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Old 25th June 2010, 07:22 PM   #1
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Default mains quality variation

What I'm about to ask could apply to cd players too but there are alot of companies marketing mains purification products and so on. I wanted to know what truth there is in the idea that sound quality varies thoughout the day because of the mains quality?

Have any of you who build amplifiers noticed such kinds of variations and has it been due to the mains?
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Old 25th June 2010, 07:24 PM   #2
SY is offline SY  United States
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Yes, I have.

Then I learned about proper grounding, common mode filters, and how to build regulators, and since then, no issues whatever.
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Old 25th June 2010, 07:57 PM   #3
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Yes, I have.

Then I learned about proper grounding, common mode filters, and how to build regulators, and since then, no issues whatever.
Can you explain what you mean by proper grounding? And the rest of the things you mention. I would like to sort out this issue too.
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Old 25th June 2010, 08:09 PM   #4
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Mains purification is a solution to a problem that seldom exists. Years ago voltages and frequencies were unstable but these days you can almost calibrate your voltmeter and certainly your frequency meter with the mains supply.

Noise is another issue but, as SY indicates, attention to proper techniques will usually solve the difficulty.
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Old 25th June 2010, 08:43 PM   #5
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Can you explain what you mean by proper grounding? And the rest of the things you mention. I would like to sort out this issue too.
There are whole books dedicated to that. Start with the Dave Davenport article posted on this site- he does a fine job of laying down the basics.
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Old 25th June 2010, 08:53 PM   #6
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the only thing I noticed that affects the sound during the day is background noise. ie traffic, central heating, kids outside. The best for me is the fall and spring. Nice sunny warm days, no traffic during the day and the kids are at school and the wife at work. Grab a beer and listen ahhhhhhh
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Old 25th June 2010, 11:10 PM   #7
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When I used to do scientific research (in the UK, so using same grid as Prof. Smith) I found that the noise levels in my experiments had a strong dependency on the time of the day. It was not simply a case of noisy mains or a noisy earth either, but pick up of radiated noise by sensitive equipment.

I like the common mode choke suggestion, it's something that can be retro-fitted to many amplifiers rather easily if space permits. And it needn't be that expensive.

But as somebody else pointed out, the amplifier is but one piece of the system, the source and preamp (if used) may also be vulnerable.

Unfortunately, the mains isn't that great in some places. Susan Parker posted some notes about that awhile back - she's also in the UK and uses EI power transformers as they are more tolerant to bad mains. The frequency of the mains is pretty solid (or the generators would fall to pieces quickly) but the waveforms get distorted at remote parts of the grid by the myriad of local loads placed on them.
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Last edited by Bigun; 25th June 2010 at 11:12 PM.
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Old 26th June 2010, 12:48 AM   #8
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If the problem is the shape of the waveform or the voltage theres nothing I can do about it anyway. Supposedly, around tea/dinner time the voltage drops as people put on the kettle but during night the voltage stabilises, theres less noise and so on. The trouble is, the sound of my system does not vary according to this pattern. I have tried listening at night and the early hours of the morning and it has sounded bad. Conversely I recall it sounding good around dinner time on a number of occasions. There's no rhyme or reason.
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Old 26th June 2010, 01:20 AM   #9
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There may be no solution if you define it as a problem - because the other part of the system is our hearing and our emotional response to the sound. Somedays I like rock, others Jaz and what I enjoy one day maybe isn't enjoyable the next. If I listen to a song after first listening to rock and then listen to the same song after first listening to Jaz, then I find it sounds different. Same with the taste of food and many other things in life. So it's almost impossible to even decide if the sound is the same or not from one day to the next - which means you won't even be able to verify that you've 'fixed' the issue.

In this case, the solution is to stop regarding it as a problem, it's just how 'it' is.
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Old 26th June 2010, 02:23 AM   #10
mt490 is offline mt490  Australia
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Perhaps the drop in the ambient noise is revealing some low level unhappiness in your system?

One way to get around the mains variation by the way would be to install a motor-generator set with a large flywheel. I'm surprised nobody has tried to sell one with the word "Audio" slapped onto it. Perhaps the profit margin isn't as good as some minerals in a cable
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