The BP-3.5 Signature is the best powerline conditioner I've yet auditioned - and not by a small margin. Considering the older Shunyata, Sound Application, TARA Labs, Furutech, Audio Magic, Combak Reimyo and recent Running Springs Audio and Walker units, all of which I've crossed paths with at one time or another? It makes this statement quite the -- big -- mouthful. No matter. This unit played in a different league altogether. It reminded me of two things. The first? My old clarinet teacher Hans Deinzer, of that concrete bunker am Emmichplatz, the Conservatory of The Performing Arts in Hannover, Germany.

He used to test us with elongated, flat-blown tones deliberately supported by the abdominal diaphragm. Stütze, he'd call it - reinforcement. Think buttresses on ancient castles or cathedrals. His own instrument wouldn't see much use during these one-on-one teaching sessions. He'd only occasionally demonstrate a phrase other than with his voice. When he'd thus finally manifest his persistent idea of blowing a steady note just so, his reed would be dry, the croaky tone not prime time concert material. Never mind. He'd blow into that blasted Herbert Wurlitzer of his with such intensity -- shape the contour, harmonic content and inner kernel of that one note with such single-minded ferocity, getting his entire chest cavity, inner mouth and skull to vibrate in unison -- that when he'd finally hit upon just the right combination of whole-body amplification to ride it like a banshee, this lone tone inside the small practice chamber could make you feel slightly ill. Seasick. At the onset of vertigo. Not because it was obnoxiously loud or high pressure. No, because it was no longer just a small standing wave of a vibrating air column confined to a short length of African blackwood, genus Dalbergia Melanoxylon. It had metamorphosed into something else - a very serious, whole-body, whole-room emotional intention and projection. Think full dose of evil eye as fired at you by an ornery brujo. He didn't get laid by the pretty young Mestizo beauty but received payment for his love charm with a dried-up old she-goat instead. His glance, in reverse Gautama Buddha fashion, could now wither a rose in full bloom - until his funky mood was drowned in the forgetfulness of Mescal.

The image density of the BP-3.5 could, at first, nearly make one sick, too. That is, if you didn't know how to emotionally respond and absorb such intensity. Listen to, for example, Dulce Pontes' O Primeiro Canto [MCA 314 543 135-2] at your own risk then. You might be unexpectedly bawling your head off, with nothing to be sad or upset about - safe to be at a loss how else to embrace such emotive force. Great. Wonderful. So the BP-3.5 makes you "sick". Anything else of import to report before we consign our wacky scribe to solitary confinement?

The second reminder. When I visited Jim Smith in Atlanta last year -- to hear his own system assembled around the same Avantgarde DUOs and AUDIOPAX monos I own and thus glean how dialed my own setup was by comparison -- I had to confess to something depressing. In the arena of emotional transmission, I still had to hit the highway and hitch a ride. At the time, I speculated that Jim's $35,000 dCS front-end up-ended the balance in his favor. I know better now. The man was running Equi=Tech units. Balanced power. As my rig was presently sucking juice from a truly take-no-prisoners example of balanced power like his, it too created those exact results many moons later. It's the sort of recognition that hits you without a doubt, not in the mind but in your very being, instantly. You just know. Get it? I just saved myself thirty-five really big ones on Jim's fancy dCS stack. Hurray. Which brings us to this thing which the BP-3.5 does.

Mondo image density. That's the first anyone would notice. Think stone-cold system fired up after 24 hours of neglectful non-use. It'd sound terribly anemic and trite. Return a few hours later. Thermically stabilized, it'll now sound fleshed out like a gander puffing up its feathery chest. Calculate the percentile improvement which, if your system were keenly optimized to show you what's what, should be quite drastic (unless you never powered anything down). Now add at least said difference to the same stone-cold system right upon turn-on. Bham! With the BP-3.5 on the line, the rig would sound ripe and ready from the word go. As the system warmed up, it'd go places of 3D manifestation you didn't imagine possible. It'd continue to improve by the same level of gains you'd expect from experience as a function of normal warm-up - except that it started where you'd usually leave off many hours later.

This isn't some fancy figure of speech. It's literally what happened. Coincident with this enormous sudden thereness which only grew more intense as circuits stabilized and dielectrics reformed, you'd have marvelled with me over the bass. Neither artificially dry and overdamped nor -- under the guise of bloom -- sloppily loose, it definitely went not only lower but was both more dynamic and apparently louder, as well as more articulate and defined. Interestingly enough, said subjective output gain did not turn gelatinous, to thicken the midrange or inject undue overall warmth into the music. Quite the contrary. There was a new-found clarity in the midrange that had much to do with that emotive force of great vocals. True, its density enjoyed parallels with what's customarily called warmth -- but which also connotes minor thickness -- though here it was clearly not arbitrarily attached to any specific and thus limited frequency band. Rather, it was true from 20 to 20; not imbalanced and cumbersome but complete and immediate, massive yet mobile.

Next you'd have noticed dynamic peaks. They were farther above the median loudness of each song, in actual dB. This increase of dynamic scope was accompanied by an uncanny realization: These gains were not restricted to certain sections of the audible range but occurred, in one giant and powerful sweep, across the whole nine audible yards (it takes 9 yards of fabric to complete a gentleman's three-piece suit, did you know?). This likely would have been most surprising to you in the treble. You may never have realized until then the sort of dynamic compression you tolerated in the high frequencies. It's indeed the bane of most conventionally loaded dome tweeters, one very obvious edge of horn-loaded variants. I'll nearly wager a bet. You couldn't appreciate the full extent of 'lid flip' when a high-powered soprano got her kettle to boil, finally pulled out all the stops, let 'er rip and had said lid shoot upwards like some Hollywood explosion or Tibetan rinpoche skull in the burial pyre. I'm not talking nasty, strident, brittle or glary. I'm talking very loud, very sudden and scary, without compression - glorious multiple audio orgasms limited merely by the number of peaks in that aria. Ditto for close-mic'd struck metallic percussion instruments like rim shots, the kind that nearly overloaded the microphone during the recording session.

The last thing you'd have registered before going soft in your head with initial sensory overload? The accelerated simultaneity, of however many different voices and instruments performed on any given track. Whether due to lowered noise floor; the removal of noise intermodulation; the absence of previously unnoted grit and gunk clogging up musical molecules and negative spaces to render uniform and mushy what should really have been distinctly individuated; whether due to all of the above or something else altogether - you'd have observed how the sheer weight of image density enveloped all front-row soloists and background performers regardless of how far off-center or buried in the bowels of the soundstage they might have previously been hiding. The conclusive sensory translation of this phenomenon? Call it hearing more, all at once.

Call it completely equalized presence, equally acute slightly to the outside of the speakers as smack in-between, just as keen one foot behind the speakers as yonder on the other side of the front wall. I suspect that these two factors combined made for the primary reason of my strongly emotional response to the BPT: Beefed-up wholesale corporeality; and concomitant equality of musical import, no matter how apparently secondary a motif, how seemingly redundant an instrumental byline or accompanying emphasis might have struck you earlier.

This complete and perfectly coincident retrieval of the largest and most minute musical 'particles' somehow demanded far more of one's attention than casual listening would grant. More importantly, it also completely eschewed any of the striated outline hyping that so often goes for added detail or accelerated dynamics. In fact, by comparison and in hindsight, one might question previous 'Aha' experiences of more subjective detail retrieval as unconscious by-products of selective resolution: More treble equating to more apparent speed or image specificity; more bass feeling like added robustness; more midrange suggesting greater voluptuousness, warmth and beauty. While perhaps true in isolation, considered in toto -- once you had a more complete comparator -- these occurrences might then strike you as artificial. You'd eventually tire of them because you suspected or had identified how they took something else away, pushed it further down or back into the mix to become noticed themselves. No pain, no gain?

The BPT BP-3.5 didn't suffer such selective cherry-picking to present you with fruity meats and pits. Image density proved equally compounded, not favoring any specific area of the soundstage. Dynamic range likewise behaved in a linear fashion, without emphasizing certain frequencies whilst compressing others. Does all this sounds like the proverbial boatload? It really was - overwhelming. For this listener, it equated to the biggest step forward in system performance since the original review -- and subsequent acquisition -- of the Grand Prix Audio Monaco and then Apex and Formula shelf vibration attenuation devices. What I don't feel competent stating? Whether these substantial benefits were due to the balanced power principle per se. While the BP-2+ was, in fact, already very good -- and especially considering its asking price -- the nearly double-as-dear Walker Audio Velocitor still retained a small but appreciable edge.

It's vexing that this Signature package would now present a balanced power device that surpassed both its own stable mate and the Velocitor, by the sort of margin you henceforth simply couldn't live without. I've already made the formal arrangements to acquire this very unit for personal use - a premature Xmas gift to myself as I explained to my wife - meaning she didn't have to buy me anything, audio-related. But since she appreciated the sonic improvements with the same enthusiasm as I, this didn't require much convincing. Bless her sporting heart.

What makes the Signature this much better? LoNo plus NBT? I'm a bat on faulty sonar here. I'm cruising blind and in the dark. My assumption? It's not one isolated element but how the various ingredients of this particular recipe work together, transcending the sum of the various parts. I'd be very curious how its superiority manifested on the test bench. What type of distortion is attenuated so steeply as to generate these kinds of results? Perhaps Sr Hoff will care to shed some light on this in a follow-up e-mail. It also bears stressing that the BP-3.5 doesn't make mediocre recordings sound worse but rather, better - and you can listen at serious party levels without even subliminal electronic edges creeping into the scene. Take Omnium Recordings' Balkans Without Borders [2024]. It's a 'various artists' compilation which I grabbed on impulse since I love this kind of unhinged Gipsy-meets-heavy-metal stuff.

While always on the lookout for hot new artists or groups, I hate to waste funds on complete albums if they turned out to miss the boat. What better way to minimize this risk than purchasing compilations? Even if only one track tickled the monkey bone, it'd have been a worthwhile discovery. Hence I routinely target compilations of unknown labels. As in this case, the music's often a mixed bag with truly excellent specimens interspersed in relative manure, but the production values and recording quality often leaves much to be desired. When I first spun this CD with the Velocitor in the system as usual, I quickly flipped through a handful of tracks and wrote the entire album off, never to be heard from again. I'm sure you've been there yourself many times before. Well, surprise. The BP-3.5 Sig didn't delete the problems but blew up frustrating flatland into glorious 3D. I now listened to the record cover-to-cover and discovered a few surprisingly cool numbers. This by way of indicating that the BPT operates in a somehow organic fashion. To be flip, I'd call it phat - not slow, ponderous and thick, but juicy, big and imposing.

This doesn't imply any coarseness on its part but paints this conditioner into a corner opposite of the ethereal, transparent-but-disembodied camp. Put differently, it doesn't pay homage to the Hereafter but takes it places firmly in this here-now dimension of flesh and blood. It's also not adrenalin-junkie sound, of emphasized Mapleshade-style transients that'd be obviously fast, incisive but also bright and intrinsically lean - slightly on the white side of neutral. No, the BP-3.5's phat alright - very dynamic if you can envision dynamics with serious mass, rather than assuming that you'd first have to strip said mass to get sufficient speed. Granted, it smacks of a somewhat paradoxical explanation. Still, looking at this term while listening to Charming Hostess' rollicking "Dali Tzerni" on the above Balkan record, it feels completely appropriate and right. The only visual that comes to mind? The hilarious character of Maurice in Romeo Must Die [left in pursuit of Kangaroo Jack] as played by the overweight Anthony Anderson. In this movie, he plays an over-the-top energetic, foulmouthed guy who moves with the peculiar grace and high-impact fluid suddenness of certain big men. Now a few notes on floating this dancing boat anchor on DeadBalls and StillPoints, respectively. It's something Chris indicated would act as a distinctive tuning device to custom-tailor ultimate performance on the Acoustic Dreams platform.