Nothing starts an audio argument more quickly than a mention of cabling and power conditioning/protection products.

A common perception is these categories contain more voodoo than Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, and many manufacturers in the power and cable space are fighting an uphill battle against ‘snake-oil’ marketing and the standard consumer concerns over their respective products’ benefits.

One of the companies fighting this battle is Toronto-based Torus Power. Torus manufactures several product lines that at their heart utilise transformer-based designs, which over the years have been proven effective in remedying problems such as ground loops by isolating A/V components from the rest of a building’s electrical components.

Many of Torus’ products also incorporate Series Mode Surge Suppression (SMSS) technologies to provide a long-term, industrial-grade level approach to surge protection.

Taking the opportunity to judge the benefits for myself, Torus sent me an AVR 20 from its AVR Series and a TOT Max from its TOT Series of products.

Features & Setup

The Torus products feature toroidal transformers from Plitron.

These custom designed isolation transformers feature primary and secondary windings that, in the most simplistic terms, isolate any plugged-in component from the outside to eliminate problems such as ground loops.

The transformers also support the company’s Narrow Bandwidth Technology (NBT) that acts as low-pass filters to attenuate noise from 2kHz to 1MHz.

The AVR Series adds automatic voltage regulation to maintain a steady flow of voltage, and Series Mode Surge Suppression (SMSS) power protection that meets IEEE C62.41 standards.

Torus emphasises SMSS ‘absorbs surges in the toroid and slowly bleeds it to the loads to prevent ground contamination.’

SMSS is an option for the TOT Series, and the AVR Series also offers Ethernet control and monitoring.

Starting with the smaller of the two products, the TOT Max is an eight-outlet product that incorporates a simple design that’s highlighted by a front-panel on/off switch.

Weighing a surprising 30 pounds, I placed the TOT Max on the floor next to an equipment cabinet that houses my two- channel audio system, which includes a Bryston preamp and amplifier, Cary Audio phono preamp, Pioneer Elite Blu-ray player (for CDs), Meridian DAC connected to an Apple TV, and a restored Thorens TD-160 turntable.

In the TOT Max’s remaining outlet I plugged in an OSD Audio amp that powers a pair of outdoor Terra Speakers that are mounted under an eave.

Moving onto my home theatre, I placed the AVR 20 — which features a front-panel on/off switch and an LED window that provides information such as incoming and voltage output — next to another equipment cabinet and plugged in an Onkyo receiver, Integra Blu-ray player, another Apple TV, Dish Hopper and wireless unit, Stewart Filmscreen Cabaret electric screen, and Luxul network switch into the AVR 20’s 12 outlets.

Installation takes a few minutes, and probably the biggest issue I had with the products was their size and weight. They are heavy and awkward to carry, and I’d suggest two people carry the 95-pound AVR 20 into clients’ homes.

Performance

Before hooking up my A/V gear, out of curiosity I tried out the AVR 20 out with my tubed guitar amplifiers. I was stunned how much the noise floor had dropped.

While not as dramatic as with the guitar gear (which can be extremely noisy), I found the Torus products made easy-to-notice improvements in my A/V systems.

I found that pulling music from my network via iTunes and my Apple TV/ Meridian DAC components, dynamics sounded tighter, more impactful; resolution increased; and overall I felt the music was more engaging.

Listening to Gary Cherone’s vocals on Extreme’s early ’90s ballad More than Words, for instance, I could hear much more of the reverb on his voice as well as greater definition of Nuno Bettencourt’s guitar and layers within the band singing the chorus.

With modern pop fare, for example, I found that listening to AWOLNation’s Sail, the synthesized melody of the song and its bottom end had lots more punch and slam, while on the opposite side the treble frequencies of Owl City’s “Fireflies” delivered much more top-end sparkle and clarity.

Conclusion

I know the AVR 20 and TOT Max aren’t for everyone for reasons that include cost, size or maybe both, but integrators that want to protect their clients’ investment in electronics, while enhancing performance, should look no further than Torus. Tested to meet government-recognised standards, the Torus product line represents the most non-invasive way dealers can upgrade their clients’ electrical output.

Torus’ transformer-based methods of performance are proven and when combined with SMSS surge protection technologies, add up to a combination that is untouchable in the power category.

About the author:

Robert Archer is CE Pro’s senior editor. Reach him at rarcher@ehpub.com.

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