Akiko Audio’s Corelli

My now departed Kerry Blue Terrier, Harry was the world’s most stubborn dog. When he didn’t want to budge, there was no moving him. He was “You’re going to sit at that table until you eat those Brussel sprouts or you’re going to bed hungry” stubborn. When it comes to audio tweaks, especially anything the least bit fringy, I’m more stubborn and closed minded than my loyal Irish companion ever was.

I did NOT want to like the Corelli. I didn’t even want to listen to the damn thing. As Robert Neill enthusiastically explained it, my brain was screaming “snake oil.” But I’ve never met a Canadian I didn’t like, so why not give it a spin, eh? I’m still getting guff over the Furutech De Mag I reviewed, bought, and use on a daily, so get out the lighter fluid, let’s make the flame bigger!

Described as a power conditioner, the Corelli does plug into the AC line, there are no outlets to plug your gear into. Akiko Audio claims that the Corelli is “A pioneering reference power conditioner providing your gear with power in a unique way, without the use of electrical components and active power filtering. It reduces noise without negative side effects such as reduced dynamics or natural quality.” They go on to say, “Internally the Corelli is set up with units made of woven carbon, specifically geared to their task. The neutral, phase and grounding are separately treated. An extra fourth unit is responsible for the harmonization of the internal high frequency radiation field. Moreover, the device is stabilized with black resin to repress unwanted microphonic effects adequately.”

Sounds like mumbo jumbo to me. At this point, I still can’t wrap my brain around a power conditioning product that doesn’t cycle power through itself to the products it is supposedly conditioning power for. I look at the Corelli with the same furrowed brow as the big red bird in Angry Birds.

While my big black dog was very stubborn, he was also very curious. If you hid a cookie somewhere in the room, he would always find it, no matter how diligent you concealed it. So, my terrier like curiosity got the best of me. What the hell, I could always either A: send the damn thing back unimpressed, or B: write that scathing, negative review so many of you have been clamoring for all these years. It didn’t take much listening to realize that C: this wasn’t going to happen.

Getting wiggly

Even though weed is legal here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s not something I indulge in often because it makes me sleepy. What fun is that? However, there is a subtle, a-ha shift in your perception as the funny, leafy stuff starts to take effect. There’s that narrow zone between being unaffected and thinking everything in the world is incredibly funny, where the doors of perception are more than subtly altered. This is the effect of the Corelli, you don’t need to ingest anything to get this effect, and you can drive home safely afterwords. Bonus.

Following the instructions, I did plug the Corelli in nearby the system; straight in to the Torus TOT that currently conditions the power for my system. With one outlet still unused, why not?

Cycling through a series of familiar tracks with the Corelli plugged in, listening began again in earnest. Akiko’s power cord was used, as they claim this makes a huge difference in the presentation. It is a well-built power cord, and in all fairness is only a couple hundred bucks, so I can’t get grumpy about this aspect.

The reference system consists of the new Virtuoso Soltanus ESL speakers that have been here for some time, a PrimaLuna HP Integrated with KT150 tubes, Gryphon’s Kalliope DAC, the new Audio Research PH9 phonostage and the Soulines Kubrick DCX turntable with ZYX cartridge. In short, a highly resolving, yet not crazy money system that I’m very familiar with. The enclosed manual states that the Corelli takes a few weeks to stabilize, yet the biggest change will occur in the first day.

That’s the biggest audio understatement I’ve yet heard. For the first fifteen minutes nothing much seems to happen, though my wife made the comment, “Hey it sounds a little smoother, what did you do.?” Then the trip began. As that Tidal playlist continued, I  swore that everthing was sounding better, more homogenous, less grainy, more natural.

Going back to the LP’s I had listened to earlier, it was a night and day difference. Three areas made a major improvement; pace/timing, upper frequency smoothness and the size of the three dimensional sound field painted by the Virtuosos. For $2,000 with power cord, sign me up.

Trying not to be taken in, I unplugged the Corelli and removed it from the system and things shut back down to pre-conditioning levels. A few game-on, game-off cycles later, combined with torturing a few good audiophile buddies, we’ve all heard the same basic effect. Just like that damn De-Mag.

At the end of the test session, I’m definitely keeping the Corelli around. I still can’t really explain why or how it works, but it does.

Laugh if you must

I’m hoping that because we don’t write about tweaks here on a regular, super expensive cables, or anything else in that arena, that you will consider giving the Akiko Corelli a try in your system. They offer a money back guarantee, so you’ve got nothing to lose. But I’m pretty sure you won’t send it back.

The Akiko Audio Corelli Power Conditioner

$1,995 with power cord

www.akikoaudio.com (manufacturer)

www.worldwidewholesales.com (North America Distributor)

Affordable, High Performance Power Conditioning!

A lot of power products have come through the door here over the years, and most of them have been escorted right out the door quickly. Way too many power conditioners shave transient edges off with the noise, unable to differentiate, or they get wacky with the tonal balance, or both.

Most of the few truly exceptional power conditioners I’ve had the pleasure of using are damn expensive and really heavy. As was my experience with the Running Springs and IsoTek products that I love and used for a number of years (and still do) the real benefit of their technology didn’t happen until you purchased their biggest, and baddest model with major current capacity. This is all awesome if you are plugging in a pair of big power amplifiers or a major system, but what if you have a small system, or just want to clean up a solitary component?

With more turntables and phono preamplifiers arriving for review, the need for more outlets constantly arises. Call me wacky, suspicious, or old fashioned, (just don’t call me Shirley) but I like to keep low level analog components and digital components on separate AC power circuits, so I run my linestage, and DAC on one circuit, and the two phonostages, along with all the turntables on separate 15 amp circuits. I don’t know, I sleep better at night. However, with analog, you can always do better, get more resolution, and drop the noise floor further, so the quest for better power conditioning continues.

The Equi-Core 300, from Core Power Technologies was put to an immediate trial by fire, with new phonostages from Audio Research, McIntosh and Conrad-Johnson at the ready. The 300 in the name represents the maximum number of watts that said conditioner can handle, so this means preamp, DAC or maybe a low powered SET. CPT takes an interesting approach, hardwiring their own power cords into each end of the Equi=Core 300. So much for the power cord argument, you take what they give you; fortunately, it works fantastic. $799 buys you 2.5 feet, $849 gets you 5.5 feet, and the $899 model arrives with 8.5 feet of power cord. The review sample was a 5.5 foot model, and the nly complaint is that the longer model would have provided more flexibility. Unless your component is directly in front of an outlet, consider the 8.5 foot model. For a $100 increase over the best model, the extra length will probably serve you better in the long run.

Minutiae aside, this $849 power conditioner is outstanding. It does its job perfectly and quietly, without fuss. Many internet pundits like to wax poetic about how the heavens part with so and so’s power products. Good for them. The Equi=Core 300 is like a great physician – it does no harm. This is a deceptively simple task, so don’t take it lightly.

Paragraphs could be written describing various musical passages that chances are you either haven’t heard, or don’t want to hear again, so I’ll cut to the chase. Plugging the Equi=Core 300 the  Audio Research REF 3 Phono, Conrad-Johnson TEA1 s2 and McIntosh MP1100 phonostages delivered the same result. The noise floor dropped significantly, and these are all very quiet phonostages to begin with, causing an increase in dynamics. Everything sounds much more lively with the Equi=Core 300 in place. Nothing was changed tonally, and that’s a great thing for this reviewer. Everything just got quieter and cleaner sounding. Removing the unit after a  few hours of concentrated listening made me clamor to reinstall it.

Similar results were achieved with the other preamplifiers on hand for evaluation, and if you know your combined output is pretty close to 300 watts, I’d suggest a high quality power strip from Naim, Wireworld or IsoTek to make for a multiple outlet power distribution system. WireWorld and IsoTek provide excellent, reasonably priced products for this task, and total cost for conditioner and power strip still comes in way below what you’d expect to spend on a premium power cord. Another fantastic transformation was the already fantastic Nagra 300p tube amplifier. While Nagra does not list a spec for power consumed, it only produces 20 watts per channel, so it was worth investigating.

Again, the Equi=Core 300 comes through brilliantly, so digging out an old pair of lovely sounding but notoriously noisy Bottlehead 2A3 SET’s make for an incredible experience via this little power conditioner. I would suggest the Equi=Core 300 to anyone with an SET amplifier. Get two if you need one for each channel. You won’t be sorry. The beguiling nature of the SET really comes through with a dropped noise floor and the Bottleheads sound more like Wavac amps with the addition of the Equi=Core 300.

The Equi=Core 300 does an equally good job with solid-state gear, provided you stay within the load requirements. Though it probably defeats the compact purpose, our Naim MuSo QB and B&W Zeppelin responded incredibly well to some line conditioning and their class D amplifiers sounded way less grainy, treated to clean power. A few pieces of vintage gear as well as a couple of DACs on hand also proved highly compatible with the Equi=Core 300 too. Oddly enough, and we’ve had the same results with every great line conditioner we’ve used, the effect of clean power always seems to be slightly more apparent with tube gear than solid state.

The Equi=Core 300 power conditioner is one of the most unobtrusive power conditioners I’ve had the pleasure to use – at any price. I bought the review sample, and will probably buy another. It’s that good. We have a review in the works of one of their larger models, so we’ll keep you posted. For inquiring minds that need to know, these are designed and hand built in CPT’s Colorado factory and the pride of assembly shows. The Equi=Core 300 is equally well executed visually as it is electronically.

It would be a crime not to give this little box one of our Exceptional Value Awards for 2017. You need to hear (or perhaps more precisely, not hear) what it can do for your hifi system. In an age where power cords cost more than used BMW’s, this is a refreshing approach indeed.

The Equi=Core 300 Power Conditioner

$799-$899 (depending on length of power cord)