A few weeks ago, I wrote about my purchase of the Firestone Audio Fubar IV DAC/headphone amp, and the new lease of life it had given to my digital music setup. I won’t repeat myself here, but needless to say I was (and very much still am) incredibly impressed with its performance. I also mentioned in that post that I was considering getting the matching add-on power supply for the Fubar – called The Supplier.
Several Firestone Audio customers were reporting good things on internet forums about the performance gains that the dedicated power supply brought to their original components. This is something that I’ve always been a little sceptical about, because electricity is electricity, right? Surely it doesn’t matter where it comes from, as long as it comes from somewhere. However, I was thinking that the “wall wart” mains adapter that shipped with the Fubar IV looked a bit cheap in comparison to the quality of the unit itself, and with it being a European unit it shipped with a 2-pin plug. This meant I had to use a 2-pin to 3-pin adapter as well. I figured that this combination probably wasn’t the best source of power for a component that was all about audio detail and fidelity.
Anyway, it came to my attention that Firestone Audio’s website were doing another of their crazy price drops on The Supplier (you need to keep an eye on the site, because these deals are worth looking out for) and it was reduced from 115 Euros to 75 Euros. Taking into account currency conversion and shipping charges, that still meant £25 off the price from any UK dealer. Needless to say, this was the nudge I’d been looking for, and I went and ordered one. I figured that for that relatively modest outlay, I could take a risk and it would be an interesting experiment. If all else failed, there was always eBay!
There was a bit of a delay taking delivery of The Supplier. A combination of popular demand and the Icelandic volcano meant I had to wait three weeks to get my hands on my new purchase. However, the lovely people at Firestone more than made up for this by also sending me their newly-released FRX-001 dedicated audio rack that they’ve designed exclusively for their components for me to review.
The first thing that I noticed on opening up the box for The Supplier was that again the mains cable was a 2-pin European one, with an adapter to turn it into a UK 3-pin. No matter though. Wanting to really give The Supplier a chance to shine I declined to use this option. The Supplier has a standard figure-of-8 mains socket on its rear, so I simply grabbed a UK-plug figure-of-8 cable that I had lying around and plugged this in instead. I then unplugged the Fubar’s original mains lead and hooked up the output of The Supplier to the input on the Fubar, and we were up and running.
With my Grado SR80i‘s plugged into the Fubar, I decided to leave the system playing some tunes on repeat to give it all a chance to warm up and “settle in”. I’ve absolutely no idea if this actually makes a difference or not, but I thought I’d give it a try. Certainly when I first got the Fubar IV it became better over time, gaining some warmth and clarity as it got run in, so I figured I’d give The Supplier the same benefit.
Itching to try it out, later that day I settled down for my first proper listen. I’d anticipated flicking through a few well-known tracks to test things out. In actual fact, I ended up listening right through four of my favourite albums all the way through from start to finish. I was loving the music so much, I just kept going. The sound was just so natural – warm, yet detailed. Not in the slightest fatiguing. Most of all, enjoyable!
With a more critical head on, the next day I decided to be a bit more analytical. I did some straight A-B swapout testing of The Supplier. Listen to a track with Fubar alone, then listen again with the Supplier. I tried a range of music – electronica, acoustic, rock, classical. All had a definite improvement in clarity and dynamics when listened to with The Supplier. The improvement is, I will admit, subtle – but it’s definitely an improvement.
Onto more aesthetic matters, I’ve now also got my two Firestone components at home in their new dedicated Firestone rack, as you can see in the main photo. Cleverly, the rack has a system of rubber stoppers on the underside of each shelf which stops the components from sliding around when plugging in headphones and the like. The fact that my little head-fi system looks so amazing on its new miniature rack is just the icing on the cake. Superb stuff.
Frankly, this little setup is brilliant on so many levels. It brings genuine hi-fi quality to the world of digital audio convenience, it’s relatively cheap and amazingly small. I love it!