While we sometimes forget it, one of the key factors that affect our sound systems is the electricity flowing into our homes. Sadly, the electricity that flows into our homes is not clean. It is full of contaminants that negatively affect the sound of audio components. In my forty years, I have tried all manner of tweaks to clean up the power flowing into my system including running dedicated 30 Ampere circuits from the pole to the house. These were all met with various degrees of success. With the introduction of the personal computer into our lives, power protection and power conditioning became talked about subjects. Naturally this led to the question of whether or not our home audio and video systems would benefit from this type of technology. The technology has proven to be successful and as a result there are a plethora of companies that manufacture products to cover the demand.
Basically, there are three things that a power line conditioner needs to do. First, they should protect the system from spikes and surges in the power line that can potentially cause serious damage. Secondly is they should reduce noise in the AC line and third, they should correct voltage fluctuations and distortions in the 60Hz waveform. The primary reason that most people purchase a power line conditioner outside of equipment protection is to reduce noise in the power line. There are several ways to accomplish this ranging from a passive filter system consisting of an inductor and a capacitor to AC Regeneration, which corrects voltage fluctuations, waveform distortions and noise in the power line. Each method has its pluses and minuses.
Who Is Core Power
The Equi=Core 1800 is the subject of this review. It replaced the Monster Power HTS-5000 Mk II that resides in my system and which has served me faithfully for many years. Initial listening was conducted with just the front-end components plugged into the Equi=Core as this was the way I historically have operated my system. The immediate effect of having the Equi=Core in the system was a noticeable decrease in background noise to a level that I have not experienced with the HTS-5000 in the system. Without a signal running through the system, I have always been able to hear a small amount of "tube rush" from my Audio Research LS-28/VT-80 combo coming through my speakers. This background noise was almost entirely eliminated with the Equi=Core in the system. This was a foreshadowing of good things to come.
Time For A Listen
Taking the Equi=Core out of the system completely and plugging all of the components into the wall caused an even more pronounced collapsing of the soundstage and adding even more grunge which had the effect of hiding the emotion that Chelsea puts into each and every song she performs. The best way to describe what I was hearing was very similar to looking out the back door when the glass is covered by the muddy footprints that my two Golden Retrievers have thoughtfully left behind when they want back in the house. While I can see everything in the backyard, it is somewhat obscured by mud. It is nothing that a good dose of Windex and a roll of paper towels won't fix. Reinstalling the Equi=Core back into the system had the same effect on the sound as cleaning the glass in the backdoor and brought everything back into focus.
After determining that the Equi=Core could handle the current draw of the VT-80 as well as the rest of the front-end components, I plugged it in. All I could say was "W0W". While I was hoping for some improvement, I was not expecting what I heard. It was as if another layer of grunge was stripped away. I did not think it was possible but there it was. For the first time, I was actually hearing Chelsea's voice as I remembered it when she performed many of the songs on this album live in my living room. The background noise was reduced to a level where it was just about nonexistent, which increased the depth of the soundstage even more and allowed the space between the instruments to open up. This resulted in a truly three-dimensional presentation. It was truly magical.
The Equi=Core 1800 does exactly what it is designed to do. It provides clean power that reduces background noise and does no harm to the musical signal. The nice thing about reviewing a power conditioner is that they are easy. As has been stated in many a review before, they either do what they are supposed to do without adding a signature of their own or they don't. I urge you to contact Core Power and see about trying one in your system. The Equi=Core 1800 is priced at $1999 and at this price is a bargain considering what the product offers. In addition, Core Power offers a very generous 60-day money back policy, which after trying the unit in your system; I doubt that you will be taking advantage of. I know I am not. The only way this one is going back is if Mark Schifter, company President comes and gets it.
Note On Blue Note Ratings