August 2, 2009

Power Struggle? Torus Power RM8A.

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

The Torus Power RM8A.

James of AV Designs called, "hey, are you having problems with the Torus Power?" I replied, "No, why would you say so?" James responded, "I just saw your posting called Power Struggle?, with a picture of the Pure Power and the Torus side by side".

In truth, I actually struggled to review the Torus Power RM8A, because every time I sit down and play some of my favourite music through my hifi system, with intention to evaluate it's performance and how it subjectively changes the sound perceived, I always end up just flipping thru disc after disc, for a few hours, drawn in to and subconsciously unaware, lost in music! Totally forgetting to do my evaluations just minutes in to the first song! And that, is no bad start. James must be relieved to hear that.

The rear panel with 5 outputs and 1 input(right, not shown).

The Torus Power is a 32kg beast of an PLC, which required again, the help of another good friend to help me haul it up in to my first floor audio cave. The build quality is first class inside out, as should be for a top price point PLC costing RM$18K! Unlike the Pure Power reviewed the week before, with it's high tech, sophisticated look, the Torus sports a rather plain if very sturdy look. There's no fancy blue dot matrix display, no multi function settings to monitor or set. Just a plain "ON/OFF" switch on the left side that glows half orange when switched "ON". At the back panel is a standard 10A rated IEC input and only 5 British 13A style outputs! I wish there was at least 6 outputs(8 would be even better!), that way I can power my whole system via the Torus Power RM8A. James, care to advise Torus Power to be more generous with the outlets, if possible?

The full rear panel pic.

The theory of Torus Power as per explained by Richard of Pure Power(whom knows his competitors well!), uses a huge transformer to isolate the audio system, plugged in to it, from the rest of the power grid in your house and quite possibly your neighbourhood! I tested the Torus Power RM8A by using a multi meter and found the input is indeed completely isolated from the output. However, I also found the same daisy chaining of the outlets as per Pure Power practise, but only after a filter and protection circuit board( seen on the right hand side of the internal picture). It would seems that both the Canadian companies choose to do things differently from their American and British competitors, whom seems to place more faith in individual or duplex output filtering.

The simple insides, the secret is in the giant isolation, balanced transformer, which sits on custom mounted brackets with sorbothane like material for insulation againts vibrations(which I never felt with hand placed on top of unit). Note the filter and protection circuit board on the top right, some say because of that, the right most (viewed from this pic) output sounds the best and should be used for source.

The sound, the Sound, oh.... the SOUND! With the Torus Power RM8A powering my Marantz CD7, Pass x-2.5 Pre and Aleph 0 Mono blocks, all the best virtues of my system is enhanced. The already warmish tonal flavour of the system blossomed in to a rich, full aroma gold blend coffee like "kau""kau", sensation. It's sound?, the mids are thick in density yet smooth in the highs, leaving no after taste what so ever. The bass, while not iron fist ed like presented with the Pure Power, is just very tune full and bouncy. It doesn't make my amps sound like it's on steroids, neither did it make my speaker sound like it's grown a pair of 8 inch woofers either! It's forte is micro dynamics rather than macro dynamics! Every thing sounded as it should be, only with the musical emotion factor brought to the fore. There's a certain way the music flows through the system powered by the Torus Power RM8A. Call it P.R.A.T. but not like Naim style, which is fast and bouncy. This P.R.A.T. factor here is of the rather relaxed kind, it lulls the audiophile in me with a sense of serenity, while the music slowly but surely, does it's magic to disarm all my audiophile prejudices, and just allow me to subconsciously flow in to the music, connecting with it's emotional message. This elusive quality(seek ed by so many, yet never knew it, but seldom found on systems at any price point) my fellow readers, is what separates the merely good hifi from a system with greatness!

My self, and a few other lucky souls included, have already witness the greatness in the by now legendary LS3/5A speaker, vintage amps based system of Mr Jo Ki. Jo has always waxed lyrical on the profound influence of the Torus Power RM8A had at shaping the sound of his system today. With the Torus Power RM8A in my system and from this brief experience, I can, finally relate to his point of view, because I can too, finally, experience musical playback at a higher emotional connecting level, stimulating goose bumps inducing sensory to boot. This experience is priceless, and one will not know that it's there until one experiences it. A hifi system playing music without this sensation, no matter how good it's audiophile qualities are, is just like watching the "Happy New Year's fireworks!" each year, very nice but also pretty pointless once the shows over.

O.K. back to the audiophile reality, the noise level of the system is the most silent that I've ever heard. The overall sound presentation is very coherent, almost liquid like yet very tidy. Images are solidly anchored within a sound stage(almost like you're there too!) which is beyond room boundaries, and very clear perception of depth, should a recording contains the spatial information. In live concert hall recordings, like the Jacky Cheung Live 2004, the hall ambiance is convincingly reproduced and the band backing Jacky Chueng can be clearly heard arranged in layers just behind the solid image in front, which is Jacky himself. Audience hand claps are also very realistic, very important if you need convincing yourself to "be there!".

I have a little poem, context taken and modified from a U2 song which nicely describes the at odds behaviour of the Torus Power RM8A that I've experienced.

It's silent yet never dark.
It's dynamic yet doesn't thrill.
It's substance yet without style.
It's loud yet never noisy.

Greatness in a box!

By now you can probably tell, that when hifikaki takes the Torus Power away for a counter point, to see if it effectively solves the dreaded Bandar Utama power supply quality issues, I'll be having a tough time re-adjusting to the cruelty called reality! The reality is I can't afford the Torus Power RM8A at this point in time now(with bad news coming in every single day about the impending and what could be a long lasting "Great Recession!"), but I know that I have found the last piece in my equipment chain of intended purchase, the final piece that brings greatness to my system. For my system and subjectively, my ears(certainly not healthy for my bank a/c), the Torus Power RM8A(or may be the RM16A?) is still the best PLC out there today!

A Technical note: Balanced transformer? What's does it do to our music? Just like our XLR balanced interconnects, the "positive" and "negative" signal cores run along side within the cable, thus canceling out each other's noise, resulting in lower overall audible noise floor. A balanced transformer works the in the same manner where both the "live" and "neutral" carrier core is winded along side each other, thereby cancelling, each other's inherent noise, there by lowering the audible noise floor.

Torus Power is sold by AV Designs, contact James Tan, tel:03-21712828

No comments: