The Telos Earth Grounding Monster
By Roy Gregory
Arguably the single biggest explosion in audio product offerings (outside of ‘audiophile’ streaming hardware) has been the emergence of passive, parallel grounding systems (PPGs). As so often happens in audio, what started out as a fringe activity quickly became mainstream. What started out as a bunch of Scandinavians filling folksy wooden crates with a mixture of ash, iron filings and sand dug out of some abandoned industrial site (at least so rumour has it) soon became a flood of expensive and beautifully crafted boxes from increasingly mainstream suppliers. Why? Because PPGs score a direct hit on the audio manufacturer’s sweet spot: they’re passive (so they don’t break), they’re universal (they work in any system) and they’re a ‘new box’ (meaning that they’re an add on rather than replacing an existing unit – so no messy trade ins or barriers to sale). Cynics might also add that the fact that they work and that it’s easy to demonstrate that they work is just the icing on the cake…
Speaking personally, I’m fully signed up to the benefits of PPG products. They’ve been a valued part of my systems for the last decade, with units from Nordost, CAD and Chord all being permanently present in my listening rooms. If a dedicated clean ground is the single most cost-effective upgrade you can make to your existing system’s infrastructure and musical performance, augmenting that ground with some parallel grounding devices comes a close second. So anything that promises to take that process a step further definitely gets my attention.
This year in Munich, at a show remarkable for its lack of decent sounding systems, Magico turned up and produced one of the most balanced and satisfying show set ups I’ve ever heard from them. Okay, so they had the Wadax Reference digital front-end and Pilium amps to drive their latest S3 speakers and S-subs – but lurking in the rack there was also the Telos Earth Grounding Monster, not a beast from a Marvel movie, but an “active grounding solution”: In fact, the same active grounding solution I’d seen at Sound And Colours in Paris, in other stores and which had been mentioned enthusiastically (albeit in its more modest GNR Ground Noise Reduction, that is – V5.1 form) by several readers. If it crops up in key dealer/distributor showrooms, Munich show systems and reader scuttlebutt, then it definitely warrants a closer look.
So who are Telos and what are they doing that’s different?
Telos is based in Taiwan and was established in 2006 – so not exactly new kids on the block. They offer a range of grounding and AC treatment devices, including ‘Quantum’ products that bear (on paper at least) a significant operational similarity to the QX units that Nordost offer in their QRT range. That technology also finds it’s way into their active grounding units – at least as far as I can tell.
There are three grounding units in the Telos range and like the PPGs from Entreq, Nordost and CAD, they are essentially boxes with a number of grounding terminals on the back. But there, all similarities end. The middle-weight GNR Ground Noise Reducer) V5.1 Plus is a little wider and a bit lower than a Nordost QK6 and, like the Nordost box, it offers six ground connections in this case, in two banks of three. There’s a smaller GNR Mini V5.1, that offers two connections and then the heavy-weight option, the Grounding Monster, a massive box the size and shape of a high-end power amp with a total of twelve sockets in two banks of six. In each case and unlike a PPG product, sat between the rows of sockets you’ll also find an IEC input to power the unit.