August 1, 2009

A Little Black Box - Part III

This is an old post of ours in the blog we previously contributed to.

Ken & KM Ng, in their comments to my earlier posts, asked how the performance of the 'Quantum Tuning' little black box would be if it was plugged into my Hydra 8 instead of into the wall outlet or if different powercords were used.

I spent the last few days checking these out, and here are my conclusions:

1. Plugged directly to a wall outlet vs. Hydra 8
Conclusion - Plugging it directly to a Wall Outlet is way better

I used generic powercords for this test. Plugging the little black box into my Hydra 8 seem to negate its effect altogehter. All the postive qualities that I noted earlier were gone. The music did not hold my attention so much anymore.

In fact, I felt something extra was added - on first listen, the leading edges of transients seem to have been improved upon (faster and better defined), but in less than an hour, I felt that it was not natural, and in addition there was an edginess to the sound. I concluded that listening with the little black box plugged into the Hydra 8 was worse than using the Hydra 8 alone.

Plugging it into a spare power outlet brought all its positive effects back.
(This spare outlet is beside and linked to the one powering my Hydra (and thus all equipment). It is wired directly back to the distribution box.)

2. Changing powercord
Conclusion - this device responds to powercord changes so you have to experiment

The only 'audiophile-approved' powercord I could spare was an old Transparent Audio Powerline Super powercord (the one with 3 network boxes). I used it to compare with the generic powercord I have been using on the little black box (the picture above shows the Transparent powercord and the generic cord used in this comparison).

The Transparent powercord improved on many areas - quieter background and blacker spaces between instruments, even clearer sound and better resolution, and a sligtly more energetic presentation.

However, there was one anomaly that showed up on slower and 'atmospheric' music like 'Tempting Hearts' from 2V1G's album and 'Where are you?' from Sonny Rollins' 'The Bridge'. With the generic cord, taking 'Tempting Heart' as example, the little vibrations in Regine's singing and the way she controlled her voice to 'close out' each sung phrase were resolved more clearly and those were what gave me the 'goosebump' moments. The entire presentation was more ethereal and the emotional factor more pronounced.

With the audiophile cord and these tracks, it was like the sound was cleaned up just a tad too much and some subtleties were lost - akin to when the contrast of a tv set was set just a mite too high, shapes and colours were clearer but some shading in the colour was lost.

The positive effect wrought by the Transparent powercord was greater than what it lost, of course. Ovrerall, the Transparent powercord won out, especially with music that emphasized more on rhythm, speed and impact. However, I was not totally sold, honestly.

I could only conclude that this device responds to powercord changes, you would have to experiment.

Ok, I think this is as much as you'd hear from me on this little black box for the time being. :-)

Happy New Year To All - and wishing everyone's hifi dreams come true in the new year.

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