What is Balanced Power?
In much the same way that balanced audio lines can eliminate hum, electromagnetic interference (EMI), and noise, the use of balanced AC power lines in sensitive audio, video, or computer installations can make an enormous difference in system noise and signal integrity. But power distribution in North America, unfortunately, is not balanced. The distribution standards currently in use were derived from practices established over a century ago, when electric power use was limited to lighting and motors —long before any AC noise sensitive applications existed. The emphasis then was on convenience (from the power utilities — standpoint) and safety, but not noise cancellation
Balanced power is not a new design or approach in power conditioning, however up till now its been uber expensive because only small group of manufacturer’s on the planet specialize in selling Balanced Power. It’s a rather simple concept; in your home, the AC wall socket that you normally use has three conductors: hot, neutral, and ground. Normally, if you measure the hot to ground you should get 120 volts, and if you measure the neutral to ground you should get 0 volts, but more often than you would imagine this is not what happens, i.e., hot vs. ground might be far less than 120 volts, and neutral vs. ground might be far more than 2 or 3 volts. These offsets produce common mode AC line noise that becomes audible in your audio system.
In a balanced AC circuit, hot vs. ground, and neutral vs. ground will both read 60 volts. In other words, the hot and neutral conductors are both at 60 volts. Since these voltages are of opposite polarity though, and given that most interference in a typical AC line is common between the two lines, the noise in the lines is eliminated when the two lines are added together. This is effectively known as Common Mode Rejection (CMR).
You also see this principle put to use in audio systems that use a balanced topology. Knowledgeable audiophiles know that when they feed their preamp output to a power amp input using Balanced XLR connections, the signal to noise ratio improves by a significant amount, up to another -10 dB quieter, making any system sound its best by just connecting it using the balanced inputs and outputs. This is how professional recording studios are wired, for the lowest level noise floor possible.
The AC power delivery should be balanced now too. Do you know how much power your system consumes? If not, let us help you figure it out with our Free Power Audit, tell us what components you want to run on Balanced Power and we’ll tell you which model is right for your needs, including the output cable side length that feeds your system’s main AC hub or power strip.
In most systems, the power consumed by sources like a Blu-ray player, digital media player, DACs, preamps, and DVRs, is well under 150 watts. We recommend a separate model 300 for Class D power amps up to 135 watts per channel x 2. Class AB amps up to 75 watts x 2 are OK to use with a 300 as well. Highly recommended for tube based systems.