REVIEW: BALANCED POWER TECHNOLOGIES BP.Jr II ULTRA (SIGNATURE UPGRADES) & L-10 A/C
Apr 3, 2006 at 9:37 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 30

Welly Wu

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REVIEWER EQUIPMENT EXPERIENCE:
I owned the Grado RS-1, Sennheiser HD600, and Etymotic Research ER-4P/S. I currently use the Ultimate Ears Ue-10 Professional and Grado SR-60. I owned the HeadRoom Cosmic (with Reference Module), but I use a Ray Samuels Emmeline HR-2 (with stock AD797 operational amplifiers). I owned both the DiMarzio High Resolution and M-PATH, but I use the Cardas Golden Reference single ended RCA interconnects. I use a Balanced Power Technologies BP.Jr. II Ultra (with Signature Upgrades) with both the Cardas Golden Reference and BPT Litz 10 AWG (with FIM AC/IEC receptacles and Super Shield) A/Cs. I owned a Panasonic SL-CT570, Apple iPod, NAD C541i and Denon DVD 2900. My current source is a ModWright LLC Pioneer Elite DV-59AVi.
DUE NOTICE: I am not an electrical engineer. I must disclose that I borrowed technical information from both Balanced Power Technologies’ website, http://www.b-p-t.com, and Robert Harley's The Complete Guide to High End Audio Third Edition.

MUSIC SELECTIONS:
Hilary Hahn Bach: Violin Concertos with Jeffrey Kahane and The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra [Hybrid Super Audio CD]
Madonna Confessions on a Dance Floor [Red Book Compact Disc]
Norah Jones Come Away With Me [Red Book Compact Disc]
Stravinsky Firebird Suite and Ravel Bolero [24bit/96kHz AIX Records DVD-Audio]
Anna Netrebko Sempre Libera with Claudio Abbado and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra [Hybrid Super Audio Compact Disc]

Zzzaaappp! The controversial debate still rages over power conditioners, power cords, and audiophile cables. While it is not my goal to rekindle heated debates, my research into the market lead me to purchase BPT components directly from the manufacturer risk free for thirty days. Then, I decided to upgrade parts through in house modifications with the full manufacturer's warranty intact. That was two years ago. In Robert Harley's The Complete Guide to High End Audio Third Edition (chapter twelve, pages 382-386), alternating current (i.e. A/C power) exists as a 60Hz, 120VRMS sine wave in the US. Every businesses or home is connected to the same power grid in your neighborhood. Consequently, the A/C line creates noise that travels back to your high fidelity equipment called electromagnetic interference (i.e. EMI). The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has the power to regulate exactly how much EMI can travel back through the power line. EMI pollution is created through a vast array of different electrical products including AM radio stations. In fact, power lines become an antennae for AM radio stations by allowing the AM signal into the 60Hz line. EMI also resides within your high fidelity equipment as well. For example, digital microprocessors add EMI into the power line and create radio frequency (i.e. RF) noise through clock pulses and electronic switches within the AM radio frequency range. Moreover, high fidelity components produce noise through the A/C ground line. An important fact is that A/C line voltage is not static; it is dynamic depending upon the the time of the day and the total load on the power line. Consequently, if the A/C ground line is polluted with noise, then it will degrade the performance of all of your high fidelity equipment. Power conditioners exist for four purposes: 1.Filter incoming A/C line and remove high frequency noise by permitting 60Hz A/C to flow, but reject noise from the line, 2.Isolation transformers physically separate components; therefore, noise is reduced, 3.Reduce noise coupled to the signal ground, 4.Protect components from voltage spikes, lightning strikes, voltage surges, etc. Manufacturer’s power conditioner designs radically differ. The simplest form of power isolation is to devote dedicated A/C lines for your components. Call a local certified electrician because of the danger of electrocution. Next, there are non-interruptible power supplies (i.e. UPS) which provide a constant 120VAC through electrical regulation that produce square sine waves; they are inappropriate for usage with high fidelity equipment. Then, there are power-line conditioning filters which plug into your A/C wall outlet that are designed to filter noise in your A/C power line. Power regeneration creates a new 60Hz sine wave by amplifying a 60Hz oscillator. In fact, PS Audio pioneered this radical design with their Power Plant products. Power Plants convert the incoming 60Hz, 120V to direct current (i.e. D/C) while an oscillator regenerates a clean 60Hz sine wave that is amplified to 120V. Power Plants are available with 300W to 1000W outputs. Finally, there is the Balanced Power Technologies design. Chris Hoff is the founder of Balanced Power Technologies which is based Defiance, MO. His company directly sells balanced power components, power cords, and interconnects along with custom in house modifications to his customers. All of his products carry both a thirty day money back guarantee as well as a one year parts and labor warranty.

According to his company's website at http://www.b-p-t.com/tips.shtml:
“Balanced AC is a relatively new technology [recognized in the NEC National Electrical Code in 1996] that provides the low-noise power necessary for today's advanced electronics. 120V AC balanced is simple one +60V-to-ground and one -60V-to-ground. 120V @ 60Hz is available across the circuit, the identical voltage and frequency for which all audio/video equipment power supplies are designed. A balanced AC power system works the same way as a balanced audio circuity, by using CMR [Common Mode Rejection] phase cancellation to eliminate noise. On a balanced AC power system's ground reference, there is never any voltage or current present. Transient voltages and reactive currents which normally appear on the neutral and ground wires of a standard AC system are out of phase and sum to zero on the ground, thereby canceling out AC hum and noise.”

There is an important safety warning associated with all of his products:
“Note: According to 2002/2004 National Electrical Code, Article 647, balanced AC power is to be used solely for electronic equipment [audio, video, home theater, professional sound reinforcement, electronic instrumentation]. Do not connect to lighting equipment!” All BPT Ultra Isolator products share these features: http://www.b-p-t.com/products.shtml

My BPT Jr.II Ultra has a black metal case with two duplex outlets. It delivers 2.5 amps of balanced 120VAC with two pairs of 15/30A duplex outlets and its power rating is limited to 300VA. For my intended purposes, it is perfect for my CD and universal DVD sources and headphone amplifier. I sent my BPT Jr.II Ultra back for Signature Upgrades:
- Isolation Cones
- Cryogenic treated Hubbell outlets
- Cryogenic GFCI Hubbell outlets
- Cryogenic Hubbell 20A chassis IEC
- Cryogenic Silver Wire
- Three layer dampening
- 30A High Current Filter/surge suppressor

Harley recommends that A/C cords should be auditioned before purchase. A/C cords work with power conditioners by reducing magnetic interaction and coupling between conductors. As a result, there is a better transfer of A/C to your high fidelity equipment. Furthermore, magnetic interaction has greater interaction with A/C transmission because A/C cords carry high currents. Every manufacturer of high fidelity cables uses their own design approach to building their product. Some use Teflon dielectric, silver-plated wire, Litz coated wire, and specialty AC/IEC receptacles along with RF noise suppression that lines the cords. Here is a information on my custom BPT Litz 10 AWG (FIM AC/IEC & Super Shield) A/C: http://www.b-p-t.com/crossproducts#power.

SOUND:
How does it sound without the BPT equipment?
Truthfully, my high end headphone reference system commits some sins of omission. Tonal balance sounds heavier from the deep bass through lower midrange (i.e., 16Hz through 500Hz frequency ranges). For example, on Madonna's Confessions on a Dance Floor (Red Book Compact Disc), Hung Up and Sorry produce remarkable pitch definition, overhang, and extension. Attack of deep bass notes are explosive and decaying notes linger. On Claudio Abbado's Sempre Libera featuring Anna Netrebko (Hybrid Super Audio Compact Disc), the midrange (i.e. 500Hz through 2000Hz) produces warm vocal and instrumental textures. Furthermore, Netrebko's voice sounds velvety smooth, however there tends to be a bit of less energy which results in a recessed sound. On the other hand, AIX Record’s Stravinsky Firebird Suite and Ravel Bolero (24bit/96kHz AIX Records DVD-Audio) sounds transparent. Trebles (i.e. 2000Hz through approximately 16000Hz) sound lush and romantic on Hilary Hahn's Bach: Violin Concertos with Jeffrey Kahane and the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra (Hybrid Super Audio Compact Disc) during the Concerto for Two Violins, Strings and Continuo in D minor “Double” BMV 1043. My Ultimate Ears Ue-10 Professionals produce a highly compressed sound stage width and depth. Imaging accuracy is extremely precise and delineated with no stereo imbalance or bleeding. Furthermore, front and back layering cues are pinpoint accurate. For example, Hilary Hahn and Margaret Batjer are clearly set apart from each other, yet I can clearly visualize each violinist swaying in tempo with the music. Bloom, action, and envelopment are virtually non-existent (as expected on either headphones or earphones). There is an ultra degree of incisive image specificity. Despite obvious mastering flaws, Norah Jones' lush charcoal voice and the fragile air surrounding acoustical instruments on Come Away With Me (Red Book Compact Disc) are well preserved. Onto dynamics, I will always believe that a high fidelity loudspeaker system will trump any and all audiophile headphone or earphone rigs any given day. Headphones excel in micro-dynamic shading; mine sounds extremely sharp with terrific slam, impact, and power considering its inherent design limitations. Almost all reproduced music possess smooth macro-dynamics with no audible peaks or dips, but lack that illusion of life sized music playing through loudspeakers in a carefully designed acoustical room. Pace, rhythm, acceleration, and timing sound upbeat and taut as my listening sessions result in a stronger Achilles heel. Tit for tat, details are where high end audiophile headphones, most especially earphones, excel. Earphones reveal more critical low level musical information simply because the drivers are placed inside your ears; oodles of musical minutia simply flow. Coherence is continuous with seamless transient edges. Musicality sounds convincingly natural.

How does it sound with the BPT components?
Multiple A-B-A-B-A-B testing over the past several days reveals no differences in sound performance with or without my BPT components. My reference system already has excellent "blackground," clarity, or resolution without my BPT components. Hooking up my BPT components (as well as my Cardas Golden Reference A/C and Interconnects) reveal no sound performance improvements in these (or any) sonic parameters. Madonna, Anna Netrebko, Hilary Hahn, Norah Jones, and the AIX Records 24bit/96kHz DVD-Audio sounded the same. Careful re-listening confirms no sound performance differences whatsoever. However, my BPT components do provide excellent electrical protection against surges, spikes, or power sags for my expensive high fidelity components. Perhaps BPT should stick to designing lower cost electrical protection devices instead of high end audio components.

CONCLUSIONS:
Balanced Power Technologies' BPT.Jr II (with Signature Upgrades) and Litz 10 A/C should be auditioned before purchase. While they do provide electrical protection for your expensive high fidelity components, multiple A-B-A-B-A-B testing results conclusively prove no sound performance improvements with or without my BPT components within my reference system. Also, BPT components are expensive.

STRENGTHS:
- Electrical protection for your expensive high fidelity components
- Sufficient power for an audiophile headphone system
- One year limited warranty
- Thirty day risk free guarantee
- Solid build quality with no frills cosmetics
- Custom in house upgrades available through manufacturer with full warranty

WEAKNESSES:
- BPT.Jr II Ultra is now discontinued
- Maximum current draw limited to 300VA, 2.5 amps of balanced 120VAC with two pairs of 15/30VA duplex outlets
- BPT.Jr II Ultra costs $400 USD
- Signature Upgrades cost $700 USD
- Custom BPT Litz 10 AWG (FIM AC/IEC & Super Shield) costs $630 USD
- No sound performance improvements
 
Apr 3, 2006 at 2:17 PM Post #3 of 30

Welly Wu

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I only have one custom BPT L-10 (with FIM AC/IEC receptacles and Super Shielding) A/C which is connected directly from my A/C wall outlet to my BPT BP.Jr II Ultra (Signature Upgrades). I have one Cardas Golden Reference A/C between that and my ModWright LLC Pioneer Elite DV-59AVi. I have used the PS Audio xStream Plus A/C as well. All three different brands exhibit their own sonic fingerprint; I would say that the Ray Samuels Audio Emmeline HR-2 has a well executed separate power supply unit that is indifferent of audiophile A/C. Mr. Samuels recommends that you use a standard 18AWG power cable and you should take heed of his sagacious advice.
 
Apr 6, 2006 at 3:12 AM Post #4 of 30

Welly Wu

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Just an update: the BPT L-10 A/C is still in production. It is available for sale and I highly recommend using it especially for BPT gear. When I did some power cord swaps, I got the best performance with the L-10 A/C connected directly between my A/C wall outlet and the BPT Jr.II Utra (with Signature Upgrades).
 
Apr 7, 2006 at 4:35 AM Post #5 of 30

Akathriel

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Welly Wu, I just stole, err bought, virometal's BP Jr. I have to say I'm very impressed but I think a lot of the disparity in his findings and mine has to do with clean Oklahoma power vs dirty DC power.
EDIT:Oh yeah and mods when is this Review going to get stickied?
 
Apr 7, 2006 at 7:08 PM Post #6 of 30

Welly Wu

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I was going to let Virometal copy my review in his FS advertisement to help him sell his stock BPT BP.Jr Mark II unit, but it was already sold by that time. As I wrote earlier, power conditioners and power cords should be auditioned before purchase. Sometimes, they can make a very large and noticeable difference and sometimes not. It really depends on where you live and the wiring in your apartment or home. My home is about 85 years old and the wiring reflects it. So, for me, the difference was clearly audible. In fact, I had to contract a local electrician to upgrade the power in my home to handle modern living such as computers, TV, hi-fi, etc.
 
Apr 9, 2006 at 6:23 PM Post #7 of 30

Welly Wu

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Since this thread is still open, I will welcome any and all constructive criticisms or field specific questions about my review. Please do not take this as an opportunity to increase the workload burden upon administrator and moderators' shoulders by leaving inappropriate replies. Thank you.
 
Apr 10, 2006 at 2:02 PM Post #8 of 30

Luco

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Here's what I think. The introductory/ background stuff seemed overwhelming, I just didn't straight away get the feeling that I wanted to dive into the review. The different formatting applied to different sections made things a bit harder to follow. And ultimately, I wanted to see a bit more about the actual sound of the products, but this is depends on one's preferences. Some people may want more build up the way you did it.

And well done for actually writing up something like this.
 
Apr 10, 2006 at 2:16 PM Post #9 of 30

tkam

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I agree with Luco, too much background fluff and not enough content on the performance of the product. For this section - "All BPT Ultra Isolator products share these features:" you should have just linked to that info on their website instead of including it in your review.
 
Apr 10, 2006 at 6:09 PM Post #11 of 30

RogerWilco

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I enjoyed reading your review Welly.I am not sure how much my system could be improved by having balanced power.This is what i have------

I am currently using a powervar 12amp unit."Huge Toroidal Power Supply "I have replaced all the outlets, internal wire, IEC and added some russian teflon caps for even more filtration.

I will say that this unit also improves clarity and resolution.Gives of no heat and no hum.I guess the only way for me to know how much of a positive difference the BPT will add is to buy one.
 

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