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Nicholas Bedworth
Financial Interests: click here
Source components: MSB Tech Universal Music Transport, Weiss Engineering DAC 202, Bel Canto 1.5 DAC [on review], Toshiba Qosmio laptop with Seagate 1.5 TB external digital media storage
Amplifiers: Odyssey Kismet monoblocks
Speakers: Wilson Audio Specialties Sasha W/P
Cables: AudioQuest Wildwood speaker cables, AudioQuest Sky interconnects; WireWorld Cable Platinum Starlight, AudioQuest Eagle Eye, AudioQuest Raven S/PDIF and AES/EBU digital interconnects; WireWorld Cable Starlight, AudioQuest Carbon USB cables; AudioQuest NRG-10, NRG-100 power cables
Accessories: WireWorld The Matrix power distribution block
Room: 18’ deep, 12’ wide, 9’ to 11’ ceilings
Review component retail pricing
: $8.500 for Oracle Power Conditioner with liquid conductor wiring upgrade; $1.800/1m for Clairvoyant Liquid Air power cables

Back in the days of the Garden of Eden—before smart phones were invented—the atmosphere was already permeated with a wide range of electromagnetic noise. Natural sources include oscillations in the Earth’s magnetic field, solar flare driven events such as auroras, lightning and a host of more exotic phenomena. The situation since has only worsened, starting a hundred years ago with the invention of power utility supplied electricity followed by radio broadcasts and a myriad other communications technologies. There’s no place on the surface of the planet today that’s noise-free.

Closer to home the heater in your neighbor’s fish tank, silicon-controlled rectifiers in household lighting dimmers, refrigerator motors, WiFi and countless other devices including the dreaded laptop brick SMPS all radiate electromagnetic interference. To make matters worse this hash has a rich harmonic signature over a broad spectrum, making it especially difficult to isolate and remove.

Through the hot and neutral wires in household electrical service, in the ground and to a lesser degree directly via the air all these noxious influences seem to converge on high-end audio equipment like bees to flowers or flies to shyte. As the resolving quality of the entire recording and playback chain increases, the deleterious effects of random and periodic EMI—there’s a lot of both—only becomes more objectionable.

As an audio enthusiast your system is under constant attack from several directions at once. HF crud tends to be picked up by cables right out of the ether and many varieties of hash converge on your gear through the mains. Careful attention to noise reduction inside a component such as an amplifier or DAC will help ameliorate noise once it’s inside the device. A more fundamental approach involves outboard components that try to remove as much EMI as possible before it crosses the threshold. Such power conditioners come in three main flavors: Isolation transformers as championed by Equi=Tech, BPT, Furman and other balanced power advocates; AC line regenerators like PS Audio’s PerfectWave; and passive designs like the Audio Magic Oracle being reviewed here, the Audience adeptResponse aR12-TS and the Running Springs Audio Dmitri. Regenerators and passive approaches generally employ various types of filters to extricate EMI before it can wreak havoc in downstream components plugged in.