Some view power conditioners as a system tweak or enhancer but I like to think of them as a necessary component in any mid to high level audio/videos system aiming to reach its full potential. That’s because in order for your system to achieve peak performance, you need to provide each of your components with clean, stable power. The trouble is that power from a typical power outlet isn’t exactly clean – most outlets are usually connected as part of a circuit with other outlets and even light fixtures. Each device plugged into the same circuit generates nasty power anomalies that play havoc with the power supplies in our AV gear – appliances and computers are perfect examples. If we can help reduce these anomalies without constricting AC current delivery then part of the mission is accomplished. And that’s where a power conditioner comes into play. The acknowledged role of a power conditioner is to provide an EMI/RFI-free environment to plug your gear into, coupled with clean 60 Hertz current delivery that is stable and linear.
The other key factor in designing an effective power conditioning device is resonance control because resonance is generated by several different sources in an audio or video system. The primary sources of resonance are loudspeaker drivers which create mechanical air and floor-borne vibrations that negatively impact equipment performance. Loudspeakers also transfer electromechanical feedback through the speaker cables to the amplifier. Transformers in equipment are also a source of micro resonance as there is considerable electromechanical energy built-up as a result of converting AC to DC.
In this review, I take a look at the Furutech Daytona 303 Multi Mode Power Filter, priced at $3500, which promises to clean up power anomalies and provide superior reduction of resonance. The Daytona landed in my hands at just the right time as I’ve spent the last several months focusing my efforts on controlling resonance issues in the cables, equipment and power supplies in my AV system. The most dramatic improvement which convinced me that resonance may be of equal or greater concern then contaminated AC power was the opportunity to implement the Daytona in my system. I’ve been using an active IsoTek GII Mini Sub power distributor in my system for some time now but compared to the Daytona, it has a relatively flimsy chassis and cover.
Furutech has established a reputation for superb designs that place function before form but are still visually elegant. Its power products to date have taken the passive approach utilizing the company’s Formula GC-303 material which rejects EMI and RFI. Furutech’s power distributors also include high grade resonance dampened Axial Locked Furutech AC receptacles with Furutech’s unique Two Stage Cryogenic and Demagnetizing Super Alpha Treatment applied to all signal carrying components.
The Daytona is Furutech’s new top of the line power filter/distributor with looks to match. The front panel is a gorgeous thick aluminum brushed slab affixed to a steel chassis, which not only scores high in aesthetics but is designed to reject RFI. This component is much heavier than other similar components and built like a tank, all in an effort to control resonance. All internal wiring is 10 gauge Furutech Alpha 10 copper wire with the conductors insulated by resonance absorbing tubing. A displayed, centred in the middle of the front panel, shows the incoming voltage level and the total current draw of the attached gear, in large red LED numerals. This is a useful feature for monitoring hydro and gear related anomalies. From the moment I set up the Daytona, I couldn’t help but notice the similarity in its appearance to my Esoteric disc player. The display also contains small green LEDs that will turn red if the voltage gets too high or low, or if the breaker is tripped. The only quibble I found with the Daytona is the inability to turn the main display off (it can however be dimmed) as the big red LED numerals can change rather frequently and can be distracting while listening to music or watching movies. The rear panel of the unit showcases a bank of 10 Furutech rhodium-plated, Axial Locked AC receptacles. These include 4 unfiltered (2 high current for amps, 2 for low current analog devices) and 6 filtered for digital gear. Also present are 3 each of surge protected coaxial and phone jack connections. Finally there are also a 12 volt remote trigger, a master on/off switch and a detachable articulating LED lamp which is very useful when plugging or swapping any cables. The Daytona clearly offers a superior build quality and great features but does it have an impact on the AV system sonically and visually?
My AV system consists of an Esoteric X-05 CD/SACD player, a Modwright LS36.5 preamp, Red Wine Audio 70.2 mono blocks and ELAC 208A speakers for two channel sources. With a flip of the Home Theatre Bypass switch on my preamp, I can engage my 5.1 gear: a Marantz SR6001 AVR, a Marantz DV9600 universal player, PS3, Scientific Atlanta 8300 HD PVR, Mitsubishi HC4900 1080P LCD projector, ELAC 201 center speaker, and Mirage sub and surround speakers.
As noted above, Furutech uses a passive approach to distributing power. The Daytona utilizes the RFI-rejecting GC-303 material which is bonded in a layer on the bottom plate of the chassis for passive protection and LC network filtering to six of the outlets for digital gear. When I plugged my Modwright preamp into an unfiltered outlet and the Esoteric player into a filtered outlet, the impact on music was immediately noticeable. The renewed life and sparkle in the music were difficult to miss. I haven’t heard this dramatic of a shift in performance of my system since upgrading to the Esoteric player. The noise floor dropped and the width, depth and height of the image increased to what now sounded like life-like proportions. The Dead Can Dance SACD “Into the Labyrinth” provides a number of system challenges from subtle percussive elements to growling bass and the old cliché applies. It was like listening to the disc for the first time. Radiohead’s CD “In Rainbows” was presented like a sonic tapestry with all the abstract elements firmly in their own three dimensional space within the soundstage. My gear was disseminating this very difficult production with ease. Every CD and SACD sounded invigorated – even the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan SACDs took on new life.
Multi-channel DVD-Audio discs such as the Talking Heads and Donald Fagen’s “Morph the Cat” absolutely blew me away. The effect the Daytona had on both my universal player and the AVR was spectacular. SACD multi-channel via HDMI on the PS3 was so well balanced and life-like, it sounded like Knopfler was in my living room when listening to Dire Straits’ “Brother in Arms”. The LC filter network used by Furutech didn’t exhibit any of the negative attributes usually associated with this approach – likely as a result of being housed in an inert resonant-free chassis. The Daytona is clearly the most resolving dynamic sounding conditioner I have had the opportunity to audition. This is Furutech R&D and engineering at its best!
Video improvements were just as dramatic – the black levels from my HD cable box became noticeably inkier. The audio from the cable box benefited from better dialogue intelligibility and better dynamics. The audio from Blu-ray soundtracks took on an effortless and natural aura and the picture became more 3D-like. The video aspect that everyone will notice is the added shades/tints of blue and green and the clear ability to differentiate reds and oranges. The projector’s overall colour palette was extended beyond what I’m normally used to.
The Furutech Daytona 303 Multi Mode Power Filter is by far the best product I have encountered in this category. It provided substantial improvements in certain aspects of both music and video playback. The attention to resonance control and passive AC conditioning techniques allowed for a huge soundstage, visceral bass and subtle musical details to be presented. Build quality is second to none, musicality is superb and the visual improvements are eye boggling. A must buy for truly dedicated music and home theatre fans.
Furutech Daytona 303 Multi Mode Power Filter
Price: $3500 CAD