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Power Conditioning: The Next Level

post #1 of 64
Thread Starter 
I've been bitten by the upgrade bug again. I'm happy with my Max. I'm very happy with my Sony SCD-C333ES for now. My Tara Labs RSC Reference Gen 2 interconnects are also doing a fine job of getting the music from the 333 to the Max. My Sennheiser HD-600's and MDR-7506's are providing me with fantastic headphonin'. And the Brick Wall I've got is very confidence inspiring as far as surge protection goes. At least as important, the Brick Wall has also lowered the noise floor of my main rig. Overall, the sonic effects of the Brick Wall in the system have been nothing but positive so far -- enough to make me realize that power conditioning can be one of the best bang-for-the-buck upgrades/tweaks

Nevertheless, I'm convinced I can further improve the power delivery to my components, and so I've been weighing my options in this regard. I'm not too far along in my quest for even cleaner power than I've got now, but here are some of the things I'm considering:
  • PS Audio's PowerPlant 300 or 600: Price no object, one of these would likely be my first choice. Advantages include regulation of voltage up and down, they output a good sine wave at all times (which you can play with with the MultiWave settings), and they output balanced power. The only disadvantages I can think of are size, heat (they can run hot), and they consume far more power at idle than any of the other units I'm considering -- oh yeah, and price. These things are expensive (US$1,245.00 and US$2,395.00, respectively), which puts them further down my list than I'd like. Miracles would have to sprout from their very outlets to make me spend that much dough (and maybe they'll do just that).
  • PS Audio's Ultimate Outlets: The more I read about balanced power, the more I want balanced power (at the end of this post I'll have some links you should check out to find out more about balanced power). And the Ultimate Outlet, per PS Audio's claims, provides many of the benefits of balanced power (very good differential and common mode noise reduction in particular), but does not produce balanced output -- that is, it still produces 120v/0v output versus a balanced 60v/60v output. What I'm considering is two Ultimate Outlets because there is no isolation between the two receptacles in each Ultimate Outlet, and the power isolation between components is a significant part of what I want to continue to achieve. So advantages include good differential and common mode noise reduction, filtering of the AC, surge protection (which isn't so crucial to me since it's going behind the Brick Wall unti), lowers output impedance of the socket, and can produce as much power as the wall outlet will allow. Another advantage is price if you only need one (US$299.00 for 15-amp version and US$399.00 for 20-amp version). Disadvantages include unbalanced power output, and no isolation between the two outlets in a single unit which means I'd need two Ultimate Outlets to accomplish the isolation I want (US$598.00 for two 15-amp units, US$698.00 for one of each, and US$798.00 for two 20-amp units).
  • Equi=Tech Model T1000 Balanced Power System: The founder of Equi=Tech (Martin Glasband) is one of the biggest proponents of balanced power, and, again, the concept of balanced power in audio/video applications makes an awful lot of sense to me (and to many others). The advantages of the Equi=Tech T1000 is the balanced configuration, and all the benefits that come with that: balanced output, strong common mode noise rejection, clean ground due to inversely phased reactive currents cancelling each each other out at the ground, etc. (read the reference links at the end of this message for more details). It also has isolated outlets. The only disadvantage I can see is the price of the unit -- US$989.00, and EMI/RFI filtering is a US$179.00 option.
  • B-P-T Model BP-3 Balanced Power Isolator: Now this is the product that I'm looking most seriously at right now. Truth be told -- given the price point I'm looking at and the features I want -- I see B-P-T's BP-3 and PS Audio's 15-amp Ultimate Outlets (plural, because I need two) as the two main contenders for the position in my system between the Brick Wall and my components. I spoke with Chris Hoff (the president/founder of B-P-T) at length yesterday night, and his faith in his products seems genuine. Chris seems to have as much passion for his products and their performance as Paul McGowan (PS Audio) and Martin Glasband (Equi=Tech) do for their their own. And Chris' balanced power products seem to promise all that Equi=Tech's offer, but at significantly lower price points. So far, the reviews I've read of B-P-T products on Audio Asylum have been very positive. I will likely at least try the BP-3 and PS Audio's Ultimate Outlets to see how they compare (I may also get my hands on an Equi=Tech unit). Why am I so interested in the BP-3? Again, all the advantages of balanced power output (see the links below), four stages of EMI/RFI filtering come standard, and two entirely separate balanced transformers (one 1000VA transformer rated at 8+ amps continuous, and one 300VA transformer rated at 2.5 amps continuous) for pretty much total isolation between components (and isolation is a very key consideration for me). B-P-T can also customize their products for specific uses, and Chris found my needs as a headphone hi-fi enthusiast interesting, and even had some suggestions for me on different configurations of a couple of his products that would likely work well for me. I have a few more questions for Chris, but I'm quite close to ordering a BP-3 with some customizations to meet my needs. The retail price of the BP-3 is US$599.00 (the extras I'm ordering would likely add a bit more to the price). The only disadvantage evident to me is that B-P-T's products do not appear to be as pretty to look at as, say, PS Audio's PowerPlants, but this is of little importance to me.

It's important to note I haven't used or listened to any of these products yet, but I thought some of you considering power conditioning might find some of my preliminary views of some interest, and might be able to provide additional suggestions/opinions. Again, given price considerations, the two most likely candidates for me at this time are two of PS Audio's 15-amp Ultimate Outlets or B-P-T's BP-3 Balanced Power Isolator. I may get my hands on an Equi=Tech unit and PS Audio PowerPlant too -- we'll see.

For more information, here are some links:
I'd appreciate any comments/suggestions any of you might have regarding power conditioning/balanced power, power regeneration, etc.

As I gain actual experience with any (maybe even all) of the above products, I'll let you know my impressions.
post #2 of 64
Thread Starter 

Balanced Like A Circus Tightrope Walker

Well I couldn't wait to start, so I just ordered the B-P-T model BP-3, but with some very cool upgrade/customizations that should suit the dedicated head-fi rig very well:
  • Clarity C-7 power cord: 7-ga. balanced power cord made of MIL-Spec. silver-plated copper wire jacketed with Teflon, shielded for RFI rejection, and enclosed in a protective mesh casing.
  • Hand matched 1/2% polystyrene bypass capacitors -- "for improved detail and high frequency extension"
  • Heavy damping on the interior of cabinet -- "to reduce resonance and improve clarity"
  • Low-resonance isolation feet
  • Hospital-grade outlets
  • Separate filtering for each duplex outlet -- because I'm very particular now about keeping components isolated from other components.

Though this unit isn't cheap ($599.00 plus upgrades), it's still less expensive than many power conditioners out there, and among the most affordable with true balanced power (and easily the most affordable with two entirely separate balanced power transformers in one chassis).

I also considered the BP-Jr. model, which has one 300VA balanced power transformer and two outlets -- it's only $249.00. Chris at B-P-T told me he could have the outlets on the BP-Jr. isolated for me (I think he got the idea I was particular about isolation). He said that the BP-Jr. would likely power my entire head-fi rig (SACD player and headphone amp) just fine, and may even represent an ideal balanced power solution for most dedicated head-fi rigs. Though I believed that the BP-Jr. would likely suffice, I went with the bigger BP-3 because it was still within my budget.

I'm definitely looking forward to receiving this beast (I believe it weighs around 40 pounds), as I've never tried balanced power with my rig, and everything I've read about balanced power is very encouraging. Of course, I'll keep you all posted about my impressions of the BP-3 and any other products I compare to it.

Man, I've got to stop this audio spending! But not yet -- I now want to get a couple of those PS Audio Ultimate Outlets to compare to this BP-3.

Is anyone else here already using balanced power solutions with their head-fi rigs?
post #3 of 64
Jude, you're starting to scare us.

post #4 of 64

I know where you live. so.....

I will wait another year or 2 before I pay you a vist with some friends

post #5 of 64
Hey Jude,

Have you tried testing your power solutions with any measuring instruments? I think I saw some company called AudioPrism(?) selling such devices. I have a Monster Power HTS 1000 which I think is a load of bull because I can still hear switches being turned on and off from sound card output while my PC is plugged into it.
post #6 of 64
Jude, you're starting to scare us.
I for one, find this very interesting.

Jude thanks for the BPT link. I was looking for something a bit more affordable than the PS Audio units. The Jr looks very interesting.
post #7 of 64
Though I can't comment on any of these I'd just vask you. Since you're investing so much in power conditioning (nothing wrong with that) how about your power cords?
I mean after cleaning this power so much you wouldn't like any EMI/RFI to be picked up by the cords.
post #8 of 64
I'm very interested in Jude's reports on the BP, and any comparisions to the Ultimate Outlet.

Special attention should be given to whether they noticeably CHOKE DYNAMICS or INTRODUCE ARTIFACTS, even with head stuff. (I've never met a non-balanced conditioner that didn't)
post #9 of 64

You may remember me posting a while back that I had splashed £350 to get the Russ andrews eight way power distrubtuion block? Well I have recently got it through the post (they said a week to a fortnight, it arrived 3 days flat, I guess they had plenty in stock!!)

The effects its had on sound quality have been nothing short of amazing, and I am/was a cynic, if it doesnt work I say so!

I am also able to plug the Hp Amp and psx into it as well so they have both benifited from it as well.

One of the most remarkable things that have happened since plugging this beauty in is the effect on volume level. What seems to me to be shaking the room, ie you can hear everything clearly is bearly audible outside the bedroom door!

I thought that most of my cds had fairly crappy productions on most of them, but since using this they have ALL improved to one extent or another

It always amazes me that some people have serious doubts about mains conditioners etc If those people had spent x amount on a interconnect or cable then they would have been well pleased, but mention mains cables/power conditioners and they go all sceptical on us.
post #10 of 64
David, but does it worth the £350? or is it better to use it for some better components in the future? That is still the question still bugging me and holding me back for getting one.
post #11 of 64
Ah Powercords!

Genghis Khan Limited Edition
The greatest power cord history has known! This special creation is our latest development. A massive 7 pounds of silver are used in construction. The silver conductors are polished to a mirror shine to remove all surface impurities. Due to the labor intensive nature of building each Genghis Khan by hand, we will limit production to 200 units.
post #12 of 64
My guess would be that it is sort of like cables, in that the better all your other equipment, the more improvement you will hear from power conditioning. Actually, now my curiosity is raised. Hey davidcotton, any chance you can answer this?

Oh, just noticed KR...s post. Yeesh, I don't even want to know how much that power cable costs!
post #13 of 64

Are you feeling a little unbalanced?

Just thouht I'd drop-in to see if I could answer any questions concerning balanced power and AC conditioning in general. Jude told me about Head-hifi and I think headphone users are in a unique position to benefit from and evaluate power conditioning products. You generally have very simple systems (which makes it easier to evaluate the effects of adding new equipment) and you have no speaker/room interface to deal with (which may be the biggest problem of all with getting great sound). I aggree completey with Jude, blr and Davidcotton. Reducing noise in audio systems can yield big rewards in musical satisfaction and is unfortunately overlooked by most users. How can any good equipment reach it's potential when the AC is adding so much grunge? A few of the top end audio manufacturers are beginning to address this problem (Mark Levinson, Musical Fidelity) but most remain in the "dark". Cleaning up the AC improves the performance of every piece of equipment.
Why use balanced AC power? Balanced AC gives the same reduction in noise as does balanced audio circuits (used by professional recording studios and the best high-end audio gear). By having equal and opposite phse 60V lines, the common mode noise is cancelled, creating a lowered noise floor (see Judes post for links on balanced power). It is similar to the lowered noise floor of 24 bit digital vs. 16 bit. More information passes through to the listener. The music sounds more relaxed, soundstage depth is improved, the recording venue becomes more evident, players sound more 3 dimensional, fine details are revealed, dynamics are improved---everything just sounds more real. These added deails and information have always been there, but were buried in noise. Balanced is simply a better way to do it.
post #14 of 64
Oh, just noticed KR...s post. Yeesh, I don't even want to know how much that power cable costs!

Ooh, the Genghis Khan.
Its only $4500...............

I'll take a PS Audio 600 instead and still have enough to get a Rega Jupiter!
post #15 of 64
"Genghis Khan Limited Edition"

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