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Grounding for Audio - Part A: Outline of products, discussion of their benefits


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Ground can be used to improve audio sound quality, and if implemented incorrectly, can transmit and create noise.

 

I have created 2 threads about Grounding for Audio.  This Part A deals with grounding products, and Part B with other approaches to grounding.

 

Part A is where we can share our knowledge of and experiences with products intended to provide ground for audio.

 

Over time I will add to this post and list products I come across and are bought to my attention (eg. by others posting below).

 

  • Feel free to post your personal experience with any ground product listed, eg. you upgraded to one of these listed.
  • Comparisons between these would also be of interest.
  • Also feel free to advise where to read other peoples' experience with these (eg. on other forums).
  • I will include links to reviews if I am made aware.
  • Let's try not to clutter this up with technical debates.  
  • If you wish to advise or read about why these shouldn't work, then I've created Part B for that purpose. 
  • Please be civil and respectful to keep this resource open, and not moved into the Great Debate sub forum

 

I suggest considering that the price of these listed products are guided by the improvements they have on a system's sound quality. The price is the designers/manufacturors reward for achieving those improvements, and your cost for enjoying it.

 

The List

 

Akiko Audio

Tuning Sticks (noise suppression, appear to be ground treatment) - €130-150

https://www.akikoaudio.com/en/akiko-audio/akiko-audio-audio-accessories

Ground Conditioner Castello - €1200 AU$2000 incl 3 ground cables

https://www.akikoaudio.com/en/products/560-akiko-audio-ground-conditioner-castello-english

 

JCAT Ground conditioner (cable) - €500 AU$820

Usually 2 heads - one USB, one Ethernet

https://jcat.eu/product/usb-lan-ground-conditioner/

 

Audio Magic

Blue Dot and Blue Dot Premier - US$750 & 950 AU$1100-1400

https://positive-feedback.com/Issue53/audio_magic.htm

 

Acoustic Revive

Ground Conditioner RGC 24 - US$1050 AU$1600 include cable

http://www.acoustic-revive.com/english/rgc24/rgc24_01.html

 

Synergistic Research

Ground Block - US$600 incl 6 ground cables & wall plug and cable

Active Ground Block - US$2300 (230v) incl UEF Black Power Cable + 6 x Basic Ground Cables

Active Ground Block SE - US$3300 (230v) incl Atmosphere Power Cable + 6 x Basic Ground Cables

Basic & HD ground cables - US$99 & US$295 

https://www.synergisticresearch.com/accessories/ground-isolation/

 

Telos

Ground Noise Reducer Mini - AU$3200

https://telos-audio.com.tw/grounding-noise-reducer-mini/

Ground Noise Reducer - AU$10500

https://telos-audio.com.tw/grounding-noise-reducer/

 

Entreq

Presently 14 models - AU$400-13000

https://www.entreq.com/products/ground-boxes-17667704

 

Nordost

QKore 1, 3 & 6 - US$2500-5000; AU$3700-7500

https://www.nordost.com/qrt/qkore-ground-unit.php

 

Tara Labs

HFX Floating Ground Station

Comes with some Tara cables, unsure if available seperately.

https://www.taralabs.com/hfx

 

Tripoint

several models - prices not yet discovered.

https://tripointaudio.us/tripoint-products

 

Integrated ground systems:

 

Ansuz power distributors include ground treatment.

https://ansuz-acoustics.com/products/power-products/power-and-ground-distribution

 

Shunyata Research has Chassis Grounding System (CGS) built into Triton V2 & V3 and Denali V1 & V2 - but these are currently not available in Australia.  Shunyata also has 3 x current model CGS cables (Sigma, Alpha and Delta).

Edited by dbastin
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I will add technical resources here.

 

Firstly, I am not a qualified electrician or anything of that sort.  Always engage with a qualified expert regarding the 'ground' which is used by the AC supply.  It goes into planet earth soil and is there to save lives and prevent fires (and the like) from electrical faults. 

 

Ground is usually the lowest point of voltage and resistance where electricity can and will naturally prefer to flow to. 'Noise' that is detrimental to audio can be drained to ground.  Noise is not just low frequency 'hum', but also high frequency. Noise can also be induced and transmitted by 'ground loop'.

 

There are different terms for ground.

 

Some basic descriptions below are given to convey a simple understanding of these terms, not as scientific or technical definitions.

 

Earth is planet earth (the dirt we stand on).

Planet earth is essentially an infinite reservoir of electrons and thus the best place to “drain” excess electrons from a system.  Subject to correction by an electrician, in an AC electrical supply circuit, Ground should be Earth so stray voltage from faults go to the Earth rather than somewhere unsafe - and RCDs activate when they detect leakage to the earth).

 

Signal (or Reference) ground the lowest voltage in a circuit - a  voltage determined by the designer - typically/theoretically 0v.   Signal Ground explained ... https://www.psaudio.com/askpaul/what-is-signal-ground/

 

Chassis ground is a ground-collection point where AC supply Earth ground and the (theoretically) 0V power rails are often all tied together and connected to the metal chassis of an electrical device. A chassis ground may be used for shielding and grounding to prevent electrical shock.

 

  • Some appliances have plastic casings, or have been designed so that live wire cannot touch the exterior casing/chassis. As a result, the casing cannot give an electric shock, even if there is a fault or the wires inside become loose. These appliances have double insulation, do not require a safety connection to Earth ground, and do not have chassis ground.

 

Floating ground is not attached to Earth ground and its value 'floats' higher than the Earth ground value.

 

Technical Ground is employed to provide a separate Earth ground for sensitive circuits, such as those used by HiFi, to avoid the leakage of noise from other general power supply circuit getting into the sensitive circuit.

 

It is sometimes suggested that digital equipment (eg. PCs, DACs) generate more 'noise' and so it is preferable to connect those to a separate ground (Earth, or otherwise such as grounding box - see Part A).  However, when using different points of ground, be wary of potential ground loops.

 

A Ground Loop is where there is more than one Earth ground which have different values (eg. voltage or impedence) that enable electricity in ground to flow from one to the other and return in a loop.  This loop and the different values can cause noise.

 

While commonly a low frequency hum, In some cases the ground loop provides a return path for very high frequency internal equipment oscillation and this can cause audible distortion.

 

For example, when a cable connecting two pieces of audio equipment is grounded at both ends, buzz or hum can be created by undesirable current flow in the cable shield. The cable provides a ground path that is in addition to the hard wired AC earth ground.  In thus case, a ground loop can often be eliminated by disconnecting the shield at one end of the cable.

 

It may be wise to keep Earth ground and Signal ground separate.  For instance:

 

  • Shunyata Research have Chassis Grounding System in 3 of its conditioners, however "The CGS is a chassis grounding system only and was not designed for signal ground connections. The CGS Chassis Grounding System is compatible with a signal grounding type product — just don’t connect them together."Caelin Gabriel, President Shunyata Research
  • Synergistic Research Ground Blocks are not to be plugged into their Powercells - Powercells can be grounded to the Ground Blocks, which in turn are to be connected to the wall outlet.

 

From PS Audio website, here’s some bottom line tips you can use for best grounding practices.

  • Star grounds are best. A star ground is a collection of grounds all meeting at the same point in a system. Most well designed audio equipment utilizes star grounding internally, but when you hook together products as a system, it’s best to try and utilize one ground point if possible.
  • Dedicated AC lines form star grounds. In the PS Audio Music Room we have multiple grounded AC receptacles on dedicated lines. That means that each AC receptacle has its own wires running back to the central breaker box where the main ground is also located. If each piece of gear is plugged into its own dedicated outlet, then you’ve formed a star ground.
  • Plug equipment into a common plug group. A Power Plant, a power conditioner, even a well designed power strip all share a common ground. This helps keep everything on the same ground potential.
  • If you’re really dedicated, run a separate earth ground. Not for the faint of heart, but if you’ve a dedicated room, it’s good to have a dedicated ground stake tying it all to one point in a special conductive slurry pit, using exothermic welding bonds and so forth. Best to hire an electrician for this operation, because you want to be safe.
  • If you’re interested in a very technical and expert explanation on the subject, Bill Whitlock, president of Jensen Transformers, published an excellent article you can download here ... http://web.mit.edu/jhawk/tmp/p/EST016_Ground_Loops_handout.pdf

 

This is helpful info from Russ Andrews ... https://www.russandrews.com/images/pdf/GroundingV6.pdf

Edited by dbastin
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I highly recommend TELOS Audio designs GNR (Grounding Noise Reducer).

But don't take my word for it check these testimonies too:

 

 

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Just now, dbastin said:

Here is where we can share our knowledge of and experiences with products intended to provide ground for audio.

I have no idea as to the technical difference between ground and earth.  It has been explained to me in the past but I am still confused especially as the words seem to be used interchangeably as if they mean the same thing in some cases.

 

I have a Puritan Ground Master.  It is connected to a 3 mt solid copper rod in the earth or ground surrounded by mixture of Bentonite and Gypsum for  supposedly reduced resistance  to the surrounding soil. The actual small box is connected to my Power Conditioner.

 

Literature for the Ground Master uses the words "Ground" and "Earth"

 

"The Ground (or Earth) connection is the absolute reference for all of your vital system voltages. As such, it has to be as silent and stable as possible.

The ultimate way to eliminate ground-line noise is to utilise a clean, dedicated earth, but this is fraught with myriad safety and regulatory issues.

The Ground Master eliminates all of the problems typically associated with the connection of additional earthing rods (or other buried metalwork) into an audio and/or audio visual system, and allows for a simple, economical, and substantial upgrade to your listening and viewing experience."

 

What do I have?  A ground or an earth?  Or is it both?  A ground connected to an earth rod. 

 

John

 

 

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I'll find some reliable definitions for different grounds and include them in the opening post.

 

For the benefit of others, the trigger for me to create this thread came from discussion that was edging its way off topic from another thread, but it is valuable.  Some of that discussion will be referred to in Part B, some is pasted here ...

 

@Stereophilushad been experimenting with his Uptone Audio EtherREGEN and shared this ...

 

"I also tried with the JCAT ground conditioner removed.  Having done this with the ER vs my basic switch [5 port Netgear], I can hear definite differences.  The ER allows greater detail and nuance in the music compared to the basic switch.  If I re-insert the JCAT ground conditioner, there is a big improvement overall and no discernible difference between the two switches again.  It seems the JCAT conditioner is the reason I could not hear any differences between ER and the basic switch originally."

 

The JCAT product is here ...

https://jcat.eu/product/usb-lan-ground-conditioner/

 

It was observed this JCAT cable can lift the performance of a basic $50 switch to be comparable/better than the US$640 Etheregen (which itself competes with switches 4 x its cost).  That's one hell of an impact.

 

And consider this - the design of Etherregen deals with ground so carefully well, it does not benefit from any ground, even the JCAT.

 

So it appears the JCAT Ground Conditioner may remove all noise on the ground of at least small components

Edited by dbastin
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On 03/05/2020 at 10:45 PM, dbastin said:

some reliable definitions for different grounds and include them in the opening post.

I have provided some additional info in the first 2 posts.

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  • 4 months later...


  • 2 weeks later...

Got the Telos GNR Mini in my system and this - https://www.russandrews.com/plug-in-rf-router-uk/

I use the Telos on my Analogue and Digital gear. I use the Russ Andrews on my Class-D powered subwoofer. I keep the Class-D on a totally different power circuit and grounding scheme so as to not pollute the main system. 

I do notice an increase in clarity and imaging precision with the Telos in play. It makes things sound a bit bright when you first use it on a device but you realise that this is just a drop in the grunge that you didn't know was there.

Made my own grounding cables using silver plated quad core conductor and gold plated solid copper spades (for the grounding device end) and  I attached a variety of connectors to the device ends, such as a USB A connector (with only the ground pin connected), ring spades for DC plugs etc.

Did a lot of playing around to get to a point that I was happy with.

I should also state that I have Entreq devices attached to each speaker and also one attached to my NUC (Roon Rock).

There you go, outed my self as a card carrying snake oil consumer....

Edited by deepthought
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18 minutes ago, deepthought said:

There you go, outed my self as a card carrying snake oil consumer....

 

Mee tooo!

 

I have a Synergistic Ground (SR) Block (passive) sitting on a SR Traquility Pod, with some SR HD and Basic ground cables to most components and SR cables.

 

The Ground Block is connected to the Chassis Ground in a Shunyata Triton v2 (the ground goes through a Noise Isolation Chamber in the Triton, which in turn connects to Earth via Shunyata Sigma power cords, SR Blue outlet, and Furutech CCC and JPS Labs bulk cable on a dedicated circuit.

 

I intend to provide a dedicated route to a new dedicated properly installed Earth rod ... when I get time.

 

And expand the number of items that are grounded.

 

21 minutes ago, deepthought said:

I keep the Class-D on a totally different power circuit

Did it make a difference to sound quality?  What sub?

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It's a DIY sub with a SEAS 10" woofer and matching SEAS 10" Passive Radiator. https://www.madisoundspeakerstore.com/approx-10-subwoofers/seas-l26ro4y-10-subwoofer-4-layer-vc-d1004-04/

The amplifier is a Class-D unit from Dayton with inbuilt DSP (very useful) -  https://www.wagneronline.com.au/audio-speakers-pa/hifi-equipment/sub-woofer-plate-amplifier-250w-dsp-dayton/991222/mfl/

I just don't want any ultra-high crud spilling into any part of the main system. I even use one of these to break any physical connection - https://www.svsound.com/products/soundpath-wireless-audio-adapter

 

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14 minutes ago, deepthought said:

I even use one of these to break any physical connection

You might want to consider if the wireless thingy itself is injecting noise, maybe less than Dayton amp and DSP.

 

To my mind it is ideal to have

 

1. Dedicated power circuit

2. Dedicated ground circuit and rod

3. Isolated ethernet (ideally FTTP, and good isolation from the nbn box)

 

By dedicared I mean not shared with the building.

 

Does grounding speakers (in your case to Entreq) make much difference?  Tannoy seem to think so.

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5 minutes ago, dbastin said:

You might want to consider if the wireless thingy itself is injecting noise, maybe less than Dayton amp and DSP.

 

To my mind it is ideal to have

 

1. Dedicated power circuit

2. Dedicated ground circuit and rod

3. Isolated ethernet (ideally FTTP, and good isolation from the nbn box)

 

By dedicared I mean not shared with the building.

 

Does grounding speakers (in your case to Entreq) make much difference?  Tannoy seem to think so.

The SVS units are operating at the 2.4GHz frequency band so the same range as WIFI. 

Yes, the Entreq made a difference. Sort of the opposite of the Telos. Added smoothness and more musical coherence.  Still lowered the grunge though. A good counter balance to the Telos ;)

 

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I have the Nordost QBase power strip so obviously my grounding option would be the Qkore. 

 

Problem is i sold off my hifi system a year ago so am hesitant to drop so much money on a Nordost grounding unit specifically to benefit only a videophile system. Its audio where these grounding schemes most obviously benefit.

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