Torus vs AudioQuest Niagara

After home-demoing an AudioQuest Niagara 5000, I decided there were a few shortcomings that were nagging me and I went with a Torus RM20 instead, without any demo. I’m glad I did. I went that way because the thing I kept hearing about the Torus is that it doesn’t alter the sound, and rather, it just allows your system to be more revealing.

The first issue with the Niagara 5000 was the buzzing of the transformers. When the house is silent, you can clearly hear this buzzing 9ft away from my couch. With the music off of course. I wanted to consider the Niagara 7000 but I’ve heard that if you encounter buzzing with the 5000, the 7000 will be worse. As an aside, the manual even acknowledges the buzzing issue and notes that there may be no solution to it. To be clear, while the buzzing was audible from my listening position, it was quiet. But noticeable.

The second issue I had with the Niagara is that I felt that the high frequencies were closed in and constrained. Compared to my system plugged into the wall directly when the power is cleaner, very late at night.

In contrast the Torus RM20 was extremely natural. I didn’t detect it doing anything to alter the sonic presentation, other than unveil the sound to be more revealing, more solid, more immediate, and more 3D.

I think some may prefer the Niagara. There is more of a sense of each instrument and the vocals floating in a space of inky blackness. More so than with the Torus. But to me the Niagara sound was more impressively “HiFi” (not a good thing for me but maybe a good thing for some), wheras the Torus was more naturally musical with added solidity, clarity and soundstage depth to the sound. But the thing that kills the Niagara in my opinion is that the upper frequencies are more closed in than with the Torus. I have a specific track that starts with a high-hat where you can clearly hear the added texture with the Torus.

Of note: the AudioQuest provides isolation between your system components whereas the Torus does not. In my case, it doesn’t seem to matter, the Torus still clearly wins. I have my Gryphon Diablo 300 amp with the DAC module, an Ethernet isolation switch, a Streamer, and a USB Reclocker all powered by the Torus.

I’ve been told by Nordost that all conditioners change the tonal balance of your system and that it’s impossible to tell how that change will manifest because it’s different for each system. I’ve also been told by industry veterans to stay away from filtering of all sorts because you can’t help but alter your sound in unexpected ways. This advice has rang true with my experiments. The Torus in comparison (which Nordost also suggested I look at) is just a massive transformer, and not a filter or conditioner in the traditional sense.

If my understanding is correct, Plitron, the transformer mfr, started Torus and they also supply AudioQuest with transformers for the Niagara.

One other note regarding the Niagara - there is a hardness to the bass (with power correction engaged) that created a noticeable grip and a drive to the music. At first I liked this effect, but then I realized it was a tad over-emphasized.

I’ve also read that conditioners are totally system dependent, so my results may be drastically different for someone else.

I have a Gryphon Diablo 300, Nordost Valhalla 2 speaker wire, all AQ Hurricane power cords and two AQ Dragon high currents feeding my amp and also the Torus. Innuos Zenith MKIII Roon/Tidal streamer, Innuos PhoenixNET (Ethernet isolation switch) and PhoenixUSB (reclocker). AudioQuest Diamond USB and Ethernet cables.

If the Torus cost the same as a Niagara 5000 I’d still go with the Torus, no question. I’d even pay more for the Torus! But the fact is the RM20 is significantly cheaper than the Niagara 5000. It’s been around a long time and it works, well. And there is no buzzing from the unit whatsoever!

I feel like with AudioQuest’s marketing, Torus probably gets overlooked. But as an alternative to “filtering” and “conditioning”, at least in my system, Torus gives me exactly what I am after when it comes to powering my system, and nothing more is added that I don’t want.






You always get that sense of closing in and loss of dynamics with power conditioners, but you do hear gains in other areas. The negative effects are not really apparent until you switch the conditioner out.

I just love the Nordost QB8 and I am not planning on going back to any power conditioner or inline power filtration. The opinion by Nordost in the OP's post is essentially correct for me.


Having owned both I wound up with the PS Audio AC-12 for my front gear. Does what it claims it does, natural, best mico detail, lowest of them all noise floor thus details, vocals to die for. Just keep the setting simple, sinewave setting, high regulation and set the voltage at 120 and it will stay there morning, noon and night, That is a huge benefit for your gear and consistent sound quality. Good design. 

I have the Wilson Sasha DAW for sale shown on the top of this page, I use the Bryston BIT 20 (same as the Torus) in that system for my DCS and D’Agostino gear (save for the amp) and love it. I have had so many Shunyata units in the past, sometimes with success, sometimes without...but the BIT 20 is the best. My final test was plugging my projector into it, I thought nothing could out-do the Shunyata...I was wrong, really wrong!! Torus also made the transformers for Levinson, Krell, and Pass Labs.

I also own the Bryston version , the Bit 20. After auditioning a few

units I found that it was the only one that didn’t alter the sound

at all. Fwiw, my power amps are plugged directly into the wall

I also own the Bryston version, the Bit 20.  Everything but my big mono amps and my digital transport are plugged in.   For some unknown reason, the DAC likes to be plugged into the Bit 20 but the transports I've used don't.  I plug the transport into the same Synergistic Research blue duplex as the Bryston.   I've had my Bryston for 7 years now.