With great power, so the saying goes, comes great responsibility. Move to the audiophile world and sadly, the sheer range of electronic gadgetry that we surround ourselves with ensures great corruption that infects your system. As an audiophile, your key priority while setting up your personal audiophile system with carefully chosen components is to address every nuance, every note, to be carried forth from the moment of creation. Which is why a product like the Keces Audio BP-1200 Balanced Isolation Power Conditioner, becomes crucial to the equation.
One key part of the Keces Audios portfolio of power conditioners, is that they have something at multiple use-points. So this ranges from the $499 BP-600 which has two outlets, to the four-outlet BP-1200 which retails for $799, and the eight outlet BP-2400 which retails for $1,399. The device on hand here is the BP-1200. In looks, like the rest of the portfolio, it looks like one simple black box, albeit one which is very solidly built from aluminum. The four sockets at the back aside, there is just two buttons, with a front power on/off button and a reset button at the back.
As always, part of the joy of finding the difference a specific component makes to the set-up is choosing an artiste, one you have heard multiple times.
Starting off, I knew jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard would be key to the equation. And the album of choice? Ready for Freddie, released on the Blue Note label in 1962. An essential Hard Bop recording, it for me marked a peak for Hubbard before he went semi-commercial on Creed Taylor’s CTI label with soul and funk influenced albums like Red Clay.
All set with my Blue Note Definitive Vinyl Reissue of the album, I set out my test system: the Pro-Ject 2Xperience turntable, the Pro-Ject Pre Box RS Digital preamp and the Bel Canto e.One Ref500S stereo power amp, with the Klipsch Heresy IV as the final point. Connectivity was ably handled by the Audioquest MacKenzie RCA cables, Final Touch Audio’s Callisto USB cable, AudioQuest’s Rocket 33 speaker cable and a pair of PS Audio’s AC-5 power cables.
So then, all set, I started off a few minutes with the original recording of what is a truly adventurous recording. Hubbard was a mere 23 years old at the time, and tracks like the uptempo blues of Birdlike and the sheer drama of Crisis are enhanced greatly by the quality of sessions musicians, including Art Davis on bass, Elvin Jones on drums, Wayne Shorter on tenor sax, Bernard McKinney on euphonium, and no less than McCoy Tyner on the piano. Truly, a quintessential albums for which Freddie Hubbard shall always be revered and remembered.
At this point I decide to introduce the BP-1200 into the equation. I realigned the power plugs, connected the devices, and sat back. I expected a surprise, a slight breath of fresh air to the experience. But what I experienced was a near total turnaround, a dash of vibrancy and dynamism being added to the recording. Suddenly, the recording, with its dense sonic weave and the improvisational rapport of these incredibly talented musicians seemed to come together as one. The record, far from being an instrumental showcase for its frontman, suddenly seemed irreducible to just one person, with a complex and distinctly jazzy dynamic expressing itself.
Totally in the moment, I decided to check a recent investment, a UHQR limited edition cut of British composer Gustav Holst’s Planets, as envisioned by Sir Georg Solti and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The end result was incredibly vibrant and captivating, whether the peaceful, languid rendering of Venus or the relentless march of jackboots that start off Mars, The Bringer of War, with a deeper soundstage that gives one an idea of the immensity and sheer scale of the recording.
So in terms of specs, how does the Keces Audio BP-1200 truly stand out?
Key to the magic is the massive custom-built toroidal transformer housed within. One of the advantages it ensures is a 90% efficiency courtesy a continuous strip of grain oriented silicon steel core which ensures that all grains are in the magnetic direction. Toroidal transformers also radiate about 1/10 the magnetic field of traditional El transformers, with the windings which cover the core acting as a shield. Toroidal transformers are also acoustically quieter than EI transformers. And to top it all, toroidal transformers are about half the size and weight of standard transformers. The BP-1200 also incorporates a surge protection mechanism that avoids the traditional shunt mode which raises ground voltage and may contaminate audio and video signals. By absorbing surges more than 2 V above peak line voltage, the ground is not affected.
In conclusion? By isolating your precious equipment from the mains as well as ensuring surge protection, the Keces Audio BP-1200 Balanced Isolation power conditioner is highly recommended for any serious hi-fi setup. The BP-1200 retails at $799.