The Caprice Audio Core Noise Management System is intricately explored by Douglas Moore
Some of us have in our DNA a technical side that is always looking for ways to improve things. From adding solar panels to lower our power bill to installing a special blade to make our zero-turn mower cut better. These products promise to improve our lives and give us a sense of satisfaction that we were able to improve on something that was professionally engineered. Many times it is not the product itself but the environment around it that can benefit from a little help to improve performance.
For as long as high-end audio has been around there have been products meant to improve the performance of our audio systems. From components that help clean the AC power coming into your system to sound absorbers or diffraction; exotic cables etc..l to improve the sound in the room and your whole sound system. All of these things matter and can take an already good system to the next level if addressed properly.
One of the main enemies of audio systems is noise. We have endless products in today’s world and a good percentage of them take power either by plugging them in or by a battery that will need to be plugged in to charge. As these devices are plugged in they create their noise and arguably, while this noise will not normally be detected in small inexpensive devices, it’s a different story with our prized audio systems.
A high-end home audio system can be some of the most sensitive electronics we connect to power in our homes. With the shear resolution that today’s systems can produce, any noise or “dirt” in the incoming AC lines can affect the final performance. The ground path can also induce noise to the signal passing through the system.
Caprice Audio has developed a device that while passive in its operation will do away with the noise and dirt that can do so much damage to an audio signal. “The Core”, by Caprice Audio, is a somewhat heavy aluminum block with 6 connectors on the back.
When Caprice Audio contacted me about reviewing this unit I admit I was skeptical as I have been burned by products touting supreme benefits only to be let down. But I agreed to take on this review knowing that I would either have to report on a product that does not deliver (hate doing that but will if appropriate) or a product that would offer nice benefits.
The Core solution.—Achieving system synergy is always an issue with audio components, whether they are audiophile high-end quality or not.
After receiving the unit I was impressed that they included a hard case for The Core that protected it in shipping and allowed for an elevated unboxing experience. Also, there were three sets of what looked to be high-quality cables to connect the unit. Included with The Core is a set of instructions that show you how to connect the unit to the various components and main speakers in the system.
There are two RCA to RCA cables that allow you to hook to your components and two RCA to spade connector cables to connect to the negative binding post of your speakers. The speaker level connection is the only one that requires both left and right to be connected as source and line level/amplifier components generally so they can share the ground so you only need to connect one cable to them.
You can purchase more of what Caprice calls their “Slipstream” cables to allow up to 20 combinations allowing you to connect all of your equipment to take advantage of this technology.
One thing that Caprice Audio warns about with connecting up The Core is that certain amplifiers and preamps will not work well with it connected. This is something I found out when I tried to connect my reference Pass Labs/Hegel preamp power amp combo. When connected to my reference combo I heard a pop between switching inputs on the Hegel P20. This was not severe but I wanted to contact Luis Alberto at Caprice Audio to see if going forward with the connection was advisable.
After hearing back from Luis he explained that Hegel uses a new “Silicon-Germanium transistor” in their designs that can cause issues with using The Core with their products. Luis then explained that other Hegel users have had this issue as well. While this issue is very rare and only happens on certain components, it is great to see that Caprice Audio and Luis are a phone call or email away should you need guidance with any issues.
Luckily, I had been listening to a full Mola Mola Makua and Perca preamp/amplifier system for several weeks and its design allowed me to fully use The Core with the system and my speakers. After connecting the unit to the Makua, Perca, and each of my speakers I was ready to hear what The Core could bring to the table in an already fantastic sounding system. I tried several combinations of connections and finally settled on connecting the Core to the Makua Preamp through RCA, the Perca Amplifier through RCA, and Then My Spatial Audio Speakers through the binding posts as this gave me the best results. I will include an explanation of this system calibration and testing by Luis below:
“The output guide markers for the RCA are a “starting point” for new users. After the Core is fully integrated into a system for 24 hours, a user can begin “switching the RCA outputs” to perform the plug-and-play optimization/calibration and attain the best synergy. This is a game changer because it is a non-digital scheme offering the listener a sound that matches the music being played. Over time, this becomes very self-evident provided one is not swapping in-out equipment.”
On first listen with The Core in the system I was greeted with a gorgeous, darker, and blacker background for sure but there was something else going on. Indeed, the Mola Mola components in my system are top-flight sounding and something I could live with for a long time! But anyone in this hobby knows that even when you think you have reached the audio summit someone or something else will show up to blow you away and make you rethink what is possible.
If a person was to casually listen to the system with and without The Core in place you might miss what it does. But for us attentive listeners The Core does bring something to the table for sure.
Stevie Wonder’s 1973 album “Innervisions” is a true classic and brings some good sonics for the time as well. I like this album’s chill vibe and jazzy sound. Without The Core in the system, the sound of this album was just like I remember it.
Instruments have good separation for an early 70’s album and while the noise floor is not the quietest for sure it’s not as loud as many albums from this era. With The Core in place, the system seemed to have a roomier sound with each instrument getting more of its own space in the mix.
This effect also gave the soundstage a boost in width giving the performers even more room to work with. While I did not take The Core apart to see what is in this thing that makes it work the way it does I could tell it was in place especially when I removed it from the system.
The Ray Charles Singers 1964 album “Al-Di-La And Other Extra Special Songs For Young Lovers” is a wonderful album from another time that has great chorus singers that can showcase the vocal ability and image/soundstage of a system. The song “Do You Want To Know A Secret” is one of my favorites on the album and tests a system’s ability with vocals. I tested this track with and without The Core in place and found that The Core again allowed the soundstage to widen some.
Being that this album was recorded in the 60s the noise floor isn’t the lowest but The Core made sure that any system-related noise was kept lower and allowed a little more transparency and detail from the tracks. The chorus vocals had a smidge more detail and body performing an even more “you are there” feel. While I will say that lesser systems will most likely not show these differences a well-put-together and installed high-end system will.
I will start my conclusion with this statement: The Core will NOT fix an overly bright system, it will not fix bad speaker placement, it will not fix a non-treated or badly treated room, and The Core will not fix badly chosen components or bad system synergy. If you are merely in the process of getting your system to its highest performance and still have room to improve in speakers or other components many other things need to happen before thinking about this product.
However, If you have put the time and work into carefully choosing your components and speakers, have fully treated your room to give its best performance, and have reached the endgame component level that you are comfortable with, The Core could very well be the last ingredient to get the last bit of detail and realism from your system.
If you own a setup that you consider the “ultimate” at the moment, and possesses all the qualities that I have spoken about above, I can recommend The Core as an option to get that extra minute bit of realism out of your hi-fi system without a doubt!
Review System: Speakers: Spatial Audio M3 Turbo S open baffle./ REL T9x subwoofer/ Digital: Denafrips Venus II, / Modified PC-based Music server/streamer. PS Audio Airlens Network Streamer Analog: Pro Ject X2 B Turntable, Darlington labs MP-7, and SU-7 phono preamp, Audio Technica AT33 PTG/ii cartridge Amplification: Hegel P20 preamp. Pass Labs X150.5 power amp. Conditioner: PS Audio Quintet. Cables: Iconoclast Series 2 SPTPC speaker cables, IconoclastGeneration 2 ETPC XLR cables and Gotham 4/1 RCA interconnects, Iconoclast BAV REL subwoofer cable
Price – $7,500.00
Upgrade Option – $2,500.00
- Includes gold/silver internal wiring
- Graphene treated inductors
- Circuit topology enhancements with improved noise control filtering
WHERE the MUSIC BEAT meets the AUDIOPHILE ELITE !
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