IceCube™ IC-1 Development

The use of audio isolators to solve noise problems is not new. They have been around for years. These early 'problem solvers' introduced galvanic isolation in between the source and destination which helped solve troublesome hum problems. But back then, the audio quality of the PA or recording system often masked the problems that were inherent in these early offerings.

Today, with the advent of digital audio broadcast, high performance workstations, high quality mixers and line array technology, the frequency response and dynamics capabilities have increased to the point that older devices such as the Sescom and Lundahl are simply unable to keep up.

Working In Isolation

Still today, the best way to solve a ground loop is to isolate the send and receive devices using an audio transformer. But as any tech will tell you, not all transformers are equal. In fact we spent a tremendous amount of time – upwards to 18 months in this case - testing various transformers in order to come up with a recipe that would enable us to fit a quality transformer inside a compact enclosure. This in fact is a bit of an oxymoron. The low frequency performance of a transformer is directly proportional to the size. In other words, as you reduce the size, low frequencies suffer. This is clearly evident when you look at the comparative graphs below.

So what makes the Ice-Cube so much better? The answer comes down to the quality of the Eclipse transformer inside. This includes a nickel laminated core and a proprietary scatter winding technique that delivers an exceptionally linear response from 20Hz to 18kHz and is able to handle the difficult to manage bass region down to 20Hz without choking. As Deane Jensen – the father of audio transformers would say: "If you can fix the performance at 20 Hz, the rest will take care of itself!"

Radial IceCube vs Sescom IL-19 Frequency Response
Square wave comparision
IceCube IC-1
Sescom IL-19

The Sescom IL-19 shows rapid signal degradation below 100 Hz while the IceCube's low frequency performance remains constant. This is further magnified when a square wave is applied. The Sescom simply folds under pressure. It is important to note the Sescom is a less expensive alternative and perfectly suitable for hobbyist or entry level applications.

Radial IceCube vs Lundahl Frequency Response

This compares the low frequency performance of the IceCube versus the Lundahl. The IceCube exhibits less than half the distortion of the more expensive competitor in the critical -20dB to 0dB range and still beats the Lundahl as the signal extends above +4dB.

Radial IceCube vs Lundahl Phase Shift

So, what makes the IceCube so much better? The answer comes down to the quality of the Eclipse transformer inside. It includes a nickel laminated core and a proprietary scatter winding technique that delivers an exceptionally linear response from 20Hz to 18kHz. It is even able to handle difficult frequencies as low as 20Hz without choking. As Deane Jensen, the father of audio transformers would say: "If you can fix the performance at 20 Hz, the rest will take care of itself!"

Tough Love

Once we got the transformer right, we focussed on the enclosure. Plastic or aluminium do not offer any form of shielding whatsoever in the audio range. But why is shielding so important? A transformer is made up of two coils that are wound on a bobbin. Inside is a laminated core. When current is applied to the primary coil, it generates a magnetic field. The core concentrates the magnetic field in such a manner that it causes the secondary coil to become excited – which in turn generates current. As you bring a transformer close to a magnetic field such as those generated by a power supply, power cable, or power transformer, the two fields will interact. Because the audio signal level is so minute in comparison, the external magnetic field will cause a disruption to the signal which can manifest in the form of noise, phase anomalies, or distortion.

Plastic does not offer any form of shielding whatsoever, yet most competing isolators are housed in plastic enclosures. When developing the IceCube, we created a solid steel enclosure that would both ensure greater durability and provide shielding against electromagnetic fields that radiate from power cables, output transformers, dimmers and power supplies.

When developing the IceCube, we created a solid steel enclosure that would both ensure greater durability and provide shielding against electromagnetic fields that radiate from power cables, output transformers, dimmers and power supplies. We then added a ground lift switch to further aid in noise reduction.

Plug and play easy to use, one merely connects the IceCube in series with the offending piece of equipment to solve the ground loop. The IceCube will quietly go to work as it eliminates buzz and hum without compromising the signal quality.