For us, lowering the noise floor in the electrical/signal domain has many similarities and connections with the mechanical. Basically, you want to get as much of the signal, whether that’s the actual electrical power or the audio signal itself, throughout the chain from beginning to end retaining as much of its integrity as is possible. Proven materials, methods, construction and grounding are key to this process. Where good transmission and the reduction of interference in that transmission go hand in hand.
Power to your Product
At Airt we believe this process actually starts, for us the music listener, in our home, where we can take back some control. If possible, having your own dedicated mains feed to plug your equipment into is a great starting point however this is not always possible or easily achieved. There are also some very capable distribution products & power re-generators that can also be worth exploring. However, in our experience, tread carefully with the application of these products and audition extensively.
Invariably and either way it has to start with the power sockets themselves wired on the standard ring in your home, whether you are using UK outlets, Schuko (Euro style) or US. The British regulated standard sockets on the wall can be replaced with CE approved aftermarket types from a range of manufacturers which often offer better construction, materials and connectivity and can also in some cases contribute to better instantaneous power delivery. A number also offer a claimed reduction in other noise pollutants as well. (where possible if you fit any brand of aftermarket UK sockets onto the wall please try to ensure you use the matching companies/manufacturers mains plugs thus making the fit and constructional material at least consistent).
The ideal scenario with mains outlets is to change them to Schuko or the US type (unfortunately this doesn’t comply with British Regulations and so creates certain grey areas) as the accompanying mains plugs for this type of connection are not fitted with the dreaded Uk 5a or 13a Fuse – these fuses represent BND (Bottle neck distortion) which limits instantaneous power delivery by anything approaching 50%,. This dramatically increases distortion in tandem with other deleterious effects.
Therefore if you are using a Uk mains plug our first recommendation is to replace the fuse with something that measurably and sonically reduces the BND and the subsequent increase in distortion. There are many aftermarket fuses but none, in our experience, deliver the promise or the results quite like Steven Tsang’s QSA products. In addition, if you change this fuse then by default you should also replace the protective 20mm fuse in your products as well (or vice versa). The sonic results are quite compelling and often far exceed the performance difference offered by the majority of aftermarket power cables costing tens of thousands of pounds.
Then there is the power cable itself and its role in the transfer process – delivering instantaneous current as effectively as possible is the number one requirement (this is far more difficult than you might think) to ensure that the power supplies of product are never starved of that all important cycle of current, is a primary function. Then there is the induced noise from the mains that is both carried into the audio product as well as the noise generated by the product itself which then returns back onto the mains, where it gladly offers itself to pollute the next piece of equipment in the chain. There are many aftermarket power cable solutions all trying to achieve a resolution to many of the issues outlined above – however in our experience a number one priority or base point for generating a good stable performance & sound is where possible to try and use the same power cables throughout a system and ensure that the manufacturer has a consistency in the approach of build, construction and materials used. A few good examples of manufacturers that we believe follow and strictly adhere to these principles in particular are Entreq, Shunyata Research.
The attention to the areas outlined above will reduce induced noise and distortion – essentially lowering the noise floor.
Ground Control to Major Tom
Independently grounding your hifi system and the subsequent incredible results in lowering the noise floor, is a subject that has become far more accepted in the world of audio over the last few years. With many well known manufacturers now adopting the principle after years of ridiculing the very manufacturer who pioneered the whole subject matter over 2 decades ago… Entreq. This single area is something that we have been involved with from the very inception, being early adopters it is something we implicitly understand, it is very close to our hearts and we are very passionate about Entreq & its benefits.
Entreq understand better than anyone the subject of Grounding/Earthing your system. It has nothing to do with replacing the protective earth in your home or directly to your equipment for that matter.
The application of an Entreq grounding solution with a single Ground Box and an Ertha cable, applied to one of your products redundant connections via RCA,XLR,USB or RJ45 socket), will open your eyes & your ears to not only a better sound but the fundamental sense of a better musical flow as well as a sense of calm ( lowering the noise floor). Often times the best place to test the simple single box Entreq solution is the Pre-Amp, Streamer or DAC however every component, when carefully matched to the right Entreq solution, will benefit greatly, primarily enhancing your listening pleasure. The results seen in streaming systems when both the router/switch and the Streaming product itself are selectively grounded is, musically, extremely compelling.
Entreq’s extensive range of Grounding products can at first glance seem confusing & bewildering in both the numbers of options in Ground boxes and the associated Ertha cables. The reason for so many options is because no single system or home offers an identical range of properties/issues with relation to the generated or induced noise, therefore getting a good match or pairing to filter effectively for each system is a must. After what seems like a lifetime of experience in both testing and installing Entreq products we truly believe that there is no one single solution that is a universal in its application. At this juncture we would also like to point out that with Grounding – more is not always better!! This is not a principle or an approach seemingly outlined by alternative manufacturers.
With Entreq we recommend that you apply grounding carefully step by step to ensure you don’t not over dampen the system and lose the musical flow. Less ,but carefully chosen, is often more when it comes to Grounding.
All the components in your system are connected together with interconnects (which by the way all induce their own grounding issues & influences into the pot, but that’s a whole different subject for another time) these cables by their connective nature join the grounds together for each product, sharing and complicating further the sonic relationship between the components themselves. Therefore finding the best component to Ground or attack first is crucial in the bigger scheme of things and obtaining the best results.
Again, as with both our Acoustic and Mechanical approach to lowering the noise floor, finding and working with the right, experienced and trusted partner is by far and away the most important first step.
We look forward to helping you feel and hear the benefits of the Sound of Silence.