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Thread: Mains conditioner - home made as good as Isotek Aquarius

  1. #1
    Join Date: Feb 2017

    Location: Sussex

    Posts: 324
    I'm Simon.

    Default Mains conditioner - home made as good as Isotek Aquarius

    I just wondered if anyone is skilled enough on this forum to have ever tried to make their own mains conditioning power bar or seperates conditioning unit, similar to the isotek Aquarius. Or power bar like the isotek Sirius.

    Looking at what goes into the Aquarius it's not much but I'm sure the order of items on the circuit and their tolerances and quality all play their part into making one product better than another. But much of what I hear (from electrical engineer friends) is you just need a filter and I'm always a bit dubious it will be as good. And also the hobbyists making these types of units have been making rather rudimentary ones, which again I'm dubious of being as good as the isotek.

    But I've heard these isotek devices in demos against b and q power blocks, and they can make a very good difference to decent hi fi. The Aquarius made an exposure amp sound like a different one, in a test at the Bristol show.

    Problem is they are £1500 and for what's inside ?

    It strikes me therefore why a hobbyist electrical engineer and hi fi fan hasn't just tried to look at what's in these isotek devices and build a copy or similar, which I'm sure wouldn't be breaking any copyright. Have a bake off and compare it to a b and q bar, and sell them on forums. They could make a few quid and buy a nice case too.

    I suppose this is is a bit of a selfish question for me as I'm in the market for something like an Aquarius, when I can, but paying £1500 for what it is, is hard to stomach.


    http://cdn2.mos.techradar.futurecdn....nno-580-90.jpg
    Last edited by Dynamics; 28-04-2017 at 21:24. Reason: Picture adding

  2. #2
    Join Date: Sep 2014

    Location: Northern Ireland

    Posts: 559
    I'm John.

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    Here's some stuff from the Lampizator website which might be of interest.

    http://www.lampizator.eu/AC%20FILTER/SILK/FILTER.HTML

    http://www.lampizator.eu/Fikus/SILK_AC_FILTER.html

    I suppose it depends on the cleanliness of the mains in your location but I've found mains filtering can make a huge difference.

    But also, different filters suit different amps. There's always a trade off between noise reduction and squashed dynamics. I've found they can blunt leading edges which ruins rhythms.

    The trick is getting the filter that suits your gear.

  3. #3
    Join Date: Feb 2017

    Location: Sussex

    Posts: 324
    I'm Simon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnJo View Post
    Here's some stuff from the Lampizator website which might be of interest.

    http://www.lampizator.eu/AC%20FILTER/SILK/FILTER.HTML

    http://www.lampizator.eu/Fikus/SILK_AC_FILTER.html

    I suppose it depends on the cleanliness of the mains in your location but I've found mains filtering can make a huge difference.

    But also, different filters suit different amps. There's always a trade off between noise reduction and squashed dynamics. I've found they can blunt leading edges which ruins rhythms.

    The trick is getting the filter that suits your gear.

    Thanks for the links, but these are exactly the types of sites I've seen. It's all very homemade looking.

    I don't reckon it would cost much to design a circuit on a circuit board similar to that of the isoteks etc, and the components on it and have it made, also then buy a metal case and mount it on. If you know what you are doing as an engineer. Surely it can be done for less than £1500.

    I think the reason why the isoteks are charging £1500 is because of all their marketing, factory costs. But if someone did it as a hobbyist engineer and had the circuit made, I doubt it would cost more than hundreds for the privilege. Surely?

  4. #4
    Join Date: Sep 2009

    Location: west mids, UK

    Posts: 1,209
    I'm Phil.

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    i am sure you could do it for less than 1500 quid . sadly isotek stuff has gone up massively . i bought my sigmas over 10 years ago and its still brilliant. i paid a grand new with a 25 year warrenty and they cost a shed load more now

    i have had 3 of their syncros with very good effect

    the secret is to buy s/h now i think to save money

    like this one , i had mine converted to schuco like this one

    http://www.hifi-forsale.co.uk/morein...isotek&offset=
    modwright 36.5 DM /MSB s200 , / Marantz sa8005/onkyo sacd /bel canto 3.5, vbs , bel canto fm1
    sonos, . dct300/ /isotek sigmas /rfc xlr/chord epic cabling/Kimber select/verity audio rienzi speakers

  5. #5
    Join Date: Oct 2016

    Location: Bolton, England

    Posts: 503
    I'm Andrew.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dynamics View Post
    I'm sure the order of items on the circuit and their tolerances and quality all play their part into making one product better than another. But much of what I hear (from electrical engineer friends) is you just need a filter and I'm always a bit dubious it will be as good. And also the hobbyists making these types of units have been making rather rudimentary ones, which again I'm dubious of being as good as the isotek.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dynamics View Post
    Thanks for the links, but these are exactly the types of sites I've seen. It's all very homemade looking.
    I don't reckon it would cost much to design a circuit on a circuit board similar to that of the isoteks etc, and the components on it and have it made, also then buy a metal case and mount it on.
    Is your issue with the DIY filters that they won't perform as well as the Isotek or that they look homemade?
    The link posted above to the lampizator page is a good one and the circuit is a pretty standard RFI filter, much like what will be in the Isotek. I have no doubt that a good DIY filter will perform as well as a commercial one. As for looking homemade, any piece of DIY audio can look terrible or look fabulous depending on how much effort the maker wants to put into the appearance. And as for it not costing much to design a circuit board, you're wrong - it can takes ages to design a circuit board and having them made can cost a lot of money in tooling costs and set-up charges. It's not worth doing for a one-off project.

  6. #6
    Join Date: Mar 2008

    Location: Dunfermline, Scotland, UK

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    I'm inthescottishmafia.

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    You could buy a balanced mains transformer from Airlink for under 300 quid.
    There are times when you canít do the sensible thing, when you canít act like a responsible adult at all; you just have to do whatever insane thing comes into your head. When bad people do it they end up murderers, when good people do it they end up heroes, and when the rest of us do it we end up looking like total idiots. But whenís that ever stopped us?

  7. #7
    Join Date: May 2010

    Location: Worcestershire, UK

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    I'm Rob.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dynamics View Post
    The Aquarius made an exposure amp sound like a different one, in a test at the Bristol show.
    Firstly, the mains at the Bristol show is very noisy - hotels circuits aren't great to start with - and then with every adjacent room full of electronic kit adding their own noise to the system. So a mains conditioner is going to make a significant difference in that environment.

    However, I too was very impressed with the Isotek demo at the Bristol show about 3yrs ago. I went out and bought four Isotek mains cables, and was impressed with the difference they made to my system. I then bought a Isotek GII Vision and was even more impressed. The noise floor dropped significantly - with silences became deeper and the spaces between instruments became more obvious. Those are high on my list of best purchases.

    That said - I've got noisy mains. I work in IT and have a lot of computer equipment. Even worse, I use Ethernet over mains to get network connectivity to the far ends of my house. You may well have better mains in your house than I do. So you may well not get the improvement that I get. - So I'd strongly recommend trying before buying.
    Rob.
    Powered by crossed fingers and clenched buttocks

  8. #8
    Join Date: Apr 2008

    Location: Warrington

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    I'm Neil.

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    I have used filters, balanced mains etc. and had a custom balanced mains wired in for years. When I tried taking all the gubbins out I was surprised that I preferred the sound. Balanced mains is best used with a DC blocker as a universal solution, but nowadays I just have an industrial star grounded mains block.

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    Mana Acoustics Racks >> Custom Silent Media Server >> Halide Bridge USB (with AQVOX USB power) >> Pedja Rogic's Audial Model S DAC + Pioneer PL-71 turntable / Vista Audio phono-1 mk II / Denon PCL-5 headshell / Reson Reca >> LFD DLS >> LFD PA2M (SE) >> Royd RR3s.

  9. #9
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Essex

    Posts: 15,271
    I'm openingabottleofwine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RothwellAudio View Post
    Is your issue with the DIY filters that they won't perform as well as the Isotek or that they look homemade?
    The link posted above to the lampizator page is a good one and the circuit is a pretty standard RFI filter, much like what will be in the Isotek. I have no doubt that a good DIY filter will perform as well as a commercial one. As for looking homemade, any piece of DIY audio can look terrible or look fabulous depending on how much effort the maker wants to put into the appearance. And as for it not costing much to design a circuit board, you're wrong - it can takes ages to design a circuit board and having them made can cost a lot of money in tooling costs and set-up charges. It's not worth doing for a one-off project.
    Agree - the Lampizator circuit described is near identical to the Schaffner FN 343-10-05 EMI filter unit fitted to my Olsen 6-way distribution strip. The values used in the Schaffner unit are as follows:

    C1 = 100nF
    C2,3 =2.2nF

    L1 = 0.27uH
    L2,3 = 0.4uH.

    The VDR is replaced with a 1 MOhm resistor, with a separate VDR fitted outside the Schaffner unit.

    They are inexpensive (< £40 each), so even if one used an individual filter unit for each power outlet, the total cost, for say a 6-way design, need be no more then £300.
    Have you listened to this month's choice in the Album Club?

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  10. #10
    Join Date: Feb 2017

    Location: Sussex

    Posts: 324
    I'm Simon.

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    Yes I agree the isotek stuff went up a shed load and the basic Polaris strip was £300, it's now £450. I've been looking at the 4/5 year old isol-8 minisub 2 which was £800 but some selling used for around £300-£400. The newest model is about £1k-£1300. I'm just peived at paying a lot for something that looks so simple from its components. If you google the isotek solus and see the picture of its inners, its really quite ridiculous it could be £800 ish.

    The isol stuff is interesting as I was reading the founder of isotek, who designed the original isotek stuff, went on to start up isol and I don't think Keith martin at isotek is a designer, so maybe the isol stuff is better. But if I had to choose between the solus at £800 and the isol 8 minisub latest model around a grand, I'd go for the isol as it looks like it has much more gubbins in it 'to do a job', if you could say that.

    I don't think the diy filters will perform as well as I'd think it's the total design that makes the difference, and its not possible just to say it's the filter on its own, if you look at the isotek Aquarius circuit and a home made one. And I'm no engineer but I suspect I'm right as a lot more goes into the isotek aqaurius circuit or isol minisub, than a filter I think. Id be worried the homemade jobbies using wooden boxes are a bit dodgy with fire risk etc.

    I do think it comes down to how much noise their is and at Bristol a lot, but I live in a flat and I suspect I'm affected by all the other people in the block etc or if not my fridge, air conditioning system I have etc which are always on.

    On reflection I can see it might cost a bit for a circuit being made but I doubt more than hundreds if you went to a Chinese firm. The circuit board in the Aquarius looks rediculously simple and you could even solder the components onto the board in right places too. I'm surprised someone hasn't tried to do this on the cheap as a one man band, or maybe a kit. Do Kits to compete with say the aqaurius exist?. They should do at a fraction of the cost.

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