From Matt Tarolli - Predator 6 Power Buyer:
Just finished up a A/B comparison using the Predator 6. I was quite surprised at the difference it made. It reduced the background noise quite a bit. Voices and instruments sounded more real with more focus. I could really hear into the music. It made listening to music much more enjoyable and involving. Great product. Please pass along to all involved.
Review from Jeremy Anderson - Founder of Hi-Fi Foundations
I started by using the Noise Prism to see what my circuit sounded like with and without the traps (one or both). Obvious differences. Didn't eliminate all the noise, but most of it. I did find out that my circa 2000 Rotel RMB-993 amp dumps a ton of noise onto the line. Wow. Ick.
Demo of Predator 6 using the Noise Prism
I then listened to lots of different music styles and arrangements, listening to short clips several times with and without the predators (using the P6 or P3, sometimes both, sometimes none).
About an hour after I started (and several dozen swaps in/out/all about) I almost couldn't bear to listen to my system without them.
There are some pieces of music where the presentation goes from pretty good to really good to even phenomenal.
Sting's 'Desert Rose' - I swear he was in the room with me... scared me at first!
Dire Strait's "Why Worry", various selections from A Far Cry's Dreams and Prayers recording, Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven.", almost anything by Holly Cole or Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald. (Holy cow, Louis Armstrong's voice is just awesome sounding with these traps in place!)... all significantly improved by the Predators.
At first, I'll admit that I wasn't sure what I was hearing. Initially, I wasn't even sure there was much difference, but I was listening to my system "cold." Once things warmed up (say, after 20 minutes or so), I was actually getting the idea that I didn't really like what I was hearing with the traps in the circuit. Something about the whole presentation just seemed... wrong. Which leads me to...
The ugly (Okay, "ugly" is a strong word, but for the sake of the Clint Eastwood movie reference, let's just roll with it...)
With the Predators, some music takes on a kind of uncanny-valley kind of realism that is simultaneously likeable, but oh so very eerie. For example, Vienna Teng's '1BR/1BA' - everything sounds so much clearer. Every part has more definition, her voice is clear as a bell and loses this sort of cottony softness it had about the edges of it (almost like poor anti-aliasing on an image), but the noise floor drops so much that all sense of the "room" vanishes and you're left with holographic instruments and voices suspended in the blackness of space.
You may be wondering "how is that bad?" Well, it's more strange because they sound so real, but that realism is at constant odds with the lack of being anchored to anything. It's disturbingly hard to go back to listening to the song without the traps, simply because Vienna's voice and piano are just so much better with them, but the odd sense of a "disembodied voice" and a "floating fiddle" I get when the traps are in the circuit just really played games with my head.
Similarly, Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Tin Pan Alley" becomes nearly holographic when the Predators are added - and while it seems huge and encompassing, something seems missing - at a guess, I'd say the walls of the venue. It's almost like they moved from being indoors to being outdoors. (Of course, they could have recorded outdoors for all I know... maybe I'm finally hearing it as the recordist intended?)... Not quite outdoors, but certainly close to that. It's really... strange.
Everything else (instruments, vocals, even decay and reverb) is dialed in tighter, sharper, clearer, punchier, and even fuller sounding - yet I can't shake the feeling like something of the space is just... missing. Bigger, yes, but also... missing. Kind of like hearing music vacuum (if that were even possible...).
I don't really know what to call this dualism or war of perspectives in my mind, so I've settled on the "uncanny valley" after Masahiro Mori's aesthetics hypothesis of the same name which "holds that when features look and move almost, but not exactly, like natural beings, it causes a response of revulsion among some observers."
I find that two traps are better than one. I have one (the 6 pole) in my QRT Qbase 8 power distribution unit, and the 3 pole in the outlet at the end of the circuit (which is also occupied by some QRT Qv2 AC Harmonizer plugs). That outlet had some big noise on it (even with the 6 further upstream) before I placed the 3 in it. After the 3 was inserted, it became almost dead quiet.
What about other parallel power treatments like Nordost / QRT Qv2s?
I was worried that the Predators would negate the impact of my beloved QRT Qv2 AC Line Harmonizers. These inject timed harmonics (calculated from the AC fundamental) onto the circuit that somehow improve presence, soundstage dimensions, and add weight. Not really sure how or even why, but they work well and I much prefer the sound of my system with them vs. without them.
To my surprise and delight, I found that the Qv2 effect is actually enhanced by the Predators, in that the apparent delta in the musical presentation seems greater when they are added and removed (to the same place in the circuit) when the Predators are present (vs. when the Qv2s are added without the Predators inline). In hindsight, this shouldn't really come as a surprise, as the Predators seem to be increasing the overall resolution of my audio system by a non-trivial amount...
I was really worried the Predators might "soak up" the beneficial harmonics they're introducing. Seeing as how these harmonics aren't audible (at least, not via the Noise Prism), I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that the Predators aren't impacting them, but it does lead me to wonder what frequencies they're introducing... and why both Prism and Predators don't "clean" them - and yet my ears so readily discern their impact in a spooky but good way.
Overall, I'm very impressed. "Wow" would be an understatement. At one point I plucked the boxes from my outlets and said (in jest), "Take this devilry from out my system! I can't afford their siren song!"
They really do work and they work very well. As for the "uncanny valley" moments... Could it be that the missing layer of almost-imperceptible background noise was providing a false-but-necessary "backdrop" for the music in my environ? I'm not sure. I'm getting more certain that I wouldn't want my system to be without the noise elimination like these Predators provide because the upside is just awesome... but my mind seems certain some musical cues that once were there are now missing, and I can't shake the feeling just yet.
Perhaps a longer listen will help my mind acclimate and I'll emerge on the other side of the uncanny valley happier than ever. That certainly is the case already with some of my favorite pieces of music -- but not everything puts a big smile on my face. Not yet, anyway... I need to spend more time with them in (several weeks) and then take them out to tell for sure.
Because your mileage will vary and your system will always sound different than mine (and your brain, too)... I can't help but recommend them, especially if you can get them at the Power Buy price(s). They're definitely worth checking out at a discount, but they'd likely be a worthwhile upgrade even without the bargain.
Jeremy Anderson is the Founder of Hi-Fi Foundations