Shunyata Research Everest 8000 AC Power Conditioner and Omega XC Power Cord
As a long-time user of various Shunyata Research AC power conditioners and power cords, I’ve been fascinated to discover how the company’s products have evolved with each new generation. In performance there’s been unmistakable forward progress, with lower noise and an attendant increase in clarity, resolution, and soundstaging. But Shunyata’s new flagship Everest 8000 power conditioner breaks this trend; rather than offering an incremental improvement, the Everest 8000 represents a significant leap in sound quality—one that redefines what’s possible in AC power conditioning. I think it’s no coincidence that the Everest benefits from some of the technologies Shunyata founder and designer Calin Gabriel developed for his AC power conditioners used in medical laboratories. A few years ago, a cardiologist who spent much of his time battling residual noise while looking at extremely low-level electrical signals in heart patients made a surprising discovery. The cardiologist, an audiophile who happened to use a Shunyata power conditioner in his home-audio system, speculated that if the Shunyata conditioner lowered the noise floor in his music system, it might confer similar benefits in his medical lab.
After plugging his lab equipment into the Shunyata conditioner, he was surprised and delighted to discover that the AC conditioner allowed him to more clearly see the heart’s low-level electrical signals. He contacted Shunyata to share his experience, which eventually led Shunyata to start a whole new company, Clear Image Scientific, to design and manufacture AC power-conditioning devices for cardiac labs. The new company has grown exponentially, leading Gabriel to research and develop advanced new techniques to isolate, to an unprecedented degree, sensitive medical equipment from AC line noise. Some of those techniques have now been deployed in Shunyata’s AC conditioners for audio. How Clear Image Scientific sells its products says much about their efficacy; the company demonstrates the gear in a hospital for cardiologists, who can see for themselves the effect of reducing noise on the AC powerline.
Turning back to audio, the Everest is a vertical tower with a sloping front panel that narrows toward the top in a kind of truncated-pyramid shape (as seen from the front). This vertical form factor means the Everest sits on the floor next to your equipment rack rather than taking up shelf space. A blue LED, which is mercifully faint, indicates when the Everest is powered on. The rear panel holds eight AC outlets, each supported by Shunyata’s excellent cable-cradle system, which secures the AC cord to the power conditioner. An IEC C19 AC jack (20 ampere) accepts the AC cord that connects the Everest to your wall socket. The Everest isn’t supplied with this C19 cord; you need to provide your own. Because this cord essentially supplies your entire audio system, you’ll want to use a good one. Shunyata sent me its new Omega XC for this application, which costs nearly as much as the Everest ($8000 vs. $7000). An electromagnetic breaker switch turns the Everest on and off, but this switch is not a master power switch for your system. Rather, it is an over-current protection device.
The Everest features Shunyata’s Ground-Plane Noise-Reduction (GP-NR) system, which consists of four grounding posts on the rear of the unit. The idea is that you run a wire from each of your components to the Everest’s grounding posts so that all your equipment is grounded to the same electrical potential. Although most components (preamps, DACs, servers, etc.) lack a grounding post, you can connect the ground wire to a chassis screw and achieve the same effect. Shunyata offers grounding cables made from flexible stranded wire that’s easy to work with. Ground posts are common on professional and telecommunications gear for good reason: If some of your components’ grounds are at a different electrical potential (voltage) than other components, and those components are connected through interconnects, a small amount of electrical current will flow along the ground path provided by the interconnect. We hear this current flow as noise and hum. Preventing these noise-inducing “ground loops” is why I specified that each run of 10AWG to the five dedicated AC lines to my listening room be of the same length. With identical-length runs, the ground potential will be the same in each line. It’s common in professional gear for every component in a metal rack to be grounded with a braided wire to the rack.
The Everest’s technology is based on that of the Hydra Triton and Typhon conditioners, but with some new twists in technologies, construction, and materials. Before describing the Everest’s design, we should review the goal of a power conditioner. In addition to distributing power to multiple components, an AC conditioner should block noise on the AC line from getting into your audio components. Most people think that this is a conditioner’s primary function. But a conditioner’s most important job is preventing noise from traveling from one component to another. Think of a digital component, filled with chips that switch high-speed digital signals on and off. This switching creates noise that gets on the component’s ground plane. The AC cords in your system are the conduits for that noise, conducting it from one component to all your other components, degrading performance. A good conditioner blocks and dissipates this noise, isolating the components from each other.
Each of the Everest’s eight outlets features Shunyata’s CCI (Component-to-Component Interface) filters—a series of multi-stage filters that removes noise. Noise is further reduced by Shunyata’s patented NIC (Noise Isolation Chamber), a device that contains a ferroelectric material that absorbs high-frequency noise. The NIC was originally developed for the Hydra Triton. A different type of noise filter, called “CMode,” reportedly reduces common-mode noise.
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.More articles from this editor