Most audiophiles have a favorite component, a cog in the chain that they dote over and are passionate about. For me, power conditioners ain’t it. I tend to go ho-humming past this segment most of the time. Not that they don’t make a difference. They do. But my experience is that for the benefits they provide versus the information they take away, it becomes a zero-sum game. And I especially haven’t liked what most do for amplification–stomping dynamics, sucking out air and dulling transients. And since I get good power at home, and RF generally isn’t an issue I’ve basically stood on the sidelines.
Ted Denny of Synergistic Research however is a persuasive guy and wouldn’t take no for an answer. He already knew that I was a fan of his latest Tesla cables ( which I favorably reviewed in TAS 171 ) and when he called to offer me a listen (I liked what I heard at RMAF and at his factory) and ultimately a review sample of his AC line conditioner, the Tesla Power Cell , I agreed, but still kind of ho-hummingly.
First things first; the Tesla Power Cell is not an active unit–at least not in the sense of being filled with chokes or transformers or network-style components (resistors and caps) and so forth. Working passively outside of the signal path Denny conducted experiments by passing AC through versions of an electromagnetic cell and ultimately reached the stage where he was “conditioning the AC with differential EM fields”. On his website Denny states that the PowerCell is completely noncurrent limiting. It uses a composite chassis that is not only electromagnetically inert but also delivers three times the mechanical isolation of carbon fiber.
There are three models in the line;
PowerCell 6 $3000 with stock Quantum Tunneled industrial power cord terminated at Synergistic Research
PowerCell 10 $4000 with stock Quantum Tunneled industrial power cord terminated at Synergistic Research
PowerCell 10 SE $5000 with Tesla Precision AC ($1800 retail value) and upgraded internal Electromagnetic Cell
Listening to the direct-disc LP recording of the Atlantic Brass Ensemble play “Fanfare for the Common Man” [Crystal Clear] there was more bloom to the brass and wind flourishes while there was less constriction. The hall acoustics were more immersive and encompassing. While it doesn’t enhance the soundstage on a flat dead recording but genuine soundstage information is presented without any holes or divots. It has a way of taking the hard-panned instruments that sometimes sound a bit isolated beyond the center soundstage energy and stitch them back into the overall fabric of the performance creating a more rounded and coherent center soundspace. The PowerCell seems to reclaim musical energy as if it’s literally throwing more ambience onto the stage and the surrounding venue. When I first listened to mandolinist Chris Thile duet with bassist Edgar Meyer his mando sounded like it was pressed up against a brick wall on the left side [Yo Yo Ma & Friends:Sony]. This sensation utterly disappeared with the PowerCell in the chain and was replaced by a greater sense of depth and unobstructed width. The harder, sharper transients mellowed somewhat (not a bad thing perhaps) but the speed ( a warmer version) was still there. Whether there is any blunting of dynamics and transient attack I’m not entirely sure at these early stages but I’ll have more to say on this and other elements in a later comment to run with Jacob Heilbrunn’s full review in TAS. For further in depth info you can read a backgrounder at the www.synergisticresearch.com website but suffice it to say, the PowerCell has really gotten my attention. I’ll be putting it through its paces to a more rigorous degree in the coming month.