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MULTIMEDIA

MusicWorks ReFlex Ultra - Mains Adapter

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Can the shape of a mains distribution block affect sound quality? The fellows at MusicWorks certainly think so.

How many audiophiles have spent a small fortune on high-end IEC mains cables or even mains filters only to run out of sockets and end up with a multi-way adapter block halfway down the line? I’ll wager this is more common than we’d care to admit, but it was sufficient to spur the owners of the AudioWorks Hi-Fi shop in south Manchester to develop a better solution and a new brand – MusicWorks.

No run-of-the mill mains block, every part of the Reflex Ultra was auditioned for its impact on sound quality. It looks pretty, too

No run-of-the mill mains block, every part of the Reflex Ultra was auditioned for its impact on sound quality. It looks pretty, too

There are currently two models in the range, the $675 ReFlex Lite and the $1,335 ReFlex Ultra. On the face of it, the Ultra looks like a six-way mains block from a fashion house with all that glossy-glass curves. But every nut, bolt and facet of the Ultra, we are assured, has earned its place in the final product. Even the shape – the freedom from sharp corners was deemed to contribute positively to the Ultra’s ‘sound’.

There’s synergy between the materials too. MusicWorks auditioned every 13A socket on the market and discovered it wasn’t the most expensive that yielded the best sound. Anchoring the faceplates with polycarbonate screws also benefited the whole. And even the ‘black’ acrylic isn’t really black, it’s just another layer of clear acrylic with a black coat printed underneath. Clear acrylic ‘just sounds better than black acrylic’ we were told. This audiophile adventure really has taken on life of its own!

Arguably, a key component (and cost) of its manufacturing is the cryogenic treatment of socket components and internal wiring. The latter, incidentally, are PVC-insulated multi-stranded cables, 2.5mm2 for live and neutral and 4mm2 for the ground which is ‘star-wired’ back to the earth pin on the input IEC socket. The internal cables are not soldered but crimped together and then crewed into the base of the sockets. Meanwhile, that IEC inlet connection just begs to be tried with your stash of Hi-Fi power cables.

The internal ‘star carthed’ wiring is just visible through the sides of the acrylic sandwich

The internal ‘star carthed’ wiring is just visible through the sides of the acrylic sandwich

Power play

I’m always exhausting the five outlets on the back of my PS Audio Powerplant mains regenerator (last month’s dCS Vivaldi was a case in point) and so the ReFlex Ultra’s six additional sockets were most welcome. I compared the Ultra with a standard power strip and, yes, there was difference: the Vivaldi sounding that bit smoother and easy-going just as musical silences seemed, well, that bit more silent. This is not a mains filter or conditioner, most of which offer subjective swings and roundabouts in my experience, but as a non-invasive block it proves its mettle.

The Music Works Reflex 'Lite' mains blocks are completely unfiltered designs using star wiring

The Music Works Reflex 'Lite' mains blocks are completely unfiltered designs using star wiring

The verdict

Whether your system benefits from mains regeneration, RF/noise filtering or not, there are precious few audiophiles on the planet with a surfeit of 120V/240V sockets, which is where the ReFlex Ultra comes into its own. So throw out those ghastly power strips bought from the local DIY store and savor instead the superior look, feel and sound of the MusicWorks ReFlex Ultra, the cleanest ‘unfiltered’ mains adapter on hi-fi’s block.

Sound quality: 8.5/10

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