I was convinced of the benefits of power conditioning years ago at the beginning of my equipment journey. I was auditioning some Numan Loudspeakers -- long since departed the highend. The designer was extolling their virtues and asked me if I wanted to hear them sound at their very best.
He switched on an MIT box. This unnasuming, utilitarian piece of kit instantly improved the sound - veils were lifted. I thought it was a different amplifier, readying for the hard sell. No, a power conditioner. And a damn fine one.
Over the years, I've had more than a few to play with. Some, much like the Audio Power Industries behemoth that's been in my system for over 20 years, do a very good job of cutting out the hash and other nasties. A couple, however, were unmitigated failures. The primary failure was a loss of power and musical energy. Robbing Peter and never paying Paul.
I've heard a few very good ones lately, and received this beautifully built Core Power Technologies box to throw into my reference system.
Power conditioners are the unsung heroes of a well setup highend audio system. They do the grunt work, the schlepping. That's it, they're schleppers. And who wants to hang with a schlepper when you have sexy boxes to the left and right of you? If you're smart. You.
Like the aforementioned MIT, Audio Power, etc, quality conditioners do a silent but deadly good job at removing ugliness from the power coming out of your wall and delivering clean and clear electrons. Nothing there, you say. Have a friend who likes this type of gear bring one to your well setup system/room and try it out. I'm guessing anybody but the cloth ears among you will hear a difference. But like the two duds I had in my system at one time, careful choice of model and an audition with your kit is essential.
The Core Power Technologies (CPT) Equi=Core 1800 is, so sayeth the company info: '...a full 15 amp, 1800 watt, balanced line conditioner. It supports up to 8 products thru its 4 Hubbell Duplex A/C recepticles. It also offers surge protection in addition to sonics that typically sell for $3000-$5000.00 from the competition. It comes with a 12g hi-end 6 foot power cord. It is 5" high and 11.6" wide x 11.6" deep and weighs 65 pounds.'
Unlike other pieces of kit in your system, the conditioner has but one duty -- filter/deliver clean power to your components.
A fabulous flute teacher once told me, 'Anthony, we're in the air moving business'. The same with a really good power conditioner, excepting it's clean power. Power reserve with quality A/C receptacles, surge protection, and the ability to remove hum, filter hash and nasties from the line is what separates the best line conditioners. The nastiness appears as a veil in your system and fatigues your ears in long sessions -- ever wonder why your system sounds so much better late at night when usage and demand on the grid is way down? Place a first class product like the Equi=Core 1800 in between the A/C and your kit and you can kiss that nasty stuff goodbye.
I was bowled over by the positive effects the Equi=Core 1800 had on my gear. Both vinyl and digital were improved. Noted improvements -- the usual suspects with quality conditioning -- blacker backgrounds with concomitant drop in noise floor, zero hum, with that ever so slight white noise our ears recognize as distortion, all gone. The proverbial veils were lifted. Like diving into a crystal clear glacial lake untouched by humanity.
Comparisons were inevitable. The Equi=Core smoked my old and trusty Audio Power -- a cleaner and more musically involving experience in every way. A bit like my raggedy old butt in a race against my kid.
Getting in the ring with the mighty, new Audioquest Niagara 5000 [review forthcoming -- Ed] was a different fight. The Niagara has 90 amps of current delivery, noise filtration, directionality of all the wiring and parts, and Edison plugs. Without giving away the essence of the Niagara review, the smaller and inexpensive CPT was truly up against it. Yet, the CPT easily held its own in the sound department only bested by the Niagara's power reserve and more receptacles. The Niagara is well over twice the price of the Equi=Core.
I plugged everything into my 1800, including DAC, Rega 10 motor, server, and another turntable I'm reviewing. I had space left over for my router and a switcher. Unless you have a massive system, the 8 outlets on the 1800's rear should do.
Whether the wondrous Chesky/Barbirolli/RPO Sibelius 2 LP or my digital FLAC of Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse and a hundred more tracks or LPs, stunning details were revealed hitherto unheard - flute trills in the Sibelius first movement clearer than ever before and even the great Amy's glottle stop in her best Billie Holiday impersonation during Body and Soul. Layers made clear; what was once threadbare, fleshed out.
Interestingly, I never plugged my Audio Research Corporation VT110 Power Amplifier or my new Jeff Rowland Continuum S2 Integrated Amplifier into my Audio Power for fear of power reduction. No such worries with the 1800. Unless you are using huge power sucking monoblocks, you'll be fine with the 1800.
Core Power Technologies ships the 1800 with an upgraded power cord. It's a lovely match for the classy casing. In fact, during our shootout, it was mentioned to me that the 5K Audioquest Niagara was sporting a CAD$1600 power cord from the same company. 'My' 1800 (MSRP USD$1999) held its own in very refined company. But knowing the care and research that went into making this jewel of a component, I'm not surprised. Very highly recommended.
Further information: Core Power Technologies