Newsletter January 2020

One of the perks of the job is that I get to try out new stuff, often prototypes of products that don’t exist yet. I get sent these products often with very little explanation other than to try them in my system and report back.

Every now and then a prototype arrives that makes you think “wow!” with the usual list of audiophile clichés just not enough to describe what one is hearing.

One such product was a power cable sent to me back in late 2017. This looked almost identical to a Sigma NR, except for the fact that about half way down the cable it housed a mysterious dark tube about 6 inches long and taped up in faux carbon.

Plugging this cable into my amplifier had a dramatic and profound effect on the sound, as though I had upgraded all of my hi-fi components all at once. If anyone ever doubted the ability of a power cord to influence the sound then this was surely the cable to put in front of them. Transformational.

It really was the most amazing thing I and others had ever heard. Even plugging this into a power distributor without anything connected at the IEC end changed the sound! There was something almost magical about its performance that impressed all that listened to it.

The cable was said to contain an experimental QR/BB component. The boffins at Shunyata Research had found a way of miniaturising while at the same time improving the giant copper QR/BB tubes from the Triton V3 and then soon to be released Typhon QR, and somehow fitting one of these to a power cable. Remarkably they had found a way to shoehorn this tech into a power cable without incurring unbearable inflexibility or added weight.

Thus began a three year process which saw the launch of the new Omega QR just a few weeks ago. We tested a number of prototypes featuring different combinations of technologies but always came back to this one. The cable made the trip across the Atlantic on at least 5 occasions as we sought to test and reconfirm our observations, sometimes even defying the expectations of the design team.

At some point during 2018 I was able to experiment with a pair of Typhon QRs, with one connected directly to my amplifier and the other to my Triton v3 power distributor. The results were just amazing and I found myself in audio nirvana for many happy months. My wife must have thought I was having an affair or something as I rarely seemed to spend much time in the communal living room.

In mid-2019 we were working on the launch of the new UK Alpha A10 power distributor so I found myself spending more time experimenting with this. 2019 also saw the launch of our UK Venom NR power cables. My Triton v3 and Typhon QRs had been at the heart of a system comprising of US power cables so given my changing focus it made sense to move some of these units on. This would have the additional benefit of freeing up some much needed working capital.

I had been very nervous about giving up the Typhon QRs, and the rest of the gear to be honest. And initially yes it did feel like a step or two backwards in terms of sound quality. The new ethernet cables which launched in late 2019 were a very welcome boost and I was impressed by just how well the UK cables compared to their US counterparts despite the presence of a fuse.

So imagine my surprise when I decided to connect the Omega prototype (technically really a Sigma QR) back into my system late last year and felt transported back to the Triton V3/Typhon QR combo. I was flabbergasted by this, and as unreliable aural memory can be, I was absolutely convinced that I was back in the same place as I had been with the giant Typhon QRs in the system. Anyone familiar with the impact of QR/BB will know exactly what I mean. It’s in the UK Denali and is a major part of why it sounds so good and is totally different from so many other power conditioners. Dynamics, soundstage, timing… all are improved in quite a big way. I always feel like the depth of the soundstage improves along with other spacial cues. So how on earth could my system sound so good given the fact that the Omega proto’s QR module was a fraction of the size of that found in the Triton v3 and Typhon QR?!

After some head scratching and rereading of the QR/BB patent (US10,031,536) which is actually called “device that improves instantaneous current flow into an ac to dc power supply” I stumbled upon this:

“The apparatus is most effective when placed as near to the rectifiers as possible.”

How much closer can you get other than being housed in the amplifier chassis itself?!

Anyone interested really should read this patent. It’s a perfect example of the technical brilliance and elegance inherent in Caelin’s designs.