Would a power conditioner tame the intermittent buzz in my house?

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by 57special, Oct 15, 2003.


  1. 57special

    57special Member

    Messages:
    4,810
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2003
    Location:
    MN
    I've got a buzzy house(sometimes) that makes my all my amps buzz also(again sometimes). It's not my cords cables amps or guitars, and it occurs in all of the circuits in my house . I don't know what causes it, and why it only happens on occasion, but it's driving me crazy! Would a power conditioner or filter help? If so, what is a good brand or type?
     
  2. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

    Messages:
    13,448
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    I had the same problem, and it drove me nuts in my studio.

    Assuming you have a well grounded system, which not everyone does, it's true that not only is the AC in some areas bad at times, but things like appliances cycling on and off, such as refrigerators, furnaces, hot water heaters, etc., not only send noise into your house's line, they can even send noise into other houses' lines.

    You could try a dedicated AC line, this is the cheapest solution, but it won't solve the problem of dirty AC from the electric company, or your neighbor's fridge. It is, however, the first line of defense.

    The typical power conditioners will not only NOT solve this problem properly, they will also not allow your amp to get AC juice as fast as it wants to. I've tried the expensive Tripp Lite and Furman models, and even tried the $1200 audiophile conditioners.

    After tearing my hear out for a few years, I had my technician install a 2 kilovolt isolation transformer. It really solved the AC line noise problem.

    However, it caused a slight problem, because it makes a very loud mechanical buzzing noise. So I had to soundproof my furnace room, which worked, and did, in fact, make my whole studio quieter when the HVAC system runs.

    My tech picked up my SOLA unit used for about $800, and installation was another $300. Soundproofing ran $750, because we had to put up another layer of drywall and insulation, etc, in the furnace room. Kinda pricey, but worth it.

    I have been around the block on this one, and there is, unfortunately, only one real solution if you want to permanently solve the problem.
     
  3. 57special

    57special Member

    Messages:
    4,810
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2003
    Location:
    MN
    it's bad enough for me who just plays for pleasure, but it must 've been extremely trying having to put up with a noise like this while trying to record. I can just imagine laying down a really good, somewhat loud track, only to find out afterward that it has a buzz throughout it which can't be edited out. Or not knowing whether it's your cables or equipment combination that's bad(sometimes the case)or your house wiring!
    Thanks for your thoughts. Sounds like i need an audio savvy electrician in the house, or just a new house!
     
  4. Old Fuzzface

    Old Fuzzface Member

    Messages:
    680
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    Cheshire, UK
    Whilst I agree with what Les is saying about dedicated lines, earthing etc, and these are all good things to do to ensure a clean supply - depending on the specific problem you are experiencing, you may get a result from filters.
     
  5. WrapAround

    WrapAround Member

    Messages:
    375
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Location:
    MetroWest
    What do you mean by "as fast as it wants to" ?
     
  6. Rog

    Rog Member

    Messages:
    293
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2002
    Location:
    Little Brazil, England
    In case you haven't already covered this; if you have light dimmers on, no amout of power conditioning will help.
     
  7. Christo7

    Christo7 Guest

    So, the Furmans will not work? I have a similar problem and was considering a Furman unit.
     
  8. 57special

    57special Member

    Messages:
    4,810
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2003
    Location:
    MN
    Goodwood,
    Yes, i discovered that the dimmer controls for my kitchen pot lights are causing the problem. Funny enough, i have dimmers in other places that don't cause a problem- perhaps it's the large amount of lights (8 pots) on the dimmer thats causing the problem.
     
  9. Rog

    Rog Member

    Messages:
    293
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2002
    Location:
    Little Brazil, England
    57special
    Great discovery. Sorry if my post seemed patronising - I was trying to keep it short. Good luck with the solution.
     
  10. 57special

    57special Member

    Messages:
    4,810
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2003
    Location:
    MN
    No offense taken, Goodwood. Turns out that all my dimmers do cause problems, not just the one in the kitchen. It's a relief to have a problem with such a simple and inexpensive solution (change to switches).
     
  11. Supertgtr

    Supertgtr Member

    Messages:
    651
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2003
    Location:
    land o' cheese
    The typical power conditioners will not only NOT solve this problem properly, they will also not allow your amp to get AC juice as fast as it wants to. - I think this only comes into play when you are using a "switching" amp. I don't think guitar amps are of that technology.

    You might also try what is called a "balanced" power supply. Furman makes a unit called an IT-1220.
     
  12. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

    Messages:
    13,448
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    >>The typical power conditioners will not only NOT solve this problem properly, they will also not allow your amp to get AC juice as fast as it wants to. - I think this only comes into play when you are using a "switching" amp. I don't think guitar amps are of that technology.<<

    I guess I didn't clearly state what I meant. I found that a Tripp Lite and several audiophile conditioners seemed to limit the dynamic range of my tube guitar amps, and they did the same thing to my Class A Krell power amp, that was not a switching amp (such as a carver).

    I mentioned this to my studio tech, and he told me that they were preventing the amp from drawing sufficient current at peak demand times. Or something like that. Anyway, they sounded bad.

    I installed a 2KVA isolation transformer to solve the noise problems I was getting from the AC line, and to solve the little glitches computers and digital instruments sometimes get from noisy power lines.

    >>You might also try what is called a "balanced" power supply. Furman makes a unit called an IT-1220.<<

    I had one in my studio to convert the output of the big Sola iso transformer to balanced power. The thing is designed to reduce the noise floor in a studio by about 12 db. I measured about an 8 db noise floor reduction in my studio.

    Just one thing to note: It requires a 20 amp line, instead of the usual 15 amp house line, and the special 20 amp wall plug. So if you're moving from room to room, or playing out and want to take it (the thing weighs 75 pounds BTW), most places haven't got the right plugs in the wall. It runs around $1200.

    A balanced power supply works in a studio setting quite well, because it reduces radiated hum and noise from all the power cables, reduces ground loops, etc. I didn't plug my guitar amps into it, but I did plug my studio monitors (powered Genelec 1031As) into it, and they were quiet and didn't seem starved for peak power with it.

    The problem with my IT-1220 was that after a while the fairly large transformer in it began to make a mechanical hum that drove me nuts. So my studio tech converted my big isolation transformer that lives in my HVAC room, which is soundproofed, to balanced power, and now all my wall outlets in my studio are balanced power. I sold the 1220 this past summer to a guy who said he didn't care about the mechanical hum, it was going in a machine room, but I'd recommend this type of unit to anyone with a studio.
     
  13. lannyhall

    lannyhall Member

    Messages:
    1,278
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2003
    Location:
    Texas
    Could your intermittent buzz be related to alchohol consumption, or is it a different kind of buzz? :)
     

Share This Page