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Tasso

Power Conditioner Shootout - PSAudio vs AG1500 Vs Airlink Balanced Power Supply

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Present at the shootout were SNA members Tuyen, 24Bits and myself and it was conducted in Chanh's excellent man-cave. Apologies for the lack of photos but Chanh kept the red wine flowing, and you know the rest!

 

The contenders were  -

 

PSAudio P10 - Price - around $6300.  This unit uses PSAudio's patented technology to regenerate power.  Power efficiency is now at 85% and the unit is passively cooled.  It is microprocessor controlled and  has the ability to regulate voltage.  The screen provides relevant information including THD of incoming and regenerated power, power consumption etc. It can provide dynamic power for attached appliances totalling 1200 watts. This means that provided the average power draw is 1200 watts or less the P10 will keep up with sudden power demands for transients etc.  The power output THD is less than 1% .

 

AG1500 - Price around $1k delivered to Australia. The AG1500 is an online double conversion power supply which regenerates power in a different manner to the P10. The P10 is essentially an amplifier whereas the AG1500 converts AC to DC and then DC to AC. This process should eliminate power impurities  however the dynamic headroom is limited by the size of the inverter. In this case it is 1500VA which translates to less headroom than the P10. 

 

Airlink 3KVA  Balanced  Power supply - Price around $1k landed in Australia. This unit is essentially a very big isolating toroidal balanced mains transformer.  For a 230V power the unit  divides the incoming current into 2 x 115 v out of phase signals. i.e. 2 Live wires are inversely phased centre tapped to earth. When combined the equal and opposite currents are cancelled out  i.e. common-mode  rejection. The units can be purchased in sizes up to 15KVA and Airlink are open to special requests.  At 3KVA rating the unit can be operated up to max capacity but dynamics start to suffer if operated above 50% loading which gives it similar dynamic headroom to the P10. Being a passive device, there isn't anything really likely to go wrong with the unit  so reliability shouldn't be an issue like it has been with the P10.

 

The unit tested is bog standard without any additional filtering ( optional extras) but with 20V lower output than input. This is intended to deal with consistently high voltages seen in my area - around  250v

 

 

RESULTS

 

Testing commenced around 8PM when the power was much cleaner and more stable than during the day. However, quite dramatic improvements were detected against the standard wall power even at this time of night.  The average total load was between 500 and 800 watts depending upon which power  amplifiers were used. Each unit is discussed below in order of its performance ranking:

 

1. P10  -  With the P10 dynamics improved noticeably,  as did resolution, imaging and tonal quality. This is a major upgrade to any sound system that does not have decent mains conditioning in place. We noticed THD levels going from 3-5% on input down to 0.8%  which could in part explain the  much higher resolution we were experiencing. The soundstage was more expansive and imaging was more 3D like. The P10 was clearly the best performer.

 

2. Airlink Balanced & Isolating Power Supply - This unit matched the P10 in all areas except ultimate resolution.  Like the P10, dynamics improved markedly. The soundstage opened up and  imaging was more 3D like and there was an improvement in resolution but not like that of the P10. The overall tonal balance was  a bit warmer than the P10.  Depending upon your point of view,  The Airlink balanced power supply could be seen as being between 80% and 90% of the P10 performance.

 

3. AG1500  - With this unit, sound improvements were detected when compared to the  raw mains power but nowhere near that experienced with the other two. However, even with a relatively light load and volume settings, dynamics suffered noticeably. It seems that the AG1500 should not be used with power amplifiers if you want to preserve the full dynamics of the music.

 

Ultimate Combo:

 

We then fed the output of the Airlink transformer to the P10 and got the best results for the night. There was an incremental improvement in all aspects of the sound with the warmer tonal balance of the Airlink being combined with the high resolution of the P10.

 

Bang for Your Buck:

 

Airlink - With this in place the system sound improves by a significant margin  for a reasonable price . Please note however that coming from the UK they would have UK, or Schuko  fittings.  

 

Tuyen's Opinion 

 

Tuyen provided some thoughts by PM and these are repeated here with his permission:

 

"Yep, P10 is winner in terms of reducing THD levels, hence allowing for a more quiet background. More nuances of the music comes through. Gives a greater sense of dynamic range. Didn't restrict dynamics in any noticeable way.

The 3kva airlink balanced transformer surprised me some what. It quietened the background (but not to the same level as the p10). It made the music sound fluid/refined and relaxed. No problem with dynamics. Didn't clean up the THD in the line, so compared to the P10, I felt it did not expose that '1-2%' of micro dynamics/detail, that the P10 allowed through. From experience, that relaxed/naturalness could be partly due to the drop down from 240v to 220v as Tasso did mention his unit does drop the output down 20v.

The AG1500 while providing an improvement over going straight from wall socket, in terms of slightly more detail, refinement and image separation, it compressed the dynamic range a bit, causing the music to sound flatter/less 3d presence. Did not have as black background as the p10, so those nuances(which can actually be important in the well recorded music we were listening to) don't get fleshed out. Performed the worse out of the 3 on the night.

What then became interesting was when we decided to hook the P10 into the airlink,  I felt it provided what seemed to be the best of both worlds. The airlink allowed for the P10 to work less hard maybe? Either way it provided a more rounded/natural/fuller/fluid sound compared to running the P10 alone. Don't understand the reason why, as the idea of a regenerator is to remove all effects of the incoming power.  But alas, It was what my ears say it was  :)


Now, I must look into one of those 240-220 airlinks. The power at my house is usually 250v, so a 20v drop will set it at a healthy 230v. The AG1500 might be good to experiment with just powering things like my laptop, maybe dac and crossover. Power amps maybe go direct from an airlink.


In saying that, P10 was the pick of the night. So it should be for the cost of a unit!

Great night. Thanks Chanh. Hope you got home safely Tasso?

Catch up again soon"

 

Yes, I did get home safely and thank you again to Chanh for hosting the evening .

Edited by Tasso

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Excellent write up, Gents! I could never put them into words myself. :thumb:

 

Edit: All tests were carried out consistently with the following;

  1. HD-track 24-96, tracks 3 - Lillian from BlueCoast Album.
  2. Asus Laptop with Jriver
  3. M2Tech Young DAC
  4. Mingda MC300 Pre (duelund and tube upgraded).
  5. Krell KAV 300i (a typical poor performer as option 1)
  6. Pairs of Mingda Valves PA (an excellent performer as option 2)
  7. Pairs of Wilson Bensch  ACT 3
Edited by 24Bits

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thanks for taking the time to post this up

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Ha, thanks for the invite! :(  I could have brought my power conditioner too!  ;)

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It was a last minute thing - Not to worry we can still add to the thread with more comparisons/observations

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Ha, thanks for the invite! :(  I could have brought my power conditioner too!  ;)

This was unplanned!

It was only brought up yesterday late afternoon and the unexpectedly rare chance of it went ahead. It was always my intention of asking you but experience showed it woulded be too short notice. Sorry mate! Will give you a shout next time no matter how short the notice might be? 

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Excellent write up, Gents! I could never put them into words myself. :thumb:

 

Edit: All tests were carried out consistently with the following;

  1. HD-track 24-96, tracks 3 - Lillian from BlueCoast Album.
  2. Asus Laptop with Jriver
  3. M2Tech Young DAC
  4. Mingda MC300 Pre (duelund and tube upgraded).
  5. Krell KAV 300i (a typical poor performer as option 1)
  6. Pairs of Mingda Valves PA (an excellent performer as option 2)
  7. Pairs of Wilson Bensch  ACT 3

 

 

 I should also add that Tuyen showcased  the new DAC he is building.  It was so impressive we called it "The Terminator". 

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 I should also add that Tuyen showcased  the new DAC he is building.  It was so impressive we called it "The Terminator". 

Dam... you've let the cat out! :ban:

Edited by 24Bits

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This was unplanned!

It was only brought up yesterday late afternoon and the unexpectedly rare chance of it went ahead. It was always my intention of asking you but experience showed it woulded be too short notice. Sorry mate! Will give you a shout next time no matter how short the notice might be? 

No drama's mate, just messin' with ya!  :)

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Would be great if you could include a Purepower regen unit in the shoot out too. 

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Would be great if you could include a Purepower regen unit in the shoot out too. 

 

If anyone in Perth wants to compare their Purepower regen  I would like to hear from them

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ExactPower EP15A AC Power Conditioner is meant to be tops too. I recently heard a system being powered by one and the owner says it is something special. His system did not lack any dynamics.

Pity they arent available anymore. I have seen them pop up once in a while in the used market.

Edited by tuyen

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thanks for the review! it was great reading specially as it is in a  real world situations not in a shop ect,

and you all know the sound of  your gear and that helps a lot

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 Thank you for the comparative items results and info--much appreciated with the huge Geographic expanse of this land --it is virtually impossible for us remote region Audio Nutters to try or audition even a Jug cord.

 

I own a PurePower Regen-- seems to do it's job-- At the recent RMAF a lot of the rooms were lauding the Praises of the Silver Circle Tchaik-- Vince in had it in the MSB room and the sound was the best I'd heard of the Product in any show--Kudos?

 

Willco

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Outstanding review and write up, thanks to all involved.  Ive read a few commercial reviews of these products but they are all soundly eclipsed by your test so you should all be dam proud over there in Perth.

 

It looks like the Airlink is the value for dollar buy.  Cudos to Tasso for discovering them.

 

I think many of us will want to order one at a good price?

 

We might do well asking for a group buy for Aussie conditions.

 

Id favour a 250V to 237V drop myself, so if the mains power regulation  drops down to the official 230V its  is still functional. Or is that silly?

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I think many of us will want to order one at a good price?

 

We might do well asking for a group buy for Aussie conditions.

I will throw my hat into the ring for this. 3 - 4.5KVA should be sufficient for any setup.

 

Edit: Please post your interest, here?

Edited by 24Bits

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