Core Power Technologies EQUI=CORE 1800
I wrote quite enthusiastically of the Core Power Technologies EQUI=CORE 300 (reviewed here), and have since acquired two of them. Mark Schifter of Core Power continues the development of his Balanced AC technology with the release of the EQUI=CORE 1200 and 1800 Balanced AC Power sources. Handsomely clad in aluminum and black, the model 1800 that arrived at my door was solidly built and quite heavy. Anticipating what I hoped to hear from an even larger unit, I eagerly installed the review unit into my main rig.
The new EQUI=CORE 1800 is a full 15 amp, 1800 watt, balanced power line conditioner. It supports up to 8 products thru its 4 Hubbell Duplex A/C receptacles. The 1800 is a nicely styled unit, with 4 Hubbell Duplex A/C receptacles on its rear panel along with a power on/off button. The red receptacles are striking against the 1800’s black housing and aluminum appointments. The Core Power EQUI=CORE 1200 has the same look, providing a full 10 amp, 1200 watt, balanced power line conditioner. It too supports up to 8 products thru its 4 Hubbell Duplex A/C receptacles.
According to Core Power Technologies, the EQUI=CORE line of Fully Balanced AC power sources eliminate noise and hum in your system through the clever use of “Common Mode Rejection” CMR technology. My time with the less powerful 300 model confirmed that this technology does work. A few friends who heard my 300 rushed to get 300’s for themselves.
Introduced as “the Sound of Silence,” the Core Power Technologies EQUI=CORE AC line conditioner stands true to that claim: eliminating mains interference by Common Mode Rejection; removing power line noise and Increasing S/N Ratio by -15 dB with true balanced 120v or 230V power. With my first use of the 300, I heard a quick drop in the noise floor and perceived a noticeable increase in decibel level. Music sounded more musical and effortless in its delivery.
The EQUI=CORE line is designed to remove power line noise, eliminate ground loops in house wiring and reduce EMI interference between your audio equipment. Its soft start protects equipment from turn-on surges.
I installed the 1800 on a lower shelf on my audio rack. A rather heavy unit, I’m glad the rack’s shelf supports are securely welded to the substantial center post. I placed the 1800 on my rack, though placing it on one side might have been more useful, as my isoation rack's center post limits flexibility somewhat. To this end, I wish the power On/Off button was font mounted for ease of use but I can still get my large mitts to the rear mounted On/Off toggle switch. A minor nit pick.
Melody Gardot’s “The Absence” (Verve 2012) has become a favorite and playing the track “Amalia” from a home 24/96 Bit rip from a less than stellar pressing shocked me with its relaxed delivery and greater, more articulate yet powerful bass structure. Subtle music cues are more evident, string plucks are warmer and rounder with drums that are more dynamic and expressive than during previous listens.
So Long delivers more small things I’ve not yet heard and such surprises are more in abundance. They appear to come from a deeper, blacker background as they waft on and off the stage. This rip from rather dirty vinyl has never been the quietist and, formally has never been something I played freely among critical listeners, but small clicks and plucks seem more real than ever before – textures abound on So We Meet Again My Heartache, so delicate, atmospheric and languishing. There are things taking place farther back on the the stage than I’ve yet heard – these clicks and clacks are subtle but oh so gorgeous as is Gardot’s vocal delivery. When listening to “Lisbon,” for example, I’m more impressed with her vocal delivery than ever before. There’s more depth, more bass and a greater dynamic urgency wrapping around Gardot’s skin and sultry singing. Yep, much better than I thought… Gardot’s vocals are exciting and visceral while metal has more edge and nuance… and I’ve listened to this rip and the original vinyl a multitude of times. – an unexpected perk with the 1800.
Wow! Wham! The track Impossible Love exploded into the room with such drive! Skins are more expressive, strings wide and enveloping. Gardot’s vocals are dark, sultry, desperate and almost fractured. This is a tango of delight and seduction, that’s very organic, big and dynamic and musical. The lower registers have an added propulsive-ness with wider ranging dynamics than I’ve previously heard from this home rip. The snare and snarling string section at the end of this track are more aggressive, more desperate. I’m hearing things in a piece of music I’ve played so often, yet never really heard. This 1800 really yields more musical essence from the source - and this is from a home 24/96 rip from vinyl.
Brian Blade’s “Perceptual” (Blue Note 2000) title track is terrific piece, with great ensemble play, and gorgeous guitar lines, well supported by Blade throughout. Blade shows restraint in his percussive work – he’s no showboat – with this project that’s awash with inventive drum sounds. This is a very structured piece with fine dynamics, a wide stage and great imaging, which can easily attributed to the 1800 doing its job.
El Swing from the masterful jazz recording event of 2011, Miles Español (Entertainment One Music 2011), delivers drive, dynamics, big bass and expressive percussion surrounding terrific angular guitar solos. There’s a real snap to rim shots and cymbal play. It’s not a deep stage, but it’s a well crafted one and the bass solo has a real, in the moment feel on this guitar driven track. There’s one impressive artist roster on this one and they all shine.
In returning to previous samples used with my EQUI=CORE 300 review, I returned to the oft-played Holon, by Nik Bärtsch's "Ronin" (ECM 2008). This proved an interesting exercise. As I played and made notes during “Modul 42” and “Modul 41-17,” I kept referring to a more organic percussive piano tone. Bärtsch's manipulating of the piano keys and strings themselves was far more apparent than during any previous listen. Bass seemed bloomier, taller, wider and the stage deeper. The instrumental textures were rich and wildly descriptive and imaging was crisp on this deepening stage.
True that. If anything, the 1800 bettered the 300 by providing even greater power to handle more devices at one time. I have the EP100.2SE, Conrad Johnson PV-5 preamp, two turntables, PhonoMax, an outboard DAC and assorted AC adapters plugged into the 1800’s 8 inputs and it’s all handled with out effort or overload or dynamic compression. I’ve also had the 200 wpc PS Audio 200CX in place of the EP100.2SE in the 1800 and experienced no overload nor any constriction to dynamics.
Core Power Comments
Reaching out to Mark Schifter for comment, he replied: “We are now selling many of our 1200 and 1800 to Pass Labs, Constellation and Boulder customers. In each case the owner was not sure of Balanced Power as a solution per say – but I always tell these guys to begin at the beginning and create a Power Foundation. The 1200 and 1800 REALLY are all that… Foundational Products.” Schifter continued: “We are also selling many multi-unit installations. Many of our customers swear by the separation of Analog and Digital – even with their Core Power units. I have not found this myself, but we have legions of guys that tell us just that…”
Mark added: “The degree of satisfaction is nothing like I have experienced before. Customers are SO HAPPY they have ended up being our agents of sale. I cannot remember people being this overwhelmingly pleased since my days at Audio Alchemy with the original DTI and DDE. I will admit to having fun again.” Mark added: “I also cannot tell you why a 1200 sounds better than a 300… it doesn’t make sense from a technical point of view, yet that’s what everyone is reporting (and I have heard it myself)…” Adding: “BTW – these things are AMAZING for headphones. The word is starting to spread about this…”
A customer comment about the 1200 and 1800 follows: “Mark, it's [LK.] I received the 1200 today. SWEET JESUS! System sounds freaking amazing. VERY clean and holographic. After I get a better handle on what it's doing exactly, you better believe I'll post my glowing opinion of it on the thread. Thanks again!” This customer response was sent to Core Power the very day I asked Mark ti share a customer comment or two.
In my review of the Core Power Technologies EQUI=CORE 300, I notated my first impressions: “With the EQUI=CORE, everything seemed so much more 3-dimensional and effortless, and was stunned to hear small cues throughout that I’d never really heard before – tiny micro dynamics like instrument keys clicking and such. The presentation sounded SO much bigger and more dynamic, with deeper and more enveloping bass and a much deeper soundstage… and all this from a CD rip! The noise floor dropped noticeably lower, yielding a deeper blackness from which the sound could emerge. Mark says many are talking about a 12 to 20+dB increase in Dynamic Range. Yep.” These things still hold true with the 300’s big brother, the 1800, only perhaps more so – more relaxed and most assuredly more musical.
Now, I can’t give all the credit for all these improvements entirely to the EQUI=CORE 1800 – my beloved Conrad Johnson PV-5 pre returned from being rebuilt and upgraded by Bill Thalmanns of Music Technologies – yet, there are clear signs that the 1800 is providing a better power foundation than using mains power by itself, as did the 300. As I previously wrote regarding the 300: “Upon hearing the EQUI=CORE 300 for the first time, I wrote Mark the following: ‘Magnificent! It ain’t coming back ;- ) ” Neither is this 1800 – Great work, Mark!
Price: $1799.00 MSRP Model 1800
Price: $1399.00 MSRP Model 1200
Chose Your Voltage
120v @ 60 Hz NEMA
230v @ 50 Hz Schuko
240 v @ 50 Hz UK
Core Power Technologies EQUI=CORE 1800 Fully Balanced AC Power Source
Made in the USA
11.6″ x 11.6″ x 5″ (HWD)
14g hi-end 6′ Power Cord