Hello, fellow Audiolics...
Welcome to another meeting of Audiolics Anonymous, our support group for the insatiably TWEAKED. This month, I’ve had the opportunity to review a new AC line product, which, unlike many others out there, actually works as claimed. But before talking about it, I’d like you to go back and review my CHAPTER 3, the original article on AC line noise, please see this page.
As you can see, AC line noise has been a bugaboo of mine since the early 80’s. For some reason, even though I live out in the country, I’ve had people from New York say my electricity was especially bad. Finally, after 10 years of battling with the electric company, they found that the transformer on the street might be defective, and replaced it, which immediately made an improvement in my service. So, if you think you are having trouble with your service, fight the local utility. Don’t just let them put a voltmeter in your house, then “prove” to you from the measurements over 24 hours that everything is A-okay. Transformers do other things than drop voltage, and the damn thing may be defective in other ways.
At present, I am still using 6 special uninterruptible power supplies, four made by MSB and two by Toshiba, totaling 9000 watts capacity, which supply a pure 60 Hz. sine wave off of batteries, giving me relatively clean electricity. In addition, I have four of the Richard Gray inductors, use Red Rollers and their AC plugs, and power cords from Synergistic Research, NBS and Electraglide. Everything is fed from a 50 amp service separate from the house service, with all equipment grounded to a 10 foot long copper rod attached to 100 feet of in-ground copper grounding wire outside my room. And even with all of that isolation, I can still hear differences in the sound depending on time of day, day of the week, etc. So while I have improved my electricity to the point where it is probably cleaner than what the government feeds the Livermore Lab, there is still some room for improvement. Enter the...
QUANTUM PRODUCTS INC.
...line of products. The company, based in Santa Monica, Ca., www.quantumqrt.com, produces three products, the Symphony, Symphony Pro, and the Octave. The Symphony and Symphony Pro are little “black boxes” which are plugged into a spare outlet somewhere in or within 30 feet of your system. They run in parallel with the system, so that none of your equipment has to run through them. The Octave is an eight outlet unit which acts, from the company’s explanation, as a “quantum resonance aligner, a circuit breaker, and as four banks of isolation giving two outlets each of 75, 100, 110 and 125 dB. of noise suppression, while at the same time, having a form of the QRT circuitry.
How do they work? I haven’t the foggiest idea. The process is called Quantum Resonance Technology, and is supposedly based on a process more akin to what George Tice used years ago, than what is done by the Bybee equipment. The units are supposed to “align” the electricity, “to neutralize chaotic electron motion behavior in the circuitry so that it becomes more ordered and coherent” They list for $299.95, $599.95, and $449.95 respectively. I was sent one of the Octave and Symphonic Pro units for review. Do they work. Read on.
My first decision was where to put each unit. With my complex AC setup, and as my system would have to be completely re-setup if I took the power supplies out, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to give the units a fair hearing, as my system is already great at filtering out electric grunge. Should I place the Pro before or after the power supplies, and, if after, on which one. Should I place the Octave to run the digital, analog low voltage, or high voltage audio equipment, or the video stuff? Should I call and ask for more units?
I finally decided to place the Symphony Pro first in an outlet directly under my room circuit box, from which the UPS units receive their juice. I figured that if I heard a difference before the UPS’s, then something definitely was going on, as these units work beautifully to block out most line noise. The Octave was used for both the digital and low voltage analog, with the 125dB outlets used for the Marquee DVD-CD computer and the EAD Theatermaster D/A converter, the 110 dB outlets for the two Wright preamps, the 100 dB outlets for the subwoofer preamp and the center channel crossover, and the 75 dB for the turntable and center channel SET amp. I fired up the system and was immediately under whelmed. Nothing happened. The audio sounded no different than it had, and the video looked the same. Very disappointing . Wanting to give the units a fair break, I sat for a while to contemplate my next step, then decided to go do some work in the yard.
About two hours later, I came back in the house and found my wife in the kitchen somewhat agitated. She had been rehashing some spaghetti sauce on the stove, had left it standing on three, where she usually leaves it to simmer, and had returned to find it boiling lightly. Not knowing what to make of it, except Gremlins, I returned to my Sanctum Sanctorum for further experimentation.
But before changing the system again, I decided to have another listen. Well, I have to tell you, this was the biggest change I have heard in my system since they changed the power transformer outside the house. On the audio side, the noise floor had dropped significantly, the sound stage had opened up, the bass was tighter, the mid range was more full bodied, and the highs, especially on the strings, were clear and clean, something to behold. I have heard similar things with late night listening, and one memorable George Washington’s birthday down at the Listening Studio in Boston, Ma. back in 84 or 85, but never during the day at my place. At night the system really opened up.
What I had never heard before on my system, or any other was the solidity of the listening space and instruments. I have heard three dimensionally, instruments surrounded by air, and the feeling that an instrument body was there, but never before had I heard what I have difficulty describing. It was as if I was in a concert hall, The room was pressurized. I had the feeling that the air molecules were pressing in on me, that there were actual three dimensional instruments in the room. On one live recording I have of a folk singing group in a small venue, with the surrounds turned on, I actually heard people whispering, moving, talking, etc., and not just in front of me, or behind in some nebulous space, but here, there and everywhere. I actually turned around twice to see if my wife or son had come into the room and were standing behind me, so lifelike were these peripheral sounds. On Cantate Domino from Proprius Records, there is a female soloist with organ accompaniment, where the room became pressurized when the recording went from silence to room sound to organ playing. I heard people moving around in the church and at one point I heard a door in the back right close. I had heard this previously as a strange thump, but never like this. It must be a big one, not because the sound was loud, which it wasn’t, but because I could feel the pressure change it caused. AND THIS WAS WITH CD’S, NOT ANALOG.
Before you get too excited, I have to say this has only happened twice since to that extent. While the sound, on average, is still better than anything I’ve heard in my system before, again, the palpability thing has only happened with late night listening. I’m sure there was a confluence of factors that gave that sound, and I won’t be happy until I obtain it on a regular basis, but I must say the Quantum products have made enough of a change that they’ll stay in my system until that day.
Interestingly, analog had an improvement, but not nearly as much as digital. The sound stage opened up a little, and the bass tightened, and the solidity that is normally there, was there. I think the analog may be close to its peak in my system, and the digital had more to go to get close to optimal reproduction.
With the above results, I went ahead and ordered another OCTAVE unit to plug in the video equipment and separate it from the audio side. On video, with my projector, the images are more three dimensional, and vibrant. The biggest change is in the colors, which are more saturated and true to life, less pastel. On great DVD’s and HBO High Definition, I now get an image that rivals the best I’ve seen in my local cineplexes. While not up to 70 mm. film, or what I can remember of Cinerama, it certainly rivals anything I’ve seen of 35 mm. film.
What happens when I shut the Pro off and take the Octave out of the system? A slow collapse of the above. I could go on with more examples, but I won’t. I don’t know or understand how it does what it does, but it does. How’s that for syntax. Would I buy these products? I have, and when I get sufficient funds, will order another SYMPHONY PRO for the surround channels. So on this product I’ve put my money where my mouth is. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Isn’t audio maddening. Being perfectionists, we always strive to attain that goal of “Perfect sound forever”, we do reach peaks, but then there is always a drop-off back to a lower plateau. The question is, what causes those peaks, and should we settle for the plateaus. I’d probably be much happier if I did, but of course, being a TWEAKER, the peak all of the time will remain the goal. We may be home bodies, but we have our audio mountains to climb just because they’re there.
Well, enough raving for today. Till next meeting, Auf