Blog (Tweek Geek Speek)
PranaWire Ruby Super Enhanced Ground Plane
It's been awhile since I've discussed grounding boxes. Previously I discussed the Entreq series of ground boxes from Sweden. They had a variety of sizes, and levels of performance, and worked quite well. Unfortunately the US distributor parted ways with Entreq, and they are now much more difficult to acquire in the US. For now.
Enter PranaWire, and Joe Cohen of the Lotus Group. Joe is a perfectionist, and has spent decades building his own reference system. This system is quickly becoming legendary in the industry as one of the most engaging, and moving music reproduction systems on the planet.
Joe called me two weeks ago because in response to an inquiry about the Acoustic Revive RPC-1 (more on that later). We got a little off-track with our conversation and it drifted over to the PranaWire Super Enhanced Ground Planes (SEGP). I was curious about his results with them and at that point Joe had asked if I wanted to try one. I, never overlooking the chance to try a new PranaWire product promptly agreed. It was a great opportunity to do a side by side comparison with my Entreq Olympus Minimus.
The Ruby arrived a few days later and I quickly unboxed it and took it to the lab (my listening room). The ruby is similar to the Entreq boxes in that it is a wood box with a binding post ready to receive a grounding cable. The Entreq boxes are a matte finish oak, with what looks like a silver binding post and wood binding post cap that screws on. The PranaWire was a Japanese fir box with a glossy finish, no feet, and a Cardas binding post on one end.
The Pranawire was a much smaller unit at about 4" x 4 3/4" x 8", the wooden box was more attractive, but also more delicate than the oak box of the Entreq. It was also physically about half the weight of the Olympus Minimus as well.
I had started with no ground boxes in the system, and became acquainted with the performance over several days. It wasn't bad. To those who stream music from their own music libraries stored on a local drive as well as services like Tidal, having no ground boxes was the equivalent of streaming music via Tidal. It was good, but not as good as the same music files streamed from your local library. Just not as good as your used to I guess.
After getting used to that sound over a few days, I introduced the PranaWire Ruby to the system. I first connected one (Duelund 20awg wire) USB ground cable to the USB port of my router. It was good. It was really good. Holy shit this is how Tidal should sound! The warmth and fullness returned to the music, as did instrumental and ambient decays. Gone was the thin, glassy sheen that sometimes plaqued Tidal streaming. Color me impressed. This of course was great news for streaming music over the internet, but my router is not involved when I stream music from the Innuos Zenith MKII. The DAC is directly connected to the Innuos, and the music library is stored on the 2TB internal drive. The files are streamed via Roon and go directly to the DAC, Bypassing the router entirely. With this in mind, I tried the Ruby in a second location. This time connected to an available RCA jack on my Aqua Formula xHD DAC. This time, it was more like lifting a veil. Details that were a bit grainy and blurred were clearly produced as distinct microdetail. Bass notes were cleaner, had more growl factor, and were more articulated as well.
Leaving the Ruby in overnight and listening the next day, the improvements continued although not to the extent of when initially placed in the system. Still, that's a good thing.
For my last experiment with the Ruby, I reconnected the router while keeping the DAC connected to the Ruby as well. With both the router and the Formula DAC connected to the Ruby, things improved further, with more quiet, more ambient retrieval, warmth, body and microdetail. It could have easily gone the other way, and I was suspecting it would with the router being such a noisy beast. I thought some of that noise might find it's way back into the DAC, but I did not hear any such thing. This lead me to believe that although fairly small in comparison to the Entreq box, it had perhaps equivalent capacity to absorb noise.
The things that concern me about the PranaWire box are the lack of any feet, and the delicate nature of the wood that the box is constructed with. The advantage of no feet is one can stand the Ruby on end if there is not enough space to lay it on it's side. I simply put two MagicHexa feet underneath the Ruby to protect the finish while it sat on my credenza.
Climbing Mt Olympus
With the listening to the PranaWire Ruby complete, it was time to put the Olympus back into the system and observe any sonic differences between the two. The Olympus is more massive, so I installed it with the same Duelund cable to the router, and waited to evaluate the system until the next day. Experience has taught me that the Olympus needs a good 24 hours to settle in, if not longer.
The next morning I entered the lab, and cued up the same Tidal tracks that I had played with the Ruby installed. I would say that they were very similar to one another in the low and mid frequencies, but the Ruby was edging out the Olympus Minimus on the high frequency cleanup. The Olympus was a bit duller, more veiled on top with less microdetail and ambient retrieval. This was a bit shocking to me, as the OM was the current ground noise reducing box in my system.
Moving on, I removed the USB grounding cable and attached the Aqua Formula DAC via the RCA grounding cable. Again, there was an improvement, it just wasn't quite to the extent of the Ruby. I would also say that this also was perceived audibly as being slower, not as much "attack" in the leading edge transients. Interesting.
Connecting both the router and the DAC was further improvement still, but the high frequency differences between the Entreq and the PranaWire did not go away.
The PranaWire Ruby grounding box was the superior performer in my system, and to my preferences. The Entreq box did it's job and did it well up to about 4,000 hz, from there on up the PranaWire was the superior performer. Lifing the veils, and doing so in a most musical way. One could almost buy 2 Ruby's for the price of a single Olympus Minimus. Let that sink in. The Ruby at $1399 seemed to outperform the much higher priced Entreq unit in my system. Now if your system is extraordinarily bright will the Ruby Fare as well? My guess would be that it certainly would not make your system any brighter, it would clean up what is there, but you still may have a bright system. Time to look for the cause of that brightness rather than try to use a tone control.
I highly recommend the PranaWire Ruby ground box for those who already have power conditioning, cables, speaker placement, and room acoustics dialed in. This is one of those finishing touches that will make a great sounding system even better.