Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of different business models for AV systems integrators. But we’ve never met one quite like Rex Hungerford of Kingrex Electric, who puts the focus on the electrical system to allow audio systems to work at peak performance.
“At Kingrex, we have a singular focus, enriching the audio experience with clean electricity to assist audiophiles and home recording studios to achieve the highest quality electrical infrastructure to support recording and playback,” says Hungerford. Although he’s located in Seattle, he travels all over the country solving complicated power problems.
Hungerford’s expertise is not by way of the custom AV channel like so many systems integrators. Since 1995, he’s been an electrician and was in construction before that. “I’m a bit competitive and always wanted to be the fastest with the cleanest work. I was always striving to be the best at what I was doing,” says Hungerford.
So how does one jump from being an electrician to diving headlong into the world of audio? For him, the seeds were planted when he was just a kid. As a boy, he and his brother would visit a neighbor who had a turntable. “The music just hit me…since then I always had some sort of stereo system.” Hungerford even built his own speakers with the help of his mother, who happened to be a woodworker.
About nine years ago, after a long career as an electrician, things were going well for Hungerford and his wife. “We had a nice house and I wanted to have a high-end stereo system again,” he says. “I got a Rega RP6 turntable, Sonus faber Liuto tower speakers, and a Rega Osiris integrated amp that would hum so loud you could hear it in the next room. I talked to a dealer who told me I might need a dedicated line for it, and right then and there I started going down a new path. It started with a lowly hum that would come and go and ended up as my current business.”
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Kingrex Electric now performs comprehensive reviews of electrical systems to determine any weak points with the end goal of providing direction on the best way possible to route, prep, and land conductors and electrical distribution equipment.
“Other electrician’s configurations of wire management/makeup are perfectly acceptable and code legal,” says Hungerford. “They do not, however, stand up to the scrutiny our process entails that is based upon precision usage of the most basic fundamentals of electrical current flow. It all matters. The baseline shift can be subtle to dramatic. But unlike filters, cords, and fancy audiophile-branded products, the end result is always a better, more unrestricted, stable delivery of electrons to do their work. RF noise does shed to ground when hyper attention to detail is practiced. It wants to go somewhere. If all attention is focused toward your gear and not your infrastructure, where do you think the least path of resistance for RF will be? I say your equipment!”
According to Hungerford, ordinary “wiremen” don’t consider detail to RF management as it does not disturb toasters, blenders, or even lights. It does, however, impact video and computer processing power and the ability of a semiconductor chip to operate at its highest designed levels, creating a noticeable effect on audio and video.
As Kingrex developed and began taking more and more clients who wanted AV performance from the power up, the subject of power filtration and conditioning heated up. “I found that those filtration ‘fixes’ did not always sound good in audio systems,” says Hungerford. “I began to feel like filtration itself was a sort of ‘dirty necessity’. That’s when I learned about isolation transformers.” Hungerford contacted Kevin Main and Ross Whitney at Torus Power, looking for a power filtration solution that he could also incorporate into his business. Main, Whitney, and Hungerford worked together to specify the Torus Power Wall-Mount unit.
“I opened the Torus Power and found that the grounding scheme is very solid, very robust,” says Hungerford. “The company definitely recognizes the importance of grounding.” Hungerford put one of his Benjamin Electric panels behind the WM unit and ran a bypass to it so that he could easily disconnect the wire from the Torus Power and plug the panel in for AB testing of his system with and without the isolation transform. The results were subtle, but moving, according to Hungerford.
“Noise does come from the utility. Noise comes from the house. Noise comes from RF. There is noise that is directly connected through the wiring to the audio rack. Filtering that noise effectively without damage to the fundamental sine wave is key. I like the unlimited current reserves that are available to large powerful amplifiers when using the Wall Mount transformer,” says Hungerford. “Torus Power is one of the most unremarkable yet beneficial devices I added to my system. It does not stand out and make itself noticed. It does an excellent job of lending a quiet calm to a room, but not a black background. It does a great job of clearing noise and allowing bass in particular to slightly bloom and gain in dynamic impact. All in a very natural way that sounds more real and correct than hi-fi. Other filters seem to address the issues with more intensity. Most have a slight midrange boost and added grain. They have a very dark background that can expose hidden details. But the overall picture is not as fluid and natural as you hear with a Torus Power.”
Aside from the obvious benefits to the performance of his systems, Hungerford notes additional benefits. For one, Torus Power has wall mount solutions from 4.8kVA to 14kVA to power most any size system. It’s the only isolation transformer with Automatic Voltage Regulation technology to deal with utility power instability and has built-in surge protection with space for supplemental Surge Protection Devices (SPD).
Some Torus Power Wall-Mount transformers include multiple output circuit breakers that connect directly to wall receptacles. Other Wall-Mount models have terminal block outputs and are designed to be connected to electrical subpanels that feed multiple receptacles. Every Torus Power WM model includes fuses and/or circuit breakers on its input and output to ensure that electrical safety standards are met. “Torus Power has a unique product that performs exceptionally well. It meets NEC. I have found ways to integrate it in a residential setting that provide extreme flexibility,” he adds.
The result in Hungerford’s own system is a one-two punch of understanding and solving for power problems in the infrastructure of his home’s electrical system, plus the Torus Power isolation transformer. Together, they combine to deliver an experience that Hungerford connects with on a more emotional level, which, after all, is the aim of true audiophiles.
“I get swept away when listening to my system and forget about the rest of the world and in that space become more attached to the emotion,” he says. “The quality of the music that comes out can help you melt away from everything that surrounds you in your life and lets you get in a space where you can become more in touch with yourself and in touch with the music.”