Review: Running Springs Audio Haley AC filter
Running Springs Halley passive power conditioner
I’ve been a big fan of passive power conditioning/filtering for some time. I feel it’s the path of least resistance. The least invasive to the sonic window. The one aspect of a systems build which should affect the end result the very least, and dsurely the generation of less heat is a nice item too. IMO.
I’ve tried some of the more popular and inexpensive units made by Shunyata, and PS Audio. I’ve spent as usual plenty of time talking and reading about them too.
It always comes down to taking the plunge though… getting your own feet wet. Although that is the truest test for a device to be seen as a benefit or also ran item, it is not the last word on it’s true character as a rule. That takes time, effort, some note taking, and lots of plugging in and out the item in question to many variables…. Components, situations, and cabling.
I did all the above.
Ultimately I found the RSA Haley to be the most transparent filtration device I’ve yet encountered. Consequently, the power cord supplying the Haley is ‘as’ important. Certainly to the Haley, and as well to the components added or being driven via the Haely.
In contrast to the PS Audio Duet, which I am in favor of owning as I own two of them, the Haley leaps ahead in the degree of speed and flow the musical picture develops. There is more dynamic thrust, and pace to it’s tempo than that provided from the PSA Duet. As well it should be too. The RSA Haley costs well around $1400 new. The Duet goes for less than a third of that amount.
Is the Haley then 3 times better? Those perspectives in upscale audio products never seemm to correlate. Price to performance, one over another, just doesn’t always materialize as justifiable. Sometimes it’s not even an appropriate comparison. But we do it anyhow. We do compare. It’s time well wasted for the enthusiastic audio junkie.
The big deal or decided buzz about the Haley right off is the claim of unrestricted power passing to the components attached to it.
I do have an amprobe accessory for my digital multi meter, but I did not test the Haley in that regard. I did as any other audio lay hobbyist would do… I just filled up the outlets (all six), and attached a suitable power cable, and let it do it’s thing!
With a 15 amp IEC inlet connector, one should have around 1300 watts on hand routinely.
It does it’s ‘thing’ very well. The resettable ckt. Breaker never needed resetting. It never groaned or seemed to gripe no matter what I applied to it. At one point, this consisted of two 120wpc tube amps, and one 180wpc SS amp, a tube preamp, a DAC, and a digital source. Hmmmm.
I then added another amp of sorts by connecting my Onkyo TXSR 805, in place of the CDP. So then all my main power producing gizmos were attached, along with my preamp and a DAC.Yeah…. I turned them all on too. And yes. I had them all playing at the same time as well. I wasn’t trying to peel paint with them though.
The RSA Haley just kept on keeping on. So, maybe there is something to the disclaimer of unrestricted power after all.
I decided to try a Haley quite incidentally. I was moving power cords about for what reason I don’t recall, and instead of reconnecting the components via the PSA Duets, I merely plugged straight into the wall outlets for the 3 dedicated ckts I have at my disposal. Naturally, I had to hear if there had been any changes so I trod into the adjacent room to listen. Woha! There was a difference. A very large one.
Sans the PSA Duets being in the power paths of the system, the sound had reached another level of unrestricted force. This amazing ‘unveiling’ of the sound was rather short lived however. As exciting as was the music rendering I was so enthralled with, there also was a greater bite being added somehow. More than I felt was appropriate. … and there’s the rub. aS time passed the rub became a grate.
The ‘bite’, ‘edge’, sibilance, and hardness which comes in on the power line due to the nasties it can often carry along with it, are part and parcel being supplied to our valued audio & video equipment. It had been so long since I heard it first hand I had forgotten why I tried and bought filters in the first place. The thing about power filtration, be it active or passive as in this case, is simple, they remove more of what you aren’t hearing now… or if you have heard it you know what I mean. Many people scoff at power line accessories and feel they are snake oil, unnecessary or unwarranted and dedicated ckts are the only requirement for clean power. That’s as may be and have found out otherwise for myself.
I won’t argue what’s right or wrong about power line conditioning. I’ll keep to the company line completely… which in general goes like this, “If you hear or see, a difference, then there is a difference, and something is going on somewhere, somehow.”
I heard a difference. Without any filtering or conditioning device… and with. The latter was by far the better event. Really? Yep. Really. Well, then how?
The RSA Haley like the Duet allieviated the overly hard leading edge to the upper extremes of the bandwidth relaxing the presentation but without subtracting the information and it’s impact. The apparent added brightness just vanished eventually. It did not deeply blacken the sonic backdrop. It didn’t add to the bass depth and impact, nor spotlight the midrange overtly. It merely allowed.
Unlike the PSA Duet, there was no added veiling or rounding off of the leading edge. Nor by comparison was the sound field as blackend. Naturally, this by degrees only. The Haley afforded a better flow, and quickness to the generated sounds. An even open handed swatch of color and drive. A more propulsive feel to the melody came by way of the Haley.
So the impact and forcefulness you heard without the Haley whiel listening to only the dedicated outlets, was evidenced with the Haley in place, but with no etching or grain?
Yes. Well, almost.
The negative artifacts surely were removed from my hearing of them…. The sheer forcefulness and range of the music I experienced sans filtration was not quite on the same level. I can’t or won’t attest to the noticed disparity between the two circumstances, with or without, but lets say it was noticeable. Marginal. “Merely“, noticeable.
I did not perceive the ‘with’ situation as one of deprivation, and accepted it as improved…. Because it was just that, it had become better.
Good conditioning devices do their jobs best by subtraction. Subtracting the power line issues and artifacts that demean and detract from the recreation of the media we so crave to enjoy. Gone were the added sibilance, the bright overly embellished highs, and the artificial leading edge etching.
As previously noted the supplying power cable can and does dictate the sonic alterations more so than does the RSA Haley. I bought mine preowned so the Mongoose (ala Cardas) power cord was not an option for me as this deal was struck. I used several Voodoo cords. A Black and a Gold Dragon as well as a Tesla II. I also tried a Shunyata Taipan Helix, and an Elrod Sig III. I did not try my VD power III, or Shunhyata Python VX.
With each supplying power cord change, came changes to the sonic depiction in terms of timber, and sound stage geometry. I settled on the Elrod Sig III for my purposes. I also subtracted the Onkyo receiver from the Haley. As well, the digital devices. Choosing rather to use another path for their implementation. Consequently, my Haley affords power supplies to only amps, and preamps, and oh yeah, my Oppo DV 980H DVD player. This is simply my choice for an estimated and desired effect… nothing else.
Where isolation is concerned it does relate well to changes in isolation footers, and platforms. This is a definite ‘see/hear’ for yourself area and merely an advisement.
The only item I found unsatisfactory with the Haley is a debatable one. It is more an ergonomic note than anything else. The Haley has three pairs of duplex outlets… six NEMA plugs… and one 15A IEC inlet.
All seven ‘plugs’ reside on the same face of the conditioner. This can mean some crowding might and does occur, and some thought needs be made for configuring and running power cords.
I contacted RSA in regard to the physical orientation of the haley. RSA said it did not matter if the unit was placed in one particular plane or another. Nor did they say that the outlets closest to the power inlet should supply only power amps or only some other devices. Or that they suggested some particular orientation of supplied devices that should be plugged into this set or that of the various outlets contained on the Haley.
I think they are right on both points. I sat mine upright (on end with the outlet facing the ceiling), and on it’s sides too. Hooked amps here and there… and so forth… however, I did settle on amps being plugged into the outlets nearest the IEC inlet connection.
I also noticed a better configuration of digital ‘spinning’ devices by utilizing one pair of outlets expressly for that purpose rather than the ‘plug ‘em in anywhere’ approach.
So in my usage amps have one pair, preamps another, and digital, the remainder. I also stagger the preamp and Oppo on the second and third outlets …. And likely, for no real good reason.
The last ergonomic note is for safety’s sake. The edges of the sheet metal comprising the exterior build and encasement housing, are unfinished. Meaning they are sharp! I did not cut myself, just thought to pass that along. It is an easily addressed item, smoothing the edges of the housing, and I was alarmed to see it had been allowed. So I felt it deserved mentioning.
I paid $800 for mine. I don’t feel like I stole it and I don’t feel as though I was taken advantage of either. Therefore I can’t really attest to it’s value range. I can say it’s not snake oil, and I don’t plan on selling mine anytime soon either as it has made a definite improvement to the sound of my system.
If a passive power line conditioner is in your future, and you have somewhere in the neighborhood of $800 to $1400, the RSA Haley deserves your consideration.
see my system here:
PS Audio UPC 200
PS Audio Duet