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2023 Golden Ear: Shunyata Research Altaira Grounding System

Shunyata Altaira

Price varies with configuration

Shunyata Research’s Altaira Grounding System is a new product category that will be unfamiliar to most audiophiles—it was certainly new to me. The system is composed of one or more passive “hubs” to which you connect the ground terminals of your components via specially made cables that are part of the Altaira line. The hubs are small metal chassis, each with six equipment-grounding posts on the rear panel—there are no front-panel controls or indicators. A seventh ground post connects to a ground terminal on your power conditioner or to the ground pin of an AC outlet via an adapter plug. The Altaira ground cables feature interchangeable terminations so that they will work in any system and adapt to component upgrades. The idea behind Altaira is that the chassis grounds of all components are noisy; draining this noise from the components can improve sound quality.

I approached this new product category thinking that I might hear a lowering of background noise and a concomitant increase in low-level resolution and spaciousness, but the Altaira did all that and more. In addition to an increase in soundstage size, blacker backgrounds, and finer resolution of very low-level detail, the Altaira system rendered more liquid timbres, greater timing precision in the bass, enhanced clarity of instrumental lines, and a general impression of higher musical realism and expression. Listen to a system with an Altaira for a few weeks and then take it out; the contrast is stark. Shunyata’s Altaira system is a revelation, not only taking my system’s performance to the next level of sound quality but also revealing the effect of ground noise on musical realism. (334)

Tags: AWARDS GOLDEN EAR GROUNDING

By Robert Harley

My older brother Stephen introduced me to music when I was about 12 years old. Stephen was a prodigious musical talent (he went on to get a degree in Composition) who generously shared his records and passion for music with his little brother.

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