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The Coherent QP-1 ‘Supercap’ Power Supply

This is a review of my individual QP-1 power supply. Each one is created bespoke for the customer’s needs but the principles remain the same: ultra tight voltage regulation, ultra low noise and the ability to meet variable demands in audio circuits by use of high value supercaps for a large reservoir of storage.

Mine provides +5V via two USB sockets for powering my Raspberry Pi and DigiOne separately, and +15V via a DC connector for powering my Caiman SEG DAC. The whole black box is large and heavy and suggests an over-rated toroidal transformer inside.

Connecting it up, what this high quality PSU does is quite dramatic in outcome, more so with my DAC than the Pi but the whole comfortably outweighing just powering the DAC alone. The soundstage becomes far larger, extending left and right outside of my speakers. Depth is profound, which is not something my system has been notable for in the past. Voices jump right out of the mix and it becomes easier to distinguish vocals in general. Bass tightens up and is more tuneful. Music sounds more dimensional, more detached from the speakers and more vivid.

One important thing to note. This PSU took a good two weeks and longer to give of its best, most likely because of the length of time it took the industrial grade super-capacitors to ‘form’ and settle. Do not judge it at all within the first week of operation, just keep it powered up.

Having stepped up from the stock switched mode power supply, through a good linear power supply, then 12V lead acid batteries and now to this supercap power supply has been a progression from decent sound quality to something quite unexpectedly extraordinary. I’ve always known that power quality determines overall sound quality but this is a surprise even to me. Highly recommended, although the QP-1’s contribution is going to vary from one component to another.

Specifications
- Custom 120VA transformer with electrostatic screen, RFI/EMI shield, potted and specially designed mounting system
- From 3.3V DC - 18V DC, also can be produced to deliver up to dual rail +/- 25V DC, current capability now at 18A peak, 5A continuous up to 18V DC
- Use of two independent super-caps, one @ 470kuF, the other at 68kuF, fitted after main custom rectification and first stage smoothing / storage capacitors, which can vary according to individual specification
- Two year warranty and can be reconfigured if customer changes equipment
- Price from £495
 
Date of Posting: 06 November 2018
Posted By: Martin Taylor Basingstoke
“I bought a lightly modified CD Transport, which has turned out to be a really excellent performer and superb value for money. The entire transaction was very straightforward; timely responses to inquiries, updates on delivery and the unit arrived very nicely packaged. I shall doubtless be back for more at some stage!”
 
Date of Posting: 01 October 2018
Posted By: Simon G
While back in England last month on a trip to the homeland (from my now permanent residence Australia) I made the short drive up to Tony's place to check out some of the brands he represents, listen to some tunes, have a chat and of course pick up my Coherent 6D cable loom (speaker cables, 2 interconnects and 4 power leads). I want to share what I heard with you, as best I can.

A quick sidenote;

This isn't the first time I've met Tony; he made a trip to my former residence in London, back when I was living in the UK, some 4/5 years ago. I remember then him bringing around a full 4D loom (sans speaker cables, they were Analysis Plus - silver something’s) and being massively impressed with what it did for the sound of my system. It's from the strength of that initial engagement that I decided to choose this brand.

Back to the present; the system that Tony had setup was something like:

Speakers: TAD ME-1 (on dedicated stands, with Track Audio isolation feet)

Amp: Not sure - a Tony bespoke special. PWM switching done correctly.

Preamp: See above, another Tony special - with a noise floor of -140db!

Source: Nova Fidelity X50D

DAC: TAD DA1000

Mains: Oracle 'conditioner' (does something other than condition), all American plug sockets

Other: 'Return to zero' grounding by Coherent, everything sat on Black Ravioli, all cabling was a complete loom of BD+

Tony ran my friend and I through a few warm up tracks and within about ten seconds I knew I was listening to something very special indeed. He played a few example tracks of Acapella performances, where the speakers had nowhere to hide and they didn’t trip up once.

A lot of the music we started with I'm not familiar with, but was of Red-book standard. Things that immediately leapt out at me was the sheer clarity of the sound; from top to bottom it was as clean as a whistle, fast and had a real sense of immediacy and palpability.

I recall my (non-audiophile) friend and I sharing a look with one another, about two minutes in - raised eyebrows and a kind of cheeky grin - this was going to be fun!

I remarked to Tony how impressed I was with the clarity of the ME-1s, despite the volume we were playing at; he remarked we're not even tickling them yet and he wasn't lying! I must state, from hearing these speakers, they've redefined what I expect to hear from 'just a pair of bookshelves'. They could go louder, clearer and more enjoyably than my old Usher Mini Dancer II floor standers (which for the record weigh in at about 55kg each). They didn't go lower, but the 37Hz they did present was impactful and fun.

Honestly, I’ve always lusted over humungous floor standers, but this experience redefined what I feel I’m looking for in a hi-fi system now.

We asked Tony to play some tunes we were familiar with and it was enlightening to hear them played with a noise floor of about zero. He played me Hey Now (London Grammar) and there was a whole new sub-set of sound to the music I didn’t ever know existed. I’ve experienced this sort of lowering before, but not to this extent. Other songs were more confronting as the system laid bare poorly produced / mastered tracks. Personally, I like this in a system as it means you’re getting the unvarnished truth (…high fidelity).

One thing that particularly leapt out at me from this system was just how good the high end was; high-hats on drum kits had such force and clarity, without stripping my ears of their lining, I’ve not heard that in any system before and I’ve heard some pretty high end stuff at people’s houses (I’m talking Magico S5 with full Accuphase top end pres and amps and Jorma Prime cabling or Active ATC 100s driven by Mola-Mola preamps with Stealth Sakra Cabling).

The only concern I had with this system is the comfort you could listen to music at 90db (average, not peak). This could damage your hearing quickly as it’s such good fun and not painful. What made me smirk was that he said the speakers weren’t good enough to show the ancillaries he had behind them. That’ll make an interesting demo, the next time I’m looking for new speakers.

As a side note, Tony is an incredibly smart guy, he can go as deep into the technicalities of his products as you’re comfortable and is good at explaining things in plain English where necessary. He’s also a great host. The demo, along with these characteristics help me to feel confident in the products I’m buying into; they’re backed by a guy who’s not a fly by night operation, knows what he’s talking about and even turns away opportunities for a quick sale, if he doesn’t feel it’s in his client’s best interests.
I’ll be returning as a customer in the future and look forward to doing so



Martin Johnson

Victoria state
Australia
 
Date of Posting: 13 August 2018
Posted By: Martin Johnson
"Some weeks ago I was visiting a good friend , who like myself shares a passion for music, he uses a very similar digital front end to mine. (I have a Allo One digital output board in my Raspberry PI which is connected to a Beresford Caiman SEG dac) My good friend had commissioned Coherent Systems to construct a new type of power supply for his SEG dac. Both of us having had experiences with the new super cap Beresford version as well before this happened.

After listening to my friends Coherent PSU sounded like he asked Tony (Coherent Systems) to construct his own for him.
I asked Tony if he could build be a similar unit for myself, this power supply also can power both the PI and Allo one board separately as well as the SEG dac.

I have known Tony for a good few years and he has never tried to push or overly suggest any kind of sale on me at all. A few weeks prior to this Tony had upgraded the Caiman dac, with some carefully chosen components, I was very happy with the updates carried out on the dac.

Over time I have played around with a variety of different Linear power supplies, also used dedicated batteries too. With the linear power supply units I bought or heard previously there was no real difference between using batteries.

All that has now changed, The first day I could hear it had potential, certainly more detail coming through but not as flowing I am used to.A week later I can honestly say that after my change of speakers, this has given me the biggest difference in terms of sound quality. I always find it hard to describe sound, yes there is a rich deep sound stage that just hooks into music, but for me it always about the emotional connection I have with the music and this adds to that connection. At times I am just stunned by the dynamics and depth I hear.

For those wanting a bespoke design that can be tailored to your own requirements I cannot give this PSU enough praise and Tony's service is second to none. He works with and understands systems like no one else I know."

John C

North London
 
Date of Posting: 04 August 2018
Posted By: John Cahill
Hi Tony

Cable arrived today thanks, a nice clean upgrade to the system.

Cheers

Chris

South Wales
 
Date of Posting: 27 July 2018
Posted By: Chris Davies
Good morning Tony, hope you are well.

Just a quick line to say the amp arrived safe and sound and is a nice product and heavier than it looks,very well packaged I might add. Thanks for the extra care taken with the packaging as well to protect it from the rigours of travelling.

Thank you again!

Best regards

Joe Sweeney
 
Date of Posting: 16 July 2018
Posted By: Joe Sweeney
Just thought I would send you a quick email and let you know how the unit is getting on after the repair and upgrade.
I am glad to tell you all the previous issues have all been resolved, so definitely happy about the repair. I have also managed to let the unit fully break-in (100 hour), the sound has definitely improved after the power supply upgrade. The bass is somehow more refined, the separation of the instrument is definitely more pronounced even when I though this can’t be improved through headphone.

I had a chance to hook up the cantata to a pair of KEF LS50 last week, the image it projects was almost holographic. It is definitely not how i remember when connecting to a stereo set up. Definitely a happy customer!

Thanks
Best Regards
Sei-Him
 
Date of Posting: 25 May 2018
Posted By: Sei-Him Essex
I first came across Coherent Systems through their website about 4 months ago, when I was searching for ways in which to improve the sound quality of my system, and during this time I have exchanged many emails and phone calls with Tony. I soon realised through our conversations, that he was extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of audio in general and all things digital in particular.

When I inquired about the possibility of clocking my CD/DAC in order to improve the sound, he explained to me, respectfully, and with great clarity, that this was possibly not the best way forward and that it was far better to concentrate on upgrading the power supply and power rails, and current to voltage stages first before considering clocking. In other words, there was a specific sequence to follow in the upgrades which would yield the maximum benefit.
From then on, I knew I could trust Tony to guide me through all the possible upgrade paths for my system. He listens carefully to exactly what it is you’re aiming for and then offers free, honest and unbiased advice on how best to achieve it. There is no hard-sell, no attempt to push products or services that are unsuitable for your needs. From the customer’s perspective, this is not only a refreshing change from the usual, but also saves you time and money in the long run. How so? Well, I like to think of it like this: If I had only discovered Coherent –Systems years ago, and had had the benefit of Tony’s professional advice back then, it would have helped me avoid all those wrong turns, dead-ends, and wasting of money on those now long-abandoned pieces of kit, that once seemed to promise so much, but in reality, delivered so little.
When it was suggested that I demo the Coherent 4D digital interconnect, I have to admit to a little scepticism; I have tried many cables over the years and even with the best ones I have usually been left feeling a little disappointed. Well then, when I hooked up my CD player to the DAC with the 4D cable, I can honestly say I was transported to another world. Not one given to overstatement, and all too often underwhelmed when it comes to auditioning cables from big-name manufacturers, I’m not going to trot out all the usual over-blown phrases; the simple truth is (to my ears, at least) this cable enabled my somewhat modest system, to produce music which was much more natural and realistic, than I ever thought possible. And when it all boils down to it, isn’t that the ultimate aim for any of us seeking musical heaven?
Having purchased, and been delighted with, a pre-owned Bel Canto CD2 player from Coherent , it was rather unfortunate that it developed an intermittent fault soon after. I returned it while it was still under the Coherent 3 months warranty, and Tony got to work on it and discovered the problem. It turned out that the main smoothing capacitors in the player were past their best and needed replacing. Job done: replacement capacitors upgraded free of charge; and player returned.
Thank you Tony for your work, your patience, and your sound advice.
 
Date of Posting: 16 May 2018
Posted By: Chris Docx North Wales
I recently got in touch with Tony to see if he could help. I had fallen out of love with my system following an impulsive second-hand purchase of some Focal Electra 1028Be Loudspeakers and was hoping he could advise. I’d spoken to Tony at a recent Hifi Show and he’d potentially recommended a Belles integrated amplifier, which he said would match the Focal’s, which he knew quite well from his time as a Focal distributor.

We arranged a time for Tony to come over here. I’d been advised by a couple of friends who are also customers, that Tony was a great audio diagnostician and they weren’t wrong. He quickly recognised areas I could make improvements to the system without having to spend big money and then made a few recommendations following a discussion about my available budget.


I ended up buying a Belles Aria Integrated amplifier, a pair of Coherent 5D interconnects and a Creaktiv Hifi rack (as the previous rack I used was too small for the amp).


These purchases and Tony’s recommendations have transformed my system and are allowing me to enjoy my extensive music collection once again. The system has gone from being too bright to listen to for more that 5-10 minutes and me always looking for the volume control to turn it down, to a system that I want to listen to more and more and turn up and up.


There is so much more detail, but in a manner that is easy to listen to, without any harshness or unpleasantness. Timing is so much better, Bass is tighter and more controlled and the speakers sound more controlled, whilst vocals are sweeter and clearer.


I would highly recommend Tony to anyone that wants to improve their system as he knows his stuff better than any other Hifi dealer I have met and clearly knows how to match components to make up a very balanced system. Plus he’s a thoroughly nice chap.


Many thanks


Paul.
 
Date of Posting: 15 May 2018
Posted By: Paul Downs Newbury
I first came across Tony & Coherent Systems while searching the internet, looking for UK Bel
Canto specialist, having just purchased a Bel Canto CD2. After my initial conversation with
Tony, I was left with the impression here is a guy who is passionate about what he does and
really knows his stuff, Tony suggested where I could make some improvements to my
system, and we left it at that point.

A few weeks later I purchased one of Tony’s 3D interconnects to replace my current
interconnect, and the difference was immediate and very positive, over the next week the
interconnect just opened up even more with better tone, texture and a more pleasing
presentation of the music.

Tony also suggested I should try one of his Bel Canto DC cables to go between my VBL and
CD2, the said cable was swiftly sent for me to try. Tony suggested It would get better and
the sound would open up over the coming days and week, and true to his word it did just
that, it was such an improvement deeper, tighter bass, a top end that was so clear and
inviting and better instrument separation, needless to say that cable was staying where it
was. Over the next 12 months I upgraded all my interconnects to the 5D and my speaker
cable to 4D, this has taken my system to the next level for me, more open, tight, textured
well defined bass, a silky-smooth presentation to the music.

I also upgraded some of my equipment, and received impartial, sound advice from Tony,
with the added benefit of being able to try items in my system first.

I recently upgraded my power cables to the CD & DAC, and at Tony’s suggestion tried his
recommendation of cable, and wow what can I say, more detail, where did all that bass
come from, more dynamic and very musical. For anyone sitting on the fence regarding
mains cables, speak to Tony and try some.

I would just like to thank Tony and Coherent Systems for the great advice, and the time he
has given me in getting my system to where it is now. I find myself spending more and more
time listening to music, and I love it.

Mark Hodkinson
 
Date of Posting: 02 December 2017
Posted By: Mark Hodkinson Sheffield

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We are one of the foremost digital audio specialists in the country with over 25 years of specialist experience in this area, from CD players to high resolution playback we can deliver a sound that will delight.

 

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