Singled out as a ‘Hot Product’ at the 2016 Munich High End Show, Computer Audio Design’s Ground Controls tackle noise reduction at the level of signal ground and mains earth, with truly remarkable results. Now, just in time for the 2017 Munich High End Show, the original GC1 is joined by the new larger and more powerful GC3.
Noise, noise and more noise
Over the past decade or so, the amount of high frequency noise on our mains power supply has increased significantly due to our heavy use of computers, routers, modems, Wi-Fi and switch mode power supplies. At the same time, as we’ve embraced digital audio, the high frequency energy generated within our hi-fi systems has also increased as computers, DACs, servers, NAS drives, routers and the like are all directly connected to our audio set-ups.
CAD’s Scott Berry, an audio engineer known for his fresh thinking, believes that this high frequency noise is one of the key reasons that so many digital audio products ‘sound digital’.
“From the very beginning of CAD we have worked hard to reduce unwanted noise in all our products,” says Berry. But then something he discovered in the process made him want to go further. What if CAD could clean up not just their own products, but also everyone else’s? Berry strongly suspected that reducing high frequency noise on signal ground and on mains earth could be a key factor in ensuring the clearest possible sonic platform for a hi-fi system. So he put his suspicions to the test and, long story short, he was right.
The result was the GC1 Ground Control which was launched to high critical acclaim in 2016. The new GC3 is built on identical principles but, as the name suggests, is three times the size.
Situation under control
CAD’s GC1 and GC3 Ground Controls are specifically designed to target high frequency noise on signal ground and mains earth, substantially reducing noise from the very high kHz range up to over 10 GHz.
The Ground Controls provide an effective sink for high frequency noise, which is absorbed and converted to heat, resulting in a reduction of noise in your audio components. Their methods of doing so borrow technology from the aerospace and telecoms industries, combining proprietary materials in an ultra-precise internal construction. Considerable attention has equally been given to the GC cables and connectors in order to maximize the absorption of high frequency noise.
CAD’s Ground Controls can be connected to any audio component that has an unused input or output connection. Whether a DAC, streamer, computer, CD Player, NAS, router, phono stage, preamplifier, amplifier, etc – if it has a spare input or output connector (RCA, XLR, spade, USB or Ethernet) then you can plug in the Ground Controls whose sleek, hyper-minimalist design will fit discreetly into your system.
Like the GC1, the GC3 can also be connected to mains earth, the results of which can be breathtaking. While the GC1 has two connectors – allowing you to hook up two components, to use both connectors for a single component or to daisy chain more than one GC1 to a single component – the GC3 sports six, allowing multiple components to form a common ‘star’ earth connection.
An obvious upgrade
“The benefits are more obvious than you might think,” says Berry, who enjoys nothing more than watching jaws drop at the audible difference in sound quality. “You’ll certainly hear a difference,” he ventures, “but the degree of difference will depend on how you use the Ground Controls in your system.” Experience has shown that the best results are often achieved by connecting a Ground Control to the noisiest device in your system – typically a digital component. But the possibilities are many and varied, which is why Berry actively encourages experimentation.
The impact can be a significant drop in the noise floor, which means that every element of the musical performance can reveal so much more. Expect liberated dynamics and a sharpening of pace, rhythm and timing. The soundstage becomes both wider and deeper, with a natural sense of presence. Toning is more truthful, such that voices and instruments become more distinct and authentic. And of course the background silence is that much more silent, enabling far greater separation, clarity, colour and texture.
Hear the Ground Controls in action and meet Scott Berry and the Computer Audio Design team at the Munich High-End Show, 19th-21st May 2017: Atrium 4 / Room F215.