We at Hi-Fi+ have a set terminology – the Transparent product falls into the ‘power conditioner’ category – but it really doesn’t fit here. The clue is in the name; PowerIsolator. And isolation is what it does and does very well. It’s a rigid, almost impermeable barrier to stop noise from elsewhere on the power line making it into your audio system, across all frequencies. And when you hear that, you soon discover that other products obsessed with the minutiae of power conditioning might not be looking at the bigger picture. Instead, Transparent adopts the ‘do one thing and do it properly’ approach.
The improvements are substantial, especially on higher-resolution equipment that comes with inherent sensitivity to its surroundings. There’s a strong sense of effortlessness to the sound that is more than just lower noise backgrounds (or, more correctly, the result of low noise backgrounds, adequately executed). This also helps free up the inner detail in a soundstage, while retaining the width and precision of that stereo image. Meanwhile, the overall power and dynamism of the music played is undimmed, freed even, and while this is more about ‘grace’ and ‘space’, it doesn’t interfere with ‘pace’ either.
Adding those two Ethernet connections is a boon. As we inevitably move toward a more networked audio approach, it’s becoming clear that the network is the single largest cause of power-related noise in a modern system. Unfortunately, unplugging your system from that source of noise also disconnects you from Tidal and Qobuz, so radical surgery is worse than the symptoms of the disease. The Reference PowerIsolator shuts out that network noise, and this has a dramatic effect on the sound of your system… even when the network streamer is not in use. If this were the only barrier the isolator brought to the system, it would be gratefully received, but as it also carries the same isolation to the whole system, it’s a done deal.
There is also a ‘secret menu’ trick with using the Reference PowerIsolator. Although it has six outputs in the UK, only use every alternate one. That way you get a double-dose of isolation and adding a second Reference is a way of building on the first without having to trade in or trade up or a bank of XL or Opus models.
I never got to fly on Concorde, but now I realise that I didn’t really want to break the sound barrier. With the Transparent Reference PowerIsolator in tow, I want more of a sound barrier. I want a solid wall between power and sound… and that’s what the Reference PowerIsolator brings, without any sonic booms or rattled windows, unless you want to create your own. We’ve been used to talking about the best of these power products as ‘benign+’ as in, they improve one aspect of performance while doing nothing too wrong elsewhere. This enhances the performance across the board. The power revolution starts here!
Price and contact details
Transparent Reference PowerIsolator
Manufactured by: Transparent
Distributed by: Absolute Sounds
Tel: +44(0)20 8971 3909