PS Audio Quintet Power Center

PS Audio's Power Plant Premier is a high-end product that takes the regeneration approach in providing audio/video gear with the cleanest AC possible. But not everyone can afford to spend $2195 on such a product, and although the new amplifier design that forms the basis of the Premier is relatively efficient, it does use power, and concern about conservation of the planet's energy resources might lead one to prefer a passive approach to power-line treatment. PS Audio's line of Power Centers provides such an alternative. The model I had for review was the Quintet Power Center, which differs from the Duet Power Center only in having five pairs of receptacles to the Duet's two.

Except for active AC regeneration, the Quintet offers almost everything the Premier does: filtration using the same nanocrystalline technology, surge and spike protection, and electrical isolation of each pair of receptacles from the others, so that digital components plugged into one pair are prevented from contaminating the AC supplied by any other pair. What the Quintet can't do, being a passive device, is fix a clipped AC sinewave, compensate for varying voltage levels, or reduce harmonic distortion on the AC line—all the domain of active devices such as the Power Plant Premier. The Quintet also lacks the nifty CleanWave generator. But it has all of the Premier's convenience features, including 12V triggers, a power sequencer, and protection for CATV and telephones. And, like all of PS Audio's recent products, the Quintet is beautifully made, with outstanding industrial design, and costs a far more budget-friendly $495. (The Duet costs $295.)

I compared the Quintet Power Center with the Power Plant Premier, and also with the equipment plugged directly into the wall. While the Quintet provided a definite improvement over raw AC, with greater clarity and less noise, its performance was still some distance from that of the Premier—the sound with the Premier in the system had that less-electronic, more natural quality. There's something special about the Premier's effect on sound, and the Quintet—and, I suspect, any other passive AC treatment—didn't come close to matching it. I'm no fan of specifying sonic differences in speciously precise ways, but if I had to quantify the degrees of improvement produced by these devices, I'd say the Quintet gave me perhaps 50% of the improvement produced by the Premier. For a product that costs less than 25% of the price of the Premier, and that saves money on the cost of electricity over time, I'd say that's a good deal.

PS Audio's original P300 Power Plant cost $995, and is no longer available. I don't know how much it would cost to manufacture now, but I would think there would be a market for a lower-priced alternative to the Premier that would provide regenerated AC and all the advances of the Premier, but less power—just enough for source components and low-powered amplifiers.—Robert Deutsch

PS Audio
4826 Sterling Drive
CO 80301
(720) 406-8946
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