John Bantin has been a full-time professional diving writer and underwater photographer since 1990. He makes around 300 dives each year testing diving equipment.
REGULATOR EFFESUB ITON BLACK HD 310
DIVERS USE WHAT THEY BELIEVE to be good, but their beliefs can be ill-founded because based on prejudice. When DIVER did its first side-by-side deepwater regulator tests in the early '90s, all the test divers wanted a tank also fitted with their own trusted regulator rather than rely on one of our test specimens. In this way each tester, without exception, learnt just how bad his own kit had become. I know it pays to keep an open mind. Italian 'manupacker' Effesub forayed into the UK diving market some years ago, not very successfully. Some of the products the company chose to bear its brand were not of the best. Now it's back, and with a better-organised distributor. Its range is all encompassing, and I was sent a huge box of examples to try. Of course, I chose the most expensive regulator - the Iton Black HD310.
First stage The Iton Black first stage is not actually black. It's finished in some kind of electro-magnetically applied coating that gives it a dull gunmetal appearance. It's quite fetching. Purported to be for use in cold water, it is environmentally dry-sealed with a diaphragm-type action. It's quite a chunk of metal, with its four wide-spaced and angled medium-prssure ports and two hp ports, with sufficient spacing to use a computer transmitter link (I used two). The distinct feeling of familiarity I had while handling the first stage suggested that it was very similar to a better-known brand.
Second stage This has an automatically adjusting depth-sensitive venturi plus/minus control. I have seen something like this only on the second stages of the highly regarded Atomic range of regulators, which hail from the USA with a hefty price tag. There is also a breathing-resistance adjustment that, unlike those on some cheaper Italian regulators, does have an effect - and it's very easy to operate with a gloved hand. If you want to make your regulator harder to breathe from, the facility is there. I used it to tune down the other second stage I was carrying as an octopus rig. The diver I met who was out of air on the Thistlegorm certainly didn't complain about its performance!
Purge Control It seems you can push any part of the soft front cover of the second stage to activate a strong yet progressive purge. There was never any danger of my tonsils getting blown away, yet always more than enough to clear the mouthpiece instantly.
Comfort I find it difficult to think of what to say when it comes to comfort. I was so busy testing some other more difficult diving products during the week's trip that I quite forgot to make a note - so it can't have been bad. I have used many regulators, some mediocre, some absolute horrors, others sublime. The Iton Black D310 didn't strike me as the best thing in regulators since sliced bread, but it came close. The air always flooded into my mouth in a natural way, and it did so in the amounts I demanded of it. We'll have to wait to see if the British diving market accepts it whole-heartedly.
COMPARABLE REGULATORS TO CONSIDER: Aqua Lung Titan LX Supreme, £239 Scubapro M17/S550, £265 Oceanic GT3 CDX-5 DVT, £230
SPECS EFFESUB ITON BLACK HD 310 REGULATOR PRICE £247 FIRST STAGE Diaphragm dry-sealed PORTS 4mp, 2hp SECOND-STAGE ADJUSTMENTS Venturi +/-, BRA CONTACT www.blandfordsubaqua.co.uk DIVER GUIDE