Everything you ever wanted to know about
(but were afraid to ask)

Since the advent of eBay, many Aussie audiophiles have been tempted by online bargains on pre-loved Hi-Fi components from foreign vendors. Whenever our dollar goes up, people take advantage of these bargains.  Naturally, this raises questions about voltage conversion.  

The first question is usually:-
How much does it cost?

For small components and simple conversions, a standard fee of $180 applies. More complex conversions requiring parts may be quoted on a case-by-case basis. Extremely large and heavy items may incur additional handling costs. Below, left are some prices from recent conversions... optional extras may apply - see below, right for details.

Many classic Sansuis like this AU20000 can
be converted but there are exceptions.

Classe CAP-2100
Complex but converts OK

Audio Research VM220 Monoblocks
Depending on origin, may need mods

McIntosh MHT200
Conversion OK

Sonic Frontiers Line 3
Conversion OK

Conrad Johnson LP70
Conversion OK

Audio Research Reference II
Converts OK but needs parts

KRELL 400cx converts OK but others in this
series require software - go figure

Cello Sound Palette
Conversion OK

Golden Tube SE40

Converts OK but may need mods


McIntosh C2200
Conversion OK

Mark Levinson 383
Converts OK with small modification

Converts well with modifications

McIntosh MC352
Converts OK but may need parts

Cello Performance Monoblocks
Labour-intensive but convert OK

Conrad Johnson Premier 12
Conversion OK

Mark Levinson 331, 332, 333 etc
Labour-intensive but converts OK

McIntosh MC2102
Conversion OK

Balance Audio Technology VK-51se
Complex but converts OK

Musical Fidelity kW500
Conversion OK

Bryston 4BSST
Converts well with modifications

Mark Levinson 380s
Conversion OK

Bryston 7B-ST Pro Monoblocks
Convert well with modifications

Accuphase DD-57

Conversion OK


McIntosh 1000 Watt Monoblocks
OK - may need some parts & globes

Moon P5.3 line Stage
Conversion OK

Can foreign components be modified for 240V?
  About 95% of the time, yes.
Does voltage conversion affect the sound?
  Usually, things sound better on 240V
220 Volts is close enough to 240, right?

Not really, running some 220V units on 240V can reduce performance and shorten their life considerably!

See notes on "Voltage Tolerance" below, for more details.

Can I switch the voltage myself?
Isn’t there just a switch on the back?

Some classic audio units had this but it’s been outlawed by most electrical authorities for safety reasons.

What if I buy something that can’t be converted?

Most units that can’t be converted directly will work with a suitable step-down transformer.

Will I have to use a step-down transformer?
  Only if it can’t be converted to operate on 240V directly.
Will a step-down degrade the performance?

It depends on the component but this can be minimised by selecting the right transformer

Can you supply suitable step-down transformers?

Yes, we can supply a quality step-down transformer matched to your unit if necessary.

What exactly is a transformer and what does it do?

It changes the voltage to suit a specific device to allow it to be powered by the mains.

(it's either that or a giant alien robot impersonating a truck).

How exactly do you do conversions?

The exact method employed will depend entirely on the design of the component...

Are there any components that can’t be converted?

Units designed for a domestic market with no export intended can be difficult or expensive to convert. Brands and models that are (or have been) available in Australia are a safer bet.

NOTE: A small number of products are deliberately designed to thwart and obstruct voltage conversion!  We name and shame the guilty ones below!

Can you change the plug and cable?
  Yes, and there's usually some options, see below
How long does voltage conversion take?

Straightforward voltage conversions are usually a 1 to 2 day turnaround, depending on workload. Complex conversions or those requiring parts may take longer.

What options are available?

If your unit has a fixed power cord, we can supply & fit either a standard or approved Audio-Grade plug. In many cases, we can replace a fixed power cord with an IEC receptacle to allow Audio-Grade power interconnects to be used. If your unit already has an IEC, we can upgrade this to Audio-Grade.

The seller says it's already been converted over there.

You take a big risk plugging in anything that has allegedly been converted overseas. Whilst not wishing to cast doubt upon foreign dealers and instill panic, we've seen foreign conversions literally explode when plugged into 240V.

The problem is that they're usually not 100% sure how to do it and have no way to test 'converted' items on Aussie volts.

Bottom line? Get it checked out before you plug it in - or better still, just buy it 'as is' and get it converted here.

I plugged my 110V unit into 240V and it went BANG!

Don't panic! - This is almost exactly the same as what happens to a 240V unit when there's a power-surge - depending on the type of unit and the extent of damage, it may be recoverable. If original parts are no longer available, off-the-shelf and custom solutions are also possible.

When you convert my unit, can you fix other stuff too?

Sure... that's what we do! In addition to voltage conversion, we can supply and fit new connectors, cables, valves, controls and whatever needs fixing (subject to quotation).

BUT... we can't guarantee that every broken thing that gets sold online can always be fixed so make sure you do some homework before purchase...

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!

Are there any products to be wary of?

Any CD and SACD players, especially boutique brands that are more than a few years old, may use lasers that are rare, obsolete, stupidly overpriced ar just plain unobtainable.

Any valve equipment that uses valves that are no longer in production and not readily available.

Anything that nobody in Australia has ever heard of before.

Any old digital equipment.

What is your Premium Voltage Conversion Service?

Online Hi-Fi shoppers may, by prior arrangement, have units shipped directly to this facility for our unique Premium Voltage Conversion Service which comprises:-

1. Inspection and Assessment.
First, we ascertain that the goods have not been affected by mis-handling or environmental factors whilst in transit.

2. Electrical Safety and Compliance.
Next, we establish that the goods are fit for use at their native voltage and that the vendor's description is accurate.

3. 240V Conversion.
Only after the unit passes the first two stages is this step performed - minor faults or irregularities may be corrected at this time but anything which may raise a dispute must be identified & resolved before any modifications take place.

4. Performance Testing and Alignment.
Units are tested to ensure that full performance is achieved at 240V and adjusted if necessary - Valves (if applicable) are fitted and biased at this time.

5. Re-pack for shipping or pick-up.

This unique service gives you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the audio components you buy online will arrive fully operational and tested, ready to 'plug 'n play'.

Price will vary according to the size & complexity of the unit.

Voltage Tolerance:-
This is all about how much our mains voltage can vary and how much variation is tolerated by any given product.

First, let's talk about mains voltage. Our antique, coal-fired grid can fluctuate a fair bit... it's specified at 240V, +/-10% - which means in reality, it's going to fall somewhere between 216 and 264 volts. Mostly, it's pretty close to 240 but depending on where you are, the voltage could be consistently a little higher or lower than 240 - or it may fluctuate at various times of the day in response to demand.

Anything which is powered by the mains will naturally be designed to take the normal range of fluctuations into account and hopefully have some sort of design strategy for dealing with unexpected fluctuations that exceed tolerance (i.e. surges, brownouts etc).

Many parallel imports and eBay purchases that come into Australia from parts of Europe and Asia are setup for 220V. If we assume the voltage tolerance of these units is +/-10%, then their 'happy place' will be somewhere between 198V and 242V. This means that these units will be sitting close to their upper limit of tolerance when our mains is at its nominal voltage!

If the voltage tolerance of a 220V unit was 20% however, it would be able to tolerate up to 264V which would allow it to survive Aussie volts successfully... BUT - the actual voltage tolerance of many units is not always shown in their published specifications!

Generally, smaller, lighter units tend to be more tolerant than large, heavy ones... For instance, chargers for a smartphones & tablet computers will typically work anywhere between about 80 and 280V which means they can be plugged in anywhere in the world without a care. At the other end of the scale, large analogue amplifiers produce power and heat in direct proportion to mains voltage and their tolerance is very narrow by comparison... the good ones can sense over-voltage and over-temperature conditions and will shut down before they get into trouble - the not-so-good ones will slowly bake themselves from the inside out until golden crispy brown!

CD players, Blu-rays, solid-state preamps etc are usually much more voltage tolerant than power amps but this is not carved in stone and the above comments should be regarded as generalisations only.

Bottom line? Make sure you know exactly what you're plugging in and if in doubt, get it checked out!

Which things cannot be converted?

First. Let’s just be clear about this one fact:-
Anything can be converted but a small number of products are just too difficult or expensive for it to be a cost-effective proposition.

Occasionally, we come across a product that is deliberately designed to make voltage conversion difficult.

Some manufacturers like to think they can control the movement of second-hand equipment in this way. Often, they will release new products in the USA first and then, sometime later, move them into smaller markets like Australia... but then they get serious flack from their foreign distributors because the ‘new’ products they’re trying to shift are already selling for half price on eBay!

The smart way to deal with this, would be to get their domestic and international releases into sync... the DUMB way however, is to deliberately make the product really difficult to convert (also known as ‘punishing the customer’).

The dumb way ignores the fact that one of the comfort factors in buying big-name Hi-Fi is the thought that you’ll always be able to find a home for it if you decide it’s not for you. (cutting off the www as a marketplace ain’t that smart in the 21st Century, guys!)

The dumb way also ignores the fact that some of their potential clients for new high-end products have jet-setter lifestyles and may wish to shift some of their own equipment to their getaway in the south of France or wherever.

So, who is guilty of this silly behavior? The primary offenders are Mark Levinson and Krell. By inserting some sneaky software into their products, they detect the difference in the rotational speed of our generators (50hz vs. 60hz) and shut down the device.

I'm not saying you shouldn't buy these brands because they do make some really fabulous components - but there is absolutely no other reason why the product should know or care about what the frequency of the mains is. To convert one of these products, you must go, cap in hand, back to the manufacturer and pay whatever they demand for new software.

What makes this really, really silly, is that neither of the above brands have been consistent in using this trick so some of their products do it, while others, often in the same series, don’t!
(thereby proving my assertion that it’s completely unnecessary).

Where this approach seriously sucks is the fact that the products will most likely outlive the manufacturer’s commitment to legacy support, so there’s no guarantee you'll even get the software!

In the majority of cases, it’s still possible to convert these items but not without some additional modification work, most of which involves subverting their deliberate obstructions.

Yes, we can do it but it approximately doubles the conversion cost and no, a step-down won't work either... At this point in time, we don't have a complete map of which models are designed to obstruct conversion so, the best advice is to be aware that these brands will probably need some extra work to get them to operate in Australia.

What looks like a bargain might not be!


It's possible to do really well buying pre-loved components online and the vast majority of these will work well in Australia provided they are safely and professionally converted for 240 Volts.

There are a few products that should be avoided however, if you have read through the above information, you should be able to steer clear of the poor choices.