Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
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INTRODUCTION

Terry Brent, the National Sales Manager of Equi=Tech, very kindly delivered to me to audition a brand new Equi-Tech 2RQ. The Equi=Tech 2RQ employs an isolation transformer and a balanced power circuit to, among other things, cancel common mode noise. The 2RQ is rated at 2kVA.

The 2RQ is not large -- it is flat and short (16" X 16" X 3.5") -- but it feels as heavy and as dense as lead (72 pounds). It is extremely well-built and solid, and beautifully screwed together. There were no scratches anywhere on the case. It worked perfectly from the moment we turned it on.

Please see more details about the 2RQ here at Equi=Tech's website: https://www.equitech.com/model-q-shelf-or-rack-mounted-chassis-systems/



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ISOLATION TRANSFORMER/BALANCED POWER VERSUS POWER REGENERATION

I have often wondered about the sonic differences in a particular system between PS Audio's power regenerator products (P10, P15 and P20) and isolation transformer/balance power devices such as those made by Equi=Tech and Torus Power. Invariably an audiophile buys a PS Audio regenerator or an isolation transformer device, and inevitably loves the one he/she buys. Virtually no one buys both a PS Audio regenerator and an Equi=Tech or a Torus and compares them directly in his own system, and makes a conscientious, thoughtful decision as to which sounds best in his system according to his ears. It is one of the comparisons in our hobby that rarely, if ever, is destined to happen in real life.

I have assumed that I would purchase a PS Audio regenerator or an isolation transformer/balanced power device for my front-end components. Who does not want to minimize audiophilia nervosa about the quality of the AC power swimming into the power supplies of our components by buying one of these devices?

Knowing that JeffreyT -- who lives within walking distance of my temporary rental house in Long Beach, California -- recently purchased a P10, I immediately accepted Terry's offer to try an Equi=Tech. I knew Jeff would be as curious as I am to compare an isolation transformer/balanced power device to his P10.

Another friend of ours, Jimford, has a P20, and he, too, was curious to hear the differences between a P10 and an Equi=Tech.



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JEFF'S SYSTEM

Jeff uses M2!5 loudspeakers made by Peter Noerbaek of PBN Audio. The standard version of the speaker uses the JBL D2430H mid-range/tweeter compression driver, with dual-diaphragms and waveguide atop two JBL 2235H 15 inch woofers. Jeff requested a woofer - wideband driver - woofer (M-T-M type) configuration, so the compression driver is in the middle of the woofers. I think this is a brilliant request, and it is how I would’ve ordered the speakers myself. I call this version of the speaker the "Jeff Tyo Special Edition."

Jeff has a full suite of Lamm electronics: the LP2.1 Deluxe phono stage; the LL2.1 Deluxe line stage; and the ML1.1 80 watt per channel mono amplifiers. A skeptic of very expensive cables, Jeff has settled on Belden 8402 interconnects with Switchcraft RCA connectors, made by Jeff Day, after comparing them to Kimber Cables. Power cables are Ching Chengs from David Karmeli of Vintage Audio Specialties in Cedar City, Utah.

Jeff’s turntable is the Acoustic Signature Ascona sitting on top of its matching stand. The machining quality of the plinth is fantastic. A van den Hul Colibri Stradivarius cartridge rides on an SME 3012R tonearm.


TEST TRACKS

We listened mainly to:

“Send in the Clowns" by Bill Henderson, Live at the Times (Jazz Planet Records/Classic Records)

”I've Got the Music in Me" by Thelma Houston, I've Got the Music in Me (Sheffield Lab 2)

"Body and Soul" by The Thelonious Monk Quartet, Monk's Dream (Mobile Fidelity Ultradisc One-Step)


LISTENING IMPRESSIONS

Each of us noticed that subjectively the Equi=Tech sounded louder than the P10. I was using the SPL meter on my iPhone X, and, sure enough, the meter was reading about 3dB be higher with the Equi=Tech. But how could this be? How could a mere AC power device subjectively make the sound coming out of the stereo noticeably louder?

To me the Equi-Tech sounded a little bit more dynamic than the P10. Jeff and Jim disagreed, saying that because the Equi=Tech sounded louder I was mistaking that increase in amplitude for greater dynamics.

Near the end of "Body and Soul" by The Thelonious Monk Quartet, there is a piano piece. All of us heard that the piano keys sounded less full and more "tinkly" with the 2RQ than with the P10. To me the 2RQ sounded a little bit more transparent and more neutral in tonal balance. I thought it sounded a little bit more exciting than the P10. I feel like the 2RQ turned up the contrast.

Overall the P10 sounded warmer and fuller than did the Equi-Tech. String instruments and piano sounded more resonant and with longer decays on the P10 than on the 2RQ.

Was the 2RQ cleaning away common mode noise, leaving the sound with a more crystalline quality and pure sound, or was it bleaching the sound, leaving it thinner? Was the P10 eliminating distortion and harshness allowing the music's natural richness to be revealed, or was it bathing the sound in some kind of warm glaze? I truly do not know.

I suggested that the 2RQ made the test tracks sound like the speakers were being driven by a solid-state amplifier, whereas the P10 made the test tracks sound like the speakers were being driven by a tube amplifier, and Jeff and Jim agreed. Put another way, in terms of tonal balance -- neutrality versus fullness and warmth -- the 2RQ made the system sound like it was fronted by a Lyra Atlas cartridge on an SAT tonearm, and the P10 made the system sound like it was fronted by a ZYX UNIverse Premium on an SME 3012R.


CONCLUSION

I was shocked and not at all prepared for the very different sounds created by these two different power devices. I literally went into this comparison wondering if I would be able to discern any differences at all.

This comparison raised more questions than it answered. Why and how does the Equi=Tech make the system sound materially louder? If all these devices are doing is cleaning up the AC power, why does the system sound so different on each of them? And which sound is correct: the cleanliness and excitement of the Equi=Tech or the warmth and smoothness of the PS Audio?

Is power regeneration versus isolation transformer/balanced power another morass of subjectivity wholly dependent upon the idiosyncrasies of the current sound of one's system, one's sonic preferences and one's mains power quality? Apparently, the answer is a firm "yes."

If I owned Jeff's system, which power device would I buy? I don't know. I would need to spend a lot more time with both devices.

If I bought the P10, I might feel like I am missing out on the transparency and excitement of the 2RQ. If I selected the 2RQ, I might worry that over time I would find the 2RQ slightly fatiguing compared to the warm and smooth sound of the P10.

I wish we had had time to compare the sound of Jeff's system with the P10 and with the 2RQ to the sound of Jeff's system powered directly by his outlets. We can't be certain, logically, but all three of us would be willing to bet that we would've preferred both the P10 and the 2RQ to mains power directly.

Thanks to JeffreyT for hosting the comparison!

Thanks very much to Terry of Equi-Tech, and to Randy, Equi=Tech's West Coast dealer, for the opportunity to audition the very impressive Equi=Tech 2RQ!
 
Last edited:

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
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Ron,

This is awesome. Thank you! A few comments/questions:

1. Did you ask Equi-Tech about whether people install one of the big units by the main panel...and then use a P10 or P20 by the plug outlet for the system? Overkill, actually counterproductive...or even better?

2. Do you think the Equi-Tech was actually LOUDER by 3db...or in fact was it that the PS Audio was SOFTER by 3db? I somehow would have thought the latter.

3. Regarding decay...i often tend to think if i am getting longer, better decay...then THAT is the unit that is actually providing more detail. In this case, given that your description is that the PS Audio was providing more decay, do you think that it was providing more detail than the Equi-Tech? It seems from your observations, the answer is NO...but I wanted to revisit that with you.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
11,855
696
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BTW, from Audiostream review by Rafe Arnott:

"...I got a hold of a P10 and never looked back. That is, until PS Audio offered me their new DirectStream P20 Regenerator… I loved the P10, but the P20 offered all of that and a lower noise floor with even better transient response on dense classical music passages (massed strings), percussion notes occupying the space between the lowest octaves and improved vocal inflection, never mind an even more effortless sense of breathing to amps and preamps. Throw in twice the number of output devices and double the power-supply storage of the P10 and upgrading became a no-brainer...."

https://www.audiostream.com/content/audiostream-editors-choice-components-2500-and-over
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
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Ron,

did you guys try a 'dirty' wall untreated outlet(s) as a control?

in my system i have my totally separate untreated outlet grid next to my treated outlets to A/B. it would interesting to see how both of those units do relative to that. especially since that is the source for each. might not tell you anything, but it could show which unit is either doing more, or adding more of it's own sound. and that would likely change from system to system and even with the time of day.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
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North Shore of Boston
Great reporting Ron. I wonder specifically about noise floor levels between the two units. I have often heard a drop in noise floor accompanied by a drop in fine level resolution, or ambient recording space information and harmonic content, as if the drop in noise floor, darker backgrounds, etc rob the music of information. This often sounds more impressive, but less realistic, as though the life of the music has gone missing. I wonder if there is a point up to which such devices improve the overall experience and then start to diminish realism.

I suspect this is all very room/system/context dependent.

It is too bad that you did not have the time to simply unplug everything and listen from a base reference level point of view. Jeff must have done that before settling on the P10. I would like to read his comments about the improvements from that base level.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
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the other question would be whether you played any 'large scale' music; orchestral, big band, or rock concert type things that might push the dynamic limits? which unit held it together more effectively?

i know those are not on your 'short list' typically (at least that you have disclosed).
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
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North Shore of Boston
Ron, did you have everything plugged into these two devices, or just the front end components? The transparency question is interesting. You have stated that you find transparency to be vital for the reproduction of human voice, your preferred genre. With which unit did you think the voices sounded most real? You mention the piano sound in your report, but did not elaborate on the voices. On which did Hendersen's and Houston's voices sound more real to the three of you?
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
11,855
696
658
...

ISOLATION TRANSFORMER/BALANCED POWER VERSUS POWER REGENERATION

I have often wondered about the sonic differences in a particular system between PS Audio's power regenerator products (P10, P15 and P20) and isolation transformer/balance power devices such as those made by Equi=Tech and Torus Power. Invariably an audiophile buys a PS Audio regenerator or an isolation transformer device, and inevitably loves the one he/she buys. Virtually no one buys both a PS Audio regenerator and an Equi=Tech or a Torus and compares them directly in his own system, and makes a conscientious, thoughtful decision as to which sounds best in his system according to his ears. It is one of the comparisons in our hobby that rarely, if ever, is destined to happen in real life.

Hey Ron...was doing some reading. Aussienut actually owns Wilson XLFs and Krell 400e...and his system shows he uses the Torus AVR16 PLUS the PS Audio P10. Do you/we think we could get him to weigh in here?
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
8,686
3,076
780
Beverly Hills, CA
Ron,

This is awesome. Thank you! A few comments/questions:

1. Did you ask Equi-Tech about whether people install one of the big units by the main panel...and then use a P10 or P20 by the plug outlet for the system? Overkill, actually counterproductive...or even better?

2. Do you think the Equi-Tech was actually LOUDER by 3db...or in fact was it that the PS Audio was SOFTER by 3db? I somehow would have thought the latter.

3. Regarding decay...i often tend to think if i am getting longer, better decay...then THAT is the unit that is actually providing more detail. In this case, given that your description is that the PS Audio was providing more decay, do you think that it was providing more detail than the Equi-Tech? It seems from your observations, the answer is NO...but I wanted to revisit that with you.

Thank you, Lloyd.

1) I did not ask that question. But both Terry and Randy are friendly and delightful and perfectly approachable to ask.

Anecdotally, I have never heard of anybody implementing that "double" solution.

2) Jeff and Jim can comment as well, but we all felt the Equi=Tech was about 3dB louder.

3) I totally understand the question. I guess I consider greater resonance and decay to be more of an "X axis" thing than a "Y axis" thing. Whatever level of detail I was hearing the P10 extended that detail in duration. The 2RQ to my ears revealed more detail even though the resulting greater detail was shorter in duration.

I was thinking of it by analogy to my opinion of the Lyra Atlas: The Atlas digs out more details than cartridges I prefer, and yet the cartridges I prefer tend to be warmer with greater resonance and decay and harmonics.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
8,686
3,076
780
Beverly Hills, CA
Ron,

did you guys try a 'dirty' wall untreated outlet(s) as a control?

in my system i have my totally separate untreated outlet grid next to my treated outlets to A/B. it would interesting to see how both of those units do relative to that. especially since that is the source for each. might not tell you anything, but it could show which unit is either doing more, or adding more of it's own sound. and that would likely change from system to system and even with the time of day.

No, we did not. As I mentioned in my report, I wish we had had time to do that, but we did not:

"I wish we had had time to compare the sound of Jeff's system with the P10 and with the 2RQ to the sound of Jeff's system powered directly by his outlets."
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
8,686
3,076
780
Beverly Hills, CA
the other question would be whether you played any 'large scale' music; orchestral, big band, or rock concert type things that might push the dynamic limits? which unit held it together more effectively?

i know those are not on your 'short list' typically (at least that you have disclosed).

That is an excellent question!

Actually, "Great Gate of Kiev" typically is on my short list of test tracks, but we did not play that one.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
8,686
3,076
780
Beverly Hills, CA
Great reporting Ron. I wonder specifically about noise floor levels between the two units. . . .

Thank you, Peter.

On "Send in the Clowns" I could not perceive a difference in noise floor.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
8,686
3,076
780
Beverly Hills, CA
Hey Ron...was doing some reading. Aussienut actually owns Wilson XLFs and Krell 400e...and his system shows he uses the Torus AVR16 PLUS the PS Audio P10. Do you/we think we could get him to weigh in here?

I did remember reading that some member here uses both types. I just sent him a PM, copied you on the PM, and asked him to report his experiences here.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
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North Shore of Boston
Ron, You are living so close to Jeff, can't you just go back a second time? With more time, listen again with the system plugged straight into the wall, no conditioning, and also test demanding, large scale, dynamic classical music? Your audience seems to want to know more. :)

I'm still curious to know if Jeff's Lamm amps were plugged into both units. Perhaps I missed that detail.
 
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Folsom

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What power cable did you use on the P10? They sound very different depending on that.
 
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Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
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Beverly Hills, CA
I am hoping that Jeff and Jim comment as well, and answer some of these questions.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Ron, You are living so close to Jeff, can't you just go back a second time? With more time, listen again with the system plugged straight into the wall, no conditioning, and also test demanding, large scale, dynamic classical music? Your audience seems to want to know more. :)

I'm still curious to know if Jeff's Lamm amps were plugged into both units. Perhaps I missed that detail.
Hopefully they weren't as IMO Lamm amps should go direct into the wall
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
7,536
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North Shore of Boston
I’m curious how would that make a difference due to the power being regenerated in the P10 anyway?

Good question but I think people hear differences. Also, once the power is "cleaned" up, then the power cords used from the components to connect to these devices would also seem to matter. Wire type, wire orientation, and connectors: doesn't it all matter?
 
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