Recommended Components: Fall 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 5000: $3995.95
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: $995.95
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: $109.95/6ft
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)

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: $10,900
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: $2000/m, $550 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: $1500 CAD/2.0m
Luna Orange AC Cord: $900 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 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 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)

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)

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, ±5V, 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)

tonykaz's picture

Does anyone own any of these Recommended pieces?

If so,

Can you tell us about it?

Tony in Michigan

ps. I own the Sennheisers which are Superb *

chrisstu's picture

I did head to head comparisons versus Berkley, EMM, Ayre....for me in my system the Bricasti beat the Ayre and Berkley and tied with the EMM for far less money. Their support has been OUTSTANDING as well. I had an issue with one channel and they took it back and performed upgrades on it to make up for the inconvenience. As other new upgrades come out they are great about retrofitting to the latest. Great sounding device. Great support.

SpinMark3313's picture

VPI Classic Signature with SDS power box, SoundSmith MIMC (OK, not the "star" edition), EAR 834P phono pre. In all a lovely, lovely set-up - fast, musical, extended, glorious mid-range. I am officially off the analog upgrade train except for some possible upgrades to the EAR in the future (some vintage Telefunken tubes have already taken it to a whole new level).
Once you figure it out and get a few of the right tools, the VPI 3D arm is not that difficult to set up and the on-the-fly adjustable SRA is terrific.
Interestingly, the Classic Signature drew my attention due to years of mostly good VPI coverage in Stereophile, the EAR came by dealer recommendation and audition, and the SoundSmith was a shot in the dark based on my intrigue with the moving iron concept, and the speed of the "moving coil" version. Turned out to be a wonderful combination...

Briandrumzilla's picture

I know you guys hate digital but surely the Sony Play Station 1 has not been reviewed in a long time. It has been on the recommended list for what seems like forever. Other components are deleted after a few years. Get over it. Your precious analog won.

DougM's picture

It would be much easier to read the reviews of recommended components if there were links to them in the recommended listings, rather than having to scroll through past reviews to find them.

Tempo's picture

I thought the Pono Player was discontinued last Spring. It seems to be still available through some retailers, but shouldn't the company's decision to change directions at least be mentioned?

woodford's picture

there's a typo in the price, or at least an extra digit. it's not a $10k cart.

ivayvr's picture

I noticed that the price of NAD D3020 is still shown as $ 499. For the last two years or slightly longer, the actual price for the D3020 was $ 399.99.
At the same time, we were duly notified about the price drop for the very next entry, PS Audio Sprout to $ 499. That is creating a false impression that they cost the same.

syj's picture

"For the DragonFly Black, output voltage has now dropped from 1.8 to 1.2V, but in the DragonFly Red—which also has the distinction of an ESS Sabre 9016 DAC chip with 64-bit digital volume control—output voltage is bumped up to a healthy 2.1V, which AQ suggests better suits it to drive difficult headphone loads."

I think the DAC chip in the Dragon Red is ESS Sabre 9018 (9016 is in the Black).

Also, IMHO, the iFi Nano DSD LE is far far better than the Dragon Red
in terms of sound quality via the Amplifier (with Foobar2000 as the
source). I have both of them. So good that I bought another iFi Nano LE

to use with my other system. The problem of the Nano LE is that the
USB port isn't really secure when I accidentally move or touch the USB
chord it may stop playing. This happens with both units with either USB2.0 or USB3.0 cables.

icorem's picture

Compared the list to the last one + deletions and there is no trace to the Vivid Audio g3.