Tourists returning from a trip to Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China often marveled at the city’s population density as personified by the shopping centers and the human presence everywhere. In a region distinguished by the main Hong Kong Island of 31² miles, a large peninsula of 18² miles, an adjoining rural area of 374² miles, and numerous islands, the Hong Kong S.A.R. boasts a 2006 GDP of over USD$36,000 per capita amongst a population of over 7 million, versus the USD$42,000 GDP of U.S.
Over 50% of the Hong Kong population resides in high-rises within the shopping districts of Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula, in which the most densely populated area contains a population of over 16,000 in a square mile. Purity and stability of electricity becomes a natural, particular concern for audiophiles living here.
Born out of this environment and understanding is Isoclean. Carrying over 30 varieties of power filters, power cables and a hoist of accessories, Isoclean is most recognized for its PT-3030G Transformer, a device for the initial reduction of AC power, which is to be used with one of its power filters. Audio magazines in its indigenous market of Hong Kong are known to have adopted two PT-3030G’s for each of the six or more equipment for their reviewing systems.
Among the myriad of the Isoclean product offering are the subjects of this review: the $180 ICP-003G 2-position gold plated wall socket and the $1,000 Focus power cable.
ICP-003G 2-Position Gold Plate Wall Socket
Contrasting the audiophile-favorite of the Hubbell outlets, the Isoclean ICP-003G are electroplated in 24-karat gold via a special process that Isoclean claims to prolong the finish’s durability. An ICP-003S is also available in chrome finish. Surfaces of metal contact parts on the ICP-003G are also claimed to have been painstakingly polished for an increased contact area.
Brian Ackerman of Aaudio Imports, the U.S. distributor of Isoclean, installed four of the ICP-003G at my residence. The original Hubbell outlets were installed by a professional technician from the breaker box to isolate my audio system’s electricity from the rest of the house. The Isoclean ICP-003G further improved upon the stability of power to my audio system with a lowered noise floor and more distinguishable dynamic and tonal contrasts.
Though a permanent installation not as easily removed as equipment, the ICP-003G represents a small investment for the very first step necessary to reaping benefits of past and future system tweaks and upgrades. Readers with technical competency are encouraged to install the ICP-003G and reap the years of benefits and faithful services to flow from this disappearing accessory that screams perfect sense.
Focus Power Cable
The Isoclean Focus power cable forms a naturally complimentary synergy with the ICP-003G wall socket, feeding off higher quality juice from the polished AC contacts. The extraordinarily nimble cable actually employs three, 6mm British copper for enhanced current delivery capability, and channels the electricity under triple layers of anti-static Nylon, further protected by vibration-damping and Radio Frequency-absorbing heavy-duty copper shields.
Each Focus costs $1,000 for the standard 2 meters length, and is terminated with WattaGate IEC and AG plugs in clear acrylic housing. Like the ICP-003G, the Focus power cable is also endowed with the 24-karat plating, with its contacting metal parts polished to increase contact area.
Brian sent me four of the Focus for a complete system observation. Hence, in a system based on the $12,000, 89dB/4Ω GamuT L5 loudspeakers, the digital front-end of Audio Note CDT-Three CD transport, Accustic Arts DAC I Mk3, and the amplification of Harmonix Reimyo CAT-777 tube preamplifier and the Linn Klimax Chakra 500 Twin were all accompanied by a Focus.
The Focus improved the digital front-end’s capability to reaching an unprecedented point in tonal clarity more than it did for the Linn, allowing the Audio Note/Accustic Arts digital front-end to realize their potential as never before. Classical and jazz recordings were reproduced against a purer background atmosphere, thus allowing pianos and vocals to emerge in better focus on each note reproduced, and culminating in more contrasting dynamics and more extensions in the frequency extremes.
The Focus’ effect on the Harmonix Reimyo CAT-777 was also dramatic. It enabled the RCA plugs-only tube preamplifier to produce more extended frequencies and fuller tonalities for the Linn power amplifier to draw from. This aggregated performance level as accorded by the Focus was particularly appreciated when the subject to be vanquished was the GamuT.
But numerous power amplifications did not display the same extent in improvement. In addition to the Linn, alternating it for driving the GamuT L5 with Accuphase’s E-550 solid-state integrated amplifier, as well as with Audia Flight’s PRE and 100, confirmed the considerable advantages that are already built into all of these powerful amplifications by way of their own power management systems, as they all demonstrated consistent impartiality towards the Focus.
The exception in amplification was Genesis’ I60 tube integrated amplifier in driving the GamuT L5. Though a colossal mismatch, the Genesis amplifier performed to a significantly higher level with the Focus, imparting more punctual dynamics and more potent drive capability from the GamuT L5.
Similarly, transports and DACs of much more elaborate power management systems, such as the 47 Lab PiTracer, the Audio Note DAC5 Special, the Wadia 270se CD transport, the 27ix v3.0 Decoding Computer, etc, also showed relatively marginal levels of improvement with the Focus.
Standard AC outlet also hindered the Isoclean Focus’ performance, although the Focus continued to allow the British CD transport and German DAC to sound more dynamic and resolving, albeit at a slightly lesser degree. Tonal lucidity in pianos and vocals continued to ensue largely, but feeding AC power off the Hubbell outlets induced an unsettling re-acquaintance of the coarser, grainier texture that I seemed to have gotten rid of eons ago.
After observing the four Focus interacting with equipment in my system, implications are: there are more mid-range products out there with less fortified power management system than the type that I have at my disposal in this Isoclean observation, and the mid-range components will more readily display appreciable improvements with the Focus. It works for the Audio Note CD transport & the Genesis tube amplifier, so audition the Isoclean Focus and see what degree of improvement it can create for your CD player and amplifier.
In an upcoming article, we shall look at what Isoclean’s $1,800 Super Focus can do.
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