Powerline Accessory Reviews

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Kalman Rubinson  |  Aug 31, 2017  |  7 comments
It's time to fulfill my promise to write about Playback Designs' Sonoma Syrah music server and Sonoma Merlot DAC. It all began when I asked Playback's founder and CEO, engineer Andreas Koch, when he plans to produce a multichannel digital-to-analog converter—a question I've put to so many other manufacturers. He said that he already had a multichannel system on the drawing board, and not just a DAC. Our e-mail exchange culminated in his announcement of the Playback Designs USB-XIII Digital Interface, to be used between a USB source component and as many as three DACs via PLink, Playback's proprietary fiber-optic connection.
Herb Reichert  |  Mar 30, 2017  |  32 comments
Some of our readers seem to believe that the essence of high-quality audio is disclosed primarily by science, and not by dreamy, bodice-ripping adventures that take place on plush carpets behind closed doors. Perhaps they're right. Unfortunately, I have had no personal experiences that confirm that hypothesis.
Larry Greenhill  |  Feb 28, 2017  |  3 comments
Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary defines tot as "1: a small child: TODDLER; 2: a small drink or allowance of liquor: SHOT." Torus Power used it to name their compact line of toroidal power conditioners. Although small in size, weight, and price, the TOT AVR includes the Automatic Voltage Regulation referred to in its name, as well as noise filtering and smart Ethernet control, and is available with series-mode surge suppression (SMSS) circuit protection.
Jim Austin  |  Jun 21, 2016  |  5 comments
Stereophile hasn't reviewed a PS Audio power regenerator since February 2009, when Robert Deutsch tried the company's then-flagship, the Power Plant Premier ($2195). But earlier this year, as I prepared to write my review of PS Audio's NuWave DSD DAC (published in the May 2016 issue), a perfect opportunity to revisit the line came about: I read, in the owner's manual for the PSA DAC, that "power conditioners and the quality of the AC power can make a significant difference in sound quality." Eager to help the NuWave DSD put its best foot forward, I asked PS Audio to assist me in dealing with my AC power, which is marginal here in crowded New York City. They sent me their PerfectWave P10 Power Plant AC Regenerator ($4999)—and John Atkinson asked me to spill some ink on this most recent of the company's clean-power flagships.
Michael Fremer  |  Feb 09, 2016  |  5 comments
Are you old enough to remember when the wires connecting speakers to even the most expensive and sophisticated electronics were 16-gauge, multistrand lamp cord, and the terminals on speakers and amplifiers were just little screws? Sometimes those screws wouldn't even secure all of the wires' strands, but as long as loose strands from one screw didn't touch loose strands from the other, it was good enough . . . and back against the wall went your bookshelf speakers.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Dec 17, 2012  |  26 comments
There never seem to be enough AC outlets, and when there are, they're not always easily accessible. I have two dedicated 15A duplex outlets at the power-amp end of my room, but a subwoofer and multiple power amps (up to three at a time) exhaust those facilities. What happens when I need to add a second subwoofer or other EQ? What do I do when I want to keep more than three amps cooking for quick comparisons?
Art Dudley  |  Dec 20, 2010  |  11 comments
When you play recorded music, you have before you a work of art with almost no physical existence at all; reconstituting it requires electricity, which will itself imitate the musical continuum represented by the bumps in the groove or the zeros in the datastream. When you listen to recorded music, you are listening to your household AC, and better AC equals better playback. That sounds obvious to me and you, even as it sends the technocodgers into paroxysms of puritanical indignation.
Art Dudley  |  Dec 23, 2009  |  0 comments
She responds as expected to the only sound: hysterical voices!—Brian Eno
Robert Deutsch  |  Feb 22, 2009  |  0 comments
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.
Robert Deutsch  |  Feb 18, 2009  |  0 comments
Determining whether an idea is brilliant or off the wall is often a matter of perspective—and of looking at the results that follow from the idea. Take the notion of AC regeneration. AC is what comes from the wall socket, courtesy a network of power-generation plants, and it's specified as having a certain voltage and frequency, with the amount of current limited by fuses or circuit breakers in the electrical panel of the house or apartment. Audio components—other than those powered by batteries—are designed to convert this alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC), then produce variable AC that drives the speakers to produce a facsimile of that signal. In short, AC provides the raw material used by audio components to do their job.
Larry Greenhill  |  Feb 03, 2008  |  First Published: Jan 03, 2008  |  0 comments
When I arranged to review the Bryston 28B-SST monoblock power amplifier, I wanted to be certain that the 1kW amplifier wouldn't be starved for current. Bryston advised me that Plitron, who manufacture the 28B-SST's toroidal transformer, also make Power Isolation Units (PIUs), under the brand name Torus Power. Torus explained that its PIUs combine surge suppression with massive toroidal transformers to provide AC power conditioning and protection from voltage surges.
Robert Deutsch  |  Oct 05, 2007  |  First Published: Sep 05, 2007  |  0 comments
Tweaks come and go. When a new one creates a buzz in audiophile circles, I generally prefer to wait and see if it's still around after the initial excitement has subsided. I'd heard about "audiophile" fuses some time ago, and although the likelihood of them making a significant difference didn't seem as farfetched as such tweaks as the "intelligent chip" or the "clever little clock," I didn't feel inclined to try them. I was persuaded otherwise by the confluence of two separate influences: a report by Michael Fremer, in the February 2007 Stereophile, that the HiFi-Tuning fuses produced a "subtle but noticeable" improvement in the sound of his Musical Fidelity kWP preamplifier; and an encounter at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show with Robert Stein of importer Ultra Systems (the HiFi-Tuning fuses are made in Germany), who said that they produced a big improvement and offered to send me some samples.
Brian Damkroger  |  Apr 22, 2007  |  0 comments
I can't remember a time when I wasn't concerned about power quality. I grew up around finicky, home-brew ham-radio gear and labs full of instruments, and with both, power-conditioning gear was standard fare. When I moved into high-end audio, it seemed obvious that power quality was important. As a result, I've experimented with a wide range of power-conditioning equipment, from simple ferrite loops to huge isolation transformers, and even exotic laboratory power supplies that could vary the voltage, frequency spectrum, and shape of the AC signal.
Paul Bolin  |  Aug 22, 2004  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2004  |  0 comments
Power-line conditioning and exotic power cords, once considered the lunatic fringe of tweaking, have become normal parts of audiophile life. Over the last several years Shunyata Research, founded by former NSA research scientist Caelin Gabriel, has established itself as a leading innovator in the area. The company's latest efforts include the Hydra Model 8 power-distribution center ($1995), for use with whole systems or front ends; the two-outlet "mini" Hydra Model 2 ($395), intended for use with power amplifiers; and the Anaconda Alpha and Anaconda vX power cords ($1995), the new top models in the PowerSnakes line.
Chip Stern  |  Jun 22, 2003  |  0 comments
It's a simple premise: power corrupts. You can buy the finest audio components in the world, but if the foundation of your aural house is rotten, you won't get anything vaguely resembling the level of performance your gear was designed to provide. Over time, I've come to realize just how fragile the audio signal chain is, dependent as it is on electrical sources fatally compromised by all manner of aural schmutz pouring through the local grid. I've become obsessed with figuring out how to liberate my system from the line noise, reactive loads, and voltage anomalies that veil the presentation, obscure resolution, and limit dynamic range.

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