The US distributor for Entreq recently sent me the new accessories for their fabulous line of grounding boxes. The Entreq grounding boxes and cables were eye opening to experience in my own system. More blackness between the notes, less noise, more texture to instruments and voices, and just a more musical presentation are but a few of the attributes of these products when set up on the right components. The Entreq Everest & K2 ($249 for the K2, $349 for the Everest) they sent were add-ons to the existing models of grounding boxes, and meant to improve performance. I was very interested in giving these items a try.
From the Entreq Web site:
"When we at Entreq found a massive new breakthrough for our metal/mineral mix, used within the Ground boxes... we accepted the challenge to find a solution where all the benefits from our new discoveries could be incorporated & applied to all existing Ground boxes and work, without limits, with our wide range of Eartha cables.As far as using the product they state:
The demand was it should work from our entry level Minimus/Tellus all the way to the Olympus Tellus. Working as effectively with the entry level Eartha Copper cables as with Eartha Atlantis. It should also be easy to handle and easy to attach. This has truly been a challenge for us!"
"You simply replace the wood caps on your existing ground box with either the K2 or Everest product."Looks
The Everest and K2 had identically sized and shaped wooden housings, although it seemed my K2 has a little "extra" sanding along the tip of the edge where the post came out, so they appeared slightly more rounded. I chalk that up to variances in production. The physical difference between the two lie in the length of the post that stuck out of them, with the post on the Everest sticking out about 1cm further than that of the K2. It was threaded internally so as to replace the wooden caps that secure the Entreq Eartha cables to the ground boxes. It appeared to be made out of aluminum or (my guess) magnesium. There didn't appear to be any powder or mixture of materials encased in the housing, but I could be wrong. It appeared to be the post and the wooden housing only.
The results according to Entreq:
MinimUs: Single Ground post only - The replacement of a K2 or Everest to a Minimus will then allow it to, at least, out perform a standard Silver Minimus! Tellus: Three Ground posts - As above the replacement of the K2 or Everest on a Tellus will offer a performance level higher than a Silver Tellus.
Silver Tellus: Again the K2 or Everest applied to a Silver Tellus will start to approach the performance of the mighty OlympUs!My System
For evaluating the Everest and K2, I had the following gear in my system:
- Tweek Geek BMF loudspeakers - 98dB efficient, 4 12" side firing powered subs, 12" front firing Faital pro midbass, Beyma TP-150H horn loaded AMT HF driver crossed at about 1100Hz. Very revealing, very dynamic, easy to drive and monstrous full range output if needed.
- AcousticImagery Atsah 1200 monoblock amps - 1200 watts into 2 ohms, 140dB signal to noise, Hypex Ncore based amps. They idle along most of the time due to the sensitivity of the speakers.
- AcousticImagery Jay-Sho fully balanced autoformer based passive preamp - adds NOTHING to the signal. A gorgeous pre.
- Auralic Aries streamer with femto clock
- Aqua Hifi La Scala MKII DAC - DFD (Direct From Digital) decoding without any digital filter. In addition it also utilizes a single-stage signal amplifier: VALVE / MOSFET direct-coupled and LED bias. It uses ECC81 tubes - a High-Frequency triode - for its low noise main feature. This is directly connected to a High-Voltage MOSFET output.
- Dark Matter Power Conditioner - Successor to the Bybee Stealth (only the prototype exists right now)
- Audience AU 24 SX Speaker cables & balanced interconnects.
- Stillpoints Aperture Room Treatments
- GIK Acoustics GridFusors diffusors
- Sonex Whisper Wave absorbers
The Grounding Boxes
I had an Olympus Minimus and a Silver Minimus on which to try the new products. The cables I had on hand were RCA terminated Apollo and Silver Eartha cables. I used the same type of setup for each combination. The grounding boxes were connected to the preamp's signal ground for all tests. This was the most effective and revealing placement for the ground boxes in my system.
This is a very limited set of grounding boxes, cables and their applications, and by no means a comprehensive analysis. But it should supply some insights into the sonic effects of the Everest and K2 on the Olympus and Silver minimus with Apollo and Silver Eartha cables.
The Difficulty in Evaluating Entreq
Evaluating the Entreq Everest and K2 required a different procedure than normal. they needed time to "settle in" after installation. This means putting them on the grouding box, waiting a few hours to have serious listening time, listening, then removing the devices and to hear the effect their absence has on the system. It takes a lot of time and patience. This made the entire reviewing process take se
- Ray Brown Trio - The Real Blues (Soular Energy)
This is a live recording in a small venue with acoustic bass, and lots going on in the background. It's great for listening to bass and low level detail.
- Chris Jones - No Sanctuary Here (Roadhouses & Automobiles)
This has a powerful bass track, acoustic guitar, Chris's voice is close mic'd, and the background vocals are recorded in a somewhat reverberant space that when played back right one really gets a sense of that space. Chris's voice is a great test of upper bass and can sound boxy if something is off.
- TrentMoller - Evil Dub (The Last Resort)
Recorded in Q Sound, this track has great electronic bass, quick pulsating cymbals where you can hear each strike and the emphasis on certain strikes, and a real holographic sound. You can hear things behind you, spinning around you, and the sound goes from narrow to filling the entire space. Clarity in the cymbals, bass, and holographic imaging are what I am listening for here.
- Phil Collins - I Don't Care Any More (No Jacket Required)
It's all about the dynamics of the drums on this recording. Something my system does particularly well. At the right volume level it is goosebump inducing when things are "right" with the system.
- Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong - Isn't This A Lovely Day (Ella and Louis)
Great male and female vocals. Ella's voice can sound a little boxy if things aren't quite right.
Olympus + Everest: I put the Everest on the Olympus and let it settle in over night. The next day, I was able to hear the difference, and it was significant. The whole frequency spectrum seemed to gain more energy and push forward. The soundstage was wider and deeper, but when it moved forward into my listening space it seemed to add a sense of tension, not the relaxation that I prefer.
I didn't care for the Everest-Apollo-Olympus Minimus combo with my system. Replacing the Everest with the wooden knob on my Olympus Minimus immediately restored a more relaxed musical presentation that was more pleasing to my ears.
I could see the Everest-Apollo-Olympus Minimus combo working well with a tube based system or one that had a more subdued mid-high frequency response. It was too much of a good thing for my system however.
Olympus Minimus + K2 - The K2 sounded about half as powerful as the Everest, and way more agreeable in my system. I preferred this combination to the Everest, but still preferred the stock knob after prolonged listening. Here's why: I listen to a lot of different styles of music, and like my system to be able to accomodate all of them. It's a compromise I make for every day listening. The K2 allowed really good recordings to sound incredible, but poorer recordings were unbearable. The combination was not at all kind to compressed, and thin rock recordings. Streaming music suffered as well, as all of the compression artifacts were laid bare.
I could see myself using the K2 + Apollo cable + Olympus Minimus during equipment and recording evaluations, or if I really want to hear all of a great recording. The entire audible range had a clarity that was natural, rich, full of texture, detail and musically natural. If you have a library of superb recordings, and want to hear everything in them, this combination is definitely worth auditioning.
Silver minimus + Everest: This took that speed and clarity of the Silver Minimus and Silver Eartha down into the lower frequencies. It was as if the rise and decay of the music was less encumbered by noise. Rises and transients were more dynamic, sharper and not smeared. Decays just went on and on. The Everest would be a very nice and inexpensive upgrade for Silver Minimus owners.
Silver Minimus + K2: I was super impressed with this combination. It approached the Olympus in terms of tone, detail, texture and dynamics. If I hadn't heard the Olympus Minimus in my system, I would be totally happy with the Silver Minimus and K2 combination. It widened the soundstage and gave the midrange a very nice character. Bass definition was clearer as well. Again the transients and decays were more dynamic and sharper, but perhaps not quite what the Everest offered. In terms of bang for the buck I think this combination was the best.
ConclusionsThis exercise really shows how important it is to hear something in your own system before buying. We as audiophiles often jump to the conclusion that the most expensive product will sound better. In this situation I assumed that the Olympus Minimus with the Apollo Cable and Everest knob would be the ultimate combination. Not so. The most satisfying combination turned out to be the stock Olympus Minimus with the Apollo cable. The next best turned out to be the Silver Minimus with the Everest and Silver Eartha cable. The best value turned out to be the Silver Minimus with the K2 and Silver Eartha cable. The Silver Eartha was substantially upgraded by the addition of either the K2 or the Everest. My advice if you are a Silver Minimus owner: Try them both. If you are looking to dip your toes into the grounding box waters, start with a Silver Minimus and Eartha Cable, then add a K2 or Everest knob at a later date.
The great news is, you can try any of these combinations on your own system and know what works before you spend your money.