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Review: PS Audio Power Plant Premier Power Regenerator

post #1 of 87
Thread Starter 
Review: PS Audio Power Plant Premier Power Regenerator

This will be the easiest review I ever wrote.

The PS Audio Power Plant Premier works. It does exactly what it says it will.


OK, all well and good, how about some details?

Fit 'N Finish/Functionality/Operation
The Power Plant Premier (PPP) is quite simply, a thing of beauty. The casework has a very modern, but sleek and stylish design. It's as heavy as a boulder, and put together immaculately. It has a nice bright screen that you can set to dim or shut off all together. The unit even comes with a remote for those too lazy to get up from the comfy chair.

It has two power settings, one provides a "perfect" sine wave, the other is what they call "MultiWave". I prefer the Multiwave setting; the differences are positively miniscule, but Multiwave seems to be slightly brighter and more pronounced than Sine Wave.

The two rows of high-quality outlets (that grip your power cords quite nicely) on the rear are grouped into different categories, though there is absolutely no difference between any of them. However, you are generally advised to keep your digital and analog gear on different columns to avoid contamination. Each vertical pair of outlets is shielded from the others. With a basic headphone system, your source and amp can be easily isolated from one another with plenty of outlets to spare.

The unit is not just a power regenerator, though, it's also a high-quality surge suppressor. So far, it has weathered 4 power outages with aplomb. The unit shuts off, then re-boots with a gentle "click" once power comes back. I am confident my expensive gear is quite safe while attached to the PPP.

Power Conditioners Vs. Power Regenerators
The Power Plant Premier is the latest iteration of PS Audio's famous power regenerator line. Inaugurated with a big splash years ago with the now venerable (but humble) P300 unit, PS Audio's line of power regenerators has since become a bit of an audio legend. PS Audio essentially created a new category of audio products (since much immitated), introducing the idea of wholesale power regeneration, or taking the raw, "dirty" electricity from the wall, and rather than simply "conditioning" it as any number of then-current black boxes did, totally regenerating the power from scratch into a nice, tidy, "perfect" stream.

This differs greatly from the approach of so-called "power conditioners" which work by subtracting nasties from the power coming out of your wall as a sort of buffer. As you can imagine, using this approach, how do you precisley control the removal of "bad" AC vs. the removal of "good"? Many of these devices were accused of "choking" the sound by over-restricting the flow of current, and this had an especially negative impact on power-hungry devices like home theater receivers and large power amps. In any case, at the risk of quoting marketing text from the PS Audio site, the truth is (and best analogy available) that this approach is really merely a "Band-Aid" solution. I've owned 4 or 5 power conditioners over the years, and nary a one "improved" the sound; the most I can say about the best of them is that it did not seem to harm the sound any.

However, the P300 and it's larger, more powerful siblings were still not immune from this problem. True to its name, the P300 could only regenerate 300 watts of power at a time. This meant it was of no use on larger power amps, etc., and it, too, was often accused of restricting dynamics, even on gear that was much less demanding of current. These early regenerators also ran very hot.

Not so the latest Power Plant Premier. Based on a completely new design, this unit supercedes and replaces all the older models. It's rated to deliver a whopping 1500 watts of power (yet runs as cool as could be). In a headphone system, this is obviously overkill, however, it's nice to have that extra headroom; my gear now operates as effortlessly and efficiently as could be. The PPP stores and holds some energy for those moments when your music and your gear gear is being especially demanding. This means no restriction of dynamics, and an easy, flowing sound to your tunes.

The PPP has a million different design points; they seem to have left nothing to chance and appear to have thought out every aspect of its construction. No need to go into it all, you can just visit their web site for details.

What's the sound of "nothing"? Am I saying the unit doesn't do anything? Absolutely not. I am saying that it utterly lacks a sound of its own and is totally transparent. It does what it does and stays out of the way. I had been concerned that, whatever else its virtues may be, it would add some kind of "signature" to the sound of my gear, some extra coloration or synthetic twinge that would be distracting.

These concerns were totally unfounded as the PPP has absolutely no footprint I can detect. So what does it do, exactly?

Have you ever had one of those great late-night sessions, delving deep into your music collection, being so enraptured by the performance of your gear that you lost all track of time? It's like that.

Have you noticed that late at night, deep into the midnight hour and beyond, your gear seems to just beautifully hum along? You know those magic hours long after all the decent people of the world have gone to bed, shut their lights off, turned off their computers and appliances and it's just you and your system sucking on all that clean juice from the power plant?

Yeah, it sounds just like that, but in the middle of the day or any time you decide to turn it on and let it rip. The background just goes as black as 3AM on a moonless night, and the life blood of the music is as clean and pure as you can imagine it.

This means that every sound now stands out from the background all the more, is more defined and solid, more fully-formed and sharply focused. The level of grain and grit is reduced, which means that you are reminded less and less you are listening to an audio system, and become more and more enveloped in the music.

Strangely, I noticed again and again, that even with the PPP in line on my gear, my system still sounded better late at night. Curious, I did some digging. Then I discovered the fine print, which is that, as clean as the power is coming out of the PPP, it's still not 100% "perfect" (though close). This means that the cleaner the power is coming into the unit, the cleaner it will be as it comes out.

The PPP and Power Cables
Great! Now that I have "perfect" power, I can unload all those fancy aftermarket power cables I own.

Wrong! In my experience, I have found that aftermarket power cables are still just as effective and important with a PPP as without. All those benefits you've perceived with your favorite cords is still there, in as apparent a fashion as ever. I'm the power cord freak; I've owned 25+ different cords and heard differences in all of them. Yeah, that probably makes me a bit of a "kook" even to people who believe in power cords as well as those who don't. Don't care, I know what I hear.

I've rotated many cables around on my gear and between the PPP and the wall and reached some conclusions. My strong opinion is that your best cord needs to go from the wall to the PPP. That seems to be the critical link and most sensitive to differences in power cords. It casts its effect over the totality of the rest of the system. That doesn't mean that power cords coming out of the PPP make no difference-- they do. As always, your next best cable belongs on your source, then on your amplification.

The Power Plant Premeier does not change or alter your system; rather it just allows the gear you already have to shine and show you all that it's truly capable of. It won't fix a bad component, or cure a bad system with lousy synergy. However, if you are already in love with your system, the PPP just multiplies that joy and allows your gear to sound more like itself.

Not cheap, but highly recommended!
post #2 of 87
For the same amount of money that I paid for my P500 3 years ago, this is a steal.

Nice review Mark.
post #3 of 87
Very nice review, Mark, thanks. I've been toying with getting one of these, am still on the fence, but this helps sway me.

FYI, some places (I think Music Direct was one) have/had demos or refurb's for ~$1500. And sometimes they pop up - briefly - used.
post #4 of 87
PS Audio always sells B stocks after a show (Rocky Mountain, CES, so on). Just let them know in advance and they put you on a list. I got my Juice Bar for 1/2 price.
post #5 of 87
Yeah, I really like their stuff. I have a Power Punch Cable for my Figaro. It made a hell of a difference. The Bass showed up and the sound became a little unveiled.I want more stuff from them.
post #6 of 87
nice review markl!

was toying with the idea of getting a power conditioner like the upc-200. aside from its purported benefits, it would like nice beside my dl3

but i don't have enough budget at this time to go for those power regenerators. maybe down the road i can spring for one of these
post #7 of 87
I wish I had $2,200 to get one. I will have to check on the coment of 1/2 price following a show.
post #8 of 87
Nice review, Mark. Thanks.

I am a big power conditioner fan also, due to the crummy electricty here in Hawaii, power outages, and the like. They definitely help in the right systems and locations.
post #9 of 87
Thread Starter 
I wish I had $2,200 to get one.
You can usually find them used on audiogon for $1250.
post #10 of 87
On the older power plants you can alter the frequency of the output sinewave which I don't think you can on the PPP

This did make a small difference to the sound (if the frequency was increased to say 80Hz) and also reduced the mechanical noise (if there was any) from mains transformers in the attached equipment.
post #11 of 87
I found listening at late night even with just the UPC line is pretty good.

The key is late night and lights off
post #12 of 87
Originally Posted by markl View Post
It has two power settings, one provides a "perfect" square wave, the other is what they call "MultiWave". I prefer the Multiwave setting; the differences are positively miniscule, but Multiwave seems to be slightly brighter and more pronounced than Square Wave.
The manual on the product from the manufacturer's website specifically
says SINE waves. And there is a Th.d meter to measure the sine waves.

Square waves would be a very bad thing.
post #13 of 87
Thread Starter 
Type-o fixed.
post #14 of 87
If you have a VPI TT and don't have the $1K SDS motor controller, you can use the P500/1000 and maybe the PPP to control your RPM speed (33 1/3 or 45).
post #15 of 87
Originally Posted by markl View Post
You can usually find them used on audiogon for $1250.
Thanks, but my wallet ran away.
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