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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 2
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audio magic

Stealth Power Purifier

as reviewed by Victor Chavira and Dave Clark

 

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VICTOR CHAVIRA'S SYSTEM:

LOUDSPEAKERS
Magneplanar 1.6 and B&W DM 302.

ELECTRONICS
Magnum Dynalab 208 receiver. SCE Harmonic Recovery System.

SOURCE
NAD T541 CD/DVD player.

CABLES
Nordost Quattro-Fil interconnects, Blue Heaven speaker cables, and El Dorado power cords.

ACCESSORIES
Monster Cables HTS 1000 AC center. Vibrapods, Lovan Trisolator, and Echo Busters.

 

one.jpg (6551 bytes)AC power is often an overlooked element in the audio chain. Understandably, with so many components vying for hard-earned dollars, it's no wonder power conditioning tends to have a low place on the priority list. However, increasing evidence regarding the detrimental effects of crude AC on delicate audio components suggests that even the humblest of systems can benefit from power conditioning. Would you run your car on kerosene? I've listened to a variety of power conditioning products from companies such as PS Audio, Brickwall, Balanced Power, Monster Cable, and Richard Gray. All of their products reduced AC contaminants entering my system and increased musical satisfaction, but none had such a profound impact as the Audio Magic Stealth Power Purifier. Granted, one could purchase all of the above products for the price of one Stealth.

Details about the Power Purifier are limited. It is a small, lightweight, black plastic box about 11 inches wide by 3.5 inches tall by 8 inches deep. The version I have contains six high-grade outlets, a removable power cord, and a reset switch on the back. According to the product literature, the Stealth incorporates seven stages of protection and is wired with pure silver conductors.

My first experiment with the Stealth involved plugging my Magnum Dynalab 208 receiver into it. Alone, the 208 is a highly regarded music maker. With the Stealth in place, however, the 208 ascended to superstar status. Background noise became imperceptible. Highs extended and shimmered with delicate light. Low bass flowed deeper than ever, and the midrange took on sharp focus and vivid detail. I listen to guitar quite a bit—classical, flamenco, jazz, country, rock, acoustic, electric are all represented in my collection. I'm fascinated by the sounds and shapes of different guitars. One of my great joys in life is to pick up one of my handmade instruments and play along. Listening to guitar recordings with the Stealth brought me closer to the sound of the real thing. Each down-stroke and upstroke of a rhythm became more separated in time. Each string in a line of finger-picked notes retained individuality and character. You may not care whether a G is played on the first or second string of the guitar, but I do. Such detail is very helpful when attempting to figure out a piece by ear.

Similar results were produced when sources were inserted into the Stealth. Grunge was eliminated, allowing subtleties like timbre, harmony, attack, and decay to shine. Spatial information also became more apparent and defined, leading to a re-appreciation of my favorite recordings.

The Audio Magic Stealth Power Purifier is an outstanding, albeit expensive, component. While it was in my system I discovered many ear-tickling details, felt deep bass, and listened intensely to music in a manner previously unavailable to me. I have not yet figured out how to purchase this unit. Hopefully, I can request some overtime at work, because the Audio Magic has cast a spell over me. Victor Chavira

 

 

 

DAVE CLARK'S SYSTEM:

LOUDSPEAKERS
Reimer Speaker Systems Tetons.

ELECTRONICS
Clayton Audio M100 monoblock amplifiers. E.A.R. 834P phono stage. Blue Circle BC3000 preamp w/Tunsgram tubes, and BCG3.1 power supply.

SOURCES
EAD T1000 transport and EVS Millenium II DAC with Audient Technologies' Tactic and Audit, and Taddeo Digital Antidote Two. Linn Axiss turntable with K9 cartridge and Basik Plus arm.

CABLES
JPS Superconductor+ interconnects, digital, and NC speaker cables. Sahuaro Slipstream, Blue Circle BC63, Clayton Audio, and JPS Kaptovator AC cables.

ACCESSORIES
PS Audio P300 Power Plant.
Dedicated 20 and 15 amp ac circuits. Shakti Stones and On-Lines. EchoBuster room treatments. BDR cones and board, DH cones, Vibrapods, Mondo racks and stands, Townshend Audio 2D and 3D Seismic Sinks, various hard woods, etc.

 

two.jpg (6646 bytes)What should a power line filter do? And what audible effect should it have? I ask these questions as an introduction to the Audio Magic Stealth Power Purifier.

Having used a PS Audio P300 for many months, I was so impressed that I chose to purchase it. To quote my own review, "the PS300 wrought significant improvements to my system, in all the areas that audiophiles cherish.... Almost like a turbocharger for one's system, the P300 was not subtle in its ability to allow my components to work at their best." This is no doubt a result of the P300's ability to regenerate the AC and then offer it to components in balanced form. With respect to the unit's "Multiwave" feature, let me again quote myself: "Going from one Multiwave setting to another will allow you to change soundstaging depth and width, add or remove a bit of warmth, and open up the music to some degree.... One can almost use the Multiwave function like a tone control or soundfield control."

Nevertheless there are several downsides to the P300. The unit runs hot, requiring a fan that is audible from across the room. Also, since the P300 is really an amplifier, it draws a fair amount of AC from the wall. And last, with the multiwave, I could hear the transformers in various components "motorboating" as they were fed different frequencies. This was the biggest question that ate away at my brain: Would the P300 slowly kill my components?" Oh, and the P300 only has four outlets, and is limited to use with front-end components.

Could the Audio Magic, or any other such device, give me similar results, and at a similar price point? I have heard and read many good things about the Sound Application and Shunyata units, as well as the Stealth, but so far only the Stealth has arrived for review. (The others have been promised.) Priced considerably less than the Sound Application unit and half that of the Shunyata, could the Stealth be a winner? Back to my original question. What should a power line filter do? It should clean the AC of various broadband distortions and/or noise on the line from either direction (RFI and EMI). Ideally it will also offer a more steady AC flow, like the P300, so that components do not see dips or spikes in the AC. It should also protect components from surges, so that in the event of lightning or whatever, the gear does not suffer catastrophic failure.

Here's what can tell you about the Stealth with respect to this question. The Stealth is wired throughout with ultra-pure, solid, 10-gauge silver wire that has been specially treated and polished to reduce noise and improve and maintain maximum conductivity. It uses three Leviton hospital-grade 20-amp isolated ground duplexes, with pure silver buss bars between each set. There are five stages of surge and spike protection, two active and three passive. There are four different types of purification, one active and three passive. The unit also has four QC devices, six FI-B devices, and one dual-mode quantum filter, with three super-high-voltage hand-selected capacitors that will purify clear into the gigahertz range. The Stealth has absolutely no current limiting, but is limited to its 15-amp breaker. All of this means... well, you got me! Apparently the Stealth is really good at cleaning up the AC while offering protection against spikes and surges. Plus, Audio Magic claims that any electrical device plugged into the Stealth will last longer and work better. Why not?

Okay, but what about my second question?  What would I hear in terms of the music being reproduced by my system? I have tried a fair number of AC-purification items that definitely changed the way the music sounded, but did not always make it better. Out of the box, the Stealth was a touch too bright and hard, with a shallow soundfield. After a week or so, these problems disappeared. (The Stealth apparently requires up to 500 hours of break-in. Fortunately Audio Magic does a fair amount of that at the factory.) The result? Go back to what I wrote about the P300 and take it to a whole ‘nother level. With the Stealth, there is considerably more silence between the notes, with a much greater sense of musical harmonics decaying with natural ease. Little details just hang there forever as they fade into a deep dark blackness. I can also hear much deeper into the music, with such an increase in transparency and clarity that it is startling, with a high jump factor. Subtle dynamic shadings are portrayed in such a way that on a well-recorded disc, the performers sound amazingly real. Music has that eerie silence, with such a beautiful and natural purity that all I want to do is pull out disc after disc and listen. Bass has added slam, and has lost a hint of fullness that had become a bit of an ear-sore. This is really cool!

Want a more open sound? Want music in the room with you? Want up-front seats, but with a wide and deep soundfield? Desire the ultimate in palpability, with a rich and textured harmonic tapestry? Need greater presence with no sonic tradeoffs? The Stealth is for you! I heard no tradeoffs going from the P300 to the Stealth. I guess my AC is pretty steady and strong to begin with, or that the Stealth helps to steady the AC without the need for regeneration. I have yet to hear anything that would lead me to say anything negative about the Stealth. Is it a winner? Unequivocally, yes. Would I sell the P300 and buy the Stealth?

Let's see. It is dead quiet, it does not generate heat or consume additional AC, it allows me two additional outlets with the ability to handle up to 15 amps, it does not appear to be stressing any components hooked up to it, and it makes my system produce music that far exceeds, on an emotional level, what I heard via the P300. A no-brainer.

But here's the rub. Of all the things that can affect a system's ability to reproduce music in the home, it is AC that is the most difficult to get a handle on. I have found that what works in one system may not work in another. There are so many variables affecting the AC that it is difficult to predict what will work for you. All I can say is that in my system the Stealth is unbelievable. Dave Clark

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Stealth Power Purifier
Retail $1600

Audio Magic
TEL: 888. 464. 8202
web address: www.audio-magic.com
e-mail: info@audio-magic.com

 

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