Will a US subwoofer work overseas if voltage is different?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Robert Sun, Sep 26, 2002.

  1. Robert Sun

    Robert Sun Agent

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    Living in Australia prices of speakers are much more expensive relative to some of the prices I see quoted in this forum. I was wondering if I bought a sub from a US shop and shipped it to Australia (which would still be significantly cheaper than buying it here) do I need a transformer for it since the voltage here is 240V?
     
  2. Andrew Chong

    Andrew Chong Supporting Actor

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    Hi Robert,
    I think that you will need some form of transformer to protect your investment.

    In case you didn't already know: the voltage in the U.S. is 120V at a frequency of 60Hz compared with Australia's 240/250V and 50Hz, not to mention that plug types are different. Travelling overseas with my shaver that has dual voltage capability, I have had to use a plug adapter to recharge.
     
  3. Robert Sun

    Robert Sun Agent

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    Thanks for the reply Andrew. If I have to get a transformer it may not be worth the trouble [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  4. Mike_Ch

    Mike_Ch Stunt Coordinator

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    Robert,
    Using the 100V/60Hz US electronics you'd need to plug it into a step-down transformer which will convert it to 240V/50Hz. They are available from shops like Tandy electronics and Dick Smith. Btw, what sub are you planning on getting? Is it a Hsu VTF-3? Because I agree the markup on that is ridiculous... another alternative (if you can wait a few months before buying) would be the new Signature series sub from VAF research which is specced to do 20Hz with very very low distortion (forget what the # was)... also has a touchscreen display for changing X-over and volume apparently. You might also consider browsing through local audio newsgroups for more info about subs at aus.hi-fi, aus.audio-visual.home-cinema and dvdplaza.
    Cheers,
    Mike
     
  5. Robert Sun

    Robert Sun Agent

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    Mike,

    Thanks for the info, especially the local sites. I haven't seen any of those before. It's depressing to see how cheap speakers are in the US relative to here!
     
  6. SVS-Ron

    SVS-Ron Screenwriter

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    Mike,

    You have the voltages and frequencies mixed up but the right idea.

    Robert,

    Having spent much of my Army career overseas I have experienced this from both consumer and OEM sides.

    Many items in the HT market outside North America are what's called "dual voltage". Frequently the power supplies are "auto switching", typically noted as "110v./60Hz~220v./50Hz". Nearly all gear made for export to non-US markets (including the armed forces, which buy LOTS of HT gear BTW) is this way.

    When it's no auto switching most gear outside the US is panel switched. That is, the user has to set the voltage to one of the combinations commonly seen. I've had gear with 4 different settings! Naturally the danger is that the switch comes in the wrong setting and... "poof" you toast the power supply. I'm not going to tell you how I know this ;^)

    As you guess, many manufacturers will design their systems so that they can be easily modified at the factory for 220V./50Hz use. SVS's are like this for instance. Ask for 220V. use (we all but assume this when filling orders outside the US, but always confirm it). In such cases you often have to supply your own local power cord (again, this is what we do) but that's all that's involved.

    Finally, there is the transformer solution. Go to any US military installation overseas (not much of an option in Australia admittedly, only a few lucky military school positions there) and you will see thousands of transformers for sale, running from 100watt versions, to 3Kw. The bigger the more expensive of course, and they can be VERY expensive. I'm sure some of the ones I've bought and sold over the years dated back to WWII. They last a long time.

    As mentioned, they do NOT step down the frequency of the AC so you'll have a feed that's 110v. 50Hz coming out when adapting a typical 220V. line voltage. MOST gear designed today can cope wtih this. Since much of my gear (and think of how many household appliances you have, then imagine taking them ALL overseas to a different voltage!) and tools etc. is 110v. only, I can tell you 95% of the time this is not an issue. I have had items that would NOT work with a transformer. Ironically, one of them was a powered subwoofer I ordered many years ago. Schlepping a subwoofer back to the mail room for US Postal shipping back (from a foreign country of course) to a mailorder company isn't something I recommend to the faint of heart.

    If you want to be totally covered, get a subwoofer that is either dual voltage (either "auto" or user-set, doesn't really matter), or factory built for 220V. You can take a chance on a 110V. unit (no matter if it's a sub, receiver, electric tooth brush, whatever) but probably shipping it back will be your responsibilty, if you can return it at all.

    PS, other, full range and other "passive" speakers (like passive subwoofers) can be run with your current amps and recievers no problem. They are NOT specific to 110v. or 220v. use. Find a receiver or amp you like on the local Aussie market and you can power ANY speaker or sub from the US, Canada, wherever.

    Hope that helps some.

    Ron
     
  7. Mike_Ch

    Mike_Ch Stunt Coordinator

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    Ron,
    D'oh, it was late at night, forgive me. My bad [​IMG]
    Cheers,
    Mike
     
  8. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    I lived in Australia and Singapore for a number of years. It is not particularly hard to get dual-voltage electronics, although if you are set on one brand or model, you will likely be disappointed.

    But, I looked for several months and could not find a dual voltage sub. I went with a passive sub (just as Ron suggested). I’m in the process of replacing this sub—and Ron, no offense, but your very fine product won’t pass my wife’s criteria, as she hates all black boxes—the bigger the more she hates them.

    If you decide to go the transformer route, make sure that you don’t skimp on cost. There is a big difference on how much juice they will handle, and I have seen others who have been disappointed when appliances burned out.
     
  9. MatthewK

    MatthewK Stunt Coordinator

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    You could always extend the offer for her to make a slip cover for it! [​IMG]
    Honestly I have heard of some people doing this to increase the WAF. I myself may have a holly slip cover over the fabric for the holidays (I won't let the cover go over the ports on the bottom or top)... I guess it will be one mean green (and red) bass machine. [​IMG]
    I guess whatever makes them happy and as long as it doesn't hurt the acoustic performance of the sub.
    Matthew
     

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