Balanced Power is the revolutionary technology of a process researched and developed over 25 years ago by Martin Glasband, by which multiple interfering factors that can cause noise or distortion in an incoming electrical current, or multiple currents, are eliminated within the core and windings of Equi=Tech’s patented toroid transformer, producing a clean, uninterrupted output. Just as in balanced audio, interference and noise “ride” on an unbalanced signal. Equi=Tech’s patented LoNo Technology “equalizes” the electrical output of sensitive equipment in a fashion as to prevent disruption and noise from infiltrating your power system which can decrease audio quality, instead producing a pure, unadulterated listening experience. It’s the “high octane” additive that will make your entire sound system operate at peak performance.
Power standards for electrical distribution were adopted many decades ago and haven’t changed significantly since. With the advent of sensitive electronic applications, electrically induced interference has become a matter of concern to engineers. When electrical interference is present in any sensitive electronics, equipment performance will be limited by the noise. The problem is critical in many areas of high-tech electronic engineering, among them, the sound recording and video industries. A very low noise level is crucial in these areas because literaly, the noise can be seen and heard.
The dynamic range of the entire electronic signal chain determines the quality of the final product in all recording environments. The presence of any electrical interference at all lowers the S/N ratio of the recording. This limits the subtle detail and realism of the sound or image. Low level signals are lost in the noise floor of the system.
Sound quality can also be affected by intermodulation distortion occurring as a result of the presence of ac noise in the audio or digital signal bandwidth. Even if the noise level is inaudible, it is likely that program material will be colored by the presence of electrical interference.
In more sophisticated areas of application, for example high-end digital signal processing (such as broadcast automation or even MDM recording), unacceptable error rates are often attributed to background electrical interference. Digital jitter is the “smoking gun” that points to high frequency AC noise. Digital jitter is caused in part by high frequency electrical interference approximating the bit stream rate of the digital signal.
Balanced power eliminates all of these problems because there is never ac interference present on the ground to invade signal circuits. Balanced power often increases the dynamic range of a recording system by 16db or more. When balanced power is applied, ground loops and hum problems, even subtle ac noise coloration becomes a thing of the past. The difference can be astonishing.
A balanced power system may be located anywhere along the ac power grid provided that it is the last link on the chain feeding power to electronic power supplies. The balanced power system can be engineered to blanket an entire facility through electrical hard wiring or a smaller balanced power system can be plugged into a grounded ac wall outlet.
The popular rack system design is the easiest of all systems to use. One simply plugs the system into a conveniently located ac outlet and then plugs the studio equipment into the outlets on the back of the rack system. Plug strips are fine to use as long as they are simple. Spike protection is included in the Equi=Tech system — redundant surge and spike protection is generally unnecessary. It is strongly recommended that all ground lift adapters be discarded and all audio cable shields be grounded at both ends.
Uninterruptable power supplies and power conditioners may be used with balanced power systems but they should be located between the ac grid and the Equi=Tech system. They should also be rated to handle the full capacity of the Equi=Tech.
For more information on hardwire installations see Article 530 Part “G” of the 1996 National Electrical Code.
No. Particularly if the equipment in question is listed by Underwriters Laboratories or another recognized testing laboratory. The voltage and frequency applied to a power supply is exactly the same. Only the grounding reference is changed.
Though unbalanced (standard) ac power has a neutral conductor, UL standards specifically prohibit the use of a neutral as a grounding reference even though it has zero volts.
If the neutral side of a power supply were to be grounded, it would immediately cause actuation of the output breaker on the balanced power system thereby shutting the system down.
Even if the ground was lifted on the ac cord and the neutral side of the power supply was improperly grounded to the chassis, touching the chassis would result in a 5 millisecond shock at only 60 Volts before the system sensors detected excess ground leakage and shut the system down.
The electrical code requires redundant safety measures be incorporated into all balanced power systems protecting both equipment and personnel from harm.
A technical power budget is an electrical power distribution plan that is tailored to meet the power needs of a facility where technical power is to be supplied. There are two basic questions to answer in order to create an effective and realistic technical power budget.
First, how much power is required to handle the anticipated power needs of the facility? Second, how many separate ac systems are required to provide power where needed?
The second question is easy. Decide first if it is practical or desired to hard wire the AC power in the room(s) where technical power is needed. If yes, the answer is probably one. If the facility is huge or spread out making it difficult to route power to all areas from a single location, more than one system may be the most practical approach.
If it is determined that more than one system is needed, calculate each area (referred to herein as “task area”) for a separate system. The systems may consist of any combination of rack or wall cabinet models or if the facility is exceptionally large, an engineered AC distribution system with a large isolation transformer is likely the proper course to consider.
To determine the amount of power required for a task area (or entire facility), fill out all of the attached lists and add up all of the equipment for each voltage used (typically 120 volts and sometimes 230 volts — i.e. European locations). Once the net load (in amps) is determined, multiply that number by the appropriate voltage to get volt-amperes (VA). Electrical systems are rated in size by KVA. All Equi=Tech system model numbers and isolation transformers correspond to power output capacity in KVA.
A separate system is required for each voltage. Often this a single 120 Volt system.
An additional system is required for each UPS because UPS outputs are unbalanced. The only exception to this rule is where a single large UPS is used to cover an entire facility. In this instance, one equally large balanced power system is connected to the UPS output. This is the simplest way to cover all bases.
In new construction, a wall-cabinet style Symmetrical Power System is the most economical in many cases because it is simple to install and it completely blankets a studio or production facility. But, there are other options that may better suit the specific needs of the studio. Pre-existing facilities may be difficult to rewire making it hard to install a centralized wall-cabinet system.
Rack-mount systems can be used anywhere and are an easy way to retrofit an existing facility with balanced ac. The physical placement of the equipment in a room or in a group of rooms is a major factor in determining how many rack-mount ac systems to use and where. For example, 3 side-by-side equipment racks in a machine room could be powered by one rack system with enough capacity to run all three racks. A 24-track tape machine with rack-mount Dolby™ units could be considered a “roll-around task area” by itself. The same could be said about a roll-around effects rack. The amount of power needed in a task area determines the size of the system for that area. Once one has determined how many task areas exist and how many systems are needed, proceed to calculate the required power for each area’s system.
This is very simple. There are 2 basic rules to follow:
- Ground everything
- When in doubt, ground everything
The “Q” transformers were developed by Equi=Tech engineers to solve several problems that were causing hardships for users in certain situations. There are essentially 3 areas where using “run-of-the-mill” toriod balanced power systems fall short in performance.
First, is the acoustical noise problem. It’s interesting to note that at commercial locations, most all of the time, standardly designed toroids will perform quietly and emit almost no audible noise. However, in residences and in other areas with poor utility power, the transformers react physically to excessive current distortion. The worse the distortion, the more the transformer vibrates. This dissipation of reactive energy, while being very helpful to equipment power supplies, can nonetheless be quite annoying. Notably, this problem has been on the rise for the past 8 years. Our technical assistance people report acoustical noise problems in as many as 2 out of 5 residential customer locations whereas 8 years ago, the incidence was perhaps 2 in 50 locations. The recent decline in power quality is most likely due to the increase in personal computers, home security systems and more lighting controllers as well as home theater equipment, especially digital stereo and video gear, microwave ovens and so on. All of these types of loads produce excessive current distortion which muddys up power for the whole neighborhood. The problem is getting worse and worse. Most states have minimum power quality standards for commercial areas but none at all for residential neighborhoods. “Q” transformers are immune to current distortion and operate much more quietly than any other transformer.
Second is the inrush current issue — the achilles heel of toroid transformers. While probably the most efficient of all types of transformers, their relatively light core mass saturates very quickly, which means that often there will be a big current wallop when first turned on. This can trip common circuit breakers. But it’s just an annoyance since a few tries will work. Our philosophy at Equi=Tech is to build the most reliable equipment so we choose to handle the problem passively with most toroid transformers and avoid special soft-start circuits that are active. However, the greater mass of the “Q” transformer eliminates the need for any soft start device at all because it is very difficult to saturate its core — hence very low inrush current.
Third and last, but probably most important from a performance standpoint, is transformer current response. “Q” transformers deliver current quicker than any other transformer in its class. It has long been held that any sort of power conditioning device or filter network chokes current which can seriously affect the performance of large loads such as power amplifiers. The first noticeable change is loss of definition in bass response. The lower frequencies start to break up. Deeper resolution is replaced by “boominess.” Not so with “Q” type transformers. They maintain a much lighter magnetic density which allows them much more headroom when sudden large current transients are demanded. The difference in bass performance, as stated by many of our high-end audio customers, is truly awesome.
The term “24/96 Transformer Technology” was coined to describe the area of application where this technology has been specified into transformer design. The newer 24-bit digital recordings that use a 96kHz sampling frequency are where the numbers 24/96 originated. These digital recordings have much greater detail and dynamic range than any other standard digital format used in the past. In order to accomplish this improvement in sonic quality, a much higher sampling rate and bit rate is used than in previous 16-bit recordings (the standard CD format.) More and more professional recordings are made with this new digital format. 16-bit recordings are now a thing of the past. 24-bit CD players as well as DVD players are now common in the market place.
But with greater resolution and detail, high frequency noise becomes more critical than ever before. In order to accomplish the objective of increasing the bandwidth of noise rejection to include higher frequency harmonics, transformers must be extremely well balanced. The characteristics of high frequency current density and current distortion required careful study to fully understand how our objective could be realized. Extremely fast current delivery and highly accurate broad band noise atternuation work hand in hand to provide AC power that inhibits factors that can detract from the high level of performance that is expected.
The method by which transformers are built to accommodate this broader bandwidth of noise cancellation is the improvement that we call “24/96 Transformer Technology.” Every so often we revisit the methods that we use to achieve the most perfect balance possible. Many are patented but we believe that there is always room for more improvement. In this case, designing and sequencing the transformer’s winding segments with a wider operating bandwidth in mind has resulted in “notch free” frequency response flat to almost 2MHz. This technology is standard issue in every system we build.
At Equi=Tech, being “The Pioneer of Balanced Power” means that it’s up to us to create the standards that can be trusted to provide the best results in audio/video performance. We are intimately involved in the writing of National Electrical Code Standards by which electrical engineers specify and design and electrical contractors build. We lead the industry in many ways. This is one reason why Equi=Tech balanced power is the choice of top professionals throughout the world in the Audio, Video and Broadcasting industries. 24/96 transformer technology is one more example of how Equi=Tech leads the world in balanced power.
Wherever possible, it is recommended that balanced power be used to cover the entire production facility including remote equipment that is interconnected through a/v cables. There are, however, acceptable wiring methods that have proven to work well when the supply of balanced power is limited in an area or where remote equipment running on unbalanced AC is patched into the balanced system. The approach to such situations is similar in every case.
A good example of this approach is in live sound reinforcement applications where amplifier load can be extremely large. Power amps usually add very little noise to a sound system. Most of the noise in a typical P.A. system is created in the front of house gear, the back line amps and instrument racks. These are the primary areas to be covered with balanced power — areas where low level signals are being processed. Mic preamps, guitar amps, instrument preamps and effects fall under this low-level signal category. These components must run on balanced AC to demonstrate a significant effect on noise levels and to eliminate the source of possible problems before they occur.
When connecting a system running on balanced power and a system running on unbalanced power, the signal grounds of the systems need to be isolated. With balanced audio signals, lift the shields at the inputs. With unbalanced audio or video signals, use an isolation transformer.
These rules apply for remote hook-ups to permanent facilities, especially where one of the systems has not yet been set up for balanced power but the other has. Simply lift the shields at the inputs on the remote system in similar fashion as is common practice in most splitter snakes used in remote facilities.
When mixing balanced AC and unbalanced AC, keep in mind that a/v cabling is the primary path of grounding noise. Lifting audio shields at the inputs or using isolation transformers where systems are interconnected works well to eliminate interference anywhere unbalanced power must be used with balanced power. If fiber optics are used for all signal links, disregard all of the above and don’t worry about it.
Practically none. The only problems noted by technical support involve clean-up procedures sometimes necessary with some unbalanced equipment or “dirty chassis” gear. These are relatively rare and can almost always be fixed. (See Tech Support Bulletins: Audio Wiring & Grounding and The “Dirty Chassis” Condition.)
There are a few power sequencers that are incompatable with balanced ac. In every case, single pole on-off switches on the power sequencer were used to shut down the audio/video electronics. This results in 60 volts being fed into equipment power supplies via the unswitched balanced power line. It may be unusual to think that turned-off equipment can cause problems. But when a single-pole switch is used to disconnect the power, ground current leakage that would normally null is dumped on the ground. Furthermore, if the ground leakage exceeds 5 milliamperes, as a shock protection feature, the Equi=Tech will shut down. In one case, a studio owner reported that the GFCI devices on the Equi=Tech would trip overnight when his studio was shut down. This was determined to have been caused by single pole switching on a power sequencer. For the sake of functionality, it is recomended that 2-pole switches be used to disconnect equipment. At the Equi=Tech system’s outputs, the output circuits are switched twice with 2-pole devices, one is the circuit breaker, the other is the GFCI device. Either may be used to shut down electronics.
There have also been a few instances where some equipment either demonstrates little no improvement in performance or causes nuisance GFCI tripping. In many cases, the manufacturer has used an unbalanced “L” type line filter which is by design, unbalanced. Sometimes equipment modifications made in the field will incorporate .01 caps (line to ground) to filter out noise. This defeats the function of the balanced power system by leaking current into the ground. Most manufacturers use a “stock” balanced EMI/RFI filter which is wholly compatible with balanced power. If an “L” type filter is discovered, it is recommended that it be replaced by a “T” or an “O” filter or at the very least removed.
(Note: beware of modified equipment and extremely sub-standard power supplies that can also exhibit the same symptoms for similar reasons.)
Most samplers and synths will run a lot quieter when using balanced power. Occasionally there are a few pieces of gear that will still have noise problems even with balanced power. Most of this equipment is music industry or semi-professional gear with unbalanced connections. The best way to approach this problem is to balance and isolate the audio signals by using audio isolation transformers, then run the balanced signals to the balanced inputs (or outputs) on the mixer. These are often much quieter than unbalanced connections.
By using balanced power and balancing sampler and synth connections, the noise floor of a keyboard setup can in many cases be reduced by 20 db or more. If the console only has unbalanced connections, unbalanced to unbalanced audio isolation transformers can be used with good results.
With balanced power, it is often possible to interface unbalanced outputs to balanced inputs without using audio isolation transformers and without inducing noise problems. If noise results, lifting the shield at Pin 1 of the balanced input will usually solve the problem. If it doesn’t, an isolation transformer or direct box will almost always work. Once most of the noise has been reduced by balanced power, it is easier to identify and solve problems.
Yes. However, make sure the Equi=Tech is plugged into the output of the UPS or line voltage regulator, never the other way around. Also, it important that the UPS or voltage regulation equipment has at least a 50% higher capacity than the Equi=Tech system or that the UPS can drive a 100% transformer load at its rated output.
Most 3-phase systems operate at either 208 Volts or 240 Volts, but sometimes at 480 Volts phase-to-phase. In any case, Using a single isolation transformer with sufficient capacity to operate the entire facility is the optimum approach to designing a technical power system. If this is not possible, 3 or more single-phase transformers loaded evenly across the 3-phase source will also work. This application could include use of rack-type systems plugged into 120- or 208/240-volt single-phase outlets on a 3-phase distribution grid.
3-phase power operates most cleanly and efficiently when the load current is balanced across all three power legs of the system. If current is too unbalanced, current distortion will be the result.
The major drawback to using one single phase transformer on a 3-phase grid is a tendency to unbalance the 3-phase system’s current if particular care is not taken in evening out the load with careful electrical distribution planning. For this reason, a single transformer with a 3-phase primary and a balanced single phase secondary is recommended. Conventional 3-phase to single-phase isolation transformers help to some extent, but they fail to evenly balance the load current across the 3-phase system’s primary to the desired degree.
The best distribution method for a 3-phase system involves the use of a 3-phase to 6-phase “wye” isolation transformer. The 6-phase “wye” secondary has three single-phase outputs — all are balanced 120-volt outputs with 60 Volts to ground. Each output circuit is rotated 120 degrees from the adjacent output circuits. All three single-phase outputs share a common grounding reference. This configuration resembles a 6-point starburst.
The advantages to this design are simple. There is but a single grounding reference point for all three output circuits. This insures that there will be no variation in grounding potentials across the system. Secondly, all three outputs are coupled to the same magnetic flux field insuring a more stable current alignment — this stabilizes the power factor in a 6-phase system.
In either case, whether using a 3-phase to 6-phase system or just a simple single-phase set up, balancing all 120 volt circuits will dramatically reduce noise and harmonic power distortion.
(Note: Some equipment requiring a 208-volt single phase circuit for power supply power requires a 208-volt balanced circuit — 104 Volts to ground. 3-phase transformers can be engineered to output multiple voltages from a single secondary coil array when required under these conditions.)