This arose in my early days with this magazine when, out of the blue, the British manufacturer of what had been lacklustre products put out a new regulator that outshone every other unit then on the market.
Today, this brand is held in high esteem, yet at the time retailers that stocked its rivals went to great pains to discredit me, and a group of them even threatened to “teach me a lesson”.
The fact is that there is no established order when it comes to manufactured products – things change. Any brand can rise to prominence, just as any can go into decline.
With the advent of ANSTI regulator-testing machinery and CE certification, one should not be able to buy a “bad”regulator today, although some still prove nicer to use than others.
The manufacturers have collectively stepped up to the plate and offer a far superior product to some of those available 20 or more years ago. The European consumer should be able to buy any one that he fancies the look of with the confidence that it will do the job and keep
him alive, at least to 50m deep.
And so it has been with the Italian diving product manufacturer Seac. The smaller Italian manufacturers have always been good with injection moulding and world-leaders when it comes to technopolymer products such as masks and fins, but while I was extolling the virtues of that obscure British manufacturer’s regulator all those years ago, I was also getting into equal trouble with Seac because a regulator it sent me was not up to the job.
The British importer at the time threatened to sue me, and although I still pass him every year at the DEMA show, he still can’t look me in the face. I’m sorry, Roy.
Seac has come a long way since then. It now produces a range of regulators that can compete with the best.
I recently took three regs with me on a trip to dive Brother Islands and Daedelus Reef in
the Red Sea, courtesy of the owner of the Sea Serpent Fleet. I intended to dive up to 50m deep with various nitrox mixes.
One model was a £1000 titanium job with which I am in love. The second was the latest economically priced regulator from a top manufacturer, and the third was the new Seac X5 Ice. I was able to compare all three over a period of days.

First Stage
It’s called the XS-Ice because it is intended to cope with the cold and polluted conditions one might find at an inland site during the winter.
There are two distinct schools of thought regarding stopping regulators from freezing
in water that might be colder than 10°C.
One is that the working parts should be flushed with water to warm them up, because the air passing through is very much colder.
The other is that the water should be kept well away. Most manufacturers opt for the second option.
This first stage is of a diaphragm design that is dry-sealed to keep the “nasties”at bay.
It’s quite a heavy item. There are four medium-pressure ports, arranged with two of them
at a slight angle, and two high-pressure ports positioned quite close to them.
Alas, this meant that if I was to connect two mp hoses, a primary and perhaps one for an octopus, there was insufficient room on that side to fit a pressure-transmitter for a gas-integrated computer.
Had I been using a drysuit and needed the extra hose, there would have been no room on either side.
My solution was to put the transmitter on the end of a Miflex heavy-duty high-pressure hose.
This added another O-ring to the list of possible failure points, but at least it stopped boat-crews from trying to use the transmitter as a handle!

Second Stage
The second stage is a balanced-flow design with merely a venturi plus/minus switch to discourage exponential freeflows during the initial moments of a dive. Some manufacturers call this the predive/dive switch.
It has an asymmetric demand lever arrangement, which means that it takes the same effort to crack open the valve irrespective of the depth and the amount to which the pressure-sensing diaphragm is depressed by the water pressure.
The whole front of the second-stage is covered by a soft technopolymer material that doubles as the purge control.
The exhaust port is compact, as is now almost customary with all regulator manufacturers.
A long mouthpiece is reminiscent of those of the world’s best regulator, but is of a softer and therefore more floppy material.
A flexible braided intermediate hose takes care of any tendency for the thing to pull from the mouth, thanks to easy hose routeing.

In The Water
While the Seac X5 Ice was not as sublime in its delivery as the regulator six times its price that I used alongside it, it could not be faulted for its ability to deliver all the air I needed at
any depth.
Perhaps it was a little “gushy”, but rather that than sucking treacle through a straw. It was certainly a lot better than the other inexpensive regulator I also compared it with during some dives.
So although I couldn’t rave about how good it was, I had no serious complaints about how it performed.
The biggest surprise for me lay in wait back in the UK. I had assumed the X5 Ice to be a mid-price offering, but the British importer amazed me when he told me that the recommended retail price included the octopus rig.
That makes this regulator very good value for money indeed.

Cressi Ellipse Balanced MC9, £304
Oceanic Alpha 9 CDX5, £250
Scubapro MK17 G250V, £340

PRICE £250 inc. octopus
FIRST STAGE Dry-sealed diaphragm
WEIGHT (A-clamp) 1. 26kg
CONTACT DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%