iFi SilentPower Range Launched
iFi continues on its quest for hum-free playback with its latest selection of audio enhancers.
iFi's SilentPower range is the Southport company's latest collection tasked with tackling some of the common issues that affect the performance of hi-fi systems.
The set launches with the comic book superhero-sounding quartet of DC Blocker, GND Defender and IEC power cable duo Nova and SupaNova. This is the first time that iFi has offered IEC power cables for consumer hi-fi.
The DC Blocker and GND Defender are both 68x37x32mm units that have been designed to plug into your component's power port becoming gatekeepers between the power source and your hi-fi. Although they look pretty much identical, both have a voltage rating of 90V to 240V and can even be daisy-chained together depending on your requirements; they each have defined duties, according to iFi.
iFi DC Blocker
The DC Blocker is here to, well, block DC. The theory is that the electricity supplied from our plug sockets is pure AC – a perfectly symmetrical sine wave alternating between positive and negative phases. However, the AC voltage can be affected by small amounts of DC voltage present in our mains supply. This can apparently cause the AC waveform to become asymmetrical - an effect known as DC offset. We are told that the AC transformers commonly found in home audio equipment cannot tolerate significant DC voltage levels without being compromised. Less than 500mV of DC – typical in an average household electricity supply – can be sufficient to cause toroidal transformers (often found in amplifiers) to become saturated, which adversely affects sonic performance and may cause that audible mechanical hum, warns the manufacturer.
This is where the DC Blocker is said to do the business. iFi says that it can cancel more than 1000mV of DC voltage, thereby correcting the DC offset and rebalancing the AC sinewave. Furthermore, it does this 'intelligently', adjusting its performance according to the level of DC detected, boasts the company.
iFi GND Defender
Chances are, at some point, you've heard a hum or buzz through some speakers when there's no music playing. This is generally down to a ground loop problem. This is where two or more audio components in a system are connected to a common ground (or earth) point via different paths. This could be two separate wall sockets on the same circuit being used to power two individual components in a hi-fi system connected via electrical (as opposed to optical) signal cables.
GND Defender aims to sort out your ground loop issue by disconnecting the loop running through the connected component. Using one or several GND Defenders in a hi-fi system can ensure all components are connected to a common ground via a single path which, says iFi, should then eradicate the resulting hum heard through the speakers.
Interference caused by ground loops can also affect picture quality in AV systems, resulting in issues such as visible scrolling bands. So the GND Defender could help you here, too.
iFi's Nova is touted as a specialised power cable with a high-end construction that belies its affordable price point. Additionally, we are promised that it's a “serious upgrade over standard mains leads that imbues sound with greater clarity, space and definition”.
The Nova incorporates five conductors, each made from heavy-gauge, continuous-cast OFHC (Oxygen-Free High thermal Conductivity) copper. Two pairs of live and neutral conductors are arranged on either side of the central grounding (or earth) conductor, a design dubbed Ground Zero by iFi.
This layout is joined by a pair of air-dielectric delineators (polymer matrix tubes filled with air) arranged on either side of the earth conductor. This not only keeps the two pairs of live and neutral conductors apart, but it also improves the cable's overall dielectric performance and constructive solidity, so we are informed.
Each individual live and neutral conductor sports multiple layers of insulation and shielding with the cable completed with a tough, flexible polymer outer sheath. The cable is terminated with iFi's “audiophile-grade” connectors, with oxygen-free copper conducting pins coated in tarnish-resistant 24ct gold.
According to the manufacturer, the result is a power cable boasting constant impedance and superior rejection of EMI/RFI. While iFi states that the Nova will have a significant positive effect on sound quality, it does say that it combines brilliantly with the company's PowerStation mains-conditioning bar.
The SupaNova active power cable takes the passive design of the Nova and adds Active Noise Cancellation II – the latest version of iFi's proprietary noise-busting tech – in combination with advance-filtering components. This is what the cylindrical housing part way down the cable is for.
iFi's approach to noise-cancelling in cables uses inverse noise current to cancel out the noise in the mains signal - much in the same way as how noise-cancelling headphones work.
iFi says that by combining Nova's sophisticated construction with Active Noise Cancellation II, they can offer a do-it-all clean-power cable solution without the need for a separate mains conditioning device.
SupaNova promises greater clarity and definition plus enhanced dynamic range.
iFi's SilentPower range launches this month with the DC Blocker and GND Defender available now, costing US$129 and US$99, respectively. The UK plugged Nova and SupaNova should is priced at US$169 and US$349, respectively, for a 1.8m cable.
StereoNET’s resident rock star, bass player, and gadget junkie. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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