Cryoparts Power Strip II Review 
Home Theater AC Power AC Power
Written by Todd Whitesel   
Wednesday, 02 February 2011

Just before Thanksgiving 2010, several boxes arrived at my house – the latest round of gear to review. Among them was Cryoparts Power Strip. As I showed my dad and wife the newest goodies, they both asked with no lack of incredulity, “How do you review a power strip?” I tried to explain the function of audio strips and how they can make a good system even better, but the eye rolls stopped me before I could really get going. That skepticism got me thinking, however.

Making Contact – and Keeping It

A power strip is designed to distribute electrical current to one or more devices without imparting a sonic footprint of its own or somehow impeding the flow of electrons. To do so effectively and efficiently, there needs to be secure and jiggle-free contact between the male AC prongs and the female receptacles. That sounds simple enough, but recently I discovered how potentially wrong things can go when that doesn't happen. The components of my computer system were all plugged into a six-outlet power strip (Woods Industries E115193) that I purchased 5 or 6 years ago and spent $10 or $15. The unit's cord is fairly heavy duty, 14 gauge, but the strip itself is just a rectangular piece of hard plastic.

Plug Front

While working away one morning, the plug for my Mac mini came loose from the outlet – somehow. I'm not sure how a three-prong plug wiggles itself free from such captivity but it happened as I had several documents open along with the Internet, etc. Suddenly my monitor went blank and the drive shut down. I scrambled trying to figure what happened until I looked down to see the white plug looking suspiciously loose. Damn! After I re-secured that sucker and made sure that the contact was tight I restarted my system, prepared for the worse. Fortunately, my Mac booted up and no data was lost – this time. After that, the lowly power strip took on new importance. Some online research led me to Cryoparts, an audio dealer/distributor based in Saratoga Springs, Utah, which offers customers an array of equipment including power strips, but with a kicker – these strips undergo cryogenic treatment prior to sale. An updated offering, the Power Strip II ($229) was made available for review.

Construction


Unpacking, the first impressions of the Power Strip II were of its build. This rugged strip wears a chassis constructed solely of aluminum and polished to a brilliant sheen. Six high-grade receptacles sit snugly in machined recesses that create extra-secure connections between the receptacles and top plate. The IEC outlet is similarly brawny and ready for any power cable you choose to mate with it. Four feet keep the Strip II in place and provide a bit of decoupling from the outer environment. Completing the inner connections, the receptacles are wired to each other and the IEC with pure copper wire.

Plug inside

Into The Deep Freeze

After the strip is assembled, it's ready to chill. I live in northern Wisconsin, where winter time temps can easily reach 30 below zero, but that's nothing compared to the extreme cold of Cryoparts “Cryofreeze” process. The Power Strip II undergoes a three-step process over a period of three to five days, in an environment that, facilitated by liquid nitrogen, becomes ever colder until reaching temperatures approaching 300 degrees below zero. Finally, the cryogenic chamber is gradually brought back to ambient temperature. According to Cryoparts, “When copper, silver or brass, or any metal used in audio, is formed into cables or AC plugs, the materials develop residual stress. For example, microscopic examination of the Copper in an AC cord would reveal many voids in the crystal lattice structure of the Copper due to these residual stresses. Deep cryogenic treatment works at the atomic level; research indicates that as the temperature decreases the atomic bonds start to weaken and the crystal structure of Copper reverts to its original state and removes these stresses. These changes, theoretically, are one of the reasons why cryogenic treatment makes a positive difference to the sound.”

In Use

I was told by Cryoparts' owner, Lee Weiland, to give the Power Strip II approximately 150 hours to break in before formalizing any opinions. Even in the first couple hours, however, I could hear a difference in the sound – there was an almost immediate improvement in bass and midrange, with more distinct and taut dynamics. After the suggested run-in, along with better-defined bass and midrange, I also heard a slight improvement in imaging and ambience. With digital sources, the music took on more of an analog feel, sounding less congested. I experimented with a couple different power cords connected to the Power Strip II. Not surprisingly, my RS Audio Starchord power cable gave the best performance over a generic 16-gauge cable, but even that low-priced cord performed better locked into the Power Strip II.

Plug up close

Again, the biggest improvements were in the bass and midrange, with taut and focused notes and rhythms the norm. The key, though, is the resolution. For example, on Yes' 1978 release, Tormato, hearing Chris Squire's bass lines paint “On The Silent Wings Of Freedom,” as not just a bass guitar but a Rickenbacker bass guitar, and all its wonderful sonic characteristics, is what makes for involving listening. That's what the Power Strip II adds to the table. And the receptacles? They gripped like a Kraken's tentacles, requiring no little effort to just plug into. I can't imagine a scenario where a plug could detach from the stingy hold of the Strip II.

Final Thoughts


The Power Strip II is a real value among the many such outlets in audio land. It makes music sound more alive without coloration or unwanted “additions.” How much of this achievement can be credited to the freezing process? I'm not sure, but this is an outlet whose performance-to-dollar ratio is very solid – just like the Strip itself. Cryoparts is also currently offering the Power Strip II at a discounted price of $199 through its website (www.cryo-parts.com). Even do-it-yourself audiophiles would be hard pressed to build a similar box for the money. And I'm not sure where you'd store the liquid nitrogen anyway.

System Setup


  • Cryoparts Power Strip II
  • Pro-Ject RPM 5.1 turntable
  • Sumiko Blue Point No. 2 moving coil phono cartridge
  • Grant Fidelity A-348 integrated tube amplifier
  • Emotiva ERC-1 CD player
  • Parasound Zphono Preamplifier
  • RS Audio Cables Kevlar Starchord Power Cable 
  • RS Audio Cables Illume Silver Interconnects 
  • RS Audio Cables Illume Silver Loudspeaker Cables 
  • PENAUDIO Rebel 3 loudspeakers
  • Snell Acoustics Type K loudspeakers





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