Although during the last two years we had the chance of not only listen ourselves, but also share with you our impressions of reviewing anti vibration accessories from the Furutech Booster family, dedicated to protect cables, in fact, the Japanese were working to eliminate parasitic vibrations for much longer. I am not sure if you remember, but already in the summer 2012, eight years ago, the first “ring”, the CF-080 Damping Ring, was presented, creating quite some stir. Frankly speaking, when we invited it for testing, I did not expect two things – the scale of improvement it brought to my system at that time, and even more, the impressive wave of hate I received from audio-sceptic troglodytes, who dragged my, and the manufacturer’s names, through muck and mire. The problem was, that the most fierce opponents cut some pipes and created some self-made devices, which should not work according to their knowledge, or lack of it for the matter, put them on the plugs of their power cables and … they heard something. But this is not the place and time for discussing the truly Homerian clashes of clans differently perceiving the sound. The retrospective had only the goal, to make our less knowledgeable readers, that in Japan the area of combatting vibration is nothing new, and the R&D department of Furutech not only researched the topic thoroughly during the last decade, but in a way returned to the beginnings, offering a new iteration of the old CF-080, the topic of this review called NCF Booster Brace-Single.
Furutech NCF Booster Brace-Single looks incredibly normal and unobtrusive also in terms of their weight and size. Frankly speaking, the old CF-080 looked more like jewelry. But as usual, the looks are deceiving, and our today’s hero as well as its Booster brethren, the plug support NCF Booster and the cable support NCF Booster Signal, carry a lot of proprietary solutions under the hood. The “ordinary” chassis is no plastic, but a proprietary NCF resin (Nano Crystal2 Formula) made from ceramic nanoparticles and carbon dust, having the ability of generating negative ions, which eliminate electrostatic loads, and can transfer heat energy into far infrared. Antivibration abilities are also a result of special carvings of the front panels of the carcass. The side walls are specially sanded and anodized aluminum profiles, where an air chamber is hidden below, stiffened with NCF pillars and beams. I do not know anything about any supernatural abilities of the sticky tape placed on the contact surfaces of the BBS (Booster Brace Single) with the supported device, so I just mention, they are there.
The problem with most accessories from the power supply range is, that any kind of plugging a cable in or out creates obvious changes in the very delicate balance (or lack thereof) of the potentials, what translated into a more comprehensible language, means that the whole needs to “adapt” itself anew, what makes comparisons of the state “with something” to the state “without something” is very difficult to perform on the fly. Long story short – we listen first with or without an accessory, then we destroy the existing equilibrium and then we listen to the changed state hoping, that the euphoric state caused by the change itself will not cover any true changes introduced by the tested device. It is easier with the BBS, because if we do not glue it to the socket/strip/device, then we can just slide it away from the plugs and thus minimize its influence. Of course in ideal conditions we should remove it completely every time, but for the reasons mentioned above, we get less distortion leaving it “loose” on the cable, than unplugging and re-plugging the cable each and every time for the removal.
But let us get to the point. The presence of the Furutech NCF Booster Brace-Single is manifested not only by pleasant looks, but mostly by an undeniable and very clear influence on the system/device it will work with. Additionally, the intensity of its influence is … reversely proportional to the class of the confection of the cables. Reverse? Yes, yes, this is not an error. The lower the class of the plug the BBS will be paired with, the more its effect will be pronounced and positive. So can the users of top plugs like the 50’s from Furutech just forgo the rest of the review and forget about it? Absolutely not, because, typically for High-End, although the increases of quality are much less than in the lower categories, yet the main fight is for those minute changes, just like in F1. And I am not writing this just to fill this text with more words, but based on my empirical experience, where I applied the tested accessory on the basic 11 (FI-11G/FI-E11G) Organic, the Furutech FP-3TS76s with FI28R/FI-E38R plugs as well as FI-50 NCF(R), the flagship Nanoflux and the Acrolink MEXCEL 7N-PC 9900 using the modified Oyaide P-004e/C-004 plugs. Each and every time the sound changed in repeatable ways, so I will combine and average the results in the upcoming part, hoping, that you, our Honorable Readers, knowing your own systems, will be able to adapt the intensity of the eventual progress to the cables and plugs you use, looking at my description from the perspective of sound you have in your own system at a daily basis.
And so the main domain, where the BBS reigns, is homogeneity and a kind of condensation of the sound. This does not mean, that the volume and scale of the created spectacle is scaled down, but we get better coherence, better defined tissue and palpability. The virtual sources are becoming more “concrete” and real, while the space of the stage remains unchanged. What does this mean? First of all better communicativeness and, what is equally important, brilliant resolution. It was well audible on the live recording “More Never is Enough – Live in Manchester 2010” of the supergroup Transatlantic, created by Neal Morse (Spock’s Beard), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Roine Stolt (Flower Kings) and Pete Trewavas (Marillion), where the recorded material is enchantingly involving and intricately multilayered, but at the same time, at least in context of progressive rock and my opinion, too etheric. Application of the BBS counteracts this lightness by putting some weight, adding body to the instruments, releasing the dynamics and absolutely not taking anything from the air on stage or swing. Well, knowing that drums are manned by Mike Portnoy and the thick strings (bass) are plucked by Pete Trewavas, we subconsciously expect a certain amount of attack on our guts, and not a delicate caress with a peacock feather. And that is given by the Furutech ring. Both the micro and macro dynamic is splendid, so you should not complain, but just let the music spectacle carry you on. Ah yes, I forgot to mention, that the subjective pleasure of listening also improves. Because we automatically switch from analytic to assimilation mode and just swallow the music with our whole body.
I perceive the influence of the tested accessory on a bit lighter genre equally positive. “Vagen” by Tingvall Trio is the quintessence of colder jazz. Instead of cigarette smoke filled club we feel there refreshing freshness, crystal cleanness and space, what on one hand allows us to delight ourselves with the smallest murmurs and admire the composition of the audiophile plankton, but if our system goes a step, or even half a step too far in the direction of being overly analytical, listening can become overly sterile. To this cleanness the BBS introduces a certain amount of, I would not call it fairytale element, but analog coherence.
The Furutech NCF Booster Brace-Single will not make you discover the albums you know by heart anew, or find a completely unknown side to your stereo system. But if you require, that the music that reaches your ears has the refinement and coherence known from reality, or the full spectrum of dynamics, then you should reach out for the tested accessory and check it out in your system. If you did not go too far in terms of density and sticky “musicality”, the NCF Booster Brace-Single can turn out to be the dot on the “i”.
System used in this test:
– CD/DAC: Ayon CD-35 (Preamp + Signature) + Finite Elemente Cerabase compact
– Network player: Lumin U1 Mini
– Digital source selector: Audio Authority 1177
– Turntable: Kuzma Stabi S + Kuzma Stogi + Dynavector DV-10X5
– Phonostage: Tellurium Q Iridium MM/MC Phono Pre Amp; Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista Vinyl
– Power amplifier: Bryston 4B³
– Loudspeakers: Dynaudio Contour 30 + Brass Spike Receptacle Acoustic Revive SPU-8 + Base Audio Quartz platforms
– IC RCA: Tellurium Q Silver Diamond
– IC XLR: Organic Audio; Vermöuth Audio Reference
– Digital IC: Fadel art DigiLitz; Harmonic Technology Cyberlink Copper; Apogee Wyde Eye; Monster Cable Interlink LightSpeed 200
– USB cables: Wireworld Starlight; Goldenote Firenze Silver; Fidata HFU2
– Speaker cables: Signal Projects Hydra; Vermöuth Audio Reference Loudspeaker Cable
– Power cables: Furutech FP-3TS762 / FI-28R / FI-E38R; Organic Audio Power + Furutech CF-080 Damping Ring; Acoustic Zen Gargantua II; Furutech Nanoflux Power NCF; Acrolink MEXCEL 7N-PC 9900
– Power distribution board: Furutech e-TP60ER + Furutech FP-3TS762 / Fi-50 NCF(R) /FI-50M NCF(R)
– Wall power socket: Furutech FT-SWS(R)
– Anti-vibration platform: Franc Audio Accessories Wood Block Slim Platform
– Switch: Silent Angel Bonn N8
– Ethernet cables: Neyton CAT7+, Audiomica Anort Consequence + Artoc Ultra Reference + Arago Excellence
– Table: Rogoz Audio 4SM
– Acoustic panels: Vicoustic Flat Panels VMT
What I am going to tell in a moment, can be a kind of shock for many accessory-sceptics and audio-voodoo myth busters. Even more, for people who admit the effect of audio accessories on their system, can also be perplexed. Why? Because to visibly and positively influence the sound of your system, we do not need to use sophisticated feet, different kinds of cabling or even electronics, it is enough to place a ring, manufactured by the Japanese Furutech, on the plug of your power cord, to stabilize it in your wall socket. Impossible? I must confess, that when the representative of the mentioned manufacturer sent us this contraption for testing, after recovering from the initial, slight disbelief, I started to think about a plan how to nicely come out of this clinch during writing of the review. Yet things were completely differently, because while I am writing this text I have completely no issues in writing if it works, but in how to tell to you clearly. Are you surprised? This time you absolutely do not need to respond, as I am convinced, you are. So I invite you to read on to find out what happened when the power cable in socket stabilizer, the Furutech NCF Booster Brace-Single, provided by the Katowice based RCM, was applied.
When you look at the pictures attached to this review, the first question that comes to mind is: “What can influence sound in such a small and not very worked out construction as this one?” With the naked eye you can see only a bit of plastic and an elegant ring made of aluminum. And here I might surprise you, as in the Booster we do not find any technology developed in the Silicon Valley, but just a well combined configuration of intermediates. What does this mean? According to the information from the manufacturer, the carcass is made from Nylon resin NCF. Looks simple, but the devils is in the details, as the mentioned construction is not a monolith, but was very cunningly designed. This cannot be seen, but below the nice aluminum, specially profiled brace, there are a few tweaks, already tested by the Japanese engineers with good results. What does vibration have to do with that? A lot, as the whole intent of the Booster is to combat vibration and convert it into heat already on the level of the power cable plugged into the wall socket. How did the designers make this work? Well, they did not re-invent the wheel. They just designed some air chambers, in appropriate placed reinforced the carcass with vertical pillars, made some transversal cuts in other places, profiled the aluminum ring in a special way and – after affixing it to the socket using double-sided adhesive tape – we get a clearly audible, and what is most important, positive influence on the sound of our system. What influence you ask? I will tell you in the next paragraph.
Starting the section about the sonic effect of the inclusion of the Booster in the audio gear I will only mention, that the items I noted during the test, are not just the result of a hallucination created by my tortured brain, but clear influence of the sound confirmed by a few of my colleagues. I do not know how to explain this, but when you pressed the Play button, like with a wave of a magic wand, the music not only opened in the upper midrange, but also gained some nice vividness. It was not in style of mudding of the sound, but you could clearly hear all the ear pleasing information hidden in that part of the spectrum. This was surprisingly phenomenal, as firstly the vocals got much more readable, and secondly, the system avoided painful harshness and emphasizing sibilants even when playing the least well recorded music. But I must underline, that I perceived everything in the esthetic of adding a tad of smoothness into the system, and not injecting it with a muscle relaxant. Of course the sound moved slightly the center of gravity upwards, adding some extra breath to the music and slightly rounding off the edges of the sounds, but those were just symbolic moves, they were not changing the current presentation drastically. But what about specific music titles? With a small “but” in general without any detriments. What does this mean? Usually it did not matter what kind of music landed in the CD drive, were those the productions emphasizing on brutality, like Black Sabbath, which still had the drive expected for that genre, or jazz ballads of Aga Zaryan, being slightly brightened and more ear friendly songs, as every time it was just a small addition to the sound and not a complete change. However in electronic music, the stabilization of the plug in the socket resulted in quieting down of the sound, as it devoted it from any distortion, but it also toned down the squeaks and noises intended to be there. It was nothing like “putting a blanket on your speakers”, but I felt some toning down of those artifacts, something the lovers of that kind of music could whine about. But I think, this would affect only the most orthodox believers, as most reasonable electronic music enjoyers would understand, that the Furutech does not try to kill their music, but just cleans it from any dirt.
As you can see from the text above, the system turns into a gentleman after you apply the Furutech ring into it. Is this bad? Of course not, as the result is not an effect of any interference with the audio signal, but just the stabilization of the plug in the wall socket. This suggests, that in case we have the sound becoming too polite – I mean the music loses all its verve – the system is having issues with resolution, and that what we perceived as brilliantly reproduced artifacts, were just plain distortions now filtered away by the NCF Booster Brace-Single. And I assure you, I am not bending facts. And the more you will defend yourself from this, the more issue you have with the subject matter. How do I know that? I am using a real life explanation of a typical addict, who does not have any issues with his addition. And the addiction is in your case a badly configured audio system.
System used in this test:
– CD transport” CEC TL 0 3.0
– DAC: dCS Vivaldi DAC 2.0
– Reference clock: Mutec REF 10
– Reclocker: Mutec MC-3+USB
– Shunyata Research Sigma CLOCK
– Shunyata Sigma NR
– Preamplifier: Robert Koda Takumi K-15
– Power amplifier: Gryphon Audio Mephisto Stereo
– Integrated amplifier: Accuphase E800
– Loudspeakers: Trenner & Friedl “ISIS”, Dynaudio Contour 60
– Speaker Cables: Tellurium Q Silver Diamond
– IC RCA: Hijri „Million”, Vermouth Audio Reference
– IC XLR: Tellurium Q Silver Diamond
– Digital IC: Harmonix HS 102
– Power cables: Harmonix X-DC 350M2R Improved Version, Furutech NanoFlux NCF Furutech DPS-4 + FI-E50 NCF(R)/ FI-50(R), Hijiri Nagomi; Vermouth Audio Reference Power Cord
– Table: SOLID BASE VI
– Accessories: Harmonix TU 505EX MK II, Stillpoints ULTRA SS, Stillpoints ULTRA MINI, antivibration platform by SOLID TECH, Harmonix AC Enacom Improved for 100-240V, Harmonix Room Tuning Mini Disk RFA-80i
– Power distribution board: POWER BASE HIGH END
– Acoustic treatments by Artnovion
Drive: SME 30/2
Arm: SME V
Cartridge: MIYAJIMA MADAKE
Step-up: Thrax Trajan
Phonostage: RCM THERIAA
Dimensions (W x L x H): 54.3 x 64.8 x 38.5mm