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  • New/Old House- Sub panel/Isolation Transformer/Dedicated Lines

    Things are proceeding apace here in Texas. We bought a house--located right in town--that is a gem. It's an historic house, but has been fully restored, from new sonotube concrete piers (pier and beam construction) to rescuing all the old woodwork, shutters, wainscoting, door knobs, latches and bead board. The house has some history and even has a hyphenated name! All the mechanicals/infrastructure are newish, circa 2004, when the restoration was completed. We will gradually be doing things to make the house more liveable- right now, it looks like an old West museum, with period wall paper, lot's of period wood work and details.This will be a gradual process- moving a couple walls, enlarging the kitchen, adding a full tub to a dressing room area, etc. The house is set back in a wild growth lot that looks like un-manicured field and forest, but it is really in the midst of town- there is an apartment complex surrounding it that is virtually invisible once you are on the property. It's like a time warp when you are there- quiet, and completely removed from the city. A few blocks walk to South Congress, where all the clubs and restaurants are in the 'Keep Austin Weird' zone. The house also has city views from the widow's walk at the top---accessed through a marine hatch! So much for the house itself.
    My plan is to build an outbuilding for the system and record collection. Since this is an historic house, it has to meet a variety of approvals, and of course, there's the outlay to construct it, in addition to the changes we want to make within the house itself. So, in the interim, I'm going to set up my main system on the second floor- a large modern space (unlike the main floor).
    Subpanel- check- probably Square D with a copper buss bar, tentatively mounted on the second floor in a room closet adjacent to the listening room.
    Isolation Transformer- I already have the big Equi=Tech wall cabinet in storage, but I don't want to try to install that in the house-in fact, I'm not sure it would be code compliant since it is balanced power. I'm saving that for the contemplated outbuilding, where I gather I can get a separate service line. (Big Yay! on that ).
    Instead, I want an electrician to connect a 'naked' isolation transformer (in a NEMA box) to this sub panel. I'm having a couple of electrical contractors come visit in the next week or so to talk about feasibility; obviously, I want to be code compliant. (One of the things I like about Texas is that you can call the Electrical Inspector and get him on the phone! I spoke to him in rough terms about what I wanted to do, and it seemed to be no issue, but I want to bore down on the details with the electrical contractor, and have it permitted and inspected so there are no issues).
    I plan to run several dedicated lines from this sub panel to the second floor set up--precise location of receptacles to be determined. One thing I learned from my last house was not to bundle the cable together in conduit (in that case, brought up from the basement to a third floor)- the electrical noise from the air compressor motor zapped across the audio power lines, so individual, unbundled dedicated lines from a sub panel on the same floor shouldn't be too hair raising--
    I doubt I'll spring for the $400 a pop outlets for this set-up, since it is an interim one until we do the outbuilding.
    I'll also need some dedicated power to feed my "vintage" system which will be located in the front parlor on the ground floor.
    One oddity, at least for me, having lived in the NorthEast most of my life, is not only the absence of a basement-- there is a generous height crawl space under the foundation that is accessible through a locked door- but given the construction, the main electrical panel is mounted to the outside of the house. Virtually every house I have seen of this type leaves the main panel unlocked!
    One of the issues here is heat. It gets brutally hot in Austin during the summer- the un-conditioned attic spaces can be extremely hot. So, I'm reluctant to install any of this electrical equipment in an attic space, but may revisit that issue with the electrical contractor.
    Any thoughts, ideas or suggestions are welcome. I'm not going to do a fancy ground array for this, since it will share the main house ground- which I will have beefed up. If and when I get separate service to an outbuilding, I can go to greater extremes on the grounding as well.
    We are pretty excited-- lot's to do, beyond the hi-fi, but I'm pretty thrilled about this house-- it is hardly a run of the mill place, and I think a lot of people who saw it when it was listed admired it, but couldn't imagine how they could live in it. For us, I think the eccentric nature of the place hits our buttons. I had sworn off historic houses after having a brownstone, an old Spanish Colonial villa and a late 18th century Greek Revival. I was really hoping to find a Richard Neutra-style International modern house. But, the sad reality is, most of the mid-century modern here is modest, small and of poor construction- some have been renovated, but the really killer ones are new and insanely pricey. I'm just a pensioner now, retired, living modestly in the twilight of my life.

  • #2
    Bill, first congrats on the house and the project! Sounds like it will be very special when all is said and done.

    Second, this thread couldn't have been more perfectly timed for me. I was just going to start a thread looking for electrical recommendations before I go down the path of investing into PLCs (if still necessary). I had a conversation with a long time Agoner (babybear for those familiar with him) and he and I exchanged PMs on AS about this topic. He had some suggestions (gauge of wire, triple twisting, etc), but I must've deleted the PMs or they got archived away. So am interested to build up some knowledge in this area before speaking to contractors.

    Congrats again, Bill, and look forward to the evolution of your room and this thread. Subscribed.

    Kronos Sparta -> Trinity Phono -> Trinity Pre -> CH Precision A1 -> Magico S7s

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    • #3
      Originally posted by allenh View Post
      Bill, first congrats on the house and the project! Sounds like it will be very special when all is said and done.

      Second, this thread couldn't have been more perfectly timed for me. I was just going to start a thread looking for electrical recommendations before I go down the path of investing into PLCs (if still necessary). I had a conversation with a long time Agoner (babybear for those familiar with him) and he and I exchanged PMs on AS about this topic. He had some suggestions (gauge of wire, triple twisting, etc), but I must've deleted the PMs or they got archived away. So am interested to build up some knowledge in this area before speaking to contractors.

      Congrats again, Bill, and look forward to the evolution of your room and this thread. Subscribed.
      Allen- i talked to Arnie (that's babybear, right?) several years ago, when I first contemplated moving to Austin and doing this. (Also to JFrech who is in the Austin area and has a high end system). Are you in Austin? I should reach out to Arnie and J again now that I'm here. The full monty system wiring will probably not occur til I do the outbuilding, which could be a couple years, between planning, approvals and cash flow. So, think of this as retrofitting into an existing space, on a relatively cost-conscious level (I know that's a joke in the relative scheme of things). But, part of the fun is the process, right?

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      • #4
        Bill-Congrats on the purchase of your new home! I know this has been a long process for you and I'm glad you grabbed a piece of history that is going to fill the needs of both you and your wife. Any pictures you can share?

        My wife and I will be house hunting next week and I hope we find something we like in person.
        Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by mep View Post
          Bill-Congrats on the purchase of your new home! I know this has been a long process for you and I'm glad you grabbed a piece of history that is going to fill the needs of both you and your wife. Any pictures you can share?

          My wife and I will be house hunting next week and I hope we find something we like in person.
          Mark- I have the impression, based on years of talking to you online, that you are a capable person, so you know what to look for in terms of integrity of structure, mechanicals, etc.
          I will say that the process is quite exhausting in a seller's market, like Austin, where anything really desirable is stupid money (if you are looking to live like a "normal" person), and gets snatched up immediately, with overbids. That sort of frenzy may not be going on in the market you are targeting- I just had to tune it out.
          We had a very good broker working for us as a buyer's agent- worth his weight in gold. He not only knew the market, but had solid background in development, construction, renovation and pricing- he tended to be very conservative. His input was invaluable.
          After you get through the searching-- which you can do online--it is worth doing drive-bys to check the neighborhood and street to narrow down what you actually take the time to 'see' by appointment.
          Among the other things I learned- totally different than New York, where the onus is on the seller to confirm that all work was properly permitted, Texas, and perhaps other places, are caveat emptor- requiring a check of local permitting authority to see what's on record, as well as a survey.
          The other oddity-- again may be different for you--is that in New York, everything is handled by the lawyer, once a price is agreed upon in principle. Here, lawyers are barely part of the process- typically, the agent does the contract, deals with the various pre-closing issues. If you are buying for cash, and no bank is involved, the onus on you is even greater-- since when mortgages are involved, the bank does a lot of this work just to protect themselves.
          Obviously, a house inspector is part of the equation, but that as you know is superficial- at most raises flags. We used a good inspector who flagged one air conditioning system as problematic, but when we got the HVAC contractor to test, both systems needed work. And so you start to dig in and unearth the issues that factor into pricing and planning.
          We did a pretty extensive survey as part of the contract process, largely because we needed to get assurance that an outbuilding could be constructed within the various zoning and historic district hurdles.
          We've had a number of houses over the years-- all of them old-- and it's been a learning experience every time.
          One of the things about Austin (and this may be true where you are looking) is that until, say, a decade or so ago, the whole inspection/permitting thing was pretty loose. So, people just did additions without the necessary approvals or inspections. Now, that stuff is all vulnerable to challenge- if you want to renovate a kitchen or bath, and seek a permit, you suddenly find (if you didn't unearth this in due diligence beforehand) that the master bedroom wing is not permitted and exceeds zoning limitations. So, you wind up getting stuck retro-approving something--at some considerable cost, before you can move forward on the thing you wanted to do.
          The biggest deception is of course, those bird's-eye photos--making a listing on line look like a huge space when in reality, it is a joke. On the other hand, when I see listings that had only a handful of dark, very unprofessional looking photos, the thing screams "total gut"! Some of the little Craftsman cottages in Clarksville, that are selling for 1 million, unrestored, with tiny lots, boast about "original wall space heaters." Yeah, right, great selling point.
          The acid test, apart from integrity of the building and infrastructure, is whether the place actually looks better in the flesh than in the pictures. Those are the keepers! Have fun.

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          • #6
            Bill-You raise all great points obviously. There is only so much you can do to protect yourself as we know. We are heading to eastern TN to look at a list of houses we have put together that we are interested in. As you said, there is no comparison to seeing them in person vice online pictures. On the other hand, if the online pictures look horrible, there is no sense wasting your time. Some houses seem to be overpriced while others seem to represent great value. The "great value" houses are actually more scary to me because you wonder why they are a "great value." Double homicide happen in the house? Inhabited by 3 demons and 4 lost souls? I swear, if I look at pictures of the inside of a house taken on a sunny day which you can tell from the outside shot and you can't see an ounce of sunshine inside the house, something is wrong.

            Some houses have what I call real character and some houses are just pretentious and have no soul. In the end, unless your budget is limitless, there are going to be compromises. We will pay for a home inspection and hopefully get someone who knows what they are doing. In TN, you also need to have a radon test performed. I hope when we get there we like the area and the vibe and find a home that we feel good about and that was constructed properly. We also don't want to live in a neighborhood with HOA Nazis running your life and telling you what color you can paint your shudders and whether or not you can plant a tree or cut a tree down. We currently have 3 house dogs, and 3 dogs are not permitted in lots of HOA subdivisions. I would rather put up one of the HOA cult leaders for adoption and keep my 3 dogs.
            Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

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            • #7
              Bill, congrats! your new digs sounds like a unique property with lots of character...looking forward to the pics.
              TechDAS | Graham Eng | ZYX | B.M.C. | Boulder | Magico

              "Listening to Analogue music is an act of rebellion in a digital gulag" - Simon Yorke

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              • #8
                Very exciting, congratulations!

                You may have already thought of this, but outside of roof, water ingress-grade elevation , mechanical systems and structure- do yourself a favour and scope the main waste line to the street and test that the water pressure is acceptable. In the NW it can be a considerable nuisance and expense.

                I have had numerous late 1800's and early 1900's homes and this is always a killer expense - I've been caught but never again. You are more of a risk taker than I ... I don't think I have another renovation in me for turn of the century homes- they are beautiful but require a good constitution and lots of cash. Sounds like you got a gem.

                I'm in my mid 50's and outside of maybe another investment property we might downsize from the home we built 5 years ago ( my first ever new home) and build new again but smaller.

                Keep us informed with the progress.
                Front end: Aesthetix Io Eclipse with 2 Power Supplies and Volume controls
                Brinkmann Balance & RonT Tube Power supply with Kuzma 4-point ,FR64S, Brinkmann 12.1 , .Koetsu Jade Platinum,Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum, Lyra Atlas, Lyra Etna SL Goldfinger Statement, KLAUDIO RCM, HRSM3X
                Amps: Wyetech Topaz, Futterman H3 Quad II,Citation II, Marantz 8b, 5 ,2
                Pre-Amps:Marantz 7, Marantz Model 1 Consolette Pair
                Speakers: Quad ESL 57, Beveridge Model 3 DD amps, REL S/2 x 2
                Otari 5050BXII, DeHavilland 222

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                • #9
                  Congrats Bill for finding a new den. I wish you all the best for bringing your new home to specs.

                  I went trough a serious renovation once in my life as I just kept the brick walls and some beams of my late 18th century farmhouse. I won't do it twice. Never again...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by kcin View Post
                    Very exciting, congratulations!

                    You may have already thought of this, but outside of roof, water ingress-grade elevation , mechanical systems and structure- do yourself a favour and scope the main waste line to the street and test that the water pressure is acceptable. In the NW it can be a considerable nuisance and expense.

                    I have had numerous late 1800's and early 1900's homes and this is always a killer expense - I've been caught but never again. You are more of a risk taker than I ... I don't think I have another renovation in me for turn of the century homes- they are beautiful but require a good constitution and lots of cash. Sounds like you got a gem.

                    I'm in my mid 50's and outside of maybe another investment property we might downsize from the home we built 5 years ago ( my first ever new home) and build new again but smaller.

                    Keep us informed with the progress.
                    Just remember, if you downsize your home, you upsize your wife.
                    Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

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                    • #11
                      Good luck with your project. The outbuilding sounds like a really exciting project. I remember my visits to Winston Ma's place, where he built the music outbuilding of a lifetime. Though it was connected to the main house, it was built completely with the thought of the best music listening room it could be. Turned out to be very special.

                      Larry
                      Analog- VPIClassic3-3DArm,SoundsmithZephyrII+MiyajimaZeroMono, 2xAmpex ATR-102,Doshi3.0,Merrill Trident Master Tape Pre,Herron VTPH-2A
                      Dig Rip-Pyramix,IzotopeRX3Adv,Mykerinos,PacMicroModel2
                      Dig Play-mchNADAC, LampiPac, Roon, HQP, Oppo105
                      Electronics-Doshi Pre,CJ MET1mchPre, Cary2A3monoamps
                      Speakers-AvantgardeDuosLR,3SolosC,LR,RR
                      Other-2x512Engineer/Marutani Symmetrical Power, AudioDiskVinylCleaner,AirTightRecordFlat, Scott Rust Interconnects,
                      Music-15KRecs(90%classical),1.3KR2Rtapes,50TBrips

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                      • #12
                        Wow Bill! You made it. Hope you saw some great sites along the way. Hope you get your system off the ground quickly. So when's the house warming party? 🤡🤠
                        TW Acustic TT with Ref motor & controller; Tri-Planar Arm; Ortofon Windfeld-Ti Cartridge, Harmonix-Combak platter mat & weight; PS Audio Stellar Phono Preamp; KLAudio Ultrasonic Record Cleaner.

                        Bluesound Vault-2 Music Server & Streamer

                        VTL 6.5 preamp Series II
                        Pass Labs 150.8 Amp

                        Piega C711 Loudspeakers

                        Symposium Osiris Rack; Symposium Platforms and Roller Blocks plus grade 2.5 Balls

                        Acoustic Revive RR-888 Low Frequency Pulse Generator, Synergistic Research 12 UEF SE Line Conditioner, Level 3 HC AC Cord and Level 3 power cords, Synergistic Carbon fiber wall plates, Synergistic Research Orange Outlet, Furutech NCF Booster Braces, Audio Art Ref IC, MIT Oracle IC, synergistic Research Atmosphere X Euphoria Level 3 Balanced ICs, Synergistic Research Euphoria Level 3 Speaker Cables, Synergistic Research Cable Risers.

                        Sennheiser HDV 650 Headphone Amp; Sennheiser HD800s Headphones.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mep View Post

                          Just remember, if you downsize your home, you upsize your wife.
                          Yikes!
                          Front end: Aesthetix Io Eclipse with 2 Power Supplies and Volume controls
                          Brinkmann Balance & RonT Tube Power supply with Kuzma 4-point ,FR64S, Brinkmann 12.1 , .Koetsu Jade Platinum,Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum, Lyra Atlas, Lyra Etna SL Goldfinger Statement, KLAUDIO RCM, HRSM3X
                          Amps: Wyetech Topaz, Futterman H3 Quad II,Citation II, Marantz 8b, 5 ,2
                          Pre-Amps:Marantz 7, Marantz Model 1 Consolette Pair
                          Speakers: Quad ESL 57, Beveridge Model 3 DD amps, REL S/2 x 2
                          Otari 5050BXII, DeHavilland 222

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                          • #14
                            Congrats on the move and getting a place. That sounds suspiciously like a house a friend's family owned in the 80s but there were plenty around of a similar bent.
                            Turntable: - 1. Fairchild 750/OMA slate plinth
                            2. Analog Engineering AE-2008 MinusK support.
                            Tonearm: 1. Schroder Custom
                            2. Schick 12"
                            3. Abis SA-1
                            Cartridge: Miyajima Kansui and Premium BE Mono
                            PhonoPre: AprilSound LR, EMIA Strain Gauge, EMIA silver SUT
                            CD: Wadia 860x
                            Server: Innuos Zen Mini Mk3
                            DAC: Computer Audio Design 1543 Mk2
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                            Amplifier: AprilSound SET50 monoblocks
                            Speaker: Pioneer PAX-30C

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bill Hart View Post
                              Things are proceeding apace here in Texas. We bought a house--located right in town--that is a gem. It's an historic house, but has been fully restored, from new sonotube concrete piers (pier and beam construction) to rescuing all the old woodwork, shutters, wainscoting, door knobs, latches and bead board. The house has some history and even has a hyphenated name! All the mechanicals/infrastructure are newish, circa 2004, when the restoration was completed. We will gradually be doing things to make the house more liveable- right now, it looks like an old West museum, with period wall paper, lot's of period wood work and details.This will be a gradual process- moving a couple walls, enlarging the kitchen, adding a full tub to a dressing room area, etc. The house is set back in a wild growth lot that looks like un-manicured field and forest, but it is really in the midst of town- there is an apartment complex surrounding it that is virtually invisible once you are on the property. It's like a time warp when you are there- quiet, and completely removed from the city. A few blocks walk to South Congress, where all the clubs and restaurants are in the 'Keep Austin Weird' zone. The house also has city views from the widow's walk at the top---accessed through a marine hatch! So much for the house itself.
                              My plan is to build an outbuilding for the system and record collection. Since this is an historic house, it has to meet a variety of approvals, and of course, there's the outlay to construct it, in addition to the changes we want to make within the house itself. So, in the interim, I'm going to set up my main system on the second floor- a large modern space (unlike the main floor).
                              Subpanel- check- probably Square D with a copper buss bar, tentatively mounted on the second floor in a room closet adjacent to the listening room.
                              Isolation Transformer- I already have the big Equi=Tech wall cabinet in storage, but I don't want to try to install that in the house-in fact, I'm not sure it would be code compliant since it is balanced power. I'm saving that for the contemplated outbuilding, where I gather I can get a separate service line. (Big Yay! on that ).
                              Instead, I want an electrician to connect a 'naked' isolation transformer (in a NEMA box) to this sub panel. I'm having a couple of electrical contractors come visit in the next week or so to talk about feasibility; obviously, I want to be code compliant. (One of the things I like about Texas is that you can call the Electrical Inspector and get him on the phone! I spoke to him in rough terms about what I wanted to do, and it seemed to be no issue, but I want to bore down on the details with the electrical contractor, and have it permitted and inspected so there are no issues).
                              I plan to run several dedicated lines from this sub panel to the second floor set up--precise location of receptacles to be determined. One thing I learned from my last house was not to bundle the cable together in conduit (in that case, brought up from the basement to a third floor)- the electrical noise from the air compressor motor zapped across the audio power lines, so individual, unbundled dedicated lines from a sub panel on the same floor shouldn't be too hair raising--
                              I doubt I'll spring for the $400 a pop outlets for this set-up, since it is an interim one until we do the outbuilding.
                              I'll also need some dedicated power to feed my "vintage" system which will be located in the front parlor on the ground floor.
                              One oddity, at least for me, having lived in the NorthEast most of my life, is not only the absence of a basement-- there is a generous height crawl space under the foundation that is accessible through a locked door- but given the construction, the main electrical panel is mounted to the outside of the house. Virtually every house I have seen of this type leaves the main panel unlocked!
                              One of the issues here is heat. It gets brutally hot in Austin during the summer- the un-conditioned attic spaces can be extremely hot. So, I'm reluctant to install any of this electrical equipment in an attic space, but may revisit that issue with the electrical contractor.
                              Any thoughts, ideas or suggestions are welcome. I'm not going to do a fancy ground array for this, since it will share the main house ground- which I will have beefed up. If and when I get separate service to an outbuilding, I can go to greater extremes on the grounding as well.
                              We are pretty excited-- lot's to do, beyond the hi-fi, but I'm pretty thrilled about this house-- it is hardly a run of the mill place, and I think a lot of people who saw it when it was listed admired it, but couldn't imagine how they could live in it. For us, I think the eccentric nature of the place hits our buttons. I had sworn off historic houses after having a brownstone, an old Spanish Colonial villa and a late 18th century Greek Revival. I was really hoping to find a Richard Neutra-style International modern house. But, the sad reality is, most of the mid-century modern here is modest, small and of poor construction- some have been renovated, but the really killer ones are new and insanely pricey. I'm just a pensioner now, retired, living modestly in the twilight of my life.
                              You can always install the deluxe outlets and have them move them over when the final listening space is completed.
                              Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                              Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                              ________________________________________

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