Reprint from Summer/Fall 2003 issue of  The Audio Critic.  

Esoteric Sound SuperConnector  

Esoteric Sound, 1608 Hemstock Avenue, Wheaton, IL 60189.  Voice and fax: (630) 933-9801, E-mail:, Web: www.esotericsound.COM..   SuperConnector, $299.00. Tested sample on loan from manufacturer.  

If you don’t have a lot of recorders, you won’t need this neat little switch-box, but I salivated at the thought of it.  On my desk right now are a PC that doubles as a hard-disk recorder, a CD recorder, a DAT recorder, a cassette recorder, and an open-reel tape deck. Managing them all used to require plenty of plugging and unplugging, because the component I was recording onto one day often became to be the source I was recording from the next.  

The SuperConnector eliminated all that connection-swapping-and the mistakes I sometimes used to make while doing it.  This simple, passive switchbox, designed specifically for jungles of recording gear like mine, lets you dub from anything to anything else while you monitor any source or recorder thaes hooked up to it.  One-way switchboxes that add extra inputs to an audio system are common, but this is the only recorder-oriented switcher I know of that's currently in production.  

The device is a small box, 10-1/2 inches wide, 6 inches deep, and 1-3/4 inches (one rack space) high, mounted on a 19-inch rack panel.  On the back are 17 pairs of gold-plated RCA jacks: inputs for three stereo sources (marked "Tuner," "CD," and "TV") plus input and output jacks for two processors (such as an equalizer and a noise reducer), four recorders (labeled "DAT," "Cassette," "RCDRl," and "RCDR2"), and your audio systems tape monitor loop ("Main Amp").  I have one more recorder than that, but no problem: on the front are three-conductor input and output phone jacks for a fifth recorder ("Ext").  Also on the front panel are two big knobs and three small toggle switches.  The knob on the left selects which of nine sources you'll record from (the three rear-panel source inputs, the five recorders, or the feed from your audio system).  The selected source is fed to all the recorders, so you can make up to five recordings of it at once.  With the "Monitor" knob, on the right, you can select the output of any recorder or of the SuperConnector itself.

Two of the toggle switches select processors (labelled "EQ1 " and “EQ2" on the front panel, though the corresponding jacks are labelled “Processor I " and "Processor 2").  The third is a stereo/mono switch.  Because all three switched circuits are in line with the record outputs, they affect the signal you’re recording.  Frankly, I've never used the processor loops except to check that they worked properly.  The stereo/mono switch, however, has been a god-send for dubbing from monophonic LPs and 78-rpm records.  Stereo phono cartridges pick up the record groove's lateral and vertical undulations, but on monophonic records the vertical component is just noise.  Switching to mono drops the noise level markedly. (This is no surprise, as most of Esoteric Sound's products are oriented toward record collectors.)  

There is not much you can say about a passive component's performance.  Either it screws up the sound, or it doesn't.  The SuperConnector doesn't.  The rear panel has some gaps that theoretically could compromise the unit's shielding, but even with this switchbox sitting right next to my PC, I've heard no sign of interference.  

The SuperConnector has one severe potential problem (which the manual explicitly warns about): If you inadvertently set its "Source" switch to play a recorder whose own output selector is set to "Source," you'll create a feedback loop.  The loud squeal this will send through your speakers could damage them-not to mention your relations with your neighbours.  

Otherwise, the SuperConnector is a delight.  The controls work logically and are clearly marked, and the jack identifications are printed clearly on top of the chassis.  I like the feel of the plastic-covered toggle switches but not of the square-ribbed knobs-admittedly a quibble.  For my desktop setup, the projecting rack ears are a nuisance, nearly doubling the SuperConnector's width.  But for home studios, the obvious intended market, they’re  an necessity.  

To some, the price may seem a bit high for a component that's nothing but a bunch of jacks and switches.  However, because the market for a specialized switcher like this is small, the SuperConnector has to be hand-built.  And having built switchers for my own use, I know how much work is involved. So: cheap at the price-if you need one. 

-Ivan Berger

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