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Graham Slee and the Belleson Super Regulator (long)

I've owned the Graham Slee Reflex X phono stage for about three years, and been very happy with it. I got mine shortly after inmate AbeCollins got his Era Gold V.

We both had Slee's 24V PSU1 outboard regulated power supply, but also tried running our respective phono stages using two 12V batteries in series, and compared notes here on the Vinyl Asylum. Abe heard no difference using the 24V battery supply, while I thought the battery supply was slightly better, but not worth the inconvenience.

My Slee PSU1 was somehow misplaced after taking it to another Inmate's house to track down why his EAR 834P sounded so lousy via its moving coil input. We discovered my CineMag step-up transformers were the cure for his issue, but my power supply was MIA, likely dropped somewhere.

I simply went back to the dual battery set-up, and lived with the inconvenience. I finally decided it was time to build myself a 24V linear power supply, so I could do away with the batteries. In doing my homework, I began to read about various regulators, and kept reading good things about the Belleson Super Regulator.

I contacted Belleson and ordered one of their 24V, 0.5A regulators. I talked to Brian Lowe, the electrical engineer behind these regulators. He also happens to be an audiophile. We discussed all things audio, and I admitted to him that the Graham Slee Reflex was the one piece of equipment that I had never been inside. I'll usually open up something when I buy it, just to look. Not the Slee, though.

My lack of curiosity regarding the Slee turned out to be a mistake. When I did open the Reflex X, and followed the power supply traces from the 24 VDC input jack, what I found was another on-board regulator, a generic LM7818. If you're not familiar, the 78xx series of regulators come in a variety of voltages, and are generally considered noisy, and not the first choice for a quiet power supply, especially one as noise critical as a phono stage.

I contacted Belleson again, and was able to exchange the unopened SP-78 24+ regulator for a SP-78 18+ necessary for the Slee. Replacing the 7818 with the Belleson was fairly easy. The only thing that took a bit of time was moving the large 2200 µF cap on the output of the 7818 out of the way so that the Belleson would fit. I wanted to keep the same cap in place (even though a smaller, lower value one would work) simply so I would be doing an "Apples to Apples" comparison between the two regulators, with no other changes.

With the Super Power in place, I buttoned up the Slee and connected the battery power supply. I had my doubts, given that I was feeding in "pure DC" from the batteries. How could this 18V regulator make a difference?

Well, how wrong I was. The first thing I noticed was more detail. Not bright, or a highlighted top end type of detail, but a blacker background, which allowed the details to emerge. I was more aware of the pre-echo on Rubber Soul than I had been with the stock regulator, for example.

I'm not a soundstage person. I won't complain if it's there, but I don't seek out components which accentuate it. However, it was clear that there was an improvement in this area with the Belleson. What is important to my musical enjoyment is dynamics. Abe's review of his Era Gold V often mentioned the Slee's dynamic performance, and my Reflex X was the same. Here is where the Super Power improvement really shined. Dynamics improved, and the music became even more involving.

This turned out to easily be the best $55 I've ever spent on my system. Many pay far more for this level of improvement. I spent $55 and three solder joints. The only drawback is that now I'm looking at my Roksan's power supply, my Horn Shoppe Truth linestage, my DIY tube preamp, etc. to see where I can add more Super Power regulators. I still need to build a +24v external power supply for the Slee, but that won't be built using a Super Power. Belleson claims a pre-regulator hurts performance, so it will be an unregulated supply.

Highly recommended.

Edited for spelling.

The suspect: a 7818 regulator, seen in front of the 2200 µF, 35V cap

Voilà! Easier than pulling your own tooth with a pair of rusty pliers

The Contender: The Belleson Super Power SP-78 +18V regulator

The Leaning Tower Of Power. A tight fit, but well worth the effort.

"Suddenly, I'm not half the man I used to be. 'Cause now I'm an amputee" J. Lennon

Edits: 02/15/13

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Topic - Graham Slee and the Belleson Super Regulator (long) - 1973shovel 19:57:54 02/15/13 (5)


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