Reviewer: Paul Candy
Source: Rotel RCD-971 CD player modified with IEC jack instead of captive AC cord; Hit Audio/Cayin CD-22 CD player [in for review]; Shanling CD-T100C CD player [in for review]; Pro-Ject 1 Xpression turntable w/AT95E cartridge
Preamp/Integrated: Audio Zone AMP-1; Audio Zone STi [in for review]; Manley Labs Stingray; Bryston B60; Unison Research Unico; Pro-Ject Tube Box phono stage.
Speakers: Meadowlark Kestrel 2; Reference 3A Dulcet [in for review]; Omega Super 3R [in for review]
Cables: DH Labs Q10 loudspeaker cables, DH Labs Revelation and Air Matrix interconnects, GutWire Power Clef SE power cables [in for review]
Stands: Premier three-tier, filled with sand.
Powerline conditioning: Blue Circle BC86 MkII Power Line Pillow, GutWire MaxCon Line Conditioner [in for review]
Sundry accessories: Pro-Ject Speed Box; Duende Criatura tube dampers; Grand Prix Audio APEX footers [in for review]; Gingko Audio Cloud 11 vibration control platform; Walker Audio SST contact enhancer; Audience Auric Illuminator; GutWire Notepads; Black Diamond Racing cones; AudioPrism Isobearings; Vibrapods; dedicated AC line with Hubbell outlets; homebrew acoustic treatment.
Room size: 13' x 17' x 8'
Review Component Retail: Review Component Retail: PT-3030G Isolation Transformer - $2500 (w/2 Auto Focus Power Cables: $4500); 60A3 Filter - $2700; Premium Plus II Power Cable- $600 /6ft; Focus Power Cable - $1000 /6ft; Auto Focus Power Cable - $1300 /6ft..
Look out BPT, PS Audio, Equi=Tech and company, there's a new kid on the power conditioning block. His name is Isoclean and he's here ready to kick ass and chew bubble gum. And, he's fresh outa bubble gum.
I was not familiar with Isoclean and I suspect the same is true for most North Americans. However, it is a highly regarded audiophile entity in Asia and frequently shows up in many reviewers' reference systems. A quick Google search offered up several product awards. Too bad I can't read Chinese.
While visiting Ovation Audio in Aurora/Ontario, I saw a wide range of Isoclean products. This included speaker cables, isolation platforms, various solid-copper power bars, wall outlets and even contact enhancers. The build quality of everything I saw was never anything less than stellar. I was hopelessly smitten and thus eagerly arranged for a more intimate rendezvous via the Canadian distributor, Barnaby Ng of Quinceton Audio. Unaware of the final MRSP, I picked up the 60A3 filter; Premium Plus II, Focus and Auto Focus power cables; and the PT-3030G isolation transformer. Who really considers price when stung by Cupid's arrows?
Incidentally, during the course of this review, I had a couple of long phone conversations with the US Isoclean importer, Brian Ackerman of Aaudio Imports. Brian elaborated on Isoclean's product line which further included a cable stabilizer that isolates cables from floors, various RF isolators for unused wall outlets and equipment RCA jacks. He also stated that in his personal six-figure rig, the Isoclean system was by far the most impressive power conditioning equipment he had ever tried. Ladies and gentlemen, thems fightin' words.
Enough foreplay. Let's get down and dirty with Isoclean. The 60A3 filter is a hand-built 60-amp audio grade power bar with built-in noise filtering that's housed in a stunning solid-copper chassis designed to counter the dreaded effects of mechanical vibration and RFI/EMI. The top of this attractive box contains six high-quality custom modified outlets; two for digital components and four for analog. An IEC power inlet socket is located on one side. The contact points of every electrical connection are hand-polished and gold-plated to provide optimum current flow and long-term reliability. Silver solder is also used but only at a specific temperature for maximum sonic performance. Non-magnetic 'tip-toes' are included for proper mechanical isolation from floors. Details of the filtering mechanism inside the 60A3 were not available. The manufacturer prefers to keep this a closely guarded secret and simply have their products judged solely on sonic performance. Not one for following instructions, I did peek inside and found the conditioning circuitry potted within a rather serious looking enclosure and was thus unable to investigate further. However, I discovered that the outlets marked 'for digital equipment' were filtered separately from the analog ones. Whatever is in there must be special as the performance was exceptional!
Incidentally, as you can see in the photos, the 60A3 and PT-3030G were drop-dead gorgeous and build quality was superlative. The polished solid copper plates that house these attractive pieces were a full 1/8" thick.
Initially, the Canadian distributor directed me to review just the 60A3 and power cables. However, the guys at Ovation Audio sent me home with a PT-3030G anyway - lucky me. The PT-3030G is a massive 3kVA (3000W) toroidal isolation transformer enclosed in the same solid copper housing as the 60A3. There are two switches on the front to power up and shut down the unit. To fire it up, first flip up the amber switch, then the green one (hey, Keanu Reeves only got one choice). For power down, the sequence is reversed. The PT-3030G comes equipped with two power cables of your choice (Focus, Auto Focus or Super Focus) that are hard-wired to the unit via a serious looking terminal strip. One of the power cables sports a three-prong plug for a wall outlet. The other cable features a female IEC plug for connection to a downstream component or to a power bar to benefit several components.
The enclosed manual for the PT-3030G offers several setup options based on either how fat your wallet is or how obsessive-compulsive you might be - or both. Ideally, each component in your system should be completely isolated with its own PT-3030G, with the option of adding further passive filtering via one of Isoclean's power bars. For example, you could plug all your analog equipment into one 60A3 power bar which can then be connected to its own PT-3030G. Then couple your digital sources in the same manner with their own 60A3/PT-3030G combo, and so forth with your pre-amp and power amps. Thus the various parts of your system can be completely filtered and electrically isolated to eliminate any interference. Think of each of your components as thus having its own little -- if you can call a 70lbs box 'little' -- power station.
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