Listening #187: Shindo Mr. T Page 2

Anxious to prolong my mono-maniacal buzz, I reached for an early LP version of soprano Bidú Sayão's 1945 recording of Villa-Lobos's Bachianas Brasileiras 5, with the composer conducting an ensemble of eight cellos and one double bass (LP, Columbia Masterworks ML 5231). With the Mr. T, her voice was more human and compelling than without. Again, tempos seemed steadier, and the plucked notes of the cellos had greater apparent force. It was here that the word Wow made the first of many appearances in my notes.

My Shindo Monbrison preamplifier and Shindo Haut-Brion power amp were beginning to feel left out, so I powered down the system and plugged them into two of the Mr. T's five remaining AC outlets. I gave the amp the outlet closest to the Mr. T's AC input socket, with the preamp in the next socket down and the turntable in the one after that. I don't know if that served any practical purpose, but it cost nothing to do so, and required only a few seconds more than to do it haphazardly. With the system switched back on and fully warmed up, I returned to that Stones LP. Although it wasn't as big a gain as when I went from having no Mr. T at all to using it just with the turntable, there was no question that my system's musicality had taken another step forward: Wyman's bass lines were even stronger, and in "Route 66," the words were more intelligible, the handclaps stronger and less "mushy" sounding.

With the mono pickup still in place, I played the Electric Recording Company's reissue of the Tommy Flanagan Trio's Overseas (LP, Prestige/ERC 7134). Every instrument—drums, bass, and, of course, Flanagan's piano—sounded clearer and, again, less mushy, and seemed more musically strong and purposeful. For example, right after the second middle eight in "Chelsea Bridge," bassist Wilbur Little plays a little descending figure that leads back to the verse. It's a nothing-fancy turnaround—except that, with the Mr. T supplying the whole system, I could better hear the determination, the temporal leaning forward, in his playing. And in a galliard composed for lute by John Dowland, from guitarist Julian Bream's The Golden Age of English Lute Music (mono LP, RCA Victor Soria Series LD-2560), the Shindo Mr. T allowed the melodies to unfold with a greater sense of ease, yet with no less rhythmic precision or momentum.

No less important: In those first days with the Mr. T, the sound of my system was consistently fine—until the day I removed it to have it photographed. While the Mr. T was missing from my system, Jason Victor Serinus reviewed Régine Crespin's 1963 recording of Ravel's orchestral song cycle Shéhérazade, with Ernest Ansermet conducting the Swiss Romande Orchestra (LP, Decca SXL-6081)—which is, incidentally, the rare Decca LP whose US edition (LP, London OS 25821) sounds slightly better—prompting me to plug everything in my system back into my power strip, so I could hear that record right away. It sounded amazing—huge and colorful, with enough clear, open space around the instruments that I could all but hear the movements of the string players' bowing arms—but there was some grain in the sound of Crespin's voice, especially in the louder bits. When I reinserted the Mr. T and listened again, the grain was gone, and so was my resistance to change: I decided to buy my review sample. No more muddy water for me or my playback system.

Idle hands
It was just 19 months ago, in the December 2016 Stereophile, that I wrote in this space about refurbishing the motor of my Garrard 301 turntable, which was manufactured in 1957. Among the individual chores I performed were the servicing of the upper and lower motor-axle bearings, which I replaced with brand-new bronze bearings from an Italian firm called AudioSilente. I also replaced the felt washers that surround those bearings: these are soaked in oil just prior to assembling the motor, to keep the bearings supplied with lubricant.


Not long after, AudioSilente's Simone Lucchetti told me that his firm was developing other aftermarket parts for classic vintage turntables, and promised to stay in touch—a promise he kept a couple of weeks ago, when he e-mailed to announce AudioSilente's replacement idler wheel for the Garrard 301 ($100 plus shipping). Reportedly the result of a yearlong development effort that included a long study of the correct density of rubber required for the application, the AudioSilente idler is a wheel, 60mm in diameter and precision-machined from aluminum alloy, to which is bonded a rubber ring of square cross section—this in contrast to the original Garrard idler, whose smaller metal hub is more or less encased within a larger rubber wheel. A slender steel rod is press-fitted through the center of the idler to form the upper and lower axles, with rounded tips and polished surfaces. Those axles are intended to fit upper and lower bronze bushings in the 301's two-part idler carrier; the bushings are replaceable, the upper more easily than the lower—although realigning them, if and when such a thing is necessary, is nearly impossible in the field.

The contact area of the AudioSilente idler is 4.6mm thick—precisely the same as in the original idler. But the diameters of the AudioSilente and Garrard axles may also differ slightly; according to Lucchetti, at some point during the period of the 301's production Garrard increased the axle diameter by 0.09mm. To accommodate that change, as well as the reasonable assumption that the bores of the original bushings would have widened with wear over time, AudioSilente splits the difference and makes their axles 0.045mm larger than the originals—and includes with every new idler a new pair of bushings, sized to fit their wheel. Their advice to buyers: Fit the new idler first to the original lower bushing, noting whether the idler spins freely but without wobble; if all is well, then fit the original bushing over the upper axle—and if that bushing is too tight or shows excessive slop, replace only that one with the new AudioSilente bushing (a tool is included to ease that procedure). Only in extreme circumstances should the original lower bushing be replaced.


That said, when I set about replacing my original Garrard idler with the review sample of the AudioSilente idler, the wheel's lower axle seemed to perfectly fit my turntable's lower bushing—and when I lowered in place the 301's upper bushing, I was relieved to see that it, too, fit well. The new idler spun with ease—the original had spun just a shade more freely—with no wobble or play. I measured the axles of my original idler and the AudioSilente replacement and found them almost identical: 2.43mm for the old, 2.44mm for the new. With the platter removed, the motor switched on, and the original idler engaged against the motor pulley, I could hear a gentle whirring sound, probably originating from the axle bushings; with the AudioSilente, I heard a sound that was similar in character but somewhat less audible.

More telling than my wheel-listening comparisons were my music-listening comparisons. I used both idlers to play Jascha Horenstein and the London Symphony Orchestra's recording of Mahler's Symphony 3 (2 LPs, Nonesuch HB-73023), chosen in part for the silences and near-silences in its first movement, which I imagined would expose any egregious drive-system noise. As it turned out, neither wheel bested the other in that regard, but with the AudioSilente idler, the quiet susurrating of the double basses as they oscillate between A and B was clearer, with better-defined stops and starts; and chords played on the concert harp sounded more like a harp and less like a piano. And in "I Wonder Where You Are Tonight," from Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Time (LP, Decca DL 74896), Monroe's voice was more spatially present when the platter was driven by the AudioSilente idler—and, for some crazy reason, the recording's excessive artificial reverb was less distracting.

Those differences were slight, as borne out by the measurements I made using Dr. Feickert Analogue's PlatterSpeed app for the iPhone 6: Overall, the results (figs.1 and 2) were better with the AudioSilente idler, which yielded a relative speed deviation of ±0.02% on a low-pass–filtered signal, as opposed to measurements of –0.04%/+0.05% for the stock idler. (In truth, neither did badly, especially considering that this turntable was made in the last year before stereo LPs hit the market.)


Fig. 1 (left), Fig. 2 (right)

All in all, as either an upgrade or a replacement for a worn or damaged original, the distinctly affordable AudioSilente idler wheel is an excellent value, and highly recommended.


Ortofan's picture

... the Mr. T and a more prosaic industrial-grade device, such as the Tripp Lite Isolator IS1000:

The Tripp Lite unit is available for about one-tenth the price of the Shindo product:

If that's too cheap, there's an 1800W "medical grade" version available that is still about one-third the price of the Shindo:

Have the Amazon drone drop one off at your house:

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Vince Galbo of MSB, who has guided me on power distribution / filtering, uses one of the Tripp Lite models in certain places in his set-up. However, it is heavily modified to, among other things, accept an after market power cable. As issued, the Tripp Lite's power cord is captive. This, of course, will mean naught to those who steadfastly deny that power cables make a difference. But to those of us who let our ears guide as, the Tripp Lite's captive power cable is a distinct disadvantage.

I have not heard either unit, and cannot comment on their sound.

Ortofan's picture

... Tripp Lite unit modified to incorporate an IEC connector that would facilitate convenient swapping of power cords, should such an activity form a vital part of your listening regimen.

Perhaps the stock Tripp Lite unit will make a sufficient improvement that the need to obsess over the captive power cord will become superfluous.

Maybe Tripp Lite is missing an opportunity by not offering an "audiophile" grade unit equipped with Furutech cables and connectors, for example. That would leave you to fret over the type of wire used to wind the transformer and whether or not the enclosure should be copper plated.

JoeinNC's picture

“This, of course, will mean naught to those who steadfastly deny that power cables make a difference. But to those of us who let our ears guide as (sic), the Tripp Lite's captive power cable is a distinct disadvantage.”

Why do you assume that those who deny power cables make a difference are not also letting their ears guide them? You say you hear a difference so you are correct, while they hear no difference and they are wrong? Why is your opinion valid, and the skeptic’s is not? Is your hearing or perception more accurate or “correct?”

“I have not heard either unit, and cannot comment further.”

You admit you have not heard it, yet you say that the capacitive power cable of the Tripp Lite puts it at a “distinct disadvantage.” If you truly do let your ears guide you, how do you know?

Your assertions seem to be at odds.

dalethorn's picture

"Why do you assume that those who deny power cables make a difference are not also letting their ears guide them?"

If the power device manufacturer decides for whatever reason to not provide the option to substitute cables, they of course are perfectly fine to do that. If competitors are allowing the option, then there's a risk of losing sales because of the "no option" design.

You could ask them why no option, and maybe they would say it's more expensive to provide the option, and they decided not to because they wouldn't make up for the extra expense with more sales. Or maybe they would tell you something different. Who knows?

As a general rule, providing for different cable options follows the "component" logic of audiophile design, but it probably isn't as common among power boxes as it is with other components. It does seem like an important thing to mention in a review.

spacehound's picture 'strike' at what unqualified audio people call 'objectivists'. Think about it. It's all they've got to justify their existence in a world that science reveals more of by the minute about how all this stuff works. Or doesn't work.

The transformer? They would call me an 'objectivist' but this transformer at least makes sense, unlike many home audio power 'conditioners' at far higher prices.

Some with a fake 'Japanese' name come to mind. But at least that manufacturer has a sense of humour, he names his nonsense cables after snakes :-)

dalethorn's picture

Objectively, the more "science" finds out, the more they find out they don't know. And there's no better place to look than the black box of quantum this-or-that, since what we're dealing with here is quantum effects.

spacehound's picture

…..that "what we're dealing with here is quantum effects."

So tell us why you think that or you are posting BS.

dalethorn's picture

I'm sure that, as a technical person yourself, you're very well aware of quantum effects in electrical transmission across wires. If not, then you're just making stuff up. The whole point of quantum anything (and everything) is that your simple measurements of resistance and capacitance etc. don't represent quantum effects, which can affect sound. It's simply out of the reach of your stone knives and bearskins.

spacehound's picture

Though semi-retired I work on the only five true quantum computers in existence.

The word 'quantum' is used far too often by people who know very little about it, often by snake oil cable manufacturers. In fact quantum effects aren't actually 'electrical' or 'electronic' in the accepted sense and they don't involve 'transmission'.

dalethorn's picture

All we really need agree on, despite any legitimate disagreements, is that our ears are more sensitive in some (not most) ways than our measuring devices. Gordon Holt alluded to something like that when he said that while the minimum decibel change we can detect in steady tones is one db, there are ways we can detect 1/2 or less of a db difference in some listening situations.

spacehound's picture

...was probably right about that it is irrelevant to instrumentation.

Instruments can detect everything we can detect and are several orders of magnitude better than we are on all of it. And that includes microphones, even though they are 'poor' compared to most other instruments so you may have to use a couple of different sorts simultaneously to achieve those 'several orders' (not that you need to, even one order is ten times better than we are). And all together they will still be smaller than our ears and ear canals so don't lose any phase information.

We make instruments because we CAN'T detect stuff very well :-)

dalethorn's picture

Totally disagree. I trust the reviewers who are trusted by the readers and subscribers here. I do not trust naysayers whose opinions differ on "what cannot be detected". In the end, as Holt readily acknowledged, we'd like to have better tests and test gear, but we still have to rely on our ears to confirm the tests. Without that confirmation, the tests are as meaningless as the content of the atmosphere on Neptune.

spacehound's picture

Of course. It's "What you do"

dalethorn's picture

Your comment goes straight to your credibility. No information, no credibility. Arguments require information.

jeffdyer's picture

If you think that audible quantum effects will be apparent in 120V AC mains signals, there's really no hope for you.
[flame deleted by John Atkinson]

spacehound's picture

Not good enough. Fancy cables may make a difference but do they provide better sound quality?

You have no way of telling as you haven't got a reference - you don't know how it is SUPPOSED to sound.
Sorry, "I personally prefer cable Y to both cable Z and the pre-installed cable" which is all you have, doesn't cut it with anyone except yourself.

So why do you and many others write such drivel?

Herb Reichert's picture

I am a reviewer and I am always looking for a reference - something definitive - that will show me how a recording - any recording - is SUPPOSED to sound. Would you please show me one? What do you use for a reference?

do tell


spacehound's picture

There isn't a reference we have access to. Live music is useless as our source is a recording so we need to accurately reproduce the studio's messing around with it as that is the 'final intention'.

So what do I do? I use 'industrial grade' equipment (which is far more competently designed and made than most 'specialist' HiFi equipment) to make measurements myself or accept those done by some others, including of course some reviewers. Such as your new boss, Paul Miller, for example as he is known for this stuff.
These measurements are pretty simple, may not measure everything, but what they do measure is much more accurate than the human ear. As for the ear-brain interface, evolution seems to work on a 'keep it simple' basis so I don't think we are missing much. All domestic cats behave much the same so it's likely we do too :-)

Also, and this is important, 'theory'. As a result I never buy DACs that have a ten or twenty dollar 'high street' DAC chip (such as the Sabre series) as their core. Except for cheap portable ones. The Chord Mojo, though not cheap, is way ahead of most others theorywise.
Amplifier 'state of the art' has been as good as it will ever get for twenty years or more, so there is no need to spend a lot of money.
Speakers? A big solid box and some good theory.

Result? dCS Rossini, 600 dollar Yamaha AV receiver used in 'pure direct' two channel mode which switches off all the gimmicks (they are 'state of the amplifier art' and I watch movies with the usual AV gimmicks switched on, though movies are a secondary interest for me) And Tannoy Kensington speakers as they are big, solid, and their near 'point source' dual concentric design is theoretically good.

That's as close as we can currently get to 'accuracy' without hearing the source, and 'high fidelity' is a synonym for accuracy. If I don't like the sound I buy a different recording, which is easy for me as I mostly listen to classical. 'Lively' baroque is my fsvourite, played on the instruments of the time (though I don't insist on that). They should be accurate to the long-dead composer's intention too :-)

I do listen to lots of other stuff too of course but my aim is the same. Recently I have been using a 5000 dollar Naim power amplifier and the volume control on the dCS DAC and it sounds much the same so it's likely that the source as available to me (and you) is not being messed with either way by my equipment. It doesn't seem to have a 'character' (which is all recordings showing similar minor effects such as 'detail' or 'warmth') so hopefully the speakers are ok too.

Herb Reichert's picture

I am honored and inspired by your answer. Your system seems well-considered (though my personal experience suggests that DACs sound more different than phono cartridges). I am a big fan of the Tannoy Kensington speakers and agree you made a smart brave choice. I suspect the system you describe will let all recordings sound 'as different as possible' which I regard as a supremely positive trait. Best of all I too love Early Music - and if it is played on original instruments - so much the better.

Meanwhile, my personal "Herb reference" is the sound of a violin or piano - along with the harp they are the mmost wideband instruments . The more I hear what (to me) sounds like a real full size piano and a harmonic-rich violin, the happier I become. Thank you again for your considerate answer. hr

Ortofan's picture

... would certainly help provide a valid reference to live sound. My listening room also has a "real full-size" Baldwin piano. Playback of recordings is via a pair of TDL Reference Standard speakers.

Recordings (IMO) that best capture the sound of the piano include the Malcolm Frager recital of Chopin works on Telarc; various works of Liszt performed by Earl Wild and released in three sets on the Etcetera Label - some of which is also available from Ivory Classics; and several recordings by Valentina Lisitsa on Audiofon, engineered by Peter McGrath.

dalethorn's picture

From Spacehound: "Live music is useless as our source is a recording so we need to accurately reproduce the studio's messing around with it as that is the 'final intention'."

I believe this comment tries to evade Gordon Holt's entire premise for Stereophile. From what I know, we have made great strides in playback gear that does get ever closer to "accurately reproducing" the studio sound, or more precisely, the intent of the sound on the record. But live sound, at least for those who believe in it, is the final reference. It doesn't mean that our recorded facsimilies of live sound (if that's what we're attempting) are getting closer to every aspect of the live sound. Some of those aspects may still be out of reach - dunno.

What it means is that there IS such a thing as the sound of music played live in-person, that many audiophiles believe that our systems are at their best when they get as close as possible to that sound (when the intent of the recording is to capture it), and that everything else is secondary. The notion that high fidelity music recording begins with technical manipulation, and not with the microphone capture of live instruments, is absurd.

I don't want to be misrepresented on this as talking apples versus oranges, I just want to make crystal clear the principles that Gordon Holt laid down decades ago - hi-fi begins with the best possible capture of instrument by microphone, and ends with the best possible realization of that sound in the home. Everything in between should serve those ends.

Herb Reichert's picture

no one will ever "know" what is "on" or hidden in a recording. Even when the master "tapes" are playing in your own home. I used to collect master tapes. Many reels in my collection came directly from the vaults at RCA - AND!! I was playing them back (on a $1,000,000 system) through the exact machines they were recorded on !!! You'd think....all I learned was that there is no such thing as a "master." For me, the original popular issue CD, LP, 45, etc. IS the reference for what a recording is supposed to sound like (and what the artist and producer intended). Therefore, audio playback always comes down to which DAC or phono cartridge someone has chose to use. That is why I personally - as a reviewer and a listener - believe that systems that make pianos sound like REAL pianos (to me) are the most accurate (I hate that word). Like space hound says, you got to have a reference. That is mine. What is yours Dale? respectfully hr

dalethorn's picture

I understand what you're getting at. The best I can say, lacking a godlike ability to look down on this from a higher dimension, is that I know what live music sounds like. I want my reproduced sound, of acoustic music at least, to sound like that. You said essentially the same for a grand piano.

The point where I think the other guy went astray, even if slightly, was in suggesting that the playback half of hi-fi is the whole picture to him, and perhaps should be to us as well. I disagree with that concept, at least as I understood it. Even though we typically don't do the recordings, we are involved with that art as a mutually shared interest. From music playing to recording through playback to listening - that's the full picture.

Let me also add something about "shared interest" for illustration. Years ago, many of the driver manuals issued at DMV's would say that driving is a privilege, not a right. Smarter people eventually (in some states at least) modified that to say it's a mutually shared interest rather than purely a privilege or absolute right.

In democratic jurisdictions, there are those who make the laws and those who follow them (which includes those who make them). Such things are not absolutes - you don't grant absolute power to anyone, so there's always the implication that those who make the laws are mindful that it's a process that involves everyone, even though not directly.

Some folks would take the position, and you've seen this, that "The record companies own the music, and they have the right to dictate content and terms ..... blah blah blah." But in the end it's still a shared interest, or they don't survive.

ok's picture

There’s no need for a "reference" since we all know how the real thing sounds like; not everyone has necessarily heard a pipe organ first person but.. you get the idea. Certain hardware can occasionally fool you alright, some other might not – God only knows actual reasons why. Anyway 24/7 all-real performers inside your sweet home can be fatiguing as hell, so many a time a little fake is exactly what one actually needs. Consider also the fact that most visionary musicians and great artists in general tend to work against, not within, all inevitable limitations of their instruments etc and therefore tend to hold little respect for "reality" and its "accurate reproduction".

dalethorn's picture

You're right of course, which is why it's more fun to be a musician than an audiophile critic or reviewer.

Ortofan's picture

... JVS review one of the Air-Tight amplifiers that are made with [OMG!] a captive power cord?

Jason Victor Serinus's picture


This is Daisy Mae Doven, Mr. Serinus' corresponding secretary. I regret to inform you that Mr. Serinus has become entangled in a mess of aftermarket power cords, and is tied so tight that he cannot come up for air. Should he find his way out of captivity, he will be delighted to entertain a request from Air-Tight for a review.

Have a pleasant day.

Ms. Doven

Bogolu Haranath's picture

How about a comparison listening test (not blind) between different power conditioners and power generators in different price ranges? ............

spacehound's picture

Neither do their advertisers, which are mostly the 'specialist' HiFi manufacturers. Because in most cases (though possibly not this transformer) there is little or no difference between a high-priced 'specialist' piece of gear and something made by (say) Sony.
1) If you can't hear a difference you can't say one is 'better' than another.
2) If you can hear a difference then as you have no reference to how it is meant to sound you also cannot say which is 'better'. It's just your own personal preference. Which is not related in any way whatsoever to High Fidelity (which means accuracy by definition) or 'sound quality'.

Thus it is impossible to demonstrate that expensive 'specialist' equipment is superior to 'high street' stuff and your advertisers won't like that at all.

So except when a reviewer mentions specific failing, which they sometimes do (see recent AkitikA GT-102 review), and which are useful as they tell us what we might want to avoid or are prepared to live with as the cost is low, detailed reviews are of zero value.

I am not greatly cost limited so bearing in mind my views above what did I end up with?
A 20,000 dollar DAC, speakers costing 14,000 dollars a pair, and a Yamaha AV receiver (almost always used in simple two channel 'direct' mode but powerful and very versatile) costing 600 dollars.
Other than as a customer I have no connection with any of the three manufacturers. I only mention Yamaha specifically as the receiver is a typical 'high street' product.

volvic's picture

Once I started reading the review my mind immediately went to the gedon. The article was so much fun to read that I now want to get another LP12 with a gedon as well as a Mr. T for the rest of my gear.

johnnythunder's picture

piece of audio equipment. Maybe the best "third party" tweak ever made to support a rival manufacturer (yes, I know Linn and Naim were only semi-rival companies back then.) It just made music on an LP12 flow better and sound riche especially when the tonearm attached to an LP12 was a Naim Aro.

volvic's picture

You speak the truth a great third party ps. There are a few more available and their prices have finally dipped as Linn has introduced the Lingo 4 which is quite an improvement over the original one. But I so want to build another Linn with a geddon, just way too many Hi-Fi projects before this, but oh so tempted to push it to the front of the queue.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

It is "common sense" to provide the audio equipment (at least the audiophile variety) with detachable power cords ........... What is next? ........ "captive" interconnects and speaker wires? :-) ............

brenro's picture

I have all my equipment running through it with the exception of the power amp, which is on a different circuit. My electrical power is a grid tied solar system. There is a very definite change in sound between daylight hours, when my power is coming from solar panels, and night time, when I revert back to commercial power. The solar power is quieter, no mistake about it.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I hope the coal industry is not reading this :-) ..............

cgh's picture

I have a hydroelectric plant running my audio mains. When we are having low rainfall I revert to nuclear and steam to drive the turbines. It might be the really flimsy shielding I have on my reactor, but I find the hydro creates a much darker and quieter floor. Imaging is really crisp when rainfall or snow melt is high.

brenro's picture

Superiority complex or what?

cgh's picture

Just joking around. I don’t really have a hydroelectric or nuclear power plant.

I am lucky to have fairly clean measured power; so no complaints, although I do notice a difference late at night, especially in the winter. I imagine that running off the solar is a bit like the battery powered amps that I’ve heard. Definitely quiet.

I wonder if power conditioners have given isolation a bad reputation as people may conflate the two. I haven’t been very happy with any of the conditioners that I’ve tried (at least in high power applications).

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Join the (audiophile superiority complex) club .............

hifiluver's picture

Apparently setting up a listening room in the middle of an industrial area with 3 phase power supply is awesome.

doug beechwood's picture


I think you have the 2 Stones covers swapped around.
"Walking the Dog" is not even vaguely "smutty".
However "I'm a King Bee" by Slim Harpo is definitely double entendre, clear as day at the time to this 17 yr old.

Ortofan's picture

... if he can put up a windmill, plus a bank of storage batteries in the basement to tide him over on calm days.
Maybe he could sell enough power back to the utility company to finance upgrades for his audio system.

dalethorn's picture

People run their computer systems on relatively small UPS boxes, and if the box were capable of isolating from the mains (mains feeds UPS then UPS separately powers the system), that seems like a possibility.

dc_bruce's picture

Depending upon the Kw/amp rating (not specified in the review), the price of the Shindo may not be all that outrageous. IIRC, the price of the 20 amp Equi-tech balanced power transformer is in that range. As the long-time owner of one of those Equi-tech units, I am satisfied that it provides real sonic benefits.
That said, the Shindo unit seems much smaller and does not require the winding precision necessary to generate two 60 VAC outputs exactly 180 degrees out of phase with each other -- which is what balanced power is.

I have to admit that Art's claim that the Shindo unit improves the sound of his turntable leaves me puzzled. I have a VPI frequency regenerator (the "SDS"), which makes a subtle improvement in my turntable's sound. But that's because it provides a more accurate and steady 60 cycle power; a transformer is not going to affect the frequency of the AC power supplied to the turntable motor. Maybe the (possibly) lower source impedance of the transformer gives the 'table a more consistent voltage?

ok's picture

"Obviously, if my system merely sounded better at some times of year than at others, the distinctions would be astrological in origin"

ahahahahahaha.. oh man, how I wish I could have thought this first :-}

spacehound's picture

Scorpios are known to be sceptical so I don't believe any of it :-)

Bogolu Haranath's picture

So, Stereophile "conversion therapy" is not working? :-) ..............

spacehound's picture

I mean that being a Scorpio, thus sceptical, I don't believe any of this 'Scorpio' nonsense either :-)

As for HiFi magazines, they are totally dependent on advertising revenue from mostly small companies with equally small resources and small expertise, and which probably 99% of people have never heard of. It's not as if listening to music is in any way 'specialist', like for example adults playing with toy slot cars, where one can expect the market to be limited and the manufacturers small or a small and probably underfunded division of something else.

They have an entertainment value, with their constant talk of 'lifted veils' (and every bit of snake oil added is always said to lift the veils further) and other such gibberish for us to laugh at.

Their music 'critiques' may have a certain value, lessened somewhat by their never saying orchestra X, performer Y, or composer Z is absolute rubbish, but that's about it :-)

dalethorn's picture

There are no veils? Everything sounds equally good?

prof's picture

If the purpose of an isolation transformer is to filter out the noise from your mains, I'm not clear on what swapping out its power cable for some "audiophile" power cable is supposed to achieve.

Since (unlike the Tripp-Lite) the Shindo transformer does have an IEC connector, maybe Art could comment on the effect of switching power cables.

windansea's picture

Always enjoy Art's writing, but this review could be more helpful by comparing the Mr T against a cheap Tripp Lite isolation transformer, or the more expensive PS Audio sine wave regenerator, which supposedly goes beyond power conditioners. Below are some relevant Amazon reviews on Tripp Lite models costing $100-$200:

I'll rate the product rather than the shipping because it arrived with dented feet. It's a 25 pound brick, please package the damn thing appropriately! WTF.

My review reflects the use of this product in an audio system. Many people apparently are using it for this purpose. I read the reviews and tried it out. My system is minimal, but solid. I'm running a Vinyl Nirvana 160 Super with a copper Ortofon. My amp is a swissonor VSOP driving Rhethm Maargas. I am reluctant to drop coin on frivolous stuff. It's sitting on an IKEA Lack end table which is actually great for audio equipment. My cables are good but not name brand.

It arrived and I was angry. But, it is damn heavy. So I twisted back the metal and place thick felt pads on the corners. My system was reconfigured for it, so I just had to connect stuff. I had played the recent Paul McCartney box and the first record was sitting on the turntable. Holy sh@t! I could hear the difference immediately.

Others have stated that the background floor became blacker, less apparent, whatever you want to call it... Yes. Also, the music was livelier and additional detail was apparent. I judge audio products for how they work in my system in my room. Your mileage may vary... I may move up to the 1000W when I have some extra cash.

I'm playing Wilco right now and can likewise hear the difference in background detail. I'm never spending over a thousand on a power conditioner, but definitely recommend this as a solution to the similarly pragmatic.

I purchased this to eliminate EMI/RFI line noise in the AC circuit that was being used for an electronic drum set in a professional live sound situation. In testing, it indeed did eliminate EMI/RFI line noise from the hot line. However I also had noise in the neutral and ground line which this unit is incapable of removing because of the way it is wired internally. After changing the internal wiring, it eliminated all EMI/RFI line noise from all three lines.

There are You Tube videos describing how to change the internal wiring on this particular unit and it's not hard to do at all if you are electrically inclined. If not knowledgeable or comfortable with household type high voltage AC electricity, probably best not to attempt it. However if you buy this, it doesn't solve your problem, and you don't feel confident in modifying it Amazon will let you return it for a refund (I think within 30 days...) even if there is nothing actually wrong with the product itself. So it can't hurt to try!

billyb's picture

Mr. Atkinson, Mr. Dudley,
Shindo components are listed as Class "A" recommended by Stereophile. Wouldn't readers benefit from basic bench test results for the highest rated components, in fact, shouldn't a class "A" rating be at least partially based on a solid bench test result?
It seems like a disservice to us all that a class "A" rated piece of equipment would not have at a minimum some distortion tests done. Please let us know your thoughts!

David GS's picture

A few years ago, an engineering colleague offered me a big transformer. It's two primaries were marked 120V, and the three secondaries 60-0-60, and there was a big lug to ground the copper shield. He estimated it was good for 1KVA+ and mentioned that he appreciated my interest in audio and DIY, and offered the iron really as a way to interest me in the concept of balanced power. So I took the big thing home and there it sat in the corner of my office for some time. It reminded me of balanced power every-time i tripped over it. Finally I came across a chasssis and some heavy duty parts that i'd need to make use of the gift. Well after a web search when I found this article:
I was intrigued but not in need. Then, I was still living in New Hampshire and was enjoying crystal quiet backgrounds when listening to music. Four years ago, I moved back to Boston, and the noise began for real, nothing I tried cleaned up the lines, and I remembering why I had become a night-owl before I had moved to the country this was no comfort. I wanted my music when everyone else was awake and more likely to enjoy listening too. So, that's when the transformer got its newish mil-spec surplus box, 3 heavy duty outlets and a nice 6-amp toggle switch/ breaker. And the result,-quite literally was quiet, really, living in the boonies off the grid quiet, -hmmm, no- hum go figure. I think I'll paint it green.

Great article