Accessory Review

Styx Mains Block from Titan Audio: Got You Tagged

If you are looking to improve your mains connections, Titan Audio may have what you’re looking for as Paul Rigby reviews the Styx power block

A basic power block that you can pick up on the High St – the cheap and cheerful type that you can grab for under a tenner from a hardware store – is not designed for hi-fi use. Featuring super cheap components, its main claim to fame is actually producing and introducing a heap of noise. Now, if you’re powering your Dyson, then this is not a major issue. But what if you’re bringing your valve amp to life? Yes, that’s a different matter. The basic power block merely infects your hi-fi, masks lots of lovely music and reduces your musical enjoyment.

Titan Audio Styx Mains Block: Got You Tagged

Offering six connection points, the Styx tries a different approach. It’s aim is to give you the music without the noise. But does it deliver? Especially at the price?

Using aluminium side panels and acrylic side panels, “…to reduce magnetic and RFI interference,” plus screws which attach the acrylic panels, are, “…torqued to reduce vibration and are made from Japanese high tensile steel.”  As a unit it is pretty light in weight and doesn’t take up too much space, although it does ask you to plug its main cable, not in one end as you might expect, but on the top of the block itself (see image above). Yes, this allows the block to be pushed agains the wall for space reasons but the messy nature of a mains cable lifting vertically and then bending over towards the main socket almost negates that benefit. I feel that unnecessary strains are also placed upon the mains cable termination plug too.

Titan Audio Styx Mains Block: Got You Tagged

Stabilised by an acrylic isolation foot on either end of the aluminium chassis, Titan is keen for you to know that the Styx doesn’t use busbars (that is, each socket is connected via solid metal bars) a source of poor sound quality. Each socket is independently wired with Oxygen-free copper cable and the plugs have been cryogenically frozen

I used a Titan Audio Helios mains cable to hook the block to the wall socket.

SOUND QUALITY

Tests began by comparing the Styx with one of those basic hardware shop-type power blocks to see if there really was any real difference between it and the Styx. I began with a vinyl version of Ian Dury & The Blockheads’ Inbetweenies from the LP, Do It Yourself (1979).

The sound quality of this track, using the basic power block, was not horrendous. How could it be that bad? I was feeding a superb hi-fi system.

Titan Audio Styx Mains Block: Got You Tagged

What was most obvious, once the Styx was in the system, was how much livelier and sprightly the entire sound behaved. Imagine rising out of bed after a late night’s heavy drinking session. Then imagine arising after an early bed time after imbibing nothing, the night before, but refreshing Buxton water (other brands are available, I hasten to add). The hardware store power block sounded like the former (i.e. furry-tongued treble, bleary-eyed mids, stodgy sounding bass and a lurching, retching soundstage) whilst the Styx sound output fairly flew out of bed, did 50 press-ups and sang The Hills Are A Live at the top of its voice before tucking into to a hearty bowl of muesli. That was the relative difference here.

In terms of specifics, both the midrange and the bass offered far more precision and focus with bass having a greater organic response. Midrange benefitted from new tonal realism instead of the smearing mids that smudged their way across this song from the hardware-bought power block.

Titan Audio Styx Mains Block: Got You Tagged

There was also the treble issue. For the hardware block, imagine grasping a cymbal between two fingers and hitting it with a drum stick. Yes, it sounds like a cymbal but a restricted example with sound that is chopped and almost claustrophobic. The Styx sounded like you’ve physically released that same cymbal and hit it again. Reverb bounded from the cymbal now while the same expanded its insight and dynamic reach while offering a rich and informative response.

I then turned to Nordost’s Qbase QB6 power block and played Barbra Streisand singing I Can See It from My Name is Barbra (1973). Of course, the shoe was now on the other foot. The Nordost, priced at £1,200 should walk all over the Styx but I wanted to see how the Styx coped and if it could give a good amount of itself.

Titan Audio Styx Mains Block: Got You Tagged

And, by jove the Styx did just that. More so, actually because the Styx raised both eyebrows. Yes, there was a slight glare over the vocals from the Styx compared to the Nordost, a tad less precision in this area but the overall focus and low noise output from the Styx worried the hell out of the Nordost power block. The Styx produced a sense of clarity that allowed the complex backing orchestra to produce a swathe of detail. The punching brass effects, the subtle bongos, the normally shy guitar…all of these areas were easily illustrated by the Styx, giving the soundstage a sense of precision but a fulfilling sense of musicality that pulled you into the song, giving the performance a real sense of emotion. Streisand herself was effectively illuminated by the Styx, her delivery brought forward from the stereo image with great effect.

CONCLUSION

Not only does the Titan Styx power block produce an admirable low noise performance, being both astute and discerning in how it delivered detail to the ear, it also does so with a supreme sense of clarity. There was real airy freshness in the soundstage from the Styx. Above all, though, is the real value for money that the Styx offers, especially when faced with high end competition. Frankly, if you’re looking for quality mains performance at a low price, you can’t go wrong with a Styx power block.


TITAN AUDIO STYX MAINS BLOCK

Website: titanaudio.co.uk

Price: £149


GOOD: value for money, midrange detail, bass precision, open soundstage, small footprint

BAD: power cable position

RATING: 9


REFERENCE

Rega Planar 3

Trichord Dino phono amplifier

Cambridge Azur 651 amplifier

Spendor A1 speakers

Tellurium Q cabling

Nordost Qbase QB6 power block

Blue Horizon Professional Rack System

Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components

All vinyl was cleaned using an Audio Desk’s Ultrasonic Pro Vinyl Cleaner 

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Dermot Bell
    23rd February 2018 at 7:13 pm

    Hi Paul,

    Terrific review and every single word is true. How come? I got the block my self only less than a month before! I was praying that you’d review it 😊 However it was your HFW colleague Jon Myles who first piqued my interest with his five globe review. Somehow he managed to convince a massive cable sceptic like me, especially mains blocks and power cords, to go for it, so to speak. After all it’s also made in my own country, well, up the road across the border, and it’s unbelievably affordable too. What’s not to like? I concur with everything you’ve said in the review even down to the power cable position. What were they thinking? Anyway my next move is to upgrade from the Tyco, which is one notch down from the Helios and just as affordable, being only £75 dearer. Can’t wait!

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      23rd February 2018 at 7:16 pm

      Thanks for your kind words, Dermot and I’m glad you’ve found the block of use. As you say, “what’s not to like?” [except that power cable position, hehe]

  • Reply
    Dermot
    23rd February 2018 at 8:57 pm

    Paul could you edit out my spelling typo? Should read piqued not peaked 😱

    Thanks……

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      23rd February 2018 at 8:59 pm

      I must be flagging, I missed that one 🙂 Sorted.

  • Reply
    ToniMoroni
    1st March 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Paul,

    In your view, could a power block like this improve a desktop system?

    Many thanks,

    Tonimoroni

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      1st March 2018 at 4:00 pm

      Hi Tonimoroni – do you mean a hi-fi surrounding a computer of some sort? Absolutely. There’s even more noise in this area. The problem with computers is that they’re busy being…computers and they don’t really care about your music needs. Music is just another job to them. The other tasks they undertake, continually – the non-music stuff – creates unnecessary noise.

  • Reply
    ToniMoroni
    2nd March 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Hi Paul,

    Really appreciate your reply. I run an Innuos mini zen via an Ayre Codex DAC into a pair of Dynaudio active speakers. I’ve also got a PC connected that runs spotify, music files and online TV. Sounds as though it would benefit from this power block.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      2nd March 2018 at 5:01 pm

      Not a problem – be interested to hear how you get on if you eventually purchase it.

  • Reply
    Simon Price
    10th March 2018 at 9:17 pm

    I borrowed one and with Helios cables into my cyrus x200signature power amps and cyrus dac xp signature, and pmc 25-23s and Helios into the mains from the Styx. The sound is terrifically fluid, dynamic, and better detailed. The amps just work so much better and it’s bringing a new lease of life. For around the price of the upgrade, it’s better soundvwise than an isol-8 mini sub power conditioner. Similar to an isotek Aquarius. That chocked the sound compared to this block and cables, which for half the price is a better upgrade. I was pessimistic before just trying a star wired music works block I gave back, but I had lesser speakers at the time. If you have a good system, and use the the mains block with decent mains cables to amplifiers, it can make a tremendous difference. No,longer a sceptic. Cheers for review Paul. Simon.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      11th March 2018 at 5:11 pm

      Glad the Styx is working for you Simon, thanks for the feedback.

  • Reply
    Tonimoroni
    18th March 2018 at 3:51 pm

    Hi Paul,

    I bought the Styx with a Tyco cable as a bundle and plugged it into my desktop setup once I listened to a batch of tracks I use to test all my acquisitions.

    I was seriously, seriously impressed. Everything tightened up considerably with a richer, more integrated sound with more detail (which I wasn’t expecting). Silences are darker and deeper as well. Definitely worth a test drive, I’d say.

    Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      18th March 2018 at 4:22 pm

      Not a problem and I’m glad it worked for you Tonimoroni, thanks for keeping in touch.

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