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PS Audio PowerPlant 3 Review

Rate this AC Regenerator

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 260 91.9%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 11 3.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 4 1.4%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 8 2.8%

  • Total voters
    283

solderdude

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in my country Malta we do have a tendency where power fluctuates.

Then you need a regenerator IF it is so bad that equipment starts to show audible issues. Filters won't help anything in this case.

Edit: Tony beat me to it.
 

Elephen

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Feb 26, 2021
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10
This is a review, listening tests and detailed measurements of the PS Audio Stellar Power Plant 3 AC regenerator. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $2,499.
View attachment 248496
There are no front panel controls other than standby/power switch on the left. To activate the MultiWave and ClearWave requires remote control which I did not have. Very bad form to not put a simple switch in the front to cycle that way. Not much to the back panel:
View attachment 248497
Shame there is no power sequencing/sense for power management.

A heavy AC cord is supplied with the unit but I got a kick out of this statement in the manual:
View attachment 248498

You buy an AC regenerator and it still is sensitive to what the power cord does *before* it? And significantly so? For nearly $2,500 they could not provide said improved power cord either?

Despite being rather thin, this is a hefty box clocking at nearly 40 pounds (18 Kg). Yet, max power output is only 300 watts. There is a very high price to be paid here for regeneration of high voltage AC.

PS Audio PowerPlant 3 Measurements
We start by measuring AC power as it comes out of my outlet, followed by what the PowerPlant 3 does to it:
View attachment 248499
We see that in addition to the 60 Hz mains, we have a lot of harmonics that come for the ride. You can see that the tops of the AC waveform are ever so slightly deformed as well. Measurement is performed using a 100:1 attenuator so actual output is 122 volts with distortion+noise of 1.9%. Here is the output of the PowerPlant 3:

View attachment 248500

We see a good bit of improvement in harmonic content of the AC waveform on top right. However, that is accompanied with higher noise level as we saw in PS Audio's PowerPlant 15. We can see that better if we zoom in the spectrum:

View attachment 248501

This goes counter to company claim of noise elimination:
View attachment 248502

But distortion is definitely improved. But let's see whether that matters to our audio gear which rectifies and filters AC anyway before use. To test that, I measured the output of my 15 volt linear power supply which comes from the company GRAS:
View attachment 248503

There is essentially no difference between two sources of power. Reason is simple: the artifacts as you see them is created by the power supply, not from AC mains. So it doesn't matter how "dirty" the AC mains is.

What about output of our audio gear? I thought I use a low cost device that one would think needs more "help" from an AC regenerator. The volunteer was the Schiit Heretic headphone amplifier/preamplifier. Here is its dashboard when powered by Raw AC:
View attachment 248504

Despite being fed "dirty" mains, its produces spectacularly low noise and distortion that is 5 dB better than our best case threshold of hearing. There is some power supply noise but they are incredibly low level of -140 dB (25 dB lower than threshold of hearing). Now let's power it through PS Audio PowerPlant 3:

View attachment 248505

What happened here? We took a hit in noise floor causing SINAD to drop by 2 dB. Who says we can't measure the impact of these products? We certainly can. In this case, I suspect a ground loop was created causing the increased 60 Hz mains spike. But I can't explain why the 180 Hz third harmonic has also gotten worse. Either way, we have gone backward.

PS Audio Stellar PowerPlant 3 Listening Tests
I created a chain from my RME ADI-2 Pro interface, driving Topping A90 headphone amplifier which in turn powered my Don Clark Expanse headphone. I then played some of my reference audio clips. The sound was wonderful in its detail, and dynamics with inaudible noise floor. I then switched to powering the A90 with PowerPlant 3. It took 3 to 4 seconds for the A90 to play again which is not ideal in AB tests. I thought I heard some difference but when I switched back to raw AC, I "heard" similar difference. I am confident in instant AB switching it would sound identical.

Conclusions
As with tests of other PS Audio PowerPlants (of which, I own one myself but never use), objective tests do not show any improvement in performance of audio products. Yes, the distortion is reduced but noise is increased contrary to company claims. Because first thing our audio gear does is convert AC to DC, those components are filtered anyway. Certainly you can't get a high performance audio device that is so poor as to allow input AC noise to get through it. That would be the definition of non-fidelity!

Sighted, non-blind, slow switching listening tests are bound to produce impression of audio changing but as I experienced, this is due to any change, not because the PowerPlant. Human hearing is bi-directional and dynamic so can't be relied upon outside of controlled testing.

Let's note that the company doesn't show performance of any audio device being improved with this unit. Nor any controlled listening tests. Just a bunch of marketing claims that sound plausible but as you see form the measurements, don't amount to any improved fidelity. If anything, things have been made worse in some regards due to the architecture of the newer generation PS Audio PowerPlants which are not true AC regenerators (they mix AC mains with compensation signal). As I have shown in previous reviews, my lab grade regenerator performs a lot better.

In my opinion, it is a waste of technical talent to be building such products. I see no reason to recommend PS Audio Stellar PowerPlant 3.

Edit: Video review also posted:

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
For years, I have wanted to ask Paul McGowan to explain how an expensive power cable attached to a PowerPlant improves the sound even more. Thanks.
 

solderdude

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Because Paul will sell you one that sounds better... duh.
And Paul knows ... he's even got a YT channel to explain why that is .... right after the 'weeeeellllll'.
 

Mart68

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Because Paul will sell you one that sounds better... duh.
And Paul knows ... he's even got a YT channel to explain why that is .... right after the 'weeeeellllll'.
don't forge the little chuckle - it's the chuckle that cues us up to believe that we're about to receive some real down home wisdom from a grandfather figure with decades of experience. It's the chuckle that gets the sale.
 

Ricardus

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More snake-oil from fraud guy. SHOCKED I AM.... SHOCKED.
 

Soria Moria

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don't forge the little chuckle - it's the chuckle that cues us up to believe that we're about to receive some real down home wisdom from a grandfather figure with decades of experience. It's the chuckle that gets the sale.
When I was new to this hobby I would often search for a topic about audio gear and his video would be the highest up and with the most views, and I always assumed he knew what he was talking about. You're spot on with this. People like him are ruining the hobby for newcomers by pretending audio is some insanely complex thing where you have to look for a bunch of gear and even cables that synergise together. Don't like how your headphones sound? I'm sure it's not your headphones being garbage, buy a new DAC!
 

oscar_dziki

Active Member
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I don't think anyone on ASR has articulated any failures with PS Audio gear, have they? This review unit looks beautifully constructed and I would expect it will continue to function for many decades, unlike some other brands people continue to clamour for.
Screenshot_33.png
 

Spkrdctr

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Sonny1

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Amazing what people spend their money on. Are there really enough uninformed rich people out there to allow a company to make a business selling these devices? Stellar waste of money.
 

Ricardus

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Amazing what people spend their money on. Are there really enough uninformed rich people out there to allow a company to make a business selling these devices? Stellar waste of money.
The huckster in question drives a Tesla and just built what he calls a "recording studio," so apparently yes.
 

YesChickenNuggets

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Joined
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Amazing what people spend their money on. Are there really enough uninformed rich people out there to allow a company to make a business selling these devices? Stellar waste of money.
I've actually read that in Hifi, it's mainly been the influx in uninformed rich people out of China, they'll buy literally anything, and they don't yet have a strong informational foundation (community) for debunking this stuff like audiosciencereview.

Whereas in the west, we've had snake slayer scientists such as Amir for decades chopping up con men like Paul. The nouveau riche in China just recently got their snakes uprising. Our western snakes are taking advantage of their new uninformed economy for luxury goods.
 

voodooless

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I've actually read that in Hifi, it's mainly been the influx in uninformed rich people out of China, they'll buy literally anything, and they don't yet have a strong informational foundation (community) for debunking this stuff like audiosciencereview.

Whereas in the west, we've had snake slayer scientists such as Amir for decades chopping up con men like Paul. The nouveau riche in China just recently got their snakes uprising. Our western snakes are taking advantage of their new uninformed economy for luxury goods.
I doubt that the majority of ignorant people claiming all kinds of magical properties are from China.
 

YesChickenNuggets

Active Member
Joined
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Messages
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I doubt that the majority of ignorant people claiming all kinds of magical properties are from China.
No, the chinese nouveau riche are the ones getting con-ed by our snakes like PS-audio. Their awareness of what they're buying is extremely low. It's expensive, so it must be good. The younger generation is much more enlightened, but there's the wave of early uber-rich country bumpkin types that came out of the early 2000 wave of foreign capital investments and tech transfers. They're the ones keeping our hifi snakes afloat.

And of course, they're fast track developing their own Cons, like netgear audiophile network switches.
 

orsib

New Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2021
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This is a review, listening tests and detailed measurements of the PS Audio Stellar Power Plant 3 AC regenerator. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $2,499.
View attachment 248496
There are no front panel controls other than standby/power switch on the left. To activate the MultiWave and ClearWave requires remote control which I did not have. Very bad form to not put a simple switch in the front to cycle that way. Not much to the back panel:
View attachment 248497
Shame there is no power sequencing/sense for power management.

A heavy AC cord is supplied with the unit but I got a kick out of this statement in the manual:
View attachment 248498

You buy an AC regenerator and it still is sensitive to what the power cord does *before* it? And significantly so? For nearly $2,500 they could not provide said improved power cord either?

Despite being rather thin, this is a hefty box clocking at nearly 40 pounds (18 Kg). Yet, max power output is only 300 watts. There is a very high price to be paid here for regeneration of high voltage AC.

PS Audio PowerPlant 3 Measurements
We start by measuring AC power as it comes out of my outlet, followed by what the PowerPlant 3 does to it:
View attachment 248499
We see that in addition to the 60 Hz mains, we have a lot of harmonics that come for the ride. You can see that the tops of the AC waveform are ever so slightly deformed as well. Measurement is performed using a 100:1 attenuator so actual output is 122 volts with distortion+noise of 1.9%. Here is the output of the PowerPlant 3:

View attachment 248500

We see a good bit of improvement in harmonic content of the AC waveform on top right. However, that is accompanied with higher noise level as we saw in PS Audio's PowerPlant 15. We can see that better if we zoom in the spectrum:

View attachment 248501

This goes counter to company claim of noise elimination:
View attachment 248502

But distortion is definitely improved. But let's see whether that matters to our audio gear which rectifies and filters AC anyway before use. To test that, I measured the output of my 15 volt linear power supply which comes from the company GRAS:
View attachment 248503

There is essentially no difference between two sources of power. Reason is simple: the artifacts as you see them is created by the power supply, not from AC mains. So it doesn't matter how "dirty" the AC mains is.

What about output of our audio gear? I thought I use a low cost device that one would think needs more "help" from an AC regenerator. The volunteer was the Schiit Heretic headphone amplifier/preamplifier. Here is its dashboard when powered by Raw AC:
View attachment 248504

Despite being fed "dirty" mains, its produces spectacularly low noise and distortion that is 5 dB better than our best case threshold of hearing. There is some power supply noise but they are incredibly low level of -140 dB (25 dB lower than threshold of hearing). Now let's power it through PS Audio PowerPlant 3:

View attachment 248505

What happened here? We took a hit in noise floor causing SINAD to drop by 2 dB. Who says we can't measure the impact of these products? We certainly can. In this case, I suspect a ground loop was created causing the increased 60 Hz mains spike. But I can't explain why the 180 Hz third harmonic has also gotten worse. Either way, we have gone backward.

PS Audio Stellar PowerPlant 3 Listening Tests
I created a chain from my RME ADI-2 Pro interface, driving Topping A90 headphone amplifier which in turn powered my Don Clark Expanse headphone. I then played some of my reference audio clips. The sound was wonderful in its detail, and dynamics with inaudible noise floor. I then switched to powering the A90 with PowerPlant 3. It took 3 to 4 seconds for the A90 to play again which is not ideal in AB tests. I thought I heard some difference but when I switched back to raw AC, I "heard" similar difference. I am confident in instant AB switching it would sound identical.

Conclusions
As with tests of other PS Audio PowerPlants (of which, I own one myself but never use), objective tests do not show any improvement in performance of audio products. Yes, the distortion is reduced but noise is increased contrary to company claims. Because first thing our audio gear does is convert AC to DC, those components are filtered anyway. Certainly you can't get a high performance audio device that is so poor as to allow input AC noise to get through it. That would be the definition of non-fidelity!

Sighted, non-blind, slow switching listening tests are bound to produce impression of audio changing but as I experienced, this is due to any change, not because the PowerPlant. Human hearing is bi-directional and dynamic so can't be relied upon outside of controlled testing.

Let's note that the company doesn't show performance of any audio device being improved with this unit. Nor any controlled listening tests. Just a bunch of marketing claims that sound plausible but as you see form the measurements, don't amount to any improved fidelity. If anything, things have been made worse in some regards due to the architecture of the newer generation PS Audio PowerPlants which are not true AC regenerators (they mix AC mains with compensation signal). As I have shown in previous reviews, my lab grade regenerator performs a lot better.

In my opinion, it is a waste of technical talent to be building such products. I see no reason to recommend PS Audio Stellar PowerPlant 3.

Edit: Video review also posted:

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
Hello, Amir. I think there is clrearly some problem with PS Audio’s marketing department. I am not a native English speaker, but “eliminating noise” means zero noise for me, which is completely impossible in real life. Anyway. There are power regenerators exist where the manufacturer at least tries to justify its usefulness with some science. If you will have the chance, you should rather confirm these claims instead of lecturing PS Audio’s marketing department. Check this out:

 
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