Dec 242010
 

One of the stand out experiences for me at the recent Northern Ireland Audio Show was the personal demonstration that Keith Martin of Isotek conducted for me of the new Isotek Super Titan.

As this is not a formal review as such (1) and not one conducted in my own listening room I think it only fair to inform you that this article/review can only really be viewed as an initial impression (2) but I would be less than honest if I did not say that even after only a short exposure to the Super Titan I was very impressed by what I heard and saw.

The Super Titan is a joint venture between Isotek and Clearlight Audio (they of RDC fame) of Germany. The electronics are supplied by Isotek and the outer case work design and isolation cradle are the work of Clearlight Audio.

The mains filtration system they were using at the Northern Ireland Audio Show 2010 comprised an Isotek Aquarius (3) and Isotek Titan (4) used together and the Isotek Super titan with the Aquarius. Both the Aquarius and Titan are older well established products in the Isotek product roster and as such are (I hope) well known among audio enthusiasts. However the star of the show and getting its Northern Ireland debut was the brand new Super Titan.

The Super Titan is a direct continuation of the ideas and technology used in the Titan which was introduced in 1995 but takes them way beyond the originals parameters and the super Titan is also the first product in a new range of mains filtration and conditioning products that will form the heart of the Ultra Reference statement Isotek designs.

The original Titan was designed specifically with the requirements of power-amplification in mind, both valve and solid state but the Super Titan now has over twice the capacity of the original Titan.  The Super Titan now has the ability to deliver 9,200 Watts of continuous current to the 4,600 Watts of the Titan. As well as this the Super Titan can provide 35,500 Watts of transient power on tap. All of this means that dynamic compression of music reproduction will never be an issue, as it can be when using a mains conditioner and a power amplifier together.

In essence this means that no matter the system, amplifier speaker pairing the Super Titan will always be able to feed the amplifier clean consistent electricity. As well as that ability the Super Titan also offers excellent RFI/EMI filtration and 135,000 of instantaneous surge protection.

Isotek have also as mention above taken into consideration the effect mechanical and environmental isolation has on a mains product and with this new design it comes with a super rigid aluminium outer casing and a cradle called an ISIS (Independent System Isolation Support). As well as the cradle all the main parts are point clamped betwen two panels at the top and bottom, each of which is formed of a special resonance-damping material sandwiched between two ultra-dense Corian plates with the overall structure supported by four substantial aluminium pillars.

Indeed while in the room and taking photos of the Super Titan I could hear no mechanical noise of any kind from the Super Titan.

All of this is fine on paper “but how did it sound” ? I hear you ask…..

Well Keith allowed me to select a piece of music that I knew well from the music he had on hand for demonstration. I selected the wonderful track Whole of The Moon by Jennifer Warnes from her fantastic album The Hunter. The version used here was the recent limited 24 K Gold edition of the album which I also own.

First up Keith played the track via the Titan and Aquarius pairing and while it has been awhile since I have listened to the Leema electronics he was using and never before Private Addition £7500 RDC Speakers the sound issuing forth was very open and detailed with excellent dynamics, nice wide deep soundstage and tuneful bass if perhaps just a tad overall forward.

Switching to the Aquarius and Super Titan pairing was one of those jaw dropping moments that tend to be rare in audio (especially in less than idea hotel rooms at audio shows) as it was like listening to a completely different system. Don’t get me wrong the tonal character was still the same but the music played this time through the system gained more depth, detail, better instrument separation and a fuller more extended but still tight bass and the acoustic space in which the instruments and Jennifer voice existed was also more obvious.

This improvement was obvious within a few seconds. I would go so far to say that a deaf man on a galloping horse would have heard it as well. Very impressive indeed.

Sadly entry to this level of mains conditioning quality will cost, as the Super Titan retails for £6000. However to say that it blew the £2200 Titan out of the water would not really do justice to the massive difference the Super Titan brought to the music being played. The question must be asked though, “how much better will this be with the addition of the next Ultra Reference Isotek designs ? after all the Aquarius is only £795 and please don’t get me wrong here obviously very good for the money but the next level in design will no doubt take things even further just as the Super Titan has done over the very good Titan. Simply my mind boggles at the prospect.

As Keith himself said to me “normally its the Titan and the Aquarius that brings that sort reaction from listeners who hear the improvement to the systems we use at show demonstrations” he is referring here of course to show demonstrations they were doing before the arrival of the Super Titan.

Keith Martin also showed me the sort of differences that the Super Titan makes to the suppression of mains interference. He did this by plugging a measuring device into a mains socket elsewhere in the hotel room and then into an outlet on the Super Titan there was a marked difference in the readings. Keith did say though that the quality of mains in the Stormont Hotel was not that bad compared to some show venues they have exhibited in the past.

As I mentioned in my Northern Ireland Audio Show report the overall sound that Sound Fowdations were getting in this room without the Super Titan in circuit was the best sound I have heard them get at any of the previous shows that I attended earlier this year. With it in circuit they had an amazingly good sound for such a small room with quite large speakers in it.

Well done guys !

Neil

(1) This show was the first one that I had had an opportunity to introduce myself to Keith and after a brief chat about audio shows and AIHFA he was more than happy to conduct a comparison demonstration between the Aquarius and Titan pairing and the Super Titan plus Aquarius.

(2) I am usually very cautious about commenting or publishing my opinions on any item of audio equipment or system before I have had an opportunity to put it through extensive listening tests. However in this case the improvement in using the Super Titan, immediately audible during Keith’s demo, was so large that I am in this one case happy to publish this mini review.

(3) Info from Isotek’s website

“Aquarius is the long-awaited successor to the famous Mini Sub, arguably the best-known mains conditioner in IsoTek’s highly respected catalogue. The original Mini Sub was launched in 2003 to universal acclaim, and its eventual replacement – the GII Mini Sub – was held in even greater esteem, earning no fewer than 9 awards from prestigious audio publications around the world. Autumn 2009 sees the launch of the next generation, building upon the success of its illustrious forebears and benefitting from IsoTek’s continuous R&D programme to set another new performance benchmark.

Like the Mini Sub before it, Aquarius is a six-way mains conditioning component that sits squarely in the middle of IsoTek’s range, above the likes of the entry-level Sirius and below the high-end Sigmas, Nova and Titan. It sports two high-current and four medium-current outlets, all individually filtered and fully isolated from one another, together with a newly designed aluminium casing and host of enhancements under the lid, some trickled down from IsoTek’s top-end components, others newly developed and made available for the first time in Aquarius.

Current delivery is greater than the GII Mini Sub, with a full 16 Amps available from its two high-current outlets, ensuring musical transients are entirely unrestricted. Thermo-magnetic fusing contributes to this enhanced delivery, as does the use of a 16A IEC C20 inlet to connect Aquarius to the mains. Easily distinguished from standard IEC plugs and sockets because their pins are horizontal instead of vertical, IEC C20 connectors enable superior current delivery compared to the C13 plug and C14 socket most commonly found on audio equipment.

The four medium-current outlets now feature IsoTek’s Adaptive Gating technology – an auto-sensing filter stage that adapts to the current draw of the load, thus tailoring the filtering process to suit the component attached to each individual outlet. This proprietary technology first appeared in the high-end Nova and Sigmas power conditioners; Aquarius delivers it at a significantly lower price.

Also new for Aquarius is K.E.R.P. (Kirchoff’s Equal Path of Resistance), a technology specially developed for IsoTek’s latest EVO3 generation of power conditioners. This engenders a pure, symmetrical signal path throughout the unit, without interference from one socket to the next, thus helping to deliver a more coherent sound.

Further enhancements are made by an all-new choke design, incorporating improved magnetic material and enabling increased frequency bandwidth; the independent filter stages have also been improved throughout. Even the sturdy new aluminium case plays its part in raising performance levels, its massive ground plan allowing it to act like a Faraday cage when closed, thus providing further shielding from electromagnetic radiation (EMI).

It’s not just about sonic enhancement, however; Aquarius delivers greater protection from spikes and surges, too, with a massive 67,500 Amps of instantaneous and repeatable protection. The fact that it is repeatable is important: many mains filters have protection circuits that trip and need resetting manually. Or worse, they trip once and stay tripped, despite allowing the system to play, thus providing no protection at all, unbeknown to the end-user.

The effect that Aquarius has on a system’s sound, compared to the same system without conditioning, is unequivocal – just as it was with the GII Mini Sub. The noise floor drops and the sound gains greater focus, with reduced grain and improved clarity. Bass is tighter and better defined, treble gains space and ‘air’, and the overall musical performance appears more solid and dynamic, and hence more ‘real’.

What’s more, compare the Aquarius to the GII Mini Sub and it is clear that the gains are considerably greater with the new unit. The sound appears more dynamic, rising out of a quieter background, and the music connects with the listener more emphatically as a result. IsoTek has achieved its objective: Aquarius sets a new mains conditioning benchmark below £1,000.”

(4) Info from Isotek’s Website.

“Designed to deliver the ultimate IsoTek® power conditioning experience, the Titan has been optimised for use with power amplifiers. The compact design features two high-quality unswitched sockets at the rear and a further Neutrik connector for a distribution system called Multi-Link, giving six additional sockets. Ideal for surround sound systems in need of more high current outlets.

Titan uses a uniquely developed, nine-stage, direct-coupled technology for optimum high-current filtering. This radical circuit has been optimised for a high degree of common-mode rejection, with the highest possible differential-mode rejection compatible with massively low insertion losses. Great care has been taken to minimise insertion loss at mains frequency. The new circuit also offers the desirable characteristics of a truly balanced supply, especially at high frequencies where it delivers superior performance compared to its isolation-transformer-based predecessor.

To further ensure the greatest possible transient response, sufficient to realise an unlimited peak current draw (23,000 watts potential), two things out of the ordinary have been achieved. Firstly, the minimum constant running ability of the device is rated at over 4,600 watts. Secondly, the unit is fitted with an RCBO. This hi-tech electronic fusing unit offers huge transient overloads whilst remaining safe.

Number of outlets 2 + Multi-Links
Type of outlets UK, EU, US
Mains inlet Neutrik
Mains voltage 100-240VAC/50-60Hz
Maximum current 16Amps continuous
Total power (nominal 230V) 3680W
(Circuit/Transient) 4600W/Unlimited
Dimension 275×182.5x275mm (WxHxD)

Number of outlets
Outlets 1-2 (high current)
Outlets 3-6 (medium current)
Mains inlet
Mains voltage
 Posted by at 2:49 pm

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