Step up/down transformer bad for sound quality?


#1

Hi there. I may be headed to Japan for a bit because of work next year. I was about to purchase the PWD and of course would like to take it with me to Japan. Since the voltage in Japan is 100V, I will need a step up transformer. Assuming I get a good one (people have recommended Nissyo), will using a step up transformer impact sound? My instincts tell me no because as long as the power is clean and consistent, the PWD does not care whether it comes from the wall or a transformer. Am I way off base here? Some of my friends say using a transformer will definitely impact sound for the worse. Others say no impact. A few say that it may help the sound because of the isolation I get with a transformer.



Any input would be greatly appreciated.


#2

You may notice a decrease in performance as it will raise the impedance of the power the PWD sees. OTOH, the PWD needs little power. BTW, transformers do not filter power - junk in will still be seen on the output as the windings remain coupled, even if not physically continuous.



You will have a wonderful time. What else do you plan to bring as an audio system? Headphone based perhaps?


#3

@elk I build cables for a company that manufacturers some of the highest rated SUT’s available (Stereophile, 10Audio, Dagogo, etc.). Given that an SUT is functioning to step-up mv’s and the question is about step-down the quality of the transformer, build architecture, connecting wires(crystal Cu, Ag, Au) all impact sound. Even the type of mu case surrounding the windings and the laminations separating them come into play.



Same applies to cable design & architecture. Setting aside the metallurgy for the moment, even the Teflon I use as a dialectic, number of wraps, & micro weld settings affect the cable sound (or lack thereof).



So, just as with all things audio, you play with the variables until you get the Sound.


#4
Transformers do not filter power - junk in will still be seen on the output

RF frequencies ?
[While some toroidals have higher bandwidth vs EI, still it's negligible ... Am I wrong?]

#5
valer_valer said: RF frequencies ?

If the transformer is shielded, then indeed it should act as a filter. BTW, I think, adding a capacitor in parallel would not hurt either. Measure the inductance and tune the LC filter to 50-60Hz ;)

#6

@alekz That would work. Unshielded transformers are susceptible to picking up/& emitting RF & EM - its been my experience anyway.


#7

It depends on the bandwidth of the transformer, but current irregularities pass via inductance along with the intended 50/60 cycle power. This is also why they pick up EMI/RFI. Alekz’ ideas are good. These would help a great deal.



As a practical matter, and to Tboooe’s question, this will not hurt the sound; if noise was there anyway, a transformer should not make it worse unless it is placed where it can pick up additional noise.



birddogthecat said: Given that an SUT is functioning to step-up mv’s and the question is about step-down the quality of the transformer, build architecture, connecting wires(crystal Cu, Ag, Au) all impact sound.


Fascinating. Once again, nothing is simple.

#8

Much depends on the load. Transformers are fine when the load is purely resistive with a power factor of 1. But start venturing into a power factor of less than 1, like we’d get with a standard power supply or (heaven forbid) a switching power supply, then transformers get in trouble.



If you take a standard power amplifier, say with a PF of 0.7 (as is typical) and you start drawing power, the transformer cannot keep up with the instantaneous current demands at the peak of the sine wave and you get a loss of power - and the distortion of the sine wave goes up dramatically. It can look pretty ugly. That’s the same problem we face with Power Plants and why we need to be able to deliver 70/80 amps of peak current - something a power transformer struggles with.



The only safe bet for a step up or down transformer is to go big - really big - 10 times the rated need is pretty safe.


#9

You will have a wonderful time. What else do you plan to bring as an audio system? Headphone based perhaps?

Thank you! I am actually pretty pumped. I plan on getting some Japanese spec audio gear there because its a lot cheaper than the US spec version. And yes, I intend to have a headphone system there. My brother has been trying to get me into it for a long time now so I figure I will take this opportunity to take the plunge! Should be fun!

@elk I build cables for a company that manufacturers some of the highest rated SUT's available (Stereophile, 10Audio, Dagogo, etc.).

Would you mind PMimg me the name of the company that makes these transformers? Do they also make step down transformers too? I will probably need some for the goodies I will undoubtedly purchase while I am there.


The only safe bet for a step up or down transformer is to go big - really big - 10 times the rated need is pretty safe.

Thank you Paul. I wish I knew what all this technical talk means but I do feel a lot better hearing from the CEO of the company on this matter! It seems you and others are saying I will be fine as long as a I get a good quality transformer that is rated at least 10 times more than the power consumption of the PWD.

Here is a question...I am assuming I will purchase some cool Japanese audio gear while I am there and will then need a step down transformer when I return to the states. Anything wrong with plugging a step down transformer into my P3 AC Regenerator?

#10

No, that’s exactly the thing to do because the P3 can fix the problems inherent in the transformer. Make sure the transformer you purchase is as big as you can afford.


#11
No, that's exactly the thing to do because the P3 can fix the problems inherent in the transformer. Make sure the transformer you purchase is as big as you can afford.

GREAT! Now I am really excited! Thank you again Paul!

#12

@tboooe



I would love to that - provide you with manufacturer - but this is Paul’s site. It would be inappropriate for me to use it to further outside interests. There are several Forum members who have visited me while staffing various audio shows who know me & the company I build for. If they elect to PM you that would be less egregious…I think.


#13
@tboooe

I would love to that - provide you with manufacturer - but this is Paul's site. It would be inappropriate for me to use it to further outside interests. There are several Forum members who have visited me while staffing various audio shows who know me & the company I build for. If they elect to PM you that would be less egregious....I think.


OK I understand but I am referring to a product that PSA does not make so there is no issue there. To me this would be like other discussions on this forum about JRiver or powercords or isolation devices or even other power conditioning units, products that can be used in conjunction with a PSA product that enhances its usability. Also, you are not furthering outside interests. I am the one asking for advice via PM so as not to take this thread off topic. That being said, I respect your decision.

#14

@tboooe



I’ll go this far. Give David Geren a call at CineMag: 818-993-4644. I have no connection with that manufacturer and he is a great, informative guy.


#15

@birddogthecat For the transformer? It’s fine to mention them here.


#16

I would think so. A transformer is a complementary accessory if needed and certainly not a cometing product - many of which have been mentioned on these forums.



J.P.


#17

@wingsounds13 We all have our own values and rules to live by. I cannot make my decisions based upon how other forum members gauge their actions. Also, the majority of posts I believe you refer to are by Forum members who have no financial interest in the products of which they speak.



J.P. I fully appreciate your reasoning and highly regard your writings. I often rely upon much of what you discuss. I, too, often write about non PSA products that intrigue me. However, I have absolutely no personal interest in those manufacturers. No doubt, you appreciate the distinction.


#18

Fair point Christopher. I do respect your conservative and considerate approach even if I may rib you a bit. :slight_smile: I understand not wanting to push your products on another manufacutrer’s forum. Others, including myself might not have thought that far ahead. On the other hand, this is a fairly friendly forum and even though it is the PS Audio forum a major trend is to help forum members get the best performance out of their (hopefully PS Audio) system even if that does mean discussing other manufacturer’s products at times.



All is in the spirit of good audio and friendship.



As for giving any weight to my postings… Thanks, but I am really just winging it most of the time… I just happen to get it (sort of) right occasionally. :smiley:



As always (implied) - happy listening, music is a very good thing.



J.P.


#19

Clearly, “integrity” is not just a word when it comes to Christopher. (*)


#20

@wglenn Too kind. Speaking of integrity, I have spotted some very interesting Single Malt Scotch Whiskeys on http://caskers.com. I have ordered from them from time to time.



Let me know which audio shows you plant to attend this year & I will order some collectibles to bring with me. I know Steven R. wants to expand his horizons. I think we went through the best SMSW that Gibsons Steak House had to offer…well we certainly tried anyway.



A quote I learned from my late father:



“It has been said that doing the RIGHT thing is often hard.

This is not true.

Doing the RIGHT thing is not hard.

What is hard is to know what that RIGHT thing to do is.

Then, not doing the RIGHT thing becomes hard.”