Sunday, September 4, 2011

Initial tests of PS Audio Power Plant Premier

The distortion indicator is very interesting, and if it is to be believed the Premier is reducing line distortion somewhere from 5 fold to 10 fold.  I measure line distortion in the range of 1.4% to 2.2% on a continuous basis and the Premier reduces that to 0.2% to 0.4%.  I wonder how important this is.  Given that the Multiwave feature actually increases the THD by adding back in select harmonics (though not much actually) much in the way that minerals are added to purified water for flavor, one might well like the sound of slightly greater line distortion more than less, and I wouldn't be surprised if many GESR's (Golden Eared Subjective Reviers) are responding to something like that when condemning power conditioners of various or all kinds.

Tests with the noise sniffer suggest that the Premier can reduce line noise, just as the PureAV conditioner can.  As to which works better, I can't yet say.  In both cases they aren't perfect, and they seem different in what kinds of noise they may reject, but I have not and will probably not bother soon to test both on the same outlet under identical conditions.

The Premier does a great job at stabilizing voltage over the small fluctuations I've tested.  I plugged in an old incandescent Tensor Lamp and turn a vacuum cleaner on the same wall outlet on and off.  Zero change is noticed in the lamp.  There is a slight fluctuation in the THD meters, both incoming and outgoing.  Obviously the PureAV does not do this, it can correct voltage somewhat but not small changes.

I have one observation not noted in the reviews I have read, in fact it contradicts one of them.  The Premier does not make the line it is plugged into quieter, in fact it makes the line it is plugged into noisier.  On the other hand, the PureAV does seem to make the line it is plugged into, or at least the outlet it is plugged into, quieter.  Filter based conditioners have a large parallel effect, as if they were largely similar to a big capacitor plugged into the wall.  Now actually they have series as well as parallel elements (the PureAV uses pi filters) so you would expect the outlets on the conditioner itself to have the most filtering, and the wall less, but not none.

I conclude from all this that it would be counterproductive to use the Premier on low power equipment and then plug a power amplifier into the same line.  The best use of the Premier is clearly using it for ALL equipment plugged into the same line.  And I think this works fine with amplification used on speakers of reasonable sensitivity, such as the Revel M20's in my bedroom powered by a Parasound HCA-1000A (or HCA-1500A again in future).   It might even be OK with the 1500A powering Acoustats in the living room, but I'm not going to try, nor would I even think about plugging the Krell FPB 300 into it.

As the Premier does actually stabilize output voltage under all but the most extreme conditions (in which it automatically bypasses itself) I think it is probably fine to use on many audiophile systems, though you'd have a hard time convincing most audiophiles of that.  They seem to have been convinced by the need for infinite peak current from the wall outlet.  Actually, the main source of fast peak current in a power amplifier is the amplifiers own power supply, the wall outlet isn't providing much of that anyway.

The Premier is clearly intended for this kind of "full system" use, and full system use has a huge advantage.  Power amplfiers usually have only lightly filtered (and not regulated) DC voltage on the main power rails.  AC line noise and distortion can easily contaminate this, and thereby contaminate the output of the power amplifier (though the amplifier feedback will do considerable correction).  On the other hand, most preamplification equipment and audio sources use heavily filtered and regulated power supplies, and it is hard to impossible to see how they would be much affected by AC line noise and distortion.

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