Power to the people
iFi’s new PowerStation mains block uses Active Noise Cancellation to deliver a whole-system clean-power solution for high-performance audio/AV systems.
The PowerStation is the latest addition to iFi’s collection of performance-enhancing audio essentials – a six-way mains block that ensures any audio or AV system is supplied with clean, consistent electricity to unleash its full potential.
Every audio system can be tainted by poor mains quality – a problem that affects many of us, especially those living in towns and cities. The quality of our mains power is further eroded by the abundance of cheap switch-mode power supplies in typical household appliances and the sea of RFI/EMI in which we are constantly bathed.
The signals that move loudspeaker drive units are electrical; if the ‘unrefined fuel’ from which these signals are formed – the power we feed our systems – is corrupted, the negative impact on sound quality is inevitable.
iFi manufactures a number of highly effective products that reduce ‘noise’ (distortion) in incoming electrical power – both directly from the mains or via USB ports – but the PowerStation is the first to offer the company’s proprietary Active Noise Cancellation in a whole-system, six-outlet mains solution.
Intelligent technology to tackle a universal problem
The PowerStation’s core performance–enhancing technology is Active Noise Cancellation II – the latest version of iFi’s proprietary noise-busting tech. Most power ‘conditioning’ products engage passive noise reduction through a selection of filters and regulators. Whilst this can be effective, it has inherent disadvantages compared to iFi’s active system, which uses inverse noise current to cancel out the noise in the mains signal.
The way this works is not unlike the technology in noisecancelling headphones. Noise in the mains supply occurs at different frequencies, depending on the cause. Passive noise reduction systems are effective at the top end of the frequency spectrum but tend to be less so at lower frequencies. In addition, passive systems need large capacitors to be truly effective, which make the best such products bulky and expensive.
iFi’s Active Noise Cancellation II is effective in reducing noise consistently across the entire frequency spectrum, by approximately -40dB. This is coupled to additional passive filtering on each outlet to eradicate noise at the very highest frequencies – typically caused by wireless transmission systems. The result is an affordable mains bar that delivers highly effective reduction of both differential mode noise (caused by conventional switch-mode power supplies, for example) and common mode noise (including interference caused by Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) from an affordable mains conditioning block.
Smart features to enhance and protect
The PowerStation’s smart diagnostics system helps to avoid potential issues by indicating both correct polarity and whether the system has a ground/earth in place. The lack of an effective earth can cause an audible buzz or hum through the speakers, resulting from amplified low-level mains noise; this can be rectified by attaching an optional ground cable into PowerStation’s earth socket.
iFi calls this circuit Intelligent Ground because it will not create a ground loop (a common cause of buzz or hum) even if the system is already earthed. The PowerStation not only enhances the performance of every connected audio/AV component, it also guards the connected equipment from spikes and surges in the mains supply. Instantaneous and repeatable protection ensures that damage will not occur as a result of power fluctuations,
providing valuable peace of mind. If the protection circuit is triggered, the PowerStation will only reboot once it is absolutely safe to do so. Specialised construction for optimised performance The PowerStation’s case is solidly constructed from dark anodised aluminium, as befits a high-quality audio/AV component. Inside, each of the six mains outlets is independently isolated in its own chamber to prevent differential mode cross-contamination, with the addition of strategically placed EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) to damp vibrations.
PurCopper – a form of 99.9999 per cent pure OFHC (Oxygen-Free High-Conductivity) continuouscast copper – is used extensively for its superior conductivity. This includes heavy-gauge internal wiring with multi-layered polymer insulation, solid PurCopper busbars and the conductive elements of the AC outlets themselves. It all adds up to a level of functionality and performance that users will not obtain from other whole-system clean-power solutions without spending considerably more. Sonic improvements delivered by the PowerStation include greater clarity and definition, plus enhanced dynamic and spatial qualities, avoiding the apparent softening of leading edges, timing and dynamics that can occur with lesser mains filtering products. Available now it raises the performance level of every connected component – a whole-system upgrade delivering impressive value for money.