|Richard Gray's Power Company 1200s Power Conditioner|
|Home Theater AC Power AC Power|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Tuesday, 01 May 2001|
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The Richard Gray’s Power Company 1200S is the $2,000 follow-up AC power product to their breakthrough $750 400S power enhaser. The 1200S has 12 Hubbell outlets for your audio/video components, as opposed to four outlets on the smaller and vertically-oriented RGPC 400S. The 1200S, which is the perfect width to fit into a standard 19-inch wide three-space-high rack shelf. The RGPC 1200S uses two of the U.S. patented choke inductors like the one found in the RGPC 400S and is hard-wired with two 20-amp fuses.
How Does the Richard Gray’s Power Company 1200S work?
The principle behind the Richard Gray’s Power Company product is very simple. RGPC’s patented technology is based around a gigantic power inductor made of hundreds feet of copper wire, which is connected to a hefty iron core. This stores and stabilizes the power that comes from the wall and distributes it to your AV gear via the 12 outlets on the back of the 1200S. What the inductor actually does is store up energy for instantanious release, which results in smoothing out dips and/or absorb surges that you get from your AC signal from the street, even on a dedicated circuit. The concept is to give your audio and video components the most stable current you can from the RGPC 1200S as your reserve, instead of trying to pull significant AC current all the way from the power transformer on the street.
In the case of the AudioRevolution.com Reference System, I use a Mark Levinson No. 336 power amplifier, which pumps out 300 watts per channel Class AB into eight ohms. For nearly every listening application, I use very little of the amp’s power reserve, perhaps 30 to 40 watts, if not less. The same effect applies in your system, even if you have a far smaller power amplifier. The times when you use all 300 watts will be during big musical crescendos and/or dynamic theatrical blasts. These peaks soar with incredible current draws from the wall, which make your amplifier beg for tremendous amounts of AC juice. The RGPC provides you with a healthy source of power in front of all sorts of noisy AC components in your home like your refrigerator, microwave, HVAC and/or anything else on or near the circuit. If you have dedicated circuits fed to your system, you have an advantage but you are far from out of the woods. In my case, I have an archaic AC power system in my building, which was constructed in 1964. There is so much audible noise in my AC that it isn’t even funny. The RGPC collects the noisy AC from the street that is routed through my building’s electrical system and addresses the dips and surges, giving my high-end AV gear current similar to the clean power found in the laboratories where our favorite gear is designed and tested.
The Richard Gray’s Power Company 1200S on Tube Gear
While I am not currently using tubes in my system, I did just get Audio Research VTM 200 power amplifiers and an Audio Research Ref 2 preamp for an upcoming review. At trade shows like CES, you’ll see Richard Gray’s Power Company products in use in displays from tube companies like Audio Research, Balanced Audio Technology, Cary, VTL and others. This is primarily because the power at a trade show is far from excellent, but the RGPC products have a secondary effect on tube gear. Because the RGPC inductor concept helps AV gear run more efficiently, reportedly tube gear tends to run cooler and sound better when running an RGPC product parallel to the AC line. In the case of the Audio Research VT200’s or Bryan Southard’s Sonic Frontiers Power 3 mono amps, of getting more tube life is a matter of saving thousands of dollars while getting better sound at the same time.
How AC Power Affects Your Video
The Richard Gray’s Power Company product has garnered much attention from the audio community, but it is an even better video performance enhancer. Although this is not widely publicized, video products are AC whores. They are so demanding of clean and copious power that the RGPC’s reserve makes a more noticeable difference when feeding a plasma monitor, a video processor (aka, a line doubler or quadrupler) or some sort of projector (CRT, DLP, DILA). It is a common misconception that all you need to do to make your TV look great is to plug it into the wall. This is far from the case. AC power can be as important an element to achieving video excellence as setting your color temperature or converging your picture.
The RGPC 1200S as a Surge Protector
Many of the best AC products on the market are marketed as surge protectors first. The RGPC 1200S is a performance product at heart, but its design makes it one heck of a surge protector and, at $2,000, it very well better be. Most surge protectors are what are known as PLCs (Power Line Conditioners), which address noisy, weak sauce AC with a number of solutions like Ferrite rods, air core chokes and isolation transformers. According to Richard Gray’s Power Company, while some of the solutions in the PLCs can be successful, they can also sometimes add in new audio/video maladies when trying to cure the root problem. For example, many PLCs limit your available current because their isolation transformers aren’t as big as the transformer you have at the street. Therefore, when your amp is really calling for some serious juice, many PLCs can end up limiting your current. PLCs do a pretty good job of dealing with most AC surges, but the design of the RGPC 1200S allows it to take an enormous whack of 280 volts and still keep going. The concept here is that a surge has to be so incredibly large that you will saturate the massive iron core in the RGPC 1200S before the secondary protection (MOV-fuse) kicks in. While Richard Gray’s Power Company doesn’t offer actual insurance against the failure of your components, as many mainstream computer PLCs and surge protector companies do, the fact that RGPC has yet to have a warranty return with over 3000 units installed is a pretty bold statement.
Why Would You Use More Than One RGPC Product Concurrently?
It seems like a marketing ploy to hook up more than one RGPC product in your system, but if you consider how the technology works, the more power you have in reserve, the more likely you are to be able to provide your components with rock-solid current. The RGPC products are parallel devices that simply add more current storage as you add more units. The RGPC 1200S is a well-packaged way to reap the advantage of the power of two RGPC 400S inductors in a single rack-mountable component. You can mix and match 1200S units with 400S units as your system demands. Richard Gray’s Power Company reports that their dealers frequently will come out to a client’s home to audition more than one RGPC product in the system, so that the customer can hear and see the effect that each component has on the system. This helps to determine which component(s) make the most sense within a particular set-up. Bryan Southard has experimented with as many as three RGPC 400’s in his music system and claims that the noise floor drops significantly with each unit. In a quiet room with excellent audio equipment, this effect can be stunning – not too different from what you’d expect to hear from switching from unbalanced to balanced cables.