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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core with 16GB of RAM (AIFF) running OSX 10.8.2 and PureMusic 1.94g in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM, Audirvana 1.5.10 in direct/integer mode 1, Metrum Hex, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Voce II, Apple iPod Classic 160 AIFF-loaded, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pure i20, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, RWA-modifed Astell&Kern AK100
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Bent Audio Tap-X, Esoteric C-03, Job Pre2 [on review]
Power & integrated amplifiers: FirstWatt S1 monos, SIT2; Crayon Audio CFA-02, Bakoon AMP-12R, Goldmund/Job 225, Gato DIA-250, Clones 25i [on loan], Aura Note V2
Loudspeakers: soundkaos Wave 40, Boenicke Audio W5, German Physiks HRS-120, AudioSolutions Rhapsody 200, Zu Audio Submission
Cables: Complete Zu Event loom; KingRex uArt, Zu Event and Light Harmonic LightSpeed split USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; Van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fiber Toslink, Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan]
Powerline conditioning: GigaWatt PF-2 on amps, Vibex Granada on all components
Equipment rack:
Artesania Exoteryc double-wide three tier with optional glass shelf, Rajasthani hardwood rack for amps
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Desktop system: iPod/AK100 digital transports, Wyred4Sound minT, Gato Audio DIA-250, Aura Vita, Gallo Strada II + TR-3D
Room size:
Irregularly shaped 9.5 x 9.5m open floor plan combines the living/listening room, kitchen and office. Added to this space the speakers see the air volume of the entry hall and a long corridor plus the 2nd-storey 6 x 9.5m loft. Wood-panel ceiling slopes up to the loft. Parquet flooring. Lots of non-parallel surfaces ('vertical gable' windows, twin-angle ceiling, spiral staircase enclosure, fireplace enclosure). For a pictorial tour, see here.
Review component retail in Europe: €1'600
There were a few blessed centuries when the Muslim moors, Spanish Christians and Sephardic Jews lived in peaceful and prosperous harmony on the Iberian peninsula under various Caliphates which we today remember collectively as Al-Andalus. The stunning Alhambra castle complex on Granada's Sabikah hill is a famous architectural remnant of those times. Today it's one of Europe's most popular tourist attractions.

When British transplant to Spain Cliff Orman designed his Vibex Granada dual DC filter which I reviewed here, he'd deliberately laid it out to subsequently serve as dock for the matching Alhambra AC filter. Whilst I made reference to the historical Alhambra in said review, I didn't know how apt that mention would prove until in his manufacturer's reply, Cliff let on what was coming down the pike. And really, there can't be a Granada without the Alhambra.

As the opening photo showed, this version of the filter 'humbucks' atop the Granada without any umbilical. A hard-mounted power plug on the belly slips into the DC filter's IEC inlet whilst the added AC filter replaces the lost power inlet to your wall outlet on its own top. Vibex will also have free-standing versions with top-mounted power sockets of this, their most ambitious dedicated AC conditioner. The dock version simply affords Granada users an experiment with added AC filtration before deciding on whether to commit. And it physically segregates two discrete tailor-made filter circuits into their very own Krion enclosures.

The Alhambra citadel city.

Truth be told, I was much relieved by this development and my lucky chance at reporting on it. Why so, you ask? Simple. Hifi is filled with urban myths. Many of those were unwittingly created by well-meaning but ultimately mistaken reviewers. Silver cables are bright. Metal-dome tweeters sound hard. We have an entire mythinformation catalogue. That's despite eventual evidence to the contrary even if only as isolated exceptions. Such myths have a radioactive half life of their own. They linger on to confuse and poison newcomers to the hobby. Those haven't yet had a chance to come to their own conclusions. With answers provided before their own questions arise, they may never investigate certain matters just because they believe they already know.

Having had such terrific results with the Vibex DC filters that I unceremoniously relegated sundry AC filters and power bars from GigaWatt, Walker Audio and Furutech to secondary systems, I was well aware that my focus on DC rather than AC conditioning might equate to limited vision. Based on it I'd stated that DC filtration as implemented by Cliff Orman was more important and effective than AC conditioning. To verify this more exhaustively would require AC filtering done to the same standards, ideally by the same individual. When the DC-only Granada had seriously eclipsed the Three 11R prior Vibex flagship—a combined AC/DC filter I'd run on my source gear—I'd already arrived at just that point of informed conviction. Or so I thought.

With the self-docking Alhambra claimed to be a much improved dedicated AC filter over what had been in the Three 11R, here now was my chance to compare DC vs. DC+AC filtration 'on the level'. Was DC filtering really more relevant for source and power components as I'd practiced happily and listened to most impressed for quite a while already? Or had I simply not chanced upon AC conditioning powerful and effective enough to decisively turn the tables or at least equalize the stakes? Of course much depends on the exact condition of one's domestic power delivery quality and wiring. Unless one moved residence repeatedly to encounter far worse or better conditions, one really has no clue just where in the scope of possible power conditions one falls.