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SBooster BOTW ECO MKII Power Supply

11-21-2019 | By Dave Clark | Issue 106

After so many years reviewing audio equipment there are a few things that stand out. One is that the better the AC any component is seeing, the better the music comes across—and that is in terms of both musicality and overall sonics.

Cleaner is better. Stable is better. Less crap is better. Better is better.

Why I have made such an effort to get the best AC I can to my components by using the PS Audio P20, various AC cords (the right cords for component A might not be the right or best cord for component C and so on), reducing potential grounding issues in the system that can be "noise" with the use of the Entreq and Telos "ground conditioners," cleaning up network "noise" with the SOtM sNH-10G Switch, better external power supplies, and so on. I have learned that pretty much everything matters in some way—some things more than others, but in the end, getting or keeping crap out is a good thing for our musical engagement.

Or course this is not just limited to noise and whatnot that can ride along in the signal (whether signal or AC), but also resonances and the like. Room issues too. We have done so much and are pretty pleased with what we hear… here.

As noted above is the use of better power supplies—especially for those items that come with some wall-wart thing that goes into the wall. There are a good number of options out there from Tony Prado, Paul Hynes, HD Plex, UpTone Audio, SOtM, Linear Solutions, SGC, and many others. Each has their selling point (build, specifications, and whatnot) and their selling point (price). Some of these options are rather affordable and some not so affordable—all depends on what you see as affordable, or what you are willing to spend.

I have owned several of these to use on various outboard items (products from UpTone, network switches, Sonore, etc.) and found them all to work quite well with some audible benefits making one over the other the best choice. This might be less noise, more stability, cooler operating temps, an uptick in musicality, sound stage… and so on. None embarrassing the others—just more of a better fit for the money.

I currently use the Sonore’s ultraDigital and ultraRendu (HERE) with the Anitpodes CX (HERE) when using Roon. Sound wonderful and makes us happy. The Sonore products did not come with outboard wall-warts, instead I was sent the linear power supplies from SGC (HERE). These work wonderfully and allow the two Sonore units to do what they do… but one of the SGC units tends to run a bit hot while the other runs a bit cool (and the hotter one tends to cause whatever Sonore unit it is connected to also run hotter), and on occasion the Sonore units need to be rebooted as they drop out of Roon. Not sure if it is an issue with Roon, the Sonore units, or the power supplies, though I am leaning to the LPS units. Anyhow, this is rather random, as well as quite infrequent, but still.

Oh, hey… I have several SBooster units here. One powers the network switch in the office, and another powers the Wi-Fi extender in the listening room, and the third powers an older AURALiC Aries that Victor Chavira is using on loan. Now, these have always been stable and solid in what they do; I reviewed them way back HERE and well… and as I said, I still use them. What if I were able to swap out the two SGC units for two newer SBoosters and see what goes?

After some emails back and forth I am able to get the latest versions from SBooster, the BOTW ECO MKII (9V option).

Alright so the SGC units are $159 each and the SBooster is $399… a touch more than twice the price, but about twice the size and weight. And from all appearances, perhaps twice, if not way more, in terms of the overall build (parts and so on). But spending twice as much rarely gets you twice as much of anything. Especially so in audio. Though, the better the build usually betters the lesser.

SBooster BOTW ECO MKII Power Supply

SGC on the left and the SBooster on the right.

SBooster BOTW ECO MKII Power Supply

Better? Different?

Well, they certainly don’t run hot. Both they are rather cool, if ever so slightly warm. And no, the Sonore units do not run hot either, though perhaps a touch warm. So that is cool.

So, there is a nice difference.

SBooster BOTW ECO MKII Power Supply

Sonically or musically different? Sonically or musically better?

I feel so. Clearly different and clearly better. Music seems to come across with more of that there there thing. Cleaner and more articulate? Yeah, I would say so. We are hearing more of the music with less stuff in the way. This is evident in separation of the instruments (standing apart from each other when called for) as well as a greater sense of air within the sound stage and around the instruments (space). And a greater sense of detail and presence with more oomph and slam.

Makes sense that with a component "seeing" better power (whether that be AC or DC) there should be some audible sonic or musical improvement. Much like a car getting whatever it needs to run (cleaner sources whether that be fuel or ignition), should run better… more power. Smoother with a more powerful ease of acceleration. Maybe that is the word I am thinking of, acceleration. The music moves with greater ease and presence—a more tactile palpable presence. Of course, this is assuming that our music even offers that. I mean, what we listen to is rock and electronic… so how much palpable presence is possible when it is more or less "not real instruments in a real space?"

But even so, we sense that more with SBoosters in the system than without out. While the SGC units are great at what they do for the $159, they are not equal to the way pricier SBoosters—a great entry to getting more from a component, whereas the SBoosters are more of a final destination. It might not matter to you, these differences are not night and day, but are audible… but they do matter to us.

Cleaner and stable power equals cleaner and stable music. Stable in the sense of getting what is there without anything much in the way. Our music just sounds better.

Highly recommended.



All images by Dave Clark