EAU-1 parallel AC line conditioner
as reviewed by Sherman Hong, Francisco Duran, and Dave and Carol Clark
The Coherent Systems Electracclear EAU-1 (read it in Frenchget it?) is a small black box that weighs, at most, five pounds. The manufacturer claims that use of the EAU-1 will accomplish the following: higher resolution, clearer sound, greater definition and distinction of instruments and performers, more spatial depth, more presence and fullness, reduced harshness, and greater listener involvement. TheEAU-1 is a parallel line conditioner, which means that it plugs into the same circuit as your components, with nothing plugging into it. It treats the AC line through what appears to be a pulse clock that has undergone some kind of treatment, causing a "soothing" of the electron flow in your wiring. If you think this verges on the spooky, let me quote the manufacturer's literature: "The ELECTRACLEAR features an advanced super-conductive, electromotive, coherent technology, UT CodeTM, which utilizes complex principles of resonance to change the quality of electromagnetic fields. By establishing resonance of an extremely high degree of order and stability, the turbulent electromagnetic fields surrounding all the equipment assume a positive or balanced vertical energy flow. Ordinarily, there is unwanted interference or stress in electricity created by the chaotic electron motion in the electromagnetic field. Stress in any system creates a form of entropy called rigidity, which decreases the operating capacity of electricity. When the interference in the electric current enters your stereo system, it inhibits the optimal performance of your equipment. When the ELECTRACLEAR EAU-1 is plugged into the electricity powering your system, sustained coherent resonance produces smooth, frictionless functioning of the current enabling all your electronic components to deliver their peak performance."
If youve been around as long as I have, this calls to mind the notorious Tice Clock. If what Im told is true, yes, the two devices are similar in design and function. The Tice Clock has received much press suggesting that it is either quackery or voodoo. Some audiophiles swear by it, others swear at it. However, the controversy should in no way negate the perceived benefits of the EAU-1. I am told that the Coherent Systems folks were the originators of the idea, and have pushed this technology to its ultimate refinement: a professional version of the EAU-1 for use in recording studios.
Following the manufacturers suggestions, I plugged the unit in and let it sit for an hour before I listened. The system sounded pretty good, so I turned the unit off, and you know what? Damned if I could hear any difference with the unit "on" or "off"! Using several different selections of music, I again listened for the claimed improvements and nothing, nada, zip. I turned the EAU-1 "off' and "on," back and forth, repeating the selection, repeating again, etc., etc., etc. Still no change in the sound that I could discern. Carol concurred, noting that the system already sounded like what the literature described with the unit "on" or "off." So, we left the EAU-1 plugged in to treat the AC. After all, we thought, maybe our current is more chaotic than the norm, and the differences will take longer to emerge.
Well, after listening with the unit plugged in for a week or so, I thought, "Hey, let's unplug it and see what happens." Yeah, you guessed it. The soundstage collapsed in all directions. Images became less three-dimensional; everything just became less real. Chaos returned to the music. Carol noticed all of this before I could even open my mouth. Boy, did I marry an audiophile! What appears to be happening is that the unit has an effect on the AC whether it is switched "on" or "off." This is possibly a residual effect of the EAU-1 being plugged into the line, and the unit only loses its effect when it is removed. I know what you're thinkingDave, there's voodoo going on here, and you and Carol are both nuts! But the EAU-1 really does improve our system, and to a more profound degree than suggested in the literature.
The effect of this device is somewhat difficult to put into words. If I listen for differences, I find it hard to characterize what Im hearing, but when I am listening to music while we are involved in other thingslike reading or just zoning outthat's when we notice what theEAU-1 is doing. It's almost like the EAU-1 allows the listener to be less distracted by whatever's going on in the music (or AC) at a subliminal level. Music is just more enjoyable and relaxing. As I said, this occurs at a subliminal level. Taking the unit out simply causes us to be less involved in the music. It was only after I had written this review that I came across the manufacturers literature for the EAU-1. In reading it, I realized that what we heard paralleled Coherence's claims. They state:
"Whether you are using an audio or video system, the
improvements produced by Coherent Systems' power conditioner, the ELECTRACLEAR EAU- 1will
be strikingly noticeable. Audio systems will produce greater dynamic range and enhanced
imaging, suggesting an uncanny spatial realism of voices and instruments.
Will the Electraclear have as much of an effect on you as it does on your system? From personal experience, I would have to say yes. Maybe it is voodoo, but I love the voodoo. The unit sits quite happily on the floor, bringing order to all the chaos in our home, and I guess that includes me. We did try an additional unit with the idea that if one works, then two would be twice as good. After listening with the second unit for an additional period of time, removing and reinserting the second EAU-1 failed to make any impact on the sound. The first unit appeared to be doing all the work, with the second just along for the ride. I have been told that many audiophiles are using two with great results, but for us, one is the way to go. Then again, I know several audiophiles who report that one EAU-1 makes no difference at all, implying that the effect is either system-dependent or user-dependent. Give one a try, you may be surprised. Dave and Carol Clark
Remember that song way from back in the 70's that a girl sang about the telephone man who came to her house and installed telephones all over the place? (X-er's, please excuse the nostalgic musical reference). Well, that just about sums up my experience with Coherent Systems Corporation's Electraclear EAU-1. Like that telephone man, I put this thing in just about every situation and room I could think of, but I don't think I had as much fun as he did hanging phones.
The EAU-1 is not a complicated device. It is a small, black, rectangular box about half the size of a small amplifier, and is light as a feather. On the lower right of the front side is a small light indicating on and off, with the only control being a rocker switch. The operation of this unit is simple and straightforward. Just plug it into the electrical line that powers the rest of your system and turn it on. The claimed improvements on the audio side of things are better dynamic range, higher resolution, and enhanced imaging, not to mention neutralizing AC interference and reducing harshness. Video systems are said to gain more purity of color to pictures and clarity. Hey, who wouldn't want those kinds of improvements? I know that in my humble home theater setup, I've tried to improve the picture quality and sound of my Mitsubishi VCR and Sears LXI TV set by the use of Radio Shack RFI filters, Black Diamond Racing Cones (under the VCR), and Monster and Tara Labs video cables, all to very good effect, especially the cones. But I know there is room for improvement, especially since the quality of the signal coming to our house via the local cable company ranges from barely watchable to very OK.
So with high hopes for better home theater, in went the Electraclear in my den. I plugged it in, turned it on, and sat back to watch and listen. Hmmm, no noticeable difference. Wait a minute, I'll let it cook, and while the EAU-1 is doing its thing, I'll go have a snack, come back, and see what's happened. Hmmm number two. Still no change. But then I thought, ha, I'll call my slave in training, my son, to turn the unit on and off while I just sit on the couch and concentrate on the proceedings. Dutifully, my son turned the unit on and off at my command, but again no noticeable differences. (By the way, if some of you are thinking that I'm living dangerously by eliciting the help of a seven-year-old in things audio, let me just say proudly that my child has never grabbed, yanked on, hit, turned knobs, pushed buttons, crawled on, or knocked over any piece of audio/video gear I've had in my home. I've taught him almost since day one to have a healthy respect for my toys, thank you very much. Lord knows he has enough plastic and stuffed animals to keep him entertained. I do shudder at the potential danger of a child poking around in one's system, but for the purposes of the "listening" sessions with the EAU-1, I determined that his flicking of a switch was safe enough.) So, with my helper at the switch, and with prolonged periods of the unit on and off, I still couldn't detect any difference of sound or video quality in System #2. Hmmm number three. Soon I'll be up to Hmmm number 43get it?
So into the room with System #1 we went. With a positive attitude and everything plugged in and turned on, sorry to say, once again I didn't hear a noticeable improvement to the sound quality. This time my disappointment came with a slight feeling of insecurity, because by now I had taken the time to read the reviewers comments on the manufacturer's info sheet. Until then I had wanted to avoid any such subliminal influences, but wow, the info sheet looked like the reviewers were talking about the latest Batman movie. Gulp.
I took my time with this unit, set it up properly and gave it plenty of time to
settle in. So what went wrong? Was I concentrating too hard? About the only thing I didn't
plug this unit into was my Panamax 1000 surge protector. Maybe my home is free from the
evils of EMI/RFI interference, or maybe the quality of the electromagnetic fields in my
house already have a positive balance to them. I think not. Whatever the reason for my
results, I'm disappointed. I was really looking forward to using a device that could
improve my system(s) in the ways mentioned above.
The Coherence Music Systems folk claim that the Electraclear EAU-1 neutralizes electromagnetic fields in power lines. They further claim that it eradicates inaudible noise and interference. These are prodigious assertions, but I was not sure if the Electraclear would have any effect on my system, as I am currently using an Audio Power Wedge 116 MkI for my amplifier, a 112 MkI for my CD player, and a PE-1 to remove grunge in the power line. Nevertheless, there were perceivable shifts with the Electraclear in my system.
Treble smoothed out and instruments condensed. On Frente's Marvin The Album, the background was utterly silent. The noise milieu seemed to vanish in thin air. On the song "Bizarre Love Triangle," the space between Frente and his guitar extended a few feet. Her voice sounded less sibilant and the guitar less metallic. Images both broadened and consolidated, although becoming less transparent. The music presentation was slightly dampcivilized as opposed to boisterous and lively. The leading edge attack mellowed on the "Sonata for Piano & Violin" in B-flat major in Mozart Selections by Accuphase CD. The violin exhibited a woody, dense complexion. The fusion of the bow's motion and the gyration of strings emerged clearly. Piano notes were not as light bodied or airy, and their decay sounded "moist." The overall presentation took on a creamy, tube-like character that was quite enchanting, though I'm not sure whether the Electraclear improved the system or just presented a different vision.
Music became more solidified with the Electraclear. Images became tightened and more focused, albeit more diminutive. On Eric Clapton's Unplugged, the vocals were succulent and full, but slightly dwarfed. Drums had a buoyant quality that was previously absent, although they sounded less extended. Though the backup ensemble unfolded effortlessly, it sounded smaller and closer in. Guitar strings and piano keys sounded fleshy, but withered rapidly. The clapping of the audience sounded flatter and less natural. Ambiance diminished around individual instruments. The soundstage moved back within the boundaries of the speakers, making the CD seem to have been recorded in an anechoic chamber rather than a small studio.
accessories seem Voodoo-phonic" rather than realistic. The Electraclear is not one of
those products. It had an effect akin to swapping cables in my system. Metaphorically
speaking, the difference is like that between a Punch and a Hoyo De Monterrey cigar. Both
are powerhouses in flavor and texture, and both capture complexities that make them
cherished by aficionados, making it difficult to pick a favorite. To my
"palette," the Electraclear presents such a dilemma. It may not appeal to
everyone, but it is a requisite audition, especially if you don't already have a power
line conditioner. The Electraclear could be the smoke for you.