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Vinnie Rossi Ultracapacitor Power Supply Review and Comparison to UpTone LPS-1

amirm

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#1
Here is a measurement, teardown and review of Vinnie Rossi Ultracapacitor Power Supply. As I have explained before, this class of device aims to use a set of super capacitors as the storage reservoir to power an audio device. The idea is supposed to be to provide a mains isolated source of clean power for small audio devices and digital tweaks. This is implemented using dual capacitor banks, one of which is charging while the other powers the external device. http://www.vinnierossi.com/mini/

upload_2017-9-7_9-15-50.png


The unit is quite pricey in my book at $995.

The direct competitor to Vinnie Rossi Mini is the Uptone LPS-1. The Vinnie Rossi Mini includes a power supply internally while the LPS-1 does not. Uptone sells the UpTone with a switchmode power supply from MeanWell.

For this testing, I used my iFi iDAC2 USB Dac which retails for around $350. It is a popular DAC so I thought it would make a good test subject.

Since I was recently testing the Uptone ISO Regen (http://audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/uptone-iso-regen-review-and-measurements.1829/) I used that as a way to inject power into the DAC since the ISO Regen provides its own post regulated USB power from external supply. And at any rate, is one of the devices often used with LPS-1 or Vinnie Rossi Mini.

The follow measurement is from a J-test 12 Khz tone. Ideal system would show nothing but noise in this zoomed in spectrum from 5 Hz to 1.1 Khz. Vertical scale is likewise way zoomed in to show small differences.

Compared to LPS-1.png


As we see here, there are still mains related contributions from the power supply in both scenarios. The Vinnie Rossi however, suffers from much less of that (in red) than UpTone LPS-1 (yellow).

Since UpTone LPS-1 supports external power supplies, here is the comparison of it powered by my lab power supply relative to Vinnie Rossi Mini:

Compared to LPS-1 and linear supply.png


As expected, my linear power supply is essentially free of AC mains leakage, resulting in clean output.

Note that neither supply with and without my lab supply is able to improve the performance of my DAC. At worst they add those mains harmonics, at best they do nothing.

And contrary to what both of them say, they do not block AC mains leakage as it is obvious from the measurements.

Save your money and put it toward a better Dac than these tweaks.

As always, I am open to feedback, corrections, new data, questions, etc.
 
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amirm

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#2
The Vinnie Rossi Mini very much reminds of standard linear power supplies you buy off the shelf -- or at least you could prior to many of them becoming fancy with front panels and such. Looks however, produced quite deceiving. What was inside was a completely different animal:

20170818_141435 top-small.jpg


Compared to the UpTone LPS-1 (http://audiosciencereview.com/forum...eview-and-measurements.1849/page-4#post-47412), the Vinni Rossi Mini is decidedly low-tech. The main board uses a socketed microchip processor which is very unusual. Just about everyone uses a surface mount part directly soldered to the board. While there are a few surface mount parts, almost all the others are through-hole. Lots of wires are hand soldered with less than good quality job.

I am not too happy with the safety considerations in this device. See the grounding lug for the mains AC input:

20170818_121114.jpg


This is an anodized/painted case so that connector is insulated from the case which it must not be. I thought maybe they had scraped off the paint but they had not once I took the screw out:

20170818_120909.jpg


There is a washer on the other side that has jagged teeth so it sort of, kind of had dug into the chassis. But in my measurements, the impedance was too high. Once I screwed it back in, it made proper connection. Still, this is not a good practice.

Related is the poor clearance between the DC output of the device and dangerous AC input below it:

20170818_122500.jpg


If those solder joints become loose, or the nut falls off, you have the potential for a direct short between AC mains and output wires! The DC terminals should have been on the other side of the case, not right on top of mains. If you are going to do it anyway, at least put some ring connectors on them (like the ground wire) rather than relying on solder connections.

There is a honking big transistor on the back of the unit that I thought was give away sign that this was a linear power supply.

20170818_121507.jpg

Then I saw this:

20170818_122322.jpg


That is the socket for that TO-3 transistor and it has absolutely NOTHING connected to it!!! Yes, you read that right. The transistor is totally non-functional.

Story thickens when we look at the side view of the unit:

20170818_121333.jpg


What is that black plastic box? A switchmode power supply!!!

Yes, they bought an off-the-shelf switchmode power supply, cut its DC lead and soldered it to the board above. Then they soldered two more wires to its AC input and ran that through the secondary of that big transformer to mains!!! The big transformer is only acting as a filter, not as the mains supply to the unit.

This makes this statement in the spec sheet false:

upload_2017-8-18_14-37-30.png


This is a switchmode power supply, not linear. That is why we saw AC mains leakage in my measurements.

The whole story comes together this way: I firmly believe they bought a linear power supply which used that TO-3 transistor and transformer for its functionality, and butchered it to create this supply. The replaced the input supply with the switchmode supply and are using off-the-shelf regulator for the output:

20170818_122030.jpg


For a nearly $1,000 device, I expect much more than this.

On better news, the capacitors are Nichicon and at 105 degree C rating.

Summary:
This is not what I would call commercial quality design and engineering. It is a modded design with pretty low quality assembly and construction. Safety concerns remain in my mind just the same. If it were me, I would NOT use this device in my audio system. If you are dead set on using such devices, use the UpTone LPS-1 with an external linear supply.
 
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#3
Good stuff, Amir. Can you please confirm one thing? You have the DUT and AP plugged into the same mains, correct?

Unlikely, but if they do share a common ground you may have noise leaking from the PS you are testing, through the wall into the AP power supply and back into the DAC through your test leads, rather than directly through the LPS-1/VRU and ISO-Regen. To eliminate this possibility, can you please measure these with the AP plugged into a disconnected UPS or another isolated circuit that doesn't share a common, in-the-wall wiring with the DUT? If the AC leakage currents persist, we'll know they must be leaking through the PS and ISO-R.
 

amirm

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#4
Hi Pkane and welcome to the forum.

On your question, UPS systems do not power their outputs if not grounded so that would not work. Fortunately I have a B&K 9801 which is a lab equipment for generating AC: https://www.bkprecision.com/products/power-supplies/9801-programmable-ac-power-source.html



The 70 Hz notation that you see on the LPS-1 graph/measurement for example comes from using the 9801's AC output with frequency set to 70 Hz so that it can be distinguished from mains output that is powering my Audio Precision.

Since the mains contributions track with that frequency, then the source is from ISO Regen/LPS-1, not the AP.
 
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#5
Hi Amir, thank you!

Yes, I can see that the two are powered by different frequencies. The possibility remains though, that the 70Hz noise is coming into the DAC from the common wiring in the wall, through the AP and not through the LPS-1/VRU and ISO-R. If their noisy SMPS are kicking out 70Hz noise into the wall, there is a chance that it'll reach the DAC through the back channel of AP and AP leads connected to the DAC output. Maybe you can try powering LPS-1/VRU from a UPS instead?
 

amirm

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#6
I am a little confused about your theory. At the risk of saying the obvious, the "wall" has high amplitude AC waveform that comes from the power company. It is the source of leakage to the output of the supply. The supply itself does not generate 60 Hz waveform as to then put it out the mains. And even if it did, what matter would that have to 170 volt AC that is already there???

I think the scenario you are thinking about is high frequency switching noise from the power supply going into AC mains which can and does happen. But that is not what we are measuring or paying attention to.

We are simply looking at a tiny bit of AC mains bleeding across the isolation barrier of the switching power supply and going into its DC terminals. Once there, due to lack of total isolation in LPS-1/VR Mini, it is finding itself to the output of the DAC. My AP analyzer acts as the final "load"/sink and sees this leakage current.

Please see this longer explanation: http://www.audiosciencereview.com/f...view-and-measurements.1829/page-19#post-47125

And acceptance of the same issue by UpTone:

upload_2017-8-18_16-56-10.png


Sadly as we see here, his last paragraph is not correct as the LPS-1 is not able to stop the AC leakage from the MeanWell supply.
 
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#7
As you said, the wall has high a amplitude AC current at 60Hz. The leakage current you are observing is at 70Hz. While very unlikely, I can imagine the 70Hz signal and its harmonics leaking through he common wiring in the wall into the AP, and then into the DAC output, closing the circuit there. In other words, bypassing LPS-1 and ISO-R isolation altogether. The circuit is formed by the two power supplies and the mains (your regenerator on one end and AP PS on the other). I agree that the chance of this is small. But, something similar has been suggested by others on the CA forums, so it may be worth investigating by severing the in-wall circuit between the two devices. Your call.
 

Don Hills

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#8
I think it's very unlikely that any of the 70 Hz from the AC generator is leaking back into its mains input and thus across to the AP analyser. If that were the case, there would be an equal leakage of 60 Hz from the mains input of the AC generator to its output, and this would appear as 60 Hz measured by the analyser. And as shown, that doesn't happen. The folks on CA are clutching desperately at straws.
 

Thomas savage

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#9
I think it's very unlikely that any of the 70 Hz from the AC generator is leaking back into its mains input and thus across to the AP analyser. If that were the case, there would be an equal leakage of 60 Hz from the mains input of the AC generator to its output, and this would appear as 60 Hz measured by the analyser. And as shown, that doesn't happen. The folks on CA are clutching desperately at straws.
But even if it was happening, as the ap is in the circuit just like any peice of audio equipment would this not mean that the leakage could never be stopped in the first place as there's two paths and the iso regen and LPS -1 best case only could block one? So they would be useless in any case ?

And ..,

Severing this connection as suggested would not represent a real world hifi setup ?

Or is that totally nonsense?

It might well be lol
 
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#10
But even if it was happening, as the ap is in the circuit just like any peice of audio equipment would this not mean that the leakage could never be stopped in the first place as there's two paths and the iso regent LPS -1 best case only could block one? So they would be useless in any case ?

And ..,

Severing this connection as suggested would not represent a real world hifi setup ?

Or is that totally nonsense?

It might well be lol
I think you are right, Thomas, but Alex C. might feel a bit better about his products if they are not the main path for AC leakage currents ;)

Personally, I don't see this kind of AC leakage at the output of my DAC. But, I do inject a battery powered 5v into the USB cable and use a USB ethernet extender that has some galvanic isolation built-in, while also being powered from a battery. Total cost of about $60, and has the benefit of letting me move my PC into another room with a cheap ethernet cable.
 

Wayne

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they bought an off-the-shelf switchmode power supply, cut its DC lead and soldered it to the board above. Then they soldered two more wires to its AC input and ran that through the secondary of that big transformer to mains!!! The big transformer is only acting as a filter, not as the mains supply to the unit.
Would you please draw the schematic for this power supply? Thanks,
 

Thomas savage

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I think you are right, Thomas, but Alex C. might feel a bit better about his products if they are not the main path for AC leakage currents ;)

Personally, I don't see this kind of AC leakage at the output of my DAC. But, I do inject a battery powered 5v into the USB cable and use a USB ethernet extender that has some galvanic isolation built-in, while also being powered from a battery. Total cost of about $60, and has the benefit of letting me move my PC into another room with a cheap ethernet cable.
So we welded the doors but...,
 

Don Hills

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#13
Would you please draw the schematic for this power supply? Thanks,
The advantage of feeding the SMPS via the transformer is that there doesn't need to be a Y capacitor between the output side and the mains input side, so no leakage path for mains AC to appear on the DC output.
 

amirm

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Would you please draw the schematic for this power supply? Thanks,
What, the whole unit? If so it would take a lot of work. Or do you mean the charging supply? If so, the charging supply is off-the-shelf switchmode power supply. I can try to peel it off if you really need to know its brand but then I would have to tape it back and since this unit is not mine, I prefer to not go there.
 

Wayne

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Then they soldered two more wires to its AC input and ran that through the secondary of that big transformer to mains
Or do you mean the charging supply?
Just the transformer to the SMPS. - unless I have it correct below.

Is the secondary of the transformer feeding the SMPS? And the primary of the transformer connected to the house circuit (mains)? If so then it is (or is functioning as) an isolation transformer (not a step up or down)? Do I have it right?

Also thanks @ Don Hills.
 

Blumlein 88

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#16
Hi Pkane and welcome to the forum.

On your question, UPS systems do not power their outputs if not grounded so that would not work. Fortunately I have a B&K 9801 which is a lab equipment for generating AC: https://www.bkprecision.com/products/power-supplies/9801-programmable-ac-power-source.html



The 70 Hz notation that you see on the LPS-1 graph/measurement for example comes from using the 9801's AC output with frequency set to 70 Hz so that it can be distinguished from mains output that is powering my Audio Precision.

Since the mains contributions track with that frequency, then the source is from ISO Regen/LPS-1, not the AP.
So for the price of two of these Vinni Rossi con jobs, you could buy your BK power supply. Well it might really equal doing nothing at all for the DAC.

I think the plastic cased SMPS in the Vinni Rossi unit must be the 'modular' part of this patent pending design.

I notice on their home page the VR units have garnered tremendous praise from the all the various golden eared publications.

So maybe an audiophile repackage of the 9801 is in order. Along with the revolutionary power sweep technology. You let it sweep in frequency from 50 hz to 500 hz and back in a innovative manner that precludes the possibility of power supply related harmonic build up in your circuitry. Yes it both does away with those harmonics and sweeps them just in case so you will never hear them if they should leak thru (which they won't).

Yes another wonderful audiophool product.

Reviewing their integrated amp, which requires you to buy the PS started with this gem of wisdom by old Herb Reichert over at S-phile:
My girlfriend, "bb," a 6'-tall Aries artist, always says, "Math, science, religion, and even history, are all simply stories we tell ourselves about our experiences with a phenomenon we call energy."

While during measurements of the unit (which in some ways were pretty poor-which included only reach rated power output at 11% THD+N) JA noted:


However, I was puzzled by the appearance of very low-level spuriae at 120Hz and its harmonics in this graph, given the hefty ultracapacitor power supply, which is charged with 24V DC by the outboard supply.

However, with 16- and 24-bit TosLink data, sidebands appeared at ±60, ±120, and ±180Hz (fig.13). This, too, puzzled me—there should be no AC-line–related components present at all, given the LIO's massively stiff power supply.

Again I was puzzled by the appearance of low-level spuriae at 60Hz and its harmonics in the amplifier's output when it drove 1kHz at 1Wpc into 8 ohms (fig.19).

https://www.stereophile.com/content/vinnie-rossi-lio-modular-integrated-amplifier

https://www.stereophile.com/content/vinnie-rossi-lio-modular-integrated-amplifier-measurements

So all you need is bb's outlook on life (and money, a fair amount of money like $8-12k), and this relatively broken design is a pretty good deal. It is after all simply a story about an experience with a phenomenon called energy (and money, money is just another form of energy right?;))

And look at all the accolades and awards this integrated amp, powered by this Pure DC4 evr ultracap supply has garnered. Heck, it'll reach 25 wpc at only 11% THD with only a wee moderate bit of hum.
http://www.vinnierossi.com/professional-reviews/

Admittedly this uses a larger unit than the one tested here. It appears to have some of the same resulting AC harmonic leakage however. Probably the same basic design.
 

amirm

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#17
Just the transformer to the SMPS. - unless I have it correct below.

Is the secondary of the transformer feeding the SMPS? And the primary of the transformer connected to the house circuit (mains)? If so then it is (or is functioning as) an isolation transformer (not a step up or down)? Do I have it right?

Also thanks @ Don Hills.
No, it is not that. The primary wires of the transformer are cut off! There is a small capacitor across them.

The secondary is then is in series with either the line or neutral (they use red and white which are the wrong colors for AC) and then goes to the switchmode supply. The other input directly connects to the IEC.

Imagine you splice a secondary of a transformer into one line of the AC input to a switchmode power supply. The transformer then is just a big coil, not a transformer.
 
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amirm

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#18
o maybe an audiophile repackage of the 9801 is in order.
Well, the B&K 9801 retails for $2,000 so not cheap :). I plan to do some special testing with it later to see sensitivity of general audio electronics to AC variations.
 

BE718

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#19
I think the problem is that the internet allows any incompetent garden shed operation to set up and sell product and be commercially successful.

The gullible and technically ignorant audiophile audience is ripe for the marketing from all these amateur "manufacturers".
 
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Wayne

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Imagine you splice a secondary of a transformer into one line of the AC input to a switchmode power supply. The transformer then is just a big coil, not a transformer.
Thanks Amir for the clarification. I do not understand that set-up.

Between the unused power transistor and the hook-up of the transformer, I wonder if they had purchased some linear power supplies and then made major modifications to try and salvage them.

@ Don Hills, was what Amir described your understanding?
 
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