Should I ground my Tice Powerblock / Titan Combo?

I found out that the Tice PowerBlock / Titan Combo isn't grounded at the input power cord end... Should I ground it? Any pros and cons?
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Hey Kingsley,

Hang on. I WILL have a definitive answer for your today. I have a Power Block/Titan, and a Power Block II/Titan, and..... some original literature, newsletters, and a service bulletin.

Let me look through them and get back to you in a bit.

But the short answer is that the grounds are lifted.

Kinsley, et. al.,

Since the early 90's grounded wall plugs have been required in all new construction.

From Wikipedia; AC is the form in which electric power is delivered to businesses and ...Westinghouse Early AC System 1887 (US patent 373035).

So, for the first 100 years or so there was NO ground requirement in US homes.

In the early days of audio (for me, 60's and 70's) we did not have a problem with ground interaction, and ground loops, whether with audible hum, or without the hum, but just screwing up the quality of the sound system.

The first Power Block became available in 1987 and was sent out with grounding. A three wire with ground was standard. The ground wire was wired to one of the tabs/feet on the transformer and on to the ground terminals of the three duplex outlets.

I have Tice Audio Products Inc. Service Bulletin #1, dated March 4, 1988 (before the building codes requiring grounding) for serial numbers 122001 - 122046.
The instructions recommended removal of grounds and one of the 3.3 uf capacitors.

The result is indicated as; improved sound ie: cleaner lower midrange.

The green ground from the power cord in to be clipped and the "tie wrapped" to the two wires that come from the transformer to the outlets. All the rest of the ground wires are to be clipped off.

I am not going to take the time to look, but I believe that later George recommended re-establishing the grounds. I would guess that recommendation was based on keeping his butt covered legally.

The case of the Tice Power Block and the Titan is made of 1/4" ABS, and therefore non-conductive.
Hope that helps.

Bruce, you info helped a lot. Thank you so much. I discovered that the power cord isn't ground because I was change a wall plug into a 90 degree plug which allows me to put something next to the wall receptacle...

I have been looking around, everybody says that the grounding of the unit worsen the sound... but I do concern my safety, as well as my equipments.

So... what all of you think? Should I be the first to re-establish the ground? George is no where to be found, although I live very close to his old company address...

I am in NY.
As of 1962 the NEC required that new 120-volt household receptacle outlets, for general purpose use, be both grounded and polarized.

If the Tice Powerblock / Titan Combo is an isolation transformer and is not connected to the equipment ground of the premises then the neutral of the output, secondary winding, of the transformer is floating and could be hazardous to your health....

Of course who knows if the builder of the unit even connected one of the secondary leads of the transformer to the equipment ground inside the unit making it the neutral conductor, "The Grounded Conductor".

As I said earlier the unit is not UL and or CSA listed.
Jim is correct.

People certainly have been killed for lack of a ground.

I will just add a couple of bits of information and you can do what you will with them Kingsley.

There certainly are horror stories of what has happened with ungrounded equipment. And therefore you might consider yourself at great risk and decide to ground your system. So I will address that.

I mentioned that I thought I recalled George recommending re-establishing a ground. I did find that in a service bulletin. But before that.

Jim, a floating ground is exactly what George was after. I have two pieces of Tice Audio Products, Inc. literature. They look pretty much identical with a couple of exceptions. What I believe is the earlier piece has Ronkonkoma, NY on Pond Road as their location.

One of the 8 bullet points under Power Block Features list "6 - 15 AMP nylon faced grounded outlets". And there are only 6 bullet points under Inside The Power Block Transformer.

What I believe is the later piece of literature with Shorewood Lane in NY as the address (but prior to Service Bulletin #5, April 1991 I believe) omits the word "grounded" when referring to the outlets. And it has 7 bullet points under the "Inside the PB Trans". The seventh bullet point being "Floating ground system Isolates your equipment from ground noise".

OK, now to service bulletin #5. Because of "Static electric buildup in digital processors and players.." and the damage that can occur. The service bulletin instructs one to take the green wire that is tie wrapped and cut the tie wrap.

Connect the green wire to the ground terminal of "one" of the outlets. I assume, although it is not stated, that one should plug the digital into that outlet.

However, it really does not matter which piece of equipment (except for sonic purposes) is plugged into the grounded outlet, as long as that piece has a three prong grounded plug. All the rest of the system will be grounded through the interconnects to that piece. Of course this does away with the "floating ground". But at least it does not re-establish the multiple ground loops that were manufactured into the first several Power Blocks.

When the first Power Blocks left the factory they did not have the provision for connecting the Titan. The Titan connection pigtail was a retrofit. I assume George figured out two or three things; 1) the added reserve of an additional huge transformer sounded even better, 2) if the pigtail was already there it made for an easier up sell of the addition of a Titan, and 3) there wasn't a good reason not to get an additional $1,100 for one more transformer per customer, since the R & D was already done.

Kingsley. If you live in a house, and not an apartment, I would recommend the following

1) Do not connect the ground wire on the Power Block.
2) Establish a new ground, ideally with a dedicated ground rod, close to your system.
3) Ground just one piece of your system. Generally the preamp sounds best.

That being said YMMV (your mileage may vary). So, once you have established a good ground get a bunch of "cheater" plugs and one by one try each individual piece as the "master ground". You can also compare that to the floating ground of the Tice, since you have not connect any green wires there.

One combination will sound considerable better. Better? Yes, less background hash, better image, more focus, depth, width, sweeter, more relaxed, yada, yada, yada.

When I was chasing down the ground loops (no hum - just not allowing the system to function at its best), I entirely missed my speakers (Martin Logan Prodigy). Of course there was a ground on EACH speaker, connected back to the system by way of the speaker wires.

Try the cheater/lifted grounds experiment. Many who have, have been blown away at what they were missing. If you don't hear any difference, then just ground everything, don't become neurotic about it, and just enjoy your music.

But you just might get a new level of enjoyment from your system.

Oh yea, I forgot.

Once you decided which piece will be the master ground, lift the ground on all the rest of the equipment and get rid of the cheaters.

Jim, a floating ground is exactly what George was after.


The bigger problem is the floating 120Vac output of the transformer. Both leads of the secondary are hot without a true ground reference. For safety the output of the transformer,(if single ended), then one leg must be earth connected. (Balanced the center tap must be grounded). And because the transformer is a separately derived power system fed from the premises main grounded power system one leg of the secondary of the transformer must be connected to the main grounding system of the premises. If the unit plugs into a receptacle, the equipment ground of the receptacle branch circuit is used.

Also at the transformer unit where the output power receptacle/s are located, somewhere in the mix of things, the equipment ground contact of the receptacle/s must also be connected to the grounded leg of the output of the transformer and the equipment ground of the power cord that feeds the transformer. Star grounding.....

Just a quick example what could happen with a 120V floating power system. Say for what ever reason one of the lines feeding a piece of equipment, connected to the floating power source, was to short to the metal case. Nothing would happen right? No fuse would blow. The user of the equipment wouldn't know... No big problem right?

But what if for some reason another piece of equipment also experienced the same problem where the hot wire shorted to the case.... But this time it was the opposite hot wire from the floating 120V power source. Still no fuse will blow... The user will not know a problem may exist.... Only way the user will know if there is a problem if he touches both pieces of equipment at the same time... A 120Vac difference of potential from one to the other....

Just to throw another monkey wrench into the mix.... If the above example in my last post were to happen there is a good chance equipment could be damaged. A lot of audio equipment designer/manufactures connect the signal ground to the chassis/case of the equipment. If the faulted equipment is connected together by ICs then a short circuit will exist hopefully causing fuses within the equipment to blow.... Hopefully before any damage to the electronics of the audio equipment.
You can have your cake and eat it too.

You can have ALL your grounds AND improved sound, but it just might cost an arm and a leg.

Check out this July 2009 Dagogo review by Norm Luttbug. It does touch upon the evils and a solution for multiple grounds.


I live in an apt with no ground (built in the 40's). I just picked up a Tice Elite 3. I have an Rotel RSP1098, 2 SAE A202 amps, Rotel DVD player, tuner, etc to run off the Tice. Got it with no manual.. have no idea how to set the switches, what to do about the no ground etc etc.. HELP. thanks!
I live in an apt with no ground (built in the 40's).
10-06-10: Rotelmania

Multi story apt building? Good chance the electrical branch circuit wiring is installed in metallic conduit.

If you have a multi meter you can check it out.
*pull the receptacle outlet cover plate.
*Set the meter to AC volts.
*Insert one test probe in the screw hole that holds on the receptacle outlet cover plate. Or touch it to the one of the screws that holds the receptacle to the metal rough-in box.
*Insert the other test probe in the hot contact hole of the receptacle. Don't know which one is the hot one? Try both.

Meter should read 120Vac nominal....

If it does you have an equipment ground. How good of a ground? That depends on the integrity of all the fitting connections from the receptacle metal box all the way back to the electrical panel.

Hire an electrician he can test the ground conductivity by putting a temporary load across the hot conductor and the metal receptacle box. He will then check for voltage drop across the temporary load.

Have a new grounding type receptacle ready for the electrician to install if the equipment ground checks out ok.....
Jea48 THANKS!! Really appreciate the help. I know how to work a multi-meter but, not an EE major so... most appreciative!!

Ok, well, this should be interesting.. it was for me at least.

the wires are PAPER wraped with what looks like thick string (but with the characteristics of paper) :( talk about brittle.. look at it funny and it crumbles.. Have no idea how that works. What I looked at crumbled on me and I had to wrap it with electrical tape to cover it up. Old screw in style fuses etc. (I'm upping my renters insurance for replacement value on everything tomorrow!! :))

to your test.
You are right about some kind of ground.. weather the outlets are simply tying the ground and the neutral or, they are grounding through a metal conduit.. I don't know. what I see coming in the box is paper wrapped wire.. cant speak for whats behind the box in the wall. I didnt see a ground/neutral tie so, must be a metal conduit ground ??

OUTLET 1: has 120 between hot and ground good sign
OUTLET 2: has 84v between hot and ground :/ not sure what that means
OUTLET 3: has 1.3v between hot and ground ahhhh what now
OUTLET 4: in bathroom has 120v between hot and ground. good

wow, well, my Triplite Isobar on the TV is getting a good ground. But, my stereo is all tied in to the outlet with 1.3v to ground. (I have nothing in the outlet with 84v to ground)

Now, This may not matter as... NONE of my stereo equipment has a 3 prong plug! both amps/preamp/tuner... all 2 prong.

BUT.. my TICE ELITE 3 does have the 3 prongs. what happens if I plug this in and it gets a 1.3v ground? will I pop the Tice? Or is this not a big deal?



Sorry Bruce_Weiland if this looks familiar but I figure I'd post this so everyone may benefit.

I live in a an older house and I just purchased a Tice Power Block for my audio system. The outlet I have the Tice Power Block plugged into is grounded. I confirmed it with a Tripp Lite power strip that tell shows a green light when the outlet is grounded/ok.

I then plugged in the Tripp Lite power strip into an outlet on the Tice Power Block and the strip was showing there was a fault and there was no ground. I then checked all the other outlets and got the same reading.

Is this normal? I'm hoping the Tice Power Block is stll grounded and I can start plugging all my gear into it. I was hoping to plug in my amp, preamp, transport and dac into it. Should I have the Tice Power Block checked and possibly serviced for any grounding issues?

Thanks in advance.
The Power Block is is a isolation transformer...that means the neutral is isolated from the house...which in turn reads as an open circuit (no ground) if you plug a polarity checker (in this case the power strip) into the Tice output (secondary)...that is normal.
the wires are PAPER wraped with what looks like thick string (but with the characteristics of paper) :( talk about brittle.. look at it funny and it crumbles.. Have no idea how that works.
10-06-10: Rotelmania

Apt 40 years old?.... Probably more like at least 60 years old. You should have not pulled out the receptacle/s for a look. You will definitely need to hire an electrician to access the damage done by disturbing the old brittle insulated wiring.

10-07-10: Apmaher
The Power Block is is a isolation transformer...that means the neutral is isolated from the house...which in turn reads as an open circuit (no ground) if you plug a polarity checker (in this case the power strip) into the Tice output (secondary)...that is normal. is not fine.....

By UL the neutral cannot float. It must be connected to the main system ground of the house. In fact, in this case, there is no neutral just 2 floating hot conductors with out a reference to ground.

Obviously the Tice was never submitted to UL for testing and certification.
Tice Service Bulletin #5 April 1991

Subject: Connecting ground in Power Block & Micro Block.
"Static electricity buildup in digital processors and players can cause damage to their circuit components. Excess static electricity can be drained off by insuring that your digital processor or player is properly grounded. The following change should be made to all Power Blocks and Micro Blocks to ensure effective grounding for digital equipment."

"1. Remove cover and locate the green wire coming from the power cord as it enters the unit. The cut end of the green wire will be secured with a tie wrap. Cut and remove the tie wrap to free the green wire.
2. Strip back a small amount of insulation from this wire. Attach the green wire to the UNUSED green screw at the corner of the outlet. DO NOT CONNECT THE GREEN WIRE TO THE GOLD OR SILVER SCREWS.
3. Reinstall the cover BEFORE applying power to the Block."

That was all verbatim from the service One set of the three pair of outlets will be grounded. Use those two for Digital equipment.

The Tice Service Bulletin #5 from April 1991 does nothing to meet UL or electrical code safety standards of the US in 1987 let alone 1991.

Connecting the safety equipment ground from the mains wall receptacle to the green ground screw of one of the duplex receptacles of the unit does nothing for the electrical safety for the consumer using the unit. The 120V secondary winding of the isolation transformer separately derived system is still allowed to float above ground. Neither hot contact of the duplex receptacles of the Tice unit have a reference to ground. Any device plugged into any of the 120V receptacles of the Tice Power block that use a cord and plug that utilizes a safety equipment grounding conductor will not have any ground fault protection.

Here is a quote from a book written by Henry Ott, 3.1.6 Separately Derived Systems.

Intentionally bonding, connecting, one lead of the secondary winding of the isolation transformer to earth ground, (the main grounding system of the home's electrical service), does not change the properties of the isolation transformer or the fact it still is a separately derived 120V system. What it does do is create a new Grounded Conductor, the Neutral Conductor. A new grounded AC power system derived from the main AC grounded electrical service power system it is fed from.