August 28, 2010

10 Qs For Keith Martin, CEO Of IsoTek Audio Power Systems Ltd.

Presenting the very stylish Keith Martin. He kinda reminds me the look of a certain hifi guru in Malaysia too. Guess who am I thinking about?

Odiosleuth covered the event as you've read earlier. I've always felt Isotek power products to be very under rated in the Malaysian market place. They offer high performance to value ratio and are very reliable. I know, I was using an excellent Isotek GII Sigmas not too long ago.

Meeting and talking to Keith Martin is both a relevation and educational. I hope you find this 10 Qs just as meaningful.

Big E: Welcome to Malaysia! It's the summer holidays in England and you're working?

KM: I was at the Hong Kong audio show last week, and took the opportunity to visit some of Isotek's regional distributors. After this, I'll be returning to the UK, to prepare for an up coming European business trip.

Big E: There are transformer, passive filter and re generator based PLC products in the market for audio applications. Which of the 3 three is Isotek product based on?

KM: Isotek products are very certainly passive filter based. I feel passive filters PLCs like our Isotek's can fulfill 90% of the audiophile's quest for better sound.

Big E: Some of the more technically inclined audiophiles may feel re generator PLCs are the preferred way to treat power nasties. How'd you address those concerns?

KM: I feel that in theory at least, the re generator method is plausible. However, the re generator PLC products in the market place today are mostly based on class D regenerated outputs. There's so much noise when you regenerate using class D, because they put back so much EMI/RFI in to the output! What's the point then?

Big E: What is your opinion on Automatic Voltage Regulators? How do they affect the sound of an audio system?

KM: I don't think AVRs are necessary at all, unless your local power supply exceeds it's +/- 10% tolerance range. I'll add that most AVR's out in the market today does more harm than good, not to the sound, but to the lifespan of your audio equipment. Most AVRs in the market today is of the Variac servo based model of regulating voltage. What happens is that when there's a power down, the Variac servo goes in to maximum compensation. When power returns, the Variac servo does not re-act fast enough to catch up with the sudden incoming current and voltage rush. The result is blown speakers and damaged equipments. I've seen many cases like that! Having said that, we are developing a new way of regulating power, which at the moment is too premature for me to say anymore about it.

Big E: When can we expect Isotek's AVR products? And like if I already have an Isotek Sigmas in use, should I plug the AVR before or after the Sigmas?

KM: We are planning to get the AVR out to the market by next year, hopefully. And like yourself, if already have a PLC in the audio system now, you should put the AVR before the Sigmas.

Big E: I know some audiophiles who prefer to spend money on power cords over PLCs, how would you convince them?

KM: While power cords are important, I feel a PLC offers better performance for the same money. For example, if one buys a power cord at the cost of one thousand pounds, versus the same value for a PLC, the PLC will improve the whole system, with everything plugged in to it. The power cord of the same price will only improve one component.

Big E: I noticed that all of Isotek's power cords are of the shielded design. Many audiophiles have the impression shielded power cords will reduce dynamics and transient response. Any truth to that?

KM: Isotek power cords are shielded to prevent air borne EMI/RFI to re-enter the system after the power supply is filtered by the PLC. Today's atmosphere is bath in EMI/RFI, from television sets, switching power supplies of the DVD player, your cell phone, iPod, electronic ballast of fluorescent lights, and all kinds of every day house hold items! The shielding in Isotek's power cords is grounded on one side only. That allows the power cord to have no effect on the music's dynamics and transient response. We've just introduced a new power cord, called the Isotek Synchro. It is specifically designed to power your PLC from the wall. It has a network built in, to reset the zero point on the incoming power sine wave, which reduces the sine wave distortion pattern.

Big E: Which is better for audio, US Nema 5 or UK 13 amp plugs?

KM: The US style plugs are better for only 2 reasons. The lack of fuse and having less metal in the contacts. The less metal is better because the impedance is lower. However, in a country like Malaysia, where the power supply is 240V rated, I'd advise to check the current draw of the equipment. I believe most source and pre amps are O.K. as they do not draw much current, but one must be careful when using US style plugs for power amps! US style plugs are only good for up to 5.6 amps when used with 240V power supply. In cases like this, I much prefer the European Shucko plugs for regulation compliance and sound quality.

Big E: What about protection from lightning strikes?

KM: I must emphasised that NO PLC in the market today, or for a foreseeable future, can protect your equipment from a lightning strike within a radius of 10 meters or so from your equipment. The amount of current in a lightning strike is just too great for any PLC to handle. If there are other companies out there making such claims with a product insurance policy back up included, I sincerely ask you to please read the fine print of the insurance policy offered as back up!

Big E: When I bought the Isotek Sigmas sometime ago, I noticed Isotek recommends optional RDC cones to replace the standard issued rubber feet. How does the RDC cones help?

KM: It's a known fact that a well engineered cone can help to chanel away un wanted resonance from your audio equipment. The RDC cones does exactly the same for the Isotek Sigmas. We are going further than that, by taking care of the resonant qualities in our future power products. I think we are the first audio power company to be developing such a product. Again, I cannot offer any more information about the said product at this point.
Keith does a few very special Signature Edition of Isotek products that very day! Just for those who invested in an Isotek power product during the talk.

A very lucky owner of the Isotek GII Sigmas Signature Edition! I bet he's gonna be pretty pleased with his investment too.

As Keith is here to officially launch the new Evo 3 Aquarius, which replaces the hugely popular GII Mini Sub. He points that the Evo 3 Aquarius offers some of the features previously found only on the Isotek GII Sigmas, Novus and Titan. Prices for the Evo 3 Aquarius is nearly the same as the out going GII Mini Sub. From what we've heard in the demo, the Aquarius certainly a better product than the the one it replaces, not to mention, priced at just a bit shy of RM$4k, it's great value too.

Keith proceeded to sign on all Isotek products sold on that day, a Signature Edition of sorts, for the lucky buyers.

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