I purchased a piece of equipment from Japan, plugged it in and it blew up! Can you help?

That depends on just how badly you’ve blown up your new piece of equipment. Inspection is needed to determine that.

This one is moderately irritating and I see around one of these enquiries per week, so it’s not a rare occurrence! If you don’t know (and if you blew up your gear, I guess you don’t), Japan uses a mains supply rated at 100 Volts. The USA uses 120V. These supply voltages are 100% incompatible with Australian 240V mains. If you plug in a piece of hi-fi equipment that is set to run on 100V here in Australia for example, IT WILL FAIL, without exception.

Electronic equipment does not “automatically adjust” as one customer who blew up his gear suggested to me. He may have been thinking about cheap modern equipment with switched-mode power supplies (SMPS). These don’t automatically adjust, but rather accommodate a wide range of input voltages and can be used around the world, like phone chargers for example. Virtually none of the hi-fi gear we are interested in uses SMPS.

At a minimum, have new equipment checked to ensure it is configured to run on 240V. Some equipment can be configured to run on a variety of line voltages, and some cannot. Sometimes the adjustment is external, othertimes it requires soldering inside a chassis. You need to know whether yours can be configured for local operation and have it set to run at 240V if so. This is not something you can have a hunch about. Guessing on this is not an option!

“But Mike, it will cost me money to have my equipment checked and reconfigured..!”

That’s right, and it will cost you a massively greater amount of money if you plug it in and it fails. Up to you.

If your new equipment cannot be reconfigured, then a step-down transformer will be needed. There’s an FAQ for that. These reduce the line voltage down to a voltage that the new equipment can run on.