Michael Fremer’s Power Saga

Michael Fremer never ceases to amaze me with his humour, self deprecation and knowledge. It’s no coincidence that his video on PSAudio with Paul landed today. It’s the day that my April issue of Stereophile hit my mailbox. I couldn’t stop chuckling at his video and nodding at his resolution to his power saga. All in all a good contribution to making me happy to be an audiophile in these trying times.


I will to look out for that. Yesterday I was catching up with older issues and his column and I cringed at the thought of trashing two $13K styli - ouch!

Ha! Mr. Fremer regales us with a story about his short-lived time in the Audiophiles North America Facebook group.

ANA is the only hobbyist group on FB that I have ever left (on my own accord :wink:).

On balance, the most ill-mannered, angry, intolerant and ignorant bunch of folks I have ever seen gathered in one place. I say this without adding an ounce of hyperbole.

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Is this the video you are referring to?:


Yes, it was certainly amusing. Michael had too much coffee.

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That was fun!

Has anyone else noticed that in his Stereophile reviews, Mr. Fremer tends to like pieces that measure poorly, and pans, if there I such a thing in a review, things that measure well? To me it implies that he likes distortion, noise and nonlinearity, things totally consonant with vinyl playback.

I have not noticed that, but I do admit that c’est une personnalité extraordinaire

I think this would be just something attributed to him with the intent to discredit someone who prefers vinyl in a way that such a person can’t have a valid basis for judgements.

IMO it says more about the person making such a statement than about the person it is addressed to.


I found his travails with the generator’s transfer switch interesting. My brother, whose system consists of mostly PS Audio gear (BHK electronics and one of the transports and standalone DACs) and Maggie 20.7s (and currently with a Shunyata Everest instead of a PSA power plant), also has a Generac generator and noticed no change in the quality of the sound in any way when the generator and its switch were installed. Mikey’s tale seemed to suggest his system was rendered essentially unlistenable by the installation.

…and sitting there unobtrusively behind him is a $500,000 turntable he’s reviewing…but he reassures us that he’s not purchasing it lol.

I don’t understand the mechanism of “bad power” from a transfer switch. There’s electronics that make the switch happen but ultimately the transfer switch is just another set of contacts among hundreds that make up the path to your system. In-fact, I think the contacts on a Generac transfer switch are among the better ones in the path. The knife switches the utility uses for high voltages are not what I would call high quality switches. I would bet the generator is a 22kw machine with maybe a 200A transfer switch (more likely 100A). :thinking:


No disparagement to Mr. Fremer intended. Just a pattern I perceived over time.

I agree. It seems like some troubleshooting is necessary with the installation of the Generac. There’s something clearly wrong with the installation.

The Stereophile link to Michael’s Article is live:

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A theory or two based upon what I see in that picture. The system grounding has changed. The service rated transfer switch has a bonding jumper (connection between the neutral and ground). I wouldn’t be surprised if there were three bonding jumpers on his system: one at the utility meter, one in his main panelboard (green screw that no-one removed during the install of the generator) and the one I can clearly see in the picture. A proper system design should only have one (it is kind of a major safety issue). Not sure how this would transmit more noise but maybe???

Second, not that it matters much but the use of the non-insulated braided wire for a neutral is odd to me. My market would not tolerate that. I know Michael lives in NJ with a heavy Union/Code presence so that is a unexpected. These kinds of difference always surprise me (like the English branch circuit) when I shouldn’t be surprised.

So it is a 22kw machine and the transfer switch clearly has 200A marked on it. Mr. Fremer has a newer/bigger house.


I always enjoy your posts on electrical systems/wiring.


The neutral wire should only be bonded to ground at the main switch or main panel. Maybe the Generac is generating new power and the neutral should be bonded. I remember being shocked by a neutral wire when the neutral wasn’t properly bonded and was a floating neutral.
My house was a 2 wire knob and tube system with no ground. I tried connecting the neutral to ground on a 3 prong plug before and there was a huge hum heard through my stereo. When I lifted the ground, the hum went away. I find I could just run the whole system without the ground with no problem. Of course I have upgraded the electrical with proper grounding since.

Some interesting takeaways from this article:
He contacted Garth Powell for help understanding the issue with power quality, but went to Paul for the solution (of course)
The Facebook “Audiophiles…” story reinforces my tendency to stay away from Facebook AND most online “Audiophile” groups, where “experts” gather to tell you that you bought the wrong cable, the wrong component, the wrong car, etc.
We still disagree on cd’s.

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A fun video from which I learnt not very much, except that it is possible to talk for the best part of 18 minutes without breathing.

The question I asked myself was why if power regenerators are so critical he didn’t have one, or several, already. The answer, according to another article, is that he has Shunyata power conditioners and cables. So we agree on something. I’m a bit of a signal cable agnostic, but appreciate the benefit of power cables.

I was equally concerned that he talked about hooking a line to a pole in the street. Does that still exist? Then the box of tricks on the side of his house, which looks like a big investment so he must lose power a lot.

I have an electricity substation about 400 yards away and get very steady voltage, because my regenerator told me. I’ve been without power about 3 times in 25 years, the longest for 2 hours.

If this issue could destroy the sound from his megasystem, which doesn’t say much about the design of his megasystem, the lesson should be that serious audiophiles should check out the local power distribution and union agreements. And if there are electricity poles in the street, go elsewhere.