Isotek’s Aquarius ($2000) mains conditioner is a game changing product! It has six outlets, two of which are extremely high power. Aquarius comes with a power cord of commensurate quality, called the Premier. The Premier sells for $150 a la carte.
So you start with Aquarius, whose price includes a Premier. You can buy additional Premier cables for other components in your system. It is well worth doing for high quality sources like CD players as well as preamps and power amps.
If your system consists of an integrated amp and CD player, you just need two additional Premier cables to get the full BANGO (nod to Bucks’ fans!) improvement.
The sonic benefit of Aquarius is immediately noticeable. The sound is CLEARER. Every instrument pops out with more verve. The biggest improvement to my taste though, is the lack of soggy bass. With no mains conditioner, or any other brand I’ve heard, the bass is mush in comparison. With Aquarius, the bass has more attack, definition and impact. I can prove it to you with a demo. Or, you can read that the reviewers agree with me!
The new Aquarius sports a pair of 16 amp, thermo-magnetically fused high current outlets, plus a quartet of 5 amp, bayonet fused, auto adjusting medium current outlets. These feature the company’s own “Adaptive Gating” technology- an auto sensing stage that adapts to the current draw of the load. It also calls upon Isotek’s new KERP (Kirchoff’s Equal Resistance Path) technology developed for the latest line of conditioners.
Isotek has also developed a new choke design, with improved magnetic material that is claimed to offer increased frequency bandwidth, 67,500 amps of instantaneous and repeatable protection and a case that creates an effective farady cage when closed.
I’ve been a Gll Minisub user for some years. It was the product that above all others made mains conditioning a feature in the UK scene, even winning over those most curmudgeonly of mains hold outs, Naim users. It was keenly priced, sorted out the sound of mid priced equipment perfectly and was the sort of thing that sat nicely in the equipment rack.
The whole auditioning process took about 30 seconds. Play piece of music on MiniSub. Play it again on Aquarius. What we have is a sound that is fuller, seemingly louder and more dynamic, rising out of a quieter background. All the things MiniSub did to music … but more so. Over the next two days or more, things got even better. Going back to the original (MiniSub) is like going back to hamburger when you’ve dined on steak. Going back to the original mains power cable is like eating the box the burger came in.
My initial impression was that a sense of calm suddenly reigned over the whole performance. There was extra focus to the stereo image while extended listening alerted me to new details and information that emerged. Bass remained tight, but more relaxed, lower frequencies seemed to have to make less of an effort to be heard.
On Nancy Wilson “Who Can I Turn To” whenever Wilson extended a note by utilizing her vibrato, the Aquarius was able to more easily follow the voice as it moved up and down the frequencies during the vibrato sequence and do it more effectively than the MiniSub. The greater clarity and enhanced, quiet background of Aquarius allowed the voice to be properly tracked for the first time. Without Aquarius an upper midrange bloom tended to mask the vibrato at source.
I regard the Isotek as another step in helping to remove what I consider to be the most critical obstruction to good music in any hifi- distortion and its associated noisy cousins.
I deliberately scheduled my test sessions during the times in which the power in my apartment was noticeably strained. As soon as Aquarius came into the game, the improvement in my chain’s performance was astonishingly clear.
I observed noticeable improvements in three areas. The most significant effect can be seen in the spatial representation. With the Aquarius in the loop there are considerable enhancements. Sound sources can be more precisely located, seem firmly anchored in their position, and are perceived to go half a meter further in depth and fan out more extensively in breadth. This positive effect can be seen in all musical genres and styles. Orchestras have a more precise depth gradation, mixed voices sound considerably more convincing, even chamber music is more enjoyable, especially when produced in such a manner that the space in which it is recorded is alive with the music. Hall sounds more natural, refined- it even seems possible to actually imagine the qualities and nature of the place it was recorded (cool, warm, woodsy, etc.)
Cymbal, rattler, shaker, sizzler- they all sound remarkably more detailed, and it’s easier to differentiate them from one another in their timbre- even the cowbell sounds positively more metallic, more bell like. Last but not least, there is also a bit more to enjoy in terms of bass. The impulses seem to me to be crisper and more refined. The bass drum appears to have a more immediate effect, the bass lines sound groovier and purified.
In short, the Isotek Aquarius is worth its salt in every respect. It enhances the system with an undoubtedly audible upgrade, while giving its owner the good feeling of not having purchased it based on esoteric nonsense but on an immaculate design that can be relied upon. Pure genius!
The background became totally silent, with not even the tiniest amount of hiss when the amp’s volume was cranked up to maximum, whereas it was there before the Aquarius was introduced. I heard no hums or buzzes either.
The sound just opened up and flowed with absolute ease from the speakers, fine details had acquired a polished refinement, presented in an endless stream of new found details, so it was no effort at all to hear all of the tiny nuances in the recording without having to strain to hear them. Bass too acquired a palpable firmness and solidity without any trace of boom or overhang at all. Drums and bass were immense in scale yet under perfect control at all times. Of particular note however, was the sound stage and imaging which really was holographic in every sense of the word and it was effortless in placing musicians and instruments into fixed points in space with an ethereal quality to them, being surrounded and enveloped by an inky blackness. In short, I believe the Isotek Aquarius unshackled my system and let it do what it does best, with the benefit of having what the Aquarius doing what it does best, forming a perfect symbiotic partnership.