They've been around for over a decade in the car audio world, the question is, is gold better?
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Considering that standard aluminum fuses sell for about $0.35 each, a gold-plated fuse is outrageous.
However, when one considers zip cord at $1.00 verses a pair of speaker cables selling for $6000 a pair, they start to look like a bargain.
As for performance, I did not notice any when I installed them in my passive and dedicated line conditioners.
But when I installed them inside my old amp (2 along each rail and 4 in all), the performance gains were siginificant as the overall presentation was richer, greater in detail at the top end, smoother, and eliminated a certain etched sound that the aluminum fuses were obviously producing. This improvement was noticeable only after 48 hours of burn-in.
When one considers the thousands of dollars some enthusiasts are willing to spend on lesser performance gains and depending on where they are installed, the $25 IsoClean gold-plated fuses are an absolute bargain.
About 20 years ago I had high purity solid copper rod the diameter of a standard fuse cut to the size of a fuse. Had them gold plated and replaced the output fuses in my amp with these. My system was about as high end as you could make it at the time, and this replacement didn't make one whit of difference.
There are 2 brands that I know of; the most commonly known IsoCleans and the HiFi Tuning fuses. Believe the Isocleans are Chinese while the HiFis are made in Germany. The Germaan fuses are ceramic instead of glass and the metal is gold plated silver. The actual fuse material is also silver. The HiFi tuning fuses are available from The Cable Company. Isocleans are available from several sources. Don't know how they work as I have not tried them.
Porziob - don't knock them if you haven't tried them.
Rja - Isoclean fuses are sold direct by aaudioimports.com. According to Brian Ackerman at Aaudioimports, Isoclean makes them in slow blow only because they found fast blow don't sound as good. I imagine the Hifi Tuning fuses are also excellent, and it's not a lot of money to try one or the other or both.
I was skeptical, but the level of performance raised way out of proportion to the price when I installed them in my amps. Bass got deeper and more tuneful, no question about it. Coating them with Walker's most excellent SST was also an improvement, especially in soundstage depth and imaging. Benefits were also there when installed in a PowerPlant, CDP/preamp, and speakers, although, as Brian found, not as dramatic as the amps (JC 1'S as well). I will probably install more of them inside the amplifiers when the upgrade high fades. It's a cheap fix.
I must confess I had to persuade myself into purchasing the Hi-fi tuning fuse. They are made with silver wire, ceramic casing and are gold plated. Each fuse is handmade so I figured it cost at the most $1.50 to manufacture each fuse. The fuse retails for $24.95. Now I am a business owner and realize profit is not a dirty word. However, the last time I made a 1600-1700% gain was when I was 24 and invested in Yahoo.
I first heard about the Precision HI-FI Tuning fuses when I was using the lending library at the Cable Company. Steve Aug presented his sales pitch and told me how they differed from other fuses on the market. After tossing the idea around in that 10 oz. of gray matter between my ears I called Steve back and told him to place my order.
I was informed I was the first in the USA market to receive the fuses. I had no bench mark to go by concerning the fuses so I had some trepidation about how they would turn out. After installing them I was relieved to hear an improvement. Let me rephrase that. The Hi-fi Tuning fuses did not degrade the sound as much as the stock fuses. To my ears the Hi-fi fuse did not have a sonic signature of it's own. It simply did less harm than the stock fuse. I used Xreme Quicksilver Gold on the stock fuse with good results. With the Hi-fi fuse I wanted to put them at a disadvantage so I installed them without the Quicksilver Gold. The improvement with the Hi-fi fuses was clearly obvious. I treated the Hi-fi fuses with Xreme Quicksilver Gold and for 50.00 (two fuses) I could not ask for more.
I did not compare them to Iso Clean or any other fuse except the stock ones I had on hand. I purchased the Hi-fi because on paper they appeared to be of higher quality compared to what was being offered. In my rig and to my ears they were well worth it.
Considering that their are people purchasing a Timex clock for $199.00, that you can get for free with a one year subscription to Sports Illustrated, then I guess a 25.00 fuse is not so unreasonable.
I have tried both of these fuses and the Hi-Fi tuning fuses are just a little better than the Isoclean fuses, its like getting a power cord upgrade. I also have two Clever Little Clocks and the improvement I'm getting with these are like getting a really good speaker upgrade and on video, it gets you very close to HD TV! P.W.B. ELECTRONICS is the BEST KEPT SECRET in ALL of AUDIO!
Uppermidfi, the Isoclean Audio Grade Breaker Box was introduced at CES. Isoclean also introduced the Supreme Focus power cord and other products, including the Super Focus speaker cables.
The main breaker is rated at 80 Amps, and the 9 circuit breakers are rated up to 32 Amps each. All the internal contact parts are high purity copper with 24k gold plating. All the bus bars are solid copper with 24k gold plating, and the internal wire is heavy gauge high purity copper.
This is a sub panel which is designed to be run off the main house panel, or you can tap into the main line coming into your house.
Price is $3950.
The best fuse I tried is the Power Matrix by a small manufacturer Power House. The dealer related to me that these are more than a fuse and include some sort of RFI absorbing material. It may sound ridiculous but I can discern a sonic difference when my equipments have installed these. I understand these are carried by very few dealer however.
I also tried Isoclean, but much prefer the Power Matrix in being more detailed and refined. Isoclean products are priced much higher in the US than they were in the Far East where they were manufactured.
I don't know about the other audio grade fuse makers, but Isoclean seems to be the only company that has UL, CE, and other approvals. Here are links to some reviews of the Isoclean fuses published in Positive Feedback, 6moons, and Ultra Audio:
I hate myself for drawing your interest in the power matrix, as I actually get them outside USA in the Far East. These are manufactured in the US, I understand, but I don't know where you can get them in the country.
What I know about the power matrix is little except it sound better than the Furutech and some other I have tried, albeit more expensive. My rememberance of past advertisement of the product being that they use precious metal for the wire and filled with RFI absorbing material. The product did not accompany any explanation and unlike normal fuse the Power Matrix is sealed and one cannot see through the inside.
I see if I can trace the contact details of the manufacturer and if success will post for information.
Rather than replace one's fuses with something that costs quite a bit of money ( for what it is ), why not try doing something to simply optimize what one already has? That is, remove the existing fuses and thoroughly clean ALL of the mating surfaces on the fuse & fuse holder. I will GUARANTEE that if the fuse has been installed for more than a few months of time, oxidation of the contact surface has taken place. Just pulling and re-inserting a fuse can increase conductivity and lower distortion.
A place that i used to work at some 20+ years ago was having problems with a machine. They called in a serviceman to check it out and he diagnosed the problem as low voltage coming into the machine from the wall. As such, the company invested in a "buck-boost" transformer and was going to have an electrician install it.
Before they called an electrician to have the transformer installed, i pulled the machine apart and cleaned all of the fuse contacts. I used a small brass bristled "toothbrush" that i brought in from home. After doing so, there was a reduction in current draw of appr 8 amps after cleaning.
Needless to say, this was a HUGE difference in power consumption and voltage sag. On top of that, the machine ran much cooler and more efficiently. We never had a problem with the machine ever again, so the buck-boost transformer sat in the corner for a couple of years collecting dust.
As such, do yourselves a favour and perform some basic system maintenance before investing in the latest tweaks and gadgets. I'm not saying that some of them don't work. What i am saying is that what you have can probably work a LOT better if you simply took the time to properly set it up and maintain it. A bit of elbow grease and some common sense can go a LONG way in most any situation. Sean
It would seem a fair thought that anything changed,and cleaned has a chance to improve sound.Even going to these gold plated fuses probably trumps the older fuses,in the "cleaner contact point" area.Maybe this is all that is heard by those making the change.I don't know,yet I am fascinated at the possibility of these new pricey fuses helping me.I'd go for them,if I really knew.Yet I've learned a few things in my old age!One is NOT to buy on emotion,and use some degree of common sense(of which I have little)!The reviews of these have all been positive,but these are made by a product advertisor,AND the reviewers liking these,also have some other products by some of these same companies.No guarantee of anything unsavory,but let's count to ten,before we spend our dough!!
Also,remember that gold is NOT the greatest conductor of electricity.Gold does not oxidize,so maybe a cleaning is all we need to do!
Just some food for thought.
I used to bypass the amp speaker fuse protection with short stranded Monster cable as fuses. Then I tried solid copper. Each had a distinct sound that was better than the stock fuse.This is not news, P. Aczel(in his first life)said the sound of the Amber stereo70 could be improved if you bypass the speaker protect fuse.I have tried the Iso Clean and for the money they are a reasonably priced upgrade, and still offer the protection of a fuse.
Uppermidfi: Yes, i do believe that cleaning contacts, especially in critical areas, can make an audible difference. As such, simply pulling a fuse, cleaning all of the associated contacts and then re-inserting that same fuse could quite possibly improve signal transfer / lower distortion.
I will also add that using materials that are more conducive to better signal flow / higher levels of conductivity could improve the sonics of a system. As such, the use of gold, silver, copper, etc... where a lower grade of material was previously being used could improve the situation.
Given that most connections become resistive over time due to oxidation, and that resistance / conductivity can vary as frequency is altered, i would first worry about having clean connections and then worry about what those connections were made with. I'm guessing that most people will notice more of a difference from having clean connections than they will from having a different type of conductor used for the connection itself. Think of the improved conductivity of silver, copper, gold, etc.. being more icing on the cake i.e. the clean connection makes for the good tasting cake to begin with. Sean
PS... Fuses are designed to make / break a connection and are ALWAYS inferior to a direct path. The direct connection approach may sound best, but offers no form of protection should something go wrong.
Sean...The contact resistance of a fuse, even if there is a bit of corrosion, will be trivial compared with the speaker cable, and, in the case of a tweeter, the padding resistor of the crossover network. I am more concerned with the fact that some corrosion products can have diode characteristics which seem more likely to affect the sound.
By the way, your kind loan of Nordost cables caused me to lose faith in Home Depot's finest, and I got lazy and bought some short Goertz cables to go with my five new CI D-200 monoblock amps. Sounds very good, but I don't know if it's the amp or the cables.
Despite my skepticism, this thread caused me to try one of the HiFi Tuning fuses. I don't really want to admit this, but I hear a slight difference. I replaced the stock AC line fuse in my McCormack DNA-125 Platinum, and found swith the gold-plated fuse the upper midrange was pulled forward, and the midrange and treble areas became lighter and gained some air. My best guess is faster decay is the cause of this. I'm not sure I like this change; my speakers use the Scanspeak Revelator 9700 tweeter and those things can singe every hair on your body if you're not careful. ;)
I've only listened for an hour or so with the HiFi Tuning fuse in, but once I've really spent some time with it I'll post more thoughts.
For now, I'd say it's like a cable change; whether you like the change is entirely up to your listening taste and your equipment.
The jury's still out for me, but I'll say this: no way am I buying another 6 of these buggers to replace all the stock fuses in my amp. Not happening - even if they were the same price as my stock fuses.
As a sanity check, I plan to put my Seiko watch on top of my CD player next time I get to listen. If I hear another change I'll check myself in to the loony bin, and my wife will write you all a note to serve as a cautionary tale. :)
I have replaced all 5 fuses in both of my BAT VK200 monoblocks with the HFT fuses (waiting for the moans and groans). Those of you that are quick with math will realize that this is an almost $300.00 upgrade cost. I try to rate all audio purchases on a cost/sonic benefit upgrade, and in this case, the $300.00 was money well spent. Lower noise floor and better micro-dynamics on a system that had been very good prior to the addition ( Shunyata and Nirvana power cords, Audio Magic Reference conditioner, 3 dedicated AC circuits, etc). I have to agree - the power cord analogy is close to the additional improvement in the system, but at this level, the HFT fuses were a significant upgrade and cost a lot less than most good power cord upgrades. Yes, $30.00 fuses are expensive compared to 30cent fuses, but the sonic benefits that occur are worth the cost, at least to me.
Some audiogon members have contacted myself for details of the "Power Matrix" that I mentioned in this thread sometime ago. The Power Matrix has now been discontinued and replaced by a new series "Infinity Power", selling for a high price of something like US 50 per piece. The only dealer that I could trace who carry these is a distributor located in the Far East. Audiophiles are known for their craziness but I am not sure if anyone would go the distance to get a fuse from overseas. I am including the details for information anyway:
Audio Link (H.K.) Ltd.
Email : email@example.com
Contact : Philip
The limited information on the promotional materials refers that these use precious metals as conductor and housed in a quartz tube for micro-vibration and EMF absorption, etc.
Available rating is 0.25A, 0.5A, 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A, 8A, 10A, 15A, 20A.
Standard fuse size is 20 mm , 25 mm or 30 mm.
There will probably some overseas shipping and remittance / paypal surcharge, thus it seems more economical to team up a few audiophile friends and order some of these together to spread the cost. Remember to remind the dealer to package it well to avoid breaking these during shipment.
These works for me but obviously I can only speak from my own system and preference. I have been thinking why this manufacturer is seemingly anonymous in the US market. Not sure if this has anything to do with meeting the safety standards. Another thing you should know is that these are of the fast blow type and I do not recommend application if you equipment is designed to work with slow-blow fuse and in general power amps. I have the experience of blowing out one of these with power amp. The reason I have been given is that sometimes the instantaneous current when switching on the amp may be sufficient to blow a fast blow fuse, even when the rating is right. I never have any problem however with my CD player and pre-amp. For those interested, I would recommend these to be the places to start.
nickel plating is a big problem with AC related products. Most companies use it to just add a bright non tarnish finish. The quality of the plate and how it sounds are not a consideration. I offer a silver plated fuse holder, so have a bias toward believing in these small improvements. Here is something you can try. Sand off the nickel plating on a fuse, clean it and coat it with a contact enhancer and see if you can hear less brightness or sheen to the playback system.