|Richard Gray's Power Company SubStation & HighTensionWire|
|Home Theater AC Power AC Power|
|Written by Ben Shyman|
|Wednesday, 01 September 2004|
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While many consumers will spend tens upon tens of thousands of dollars on a home theater, power quality and reliability are frequently final thoughts in the budgeting and planning of a significant system. Most people never realize that voltage irregularities and “dirty” power robs their precision engineered gear of the lifeblood they need to perform at full potential. Worse yet, many consumers learn the hard way, when after months or years of feeding their system low-quality power, the ultimate results are expensive and unnecessary repairs. High-quality power is the foundation of any home theater system, much like the concrete foundation upon which your home is built. Ask yourself how often you might put 87-octane gasoline in your new Mercedes E55 AMG. Probably never. So why run your expensive entertainment system on low-quality power?
Power issues originate from both outside and inside the home. Recent blackouts in California and last August’s complete failure of the electrical grid, which cast much of the Midwest and Northeast into complete darkness, was a wakeup call that power is not always reliable. Nearly everyone already knows that electrical surges and spikes caused by lightning can wreak havoc on computers and other household consumer electronics. In the home, power is plagued by poor conductivity and voltage irregularities in faulty electrical panels and circuits, as well as aged and oxidized copper and aluminum wiring. These factors are all enemies of your home theater system.
By now you have probably heard of Richard Gray’s Power Company (RGPC), which revolutionized high-current AC power enhancement and delivery in home theater with their RGPC 1200S. One need look no further than the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas every January or the Home Theater Show in New York every spring to see the proliferation and widespread acceptance of the RGPC 1200S at most booths with mid-to-high-end home theater components, particularly those exhibiting plasma displays. The Richard Gray Power Delivery System is unique in that it utilizes parallel chokes or inductors which allow the AC signal to pass freely through the unit with no resistance. Large chokes like those in RGPC products aid in conditioning line current, storing energy every cycle to meet demands of power-thirsty components like power amplifiers, removing noise, suppressing voltage spikes and providing complete and reliable surge protection.
The RGPC SubStation, ($2,995) when wired for 240V operation, is a fully balanced power isolation transformer that is designed to be used in conjunction with a RGPC parallel inductor like the 400 MK II, 600S or 1200S. This combination is effectively known as the RGPC IsoGray System, which RGPC claims provides isolated power with no crosstalk or ground loops, supplying high-current-on-demand power to all components in the home theater without limitation. The idea behind the SubStation is simple: it eliminates ground loops that effect home theater power and provides twice the amount of power (240V version) over conventional "power conditioners" and "sine wave regenerators." Ground loops are the primary cause of bars that crawl through video and annoying hums in audio signals. They are caused by incompatibilities between grounding voltages of individual components in your system. The SubStation eliminates these ground loops by isolating the front-end components of a home theater (preamp, DVD, music server, video display and processor) while the parallel inductor like the RGPC 400 MK II, 600S or 1200S provides the rest of the system with instantaneous, high-current power. In addition, because the SubStation utilizes a balanced single phase line, it provides a high degree of protection available against surges and voltage irregularities. The SubStation is also available in a 120-volt model.
Unpacking the SubStation requires muscle. While about the size of a large Ducane toaster oven one would see at Williams Sonoma, it weights a surprising 70 pounds. The unit is built like a Sherman tank and contains four commercial-grade Hubble outlets and a power switch in the form of a small handle, which resembles a large switch that one can imagine seeing on the side of a generator at the local power company. The ego and cool factor associated with this miniature switch is large and when I flipped the handle to the “on” position and powered up the SubStation, I watched out the window expecting the lights to dim across Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Setting up RGPC’s products is easy, as there is literally nothing to configure. I plugged my subwoofer, power amplifier and RGPC 1200S into the SubStation, plugged the SubStation into the wall outlet and finally plugged all my front end components into the RGPC 1200S. I even plugged my Apple iBook and associated computer equipment, including a LaCie CD-ROM and Firewire hard drive, as well as Minolta transparency film scanner, into the remaining outlets on the 1200S for complete protection of all my home electronic gear. I completed the set-up by swapping eight-gauge, 15-amp, two-meter length RGPC HighTensionWire for the OEM power cables of my plasma, video scaler, power amplifier, preamp/processor and universal disc transport. I also swapped a 20-amp version of RGPC HighTensionWire for the OEM power cable of the RGPC 1200S. HighTensionWire retails beginning at $450 per half-meter length up to $895 per three-meter length; it is available in custom longer lengths as well. HighTensionWire is designed to allow more AC signal to reach your gear unrestricted, without adding interference or unwanted noise.
I allowed several days for the new RGPC equipment to break in my system. Yes, you read that right. After installing RGPC gear in your home theater, your equipment will receive cleaner, higher quality and more stable current than it probably ever has. As a result, it will likely take a day or so for your home theater gear to adjust to the refined level and quality of power that RGPC gear affords. Sounds tweaky when the RGPC guys say it – but I tested it and they are right. That is why RGPC reps send the system in advance of a dealer visit. A day of warm-up or powering up can make that much of a difference.