If mains leads can improve the sonics of a system, then what about the mains itself? When I lived in London, this was a big issue for me and I struggled to get my hi-fi to sound good, trying anything that claimed to alleviate the effect of the noise-riddled AC mains supply. I had varying success; some mains conditioners worked a bit, others seemed to ‘over damp’ the sound, making it smoother but flat and lifeless. This was especially detectable when playing vinyl, and in the end I gave up – electing instead just to use good mains leads with plugs cleaned by Kontak. It really sweetened things up, yet didn’t detract in any way.
When I moved to the wilds of Wiltshire, I became less inclined to fiddle with my mains because it’s pretty good here. For example, it’s quiet enough to tell when the fridge has switched on in the kitchen, because the sound gets slightly more brittle, whereas in London, it was just so noisy that everything sounded mushy and harsh all the time. So it was interesting to try IsoTek’s EVO3 Mosaic Genesis mains regenerator and power conditioner. I have been to a number of hi-fi shows where the company has run demonstrations of its products, and time after time they have improved the sound. Indeed, I chose them in the Hi-Fi Choice hi-res demonstration at the Bristol Sound and Vision show in 2012 and 2013. So although I had a real respect for IsoTek power products, I honestly doubted that they would do that much out here in the sticks. I plugged it in feeling a little underwhelmed, not expecting much…
How wrong! It has brought about an improvement of the scale I honestly had not envisaged. It has made my reference system sound tonally smoother, darker and deeper, with more widescreen presentation thanks to improved width and depth. The bass is cleaner, and a layer of upper midband mush has been stripped away. Indeed for years I have been trying to find an amplifier clean enough and smooth enough to drive my finicky Yamaha NS1000M loudspeakers, and now they seem far less bright and more amenable to everything asked to work with them.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, the better the loudspeaker, the more the improvement this IsoTek box brings. My budget reference, the brilliant Cambridge Audio AeroMax 6 floorstander, sounds better detailed and more dynamic, while my expensive Quad electrostatics are far less mushy and muddled than before, especially in the treble region. Indeed, my opinion of them has been raised. At £5,995 the IsoTek is a seriously expensive thing, but delivers a resounding improvement, one much greater than expected. Indeed if I’m honest, it is probably more than a lifetime of tweaking has ever done.