2015 Recommended Components Powerline Accessories

Powerline Accessories

APC AV S15BLK: $730 w/battery backup ✩
The S15BLK is a comprehensive power source, conditioner, and controller that features extensible external power and isolated EMI/RFI filtration for each of its outlet banks. Voltage regulation is accomplished electronically and without the hysteresis or rebound problems of slower, motor-driven compensation. Protected even the heaviest of KR's loads while also eliminating gray colorations and intermittent chassis vibration. "The S15 made the bridged eVo6 into an even better power amplifier—a super amp." (Vol.28 No.9 WWW)

Audience Adept Response aR12-TS AC power conditioner: $8995 ✩
The Adept Response provides power-factor correction, RF noise filtering, transient suppression, and 12 Hubbell high-conductivity power outlets. Each outlet is isolated from its input by one filter, and further isolated from the other outlets by a combination of two additional filters, allowing an entire audio system to be plugged into a single AR. BD noted a profound overall improvement in his system's performance, characterized by enhanced clarity, precision, low-level detail, image definition, soundstage size and depth, and tonal density. "A thoroughly thought out, well-designed, nicely executed manifestation of all that's currently known about power conditioning," said BD. "TS" changes from the earlier aR12 include: a new, larger ground with connections welded rather than bolted; Teflon capacitors throughout; and the use of monocrystal copper wire on the Teflon caps. With the aR12-TS in BD's system, dynamic transients expanded, resolution of low-level detail significantly improved, soundstages opened up, images became more dimensional, and voices took on additional harmonic richness. "The Audience aR12-TS is the best power conditioner I've heard," said BD. (Vol.30 No.4; Vol.34 No.10; Vol.35 No.1 WWW)

Audience powerChord: $539/6ft ✩
The wonderfully flexible powerChord, too, was a winner, significantly cleaning up the sound by lowering the noise floor, opening up the space between instruments, and significantly improving the system's resolution of low-level and inner detail." Though BD's reference, Synergistic Research's AC Master Coupler, offered better senses of space and ambience, the Audience was very nearly as good and much easier to use. (Vol.25 No.8 WWW)

AudioQuest 3 US AC power strip: $35
AudioQuest's sturdy little 3 US has three standard three-pronged power outlets and accepts a standard IEC power cord of any length and girth. "Plug in a good cable and you have a serious extension cord that will distribute AC where you need it," said KR. "Like having a power strip in your back pocket. You never know when you will need it," he sums up. (Vol.35 No.12 WWW)

AudioQuest NRG-X3 AC cord: $99/6ft
The NRG-X3 three-pole AC cord uses strands of long-grain copper for its semisolid, concentric-packed conductors. SM connected the NRG-X3 to the Emotiva ERC-2 CD player and heard a cleaner, brighter top end; faster, more assertive attacks; and longer, lovelier decays. "The AudioQuest NRG-X3 delivered more music, made more sense of the music, managed to more fully convey the artists' intentions, and made me a happy guy," he said. (Vol.35 No.1 WWW)

Ayre Acoustics L-5xe power line filter: $1500 ✩
In an attempt to dissipate unwanted high-frequency energy riding on the AC line as heat, the L-5xe, built into the same case as Ayre's P-5xe phono stage, the L-5xe line filter uses a coil of wire wrapped around a nonferrous core for each of its four AC jacks. "Its slight softening effect seemed to improve image palpability, three-dimensionality, and midband texture," said MF. However, the Ayre's "pleasing romanticism" lacked the believability of the faster and more detailed Shunyata Hydra 2, he felt. With the L-5xe in his system, JM noted a taller, wider soundstage and sweeter highs, with no loss of resolution. "Without question, the L-5xe made the system more listenable," he decided. (Vol.30 No.7, Vol.36 No.10 WWW)

Brick Wall PW8R15AUD surge protector: $259 ✩
This small, solid, black block is a series-mode surge protector rated for 15A loads and comes equipped with eight outlets in four filtered banks and a captive 14-gauge AC cord. Gave KR the sense that his equipment was safe from catastrophic insult without changing his system's performance whatsoever. (Vol.28 No.5 WWW)

CablePro Noisetrapper NANA power strip: $350 ✩
Manufactured by Wavelength Audio Video and available at most Naim Audio dealers, the Noisetrapper NANA is an eight-outlet power strip featuring 12-gauge silver-plated OFC internal wiring, silver-soldered connections, and a hardwired, shielded power cord, all built into a nonmagnetic enclosure, and devoid of LEDs, MOVs, and filters which might corrupt performance. Plugging his entire system into this one strip, Art found "unambiguously good" performance: "My system was simply easier to listen to, and required less nervous energy on my part in order to convince myself I was hearing music." As of 2013, 12 gauge stranded UP-OCC wiring adds $100, Furutech high-performance IEC inlet adds $27.35, passive noise reduction package adds $30. (Vol.29 No.3 WWW)

Environmental Potentials EP-2450 Home Theater Power Supply: $1025.21
Environmental Potentials EP-2050 Waveform Correction Absorber: $728.99 ✩

The EP-2450, a lightweight, full-size chassis, has eight unisolated AC outlets that can pass 20 amperes of HF-filtered, ground-filtered, surge-protected AC, and comes equipped with a filtered and surge-protected coaxial line. KR used the EP-2450 to rid his system of noise generated from digital amps. "Reduced amp noise to effective inaudibility!" The E-2050 provides protection from AC-borne noise by means of a tracking filter, and uses a metal-oxide varistor to clamp and absorb surges. KR: "Examination of my house's line voltage on an oscilloscope revealed a smoother, cleaner 60Hz signal than before." (Vol.28 No.9 WWW)

Fono Acustica Sinfo power distributor: $9995
Made in Germany, the Sinfo is an attractive six-outlet power strip made of solid Panzerholz, a natural wood material said to protect against vibrations and electromagnetic-wave contamination. It uses Oyaide's top-of-the-line outlets and power inlet; the IEC blades are trimmed down from a phosphor-bronze slab, hand-polished, and plated with a combination of platinum and palladium. The outlets are connected with exotic, thermo-treated wire, and the Sinfo contains no capacitors, inductive filters, or transformers. With his gear plugged into the Sinfo, the sound of MF's system was consistently lusher, richer, and sweeter. Expensive. (Vol.35 No.12)

Furman IT-Reference 20i power conditioner: $3699 ✩
Furman Sound's top-of-the-line power conditioner provides four duplex outlets offering balanced and power-factor–corrected AC, as well as two duplex outlets offering unbalanced power for high-current-draw power amplifiers. JM: "The IT-Reference 20i is built like a tank, and worked flawlessly. It brought a slight lowering of the noise floor without any reduction in dynamics." (Vol.30 No.10 WWW)

GutWire B-16: $99/5 feet $$$ ✩
Uses Schurter and Leviton connectors on multistranded, oxygen-free copper wire. With the B-16 in place, JM noted improved image focus and clarity. "A great value," he said. (Vol.31 No.10 WWW)

HiFi-Tuning Silverstar/Gold fuses: $39.95–$59.95 each ✩
These German fuses, distributed in the US by Ultra Systems, have silver filaments, ceramic bodies, and gold-over-silver terminations. Mikey replaced the cheap fuses in his Musical Fidelity kWP preamplifier and was rewarded with a subtle but noticeable improvement in smoothness and coherence. The HiFi-Tuning fuses worked well with both the Onkyo A-9555 and PS Audio GCC-100, imparting a clearer, more dynamic sound, with crisper transients, said RD. The element of the HiFi-Tuning Supreme fuse ($59.95, small; $89.95, large) is 99% silver impregnated with 1% gold. Its case is of ceramic rather than glass, for better resonance characteristics, and is cryogenically treated. Installed in the PrimaLuna ProLogue Premium integrated amplifier, the Supreme fuse created "a marked increase in clarity," said RD. Go figure! Available in various sizes. (Vol.30 Nos.2 & 9, Vol.35 No.5 WWW)

JPS Labs Aluminata AC Cable: $3999 ✩
The Aluminata AC has three 8-gauge Kapton-insulated conductors and uses a Wattgate plug and IEC connector, both with gold-plated contacts. Along with the matching interconnects and speaker cables, the Aluminatas "brought a new measure of spaciousness, scale, smoothness, heretofore unimagined detail, and overall musical ease and naturalness to my music system," AD enthused. KR agrees with AD that the expensive Aluminata lowers his system's noise floor. (Vol.30 No.4 WWW; also see CS's VTL review in Vol.25 No.11)

JPS Labs The Digital AC-X Cable: $399 ✩
Uses "very-high-purity" stranded copper conductors, insulated to a 300V rating and said to contain a special compound that absorbs and dissipates high-frequency energy. AD: "The Digital AC endowed the music with a better sense of flow and a smoother, more 'liquid' presentation....The sound was more open...with an easier, more natural sense of movement from note to note....The performance as a whole also seemed more dramatic and, in some spots, downright louder." He purchased The Digital AC to use with his Sony SACD player. Current "X" version has updated capacitors. (Vol.26 No.4 WWW)

Kimber Kable PK10 BASE PowerKord: $320/6 ft, other lengths are available at $26/ft. ✩
ST uses Kimber Kords throughout his system, and noted tremendous differences with a Jadis Defy-7. But try before you buy, he warns. (NR)

Kubala-Sosna Elation AC cable: $1800, $600 each additional meter
A JA favorite. See "Interconnects." (NR)

Kubala-Sosna Emotion AC cable: $1100/m; $300/additional meter
A KR favorite. See "Loudspeaker Cables." Add $300 for each additional meter. (Vol.29 No.7 WWW)

Quantum Resonant Technology Qbase QB8: $1599.99
Of this AC strip's eight outlet sockets, only the one at the center of the strip goes straight to ground. For the remaining seven, resistors are inserted between the sockets and the ground in an attempt to reduce the noisy currents that can come from having multiple ground points of differing potentials within the system. (Vol.32 No.12 WWW)

Shunyata Research Hydra Triton power conditioner: $4995
The Hydra Triton power conditioner is the first Shunyata Research product created using the company's new Dynamic Transient Current Analyzer, a low-impedance power source that simulates the power grid and measures the effects of powerline accessories on a hi-fi system. The Triton offers four pairs of AC outlets, each using brass with a high copper content for the conductors, and employs Shunyata's new Multi-Phase Differential Array, a system of 30 microfilters, each aimed at specific noise components. With the Triton in MF's system, music sounded louder and cleaner and was more transparent, spacious, and detailed. "There's no trade-off," said MF. Abput to be repalced by new version. (Vol.35 No.1)

Shunyata Research Triton power distributor: $4995
With the Triton in his system, MF noted blacker backgrounds, more low-level detail, and an enhanced sense of three-dimensionality. Add the Typhon for $4995, which, partnered with Shunyata's Triton, further blackened backgrounds, further enhanced low-level detail, and further expanded the sense of three-dimensionality, said MF. (Vol.36 No.11)

Shunyata Research Venom Power System
The Venom system consists of Shunyata's PS8 eight-outlet power-distribution strip ($695), three models of Venom power cords ($75–$295/1.75m), a Venom HDMI cable, and the Venom Defender plug-in noise filter with surge protection ($195). Optional stainless-steel spikes ($200) replace the PS8's stock rubber feet. Housed in a handsome enclosure of brushed stainless steel that's meant to sit on the floor beside or behind an equipment rack, the PS8 uses cryogenically treated Hubbell outlets, oxygen-free copper wiring, and a Carling Technologies hydraulic-electromagnetic circuit breaker. The Venom Defender contains a thermally insulated metal-oxide varistor that provides 22,000 amps of surge protection. With the Venom products in his system, JM noted a significantly lower noise floor and more easeful overall sound. "Highly recommended," he said. (Vol.36 No.12 WWW)

Shunyata Research SR-Z1 wall outlet: $95
A JM favorite, this heavy-duty duplex outlet has a vented case for heat dissipation and uses highly conductive brass connectors. (Vol.36 No.10 WWW)

Silver Circle Audio Pure Power One 5.0 isolation transformer: $5500 ✩
Though expensive, the Pure Power One 5.0 includes a 65-lb, 5kVA, custom-built isolation transformer, a proprietary EMI/RF filter, four double-ganged, gold-plated Furutech AC jacks, and a Vesuvius power cord. The PP1 5.0 eliminated noise and increased dynamic range, allowing music to emerge from the soundstage with far greater three-dimensionality. "There was no downside to using the PP1 5.0, only a big upside," said Mikey. (Vol.33 No.8)

Torus Power RM20 AC power isolation unit: $3295 ✩
Torus Power's Power Isolation Units (PIUs) combine surge suppression with massive toroidal transformers to provide AC power conditioning and protection from voltage surges. The RM20 uses a single 2400VA toroidal transformer to supply 120V and 20 amperes to the 10 AC outlets on its rear panel. It has a 20A circuit breaker for its On/Off switch and uses a 14AWG detachable AC cord rated at 15A/125V. "The PIU greatly enhanced subtle details of tone, timbre, and imaging when dynamics were extreme or volume was loud," said LG. CS20 version has 17" faceplate (silver or black); also costs $3295. (Vol.31 No.1 WWW)

Wireworld Platinum Electra power cord: $1700/1m
Compared to the more expensive Shunyata Research ZiTron Anaconda, the Platinum Electra sounded less vivid and less natural, said MF. (Vol.36 No.11)

dalethorn's picture

Interesting that Digital Processors and Signal Processors are separate categories, given that I encounter the term 'DSP' (Digital Signal Processor) so often. Maybe it's a hardware-software thing.

corrective_unconscious's picture

The digital processors are DACs or things to route digital sound somewhere. There is some overlap if there's a CD player with inputs to its DAC, and some overlap with preamp/DACs, some of which of those might have some additional, secondary digital EQ functions.

The signal processors are mostly about varieties of digital EQ, with again a few hybrid products having some secondary functions.

The separation seems clear enough to me. It is the whole universe of modern audio which seems complex, i.e., the products themselves.

John Atkinson's picture
dalethorn wrote:
Interesting that Digital Processors and Signal Processors are separate categories, given that I encounter the term 'DSP' (Digital Signal Processor) so often.

The Digital Processors category is almost exclusively digital/analog converters. The Signal Processors category is reserved for things that do something to the signal and includes analog-domain processors, such as the BSG Q0L.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

dalethorn's picture

I'm going to profess a bit of ignorance here, so .... one of the places where DSP or some variant shows up in my world is related to music players such as built into the Pono device, or in computer software such as Foobar2000 etc. The great thing about EQ included in these players (or as plug-in software) is that the digital data gets EQ'd before it hits the DAC, so that whatever DAC or amp is used, the EQ remains constant in playback. Ignoring any negative impact on the EQ due to which peripherals are used, I've always assumed that EQ pre-applied to the digital data as described will reduce the resolution of the playback. If that's true, are there common analog EQ solutions that would provide better sound?

tdixon's picture

Does this mean there are no plans for an app being released like there were in previous years?

John Atkinson's picture
tdixon wrote:
Does this mean there are no plans for an app being released like there were in previous years?

Unfortunately, that's correct. No plans. However, this website reprint replaces the standalone free app.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Dushyant's picture

From your comments prefacing the Recommended Loudspeakers 2015, I understand that category A (Full Range) has LF extension down to 20Hz. What about B (Full Range) and C (Full Range)? Do they also need to have LF extension down to 20Hz? If not, what is the LF extension for inclusion? For the restricted LF I assume that LF extension is to 40Hz for all categories. Clarification will be helpful and appreciated.


leesure's picture

Despite there being 25 Class A preamps, there are only 2 Class B preamplifiers (both from the same company) and NO class C Preamps? There are 18 Class A Power Amps and Zero Class C or D Power Amps? I thought, "Perhaps there are just no products that fit those categories any more. No more Adcom's. No more B&K's." But then I looked around and found that there ARE musically satisfying budget electronics.

So I am left to wonder...do they no longer submit their products for review or is Stereophile no longer interested in reviewing them?

I began reading Stereophile in my 20's when there was no way I could even consider a $10,000 amplifier. I aspired to a system like that, but also loved reading about gear that I could stretch to afford. I loved building a musically satisfying SYSTEM for well under $10,000. Had I only been able to read about the gear that was so far out of reach, I would likely have dropped the hobby altogether. Without the bridge, I would never have been able to get across to the ultimate destination. That bridge is being taken away from the next generation of Audiophiles.

I think that's a real shame.

Christopher Mankiewicz's picture

Kal, Please let me know. Thanks, Chris