HOME THEATER & SOUND -- www.hometheatersound.com



August
2008

Reviewed by
Roger Kanno
REVIEWERS' CHOICE


Torus Power
RM 10
Power Isolation Unit

Features SnapShot!

Description

Model: RM 10

Price: $1900 USD
Dimensions: 19"W x 3.8"H x 11"D
Weight: 36 pounds

Warranty: Five years parts and labor


Features
  • 8 hospital-grade outlets
  • 10A continuous current load, up to 100A short-term
  • Series-mode surge suppression by ZeroSurge
  • Front power switch/circuit breaker
  • Oversized Plitron toroidal transformer
  • NBT, LoNo, LoStray, UST technologies
  • Removable 15A power cord

Torus Power is a brand of power-isolation products from Plitron, a manufacturer that’s likely unfamiliar to most A/V enthusiasts. Plitron, who specialize in the design and manufacture of high-quality toroidal transformers, claim that their transformers are widely used in the audio, medical, communications, and computer industries, and that they are a research-driven company offering quality off-the-shelf models as well as custom-designed products. These may sound like the typical trumped-up marketing claims, but Bryston, an audio manufacturer that I highly respect, uses Plitron transformers in their excellent-sounding amplifiers. I’ve seen the exceptional parts and build quality that go into Bryston amps, and so was intrigued when I learned that Torus- branded Power Isolation Units (PIUs) are also made by Plitron and are distributed worldwide by Bryston.

Plitron makes a wide range of PIUs for both medical and audio/video use, but reserves the Torus Power brand for their A/V products. I was provided the Torus Power RM 10, which retails for $1900 USD.

Description

The RM 10 is rated to continuously provide 10A of current, although it can put out far higher amounts for brief periods: 30A for ten seconds and 80A for one second. Given such ample short-term capability, I didn’t hesitate to connect most of my components to the RM 10: power amplifiers, A/V processor, TV, and DVD and Blu-ray players. I didn’t connect my powered subwoofers because they sat a considerable distance away from the RM 10.

The RM 10 won’t win any beauty awards, but for a utilitarian black box it’s built to a high standard, with perfectly flush, rounded edges and a high-quality, textured matte finish. It also feels extremely solid -- not exactly tank-like, but substantial. This reassured me of its purposefulness without it going completely over the top, as do some ridiculously overbuilt high-end audio components.

A Torus Power logo is silk-screened onto the front panel, which has rack-mount holes. A large, illuminated rocker switch for mains power also acts as a circuit breaker. Around back are an IEC power inlet and eight hospital-grade outlets. Although it measures only 19"W x 3.8"H x 11"D, the RM 10 weighs an impressive 36 pounds. This may not be a direct indicator of its performance, but most power-conditioning products, including many that are larger, lack such heft and heavy-duty construction. A standard 15A power cord is provided to connect the unit to a wall socket. I would have preferred a beefier cord, but you can always add an aftermarket one.

The RM 10 uses proprietary processes such as Narrow Bandwidth Technology (NBT), Ultra Screen Technology (UST), Low Noise (LoNo) transformer design, and Low Stray Field Technology (LoStray) to reduce noise and interference. However, most of the RM 10’s weight is accounted for by its huge toroidal transformer, which is also the key to its performance. The transformer basically isolates any connected components from the AC line, and is said to completely eliminate AC line noise. The RM 10 is also claimed to provide power of very high current and low impedance. Although its continuous-current load capability is 10A, its maximum output is 100A for half of a cycle.

Torus Power PIUs also use series-mode surge-suppression technology licensed from ZeroSurge. This is different from the more common shunt-mode surge suppression, which uses sacrificial metal-oxide varistors (MOVs) to direct surges to ground. Series mode, which relies on capacitors to store excess energy and slowly release it back into the line, is widely accepted as being superior to shunt-mode; I still protect my system with ZeroSurge’s excellent 1MOD15WI series-mode surge suppressor, which I reviewed in 2007.

Performance

Plugging my A/V components into the RM 10 yielded improvements in both picture and sound. Almost every improvement that the ZeroSurge 1MOD15WI had made in the power coming out of the wall was itself improved on by the Torus Power.

The video particularly benefited from the RM 10. The blacks seemed even a little bit blacker, and the picture was smooth yet detailed. I Am Legend looked superb from both Blu-ray and standard-definition DVD. The gradation of shadows when Will Smith’s character is attacked at dusk by mutated dogs was exceptional. Even in the low light levels of this scene, every element was faithfully reproduced, from the outline and contours of the abandoned cars to Smith’s dark clothes. Although the dogs and other CGI creatures didn’t look all that realistic, the rendering of the surfaces of their bodies and outlines was meticulously reproduced. Overall, the images of the Blu-ray edition of I Am Legend were absolutely pristine, but even the upscaled SD DVD looked impressive. The opening scenes in the streets of a deserted New York City looked incredibly realistic. Billboards and street signs were legible, but the visuals were smooth and filmlike. The CGI deer running through the streets were a little soft and blurred, but judging by the Blu-ray edition, this is inherent in the source. Otherwise, the upscaled SD DVD picture was almost entirely free of noise, and looked surprisingly lifelike.

Colors, too, were spectacular with the RM 10 in the system. Interior shots in CSI: Miami can look a little oversaturated, but otherwise the 1080i over-the-air broadcasts were dazzling. The vibrant colors and rich textures of the fashionable wardrobes worn by the implausibly stylish CSI agents looked fantastic. The sparkling blue waters of Miami Harbor and the pastel-colored buildings were crystal-clear -- perfect examples of how good HDTV can be. The straightforward camerawork and studio lighting gave Dancing with the Stars a less stylized look, but it was just as breathtaking in its clarity. Whether it was Kristi Yamaguchi in her sparkling dresses or Edyta Sliwinska in her strikingly revealing outfits twirling across the brilliantly lit dance floor, the bright, colorful images enhanced my enjoyment of this guilty pleasure.

With the RM 10, the sound had a great sense of dynamics. The guitars on Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds’ Live at Radio City Music Hall simply soared. This Blu-ray Disc continues to impress me with its simple but powerful presentation of voices and acoustic guitars in Dolby TrueHD. The brilliant performances and amazing recording quality make it one of the best next-generation demo discs, and give me goose bumps every time I listen to it. High-resolution two-channel sources also sounded great. The noise floor on the Five Songbirds sampler SACD [First Impression Music FIM 4892843000936] was nearly nonexistent. The bass in "Georgia on My Mind" was incredibly tight and well defined, with an aural background that was totally black and dead silent. Ayako Hosokawa’s voice in "Tears in Heaven" sounded especially emotive, her slight warble perfectly reproduced.

Comparison

It’s hardly surprising that the Torus Power RM 10 improved my system’s performance more than did the ZeroSurge 1MOD15WI -- at $1900, the RM 10 costs well more than four times as much as the $420 ZeroSurge. While the ZeroSurge uses the same type of series-mode surge suppression and did a good job of cleaning up the video, it has only basic EMI/RFI filtering. The RM 10 took things a step further. Watching upscaled SD DVDs wasn’t quite like watching a true hi-def source, but I nonetheless enjoyed the bright, colorful pictures produced by the Torus. There was more detail in the final scene of Definitely, Maybe, the dark night sky framed by dimly lit buildings. With the ZeroSurge, the blacks were still very black, but there was less differentiation in the darkest parts of the picture; the buildings blended with and almost disappeared into the blackness of the night. There was also less progression of hues in brightly lit scenes with the ZeroSurge. This caused close-ups of faces to look a little contrasty and blotchy, instead of there being a smooth transition of flesh tones along the contours of a face, as happened with the RM 10.

Although I didn’t feel as if the ZeroSurge was limiting the amount of current fed to my system, the Torus Power was audibly more open and dynamic. The sound was totally unrestrained with the Blu-ray edition of Shakira: Oral Fixation Tour. The drums were pounding and undistorted, and Shakira’s voice had a boundless quality. I wouldn’t say that the music sounded compressed in comparison through the ZeroSurge, but I could play Shakira’s voice louder, and it sounded smoother, through the Torus. Not only was the sound more authoritative with the RM 10, but the music’s subtleties were also more perceptible. The RM 10’s lower noise floor increased microdynamics, which in turn let the music flow more naturally. In my review of the ZeroSurge, I noted that the improvements it wrought in the sound weren’t as pronounced as what it did for the image. The Torus Power provided significant benefits in video and audio performance.

Conclusion

The RM 10 is no mysterious black box that Torus Power claims will miraculously clean up the power sent to your system. It uses a massive high-quality transformer to isolate components from the AC line, and series-mode surge suppression licensed from ZeroSurge -- both established technologies that have been incorporated into a well-designed, well-built product. Most important, it works. It’s not inexpensive at $1900, but I don’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for an effective, high-current power conditioner with state-of-the-art surge suppression.

Review System
Speakers - Paradigm Reference Signature S8 (mains), Paradigm Reference Signature C3 (center), Paradigm Reference Servo-15 v.2 (2 subwoofers), Mirage Omni 260 (surrounds)
A/V processor - Anthem Statement D2
Amplifiers - Bel Canto e.One REF1000, Bel Canto eVo6, Axiom Audio A1400-8
Sources - Oppo DV-970HD SACD/CD/DVD-A/V player, Sony PlayStation 3, Trends Audio UD-10.1 USB converter
Cables - Analysis Plus, Essential Sound Products, DH Labs
Surge suppressor - ZeroSurge 1MOD15WI
Display device - JVC HD-56FC97 RPTV
 

Manufacturer contact information:

Bryston Ltd.
P.O. Box 2170
677 Neal Drive
Peterborough, Ontario
Canada
K9J 6X7
Phone: (705) 742-5325
Fax: (705) 742-0882

Website: www.toruspower.com


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