Audiophile APS 1050 Power Solution

Introduction
The
subject of power correction products has come a long way in a very
short time. Just a few years back, consumers didn’t want to hear about
AC-related issues, as these were perceived as snake oil, just another
way for an already overly esoteric industry to bilk us out of more
dough with fears of otherwise reduced performance. However, a select
core of enthusiasts recognized that the performance of audio systems
was improved in the late evening as the demand on local power
decreased. It was discovered that the power products from a select few
manufacturers could indeed provide this late evening nirvana at any
time during the day. More recently, this product class has hit the
mainstream, as consumers soon realized that these products would also
improve video quality. With the massive increase in popularity of home
theaters over the last few years, everyone from movie enthusiasts to
gaming nuts is in the market for improved audio and video performance. 

The Audiophile APS PurePower 1050 offers a unique
solution to the AV industry with a true sine wave regeneration system,
complete with battery backup, ensuring that you have a constant and
perfect 120-volt 60Hz power source, regardless of your incoming
voltage. The PurePower 1050 retails for $2,495.

The 1050 has a clean distinguished look of industrial elegance. The
faceplate is one-quarter-inch thick aluminum, silver in color, and
measures a slim 2U rack height of three-and-one-half inches, 17 inches
in width and 19.4 inches deep. Its weight was unlisted but felt like
nearly 50 lbs. anyway. The front panel has a sleek membrane pad,
complete with a series of lights indicating the power modes and
conditions. Included are power draw levels, battery reserve levels and
alert and error conditions.

“What’s Wrong With My AC Power Anyway?”
It
important to start by talking about some of the problems with AV power.
High-voltage current travels along the high-tension wires near your
home. Every several houses, you will find a transformer that feeds
electricity to your home. In your home and the homes of your neighbors
are electrical demands that are extremely noisy and damaging to your
incoming AC power. Modern appliances and electronic equipment that use
solid state motor drives and power supplies are the culprits. They add
noise and harmonic distortion that can travel back through the
transmission lines, thus corrupting the power of all the homes
attached. The sine waves become damaged and in most cases can become
distorted at the peaks of the waves, creating voltage lower than
necessary minimums. Your A/V components, most notably your power
amplifiers, have large power supplies that are responsible for
supplying the current necessary to move your speakers’ drivers. These
power supplies are in a sense like buckets that collect and store the
power, so that when the late great John Bonham kicks his monstrous bass
drum, there is plenty of juice to make your speakers respond with
authority. If your amplifiers are being fed power that is clipped and
under voltage, the reserves are not there and the drum stroke will
sound compressed and flat. This negative phenomenon is just one of many
that affects absolutely every aspect of your music and movie sound.

There are hundreds of products on the market that are designed to fix
your power. The problem is that most correct a few issues, yet
introduce other negative characteristics to your sound, quite possibly
hurting more than they help. One of the most effective approaches is
power regeneration, which literally takes the damaged wave and
reproduces a new perfect one, void of distortion. Now we have limited
the field to a select few, most notably PS Audio, Exact Power and
Audiophile APS. Having reviewed all three products, I can start by
saying that all three work, quite well for the most part, and although
they can appear very similar on paper, each has a uniquely different
approach to regeneration. The PS Audio P600 was the first on the market
and was absolutely a breakthrough product. It was capable of not only
reproducing a perfect sine wave, but also allowing you to vary the
waveform, which in turn permitted longer durations of power at the
peaks. It also allowed you to vary the output frequency, so you could
again increase the amount of power traveling to your gear. Its
downsides were that it was pretty inefficient and used class AB
amplification to correct the waves. The P600 was a large amplifier unit
that was capable of supplying a mere 600 watts, hardly enough to supply
your higher-watt amplifiers. PS Audio later introduced the P1200, a
product that was physically bigger than a Krell FPB 600 and could heat
your house in Aspen without the use of your HVAC system. Yet again,
this was a product that was capable of superb performance despite its
drawbacks.

Just following the new millennium, Exact Power revolutionized the
regeneration market when it produced a considerably more efficient
model that used a Class D amplifier. Rather than reproduce the wave, it
would repair the wave, thus dramatically increasing the efficiency. It
also fit into a chassis about one-third the size of the PS Audio P600
and provided 1500 watts of power. However, as noted in my review, it
fell short of the PS Audio’s ultimate performance. I did note that
there were benefits to the Exact Power’s design that made it more
sensible on many fronts, which caused it to be immediately popular with
audio and video enthusiasts alike who fear the ill and often damaging
effects of poor power.

Features
The
Audiophile APS PurePower 1050 comes with a brand new approach. It takes
the power from your wall, precisely regulates it and converts it to DC
power. An inverter circuit is then used to generate new AC power void
of EMI, RFI and dangerous spikes that can harm your precious
components.

Perhaps the coolest feature in the unit,
APS put a battery source in line to insure that no matter what power
voltage comes from the wall, you are guaranteed perfect 120V 60Hz
power.

Coming from California, a state known for rolling blackouts and the
recipient of constant summer brownouts due to power demands greater
than we’re capable of producing, when connected to the PurePower 1050,
you will never notice the change. If the voltage drops to 80 VAC, your
will be provided 120V of perfect power continuously. Beyond cool is the
idea that if the power goes out altogether, you can finish your movie,
then shut down your system properly. For those of you who have DLP,
DIL-A and/or other display devices with bulbs that are required to cool
before shutdown, this battery backup can be the difference between
having to replace an $800 bulb and not having to do so. In the event of
a full power outage, the PurePower 1050 will allow you approximately
eight minutes of full power consumption before the batteries run dry.
In cases where you are running less than full power, the batteries will
last considerably longer. Audiophile APS offers an additional battery
chassis for the 1050 at a cost of $895, adding approximately 30 minutes
of additional life in a complete outage. Up to four backup chasses can
be added for up to 8 hours of power at half load. In the event of a
brownout or voltage drop, you can run your gear at 100 percent
performance indefinitely.

Movies and Music
I started with my Mark Levinson No436
monoblocks plugged directly into the wall outlets behind my equipment
rack. I currently have a somewhat sub par, single 20A dedicated service
that feeds my A/V gear (I am working with an electrical contractor to
improve this currently). For this review, I am using the new Meridian
G68/G98 combo, with Transparent Reference cables connecting to my Revel
Salon loudspeakers. I should also note that I have been using the
Transparent PowerIsolator as my reference, along with Richard Gray’s
RGPC 400’s for my video, Vidikron Vision 2 eight-inch CRT video
projector.

Let’s
get things rolling with a recording that inspired my youth, yet is a
less than stellar recording. Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies on
DVD-Audio (Warner/Rhino) has no shortage of familiar classic rock
melodies. Although not one of the era’s better recordings, I feel it’s
as important to determine what a product can do for poor recordings as
it is to evaluate the goods. In song four and the title track, Cooper’s
scream sounded edgy and grainy when played without power correction.
When connected to the PurePower 1050, his voice grabbed depth and the
grain was virtually eliminated. What was originally a screech was now
melodic and powerful. Although I have run power correction products for
many years now, this was a sobering reminder of how important this
product class is. In the song “Unfinished Sweet,” the snare drum was
improved from a somewhat poignant crash to a detailed and engaging drum
stroke. Snare drums are often the instrument that suffers the most from
bad power. First my system needs tons of juice to produce the drum
thump, then in the event of poor power, the chains on the drum bottom
becomes compressed and tinny, making the drum sound like a crash of a
garbage can lid. There are no such sounds when it is connected to the
Audiophile APS. The snare was sweet and palpable, a huge improvement
over the untreated power.

Yes’
Fragile is a DVD-Audio that I often use for evaluation, frankly because
it’s one the few great releases on this format. In the sixth song “Long
Distance Runaround,” the sound of Steve Howe’s hollow body guitar was
vastly improved with the APS in the loop. It gave the guitar the
natural tone that was originally intended. There were quieter spaces
between the notes and much more prevalent decays. Howe’s guitar tone
went from somewhat usual to infectious and addicting. Jon Anderson’s
vocals, which are among the most unique in rock ‘n’ roll, took on a
sweetness and palpability that were missing from the untreated power
demos that I initially performed.

Auditioner beware:
after hearing this level of performance improvement, there is no way I
can live without Pure Power in my system. Although a $2,495 power
correction device is not the right choice for all levels of systems,
anyone who has significant money invested in their high-end AV systems
should be looking at this piece. It makes no sense to have a $2,500
power correction device on a $500 receiver, yet it makes less sense to
have a $10,000 rack of electronics plugged directly into the wall.
Heard the cliché, “Garbage in – garbage out?” However crude, it is very
accurate when it comes to powering your demanding and sensitive
audio/video components.

So we’ve determined that the PurePower 1050 unquestionably improves the
sound in your system. What does it do for your video? Video is a
sensitive subject for me. I take great pride in my system’s video
performance, as many of our readers do. I project my Vidikron CRT
projector onto a 76-inch-wide Stewart screen that’s positioned a mere
seven feet in front of my nose. I use a Faroudja NR series scaler that
makes the picture clean and smooth. However, any negative anomalies can
become easily magnified.

I
started with perhaps one of the greater video productions of the decade
and an unquestionably great video pressing in Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin
Rouge” (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment). This colorful epic serves
as a marvelous canvas for evaluation. In the scene where Nicole
Kidman’s character Satine meets the Duke (Richard Roxburgh), subtle
characteristics were vastly improved. Overall, the colors were brighter
and more tantalizing, yet the greatest improvement was in subtle
nuances, such as skin tones and edge clarity. The picture took on a
more vibrant film-like feel, with better black levels and more
realistic skin tones. The face edges became more refined, making the
images feel more three-dimensional. In the background during the tune
“Your Song,” the blues and reds were unquestionably more vivid, with
better overall saturation. It made the scene even more surreal than
before. I paid a close attention to Kidman’s red locks as they
intersected her pale forehead. The differentiation of colors was not
only better defined, but also more natural-looking and engaging. There
was detail in the color gradients that I was unaware of before. Clearly
the Audiophile APS PurePower 1050 performed better than the Richard
Gray 400s on my video projector.

For
a demonstration of ultimate detail, I selected “Dinosaur” (Walt Disney
Home Entertainment). This classic animated feature is one of the best
animation transfers I have seen. Starting with untreated power, I went
to the scene where the lemurs discover the egg that is soon to become
the beloved T-Rex Aladar. After viewing this scene untreated, I
switched to the PurePower 1050. To say that I was astounded with the
results is an understatement. Details in the hair of the Lemurs were
vastly better. As the fur blew in the wind, you could delineate motion
between the strands with considerably more clarity. This scene is dark
and the PurePower 1050 added much-needed contrast to make this scene
appear as it did in the theater. I put this DVD in to evaluate a couple
of scenes, yet ended up watching the whole movie with excitement.

I have come to the conclusion that the PurePower 1050 is the ultimate
piece of electronics for video use. Combined with the vast improvements
in color and contrast, something that many display devices lack in this
day of fixed pixel digital displays, it provides better backup for
safeguarding your display by allowing it to properly cool off in the
event of a power outage. If you own a digital projector, the need for
battery backup is even more important. Literally, in a power failure
your projector can not only blow the $800 bulb, but it can actually
melt your projector, leaving you with a prolonged insurance claim.

Downsides
The Audiophile APS has a fan that I could
not hear from my listening position but can be heard when I walked up
to my rack. I imagine that those who are looking to use this piece in
an ultra-quiet room for low-level listening might be able to hear some
fan whirl. However, this condition is not common and therefore a
nitpick of an otherwise perfect product.

I initially
took exception to the name Audiophile APS. Although audiophiles will
love this product, they don’t represent what I feel is the core
audience for it. To me, an audiophile is someone who selects music
choices based on format quality rather than content and this piece is
right for far more than this select group.

Conclusion
There
is absolutely no questioning the improvements that can be obtained from
better power. Many people tell me that the power in their homes is
pretty good, not fully understanding what makes power bad and how it
affects your performance. If you pay no attention, it might seem fine.
But when compared to perfectly regulated power, the power in your home
downright sucks.

Knowing what I know about power where
I live and having tested many of the world’s best AC power products, I
would not run a high-quality AV system without some form of power
correction. Without question, the Audiophile APS PurePower 1050
provides a worthwhile and tangible improvement to your high-performance
home theater system. If you sat in my room and shared in my evaluation,
you would have no doubt of this and share all the enthusiasm I possess.
The PurePower 1050’s sonic and video improvements eclipse the
impressive feats I remember vividly while evaluating the Exact Power
EP15A. With the addition of battery backup that provides both safeguard
for your electronics and improved sustained performance, it’s an easy
choice for me. In comparison, the Transparent Cable PowerIsolator had a
slightly lower noise floor, allowing for more edge transients to be
heard. It provided a more natural-sounding decay in finely recorded
music. However, with the PurePower’s three-and-a-half-inch shorter
height, a huge benefit for overburdened racks like mine, and the
addition of a perfectly regulated 120V source in a state known for
power drops, the PurePower 1050 is the overall winner.

The Audiophile APS PurePower 1050 provides improved sound, a picture
improvement that has to be seen to be believed and unparalleled safety
for your pricey display and electronics. If you own a digital
projector, projection TV or flat display, you will want the
improvements in contrast, brightness, saturation and, most of all, the
peace of mind that comes from knowing that a power outage won’t blow up
your display up by not allowing it to cool properly. This industry is
full of subjective babble that costs you money. The improvements I saw
and heard with the Audiophile APS PurePower 1050 were neither
subjective nor nonsensical, but rather essential ingredients in a top
quality set-up – enthusiastically endorsed.