FRANK ULTRA BANK STORAGE UB-15000Ws
AC POWER CONDITIONER FRANK
How it works
The shunt reactor is an absorber of reactive power, thus increasing the energy efficiency of the system. It is the most compact device commonly used for reactive power compensation in long high-voltage transmission lines and in cable system. Frank Acoustics has modified this system using a proprietary system for domestic abodes. The Frank Power Bank Storage component is essentially a scaled down version of this unique system for maintaining AC power to your Hi-fi system.
Specification For Model Frank Ultra Bank Storage
~ UB-2500Ws for export only
- AC Output Outlet : ABL SURSUM CYRO UL12500 Germany or Copper USA AC outlets
- AC Voltage : 100VAC – 275VAC 50/60Hz
- AC Current Capacity : (15-40 amps) (Power Line Conditioner) for any high end audio system
- Transformer : Dual core low loss Shunt Autotransformer
- AC Voltage Regulation : No Voltage Regulation Input and output Loop true only.
- Features : Cool running, noise free technology allows placement in critical listening environments.
- Charging time : 5 to 6 hour to full performance level.
- Dimensions : 190mm H x 486mm W x 405mm D
- Weight : 45 kg.
- Power Consumption : 5-10 Watts
- Made in Malaysia : Damansara
*Specification subject to change without notice.
In operational use
There are two typical operational modes in which you can deploy the FRANK Ultra Bank within your system where:
- Option 1 is connected in parallel to the AC lines in your abode that is shared by your existing system. This means plugging the FRANK Ultra Bank into an unused AC outlet preferably near your AV/Hifi system. It does not have to be connected to the same AC spur as your AV/Hifi System from your DB (Distribution Box). As long as the FRANK Ultra Bank is on the same phase, any electronic or electric device will benefit from the effect of the FRANK Ultra Bank
- Option 2 is connected directly to the outlet off the FRANK Ultra Bank . The FRANK Ultra Bank comes with a pair power outlets with an inbuilt EMI filter for the earth/ground. This also allows you to experiment with different varieties of power cords and power strips – we have no recommendations on this but trust that you will have some favourites that you may want to use with the FRANK Ultra Bank.
* Frank Ultra Bank is handcrafted or custom made we only follow electrical safety regulation only.
Many a times I wonder, why many hifi enthusiasts feel that the power supply straight from the wall is not good enough for the system and they need some form of power conditioner? After all, it is just electricity isn’t it? Mere electrons flowing into your hifi component. As long as the voltage is correct and there is sufficient current supply then all should be fine. Well, of late I am finding out that there seems to be more than just that.
When the Franks Ultra Bank arrived, I was thinking to myself … so large and so heavy???! Oh yes, this unit is the size of a large monoblock and it weighs in at about 42 kgs. I’m glad that it has a set of handles at the front!
The Ultra Bank is just a big black box with 2 US outlets at the back. There is nothing more to its looks. I did like the fact that there were some fins along the sides, not that it needed it as the unit does not run warm even.
Inside is what Frank Acoustics call a ‘Dual core low loss Shunt Autotransformer’. I for one am not going to go into the technical aspects of it because this is definitely way over my head. In a nutshell, the Ultra Bank ensures that your electricity supply provides maximum supply of current at all times.
Using the Ultra Bank is very straight forward. Wall socket into the Ultra Bank and then out to your component. Done deal. Frank Acoustic calls it a plug & play unit.
However, there is another way to use the Ultra Bank. You plug it into your wall oulet and then just take the power for your system from another wall outlet. I decided not to go that route.
According to Frank Acoustics it is best to let the Ultra Bank ‘charge up’ for at least 5-6 hours and it should run at its optimal performance around 200 hours. Did I listen to Frank’s advise? Of course not!
As usual, curiosity got the better of me and once plugged in, I had to see what difference it makes. Aren’t we all like that?
How it sounds
When first plugged in I heard some obvious sibilant. However, after an hour or so, it disappeared. So … lesson is, follow what the manufacturer recommends. After about 100-150 hours of use, I started to do some serious listening.
What is immediately noticeable is that the Ultra Bank really breathes new life into the system. It is like when the VTEC on a Honda FD2R kicks in. There is this oomph.
Here it is most noticeable. The bass has definitely more energy, it sounds larger, bolder and more tuneful. What’s nice is that the extra energy does not carry with it the penalty of boominess. It is more punchy for sure.
There is more weight in this region. Vocals have more presence without being forward. It is as if you can ‘see’ the vocalist more distinctively in the sound stage. Some prefer to call it better separation.
Male vocals benefit from the improvement to the bass, especially the mid bass. Boz Scagg’s voice on ‘Thanks To You’ carries through easily, while not sounding forced or pushed. You are able to appreciate his commanding, yet relaxed voice.
I was pleasantly surprised that there was more refinement and clarify. The snare rimshot of Shelby Lynne’s ‘Just A little Lovin’ seems to radiate more in my listening space. With this the sound stage gets a bit wider, deeper with more holographic illusion.
Acoustic guitars no longer sound thin. Overall, it is more, ‘buttery’ with warm, rich notes that smoothly melt away. The higher notes are crisp with a smidge more emphasis on the treble.
When it comes to pianos the Ultra Bank will reveal more of its tonal colours and the concentration of higher harmonics becomes more apparent. Grand pianos are presented with a extra power and resonance.
Reality Check: whatever is said above does not mean the Ultra Bank brings an amazing transformation of the sound system. There is no magic dust to be sprinkled over your system. The improvement may be very obvious but let me make it clear, it is not night and day or totally jaw dropping as you stand in awe.
– ‘energises’ the sound system
– improvement without compromise
– nothing to note
I’ll be honest here, many a time we wonder about reviews. How accurate or honest is it? As much as I review components, I still ask this question. So, for this Ultra Bank, I will end it by quoting a user. This is what he says:
“The Ultra Bank fills the amp with energy like it has viagra or ketum”
Reviews can only tell you so much, experiencing it yourself is always the best. This is one hifi component that you will not walk away from thinking “Meh … what was the reviewer talking about?”.
The Frank Ultra Bank UB 15000 Ws retails for RM6,500 and can be purchased from Frank Acoustics at 012.298.1011
Integrated amp: Silbatone JL-107 & Audia Flight FLS10
Source material: DSD & Tidal
DAC/Streamer: Mytek Brooklyn Bridge, Matrix Audio Mini-i3 Pro & Cayin IDAC-6 Mk 2
Speakers: AudioSolutions Figaro M & Harbeth P3ESR
Power: Novaris PP Surge Filter
Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws AC Power Conditioner
Abundant availability of AC power is something we take for granted. The distribution of electrical power has been executed with a level of unprecedented success: no matter where we look, there’s the good ol’ AC power outlet staring at us.
Unfortunately, what is delivered by that good ol’ AC power outlet usually arrives seriously flawed. Especially so when it comes to powering high performance audio equipment. In that refined realm the AC mains power outlet occupies a singularly pivotal position, a position where it can make or break the performance of the audio system. Any deficiencies of the AC mains line will translate into compromised performance of the audio system as a whole.
For example, even the most effective internal power supply, no matter how good the regulation, no matter how refined the noise reduction techniques, is still only a derivation of the AC power that is extracted from the AC wall socket. Same goes for any amplifier topology. No matter the sophistication of the circuitry, there is always the attendant internal power supply which draws its power from the AC line. The reality is that the quality of what is delivered by the AC mains line is very indeterminate.
Except for one specification: the 60Hz mains line frequency. This one stipulation will always be delivered accurately and reliably. It is something that can be counted on completely. For example, the timing of the 60Hz frequency is so accurate that all the electrical clocks that are powered by AC mains outlets rely completely on the precision of the 60Hz spec. It is what provides all of us with precise timing for our daily activities and industrial processes. However, the waveform of the AC mains line, as supplied, will very likely differ significantly from the pure sine wave that was initially generated in the power station. Similarly, a deviation will likely be observed when the actual value of the line voltage is measured. That voltage may be expected to be 120 volts AC, but in practice that is not what will be observed with consistency.
In the real world the magnitude and purity of the AC mains line voltage can vary all over the place. It is sure to differ as you go from one house to the next, from one town to the next, and from one feeder station from the next. The time of year will affect the quality of the AC power. Heaters drain power in the winter while during the summer months air conditioning units load down the AC power feeds. It’s not only that the mains power lines are loaded down unpredictably, the problem is that our audio systems are affected when the effects of these unanticipated types of loads accumulate and materialize in the in the form of noise and power line interference. Additionally, all year long we and our neighbors run our computers, microwaves, routers, and a whole plethora of devices and equipment that generate a wide variety of interference that arrive with arbitrary timing into our homes courtesy of the AC power line.
We are definitely under siege.
Fortunately, there are folks who have gone all out to design equipment that effectively attempt to refine the quality of the AC mains line. A number of manufacturers have gone to great lengths researching and providing solutions for improving what the underperforming AC mains lines deliver. These devices reduce interference components and temper imperfections of the AC mains line to provide as pure and unadulterated AC power as possible, and so enable the components in the audio equipment chain to perform to their maximum capability.
Taking a look at the numerous devices that are marketed to help alleviate this AC power line doom, it is obvious that there are many approaches that are available. Broadly speaking, some offer a variant of AC line filters while others go the power regeneration route.
A completely different approach is taken by the technology implemented in the component under review, the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws Line Conditioner. The Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws is the brainchild of Frankie Voon. Frankie hails from Malaysia where his company, Frank Acoustics, founded in 1998, is also located. Since Frankie Voon has been in the business of designing and distributing sophisticated audio equipment for many years for his company, he is not only in a position to have encountered the vagaries of the AC line, but he has also examined possible solutions for solving this predicament. What caught Frankie’s attention was an approach that is commonly found in the large industrial power generating plants, a method referred to as the Shunt Reactor.
Here’s what the Frank Acoustics’ website has to say:
“The shunt reactor is an absorber of reactive power, thus increasing the energy efficiency of the system. It is the most compact device commonly used for reactive power compensation in long high-voltage transmission lines and in cable system. Frank Acoustics has modified this system using a proprietary system for domestic abodes. The Frank Power Bank Storage component is essentially a scaled down version of this unique system for maintaining AC power to your Hi-fi system.”
The Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws is specified as a “dual core, low loss, Shunt Autotransformer”. It is supplied in a 7.5″ (190 mm) high by 19.3″ (486 mm) wide by 16″ (405 mm) deep package that weighs 100lbs. (45kg). For best results, Frankie recommends that the unit is physically coupled to a firm and hard surface using sturdy isolating spikes.
The outward appearance of the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws is that of a typical solid-state power amplifier. A thick front plate sporting two robust handles certainly suggest that look. As do the heat sink fins along the sides. These heat sinks have no dissipation function (the whole unit consumes a mere 10 watts at idle) and are included for cosmetic reasons only. My guess is that Frankie used an existing housing for one of his other products and utilized it for his purposes to save money on a custom container for his circuitry and components.
In addition to a standard IEC 15 AMP plug, two very serious looking AC outlets are located on the rear panel. They are ABL Sursum Cro UL12500 from Germany with an L EMI ground filter. The Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws can accommodate an input voltage over the range of 100 to 275 VAC at 50/60Hz AC using a standard IEC15 AMP plug. Workmanship is clearly up to a very professional level. The Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws is priced at USD$5800.
The unit arrived securely packaged in a very sturdy wooden crate. I was pleasantly surprised that a unit as substantial as the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws with its ample size and 100lbs weight was actually very easy to implement. Even though the 100lbs weight was somewhat of a challenge, I managed to unpack, move and place it in a convenient position by myself. Despite what I accomplished, my advice would be to get a buddy to help.
Once out of the crate and placed near the system equipment, it was very simple to implement. All that was needed is to run an AC cord from the rear-paneI IEC 15 plug to an AC outlet and it was all set to go.
According to Frankie Voon that is all you have to do in most applications. In his manual he suggests that it is possible to place the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws near the main breaker panel and then wire it directly into the circuit breaker panel. This way the unit is also out of sight and out of the way. The basic idea is that the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws can be wired in any where in the house. It is necessary that the FRANK unit is on the same phase of the main AC supply as the rest of the electrical components of the system.
But house wiring always introduces resistance. Any extra wiring between the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws and the audio system equipment is to be avoided for best results. In my situation I have a #6 AWG electrical cable that runs from my main AC circuit breaker panel directly to my listening area where it is terminated in a Furutech GTX-D Rhodium Duplex Receptacle. I use those outlets for supplying the power hungry equipment such as power amplifiers. The rest of the system components get their power from a second run from the main circuit breaker box terminated in set of 4 Medical Grade Duplex Receptacles. This run is a #8 AWG cable.
It follows that to get the most out of the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws it is important that the equipment demanding the most power, in my case the Devialet D-Premier Integrated Amplifier, gets its power supplied from one of the two AC outlets directly on the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws rear panel. That is the configuration that avoids any additional wiring and is what worked best for me.
After the unit is installed it needs no additional attention. Let it just sit there and do its thing silently. It emanates no noise. No humming or buzzing. Nothing. And it runs absolutely cool. Therefore, if desired, it can be placed right in the listening room without any concerns that its physical presence will interfere with the sound. Very user friendly.
As I pointed out, the setting up is the easy part. Listening, at least initially, is slightly more involved,. You see, the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws right out of the crate needs time to get going just like any other piece of electrical equipment. The user manual recommends that, for starters, the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws undergo for at least a 6 hour “charging” period. This is the time needed for the induced magnetic field to fully saturate the Shunt Autotransformers in the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws. After this initialization, most of the benefits are said to come to life. So, I plugged the Ultra Bank power cord into an AC outlet, turned it on and let it sit there for a day. I did not feel it necessary to keep track an accurate elapsed time, but it certainly was more than the recommended 6 hours. At that point it was ready to go right then and there. However, as pointed out in the manual, full performance is realized after the unit has been in use in excess of 700 hours.
It should be noted that before shipping the unit has been subjected to 50 hours of use during a factory Quality Certification process. And the unit does need to be “recharged” after long periods of being unpowered. I experienced just what Frankie Woon explained. After the initial charging period when the unit was given the chance to “kick in” I proceeded to give it a listen. No, I did not listen during the settling in period.
Right away I heard a firmer, a more resolute, grip on demanding sonic passages. The sound revealed itself to have a more confident firmness. Things materialized with better definition and had more of an improved sense of incisiveness. Orchestral attacks were delivered with better control as well as an increased dynamic refinement and energy. Passages containing musical socks and blasts were perceived as being more visceral and more mighty. Even on smaller scale works there were benefits that showed up as a purity of transient attacks which, in turn, translated into a sense of ease.
I found that the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws does not contribute a sound of its own. There is no coloration when easy going music is present. Its contribution is only felt in a positive way during the livelier and demanding musical passages. The Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws comes into its when trying demands of the performance encroach on the dynamic capabilities of the system,
For me, one crucial aspect of music reproduction that gives it the feeling of “live” is the speed of the transients. The swiftness of their materialization is what wins us over. It is something innate in our search for the thrill of the authentic. And this is exactly where the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws makes its presence felt.
Now that much more time has elapsed well beyond the 700 hours of use of the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws, things have settled in resulting a very welcome sense of having even more of what the initial observations revealed.
But I want to be realistic here. It is not something that is a dramatic change for the better after the initial 6 hour charging period. I am talking about a feeling that is a discernable and yet subtle sense that positively permeates the development of the dynamics of the musical scale. I have found that the music now has a explicitness as well as a firmness that permits the whole sonic exhibition to be perceived in a more engaging manner. It seems that the musical fundamentals are presented with a more orderly and concise bearing. A newfound fluency permeates the music of the moment.
There are numerous times when I settle down to listen and I am startled by the ease with which I can hear the whole presentation to materialize. It is on these occasions that I do realize just how subtly, yet positively, the contribution of the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws sort of sneaks up and reveals its contribution to be of great significance. It is a window more transparent, a scene more vivid, a sonic order that makes more sense, a more vital level of musical action. It all just adds up to more musical enjoyment and pleasure. The presentation takes on a more refined sense of engagement.
Frank does suggest, based on experiences from the users of the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws that experimentation with the AC power cords can reap benefits. That was the case in my situation. I substituted the ordinary AC power cords with some more refined versions. A Purist Audio Design Dominus Rev. B AC power cord was used to go to the input IEC socket of the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws. A Discovery AC power cord went from one of the AC outlets of the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws to power my Devialet D-Premier Integrated Amplifier. I found these results to be rewarding. Most certainly worth the effort.
I have been very satisfied to have the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws in my system. While not the last word in AC power line conditioning approaches capable of solving all AC line interference issues, it is a completely innovative approach that addresses a very important issue of restricted dynamics dynamics and differs significantly from what is being offered by other products. It is a component that was very simple to implement. And once in place, the rewards are greatly gratifying. That sense of an increased foundation for the music and less constricted dynamics are significant steps in the right direction in our quest for a more rewarding musical experiences in our homes.
Do yourself a favor and check this unit out. The Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws comes highly recommended.