The PS Audio (PSA) limited edition Soloist Premier SE is a "wall mounted surge protection and resolution enhancement device" that incorporates passive noise filtering and the Power Port Premier (P3) audio grade AC receptacle. The Soloist Premier improves upon the standard Soloist with the addition of an upgraded AC receptacle, higher grade capacitors and other tweaks that PSA does not wish to divulge. PSA is offering the Soloist Premier at $250 (while supplies last).
The February PS Audio A/V Journal states that, due to much better than anticipated demand, they have decided to make the Soloist Premier part of their regular product line. No price was given for the regular production Soloist Premiers, the journal only stated that "for now, we'll keep the price low and see how it goes".
Figure 1. The Soloist comes in nice "gift box" type packaging. Thoughtful touches like this enhance the
audiophile experience. If PSA decides to put the Soloist SE into full production, they should consider a
new box with a little gold trim...like the Power Port Premier box. The "CI" stands for "Custom Installation".
Owners of the regular Soloist have reported very good results after retrofitting them with the P3. So much so that PSA decided to look into it as a potential product offering. Rick Cullen (www.cullencircuits.com) offers a PSA approved upgrade of the regular Soloist to Soloist Premier standards for $130.
From the PS Audio website:
"This is not just the Soloist, but a limited edition Soloist built around the Power Port Premier AC receptacle. Each of these are hand built, some by Paul himself, and hand tweaked for best performance. We are limiting this run to 200 pieces because of the extremely low price and when they're gone, that's it. The special edition Soloist Premier is only $50 higher than a standard Soloist but with the addition of a $100 Power Port Premier, hand installed and tweaked. The Soloist is the only in-wall full featured power conditioner made."
Power is supplied to my two channel system by three dedicated 20 amp AC circuits. One circuit powers a PS Audio Power Plant Premier AC regenerator which then powers the line level and phono preamplifiers and source components. The other two circuits power the Parasound Halo JC 1 monoblock power amplifiers. Prior to the Soloist evaluation, all AC circuits were terminated with PS Audio Power Port Premier AC receptacles.
Listening evaluations were conducted with two Soloist Premiers as follows:
1. Soloist on right power amp circuit compared to Power Port Premier on left power amp circuit.
2. Soloist in Power Plant Premier circuit and both power amps fed through Power Port Premiers.
3. Soloist in each power amp circuit.
The Soloists were not installed in the wall during the first 75 hours of evaluation. They were laid on boxes of sufficient height and connected to the wall wiring.
Measurements were taken during a weekday afternoon with a Tektronix 2012 TDS oscilloscope.
Figure 2. Limited edition run of 200 units. Some hand built by PSA CEO Paul McGowan. I might send
mine back to get signed.
Figure 3. The Soloist Premier faceplate is 3/8" thick milled aluminum.
Figure 4. Soloist Premier SE inside.
I was interested in switching the Soloist's Power Port Premier receptacles with the broken in Power Port Premiers I already had. I changed my mind when I saw the inordinate amount of desoldering and soldering that would have been required. Fortunately, the Soloist didn't take long to break in.
Bear in mind that these are simple and relatively crude measurements taken outside of a laboratory environment. Nevertheless, they provide some quantitative insight into the Soloist's performance. I will leave the more rigorous laboratory testing to the interested meter pontiff.
Figure 5. Sine wave plot of power from right side Power Port Premier.
Figure 6. Sine wave plot of power from right side Soloist Premier SE.
Figure 7. FFT plot of power from right side Power Port Premier.
Figure 8. FFT plot of power from right side Soloist Premier.
The differences between the sine wave and Fast Fourier Transform plots of the Soloist SE and the Power Port Premier are somewhat obscure unless you are able to flip back and forth between them using graphics software. The FFT plot of the Soloist (figure 8) shows an overall flatter and lower amplitude noise spectrum. The sine wave plot of the power through the Soloist (figure 6) displays less flattening in the peaks due to more noise being filtered out. While the difference in normal mode noise near 60 Hz was slight, the differences in common mode noise was significant.
From the PS Audio website:
"The Soloistís power coupler reduces common and differential mode noise by up to 40 dB, meaning that whatever noise is on the line will be reduced by over 100 times."
Common mode noise reduction is important because electronic equipment is 10 to 100 times more sensitive to common mode noise than normal mode noise (noise between line (hot) and neutral). I do not have the proper test apparatus at home to measure differential mode noise. The common mode noise (noise between neutral and ground) is easily measured with an oscilloscope. Figures 9 and 10 show the differences in common mode noise between a regular residential grade outlet and the Soloist SE on one of the amplifier's AC circuits.
Figure 9. FFT plot of common mode noise from regular receptacle.
Figure 10. FFT plot of common mode noise from Soloist Premier.
The common mode noise from the Soloist Premier was immeasurable as it was identical to the background noise in the oscilloscope. PS Audio arrived at their 40 dB common mode noise reduction figure by injecting a noise signal on the AC line and measuring its attenuation by the Soloist.
I assume that the filtering of common and differential mode noise is the reason why the Soloist Premier makes Such Good Sound.
Soloist Effect On Power Plant Premier
The noise content of the PPP's output power was diminished by being fed through a Soloist rather than a Power Port Premier. However, I did not hear a difference or improvement in the sound. The differences between figures 11 and 12 are difficult to discern when comparing them side by side. When I switched between the two plots with my graphics software, the Soloist's lower noise output was easily seen. This AC circuit also has my wireless networking equipment on it.
Figure 11. FFT plot of power from Power Plant Premier feed by Power Port Premier.
Figure 12. FFT plot of power from Power Plant Premier feed by Soloist Premier SE.