Richard Gray's Power Company 600s Power Conditioner 
Home Theater AC Power AC Power
Written by Tim Hart   
Saturday, 01 June 2002

Power-related products are gaining greater acceptance as more AV enthusiasts are realizing the benefits of cleaner power delivery and the negative effects it has on audio and video playback. This is a field that has had its history tied to high-end audio for years, where the benefits have been known to make substantial improvements to detail, depth of soundstage and low noise floors.

The Richard Gray’s Power Company’s 600S is the latest AC power product featuring their previously reviewed, patented choke inductor technology. This eight-and-three-quarter-inch wide, six-and-one-quarter-inch high, 11-inch deep enclosure is a very dense 22-pound package that splits the product line between RGPC’s 400S ($750) and the powerhouse 1200S ($2,000) for larger systems.

The 600S is for the consumer who wants the most performance out of gear and has a moderate-sized system that doesn’t require ultra-high current capability. Although there are nicer packaged power treatment products on the market, the 600S does look like a purist high-end component, with a switch-operated backlit logo centered behind a cutout on the thick aluminum faceplate that you can get in either black at a cost of $1,200 or silver for an additional $50. Using one of the same patented choke inductors that are used in the 400S, the 600S provides six beefy Hubbell outlets for your audio/video components in a 20-amp system.

The Technology
When it comes to power conditioning, the desired result is to get clean, accurate power without sacrificing low-level detail or dynamics. Some products like PS Audio’s Power Plant models successfully use power regeneration, converting AC power to DC, then back to AC. This approach has its own sonic signature, because the Power Plants are basically their own power amplifiers. Other less effective AC products use filters that can constrain dynamics and introduce a thinner-sounding presentation.

The 600S addresses fluctuations in current caused by power shared by your neighbors using the same transformer that supplies your home. These fluctuations can also be due to components with switch-mode power supplies, like microwaves, TVs and digital gear, which definitely adds noise to your AC lines. Because all of these devices can be tied to the same electrical circuit of your home that serves your audio and video gear, there is an effect.

What Richard Gray’s Power Company simple, patented technology brings to the table consists of hundreds of feet of copper wire connected to an iron core to produce a large inductor, which stores a relatively small reserve of power that is immediately available through the six outlets on the back of the unit. Unlike standard power-line conditioners, isolation transformers and sine wave amplifiers, which are wired in series, the 600S is wired in parallel to the AC power and does not limit the supply that your system needs during transients, providing very stable current throughout the continuous dips and spikes on all home electrical systems. The 600S is effectively a transformer at the point of use, i.e., any audio/video gear that you would like to enhance. The 600S' surge suppression system provides the only dual stage protection from both the lethal spikes and constant smaller surges that plague electronic parts, causing eventual failure, making components work harder to overcome line anomalies. Should the "huge surge" manage to make it all the way through the 20 pound inductor (with over 1000 feet of wire), and it is of the intensity and duration, then hidden behind the inductor is a device which merely trip the replaceable fuse. Other surge protection devices, such as Power Line Conditioners (PLCs), attack the power surge problem with isolation transformers, ferrite rods and air core chokes, which can limit the available current to your amplifier under heavy loads. This is because the isolation transformer is smaller than the one on the pole outside of your home. For more a more detailed explanation of the inner workings of RGPC products, see Jerry Del Colliano’s May 2001 review of the 1200S.

Getting Started
The RGPC products are very user-friendly, as they require no special provisions, ventilation or wiring to start using them. Although there are no directions for actually bolting a 600S into a rack, two 600S’s will conveniently fit side by side in a 19-inch rack for easy storage.

An interesting aspect of all RGPC power enhancement devices is their claim that all outlets that are on the same circuit as the outlet that has, say, a 600S plugged into it, will benefit from the technology. The power reserve offered by the 600S is available to your components even indirectly through your home wiring.

RGPC also suggests that you use their "Star Cluster" approach for using more than one Power Company device. Starting with one Power Company plugged into a wall outlet, you then plug an additional Power Company into the first, thereby doubling the effectiveness of having two units wired in parallel to your AC source. Adding a third, inserted into the first unit triples the effectiveness. You don’t have to have a component plugged directly into a clustered RGPC to obtain the benefits of the "Star Cluster." The stored power readily transmits through all of the units to the component requiring it. In this configuration, it is possible to add and remove Power Company devices to determine what is optimum for your setup.

I plugged in the 600S into an outlet that shared the same circuit as the outlet that serviced my components. I allowed the system to play for about an hour before I did any listening.

I first noted the quietness and additional air around the instruments. Although subtle, these characteristics were readily noticeable by the more pronounced lower level detail that had a little more presence with the 600S. Rock music, which is my primary listening preference, sounded a bit more dynamic, with specifically a more resolute midrange.

I then plugged my Bryston 7B ST monoblocks directly into the 600S to see what effect the RGPC had. During loud sessions with Tool’s latest album Lateralus (Volcano Entertainment), my 500-watt-per-channel Brystons exhibited more snap and quickness on transients than I have heard before. The decay at the end of a dynamic note, especially drums and cymbals, had the natural sound you'd expect from a live musical event.

Unplugging the 600S gave me more clues as to what it was doing for my amps than actually trying to determine the difference while I was listening. My amps felt a tad less involving and transparent without the 600S. It felt like a very thin layer of sonic junk was draped over the performance, lessening the depth and slightly compressing the midrange.

I utilized two RGPC 400S that Richard Gray’s Power Company had made available for additional evaluation with the 600S. I simply plugged one of the 400S’s into the 600S and noted a small yet favorable improvement in the resolution of the upper midrange. I next installed the other 400S into the 600S and reconnected the amps to one 400S and my preamp and CD player into the other, creating the "star cluster" that RGPC recommends. This yielded the best results yet, adding more spaciousness and dimensionality to the soundstage. The 600S added a trace more warmth when I hooked the preamp directly to it. It sounded as though the 600S did somewhat improve some of the tube characteristics that I love about Audio Research gear, such additional vocal and midrange liquidity. I’m told that all Richard Gray’s Power Company products can actually extend the life of tubes by allowing them to run more efficiently, which in turn tends to help the tubes to run cooler and sound better.

No matter how I configured the 600S and the additional 400S’s, the improvements varied from noticeable to substantial, never degrading or reducing the dynamics.

Maximizing power for video applications can be more readily discerned, as the results are visual and easier for anyone to grasp. As more and more large-scale home theaters are being installed into private residences, creative power solutions are rapidly becoming a standard required for excellent music and video playback.

The first issue I ran into when hooking up the 600S to my projector was, "Where am I going to put it?" The Sony projector is not small at 24 inches wide, 14 inches tall, 32 inches long and 144 pounds. It doesn’t allow you to conveniently place a 600S near it. Therefore, if you have this situation, be prepared to come up with a mounting scheme that will allow you to put the 600S as near to your projector as possible. If you have a large CRT TV or plasma screen, then it will not be as great a problem to find a place on or near your rack.

After finding a way to put the 600S near my projector, I ran my gear without the 600S to get everything nice and warm. I already had "Dinosaur" (Walt Disney Home Entertainment) in my DVD player, so the player was the first component I attached to the 600S to see what improvements were in store for me. The picture seemed to gain a small amount of color clarity and brightness, making the skin textures of the dinosaurs more detailed. When I plugged in the iScan Pro line doubler into the 600S, picture definition did improve slightly, better defining the borders of contrasting colors. Darker scenes seemed a little more vibrant, such as during the sequence where the herbivorous dinosaurs hide from the carnivores. The darker ceiling of the cave appeared less shadowy and more solid and stalactite-covered.

This detailed effect varied with different DVDs. In "Laura Croft: Tomb Raider" (Paramount Home Entertainment), the darker scenes where Laura Croft is practicing in the basement of her house with the huge robot didn’t seem to benefit as much from the 600S. That’s not too surprising, as production values do change dramatically from DVD to DVD in ways that I don’t expect the RGPC 600S to be able to remedy.

When I plugged the 600S into my Sony projector, the first thing that I noticed when I played "The Mummy Returns" (Universal Studios Home Video) is that the picture had definitely improved. Textures and metallic surfaces took on a slight but notably more lifelike presentation in the opening battle scene with the Scorpion King. The action seemed a little more focused during the intense sword-fighting between the combatants. The details of people’s faces took on a more three-dimensional character. The line dividing the edge of the face with the surrounding scenery was razor thin and lacked the slightly jagged appearance I’m used to seeing without the 600S. Colors appeared more vibrant and deeper in brightly lit scenes. Also, some artifacts I had previously noticed as dancing scan lines in the lower left of my screen all but disappeared, as well as some small amount of ghosting around the images. I had attributed these anomalies to the age of my projector. When adding first one, then the second 400S to the 600S, most of the improved aspects noted with the 600S improved further, most notably brightness, color clarity and focus.

The Downside
The Richard Gray’s Power Company 600S is not inexpensive for a power accessory for more moderately valued AV systems. The 600S uses the same core as the 400S, but retails for about $500 more. That seems a bit strong for an aluminum faceplate, two additional Hubbell connections, and a switch activated backlit logo. For some systems, especially ones with video projectors located far away from the equipment racks, your money might be better invested in an additional RGPC 400S.

The Richard Gray’s Power Company 600S is the easiest to use product that I have ever employed. There is no special setup, no tweaking and no maintenance. Certainly no degradation was added in the simple audio/video tests I performed. The ability to plug six components into a single source that also provides very good surge protection is a definite plus. If you have a significant investment in hardware, the price of admission for the 600S is great insurance. Every combination I tried had a positive effect on some part of my audio and/or video system. Some were less noticeable and some were obvious. The impact on audio was as pronounced for my setup as the effect I experienced with video. Micro dynamics, resolution and transients gained the most benefit. Color presentation, color edge definition and surface textures were the most notably improved aspects of my video. Simply stated, this product works. Both scenarios beg the question of whether or not serious AV enthusiasts can live without this technology in a high-performance system. We all have power issues that are robbing our systems' potential. The Richard Gray’s Power Company 600S is a simple fix that yields big benefits for music and movies.
Manufacturer Richard Gray's Power Company
Model 600s Power Conditioner
Reviewer Tim Hart

Like this article? Bookmark and share with any of the sites below.
Digg!Reddit!!Google!StumbleUpon!Yahoo!Free social bookmarking plugins and extensions for Joomla! websites!
Joomla SEF URLs by Artio