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Digital audio is all about timing. The further we press the limits of clock precision the better sonic results we experience. But with all that precision comes a real vulnerability to noise.
At the same time as we are pushing the limits of DAC precision, our homes are being cluttered with incredibly noisy items, from LED lighting, to multiple WiFi devices. At the risk of dating myself, I remember one year about 20 years ago when all the buzz at CES was a digital table clock that was supposed to improve the wall power. If you plugged it in any outlet in your listening room it dramatically changed the sound of your system. The promoters of this clock claimed an improvement, but detailed listening showed it to be a total loss of detail. That was our first exposure to high-frequency electrically induced noise in our systems. It was a novelty then. It is a fact of life today.
The noise radiating from a single 5 W LED light is shown here. A house lit with LED lighting could not only play havoc with all the systems in the house but effect the house next door as well. Add to this all the WiFi and Blue Tooth devices and the air is just full of high frequency noise.
Even the normal precautions in audio product design no longer suffice. More drastic measures are needed, this problem is getting worse, not better. As we travel from place to place we have tried many power conditioners, transformers, inductors and filters. The result is ALWAYS mixed. What works one place does not work best in another place. Not an easy problem to solve.
The Isolation Base is a solution we have designed that creates a barrier, not only for the DAC, but for the critical connection from the DAC to the Amplifier. The Isolation Base keeps the environmental noise out of the critical DAC conversion process.
We start with a really cool machined block of aluminum and build up a defense against noise, that protects the DAC and the critical connection to the amplifier. Every detail has been considered, from the medical grade 20A outlet to the specific inductor used. The Isolation Base is easy to use, but MUST be used exactly as specified. Only the DAC is to be plugged into the Isolation Base, not the transport, not a dedicated preamp, just the DAC. The ground wire supplied must be connected from the ground lug on the back of the Isolation Base to the chassis of your Amplifier. That’s it. No other connections are required.
The Isolation Base is available with a range of receptacles from around the world. Pick your style with no extra charge.
The Isolation Base is able to convert from one voltage to another as you may require. This conversion must be selected when ordered.
– 100 V In, 100 V Out
– 100 V In, 120 V Out
– 120 V In, 120 V Out
– 120 V In, 240 V Out
– 240 V In, 120 V Out
– 240 V In, 240 V Out
As always with audio, the key is what we hear. Here is our experience with traveling from place to place with the 2014 model SELECT. Some places it sounded just amazing, but any place with excessive noise, it did not. With the addition of the Isolation Base, amazing became the rule. Dramatically increased clarity and low level detail is the most obvious change.
This product, just as with the Femtosecond clock when MSB pioneered it, is one that you just have to try. And just as with the clock, we initially told customers that if you do not find the cost more than justified, return it for a refund. We have never had an Isolation base returned. The product is now tried and proven. It really works.
You have two options for hooking up the Isolation Base. One is designed to give full protection to the DAC and the other protects both the DAC and the sensitive connections to the Amplifier. This is usually the most effective method, but you can try both and see what is best for you.
The Basic Operation provides isolation only for the DAC. This gets you half the protection available, but leaves the very important Amplifier interface open to noise. This is a quick easy way to test the Isobase. Be sure the jumper is in place between the Chassis Ground and Amplifier Ground. This is the shipping configuration and is shown above. NEVER OPERATE WITHOUT THE JUMPER OR A GROUND WIRE ATTACHED. Plug in the DAC and listen to the results.
The Enhanced Operation provides isolation only for the DAC and the amplifier interface. This gets you the full protection available. With the jumper disconnected, connect the supplied ground wire from the AMPLIFIER GROUND lug to the chassis of the amplifier. DO NOT CONNECT TO EITHER THE INPUT OR OUTPUT LUGS ON THE AMP. If you have mono-blocks or multiple amplifiers, just connect to one of the amplifiers to avoid making a ground loop. Plug in the DAC and listen to the results.
With a PreAmp:
The Enhanced Operation can be extended with a second Isolation Base to provide isolation for a DAC, PreAmp and the amplifier interface. This gets you the best protection available. With the jumper disconnected, connect the supplied ground wire from the AMPLIFIER GROUND lug between the two IsoBases and then to the chassis of the amplifier. DO NOT CONNECT TO EITHER THE INPUT OR OUTPUT LUGS ON THE AMP. If you have mono-blocks or multiple amplifiers, just connect to one of the amplifiers to avoid making a ground loop. Plug in the DAC and listen to the results.