Who has a Balanced Audio Transformer on their mains for their naim system?

I have read so much about this, I have active DBL's - so lots of boxes and sometimes all those boxes buzz quite loudly! I keeping going back and forth about this and i guess the only thing I can really do is try one for myself.

Now the thing that worries me is if there is any loss of sound quality, especially in terms of PRaT or speed, because those things are the reason why I built an active DBL system in the first place.

 

I'm thinking of the big 10kVa Airlink model as they have been very helpful in answering my questions. I have a dedicated 40 amp circuit for the stereo and that was a large improvement when it was installed. Only thing is that it did nothing w.r.t removing mains hum. Now the hum is not audible when playing music at good levels, in fact it's only when watching the TV without the stereo that I find it especially annoying. Also, the system sounds better at some times of the day/night than other times so I was hoping that a BPS would at least make things more consistent. I want it to always sound good, as it should when you consider how much money was spent!

 

Any way, the only real reason I'm hesitant is because naim have always frowned on any thing in front of the mains to their hifi, but to be honest, I have not read any official stance against  "balanced power supplies" from naim. You would have thought that they may have tried them at the factory with so many complaints about buzzing transformers.

 

If any of you with bigs systems that have had one of these installed are adamant about its absolute improvement or otherwise, I would really like to hear from you, especially if one has been installed in an active system which we all know is very revealing. I would especially like to hear if anyone was helped or advised by naim about installing one of these isolation transformers.

I'm in Australia, so we have 240 volt mains but I have read that using the BPS at 230 volts would help the naim gear as that was how they were designed to be used. Surely naims power supplies would benefit from not vibrating madly due to dirty mains, they probably would last longer too. I don't know any more, I've racked my brains on this, just don't want to waste money on a mistake.

 

Any comments?

 

regards, Mario.

Original Post

Thanks James, I have read much of that but it really hasn't reached a conclusion yet. I'm hoping to hear from several people who may have tried but either they are too busy listening to music thanks to balanced power or the subjective improvement is hard to fathom. Hopefully the former is the case. Ron Toolsie, if you can comment, that would be great.

 

Mario.

Thanks Robert, looks like another manufacturer of balanced powers supplies, but I really need one big one as I have the many boxes that active naim brings. 

I have read as much as I can find so far and I think that no body has felt that balanced power brings any loss of dynamics or speed to a naim system.  

Conditioning on the other hand, seems to definitely have a negative effect with naim.

 

Mario,

Before I try balanced power, I would first get a dedicate line AND (country codes permitting) a dedicated earth spike or three. This will give you a good feeling how improving the power will improve your system. Adding balanced power then gives more of the same. 

For the price of a handful (and sometimes just ONE) fancy power cords, it is possible to fundamentally improved the quality of the mains feed and the integrity of the earth return, both of which have sound technical reasons as to why they offer subjective upgrades. 

I think I paid around $2500 for the Equitech transformer back in 2005....they are closer to $8000 now. Installation was another $400 or so back then. A Nordost Odin 2 power cord does not leave much change out of $20,000 (!) and cannot even begin to approach what a well installed balanced power feed would do for a fraction of the price. 

Indeed, I have a sneaky feeling, that once balance power is used (with maybe 20dB drop in noise floor), the effects of different power cords maybe minimalized. 

Thanks for the reply Ron, I used to have a separate earth for my active dbl system (552 300 2x250dr) but was informed that was illegal and unsafe here in Australia, so I then had an electrician make the new earth for the entire house rather than just the hifi. The main reason for me to get a balanced transformer is to remove hum without a loss of that classic naim sound. I dont like hearing the power supplies buzzing away even if im not using the hifi. If I get an added boost I  performance along with removing hum then I'm a verry happy man. I just fear that what some hear as an improvemnt, may remove some of what I like about the naim sound - excitement, emotion and involvement. No good to remove any of that for a sterile lifeless 'perfect'  sound, I want to hear music - mius the hum!

thanks,

Mario.

There is no way I would consider using 'only' an 1800VA balanced power source with a full-blown triamped active system. I would guess the MINIMUM rating you would need would be circa 5kVA, otherwise there could be choking of dynamics. On a slightly related note, I experimented with a 300W PS Audio Power Plant-which is nothing more than a class A power amp that gives gain to a 60-Hz synthesized sine wave. And both the CDS3 and the 552 sounded flat when plugged into it-probably due to current limitation. The LP12/Armageddon however did cartwheels of joy with the PowerPlant. I did not try any of the power amps into the PP3 as they would in all likely hood suffered to an even greater degree. 

The balanced power subtracted non only the transformer hum, but also the background hash that lives superimposed on the music reproduction, and ridding the playback of mains-borne noise allowed you do listen much deeper into the music and hear microdetails and microdynamics that were being dithered away by the non-balanced power. Its like taking a walk on a cool morning in the desert and being gobsmacked by how much extra visual detail and clarity you can see without the background humidity/pollution that we have all become too accustomed to, to a point we realize how much of an adverse effect it had only after it is removed. You feel like you can see for miles, and miles and miles......

Even a mid-level Yamaha CD-recorder was given a new lease of life when fed balanced power. The 16/44 recordings of the LP12 (and the NAT01) played through the CDS3 were nigh indistinguishable from the original source. This was not the case when it was not treated to balanced power (OK.....the Sonority roller shelf under the CDR also contributed to the end result). 

Get the best and biggest balanced transformer you can afford/accommodate, and be sure to have it competently installed. Its all swings and no roundabouts! Only then will you appreciate fully what the real Naim sound can be. 

And unlike linear power supplies, a balanced transformer will never need servicing, recapping, replacing etc. 

hi i have a seperate stand alone balanced power supply 2000va on my system (air link model, non conditioning version i.e. standard one) as not yet able to run dedicated mains circuit, runs from single unswitched socket then onto power strip (wireworld matrix 2) 

was pretty cheap upgrade compared to others, and have done extensive testing with and without and definitely makes a difference for me on my system (check out my profile for details)

key thing was ensuring you went for a transformer that had significant head room for what your system needs, for example mine is 2/3rds over capacity for my system 

anyhow is just a view from me from my experience 

mat 

 

I have the 10kVA Airlink with multiple taps. My incoming mains is fairly high at around 246V, so I use the 250v tap and drop the output to around 230V (it's lightly loaded so the secondary runs a little high). Hum banished, noise floor lowered, no impact to PRAT. 

DaveBk posted:

I have the 10kVA Airlink with multiple taps. My incoming mains is fairly high at around 246V, so I use the 250v tap and drop the output to around 230V (it's lightly loaded so the secondary runs a little high). Hum banished, noise floor lowered, no impact to PRAT. 

Hi quick question (as also looking to get a dedicated mains installed) did you have the balanced power supply connected downstream from your standalone consumer unit and what MCB trip amp rating did you use?  

Thanks

 

mat 

 

 

 

I'm currently planning an extension which will include a dedicated music room and have the chance to install a radial just for the HiFi. Therefore discussion of a balanced audio transformer is of interest.

I don't have a particularly current heavy system and a 2000VA would probably suffice. However, in terms of HiFi spend this is not that significant so is it worth going for a somewhat larger version? Would a 5000VA be overkill or are there advantages/disadvantages going bigger?

Thanks in advance 

 

 

DAVEBK, do you have the Airlink BPS100230MP?  this is the one I'm considering to use in Australia and your results with respect to PRaT and hum removal is what I am hoping to achieve. 

 

Not sure what my incoming mains is but we use 240 volts here, but I understand that I can output 230 volts which would benefit all my naim boxes. How does one do this? Does an electrician simple wire the outgoing mains cable to a 230 volt set of terminals or is there some kind of switch on the BPS?I currenty have 10mm2 cable with a 40amp circuit and was also thinking of moving up to 16mm2.

 

Any thoughts,

 

Thanks

 

Mario.

 

Bryce Curdy posted:

How many VA for 555PS, 552Ps and one NAP300 would I need?

Hi Bryce, the Engineering Director of Airlink recommended a 3kVA one for my system which has 555PS, 52/SC and a pair of 135s, so not very different.  However, as the 5kVA one was only £100 more, I supersized.

Best regards, FT

DaveBk posted:

I have the 10kVA Airlink with multiple taps. My incoming mains is fairly high at around 246V, so I use the 250v tap and drop the output to around 230V (it's lightly loaded so the secondary runs a little high). Hum banished, noise floor lowered, no impact to PRAT. 

Hi Dave, I can understand the DC offset being lowered, but I can't see how using a transformer can affect the noise floor ... unless the noise was the DC offset? Are you able to explain? HF noise (what some call 'hash') obviously couples across a transformer, perhaps you have some sort of filtering as well?

audio1946 posted:

at least the VA  OF THE TOTAL VA of the load of naims plus alittle extra 10%

That's the electrical engineering minimum; in reality that will limit the dynamics of the sound produced.

Consider 3kVA as the minimum for SQ, and 5kVA as preferable.

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:
DaveBk posted:

I have the 10kVA Airlink with multiple taps. My incoming mains is fairly high at around 246V, so I use the 250v tap and drop the output to around 230V (it's lightly loaded so the secondary runs a little high). Hum banished, noise floor lowered, no impact to PRAT. 

Hi Dave, I can understand the DC offset being lowered, but I can't see how using a transformer can affect the noise floor ... unless the noise was the DC offset? Are you able to explain? HF noise (what some call 'hash') obviously couples across a transformer, perhaps you have some sort of filtering as well?

Simon, if there's an interwinding, then the HF coupling is substantially reduced.  Even without an interwinding, the inductance of the transformer windings still, to some degree, selectively increases the source impedance of the HF coming through the secondary.

Given that this is relatively affordable (very favourable compared to certain power leads) why is their use not more main stream if the results are as good as claimed? Is it just because they are big, heavy and unsightly? If I get one it's going in the garage where my MCB is so not really an issue.

Huge posted:
audio1946 posted:

at least the VA  OF THE TOTAL VA of the load of naims plus alittle extra 10%

That's the electrical engineering minimum; in reality that will limit the dynamics of the sound produced.

Consider 3kVA as the minimum for SQ, and 5kVA as preferable.

I spoke to the Airlink person. He recommended taking  the total VA of your system, doubling it and rounding up to the nearest available. In my case, the NAP 300 is over 740VA and the other stuff (Supercap, 555, Armageddon) are far lower. I could get away with 2000VA, therefore, but 3000VA would be better.

Part of the attraction of of a balanced PS is it would resolve any safety issues associated with my TT spike (although the Airlink guy said I am already safe because the supply earth and TT aren't connected). I (actually, my electrician) could cut into the hifi supply in the loft and put in an AIrlink. Alternatively, I could plug in one of their audio balanced power supplies. The latter have filtering, however and don't appear to have been tried by anyone here.

Keith

Huge posted:
audio1946 posted:

at least the VA  OF THE TOTAL VA of the load of naims plus alittle extra 10%

That's the electrical engineering minimum; in reality that will limit the dynamics of the sound produced.

Consider 3kVA as the minimum for SQ, and 5kVA as preferable.

Hi Huge,

That makes sense but is there any advantage going beyond to say 7.5kVA or 10kVA as the price increase is minimal. Does the additional headroom provide advantage or is it just wasted?

Thanks

 

Muttonjef posted:
Huge posted:
audio1946 posted:

at least the VA  OF THE TOTAL VA of the load of naims plus alittle extra 10%

That's the electrical engineering minimum; in reality that will limit the dynamics of the sound produced.

Consider 3kVA as the minimum for SQ, and 5kVA as preferable.

Hi Huge,

That makes sense but is there any advantage going beyond to say 7.5kVA or 10kVA as the price increase is minimal. Does the additional headroom provide advantage or is it just wasted?

Thanks

 

yes allow the VA  Alttle over the total, ,but a large transformer will have a large power loss which may increase the heat loss.  the large the transformer will have more Noise...motors and transformers  running lightly loaded will be less efficent

Huge posted:
Simon-in-Suffolk posted:
DaveBk posted:

I have the 10kVA Airlink with multiple taps. My incoming mains is fairly high at around 246V, so I use the 250v tap and drop the output to around 230V (it's lightly loaded so the secondary runs a little high). Hum banished, noise floor lowered, no impact to PRAT. 

Hi Dave, I can understand the DC offset being lowered, but I can't see how using a transformer can affect the noise floor ... unless the noise was the DC offset? Are you able to explain? HF noise (what some call 'hash') obviously couples across a transformer, perhaps you have some sort of filtering as well?

Simon, if there's an interwinding, then the HF coupling is substantially reduced.  Even without an interwinding, the inductance of the transformer windings still, to some degree, selectively increases the source impedance of the HF coming through the secondary.

Hi Simon, my comment was based on observation rather than engineering, but Huge's reply makes sense to me. Airlink do use a copper foil screen in their toroids I believe.

Huge posted:
Simon-in-Suffolk posted:
DaveBk posted:

I have the 10kVA Airlink with multiple taps. My incoming mains is fairly high at around 246V, so I use the 250v tap and drop the output to around 230V (it's lightly loaded so the secondary runs a little high). Hum banished, noise floor lowered, no impact to PRAT. 

Hi Dave, I can understand the DC offset being lowered, but I can't see how using a transformer can affect the noise floor ... unless the noise was the DC offset? Are you able to explain? HF noise (what some call 'hash') obviously couples across a transformer, perhaps you have some sort of filtering as well?

Simon, if there's an interwinding, then the HF coupling is substantially reduced.  Even without an interwinding, the inductance of the transformer windings still, to some degree, selectively increases the source impedance of the HF coming through the secondary.

Huge, I was talking about HF/RF coupling rather than the specific HF induced voltages through the transformer which will decrease with frequency since we are talking HF and RF.  I have been  looking at this further and the idea of HF filtering gets a little vague from the manufacturers of some of the balanced transformers other than some specifically use HF filtering conditioners and use of of varistors to absorb the energy of pulses on the mains. 

DaveBk posted:
Huge posted:
Simon-in-Suffolk posted:
DaveBk posted:

I have the 10kVA Airlink with multiple taps. My incoming mains is fairly high at around 246V, so I use the 250v tap and drop the output to around 230V (it's lightly loaded so the secondary runs a little high). Hum banished, noise floor lowered, no impact to PRAT. 

Hi Dave, I can understand the DC offset being lowered, but I can't see how using a transformer can affect the noise floor ... unless the noise was the DC offset? Are you able to explain? HF noise (what some call 'hash') obviously couples across a transformer, perhaps you have some sort of filtering as well?

Simon, if there's an interwinding, then the HF coupling is substantially reduced.  Even without an interwinding, the inductance of the transformer windings still, to some degree, selectively increases the source impedance of the HF coming through the secondary.

Hi Simon, my comment was based on observation rather than engineering, but Huge's reply makes sense to me. Airlink do use a copper foil screen in their toroids I believe.

Dave indeed, but this might have very little to do with RF removal, but more about moving low frequency unbalanced mode noise on the mains with respect to live and neutral and helping isolate ring main earth loop noise... and that is what I was querying... if you have a noisy relatively low impedance supply, I can see balanced transformers really coming into their own... they effectively 'transform' the noise from between  L and N to between LN combined and earth.... but I think with Naim using devices with HF filters with respect to earth will be very important to maximise SQ... and I suspect the devices aimed at audiophiles will do this.

Matthew Johns posted:
DaveBk posted:

I have the 10kVA Airlink with multiple taps. My incoming mains is fairly high at around 246V, so I use the 250v tap and drop the output to around 230V (it's lightly loaded so the secondary runs a little high). Hum banished, noise floor lowered, no impact to PRAT. 

Hi quick question (as also looking to get a dedicated mains installed) did you have the balanced power supply connected downstream from your standalone consumer unit and what MCB trip amp rating did you use?  

Thanks

 

mat 

 

 

 

I have the usual henley block to split the tails and a dedicated consumer unit. There's a 63A Type D MCB in this, which just serves to protect the 10mm cable running to the transformer. The Transformer has a D40 MCB mounted in the case to protect the transformer primary. Type Ds are used as the transformer will have a relatively high inrush current when it is first switched on. It does have a thermal surge arrester, but belt and braces... The output from the transformer is protected by a 40A 30mA RCBO.

KRM posted:
Huge posted:
audio1946 posted:

at least the VA  OF THE TOTAL VA of the load of naims plus alittle extra 10%

That's the electrical engineering minimum; in reality that will limit the dynamics of the sound produced.

Consider 3kVA as the minimum for SQ, and 5kVA as preferable.

I spoke to the Airlink person. He recommended taking  the total VA of your system, doubling it and rounding up to the nearest available. In my case, the NAP 300 is over 740VA and the other stuff (Supercap, 555, Armageddon) are far lower. I could get away with 2000VA, therefore, but 3000VA would be better.

Part of the attraction of of a balanced PS is it would resolve any safety issues associated with my TT spike (although the Airlink guy said I am already safe because the supply earth and TT aren't connected). I (actually, my electrician) could cut into the hifi supply in the loft and put in an AIrlink. Alternatively, I could plug in one of their audio balanced power supplies. The latter have filtering, however and don't appear to have been tried by anyone here.

Keith

Hi Keith, there are no safety issues with a TT  installation using properly validated and checked electrodes to your property. I have benefitted from my TT installation for several years with only improvements compared to my previous PME... (less tingles from taps with wet feet on wet floor etc). The issues can arrive when there is a combined TT and PME earthed supply  in close physical proximity to each other. I am not sure I follow the logic of using a balanced transformer to improve safety... the safety earth will be the safety earth come what may. 

Yes increasing the power rating of your balanced transformer effectively lowers its impedance to match closer to that of your supplied mains... and as we know Naim amps / equipment like to see as lower mains impedance as they can.

Simon, interesting, I'll need to think about this further.

From my experiments and observations, putting a DM suppression cap between L&N on the mains feed to Naim gear is what causes the biggest loss of 'energy' in the sound from Naim equipment when used with the simple 'mains conditioners'.  I've found ZnO varistors to have no noticeable effect.

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

 

 

 

Hi Keith, there are no safety issues with a TT  installation using properly validated and checked electrodes to your property. I have benefitted from my TT installation for several years with only improvements compared to my previous PME... (less tingles from taps with wet feet on wet floor etc). The issues can arrive when there is a combined TT and PME earthed supply  in close physical proximity to each other. I am not sure I follow the logic of using a balanced transformer to improve safety... the safety earth will be the safety earth come what may. 

Yes increasing the power rating of your balanced transformer effectively lowers its impedance to match closer to that of your supplied mains... and as we know Naim amps / equipment like to see as lower mains impedance as they can.

Hi Simon,

My brother suggested a balanced PS because it isolates the PME from the TT (although there is already no direct connection because the supplier earth is not connected at the socket). The Airlink chap seemed to agree.

In a bid to end the contradictions I'm considering converting my system to gas powered!

Keith

Well, with all this talk of the merits of balanced mains I decided to get one of the Airlink standard balanced power supplies: https://airlinktransformers.co...power-supply-bps2000

As my system comprises the 272/555 combination and 250 power amp I figured the 2000va rated one would be more than sufficient.  It arrived this morning and on first listening I'm amazed at the improvement I'm hearing.  I was a little concerned that PRaT would be affected but it does not appear so and the whole soundstage appears to be more solidly defined, bass has more authority without being louder, and none of these improvements at the expense of musical cohesion. 

Another thing that concerned me when deciding to try it was whether the unit would make an intrusive hum.  I'm glad to say that my unit is very silent (need to put my ears right up to it to hear any transformer hum) and my PS555 appears quieter too (not that it was overly loud but I used to hear audible hum from it when standing next to the equipment rack, not any more - I now have to put my ears up to the 555 to hear the transformer working).

I'm scratching my head that what is a £340 upgrade, when VAT and shipping is included, can make such a marked improvement and that it is not almost a de-facto upgrade heralded by those that have one.  I have read that over time I should expect things to improve further which will only add to the VFM of what is such a simple and painless (dare I say it) upgrade. 

Of course, I might be suffering from some form of placebo effect so I will keep the Airlink  in my system for a month and then remove it to see whether the changes I believe I am hearing are really all positive - to my ears that is - I don't have measuring equipment and I'm not qualified to wear a white coat I'm afraid.

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