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