FRANK ACOUSTICS ULTRA BANK 25000Ws & POWER BANK 15000Ws
As provided in their accompanying manual, the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws (hereinafter referred to as Ultra Bank) and Power Bank PB-15000Ws (hereinafter referred to as Power Bank) are ‘essentially a scaled down version of an industrial shunt reactor commonly found in electricity power plants. Shunt reactors are typically used as an absorber of reactive energy employed to increase efficiency of power generating systems. It is the most compact of devices available commonly for reactive power compensation in long distance high-voltage transmission line cabling. Frank Acoustics has taken this concept and modified the said system into a proprietary device for domestic abodes’.
I would not profess that I understood fully the above.
What prompted my enthusiasm to try their earlier Power Bank was the sheer size and weight of the unit, and the fact that it ‘may’ protect my audio components from possible power surge and/or lighting strike. Thus, I asked for a home demonstration.
POWER BANK PB-15000Ws
The head honcho, Frankie Voon and his team at Frank Acoustics were so kind to come over my house and connected the Power Bank to the ELCB at the power distribution box or Circuit Breaker Panel dedicated for my audio system. They asked me ‘to be patient for at least six hours’ before any real audible improvement at my audio system. That period was intended ‘for the induced magnetic field to fully saturate the Shunt Autotransformers’ in the Power Bank. They added that the unit ‘required about 700 to 800 hours to fully settle in into any system’.
Hmmm…I Beg To Differ
Upon installation and without any warming up to my audio system, I noticed immediately the quietness in the background of the whole musical presentation. A ‘three-dimensional soundstage’ and the image of musicians started to take shape. Then and there I told the team that I was already impressed. They advised me that after six hours, I will be even more impressed.
After six hours, I realized a layer of grain over the higher frequencies started to disintegrate. That allowed me to hear and feel cleaner and more transient energy at those frequencies. The cymbals and saxophone were more naturally extended.
Later, I asked the team if there was any way to improve further from what I enjoyed from that one unit of Power Bank. They suggested one unit per power point or MCB connected in parallel at the same power distribution box. I agreed to another home demonstration with the additional two units that totalled three units for the three MCBs to three power points for my audio system.
Three’s a Crowd?
They delivered the three units of Power Bank and connected each unit to each MCB in parallel at the power distribution box, as suggested. I skipped the initiation and after the necessary six hours run in, I was totally gob-smacked by the result.
I realized that more layers of veil over the entire musical presentation was removed. To illustrate that sensation, it was as if I was given air to breathe after a dive into the sea. The soundstage opened up further with greater depth, higher height and wider width. The projected imaging of the musicians improved further with higher density, clearer definition, clearer delineation and outline, and all better spaced.
In terms of the mid bass, I found it to be more detailed, defined and controlled. As for the lower bass, it was deeper and extended. Ultimately, I felt my (same) amplifiers were more powerful and quicker in its delivery of the ‘oomph’ at the mid to the lower bass. Even though there was no Power Bank directly connected to the MCB responsible for the AC outlets connected to my mono amplifiers, the Vitus Masterpiece MP-M201 and the powered bass towers of the Gryphon Audio Kodo Loudspeakers.
I believed that the above resulted from cleaner delivery and/or stable delivery of power to my other audio components. (And/) Or that, the further reduction of noise level brought out clearer what was already there from the source component, preamplifier, amplifier and all the way to the final transducer!
ULTRA BANK UB-25000Ws
I remembered that I have written a testimony for the Power Bank some years ago. That testimony still holds true till today. When I discovered that Frank Acoustics released an upgraded version of the Power Bank, my enthusiasm renewed.
The upgraded Power Bank designated Ultra Bank was originally meant for export purposes. At its rear panel, there was an IEC 15 AMP inlet to be connected with a power cord to any AC outlet of the same phase of the main AC supply that powered the audio system (unlike the Power Bank which meant to be connected to the MCB and ELCB at the power distribution box, but that option for the Ultra Bank is available upon request only). The Ultra Bank comes with two IEC 15 AMP outlets for components of normal electrical consumption (not recommended for very high powered amplifiers). Without much hesitation and with confidence, I requested three units of Ultra Bank from Frank Acoustics.
To enjoy the attributes of the Ultra Bank, Frank Acoustics believed that it is not necessary for the audio components to be connected at its IEC 15 AMP outlets. Once the Ultra Bank is connected to an AC point, it is said that its attributes are distributed and enjoyed throughout the entire phase of the AC supply.
The following findings were with the earlier 3 units of Power Bank still connected to the MCBs at the Power Distribution Box.
Audio Note M10s Tube Line Stage Preamplifier…
Followers of Audio Note (UK) over the years are well aware and very much appreciate the brand’s flagship tube preamplifier, designated as M10s. Its sonic attributes include naturalness and accuracy to timbre, texture and tone, openness to sound staging, well-spaced separation and transparency to inner and micro details. Audio Note have put in an extensive amount of effort and cost in designing the two units of mono Gallahad tube power supply for the M10s line stage. They are one of the main contributors to its low noise level that rival even a good solid state line stage.
You could imagine the reaction and disappointment of Audio Note’s local representative when I connected that pair of Gallahad tube power supply to a single unit of Ultra Bank (which have two IEC 15 AMP outlets). He argued why would I plug a pair of well-tuned and costly power supply with silver transformers and more to an Ultra Bank?! Do I want to listen to the M10s or the Ultra Bank?!
I assured the readers that I have heard extensively the M10s without the Ultra Bank (but through other power distributions from Shunyata).
Through the Ultra Bank, the M10s presented a notch higher in terms of vividness, definition and delineation to the recorded musical images of instrument/musician and vocal/singer. To my amazement, the above mentioned ‘notch higher’ brought about a layer of ‘sweetness’ to the presentation of the human voice that was quite ‘mesmerizing’. If asked if that was coloration added by the Ultra Bank then my answer would be negative. To me, I would imagine that the Ultra Bank’s attributes have removed another layer of veil to the sonic performance of the M10s. Thus, the M10s was able to present its native and intended ‘sweet and mesmerizing’ vocals of the human voice.
If I ever have to be pushed for any reservation over the sonic performance of the M10s then I would lean toward its control over the extreme low frequencies (in comparison with the FM 268C solid state line stage). The connected Ultra Bank brought out a tad more control and directivity to the extreme low. I might add that there was improved detailing, definition and dynamics from the mid low frequencies to the extreme low frequencies.
Aries Cerat Kassandra 2 Limited Edition (LE) Digital-to-Analogue Converter (DAC)…
I have written a review of the Kassandra 2 LE (hereinafter referred to as the DAC) in 2017 (available at analoguefellowship.com). In that review, the DAC was not connected to the Ultra Bank but in the loop with the Power Bank.
Until today, I admit that I am very much taken in with that DAC due to its sonic attributes that most closely adhere to ‘my preference’ of “ultra end analogue”. It’s sonic energy and dynamism are second to no other digital-to-analogue converters that I have the pleasure to experience. I believed that with the Gryphon Audio Kodo Loudspeakers, no hidden energy and dynamism in a recorded music could stay hidden. These attributes alone have distanced the Kassandra 2 LE DAC from its nearest competitor, by a definitive league (in my audio book).
Here, the added Ultra Bank have slightly cleaned up the mid range frequencies. Therefore, I could easily feel a ‘cleaner rush of mid energy’ that added to an already impressive dynamics!
In addition, there was a slight, clearer distance in separation among the recorded musicians and vocalist in the appropriate recordings. I did not notice any increase in height or width in the presentation of a soundstage but I could have sworn that the depth of it was slightly deepened.
That may have led to an improved pace, rhythm and timing (PRaT). Most noticeable in an appropriate piano recording. I believed that a well separated ‘tone’ allows the listener to experience each tone’s beginning, it’s life, it’s decay and ultimately, it’s death. (And) that would present a clearer sense and understanding of timing in a music, as per the recording, and as intended. Notice the above that I did not mention ‘faster’ but ‘improved’ to denote my understanding that better PRaT do not always mean faster PRaT or faster ‘tone’.
Aries Cerat Incito S Tube Line Stage Preamplifier…
Given its very low noise level and high transparency to the connected source, the Incito S was easily my favorite tube line stage at its price point (review at analoguefellowship.com).
The added Ultra Bank to the Incito S improved definition, delineation, density and palpability to every recorded musician and artist in the music. So much so that I could hear and approximate the distance and position of each musician and artist in the soundstage.
In terms of energy and ‘slam-bang’, the native Incito S has aplenty. The Ultra Bank did not change its “liveliness” (character) but rejuvenated it further. It was as if the Incito S was given a dose of ‘vitamins’ for cleaner, more extended and controlled lower frequencies. Therefore, in terms of quantum for the lower frequencies, I would state that they were improved.
JVC DLA RS-66 DILA Projector…
It’s obvious as I could see it!
The added Ultra Bank added more solidity to the black. In addition, there was much improvement in the contrast between different shades of grey and the ultimate black. Thus, the above added the much desired depth in any dynamic picture.
Generally, the annoying noise in the dynamic picture, even in dark scenes, got less annoying.
I would add that the Ultra Bank improved stability and visibility of details in the picture. I believed that it added richness, differing layers and textures in the color.
I have talked to a few audio designers who suggested their products were better off plug directly to the AC outlet at the wall and without any form of power filter and manipulation. If there was not enough AC outlets at the wall then it was recommended that an unfiltered power distribution be used instead. They went on to state that all of their products were designed and sonically tuned without the intervention of such power manipulation(s).
Well, if we enjoy ideal power supply then the above suggestion would be most welcome. In my world, the power supplied could be noisy, insufficient, and suffers voltage irregularities.
In addition, too many audiophiles and videophiles (including me) could experience and appreciate the differences in performance with and without the addition of such power manipulation devices.
I thought my stand and confidence in Frank Acoustics was obvious with the purchase of three units of Power Bank and three units of Ultra Bank. (But) I did heed the advice of the designers for a number of my audio components especially for the “very demanding and sensitive” power amplification, Vitus Masterpiece MP-M102 and the powered bass towers of the Gryphon Audio Kodo Loudspeakers. Other than those mentioned components, the rest of my collective audio components were in the loop with the Power Bank and/or Ultra Bank.
Strongly recommended in my audio book!