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Positive Feedback ISSUE 63
Supercharge Your Electrical System
- Furutech GTX-D AC Receptacles and HiFi-Tuning WA-Quantum Fuse Chips
AC outlets are perhaps among the most neglected and underappreciated, yet absolutely critical junctions in a high-end audio system! Putting aside for the moment the subject of construction quality, the life expectancy of that $1 wall receptacle is far less than one expects! In fact, many an outlet (especially in older apartments or homes) has literally crumbled in my hands after being removed from the wall. A quick follow-up autopsy usually reveals the victim's cause of death is corroded, arced and pitted contacts. So other than lighting a lamp, how can this receptacle even begin to provide a solid, noise free connection in which to transfer electricity to your multi-buck rig? In short, it's next to impossible!
Over the years, several brands of AC receptacles ranging from the relatively inexpensive Hubble hospital grade to most recently installed Sound Applications wall outlets have graced my living room wall. And as things would be, it was my recent review of the Silver Circle Pure Power 5se power line conditioner equipped with Furutech's latest GTX-D AC receptacles that really got me thinking again about the importance of the AC receptacle. And what would be more instructive than to use the same AC outlets in both the SCA 5se PLC and the wall?
Appearance wise, the Furutech GTX-D receptacles are characterized by their solidity, weight and construction quality, attention to damping vibrations and rock solid contact. For example, in an ideal world, an AC receptacle's contacts would be made of pure copper. Copper's "malleability," unfortunately, precludes this and requires that elements such Tellurium (or even using a phosphor bronze base material) be added in order to increase the metal's "stiffness" and aid in the machining process. To surmount the malleability problem, Furutech begins the construction process with a pure OFC alpha copper (treated with Furutech's patented cryogenic treatment and demagnetization process) base metal. Next, the contacts are reinforced with a non-magnetic stainless steel, vibration damped, spring loaded system. Finally, Furutech tensions this spring system so the AC plug is securely locked down without damaging its blades. The result? These babies lock onto the AC plug like a contestant in the captains of crush contest and simply won't let go. The days of heavy, sagging power cords thankfully are over.
The GTX-D's body consists of a fiberglass-nylon mixture that's impregnated with piezo, nano-sized ceramic particles and carbon powder (in addition to a special damping plate) to reduce vibrations. Another unique design feature of the Furutech AC receptacle is its curved pressure clamping system (as compared to the standard straight path) that increases surface contact area between the electrical line and the receptacle by 17%. The wire connector "covers" add a nice touch and eliminate the need to wrap the receptacle with electrical tape.
Needless to say, any AC outlet should be installed by a competent, licensed electrician. Still, that doesn't ensure success and it's imperative one keeps a close eye upon the electricians installing the new outlets. For instance, make sure that before leaving that the electricians check for correct AC line polarity. In my case, the electricians had totally ignored this issue and had no way of checking their work! Luckily for me, I still had my handy dandy, nearly two decades old, $5 Sears special, AC line polarity checker. Even more luckily it turned out because the electricians had botched the installation and reversed the AC line polarity of all the GTX-D receptacles on one of my two dedicated lines. So back to work they went on their dime to correctly install my Furutech receptacles.
Audiophiles aren't particularly known for their patience but the Furutech GTX-D receptacles (not unlike when installing dedicated AC lines) will take some time to settle-in. Once that happens, you'll have the stereotypical decrease in noise floor so often found when installing new AC receptacles. But the improvements don't stop there. Amazingly, the new Furutech receptacles also increased the system's dynamics (like a supercharger was added to the AC line!). cj's awesome ART amplifiers sounded like someone had doubled the number of output tubes. At the bottom end of the frequency spectrum, there was better bass extension and linearity; at the other end of the musical spectrum, there less hash and greater extension. In the end, the music was far more solid, fleshed out, dynamic and controlled!
Reviewers are often, rightly or wrongly so, accused of hyperbole. But it's the God's honest truth that the Furutech AC receptacles made as much of a difference in the sound of the system as changing a component. In fact, as comedian Robert Klein once said, "if I wasn't trained for surprises, I'd be surprised." These receptacles are unquestionably worth every penny and no self respecting audiophile should be without the Furutech AC outlets!
Distributed by www.eliteavdist.com. Tel.: (323) 466-9694. Price: $210 each.
HiFi-Tuning WA-Quantum Fuse Chips
One thing that Jung and Marsh taught us is that there is no such thing as a passive part in the circuitry or power supply—whether it be capacitors, resistors, switches—or in this case fuses. As I previously noted in my earlier HiFi-Tuning fuse review, and much to my consternation in the soon to be published Valvet Soulphono review, the quality of the power supply fuses can make or break the sound of a component. In fact, the brand of fuse in a component's power supply seems to make an even larger difference than when used in say the B+ rail of the cj amplifiers.
Now fuses impacting the sound of a system are one thing but little black dots/chips applied to the fuse are a whole different bird. As hard as it is to swallow, these little round HiFi-Tuning WA-Quantum chips really do work. HiFi-Tuning aka Bernd Ahne can't because of a proprietary agreement, divulge any information about these Quantum chips. In fact, the only piece of information that I could glean from the manufacturer is that these Quantum chips are in fact small pieces of a synthetic material, encased in an adhesive-backed "sticker" that can be affixed to audio components and cables. According to the manufacturer's accompanying literature, the Quantum chip, "influences the efficiency of current flow and signal transmission on a subatomic level in accordance with the principles of quantum physics." HiFi-Tuning Quantum chips come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending upon whether they're used with fuses, cables, cartridges, transformers, capacitors, etc. Each chip can be applied and removed and come with 30-day money back guarantee.
For the purposes of this review, untreated and correctly oriented, "conrad-johnson special" 10 x 38 mm HiFi Tuning fuses were directly compared to the Quantum chip treated version of the fuse. Of course, "quick" switching isn't an option since the ART amplifiers require a good 45 minutes after being shut off (even if warm) to sound their best.
Compared to the Furutech AC receptacles, the Quantum chips produce a somewhat more subtle but nevertheless no less important changes that aid in realizing more of the system's potential. The biggest sonic change produced by the HiFi-Tuning WA Quantum chips occurs in the lower frequencies where Frederick Seykora's cello on the Laurindo Almeida Virtuoso Guitar (Crystal Clear CCS 8001) is simply tighter, more resonant and transparent. Guitars have more detail and snap. By comparison, the stock, untreated HiFi Tuning fuses sound just a touch restrained. If there's any issue with the chips, it's that the chips may just add a smidge of energy to percussion instruments such as triangles. We're not talking brightness but a bit more energy to the percussion section.
Interestingly, the chips don't, as advertised, eliminate the HiFi-Tuning fuse's directionality effect; if anything, the chips actually make the differences between directions more obvious. It's easy to be fooled at first listen by the extra "detail" when the fuses are incorrectly oriented. It doesn't take long, however, to realize that the lower mids to midrange area are recessed, there's a loss of transparency and the recording takes on an icy edge.
The HiFi-Tuning WA-Quantum Fuse Chips are an extremely useful and inexpensive way for HiFi-Tuning fuse users to further improve the sound of your system. Audiophiles still using their equipment's stock fuses should check out the latest Supreme fuses (only for those purchased in 2012) that come with the "quantum" technology already built-in.
Distributed by the Cable Company. www.fatwyre.com. Price: $5 each.