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e-TP80 AC power filter
as reviewed by Robert H. Levi
I became interested in power line conditioners when George Tice came out with the Power Block and many companies imitated it. The use of transformers was first a necessity, then a faux pas. Now you pay extra for them. The current cutting-edge conditioners are passive. Enter Furutech. The e-TP80 uses special epoxy resins to absorb rather than filter noise (and possibly degrade the AC waveform). From the Furutech website, "GC-303 is a special material that Furutech layers and bonds to the interior bottom-plate of the chassis (see illustration below).
It actually absorbs EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) generated by the internal fittings of the unit. The e-TP80 uses no other filtering besides GC-303 so AC resistance is kept to a minimum, allowing a more resolving, powerful, dynamic, and colorful performance from your components." It uses EMI noise filters only on the dedicated digital receptacles, not on the ones used for preamps or power amps. Surge suppressors and circuit breakers, placed well ahead of the receptacles, protect against lightning.
Additionally, the e-TP80 goes through a two-step process called the Alpha Process. From the Furutech site, "Using cutting-edge technology and materials, Furutech developed a low-temperature two-stage process that significantly improves every facet of audio and video performance. The treatment begins during the manufacturing process with a deep, conditioning cryogenic freeze of all metal parts. Using high-end refrigerants (liquid N2 or He) Furutech achieves temperatures of between -196 to -250C. The treated parts actually change their molecular structure at these extremes of temperature relieving internal stress. The molecules bond together more tightly and the overall structure becomes more stable. This improves electrical conductivity and so power and signal transfer. Step two in the Alpha Process exposes these same parts to the patented Ring Demagnetization treatment. Ordinary high power magnets used for this purpose often increase magnetization effects; they leave some areas more magnetized than others. Just like a CD spinning over a fixed magnet; when the CD stops the area above the magnet is still exposed to the magnetic field causing audible effects. This patented process uses controlled attenuation to completely eliminate magnetization for immediately more vivid and colorful improvements. Ring Demagnetization further enhances conductivity of all treated materials."
The e-TP80 is well thought out and very flexible. At $475, there's a lot to like. The unit is beautifully made and very solidly built. It has eight gold-plated (and gorgeous) receptacles and separation for noisy digital gear. This sleek conditioner yields a very quiet background. I could not hear any increase in the noise floor compared to my Tice, Monster, or Power Wing AC conditioners. Connections are solid and reassuring. The supplied heavy-duty power cord is excellent. You may substitute one of your own, but I chose to use the supplied cord.
When I plugged CD players, amps, and preamps into the e-TP80, I noticed a slight softening of transients and a rounding of edges. I liked this effect on most digital gear, and on solid-state amps and preamps. On tube gear, it may not be the best solution. I tried my preamps on all the outlets, and the digital outlets restrained dynamics. All of the outlets need to be used as recommended. Preamps need to be plugged into the higher-power, unfiltered plugs and power amps into the high-power plugs. My Theta Gen.5a and my Pioneer laser disc player sounded great on the digital plugs. They lost that last bit of edge and crispness that I dislike.
Power amplifiers were very slightly sweetened with the Furutech. The soundstage was also pushed a bit further back. Whether you like or dislike the effect will depend on the brightness of your loudspeakers. On my Avalons, even tube gear had a more relaxed sonic signature, which was appealing. I did miss the more you-are-there quality of my $2500 Power Wing, but for $475 I felt that I got oodles of value. I've tried conditioners for twice the price that either did little or ruined the sound. Here's one that warms and sweetens. What's wrong with that? The manufacturer claims that the e-TP80 will also improve your TV picture. I did not try it.
I liked the size and scale of the Furutech. It is easy to place, use, and handle. It even comes with an extra ground, just in case, plus an external circuit breaker. Cool LEDs on top tell you what's going on inside, but while the manual tells you more than you need to know about the e-TP80's construction, it says nothing about how to use the buttons on the unit.
Economy pricing usually means less flexibility and little or no sonic rewards. Not so with the Fututech e-TP80. Its fit and finish is comparable to that of conditioners costing twice as much or more. The only nit I can pick is its slight softening and sweetening of the musical performance, but this will be a boon to those with solid-state gear. The Furutech will also complement loudspeakers with powerful tweeters and systems that are on the bright side. The black background it provides is as good as it gets. The e-TP80 is a solid value, and the perfect choice for those looking in this price range for a flexible, musical, and well-designed power line conditioner. Robert H. Levi
Everyone at Furutech appreciates Robert Levi's review, including a dedicated band of enthusiastic engineers under the estimable Mr. Frank Yoo and his Tokyo-based assistant Mr. Graeme Coley.
The e-TP80 is not so much a conditioner as a power distributor with filtered and non-filtered mechanically decoupled star-wired outlets. The new e-TP609 offers three sets of unfiltered outlets—fine for amps as well as the front-end—and both feature the ever so gripping Axial Locking System that optimally hand torques each duplex against its surrounding anti-resonance material. Both feature a layer of EMI-eating GC-303, also found wrapped around Furutech's Reference cables.
Bob, those are LED on the right panel! The bottom one glows green when power is present, and touching the center nub will light the red LED above it when polarity is correct.
Furutech's heavy science and engineering approach lavishes attention on each and every aspect of power and signal transfer. Just handling one of their lush silver-plated bronze phosphor RCA male spring filaments is amazing. The unique Ground (Earth) Jumper System eliminates magnetic distortion in power connectors. We know that current flowing in a cable and connector creates an encircling magnetic field. Furutech engineers found this induces current flow in the screws holding the connector and shell together, creating an interfering magnetic field. The Ground Jumper System conducts screw-borne currents to ground. Strict attention to details. And all metal materials are deeply cryogenically treated then ring-demagnetized. You can keep your cables, connectors and CDs that way with an RD-2 CD and Cable Demagnetizer or the soon available LP-sized DeMag! Anti-stat ion guns will be a dime a dozen on Ebay!