RF Zapperators with Bananas
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Zapperators use a network of specialised, very high specification components to stably absorb RF and further reduce noise in the amplifier / speaker interface. We've found that they augment the effect of Kimber speaker cable (Russ uses them on his speakers in his main system) and in our opinion they are also an essential upgrade if you're using a speaker cable from another manufacturer!
Zapperators fit to the binding posts of your speakers and are fitted with a choice of 'piggy-back' bananas - to allow you to continue using existing speaker cables fitted with bananas - 8mm and 6mm spades or simply 'cut and stripped'.
Zapperators are a new device based on a Zobel-type network for reducing high level RF interference at the point of speaker cable termination. They can be fitted at either the speaker or amp end of the cable.
And in plain English?!
OK, so to put it more practically we can look at it like this:
The point at which a speaker cable terminates into the speaker – or from the amp – is particularly vulnerable to interference, and the consequent noise this introduces into the audio signal. We believe that the use of Kimber speaker cable already goes a long way to rejecting this because of its unique woven design, but this end point could still be made better. This is what Zapperators are designed to do.
Not surprisingly, any product designed to address this problem had to take into account a number of considerations, not least that the new device did not introduce any other problems that could potentially negate any positive effects. This in itself was a fair task! Take the issue of placement, for example.
By their very nature, Zapperators have to be placed right next to the speaker so they are going to have to cope with high levels of bass vibration from the cabinet – many times higher than you would experience sitting at your listening position. Many high quality RF parts are microphonic, so using these would be akin to directly injecting distortion into the audio path, defeating the object. So one of the key points in the design of the Zapperators was the very selective use of high quality components.
Then there's the design itself. After many hours of research and testing, designer Ben Duncan adapted the original design of a Zobel network to work more efficiently in this specific application. The result was the speaker Zapperator, which works by literally burning off RF interference, converting it to heat and ensuring that once treated, it cannot return.
Hi-Fi Critic magazine had the following to say when they reviewed them in 2009:
"Frankly I was not expecting much, if anything at all, but – Ouch! – there was a difference and it was not small… A reduction in noise floor, treble grain and sibilance increased fine detail resolution and texture, and imaging was more natural with better distant perspectives. The sound was calmer, flowed better and with slightly better subjective timing and lower fatigue. I could hardly have been more surprised".
The majority of users find that fitting the Zapperators at the speaker end of a cable produces the most effective results. However, there has been a significant minority of customers reporting better performance from placing them at the amp end, so we would suggest trying both to see which works best with your system.
In the same vein, most users who have fitted Zapperators at both amp and speaker ends have experienced another step up in performance – and some have used multiple units at each end with even better results!
Zapperators are available in three terminations:
Which is best?
Most people go for bananas as this is by far the most convenient option. This does add another connection into the audio signal path, but the advantages in audio performance gained by using the Zapperators far outweighs this issue. However, if this is a concern for you and you really want the ultimate performance from your system, it may be a better option to choose spades or bare wire so your speaker cable is plugged in directly to the binding posts.
Download the white paper here written by their designer, Ben Duncan.