Chad Stelly, and Leesa Obermueller in front of various
photos of Chad Kassem – as Albert Einstein, Chewbacca, and Harry
been in Houston for almost 7 years now – just long enough to forget
what the truly cold winters of Upstate New York feel like. The mild winters
here spoil you. It’s hard to develop Seasonal Affective Disorder
when the skies are sunny and the temperature is in the 60’s (currently
in the high 70’s). However, my friends at Acoustic Sounds in Salina
Kansas beckoned. They have supported my cable line since its inception
and had recently taken on the line of power conditioners we produce, the
pure power one. I wanted to show them in person what
a difference one could make in a high-end system.
Salina Kansas is 700 miles due north of Houston. A very pleasant drive.
Salina Kansas is also the epitome of the All-American town: tree-lined
streets, folksy people, and a gorgeous old church someone has gone and
made into a recording studio and showcase for the blues - http://www.blueheavenstudios.com/.
Go figure. Better yet, go see it!
On the cusp of November/December, I rolled into Salina around 5:00 PM
on a Tuesday evening, Polartec gloves on hands – bless you Malden
Mills – and a couple hundred pounds of “pure power
one” in the back of the old Volvo. We hauled the equipment
into the new Acoustic Sounds digs and then piled into various cars to
enjoy a lovely dinner at The Charcoal Room. Dinner and the company were
wonderful – Thanks Chad.
After the meal, I spent a extremely enjoyable evening with my hosts, Clark
and Kate Williams (newlyweds and too cute) listening to Clark’s
system and relaxing. Clark now listens to music via SME 20 with SME 4.5
arm and Shelter 501 cartridge, Sutherland Ph.D. Phono Stage, Sugden A21SE
integrated amp, Stirling Broadcast BBC LS35A V2 on Sound Anchor 4 Post
Stands, Silver Circle TimeWise IC’s, and Silver Circle CS12 speaker
cables and power cords.
morning (temp.: 18∞ F, -8∞ C.), I got a tour of Acoustic Sounds
new facility. The new catalogue only begins to give readers a sense of
what is under the roof. In the warehouse,: equipment, CDs, SACDs, LPs,
LPs, LPs, and then more LPs, and a very thoughtful shipping department.
In the offices: sales, inventory management, internet design and server
management, graphic design, sales, listening rooms, and the office of
the resident “genius,” Chad Kassem – always smiling
as if he knows something you don’t. I believe he does.
Then we began in earnest to put the pure power one’s – both
basic and 3.0 through their paces. We began in the Reference Room where
we hooked the pure power one 3.0 up to the Pass Labs X350.5 amplifier
driving the upper portion of the Avalon Sentinels. The complete system
was comprised of the Pass Labs X1 preamp, Muse 11 digital source, Audioquest
Cheetah interconnects, and Audioquest Kilimanjaro loudspeaker cables.
The lower portions of the Avalons were driven by the Avalon System amps.
As you would expect, we put it in, took it out, put it in, took it out,
and so on, until the various ears in the house could ascertain what they
heard or didn’t hear.
Reference Room before the pure power one
pure power one providing clean power for the Pass
Labs X350.5 and the Avalon Sentinels
Following the audition in the “reference room,” we inserted
a pure power one in the “Evaluation Room.” The equipment consisted
of a VPI Scout turntable with a Shelter 501 cartridge, a Sutherland Director
preamp and Ph.D. Phono Stage, Harbeth Model 30 speakers on Sound Anchor
Stands, Cayin 860 monoblocks, Silver Circle TimeWise interconnects, Silver
Circle Audio CS12 speaker cables and power cords.
feeling in both rooms was unanimous: the pure power one power conditioners
made a significant difference in the sound produced by the systems. I
just prayed it was a positive difference. It was!
The first thing all noted was a most intangible feeling to describe, but
nonetheless ever-present. All noted that when the pure power one was in
the systems, the music was more “involving” and more listenable.
The dynamics and detail at lower volumes were particularly greatly enhanced.
The music become more seductive and attractive in the sense that you felt
drawn into performances rather than merely being a distant observer.
In the reference system, when the pure power one drove the upper portions
of the Avalons through the Pass Labs , in addition to the involving nature
of the music, all ears noted a more dynamic and tighter bass – and
more of it. This is made all the more remarkable owing to the fact that
we were not even driving the larger woofers in the lower portions of the
speakers – they were being driven by the separate amps. Stelly remarked
that he was shocked to hear that the upper woofers were capable of that
much bass. Pleased to be of service, guys.
In the room with the Cayin amps, we listened to predominantly analog via
the VPI Scout. Sometimes the differences between the system with and without
the pure power one were so extraordinary, that Clark and Stelly remarked
that it was almost like hearing a completely different piece of music.
Clark noted that with the pure power one in the system, he was hearing
significantly more noise from the record itself. A word about what the
pure power one does is in order here.
As we note on our website, the electricity in speaker cables is not generated
magically by an amplifier. It can be traced back to the wall outlet. A
portion of the sound one hears flowing from loudspeakers is electrical
artifact: grunge on the line. The pure power one takes electricity from
the line, filters EMI and RF, and then feeds it through a massive proprietary
isolation transformer and then to 8 high quality outlets, free of grunge
and artifact. What Clark noted was an effect secondary to cleaning grunge:
you will hear exactly what your source provides. This effect is akin to
using white noise to cancel out room noises allowing an insomniac to sleep.
When you turn off the white noise, you hear everything. If your source
is an LP with some inherent surface noise, the noise will be transmitted
through the system to your speakers. Be careful what you ask for. If you
ask for pure power, be prepared for the consequences: any weaknesses in
your system will become glaring beacons.
I was truly overjoyed to see and hear all the reactions to the pure power
one. It was very similar to Roger Greene’s reaction in his system
and reinforces our feeling that the pure power one is capable of improving
just about any system.
The day was broken up by some delicious BBQ and a visit from Mr. Jimmy
D. Lane, blues performer extraordinaire. Jimmy uses our Custom Musician’s
Cables while performing. We are honored to produce the “JDL Special”
for him. Thanks to all at Acoustic Sounds (www.acousticsounds.com),
especially Clark, Stelly, Marc, Leesa, and Chad. It has been, and continues
to be, a pleasure working with you. Congratulations on a fabulous new
facility to serve the audiophile community.
As a footnote, I have read in some of the audio magazines that when buying
equipment over the Internet, you lose the service of an audio expert assisting
you with your purchases. You need only to hang in the background at Acoustic
Sounds for a short while to realize that when you deal with these folks,
you lose nothing. I heard conversations in which Clark and Stelly conferred
with customers on system synergy, analog needs, component compatibility,
the attributes of various phono cartridges, and the synergy of various
cartridges within certain arms. And on and on. You wanna ask a question?
Call them. You wanna buy something? Call them. You won’t be sorry.
Wonderful visit and I will be back for the next Blues Masters at the Crossroads.