Product: Straad Condicio 2.5 mains conditioner
Company: Straad - Croatia
Approx. price: 600 Euro (factory sale, ask the manufacturer first)
Reviewed by: Lucio Cadeddu - TNT Italy
Reviewed: October, 2004
The Condicio 2.5 is a so-called "AC cleaner/corrector and surge protector" as claimed by Straad (a.k.a. Stankovic-Radosevic Audio Design), a new Croatian HiFi Company which specializes in main supply cleaning/conditioning. It consists of 5 mains outlets that can handle a gross total of 2500 watts of continuous absorption (3 kW peak to peak). This means the Condicio 2.5 should be sufficient for the majority of audio systems around.
The claimed tech specs are quite impressive:
The Condicio designers are so deeply concerned with their "secret" that the owner's manual states a series of warnings:
Do NOT try to measure or perform load tests on the unit! Do NOT open or try to improve any part of the unit. Otherwise you can risk your life and that of your components.
Forbidden activities can activate Condicio's self-protecting and self-destruction mechanism and cause its inferior operation and burn out
Oh My!!! Dudes! Even a self-destruction mechanism!!! Is it a bomb or what? Memories of fancy 007 secret weaponry came immediately to my mind... :-)))
It is not the first time I come across HiFi Companies that are so paranoic about hiding their circuits or ideas. I can distinctly remember another one, from Greece, which produced room-acoustic correction devices. Well, these guys contacted me for letting me know of the wonders their devices could make to my system. Hence, I asked a set of these wonders for a reality test but they answered they were afraid I could copy their design and sell it on my own (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Actually, their website didn't even display a pic of those prodigious devices. And, guess what?, their designer claimed himself to be the new ...ahem...Leonardo Da Vinci (pretty humble the chap, uh?).
No, dudes, I'm not kidding, I still keep all the e-mails stored in a safe area for further reference, one never knows :-)
Deeply inspired and truly motivated by these guys, during a couple of weekends, I and my 3-years old daughter Silvia managed to design and actually produce a car engine that runs on pure tap water instead of gasoline. Actually the idea wasn't 100% mine, as my daughter played a significant role here. When some car mag asked me for a test sample of this revolutionary engine, I refused because I was afraid they could steal my brilliant idea (LAUGH) and sell it to Fiat/Yugo ;-)
Let's get back to the Condicio and let's put the unit under test before it explodes and generates a black hole right here inside my listening room :-)
I've used the Condicio 2.5 with very different HiFi components and, before me, Stefano and Hartmut tested independently the Condicio Reference 3.8 (spec'd up to 3.8 kW). Hence, the comments that follow are a summary of very different experiences on 3 different Condicio units with dozens of HiFi components installed in three different rooms located in two different Countries.
The Straad Condicio 2.5 works. Yes, in the sense that you plug it to the wall socket and the "power on" red led glows. Also, it delivers a quite stable 227 Volts voltage to its 5 outlets. It is silent, it does not produce hums, strange noises, clicks or pops of any sort. It doesn't even get any warm.
Furthermore, its presence into the HiFi system is always noticeable. Since the first days of testing I've got mixed feelings about its effects on the sound of the components connected to it. Some parameters tend to improve slightly, some others don't or get even worse.
The tonal balance of the component under Condicio seems to remain the same most of the times, while macro, micro-dynamics and sounstaging are quite heavily influenced by this unit.
When the tonal balances varies, a slight tendency to hardness in the mids can be detected, especially on voices. Sometimes it seems the harmonic content of the reproduced Music becomes thinner. Roughly speaking, it seems like when you compare a good CD versus its MP3 compressed version. This is detectable also in the highs, where - for example - cymbals appear less metallic and splashy than usual.
In the bass things appear a bit more controversial: while depth seems to be reduced to some extent, impact and presence seem to get some benefit from time to time. In the 100-150 Hz region there seems to be a kind of "boost" but I'm not 100% sure this is natural. Actually, the effect seems quite artificial.
Generally speaking, Music loses its natural flow, that kind of emotional breath that makes it appear like a live thing.
Micro and macro-dynamics are greatly affected by the presence of the Condicio: Music seems to lose liveliness, punch and pace. The rhythmic patterns become simpler and elementary, perhaps easier to follow but slightly spoiled of their musical richness. "Compressed" is the first word that came to mind when listening to the Condicio.
As for soundstaging, strange things happen. The scene moves a bit forward and, at the same time, it becomes smaller. What was located behind the loudspeakers moves definitely forward and the 3D effect gets compromised. Even the air among instruments and players seems lacking. Everything appears more synthetic and sterile.
The unit should be left turned on all the time and requires some break-in (50 hours or so). I'd also suggest to keep it as far as possible from other components.
Complaints...well, it is not a mystery this product didn't convince me (and my staff) from a purely sonic point of view. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Some things improve, many others get worse. I wouldn't use it into my system, if you ask for my sincere opinion. This doesn't mean you will get the same effects. Devices of this kind may produce very different results, depending on the quality of the mains supply. The worse, the better. Your mileage may vary.
Some minor complaint: the unit seems nicely built but came inside an anonimous and low quality package. The owner's manual may need some revision. I, for one, would remove the (funny) claims of self-destruction... :-)
The Straad Condicio 2.5 is, like other similar devices, a box full of compromises. You get something, you lose something else. I wouldn't recommend it if the quality of your mains supply is good and by this I mean stable, clean and close to the standard. Under severe conditions (as it happens in Croatia, maybe) it may yield much better results, as the following Manufacturer's comment below seems to confirm.
We would like to thank you for your time and effort, although, we were quite surprised about your conclusions regarding Condicio's performance. That is conflicting all the previous tests and reviews in Croatian audio magazines HI-FI Media (www.hifimedia.hr), WAM (www.wam.hr) and T3 (www.t3.com.hr). Furthermore, Condicio was also put to test in a dozen of high end audio systems consisting of respectable brands like Alon, Atmasphere, Audio Research, Avantgarde, California Audio Lab, B&W, Copland, Carry Audio, Dali, Gryphon, JM Lab, Mark Levinson, Magnaplanar, Martin Logan, Michell, Musical Fidelity, Oracle, Pass, Stabi, Theta, VPI... During those sessions the owners were more than pleased with Condicio performance in their systems and many of them become our satisfied customers!
Few days ago (October 15-17, 2004) we have participated for the third time at Zagreb Audio-Video Show held in hotel Sheraton and two Condicio units were playing, as usual, their recognizable role. One was used with Exposure 3010, Stylos Sys HAD D/A converter, Pass 2.2, Pass 150.5 and Beta Systems C2 loudspeakers; the other was used in high end A/V system.
We could say with pride that although STRAAD is not a brand name, or even a company, we are endeavor of audio enthusiast interested only in fidelity of sound and craftsmanship of their products. Certainly, we do not deserve to be labeled "ignorants" after decades of working on various audio projects.
Thus, we could only conclude that there was malfunction with either Condicio unit we sent to you (damage during transportation) or somewhere else in audio chain. Let me also mention that we were unable to obtain any information about your reviewer system.
Last but not least, let us briefly comment your "humorous" observation about Condicio's "self-destruction mechanism". When Condicio was sent to you it was not yet patented, therefore, we implemented such a mechanism just to protect our interest and, of course, it will not produce "Big Bang" as you suggested; it will just shut down quietly.
STRAAD - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright 2004 Lucio Cadeddu - www.tnt-audio.com