PS Audio - Power Plant Premier

by admin on January 20, 2009 · 21 comments

in Accessories, Stars

By Martin Appel

There exists an entire category of products that purport to treat the ills of ‘dirty’ or compromised AC coming out of our wall outlets. They all claim that their products purify, condition, filter and protect us from the vagaries of this impure AC, as well as from sudden surges that can have deleterious affects on our sound systems. Paul McGowan, of PS Audio, whose history in the audio industry goes back at least thirty years with ground breaking designs and approaches in many areas of sound reproduction, has attacked this problem in a different way than most of his colleagues. Rather than trying to filter and condition the AC, which usually compromises performance in one way or another, his Power Plant Premier (PPP) recreates a pure AC.

Your equipment only sees pure, unadulterated AC with a perfect sine wave, allowing it to have a chance to perform optimally. For a really cogent explanation of how the PPP works, I highly recommend you visit the PS Audio website, where you can see and hear Paul McGowan himself, on a five minute video presentation of the rationale behind the design and explanation of the various features of the unit.

McGowan’s prior AC treatment equipment had gone through various upgrades and performed very well but still had a heat-generating problem, a common complaint among users. The PPP has no heat issues and should extreme conditions demand it, an internal fan will activate and keep things cool. What makes the new unit so good at dealing with heat issues is that it is extremely efficient at creating the new AC–approximately 85% efficient at producing 1500 watts for use. That should take care of most systems’ needs. In my case, four Nuforce 9V2 SE monoblock amplifiers require between 20 and 25 watts each, at full bore. This totals less than 100 watts and the PPP didn’t inhibit their performance in any way. Thank you class D. Preamps and CD players also require small wattage demands–again, not stressing the PPP at all. You folks out there with class A amplifiers or monster class AB amps should check with your manufacturer to see what your power requirements might be. In most instances, the PPP will have enough juice to do the job.

Now, how well did it perform and what were the effects on my system? I let the unit burn in for a good 150 hours before I tried some serious listening. I went through a variety of CDs, SACDs and records and the following is a summation of those listening observations. My notes read like a laundry list of positive impressions: the first and most consistent observation was a removal of a slight grain that I wasn’t even aware of, along with an attenuation of a slight edge without a loss of resolution. In fact, resolution increased, with improvements in image focus and detail, along with a soundstage that expanded three-dimensionally. Improvements in bass weight and impact were also noted and appreciated. Strings were smoother, yet more detailed and harmonically rich. Instruments, in general, had more solidity and air around them while possessing a greater degree of inner detail. Voices were portrayed with an increase in nuance, texture and body that brought you closer to the live experience. You seemed to hear further into the recording. Another way to put it is that the PPP made the whole presentation more relaxed and natural sounding and less like Hi-Fi.

Often, when adding any ‘black box’ that purports to perform major improvements to your system, it does so at a cost. Though it may create improvements in some areas, it may create problems in others. Two of the most critical areas that are often negatively affected are tonal balance and system dynamics. I must report that the PPP does not produce any deleterious affects in these critical areas. There was no shift of tonal balance that I could perceive and system dynamics were not, in any way, hampered.

I haven’t really talked about the ease of operation or physical construction of the PPP. I was so taken by the performance I had to get there first. Well, having a remote control to shut down your entire system is a nice feature. Also, you can adjust the display from bright to dim to off. You can display incoming voltage, and the outgoing, regenerated voltage, incoming THD and outgoing THD. All just icing on the cake, you say. Who doesn’t like a little icing?

There are two very sci-fi sounding functions on the remote–one called CleanWave and the other, MultiWave. CleanWave performs a de-magnetizing function by placing a series of higher frequencies that ride on the main sinewave to help ‘degauss’ connected magnetics. All connected equipment should be on and no CD’s or records should be playing when you want to perform this function. Sonically, I did hear subtle differences primarily related to improved clarity. This should be done periodically as magnetism builds up over time with usage.

MultiWave is a bit more complex and I’ll try to summarize. According to the manual, this function extends the peak charging time of the sinewave which, according to McGowan, has many sonic benefits. McGowan states that it is the equivalent of adding a larger power supply or more power supply capacitance to your system. It sure seemed to work for me. I now keep the MultiWave button on all the time. Sounds sexy.

The PPP is beautifully built and very sharp looking. It’s very solid and its sculpted faceplate is very attractive, with some really cool blue lighting. It has first-class fit and finish and should be displayed with pride. When people ask what it is, you can smugly say, ‘Why, my power regenerator, of course.’

In conclusion, I think the bug has bitten again–I can’t let this piece of equipment leave the house. My system would be lonely without it.

[We are proud to award this product an Audiophilia Star Component Award. Congratulations! - Ed]

Musical Choices

Reference Recordings RR-96CD Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances Oue/Minnesota Orchestra
Pablo OJCCD-744-2 Clark Terry/Freddie Hubbard/Dizzy Gillespie/Oscar Peterson: The Alternate Blues
Telarc CD-83373 Ray Brown: Some of My Best Friends…The Piano Players
Capital 72434 94756 2 5 Frank Sinatra: Sinatra Sing for Only the Lonely
Telarc SACD-60042Moussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition-Maazel/The Cleveland Orchestra
Telarc SACD-60575 ORFF: Carmina Burana-Runnicles/Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
Nuforce LIVE BLUPORT JAZZ SAMPLER Blueport

Associated Equipment

Amplifiers: 4-Nuforce 9V2 SE’s monoblocks
Processor: DEQX PDC-2.6P
Preamplifier: Marantz SC-7S2, Innersound iControl
CD source: Marantz SA-7S1
Analogue source: Avid Volvere / RB300 arm.
Cartridge: Shelter 7000
Speaker cables: Acoustic Zen’s Absolute, Wasatch’s Ultama
Power Cords, Acoustic Zen’s Absolute and Gargantua
Interconnects: Acoustic Zen’s Absolute(xlr)
Accessories: Black Diamond Racing Cones, Soundcare products, Vibrapods, Acme Audio Labs wall outlets.
Surge protection: Brick Wall 2R and 8R Surge Protectors

Manufactured by

PS Audio International, Inc.
4826 Sterling Drive, Boulder, CO 80301, USA
Tel: 720 406 8946

MSRP  $2,195.00US

Web

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{ 2 trackbacks }

Premier Power Plant review from Audiophilia - AudioAficionado.org
06.02.09 at 7:58 am
The PS Audio GCPH Phono Preamplifier — Audiophilia
08.23.09 at 10:49 am

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt 01.18.09 at 4:19 pm

It’s good to see a product that places importance on the shape of the incoming AC power. I did a lot of experimenting a few months ago with high resistance and high capacitance power cords and was amazed at how modifying the incoming AC sine wave could affect the sound.

admin 01.18.09 at 5:06 pm

I’ve never ‘heard’ this piece, but it looks amazing!!!!

David 01.19.09 at 11:23 am

I have been living with my PPP for a couple of months. Many times when we perform upgrades, it impacts one area of our rigs - cartridge, interconnect, CD player, etc. This piece immediately improved the entire presentation of my system. If I was to describe the overall effect it would be clarity and focus. Each instrument becomes more distinct with additional acoustical space surrounding the performer and less “hang” time. And yes, it affects all sources, vinyl, CD, even radio. I have a dedicated line which I thought provided me a clean AC, yet adding this piece has been a revelation.

admin 01.19.09 at 11:27 am

‘Hang time’. Like it. Is it copyright? ;) You may see that phrase in one of my upcoming reviews. LOL

Glad you like it. Marty loved it.

Cheers, a

Andy Fawcett 01.20.09 at 6:19 am

Interesting review, thanks Marty. One thing I’ve wondered with these power regenerators - do aftermarket power cords (especially very good ones like yours) yield as much benefit when used from PPP to component as they did when plugged into the wall?

Martin Appel 01.20.09 at 1:32 pm

Hi Andy, they surely do. I tried several differnt cords, including PS Audio’s top cord and the better the cord the more you’ll get out of the unit. Power cords have a great deal to do with achieving maximum results from your sustem. In my case, The Absolute worked best.

PS Audio should be coming out with a new line of power cords in late Spring. I will have to check them out.

Cole 01.23.09 at 10:40 pm

Martin, it was a pleasure reading about the PS Audio unit. I have been looking into a new power conditioner/distributor for the last few months now and I wanted to know if you have ever tried the LESSLOSS Firewall Power Distributor?? The LESSLOSS is much more expensive than the PS Audio unit but it looks like it was built very well and I like that it handles 15A which is more than the McIntosh MPC1500 unit. I did not see a Amperage rating on the PS Audio unit though. I have tried the PS Audio already and was quite impressed but am still not sure which one to go with at home.

Martin Appel 01.24.09 at 7:46 am

Hi Cole. I have not tried thw LESSLOSS or the McIntosh, so I can’t really comment on them. The fact that you were undecided after auditioning the different units says that the less expensive PS Audio might be the better way to go. I think it’s very well built and does not use much rack space.
Are the others regenerators too?
Do the other units have heat problems ?
These are some questions to consider.

Cole 01.24.09 at 9:04 am

Thank you for your fast response back. The others are not regenerators, I believe PS Audio is the only product I know of that can do this. The only problem I might run into with the PS is I need 15A of power all the time. Can the PS Audio unit do this? I looked at there web site and all it says is 1500w. I will give them a call and find out,

Thanks again!

Steve Smith 01.24.09 at 3:23 pm

Marty Appel - Did you go to elementary school at Saint Andrews Elementary in Charleston, SC around 1956-60? My name is Steve Smith and I remember your name. We were friends with Nathan Olosov (sp?), too. If you are that Marty Appel, it would be very cool to hear from you.
Steve

admin 01.24.09 at 4:35 pm

LOL

Geez, Marty, I didn’t realist you were that old ;)

Martin Appel 01.24.09 at 5:58 pm

Hi Steve, sorry to report, it’s not me. I went to elementary school in NYC.

Steve Smith 01.24.09 at 6:16 pm

Thanks for the reply. I figured it was way too much of a coincidence. Best wishes anyway.

Martin Appel 01.24.09 at 6:44 pm

Hi Cole, have you used LESSLOSS power cords? I hope to get a chance to review them down the road.

Andy Fawcett 01.24.09 at 9:51 pm

Marty,
those cords came up on my radar too. Whatever their secret it’s not visible, but the press has been amazing. If you do secure some, can you also try to get the more affordable ‘Mini’ version for comparison as I’ve not seen them reviewed head-to-head?

Martin Appel 01.25.09 at 3:19 am

Hi Andy, no reason you can’t also do a review as well. They come from Lithuania and that puts them about half way around the world from each of us. I’ll be happy to have a go at them first and then you can check them out too.

From what I’m hearing it should prove very interesting. Will they challenge my reference Acoustic Zen Absolute power cord at one quarter the cost?

Time will tell.

Andy Fawcett 01.25.09 at 5:34 am

Sorry Marty - I didn’t mean to suggest that I was interested in reviewing them (I’m up to my neck in signal cables right now!), just that all the positive feedback had piqued my curiosity. And yes, almost my first thought had been to wonder whether they’d depose your AZ Absolutes … it’s the spirit of the Colosseum, I’m afraid, but that’s the stuff people want to read about. ;-)

Martin Appel 01.25.09 at 6:04 am

Not a problem at all. If I find them to be as good I will say so. So far, I’ve gone through many ‘almosts’ but none superior. I look forward to this next challenger.
Will keep you posted.

Cole 01.26.09 at 5:39 pm

Martin, Sorry for the slow reply but have been running around here like a chicken with my head cut off after CES. I have not had the LESSLOSS in my own system but have been over to a reviewers home and did some A-B testing with another power cable. The LESSLOSS is a very good power cable and would recommend it to my dealers/customers. I have recommended it with our AARON amplifiers a few times already and customers have been happy with the synergy. I believe you would enjoy writing about them.

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