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PS Audio PowerPlant 12 Review (AC Regenerator)

Rate this product:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 224 90.3%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 16 6.5%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 1 0.4%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 7 2.8%

  • Total voters
    248

Ricardus

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The term “audiophile” has been appropriated by so many bad actors that it has not only become pretentious, but arguably meaningless.
Yup. This is exactly how I feel, and when I hate watch PS Audio's videos I laugh out loud when someone calls themself an audiophile.
 

srkbear

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Yup. This is exactly how I feel, and when I hate watch PS Audio's videos I laugh out loud when someone calls themself an audiophile.
PS Audio may claim to be targeting the audiophile segment, but their marketing tactics are clearly aimed at the uninitiated and Paul McGowan’s pontifications on audio woo are clearly designed to keep them that way.
 

captainbeefheart

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I’m not sure whether there are any consumer grade applications for these power conditioners (excluding surge protectors), but I can certainly relate to its appeal based on my own journey with this hobby.

Before I had spent much time on this site, I had purchased an iFi Pro iCAN Signature for my headphone setup, along with several other of iFi’s offerings. It had certainly gotten raves over at Head-Fi, along with the salient (corporate-funded) audiophile websites around. I was really happy with it and still am. But once I became invested in their brand, I did a deeper dive into their accessories and gave in to an iFi Power Station ($599), a power strip that purports to have active noise cancellation circuitry and a number of likely redundant stages of passive filtering for each of its eight power outlets—promising an array of sonic improvements.

The thing reeks of heft and quality. And having this statement piece anchoring my gear provided me with a sense of fortitude and authenticity as an “Audiophile”, before I had even considered whether noise was an issue for me. We had purchased our home brand new, and I knew its build quality included a fastidious investment in robust electrical wiring.

That didn’t occur to me or factor into my purchase decision at the time at all—I was relatively new to this hobby, and in my inexperience I didn’t trust my ear to detect noise, nor had I sufficiently digested the principles evident on this site’s reviews. Given how much I had invested in my setup already, I was obsessed with FOMO, susceptible to any claims offering to make my already formidable investment sound even “better”—cables, connectors, power supplies, and conditioners such as this one. It was an obsessive, exhausting quest without any definable endpoint.

Then after some time on this site, someone here took me to task on an expensive digital cable, and I felt crummy enough trying to defend it that I chose to bow to their reason and return it for a serviceable one at a fraction of the price. Admittedly it bugged me for awhile. But after spending a year or so immersing myself in the spectrum of opinions here, I gradually got deprogrammed from the elitist platitudes on Head-Fi and leaned into my own reason-based training as a scientist in another field. And not only has this saved me a ton of money, it’s freed me up to enjoy my music instead of listening for elusory imperfections in my system.

The term “audiophile” has been appropriated by so many bad actors that it has not only become pretentious, but arguably meaningless. For those who haven’t done the work to confidently earn it, buying it has become a facile choice. And when music is exploited for status-seeking tastes, this is how predators such as PS Audio can successfully turn outlandish profits, producing little black boxes that offer fantastical promises that cannot be refuted.

"Deprogrammed" is a great term I am going to have to remember that when trying to convert "audiophiles" back into good old fashioned music enthusiasts.

I have a few friends and several acquaintances that thank me to this day for showing them the light. For the most part non of them were wealthy enough to have the financial cost of the audiophile condition have an impact one way or another. I'm not talking about I'm not saying the purchases of said equipment will put you in the poor house or take food out of a kids mouth, more that you could have invested the money for financial security or increase the budget for your kids college funds etc... Heck you could have stepped up your new car budget to get that dream vehicle you've been wanting. One of my good friends, veteran and working for USPS was highly afflicted, he had stereophile magazines laying around and Music Direct catalogs. Installing a new set of speakers I was helping him and he got genuinely upset with me that I hooked his speaker wires up incorrectly. I'm like "we listened to music for a few hours and it sounded amazing what are you talking about?". He then was worried if we could have done damage by having the speaker wire GOING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION. Yup not joking. It was at this point I knew I had to do an intervention. Since then he sold off a bunch of stuff and hasn't been happier with his system. But it did take some time as you said to undo all the programming that had been done from the industry and it's predatory behavior on the consumer. I mean he truly believed there was some sort of entity out there that would keep the industry honest and enforce some sort of false advertising laws. I don't know how many times I heard "but their website says right here this does xyz" and "I read in Stereophile abc about this digital cable and if so and so says it made a huge difference why would he lie?". After the whole psychology aspect was discussed and then the more technical aspects explained and then also demonstrated. He's the guy I put electrolytic capacitors in his crossover networks when he wanted these $300 beeswax paper and foil types from Jupiter I believe. He didn't see the networks but thought the new beeswax caps were installed and man did I hear the rave reviews of how this veil has lifted and the magic was now strong with his speakers, just pure hogwash. I finally opened up the networks and showed him as he didn't believe me. After some anger subsided and acceptance grew we laughed over it. I did work out a compromise with replacing the lytics with some polyester types which he really enjoys and saved a ton of cash. He got into doing experiments where we would have others over and do blind testing etc... The more we did this stuff it showed that in a true blind test the majority of the stuff claimed on the internet and by snake oil salesman cannot be repeatably identified, it's indistinguishable. Poor guy even sat through me even babbling on about technical stuff and data charts etc..

It's great when you can convert an audiophile over to the side of reason and balance.

There is also another aspect I am completely okay with and that's if you have nothing better to spend your money on and you just like to dress up your system with fancy looking exotic audio bling bling then as long as it doesn't diminish the performance at all then by all means that's great go for it, just don't claim the blacks are blacker and the vocals are like virgin mermaids singing to the Gods when we know the power cable hasn't done anything.
 

pinpoint_oxford

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Hopefully you don't mind if I ask a few questions. If not just ignore me as you have zero obligation to satisfy my curiosity.
Happy to oblige your curiosity. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s a simple answer. My speakers are the JBL L100 Classics, I have two amps I use, a Jadis Orchestra for music and some Onkyo AVR I use for television and movies and everything else. The noise comes and goes, there isn’t a pattern I could recognize with it except for it seems to be more frequent in the winter. The noise is some sort of hum with some weird tones mixed in, almost like listening to a modem.


At first, I thought it was some wireless interference. I know cell phones can make speakers do things when they are placed close, so I started rearranging my wifi router and AV devices which didn’t seem to have an effect. I then thought it was an outlet or grounding issue, so I got an extension cord and tried a few different outlets. I also tried isolating outlets and putting my amp on one outlet and everything else in another.


Some more research led me to believe it was a ground loop of some kind, although the typical advice to fix ground loops didn’t help. Still thinking it was a power issue (I live in a larger, older city and my house wiring is also quite old), I thought I’d “go big or go home” and get the P12 after finding a good deal. It seems to have fixed my problem. Maybe a cheaper conditioner or something would have worked too, I don’t know.
 

captainbeefheart

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Happy to oblige your curiosity. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s a simple answer. My speakers are the JBL L100 Classics, I have two amps I use, a Jadis Orchestra for music and some Onkyo AVR I use for television and movies and everything else. The noise comes and goes, there isn’t a pattern I could recognize with it except for it seems to be more frequent in the winter. The noise is some sort of hum with some weird tones mixed in, almost like listening to a modem.


At first, I thought it was some wireless interference. I know cell phones can make speakers do things when they are placed close, so I started rearranging my wifi router and AV devices which didn’t seem to have an effect. I then thought it was an outlet or grounding issue, so I got an extension cord and tried a few different outlets. I also tried isolating outlets and putting my amp on one outlet and everything else in another.


Some more research led me to believe it was a ground loop of some kind, although the typical advice to fix ground loops didn’t help. Still thinking it was a power issue (I live in a larger, older city and my house wiring is also quite old), I thought I’d “go big or go home” and get the P12 after finding a good deal. It seems to have fixed my problem. Maybe a cheaper conditioner or something would have worked too, I don’t know.

So I take it that no matter which amp, the Jadis or the Onkyo the noise would randomly appear so it couldn't be amp related.

You do live in old house with old wiring, I personally would have taken the time to go through my power distribution system, especially the branch your system is on. I know most people don't do electrical and this could be pricey to hire an electrician, pick one that is smart with experience in industrial type systems, not just your typical journeyman wire puller as they wouldn't be able to figure it out but they may be able to fix your ceiling fan. Other issues that are common are some appliance that is being turned on in your house that is causing the noise like, modern dimmers, florescent lighting, hair dryers, blenders, drills, motors etc....... Customers of the power company on the same transformer can have equipment that can propagate across the inductance of the neutral to other customers, the person closest to the transformer will be getting everyone's noise that is downstream. These problems are little more costly to solve, I often recommend a UPS system which also has the benefit that brown outs or power flickers won't be a problem, the conversion to DC and battery storage and then back to AC is what solves the problem much like the P12 you purchased except the P12 won't work if you lose power, the UPS will allow you to properly shut your equipment down and wait for the brown out or black out to subside. Another option is an isolation transformer, you can get a very nice medical grade isolation transformer for a couple hundred bucks depending on the wattage rating you require. The UPS can be a few hundred up to $500-600 but still that's 1/10th of the price you paid for the P12. The P12 would be a much better unit if it had batteries inside to act as a UPS and if it was much cheaper.

If you asked some professionals their opinions you could have saved thousands of dollars, I think you said you purchased it used and I'm not sure what you paid but I'm guessing it was still $3,000 or more. But hindsight is always 20/20 and the main thing is you got your problem solved and that's a good thing. You still always have the option to sell off the P12 and go another route to fix the problem, we know the P12 fixed it so maybe look into a UPS supply like this one:


They have more expensive versions but this one works great for most people's systems and is under $300. It's a much better unit compared to the P12 and is actually licensed so if there was ever a problem your insurance doesn't have an argument to not cover the damages. Win Win
 

MakeMineVinyl

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I live in an older adobe house here in Santa Fe, and I have random buzzes and hums which come and go for no apparent reason. I'm not about to spend a penny on power conditioning or anything else since I can't hear it when the music plays, and that's the only thing which counts.
 

captainbeefheart

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I live in an older adobe house here in Santa Fe, and I have random buzzes and hums which come and go for no apparent reason. I'm not about to spend a penny on power conditioning or anything else since I can't hear it when the music plays, and that's the only thing which counts.

If I were in your shoes I'd probably spend the $300 on a unit to get rid of the noise but I have 105db speakers and to me noise is a top priority, for a not so great SINAD score I am okay with a little distortion over noise so for me it's important to not just look at the SINAD score but which part caused the rather mediocre SINAD score, if it's benign distortion like a little second harmonic no biggie but if it's any kind of noise it's a no go for me.
 

pinpoint_oxford

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I live in an older adobe house here in Santa Fe, and I have random buzzes and hums which come and go for no apparent reason. I'm not about to spend a penny on power conditioning or anything else since I can't hear it when the music plays, and that's the only thing which counts.
Unfortunately my ears lock on to that noise and in quieter passages in things like classical music, it was really getting to me!
 

Ricardus

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I live in an older adobe house here in Santa Fe, and I have random buzzes and hums which come and go for no apparent reason. I'm not about to spend a penny on power conditioning or anything else since I can't hear it when the music plays, and that's the only thing which counts.
Is the adobe part relevant? Is this actually a thing in adobe houses? I mean, most of us live in wooden houses, and not faraday cages so it's not like we have lots of good shielding either.
 

MakeMineVinyl

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Is the adobe part relevant? Is this actually a thing in adobe houses? I mean, most of us live in wooden houses, and not faraday cages so it's not like we have lots of good shielding either.
Its just the style of house. They are very common in New Mexico.
 

BDWoody

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I live in an older adobe house here in Santa Fe, and I have random buzzes and hums which come and go for no apparent reason.

Disadvantages of abiding in an older adobe abode?
 

ahofer

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most of us live in wooden houses, and not faraday cages
Those of us in early 20th century ("pre-war") apartment houses in NYC do live in Faraday cages.
 

MakeMineVinyl

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Disadvantages of abiding in an older adobe abode?
Adobe doesn't affect power line disturbances in any way. I was just describing the style of the house and the fact that is is old, and the wiring is old. My listening room however has new wiring which goes back to a new service drop.
 

Ricardus

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ohhh, OK. When you mentioned Adobe I thought it had to be relevant to the noise somehow, which is why I asked. I wasn't trying to be a wiseguy or anything.
 

captainbeefheart

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Funny, what is considered "old" in Santa Fe standards. I live in New England where we have houses built in the 1700's. Do any electrical work and you can see the "timeline" of electrical distribution like old knob and tube which I kinda like, it gets a bad rap because of contractors and hacks that don't understand it would make modifications or worse layer insulation over the wires which is a fire hazard.

Unfortunately my ears lock on to that noise and in quieter passages in things like classical music, it was really getting to me!

I'm with you, I hate any noise in my system. I don't care if I can't hear when music is playing because it's still intermodulating the signal which isn't good and it ruins quiet passages of music or even between songs the noise just ruins the experience for me. No thanks I'll just take the little bit of time and possibly money to resolve it to make the whole experience that much better. Besides, it's kind of embarrassing to have company over that know you're really into audio systems and you spent all this money on all this equipment yet it's noisy. It's just not a good look.
 

sofrep811

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Been reading this for a few days and feel like I have digested everything. The best part was cult like attitude of the PS Audio guys on the PS Audio Forums. 90% of them are truly like an ostrich hiding it's head in the sand. To get this far in a great hobby and to think at anytime you need a AC Regenerator just slams my senses. That said, it also makes perfect sense on their very defensive and projected thoughts.

Well done, Amir! And you handled this all with excellent class. You've gotten so big lately and that's great when the big boys are afraid!
 

pinpoint_oxford

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The best part was cult like attitude of the PS Audio guys on the PS Audio Forums. 90% of them are truly like an ostrich hiding it's head in the sand.
Likely nobody would be posting on those forums if they weren't PS Audio customers or fans, so it makes sense for this to be the case.
 

welsh

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You got it. Pure gobblity gook to me. Every time I read the snake oil "technical" explanations it results in more Xanax use. I have said many times on this site that so much pure rubbish and quack pot theories are espoused by scammers and rip off artists. There is a reason most regular people and most women do not get into audio that much. They can't wade through the mental garbage that is rampant in this industry. They are smarter than we are, they ignore theoretical garbage! Well, at least we have Amir trying his best to level the field and give people a chance at not wasting thousands of dollars on junk. High end junk that does not do what it is supposed to. Most times making it worse!

Oh, and I need to refill that Xanax scrip too. :)
Xanax is indeed the king of the benzodiazepines. Almost impossible to get a script in the UK, though… oh for the days when one could live the life of ST Coleridge and simply get a pint of laudanum tincture from the corner shop!
 
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