Mains or power conditioners (power strips with an added filter) have a nasty effect: they tend to limit the amount of current available, especially during demand peaks, which can result making the system sound : “clean but sluggish”.
What about high-current power supplies?
Why not powering our Naim amps (and power supplies) with a high-current power supply?
How sensible to common noise are Naim’s amps/power supplies?
Has anyone tried one of those or any other equivalent?
Most are super expensive. Usually in two parts for source and power, so doubly so.
I would love to run a boutique hifi store and run a demo of an XS3 and NDX5 XS2 for a punter in front of one, then tell them the outlay for the performance.
Then run a separates system of equal outlay without.
Let them decide.
about 3 years ago I read a comparison of 3 “mains conditioning / cleaning / regeneration” approaches. The comparison was by one of the UK hifi magazines that is blessed with fairly dirty mains at their offices, so they used a conditioner in their reference system.
The 3 were a £5k regenerator (an earlier IsoTek Titan or PS AudioPower Plant 10, I think), an Airlink Balanced Power Supply; and a circa £3k mains conditioning unit from IsoTek (i.e. the one installed in their office).
The conclusion was that the regenerator made the system sound the best, with the BPS a very close second. Their own conditioning unit was third by some way, with their untreated dirty mains fourth.
What they didn’t really dwell on was cost. The regenerator was about £5,000 but the BPS was £500.
I guess the benefit of these things is really system dependent, especially with respect to the type of power supply used in each hifi box - SMPS or linear power supply.
From a technical perspective you should measure your mains first in order to recognize what aspect you need to address.
In former times frequency of mains was stable but today frequency is becoming an issue since more and more wind turbines are used, because with changing speed those deliver current with changing frequency.
But ground loops in house wirings might be found more often; especially when it comes to old buildings.
Both aspects interfere with your HiFi gears transformer and therefore might produce a tiny effect in music reproduction. Why am I saying it is a tiny effect? Because it depends also on the transformers quality and PSU design.
With NAIM internal PSUs as well as Hi-Cap, FlatCap or SuperCap the issue of ground loops is already adressed virtually. So no need to worry or to follow the flock of sheep.
A midical grade isolating transformer mounted directly after the consumer unit on a dedicated circuit will get you most of the way at a fraction of the cost. No conditioning. The galvanic isolation blocks DC offset and that’s most often what makes toroidal transformers misbehave.
Anything more exotic should really be aimed specifically at a problem you know you have. Anything else is just a generic solution to a problem you might not have.
I’m not really against main filters/conditioners/high current supplies etc. But, as they can have an impact on sound, I’d want to ensure they target a specific (and noticeable) problem. I think most people buy these things to calm some paranoid OCD aspect whereby they worry that something might be wrong with the mains. If I had a problem that had been accurately root caused to the mains supply, I’d happily pay for such a device. But I’d stop using it again if I moved and the problem didn’t persist.
Maybe we could at the very least settle on a name for these devices? We’ve got Power Blocks, Power Supply’s, etc. There are actually Three basic types of units. There’s Power Regenerators the best know are the PS Audio units. Then we have Power Blocks which best I can tell are just really nice Wiremold type strips that don’t have any active components in them but have nice outlets. And then we have Power Line Conditioners. These would be Audioquest units, Shunyata, Isotech. These have active filters and surge protection. The trick with any of these is not to impede current delivery. Back in the day that’s exactly what happened and what led to many companies to recommend against any type of PLC
I also find this topic very interesting! For different reasons I happen to have six different options to get the power from the outlet to the system that I plan to evaluate during fall: from cheap powerstrip (Deltaco), expensive powerstrip (Nordost qb8 with filter possibility and V2 Powercord), Musicline Powerigel, ifi Powerstation (active filtration), Torus isolation transformer (rm15 I think) and Adept Response power conditioner.
There are of many variables as the power cords will differ etc but I do this to get the best possible sound not as a scientific evaluation.
No high current power supply however…next week the electrician will install a dedicated circuit with AHP Klangmodul breaker, Furutech cables and outlet to establish a high quality baseline. I will post findings later.
As long as the isolation transformer is able to provide enough current, especially at peaks, this is a rather simple and cost effective solution to isolate ones HiFi equipment, or whatever equipment, from the grid.
In a way, there is already some isolation within every power supply. So why bother? As you said noisy, or somewhat noisy, mains might not be a problem.
But the question remains, are Naim’s power amps and power supplies immune to this common noise, and self-induced noise? If so, to what extend/degree?
There seems to be a market for those über expensive high current power supplies.
Considering their price, especially the IsoTek one (up to £28 500, with all “options”) they should provide a very immediate and noticeable effect. It can’t be this marginal/placebo effect of some fancy cables
An Airlink Transformers 5kVA balanced power supply on a dedicated 10mm2 radial, as suggested by @feeling_zen.
Simple, inexpensive and very effective for those of us with dirty mains and the space for the box.
It stopped the Naim power supply transformers from humming, made music sound sweeter and calmer yet with greater dynamic range on transients as the Naim transformers are no longer saturated due to the “dc offset” on the incoming mains. On the other hand, if your mains supply is already symmetrical and your Naim boxes don’t suffer transformer hum, then the benefits of a BPS will be somewhat less.