Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tweaking the Benchmark (III)

Most audiophiles should know by now that the quality of the power supply affects the sound quality of any stereo system.

That was why I ended up with a Furutech eTP60/20 power distributor with passive EMI/RFI filtering which offers a smooth sound with low noise floor.

A few weeks ago, I was given an MIT Z Strip for review.

The MIT Z Strip features parallel filters. The orange
outlets are isolated and are for digital components.
The MIT Z Strip, which retails at RM4k plus and is available at Tong Lee, provides "multiple parallel tuned filters operating over the widest frequency range, engineered to remove noise from your 50-60 Hz AC power line".

It features six hospital-grade US outlets and two isolated outlets for digital components like CD/DVD player and DAC.

The Z Strip also features Power Factor correction which reduces transmission losses and improves voltage regulation.

The Benchmark DAC1 Pre is not affected by under or over voltage since it is designed to cope with fluctuations from 175V to 285V, but it is quite sensitive to power supply 'dirt'.

While the Furutech eTP60/20 provided a smooth sound quality with low-noise floor and dark background resulting in more details, the MIT Z Strip with the Benchmark DAC1 Pre and CEC 3300 (used as transport) plugged into the isolated outlets created a sound that was filled with details that were finely etched out. I paired the Siltech SPX-20 power cord with the Benchmark and this combination of Benchmark-Siltech-MIT sounded really good.

I heard more details when I used the Furutech, but the MIT somehow made them clearer while keeping the sound smooth. It sounded almost like when I used the huge Furutech Daytona 303 Multi-Mode AC Filter/Power Distributor (see which also has isolated and filtered digital outlets, but the Daytona is more than twice the price of the MIT Z Strip.

I felt that by using the MIT Z Strip, I had tweaked the Benchmark to its limit - at least until I can find some other combination of power filter and power cord that can outperform what I am using now.

Finally I achieved some form of sonic nirvana...and I can enjoy the music (till my fingers get itchy again).

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