The Absolute Sound
From CES2007 Report
The Encounter with Hyperdrive Technology:
"Greatest Technological Breakthrough" by Jim Hannon in his 2007 CES Report:
"The addition of the Hyperdrive Technology to the Chang Encounter blew my mind. I expected some noise reduction when it was plugged into the Encounter, but I certainly didn't expect the significant improvement in soundstage depth."
-- Jim Hannon. The Absolute Sound, Issue 171, April/May 2007 p. 54.
From CES2006 Report
The Encounter named "Coolest Accessory"
The Chang Lightspeed Encounter parallel noise sink/power strip was named Coolest Accessory under Chris Marten's "Best of Show" in his CES 2006 Report. "Just plug the Encounter into the same power circuit you use for your hi-fi system and watch the noise floor drop. Neat."
-- Chris Marten. The Absolute Sound, Issue 161, April/May 2006 p. 34.
From the Equipment Report
"The Chang “house sound” favored overall system musicality over definition and resolution, offering a delightful blend of digital noise suppression, excellent and delicate midrange resolution, plenty of soundstage depth, and powerful and extended bass."
"I plugged the Chang Lightspeed 305 into the wall, and the CD player into one of its digital outlets…The effect was not subtle: Immediately most of the musical details were restored and the highs smoothed..."
-- Sallie Reynolds. AV Guide Monthly Equipment Report, http://www.avguide.com
"While you state that 'MAS does not recommend using any mains filtering device,' the Chang Lightspeed line conditioner I used was sent to me at the request of your North American distributor. I agree that many line conditioners do indeed degrade reproduction of dynamic contrasts, but this was not the case with the Chang unit. I preferred the sound of your products (and, for that matter, the sound of most components) when the Chang was in the system."
--Anthony C. Chiarella. The Absolute Sound, Issue 87, May 1993 p. 74.
Chang Lightspeed Powerline Filter Model 3200
Rating: 95% effective
This is the lower priced model and the sibling of the previously reviewed Model 9600 ISO. The Chang Audio Corp. hails from Sylvania, Ohio where they have manufactured a line of four components since 1990. The fairly new company has developed quite a following over the past few years and the reasons are obvious, as we shall see.
As all Chang components, the CLS 3200 is a small unit, finished in black. It measures 17 x 4 x 7 inches and its diminutive size allows users to place it almost anywhere without obstructing the equipment which plugs into it. The rear of the unit accommodates six AC sockets. Two small green indicator lights on the unit's front show when the Chang is properly connected and ready for use.*
The Chang's design doesn't feature a transformer or any other inductor coils (windings). Rather, the circuit accommodates what the company calls a Transmission Line. It incorporates an arrangement of select magnetic materials that yield a radical reduction of radio frequency interference in power lines. At the same time, this system provides impedance values which reduce EMI and RFI. The Chang provides thirty-five joules of energy-clamping protection from line to line, while delivering unrestricted current. This model provides fifteen amps, while some of the company's models supply up to thirty amps. One of the sockets is designed for digital components, isolated from the analogue sockets to avoid digital contamination*. A low-inductance power cord supplies the unit with the AC about to be filtered. We wish we could tell you more about the unit's applied technology, but because patents on the design are still pending, there aren't any white papers--just black magic, it seems.
To test the unit, we did a very simple setup. Two mono block amplifiers were used--one plugged into the Chang, the other plugged into another brand. Further, we conducted the same test, except we plugged one channel into the wall outlet directly. A pair of Mirage M1-si speakers and a pair of Meret Re's were used for this auditioning session.
No doubt, the Chang supplies more speed. While the Chang seemed a bit faster, the sound a little crisper, and the resolution remarkably better than the wall outlet, the other brand came up with a little more "body" to the sound and equally good, but not better resolution. This seems to substantiate Chang's claim that coils inhibit speed. In another test, we connected the Bryston 3B amp to the Chang with minimal changes, except for improved transients. As we did in a previous test, we plugged an Etude tuner into it and found again that the most audible improvement can be had with this component. We also plugged a Pioneer Elite large-screen TV into the CLS 3200. Indeed the picture cleared up and improved overall by about 25%. All in all, the Chang works well in most applications and even better in some specific uses.
Synopsis & Commentary:
We feel as though we owe more of an explanation and more in depth testing to our readers. The above short and sweet evaluation only provides that line conditioners and line filters can work well. Bryston has a dedicated line conditioning system built into their amplifiers, which do not react favorable in combination with other conditioning systems. However, the Chang does work well with Bryston. Strange, don't you think?
When a line filter is used for video application, it's easier to determine improvements--which the Chang supplied. However when the Chang is in use with audio systems, the results are more subtle and perhaps a bit more difficult to determine. Listen for improved overall clarity and better resolution across the audible frequency spectrum. One more thing: Do not confuse a simple spike remover--such as a power bar used for computers--with a dedicated audio/video device; it does nothing for your electronics. We suggest that you try this unit in your system. No doubt, you too will see and hear the difference a power line filter can make when you compare results with those you may have experienced straight out of the wall outlet--the hydroelectric company's contaminated power.
*Since the publication of this article, the CLS 3200 has undergone some modification. The unit now has 2 digital outlets and 4 analog outlets, rather than 1 digital and 5 analog outlets, due to the increase in use of digital components. In addition to this change, the chassis has undergone some cosmetic changes. For pictures and descriptions of all the Lightspeed units please look at our product line page.
On the CLS 6400 ISO:
"With four double-filtered analog and two fully filtered digital AC outlets and an 1800W/15A capacity, the transformerless Lightspeed filter can handle all but the most power hungry system, says [Steven Stone]. [Robert Deutsch] likes the fact that, in contrast to some transformer-based power-line conditioners, it doesn't hum, nor does it limit dynamics. [Steven Stone] points out that it appears to be good at solving ground-loop problems."
--"Recommended Components" Stereophile, Vol.20 No. 10, October 1997, p. 155.
"As promised, [the Chang Lightspeed ISO 6400] reduced background noise, added some thrills, improved the bass, and generally tightened everything up."
--Howard J. Blumenthal, Stereophile, Vol.20 No. 12, December 1997, p. 94.
On the CLS 9600 ISO:
"In the past, I've had mostly negative results using power-line conditioners with amplifiers, finding that they tend to supress dynamics. While doing the BAT review, I got a chance to try the Chang Lightspeed CLS 9600 ISO, which claimed to leave the speed and dynamics of high-powered amplifiers unimpaired. It was true: with the VK-60 plugged into the Chang, there was a decrease in noise, an improvement in overall clarity, and no damping of dynamics. I tried the Chang and the Tice Series II Power Block that is normally in my system in various combinations and eventually settled on having the VK-60 plugged into the Chang (which isolates digital from analog components), and the VK-5 directly into the wall. (the VK-5's design includes AC shunt regulation, which might account for the fact that it performed best with 'raw' AC.)"
--Robert Deutsch, Stereophile, Vol.18 No.12, December 1995, p.138.
The CLS 9600 ISO was also part of the associated equipment used by Robert Deutsch when reviewing the Hales Revelation Three loudspeaker.
--Stereophile, Vol. 21 No. 2, February 1998, p.120.
Ultra High Fidelity Magazine
On the CLS 6400 ISO:
". . . a consensus was evident: we all thought [the CLS 6400 ISO] was a darned good product."
--"Test Bench" UHF Magazine, No. 42, December 1994, p. 52.
"It has to be said, Mr. Chang behaved impeccably. He brought reliable support and I'm convinced he could be useful to you as well. If I were certain of my system, I'd be convinced that Mr. Chang could only help."
--Reine Lessard, "Crosstalk" UHF Magazine, No. 42, December 1994, p. 54.