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Ground Loops: The Rest of the Story

The mechanisms that enable so-called ground loops to cause well-known hum, buzz, and other audio system noise problems are well known. But what causes power-line related currents to flow in signal cables in the first place? This paper explains how magnetic induction in ordinary premises AC wiring creates the small voltage differences normally found among system ground connections, even if “isolated” or “technical” grounding is used. The theoretical basis is explored, experimental data shown, and an actual case history related. Little has been written about this “elephant in the room” topic in engineering literature and apparently none in the context of audio or video systems. It is shown that simply twisting L-N pairs in the premises wiring can profoundly reduce system noise problems.

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