tests/21-05-13_soundsmith
 
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Soundsmith Strain Gauge plus Sbooster MKII

27.05.2021 // Dirk Sommer

With two power supplies whose negative poles are not connected to the earth of the mains plug, as it is the case with the Soundsmith plug-in power supplies or the SBooster, there are usually no problems whatsoever. The only aspect that remains to be clarified is why it doesn't work with the Ferrum supplies. Marcin Hamerla, the head of the Polish electronics specialists, outlines after having consulted his engineers responsible for the Hypsos models that because of its metal enclosure, it  belongs to a different electrical protection class than, for example, the SBooster or the standard plug-in power supply units with their plastic housings: With the Ferrum, the negative pole of the DC voltage is connected to the earth of the mains voltage. The circuitry of the SG-200 therefore short-circuits the Hypsos. Fortunately, both the Ferrums and Soundsmith SG-200 are well protected against mishandling and so survived my experiments unscathed. So it was well  appreciated that Wiebren Draaijer already during our first telephone conversation suggested to send an SBootser set for operation with the Strain Gauge to Gröbenzell - an offer I now gladly accept based on my previous findings.

The power supply units are connected to the two sockets on the far right. The middle pin on the right and the outer contact on the left socket are connected to the earth terminal intended for the turntable
The power supply units are connected to the two sockets on the far right. The middle pin on the right and the outer contact on the left socket are connected to the earth terminal intended for the turntable

My colleagues and I have reported many a time on the SBooster power supply units here, whether in their first version or their current MKII variant, and that in every application they have led to significant improvements. Regarding the current state of technology, I therefore simply recommend the article about the MKII. Of course, to get started with the first test I disconnected the SG-200 from the rest of the system and then connected the two stronger power supplies before switching them on: As the lights on the preamp indicate, there is not the slightest problem with the SBoosters. So nothing stands in the way of now operating the Strain Gauge with the SG-200 powered by the SBoosters - except for the Thiele TA01 tonearm, which has reclaimed its position for short tonearms on the Brinkmann LaGrange after having performed the Soundsmith's test and whose cabling should still accumulate a few more hours of operation before stepping over to the test. But instead of dismantling the Thiele and proceeding to operate the Strain Gauge in Einstein's short version of The Tonearm, I remove the Lyra Etna from the (almost) tangentially tracing pivoted tonearm and adjust the Soundsmith to it instead.

After the long break, it needs a little warming-up which it completes with its regular power supplies. On Brother Jack McDuff's Screamin', Joe Jukes seems to let his cymbals explode, the Hammond comes up sounding also in unusual registrations, while Leo Wright's alto sax plays with vigour and Kenny Burrell provides the necessary drive with his guitar solos: a perfect mixture of tonal colours, joyfulness and a lot of groove. Since I had to learn during the test of the ADOT media converter that even components that are commonly assigned to the computer peripherals category show better results after a few hours of operation, the two brand-new 24-volt power supplies burn in a while before I start to compare them with the standard Soundsmith units. While I'm at it, I treat myself to Zakir Hussain's fantastic album Making Music, which I rediscovered while testing the Strain Gauge. I'm sure I haven't heard the dynamics of guitar, tablas and saxophone with the Soundsmith like this before: There just seems to be no limit in terms of slew rate, energy and accuracy. In between, the flutes and the softly strummed strings of the guitar sound with a tenderness that almost melts your heart. I have never heard the Strain Gauge that good!

The powerful toroidal transformer is the centrepiece of the SBooster MKII. No standard plug-in power supply is able to match that
The powerful toroidal transformer is the centrepiece of the SBooster MKII. No standard plug-in power supply is able to match that


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