iFi audio PowerStation - Reviews
The One to End Them All
Pros: Elegant design, Excellent performance, Removable Cable, Built-in AC iPurifier
Cons: The direction of the sockets on the US model means using transformer-type power adaptors WILL block adjacent outlets
iFi Audio Power Station

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Intro

It was a late winter Saturday morning. Being a child of the 1980’s my routine included a bowl of Froot Loops with by butt firmly planted in front of the T.V. along with my younger brother, watching such classics as The Smurfs ,Transformers, and the Disney Afternoon. Usually my mother would be doing chores with my father relaxing in the basement after getting up hours before the rest of us and shovelling the driveway. Today was not typical though. My brother was over at a friend’s house, and my mom went shopping for the day with her sisters, leaving just my Dad and I alone until the evening. Unbeknown to me, this was all planned. But first, let’s backtrack to the Fall of the previous year.

My Dad had surprised my mom with an early Birthday/Christmas gift; A brand new Sony Video 8 Handycam! For years my Mom wanted a camcorder after my Dad brought home a broadcast quality Sony Betacam from his work and filmed my 1st Birthday. As my father’s profession was in media/broadcasting he outright refused to allow our precious memories to be filmed on a home VHS video recorder (in his professional opinion, a trash format). With Video 8 (8mm cassette) not becoming the next Betamax, my Dad felt confident that his expensive purchase would not become a niche technology (like our 4 Super Beta Hi-Fi + LaserDisc players we had). Anyway, he had filmed that year’s Halloween, us kid’s school Christmas pageant, and of course Christmas and New Year’s Eve. With the context out of the way, let’s continue.

The day before my Dad, along with our cousin, had moved a behemoth Sony U-matic professional 3/4” VTR along with a couple of colour monitors down to the computer room. As my Dad was #2 in his company he had special privileges, and one of them was “signing out” last generation’s technology (that all became permanent household fixtures). While we had several Super Beta VCRs and TVs that could have been used, being the professional my father is, he wanted the edits to be clean and the transfer to be as close to 1:1 as possible complete with colour grading, computer graphics, sound effects and soundtrack. Needless to say I was wowed by the transformation of the room into a fully loaded editing suit, thinking it looked like something out of the movies!

Everything started to make sense. My mom was sent away so that she would not know what my Dad was up to, while my brother was at friends so there would be no distractions. I was kept around because my Dad wanted me to see what he was doing. He was awesome that way. Anything new that related to technology my father would not just have me by his side learning along with him, but explaining the how’s and why’s along the way. As a child I found it annoying sometimes, but looking back I am grateful he did. It made me more objective in my opinions and not turn me into an ignorant fanboy.

The morning soon transitioned to afternoon. Over the course of the few hours I witness my Dad mad at work, jogging video and pushing buttons without taking his eyes off the monitors. It was amazing, like watching Data from Star Trek in real time! I just watched from the door, daring not to break his concentration. I could tell he was in deep focus as he would have two cigarettes going at any given time (hence why I stood by the door). Now and again he would give a brief rundown on what he just did, if relevant, only to return to his rhythm and carry on. Eventually the ashtray was full, and his task was complete. It was time to transfer the video onto Beta, and was shooed away as to not spoil the final product until I could watch the video together with my family. I was told to close the door on the way out.

It wasn’t long before I started hearing “colourful” language coming through the door. Something was very wrong. My Dad never swore. The door swung open and I could see it in his face that this was serious. For the next 30 minutes he was frantic, switching wires, swapping power outlets, changing out various Beta cassette tapes, even cleaning the drum heads of the VCRs by hand, all hoping for a different outcome. Eventually he let out a sigh of defeat and showed me the video. Pushing play on the U-matic, the problem was apparent; Noise! Along the top of the screen were quite visible intermittent distortion lines. “ Uh oh! ” I thought, “ I hope he doesn’t blame this on me! “ You see, the rule of the house is if my Dad is recording on the VCR we are, for ANY reason, not to turn on the microwave, dryer, or any light that is on a rheostat as it would introduce distortion lines and crackly sound. However no blame was laid, rather my Dad simply said “ Let’s go for a car ride down to the TV station. “ and away we went.

When we arrived I was excited as I thought that I would get to play on the legendary (and fully-loaded) Macintosh IIfx while my Dad did whatever he had to do, but alas it was not to be. This was a commando strike, and the signing in at the front desk took longer than we were inside. My Dad had grabbed 2 items, a handful of professional grade RCA to locking BNC coaxial cables, and a mammoth metal power-strip. As a 9-year old I was disappointed, with the 90 minute+ round trip in -30°C, dark at 4:30pm, Canadian February winter reinforcing my feelings. Ah well, we got A&W Teen burgers with onion rings and root beer on the way back, and we made good time so it was all good. Eventually we get back and my Dad spared no time swapping out cables and transferring plugs to the new power-strip.

This time I gave my Dad his complete space with me playing Nintendo while he worked his magic. I didn’t think my Dad could do it, but he re-edited the video with all of the pizzaz in time before my mom and brother got back, and this time the video was perfect! Phew! I asked what the issue was in the first place. He explained that it was the same reason when we had moved in years prior our Apple II literally caught fire the first time it was powered on, and why when I plugged in a radio into a socket in my bedroom the outlet glowed bright red and started to smoke; Bad power! The power-strip was a completely different animal vs the sturdy tried and true indoor/outdoor Noma brand strips we used, which weren’t terrible by any metric, and that it filters out noise that the U-matic’s heads were picking up. At the time the explanation was beyond my comprehension, but I now know he was referring to EMI and RFI along with an uneven power waveform from the breaker a.k.a. dirty power!

To this day I still use the seemingly magical power-strip that saved my Dad’s first of many many many… many home movie project. By the time I grew to a young adult and had a place of my own, my parents had moved to a new residence (with good power) just as the Renaissance of digital video was at hand, so there was no need for a large and over-engineered power-strip. So I snatched it up! It currently sits under the bed, protecting my wife and I from the electric blanket we use in the winter, as well as our alarm clocks from any unwanted and consequential power issues. While it has dirtied over the years from animals and spills, the terminal contacts show no sign of corrosion and it’s LED indicator light shines bright and flicker-free.

You might be asking yourself, what was the point of this anecdote from my youth? Two reasons. First, it’s to illustrate how something as mundane as a power-strip and clean power can make a huge impact. Second, professional or not, having a good power-strip is essential to ensure both quality and expedience of work. And last, I have witnessed first hand what bad power can do to a house’s mains and that which is connected to them. It is the reason why I got excited when iFi Audio both announced their new Power Station power-strip, and reached out to me to see if I would like to give it a try. To be perfectly honest, given iFi’ audios past record of releasing Digital and AC power enhancers (noise conditioners), I have been longing for them to make such a product; An iFi quality power strip with built-in noise conditioning! So let’s find out how the Power Station stacks up to iFi’s claims, and if it’s worth investing in to protect and enhance your equipment.


Disclaimer/Acknowledgement

The Power Station was sent to me direct from iFi Audio USA in exchange for my impressions and review. The words I write are my own and are honest, objective, and free of bias. I received no financial compensation for my effort, only the satisfaction of trying out a quality product.

As always, I would also like to thank Lawrance over at iFi Audio for contacting me and asking if I would interested in checking out yet another fantastic iFi product! Heck yes, I will never say no!


About Me

Born in 1978, I grew up in a family consisting of musicians, broadcaster/sound engineers, and amateur DJs, I always had a deep appreciation and understanding of both music and sound. I was further educated in this self interest after taking courses in both basic electronics and Sound: Electro-Acousto a.k.a. The Path to Golden Ears. While I believe a listener’s preference in sound is subjective, the science behind it is not. I am not swayed by buzzwords, hype, trends, brand recognition, or big numbers on charts; I am the nemesis of the commissioned salesperson. Opinionated as I am, my words are not only objective but honest. I view all criticism as constructive, as long as it is sincere.


Features

Active Noise Cancellation II ®

Built on military technology, ANC II ® provides up to >40dB (>100x) reduction of the noise floor. Much like active noise cancelling (ANC) headphones, the Power Station generates a signal in the opposite phase of the incoming electrical noise, actively cancelling the signal out. The end result is effective at removing low and mid range frequency noise, while passive insulating filters reduce the noise found in the higher frequency range.
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Wireless Purification System (WPS) noise reduction
Complex circuit that reduces power line noise without auditable or measurable side effects, nor hamper dynamics.
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Over-voltage Surge Protection (OSP) max. 30,000A @ 1,000V/10uS
Auto detection and cut-off circuitry. Should the Power Station detect excessive power surges or shorts in the mains’ electricity it will automatically cut off, and if the problem persists it will not restart and continue to protect your equipment.
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Isolated Outlets
Each outlet of the Power Station is independently isolated in its own chamber to prevent differential mode cross-contamination. The addition of strategically placed EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) helps to damp vibrations.
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99.9999% Oxygen Free High Conductivity (OFHC) continuous-cast copper
Superior conductivity, including the 13 AWG heavy grade internal wiring with multi-layered polymer insulation, solid PurCopper busbars, and the conductive elements of the outlets themselves.
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Intelligent Ground
Smart diagnostic tool that only actively provides an earth (ground) connection if your system needs one. If the system is already earthed, the Power Station will not create a ground loop.
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Built-in AC iPurifier
Red/Green LED indicator shows polarity and earth (ground) connection making it simple to tell if there is an issue. 4mm banana plug socket adds the ability to use a grounding cable to add earth (ground) to a component when one isn’t present, eliminating any annoying buzzing and hums.
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Looking at the list of impressive features of the Power Station one might ask, is this a power strip or a power conditioner? The answer is yes! iFi made the ultimate fusion with the Power Station by combining the capabilities of what one would find in a conventional power conditioning unit with the form factor of a multi-outlet power strip. However unlike the competition which, for the most part, use standard off the shelf components and topology, the Power Station is packed with iFi’s customers in-house design - trickle-down technology found in many of their products.

Normally I’d move on to the next section of the review. Normally the features are nothing more than stats! While I do admit the Power Station’s features are pretty self explanatory, I have a lot to say in regards to why I feel they are important. Like my personal antidote that opened the review, I have been scorned in the past by “advertised” claims and shoddy construction, both of which have had costly consequences. We take a lot of things for granted, especially in our high-tech day and age. Products are designed to work within specifications while obliging to regulatory standards, and for the the vast majority of their life will operate with zero issues. Nothing though is 100% guaranteed, and outside factors arise to cause problems. The following paragraphs in this section are not typical and simply reflect my experience.

Starting off with the noise cancelling aspects, iFi’s claims regarding ANC II and WPS are not outlandish by any regard. I have a Blue Diamond power-strip that advertises EMI/RFI filtering with up to 46dB reduction of the noise floor, fully passive. It has served me well over the years as I am near obsessed with eliminating any and all noise. However while satisfied with the seemingly inky-blackness of the signal (for the most part), unbeknownst to me all this time the dynamics were in fact affected in a negative way. Upon swapping over my iCAN SE and iTube2’s iPowers from my power strip to the Power Station, the difference was immediate with multiple headphones. I will not get into too much detail on this as I will be covering it later on in the review, but I will say that my HiFiMAN HE-560 became far too bright to the point I care not to use them outside of gaming. In all honesty I never understood until now why the legendary Tyll Hertsens found the HE-560 too bright as we actually share the same preference in headphone sound signature. Talk about mixed feelings, but that’s on me, not the Power Station. I have said this time and time again, you never notice the invisible grain until you don’t. In my case, a full decade of not hearing my gear to the fullest! I was, I am both shocked and embarrassed.

Moving along to the protection features, the Power Station has the competition beat, in spades! Boasting 99.9999% oxygen-free high conductivity continuous-cast copper (that’s a mouthful), 13 gauge heavy grade wiring, and multi-layered polymer insulation, I do not question the reliability and longevity of the Power Station internals. For many this may seem like overkill by any metric, yet I on the other hand do not. This past summer I threw out two power strips and three extension cords due to corrosion/oxidation. The power strips were tucked in behind 2 floor sitting freshwater 60L aquariums, one on either side of the room. Because of my basement’s semi-finished nature, power outlets were scarce so I had to use an extension cord running from my workbench to power the rumpus room. The fish tanks were daisy chained with extension cords leading to independent power strips for each respectively, with a third short extension cord leading to the centre wall to power a TV. For context, neither of the power strips were exposed to water during operation, only moisture in the air which sits at 23% humidity, a mere 1% higher than the main floor. Anyway, nothing changed in regards to the setup for a decade until the fish caught a parasite from live feeders and sadly perished; So much for giving them a treat. For the next 4 years we just left the tanks sit until I decided that I needed a man-cave! I cleaned and cleaned, leaving the tanks for last. Upon trying to unplug the accessories from the first strip, it soon became apparent that they would not budge; At best I could wiggle them, only to hear a crunchy sound! I literally had to stand on either end of the power strip and yank with all my might to get each one out! The second tank’s strip faired a little better, probably because it sat against a drywall as opposed to concrete foundation. Each plug came out by hand but not without extreme force. Inspecting the copper of the plugs, each had significant darkening and pitting of the metal However that was only for the tank’s accessories as most of the extension cord’s prongs stayed in the power strip! Wow!

Because the fish tank accessories were by Fluval, a highly regarded company in the fish world (akin to the Sennheiser of aquariums), the copper on the plugs were of high quality and could be saved and re-used without worry or issue. It took a lot of scrubbing with CLR and a toothbrush, combined with light sanding, but I managed to clean the plugs up so that they were smooth with a shiny finish. The power strips on the other hand were going straight into the trash, but first I needed to crack them open and see what’s going on. To my non-surprise, I was met with crumbly copper with heavy multi-coloured blue-green oxidation floating about. Using tweezers, I carefully pulled apart the copper bus bars only to realize that the metal was plated! It all makes sense why the pitting of the copper on the plugs; chemical reaction between the electricity, moisture, the different metals. Needless to say I was taken aback! Never again, and by that I mean avoid those large floor sitting boxes overflowing with powerstripas and extension cables that sit under the racks in Big-Box hardware stores. They may seem like a great deal for what they are, but believe me they are not. In fact, I will take it further. I received the power strips and extension cords from my best-bud/room-mate as a thoughtful gesture when we first set up the tanks. He worked (at the time) at one of the Big-Box stores (orange apron) and informed me years later to NEVER purchase ANYTHING from those unlabelled brown boxes as they are all garbage purchased pennies on the dollar. No damage done, but advise that came too late. I shudder to think what may have happened if the tanks were still in use.

As someone who has taken apart many power strips, including ones costing well over $100, I can honestly say that I have never encountered full - 100% isolated outlets. It’s a feature I have wanted for many years. While iFi states that isolated outlets “ prevents differential mode cross-contamination “, it goes far beyond providing the cleanest sound. I am not sure how many of you are familiar with what’s inside of a standard power strip, but shockingly (pun intended) it’s not much! Please, by all means open a new browser tab and take a moment away from this review to do a search for “ inside of a power strip “. Just be warned, you might start to look at your own strips with a concerned eye. Now that you all have that engraved into your mind, think of all the possibilities that would be of concern such as liquid, moisture, or debris falling into the socket. I recently opened up a moderately expensive power strip in which I could hear something, multiple things, rattling around. It came with one of the aquariums we have upstairs (yes, we have a few) and only 3 of the 8 outlets worked. I myself never set it up, I just accepted it for years until recently when I decided to de-clutter underneath the fish tank and had swapped the strip for a wall mounted multi-outlet. Curiosity got the better of me and upon removing the screws and dismantling the strip fur, sand, pebbles, dust bunnies, dead spiders, and staples fell out! After a thorough cleaning all 8 outlets now work (along with the LCD display and programable timer) with a substantially lower risk of something consequential occurring. Here’s the kicker. As each outlet could rotate, each were contained in a “chamber”, though completely open to the rest of the inside. All this did was aid the collection and build-up around each socket thus furthering the change of failure or worse! I am just a dude, yet I really wonder what’s going through the heads of the engineers who design these products!? Fortunately, iFi’s engineers seem to possess foresight that others lack!

Lastly, a power strip would not be such without surge protection. Besides, multiple outlets, it’s the one feature people take for granted. The Power Station has a very respectable 30,000A @ 1,000V/10uS of over-voltage surge protection, a high number indeed though one can never be too careful when protecting your expensive gear. One can not rely on their dwellings fuze box/circuit breaker alone. The Power Station uses advanced detection and cut-off circuitry which detects shorts and surges in the mains power and automatically protects any connected device. If the problem persists the Power Station will remain in protection mode and not restart. Back-tracking to the last paragraph, remember the inside of a standard power strip? If you look close enough, usually on the side or near the power switch, you will see the circuit breaker. Don’t see it? I don’t blame you as it is simply a strip of temperature sensitive metal in-line with the circuit, that when heated beyond a certain point will retract thus breaking continuity. Pushing the “reset” button simply pushes the cooled metal bar back in place, in which it will remain until it again reaches the cut-off temperature. I am not sure about you, but that does not bring confidence in regards to protecting my expensive gear. Sure, it works… for the most part…

Unlike the competition, iFi Audio does not make any bold claims of X amount of $$$ in gear protection, and oh boy do I have yet another story for you… last one, I promise! The current power strip I am using was purchased as a replacement. The previous week my city had suffered a brutal thunderstorm, with a lightning strike occurring literally across the street from my townhouse. This caused not only all of the lights that were plugged into the wall or hard wired to the mains to briefly glow to a blinding brightness, but trip all of the circuit breakers in my power strips… all but one. You see 2 years previous after the purchase of a new MacPro I decided that my trusty Noma power strip just wasn’t good enough for my expensive God-tier computer. This power strip was not cheap and was advertised with a “$1,000,000 in gear protection guarantee”. Out of respect for the company I won’t say their name, but it rhymes with Monster Cable. At first I thought that nothing was wrong. I had assumed that the Monster strip tripped as the computer seemed off. Noticing the monitor, along with the iMac that sat next to it still had power, it was then the distinct smell of burning rubber crept into my nose! Glancing down under the desk, I could see a spot halfway down the power cable was melted and smoking! I never straightened out the cable on the power strip as it was too long for under my desk, so I kept it in it’s packaged state which was looped and tied. The burning occurred on one of the bends in the loop. Anyway, I quickly sprang into action and yanked out the cable from the wall socket, bending the pins in the process. I was panicking!

I don’t think I could have dug up an old power strip any faster; I needed to know if my computers, my babies were ok! However, they were not. My iMac restarted, but the display was dead; The connector burned out resulting in half the screen flickering pink. The MacPro sadly did not turn on, instead slowly filled the room with the smell of ionized smoke. I had spent the past two years paying off my dream computer and had just made the final payment 1-2 months prior, and due to my credit limit at the time I could not afford AppleCare. Anyone want to make a wager if Monster Cable made good on their guarantee? Anyone? Their excuse was that I didn’t buy the power strip from an “authorized” dealer! What what WHAT? There is/was such a thing? Unbelievable. How about this, anyone want to make a guess how much home owner’s insurance covered the cost of my two Apple computers? $1500 CAD, not including the $500 deductible… $1000 for an Intel iMac and Xeon powered MacPro. I am not sure who I was more enraged with, Monster Cable or my insurance, but regardless I was not impressed. Live and learn I suppose…

Oh hey, what about the built-in AC iPurifier? Excellent question! Originally it was my plan to include a separate linked review of this awesome little device, however upon doing a little digging, my fellow Head-Fier DubiousGeorge had already written a fantastic write-up with his words essentially mirroring my own. I thought about it, concluding that what I would write about the AC iPurifier George has already written. A lazy cop-out? Somewhat, however this review is already long enough. So please, go check out his review here!


Packing

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Typical iFi box branding, with a twist! Traditionally iFi’s packaging is white with grey text, however the Power Station’s box is grey with white text; Mind blown! A new norm perhaps, or maybe it’s a one-off? I will never know unless I buy all of their products to compare, a slow progress, and I am not rich… yet.

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In regards to the contents inside the box, it’s not much; The Power Station and the power cable. I suppose there really isn’t a need for any accessories. To be honest, I can’t really think of what else could come with a power strip? Likewise I can’t think of anything else, witty or not, to pad out the section. Let’s move on.

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Build/Design

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As with all of iFi’s offerings, the Power Station is constructed in (dark grey) anodized aluminium. The design is both industrial and elegant. I mean, just look at those angles! No more will you go to great lengths to hide your rat’s nest of a power strip, you will want to have the Power Station front and centre alongside your prized gear!

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Again, like the majority of iFi’s products, the Power Station’s specifications and features are listed on the underside. Some may see this as pointless as RGB lights on headphones, however I know there are many like me that from time to time enjoy lifting up their iFi products and ogling their toy’s specs. Don’t judge us!

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iFi addressed a common problem with power strips; Damage to the outlets, both internal and external. Each independently isolated outlet is a very tight and snug fit. Admittedly I was somewhat apprehensive about the snugness as every device I plugged in took more force than any outlet I have encountered, ever! However, not to worry. I’d rather not have any of my thick and heavy cables, nor heavy transformers wiggling around in the socket. And besides, just look at those isolated outlets, these are very heavy duty! I never got the impression that I would damage the Power Station by plugging in or removing devices.

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Removable standardized power-cable! REMOVABLE STANDARDIZED POWER-CABLE! Yes, I am ecstatic over this mundane feature but with good cause. The #1 failure of any device is the cable. Having a removable IBM standard 3 prong plug is a blessing indeed! Not only can one easily replace the cable if needed (I.e. too short, damage) but one can upgrade to a higher quality cable such as AMR’s PC-77/777 if desired. Fantastic! Choice is great!

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Let’s not forget about the built in AC iPurifier. With green glowing, the little guy is stealthily tucked away at the rear (or is that the front?) of the Power Station, silently working magic all while while being unobtrusive.

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Pictures can not begin to show the true weight of the unit as it is heavy, in a good way! Coupled with dense, thick rubber feet, the Power Station essentially stays where you place it. No matter how many plug I connected to the Power Station including multiple computer and monitors plugs each pulling in a common direction, the unit WOULD NOT BUDGE! Trying to drag the Power Station across my laminate floors by hand proved to be quite difficult as the rubber’s grip proved to be impressively strong, skipping across the surface with squealing anger, but in the end the unit did not budge upon final placement with the connected power cables stretched so taut it would make a tight rope walker envious!


Miss-Step and Missed Opportunity

Normally I have nothing negative to say about iFi Audio’s products, however I do have two niggles I need to discuss. To start, while I absolutely laud the Power Station for both the high-quality and quantity of sockets on the US model, the direction they face means that if your device uses a wall-wart style transformer you will be sacrificing at least 1 adjacent socket. Add in multiple or larger power adaptors and the Power Station’s free sockets will be obstructed. I lined up numerous adaptors I had on hand and found that many standard sized transformers would not obscure adjacent sockets if they were simply turned 90 degrees. In my opinion, this is a design miss-step for the US model.

The missed opportunity comes in the form of USB power, or lack there of. Let’s face it, in today’s modern age USB has become a standard in power delivery, with many small devices ditching transformers for the convenience of a standardized, swappable plug. DACs, amps, phones, lights, displays, speakers, cigarette lighters, children’s toys, and even household appliances and toiletries. So why is it that I find virtually all modern power strips and wall adaptors including at least 1 USB power outlet yet the Power Station has none? I would gladly sacrifice 1 standard outlet if it meant there was 2 high current USB power, bar none! Instead I have to blemish the slick style of the Power Station with a bright pink double USB jack wall adaptor. Ok, I am being a tad hard on iFi. USB power adaptors are small enough not to cause any issues, it just would have been nice if I did not have to use any.


Testing

Time to get down to the nitty gritty of the review. No more stories, just pure testing of the capabilities and features of the Power Station. For the most part, having this review posted here on an audio website, I will be concentrating on the sound of several audio devices. However, this is me we are talking about, so I will be covering anything and everything I can think of that could benefit from clean power! To start things off, let us go over the unexpected.

Upon receiving the Power Station, my first instinct was to start the burn-in process, so I swapped around a few plugs under my desk and plugged in my 2 iPowers, divided by my own AC iPurifier, with 2 USB wall-warts that power my xDSD and iPurifier into the Power Station, turned the unit on and let it sit for a 24 hours or so. The next day was a Saturday, a day I get all to myself, and I was hankering to listen to a new album on my stereo receiver and loudspeakers. Like most receivers, my Yamaha will “click” on when powered up and takes about 2-3 seconds for the power to flow into the circuit, and thus (if having an active source) a delay in sound. Normally with a dead signal, I get a wall of what I can only describe as pressurized white noise that’s not so much audible as it is visceral, like a faint static whisper in my ears, or even perhaps the sounds and feeling one gets when putting on a pair of closed back headphones without music playing, if that makes any sense. Anyway, the “noise” is there and even stumbling down the stairs in the morning, half awake and needing coffee, my ears know when the receiver has been left on over night without any visual cues. This day however, I was left in absolute disbelief!

From my couch I power on my receiver, hear the click and was expecting the noise. I hear nothing, absolutely nothing! My first reaction was oh great, it’s been months since I last used the system and after 16 years had finally died. I approached the receiver, expecting the smell of a dead capacitor or at the very least, the death whine of a failing component. To my surprise as I approached my system I heard a faint hiss coming from my Klipsch towers. Head cocked, I slowly increased volume until I started to hear the hiss that’s burned into my brain. To my surprise, while at -27dB, a full 13dB past the default volume, a level that would cause my neighbours to complain if I ever played modern music, was when I achieved the desired outcome. Ok, what is happening here? Was my memory unreliable? Are my ear’s age catching up with me? I sat back down on my couch and thought for a bit before realizing the obvious. I headed back to my desk, turned off the Power Station and unplugged it from the wall outlet. Immediately a wall of white noise hit me from across the room! This is where I laughed. You see, a common and recommended use of the AC iPurifier is to place it in the top outlet and it will works magic for anything plugged into the bottom. The Power Station had 2 active, and was plugged into literally the first outlet the mains send power to, and while down-stream my Yamaha receiver was on the same breaker circuit 3 sockets away with minimal usage from the ones in-between. Colour me impressed, very very impressed! I flicked back on the Power Station and had a sweet little early afternoon listening session, and I must say, even not directly plugged into the Power Station, my stereo has never sounded better!

The unexpected doesn’t end here good readers. I had forgotten to plug in my vape unit the night before. The outlet closest to the couch has a multi-outlet adaptor with USB charging, and is what my vape and iPhone USB charge cables are plugged into. Thankfully the couch blocks the view of the adaptor as there is an annoying red LED light that would otherwise be shining in my left eye. What’s even more annoying is the fact that the LED light had a slight flicker. In fact, all of my power strips along with many of my extension cords have red/orange LED operation lights, and all flicker! Well, reaching for my charge cable the light caught my eye, and to my shock was a solid red! Ok iFi, I am going to call you out again; You are using ancient and forgotten magic, aren’t you?! I will cover more on this later… LED flicker, not magic!

The last bit of unexpected results came from an alarm clock. For some annoying reason) A/V equipment, including my cable box, no longer displays the time. Very annoying for my wife and I. To remedy this I dug up an old yet trusty Timex alarm clock and placed it next to my centre channel speaker. Problem soled, so we thought. Every week I would have to adjust the time as it would slip by 2 minutes, extremely problematic when I need to to catch my bus on time. Since moving the Power Station to my entertainment setup the alarm clock takes months before the discrepancy in time became noticeable! It makes perfect sense too as clocks rely on the resonance of a quartz crystal to keep the time. Bad power means that resonance will be off and thus cause the time to fall out of sync.

Before I switch over to the actual testing, I should touch on TVs and monitors. Does the Power Station affect the picture in any way? An absolute NO… but at the same time a very big YES! With today’s digital displays, there is no reason why a power condition would enhance the picture. It will not boost colour, deepen the blacks, increase contrast, or sharpen the image. In regards to noise, there would be nothing to clean, it’s all 1’s and 0’s. In short, the only benefit of using the Power Station would be to protect your device. At least that’s what I would normally write if I hadn’t experienced a miracle more that 15 years in the making. You see, every LCD TV and monitor I have owned in my current residence exhibit a very unique issue. It matters not if it’s my old rear-projection LCD TV, newer LED displays, nor computer monitors, they all have the same problem. About 66-75% out from the left of the screen, a faint 1/2” vertical band is visible when certain dark greys and tones were present on screen. It mattered not the brand, nor the outlet used, this issue is present and has always been there. Well, the unexpected happened again, and simply by having the Power Station plugged upstream on the same circuit, my 2 computer monitors and QLED TV (all Samsung) are free of this annoyance! It’s completely gone! When I moved the Power Station into the basement for testing, my Hitachi (which seems to have it the worst) was also cured! Fantastic!

Moving over to the actual testing, I am going to start off with my iFi stack, which includes a micro iTube2 pre-amp, micro iCAN SE amp, each powered by an iPower respectively with OCC coper interconnects, xDSD for the DAC, and finally custom made double ended USB cable topped off with an iPurifier3. Aforementioned earlier, I normally use a Blue Diamond noise cancelling power strip with this setup. The source is Audirvana (macOS) with direct and exclusive modes enabled. The headphones used were the Meze 99 and 12 Classics, HiFiMAN HE-560, Sennheiser HD 600 and Momentum 2, Grado SR 60e, and finally AKG K240 600Ohm Monitors.

The very first thing I noticed when swapping the stack over to the Power Station was the pulling back of the veil on the sound. Regardless of which headphone used, the upper midrange through the treble seems to have gotten an uplift by comparison. Great for some of my headphones, not so much for others. For example, with my HiFiMAN HE-560 listening to the classic Spanish Harlem by Rebecca Pigeon, I simply can not get through the whole some without lowering the volume. While mostly under control before, the accentuation of sibilance (compared to my Blue Diamond) was simply too much for my ears. On the other hand, listening to the same track with the 99 Classics were truly music to my ears as the uplift in the mids and treble brought a greater sense of air with welcoming crispness and sparkle. The HD 600’s bass, which is often described as woolly and soft, held not only more weight, but possessed greater speed and impact. I am by no means saying these transformation are night and day, but it is something positive to note. It’s amazing what clean power translates into! Overall, I wouldn’t say anything was enhanced or boosted, rather more accurately and effortlessly reproduced.

All was not perfect though. I have mentioned this fact in previous reviews as well as in the forums that the iCAN SE, using it’s pack-in iPower, seems to pick up EMI/RFI noise like a super antenna. Hissing, buzzing, and a modulating repeating clicking, it was not great. My solution for the longest time was to use a 3rd party power supply with a ground plug combined with tinfoil in-between my wifi router and stack. It wasn’t until I introduced the iPurifier3 into the chain that the noise was almost completely silenced and I could use my iPower without the buzzing. When in physical contact with the iCAN’s aluminum shell AND while powered and active, the iPurifier3 quells the problems. For testing purposes, I completely excluded the iPurifier3 after initial impressions, and sadly, even with the Power Station in play, most of the problems returned with the only benefit being a blacker noise floor. Ugh, not great… but all is not lost, the PowerStation has a secret weapon!

Crafty as I am, and making use of the AC iPurifier’s banana plug socket, I whipped up my own Groundhog! You see, one way of grounding your equipment is to connect the AC iPurifier to a free I/O jack on your equipment, and what better opportunity to test this out! The iCAN SE just so happens to have a 3.5mm jack on the back which is perfect because I have an unhealthy supply of 3.5mm plugs! It took longer for my soldering iron to heat up than to make the cable, and a testing I went. While skeptical, but to my non-surprise I experienced the cleanest, blackest signal I have heard coming from my iFi stack akin to battery powered amps and DAPs! Normally when I turn the volume knob all the way to 100% I still hear some noise, mostly in the form of a slight buzzing but the AC iPurifier silenced it completely. Admittedly no one will ever have the volume at 100%, regardless of the gain, but still it is quite impressive that my stack is void of any and all noise and interference! Trust me, for some just knowing that the noise is there, waiting to strike at higher volume cuts them down to their very soul.

As a control subject, I did use some random standard power strip and wall adaptor with my iFi stack; Using one with noise cancellation would not bring any meaningful objective results as they would be skewed. The extra clarity in the upper mids and treble was present over my Blue Diamond, however the bass took a dive, and not just on the HD 600. Regardless of the headphone, bass was underwhelming and under powered by comparison of both my usual power strip, as well as the Power Station. I wouldn’t say anemic, rather tired, like the bass had a long day at work and is now forced to play at home. Not bad, just off. Another major difference comes in noise. Because of the impedance and sensitivity of certain headphones I have the iCAN switched to the highest gain. Using a standard power strip, or even a multi-outlet wall adaptor, the hiss and buzzing comes through with impunity. Dynamics overall seem dampened, with a noticeable loss is texture and attack. For a $1000+ stack, this is not great. The sound reminded me of early Realtek PC audio with a cheap PSU. However, I did have another trick up my sleeve; My AC iPurifier!

Before I start, I do have to note that because of the size of the 2 iPowers and spacing of the outlets, to make room for the AC iPurifier I had to power the xDSD via it’s internal battery and use a standard single ended USB cable for the iP3, thus being powered from my PC’s USB bus. It’s a small change that has no effect on the testing. As well, I once again used my custom made Groundhog cable. The result was actually pretty good, so good in fact that if this is all I had I would call it acceptable. I did not hear any buzzing nor clicks, and the noise floor had noticeably lowered. Dynamics were so-so; Not too bad, and what I’d call average and non-offensive to the source. Not perfect by any means, with the biggest takeaway being a cleaner background free from annoying, distracting noise.

Switching over to my home theatre system, I decided to move not just the Power Station but my whole iFi stack as well. Ditching USB (and likewise the iP3) I opted for TosLink as this is the normal method for streaming music from my computer and thus easy to swap to the xDSD. Sure, I could have used the Yamaha’s built in DAC which is either AKM or Burr Brown, both very respectable and well regarded, but I wanted to go all out by both using the micro iTube2 and populating the Power Station. Because I was swapping out one power strip’s wall socket for the Power Station, I plugged in my TV, Blu Ray player, and cable box as well. Due to the overlapping from the iPower, all sockets that were usable were populated. I purposely did this for 2 reasons. First, to stress the Power Station and monitor for any negative effects. Second, to represent what I would call a typical use situation. Whether the US or European version, the Power Station has a more than average number of outlet sockets than the norm, so why not use them?!

To start things off, lets revisit the noise, or should I say lack there of! I was thoroughly impressed with how well the Power Station obliterated the noise simply by being upstream to my Yamaha, plugging the receiver directly yielded amazing results! Turning the volume to -15dB, I was hard pressed to hear much of anything. No humming, no buzzing, and the hiss was almost non-existent! It wasn’t until I approached -3dB was when I heard any noise, and did I hear it. The hiss became audible and grainy, a huge jump from almost nothing to a whole lot of ugly! I highly suspect this is the limit of my Yamaha, and just to note if I attempted to play music at this level I am positive the unit would either enter emergency shut-off mode, or my Klipsch WF-35 loudspeakers would melt. I call this an overwhelming success! Bravo Power Station!

So how does it sound? Let me say this, I love my Yamaha Natural Sound, high current receiver, and adore my Icon WF-35’s, yet as mention earlier in this review, haven’t touched them for months! While the WF-35s have solid bass, ruler-flat mids, and treble that is so neutral you’d double check to see if they were in fact made by Klipsch, I much preferred listening to my iFi stack with my HD 600, whether it was music, gaming, or movies. Don’t get me wrong, they sound fantastic, but rather boring. Since adding the Power Station into the mix (currently where it sits now), I have purchased a 20’ HDMI 2.0 cable with repeater which runs from my PC, through the heat vents, and out to my TV, and an Xbox One wireless USB dongle + battery pack, and now do all of my gaming and music listening from my couch. I was impressed on how well my system sounded simply by reducing the noise floor, yet when I plugged everything into the Power Station I was not prepared for what I was hearing; Life, emotion, and transparency!

While possessing great power and ever greater control, the bass hit with visceral impunity straight to my core, shaking the floor and walls in doing so! The treble went from crisp to sweet and etherial, tickling my ears with delight while not exhibiting and harshness or glare. And the mids, man of man the mids. Perhaps the only weakness of the WF-35s, and what I felt contributed the most to my displeasure on a whole. Normally they sound flat, and lifeless. Considering the midrange makes up the bulk of the music, it makes or breaks both speakers and headphones. With the Power Station in play, the mids are some of the best I have ever heard! Vocals, particularly female, cut straight to my soul, while instruments possess so much new found texture I could grate cheese with them! Folks, I am not exaggerating. The difference was night and day. My stereo went from day old reheated leftovers from a classy restaurant to a freshly cooked meal from an Iron Chef! And to be honest, I am in no way surprised. Out of anything I could think of that would benefit the most from clean power, it would be hi-fi and home theatre receivers. Think of how much power a high current receiver draws when amplifying sound. It’s akin to a high performance sports car; The higher quality of gasoline you use, the greater and cleaner the engine’s power output. You put in dirty gas and your Corvette will be choking down the raceway. Your receiver is no different.

Now it’s time to move down to the basement for the most challenging of all test. I am not sure why but my basement has the worst power in my house. Everything I plug in seems to have issues to some degree. My stereo and sound bar hisses and buzzes, my old CRT buzzes, LED lights strobe instead of shine, and as l mentioned earlier, my Hitachi LED TV has a nasty line down it’s screen that is worse off in the basement. Even my original Xbox, PS2 do not work properly. I have no clue what’s going on. Perhaps it’s shoddy after market work, though my brother in-law who is an electrician says it looks alright. Regardless, it’s garbage!

First off with, a Toshiba 32” Pur Flat CRT TV and Playstation 2. I wasn’t even going to include this but happenstance has forced me to do so. When I was cleaning out the basement, transforming it into my man-cave, one item had to go; A 200lb behemoth of a TV. It was in great condition with only 6 months of use before I upgraded to a widescreen, but it was taking up far too much space and I haven’t used it in 17 years. The night before the sale I had moved everything out for easy viewing. I had connected a PS2 via component cables so I can show that everything is working. Both were connected to a power strip closest to the workbench outlet. Upon powering the TV on, I was met with a buzzing coming through the speakers. What was worse, the image on screen was pin-cushioned! Oh no, was I going to have to cancel the sale? I started to panic before deciding to swap the PS2 for an Xbox. Thankfully the pictures was ok, but the Xbox itself sounded sick and angry when loading a game with a very odd modulating of the DVD ROM drive, like the spin was oblong and not circular. As it so happened, I had the Power Station still on my workbench awaiting testing, and for poops and laughs I decided to swap everything over. To my surprise the TV no longer had any buzzing, in fact the “typical CRT” noise coming from the tube seemed to be less noticeable. The picture coming out of the PS2 was perfectly square, and the Xbox… still sounded angry. 2 out of 3 with a bonus ain’t bad!

Next I will move on to the rumpus room, starting off with my stereo. It’s not fancy, simply a pair of old Digital brand 3-way speakers from Radio Shack, and a 20W Pyle 2 channel Type-T amp, but it does what I need it to do. Sure, it produces amplified sound sufficient for moderate volume, but the buzzing and hiss is not only noticeable, even at low volume, it is distracting. Things only get worse when I turn on the overhead fluorescent lights. Just to be clear, with the exception of the laundry room power, all basement power is coming off one circuit, installed after construction. Everything is daisy chained off from one over head light, and therefore it all sucks. Fortunately I had a Samsung sound bar + wireless sub waiting in-box, which I hoped would not exhibit the same behaviour as my crappy setup. However, the crappy setup was on my list of things to pair with the Power Station and I needed to know (for science!) how well the noise could be silenced. Surprise surprise (not really), the Power Station was mighty enough to not only produce a clean signal, but it also prevented the ballast from the fluorescent light from creeping into the sound!

Satisfied with the result, I put the old system out to pasture; A cruel reward indeed mwahahaha…ahem. Anyway, it was planned. My TV sold, and the basement was prime for my ‘cave so I installed the sound bar to the wall. First reaction was “ Wow, this sounds great! Good job Samsung! “ followed by “ Nooooooo, I can still hear buzzing! “ although significantly less noticeable with no interference from the fluorescent light. Turning up the volume did increase hiss but not the buzz. Acceptable I suppose but it could be better, so time to tag in the Power Station! The result? No more buzz… that’s it. Better than nothing, but it does goes to show that not everything will benefit in the same way, even with dirty basement power.

Now on to the last basement test, my iFi stack! As the basement is the quietist place in my house, free of aquariums, cats, parrots, and wife, I have attempted to use a quick-connect set-up so I can bring things easily down stairs without bringing all of the power supplies and cables, but alas it was never to be. No matter what I did, and I tried everything, I simply could not get ride of massive buzzing and crackling hiss. I eventually whipped up a battery pack for both my iCAN and iTube, which did work great before the cells quickly drained of power not 1h into any given listening session. However today was the day things would finally change. Much like everything else I have tested, the Power Station proved once again that no job is too hard to tackle! Nothing but silence and perfectly rendered dynamics!

To finish off the testing, I will end with LED lights. I was going to leave things as is with only the earlier blurb mentioning LED lights, however iFi had to release a YouTube video showing off how the xPower can improve LED flicker. Curse you iFi, challenge accepted! While I don’t have anything professional grade, I do have a plethora of LED type to try. Starting off I tested 5 different power strips who’s power button is illuminated by a red LED, all which flicker. Interestingly enough, the rate at which they flicker is not just dependant on where in the house they are plugged into, but also how much draw is on the circuit. Not surprising that the basement is the worst, especially with the electronics plugged into the power strip in the rumpus room, which in turn is connected via a 15’ extension cord snaked through the floor joists which is plugged into my workbench power that uses a multi-outlet adaptor with all ports in use. What a sentence! Anyway, no matter the circuit, no matter the room, when plugged directly into to or plugged into the same circuit as he Power Station, all 5 power strips LED lights were solid!

Great, the Power Station can get rid of annoying blinky lights, what about actual LED light bulbs? Great question me! Not all LED lights are made equal. From my experience price does not dictate quality, rather brand reputation. Phillips and GE make fantastic LED light bulbs, Sylvania and Wal-Mart, not so much. What I mean by quality is not longevity, though I am not dismissing it’s importance, rather how well the LED operates. All LED light flicker at 60Hz (50Hz in Europe) due to the mains power being, you guessed it, 60Hz. All LED lights also use a control board. Good LED lights regulate the power thus providing a relatively flicker free experience. Bad LED lights give headaches. For some eyes this is not a problem, however some eyes (mainly mine) are sensitive and can detect a slight deviation. I can not watch anything on DLP projectors as I see the rainbow, and likewise I see green ghosting on Plasma TVs, so it is no surprise that I notice LED light flicker where others may not. While I can ignore it, I can’t unseemly it. Fortunately, the Power Station grants even the poorest performing LED I tried, whether it be USB powered or a table lamp, a constant flicker free illumination. Once again, it mattered not if the light was plugged directly into the Power Station or simply being downstream on the same circuit. I absolutely love this fact as I don’t have to waste outlets on the Power Station for it to be effective!

While I don’t have any professional grade LED lights (it’s on my list) I can see the Power Station being a great boon for studio photographers! From my own experience using both an iDevice and Cannon DSLR cameras, video and stills, LED lights can utterly ruin a shot. Much like how filming a CRT computer monitor or TV will result in a flickering image, the same can occur with LED lights. Once again this is due to the 60Hz polling being out of sync with the capture device. Not only will the camera capture this effect, unlike our eyes the sensor is sensitive enough to capture all the ugly we don’t see ,and amplifies it! To give a real life example, at my previous job all fluorescent lights were replaced with LEDs. Smart move as it not only saves the company money by having to replace them less frequently, there is less stress on the power grid, and the illumination is far brighter overall. Triple win! However we had a film crew come out to start shooting footage for the company’s upcoming re-vamped YouTube channel, and 2 days of footage was unusable! The LED lights messed with the cameras and the footage had to be re-shot with a different one. Ouch! Just to add, I have seen many YouTube content creators set up new studios, and the #1 common complaint is overcoming the lights. Much like the film crew at my work, the creator’s cameras do not jive well with the new LED lights, and thus have to find ways of overcoming the flicker. Some had their power system completely re-done, some have installed power conditioners, one even switched over to a UPS battery backup! If only they knew about the Power Station… but some do as I have recommended the Power Station (along with the xPower)! Here’s hoping they listened eh?!

Not to be overlooked, I did find that the Power Station cured my PC's audio performance. Admittedly, I did not hear any real change in the output, however the input is a completely different story. My old PC uses ALC 892 audio. For the time was pretty decent and I was content with the quality of the output. I wouldn't call it great for anything beyond connecting an amp and speakers for every day use (i.e. YouTube, light gaming). The mic input on the other hand may as well have not been there at all as it was absolutely useless. No matter what PSU or power strip in use, when I fed sound through the input I would be met with static and clicks (very similar to what I hear through my un-silenced iCAN), regardless if it was passing through the audio or recording. I basically disregarded the input for years, that is until I was digging through my drawer to find some scrap cables I could use to make a Groundhog and came across an old lapel mic. Like most testing I thought " why not ", and to my surprise the mic input was completely free of garbage! Sure, it still picked up a bit of the PC's internal noise (the 6x HDD), however it would be good enough for voice-chat. Nice! Too little too late as I sold the old parts and my current motherboard's isolated and shielded ALC 1200 produce excellent sound!

To cap off the testing, I am going to do something crazy. While doing a little basement listening, I got this crazy idea upon staring at an orange LED light flicker madly on the end of an extension cord. What if I round up all of the extension cords (EC) and power strips (PS) and link them all together? Could the Power Station make a whole string of blinky LEDs on basement power glow solid? I call this test cordception! Ok, pretty lame name and concept, but why not? For science! Anyway, I linked them all together as so: PS - EC - PS - EC - PS - PS - PS and capped it off with the wall adaptor from up-stairs. Hilariously enough, it worked! The ring around my rumpus room was glorious with all the LEDs glowing a solid colour! However, I got another idea in my head; What would my iFi stack sound like on the ass-end of this monster? I should have stopped with just the thought. I powered off the Power Station, unplugged cordception, moved the 2 iPowers over to the end of the chain, plugged the string into the wall (not the Power Station), and nothing… no sound! The cordception lit up, as did the micro iTube2. The iCAN SE did not. No problem, it’s probably just the socket so I flicked off the closest power strip, swapped the iCAN’s iPower to another socket, powered the bar back on, and nothing… Off the power goes, this time I swap the iTube2’s iPower with the iCANs, flick the switch and this time the iCAN lights up whereas the iTube2 did not. DAGNABIT! Cordception killed my 12V iPower, you bastard! Talk about irony! Well, so much for trying to hear how bad my stack sounds on the butt of cordception straight from the mains. I took one for the team on this one with no regrets!


I Will Neither Confirm Nor Deny This!

What is up with this crazy section of the review? Simple, I don’t want to make any statement as facts when it could easily be a coincidence. I had 2 unexpected outcomes that could be contributed to the Power Station, or could just be coincidence. The first comes from an electronic bug zapper I purchased from Amazon. When I first plugged the unit in, only 1 of the 2 fluorescent black-lights was working. The top was behaving like a typical bulb that was on its last legs. I tried power cycling the unit, re-seated the bulb, and even tried multiple power outlets, all to no avail. I then took it down to my workbench to take the screen off so I can get a better look at everything, and what was sitting there but the Power Station. Ok, why not, what would it hurt if I plugged it in. It’s not like it will explode or anything, right? Correct, the top light powered on along side the bottom with both reaching a stable brightness much faster! Whaaaat? Coincidence? Dark magic? Or, did the Power Station actually give the light a kick in the arse? It’s hard to say really. I am just glad it works as Amazon returns can be a pain when you have no vehicle and winter!

The second head scratcher came in the form of my Samsung QLED’s “Auto Motion Plus”. Love the feature or hate it, regardless of your feelings the technology has come a long way and has far less “artifacting” when first introduced a decade or so ago. However, even with my TV’s advanced AI Quantum Processor 4K (gotta love the marketing), auto motion plus is not perfect. Every now and again with black/white horizontal lines on a white/black background will result in a garbled interpolation. Last year Netflix released the beloved classic anime, and quite possibly my favourite behind Macross, Neon Genesis Evangelion. As most Netflix watchers, I binged watched the series in a heartbeat as it had been 22 years since my last viewing! The re-release looked great, but there was multiple instances, all in the same set piece (location) that would trip my TV up and I get ghosting garbled flickering lines. Throughout the series, the Childs (the main characters and sadly, SIC) ride a miles-long escalator as they move from the upper surface (where they live) to the underground geo-front located beneath Tokyo 3. Every time the escalator moved, what amounts to thin black horizontal lines against a white rectangle, auto motion plus would mess up. It didn’t matter who was in the scene or which episode it was, that damn escalator would flair up. Enter the Power Station. Despite being an OAV (aka TV series), they ended things with a “movie” of sorts. Basically 3 episodes made into a continuous conclusion. I had overlooked this “movie” as Netflix never listed it in the proper category. Well, weeks later after an evening of musical entertainment (with the Power Station) I decided to watch TV. Throwing on Netflix, I was immediately greeted with a suggestion for End of Evangelion. Sweet! No doubt I hit play and watched the conclusion to the classic. During the movie, Shinji (the main protagonist) rides the escalator 1 last time. To my shock, the animation was free of any artifacting! I backed up the video and replayed the scene, even double checking to see if auto motion plus was disabled (it was active) yet the image was rock solid! Could the Power Station have affected the picture? In a way, it does make sense. Part of auto motion plus is adjusting the flicker of the back light. Maybe, the Power Station was aiding this process, providing the clean power the TV’s processor needed? Or maybe it has to do with the shutter speed of the LCD VA panel? I really can’t say, only that for this one instance when plugged into the Power Station auto motion plus behaved.


Value

At $499 USD, the price of the Power Station may seem steep to some, however I actually find the price to be quite fair. If I were to break down the cost of similarly featured “audiophile” power-strips/conditioners at $300 USD+ (Google is your friend), add in an AC iPurifier, then factor in the (often unknown) company’s reputation, it really is a no-brainer to choose the iFi Power Station over the competition. If this still isn’t enough for you to justify the purchase, think of it this way; Do you like your equipment? Do you plan on using your equipment for years to come? This is something I always asked my customers when I worked at automotive shop while trying to upsell a product. Sure, you could get conventional oil, your car will be just fine. However if you pay a little more for full-synthetic and continue using it for the life of the vehicle, your engine will love you! Cleaner, smoother power, better lubrication, cooling, vastly superior cleaning properties, and additives that actually protect your engine and internal components. Power is not too different than oil insofar that the cleaner it is, the more the device will operate at an optimum level in which the performance trickles down straight to your ears. Think of the Power Station as a long-term investment to get the most life and performance out of your gear while offering superior protection! One last point to consider, none of the competition look as damn fine as the Power Station, which to some is a deciding factor for their potential purchase. Why spend $300+ on a device that you have to sacrifice logical placement just so you don’t have to look at it?


Final Thoughts

For me, the Power Station has been a blessing. I have been more than impressed with it’s performance and have no problems whole heartedly recommending this product if like I, you have problems with your residence’s power delivery. For myself, I live in a townhouse which is one unit of six, nestled in the middle of the row. That’s not even accounting that it is only one row in a villas of many, surrounded by two more townhouse complexes on either side. Gotta love suburban living eh? Needless to say, as not too long after evening rush hour is when my power goes to poop as my neighbours all arrive at home, powering up their TV and computers seemingly in unison. Why am I getting visions of THX 1138? Anyway, as with all products the Power Station may just be simply a high quality power strip. Everyone’s use case is different; Some may be blesses with living in a new district in a newly built house and have no issues with their power, while some may be living in a post-war row housing who’s power grid was installed shortly after VE-Day. Regardless, it matters not. In the end the choice is up to you, the consumer. I say if you can afford to do so, give the Power Station a try. iFi is very understanding with their return policy. However, I honestly think that if you love your music and your gear, the Power Station will become a permanent fixture in your setup for years to come.


Conclusion

If you have reached your “end-game” yet still feel there is one last piece that could improve your experience, the Power Station is the cherry on top. For years iFi Audio have been dedicated to providing industry leading noise conditioning, all while preserving the original signal and providing the absolute best possible listening experience. Once again iFi audio absolutely nails it with the Power Station! Here we have a versatile multi-outlet power strip with built-in noise conditioning, industrial construction, a modern yet ageless design, and miles above the standard when it comes to protecting you and your gear, all backed up by iFi’s outstanding service and support. My fellow readers, I exaggerate not, the Power Station is not simply a want, for anyone who wants the absolute best, this is a need!

It goes without saying that 2020 has been the worst year in modern history. This "new normal" has effected everyone to some degree, some more than others. For myself, 2019 started off great. After nearly 3 years of having health issues I finally received answers and the remedy was both simple and effective. I gained weight, started working out, got a promotion at work, things were going great! When iFi reached out to me in the fall to try out the Power Station I though what better way to cap off the year. Unfortunately that was the end of anything good in my life. Days before the Power Station arrived my wife needed emergency surgery. She's fine however it took away the ability to ever have children. The Holidays didn't fair any better with my mother's health taking a downturn. Determined to stay positive, 2020 started off great. My mom's health slightly improved, it got extremely busy at work and I had plenty of overtime and take-home work ($$$). Sure, I had little time at home to relax however I actually started writing this review while at work. My new position was a machine operator and it was easy to sit at my computer between cycles and write. Then March came.

At first, all over-time was cancelled, followed by mandatory pay cut, then the lay-off. It was during this time my mother's health rapidly failed. Because of my Province's lock-down measures, anyone with even a tickle in their throats could not enter any long-term health facilities; I had the spring thaw allergies flaring up. Not only did I have to self-isolate for 10 days, missing work (un-paid) in the process, I could not see my mother in her dying days. A day after she passed I got laid off. I lost my mother and my family. Making things worse by the time I got down to my work to sign the papers, my account was deleted and thus lost my review.

Life soon became a daze. Each day was Groundhog Day, and weeks past with nothing changing. Life got worse, everyone's life got worse. Little by little I had to sell off most of my head-gear, DAPs, amps, even my beloved Nuance Baby Grandes tower speakers. It's not like I am left with nothing, but seeing my prized gear go was hard.

Come August my family was able finally lay my mother's remains to rest. A weight was lifted from my soul, and I started to finally feel normal, or at least as normal as one could feel given the World-wide pandemic. I finished many long standing house renovations, got my man-cave finished, and had started with a fury to re-write the review. Things were going great until I updated my Mac to the latest OS and lost my review (I thought). Wow, what a kick to the you-know what! Time for version 3.0! Needless to say, I was not impressed, but I wasn't going to let it get me down!

Between epic games of Civilization VI, I re-wrote everything, and then some. The first 2 reviews were satisfactory, but I caught the writing bug. 11,000 words later this monstrosity of a review is done! Not even missing Christmas brought me down enough to stop me!

I do hope you enjoyed the read, and thank you for lasting through the review to the end!
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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.
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