GENERAL: More than a power strip, less than a power regenerator (though not less effective), the Son of Q power conditioner from Equi=Tech offers a clever, yet simple solution to cleaning up your dirty mains. Designed for 15A/120V circuits, the Son of Q provides 10 outlets — 4 general purpose, 4 filtered for digital electronics, and 2 unswitched ground fault protected outlets. In addition, an easily replaceable surge protection circuit (rated @ 240 joules) and a cable TV line isolator circuit round out the features. Son of a Q’s output capacity is rated at 1500VA with a continuous current rating of 12.5 amps. The unit comes in a 2U cabinet, weighs in at a hefty 60 lbs., and is available in either a black or silver finish.
THEORY OF OPERATION: Without going into hyper-detail, a balance power conditioner takes the standard 120 volt AC signal (measured 120V to ground 0V) and, using a special transformer, converts it to a plus (+) and minus (-) 60V AC signal. You still have a 120 volt potential across the line (+60V to -60V), but now the circulating currents from the +60V and -60V windings are opposing one another as they flow into the grounded center tap of the transformer. Each of these opposing currents carry the same noise and distortion characteristics as the original 120V AC signal, but now, those noise components are 180 degrees out-of-phase. When the two opposing currents meet at the center tap, the noise components of the signal cancel each other out in a process known as common mode rejection.
TRANSLATION: You lower the noise floor of your system by an average of 15-20 decibels. This may not sound like much, but the effects are HUGE!
INSTALLATION: I installed the Son of Q in one of my equipment towers, where I’m plugging in my CD transport, DAC, preamp, CD recorder, main power amp, and center channel amp. The total load of this tower is less than half of the Equi=Tech’s 1500VA rating, so the unit has plenty of headroom to handle transients without current limiting.
SOUND (of silence): With the noise stripped away, my system is now frighteningly quiet with sound arising out of the blackest silence. How do you review the “sound” of a component that has no sound of its own? The more appropriate question being: how has the sound of my system changed since installing the Son of a Q? The answer, in three BIG ways:
1) IMPROVED LOW LEVEL RESOLUTION. Lowering the noise floor has allowed me to hear details in the music I didn’t know were there. replaying material I though I knew intimately, I was continuously amazed to discover little “sonic cookies” appearing everywhere. To use a visual metaphor, the effect was like removing a veil from the lens of a camera. Everything…everything came into clearer focus, allowing me to see in greater detail the fine points that were previously obscured.
2) GREATER DYNAMIC RANGE. I find that I’m not playing my music as loud, which makes sense, with a higher noise floor I had to raise the volume just to “appreciate” the details I wanted to hear. With the Equi=Tech in the system, those details are present at lower volume levels. And playing at a lower volume levels provides for greater headroom and a better dynamic range.
3) IMPROVED SEPARATION. With a lower noise floor, individual instruments and voices become more apparent and separated in the soundstage. Everything seems more discrete and less homogenized. .
SUMMARY: If I had to reassemble a system from scratch and could only keep one component from my present system, it would be the Equi=Tech. Why? Because what it does (and does so well) effects the performance of every other component in my system.
FINAL NOTE: Blue Circle also makes some balanced power conditioners starting at about $700 (before our NEWAS discount from Harmonia Man). BIGbird has their 1200VA unit, the Music Ring MR-1200. Having heard the unit in his system, I was hearing many of the same benefits I have discussed above. If we ask him nicely perhaps the BirdMAN will consent to posting a review of his BC Music Ring.