The Signal Ground Solutions SGS-1 Signature Grounding Box is another interesting product under scrutiny, coming from Scotland.
SGS is a small company located in Scotland. They have been quietly researching and developing grounding technology for the past 5 years. In a soft launch in 2017, they brought SGS1 Signature to the market.
Jump a few years on, and at SGS they have continued to develop their portfolio. Bringing the latest in the technology of grounding to market, and with Zebrano Signature Plus and latest new Pinnacle Range, with a unique new D.C. input.
Each model has its blend of carefully selected materials (such as Cardas and Mundorf) with only the finest quality being selected for each model.
The SGS team focus on the use of natural materials, it is this combination of these unique qualities that are testament to both the performance and aesthetics of each device.
Tourmaline is not used nor a mixture of crystal or metal bars in any of the devices. Instead, main solid cores and a damping ballast are at the heart. Encased in a hand-crafted unit by master craftsmanship. Individuality, quality, authenticity, and extreme musicality are the mantra that SGS implements in their work. Bespoke design in types of woods and finishes can be requested.
SGS is clear about these devices are not being voodooed or snake oil. There have been hours and years of research and development to bring a device that is as necessary as a preamplifier to market. These grounding devices declutters the ‘unwanted noise’ from all systems. A point to reference is, that what the device is placed on is important, just as important as with a preamplifier and what cables are being used.
Speaking about cables, the SGS1 Signature, the Zebrano Signature Plus along the Pinnacle Range are all supplied with tailor-made cables, ranging from the Braeriach 2.5mm, the Ben Macdui 3mm, and the Ben Nevis 5mm, all referring to the highest mountains of Scotland. (longer lengths with various connectors can be made on request)
Moving up from the signature to the Zebrano and in particular the Pinnacle range, the comparison is analogous to comparing loudspeaker brands, for example, moving from a larger bookcase model, to a floor stander whilst the Pinnacle device is the statement piece of the larger floor S.O.T.A. brands.
SGS sees each model as a significant step-change and simply giving the customer considerably more. Each model was developed in such a way that can deliver a deeper clarity of sound, layer upon layer of dimensions not apparent before. SGS is most vocative about hearing is believing, “a suspension of disbelief”.
SGS points out that what is most striking about their ground boxes is how involving they are, causing the listener to experience new nuances that were previously buried. As SGS reports, many of their customers have rediscovered their favorite albums as if they were hearing them for the first time, as if they were listening to an entirely new system.
The SGS1 Signature is the smaller, more affordable unit, but designed from the ground up to punch well above its weight, rewarding the listener with a sense of ease and musical flow, while exposing numerous additional dimensions to the listener and ultimately delivering a deeper clarity of sound.
This is a signature version of the SGS 1 with a larger/heavier solid beech cabinet, Purist Silver and Gold by Mundorf Cardas in the pure copper binding post or rhodium over silver.
To achieve better sound quality by improving the grounding of audio signals and the mains grounding of audio equipment, the SGS can deeply absorb unwanted noise, lowering the noise floor. Noise such as electrostatic discharge ( ESD ), radio frequency interference ( RFI ), and electromagnetic interference ( EMI ), as well as high-frequency noise, exposing hidden audio details that were previously obscured by the noise.
SGS-1 Signature is suitable for all audio equipment, including conventional hi-fi systems, home theaters, desktop audio to ultra-high-end audio systems.
SGS-1 Signature is more or less a PLUG & PLAY device with a straightforward operation. The SGS SGS1 multipurpose connection cable (1 meter included) is used to connect the SGS to a negative ground point such as an RCA/XLR jack, a chassis screw, or the negative end of a speaker terminal. The SGS SGS1M dedicated mains connection cable (optional) is recommended for power connection. If you are using RCA or XLR, SGS recommends the RCA1 or XLR1 connection cable (optional) for optimal performance.
SGS recommends placing the grounding device near ancillary equipment after unpacking. Begin by connecting the supplied cable to a free negative terminal of the RCA connector on the DAC/streamer, etc., via the pure copper laboratory clip. This would be a signal ground connection. You can also connect it to the chassis via the crocodile clip or banana spade. The unit is quite portable and can easily be placed in a rack, etc,
It takes a few hours or days for the unit to acclimatize. Then you can unplug the RCA connector and connect it to the chassis of the chosen component, either directly through the lab clip or by unscrewing one screw of the chassis a bit so that the clamp is firmly locked under the head of the screw. The selected high-strength copper laboratory clip will then ensure that either the signal or chassis ground is the correct choice, depending on the system.
It is recommended to experiment for a few hours or days to find an optimal connection.
Even the SGS-1 Signature version, the second in the SGS grounding box portfolio, will introduce the change when connected to the more expensive components. It’s quite affordable compared to the other grounding options on the market and offers a plethora of upgrading options in wiring. About three cables can be connected to the Cardas binding post and each cable has a lab clamp for easy attachment to a case screw or spare RCA connector.
After extensive listening to numerous cables, the SGS team decided to manufacture them in-house as they are the preferred choice. SGS firmly believes that the geometry of grounding cables is very important. These use a cotton inner and outer dielectric to avoid static interference. Silver and silver/gold cables are also available.
Ground wire spade/banana to crocodile clip ground cable gives the user more flexibility in choosing the best connection, as it can either be connected to the chassis or clamped over the negative terminal of a free RCA connector. The purest copper with a unique cotton jacket is used.
Various connections are available on request, e.g. RCA male, lug to lug, lug to banana, USB, Ethernet, etc.
While it would be extremely complicated to enumerate every single implementation and result of the Signal Ground Solutions SGS-1 Signature ground box in the system, here are a few practical experiences from my listening notes. As always, there’s no escaping my tenet channeling observations and insights about the music.
The complete album Swallow Tales by John Scofield is a fully mature sonic escapade that you can enjoy to the fullest. In addition to the great music, this album offers a remarkable sonic foundation on which you can discover many assets.
With Signal Ground Solutions’ SGS-1 Signature ground box, energy is transmitted more smoothly, without any elements of manipulation.
It was very interesting to observe how the tone/timbre of the Scofield guitar gained vibrancy, harmonics became richer, and somehow SGS-1 Signature provided more prominent note storms and sheer drama.
In the confound songful zones of this trio, the eligibility factor was just better, the music flow was more convincing and compelling. On top of it, Signal Ground Solutions’ ground box never redirected the focus!
This was further cemented with Mark Hollis’s (Talk Talk) song from his only solo album, a cover of Karate on the Fishtank EP.
Geoff Farina’s distant yet mesmerizing vocals, the sheer colossal energy, were prominent, to say the least. This is one of my favorite tracks when it comes to giving a component or system a hard time because it inevitably shows any of the downsides or drawbacks.
Many attributes help “A New Jerusalem” scan, but the flow of energy is perhaps the hardest to get right.
While some will argue that the fragility of “A New Jerusalem” is a bit lost in the karate rendition, I dare say that both the subtle poignancy and poetic charge remained untouched.
With the Signal Ground Solutions SGS-1 Signature Ground Box inserted at various points, I was able to experience “A New Jerusalem” more thoughtfully and comprehensively, without a myopic view, that cut the tails off decays and delays. This is something I have experienced more than often over the years with various grounding boxes regardless of the price.
With the SGS-1 Signature, the sharp leading edges of the notes became glaringly faster!
SGS-1 Signature features a unique tangible factor, that permitted a noticeable shift in the presentation of “A New Jerusalem” while keeping the equilibrium of the connected component and consequently the balance of the system intact.
Many of the factors positively influencing the SGS-1 Signature were also noticeable in Johann Johannsson’s Last And First Men.
Signal Ground Solutions’ SGS-1 Signature grounding box contributed to a very significant shift in the reproduction of Last And First Men’s complex equation. It helped with the basic micro-adjustments of the smallest fractions in the focal points that positively affected the smallest time steps due to the newly introduced density, thus churning out a far more believable illusion.
No fact damage is a rare and genuine virtue, and the fact that the Signal Ground Solutions SGS-1 Signature grounding box has this rare quality at this price level is a virtue worthy of high praise alone.
With the rendition of “A Minor Astronomical Event” and the connected SGS-1 Signature, those concerned have captured the very gist of energy dynamic and momentum. Again, in contrast to the inelastic supply of energy delivery, a phenomenon I have observed with some other grounding boxes is non existing with the Signal Ground Solutions device!
Everyone strives to make the music stand out from those thick black Vanta-like backgrounds, and the Signal Ground Solutions SGS-1 Signature Grounding Box is actually one of the few devices that help in that regard. And Last And First Men is a perfect sonic canvas to verify it.
With the SGS-1 Signature in use, the piercing, eerie soundscapes of Last And First Men have become more boundless. The slowed-down sweep of the music, with its many layers, was simply more perceptible.
The continued debacle of destroying the balancing act of high-end audio by introducing new unknowns usually disenchants the listener from the music and the performer. This is the reason why many audiophiles and music lovers lose interest in upgrading or enjoying the music over time various devices in their systems. Of course, lacking the proper foundation of components in the first place also play an important role in this general dissatisfaction.
Signal Ground Solutions’ SGS-1 Signature grounding box, on the other hand, is a high-end audio device with a catalytic power that should not be taken lightly when considering the good deeds of the grounding effect. SGS-1 Signature has real, rare substance value!
So is the proper grounding a mere rite of passage or quintessence of high-end audio balanced system act? Well, a bit of both, but it’s certainly more of a must-try for someone who wants to explore the depths of their high-end audio system.
And therein lies the rub. Signal Ground Solutions SGS-1 Signature does not alienate the music. It presents an endless kaleidoscope of different music in absence of a faux simplification that is too often encountered even in far more expensive grounding speakers.
Are grounding boxes an epochal intersection in sound? Yes and no. It depends.
Signal Ground Solutions SGS-1 Signature does a lot! The lower noise, the dynamic effects, the potential horizontal and vertical enhancement, the better holographic presentation, the advanced vividness, the more precise materialization of instruments and performers, the transparency, the more correct timbre, tone, and color, etc.
Yes, no small number of advantages for such a small and affordable device.
Certainly, the grounding box is still a dilemma for many, but more and more audiophiles and music lovers see this device as a valuable asset.
There are quite a few high-priced devices that dominate this phenomenon, but as with many things in high-end audio, it’s too often about the optics, how people see it, not the experience.
One of the most important questions regarding the need for and implementation of grounding boxes is: did the manufacturers do their job?
There is no simple answer to this strange, perplexing question.
The issues are similar to those related to the use of various high-end audio accessories. Some of them can affect the sound both positively and negatively.
To create a high-end audio product, there are always trade-offs in research and development and often not enough emphasis on a particular subject.
By their very nature, high-end audio components such as preamplifiers, amplifiers, streamers, etc. are highly complex devices and, as a rule, financial resources and time allow some, but mostly not the final foray into the various idiosyncrasies. Rarely does one have the time, the $$$ or the will to explore everything down to the smallest detail.
Like any audio product, each high-end audio system is different and specific, and distinctive in the way it combines everything into a whole.
Some additions to a high-end audio system can do more harm and positively affect performance.
The same goes for grounding boxes. I have tested quite a few of them over the years. Some of them I have written about, others I have not mentioned for various reasons. However, my experience with grounding boxes has been mostly positive.
The review of Signal Ground Solutions’ SGS-1 Signature grounding box is based on the fundamentals, with it playing its own game in an interesting phenomenon of general elasticity versus inelasticity.
During my long-term evaluation, the equilibrium curve of the SGS-1 Signature grounding box consistently comes up with the familiar positive attributes of grounding boxes but is far above anything you would call a similar league. SGS-1 Signature is a unique, highly potent device.
Signal Ground Solutions SGS-1 Signature does not follow the path of Veblen goods. Rather, it is about fundamental issues that can be addressed. Many negative features within the audio system can be eradicated.
SGS is not moved by the complex movements of the market at all but is working to achieve something different, consolidate the fundamental qualities, and raise them to a new level.
Ground boxing may still be a niche within the current zeitgeist, but the FOMO phenomenon is setting in with each new year and many happy music lovers and audiophiles are becoming happy users.
On the run for the nouveau riche clients, SGS acts oppositely and is a straight shooter. No false prestige approach. The SGS-1 meets the primary desires of those who are looking for a much higher level of performance than can be expected for the given price.
Please note that SGS-1 Signature is an entry-level grounding option from Signal Ground Solutions. The SGS portfolio offers another more advanced grounding option that I may explore at some point. So far, my experience with SGS-1 Signature has been more than positive.
For what it offers at this price, the Signal Ground Solutions SGS-1 Signature grounding box is certainly more than just an affordable grounding box. It offers an effective way to positively meddling, or rather blend, into the sonic balance of the system by remedying and affecting potently when and if inserted properly. And the results are far from subtle. Outstanding to say at least.
Unlike many high-end accessories and aftermarket products, experimenting with the ground box opens up a much broader opportunity to affect the sound on many fronts. And as practiced by many, there seems to be no limit to perfecting this path.
The Signal Ground Solutions SGS-1 Signature Groundbox offers a great entry into the world of grounding at a more than reasonable price and with far more qualities than it should at this price.
For what it offers price/performance-wise, the Signal Ground Solutions SGS-1 Signature Groundbox is worthy of the 2021 Mono and Stereo Best Buy Product Award. •
– £445 including 1 x one metre cable with FREE shipping to UK wide addresses. International shipping will be charged accordingly.
- Larger/ Heavier Solid Beech enclosure
- Purist Silver from Mundorf
- Cardas solid pure copper Binding post or Rhodium over silver .
Signal Ground Solutions
Tel: 01786 357425.