|PS Audio Ultimate Outlet|
|Home Theater AC Power AC Power|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Saturday, 01 December 2001|
Page 1 of 2
One of my criticisms of AudioRevolution.com -- and nearly every other AV publication for that matter -- is the fact that every time a new issue comes out, there are hardly ever any write-ups on affordable components. While we are raving about $16,000 AV preamps and $24,000 speakers as if they are the Second Coming, it can be easy to forget that not everyone goes to the stereo store every month to get a five-figure AV fix. But we all are junkies to some extent, aren’t we? This is why we are always looking for a great-sounding CD or a DVD that looks amazing because it was transferred from 70 millimeter film – right? That is the fun of owning a great AV system.
Well, I have found a good upgrade for those who are looking to mainline a little audio-video juice right in between their ears from PS Audio. The product is called the Ultimate Outlet and it is a simple AC power product that goes between your normal AC socket and your far-from-normal high-end audio or video component. Priced at $299 for either a 15 amp or a 20 amp (for bigger amps) unit, the Ultimate Outlet is a small, handsomely dressed accessory, built of aluminum, with a seemingly utilitarian yet removable AC plug dangling from its rear. It comes complete with two very heavy-duty AC outlets that enables you to plug in your gear. The front and rear plates are also designed to allow you to mount an Ultimate Outlet right in your wall as if it were your normal outlet. I am not sure how you would hardwire it if you were so inclined, but I guess you could. I’d check with PS Audio before I took on the challenge, however.
The design goal of the Ultimate Outlet is a very worthy one. While AV enthusiasts argue over all sorts of topics, such as analog versus digital, DVD-Audio versus SACD, zip chord versus Transparent Opus MM Cables – hardly anyone argues over the fact that noisy and unreliable AC power negatively affects our laboratory-grade AV gear. Let’s face facts: even a mid-fi $600 amp or a $1,000 Japanese AV Receiver have some pretty sophisticated processing and analog innards that were designed to work on clean power. Do you have truly clean power for your system? "Maybe?" you say. Don’t feel bad. I can tell you that, living in a high-rise condo complex built in 1964, I definitively don’t. I run dedicated AC lines for my video, for my components and for my amplifiers. To address AC maladies, I also use and enjoy the Richard Gray’s Power Company RGPC 1200, basically a power reserve device, in my rack for components and in the circuit with my power amp.
Inside the Ultimate Outlet is a very simple device called a balun, which is an iron doughnut that has a wire attached to both halves of the circle. When an AC signal comes into the two pieces of wire, they cancel out anything that the two wires are conducting in common. This is good news, because unlike series filters that only work on noise over a pre-specified frequency, a properly designed balun will cancel all noise at all frequencies yet, because of the small number of wire turns, does not restrict power. This is a big issue for me, because while I am a big fan of PS Audio’s flagship Power Plant power regeneration technology, I cannot use it with my power amp due to a limited output that is smaller than my what my Mark Levinson No. 336 needs to continuously operate at the paint-peeling-from-the-ceiling levels that I crave. With the Ultimate Outlet, you don’t need to worry about power limitations.
While the effect isn’t as dramatic as with the PS Audio Power Plant products, the Ultimate Outlet claims it can cut AC noise by as much as 40 dB, which is no small feat, especially if you have a noisy AC line. Another advantage of the Ultimate Outlet is that it is provides another level of protection for your gear, as it serves to limit spikes, surges and lightning strikes. While it doesn’t offer an actual insurance product on your gear of the type you’ll find with competing surge protection devices, logic tells you that it would take one hell of a jolt to melt an iron core like the one used in the Ultimate Outlet.