Wednesday, October 24, 2007

HiFi 03 : 110v/220v

I've managed to bring to the US two really nice items; a Sansui AU-317 MkII amplifier which I bought way back in 1978 but which still sounds good, and a ProJect Cherry turntable.

The problem is that Europe uses 220v/50Hz mains voltage and the USA uses 110v/60Hz. Actually, it is possible to get 220v into a US house for stuff like heavy duty heaters/machines, etc, but I want to avoid a major wiring job at the moment.

Both these components have particular and different requirements from their mains feed. The Sansui actually has a voltage switch but from 220v to 240v, which seems fairly academic to me. The turntable is motor driven and is controlled by the mains frequency so it is not just a case of stepping up the voltage.

Anyway, I did manage to find one of these; the Quick 220.

I got this one a couple of years ago so the newer ones look rather different. But in use, you plug the unit into a mains outlet with one cable, then try plugging the second cable into any other outlet in the house until the indicator light on the front changes from red to green.

I assume the unit uses two different phases of the mains supply to produce the 220v. Fortunately, the room I'm hoping to use as a listening/reading room seems to have different outlets on different phases so there is no need to trail leads around the house.

Now, although the voltage has been stepped up, the frequency remains at 60Hz. I think that this should only mean the amp may run a little warmer, but since the volume dial almost never goes past 10 o'clock, I'm not anticipating cooling to be an issue. As you can see in this image the unit seems to be producing 234v.

In addition I also use a mains conditioner I bought at Maplin's while in the UK. Despite the dirtiness of the US mains supply, I haven't noticed any artifacts coming through on the sound side, but this may yet happen ... winter is nearly here.

All of this didn't solve the turntable issue ... more in my next HiFi article.

*See my hifi / media index here.