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· Senior Shackster
700 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Furman IT-Reference 15i Power Conditioner Review

MSRP: $2000
Value: :4stars:
Fit & Finish: :5stars:
Home Theater Performance: :4.5stars:
Music Performance: :4.5stars:
Overall: :4.5stars:​

Furman has been in the business for over 38 years, focusing on high quality products built to industry leading standards. Originally founded in 1974, they are best known for their AC power management products including power conditioners and uninterruptible power supplies.

As most of us who share this hobby are aware, good clean power is easier spoken about than realized. Today's home AC power lines are often riddled with noise, buzz and many of us have had to troubleshoot a stubborn ground loop hum. Furman's IT-Reference i-Series of power conditioners are designed to combat these issues using several unique technologies. The first of these technologies is Discrete Symmetrical Balanced Power, which totally isolates the filtered high current outlets from one another, eliminating any ground loop hum or noise. Furman uses proprietary Dual-Screen transformers to filter noise on the widest bandwidth possible, while also using Series Multi-Stage Protection (SMP) AC surge suppression. The IT-Reference i-Series is designed to accommodate the complete gamut of power needs in the home theater, conveniently providing surge suppression, power conditioning and noise filtering in one chassis.

Packaging & Setup

Furman kindly agreed to send the 15Amp rated IT-Reference 15i for review at the end of last year. The unit arrived in excellent condition packed in a substantial box with high density foam protecting it thoroughly. Right out of the box I knew this was a serious piece of gear - weighing in at an incredibly dense 50 lbs in a package only 4" High x 17" Wide and 15.625" deep, the IT-Reference 15i is solid, extremely well assembled, and quite pretty to look at.

The unit appears exactly as pictured above, and has a nice blue LED to indicate operation. It was very easy to get the unit racked up and integrated into my system, though perhaps a tad stressful on the lower back (I'm not kidding folks, this thing is HEAVY!).

Furman provides clear guidelines for connecting your equipment in the manual, and I followed these as I connected my gear. The two discrete symmetrical outlets on the rear right of the unit are recommended for "critical video components" such as TV's, Projectors, Blu-ray players or video processors. In my case, I connected the PS3 and my projector to the two symmetrical outlets. In the middle of the unit are two banks of four outlets - four linearly filtered outlets, and four high current outlets. I connected my Wyred4Sound amplifier and AV receiver to the high current outlets and connected the Behringer DSP1124P, XBox 360 and Roku Video Player to the Linearly Filtered outlets. Since I don't have any satellite, cable or telecom lines running into my theater, I didn't connect anything to these banks on the Furman.

Published Specifications

The Results

Satisfied with my connections, I flicked the heavy duty On/Off switch on the front of the unit and got the usual "thump" from my subwoofer. I was immediately impressed by the noise floor. While I had previously had a minor amount of "hiss" in my speakers at high levels, I had to move my ear directly next to the tweeter to hear anything now. I powered on the PS3 and began listening to some lossless music tracks as part of my initial impressions. I wasn't immediately aware of any changes in the sound per se, and unlike the majority of reviewers, I will not come out and say it was a night and day difference.

Strangely enough, it wasn't what I heard that impressed me. It was what I didn't hear. The absence of noise, hum, buzz and coloration that my admittedly poor home power had been introducing before was totally absent, and without this awful noise boring into my brain, I simply enjoyed my music more. I don't believe that extra detail or vastly improved bass resulted from the inclusion of this unit into my system. I do however guarantee that anyone who finds themselves aggravated, annoyed or just plain irritated by power line noise will be extremely happy with this unit installed.

Snake Oil, Or The Lack Thereof

After years with this hobby, I was finally able to listen to delicate classical recordings at high volumes without a mosquito buzzing around my head, I could pause the movie at reference level and hear nothing! Say what you will about snake oil and power products, I assure you that beyond any shadow of a doubt, these devices do work wonderfully when it comes to noise reduction. Power treatment products may or may not magically make average components sound like top dollar masterpieces, I personally wasn't aware of any noticeable sonic difference - perhaps my skepticism makes me immune to the placebo effect. Regardless of any noticeable improvement in the sound, the absence of all the horrible mess underneath my music was a welcome change.

Final Thoughts

Given the results of my time spent with the IT-Reference 15i, I can safely say that the product does what it does very well. It filters line level hum, removes noise, and keeps your equipment safe from surges. It didn't add "air", tighten up the bass, or even change the sound of my system as far as I am aware, but this isn't a failing in my opinion.

This may be the one situation in which I can heartily recommend a product that will not do a thing to improve the sound of your equipment directly. Rather, this piece of gear will allow you to hear what your equipment is capable of. A lower noise floor allows greater dynamic range, just as the absence of a high frequency buzz will improve the treble. It's not about improving the gear, it's about getting the electromagnetic junk out of the way and letting the music play, and in this case Furman has done a spectacular job at doing just that. Highly Recommended.

Please use the Furman IT-Reference 15i Power Conditioner Review: Discussion Thread for Questions and Comments!
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