Review: Equi=Tech ET5W-Q AC filter
I had lived with noise in my system for so long I think I had gotten used to it. But when my Tenors arrived, and some of the expected magic was missing through my Kharmas, I decided to do something about it. After a few weeks of research I decided to install some dedicated lines, and also to go the "balanced power" route.
I purchased an Equi=Tech ET5W Wall Cabinet with a built-in 5kVA balanced power transformer, with the "Q" option. I also order 150 feet of cryogenically treated BX cable from Virtual Dynamics for the wiring, and 4 Hubbell hospital grade outlets, which I had cryoed. I also arranged with Equi=Tech to have the electrically active components of my ET5W to be shipped to Northwest Cryogenics (both companies are in Oregon) for cryogenic processing prior to final assembly. After a few more weeks of waiting, everything was finally in my garage and ready for installation.
First, a note on build quality. The unit is quite large (30"W x 42"H x 8"D) and heavy (350 lbs with the "Q" option), and looks very solid and impressive. I am no expert on electrical components. My electrician (Bill Manning of Manning Electrical Contractors in Bloomfield, NJ), on the other hand, is. He commented several times on the outstanding quality and thoughtful design of the ET5W. It did take a while to install the unit and run 4 separate lines (one for each power amp, one for digital, and one for anything else), but nothing was difficult; just time-consuming.
After the few hours of installation work was over, I plugged everything in and started warming up my Tenors. A half hour later I crossed my fingers, stuck my ear about 6" in front of one of my Kharmas, and flipped the mute switch.
Silence. No hum, no buzz, no hiss, and no evidence at all that my system was on. I had never (not?) heard that before. Noise floor? What noise floor? I seem to be falling into an eternity of quietude.
Saying a silent prayer, I popped "Stardust" on the Sony, jumped to "Georgia," and hit play. Hi, Willie! Nice of you to drop in this afternoon! Truly, I had never, ever, ever expected to hear that kind of "you are there" performance in my own home. Everything I played sounded better than it ever had before, and not by a little. Every voice, every instrument, has a three-dimensional quality, a sense of being anchored at a particular point in space that is clearly delineated both intrinsically and in relation to surrounding instruments. The cello that so so quietly introduces the major theme of the 4th movement (VK on DG SACD) were somewhere behind the far wall of my listening room; I felt the bow resonating off the rosin around my solar plexus. Dynamics? All there. Cymbals, snare drums, massed strings, Patricia Barber's piano, Terry Evans's baritone: they all sound more alive and powerful than ever. I find myself listening at lower volumes, but not because of any "etched" or "technical" quality. Simply because I am getting my musical fill with fewer decibels. Above all the sound is, for lack of a better word, fat. Not bloated or slow or rolled off. What I mean is that everything has such a solid, 3D presence on my imaginary soundstage now, compared to the thin, slightly smeared and noise-polluted stuff I was used to hearing.
Was it worth the money? Considering that this is the single biggest improvement I have ever heard in my system, it has to be. And the magic? Lets just say I was aiming too low in that regard.
Sony XA777ES SACD Player
Lamm LL2 Deluxe Preamp
Tenor 75Wp Power Amps
Virtual Dynamics Nite Power Cords, Interconnects and Speaker Cables
Virtual Dynamics Armoured BX Cabling
Hubbell Hospital Grade outlets