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KRONOS Audio SSCPS Takes You Higher

10-23-2019 | By Marshall Nack | Issue 105


Just looking at the SSCPS, you can tell Louis Desjardins knows a thing or two about materials design. But don't get him started—unless you've got a sizable chunk of time. We'll rev him up a bit later. First, let's give the floor to the Sparta Super Capacitor Power Supply and let it speak for itself.

From the beginning, Kronos Audio products have been notable for eschewing non-functional aesthetics and any form of gaudy frou-frou encrusting. Everything serves the sonics, whether it be layering of multi-materials, using variable thickness of materials throughout the construction, or internal damping plates on its transformers. The look is rugged, hand-made, built to last—and strikingly masculine in my opinion. It is distinctive; you either like it or you don't. At first glance, Sheldon commented, "Man, it looks industrial, not pretty." Then Joseph chimed in, "It has an attractive industrial look, like a serious pro unit."

Those well-heeled connoisseurs who own Kronos products will know what I mean.

Smearing: the Primary Gremlin

The day after I received the SSCPS I'm in a three-way call with Louis and Bill Parish, the North American importer, getting the lowdown. At one point I mentioned what Lynn thought of it, that it sounded like a solid, well-constructed edifice supported by a firm foundation. This made Louis so happy! "That is precisely what I wanted you to hear."

Now it's time for Louis Desjardins, the designer and proprietor of Kronos Audio, to talk about the gremlins lurking in the sound room: the primary one is smearing. Its symptoms are images with fuzzy outlines and general vagueness. It is caused by frequencies that don't recreate the source correctly because their integrity to the source has been compromised. Louis compares it to a kind of phase anomaly. Smearing can be introduced through two pathways.

Uncontrolled Resonances

It is an accepted truth that every material resonates. For audio purposes, this has to be addressed. Most designers attempt to cancel uncontrolled resonances as much as possible, but the fact is you can't get rid of them 100%. There is always some lingering residue that will artificially boost the resonant frequency and possibly disturb that frequency's time alignment.

A designer has two options to deal with it: to control the amplitude (lower the loudness); or to shift the resonance to another frequency where it is less harmful. The SSCPS rigorously exercises both options.

The Phenomenon of Back EMF

The second way smearing sneaks in is via the phenomenon known as Back EMF.*

*Backwards electromotive force, also known as counter electromotive force, is the electromotive force or 'voltage' that opposes the change in current which induced it. CEMF is the EMF caused by magnetic induction. [Source: Wikipedia]

What this means, Louis explained, is that the power supply sends DC to the turntable motor and the motor in turn kicks back a minuscule CEMF, which adversely interacts with the power supply. Louis discussed how Back EMF could cause a frequency area to swell or dip in amplitude.

The way he described it made it sound like an epic battle waged between the power supply and the motor, each vying to exert their will over the other. The power supply wants the motor to behave and follow instructions. The motor says, "Hey, wait a minute. I want to do my own thing." It is not willing to relinquish its Back EMF without a fight.

SSCPS & the standard PS

Thus the SSCPS is designed so the motor won't stand a chance and the winner is never in doubt. It has exponentially more capacitance than the standard Sparta power supply. I asked how does it compare to what's built into the Pro model, and was told it pales in comparison. But not only that, the Pro power supply is an elaborate design for the purpose of providing a truly constant amount.

an Edifice Made of Bricks

To the extent that you take distortion inducing vibration out of the drive system, fidelity is maximized. The edifice of the soundscape becomes solid, like a house made of bricks, rather than soft and porous like plywood. At this point you can say the pieces of the construction are "in phase."

What's playback like using the SSCPS? I'm going to keep this short and sweet. Vinyl playback sounds incredibly honest, like there is no fudging or ambiguity. You enter a dimension of sublime clarity and deep resolution. From the tight, most tuneful double bass up through sweet woodwinds, you just hear more and hear it truly. I may be describing the SSCPS as a move towards super neutrality, but wait: somehow it also imparts gains in bloom and body. How that comes about completely baffles me, but I'm sure enjoying it.

Interestingly, my buddy Sheldon pointed out two prominent effects of the SSCPS are image stability and ultra-tight bass. These are qualities normally associated with direct drive tables, not belt drive.

Perhaps it helps to think of the SSCPS as you would an external power supply, say for a preamp. We all know what happens when you dedicate a separate chassis to a large power supply. The SSCPS effect is very similar.


The install takes around four minutes. Disconnect the control cables from the standard speed control and connect the 3-pin and 4-pin connectors to the proper jacks on the SSCPS. Then connect the two ground wires, one to the tonearm base, the other to the phono preamp ground post. Plug in the AC cord, et voila!

Now turn it on and walk away for a couple of hours. Don't listen yet. While the unit has been burned-in at the factory, it will need time to settle after transit. Complete burn-in of the super caps and transformer inside will require many days. Just leave it powered on, no need to have it spin.

The Phono Ground Wire

A side note about the phono ground wire. Awhile back I did a number of experiments with phono ground wires in tandem with Argento Audio. The final prototype he sent me shared the parts and design of Argento's highest quality phono signal wire and was physically even more massive. This proto ground wire made a shocking difference.

I kept eyeing the supplied wire that comes with the SSCPS. It was unusual because it has two legs: one goes to the tonearm base, the other to the phono preamp ground post. It looks like untreated stock wire off a spool… but then I knew it would have been vetted by Louis. I figured it was worth trying.

When I swapped swapped it in…HaHaHa. Everything fleshed out and there was a big improvement overall. I should have known better.

BTW. The phono ground also takes some time to burn-in.


In the world of enthusiast audio, it's easy to find designers working from diametrically different theories. Take the power supply, for example. For Kronos Audio, it needs to exert 100% control over the turntable motor. (Maybe make that 200%.) But there are other designers who insist what's needed is the very minimum amount of torque, just enough to get the platter moving, so as not to introduce cogging (for example, Thales). Go figure. That's why I don't take a position and let the results speak for itself.

I knew the SSCPS was coming out and looked forward to it, but when I read the press release and saw an MSRP of $9500, my initial reaction was dismay. Considering the Sparta table, arm, and armboard package is $32,550, the SSCPS is approximately 29% of that. My thought was this better be a good one. It is.

First of all, the Sparta sets a very high baseline performance. From such a vantage point in high end audio, improvements come in small increments and are costly. It is a world of diminishing returns. With that said, the SSCPS offers about 20% improvement. That is huge. Let me put it another way: After trying the SSCPS, would I go back to using the included power supply? I don't think so. Once heard, that's not an option.

The big idea behind Kronos' counterrotating platter design was to deal with a principal analog gremlin: smearing. The new SSCPS smacks the gremlin a further blow and one can only say the result is unequivocal. Everything is upside; there is no downside. The SSCPS brings the Sparta concept to another level.


Retail: $9500

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