When the two inconspicuous boxes-with-one-knob arrived for my inspection, I was unsure if the joke was at my expense or its own. In the past, I've shucked out a few dollars for sonic tweaks that went thud in the dark. Was the latest arrival at my gate another promise of acoustic failure? Quantum's Bill Steirhout is a calm and persistent gentleman. I emphasize the term "gentleman." There is a dwindling supply of such these days. Perhaps cyber-communication, daily chores at work and on freeway commutes, as well as the upscale pretensions of quick wealth via the "new (stock-inflated) market" have coagulated into a downward revision of the post-modern era: an Era of Perturbed Bluntness-at-every-fork-in-the-road.
Whatever the reality of our culture's decimated civility may be, in fact, it is frequently a subjective kindergarten. Complaints abound. In the Era of Inflated Markets, everyone is "empowered." Isn't that why many of us seek asylum in the acoustic beauty of home listening systems? I cannot imagine many easily accessible private spaces left on earth with the inherent calm and peace of an empty beach at low-tide. Your own listening room sound stage, with the phone off the hook (and the neighbor's lawnmower in his garage) is one of them.
Enter, into such a kingly region, AC power conditioners. Such boxes as my phone pal Bill Stierhout sent me from Quantum are appropriate companions for increased privacy, added musical beauty, and all the upwelling energy that great music reproduction lends the tattered soul. The unobtrusive "Symphony" line conditioners are packaged with a brief "white paper" of sorts… a quasi-scientific, pseudo-Heisenbergian "in-depth" description of the chaotic routine of electrons. The narrative leaves the mind gasping for clarity. You do not want to lend credence to these descriptions. They meander much too far from the glory of the boxes they accompany.
Power at Home
The Quantum line conditioners work. They succeed at adding deeper background darkness to musical sound stages. They succeed at increasing the vividness of sonic details. They succeed at crafting, or releasing, a greater sense of musical ease and relaxation. In sum, the Quantum Symphonies -- regardless of explanations bad, irrelevant, nonsensical, pretentious, funny, or all of the above -- truly improve the sound of recordings.
The major benefit of these conditioners for me has appeared in their usefulness in my recording chain. I insert one of the conditioners near the electrical source that I am drawing current from. I place a second conditioner at the break-out point where I split the electrical current further down-the-line of my equipment. When I record live in-the-field, I usually have as many as twelve pieces of gear that draw current. I have found that a staggered, strategic placement of two "Symphony" conditioners along the line of my gear's electrical draw adds a discernible vividness and sonic definition to master tapes.
Power at Play
The appearance of such vividness is not an overwhelming "Eureka" event. I have never yet found that the subtraction of either Symphony box (or both of them) collapses the sound stage, blurs the music's focus, or in any way disrupts the fundamental sonic characteristics that I am seeking during the recording process. But I can report that, with these two unobtrusive conditioners wonking away at their job, every recording I have made with them in-the-chain -- approximately seven -- has shown an improved degree of imaging and tonal rightness.
On a scale of one to ten, the degree of improvement I am indicating is on the order of a 1.5, perhaps less. But a ten to fifteen per cent enhancement of vividness (in sum, a ten or fifteen per cent reduction of sonic grain), allows a significant addition of musical information. I may over-estimate the degree of improvement here. It may be a 0.8 or 0.9. Nonetheless, you see the point, I hope. Eight or nine per cent sonic enhancement at the moment that a recording is being made is not an inconsiderable improvement. One squirms, squeezes and scrunches his mind and ears (sometimes his body) just to achieve a one or two per cent enhancement … or the hope of such.
Quantum "Symphonies" may not light up your life. I doubt they will deeply change the way you hear music through your sound system. But I believe they will make a positive contribution to listening pleasure in many quite good sound systems. I have checked out the improvement these conditioners register not only in my recording chain, but in my mastering (playback and monitoring) chain. The same degree and kind of improvement appeared there, also. Given the fact that one pair of boxes can improve the same recording twice, you can see that for me the usefulness of these conditioners becomes significant.
I have also taken the Quantum conditioners over to Steve McCormack's main
sound system, which is a very (very) good system -- in fact, often spectacular. We have found, with the Quantum boxes in the wall, even Steve's
extraordinary sound presentation improves. These things work. They are not cheap, but I know that many folks spend
hundreds and thousands of dollars on upgrades to very good systems … and receive, in return, less improvement than one of these conditioners is likely
Keeping My Power Clean
I am keeping the boxes. They are part of my working routine. I wish I had the free change to purchase two more. Not only do the "Symphonies" improve their performance in serial linkage; they have use in one's video and surround sound/theatre system, too.
I'd urge anyone to try one or two. You will certainly hear sonic improvements. The knob that I mentioned at the top …. it allows you to dial the degree of sonic change that you like. I am not making this up. Believe me, I have no idea why the conditioning works. I do not know what specific electrical load the knob alters. But the principle seems clear enough: generate random sub-sonic noise back through the electrical chain and, thus, lessen the inherent "chaos" of unconditioned electrical current. Why not condition your electrical network at the source? In my world, sonic improvement are important. If they work, I am pleased. With the Quantum "Symphonies," I am pleased.
Operating Voltage: External 9 volt DC adapter (provided)
Signal Connection: 2.5 mm DC power jack
Dimentions: 5.5" W X 5" D X 1.5" H (14cm X 12.7cm X 3.8cm)
Weight: 1.5 lb.
Price: $300 each
Quantum Products Incorporated