We had an opportunity a few days ago to compare our new Isotek Aquarius EVO3 to a customers Nordost Thor.... with some quite unexpected results!
The Nordost is quite an interesting beast, not a mains filter as such, it could almost be described as just a very expensive mains block ... but this would be very unfair to what is an astonishing product. The Thor is internally wired with Nordost's top mains cable, the Valhalla. Every socket receives its current at exactly the same time, due to equal length sections of cable and earth paths are also kept identical. There is a certain amount of 'mains field manipulation' but no filtering as such. In initial tests, some years ago, with this customer system, many types of filtering were tried, eventually settling on an 'Experience Filtration' unit .. which seemed to clean things up a little .. this was soon replaced when the Thor became available .... With the Nordost in place, timing, clarity and spacial realism were much improved, so much so that after briefly taking it out of the system to double check the effect, it was reinstalled, never to leave.
|Isotek Aquarius in place with Nordost Thor in foreground|
The Aquarius has six mains outlets, four low current ones for use with source components, and two high current for power amplifiers and other high current units. The technology used in the Isotek unit is the result of many years of evolution and research ... even so we didn't expect to improve on the Thor, it was just to be an interesting experiment, particulary as previous trails with filtering on this setup had been a little inconclusive.
First, we ran through a few favourite tracks with the Thor in place .. then, the new and previously unused Aquarius was connected up. Then ... disaster, the Isotek tripped out, we had connected the two monobocks to the high current and the CD Player ( a Naim CDS3/555) to a low current. The Naim has a 3.15a mains input fuse, which we though would be fine on the 5a outlet .. but no, the tremendous switch on draw from the Naim was too much .. the Naims fuse is a particularly slow device to allow for this surge .. and they do occasionally blow their own fuse. Taking the CD out of circuit and connecting direct to the mains cured things ... luckily Vinyl in this set up is the main source, so we carried on.
First impressions .. a bit mixed, certainly a cleaner better defined sound .. but perhaps a little soulless and two dimensional .. .but we persisted with a few more tracks .After an hour or so we became aware of a change of balance, the image had started to expand, the character in vocals had started to develop, bass clarity and definition had improved massively ... going back to a few previous tracks confirmed it. Even CDs seemed to benefit through the filtered amplifer. Obviously the unit was starting to warm up and run in.
Tests are still going on ... we are going to try an Isotek Titan in the same set up to see what that does ... also the customer wants to try his Valhalla mains lead into the Aquarius ( this was not possible as the Isotek used a 20a IEC socket ... so we will need to swap the connector)
So far .. 1:0 to the Isotek!
Further reports soon...
To see Isotek range click here : http://www.cheshireaudio.co.uk/acatalog/Isotek.html