Alan Maher's Active Filter Reference II - Review #4

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Alan Maher's Active Filter Reference II - Review #4
« on: 19 May 2009, 11:46 pm »
The Ref II has been with me for a month and a half, and I find it very musical to my ear.  To be more accurate, I feel that

my audio/video components are very happy with the Ref II. 

At first, I struggled with finding the optimal placement:  what AC outlet should I plug in the Ref II for best results?  I

tried several locations:  the outlet next to my main (where a PE V Pro Custom sits), the next room where I run computer/hard

drives/router/DSL modem, and various places around the room and around the house.  So far, I prefer the initial instinct: 

Unplug and move existing Ref I to an outlet where a PE II had been sitting, plug in the Ref II, move the PE II to the

adjacent bathroom.  This configuration gives my system the warmth I needed and lowest distortion leaading to longer more

relaxing listening sessions.

The setup in my room is half battery, half AC powered.  Optima RedTops are feeding juice to RWA SB2 (xport) and Altman's DAC,

SinglePower MPX3 and AudioSector Patek SE are plugged in AM's power strip which in turn plugged in PE V Pro Custom.

For the last month and a half I have been listening to (and took notes of) mostly jazz and pop vocals, which I think are the

forte of my single driver speakers - Bob Brines' FTA-2000s.  Classical orchestras, new age, operatic voices will be

auditioned and reported later in a Part II.

Now, onto the sound.  Only a few hours in my room, the REf II already made an immediate and noticeable difference.  The music

suddenly became warmer, edges around sibilant voices rounder, less harsh.  Bass line got more tuneful.  But beside the added

warmth (pleasantly so, not the overly warmth associated with lesser tube gear) it's hard to pinpoint exactly where the

improvements are.  Most if not every ingredients of music seems to come together, like the various singers of a choir hold

their voices together, for the better and rendering a more organic performance.

There had been a weakness in my system that, even after installation of many PEs (PE I, II, II, IV, V) and Ref I's in the

house, disallowed me to enjoy male vocals.  There was always some glare in male voices (Il Divo, Josh Groban, Nat King Cole

tracks).  But after the Ref II came and stayed with me for a month, I found myself listening to (and enjoying) male vocals

more often that I used to.  More so, female vocals are sounding better and better, not other way around.

Whether I play tracks of Diana Krall, Holy Cole Trio, Patricia Barber, Stacey Kent, Norah Jones,Sheila Chandra, Rene Olstead,

Jacqui Naylor or Il Divo (Carlos, Urs, Sebatien, David), Josh Groban, Nat King Cole, the performers consistently sing in my

room with warm, palpality and intimacy that I ever wished for.  Accompanying instruments (bass, guitar, percussions, sax)

also play with colorful texture and good stereo separation.  Voices are presented as a huge body, rich in tonality, swift in

speed, detailed yet not too much sibilance.  Makes me wonder if and how adding a few more Ref II's would further expand the

big yet warmly intimate performance.  And yes, the background is blacker.  Quieter, lower distortion, that is.

Video, as a no surprise with Alan Maher's products by now, has improved as well.  Color gets a shade more vivid, black get

blacker, there are less picture distortions.  Pictures are getting easier to look at, sounds more listenable, more pleasant. 

A side note:  A music lover friend stopped by, had lunch with me, and we both had a listen before driving off to a local

audio store for an auditioning (he owns a pair of B&W 804s and is eyeballing a McIntosh MC-275 calssic tube amp).  At home we

listened to a few "usual suspects":  Diana Krall's I Miss You So Much, King Buiett Trio's Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You, Nat

King Cole's Autumn Leaves.  In the dealer's sound room we listened to a pair of B&W 805s first, then the B&W 802s - oh boy,

do they look awesome!  The 802s were driven by an MC-275, music source was a McIntosh MS750 Music Server.  I was most

impressed by the playing of The Fairfield Four recording.  The huge, fat, warm bass voice sits towards and hangs above the

left speaker, while other three accompanying voices sing toward the right side, much smaller in image size.  When I got to

hear the song I Miss You So Much (Diana Krall), her voice tends to be placed in the center but far back behind the two

speakers.  Overall, the presentation at the sound room was somehow cooler than that in my room, and I think the Ref II

contributes to it.  Otherwise, I didn't feel losing much of high fidelity and more importantly musicality after coming back

to my room and listened once again to similar materials.

I like the Ref II for its effectiveness, high performance per dollar value, shorter break-in time, and its share of

audio/video tuning capability among those products of Alan Maher.


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Re: Alan Maher's Active Filter Reference II - Review #4
« Reply #1 on: 23 May 2009, 11:36 am »
Excellent review Paul.


Re: Alan Maher's Active Filter Reference II - Review #4
« Reply #2 on: 31 Aug 2011, 03:22 pm »
I have seen this and other posts re Alan Maher products, but not able to find any details on the web. Am I right in thinking the business is no more? Thanks David


Re: Alan Maher's Active Filter Reference II - Review #4
« Reply #3 on: 31 Aug 2011, 11:40 pm »

Alan is still going strong but he's not on AC anymore, and his main website is now on Facebook.

You need to friend him on FB.

Its not optimal, but I am a delighted user of the Ref II/III filters & wouldn't hesitate to go through the hassle & order from him again.

My home has 3 Ref II's & a Ref III.  not sure there's anything i can improve on, the results are fantastic. 


Re: Alan Maher's Active Filter Reference II - Review #4
« Reply #4 on: 1 Sep 2011, 07:27 am »
Thanks for that, I am not on Facebook, but will have to think about joining David


Re: Alan Maher's Active Filter Reference II - Review #4
« Reply #5 on: 1 Sep 2011, 02:58 pm »
You might try e-mailing him too.

Pretty sure its


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Re: Alan Maher's Active Filter Reference II - Review #4
« Reply #6 on: 1 Sep 2011, 03:20 pm »
Where on facebook can I find him? There are many Alan Mahers.



Re: Alan Maher's Active Filter Reference II - Review #4
« Reply #7 on: 1 Sep 2011, 05:11 pm »
I purchased a Scorpion Parallel filter from AMD in January (A small black box with an AC cable running out). It was an absolute revelation and cleaned up the sound and image of every local component plugged into my AC distributor.

I wish he would get a proper website with more information about his products instead of using Facebook. But it seems he is a tinkerer who sells 'one off' runs of products that he never repeats, before moving to the next thing.


Re: Alan Maher's Active Filter Reference II - Review #4
« Reply #8 on: 1 Sep 2011, 11:17 pm »
I also wish it was easier to get to him & his products.  Such weird sh*t, & so insanely effective.  He is putting out a monthly newsletter that has all sorts of good info, but i can't figure out the Dropbox that he's using. 

For Facebook, find the Alan Maher with a black & white moniker picture of Tesla sitting next to a gigantic coil.   There are 5 or more difft alan maher's   :lol:

you'll find him...he's the only one hawking crystals.