IsoTek V5 Elektra Power Conditioner Reviewed

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A power conditioner is an often overlooked, cherry-on-top component that helps to enhance a HiFi system’s performance. We have discussed system synergy here at Future Audiophile before, and how the journey to audio satisfaction is part of the fun. Having clean, well-protected power to feed the components you have carefully determined work best for your musical enjoyment is a great way to secure your investment, and to fine-tune the sonic performance in a system you have worked so hard to curate.

Any system is truly a sum of its parts. Weather we are talking about my reference loudspeakers, the PSB Synchrony T-800, or a Formula 1 race car, all the little details in the design add up to something far greater. The finer the attention to detail paid while building your system, the more enjoyable the subtle musical details will be. Once your system is well-established and you feel you may be nearing your endgame, power conditioners like the IsoTek V5 Elektra (buy at Crutchfield) become extremely relevant. About halfway up the ladder of IsoTek’s top-tier V5 power products, you will bump your head on the V5 Elektra. It the first standard chassis power component you will happen across in IsoTek’s extensive lineup. IsoTek’s power products have been honed, refined, and recognized as some of the top performers in their categories for over 20 years, so this leaves me with high expectations for the V5 Elektra. 

The ISOTEK Elecktra V5 comes in both black and silver...
The ISOTEK Electra V5 comes in both black and silver…

What Makes the IsoTek V5 Elektra So Special? 

  • The six outlet IsoTek V5 Elektra does not restrain the dynamic range of the music. There are too many all-too-expensive power products that do a great job at filtering, but fail to provide the dynamic power high-current components like amplifiers ask for. Without delving into a lesson in alternating current electrical theory, by adding a filter to the power, you are also adding a component that reacts with the power. This reactivity is difficult to overcome. IsoTek has engineered a way to provide the quiet background and open sound of quality filtered power, while maintaining the high-current impactful dynamics. Full dynamic capability is an important value builder at the V5 Elektra’s selling price. 
  • The protection in the IsoTek V5 Elektra is integrated with the filtration to help stabilize power delivery. In most mid-level power products, there is a separation of the filtration and protection. This is done mainly as a means of cost savings, as the engineering and complexity of the components required to integrate both is high. IsoTek has chosen to go the more complex path, since it not only will protect your equipment from all sorts of major and minor power problems, but it allows IsoTek to lower the noise further by doing so. 
  • Speaking of low noise, the IsoTek V5 Elektra’s multi-stage filtration lowers the RFI (common mode) noise by as much as 55 decibels.
  • The IsoTek V5 Elektra also lowers differential noise, then filters what is left of it.Differential noise is the noise created by all other appliances, TVs, lights, and electronics that exist in your home and, in many cases, beyond it. 
  • Each outlet of the V5 Elektra is independently wired and isolated from others. 
  •  IsoTek uses high-quality components, including 99.9999 percent pure copper wire in the V5 Elektra. The reality here is: there is no way cutting corners and details is possible, since doing so will only add more noise than it subtracts.
  • The V5 Elektra has a cool feature called System Link that allows other IsoTek components to be connected. The System Link also maintains a quality, star-grounding system, and eliminates the need for multiple wall outlets. 
  • The guts of the V5 Elektra are fully potted. Covering the electronics in a non-conductive rubbery goo assures no vibration can translate to the internal components and cause microphonic noise. 
  • The build quality of the V5 Elektra is on point. My heavy and oversized Clarus Crimson power cables were captured tightly in the sockets, and the chassis is built as well as any $2,000 component out there. 
The ISOTEK Elecktra V5 actually has six outlets...
The ISOTEK Electra V5 actually has six outlets…

Why Should You Care About the IsoTek V5 Elektra?

You should care because every penny makes a dollar, just as all the small details count. The IsoTek V5 Elektra removes a very critical noise barrier to obtaining the last few pennies, or fine details, that your system is capable of. Yet there is more benefit than just sonics. In advanced high-speed network applications, power conditioning is used to prevent errors, improve equipment longevity (power problems can lead to wasted energy and heat), and prevent small errors that waterfall into large ones. Solid-state audio gear is no different. The high-speed, high-power MOSFETS in a power amplifier are sensitive to noise that makes it through the power supply, and streamers are computers. In tube gear, the AC voltage from the wall has an even more direct impact on the sound, due to the nature of how tube gear operates. Skeptics will pipe up about power conditioning making not making a sonic difference because, sadly, many poorly-designed power products do not, and bad first impressions stick.

Unlike the positive improvements the IsoTek V5 Elektra makes, many power products will degrade the sound. Other power products fail because of oversimplified filter design and cheap components that can distort the very power they claim to be helping. These distortions come in the form of irregularities to the AC power wave, or restrictions of the instantaneous current that power-hungry electronics ask for. Sure, with no equipment plugged into lesser power products, they measure great! However, when the music gets complicated, the amplifiers demand lots of current, and the electronics ask for stability, you will be happy with the IsoTek V5Elecktra, because it simply improves your already awesome listening experience. Don’t forget: The IsoTek V5 Elektra also is improving the longevity of your equipment by refining the AC power’s stability, and protecting your carefully selected audio gear from dangerous voltage spikes, too. 

Some Things You Might Not Like About the IsoTekV5 Elektra

  • The little rubber spiky feet on the V5 Elektra feel chintzy. This is a $2,000 power conditioner, IsoTek. My expectations here are not the Stillpoints on my Bricasti M1 Series II DAC, but the V5 Elecktra most definitely skipped leg day. You can buy threaded isolation spikes that fit the V5 Elektra from IsoTek. However, I truly feel that the spikes should already be on there. 
  • The outlets on the V5 Elektra are a little close together. Seems like a silly bugaboo, but when plugging in bulky power cords like my Clarus Crimsons, it can make life a little difficult. 
  • There is no instruction manual included with the V5 Elektra. Yes, this is 2024, and everything is available on IsoTek’s extremely thorough website. However, the old-school side of me loves to read a manual and have it on hand for quick reference. 
A top-off view of the The ISOTEK Elecktra V5 at Michael Zisserson's listening room.
A top-off view of the The ISOTEK Electra V5 at Michael Zisserson’s listening room.

Listening to the IsoTek V5 Elektra Power Conditioner… 

As a bonus, the V5 Elektra comes with IsoTek’s highly-decorated EVO 3 Initum power cord, a great touch to assure nothing ill happens between the wall outlet and the V5 Elektra. Unfortunately, it was too short to reach where I needed it to go. This is because my system is set up for use with the Clarus Sextet power conditioner, which sits on the floor, and not in a rack, like the V5 Elektra is designed to do. I soon found out, too, that my Clarus Crimson power cords do not all meet at the rack space I had available for the V5 Elektra. It was a bummer to sequester the V5 Elektra to the floorspace behind my equipment rack, but it was a necessary evil. The morel of this story is: plan your power carefully. Power cords can be expensive, and if you are planning on keeping them short, which is an audiophile best practice, make sure they all reach your IsoTek V5 Elektra. One final note: for the listening evaluation of the V5 Elektra, I used a regular high-quality power strip with no filtering and simple circuit breaker protection as a comparison. I felt it important to discuss what the differences are when going from good to great. 

I have been really digging the Wharfedale Aura 1 loudspeakers (review pending) I have in for evaluation, and their resolving power really helped paint the picture of just how good the subtle improvements of the IsoTek V5 Elektra are. I was not only relieved when I found the V5 Elektra did not detract from the sound, but was delighted when I was able to hear the unique 1980s-esque aspects of the recording “Drive” by The Cars. First, the punctuation of the bassline/bass drum/heavy snare drum all had a slightly sharper start and stop, which also made each instrument sound a little more distinct. The synthesized strings and bell-like embellishments also seemed to have just a little more air to them in the soundstage. When you add all of this to more subtle resolution in the vocals, you can hear how the whole song was engineered, then mastered, which is a very cool aspect of listening to a high-resolution system. This understanding can only be had with the cherry-on-top kind of difference the IsoTek V5 Elektra makes. More important than the audio-technical fun of listening to the recording, the way the sonic enhancements of the V5 Elektra added to the musical experience was sublime. I use the word “sublime,” because I felt about five rows further back from the performance than I am used to sitting, and noticed an overall honey-like softening of the presentation, compared to my normal listening setup. This wasn’t worse or better, just different, and I found this added and relaxing musical quality to be beneficial on less-than-perfect recordings. 

“Drive” by The Cars

Staying in the vibe, I threw on “Crazy Mary” off Pearl Jam’s album Vs. This is another song where all the subtle details count. I have always felt that guitarist Mike McCready is underappreciated. His guitar work is beautiful, complex, and always understandable, while remaining meaningful in the context of the songs Pearl Jam writes. The V5 Elektra was able to enhance McCready’s playing by etching him in the soundstage further in the track, which ebbs and flows with Eddie Vedder’s haunting baritone vocals. Vedder’s vocals were also a little more etched in space, and the touch of honey-like quality helped take the edge off the recording a bit. This allowed me to listen a little less to the resolving power of the system, and a whole lot more to the music itself. All the evaluation and technical study aside, at the end of the day, just enjoying the music itself is where I want to be. So again, I was finding the V5 Elektra to be up my alley. 

“Crazy Mary” from Pearl Jam’s album V album

Taking a hard musical left-hand turn, and jumping into the 2020s, my millennial cousin’s beautiful wife introduced me to the title track “Out of Time” by the drum and bass artist Monrroe. Finding great new music is what happens when an evening visit turns into a lovely listening session with a couple of young music lovers. The haunting vocals ring through the ambient synthesized music as if in a large hall, creating a very enveloping soundstage. The IsoTek V5 Elektra made the hall seem larger, since the echoes rang out just a tad longer. The head-nodding power of the drum track was also not to be ignored. It sped along, hi-hats covering the top of the beat with little inflections and a snappy snare drum that was like a little jab to the face with each hit. I think the subtle honey-like quality to the sound may have been a little less up my alley when listening to music like drum and bass. An overall musical presentation that skewed more toward being sonically neutral may have allowed for the sharp bite I enjoy in genres that require excessive lifeforce. Here’s the thing (and there is ALWAYS a thing): I am still talking about subtleties that the V5 Elektra makes, and not gross changes to the sonic presentation. So, to keep it all in context: the V5 Elektra will not reinvent your HiFi system like a DAC or power amp will, but it will enhance what your system is already doing. 

Will the IsoTek V5 Elektra Power Conditioner Hold Its Value?

 IsoTek is a pretty well-known name in power products that has built a reputation for value and quality. Any legacy brand does well on the used market. What adds to the chance of a good return is that power products like the V5 Elektra do not show up on the used market often. Once anchoring a system, high-quality power products do not need to be changed out unless the system dramatically changes. 

A top-view of the ISOTEK Electra V5 with cables plugged in
A top-view of the ISOTEK Electra V5 with cables plugged in

What is the Competition for the IsoTek V5 Elektra?

Right off the bat, the Clarus Sextet that lives in my system is a $2,000 pound-for-pound competitor to the IsoTek V5 Elektra. For my listening tastes, it would not be worth taking a loss on the Sextet to add the V5 Elektra. However, if I had them both when I was making a purchasing decision, it would have been paralyzing. They are both high quality and they both do not take anything away from the sound, but rather enhance it. The form-factor difference could be a decision maker for some, since the Sextet is designed to sit behind your audio rack and not in it. Otherwise, I find the Sextet to be a bit more neutral-sounding than the V5 Elektra. 

Transparent weighs in at $2,200 with their Powerwave power conditioning and protection unit. Like the V5 Elektra, it has sophisticated power protection and noise reduction. It will also protect coax connections, gigabit, and ethernet connections if your system is fully integrated with a multimedia system. The Powerwave is a standard-sized component and, in my very humble opinion, is comelier than the V5 Elektra. 

My Future Audiophile colleague Bob Barrett reviewed the $2,999 PS Audio Stellar PowerPlant 3. While the Stellar PowerPlant 3 is a power conditioner in the strict sense that it improves the quality of the power to your system, it is far more under the hood. The Stellar PowerPlant 3 is an AC regenerator. It converts the AC from the wall to DC, then back to AC again, in a manner that corrects all anomalies that occur in your normal AC power system. The Stellar PowerPlant 3 has some serious limitations in terms of power delivery to connected equipment. However, that is only true with larger systems. Finally, it is a bit more expensive, but sending fully-corrected AC to your equipment is a great next-level option. 

Another look at the ISOTEK Electra in Michael Zisserson's audiophile system
Another look at the ISOTEK Electra in Michael Zisserson’s audiophile system

Final Thoughts on the IsoTek V5 Elektra Power Conditioner…

Protecting your carefully curated and often expensive audio gear is a must, and with the complexity of today’s electronics, that protection must extend into the realm of noise control, and the other complex anomalies in our standard AC power. The IsoTek V5 Elektra does all of this, with the added benefit of a subtle but significant sonic improvement to any HiFi system. The V5 Elektra will not solve the sonic problems of that crappy power amp you purchased because the price was right, but it will improve a system you have fallen in love with and feel is just right by allowing more of the fine details and dynamics to come through while listening. Subtle system improvement and advanced protection are the high-level marks of a well-engineered power component like the V5 Elektra. I get that $2,000 is a heavy lift for many audiophiles, but I could see someone’s system evolving over time, while the V5 Elektra does not change. This makes the V5 Elektra a valuable addition at any time, since ownership of a high-quality power product is an inevitability in any thoughtful, top-tier audio system.

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Postal Grunt

PS Audio offers a trade in program for many components which can help overcome some of the reluctance to spend more than the $2K of the IsoTek.

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