PS Audio P300 Power Plant Page 4

Like the Muse processor, the CAT SL-1 preamplifier has a highly sophisticated power supply, the latest, Ultimate version having higher-value capacitors, more RC filters for better power-line-filter performance, and decoupled cascaded regulation across the entire audioband. CAT designer Ken Stevens is one of those who strongly discourage the use of outboard PLCs, and, indeed, I have previously found the CAT preamp to perform best without such devices. But, as good as the CAT's power supply is, the preamp sounds better when plugged into the Power Plant. The differences are similar to those I found with digital processors: greater dynamics and immediacy, higher resolution, less residual grunge.

So, is it safe to say that the Power Plant has the potential to improve the sound of every audio component? Well, I can't say that, but I will say that I found it to improve the sound of every piece of audio electronics with which I tried it. In general, the Power Plant's effectiveness in cleaning up sound varies as an inverse function of the quality of the other component's power supply, but even products with highly sophisticated power supplies of their own can reap significant benefits. A friend—whose components include an Audio Research Reference One preamp and Sonic Frontiers Transport Three and Processor Three—reports excellent results with the Power Plant in his system.

Hot stuff
The P300 Power Plant has one practical disadvantage: It runs hotter than any solid-state amplifier of my acquaintance, so hot that, after it had been powering equipment for 10 or 15 minutes, I couldn't touch the top of the chassis for more than a second or so.

A related issue is the cost of power: When delivering its rated output, the Power Plant draws 500W, which can add up to a tidy sum if you leave your equipment on all the time. However, in my system, with preamplifier, CD transport, and digital processor plugged into the Power Plant, the display read only 120W, and this decreased to 20W when the preamplifier was turned off. The cost represented by this level of power consumption is quite acceptable in the context of a high-end system, but, keeping in mind the fact that the Power Plant draws roughly twice the power that it delivers, I would have increasing difficulty justifying purchase of the higher-output models. (I might consider the P600 for the home theater system. If, as claimed, its effect on video is as great as on audio, it could well be worth it.)

One of the enduring myths of the marketplace is that if you build a better mousetrap—or better amplifier, or better loudspeaker, or better anything—the world will beat a path to your door. Alas, excellent products made by honest, hardworking people often fail to attain their deserved popularity, losing out to competitors with bigger promotional budgets. The myth survives because there are still times when something comes along that does its job so well that people will, indeed, beat a path to the manufacturer's door.

This has been happening with the PS Audio P300 Power Plant. Initially sold only factory-direct, with minimal advertising, the Power Plant has captured audiophile interest to the extent that, until recently, demand far outstripped the supply.

The success is much-deserved. The design of the Power Plant represents original thinking, and provides a brilliant solution to one of the most vexing problems in audio. The provision of highly regulated, low-distortion AC from the Power Plant allows every component to perform at its best, and the variable-frequency Power Factor feature has the potential to extend the effectiveness of components' power supplies to beyond their apparent design limits. In these days of $1000 power cables, $995 for what is effectively a 150Wpc high-current amplifier is a bargain, not only in terms of the sonic improvement but also for the technology it represents. The PS Audio P300 Power Plant is my candidate for Product of the Year.

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