by Kevin OBrien on May 3, 2014



We love coming to Chicago because we always know we're in for some great food and some really friendly people. This trip reinforced this for us yet again. Thanks Windy City. The second AXPONA event took place (we're not counting the past 20 years) here in Rosemont, IL and it was an even better show this year than last year. This was mainly due to the new location and hotel if you ask us. We could have used some better room signs but that's a small gripe. We felt the rooms were a little tough to tame but we run into that no matter which show we travel to.

Check out our 2014 AXPONA equipment list below. This should give our readers some idea as to what we were showing this year. Unfortunately, a list won't do the room justice....

We'd like to thank Spencer, Jonathan, Robert, and Steven from The Absolute Sound for their hard work and killer reviews. We'd also like to thank Jason Victor Serinus from Stereophile as well as Scot Hull from Part-Time Audiophile. We don't want to forget all the other reviewers from the other publications as well. Thanks guys! We'd also like to thank Steve from AXPONA for stopping by our room to chat and listen. We couldn't pull this off without your help so thank you!

Here are some pics from our room. They don't do it justice but this is all we have for you unfortunately. The room sounded MUCH better than it looked which is saying a lot. We did get a considerable amount of compliments from folks on how good our room looked.  Thanks everyone...  

The weather was a bit cold and the wind did not disappoint. We were counting on this but what we were not counting on was how well we were able to manipulate the sound of our room. This was helped by Bryan from GIK Acoustics. Thanks Bryan for bringing the acoustic treatment by our room. It was VERY helpful for tweaking and getting that last bit of performance from our crappy hotel room. This is what we deal with at every venue but the square rooms and thin walls were especially tough on us this year.

Below we are showing a pic of our YFS static display. The modified YFS Mac Mini is sitting to the left, an Android tablet displaying our YFS website in the middle, and our remote control for this show, our MacBook Pro, to the right. Yes, we were controlling our Windows 7/ 8 based YFS HD.Ref-3 via our MacBook Pro. That threw some folks for a loop.

Overall, we felt our sound was top notch and apparently the reviewers and show-goers agreed as well. We kept hearing praise from folks from all sorts of various backgrounds. The one constant was that the Endeavor Audio E-3 speaker system was not being out-shined by any of the components in the room. This naturally also included the Constellation Audio gear. Every component complimented one another nicely and nothing stood out. It's great when all our gear plays nicely with one another.

Finally, we'd like to thank you, the readers, for taking the time to read. Nobody has time to read anymore. Video seems to be the easier way to do things but we think it never hurts to take the time to sit down and read books, magazines, web blogs, etc. As tech keeps advancing, it feels like if we can't get our info spoon fed to us in 30 seconds, we just don't have the time. Let's all remember to sit back, relax, and take a break from the busy world every now and again to enjoy the music.

-YFS Design Team


by Kevin OBrien on October 25, 2013


Denver is a great place to be this time of year. The fall colors and the cool, crisp air remind me that the snow will be flying just around the corner.  For now though, the weather is great, the foliage is amazing, and it's audio time in the Mile High City.

We're taking the time out to give the folks who could not make the journey to Denver a peek into what went on in the YFS Room at the 10th annual Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. We were truly grateful for having Meitner DesignConstellation Audio, and Von Schweikert Audio support us at this year's show. Thank you Shahin, Peter, and Albert for an amazing opportunity to show the world your truly outstanding gear.

An equipment list below gives our readers a glimpse into the scene inside room 542. As always, there's a little left to be desired as far as the room layout goes but most exhibitors pretty much had the same room to work with. We were looking into renting a ballroom but that's not going to happen ANY time soon due to pricing.



The YFS Room was lucky enough to be graced by some of the hardest working reviewers in the industry including Jonathan Valin of The Absolute Sound, Stephen Mejias from Stereophile, and Mal & Kirsten Kenney from Part-Time Audiophile. I'm sure we're forgetting a few others, namely from Enjoy The Music and Stereomojo, and a few other reviewers from some other audiophile magazines we can't remember at this point.

We don't want to forget to give a shout-out to Chris Connaker at Computer Audiophile. He stopped by our room on Thursday to chat and talk computer audio as per usual and discuss the latest Pearl Jam happenings. Thank you guys for taking the time out to come listen, snap photos, and give us feedback. We truly appreciate it. We would also like to thank all the showgoers who showed up to chat and listen to our latest designs. It's always fun to catch up and describe our latest iterations of computer audio madness. In fact, this year we debuted our brand new YFS Mac Mini which we are truly excited about. Thank you folks.

We would really like to thank Jonathan Valin for taking the time to stop by our room. We don't play analog sources such as vinyl or tape at any of the audio shows we exhibit at. Unfortunately, those are his favorite sources, but he still managed to give a listen to our system and compliment us on our sound. In fact, it turns out he liked our tonal balance and presentation along with our smooth sound...

YFS has some announcements it would like to make regarding some new developments that took place this year at the show. We became Authorized Endeavor Audio dealers! Check out their brand new E-3 floor standing loudspeaker pictured above. Holy crap did these things sound good for the money. In fact, they sounded great regardless of cost. Nice work Endeavor Audio! We also ran into Mat Weisfeld from VPI who hopefully will welcome us back into the VPI family. (We were recent dealers up until a year or so ago). It was great talking with you at the show Mat. And yes, we do actually listen to vinyl.

EMM Labs will be coming out with a firmware update for their DAC2X some time in the near future which should give the Meitner MA-1 as well as the DAC2X a nice boost in performance. EMM Labs will also be debuting a new Reference DAC some time next year which utilizes a two-chassis design. One chassis houses the power supply and the other chassis is for the D to A conversion circuitry. Pricing will come in at ~ $30,000.

Overall, we had a great time at the 2013 RMAF and we hope next year is even better as far as attendance goes. If there were any complaints, that would be it. It seemed like less folks were at the show this year in comparison to last year's show. We were assuming the Broncos game and the beer fest were partly to blame but I have a feeling the recent flooding in Colorado was really the reason attendance was down. Hopefully folks will rebuild and be back for 2014.

Until next year...

-YFS Design Team


by Kevin OBrien on June 5th 2013


The YFS / VSA crew is back from Newport Beach, CA and we must say it was a great show. We would like to thank all the visitors for stopping in and saying hello, and most importantly, for taking the time out to hear our gear. THANK YOU.

The weather was fabulous and the music was superb. We have some pics to share with our readers and a few notes we feel are worthy of mentioning. A big thanks goes out to Peter Breuninger, Robert Harley, Jason Serinus, and all the reviewers who came to visit our room. We'd also like to give a shout out to Peter at Constellation Audio. His amps are AMAZING. THANK YOU guys!



I also wanted to personally thank Paul Zimmer and Leif Swanson as well as Devon Von Schweikert for their help setting our room up and doing the heavy lifting. You guys are awesome! A lot of folks don't realize these are the guys that make these shows happen. Thank you!



First off, let's get everybody familiar with what we had on display. There's always some confusion it seems about what was in the show rack so we'll give you a list below.



We felt we got some pretty decent sound. The room is always a battle but things seemed to sound good right out of the gate which was a nice change of pace. We tweaked the system Thursday and then a little more on Friday and by Saturday things were sounding GREAT.

We had plenty of folks in and out of the room throughout the weekend but the main highlights for me were meeting Fred from Audio Prana representing Metrum Acoustics, Dusty from Channel Islands Audio, John Thompson from J.River, Steve from Empirical Audio, as well as a host of other non industry-affiliated folks.



After speaking with Steve from Empirical Audio, we cannot wait to get our hands on Steve's Off Ramp 6 SPDIF converter which should be coming out in the near future. It implements the XMOS USB input chip and should be compatible with all Linux, Mac and Windows based computer transports. We're excited!



The California atmosphere, the weather, as well as the really NICE cars outside of the Irvine Hilton were all reminders that we're some of the luckiest guys on the planet. We get to play with VSA speakers and mind blowing amps and DACs all in the name of providing outstanding sound for the most discerning audiophiles. What more could we ask for? (OK, a winning lottery ticket would be nice!)



Well, that pretty much wraps things up for us and we're excited to show some really cool NEW products from VSA at the upcoming Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver. You'll all have to wait and see what we're referring to. You won't be disappointed!!!

THANKS for reading!

 - YFS Design Team


by Kevin OBrien on March 21st, 2013


We are all back safe and mostly sound from Axpona 2013 and we have to say it was a great trip and an awesome show! Here's a 'thank you' to the city of Chicago and to Steve for putting on a great show. We have a feeling we'll be back next year for the great food, the great sounds, and the incredible gear. We also wanted to thank Albert and Damon Von Schweikert and the entire VSA family for giving us the opportunity to share the Othello Room.

The room sounded great and we can't thank VSA enough for an overall top-notch weekend. We don't want to forget to thank Joe Lavrencik from Critical Mass Systems for supplying the killer component stands in our room. A 'thank you' goes out to Shahin at EMM Labs as well. Thank you Shahin for getting us the EMM Labs DAC2X in time to get it integrated into our rack for the show. Everything sounded great!

We wanted to give our readers a glimpse of the Axpona '13 YFS-VSA component list. We figured posting it for you to see would be the easiest way to do this. Our line-up was incredible as far as the gear was concerned and the VSA VR-100XS speaker system was absolutely glorious! We were thankful for the opportunity to show our latest iteration of the YFS HD Ref-3 server, the Limited Edition. The LE version of our Ref-3 takes an already great source component and elevates it to a new level.

We keep everything the same as the Special Edition but implement an 8-core processor, our latest YFS DC power supplies, and our latest YFS Reference dual-headed USB interconnect. The DC linear power supplies can be seen in the photo above. They are the two silver boxes below the HD Ref-3 LE.

The YFS 12V DC power supply powers the SOtM USB PCI card and the YFS 5V DC power supply powers the USB power for the EMM Labs DAC2X via our new YFS dual-headed USB cable. See our EMM Labs DAC2X review for more info. We wanted to note that we were displaying a special new Master Built USB cable as well which uses Delphi Aerospace conductors. These conductors are identical to the rest of the Master Built Signature cable line conductors, hence the price.

We received some "Best of Show" awards from various reviewers so we know we're on the right track. We'd like to thank Myles Astor, Peter Breuninger, and all The Absolute Sound staff as well as the Stereophile staff for taking their time out to listen and give us their feedback. We'd also like to thank Greg Weaver, the senior editor over at Positive-Feedback who will be reviewing our HD Ref-3 SE this summer... Greg Weaver also gave us a "Best of Show" award for the Axpona event.


The shot above shows the YFS-VSA team. Pictured from left to right: Brad Easton, Mike O'Brien, Kevin O'Brien, Albert Von Schweikert, and Damon Von Schweikert. Here's a link to VSA's Facebook page which has more info on the show awards, etc. that were given out for our Othello Room set up. And yes, we were part of the room although YFS was not mentioned specifically in the video. 

We hope to see you all at the next audio show... Until next time.

-YFS Design Team


by Kevin OBrien on 02/14/2017


I want to personally thank Marcin from JPLAY for being so generous and turning us onto this game-changing software.

It took me a while to find the time to give JPlay a shot. About almost 2 years to be exact. But here I am and I'm writing this article to tell as many readers as I can that JPlay is the real deal. There is no need for debate on this topic any longer. All of us here at YFS start with theory and end with our ears. That's the ultimate test: what sounds best to us at the end of the day.

JPlay has transformed my system into something I could never have imagined. If you cannot hear the difference between JPlay's basic stripped down JPLAYmini stand-alone player and your current software for Windows, there's a problem with your system. It's that simple.

I've never heard my music the way it sounds with JPLAYmini. There's added dimensionality, more life-like sound, and I am hearing things I never noticed before in my favorite albums. It feels like I have unleashed a newly upgraded system with updated fully burned-in gear. The reality is the only change in my system is my choice of playback software. To me, that speaks loudly enough for me to recommend JPLAY to all my customers using Windows-based servers.

Album Player was our go-to software up until now. I still love Album Player but it sounds boring now compared to JPLAY's suite. JRiver is great for users who want to see their artwork and tag their files. If you want a very neat and tidy way to get ALL of your music in front of you with album art, artist and album names, JRiver is the suite of choice. If you want the best possible sound from your dedicated Windows-based music server, JPLAY has no competition.

Marcin gave me a few hints as to which specific settings should be used to get the best possible sound quality out of my YFS Ref-3 server. Kernel Streaming (Ultra Stream) with a PC Buffer set to 10 seconds along with the DAC Link set to 1 Hz seems to be the preferred way to set up JPLAYmini. This comes directly from the manufacturer. See the JPLAY settings window above for reference (values are not set correctly above but are shown to give end users an idea of where specific settings are located within the pop-up window). If settings are not compatible with your hardware, JPLAYmini may give you an error. It may just play your tracks and you'll get no sound from your speakers. That is how things worked for me. Until I aligned the settings correctly with my hardware, I could not switch back and forth between all formats (DSD64 and DSD128 along with PCM 24.192 files) without spitting out errors in the JPLAYmini window.

Sound quality is the utmost important factor for us when deciding on gear and this comparison between suites was no different. For 100 Euros, I cannot think of money better spent. Most of my audiophile investments cost much more and give me much smaller gains for my money.

Give JPlay a shot. Use it as a stand-alone product and you will be kindly rewarded for your efforts.  I guarantee it.

 - YFS Review Team

 Associated Equipment for this Review:

  • YFS Computer Music Server - HD-Ref-3
  • EMM Labs DA2 DSD DAC
  • McIntosh C2300 Preamp with Siemens NOS Tubes
  • McIntosh MC202 Monoblocks (1 Pair)
  • Von Schweikert Unifield II Mk3 Speakers
  • YFS Custom Room Treatment
  • YFS Custom Interconnects and Cables



We know most folks in the audiophile world are afraid of drastic change and have adhered to the general audio source rules for a while now. We used to adhere to the same rules as well. A few of them are: "Computers are not good audio sources and do not sound as good as CD transports for digital." or "I listen to vinyl so why would I bother with a computer for an audio source?" or "Digital files are compressed and lossy such as MP3's and AAC files. Why would I play those types of files on my $100,000 system?" etc. I think I've heard them all and I used to say the same things until very recently. We here at YFS understand the stigma involved with using a computer in your audiophile system. It does seem scary and the software can become a nightmare to install especially if it's your first try. That is why we are writing this review. We want the folks who have been on the fence about computer audio to finally make the jump and come into the new digital age as painlessly as possible.

We would like to provide our readers some details and insight into the computer audio software that we have recently tried out called JRiver. We were using the FREE software package called Foobar 2000 for a while now with great results. Did we mention it's FREE? Hence our main reason for using it. We have been aware of the JRiver Media Center software suite for a while now but the idea of paying $50 for software when we could get another great program for free has always been a turn-off. It does pay to keep an open mind though as I'm finding out. When we were setting up our computer vs. CD transport reviews we had trouble getting the original Musical Fidelity V-DAC to accept a bit-perfect digital signal via USB so we decided to give JRiver a try. We're glad we did. Unfortunately, we have experience with PC's and we do not cover a solution for a Mac. We apologize as we know there are a considerable amount of Apple users out there. Amarra may be your software of choice if you use i-tunes although it's MUCH more expensive than JRiver.

This process is valid for USB to SPDIF converters as well as USB DAC's. Whether your converter or DAC has an Asynchronous USB input is important as well. The original MF V-DAC does not have an Asynchronous USB input. Most USB DACs on the market nowadays have Asynchrounous USB inputs so this should not be an issue for most users anymore.

As it turns out, JRiver provides the end user with many more options than Foobar, all embedded WITHIN the program. You can get to the same end-point with Foobar but it can take more time and the user must be fairly comfortable with installing and tweaking computer software. For instance, if you want to try WASAPI or ASIO you must download the corresponding Foobar plug-in and then install it within the Foobar program. This can be a problem for many users who have a hard enough time installing the main program let alone all the extras. Below you will find a step-by-step process to walk you through a typical JRiver Ver. 17 installation. The only change for your personal system will be the type of drivers you will install for the specific DAC you are using. These drivers should be downloadable from your DAC manufacturer's website or they should be enclosed on a CD-ROM with your DAC along with the rest of the accessories. (Your device may be driver-less. Such is the case with Musical Fidelity USB DAC's) We will assume here the user is running Windows 7 on their PC. If Windows XP is your software of choice, the Kernel Streaming plug-in or the ASIO plug-in for Foobar 2000 may be your only option for bit-perfect digital playback as the WASAPI plugin for Foobar is not supported in XP! WASAPI bit-perfect output is only supported in Windows Vista and Windows 7. We have not tried JRiver Version 17 in XP but I assume it works well. Another option for bit-perfect playback in XP could be the ASIO4ALL program in conjunction with Foobar 2000. Make sure to give this software a try! It matches the resolution of your digital files to your DAC resolution for maximum and optimal compatibility, all on it's own. We have had success with it running in Windows 7 in conjunction with 'another program' we're going to share with you in the near future.  

First, let's make sure we're in "Exclusive Mode" and have the Windows Sound Enhancements turned off. The user must enter the following path to get to the adjustments: 'Control Panel' -> 'Hardware and Sound' -> 'Sound'.  Make sure your proper USB Sound Device is set to default.                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Once you know you have the correct device enabled, hit the 'Properties' button in the bottom right-hand corner of the current window.

Make sure you have BOTH boxes checked under the 'Exclusive Mode' heading on the 'Advanced' tab.

Make sure you disable the Sound Enhancements as well on the 'Enhancements' tab.


Now, let's talk about what all these terms above mean. The user can usually install the proprietary drivers from their DAC manufacturer, install the JRiver software, select their device within JRiver, and be on their way. Unfortunately, most of the time this involves using the default output mode called direct sound.

All of the features we are about to describe are accessed by pressing "Ctl+O" to get to the "Options" main menu. Make sure you select the correct device under the "Output mode settings" heading under the "Audio Output" menu. Here the user can also change the output buffer size depending on the performance of his or her machine. You may have to play around with this a little to get it right where it needs to be.                                                                                                          

Let's get back to our "direct sound" description. This option sends your music stream to your DAC but it gets Windows involved during the process. This is not desirable for audiophile playback as it does not allow the music stream to go unaltered to your DAC. To solve this problem, the user must enable the WASAPI output or ASIO output option under the "Audio" menu. Go to the first available heading under "Audio" named "Audio Output". The user will see an option called "Output mode:".  Set the output mode to WASAPI or ASIO.  IT IS SET TO "DIRECT SOUND" BY DEFAULT.  Not all devices support ASIO but WASAPI should work for almost all devices. Just remember, ASIO is the preferred configuration if at all possible! Either  of these configurations as well as Kernel Streaming allows the user to achieve a bit-perfect digital signal out of their computer into their USB device just like a CD transport sends its digital signal to a DAC.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

If you're using an advanced music server that has a dual-core processor and 8 GB of RAM and want to take advantage of your hardware, you can tell JRiver to play your digital files in 'Memory Mode' for even better performance. This is done by checking the "Play files from memory instead of disk" box under the "Settings" heading under the "Audio" menu. This should improve your performance if your computer can handle it.

The next step would be to choose the output format you would like your digital files to be output in. We are talking in terms of bit-depth and sample rate. What I mean is, it's time to tell JRiver you want to play all your files upsampled to 24/96 even though your source files may be 16/44 or vice versa. This is one very nice feature that I have not been able to find in Foobar. You CAN change the bit-depth parameter in Foobar but not the sampling rate as far as I can tell. You can even tell JRiver to downsample your 24/192 files to 24/96. This is especially useful if your DAC only supports 24/96 files. This is accomplished by going into the heading "DSP & output format" under the "Settings" heading and telling the program to output in either 8, 16, 24, 32, or 64 bits. We were able to get up to 32 bits working but not 64. To change the sample rate of your files you need to go into the "DSP & output format" menu under the "Settings" heading and click on the associated table. Each sample rate can be set to stay the same or change to whatever sample rate you prefer depending on the incoming sample rate JRiver sees from your source files. Very slick!

With this scenario above we were able to get "WASAPI Event Style" to work. We matched our native  resolution of our V-DAC to the output resolution in JRiver. If you try and push your server/ DAC combo  beyond it's capabilities, your computer may crash as we experienced. Only now we were able to get bit-perfect digital output from our server via USB to our Musical Fidelity V-DAC MkI!  

There are a plethora of various other options the user can toggle through at his or her leisure. There's even a "Room Correction" feature as well as "Volume Leveling" and many others. We have not bothered to adjust any of these other parameters as we have tried to keep the outgoing signal as free from DSP effects as possible. Play around as you see fit.

We would like to mention that WAV files can be ripped using Foobar or EAC which preserves all of the quality in the original CD. You do NOT have to accept or put up with lossy formats such as MP3, WMA, and i-tunes AAC files in this day and age. Just don't do it! 

One thing we did notice that should interest computer audiophiles is that there is a noticeable difference in sound between Foobar and JRiver. To me, JRiver sounds a bit warmer and Foobar gives you more of that "in your face" sound. Try them both to see which you prefer. You've got options here folks which is great!

I hope this review has enlightened you as well as provided some valuable information. We really hope you try the various software suites we have touched upon, especially JRiver. I'm sure there are a few more software playback suites available and it's only a matter of time until we get to try them and report back. Hopefully this will help our readers with their installs and if there are any questions out there, don't hesitate to e-mail us and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.



Associated Equipment for this Review:

  • YFS/ SCH Custom Speakers
  • YFS Custom Room Treatment
  • Musical Fidelity V-DAC
  • YFS Custom CA-60a Preamp and Custom 6L6 Tube Power Amp
  • YFS Custom Interconnects and Cables


by Kevin OBrien on 05/01/2023


Power is important. Without power, the audio rack won't fire up. Sure. We get it... We all have power conditioners as we are proper 'audiophiles'. We do extreme things, considered as such by outsiders as 'extreme', because we just want the best sound we can get regardless of cost. These same 'outsiders' would not understand spending thousands of dollars on isolation transformers and such, or dedicated 20-Amp lines for our listening rooms, etc. This hobby just seems so crazy sometimes.

Enter Bill Stierhout, owner of Coherence Systems, and developer of a new power product line of components for AV enthusiasts. These are power products that deliver better results than just plugging gear directly into the wall. This new line of products is called ADD-Powr. But wait, you can still plug your favorite gear directly into the wall with Bill's products, or into your current power conditioner. You see, Bill's products induce a sag on your AC line by introducing an 8 Hz signal onto your home's entire power system. Treating the entire electrical system results in bettering even non-audio-related electronics, such as computer monitors and TVs. You don't actually plug your gear into Bill's Sorcer X4 Plus, you plug the X4 into your house electrical system, in parallel to your existing conditioner / gear. That's the idea anyway.


Let us gather some background information first, before we go further. Bill got his start helping professional recording studios in the early 1980s. With consoles and digital tape machines under his belt, he garnered himself a solid reputation in the Pro world. He would later enter into the 'audiophile' market in 1999 by developing Quantum Products, which is how QRT came to be. QRT stands for Quantum Resonant Technology. This is the same technology that Nordost purchased from Bill in 2008, along with Quantum Products itself. 

It's safe to say that Bill is not a newcomer to The HiFi Industry and his Add-Powr products are not to be taken lightly. Specifically, we are speaking to the ADD-Powr Sorcer X4 Plus. This is a type of "AC Harmonic Resonator", as Bill calls it. Bill was nice enough to allow us to purchase a review unit after meeting at the 2023 AXPONA event in Chicago earlier this year. Despite not truly understanding what Bill was telling us at AXPONA, we wanted to learn more and hear for ourselves what the Sorcer X4 could do. A review was definitely in order, so that's what we're doing here... and the results are interesting, and fascinating!

Throughout the results below, we will give some feedback from one of our YFS customers, Thomas. He also purchased an X4 for his system. He lives in Chicago, so it was an easy way to get an X4 without getting freight involved. Bill was kind enough to help Thomas at the AXPONA event itself. That brings up another point, Bill is easy going, and will never pressure you into a sale or lead you one way or another. We respect that. He was also patient enough to help Thomas with all of his questions and concerns regarding this 30-pound hunk of sophisticated metal. Patience is a virtue, and luckily, Bill has that in spades.

Above is the literature that comes inside the box. It goes into describing how to operate the X4, along with a few notes about its general workings. The X4 is not your typical power conditioner. This means you will not want to use it like a typical power conditioner. It needs to go to work on your AC power line, not on your gear first hand. It reads above that the X4 can be placed in several locations, but we noticed it had its best effect on our system when placed near our rack, plugged into a power outlet adjacent to our rack. We listened with the top off, in hopes to get the most out of the innards of the X4. This allowed us to 'expose' ourselves and our system to whatever technology was happening inside the X4.

During the evaluation period, we tried all sorts of locations and configurations for the X4. We tried plugging it into our voltage regulator and everywhere in between. Best results still were obtained by placing the X4 adjacent to our gear, plugged into a random house power outlet.

We power our isolation transformer, which our gear plugs into, from the referenced voltage regulator above, which supplies a steady 120 Volts to our system (+/- 1 Volt). This device also filters the incoming power, which helps things a bit further. An isolation transformer feeds our audio gear with balanced power (60V+ / 60V-) and provides some further filtering and capacitance. This ends up bringing our noise floor down substantially and helps breathe dynamics into our system. The balanced power allows our source gear to operate at its best, similar to a pro studio environment, with excellent, quiet, low-level detail retrieval. A common ground is also established between our components, eliminating ground loops & hum. This is our much preferred method of powering our rack, instead of just plugging straight into the wall. 

Luckily, the X4 works in tandem with the rest of our existing gear. So do not worry, there's no need to ditch your current investment in AV power products. In some cases, some conditioners will not be compatible with the X4. Namely, any RE-conditioner that re-creates the AC Sinewave (ie. PS Audio Powerplant). You have to exercise some caution when mating gear with the X4, but most of us should be just fine.

The X4 should be turned on and left in place for 15 minutes prior to making any evaluations. This is per the manufacturer. Although, we noticed a change in our system as soon as we placed the unit adjacent to our rack and turned it on. We used a solid audiophile-grade YFS power cord, not a cheapie from our local Box store (apparently, a good power cord is a must). Albeit slight, the change was there. It was for the better. The sound seemed to get more layered, allowing us a greater view into the recording. The sound field the speakers were throwing now allowed us to enjoy an even more expansive listening space, yet imaging solidified between the speakers. Again, these changes for us were slight. On the other hand, they were not slight for our friend, Thomas, in Chicago. 

Thomas was getting the same experience, but in much more full effect than what we were getting. Changes were not slight, but right there in front of him. They were obvious, right in plane sight, calling attention to themselves. We are still scratching our heads as to why?

We know everything in this hobby is system-dependent. That includes tweaks, cables, and pretty much everything in between. The X4 is no different based on our testing and evaluation. Results are all positive, with some users experiencing major changes to their listening, while others only experiencing minor changes. Your mileage with the X4 will vary, dependent upon your system. Your guess is as good as ours. We have no way to figure out how this 'ADD-Powr effect' works, but it doesn't work the same for everyone, as we all have different gear. 

If you have questions about the Sorcer X4 Plus, contact Bill directly. He is here to help. We rarely run into folks as nice as Bill, and it will serve him well in his future audio endeavors (and it already has). We wish Bill the best of luck with his new line of ADD-Powr products. Give them a shot. You have nothing to lose.  Bill promotes a 30-day trial on his website.  Very cool.

Thank you for spending your time with us.

Until next time...


by Kevin OBrien and Brad Easton on 03/27/2012


We would like to give some props to our favorite digital files playback suite called Album Player. We have touched on JRiver as well as Foobar 2000 but we haven't discussed an alternative suite yet. Sure, JRiver has an option to buffer your files to your server's memory before playback but does it really do the best job at this? By the end of this review, you'll know the answer to that question. We are assuming the user will be implementing Windows XP or Windows 7. We will not be covering any other OS in this review.

We stumbled upon two players a short while ago called JPlay and Album Player. We were pretty excited about JPlay at first and then we realized Album Player is just plain better in terms of user friendliness.  JPlay is the better player for that no frills, (no GUI) top-notch computer source playback. Although when we are done here, you may find Album Player is the playback software of choice for the foreseeable future just like we did.

Technically speaking, JPlay is not a digital files player by itself. It integrates within Foobar 2K or JRiver to accomplish its tasks (plug-in). Album Player is a totally separate, stand-alone player that does not integrate within another player. It's important to make this clear for potential customers of either suite. JPlay costs 99 Euros and Album Player will set the user back just under 30 Euros. That's quite a difference in cost!

Let's begin with the difference between JPlay and Album Player v5.3. AP is available to install as a mouse and keyboard suite or the user can decide to install it as a touch screen suite. VERY COOL!  JPlay has even better performance than AP by allowing background OS tasks to be shut down completely and therefore use less of your server's resources during playback. This is only true in the case where the user is using a laptop instead of a more powerful dedicated music server. If the user is able to implement a dedicated music server that is on the cutting edge technology-wise, the AP suite will perform just as well as JPlay but give the user a more friendly user interface.

The other reason we like AP more than JPlay is that AP is the easiest playback suite to set up that we have come across to date! Check out the screen shot below to adjust the 'Audio' settings within AP. There's only one or two options to choose from.

The user must hit the "sprocket" or "gear" button directly above the "N'" in "SOMETHIN' ELSE" in the screen shot below. This allows the user to enter the "Preferences Menu". The "stack of discs" button next to the "Preferences Menu" button points the user into the "Database Menu" where you can add your digital files and edit them. Make sure to use the "Collection Editor" within the "Database Menu" to delete albums from the AP database after you delete them from your hard disc. The "Database Menu" is somewhat tricky to use at first but it becomes easier as you continue to use it. 

Now hit the "Preferences" button about half-way down the screen shot above. The user will now set up the software for his or her specific DAC. Make sure you have installed your DAC's drivers and that your DAC can 'talk' with your server before you start AP. Also make sure the DAC is turned on before starting the AP application. If not, the DAC will not be selected as the 'Sound Device' and sound will most likely be output via your computer speakers. Select your device (aka your DAC) under the "Sound Device" heading. One important note here. It shows in the screen shot below that checking the ASIO box is the only bit-perfect scenario within AP. You must check that box and have ASIO4ALL installed on your computer. We were able to get the ASIO option to work with the Minimax DAC Plus after we installed its driver from the Eastern Electric website. ASIO is the ONLY way to get bit-perfect playback via Album Player!  We spoke with Peter van der Burg, the AP software designer, and he confirmed with us that the ASIO option is the only bit-perfect playback scenario within AP. 

Now you need to make sure you select the correct WDM device so ASIO4ALL knows which device to use. Hit the "Control Panel" button within the "Preferences Menu" under the "Audio" heading after checking the "ASIO Support Enabled" box.  The screen shot below shows the user how to select the proper audio device within ASIO4ALL. Double-click the correct device so the "on/off" switch is lit up next to the "play" button and you should be ready to begin playing files! The user can also change various playback settings in the same "Preferences Menu" window by going into the other options such as "Crossfade" and "Normalization".  We prefer our tracks to play gapless and we turn Replay Gain off (Normalization).                                                                                                                                                               

Once we were able to get AP and JPlay set up properly, we compared the two playback scenarios and we could not tell a difference between them. If there was a difference between JPlay and Album Player, it was ever so slight. The important thing to note here is that many folks will not be able to tell a difference between JRiver/ Foobar 2K and Album Player/ JPlay if they are simply using a laptop as their music server. In this case JPlay may be the best option as it turns off all background applications while playing your files.

We did notice a difference while using our YFS HD-Ref-1 server. AP/ JPlay definitely was a step up in sound quality over Foobar/ JRiver in our system. Your mileage may vary.

Another very cool aspect of Album Player was the way it handled playback among our laptops that we have used in the past. We had plenty of trouble trying to set up laptops with our various USB DAC's. We kept getting random audio drop-outs as well as other issues. When we tried Album Player on the same laptops, they played seamlessly without ANY issues. The drop-outs occurred for the first few minutes and then AP "learned" how to adapt to it's environment and the drop-outs went away EVERY time after a short while and lasted through our entire listening session. This was true for EVERY file resolution we tried including 24.192. This aspect alone was a huge selling point to us.

Hopefully we've opened some users' eyes to some new software suites for digital playback. That was our goal here. Give these software suites a try and keep an open mind and keep your CD transport turned OFF!!!

THANKS for reading!



Associated Equipment for this Review:

  • YFS Computer Music Server - HD-Ref-1
  • Eastern Electric Minimax DAC Plus
  • Quicksilver Audio 12AX7 Preamp
  • McIntosh MC275 Tubed Power Amp
  • Von Schweikert VR-5 HSE Speakers
  • YFS Custom Room Treatment
  • YFS Custom Interconnects and Cables
  • Herbie's Audio Lab Dampening Products


by Kevin OBrien on 08/02/2011


I have heard from the audiophile grapevine that a sweet combination for a power reconditioning system would consist of a PS Audio Power Plant Premier reconditioner COMBINED with an Equitech Isolation Transformer for the ultimate power conditioning system for the ultimate audio and video experience. Well, I went ahead and did it. I know PS Audio has recently come out with the P5 and P10 power reconditioners but lets talk about the earlier Power Plant Premier that we are all quite familiar with I'm sure.

The premise of the PPP is that you can achieve a better audio/ video performance throughout your system by creating perfect, clean, reconditioned power for all your components. I never used to believe any of this until I tried a PS Audio P600 reconditioner back in 2005. All I could say was WOW. It made a huge difference especially in terms of soundstage width and depth as well as detail retrieval. The music just seemed to "hang" in the air in front of you when all your components were using "reconditioned" power.

Equitech provides a balanced power system by running 60V on the hot line and running 60V on the neutral line and carrying the noise on the ground. This is what recording studios have been doing for a while now. The normal convention in an unbalanced system would place 120V on the hot line and 0V on the neutral line and you still have the ground but supposedly considerable noise can be introduced into your system.

I heard a while back that an interesting audiophile experiment would be to try and incorporate an Equitech Isolation Transformer with a PPP. I couldn't help myself and I had to give it a try once the idea popped into my head. So what kind of results would this experiment yield? Pretty cool results indeed.

By itself, the Equitech 1.5Q is an exceptional product in my opinion. Unfortunately it does not remedy the problem of distortion infiltrating your system on the incoming line from your home's power. This is solved by first using the PPP to reproduce perfect, low distortion, AC power and then plugging the Equitech 1.5Q into it to achieve an even lower noise floor than the PPP can achieve.

Unfortunately, either of the products by themselves is not ideal. The PPP can control the output voltage to your components by turning the potentiometer underneath the unit. This is a dirty little secret PS Audio does not want you to know since some of the PPP units were damaged during shipping and this option could potentially be non-functional. Let's hope this isn't the case for you because 117V sounds absolutely great with tubed gear! The 1.5RQ cannot control the output voltage but drops the noise floor 20dB less than the PPP and adds the all-important balanced power output the newer power plants do not produce.

I must say, after getting my hands on an Equitech, I gave it a try and it was definitely worth it. The noise floor dropped a noticeable amount. Now whether it was the spec'd 20dB less than the PPP, I'm not certain but I know what I am hearing and it's VERY nice.

I can highly recommend the combination but I don't know how durable the PPP is since I had to send it back to PS Audio for repairs after about a year of use. I believe this is why they came out with the newer P5 and P10 reconditioners. Either way, PS Audio has been nothing but great with their customer service and I appreciate them being able to fix my unit free of charge without even asking when I purchased the unit. This is a good thing. Good customer service is a godsend in the event you need to use it. 

Getting back to the point, if you are interested in the PPP because of its ability to produce perfect, clean, voltage-controllable power but are worried about the fact at it's not using balanced power with a super-low noise floor, then this is where the Equitech comes in and saves the day. PS Audio could not keep the size down and efficiency of the PPP up without losing the balanced output. Fortunately the Equitech solves this problem by allowing the user to plug the 1.5Q into the PPP and achieve the perfect power union. I assume the newer P5 and P10 can come close to this combination but have not had the opportunity to try them as of yet so we will keep you informed as things change. Either way, this power combo is a pleasure to use and really does make a considerable difference.


Associated Equipment for this Review:

  • Von Schweikert VR-5 HSE (Hovland Special Edition) Speakers
  • Quicksilver tubed Linsestage and Monoblocks
  • EE Minimax DAC Bolder Cables Level 1 Modified
  • IBM Laptop with Foobar 2K Digital Audio Source
  • Theta Digital Carmen II CD Transport
  • EE Minimax Phono Stage
  • VPI Scoutmaster Turntable with VPI Zephyr Cartridge
  • YFS Custom Cables & Interconnects
  • YFS Custom Room Treatment
  • Herbies Audio Lab Dampening Devices and Tube Dampers



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