Accessory Review

Russ Andrews SuperFuse: IS IT A BIRD…?

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.

SOUND QUALITY

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.

CONCLUSION

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

Website: www.russandrews.com

Tel: 01539 797300

Good: lowers distortion, clarity & tonal reality

Bad: Cable dependency lowers value for money


RATING: 7

REFERENCE SYSTEM

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.

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32 Comments

  • Reply
    Peter King
    29th December 2016 at 8:49 pm

    You certainly have retained your humour Paul, I haven’t laughed so much for ages!
    Many thanks.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      29th December 2016 at 8:54 pm

      Peter? If I’ve left you satisfied and your spirits raised, then my job is done.

  • Reply
    Robert Duke
    22nd February 2017 at 3:04 pm

    I don’t suppose you tried peeling back the label to see who actually made the fuse? I’ll give you a clue – what do you call a man on a buss?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      22nd February 2017 at 3:12 pm

      I’ll ask Russ Andrews, if you like. In fact, I might just do that anyway. Thanks for the suggestion. As for the riddle? Hmmm, I’m terrible at these things…a passenger? Iggy Pop? (A famous song of his, or is that a bit left-field?), an OAP? Mobile? Kevin? Go on, I give up.

  • Reply
    Robert Duke
    22nd February 2017 at 6:31 pm

    Srsly? A MAN on a BUSS, a Bussman if you will.

  • Reply
    Paul Rigby
    22nd February 2017 at 6:38 pm

    I’ve asked Russ Andrews to comment on this – might be a while until they do because they’re attending a large hi-fi show this week-end at Bristol (if you are there – you could ask them direct, of course)

    • Reply
      Craig Lemar
      22nd February 2017 at 8:51 pm

      No need to ask Russ. Simply peel back the black tape and you’ll be able to see these “super fuses” are just bog standard bussman fuses you can get at your local hardware shop for pennies.

      Think you might have been had here Paul.

      • Reply
        Paul Rigby
        23rd February 2017 at 8:20 am

        I think that it’s only fair to allow RA the right of reply, Craig.

  • Reply
    Isle 3
    22nd February 2017 at 9:05 pm

    I can get you a marvelous bargain on those fuses. I have a dealer, it’s pretty hush, hush though. All I’ll say is mine don’t have a special label rapped around them.

  • Reply
    Peter Out
    22nd February 2017 at 9:12 pm

    Might be a while until they do because he’ll be working on a cover story. Does it sound like an ordinary fuse once the label is removed? Or does it still retain it’s amazing properties?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      23rd February 2017 at 10:28 am

      Bit harsh, Peter. Let’s see what RA says. And, yes, I stick with my review. I did hear a difference. I’m not sure about the ‘amazing’ bit. I did qualify the performance benefits.

  • Reply
    Peter Out
    23rd February 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Not really. I can’t be as harsh as I’d like to be honest. I’m wondering though, if you take an identical 13A fuse from a pack costing £1 from B&Q, will it liberate the same improvements as the RA one did before the tape is peeled off.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      23rd February 2017 at 12:55 pm

      Fair enough 🙂 Before I run off to B&Q, as I say, I’d like to hear RA’s view on the matter. I’m off to the same show as they, incidentally, so I’ll try and corner them on Saturday. If I can find their room in the chaos.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      28th February 2017 at 7:06 pm

      Hi Peter
      I should have some answers for you re this fuse thing, very soon. I’ve spent a lot of time and effort on getting to the bottom of all of this, when I should have been earning pennies to pay my gas bill, so I hope you appreciate it 😉 It was an interesting exercise, nevertheless.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      1st March 2017 at 11:16 am

      Right, I have some information and answers regarding this fuse issue. To begin and before we get to Russ Andrews itself, let me reassure those readers who are a bit bemused by all of this fuse palaver. The notion of producing a fuse specifically rated for hi-fi use is not a new one and is by no means unusual. Hi-Fi fuses have been around for a quite a while and many audiophiles feature them in their chains. There are many hi-fi manufacturers out there producing fuses for hi-fi use: the Furutech TF series is one popular type as are the Hi-Fi Tuning Gold fuse plus the AMR Gold fuses and so on. It’s not a new concept, by any means and prices per fuse can hit around £100 a pop.
      That said, I talked to Russ Andrews and voiced my concerns and asked several questions regarding the so called ‘revelation’ that it is using a Bussmann fuse as the basis for its SuperFuse.
      There seems to be a school of thought circulating around social media that, because the Bussmann fuse is the basis of the SuperFuse then, ergo, that fuse is merely a basic quality, ten-a-penny item and Russ Andrews is ripping everyone off. I think that, if Russ Andrews wanted to rip anyone off, the company wouldn’t be stupid enough to simply cover the Bussmann fuse with a bit of foil or whatever it used as a wrapper in order to ‘get away with it’. That was my first observation before I even talked to the company.
      The facts are these. Before the SuperFuse was released, when it was still at the development stage, Russ Andrews bought in around 10 or so, ready-made and ready to go, fuses from a variety of companies from all over the world (Bussmann was just one of those 10). The aim was to find the best sounding basic fuse currently for sale on the market. This group testing of components for future installation or tweaking is not unusual. Many companies do the same with capacitors, resistors, volume controls, etc.
      Bussmann – as you may know – make many fuse types and configurations. The fuse that Russ Andrews selected as the best of the tested bunch (the one that’s on sale now via RA) was a Bussmann fuse. The current variant of that has nickel-plated end caps and with a silver-plated copper wire running through it.
      To confirm then, Russ Andrews do not add these features (i.e.: the nickel end caps or the silver-plated copper wire). Bussman has already done this.
      What Russ Andrews did was to take that fuse and put it through its own proprietry Super Burn-in process. The process was primarily developed by Russ Andrews while the design and build of the machine was carried out by Ben Duncan Research. Super Burn In is a treatment process, as adding DCT-type cryogenics to cables and hi-fi components is a well known and used treatment. RA’s treatment offers some similarities but remains unique, though.
      It’s this process and this process alone that turns the Bussmann fuse into a SuperFuse. It’s this process which, says Russ Andrews, justifies the asking price. Of course you, as a potential consumer, might beg to differ. But that’s your right and choice.
      Does the processes make a difference? In my opinion, though my ears and using my reference hi-fi chain, yes. It’s not perfect and can be qualified under certain circumstances but it does work. In fact, you can read the above review to see exactly how.
      As to why the Bussmann chassis was used at all? Two reasons. Reason one? Cost. To independently produce a new fuse from the ground up and then to sell relatively few would not make economic sense. It would cost hundreds of thousands if not millions while the final saleable fuse would be extremely expensive. Bussmann has economies of scale behind it here.
      Second reason? Safety. The chassis tube has to pass British safety standards (you can see the relevant sign on any fuse you buy from a shop). The tube has to reach a certain standard in terms of materials and quality. Otherwise, it’s a tiny but effective death trap. To modify a perfectly working Bussmann was quicker and cheaper than starting from scratch but also safer.
      I think there was also a potential issue raised regarding the hand polished end caps. Russ Andrews, as a company, used to hand polish the end caps of an earlier version of the SuperFuse they produced which was silver plated (I spoke to the poor bloke who used to polish them!) The reason was that silver can oxidise and so hand polishing was done to prevent that. This current variant uses nickel end-capped fuse. It is different in that it does not require hand polishing. You can see HERE that there is no mention of hand polishing of the current SuperFuse. The addition of the DeoxIT wipe is a welcome one. DeoxIT is a contact cleaner that I would highly recommend (in fact, I recall reviewing that company’s spray in HiFi World magazine in the past). It’s great for the SuperFuse but also to clean all of your inputs and outputs. It removes contamination and the mucky build-up of grease and dirt and improves performances all on its own.
      If you like the notion of hi-fi fuses then the Russ Andrews SuperFuse is actually pretty good value for money. It’s certainly a lot cheaper than many of its contemporaries.
      During my conversation with Russ Andrews, I asked several searching questions, challenged it on a few points and placed ‘requests for information’ to it and received satisfactory answers for each. I, for one, am happy with the company’s co-operation and replies.

      • Reply
        Pete Kendall
        2nd August 2017 at 9:45 am

        Not wanting to suggest you’ve been sold a pup …but to say the silver plating was polished to prevent silver oxide build up is quite frankly extraordinary !…….this implies that silver oxide[rare] or more likely silver nitrates or sulphides are greatly less conductive than silver[metal,] which is not the case….Ag 1.59 p ohm/m, Ag2O 1.4 p ohm/m. In fact one of the reasons silver is used to plate wires, contacts etc is precisely this property , as they will remain highly conductive over there life regardless of tarnish.

  • Reply
    Robert Duke
    25th February 2017 at 9:37 am

    I was at the Bristol show on Friday and much to my annoyance, RA wasn’t.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      25th February 2017 at 9:44 am

      Really? That’s a surprise. I’m actually on the train travelling to the show as I type this. If RA isn’t there then I’ll attempt to track down RA’s PR man and question him.

  • Reply
    Robert Duke
    25th February 2017 at 10:03 am

    I wondered if they’d been delayed by the total chaos that is Bristol’s traffic but they’re not booked to be there.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      25th February 2017 at 10:21 am

      OK, RA’s PR guy handles other clients so he might be there. Failing that, I’ll contact RA’s MD directly next week.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      28th February 2017 at 7:17 pm

      One thing I should have added: don’t blame RA for not being there, blame me for assuming. RA tends to always appear at these shows so I ‘assumed’ that it would be at this show too. It obviously had its own business reasons why it didn’t attend. Nothing suspicious. Just a wrong assumption on my part. Apologies.

  • Reply
    Dr T Herling
    7th March 2017 at 4:22 pm

    “The fuse that Russ Andrews selected as the best of the tested bunch…”

    What kind of tests did Mr Andrews perform? If these test results are what determines which kind of fuse was best, why doesn’t Mr Andrews’ web site provide the results of those tests as part of the item description? On what principle of electricity (and physics) is the quality of these fuses based?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      7th March 2017 at 4:34 pm

      Greetings Dr Herling
      I have yet to learn about the testing criteria. Maybe you could pose that question direct and inform me of your findings?

  • Reply
    Pete Kendall
    15th March 2017 at 11:33 am

    I was kindly lent various fuse by another audiophile…while unwrapping the package the copious stick tape caught on the RA super fuse ..peeling back to reveal a bussmann fuse .

    So over the last few weeks I’ve listen to the following 13 amp fuse

    RA superfuse “aka bussmann”
    MS hd power “aka bussmann” again just a sticky label
    SEM12
    SEM12 “hand polished to copper caps”
    bussmann
    bussmann “hand polished to copper caps”
    Marbo
    Vernon
    Hifi tunning

    So the fuses were replaced in the following order [ the order that they arrived effectively], so any comments about effect is really only comparable to the preceding fuse. Equipment used Sony haz1es, beard ca 506 [pre], Mistral mt34, lynwood mega mains conditioner, Martin Logan aerius i’s. The fuse was changed in the conditioner due to ease of access, and that it then supply’s the whole system.

    Bussmann …. what I was originally using
    RA superfuse….. No apparent difference [this was before I realised that effectively they were identical]
    MS hd power…. No difference
    Hifi tuning ….. Bigger richer sounding tending towards bloated, over blown almost
    SEM12…… much more balanced than the previous natural neutral dynamic
    Marbo….. thin and weedy, not very nice
    Vernon….. more body but still on the shrill side
    Bussmann polished…. relaxed big lush
    SEM12 polished ….. surprisingly close but maybe a tad more neutral.

    How do I rank them in my system ……
    Hifi tunning This produce the most pronounced effect but did not suit my setup so I’m not including this in the ranking.

    1 SEM12 polished
    2 bussmann polished
    3 SEM12
    4 bussmann
    5 RA superfuse
    6 MS hd power
    7 Vernon
    8 Marbo

    conclusion ..in the right system bright thin hard [cyrus?] the hifi tunning fuse could be a superb tweak
    very disappointed with ra and ms as they were no better than the standard bussmann [which is what they are !]. The RA claims hand polishing but there no evidence to suggest this ……hand polishing of the end caps is clearly apparent under a x10 microscope and at x200 blindingly obvious ! Disapointingly I’d happliy live with 1-4 and have done ! but I will be polishing my remaining fuse as this adds something extra …though this of course will need to be maintained as they tarnish.

    Hope this is of interest and Feel free to use any of this information. [Sent by email to Paul]

    Paul has asked me to add this to his article comments …having now read his response . All I’ll add is that I’ve only listen and examine one sample fuse …it maybe a rogue ..that’s not for me to say. Also I’m unable to upload images to this report …but I’m happy to let Paul insert any that I’ve sent him.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      15th March 2017 at 11:47 am

      Thanks for taking to time to undertake your tests, Peter. Appreciate the work involved and also your investigative spirit! I’m very happy to present you alternative view and will happily do the same with any other product featured on my site. This site is, after all, full of one man’s opinion, my own. The more testing and analysis offered then the closer to the truth we get. I never thought that the Superfuse was perfect and, if you read the review, it seemed to excel [in my system] under particular circumstances and with particular kit. You mention the Cyrus, Peter. Be nice if you could list your reference hifi utilised (including the cables, which affected my results) to undertake your tests to give the readers a bit of context. Thanks again.

  • Reply
    Pete Kendall
    28th March 2017 at 9:03 am

    No problem ….but first an explanation of my reference to Cyrus kit, I’ve heard 10 or more part and full systems over the last 20 year, and in my opinion [ and there owners ] all have been, lets say on the bright and thin side of neutral, some excruciatingly so !…..I may just have been unlucky, or it could just be that I was being called in by there owners to try an ameliorate said stridency ! I have nothing against the kit per say.

    My kit used to test the various fuses …..Starting from the wall socket, [this plug was used to try the various fuse due to its accessibility.]
    Lynwood Mega mains conditioner, feeding a distribution block to the rest of the system. From this my own mains cable [triple insulated 3x 4n 2mm dia silver] feeds the various components. Sony hapz1es, Beard ca506 pre, Mistral MT34 [set as power amp, bypassing the vol pot] Running a quad of matched Psvane T2 6ca7’s , Feeding Martin Logan aerius i’s on Iso Acoustic stands . All Ic’s are my own none shielded solid core twisted pairs using either 4n silver or platinum series alloys in oversized ptfe tube . An Artkustic Raumanimator was deployed for all the testing, this was to accentuate any of the smaller differences. But the effects were more on the tonal “colour” of the sound rather than any micro effects. These test were of course only my subjective impressions in my own system …but I do trust my ears !

  • Reply
    Roger
    3rd August 2018 at 10:06 am

    The idea that the electricity that passes from a power station to your home, through miles and miles of aluminium transmission lines, yet more miles of solid copper conductors under the street from the sub-station, through your property’s 100A main fuse, the ceramic fuse carriers or MCBs in your main fuse box and then the contractors’ bulk-buy quality twin and earth buried in your walls, can then be made to make your hi-fi sound better than it otherwise would by being passed through half an inch of “audiofile” fusewire is complete and utter snake oil rubbish.
    I posted this as a review on Russ Andrews’ website and, amazingly, it was rejected. I wonder why?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      3rd August 2018 at 11:43 am

      Ah, so you make a habit of this sort of thing then, eh Roger? 🙂 As long as your ire remains on the civilised side of the fence, then I won’t “reject” you. I might disagree with you but that’s it. Don’t be too hard on RA. There may have been a hundred reasons why they didn’t answer. I’m sure it was a mistake, they’re decent guys over there.
      Onto your statement. The journey and the industrial kit it runs through isn’t really the point. Your mains supply can be re-routed to Watford Gap Motorway Service Station, back up through Mars and directly through the Twilight Zone but that wouldn’t matter either. The issue occurs when it hits your house – well, more than that, your listening room. What happens to it at that point. Thing is, in simplified terms, mains electricity is like a river. And like any river it can be pure and transparent one moment and full of supermarket trollies and dead fish the next. So, when it’s about to enter your listening room it will be probably full of electronic noise from that industrial machinery you mentioned (it ‘does the job’ but no more), street lighting plus other people’s rubbish from fridges, TVs, SKY boxes, PlayStations and the rest. Mains runs in two directions. It feeds power to your kettle but it then takes that sonic rubbish from the kettle and feeds it back into the mains to be delivered two doors down the road. Hence, you need to employ a Club Bouncer-type figure to remove the veiling noise that masks detail and the like. And this stuff can be removed. Your mains can be ‘cleaned’. The military/intelligence services have been doing this for ages, I have to add, along with employing anti-vibration and sound isolation technologies and the like (a lot of hi-fi technology comes from this area – just ask Vertex AQ who sell mains products, which is run by an ex-RAF man).
      This Club Bouncer-type hifi kit acts as a sort of filter, if you will. This is where things get tricky because some filtering can do more harm than good to sound quality. They can remove veiling noise, sure, but also bits of actual music detail (delicate stuff like subtle and fragile reverb, for example). The quality filters just remove the noise. That’s why reviews are useful. There’s an entire toolkit to do the job and they include these fuses, yes, but they’re not magic bullets. You also need mains cables, power blocks, grounding tools like the CAD Ground Controls reviewed on this site, power conditioners and so on. Even this lot can’t be rid of all of the rubbish which is why you need to attack this noise in and around your hi-fi system too. Of course, the better the hi-fi, the more obvious the improvements but everyone should see benefits.

  • Reply
    JOHN SHAW
    29th December 2018 at 2:25 pm

    The point is that RA will charge you £4000 for a simple transformer (which is in reality an amplifier without the amplifier section or any rectification components, or a requirement for a heat sink or speaker terminals etc) it isn’t even a genuine 3000va transformer it has 2 1500va within.The RA modus operandi is quite clear and obvious for all to see and he is not alone however I think he is one of the worst. Right now I can find a 10,000 va transformer for £638 in a sturdy metal box certified for marine use with dual pole circuit breakers.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      29th December 2018 at 6:46 pm

      Hi John – please see a similar comment elsewhere for a reply which broadly covers your mail. Please note the off-topic point. Thanks.

  • Reply
    patrick canarvon
    29th December 2018 at 5:32 pm

    RA charges £4000 for a simple transformer…how on earth can that be justified?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      29th December 2018 at 6:44 pm

      Hi Patrick – are you referring to the company’s Balanced Mains Unit? That’s off topic for this thread so I won’t be replying to more of the same after this. There is, I’m pretty sure, a BMU news item elsewhere. You’re welcome to append comments there, though.
      In short, RA doesn’t have to justify anything 🙂 As McIntosh doesn’t have to justify its new £7,500 CD player. As Ford doesn’t have to justify its cars. As the outfit that makes Mint Sauce doesn’t have to justify its product. All companies create a product they hope to sell and profit from. You buy or you don’t. That’s the critical part that you play. If everyone hates it, the product dies. If the product is loved, it succeeds. End of story.

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