Received via Audio Emotion 20 Feb 2014

A long-term Vertex AQ customer Just received a pair of Pico Component Grounding Blocks.

Hi Gary, just to confirm I got the two Vertex AQ Pico boxes yesterday.

My system comprises Brinkmann La Grange / EMT cartridge, Alnic H3000 phono stage, Alnic L3000 linestage, Conrad Johnson Premier 140 power amp, Quad 2905 ELS speakers, Townsend Supertweeters and a pair of Audio Physic Luna subwoofers. My current Vertex components are (a) mains: Taga distribution block feeding all the amps and Brinkmann. There is a Hi Rez Jaya plugged into the block and 2 standard Jayas at the wall socket. One of the ELS uses a Roraima+ and feeds into the Taga. All of the amps and Brinkmann are connected to the Taga via Roraima or Roraima+ leads. (b) interconnects: Tonearm cable is Hi Rez Solfonn, from phono stage to linestage is non-Vertex and from linestage to power amp is standard solfonn. (c) speaker cable is Moncayo (standard) (d) supports – all the amps are on super Kinabalu platforms with Hi Rez cones.

I have only had a limited amount of time listening with the new Pico boxes but here is my initial impression. I started by warming up the system, listening to a section of Monteverdi’s Vespers that I know quite well and which contains a mix of instruments, solo voices and choirs and, on this recording, conveys a good sense of the recording’s acoustic and a perception of width and depth.

I then plugged the first Pico into the phono stage and listened again. Immediately there was a remarkably different presentation of the music. It appeared to time differently in the sense that it became rhythmic in a way it had not been before. Even a small instrumental introduction of a few instruments seemed to contain a musical rhythm that I had not ever noticed before. As the voices kicked-in and the music got going, I was struck by the delicacy and texture being much better than before. As a whole, all areas of the music seemed to hang together better and each separate part of the music could be listened to independently of the other. So I was very impressed with that.

I then added the second Pico to the linestage and listened to the same piece again. This time the difference was not just very impressive, it was actually astonishing. The same instrumental introduction suddenly produced a bass note that made me wonder if the subwoofers had been adjusted (obviously they hadn’t been) and, apart from yet further improvements in each of the areas noted above, the entirety of the music took on a different character completely. Basically it simply came alive in a way I have never heard before. I might as well have been listening to a different (and much more enjoyable) version of this piece of music.

Sadly I only had limited time last night to listen, but from this brief initial impression I would say that the Pico grounding box has raised the sound quality by a huge notch.

Best Regards, Howard.

Received via The Right Note 14 Feb 2014

Another customer who is already very familiar with the Vertex AQ range, tries two new Pico Component Grounding Blocks.

Dynamics are in a different league and, most of all, the mojo is back (with the cavalry this time). I think the Picos do profound things – certainly to my system. I’d say without hesitation that they have moved my system up by a full league – so much more presence and ‘touchable-ness’ to voices and instruments now.

Nice clichéd hi-fi things have clearly happened, like much blacker silences, but the overall outcome is much, much more music, impact and emotion. This is one of the best single upgrades I’ve ever made and certainly the most cost-effective one. I know Vertex make a lot of wonderful kit, but I think there’s something quite magical about their Picos!

Regards, Dave

Received via Audio Emotion 2 Jan 2014

A very happy Vertex customer adds to his system’s performance again with a Pico Component Grounding Block.

I think I hate Steve Elford. Not for what he does, nor even that he won’t tell me how he does it, but that even if he did, I probably wouldn’t understand it! It’s becoming predictably boring, the certainty that whichever rectangular Vertex AQ box you attach to your system, it’s going to do something remarkable.

Well, hey ho. Here we are with the Pico component grounding blocks and yes, you’ve guessed it, what do you think happens when you plug one in? Well, I suspect that their genesis was the result of the application of a scalpel to an Aletheia DAC, teasing out some of the noise grounding elements from that device. Given that that DAC eschews oversampling and filters, it suggests that such grounding offers significant benefits to digital circuitry.

The Pico component grounding block offers two RCA connections, so, on Audioemotion’s advice I put one into the SPDIF of my Cyrus 8SE2 and one into a spare RCA input on my Sugden A21SE.

Without doubt the effect on the CD player was immediately impressive. This is apparent in increased clarity in the leading edge of notes, giving more dynamic subtlety; more precision in the envelope of each note, cleanly separating them from adjacent notes; a sense of the frequency range being an integrated whole, while notes are individually more distinct.

Instruments sound more like you know they sound. There’s increased ‘air’ between instruments and individual notes. The soundstage gets deeper and wider as musicians are placed more precisely within it. Depending on the album it’s much easier to distinguish between different tracks within the mix. The Picos not only reveal more of the musician’s art, but also the producer’s, as the subtle art of mixing becomes more apparent.

I found the effect to be more subtle on vinyl replay, but the effect on the sound is very similar. Good becomes better. In both cases the noise floor is lowered, allowing greater resolution of microdynamic information.

Every Vertex AQ device I’ve added to my system has surprised me by releasing more music from my system than I realised was in there. I recently trialled a £1000 DAC. The Pico Grounding Block achieves almost all of the effect of this award winning DAC! The difference is that with the Pico you retain the sonic signature of your CD player, rather than exchanging it for that of the DAC. Given where it’s come from perhaps this shouldn’t be a surprise?

But how often does your music demand you put the book or smartphone down and just listen to the music? So, while perhaps modest change in the delivery, what is released is a level of musical communication that simply draws you further into your music.

This is why I’ve not bought any new components in recent years. OK, my system is at the more modest end of the scale and, to be fair, to get the best out of this component you probably need to have followed the Vertex pathway from the mains socket, dealing with incoming noise, noise transmitted between components and their mechanical isolation. But, that done, this is not just a next step, but a bit of a ‘no brainer’. Like putting Jaya’s and Roraima’s on the mains, this takes things to the next level.

Many Thanks, Giles.