The last to see service was the EF120 which definitely fell into the classic description of middle child. It's better equipped than the EF110 but doesn't get quite the doting lavishment doled on the EF130. The EF120 is however quite the overachieving middle child whose contribution to system performance proved rather stunning, showing not only distinguished noise reduction but some distinct character that differentiated it from its siblings and could make it the most attractive choice. The noise floor rivaled its bigger brother, revealing superb detail and applying it to image and soundstage definition. It improved over the EF110 in the treble, replacing minor artifacts with a tick greater sweetness. It had more image solidity and focus and added fresh layers of venue information. The EF120 straddled a middle point in tonal density between EF110 and EF130. Where the bigger unit took my system one step further into reach-out-and-touch palpability, the EF120 took a slightly lighter tone, displaying a touch more treble energy. That divergence in balance allowed the middle brother to retain a healthy portion of the top model's dimensionality yet subtly more emphasis on dynamic life and the ability to light up hall boundaries. The EF120 matched the Exact Power on imaging and soundstage sophistication save for that unit's same superiority as it had held over the EF130. Differences of tonal density assumed a little more of an observational than immersive perspective. Dynamic structure was lively, subtle and fearlessly wide, a standout family trait. Overall performance closely matched the Exact Power and was similar to the superb Audio Exklusiv PCD 1 which adopts an equally compact design and incorporates a unique dedicated 50/60 cycle mains filter. Where the Audio Exklusiv showed comparative limitation against the EF120 was not on sonics but the drawback of a single outlet. The effectiveness and sophistication of Entracte's middle product were not middle of the road but met or exceeded many top/near-top efforts.
Mr. Taylor marked his first foray into the jungle of audio manufacture with a trio of home runs. Each of these Gilbert Yeung designs was intended to shake up and redefine their respective pricing tier and all three deserve rousing accolades for doing just that. The $599 EF110 aims at the budget-conscious audiophile seeking to upgrade lesser solutions or taking the first plunge into quality conditioning. It is extraordinarily effective and offers dramatic improvements for comparatively little to set a high bar that should be extremely tough to match or beat.
The $899 EF120 is a sure bet for the seasoned audiophile who does fundamental system building or pursues major upgrades in the conditioning game yet who wants to leave some financial wiggle room for ancillary investments elsewhere. This is a powerful tool that makes the grade against respected noise conditioners that were yesterday's best to cost multiples. Noise suppression is formidable and for most makes a legitimate high-performance alternative to Entracte's top model. Its sonic signature is a touch cooler and lends a more observational perspective that may appeal to different tastes.
The $1'199 EF130 is the full hit in sheep's clothing. It may not have a fancy face plate or boutique cachet but delivers where it counts. Only top-tier product can challenge its abilities and they command far more, climbing to about eight times of Entracte's price. There are of course those who demand the absolute best and will tolerate nothing but all the luxury trappings. For the rest of us, there's the Entracte Audio by Design EF130. To borrow from the movie Real Steel, I'd like to declare it the "People's Reference".
Entracte Audio by Design products are available in Canada and to international buyers from the Entracte Audio store front or via their website's contact page.
Quality of packing: Standard industrial cardboard container with internal polystyrene padding. Units are bagged in plastic.
Reusability of packing: Yes.
Condition of components received: Perfect.
Delivery: Hand delivered by manufacturer.
Website comments: Simply laid out and easy to navigate.
Human interactions: Approachable and informative.
Warranty: 5 years parts and labor against manufacturing defects.
Final comments & suggestions: The Entracte Audio by Design power conditioners build on their Blue Circle heritage with updates and improvements to offer significant performance/price ratios that raise the bar for the competition.
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