Any discussion of the Pico by Vertex AQ is ultimately as much about the philosophy of listening, as it is about audio electronics. The Pico blocks (and for that matter, the Jaya power filters) are absolutely core to the Vertex AQ ethos. They can be introduced to almost any system with no need to physically change anything else in the system, and if you ‘get’ what the Picos do to a system, the rest of the Vertex AQ systematic approach will fall quickly into place. If they don’t... maybe the whole systematic approach concept is not for you. Such is the Pico’s intrinsic property and relationship to Vertex AQ’s basic concepts.
Vertex AQ calls the Picos ‘Grounding Blocks’. That might make one mistake this concept for electrical grounding, or even acoustic grounding. The conventional electrical grounding remains untouched in the system for obvious not-wishing-to-die reasons. Similarly acoustic grounding is beyond the abilities of a little box, requiring instead rebuilding the whole house around the audio system. No, Pico is grounding in terms of radio frequency and vibration. The Pico create a safe exit pathway for these potentially deleterious intrusions upon our musical enjoyment, like a labyrinthine Pied Piper.
Microphony, radio-frequency, and electromagnetic interference are the sources of many a system’s poor performance, claims Vertex AQ. Vibration from a transformer, for example, can create microphonic effects in capacitors in the audio chain, and simply isolating that transformer, even to the point of placing it in its own separate chassis, can never entirely alleviate this source of microphony. Vertex AQ believes this microphony can ultimately alter the waveform of the system’s audio signal, ‘smearing’ percussion and undermining phase integrity. Similarly, Vertex AQ’s in-house investigations point to RFI and EMI being able to undermine the overall transparency of the system, and with Wi-Fi and switch-mode power supplies springing up everywhere (not just in the audio chain), things are only getting worse!
The Pico blocks, like all Vertex AQ components, are designed to overcome these twin problems afflicting audio systems. Put simply, they provide a grounding to sink microphony and RF/EM interference; Vertex AQ calls such devices ‘noise syphons’, and they are designed to ground vibration in the most vibration-inducing components – loudspeakers and transformers - and prevent that vibration from ringing up and down the system.