Core Power Technologies EQUI=CORE 300
Last October, coming off a review of the Emerald Physics 4.7 speakers and EP 100.2 SE power amplifier, I had the pleasure of meeting designer Mark Schifter here in JC, NJ during a promotional trip – we got the chance to meet for a casual dinner. In an email exchange days later, Schifter recalled later that we spent the first hour not talking about his new and exciting products but of our lives and other interests. He commented, "That told me a lot about the guy you are." Weeks later, I took possession of his new EQUI=CORE 300 for review. Schifter was kind enough to also provided a Matrix IEC power strip: an accessory Core Power Technologies offers at additional $79.00.
The EQUI=CORE fully balanced power cable system comes in 3 models, 50w, 150w and 300w. The unit is a ruggedly styled piece of tech, finished in matte black and matte silver, the addition of a Wire World Matrix IEC or Audioquest IEC3 strip to power multiples of things makes for more functionality. The Core has two cables attached for your power to through to your component(s) – one, a high quality 3-prong power plug, the other a male IEC plug of equal quality, allowing the user to connect directly to a component or connect an IEC strip to add several, etc. in line with the EQUI=CORE 300. The 300 came with both cables being 2.5 feet in length – you can order a different output cable lengths from 5.5 to 8.5 feet. Along with the EQUI=CORE products, Core Power Technologies also offers the Power-Core 300, a 300 watt A/C power regenerator that makes brand new 100% clean regenerated power at 117 volts all the time.
I connected the EQUI=CORE 300 directly into my 45 watt Opera Consonance M100SE tube integrated for some initial listening before connecting the Matrix IEC strip and powered everything from the EQUI=CORE 300. Schifter said a EQUI=CORE 50 would serve the Opera well and the 300 would work well with the 200 watt PS Audio 200CX. Of course, I dropped Mark an email to make sure what I was connecting to it wouldn’t push the 300 into overload. Not to worry, it handled the integrated, a couple of low voltage sources and a handful of ancillary stuff with ease.
According to Schifter, "in a properly designed balanced power system, there is no voltage or current on the system ground. Flipping this to two 60v lines (out of phase to each other) removes the Common Mode Noise and uses the Ground as the Drain… Noise Be Gone… AC Balanced Power can do (great things) for any system (or component). Science matters as does the special art of marrying science to what we all love – music and the playback of same."
That first night, I started with a favorite, Holon, by Nik Barsch’s "Ronin" (ECM 2008). I know this piece of music so well – the repetitive nature of their music lends itself to a comparative task. The Modules, as the songs are called, offer lots of textures and timing cues. With the EQUI=CORE, everything seemed so much more three-dimensional and effortless, and was stunned to hear small cues all throughout that I’ve never heard before – tiny the 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. Schifter says many are talking about a 12 to 20 plus dB increase in Dynamic Range. Yep.
I found that I was listening to the amp louder than normal too, as the noise floor drop allowed very quiet things to come thru with such ease that this gave the louder things enough power to really deliver dynamic impact.
Nick Drake’s Riverman from his debut "Five leaves Left" (Island Records 1969) seemed so much louder and fleshed out – and more there. The edges of the instruments are less fuzzy and better defined, the bass broader and the string accompaniment sounded far much more immediate and visceral.
Moving on to Use Me by Venessa Fernandez (Groove Note Records 2014) – a home rip from the 45 rpm double vinyl set – again reduced to a 16 bit/48kHz bit file for play on the iMod, presented percussive stuff that I, again, had never really heard. I was stunned. At times I typed notes from across the room and could still hear cool new things happening while listening off axis.
I had to take a bit of a break writing this review (yes, sometimes life gets in the way), and returned to it months later. All my first night observations were still valid, albeit with a different system. This time, the EQUI=CORE 300 was connected to a Parasound Halo 2.1 integrated, using the new Arcam irDAC ll rather than the Halo’s own DAC, along with Oyaide cables also in for review. I found that, as you live with the EQUI=CORE and listen longer, it’s effects become even more dramatic.
After my break during this review, I repeated the same tracks using the EQUI=CORE 300 both in and out of that system. George Adams’ As Time Goes By from "Old Feeling" (Capital Records 1992) was warm, relaxed and presented a nice intimate and dimensional soundstage with tight imaging. There was ample bass and the horns had a nice roundness – when Adams went in for a bit of bite with his sax, it was only slightly etched.
Swopping in the EQUI=CORE 300, there was greater depth to the instruments, a fleshier, more focused picture. I heard more bite to the bass and the guitar, in particular, even as a background element, the guitar sounded more real and in the room. There was a greater sonority to the sax – more body and dimension to both it and the trumpet… in retrospect, the trumpet seemed flatter before and an overall lushness pervading the music.
Será Una Noche’s Nublado (MA Recordings 2000) is a favorite of Clement's (CP), and mine as well. Rarely have I heard more passionate tango music, (Astor Piazzolla’s work equates). This recording was incredibly intimate, with a tremendous depth to the soundstage. That low woody bass clarinet resonated, enveloping this listener with a tango of it’s own. Delicate percussive effects and accented dynamic strikes made for more excitement throughout the piece.
EQUI=CORE 300 in place, I heard tighter transients and a bit more flesh from the skins. The bass was tighter, presenting more wood, and there was more physicality to percussive strikes and wallops. More energy. The bass clarinet seemed tamed, less ethereal and there was more breathe present. The song appeared to have more punch and a greater intent. I found that the listening volume noticeably increased with the 300 in place without a touch of the knob. The music was more involving, as the noise floor dropped and dynamic range increased, drawing me much further into the music than I had been before. The effect was stunning.
CP put two EQUI=CORE 300’s into his system, powering his power conditioners - which power his two 600 watt Behold amplifiers and overloaded the 300’s. This caused the soundstage to compress and the overall sound to harden. I shared CP’s experience with Schifter and he cautioned that one should be careful not exceed EQUI=CORE’s power handling. The EQUI=CORE models have a fast acting circuit breaker to respond to extreme loading. Schifter has only seen it thrown once (with a powerful Parasound amp). He added "At the last show we ran 2 x 300 watt subs + 100.2SE, Exogal DAC plus a host of all sorts of equipment off of ONE E=C 300! Worked great…" Core Power Technologies offers a free service to interested parties – e-mail him at email@example.com and he’ll do a “power survey” for them free of cost.
Schifter continued further about CP’s overload saying that, after the overload experience on the amplifier/conditioners, "He then put it on his preamp and noted a improvement, though admittedly still shy of performance of the $10,000 Gobel AC power cord he’s been running on the preamp of late. I reminded him of the cost difference.’ Schifter plans to do some comparisons with a $1500 power cord he has on hand that’s closer in price to the EQUI=CORE 300.
"I cannot begin to tell you how excited we are about EQUI=CORE. Amazingly we are up near to 500% from last month in sales. The word is out and we are in boogie mode… We won an Audio Oasis Award with Merrill and German Physiks at the last show (for the EQUI=CORE)."
Upon hearing the EQUI=CORE 300 for the first time, I wrote Schifter the following: ‘Magnificent sounding! It ain’t coming back ;- ) "I had a feeling it wouldn’t be. Congratulations!" he responded. I have since installed the EQUI=CORE into my main rig and it handles just about everything with ease.
The following tells you something about Mark Schifter, the man. When I alerted him that the review was near completion, he was far more interested in our ailing dog’s condition than with any talk about audio. – that's just the kind of guy he is
EQUI=CORE 300 $799.00 w/2.5 foot cord, $849.00 w/5.5 foot cord, $899.00 with 8.5 foot cord
Mark L. Schifter
Core Power Technologies
2150 West 6th Avenue, Suite 1
Bloomfield, CO 80020 USA