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Audioquest Niagara 1200 and Thunder Power Cable loaner program

Discussion in 'Sponsor Announcements and Deals' started by Todd, May 3, 2019.
  1. Todd Contributor
    Hi All,

    audioquestniagara12001.png audioquestniagara12002.png
    audioquestthunderpower1.png

    We have just received the first Niagara 1200 and are going to give 6 people a chance to review it and use it in your system for a week. Sign up starts now. Please read and follow the rules of the loaner program. They are as follows... and the program will be limited to the first 6 who submit all the info needed to sign up... I look forward to hearing from you!

    Loaner Program Rules:

    Send your name and address, telephone number and your Head-Fi user name to me (Todd) at todd@ttvjaudio.com. Do NOT PM me as you will not be included in the program without an email.

    You will get the loaner for 1 week to use in your home with your system. After your one week is up, you must send it to the next loaner participant. Email me (todd@ttvjaudio.com) the tracking info so I can pass it on to the recipient.

    You MUST write a review and post it in this loaner thread. It must be posted in the same thread as this announcement for the loaner program. Please post the review here first and feel free to post it somewhere else if you like!

    Once you have received the loaner, email me to let me know you have it and I will send the address for the next person.

    Our loaner programs are USA only. We are restricted from shipping/selling outside the USA on most products.
     
    TTVJAudio.com Todd Stay updated on TTVJAudio.com at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://www.ttvjaudio.com/ todd@ttvjaudio.com
    Monsterzero and Alcophone like this.
  2. Todd Contributor
    Hi All,

    I got 6 people signed up so this loaner program is now closed. The unit should ship out today or tomorrow. The Niagara 1200 and the Thunder power cable are both brand new so the first person can keep them for a couple of extra days to break them in. Enjoy your time with the Niagara 1200 and Thunder Power Cable! I look forward to your impressions of them in this thread!!!

    Audioquest Niagara 1200 loaner program



    Reverso

    Alcophone

    Krocdoc

    Dadbeh

    Skooks

    Forward Focus

    Have fun!
    Todd
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
    TTVJAudio.com Todd Stay updated on TTVJAudio.com at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://www.ttvjaudio.com/ todd@ttvjaudio.com
  3. Reverso
    Reverso's AudioQuest Niagara 1200 + Thunder Cable Review

    [​IMG]
    Disclaimer: The Niagara 1200 and Thunder Cable were lent to me by Todd the Vinyl Junkie as part of his loaner program. I received no monetary compensation for creating this review.

    Introduction
    Is a grand for a power conditioner worth it? Yes, it is. I ordered a Niagara 1200 thanks to this loaner. Is $750 good value for for a cable? Maybe for some. I would spread that money across other purchases.

    Those who have ventured into this territory of upgrades understand that better power supplies make clean power and clean power results in better sound. Why not extend that thinking all the way to the electricity that comes from the wall outlet?

    Well, a few Japanese audiophiles have thought of this and purchased their own private utility poles for a direct feed to the power grid. For the rest of us not ready to commit to that level, the Niagara 1200 ($1000 USD) from AudioQuest offers us a chance to hear the benefits of purified electricity.

    Listening Impressions
    So did the Niagara 1200 make a difference? Yes. Astoundingly yes. The magical juju in this box made the “groove” in the music readily apparent. Instruments had more space of their own and that seemed to accentuate the attack of every note. Following the melodies and rhythms of each instrument became an effortless task. Rhythmical fills that were once buried deep in the mix became an intrinsic part of the presentation.

    A search of the audiophile lexicon for this characteristic led me to the term “microdynamics” as described by purr1n. He describes it aptly, “On a perceptive level, we feel a sense of the being able to really dig deep into the ebb and flow of the music.” Furthermore, John Darko’s experience with the outgoing Niagara 1000 led him to describe leaps in musical “avidity” when AQ’s conditioners powered his system. I agree with Darko’s assessment that the music is given the opportunity to better engage the listener when components are given a clean source of power.

    [​IMG]

    Improvements became obvious after several A/B tests using several genres of music from studio recordings (Chan Chan by Buena Vista Social Club) to complex chin-stroker EDM (War Dub by Calyx and TeeBee). Tracing melodies and rhythms across the soundstage in any of my test songs was easy and rewarding with the Niagara.

    Beyond microdynamics (or perhaps the source thereof), the Niagara + Thunder removed a layer of grime that had degraded instrument definition. Edges around instruments felt more defined and delicate. Bass and sub-bass also became more dramatic; they were clearer and slammed harder.

    [​IMG]


    To evaluate the Niagara, I adapted an A->A->B listening procedure for a single test track to directly compare the sound of the Niagara to my stock power strip. Next I would repeat the order with a new song, but by going from B->B->A; starting with my stock power components and then switching over to the Niagara. Doing so let me get a sense of the sonic qualities of both configurations while minimizing power up/down of my gear. A more detailed write up of the listening process is provided at the end of the review.

    User Experience
    AQ’s industrial designers put good thought into the design of this unit. The slim profile is perfect for use in smaller systems and in areas with tight spaces. It can be oriented three different ways which will give it the flexibility to sit out of sight behind your media console. Its looks are acceptable to place on a shelf in plain view. While not hideous it was also not astounding. Mine stays behind the media console.

    [​IMG]

    The clever design carries to the back of the unit. Seven outlets is more than enough to accommodate all of the pieces of a headphone and loudspeaker setup. That included a headphone amp, integrated amp, external DAC, network streamer, linear power supply, and ethernet switch. The remaining outlet goes to a Roku. Wall-wart type adapters had enough room to fit side-by-side.

    [​IMG]

    Pairing this unit with the correct power cable does pose an issue. Despite how good the Niagara and the Thunder cable sounded together, I couldn’t get past how cumbersome the Thunder cable was to maneuver. The bulk and stiffness of the cable nullified any of the agility of the small(‘ish) Niagara. Pictured below is actually how the unit was situated in my living room during the demo period. The stiffness of the Thunder cable overpowered the balance of the slim Niagara. The Niagara had to be wedged in the corner to keep still.

    [​IMG]

    This configuration was also the only way to minimize the profile of the Thunder Cable. On the plus side, I never worried about the Niagara falling over because the Thunder Cable became a structural member.

    [​IMG]

    The Thunder Cable had very little give and forced my media cabinet to sit 6” away from the wall. A 90-degree adapter for the wall-socket end would be ideal for slimming down the profile of the cable. If you are considering the Thunder, make sure you know the exact length that you need. Coiling the long cable to take up less space is hard to accomplish.

    My last and final nitpick is that the Niagara is too slim for its own good. Wall-warts such a the one paired with the 5V supply for my Allo-DigiOne Signature will hang well past the boundaries of the unit. This meant the wall wart would only fit on the unit if I had it standing up on its narrow sides as opposed to its flat side. The narrow profile also posed a challenge when orienting it plugs-up or plugs-sideways.

    [​IMG]

    Given the sonic benefits, one can’t really fault AudioQuest for these ergonomic flaws. A more flexible power cable could remedy the Thunder’s stiffness and there is bound to be at least one orientation that the Niagara can be placed that fits all of one’s plugs.


    Value Proposition, Pairing Considerations, and Competing Products
    While AQ makes good on their promise of improvements to sound, I question its value proposition for a headphone-only system. The cabling and power rating of the Niagara are overkill considering that a DAC and headphone amp will consume less than 100 watts combined. There seems to be an imbalance in the cabling when compared to a loudspeaker amp that consumes 500 watts. AQ’s smaller PowerQuest filters may be a better fit for headphone systems that have lower power demands.

    [​IMG]

    Another consideration is the price to performance ratio. The performance is high, but so is the price. Given that an endgame headphone setup can be had for ~$4000 (or even less). The cost of Niagara and cabling will cost over 30% that amount. Better value for performance may be found elsewhere if your other components are due for upgrade. My tests also revealed the the AudioQuest NRG cables (Z3 and Y3) paired with a regular power strip were great value enhancements to my setup.

    In the realm of power conditioners, the price of entry for the Niagara 1200 is not unreasonable. AudioQuest may be targeting an underserved price-point with this product. A quick search for competing products revealed more power conditioners available in the $2000 range. At the time of writing, there seems to be a gap of high performing conditioners in the low $1000 range.

    [​IMG]

    A worthwhile shootout in the future would be to compare the Niagara with products in the next ($2k) price class: the Torus Tot Max and PS Audio P3. Again, the design of these high price conditioners appears to target loud-speaker and home theatre systems. The sub $1000 conditioners may provide more value to the headphone crowd.

    Conclusions
    The Niagara 1200 reset my expectations of how an endgame headphone system could be improved. I also like the Niagara 1200 for how the product meets its promise of sonic improvements. There are clear benefits to power conditioning and AudioQuest gives us an entry point to see what it's all about. The Niagara will be a welcome improvement to my system, but I’m still not sold on the Thunder cable. It was too cumbersome and is likely a better match for AQ’s higher end conditioners like the Niagara 5000. Many thanks to Todd the Vinyl Junkie for providing these loaners for review!

    Appendix: Specific Listening Tests
    Testing new audio stuff always comes with a touch of confirmation bias. Did we really hear a difference or are we fooling ourselves? A free demo took the pressure off the the desire to hear a difference. Still, I wanted to be thorough in this evaluation so I tested four system combinations of stock cables, NRG cables, my standard Belkin power strip, and the Niagara 1200 / Thunder cable.

    Components in System:
    · Headphones: Focal Clear
    · Amplifier: Auralic Taurus MKII (paired with NRG Z3 power cable)
    · DAC: Schiit Yggdrasil (paired with NRG Y3 power cable)
    · Streamer: Allo DigiOne Signature powered by Uptone Audio LPS-1​

    Tested Power Configurations:
    1) Stock Power Strip and Cables ($30)
    2) Stock Power Strip and NRG Cables ($430)
    3) Niagara 1200 + Thunder and Stock Cables ($1750)
    4) Niagara 1200 + Thunder and NRG Cables ($2150)​

    To evaluate the Niagara, I adapted an A->A->B listening procedure for a single test track to directly compare the sound of the Niagara to my stock power strip. Next I would repeat the order with a new song, but by going from B->B->A; starting with my stock power components and then switching everything over to the Niagara. Doing so let me get a sense of the sonic qualities of both configurations while minimizing power up/down of my gear. Since there were 4 configurations, but only two could be compared at a time, the tests were repeated. The same 6 songs were used for each comparison. Critical listening took place over the course of two days.

    The following table illustrates the order of my comparison tests:

    [​IMG]

    For those keeping tabs, you would have noticed that comparing the components in this way would result in 6 possible combinations for A/B tests. I chose to test three configurations that would reflected likely real world usage:

    [​IMG]

    There is an obvious flaw in testing the components in this way. Since multiple components are being tested as a system, it is impossible to know if the Niagara 1200 is helping one or many components simultaneously. It is possible that some of my components like the Schiit Yggdrasil and my streamer powered by an Uptone LPS-1 will get less benefit than the Aurlic Taurus MKII amplifier. Testing individual components would be interesting, but were not practical for this review.

    If you have made it this far in the writeup, thanks for sticking with me!

    --Reverso
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
    Alcophone and BreadMaster like this.
  4. Alcophone
    Audioquest Niagara 1200 & Thunder Review

    Introduction

    I took part in TTVJ's Niagara 1000 & Thunder loaner program, posted my review and eventually ordered the Niagara 1000 from Todd because of the tremendous difference it made in my speaker system.

    I've been very happy with it ever since, except for one caveat that I realized only after buying it: it doesn't provide a good home for my subwoofer. Audioquest recommends against using amplifiers plugged into anything other than a high current outlet, but also recommends against using a power strip or similar to add more devices to the Niagara 1000's single high current outlet, mentioning a risk of fire. Instead, they recommend plugging the subwoofer straight into the wall, or possibly a second unit.

    But I'm not just looking for a power conditioner, I'm also looking for surge protection. If my subwoofer were connected directly to an outlet, a surge could enter the rest of my system via the interconnects between the subwoofer and the preamp. If my subwoofer were connected to a different surge protector, a surge strong enough to overcome either one of the surge protectors could also reach the components attached to the other one. I like the idea of my audio system being completely isolated from other electronics in the house. A second high current outlet would allow me to reach that goal.

    A second Niagara 1000 just for this purpose would double the cost, use more space and another wall outlet, and motivate buying another special power cord. It would however have an advantage in terms of placement - my subwoofer is further away from the other components than my speakers.
    There was always the option to spend 4x as much and get a Niagara 5000, providing four high current outlets, but that would make it the single most expensive component in my entire system.

    Enters the Niagara 1200.


    Differences to the Niagara 1000

    Apart from the second high current outlet, one difference in the manual is that the term "Ultra-Linear Noise-Dissipation Technology" present in the Niagara 1000's manual was shortened to just "Linear Noise-Dissipation Technology" in the Niagara 1200's manual. Is the Niagara 1200 therefore inferior? Audioquest assures me otherwise:

    The form factor changed completely. The Niagara 1000 is a chubby power conditioner with an inlet + power switch on one end and outlets on the top of the unit. It has a cheesy chrome finish that is hard to keep clean, and somewhat cheap looking plastic parts on each end. The Niagara 1200 looks decidedly more premium with its beautifully machined, thick, U-shaped enclosure with a matte finish. The device is shaped more like a regular component, with inlet and outlets in the back, but the power switch is still on the side. At 15.1 lbs it is almost 3x as heavy as the Niagara 1000's 5.5 lbs. It is almost as wide (19.61" vs 20.00"), not quite as high (3.41" vs. 4.00"), but significantly deeper (7.52" vs. 4.75").

    Unlike the Niagara 1000 it can be used in three different orientations:
    • Like a regular component, outlets in the back. This did not work for me because of its width. I can fit maybe 17.5" wide components into my furniture if I remove the door first, and the Niagara 1200 is even wider than that.

    • On its face, using provided rubber feet with adhesive that fit into subtle grooves on the front plate. That is what I ended up using, but the approach has its issues. The unit is so heavy that you have to lift it up to move it, otherwise the stick-on feet will come off. When I received the unit, only two of the four stick-on feet were attached, so it looks like my predecessor had similar issues. After I was done, the feet had pretty much lost functionality. I cleaned up the sticky residue and put four round felt pads in the box for the reviewers to follow.
      In my case the power needs to come from the left, which means the unit's bottom is facing me - exposing its regular feet and a sticker rather than the more attractive top. I would have preferred a more flexible design in that regard, maybe allowing the feet on the bottom to be removed and placed on the former face instead, thus solving both problems.
      Routing the power cord in this orientation is also challenging because the inlet is almost 8 inches above the ground and is facing up. The Thunder power cord kinda sorta worked when I put it beside the unit, followed by a 270 degrees curve. Take that into account if you want the 1200 because it's slimmer.

    • On its side. Or more accurately its left side, because the power switch on the right side sticks out, making that side unusable. Unfortunately the right side is also where the power inlet is, so that chunky, inflexible high gauge power cord you may want to use somehow has to find its way up there, with the right orientation of the C13 plug to boot. In this orientation, Audioquest doesn't provide any feet at all, instead you'd put bare metal on the floor. Awkward.
    While I like the general idea of multiple usable orientations, I can't say I find this implementation particularly well thought out. I would prefer being able to place it on any of its sides except the one with the outlets, with proper feet mountable in any of these orientations. Ideally so that I can still reach the power switch, but since the unit stays on 24/7 anyway, that is less important.


    Commonalities with the Niagara 1000

    Speaking of 24/7 operation, how wasteful would that be? Not more so than with the Niagara 1000, for what it's worth. According to my Kill A Watt, both units consume about 2.4 W without any devices plugged in.

    The five non-high current outlets on both units are divided into two banks, the two outlets next to the high current outlet(s), and the outer three. Like with the Niagara 1000, there is no indication for this separation on the unit itself, which I find very strange.

    Both units have the same level of non-sacrifical surge protection. Both will shut down when the incoming voltage exceeds 140 VAC in less than 0.25 seconds.

    I'll leave the remaining commonalities to the respective manuals.


    So, how's the sound?

    Since the Niagara 1000 and 1200 are so similar, and since the Niagara 1000 didn't make an appreciable difference in my headphone setups, I only tested it in my speaker system. And I'm happy to report that the Niagara 1200 sounds just as good as the 1000! The 1000 had been on for months, and the 1200 got about two days of warm up time (albeit without devices hooked up to it) before I swapped it in.

    At that point, my subwoofer was still plugged into a Furman PST-8D in one of its two separate filter banks, using a 3 ft long Tripp-Lite 14 AWG power cord. For good measure, there's also an iFi AC iPurifier in the bank's other outlet.

    I picked a few bass heavy songs and gave them a good listen to get a fresh impression of the sound. I then connected the subwoofer to the Niagara 1200's second high current outlet, using a 3 m long Volex 17605 shielded power cord, without making any other changes. I listened to the same songs again.

    That slight grain in the bass that had always bugged me a little bit? Gone! The bass was smooth as butter, and blended much better with the rest of the sound. Delightful!

    Of course I don't crave having to spend another $1k for this upgrade, so I thought I'll just try using the subwoofer in one of the Niagara 1200's regular outlets. The manual has this to say:

    Worth a shot! Unfortunately, it didn't work too well. Someone not familiar with the system could be forgiven for not noticing that anything was wrong, but in direct comparison, the dynamics suffered quite a bit. When before the sound was rich and powerful, the system now seemed to struggle a bit to deliver the bassier sections - and not just in the lowest registers covered by the subwoofer. There was still bass, but the music lacked impact. For orientation, I am using a single Schiit Vidar as the power amp, driving a pair of ELAC BS 403, and the subwoofer in question is the Rythmik Audio F12G.

    I would rank the options like this:
    1. Subwoofer in one of Niagara 1200's high current outlets (great dynamics, clean bass, nicely integrated)
    2. Subwoofer in Furman PST-8D or wall outlet (slight grain, but good dynamics)
    3. Subwoofer in one of Niagara 1200's linear filtered outlets (clean, but diminished impact)
    Further driving my wallet into suicide, I'll have to call Todd to get me an upgrade. If only the Niagara 1200 had been released a year ago...


    And the power cord?

    Oh, right. Despite not hearing differences with the Thunder power cord last time, when I got the Niagara 1000 I also ordered two Pangea AC9SE Mk II power cords - one for the power conditioner (1 m), one for my power amp (2 m). I never bothered to compare them with regular power cords until recently, though. I was also enthusiastic enough to buy an Audioquest NRG Edison (15 A) outlet, for good measure. I won't comment on the sound here, but it sure is grippy!

    I considered using the Thunder cord for my power amp, but it is simply too unwieldy to be usable in the confines of my setup - sorry. It was a straight line up from the power conditioner's outlet, but getting the C13 plug to face the other way seemed impossible. I don't like opinionated cables.

    I did use it to power the Niagara 1000, though (instead of the 1 m Pangea cord), after almost giving up while trying to hook it up (the DBS attachment didn't help, either). Unfortunately, I heard no difference. I also tried a Wireworld Stratus 7 in this configuration, and noticed no difference, either.

    The Stratus 7 did however help with my power amp and my DAC, cleaning up the sound further and seemingly making it slightly more resolving. I'm assuming its shielding and geometry simply keep the power clean past the power conditioner, and limit the negative impact on nearby interconnects. I am now in the process of replacing all my power cords with the Stratus 7. At 12 AWG it is still beefier than the thickest regular 15 A power cords, and it is shielded. Its flat design makes it less manageable than your average power cord, but it is still easier to integrate than the Pangea AC9SE Mk II or even the stubborn Audioquest Thunder.

    So at least I am no longer power cable agnostic, but the Thunder is not for me.


    Conclusion

    The Niagara 1200 is big and heavy, and the location of the inlet can be tricky. It is more flexible than the Niagara 1000 in terms of placement, but less flexible than it could have been due to some design quirks.

    If the above issues don't matter, I see no reason to buy the Niagara 1000. For the same price, the Niagara 1200 offers (at least) the same performance, and an extra high current outlet for a powered subwoofer, or that second monoblock, or two separately powered speakers, etc. It had the same major positive impact on the sound of my system as the Niagara 1000. When powering my subwoofer from the second high current outlet, I heard cleaner, smoother bass that blended nicely with the rest of the sound.

    Apart from audible benefits, I like that the second high current outlet allows me to isolate my audio gear from the rest of my electronics without requiring a lot of additional space, extra cables, or another wall outlet.

    The Thunder power cord may have audible benefits in some cases, but was too inflexible to use with any of my gear other than the power conditioner itself, where I didn't notice a difference to other audiophile power cords that cost a lot less.

    Many thanks to Todd for organizing yet another compelling loaner program! Much appreciated!
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
    Reverso likes this.
  5. Todd Contributor
    Hi All,

    Would you guys like for me to add the Audioquest Monsoon Power cable to go with this program> I have a demo coming in this week and can send it to whoever has the Niagara 1200 and Thunder power cable. Let me know if you think you would like to try it out.

    Todd
     
    TTVJAudio.com Todd Stay updated on TTVJAudio.com at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://www.ttvjaudio.com/ todd@ttvjaudio.com
  6. Todd Contributor
    Hi All,

    The Niagara 1200 are now in stock and shipping. I don't see reviews from the last 2 people to have use it on loan... please post your reviews. I did my part in providing the gear!

    Todd
     
    TTVJAudio.com Todd Stay updated on TTVJAudio.com at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://www.ttvjaudio.com/ todd@ttvjaudio.com
  7. Skooks
    Review of the Audioquest Niagara 1200 Power Conditioner
    and Thunder Power Cable


    By Hugh Walton (Skooks on Head-Fi)

    Introduction

    I want to thank Todd Green... 'The Vinyl Junkie'... for running this AudioQuest loaner program so that a few of us can review it for all who are interested... as we each hear both of these components in our own hifi systems. A hifi system is made up of several different components. In my headphone system, it begins with a Furutech e-TP80 8-outlet ultimate AC Power Filter/Distributor plugged into a wall socket via a Furutech heavy duty power cord that came with the Power Filter. All my audio components plug into the Furutech with either Pangea or AudioQuest Power Cords.

    The first component out of the Furutech Filter/Distributor is an Apple 2012 Mac mini Desktop Computer. I store my Flac and/or Aiff music files on an outboard OWC Solid State Drive. And, I use one of two music programs... Audirvana Plus or Vox Music Players.

    From the Mac the digital signal goes to the Pure Audio Lotus 5 D-to-A Balanced Converter via an AudioQuest USB cable. And, from there the analog music goes via Silnote Morpheus Reference balanced interconnects to a Schiit Mjolnir 2 Balanced Headphone Amp. And, from the amp it goes to the Audeze LCD3F Headphones via a balanced Norne Audio Silvergarde Headphone Cable, and then into a balanced pair of human ears made especially for me by my Mother and Dad before most of you were born.

    That's my current headphone audio system. But, standby, it might change.

    The AudioQuest Viagara 1200 Power Conditioner


    Let me begin by saying that I had been wanting to hear what a better power conditioner could do for my system. When I saw Todd's announcement about this AudioQuest loaner program, I signed up. I was not especially disappointed in what the Furutech's part in my system was doing with the music, but I had to know there was something better... there always will be. And, would buying something better bring on a disciplinary whack from my wife's BCIS?!? (For those who don't know... that's a Black Cast Iron Skillet!)

    So, let me break the ice by saying... after listening for a week with the Niagara 1200 in my system... I want an AudioQuest Niagara 1200 in my system! Yes indeed I do!

    Just exactly what did it do for my system? The Niagara 1200 bettered just about all aspects of the music... some of them were slight improvements, but three of them really perked my ears... focus/definition, dynamics and stage size. When listening to an old recording of Danny Wright's "Black and White"... a solo Steinway concert grand piano played by Danny Wright... and well miked... I could hear so distinctly the hammers striking those metal strings with no fuzziness or blurring on the upper end keys... so distinct! And then the dynamics on the lower end of the keyboard when he really planked the keys down hard... outstanding! I could also hear the foot pedals, as he pressed one of them. I've always used this album to position speakers and get the right dampening on the walls to portray an actual Steinway in the room. Well, no more speakers... but some darn good headphones. And, I knew right then and there that I needed a Niagara 1200 in my humble system!

    I then went to "Unplugged" with Eric Clapton and his small band and backup singers. I wanted to hear the micro-dynamics of those guitar strings being plucked... and they were there... so distinct! And, of course, I really like Clapton's singing with his female backup singers. They were there in place... well placed on the soundstage in my mind... well defined/focused and very musical.

    Then, I had to hear my very favorite album of all... "Dreams of New Orleans" with Wycliffe Gordon. If you don't have this album, you should stop reading this review and order it! Do not pass Go and collect $200... just order it... even if you are not a New Orleans jazz fan. When this album is being played in a good system... like mine or better... you will be sitting in a chair on stage with these great jazz musicians. Gordon's trombone will be about 6 feet to your immediate left... yes, I 'measured' it! The trumpet will be forward and to the left... about 7 feet away... and the big bass tuba will be in front of you, slightly to the left of center stage... the saxophone or clarinet will be to your right about 5 feet away... and the banjo or guitar will be behind you to the right... and the drums are right behind the banjo... you are surrounded. The Niagara tightened up the individual instruments... definition/focus... and placement of each... and the "grunting" coming from that big bass tuba... you could hear each over-tone or layer... so distinct. All the instruments had their very distinct nuances. And, they were even more prominent with the Niagara in the system.

    Now, I really had to have my own Niagara, which I will shortly buy from Todd.

    OK... what about female voices? I've got a number of good ones... like Noah Wall's "Down Home Blues." Very simple instrumentation, but a beautiful alto voice. And, when it's right with my system, I can hear the slobber in her throat... yes, I can! And, with the Niagara, it's there. Noah sounded beautiful. A great recording by Chesky.

    I also listened to Diana Krall's "Turn Up The Quiet." Another well recorded album with Diana's sexy voice, as if she was whispering in my ear. The Niagara seemed to make her voice purr with her nuances. The first song... "Like Someone In Love"... begins with a solo standing bass fiddle. The strings were tight and vibrated just right. And, that bass fiddle continued distinctly throughout that song with her singing. On the other songs, there is a good piano on the right side of the stage... just right.

    I also had to listen to one of my favorite duets... Tony Bennet and Diana Krall's "Love is here to stay." They were beside each other... not in the same spot on stage. And, although their voices blended harmoniously together, they each had their own distinct flavor. Again... the focus/definition was tight as it should be.

    For a full symphony orchestra, I went to a long-time favorite... Jerry Goldsmith / London Symphony Orchestra entitled, "The Film Music Of Jerry Goldsmith." The 2nd ensemble opens with the big drum and mucho dynamics, so well defined. And, then it quietens down with very delicate instrumentation. You can hear each section of horns and strings and drums... all blending together, but each in their own position. The Niagara emphasizes the nuances coming from each and without any blurring of the sounds during the big dynamic parts.

    Conclusion / Niagara 1200

    During the week, I would listen for a couple of hours with the Furutech in the system and then substitute it with the Niagara 1200. And, I would go back and forth with each of the albums I've mentioned already so that I could hear what each of these two components had to offer. It was not a catastrophic change with the Niagara in place, but there was enough that I could hear the improvement in the sound... so much so, that again I have to say... "I want my own Niagara 1200!"

    One more thing, and I saved this for the last. The Niagara 1200 is built like a tank... a Sherman tank! When I took it out of the box, the weight alone was impressive. But, also, it looks impressive! I don't like to judge any musical component by its looks, but rather by what it does to improve the music. But, it is so well made that I had to know, before putting it in my system, that it was gonna make an improvement in the sound. I tried not to let that sway my impressions, and by the time I was putting it back in its box Friday to send it to the next Head-Fier in Louisiana... yes, he's where that hurricane is doing its thing! Delivery is being delayed until Tuesday because of this Cat One hurricane.

    The AudioQuest Thunder Power Cable

    I just told you that I don't want to be influenced by the looks of a component I'm gonna listen to, but I have to go back on that pledge. When I unzipped the nice carrying case that housed the Thunder cable, I was greeted with this massive 6 feet length of 3 separate huge cables... all twisted together with impressive plugs on either end of this entanglement!

    How in the world am I gonna use this massive Thunder cable?!!? I wanted to use it from the wall outlet to the Niagara 1200. But, I could not reach a wall receptacle from where my equipment cabinet is positioned. And, I would not have been able to bend it around my huge desk and then be able to plug it into the wall receptacle. The whole end of this room would have had to be rearranged. I couldn't do this.

    So, right to begin with, my mind was already blanking out wanting to listen to this enormous Thunder power cable. I decided that I can only use it in one place... from the Niagara 1200 to the Schiit Mjo2 headphone amp... and even in that position in the system it was gonna be trouble getting it plugged in!

    So, right off the bat, I have to tell you... "I will NOT be buying this unruly behemoth!"

    So, after much effort, I did finally plug the Thunder into my system from the Niagara 1200 to the Schiit Mjo2. But, it took a lot of effort in changing it in and out with the Pangea 9 XL. And, honestly, I don't think I heard any significant improvement. Certainly not like the Niagara 1200 produced. Perhaps if I could have put it in from the wall receptacle to the Niagara, I might could have made a little gain. But, that I will never know.

    Final Thought

    I'm sorry, Todd, and to all the readers who have read my review this far. I wish I could give a plus review of the Thunder, but I can't.

    But, I can once again highly recommend that unless you have several thousand dollars invested in a power conditioner, the Niagara will more than likely make an improvement in your system. And, I'll go as far to say, that if you do have a $2G+ or so power conditioner, you might want to sell it and buy the Niagara 1200 and put the rest of the money into gold or silver... I don't think you'll ever regret buying the AudioQuest Niagara 1200. At $995, it is a steal!

     
    Alcophone likes this.
  8. Alcophone
    Hehehehe...

    Nice review!
     
  9. Todd Contributor
    Hi All,

    If there are any more people wanting to get in on this program before I close it, please email me today or this weekend. todd@ttvjaudio.com and please send all the required information so I can get it to you!

    Todd
     
    TTVJAudio.com Todd Stay updated on TTVJAudio.com at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://www.ttvjaudio.com/ todd@ttvjaudio.com
  10. wee123
    I am the last reviewer of the AQ Niagara 1200 power conditioner and will do my best to give feedback, although I am not very experienced in doing so on audio matters.
    I do like the fact that you can stand it horizontally or vertically and that there is adequate spacing between outlets. The AQ Thunder power cord that came with the demo unit is a BEAST! Far to bulky and unwieldy for me to ever consider and truly not possible for me to evaluate separately. Suffice it to say that I did use it to plug the 1200 into the house power since I had no alternative power cord to use. [However since my setup is more than 2 meters from the outlet I actually plugged it into the high current outlet on my existing surge protector (Panamax M8 AV Pro).]
    This enabled me to easily use my Greenwave noise meter to compare the EMI noise level on the inlet and outlet side of the Niagara 1200. (the meter plugs into an outlet to make its measurements and displays the noise level in millivolts). I took the noise meter measurements at different times of day with and without my audio components turned on. The reason for that is because my house is somewhat old
    and the ambient EMI noise in the outlets in my house reacts quite noticeably when things like AC motors (refrigerators, AC’s, pumps etc) and fluorescent and LED lights are in use. At worst I got readings of nearly 1000mv on my inlet side ( house power) and at best it was only 50mv coming in to the AQ Niagara. Nevertheless under all conditions the noise measurements coming out of the power conditioner were generally 50% lower! So at least from these objective measures there is no question that the noise filters in the AW Niagara 1200 are doing a very effective job!
    My remaining observations are all subjective based on listening to different music sources like Phono, CD, and online streaming music services thru my Marantz 7004 network player. I have a few new 180 gram vinyl records which I listen to often (Beatles, Beach Boys, and James Taylor). I put them on at different times during the week and tried to see if I sensed anything different in the sound coming out of my loudspeakers (sorry, but I did not test with my headphones). I did sensed a bit more clarity in all the vocals and a little more punch in the room (though hard to describe otherwise). My wife also said she thought there was something better but couldn’t vocalize it better than that. Next I put on a few of the music services I currently am “auditioning” - Pandora, SiriusXM, Spotify, and Qubuz -I did not really notice any difference with Pandora ( but always found it not to be very bright anyway), seemed to notice much more of a dynamic range and stage presence with SIRIUS than previously, and never got around to testing the Qubuz. I did a lot of listening to CDs. Classical music, Jazz, and Classic Rock/Blues. I can honestly say I heard things on my Thelinious Monk CD that I never heard before - soft bongo drums coming from the far left side of the room for example - how did that happen? So in general a much broader soundstage with added nuances. For the Classical Music - it’s all so good - sharper piano strokes, crisper brass , and more vibrant violins? ( or is it just my imagination) Anyway there was something urging me to keep playing music ( so cool!) I never got to my Blues music CDs or Classic Rock but will have to save that for after I return the demo and buy my own unit ( supplemented with new upgraded ( but flexible) power cords to my amp!
    Thanks again Todd for allowing me to test it out and post my feedback ( which admittedly may not be going to exactly the right spot but if so perhaps you can take care of that?
    All the best,
    Bill E.
     

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