Review: P S Audio Power Port AC filter
Now, you may wonder why I haven't listed this as a tweak. I would, but it changed my system's sound in a profound enough manner that "tweak" doesn't capture what is at stake here. (Unlike the Auric Illuminator, by the way, which offers no discernable difference to my ear, or vibration pads for my CD player, which seemed to make a marginal difference in terms of lift and air, but one I'm not all that confident about.)
After purchasing the Power Port from my local dealer, I planned the following test. Power down the system until cool. Then, fire it up and, after 15 minutes or so, listen to three tunes I know intimately. I then set ye olde power port into my wall and repeated the process. I also bribed a fellow audio-nerd to run the test with me. (Thanks Steve.)
"Everybody's Crying Mercy" off of Elvis Costello's *Kojak Vareity,* "Like I Told You" off of Acetone's *York Blvd.,* and "The Spark that Bled" off of The Flaming Lips's *Soft Bulletin.* I chose these three tunes not only for their familiarity but for their diversity. Costello's version of the Moe Allison tune is sparse and spacious yet aggressive; Mark Ribot's guitar leading the charge. The song is thus great for testing staging, image, and mid range attack. The Acetone tune is warm and groovy, stressing bass tones and reverb textures. It thus tests a kind of nuanced detail, and it's complex enough to test how well a system resolves complex low tone passages. The Flaming Lips tune runs the gambit, testing all of the above (more upper range complexity, however), as well as dynamics given quasi-orchestral passages.
Well I'll be. The two most noticeable differences were improved 3-dimensionality and transparency. Each part seemed to have added space behind it, whether it was EC's voice, Richies bass, or the various sounds Wayne Coyne assembled for the Lips. And this space brought more life to the image. Also, the overall space of the recordings --and admittedly, these are all excellent recordings-- really evened out, so even sounds mixed solely into the left or right speaker blended right into the soundstage, thus improving transparency and even extending the sound stage on some recordings trotted out later. But that wasn't all. Harmony vocals sounded more like actual voices singing than tonal complements. Also, the fuzzy reverb on Mark Lightcap's guitar (Acetone) decayed more gradually, thus improving the overall live feeling of the sound. And the pluck of Ribot's strings gained pluck, if you know what I mean. If you're wondering about mid-range bloom since the PS Audio site claims the Port will improve precisely that, I can't quite finger what that refers to, so I can't say. If the point is that tones entered and departed the stage more gradually and with increased detail, then sure, that indeed was a discernable result, at least for the two of us.
Conclusion: This is a great way to add life to your system. And for $50. But this is no tweak -- not given the kind of improvements I've noted above. And not given the way its addition had us running through recordings for several more hours.
Appendix: It's real easy to install. I did it, and I'm a Philosophy Professor.
Mus Fidelity A3cr Pre
Arcam Alpha 9 CD
Tara Labs RSC Prime 5000
Analysis Plus Silver Oval IC's
PS Audio Lab and Min-Lab Cables
Richard Gray LC