Another Opinion: Quantum Life Symphony Line Conditioner

Another Opinion: Quantum Life Symphony Line Conditioner
Mike Silverton
30 August 1999

The Quantum Life Symphony Line Conditioner is precisely the sort of tweak that positions us audiophiles alongside astrologers, phrenologists, palmists and Red Sox fans. Here we have, for our contemplation and delectation, a small black box we connect to an outlet by way of a 9-volt adapter. But nothing connects to the box!Has the gist of that sunk in? It’s a line conditioner! The dear little thing sits there, radiating beneficence like the pope on his balcony. We would appear to be dealing with another of those laws-of-physics-defying marvels audible to none but nude emperors.

Before we examine his majesty’s carcass, let’s list a succession of tweaks I’ve found helpful. For the Levinson No. 39 CD player alone, an Audio Power Industries Wedge Ultra 112 line conditioner. The Wedge Ultra receives a power cord from the player and sends another to the outlet, for which I’ve two sets, one from API, the other from Harmonic Technology. I’ve used both but have not compared them directly; ergo, no comment. (My mono-pair Levinson No. 33H amps have their own internal line conditioners and hard-wired power cords. I like the word Madrigal uses: captive. These are captive power cords. We’ve not yet received a ransom demand.)

Under the amps, Bright Star Audio (sand-filled) Big Rocks; under the player, a Bright Star Audio Air Mass (sandwiched air bladder) and Big Rock; atop, a Little Rock (weight). As platforms for my WATT / Puppy 5.1’s, replacing Wilson Audio’s Puppy Paw spike assemblies, another pair of Big Rocks. See my ST pieces about API and Bright Star.

It’s difficult for a happy-go-lucky sybarite such as oneself to run a scientifically viable test of these Bright Star tweaks, or of anything, now that I mention it. It was easy enough, however, to disconnect the Levinson player from its Wedge Ultra and plug it directly into the wall. Not a model of single- or double-blind procedure, true, but for my purpose, effective. I take this view: if I perceive a benefit, what else is there to say or do? I am, after all, the beneficiary.

However: if, like a bunch of twits with comb-overs and pocket protectors, we prefer to dwell on defensible procedure, it’s lots easier, not to mention closer to kosher, to evaluate the efficacy of Quantum’s mystery pod. One simply removes and replaces the jack at the box. As it’s connected to nothing in one’s system, no snap, crackle or pop to fear. When my editor, Clem Perry, stopped up with his posse comitatus in tow (Mr. and Mrs. M. Nack), he brought along his two Quantums. I sat in the sweet spot directing Clem and Marshall to remove and replace the jacks. What I thought I heard going on had me the morning following on the phone with Quantum, which conversation concludes with me here, keying in these improbable thoughts, my own pair of Symphonies in place.

In terms of electrical theory, I’ve naught offer but ignorance. But I’ve got these convoluted protuberances on either side of my head that tell me for a certainty these puzzling pods perform wonders. To be honest, I hesitate to create — for myself or for this report — a hierarchy of improvements for fear I’d find myself placing the Quantum Symphonies at or near the top of the list. On reflection, this serves no useful purpose. It’s probably safer simply to observe that they allow me to hear what the rest of the system is capable of.

As to the nature of the difference, call it disappearance. A haze I’d no idea was there went away. This is an abbreviated way of remarking upticks in transparency, resolution, soundstage integrity. Transients, extraordinary; harmonic and timbral textures, clarity of detail, likewise: crisper, richer, warmer, brisker. A low end that would do as a hassock. Utterly natural, utterly real. Actually, there’s no specific awareness of discrete qualities. How does one compartmentalize a life-imitating coherence? With a good jazz recording, the trumpet peels the pain from one’s walls while the bassist wraps one in deep, cuddly fleece. I can play things at bone-breaking settings without inflicting discomfort. I’m discovering to my glee that recordings I judged splendid to begin with are actually a lot better than I’d imagined. As a nice side-effect, though not surprising in view of the claims Quantum’s literature makes, the TV also benefits. (As a rule, the eye’s evidence is more reliable than the ear’s. We more easily agree on differences in color, say, than differences in sound.)

To repeat with a touch of pique, I’ve no idea what this pair of Quantum Symphonies is doing. According to the literature, many installations will require only one. The “Quantum Technology” enclosure is vague with regard to correspondence between a small, featherweight, free-standing box and house current. Like, how does it happen this side of science fiction? While one’s need for an explanation may sound peevish — looking a not terribly expensive horse in the mouth, as it were — I’m busting with curiosity about the nature of the connection. We conclude, true to curmudgeonly form, with two entirely superfluous criticisms: the company name. Quantum Life Products sounds like a hair-care line. Or maybe nutritional supplements. Second, the Symphony’s banal face plate. Spend a few bucks on a graphic designer’s services, folks. This thing is just too damn good to hide under camouflage.

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