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Richard Gray's Power Company 1200s Power Conditioner Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 May 2001
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Richard Gray's Power Company 1200s Power Conditioner
Page 2

Set-up was about as simple as it gets with a new component in my system. I installed a three-unit rack shelf in my Middle Atlantic rack and slid the RGPC into the spot where it fit damn near perfectly. Most components I use require custom faceplates made by Middle Atlantic, so that they smoothly integrate into the rack without making the room look like a sloppy recording studio. The 1200S doesn’t need a custom faceplate. It also comes with rack ears that allow you to support the considerable weight of the 1200S in a rack with appropriate stability.

One important note about the set-up of the 1200S is this: Richard Gray’s Power Company recommends that you plug your amp directly into the wall on the circuit that the RGPC is plugged into. This way, you can avoid having a secondary fuse in line with your amplifier, while enjoying the performance benefits of having the Richard Gray’s Power Company parallel to your AC line at the same time. You do sidestep the surge protection of the RGPC product by doing so, but nearly every amplifier manufacturer recommends that you plug their amp directly into the wall and not through a power conditioner. With the RGPC 1200S, you can have the best of both worlds.

The Music and Movies
On Prince’s cover of the Bonnie Raitt tune "I Can’t Make You Love Me" (EMD-Capitol), the RGPC 1200S – ice-cold, right out of the box – improved the inner details of this super-tight R&B tune. The claps and snaps were much more clear and present with the RGPC 1200S plugged into my entire front end and parallel to my amplifier on my main AC circuit. On the third time through the cut, I noticed that the lowest register in the bass seemed slightly faster and hit a bit harder, yet the new midrange clarity was really most noticeable.

On "Let Love Rule" by Lenny Kravitz (Virgin), you can hear an even better example of the improved resolution in Lenny’s lead vocals and, even more impressively, in the increasingly detailed and smooth background vocals. The organ sounds warmer and the strumming of the acoustic guitar has a more energetic, three-dimensional sound. I got the feeling that I was hearing more of what the producers and engineers intended for me to hear with the RGPC 1200S in the loop.

On more complicated musical material, you can hear the increase in resolution positively affect the layering of tunes, making them sound much deeper and more emotionally engaging. On "When I’m 64" from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band(Apple – Capitol), you can hear decay on the bell that Sir George Martin mixed into this poppy ragtime tune with an energy that I have never heard before in any other system.

For me, the little details were where the 1200S truly cleaned up. The effect of the unit wasn’t jaw-dropping, but that is probably only because I am plugging it into the circuit of some of the best gear known to man. Much as with an F1 race car, making a few very small changes to the set-up can make a huge difference in performance. The 1200S showed me sonic improvement without an audible downside that I could find.

As for video, I wasn’t able to always plug my Sony 1252 projector into my 1200S, due to of the logistics of the 1200S being installed in my rack and my projector being hung on my ceiling. For test purposes, I strung AC power cables all over my room. Video requires heavy draws of current. My Faroudja LD 100 is a clear-cut example of this. I saw an improvement in color saturation and black levels, albeit slight, with the RGPC in the loop on source material like the helicopter scene in Tomorrow Never Dies (MGM-UA DVD). The RGPC made the flames burned brighter and the oranges look more livelier.

Much like an acoustical room treatment, the positive effects of the RGPC unit are best tested by actually removing the unit from your system and doing your listening and viewing tests again without it. Unlike changing speakers, which provides an obvious and immediate difference in sound, the RGPC simply helps your components achieve their design goals better. Removing it from your system is thus the best way to illustrate the value of the performance improvements.

The Downside
As compared to the PS Audio power products, which attack many of the same AC power maladies from a completely different design philosophy, the RGPC 1200S can seem technologically behind the curve. The PS Audio products (see Bryan Southard’s review) use an amplifier to recreate the AC current without many of the glitches that you get from AC power that comes from the wall. This is a very advanced way to deal with real-world AC power problems and has many very compelling advantages. Yet, in some cases, simplicity can be best, especially when using an AC power product for your power amplifier. Bryan Southard’s PS Audio P600 (they do make a new, more powerful and physically huge unit called the P1200) couldn’t always keep his 200-watt-per-channel Sonic Frontiers fed with reconstructed AC, with the result that the PS Audio anti-climatically shut them down. The RGPC doesn’t have that sort of downside and thereby gets the nod for being more reliable for power amplifiers. The PS Audio unit, on the other hand, looks and is built to an entirely different (and higher) standard than the Richard Gray’s Power Company 1200S. The PS Audio gear is far more lust-worthy than the more physically utilitarian RGPC 1200S. It wouldn’t be blasphemy in my book if you had both an RGPC 1200S and a PS Audio product, as they both address a serious AV problem with two very different yet valid approaches.

The Richard Gray’s Power Company 1200S comes with a 6 foot removable AC power cable, a good design element as the standard length of AC cable is far too short to make it to my dedicated circuit. RGPC will provide a custom-measured length of cable, which is something you will want to consider before you order a 1200S.

We have all made significant investments in world-class audio/video components. Just as we wouldn’t gas up a Ferrari with 87 octane fuel, we shouldn’t consider running less than excellent power to our components. The sheer convenience of the 1200S, with its 1200 inputs, makes it an easy "yes" just from a logistical standpoint. As a surge protector, The RGPC 1200S is a healthy insurance policy against almost every jolt you might ever experience this side of a bolt of lightning. And, God forbid, if your home was struck by lightning, your homeowner’s insurance will send you back to the stereo store with a big wad of cash in your pocket. Last, yet far from least, the Richard Gray’s Power Company 1200S gives you a performance boost in audio resolution, bass impact and mostly video resolution. If you are interested in having your high-end audio/video system perform up to its potential, consider a Richard Gray’s Power Company 1200S for both logical and impulsive reasons.

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