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Review and Measurements of Klipsch PowerGate DAC & Amp

Nate T

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#81
don't know if there's a way to disable wifi (fyi, i did load the latest 1.45 firmware). i also got this specifically as a power amp...been buying way too many dacs recently. i do like the multiple inputs/BT/echo functionality.

as far as power goes, i'm not happy at 12 watts on standby, but at 24/7/365, it should cost me less than $10 a year, and as far as heat, i can always stick the device on a power strip...if you need outlet level control, they do make powerstrips with switches per outlet. they also make smart adapters with individual outlet controls by app.
When you press the power button, does it turn it off (or at least into the <1W standby) or does it just go into standby?

@estuardo yeah, but convenience and desk space are both worth something too.
 

GGroch

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#83
In normal use the Powergate almost certainly uses a lot less power than a conventional amp. Certainly 12W at network standby is higher than amps with a true off. On the other hand, when on Class D amps are far more efficient than class A/B or A when on.

Plus, as referenced above, the amp automatically goes into standby after 15 minutes. That is not a common feature for home amps. The idle current of the Onkyo M-5010 (the current version of the recently ASR measured M-282) is almost 4 times higher at 45W. Many of us just leave them on all the time.

For my use, the auto-off function takes some getting used to. A 15+ minute break when watching TV requires a quick remote control power on push. Since a FireTV cube or Harmony controls my AV system, my nightly "Turn off the TV" command often turns on the amp. Of course, it turns itself off in 15 minutes.
 
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#84
First post here - just discovered this review. Thanks, Amir!

I bought one several months ago when they were on sale for $250. Now that they are $150, I may grab another for a spare. I'm using it to power a pair of NHT SB3 bookshelf speakers in a portable system.

From the existing measurements, can one infer the measured performance using the optical input and speaker outputs? Would the relatively low SINAD be in-play?

Wouldn't the analog output SINAD performance be a function of the DAC and the preamp/volume control circuitry?

And I also wonder if (and kind of assume) that the same preamp/volume control circuitry that feeds the analog outputs also feeds the amplifier section.

This is really just academic because I find the audio performance to be "plenty good enough" for casual listening with 16/44.1 FLAC and Spotify Premium using a CCA via optical. As far as the amplifier performance goes, it drives the relatively inefficient NHT SB3 to satisfying levels with no audible hints of distortion.

I found Play-Fi to be unstable, so that why I'm using a CCA via optical.

I also wonder if the measured performance would be different for the same signal via optical vs. Play-Fi streaming. I guess the obvious differences could be related to the optical input receiver and jitter from the optical source.
 

GGroch

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#85
Hi Adam, welcome.

Amir does not specifiy (I think) which input he was using to measure DAC performance... but the measurement from USB and OPtical are usually quite close...so you should be able to infer that.

The DAC built into the CCA measures a bit better than the one in the Powergate. If you are using the Optical output of the CCA then you are using the Powergate's DAC rather than the one in the CCA. So, it is theoretically possible that you will get better sound using the CCA's analog output and running that to the Powergate's Analog Input. My guess is that you will not hear any difference.

Amir did not measure Play-fi Streaming quality...so no way to know. But, if your Play-Fi streaming is unstable, then of course use the CCA.

On mine the Play-fi Spotify and MP3 streaming work just fine. The Play-fi app's controls are weird, but since I just play from the Spotify app 90% of the time, that makes no difference.
 
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#86
The DAC built into the CCA measures a bit better than the one in the Powergate. If you are using the Optical output of the CCA then you are using the Powergate's DAC rather than the one in the CCA. So, it is theoretically possible that you will get better sound using the CCA's analog output and running that to the Powergate's Analog Input. My guess is that you will not hear any difference.
Thanks for the welcome.

Yeah, I'm wondering the same thing - CCA optical vs. analog into the Powergate. I would have expected the Powergate to have better DAC performance than the CCA, but guess not.

I also thought that the Powergate might do an ADC conversion on the analog inputs, since it is a streaming device. Not sure about this though.
 

GGroch

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#87
.....I also thought that the Powergate might do an ADC conversion on the analog inputs, since it is a streaming device. Not sure about this though.
I am not sure on this either. I guessed it would, but then Amir's analog in measurements should not be as good as they are. I am sure it is converted when you stream to another wireless Play-Fi client.
 

daftcombo

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#88
Why the DAC is said "poor" here is because of a high SINAD due to high 2nd harmonic distortion.
Isn't that 2nd harmonic hardly audible in general?
You get 20dB less in SINAD with the 3rd harmonic and further.

On the other hand, you have high 3rd harmonic distortion in the amp part. High but not that much for an amp.
 

daftcombo

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#89
For those who have it: is the Powergate dead quiet or does it make fan sound? Does it make hum or hiss in the speakers?
 
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#90
For those who have it: is the Powergate dead quiet or does it make fan sound? Does it make hum or hiss in the speakers?
It does not have a fan. However, I set mine on an AC Infinity fan because the bottom gets pretty hot.

Mine makes a slight amount of hiss through the speakers - pretty typical amount and certainly not excessive.
 

amirm

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#91
Wouldn't the analog output SINAD performance be a function of the DAC and the preamp/volume control circuitry?
I tested with analog input and USB input. USB DAC is barely better than the amplifier so it will degrade it some. Ideally we would have a DAC section with 10 dB better SINAD performance then it will be transparent enough. Here we just have 3 dB gap.
 
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#92
I tested with analog input and USB input. USB DAC is barely better than the amplifier so it will degrade it some. Ideally we would have a DAC section with 10 dB better SINAD performance then it will be transparent enough. Here we just have 3 dB gap.
Would you expect similar DAC performance via optical or streaming?

On a different topic, I wonder how the Powergate would compare to the SVS Soundbase - same MSRP, but the Soundbase lacks USB input and has more "advertised" power at 150 x 2 into 4 Ohm (no distortion specs provided).
 

amirm

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#93
Would you expect similar DAC performance via optical or streaming?
Yes. Performance is low enough that it won't matter if an of the others are a tiny bit better. Sometimes streaming limits performance to 16 bits/96 dB but would also be well above what I have measured.
 

BillG

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#94
For those who have it: is the Powergate dead quiet or does it make fan sound? Does it make hum or hiss in the speakers?
As others have mentioned, it has no fan.

As for hum and hiss in the speakers, even when set to full volume, and no music playing, I've heard none with my ear right next to the speaker; that was actually one of my first informal test of the unit. My speakers are Infinity Reference 162's and an RSUB 10, by the way.
 
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BillG

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#95
Just a quick FYI for anyone interested: The USB service port on the PowerGate is sufficiently powered to allow one to run a Chromecast Audio from it if desired. I attached my CCA to it 24 hours ago, and have experienced no problems with either it, or the PowerGate, so far... :cool:
 
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#96
Just a quick FYI for anyone interested: The USB service port on the PowerGate is sufficiently powered to allow one to run a Chromecast Audio from it if desired. I attached my CCA to it 24 hours ago, and have experienced no problems with either it, or the PowerGate, so far... :cool:
I will use this powered USB port to connect the USB silent fan that I got. Others are doing the same with no decrements on performance or causing interference to the Powergate.
 

daftcombo

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#97
Sorry but... would it be possible to run it without fan and get normal amounts of heath?
 
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#98
I will use this powered USB port to connect the USB silent fan that I got. Others are doing the same with no decrements on performance or causing interference to the Powergate.
I don't think this will cause any issues, but you will have to turn the fan off manually if you don't want it on all the time. The USB is powered even when the Powergate is in standby.
 
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#99
Sorry but... would it be possible to run it without fan and get normal amounts of heath?
I guess so. We are trying to figure out how to turn off the network while the Powergate is in stand by (foe those of us that just want to use the Powergate as a power amp). The power supply is the culprit of this heat, and the small enclosure doesn't help. I still haven't received mine. It should be here this week.

By the way, I asked Amir when he was testing the Powergate, but now that others also have it, do any of you have opened up the chassis to check the class D amps being used? It's still a mystery.
 
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For those who have it: is the Powergate dead quiet or does it make fan sound? Does it make hum or hiss in the speakers?
I bought one after reading the review. I hooked it up to some Peachtree Audio DS4.5s (minor hiss from speakers, but these have a very low efficiency rating) in the bedroom and a few things about this unit bother me. One, the unit makes a minor hissing sound (power supply maybe) that I can hear since the unit is so close to my bed. Also there's a light on the back of the unit near the "wifi setup" button that constantly flashes whether the unit is on or in standby. I never setup the network app so perhaps the annoying light would go away if it's setup, perhaps someone can chime in about that. The unit will try to connect to bluetooth automatically even when in standby and it will wake up. This may be convenient for some, however I found it annoying when I just wanted to watch a video on youtube. The Powergate lacks a balance control. For the setup I have it's necessary to have.

Sorry but... would it be possible to run it without fan and get normal amounts of heath?
Heat builds up on the bottom of the unit. It never got hot enough to cause me any major concern, but I don't run it to hard. Perhaps it will get much hotter when played loud for a considerable amount of time. The Powergate does not have an internal fan.

I'll be returning the Powergate. I had hoped it would be a suitable replacement for the B&K AV30.2 I've been using with a Logitech bluetooth adaptor. For me the B&K, Logitech combo is more convenient for me and the amplifier has indepedant gain adjustment for left and right channels allowing me to balance the sound coming to me from the side of my bed. I can't think of another place in my apartment where I could use the Powergate.
 
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