Recommended Components: 2018 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: $7999.95
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 5000: $3999.95
KR, who admits to many years of skepticism about the audible advantages claimed for power conditioners, has had a change of heart, evinced by his use of the words love and Niagara in the same sentence: "I love what the Niagaras 5000 and 1000 . . . have done for the sound of my system." At half the price and less than half the weight of AudioQuest's flagship Niagara 7000, the Niagara 5000 differs from it primarily in lacking the Dielectric-Biased AC isolation transformers on its eight noise-dissipation outlets. (See entries for the Niagara 1000 and 7000 elsewhere in this edition of "Recommended Components.") Bolstered with some of AudioQuest's NRG Edison AC outlets ($149 each), the Niagara 5000 compelled Kal to write that "the noise from [my] tweeters was reduced, and the noise from [my] woofers was now completely inaudible." And there you have it. (Vol.40 No.9 WWW)

AudioQuest Niagara 1000 AC conditioner: $999.95
Although it lacks the Niagara 7000's isolation transformers—things known for being bulky and expensive—the far less costly Niagara 1000 has the same "ground-noise dissipation" system and "ultra-linear noise-dissipation" technology as AudioQuest's well-reviewed flagship product. The result is a 20"-long, six-outlet, dark-chrome–finished power strip that, in the words of HR, lifted veils: "isn't that what a $1000 power strip is supposed to do?" Herb concluded that the Niagara 1000 "might be the single most important, most high-value component I've auditioned for Stereophile." JA was also impressed by the unexpected manner in which the Niagara 1000 cleaned up the sound of his system. (Vol.40 No.4 WWW)

AudioQuest NRG-X3 AC cord: $99.95/6ft
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)

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)

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: $2000/m, $500 each additional meter
A JA favorite. See "Interconnects." (NR)

Kubala-Sosna Emotion AC cable: $1250/m; $350/additional meter
A KR favorite. See "Loudspeaker Cables." Add $300 for each additional meter. (Vol.29 No.7 WWW)

Luna Mauve AC Cord: $1800 CAD/2.0m
Luna Orange AC Cord: $1200 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 MarkII: $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 Hydra Denali D2000/T: $3495
Shunyata Research Hydra Denali D6000/T: $4995

Products in Shunyata's Denali series of AC distributor-conditioners boast a number of innovations, each with its own set of initials: improved Noise-Isolation Chambers (NIC v2), claimed to reduce high-frequency electromagnetic interference; a new technology, QR BB, said to eliminate "the sense of" dynamic compression associated with power conditioners; filters claimed to isolate the noise of Component-to-Component Interference (CCI); and treatment with a Kinetic Phase Inversion Process (KPIP), said to dramatically reduce burn-in time. The two-outlet Denali D2000/T and six-outlet D6000/T are also characterized by their truncated towers of their aluminum enclosures, built on stainless-steel isolation platforms and intended for placement on the floor, next to the user's equipment rack. With two D2000/Ts and one D6000/T in his system, MF heard "a far more open sound against super-'black' backgrounds" than he remembered hearing with Shunyata's Hydra Triton v2. (Vol.40 No.6)

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)

Signal HiFi SignalCable 20A MagicPower AC cord: $69/3'
KR came right out and said it: "Of all possible system cables, the one that I believe has the least potential to influence a system's sound is the AC power cord." He also spoke of chafing at the idea of premium-price cables that are too inflexible to use behind his equipment rack. Enter the SignalCable 20A MagicPower cord, based on 10 AWG stranded, high-purity copper, with hospital-grade Marinco terminations. (The 20A connectors are optional at no extra cost.) As of this writing, KR was considering buying more of them. (Vol.41 No.3 WWW)

Torus Power RM20 AC power isolation unit: $3299 ★
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: $2499
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)

Deletions

AudioQuest 3 US AC power strip not available; Fono Acustica Sinfo power distributor, Furman IT-Reference 20i power conditioner, not auditioned in too long a time.

COMMENTS
supamark's picture

You have the KEF Blade II listed class A full range, and the KEF Reference 5 in class A (restricted LF) yet their frequency respnse in JA's room is essentially the same at 20 Hz (both have a -10dB point below 20 Hz in JA's room)... what's up with that?

link to Ref 5 review measurements page:
https://www.stereophile.com/content/kef-reference-5-loudspeaker-measurem...

John Atkinson's picture
supamark wrote:
You have the KEF Blade II listed class A full range, and the KEF Reference 5 in class A (restricted LF) yet their frequency respnse in JA's room is essentially the same at 20 Hz (both have a -10dB point below 20 Hz in JA's room)... what's up with that?

Judgment call on my part.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

waynel's picture

Was surprised to see this amp on the list considering you said you could not recommend it.

John Atkinson's picture
waynel wrote:
Was surprised to see this amp on the list considering you said you could not recommend it.

This amplifier didn't measure well but I defer to my reviewers' judgments on sound quality when deciding on the ratings.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

supamark's picture

fair enough.

Joe8423's picture

but I've been reading JA's opinions for quite a while and I've concluded that his personal opinions on audio components are the product of terrible hearing and/or terrible taste. I have no criticisms of how he does his job as editor of stereophile. I just can't get my head around his opinions of specific components/speakers.

John Atkinson's picture
Joe8423 wrote:
I've been reading JA's opinions for quite a while and I've concluded that his personal opinions on audio components are the product of terrible hearing and/or terrible taste.

I do have my hearing checked regularly, so it must be my taste :-)

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

mrkaic's picture

...this is a lovely artful reply. Congrats, dude!

Indydan's picture

This is off topic. But, Will Art Dudley or someone else be visiting and reporting on the Montreal audio fest?

John Atkinson's picture
Indydan wrote:
Will Art Dudley or someone else be visiting and reporting on the Montreal audio fest?

Art Dudley and Robert Schryer will be attending the Montreal show for Stereophile.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Indydan's picture

Thanks for the information.

FredisDead's picture

I have learned over the years not to take the rankings seriously, but these are essentially the same speakers, one designed for larger rooms and one designed for smaller rooms. I can't help but believe that the magazine is unduly influenced by John Devore's description of the O/93 as being built down to a lower price point. I don't think JD was fair to his own babies. Since it was Art Dudley whom was the major proponent of the O/96 and since he now has a smaller listening room, it would be great if he were to audition the O/93's in his new room and let us know if he hears a qualitative difference.

ken mac's picture

John [DeVore] has no influence on how we write or review his speakers.
I owned and reviewed many of Johns' speakers (owned 8, Super 8, Nines; reviewed Super 8s, 3s, Nines, O/93) long before I joined Stereophile.
The 2 speakers are not really alike, and not designed for different sized rooms, I believe. I've heard both many times and prefer my O/93s. John makes extremely natural sounding loudspeakers that work well in many systems, hence their popularity.

tonykaz's picture

I'm not much of a Fan of Vinyl nowadays but still... shouldn't there be a phono cartridge in the Same Class as that A+ Turntable for $30,000 or the one for $104,000 ? and.. are there only two "A+" Turntables ?

I can understand, of course. I was a Big Time Phono Cartridge Shop, once upon a time. I know fully well the difficulties involved in proper set up of Phono Cartridges and their Arm and all things tracking, etc,etc,etc,etc,etc,etc,etc..... phew.

Committing to review Phono Cartridges is an elaborate set of burdens to put upon any competent reviewer lacking an Assistant ( like ole HP at TAS had ).

We at Esoteric Audio reviewed ( and had "Active" ) every phono Cartridge we sold, it was an exhausting commitment. Koetsu was A+.

Proper playback of RedBook via one of the many A+ Rated Players is a God Send compared to the Mechanical Complexity of revolving mechanisms and those mechanical transducers having astonishingly low output.

My two great Audiophile Philosophers ( HR & Steve G ) still have vinyl "lives" and rather vast vinyl collection commitments that I'm happily well past, their commentaries have substantial merit because they both have that vast history of experiences giving them the heft of "Earned Confidence" so.....

Stereophile should give them both the A+ Recommended placement : HR for Writing and Steve G for Vlog.

Tony in Michigan

z24069's picture

The list once again contains (many of the same) names of some great offerings from many manufacturers.

It is still beyond explanation however (IMHO) how Esoteric offerings are totally missing from yet another issues of recommended components. The K-01X (now K-01Xs), Grandioso K1, etc...are among some of the finest digital playback gear (same to be said for the 2-box and 4-box options) in the world. Clearly they belong on this list and the lack of focus on evaluating and listing these products with their peers definitely needs to be cured once and for all.

Great issue over all; you are however missing several key entries from Esoteric and others.

Thank you,

John Atkinson's picture
z24069 wrote:
It is still beyond explanation however (IMHO) how Esoteric offerings are totally missing from yet another issues of recommended components.

I have explained this before. If we haven't reviewed a company's products in the past 3 years, they are not included in "Recommended Components." With the changes in Esoteric's US distribution, we have been waiting for things to settle down. However, we do have a review of the Esoteric N-01 scheduled for our August issue.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Ola Harstrom's picture

Was interested to see how this would be rated.

Is HR's coverage (Gramophone Dreams #11 -->so it should perhaps have been in the Fall of 2017 edition...?) not considered a formal review?

Tx!

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