BPT BP-3 Balanced Power: First Impressions
Well, the BPT BP-3 has arrived, and the first impressions are very good. Notes about first impressions:
- Fit and finish is very good. It has a very simple steel cabinet (I opted for the standard black cabinet, rather than the optional stainless steel cabinet, as the black finish matches the other components in my system). The BP-3 is solidly built -- the cabinet doesn't ring at all when tapping it. This may be due in part to the heavy damping option.
- The unit appears well shielded. EMF readings using a NoRad ELF Magnetic Field Meter (Band I MFM) and an AlphaLab TriField Broadband Meter were as low as ambient four to five inches from the BP-3, with maximum readings of approximately 25.5 milligauss when the NoRad was pressed directly against the left side of the unit. AC electric fields (kV/m) around the BP-3 were negligible, as was RFI. Plugging the BP-3 into the Brick Wall slightly increased the Brick Wall's EMF output (likely due to the BP-3's higher current draw versus having the SCD-C333ES and Max plugged directly into the Brick Wall), but not enough to necessitate relocating the Brick Wall.
- The hospital-grade receptacles in back are nice (not sure yet which brand they are, but I'm not too concerned about that). They grip very hard. These hospital-grade receptacles were options.
- The solid brass isolation feet are very cool. If they weren't affixed to the bottom of the BP-3, I might mistake them for some of my .40 S&W bullets. These feet were options.
- The captive power cord is actually very nice. I opted for the C-7 option (huge 7 AWG conductors instead of big 10 AWG).
- Installation is easy (just plug it in), but be prepared to trip your breaker. Due to a big current inrush (only when you first plug it in, after which it stabilizes nicely), 15-amp breakers may trip (mine did). The instructions suggest unplugging everything on the circuit before resetting the breaker, and then plugging everything back in, which worked for me.
What are my first impressions regarding its sonic effects in my system? Unlike many tweaks that you have to "listen for," the effects of balanced power were immediately
obvious. Playing CD's I've heard a bazillion times (like Jeff Buckley's Grace
and Jennifer Warnes' Famous Blue Raincoat
), every voice and instrument in the recordings takes on much greater separation and stands out taller and more live against deeper relief. Playing SACD's (Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor
performed by Arcadi Volodos, and Straight, No Chaser
by Thelonius Monk) and super-quality CD's (Patricia Barber's Modern Cool
and Audioquest's Works of Art, Volume 3
makes the investment in balanced power very
worth it. Decay is much more natural, presence is more weighty, and so the overall presentation more "analog" than without the balanced power. It really is quite a stunning improvement.
The BP-3 also seems to have improved my system grounding, quieting it (fixing it) significantly. Prior to the BP-3, I had to "lift" the ground on my Max (the Max has a switch on the back to do this) to get the blackest backdrop I could. Before the BP-3, switching between ground lift and normal ground position was very noticeable (this would likely vary from one Max owner to the next, as it is likely dependent on AC conditions). With the BP-3, not only is there no noticeable difference between the two settings now, but both settings are more quiet than the pre-BP-3 Max with lifted ground.
Chris Hoff swears up and down that two weeks from now my BPT will make my rig sound even better due to burn-in. Right now, that's hard to believe, as my rig is already sounding so remarkably good; but still I can hardly wait!
I approached the BP-3 as an expensive tweak, but it has so far shown itself to be much more like a key component than a tweak, serving to signficantly upgrade my SCD-C333ES and HeadRoom Max -- certainly not a bad first impression, eh?
I'll post more impressions and notes as they come.