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EquiTech 1.5RQ Balanced Power Review

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the EquiTech 1.5RQ (also called 1.5Q) Balanced Mains Power. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $4,700.

The 1.5Q is not much to look at but boy, does it weigh a ton at 70 pounds!

Equitech 1.5RA Balanced Power Review.jpg


The sole display either shows the incoming voltage or outgoing.
Equitech 1.5RA Balanced Power back panel outlet Review.jpg


Balanced power takes a 120 volt RMS incoming feed and produces two out of phase 60 volt feeds which gives you the same differential 120 volt. This is said to do all kinds of things from reducing noise to making your music sound better. From the company:

"If you haven’t heard your sound system with a Model Q powering it, you are missing something truly great. You might just find yourself replaying all of your old music again and again as if hearing it for the first time with a new appreciation for detail, clarity and remarkable bass definition that you have never experienced before. Many of our customers have told us that their Model Q was the one component above all others in their system that accounted for the biggest difference in sonic quality. Source components and amplifiers benefit equally from their use. "

Important Note: in US, national electric code (NEC, article 647) disallows use of balanced power in residential use. It is only allowed in commercial installations where they assume proper power distribution and labeling of outlets is used to warn improper use. With the chassis of the equipment now potentially flowing up to 60 volts, risk of electric shock or worse is there.

I know a lot of audiophiles buy products like this, or have the fixed version attached to their service entrance and such. But that doesn't excuse the inherent risks involved.

Equitech 1.5RQ Measurements
Before we look at what a power improvement product does, we need to quantify the incoming power which varies from location to location. To do this, I used a high-voltage differential probe to cleanly sample the AC mains and bring its voltage down to a safe manner to analyze with my Audio Precision.

NOTE: Do not attempt to do this on your own unless you fully understand what you are doing. Improver connection to mains using sound cards and such could have catastrophic consequences to you and your equipment. I have take special precautions here and even so, this is dangerous work.

AC Mains Distortion and Noise Measurements.png


As I have shown before, my AC mains is not some ideal perfect sine wave. Yours is likely similar. We see the waveform itself is visibly distorted on top left due to high levels of distortion. FFT spectrum shows the nature of the distortions added to it.

My differential probe divides the incoming voltage by 100 so multiply the voltages by that as you read them and as I have annotated. We have 122 volt RMS or 168 volt peak.

Now let's do the same but route the power through EquiTech 1.5RQ and sample its "digital outlets:"
Equitech 1.5RA Balanced Audio Measurements.png


With one minor exception, nothing has changed. Same high distortion of nearly 9% with tons of harmonics and noise in the audible band. There is a reduction of 120 Hz harmonic however but that amplitude ws quite small to start with. Our sine wave is still visibly distorted.

Maybe the improvements are higher frequencies. So let's expand the measurement bandwidth to 1 MHz and see what we get:

Equitech 1.5RA Noise Filtering Measurements.png


Nothing. Everything is as bad as without 1.5Q.

Since we never listen to the AC mains (!), let's hook up an amplifier and measure its output. I decided to use my Purifi reference design amplifier for this purpose. Let's pull up its dashboard using straight mains AC power:

Purifi Amplifier from AC Mains Measurements.png


We see the excellent measurements we have come to love about this amplifier. Now let's route its AC mains through Equitech 1.5Q and see if there is any improvement:

Purifi Amplifier from Equitech Balanced Power Measurements.png


I can't see anything. This is at modest power however. Let's perform a full power sweep and see what we get:

Purifi Amplifier from Equitech Balanced Power into 4 ohm load Measurements.png


Ah, performance actually degrades a bit with 1.5RQ! I repeated the measurements with and without it and the results are exactly as you see.

Company talks about better power factor. What is power factor? Ideally your load would consume current at proportional to voltage. That is, the two are in sync. That only happens for a resistive load (e.g. a traditional light bulb). Many electronic devices we have use current out of phase with voltage. Resistive loads produce a power factor of 1.0. Anything else is a reduction and makes it harder for the power company to deliver energy to you. Let's measure the Purifi amp's power factor and efficiency of the 1.5Q:

Purifi Amplifier from Equitech Balanced Power Factor and Efficiency Measurements.png


As we see, the power factor by itself is quite poor at 0.38. There are switching power supplies with power factor correction. The hypex one that Purifi is using is not one of them. EquiTech 1.5 improves this to 58%.

On the down side, there are losses due to the transformers in this box. Power consumption goes up to the tune of 31%. So the box gives you one thing, and takes back another.

Note that in US you don't get any benefit from using your power with 1.0 power factor in residential setting. In commercial installations however, you could get charged extra for low power factor.

Conclusions
Unlike many power tweaks, the Equitech 1.5RQ does what it says: it delivers balanced/differential power to your equipment. Beyond that, lots of claims are made that simply are not objective. Our audio equipment doesn't feed AC mains to our speakers/headphones. Power is always converted to DC with lots of filtering before use. For this reason as you see, there is no improvement to be had. And at any rate, this box doesn't even clean up the AC signal in any significant way.

Needless to say, I can't recommend the EquiTech 1.5RQ balanced power. It does what it says it does but you don't need it. And certainly not at this kind of price.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Helicopter

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Thanks for serving potential buyers... here I was expecting a device that doesn't do what it says it does.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Would love to see a teardown of this. Curious what 70lbs of something is doing -- seems a lot of nothing!
It is a gigantic transformer:

3eqt15rq-1__80065.1619816962.jpg
 

wwenze

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-Performance degrades at max power draw
-Improved power factor

So... this thing adds a series inductance. Not unexpected tho, it is a transformer.

Hold on... this means the measurement result of the AC waveform is not matching the measurement result of the Purifi's performance, because in the latter there is a difference. I'm expecting some reduction in the output AC voltage to explain the reduced performance.

Is the measurement of the AC signal done without load? What happens if we add an amp drawing 200W?

-As we see, the power factor by itself is quite poor at 0.38. There are switching power supplies with power factor correction. The hypex one that Purifi is using is not one of them. EquiTech 1.5 improves this to 58%.

To expand upon this point... active PFC brings power factor up to 0.99 nowadays, virtually a resistive load. *But* that is based on what the power supply sees on its input. Adding an inductor in series improves the power factor of a capacitive load. (Good old passive PFC method.) But when you add that inductor in series with a resistor you will actually reduce the power factor of the whole thing. :D
 
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Billy Budapest

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When I first read about these balanced power units about 15 years ago, my reaction was “why would anybody purchase something that would defeat the safety ground of their equipment?” This product seems to counteract that danger by use of a GFCI. It does bear the ETL mark, giving me some confidence. Still, should the GFCI fail, you could be in trouble—and GFCI outlets have gone bad in my house at an alarming rate.
 
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Blumlein 88

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$4700 hunk of heavy iron makes it easy to see the obvious reasons for improving your sound. Actually improving sound not so much.
 

AndreaT

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On a separate note, old operating rooms had an isolation transformer (and a line isolation monitor, LIM) to feed balanced AC to the OR equipment. Doing so allowed to protect operators (and patients) from macro-shocks delivered when the metal equipment cases of the 1960-1970’s equipment would become energized (“hot”) from a black wire that had the insulation frayed and in contact with the metal case. Once the AC power was balanced you would not get electrocuted by the 20-30A current by a simple single fault, but only by a double fault scenario (you required both line 1 and 2 wires to be in contact with the skin of the operator), making less likely the macro-shock event.
The presence of a ground wire and grounded equipment would not guarantee protection from macro-shock, converting it into a micro-shock, as a ground fault (plug missing ground pin, ground wire interrupted) would not place the system in a fail-safe mode: everything would run as expected even with a fault grounding.

Current electric code in the US for the OR’s has eliminated the isolation transformer and it has chosen the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) as the method of choice to prevent macro-shocks. The double insulation and the widespread use of non-conductive plastics for electrical and electronic OR devices has probably also helped to move past the clever choice of isolation transformers. However, GFCI, when activated, do stop the functioning of electrical equipment by opening the AC circuit, and in some cases it is not an acceptable fail-safe mode of protection (think of a large volume infuser for massive trauma blood infusion that stops warming and pumping blood products in a patient who desperately needs resuscitation).

I am puzzled by the prohibition of balanced AC in residential location by the Electrical Code, as it would by definition make the balanced fed equipment way less likely to macro-shock the user.
 

youduoliang

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$4700 hunk of heavy iron makes it easy to see the obvious reasons for improving your sound. Actually improving sound not so much.

Many recording studios using balance transformers manufactured by EquiTech and Torus power. What's the definition of your "so much"? People using Hi-End gears are willing to pay over $10K to get extra 2%(hard to quantify but definitely hearable) improvements.

I know in this forum many people are singing cheap good measurement Chinese DAC, but do they sound better than Hi-End DACs? In most cases, not really.
 

wwenze

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When I first read about these balanced power units about 15 years ago, my reaction was “why would anybody purchase something that would defeat the safety ground of their equipment?” This product seems to counteract that danger by use of a GFCI. It does bear the ETL mark, giving me some confidence. Still, should the GFCI fail, you’d be in trouble—and GFCI outlets have gone bad in my house at an alarming rate.

Well... my previous workplace had something like that. It allows us to work on power supplies without making a neutral-to-earth short trip the floor every time. And boy it happens a lot because we only had one such transformer while we have many staff working simultaneously. The good part is, now I know how to easily test whether your house's GFCI/RCD is working.
 

ShiZo

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I use a apc h15 for a power conditioner and hope it at least doesn't degrade performance.
 

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Xulonn

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This is bad snake oil.

The only real and useful snake oil comes from the Chinese Water Snake - Enhydris chinensis.

Chinese Water Snake - Enhydris chinensis.jpg

Snake oil is derived from the fat of the Chinese water snake, although there are other snake oils made from boa constrictors, sea snakes, and other species. This fat is processed and refined into a concentrated oil that possesses high levels of an omega-3 fatty acid named eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which has been directly linked to a number of benefits for human health.
 

MaxBuck

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So, if we want to protect our equipment and feed it good AC power, what exactly should we be buying?

I'm looking at Furman products but am at a loss as to which one(s) would represent prudent investment in protection (and if feasible reproduction quality).
 

enricoclaudio

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It is a gigantic transformer:

3eqt15rq-1__80065.1619816962.jpg

I HUGE transformer + 5 x Leviton Decora 15A power outlets for $4500. Snake Oil at its best!!!
 
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