Last week I promised to tell you how I tested my power line for noise and what happened afterwards. AC power noise is one of those sonic issues that some folks believe does not exist and other folks go to extraordinary lengths to eliminate. My own experience has shown me that AC line noise is a genuine problem that can affect the performance of an audio system.
Before you can solve a problem you have to discover whether it is, indeed, a problem. The best way to determine if you need to “fix” your incoming power is to test it. I use a device called the “Noise Sniffer” manufactured by AudioPrism. The device is delightfully simple to use. You merely plug it in and turn its on/volume knob. If you hear noise you have a problem, the louder and more obnoxious the noise is, the worse your AC problem is. When I moved into my new home a year ago one of the first things I did was plug a Noise Sniffer into my Listening room’s dedicated AC outlets. The result was a horrific amount of buzzing noise even at relatively low volumes from the Noise Sniffer. That is how I knew I had a problem.
AudioPrism also makes AC noise suppression devices. I’ve had some of their “Quietline” devices in my arsenal of noise-reduction tools for some time, but at my new home inserting even multiple units had no audible affect in reducing AC noise according to the Noise Sniffer. Several other AC conditioning units also had no affect in reducing the AC noise, including the Chang CLS6400 mark II and Synergistic Powercell.
What did have an audible affect in reducing my AC line noise? In my situation the PS Audio Dectet, and now-discontinued Octet, and Quintet AC devices all reduced the high-level buzz from the Noise Sniffer to dead quiet. The PS Audio devices have the added advantages of providing surge, brown-out, and lighting-strike protection, which in Colorado, which is second in the country behind Florida for air-to-ground lightning strikes, is pretty much a necessity.
Whenever someone with any interest in audio visits, before I play a single track through my system I plug in the Noise Sniffer to an unfiltered line and then I plug it into an outlet on the Octet.When the Colorado Audio Society met at my place last year, that was the first demo I performed for them. I never had anyone leave my listening room without a new appreciation for the need for AC line filtering.