iFi Audio Powerstation review - expatinjapan



iFi Audio Powerstation review

iFi large, oblong, visually exquisite, innovative, fantastic...iFi Audio Powerstation.

The stock photo from the iFi Audio website shows the Powerstation very clearly. 
Available in 4 options:USA (8) / EU (6) / AUS (6) / UK (6).


The IFi Audio Powerstation. What Is It? Do Your Eyes Glaze Over When Met With Technical Information, Or Are You Experienced, Trained, Educated Or Other Enough To Delve In And Penetrate The Mysteries Of What May Be Viewed As The More Esoteric Products Within The Audio World? Whether The Former Or The Latter Hopefully I Have Provided Enough Information For The Reader To Reach A General Understanding The IFi Powerstation. 
Further Questions Can Be Directed To IFi Audio Either Via Their Website Or The IFi Audio Powerstation Thread On Head-Fi.Org 
I Myself Know My Limits When It Comes To The Technical Side So I Veer Towards A More Subjective Viewpoint. I Do What I Can To Try To Make Reviews More Objective With SPL Meters, Headphone Switching Boxes Etc Etc. With The IFi Powerstation I Had One Device To Test In Isolation, Except To Straight To The Wall Or Other Standard `Non-Audiophile` Power Strips. So I Did My Best With What I Had Available To Me To Give You The Reader A General Low Down And Over View Of The IFi Powerstation.
I Will Initially Give My Earlier Impressions And Then In The Middle General Photos, Information/Specs And IFi Audio Explanation Videos.
Hopefully There Are Enough Angles To Meet Everyones Needs When Researching This Particular Product.

IFi Audio PowerStation Unboxing & Early Impressions

This Was Posted Earlier And Has Been Added To And Expanded. I Include It Here As Part Of The Review And The Earlier Impressions Which Has Continued Congruently Throughout My Experience Of The IFi Audio Powerstation. (Scroll down for the more recent final analysis).

Introducing the iFi Audio Powerstation - Clean active power conditioner 
- via the iFi Audio Youtube channel.

Specifications and inner details here:
https://ifi-audio.com/products/powerstation/

I have only spent an afternoon in my home using the iFi Powerstation with my humble set up, i had initial doubts about the technical esoteric wizardry of it all. But color me impressed so far.
A few sonic aberrations which were distinct to my ears whilst playing music before - seem to have been addressed through the use of the iFi PowerStation.
But i still want to learn more about this device.

More to come...




Next day musings:

Still early days. My home system is a fairly basic but decent Onkyo. 

With  the iFi PowerStation: initial impressions - 

Before with a standard power strip: it is like the difference between a low powered basic dap - when you have to turn up the volume a lot to get ‘everything’ but it is not satisfying, not powered enough. And the resolution is falsely there,
If at all. 
Even with the volume turned up bits of music would still be recessed or smeared somewhat.

With the iFi PowerStation...a parallel could be that the hone system is akin to a decent dap with oodles of power and better internal shielding etc. I am probably using 1/4 less volume and hearing more intricacies of the music. It is Like the benefits of a totl dap and totl IEMs.  

Less volume, more music, lower floor noise, more resolution.

It is like a choke point has been fixed in my system.





It’s long! TWSS!








The US version which also worked in my Japan house. Japan has two plugs, one two prong is the standard and a few three prong (with grounding).






Explaining the iFi Powerstation - via the iFi Audio Youtube channel


iFi Audio iPurifier is built in.







Two green lights shows everything is connected correctly for optimum performance and results.

Placing AC iPurifiers in conjunction with the PowerStation - via iFi Audio Youtube Channel

"You can use AC iPurifiers in the PowerStation.

The more AC iPurifiers you use, the cleaner the overall power. If the AC iPurifier is placed in the middle of the PowerStation it will also act as a noise shield. Noise is reduced, isolated and confined to the respective left/right sections of the AC iPurifier.

Use it to separate your analogue and digital devices." - iFi Audio website.



 "No earth/ground can lead to annoying buzzes and hums – the scourge of audio.


We’ve added a 4mm banana socket to the PowerStation so a grounding cable can be used to create a ground/earth when one isn’t present." - iFi Audio website. (see below).

Solving a missing ground with an AC iPurifier (another option).

Whats inside?

iFi Audio on its website shows quite openly and transparently the technology which is behind the iFi Audio Powerstation.


PCB

 (Please note that only 1 unit PCB is included in the PowerStation, not all 3 as shown in the photographs).




Region Accessibility.


A variety of plug types are available for each country. Take care to check the correct box when you order.

Available in 4 options: USA (8) / EU (6) / AUS (6) / UK (6)

For purchasing, please view here: https://ifi-audio.com/stockists/





Specifications:

Noise reduction: > 40dB (> 100x)
Surge Protection: max. 30,000A @ 1,000V/10uS
Operating Voltage: 90V – 265V
Size: ø 478mm (l) x 96mm (w) x 76mm (h)
ø 18.8′ (l) x 3.8′ (w) x 2.9′ (h)
Weight: 1.98 (kg) / 4.37 (lbs).




iFi Audio Powerstation Manual and technical information


Overview and conclusion

What is my story? 2019 is a quiet year for reviewing for me as i have many other things in my life going on (family/kids, work, other activities). Nothing bad, no troubles. Simply this year i knew i would not have the time to pump out a review every week or even two weeks. Sporadic would probably be fairly accurate. To this end i stopped accepting many reviewing review units from late 2018 and have been fairly choosy as to what i select to accept in 2019 as i need to be engaged enough t get the review done in a timely fashion to everyones satisfaction. The criteria i loosely applied was `The excellent, the curious, small or beginning companies and some past companies that i have worked with`.

Due to some of the above, especially more time with my children due to consciously changing my work schedule to this end (plus side for me/more time with my kids, minus for my ten or eleven fans (LOL)/ = less time for reviewing) meant limits to my time for reviewing which i used to do more in the mornings when my writing energy is optimum but was changed to late evening when i would rather switch off and just listen to music, read or catch up on tv and movies after everyone has gone to bed.

So more time at home and less time to listen on train commutes meant i started to use my home system i purchased about two years back or so - a mid - fi system more and more.

*The speakers are set apart and on cork bases, the sub bass is placed appropriately with several layers of cork as a base. (Photos are cobbled together from stock pics to fit it into one graphic).
*I chose the best sized within my self set budget, and it had to have certain input/outputs on the back and also a key point was the USB-A so my wife could use it easily with her iphone. 


So i had more time at home, my portable system was by now an iBasso DX200/later DX220 with Amp 8 (or another) and a variety of TOTL IEMs and quality headphones to choose from when on the go. So portable wise i was fairly well satisfied. 
Yet when i used my home system fed by the iBasso DX200, DX220, iphone, iFi Audio iOne and various other ways to source feed it via coxial, spdif, line in, usb etc etc i was not satisfied with the result. I knew my system was mid -fi, but mid-fi enough and quality enough to deliver a better sound than what i was hearing. 
Also being in a small Japanese house - even though the room the system is in is open plan so i had enough space and the system was correct for the room size. I was not maxing out the volume, nor did i need to. That was not the problem. 
I had spent time getting the speakers placed, fiddled with all the settings to see if i was missing something, tried to get the speakers and sub bass to relative levels and on it goes.

The system has a max volume of 40, usually i would listen around 25. That was enough for the room. If the children were around I would dial it down to 22/23 and If my wife was home it could get dialed down as far as 17/18. OMG!

The sound i was getting was acceptable, even great.  But from my dap listening I knew something was not right. The vocals were too forward (in a bad way) and music was recessed, it had no body, no low end definitely.

With the totl daps and decent mid fi daps i have, i find that to have a decent coherent sound i do not have to pump up the volume to get the timbre, tonality and imaging performance that totl IEMs etc can deliver. With lower tier daps due to lack of power and other reasons i have to turn up the volume but it seems its squeezing the earphones more and more and turning the music into a smeared distorted mush. Like driving a low CC motorbike to its full speed, sure it can go kinda fast but sounds and runs terrible.

I found with my home system i was having similar issues, I had a relatively moderate volume but the performance was not acceptable. It gave me the illusion at times through sheer volume that i was getting decent resolution and relatively balanced response from my system. But my ears were not telling me the truth of the matter and this become more evident the more time i spent at home listening to the system.

It became even more clearer that something was not right when i turned down the volume, and even more so when my wife turned it down to her listening levels. She was perhaps the canary in the coal mine i did not pay enough attention to at the time. Was it volume, at first i thought `yes`. 

As i spent more time listening and then also started buying CDs again and listening to full albums at a time. The iBasso DX220 via spdif could fool me a bit when fed into the system. Either placebo or the improvement in DAC masking the systems fault. And to be clear I am not faulting the ONKYO here, nor the DX220, even my home my system. but my set up. Something was strange. Something was choking it.

Something was not right. I am not one to run to the forums and say `the sky is falling` when something is not working. I was like that before reviewing too. In my home country in my youth i was taught to try to fix things or work it out by myself before going for help. So i did mass Google searches trying to figure out what could be the problem. I did about everything i could read about, lots of fiddling and tweaking - it was quite frustrating and exhausting.

In the end i was probably quite tired and frustrated by the whole thing. I put it down the systems limitations, wifi interference, my rooms set up or something outside of my personal knowledge.

In steps the iFi Audio Powerstation. It was a new product. I had a friend in Japan who used to spend big money on thick interconnects and power cables for his expensive home system. I saw the prices and had my doubts. perhaps the same as others who have doubts about IEM cables (and the endless debates go on...).

There were some limits i was not prepared to go to...

Japanese audiophiles are spending thousands of dollars on high-end stereo systems. Some are even installing private utility poles for a personal source of electricity, all in a quest for aural perfection. Photo: Juro Osawa/The Wall Street Journal

A power strip? Multi plug? I was already using one. A standard one from the store, a Panasonic. 
I was already using one as i had a few products I needed to plug in and also as a surge protector. Swap one for another one? The promises the iFI Audio Powerstation claimed to deliver sounded attractive. I knew from previous iFi Audio products i have used that they simply do and perform as advertised. I did more reading and finally decided to clutch at a final straw.

The iFi Audio Powerstation arrived in a long box (being the 8 socket version). I thought `Whoa, thats big!` (twss).
I took my time to work through my many wires i had carefully organized at the back of my home system so as not to create a rats nest of wires. An disconnected the unneeded parts and found a place for the iFi Audio Powerstation well hidden behind the CDs etc.

I turned it on with a CD playing, the difference was quite readily apparent. But i also knew i needed more time with other CDs, various daps connected in different ways and a range of volumes tested to truly gauge the depth of difference. To fully test my my ears and confirm i was hearing what i first perceived i thought i was hearing.


Time is an honest barometer and i found that i could get quality performance and resolution at much lower volumes than before. 
No longer were the vocals way forward unless the volume was turned up, no longer was the music at a whisper with vocals remaining when the volume was turned down. Now i could turn the volume up or down and get a near identical quality of audio. Bass, mids, treble, vocals were at sound levels that i expect from listening to many IEMs and headphones. Body, weight, air and dynamics brought the recordings to life as they should be heard.
I found i was listening at lower levels of volume and still being well satisfied. 
Listening to music became a pleasure again, not a session of just hearing faults and deficiencies in the reproduction of sound.

Perhaps an analogy could be a water filter or an air filter on a car. One can not control all the air in the world or all the water - but one can control the water coming into ones house or the air going through an engine to a degree.


I still find it strange. How easily my issues were fixed by one device. iFi in their material and videos explain how it works much better than i ever could. I have included oodles of their information within this review to make others research a bit easier. Either of personal experience or the more technical sides of the Powerstation.

I do not know how to sign off on this review. Just once again. Simply it works as advertised. Good clean noise free power and beautiful music and sound as a result.

I can again simply enjoy the music.



Soundtrack whilst typing up my notes: The Joe Rogan podcast.


Thank you to iFi Audio for sending the iFi Audio Powerstation to Head pie for review.

0 comments :

Post a Comment