due whatever the electrician and inspector. Do NOT add other ground rods connected to other points!
Old 29th July 2019
  #23
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on wiring:

a] If you are going with romex, use real Southwire brand Romex®. It's well worth the cost difference. And one step oversize is always a good plan.

b] If you are going with THHN in conduit. Twist the Hot & Neutral together with the Safety Ground next to the pair. You should use about the same lengths of Hot, Neutral and Safety Ground THHN wire. If the lengths are much different, you wired something wrong.

c] On Isolated Ground Receptacles, they are only useful in metal conduit systems (and metal wall framed building). They serve no purpose in Romex® or plastic conduit systems.

d] There is always confusion between the Safety Ground and Planet Earth ground systems. (as in post #18 )
Old 29th July 2019
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedskater View Post
on wiring:

a] If you are going with romex, use real Southwire brand Romex®. It's well worth the cost difference. And one step oversize is always a good plan.

b] If you are going with THHN in conduit. Twist the Hot & Neutral together with the Safety Ground next to the pair. You should use about the same lengths of Hot, Neutral and Safety Ground THHN wire. If the lengths are much different, you wired something wrong.

c] On Isolated Ground Receptacles, they are only useful in metal conduit systems (and metal wall framed building). They serve no purpose in Romex® or plastic conduit systems.

d] There is always confusion between the Safety Ground and Planet Earth ground systems. (as in post #18 )
I went B, bought 10 awg THHN and got 1/2 metal conduit. Actually going to twist the pairs at work cuz we have a 100 foot straight shot that will be easier to pull the wire thru the conduit. I decide not to go with the cryo wires and just use the money for something else. I was hooking everything yesterday and was tired of spending on small stuff instead of making music.
Old 30th July 2019
  #25
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedskater View Post

d] There is always confusion between the Safety Ground and Planet Earth ground systems. (as in post #18 )
This is what I meant. First paragraph describes what my intent was whether I explained it correctly or not. This has been applied to consoles and entire studios (including mine) to provide a single 0 reference point for all gear to reference and lower the noise floor. I don’t have hum or noise and I have never lifted the shield on the A/C electrical line of a piece of gear or lifted the shield at one end of an audio cable.

https://www.tangible-technology.com/articles/200b.html
Old 30th July 2019
  #26
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This is a problem part of post #18 :
Side note, another trick my electrician friend taught me is to “water” the grounding rod. It get dry here in Tx, so you just water the rod like it’s a plant. Makes the rod ground to literal earth better.
The ground rod has nothing to do with the Safety Ground system.
Old 30th July 2019
  #27
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Quote:
Do NOT add other ground rods connected to other points!
I was trying to say the same thing @15. There is such a thing as multi-point ground systems, but that's not what the OP is describing.
Old 30th July 2019
  #28
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedskater View Post
This is a problem part of post #18 :
Side note, another trick my electrician friend taught me is to “water” the grounding rod. It get dry here in Tx, so you just water the rod like it’s a plant. Makes the rod ground to literal earth better.
The ground rod has nothing to do with the Safety Ground system.
I’m saying this respectfully and not being an a$$, the ground (as in earth/dirt) gets so dry here in the summer during drought grounding rods do not make adequate contact with the actual ground. The ground/earth shrinks and separates so much you can almost pull the rod out of the ground. We have severe foundations problems as well with cracks forming in walls and tiles in floor cracking. In order for a grounding rod to be functional it has to be in contact with the ground. That’s all I meant by that. If you live in climates where the ground/earth is sufficiently wet then this is not a problem.
Old 30th July 2019
  #29
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle View Post
I was trying to say the same thing @15. There is such a thing as multi-point ground systems, but that's not what the OP is describing.
I’ll reread my post but I don’t think I was trying to tell him how to do what he wanted to do, I think I was telling him what I did in my situation that worked. An alternative. Star grounding is an age old studio grounding scheme that works. I’ve never heard of, and I’m having a hard time grasping, whatever it is ya’ll are talking about. In audio, twisted pairs are out of phase with each other and the low is inverted by an op amp and then combined with the original signal and the noise is canceled out. This is not how traditional alternating current works. Please post a link so I can read up on this. I will be running a dedicated “home run” to my studio to power it soon and if the risk benefit is worth it I’ll do it. I’ve just never hear of such a thing, however, I’m interested.
Old 30th July 2019
  #30
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deuc647's Avatar
Makes sense as my driveway just cracked , also here in Tx.
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