Does running equipment at different hertz in AC power supplies affect the audio quality or performance of the unit?

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JohnRoberts

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As I recall the Japanese market was pretty picky about fit and finish issues ( a PIA from thousands of miles away). I also recall our Japanese distributor, late last century, believing the Behringer marketing hype (that was mostly copied from the same Mackie SKUs that they copied. ) Peavey had success selling value skus into over 100 countries.

I also lobbied Hartley to not patent every one of our inventions in every country (like Japan). Securing patents in USA and EU will protect the vast majority of the market and make it uneconomical to knock of inventions to sell in just the remaining nations. I was not persuasive, Hartley liked to accumulate all that expensive wall paper.

JR
 

Gold

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FWIW, Japan has an East-West 50Hz/60Hz divide.

I ran into this with a tape transfer done in Japan for a record reissue. The label didn’t realize the transfer was at the wrong speed until after test pressings. It was a 50hz/60hz thing.

I have a Denon DP80 turntable for the Japanese market that runs on 110VAC and has a 50hz/60hz switch
 

abbey road d enfer

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I remember dbx graphics eqs from more than 20 years ago that were terribly buzzing connected at 220V/50Hz. They had some poorly designed saturated power EI transformers that we had to replace.
Indeed. In the 80's many US manufacturers did not realize what a difference it makes between 60 and 50 Hz.
My first trip to the US was for pestering Cetec-Vega (wireless mics) so they would find low-induction power xfmrs. Running the standard xfmrs at 50 Hz made the systems unusable, for two reasons: the higher induction at 50Hz made a huge difference in stray magnetic field,which would radiate on the output wfmr, and the lack of efficiency made the rectified voltage too low to have proper regulation.
Then Crown launched the D75 amp, which would buzz like crazy at 50Hz, till they decided to produce the export version with a toroidal xfmr instead of the domestic EI.
In the meantime, about 500 years after Christopher Colombus, America discovered Europe.
 

Newmarket

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A slightly more subtle effect can be heard if overdriving valve guitar amps as the clipped audio will have either 120 or 100 Hz 'ripple' on it. thus a sustained overdriven note will have different 'distortion'.
transistor power amps probably do this too but then when clipped they sound rubbish anyway.

Right. That may explain why UK "Rock" guitar tones are generally better than those from North America :ROFLMAO:
(I'm putting on my comedic flak jacket :oops:)
 

JohnRoberts

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Indeed. In the 80's many US manufacturers did not realize what a difference it makes between 60 and 50 Hz.
Back in the 70s I used generic off the shelf dual primary transformers that could alternately be wired series/parallel to operate in 117/220-240 V markets. These transformers were relatively conservative. Years later at Peavey I was forced to deal with sharp pencil issues like the cost of using more copper and iron than required.
My first trip to the US was for pestering Cetec-Vega (wireless mics) so they would find low-induction power xfmrs. Running the standard xfmrs at 50 Hz made the systems unusable, for two reasons: the higher induction at 50Hz made a huge difference in stray magnetic field,which would radiate on the output wfmr, and the lack of efficiency made the rectified voltage too low to have proper regulation.
Then Crown launched the D75 amp, which would buzz like crazy at 50Hz, till they decided to produce the export version with a toroidal xfmr instead of the domestic EI.
In the meantime, about 500 years after Christopher Colombus, America discovered Europe.
Peavey wasn't perfect, but they pretty much had it figured out before I came onboard mid 80s (but I recall some transformer saturation complaints from Japan as already shared).

JR
 

JohnRoberts

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I only made one sku go up to 11


iu
 

Ivan K.

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A solution to 100 to 240VAC & 50 / 60 Hz variations: Buy a Power Regenerator! PS Audio and probably others make them. See psaudio.com. Everything gets converted to DC and then a frequency referenced 50 / 60 Hz at appropriate voltage is generated and amplified. Not cheap, but effective.
 

abbey road d enfer

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A solution to 100 to 240VAC & 50 / 60 Hz variations: Buy a Power Regenerator! PS Audio and probably others make them. See psaudio.com. Everything gets converted to DC and then a frequency referenced 50 / 60 Hz at appropriate voltage is generated and amplified. Not cheap, but effective.
Actually, analog frequency converters were commonly used for Hammong organs, which allowed varispeeding them.
Almost every half-decent studio had at least one such converter. It was not unfrequent to receive a phone call from the production of a travelling band to ask if they could borrow one, cause the keyboard player had not anticipated the mains frequency issue.
The actual frequency would fluctuate somewhat because of the component drift due to temperature, but a good musician could actually control the frequency tracking with the actual tuning.
 

Script

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With regard to Japan, just for the sake of completeness, the mains in apartments and houses over here do not all automatically accommodate for a ground or earth prong. There are wall plugs with an additional screw terminal though to connect green earth cable on fridges, microwaves, washing machines, air conditioners and sometimes TV -- but most mains plugs just don't have it.

So consumers in Japan quickly end up using gear unearthed (buzzing humming bird is the word) or need to run a (ground) cable all across the room to their air conditioner or TV earth screw terminal.

Of course, this ain't the case with studios and venues -- and also easy enough to implement 2x100V plugs (specially shaped prongs), if absolutely needed.

Thought this might be interesting to anyone designing gear that might end up on the Japanese (consumer) market.
 

abbey road d enfer

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With regard to Japan, just for the sake of completeness, the mains in apartments and houses over here do not all automatically accommodate for a ground or earth prong. There are wall plugs with an additional screw terminal though to connect green earth cable on fridges, microwaves, washing machines, air conditioners and sometimes TV -- but most mains plugs just don't have it.
Isn't there a specific double-voltage connection for high-power appliances (oven, range) as in the USA?
 

Script

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Oven/range is gas over here. Microwave runs on 100V, and so do washing machines etc

I have a 200V plug here but it's for a special air conditioner (only), but usually aircons here too run on 100V.
 

JohnRoberts

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50 hz will mean more primary current which can cook a marginal xfmr,
The average current should be the same but the peak current to deliver the same total in only 50 cycles per second instead of 60 will be 6/5 higher. In addition transformer saturation from not enough core to handle the peak magnetic flux can cause issues.

JR
 

Script

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I woulda thought that with the seismic risks it would not be the preferred energy source...
All house-installed gasmetres in Japan have seismic acceleration sensor. A bit too much of shaking and gas automatically shuts off entirely. I'd assume the same happens at all local distribution points. Last time I had to push gas back on after 15 minutes was in 2011 (several times over a few days actually).
How many amps is your installation rated for?
Wall plug says 25A. Breaker says 60A (see image).

Well, I guess I could run gear at 200V from that one plug if I had to. But plug sits high up on wall just under ceiling [...rest deleted...]

Old place (1970s condominium) was really bad. The power transformer of a vintage Sansui amp when turned on (inrush), but also when running, dimmed the luminary -- not an entirely uncommon phenomenon in older Japanese housings.

--End of footnotes regarding Japan--
 

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Mostly not because if the AC mains supply is stepped down, rectified, smoothed and maybe even regulated, the 50Hz/60Hz on the mains power won't really matter. There will of course be a few exceptions where the supply frequency is used to drive a strobe or a motor or is linked to an internal clock but I'd say most of the time you won't see (hear?) any difference. I'll just qualify that by adding PSUs designed to run on 50Hz will technically need slightly more smoothing capacitors to compensate for the lower frequency and of course those smoothing capacitors will work a little harder in terms of their ripple current.
 
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