Russ Andrews offers an upgrade kit for your hi-fi plugs. Paul Rigby reviews the SuperFuse
I’ve heard about the concept of upgrading a basic plug fuse in order to chase improved sound quality. The first time I came across this concept was a fuse developed especially for a Stax headphone amplifier. I was disappointed, at that time, not to actually grab one for review. So I was more than pleased to actually give one a try, this time via Russ Andrews and for general use.
Russ Andrews describes the SuperFuse as a high performance mains plug fuse which features a unique Super Burn-In process (Well, if each word is capitalised then it must be special, eh?) The end caps for the ceramic tube are made from nickel and are highly polished and treated with the popular Deox-IT contact enhancer. You also get a DeoxIT Gold wiper sachet with every SuperFuse for treatment, just before fitting. Inside the SuperFuse is a silver wire. The fuses themselves are available in 13A, 10A and 5A versions.
Putting the SuperFuse into my Icon CD player, terminated with a top quality Tellurium Q Blue cable and running The Who’s My Wife, I immediately noticed how reduced the distortion was over the entire soundstage. More specifically, the jangly piano on the right channel was more forward in the mix, articulate and recognisable during the song in its entirety. Also the vocal was now clearer in its presentation.
Intriguingly, I could now hear more of the words. That is, a greater percentage of the lyrics were now recognisable instead of being merely articulated, nonsensical noises requiring consistent referral to the lyric sheet. The interrupting synth effects were also enhanced. There was a slight upper midrange bloom on each crescendo blast before which was gone on the first blast and much reduced on the second. Finally, the bass guitar, which was previously shaped by the Keith Moon drum kit, now became much more recognisable as a separate instrument.
On the Dexter Gordon jazz track, the sax, played during the early solo, was not only larger in terms of presence but also reedier in terms of tonality while the bass, centre stage, could now be heard going through subtle manipulations. The twists and turns of the upright bass were now easier to follow. The later introduction of the trumpet also introduced far more reverb on the decay giving the impression that the trumpet was laying in a larger space.
Moving to vinyl, I tried the SuperFuse on my Origin turntable (featuring a basic cable) and Bobby Darin’s Venice Blue. The differences were intriguing. The most obvious improvement was within the treble area which opened up and provided the entire track with a constant supply of delicate cymbal strikes of a new complexity. The bass guitar was slightly more prominent over a wider portion of the track. Overall, though, improvements were not as impressive as with the CD player.
When I added another fuse to the Pre (again, with a Tellurium Q Blue cable), the sound improved further. As such, the bass guitar became more consistent throughout the track. In the past it had tended to fade in an out, the increase in the quality of timing meant that there was a reduction in distortion which allowed the bass guitar to become a continual line that could be easily followed. The Darin vocal also improved. He was pulled slightly from the background instruments, giving him a more 3D effect while the glockenspiel secondary percussion become slightly more prominent adding to the complexity of the mix.
Oddly, the price of the fuse which, initially, might have triggered howls of derision seemed, after the test, to be rather low. Low, that is, considering the improvements in sound quality.
I found that those improvements changed depending on what piece of kit you used, though. For example, I found greater changes to the CD player and pre-amp than the turntable. Something I would not have predicted. That said, that might be more to do with the cable because both the Pre and CD players were using a higher quality, third party, cable while the turntable was using a bog standard cable supplied by Origin Live. So maybe that is the important variable in terms of sonic quality. That is, maybe the fuse allows you to get the most of a more superior cable. Bear that in mind before you buy.
RUSS ANDREWS SUPERFUSE
Tel: 01539 797300
Good: lowers distortion, clarity & tonal reality
Bad: Cable dependency lowers value for money
Origin Sovereign Turntable
12” Enterprise arm
Miyajima Zero cartridge
Icon Audio CD-X1 CD player
Aesthetix Calypso Pre
Icon Audio MB845 Mk.II monoblocks
Quad ESL-57 speakers with One Thing upgrade
Tellurium Q and Atlas cables.