Core Power Technologies A/V USBe Perfect
My power conditioner is an EQUI=CORE
300 by Core Power Technologies. Some time ago, the company's assets were
acquired and renamed Core Power Technologies A/V by web-based audio retailer
Underwood HiFi of Hawaii. Underwood HiFi also designs and performs upgrades to
components. The device under evaluation is a USB jitter reducer / power
conditioner called the USBe Perfect. That USB is a less than desirable method
for the transfer of music files is no longer up for discussion. Nevertheless, my
preference for USB is largely that of convenience and habit. My AURALiC Aries
derives digital information wirelessly from the Wi-Fi router. The Aries can
deliver data to the Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ via AES, optical, or S/PDIF.
The USBe Perfect came to my attention when, after months of
self-quarantine, I visited my editor and dear friends Dave and Carol Clark in
Long Beach. With masks on faces, rather than hand me a beer, Dave placed the
USBe Perfect in the palm of my hand. At first, I thought the cube was a souvenir
die. I was instructed to try it out which evolved into this review.
Then I listened with the USBe Perfect. Suddenly I found it
difficult to focus on work. The song "Cardigan" begins with the sound
of mysterious noises and a percussive pattern. Then a woodblock accents a beat
but the sound comes from a place completely disassociated from the speakers like
a ghost. The effect continues with other random percussive sounds and musical
notes that fade in and out the foreground of the soundstage. Vocal esses (s)
gained silky smoothness and shed all traces of artifice. At 34 seconds into the
somber piano song, "Exile," a turbo lift ascends then slows down at
second 39. What? I thought I knew everything this album had to give. Layers upon
layers of vocal harmony were revealed in high resolution like a 4k display for
your ears. Hence it went, with the remainder of the album as if heard for the
first time. Each replay revealing another exquisite detail in sound, song
composition, or production.
Perhaps the Be effect is fleeting or dependent on the choice
of material. Let us transition to some trusted CDs ripped to hard drive years
ago. "Manuel Deeghit" (also known as "I Showed Them"
elsewhere in his catalog) is a 13-minute groove recorded live from Cal Tjader's
CD Cuban Fantasy. The track begins with audience applause which is not
musically noteworthy except for the fact that it sounded so present. Delicate
taps on cymbals sounded to be precisely rendered and the placement of musicians
upon the soundstage was strikingly clear. The impact of mallets on Cal's
signature vibes resonated with realism. I cued up "Las Guajiras" from
Mongo Santamaria's CD Mongo's Greatest Hits. Again, I experienced the
familiar as if I had never heard this track before. The resolution of fine
musical details, harmony, and depth of perception was significantly enhanced.
Mozart's Divertimenti K136 and 138 as played by I
Musici on Phillips is another CD ripped long ago. The massed strings sounded
sweeter and more natural with noticeably less glare. A Kind Of Blue
Gold CD Legacy Edition was probably one of the first works I ever ripped to hard
drive. A Tidal MQA version does not yet exist. Classic Records' reissue on
180gram high-quality vinyl serves as my reference. Listening to this timeless
masterpiece through a cell phone speaker would still be enjoyable. Listening
with the USBe Perfect nudged the ripped files into closer alignment with the
definitive sound I hear from the LP.
So far, I have tried to describe how the USBe Perfect elevated
already highly engaging musical performance from ripped CDs, downloads, and
streams. I have yet to play a digital file that was not improved by the jitter
reducing qualities of the USBe Perfect, but I have only explored a small
fraction of my library. If anything, the USBe Perfect has forced me to
acknowledge the limitations of USB and led me to reconsider the alternatives for
truly transparent transfer of digital information to the DAC.