“I started a thread on the Audio Circle Bryston board recently regarding my experiences
with an unbalanced Torus RM 10 and an balanced equi=tech 1.5 Q model. I liked what I
heard from the Torus more than the equi=tech but I wanted to go with balanced power
so I could tap in to common mode rejection (CMR). I certainly heard more transparency
with the equi=tech and I attributed that to balanced power CMR. I could pick up on what
balanced power does when using the equi=tech and I picked up very similar attributes
with the Torus RM 20-BAL that the unbalanced Torus RM 10 did not bring. I don’t think
the increased transparency was because of anything else in the equi=tech. The
equi=tech does have a Plitron transformer BTW. I did find the equi=tech was analytical
and less coherent sounding than the Torus RM 10. The equi=tech spotlighted things,
drawing attention to images in a confusing way that made the music harder to understand
and this also affected timing queues for some reason.

So I ordered a balanced Torus RM 20 and had an electrician install a dedicated, balanced
240V circuit using 10 gauge Romex equivalent wire. Unfortunately we didn’t have
room for another run of wire, or we would have installed a normal dedicated unbalanced
120V circuit as well. Before this, my system was not on a dedicated circuit.

The impressions posted here are related to the following changes:
A) a dedicated circuit
B) balanced 240V power
C) the RM 20-BAL

The biggest improvement that I noticed is how much purer the upper mid’s and highs
are. I suspect AC noise, whether it is RFI or ringing, really messes up high frequencies
when it makes it way in to the signal path. When that noise is dramatically reduced, the
HF’s are much purer because of decreased AC noise induced distortion. In listening to
some acoustic percussion of Mickey Hart where he uses a lot of steel instruments such
as a triangle and I don’t know what else, the sound was so pure I could not believe it. I
hear this in all kinds of music, consistently mind blowing. I’ve been around a while and
done lots of upgrades/changes that result in changes to the highs but nothing was ever
this dramatic.

Other upgrades I’ve done resulted in more air but never did they unmask
the signal such that all I could say was PURE, PURE PURE. This wasn’t more air or HF
extension, this was a total unmasking. Its so good, I feel like saying bring on more HF
so I can hear more of it…. try and throw some edgy aggressive fatiguing notes at me,
because I can handle it now. Two nice benefits of the purer highs is it makes listening at
lower SPL’s more captivating because HF energy and dynamics is more obvious and
then again at high SPL’s there is no fatiguing HF distortion which is more obvious when
it gets loud. That’s a neat trick. And I think it is really important to note that IMO improved
HF response is attributed to a change of something in the signal path, not by an
AC conditioner. I really believe this has much to do with using a dedicated, balanced
circuit and not so much the Torus itself. I didn’t even come close to hearing this with the
Torus RM 10. Improved HF didn’t even register. I did pick up on more detail with the
equi=tech but it wasn’t PURE like this. What I heard was the analytical characteristic I
noted above. That is a big difference in how the cleaned up highs come across with
these two balanced PIU’s.

The second most noticeable improvement was related to attack and decay. I think I
would also say I’m blending micro dynamics in with this too. My initial impression was
that I changed speakers to planar magnetic or ribbons or ‘stats, but my speakers are already
planar magnetic. And by speed I don’t mean PRAT. I think the Torus PIUs, for
whatever reason, do PRAT in a neutral way. They do not hype it up and they don’t
screw it up like I heard with the equi=tech. I think it is a fair statement to say I can hear
the incredible attack and decay improvements with the Torus RM 20 because of the design
of the speakers. I bet a system with cone speakers would reveal this too, but
maybe not as obviously. I have not read a power transformer review where this was
stated to be a dramatic improvement. Maybe I did in one review. But I can certainly
hear it in my system. It’s a surprising bonus because I wasn’t expecting it. And I have to
say it’s really unmasked something that was hiding one of the real attributes of my
speakers. I loved my speakers before the RM 20 because of dipole soundstage affects
and the coherency and seamless dynamic sound, but now I realize I could not really
hear the quick natured attack and decay of planar magnetic drivers, which was one of
the reasons I purchased these speakers in the first place. Now it is crystal clear.

I was expecting the balanced circuit and RM 20 to do something better than what I heard
with the RM 10 and equi=tech, but I thought it would be more along the lines of the best
of both without bringing anything else to the party. I was wrong about that.

The above two improvements really caught me off guard because I was really only expecting
to hear improvements in the areas typically mentioned in AC conditioner reviews.
That is black backgrounds and the transparency that goes with it, big time dynamic
swings and sometimes bass. These areas all improved too but I won’t go in too
much detail since its all been stated before. I would add that the RM 20 will not disappoint
in these areas, and yes, it is better than what I heard with the equi=tech or the
RM 10. The reduced distortion and speed I mentioned above does translate across the
board and if you can imagine what that would do to the lower and mid bass. It is a real
treat with acoustic percussion including piano. The other thing worth noting is that the
black background, reduced distoration and the dipole staging of my speakers has taken
what I considered a nice 3D wall of sound and nicely enhanced the really spooky effects.

It was interesting that I found the equi=tech and RM 20 were so different. They are both
based on balanced power. They both employ Plitron transformers. They both have
more than enough current delivery for my system. The only technical differences I can
come up with are the actual circuit from the panel for the RM 20 is balanced and the
CMR along that circuit may be more effective than having CMR occur only within the
transformer, which is what the equi=tech does. Maybe having all that noise along the
non-dedicated circuit to the equi=tech was significantly detrimental to its performance.
The other technical difference might be the LoNo and NBT technology that Plitron states
is used with their Torus product and maybe its not used in the transformers they supply
to equi=tech. But I found the Torus really beat the equi=tech in coherency and musicality,
not just noise reduction. How different these two PIU’s are is a mystery to me.

As for current delivery, the RM 20 is overkill for my system. An RM 15 would have been
more than enough. But the RM 15 is no longer available in a balanced 240V version. I
did not notice that the RM 20 was offering up anything more in the current delivery department
compared to the 15 amp equi=tech 1.5Q. But I’m pretty sure the RM 10 was
struggling. It sure doesn’t hurt to have the extra current above the RM 10 even though
from a math perspective it should have been OK. The big obvious improvements with
the RM 20 that I hear are more related to reduced noise and distortion.

It should be noted that I’m a believer that AC conditioners will have different results in
different situations and what I hear with a balanced RM 20 might not be what someone
else would hear if they did the same thing. A lot of it has to do with how good or bad the
AC is in the first place. If a person already had a dedicated 120V circuit and one of the
new RM 15s, I wonder if he or she would be as floored as I am with a balanced power
feed and corresponding Torus. However, if you’re starting from scratch and will be installing
a dedicated circuit it would be a good idea to look at going with a balanced circuit
and one of the balanced Torus PIUs. A balanced 240V circuit isn’t much different than
an unbalanced single phase 120V circuit when it comes to installation, parts and cost. It
is done with the same wire. You just install a different breaker and wall outlet. The cost
might be $30 more because of the two phase breaker. And it is very easy to convert an
existing unbalanced 120V dedicated circuit to balanced 240V if someone was interested.
Just change the breaker and outlet. The wire stays the same as long as it is the
correct gauge for a 20 amp circuit.

I plan on tweaking in the future. I’d like to put in a better 240V wall outlet. Probably a
Hubbel since the live and neutral blade orientation of 240V is not commonly available
from domestic or audiophile suppliers. The current outlet is a spec grade outlet, but it’s
not as tight fitting as a Hubbel. And I would like to replace the stock moulded AC cord
that comes with the RM 20. And I would also like to try some Alan Maher AC products.
Probably the circuit breaker filters which go on the electrical panel because they seem
like an affordable and effective way to clean up the AC upstream of the dedicated balanced
line. Maybe there’s another 10% improvement to be had by some affordable and
basic tweaking.

I would rank the Torus RM 20-BAL as one of the best system enhancements I have
ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Not only is it dramatically better than when
I was only using a non-dedicated circuit with various power cords, it also smokes
what I heard with the RM 10 and equi=tech. And some of the other AC products I
have tried like AC cords, Foundation Research line conditioner/cords were good
but not in this category. I put it right up there with room treatment and attention to
acoustics through optimal speaker placement. But I do know that if I didn’t have
room treatment and decent acoustics I would not be hearing all of what the surprising
Torus RM 20-BAL and a dedicated balanced power circuit has to offer. It is
possible I am overstating how important the RM 20-BAL is, but it does bring high
order of magnitude benefits that I can hear in my system as it stands today.”

Bryan McKenney
Calgary, Alberta