Telos Audio Design Ground Noise Reducer (GNR)

Telos Audio Design Ground Noise Reducer (GNR)

Independent Ground system
When I started my audio den some years ago, a number of audiophile friends shared to me that having your main electrical supply properly grounded is crucial in getting rid of unnecessary electrical noise in the audio system.
I realized what they have shared to me was of great substance. Therefore, I
decided it was necessary to spend some energy and monies into it. Thus, I
have taken out one out of three phases from my electrical main to be
dedicated to my audio den. This phase is isolated from all other electrical
uses but only for my audio components. In addition to the main electrical
grounding, this dedicated phase enjoyed two number of dedicated grounding;
both comprised of pure copper strips to two number of pure copper rods
planted at two spots, into the soil that is near to a drain. That was
purposefully done so that the ground copper rods constantly planted in moist
soil to improve the potency of the grounding. The above efforts resulted in
a much quieter audio presentation, bigger soundstage, better imaging and
density.

Later, Frank Voon introduced his wonderful creation, the Frank Power Bank to
me. In short, it is an independent “shun reactor” for sudden and improved
power delivery for any audio component in connection with it. He proposed to
have the Frank Power Bank to be connected to the MCB and/or the ELCP of the
electrical phase in the electrical distribution box. Thus, all audio
components in that electrical phase will enjoy its benefits. Suffice to
say, I was so impressed with this product that I bought quite a number into
my system. I will have more details to share about the Frank Power Bank in
an upcoming dedicated review at Mono & Stereo.

And I thought I am done in term of electrical supply and grounding. Then,
some audiophile friends shared to me the idea of having dedicated ground for
the audio components that is independent from the electrical main. They
recommended chassis grounding, input and output connector grounding, tonearm
grounding and wherever it’s safe and possible for grounding. I said to them
that I am interested to try. Sooner than I thought, I was introduced to the
Entreq Grounding System.

Enter my First Dedicated and Independent Grounding System The then local
distributor, Swedish Statement Audio Boutique brought me the Entreq Tellus
(Copper version) grounding unit and the recommended Entreq Eartha copper
ground cables. Upon hooked up, I heard some differences in the audio system
presentation. I noticed that there was a tad lower noise floor and that the
soundstage width, height and depth improved. Everything seemed a tad
clearer; images enjoyed a clearer definition, delineation and separation. To
me, that whole experience then drew me to the importance of the added
independent grounding for the audio components.

The next level?!
The Silver version of Entreq Silver Tellus with its Atlantis Silver ground
cables were a whole new level (I testified in advance). Upon their
introduction into my audio system, I heard better articulation in the lower
bass. The higher frequencies sounded cleaner, extended and airier. The above
contributed to the naturalness in the presentation of stringed instruments
such as violin, guitar and even the cello.
The game was later up another notch with the next introduction. The Entreq
Cleanus which could be added to my power distributor, the Shunyata V-Ray 2
and ground connected to the Silver Tellus. Immediately, I noticed that the
whole audio presentation enjoyed another level of lower noise floor. What
were once in the foreground and blur enjoyed a certain clarity, definition,
tangibility and density. What were subtle, remained subtle but enjoyed
clearer role in the whole presentation. I think I am able to understand and
enjoy the music better with the addition of the Entreq Cleanus in my audio
system.

Ambition was raised!
Then, I thought my pursuit of a fine electrical supply and grounding for my
audio system was at an end. That notion maintained until I met Jeff Lin, the
Founder and Chief Designer of Telos Audio Design, Taiwan at the Munich High
End Audio show 2014. I invited him to come to Malaysia to introduce his
products, especially the Grounding Noise Reducer (GNR).
Jeff Lin decided to take up my invitation and visited my audio den. He did a
presentation of the Telos Audio Design GNR together with some of his other
fine products here. He connected the GNR with its dedicated grounding cables
(that came with all sort of options from RCA, XLR, HDMI, LAN, USB, Spade and
etc, all connected to the ground pin or connection only) to one component at
a time and then finally to the rest or remaining of the playing components
(the Entreq were disconnected throughout that session). Upon the first
connection to the unused output of the preamp only (Vitus Masterpiece
MP-L201 and FM Acoustics 268C), I heard a more profound lower noise floor in
the whole presentation. I could almost testify that the noise floor was a
tad lower than the whole Entreq set up.
The experiment continued with the GNR connected to the unused output of the
source components such as the phono stage (Vitus Masterpiece MP-P201 and
then to the FM Acoustics 223) and the Digital to Analogue Converter
(DAC-Vitus Masterpiece MP-D201). The whole act of my audio system improved
to a whole new level that I have yet experience. All that were clouded and
veiled were suddenly lifted up. The transparency to the source was so much
improved as if the glass affixed to the window was removed.
Then Jeff Lin recommended that the GNR be connected to the audio rack and
then to the Shunyata V-Ray 2 chassis. I could not believe what I have
heard?! What were already a WOW! turned to a double WOW! (WOW!). A few of my
audiophile friends and I whom were present in that session with Jeff Lin’s
demonstration decided to invest into the GNR and its dedicated grounding
cables (of different connectors).

Enter the star; Telos Audio Design Grounding Noise Reducer (GNR) A few
months later, my audiophile friends and I received our respective GNR and
the dedicated ground cables. I connected most of my audio components to the
GNR, except the mono amplifiers (Vitus Masterpiece MP-M201) and the
loudspeakers (Gryphon Pendragon). Later, Jeff Lin called to inform me of his
intention to revisit his new found fans in Malaysia. That time, he suggested
to me that I should consider another GNR for my mono amplifier and (the
powered bass towers of the Pendragon) loudspeakers. (REALLY?!) I told him
that I would not mind to try out that suggestion.
The second GNR was sent to me and I had it connected as per suggested by the
designer. At that same time, I received the Tripoint Troy Signature passive
grounding for comparison with the Entreq and Telos Audio Design GNRs. I
thought to myself then that my audio den had been grounded!

Bring in the Cellist…
Many believed that the piano key was not easily reproduced through an audio
system. A lot of the audio system’s set up (fine tuning) must be recognized
and optimized to get that piano key sound “just right”. Even a real piano
has to be fine tuned from time to time to have it sound right? I believed
the same can be said for the reproduction of a cello through an audio
system. I meant the strings of a cello with the realism of the strings
backed by its wooden frame. Too often we heard the cello being reproduced
‘bigger than life’ through the audio system, with the mid bass and low bass
exaggerated that ultimately muddled up the strings. Here, I would like to
play the vinyl album of Antonio Lysy at the Broad, “Music from Argentina”
(Yarlung Records 95968-517V). I admit that I was stunned by the first tone
from the cello in that recording through my audio system with the GNRs
installed. I meant that each string was clearly played out with the touch of
naturalness that was from the wood of the cello chassis. I have heard cello
sounded so unreal as if the strings were of metal and the cello’s chassis
was of plastic (or worst, of metal). There were no mid bass and low bass
boom or exaggeration. Both low frequencies were well articulated, defined
and within their intended boundaries. Thus, the mid mid frequency to the
higher frequencies were unperturbed. I could hear a certain touch of
refinement (especially) in the higher frequencies. That presented the cello
with scale as a whole instead of just where the bow touched the string(s).
In addition, the movement of the bow as it cut across the desired strings
was clearly heard and felt. I could hear the bow cut from the low to the mid
and then to a higher note. To me, that was a testament of the naturalness of
tonality (that was clean from the low to the high frequencies).

The accompanying piano…
I have written quite a bit about what I expected in the reproduction of the
piano key through an audio system. I have learnt to appreciate that better
ever since the inclusion of the GNRs into my audio set up. Imagine that
every piano key was presented in its entirety, both frequencies and energy.
The differences between a high and low key, and the position of each key in
the piano could easily be appreciated. That surreal experience was not just
heard but (near) visible (if the recording permits). The GNRs have cleaned
away much unwanted noise in the audio presentation that tended to mess up
the mid and lower region of the frequencies. Of course, the higher notes
were able to enjoy their intended course. I felt that whenever an audio
presentation has too much cloudiness in the mid frequencies, both the low
frequencies and high frequencies suffered in term of articulation,
direction, definition, separation and etc. In addition, the decay of each
piano key played out clearly and accurately. That completed each note from
the play.
Here in the same album, both the cellist(‘s cello) and the pianist(‘s piano)
were clearly separated in space. Each enjoyed its own certain ‘air and
atmosphere’. I could easily close my eyes and appreciate each musician’s
play in that presentation. That brought about the realism of the play, as a
whole.

Throw in the human voice into the mix.
On the subject of cello playback, I picked my next vinyl album, Rob
Wasserman Duets (MCA Records 42131). I love to play the track “Ballad of the
Runaway Horse” by Jennifer Warnes, where I found her voice then to be most
soulful and recognizable (at the peak of her career). The problem in that
track was the cello tended to overwhelm the mid low frequency. That brought
to suffer the separation between the vocalist and the cellist. Here, the
GNRs brought that cello under control, and allowed it to enjoy its own
space.
Thus, Ms.Warnes’s voice did not have to compete with powerful play of
Mr.Wasserman’s cello play. I could easily appreciate the expressiveness of
the artistry and emotional content of the vocalist. I have written in my
previous reviews of how easily the human voice is recognizable. Many have
judged the performance and/or decided on an audio system from the
reproduction of their favorite singer’s voice. I will say this that the GNRs
do not change the voice of the vocalist from my audio system. They are just
independent grounding units that supposedly reduce the unwanted noise
generated by the many audio components and the incoming electrical main. In
addition, they are not in the signal chain of the audio system. Maybe I
should have this emphasized at the very beginning. But I raised this here
for an obvious reason (to me, anyway), knowing how much we care and
sensitive of the reproduction of our favorite vocalist through our audio
system. Many have bought certain audio component(s) just to have the right
(coloration?) voicing of their vocalist(s). You can rest assured that the
GNRs did not change my audio system’s voicing. They managed to stay the same
but clean up the mess (that before the installation of the GNRs, I was not
aware that there was any mess) that clouded the whole presentation.
Therefore, I could more easily appreciate the fine nuances and multi layered
texture in Ms.Warnes’s voice. Her artistry was more visible through her
control of breath and pronunciation of the words in the lyric. In short, the
GNRs allowed another layer of resolution into the presentation. It’s not
more analytical, as some would have deduced from this writing, but just more
music from the same material source (remember, the GNRs were not in the
signal chain).

Bring in more into the mix.
Lately, Mike Valentine through his label, Chasing the Dragon have been
producing some great audiophile albums. I felt strongly to bring about his
latest effort into play for this review, the “Big Band Spectacular by The
Syd Lawrence Orchestra” (VALDC002). It’s never easy to reproduce through an
audio system the spectacular of a big band. It’s just too much at play in
the same time and same space. Most often than we care to admit that our
audio system reproduce a muddled version of the play. As the above indicated
what the GNRs brought into the performance of my audio system, the
presentation was tonally balance throughout the frequencies bandwidth thus
contributed the articulation and nimbleness from the low bass region to the
high treble. And, the Big Bang Spectacular was presented with well spaced
out musicians too. I could easily appreciate what each musician’s
contribution and role in the presentation as a whole. Not to mention that
the flow and direction of each section in the Big Band were easily followed.
The value of the addition of GNRs into my audio system did increased
tremendously as I appreciated more complicated presentation that involved a
larger number of musicians.

Rock the Boat!
Here, I brought out my Japanese vinyl pressing of Frankie Goes To
Hollywood’s Relax (Polystar 13S-200) and played it loud (100dB+) to rock the
boat! At that playback level in most audio system would have been a disaster
(to say the least). The whole mix would have been too confused to enjoy as a
musical presentation (to me, anyway). The GNRs maintained the play’s sense
and sensibility throughout the (extreme) high volume as if you were hearing
it at the right volume level. I believed that it was the tonal balance that
brought about the articulation throughout the entire frequencies bandwidth.
Here, the mid bass notes and transient were clearly and cleanly defined. I
felt (and saw) the speed of the woofers at my Gryphon Pendragon Bass towers
and their effect aided the transparency (even) at the lower frequencies. It
was articulation and transparency throughout the entire presentation. I
could appreciate the GNRs’ contribution in the improvement of integration of
my four towers loudspeaker system, The Gryphon Pendragon.

I am grounded (for good)!
After having my audio system’s components grounded with independent
grounding system from Entreq, Telos Audio Design and Tripoint, I am
convinced that it is necessary to have them in any respectable and serious
audio set up.
Comparatively, many would have spent so much more in cables, power
distributors, tweaks, footers, coasters, and even an audio rack.

On a separate note, the competition…
I have on loan the Tripoint Troy Signature independent passive grounding
together with its dedicated silver ground cables. It has came into my
attention that the model in hand was not the current and latest design.
Therefore the following impression is of that discontinued model and do not
represent the latest effort from Tripoint.
Upon installation, the Tripoint Troy Signature did impress me with an
immediate effect of a dark and jet black background. The quietness in the
background did allow what were at the foreground of a play to come out more
vividly. The images of the musicians and their respective musical instrument
have good delineation, boundary, definition and density, but maintain the
same scale and size. On the other hand, the Telos Audio Design GNRs did not
have the character of a dark and jet black background. The GNRs were more
into the separation between the elements in the music. The musicians and
their respective musical instruments were well space out thus enjoyed a
fuller body and presence in the presentation. Comparatively, I did find that
the GNRs presented a wider, higher and deeper soundstage.
In term of the lower frequencies, I found the Tripoint did present an
attractive mid range that could explained the rounded bass. Some may find
such presentation to be to their liking (no argument here). The caveat here
is that the Tripoint does not present the low as low, and as well
articulated, detail, solid and punchy as the GNRs. I believed the Tripoint’s
attractive mid range could be the anchorage of a freer high frequencies and
detail, compared to the GNRs.