John, it's great to read you've had such good success with the Eclipse II. Power conditioning is an elusive thing akin to catching smoke in the air. It's intriguing to read how many people have positive and negative experiences with the exact same products...and it doesn't seem to be limited to any particular brand. It's nutty.
You don't mention the cost of the Eclipse II...
Tvad, thanks for the support. This was a new adventure for me. And I expected only a few minor improvements but the outcome was hardly minor. I can see Art and JD both nodding their heads, "we told you so, we told you so, finally you listened". This now paves the way for me to make a second attempt at hearing power cord differences and hopefully improvements.
My experiences with power cords have been very different to just about everyone else's experiences here. Perhaps this was due all along to the terrible power conditions in my music room as has now been "cleaned up" by the Eclipse II. I would love to hear what might be possible to do something similar to the 2 30A dedicated lines for the CAT amps.
Concerning negative experiences with power conditioning, I can not find a single instant where an Audio Magic unit has been reported to do anything other than bring on a dramatic improvement to the sound. That the Eclipse II brings on so much clarity, a most incredible degree of space between the notes and holographics to die for, is not an opinion...it is all undeniably there. I would be very interested to hear of one negative report on this product. I can imagine how an electrical system that has been implemented in an ideal environment might not benefit from such a unit, but that's a different issue.
What surprised me the most was how the AM improved 4 different products from a 15 year-old midfi Pioneer CDP acting as a transport, to the battleship constructed Manley Ref DAC and the super-fi Aesthetix Callisto Signature line stage. The priorities, designs, implementations, target audiences, etc., of these products are not remotely similar and yet the AM greatly improved them all in much the same way. It's not smply about tonality or synergy as is often the focus of many product discussions and reviews.
The Eclipse II's price was $4k but Jerry has discontinued this model to now support either the Stealth XXX and Transcendance which is $5k.
I tried the Stealth Mini conditioners in my system...both the Mini Digital and the standard Mini. I didn't have a negative experience. My experience was basically a non-experience. I didn't perceive any benefits or detriments. I was hoping to have a religious experience like what I read in reviews and user comments, but it didn't happen. I've since been through a handful of power conditioning products ranging in price from $400 to $3500 retail. None really have produced "A-Ha!" moments, although I've found that the Hydra 2 lowers the noise floor and produces a more natural music experience. Even these, however, effect the system in subtle ways.
At least we're open to the possibilities, right?
Tvad, I can relate so well to the quest for those "A-Ha!" moments. After many failed attempts here for improvements in some links in my system, I simply quit trying and returned to focus on those links that gained much from further refinements. In some cases as the system has improved, some links that showed very little difference between component changes at one time start to produce very different results.....in some case, very nice improvements. Staying open to the possibilities is indeed a good trait.
Last night, the instant I heard the PD65 plugged into the Eclipse II, it was indeed a religion experience. Such times, when the results are so far to the opposite end of the scale to our expectations, are often the most exciting and valuable. It was a huge wake-up call for me.
If you were local (Minneapolis) I'd be happy to let you try the Eclipse II for yourself. However, it sounds like your electrical power and circuits are mighty clean already so for now, just let this pass. After a few system updates, return to this and maybe then you will have a different outcome.
Nice write up John, and no need to thank us any longer. I think part of the reason John is having a musical awakening is due in large part to his pariculars: tubed amp, tubed preamp, tubed dac, NBS PC's and MIT IC's, AND the fact that he had all his critical souce and premps plugged into a plastic six-outlet adapter thingie.
now John, you need a better outlet to plug the AM into: FIM880 is good. Also, we'll bring our power cords (JD and I are about to have a PC brawl with Elrod, Electraglide epiphany, Isoclean power superfocus and Kubala) to see if you can NOW hear a difference.
Either way - ENJOY!
Here's a followup to my initial report....this time with LPs as the source.
A favorite LP for comparisons is the "Riviera Paradise" track from Stevie Ray Vaughan's, "In Step". The first thing to try was the Clearaudio Ref TT's AC motor. After swapping back and forth between the wall outlet and the Eclipse II, I could hear no difference in tonality, timing or space between the notes. I suspect that the platter's mass would make this TT less susceptible to motor variations caused by varying power conditions. Unfortunately, no benefit here with the AM Eclipse II.
The last thing to try was the Aesthetix Io phono stage. I started with the Io in the wall and then switched to the Eclipse. My first thought was that there was a drop in dynamic contrasts with SRV's guitar with the Io in the AM.
There has been much reported here on dynamic compression with many power conditioners. However, this was not at all the case with the Aesthetix Callisto a few nights ago. I listened to the Io in the AM a few times and then switched the Io back to the wall. Sure enough, the initial attack on the guitar was louder but I soon realized it was not dynamic compression but rather a ringing spike that took a little time to calm down. A return to the AM and it was very clear how much more natural and coherent the guitar playing was and not just at the initial attack of the string. No matter how much we may think we have no edginess in our system, along comes a comparative event like this where it clearly shows otherwise.
With the dynamics "issue" resolved I was better able to focus and hear that the piano decayed just a little bit longer. There was no change in image size; I simply could hear the notes an additional second or two. Clearly the noise floor had been lowered. I repeated the process one more time to listen for changes in extension and presence in the bass but I could hear no differences.
The differences for the Io were not as significant as was the case for the Callisto and I would have expected the opposite. But all in all, the Io benefitted greatly from the Eclipse II.
Art: JD was kind to give me three very nice outlets. The pair of cryoed outlets I use for the CAT amps and the other, a PS Audio outlet, I use to drive the Eclipse. The 6-outlet "thingie" has been removed. Would you like me to keep it for you?
John, thank you for stewarding such an informative, interesting thread! The effort you have put into writing such a professional, well written, accessible story should be commended. Most (and certainly me) do not have the drive or skill to do as fine a job. Bravo! Audio Magic should be most thankful for this.
So many of us have issues such as what you were facing. It's nice to get a perspective from someone who did something about it, and was rewarded with such positive results. I myself have been inching towards power conditioners for a long time now, and the professional job you did with this review pushed me very much closer to doing so. While $4000 is certainly a large sum of money for most of us, the improvements wrought in your system bear out that you probably couldn't make this kind of improvement by spending double or triple that amount elsewhere.
Oh, and by the way, like you, I have not heard much in the way of differences between copper power cords. However, with a silver power cord, the differences are real and significant. In some systems, its effects are very positive, and in others they are very negative. But, it is something I would never trade for anything, as I have seen it more than once turn a sleepy system into a beast in the right circumstances. Having a tool like this is quite powerful.
Trelja: Thanks for your support here. It's pretty tough to share such experiences without going overboard with the details. Too much information can turn the report into a novel which quickly becomes boring. But for A'gon members like yourself where the information is of value, it makes it worth the time to share.
I always appreciate when people here put much effort to cover the details of a product new to them....especially in comparison to what they had been using. Knowing the starting point helps to determine the overall value of the component under evaluation.
Yes, $4k is a huge price to pay but I got one of the last 2 new units for $1900. Eclipse models come up now and then under $2k, and often with a pair of very good cords, this is a great deal.
And yes, as you stated, I have never gotten such a reward for this investment. Had I known that such a unit could do all this, I would have paid $4k for this long before anyway. No component change (Callisto, Io, CAT amps, etc.) ever brought on such a huge improvement to my system as this. I think it has to do with the fact that it takes everything in the system (amps excluded) to the next level of upgrade without literally having to upgrade everything. And even then, by simply upgrading components, you still have not addressed a major factor in the system - the power source.
Now that my disbelief has change with power conditioners, trying power cords is the next logical step. Art and JD will soon bring over several cords to try in my system. I wonder if any will be silver. I am glad you mentioned this as I will pay attention to cords with different materials much more than just from different companies. No doubt JD will soon do one of his all-out-assault reports when we have tried all the power cables in our three systems here. So stayed tuned for that.
Excellent write up John! I've been considering a replacement conditioner for my PS P300 and heard the AM's stuff at RMAF 05, very impressive, though I've never had a chance to hear a before/after comparison done.
Are there any updates on your system since then (2005)?
Wow, this thread is still alive. Hello Cmk.
It's interesting that you ask if my system has changed in the last two years. I run with the same phono stage, line stage, amps and speakers. The only differences here are that the phono stage went through quite a facelift with GNSC. And I have learned a ton about tubes to take the Aesthetix and CAT components to new levels of performance.
I finally retired the 3-piece digital setup for the one-box APL Denon CDP. This was shortly after GNSC had taken the Manley DAC to a whole new level as well. But the APL player was a nice step above the overly complicated 3-piece setup. The Genesis and Manley are now part of the Home theater setup but this is overkill. If I ever put together a smaller CD-only system, the Manley and an older VTL linestage will be the center pieces of that.
The part of my system that has gone to a whole new level is the cabling. I have shared much of these details along the way. I liked the Purist and Kubala-Sosna cables very much, but each lacked refinements that the other portrayed so well. Ultimately I discovered the Stealth and Jade cables and the absolutely phenomenal Dream State power cables. Between all these cables vs. the NBS Statement that I had been using for many years, and 20 hand-picked tubes over the last 2 years (I already had pretty much max'd out the Io for the most part), my system's performance is unlike what it was 2 years ago. And the components are essentially the same....except the CDP.
With the system more simplified now, I no longer have as many power cables as before. And I do not need as elaborate of a PLC as the AM Eclipse. I now use a Running Springs Haley for the 3 components (phono stage, line stage, CDP) and the AM is used upstairs for the HT setup. What it does there for the TV alone is quite impressive! But it also connects all the audio gear there too....mostly hand-me-downs from the music system upgrades over the years.
Thanks for the update. Your system is indeed impressive. I do appreciate your systematic way of testing each product to achieve the best possible combination to your ears. Are you an engineer by profession?
My main interest is in the AM Eclipse. While you were using it the music system, did you use it with the power amplifiers? What was your experience with them in this application. I'm considering using one for my main music system. I do need the additional points mainly because of the number of components I have plugged in.
Analog 2/3 (Schue, Herron, Conductor's air pump).
Digital 2 (Denon & Benchmark)
Radio 1 (MagnumDynalab)
Amps 2 (ModWright/Sanders)
Sub 1 (Cabasse Thor)
If I get the Eclipse, how would you recommend I configure the power to each duplex?
I've just inserted the Eclipse II into my system, replacing a PS P300. What can I say, my jaw dropped and I'm still on cloud nine and this is only the first 12 hours of play.
So how do things compare with your amps placed into the Eclipse vs. straight into the wall?
The amps sound better into the Eclipse. The first obvious sign is more bass, so this may require some retuning of your system. In my case, I had to lower the gain on my sub, twice actually. The next thing which is obvious is that the music is more organic, relaxed, AND coherent with the rest of the spectrum.
Initially I thought that only with the Eclipse (2 powercords in, 2 amp out, 4 analog, 4 digital out) then this could be achieved, however a friend who used the AM Stealth Mini Reference (1 powercord in, 6 outlets) to filter his setup:
Accuphase CD Transport (only thing plugged into the wall)
Sanders Monoblocks x2
Vandersteen Quattro x2 (powered subs built in)
and we found that with the Quattros plugged in, it sounded more coherent and controlled. I was quite amazed. His unit wasn't even fully run-in yet.
Since my earlier post, the music has taken on a new found silence between the music, and when the music starts, it just sounds more whole/complete. Over my 20+ years in this hobby, never has any system sounded so like live music, including some costing much more, it really is...MAGIC.
Another thing I'd like to say is, that when you hear some power conditioners, some tend to add something, enhance the treble/bass but add a bit of noise into the mix, OR some tend to very quiet, to the extent of limiting dynamics - like putting a thin veil between you and the performance. The Eclipse seems to be best at being quiet and yet without restricting the music's flow. Quite a feat.
Thanks Cmk. Yesterday I spoke at length with Jerry. As luck would have it he had just pulled out his personal Transcendence and replaced it with an Oracle. When he offered the Tran up I jumped on it. It and 2 power cords will arrive early next week. I'm hoping and expecting jaw dropping results. Curious to know which cords you're using.
I'm sure you will enjoy it. Darn, he didn't offer it to me??? Your timing must be good! Ops sorry, just realised that I wouldn't be able to use his anyway, the voltage in my country is 220-240v.
I'm using the JPS in-wall PCs (customed with UK type hospital grade plugs) to the wall sockets as I can't use US-type plugs. I did get an Illusion 4D which I currently connect to the ModWright.
When you get the Transcendence, try out the filters and let me know which setting you prefer. So far I'm only using the first (up-position) setting on all the filters as I find it to have the most "air".
Cmk. Well my jaw remains on the floor as I listen to track after track with the Transcendence in my system. Major upgrade equivalent! Things will even get better as the new cords continue to burn in. BTW, there are no filters in this piece.
I don't know if Jerry mentioned it, he's probably quite busy preparing for RMAF, but you got to try out the powercords, especially those from the conditioner to the component. So far I've had great success with the Sorcerer and the Illusion. Haven't tried the others yet, but will someday get around to it. Just when you thought it couldn't get any better...
I've been looking at the audio magic products. Are they really this good? I use the Richard Gray stuff now. THoughts on how they compare to the Isotek?
I can't say enough good things about them. If you want quiet and dynamics, they are the way to go. They let the music through. A friend commented that they allow your components to perform optimally, and after powering them with it, do you get to hear what they are capable of.
Can't comment on other products I have no experience with.