The PS Audio Power Plant Premier (PPP) AC regenerator in my two channel system was replaced with a PS Audio PerfectWave P5 AC regenerator. Like many PPP owners, I was on the fence about "upgrading" from the PPP to the P5 because I wasn't sure the benefit, if any, would justify the expense. The P5 retails for $1305 more than the PPP ($3000 vs. $1695) and there are only minor differences in most of their performance specifications. Plus, the P5 has two less outlets than the PPP and the P5's continuous output power is 1/3 less than the PPP. It would seem like you are paying more for less. However, the P5 offers important upgrades in energy storage and energy delivery over the PPP which translate to a much better stereophonic presentation. After the first day, I could hear that the cost premium was justified. There was significant improvement in stereophonic performance parameters: more image weight, more depth, more bass weight and articulation and more fine detail.
Table 1. PPP-P5 Performance Specification Differences
The significantly lowered output impedance is important because it directly affects transient performance. Music signals have many peak power demands (transients) that last for only a small fraction of a second. The ability to cleanly and accurately reproduce such transients, particularly low frequency transients, contributes to the realism of sterophonic music reproduction.
Figure 1. The P5 is shipped double-boxed. The inner box contains an upper and
lower corrugated cardboard frame that surrounds and suspends the P5 in a tough
Figure 2. Sleek and elegant! The fit and finish of the P5 was excellent.
The PPP's case rang like a church bell. The P5's case is much better damped. Knocking on the P5's case in every location except for the upper side panels produced a solid dull thud. Knocking on the upper side panels produced a hollow sound.
Figure 3. P5 Rear. I didn't like the sideways turned outlets. Having to reach behind the unit and twist the
connectors of thick, stiff (1" diameter) power cables sideways was not fun.
The P5's user interfaces are the remote control, the front panel touch-screen and the online GlobalNet interface. The touch-screen provides a variety of menus for status reporting and control. I like the oscilloscope function that shows the input waveform, output waveform and the noise difference between the two.
Figure 4. P5's Home Screen.
Figure 5. P5's Status screen.
Figure 6. P5 Voltage Out Waveform screen.
There were two errors in the P5 manual (which must be downloaded from the PS Audio website):
Page 7: "Naming output receptacle #1, Zone A: By selecting the green "setup" button next to that zone, the screen will change to a keyboard interface upon which letters and numbers can be touched to name that zone. Generally, users of the Power Plant 5 will name said output receptacle by that which is connected. For example "DAC" or "Power Amp" or "Turntable"."
CORRECTION: Output receptacles can only be named through the online GlobalNet interface. PS Audio said the keyboard interface will be activated in a future firmware update.
Page 10: "After its activation, but before the P5 fully initializes and enters the HOME SCREEN, the unit?s front-panel touch-screen can be touched anywhere on its face. This will bring the user to the SYSTEM SETUP SCREEN where the following parameters are displayed:
1. Unit ID
4. Power Meter
CORRECTION: The System Setup Screen can only be accessed by touching the PS Audio logo in the center of the touch-screen as the P5 is initializing.
Figure 7. P5 and the PPP it replaced.
My initial plan was to move the PPP to my test rig. Apparently, the PPP did not appreciate being demoted to test rig duty. Immediately after turning on the PPP in its new location, it went into protection mode (as evidenced by a slow clicking sound). I rebooted the PPP and it went right back into protection mode. It was sent back to PS Audio for repair, which they did free of charge even though the unit was out of warranty. I had not had any trouble with it during the over three years it had been in my two channel system.
Three of the four PPP's I own have had to go back to PS Audio for repair. In each case there was a component failure in the regenerator circuit.
Figure 8. P5 installation in two channel equipment cabinet.
Figure 9. P5 installation in two channel equipment cabinet.
Online GlobalNet Interface
After a P5 is registered on the PS Audio website, the owner is able to monitor status and control certain functions through a web page interface. Individual power zones, as well as the entire unit, can be turned on and off remotely over the web interface. I (and other P5 owners) questioned the frequent voltage surges that appeared in the output voltage measurements. PS Audio confirmed that the voltage spikes shown in figure 10 are due to a bug in the P5's firmware. A firmware update to correct the bug is in progress.
Figure 10. P5 voltage vs. time report from web interface.