Richard Gray’s Power Company RGPC SubStation

Richard Gray’s Power Company RGPC SubStation


Ron Nagle

January 2005

You could have knocked me over with a feather. This sort of thing never works for me. There was this telltale beeping when I got back to my apartment letting me know I had a phone message. That was on a Thursday evening after returning from the Home Entertainment show at the New York Hilton. The voice on the answering machine said that out of all of the hundreds of names in a drawing, they had at random picked mine. This is the very first time in my life that I ever won a drawing for anything, and that spans a lot of years. The message said I had won a RPG Sub something, whatever the hell that might be. The only bell it rang was Rocket Propelled Grenade, and I couldn’t imagine how I could use one to enhance my listening pleasure. But what the hell, free is good; I can do free anytime anyplace. Next morning, I hustled up to the second floor of the Hilton Hotel and saw the Richard Gray display. I presented myself, still feeling a lingering tinge of disbelief. “Hi I’m Ron Nagle”, was greeted with a deadpan look of so what. I boldly pressed onward, “Mr. Hageman left a message for me saying that I had won an RPG submarine or something.” At that moment Mr.“H” stepped forward to rescue me from self-doubt. Turns out that the beneficence of destiny sitting on his table was a rather large black box. If you have ever had a technical position in the military as I have, then you are familiar with the “Black Box” concept. If not, it goes something like this. “Don’t ask what’s inside the box. You don’t have to know what’s inside the box. All you gada do is know what goes in and what is supposed to come out. If what goes in, don’t come out, then replace it.” Let’s revise this concept into an updated commercial restatement: Some of the technical aspects of the Richard Gray’s devices are considered proprietary information, which we cannot divulge at this time. F.Y.I., they have at least one patent for their products at the time of this report and another one is pending.

This Substantial Slab of SubStation

The SubStation is truly a big, black, box, 13 ½” high X 9 ¼” wide X 6 ½” thick and weighing 70 pounds. Since my version of the RGPC SubStation has wall voltage going in and wall voltage at the output, I cleverly deduced it is essentially a rather large 2.4 kW line isolation transformer. The SubStation comes in two versions, my device was rated for 120-volt line input and then there’s also a 240-volt balanced input version available. Both of these are rated at 20 amperes total load current. The RGPC SubStation is intended to form the nucleus or hub of a power conditioning system called the RGPC IsoGray System. There are four other line conditioning devices made by RGPC: one additional isolation transformer called the “Pole Pig” and three parallel inductor devices designated the 400MK2, 600S, and 1200S. By adding, or more accurately stated, plugging in additional Power Company products into the four outlets on the SubStation you are effectively adding additional outlets, power conditioning, and surge suppression to the system. Let’s consider the RGPC 1200S. It is but one of these add-on devices. I can better describe it by describing its function; it is a parallel line inductor. Without getting into techno-babble, it is by its function a well-known device that stores electrical energy and releases that energy back into the power line when levels drop. The manufacturer uses the term “Electrical Flywheel”. There are two functionally similar variations of this device made by The Richard Gray Company, allowing you to custom build and match the power demands of any conceivable home entertainment system.

A fellow member of “The Audio Society” told me he intended to install a 240 volt SubStation in his home’s basement and then run dedicated lines up and into his listening room. I wish I could do likewise, but alas I live on the sixth floor of a large apartment building. In a way that’s a good thing (as Martha would say) because I live in an environment that is so electronically polluted that I can listen to a dishwasher three floors down. This perfectly polluted environment is ideal for testing line-conditioning devices. I have, at the very least, all of the most common problems the RGPC products are designed to fix. The first is extraneous electrical noise picked up by the buildings wiring acting like a giant antenna and direct noise injected by devices plugged into the network. The second is power line fluctuations, which can be surges or sagging voltage and current levels as well as electrical motor noise. This condition is the Raison D`etre of RGPC devices like the RGPC 1200S and the two similar function RGPC products. However this report is strictly about the noise killing abilities of the SubStation.

Let me describe how the SubStation works. First off I don’t believe the company would have patents on this product because this is a long established and proven noise-blocking device. In theory and in fact there is no direct electrical connection between the input side of this Transformer and the output side that you plug your system into, that is what the term isolation refers to. The transformer is comprised of two closely wound coils of copper wire called the primary and secondary both of these windings are the same size. They are electrically insulated from each other and electrical energy is passed (the technical term is Induced) only by the strong magnetic field they both share. The magnetic field while it couples the primary to the secondary will block high frequency noise and since the secondary Hot, Neutral and ground wire connections are isolated from the power line it effectively prevents system ground loops and the resulting hum. 

The Test System

I am presently using four different types of power line conditioners – not including ferrite blocks – and they are all operating simultaneously but are in different parts of my system. I have my digital equipment running off a small isolation transformer that is connected to a noise filtering 20amp Islatrol brand device that also provides power to my tuner and preamplifier. And both of the audio power amplifiers in my Bi-amped system are plugged into an Alpha Core Balanced Transformer power supply running off a different outlet. Also plugged into the Alpha Core is an Audio Power brand Power Enhancer #1. I have long heard claims that mixing various brands and types of line conditioning can produce very deleterious effects. So far so good, I have never gotten any negative results with the mix of devices I employ. The only way I can see this might happen is if some numb skull decides to Daisy Chain everything into one wall outlet in a long series circuit. Or if the power demands of the system exceed the capabilities of any one of the devices. For the purposes of this test I used the PGPC Sub Station, which has more than enough current capacity to handle, my entire system set up in three different locations. First I had everything powered only by the Sub Station and secondly I used the Sub Station only on my two power amps. And the last test was to place everything back in the system the way it was adding the Sub Station powering the Alpha Core transformer with the Audio Power Enhancer and the two power amps plugged into the Alpha Core Balanced Transformer.

The Results

Ranking the three configurations: First with the Sub Station by itself and with only the two power amplifiers plugged into it, this proved the least effective at noise cancellation. In the middle ranking was the whole system hooked up only to the Sub Station. The best sound and winner was to put everything back in the way it was but with the S.S. used to power the Alpha Core and the components plugged into it. The fact is there are many more ways I could have installed the S.S. into my system. I consider installing the SS at a few different locations in any system an absolute necessity. The RGPC people are very well aware that the benefits of their power conditioning devices can vary greatly depending on where and how they are used. In my phone conversations I found them to be very open and candid even going so far as to tell me that under ideal power conditions you probably wouldn’t experience any improvement at all. And because of their realistic attitude they can give the purchaser a no fault trial period, typically of 30 days. Speaking from a technical viewpoint I doubt very much that this tried and true industry standard device will ever be in a situation where it will diminish the performance of any system. Having said that common sense should tell you that any power-taming device would suffer if you overload it. Additionally it is possible that a power source can be so bad (like mine) that you would need to use a multiple device (IsoGray) system wide treatment. 

Final Thoughts

Now having said all that, the question becomes what does $2,995 buy you? In a single word, “silence!” Everything I’ve done up to this point has allowed me to cut through the haze and listen deeper into the music. It is a case of that proverbial blacker background that is a result of lowering the noise floor. I don’t care where you live if you have never tried any type of power conditioning and you intend to invest in a good home A/V entertainment system, don’t feed it with junk, it just doesn’t make sense. After choosing the very best components and treating the room acoustics the logical next step is clean power. And don’t just assume you don’t need to clean up your power lines. I will go so far as to say 95 percent of the time you will hear an improvement. The only real question to ask is, what will be the extent of that improvement. To paraphrase Yogi “You don’t know what your missing till it’s gone”. The Richard Gray Power Company will let you find out. The RGPC SubStation has done something I didn’t think possible. It has taken a thoroughly noise and interference treated home audio system with isolation transformers and made it better. This is something I consider a no-brainer, you aught to try it you might be pleasantly (in a non electrical manner) shocked out of your socks.

RGPC SubStation
120-volt plug version 70 Lbs.
4/ 20-amp individually fused commercial grade Hubble outlets.
7.5 ft / 12guage Non-detachable power cord.
MSRP $2,995.

Richard Gray’s Power Company, LLC
2727 Prytania St. Suite 6, 
New Orleans Louisiana 70130
Tel: 504-247-0300
Toll-Free: 1-800-880-3474


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