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iFi audio PowerStation

Rating:
4.5/5,
  • Power to the people

    Southport, England – The PowerStation is the latest addition to iFi’s collection of performance-enhancing audio essentials – a six/eight-way mains block that ensures any audio or AV system is supplied with clean, consistent electricity to unleash its full potential.

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    Every audio system can be tainted by poor mains quality – a problem that affects many of us, especially those living in towns and cities. The quality of our mains power is further eroded by the abundance of cheap switch-mode power supplies in typical household appliances and the sea of RFI/EMI in which we are constantly bathed. The signals that move loudspeaker drive units are electrical; if the ‘unrefined fuel’ from which these signals are formed – the power we feed our systems – is corrupted, the negative impact on sound quality is inevitable.

    iFi manufactures a number of highly effective products that reduce ‘noise’ (distortion) in incoming electrical power – both directly from the mains or via USB ports – but the PowerStation is the first to offer the company’s proprietary Active Noise Cancellation in a whole-system, six/eight-outlet mains solution.

    Intelligent technology to tackle a universal problem

    The PowerStation’s core performance–enhancing technology is Active Noise Cancellation II – the latest version of iFi’s proprietary noise-busting tech. Most power ‘conditioning’ products engage passive noise reduction through a selection of filters and regulators. Whilst this can be effective, it has inherent disadvantages compared to iFi’s active system, which uses inverse noise current to cancel out the noise in the mains signal. The way this works is not unlike the technology in noise-cancelling headphones.

    Noise in the mains supply occurs at different frequencies, depending on the cause. Passive noise reduction systems are effective at the top end of the frequency spectrum but tend to be less so at lower frequencies. In addition, passive systems need large capacitors to be truly effective, which make the best such products bulky and expensive.

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    iFi’s Active Noise Cancellation II is effective in reducing noise consistently across the entire frequency spectrum, by approximately -40dB. This is coupled to additional passive filtering on each outlet to eradicate noise at the very highest frequencies – typically caused by wireless transmission systems. The result is an affordable mains bar that delivers highly effective reduction of both differential mode noise (caused by conventional switch-mode power supplies, for example) and common mode noise (including interference caused by Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) from an affordable mains conditioning block.


    Smart features to enhance and protect

    The PowerStation’s smart diagnostics system helps to avoid potential issues by indicating both correct polarity and whether the system has a ground/earth in place. The lack of an effective earth can cause an audible buzz or hum through the speakers, resulting from amplified low-level mains noise; this can be rectified by attaching an optional ground cable into PowerStation’s earth socket. iFi calls this circuit Intelligent Ground because it will not create a ground loop (a common cause of buzz or hum) even if the system is already earthed.

    The PowerStation not only enhances the performance of every connected audio/AV component, it also guards the connected equipment from spikes and surges in the mains supply. Instantaneous and repeatable protection ensures that damage will not occur as a result of power fluctuations, providing valuable peace of mind. If the protection circuit is triggered, the PowerStation will only reboot once it is absolutely safe to do so.


    Specialised construction for optimised performance

    The PowerStation’s case is solidly constructed from dark anodised aluminium, as befits a high-quality audio/AV component. Inside, each of the six/eight mains outlets is independently isolated in its own chamber to prevent differential mode cross-contamination, with the addition of strategically placed EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) to damp vibrations.

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    PurCopper – a form of 99.9999 per cent pure OFHC (Oxygen-Free High-Conductivity) continuous-cast copper – is used extensively for its superior conductivity. This includes heavy-gauge internal wiring with multi-layered polymer insulation, solid PurCopper busbars and the conductive elements of the AC outlets themselves. It all adds up to a level of functionality and performance that users will not obtain from other whole-system clean-power solutions without spending considerably more.

    Sonic improvements delivered by the PowerStation include greater clarity and definition, plus enhanced dynamic and spatial qualities, avoiding the apparent softening of leading edges, timing and dynamics that can occur with lesser mains filtering products. Available from August with a choice of four outlet types to suit the UK, EU, USA/Japan and Australia, it raises the performance level of every connected component – a whole-system upgrade delivering impressive value for money.

Recent Reviews

  1. betula
    iFi PowerStation: extension lead for £500?
    Written by betula
    Published Sep 1, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - quality materials
    - strong build
    - active noise cancelling
    - fully isolated sockets
    Cons - big and heavy
    - audible results are highly system dependent
    iFi Audio has lent me the new PowerStation for a few weeks in exchange for my honest opinion.
    iFi Audio is a British company well known for their DACs, amplifiers and power/signal clarifying tools. iFi is a subdivision of AMR.

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    I have reviewed and bought many of their products during the years and I was never disappointed with the quality.
    From their signal and power clarifying tools I owned the iPurifier 3, which to my ears made a real difference with my amp and DAC at the time (Questyle CMA 600i, Chord 2Qute). The iPurifier 3 offered a blacker background, better dynamics and a cleaner sound with my system.
    Once I upgraded the 2Qute for the Qutest, the difference from the iPurifier 3 was less obvious if present at all. This change was not because of the inefficiency of the iPurifier 3, but because of the better power implementation of the Chord Qutest.
    These power and signal clarifying tools are very system dependent in my experience.

    I was still curious to see however, what the new £499 PowerStation does in my current system.

    Build:

    The PowerStation is big, heavy and built like a tank. It is made of aluminium and weighs 2 kg. It comes in a big box which weighs even more, not what you would expect from ’just an extension lead’. This is not your average extension lead; a whole range of tech is built inside.

    It is a minor gripe, but I find the AC iPurifier (the white bulge) on the end of the product a little strange looking. It seems removable while it is not and the white plastic just doesn’t match the dark aluminium body. I think this could have been implemented in a more elegant way.

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    Tech:

    The level of tech built into the PowerStation is impressive. Here is a link to iFi’s website for detailed specs, I will only mention the ones I found the most interesting:

    1, Active noise cancellation, which can be 100x more effective than similar products with passive noise filtering. (A bit like ANC headphones vs. IEMs.)

    2, High quality materials like oxygen free copper wiring.

    3, The most advanced surge protection available.

    4, Polarity and earth detection/diagnostics.

    5, Perfectly isolated individual sockets.

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    Results:

    It is one thing to know all your audio equipment are safe from any sort of power issues, and another if it means any sonic improvement to your system. In my opinion the former should be the primary reason for buying this product and the latter to be the secondary reason.

    Whether you will hear a sonic improvement highly depends on your individual circumstances: how clean is your main power? How good is your electric wiring at home? How much RF noise is in your area? How good the filters your amps and DACs have and so on.
    If there is any humming or other problem with your electric circuits at home, the PowerStation is very likely to solve it. It will also protect your audio inventory against any unexpected electric faults/failures.

    My electric wiring seems fine according to the little led lights on iFi’s high end power lead. I also own a Chord Hugo TT2 at the moment, which is an exceptionally well-made product with advanced noise filtering already built in.

    The TT2 doesn’t have batteries, but it has super capacitors that hold the charge for about 30-60 seconds. This means I was able to switch between the PowerStation and my simple (£25) surge protected extension lead, without stopping the music from playing. I could not hear any difference in the sound at all, but I think it is because of TT2’s abilities and the OK power I have got at home.

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    I wish I still had some of my older DACs and amps around, as I am pretty sure the case would be different with them, just like it was with the iPurifier 3 at the time.

    Conclusion:

    Can I recommend the PowerStation and who do I think it is for?

    I think this product is for audio enthusiasts who own enough equipment to use all the sockets on the PowerStation. This high quality power lead doesn’t only protect your equipment but also keeps them completely isolated from each other. This fact and the active noise cancellation are unique features at this price point. If you have already invested thousands in your audio toys, you definitely want to keep them safe and iFi’s product will do it for you to the highest possible standard.

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    If you want to buy the PowerStation for sound quality improvement, I recommend trying it first at home with your own equipment to avoid any potential disappointment, as the results can vary a lot depending on your individual circumstances.
      dbsylvia and Niyologist like this.

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