Recommended Components: 2017 Edition 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 Niagara 7000: $7995
Billed as "a complete rethinking" of AC distribution, the AudioQuest Niagara 7000 is a power-conditioning accessory that provides a total of 12 AC outlets: four hard-grounded high-current outlets, plus eight others divided into two groups of four, each said to be 100% isolated from the other and from the four high-current outlets. Inside this attractive 81-lb box are circuits comprising AudioQuest's Ultra-Linear Noise-Dissipation technology, six banks of direction-controlled ground-noise dissipation, and AC isolation transformers to which AQ's trademark Dielectric-Bias System (DBS) has been applied. Although MF described the Niagara 7000's outlets as "the most difficult to use I've ever encountered," owing to their sheer grip, he was impressed with the Niagara's effectiveness, which he regarded as being on a par with that of his Shunyata Research Hydra Triton v2 and Hydra Typhon distributors. Each had its strengths, MF said, noting that "the Niagara 7000 better resolved fine detail and threw a deeper, more expansive soundstage." (Vol.39 No.2)

AudioQuest Niagara 1000 AC conditioner: $995
See HR's review in this issue.

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)

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)

AV Options SuperWiremold Deep Cryo power strip: $399
This product is precisely as its busy name describes it: a Wiremold AC power strip that has, in the interest of enhanced conductivity and noiselessness, been given a deep-cryogenic treatment and endowed with a Wattgate 5266i AC plug, also cryogenically treated—and now it's, well, super. The finished product is mounted on a plinth of solid, hand-finished maple fitted with four silicone-rubber feet, for mechanical isolation. Is it worth $399? AD found that switching from a stock Wiremold outlet strip to the AV Options version was "very much on a par with going from incorrect to correct absolute polarity for a given recording." Note that, when used with products whose own AC cords are fitted with chunky Wattgate plugs, not all of this strip's nine conventionally spaced outlets will be usable. (Vol.38 No.9 WWW)

Ayre Acoustics L-5xe power line filter: $2450 ★
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 NANA power strip: $350 ★
Manufactured by Wavelength Audio Video and available at most Naim Audio dealers, the 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." 12 gauge stranded UP-OCC wiring adds $100. (Vol.29 No.3 WWW)

Environmental Potentials EP-2450 Home Theater Power Supply: $1025.21
Environmental Potentials EP-2050 Waveform Correction Absorber: $729.99 ★

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)

Kimber Kable PK10 BASE PowerKord: $320/6 ft, other lengths are available at $26/ft. ★
ST used 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, $500 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)

Luna Mauve AC Cord: $1500.00 CAD/2.0m
Luna Orange AC Cord: $900.00 CAD/2.0m

A new company from Quebec, Luna Cables designs and manufactures four lines of cables: in order of ascending cost, Luna Orange, Luna Mauve, Luna Red, and Luna Black. In all Luna cables, the conductors are old-style tinned copper—in some, the conductors are actual new-old stock tinned copper from decades ago—and Luna eschews polymers in favor of natural materials, such as the hand-dyed cotton used as an outer sheath on all of their models. Designer Danny Labrecque is a tube-and-vinyl aficionado and a longtime Shindo Laboratory dealer, and Luna's résumé suggests that, while not specifically intended as such, their interconnects, speaker cables, and AC cords will jell with systems influenced by vintage-audio values. That's what attracted the attention of AD, who was impressed by what he heard. In particular, AD flipped over Luna's humblest power cord—remarkable, since he seldom has much use for aftermarket AC cords, period. From the Luna Orange series, it sells for $900 CAD for a 2m cord. When he tried the Luna Orange AC cord on his Shindo Haut-Brion power amplifier, it was, he said, "as if I'd found, somewhere in my system, a theretofore undiscovered knob labeled Vividness, and had goosed it up a couple of clicks." (Vol.39 No.8 WWW)

Nordost 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)

Nordost Valhalla 2 AC power cord: $4999.99/1m
See Interconnects.

PS Audio P10 Power Plant: $4999
As JCA writes, "PS Audio's solution [to power conditioning] is to start from scratch: take the power coming in through the wall, rectify it, store it, regulate it, use it to generate a new and better AC signal, and then send it out (with usefully low impedance)." Their PerfectWave P10 does just that, in addition to which it outputs six user-selectable alternate waveforms—according to PS Audio, one or more of these MultiWave outputs may suit a given component better than a bog-standard sinewave—and a CleanWave, intended to degauss the transformers in the user's playback system. An RJ45 socket permits Ethernet connection and, consequently, the ability to monitor and control power from one's computer. After using it in his apartment in New York, New York—a city not known for limitless stores of clean, stable AC—JCA praised the PerfectWave P10 as perhaps "an essential accessory for any audiophile who lives in a neighborhood like mine." (Vol.39 No.7 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)

Shunyata Research Venom Power System: Package Retail $1185
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)

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)

Torus Power TOT AVR power conditioner: $2299
The TOT AVR power conditioner, which has at its heart a sizable isolation transformer, also offers an Automatic Voltage Regulation (AVR) system designed to maintain a stable voltage of 120V, Ò5V, within a range of 85–135V. The TOT AVR can also be had with Torus Power's Series Mode Surge Suppression (SMSS) system—a $250 option that, in units sold in the US, clamps the voltage instantly if it rises more than 2V above 135V. LG found that the TOT AVR was not up to the current demands of his 400W monoblocks (Torus makes other, more rugged conditioners), but that it otherwise "improved musical detail and three-dimensional imaging for a wide range of music," along with providing the peace of mind of knowing that his gear was safe from lightning. (Vol.40 No.3 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)

COMMENTS
Richard D. George's picture

Thank you for your efforts. These are always informative and interesting.

Comparing this web page for Loudspeakers with my iPad subscription, I believe that there is a section header missing after YG Acoustics Carmel 2 and before Bowers & Wilkins 683 S2.

Richard D. George's picture

Thanks.

rom661's picture

I'm surprised at the age of some of these components; at least two are discontinued. What's up?

John Atkinson's picture
rom661 wrote:
I'm surprised at the age of some of these components; at least two are discontinued. What's up?

We checked with every manufacturer and distributor in January about the current price and availability of everything included in the listing. It is always possible that some products have been discontinued since January.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Leoi's picture

An interesting cartridge to review, in the wake of yout review of the ART-1000, is of the AT ART-7. I've heard it and for the money I think is among the best; it might get a place in the next list of components.

Zenonu's picture

Please hyperlink each component to the manufacturer's website. I should be able to click through on each component w/o having to do a Google Search first. Perhaps some components aren't represented on the web, but that will be the exception rather than the rule.

gaddgadd's picture

Bob Katz compared in a blind listening the Antelope Audio Zodiac Platinum Bundle: $5295 (with Voltikus power supply) and the Yggdrasil. Results...50-50. On youtube you will find a video...What are the reasons for this poor rating?
Numerous raving reviews and only Stereophile will tell us we are all wrong. mmhm

TheNoose's picture

Some major names not present...CH Precision, Tidal, Mola Mola, Nagra to name a few. Is that cos' you haven't had them in for testing...?

John Atkinson's picture
TheNoose wrote:
Some major names not present...CH Precision, Tidal, Mola Mola, Nagra to name a few. Is that cos' you haven't had them in for testing...?

That's correct. We have reviewed Nagra components in the past and have published a review of a CH Precision phono preamplifier since this list was compiled.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

TheNoose's picture

Thanks John. Much appreciate your super quick reply, and the basic list done yearly, very helpful to compare major brands. I like it a lot.

z24069's picture

Logged this in 2016 for those lists and with no response. The lists have not changed in many ways so sending again...

There are some fine choices on the Transports, Digital Processors, Preamp and Amp listings. I am puzzled however at the total lack of mention of any Esoteric Audio product. They are current products well known for their performance and musicality. What criteria being utilized could yield a recommended components lists where at least one of their products (or more) would not make it into the results?