PS Audio PerfectWave P5
Last summer 2014, I had the luxury of reviewing the limited edition Bybee AC Holographic AC conditioner (limited edition as in only 10 were manufactured). I still feel fortunate because the Bybee conditioner is one of the best AC conditioners I've heard when it comes to pure unadulterated AC cleansing. Over the twelve months, I have gained a greater appreciation for the virtues that come with cleaning up my system's AC via the Bybee device. This system, by the way, includes a pair of Behold BPA768 stereo amplifiers and APU preamp, Sunny H3W12 horn loudspeakers. My Laufer Teknik Memory Player 64, is situated a good distance away from the APU preamp, and as a result I am forced to use two separate AC conditioners. Hence, my search for the perfect AC conditioner and the very subject of this review.
It started when - as audiophiles often do - I began to think. I wondered how I could step up my game a notch without breaking the bank. So I began researching possibilities that would fit my needs while staying within my budget. I did, years ago own the PS Audio Premier Power Plant Premier and replaced it with another AC conditioner of a different name. Although the new AC conditioner performed well, I was somewhat unhappy. I felt this AC conditioner was great at removing AC contaminates. But it did it a price. For the first time, my system tended to sound somewhat less dynamic and more restrictive.
PS Audio has been a main stay in the audio world for over 40 years. The company, based in beautiful Boulder Colorado CO, employs more than 25 employees who help ship their products all around the globe. Paul McGowan, whom I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, serves as the company's president and Ambassador of Good Will (he's such a nice guy). PS Audio has a reputation for excellent build quality and reliability for their products. Always on the bleeding edge of technology, the company never seems to rest on its laurels.
Needless to say, I was delighted when offered the chance to write about their latest product in the Perfect Wave P5 AC regenerator. After doing my homework I noticed the unit was on the same lines of their flagship Perfect Wave P10 Regenerator, though identical in look and design, the P5 is both physically smaller and lighter. Weighing a hefty 37 pounds, the P5 dimensions measures 17" x 14" x 4" and can be ordered in either black or silver finish.
Uncrating this handsome unit from its double boxed carton was indicative of how much care goes into each PS Audio product. The P5 delivers a maximum peak load of 1200 VA compared to the P10’s 1500VA peak max load. The newer P5 is more efficient in operation than the older Premier Power Plant it replaced. I found the graphical user interface located on the front of the unit to be an interesting approach as well. The end user can operate the front panel touch screen to access and analyze what the unit is doing input and output wise right from the supplied remote control. Cool. I happily found this feature to be a worthwhile addition.
The P5 allowed me to view (in real time) the incoming house AC current measured at 2.4 THD with an output of 0.1 THD driving my components. The P5 allowed me to measure the quality of my incoming AC current and then read how much it cleaned up. It was also informative to be able to read/measure how hard I was driving the P5 (mine measured at a regulated power output of 34%). The Perfect Wave P5 is also equipped with surge and spike protection which in this part of Kansas serves as an absolute must! Also worthy of note, the Perfect Wave P5 is cooled by a whisper-quiet cooling fan that operates only when needed. Since my system only used 34% of the P5’s capacity, the fan barely ever came on. There are other features not mentioned here that are available on the PS Audio Website.
Looking at the Perfect Wave P5 from the rear, this unit sports eight outlets divided into four independent banks that can be powered On/Off individually. This is accomplished by simply depressing the Zone button located on the front panel's outlet display. Other features include being able to connect the Perfect Wave to the Internet. This allows registered owner access to what’s going on from anywhere in the world (where you have access to the Internet). This can be very useful if you're out of town and may need to power down your system due to adverse weather conditions. This is only one of the many options that this Local Area Network (intranet) feature provides. Another of my favorites is the oscilloscope, this feature allows me the ability to see in graphical form the incoming AC current and how it is transformed/cleaned and sent to the outgoing AC current. This entire process is displayed in real time by the unit’s graphical waveforms displayed on the front of the unit.
The Perfect Wave P5, although may be considered a typical AC power conditioner. In reality, is not. It's as an AC power regenerator. There is a difference. In simple terms, what an AC regenerator does is very different from a contemporary AC power conditioner. The Perfect Wave P5 accepts your incoming AC power, then changes it directly to DC. It is in DC mode where the signal is then purified of any harmful electrical noises and/or contaminants. After this process, the signal is then reverted back to clean AC power (of course, to understand this in greater detail, you should visit PS Audio’s Website).
Listening to Shirley Horn's incomparable Here’s to Life from her stellar 1993 CD "Here's to Life," I noticed upclicks in purity to the overall presentation that was not nearly as obvious prior to the installation of the PS Audio Perfect Wave P5. The authentic realism of Shirley's vocal phrasings, the delicate whisper of the accompanying string arrangements had more feel and vibrancy. Somehow, I felt closer to the recording as if I was being wrapped in the very breath of Ms. Horn. This particular (32 piece) orchestra includes horns, strings, percussions, were specific in their location yet at the same time, they appeared slightly separated by trailing harmonics and spatial cues. The incredibly slow rhythmic dance Ms. Horn provides through her spoken words seemed slower pitched. This heightened sense of musicality lends a greater sense of drama to this outstanding recording.
If you have read any of my previous reviews then you know that most of the time I write about one of my favorite recordings arranged by multiple Grammy Winner Herbie Hancock, who produced “The Joni Letters.” I have always been mesmerized with Norah Jones silky smooth vocals on this CD's opening track entitled Court and Spark. As far as I’m concerned this recording is a masterpiece: it possesses everything I love about smooth jazz. Herbie Hancock play has never been better suited than on this project and it shows throughout the entire disc. Norah Jones is second to none when it comes to a smooth sweet and natural voice. Surprisingly, the Perfect Wave P5, revealed more of Norah's subtleties by way of improved textures. The Perfect Wave P5 allowed nuances to come through I hadn't heard off this excellent recording. I also slowly detected the disappearance of a very light sand paper-like roughness as well. This gave the "Joni Letters" a higher recording-quality grade. Not the quality of Here's to Life, but better for sure.
I was no longer just sitting and being overly critical. In fact, I often forgot I was in the middle of a review due to being so immersed into the music. The overall wow factor rose a few notches while the ease and comfort improved as well. The new Perfect Wave P5 has certainly reinforced my longtime belief system that a clean AC -especially at the front-end - is a must.
Throughout the last 6 months spent with the Perfect Wave P5 , I can say it has performed flawlessly despite the many times I cycled it off and on while traveling. Thus far, its performance has been bulletproof. PS Audio has a vast history of designing AC regenerators and this current crop gives me sonic impression they're on the cutting edge of perfection.
In my constant pursuit for perfection the one thing that remains constant has been my musical enjoyment. The addition of the Perfect Wave P5 is by and large responsible for this. Whether an audiophile, music lover or both, the quality of playback is usually determined by the level of enjoyment your system offers. Adding the Perfect Wave P5 into the system has taken me further than I had expected. Highly recommended!
4826 Sterling Drive
Boulder, CO 80301
Domestic Phone: 720-406-8946
Toll Free: 866-406-8946
PS Audio P5 PerfectWave Power Plant
Net weight: 35 lbs.
Price: $3,495 USD