Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core w. 16GB RAM running OWS 10.8.2, PureMusic 2.02, Audirvana 1.5.10, COS Engineering D-1, Metrum Hex, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Scala MkII, SOtM dX-USB HD w. super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, Pure i20, Nagra HD DAC with MPS [on review]
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, Bent Audio Tap-X, COS Engineering D-1
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA-30.8;FirstWatt SIT1, F6; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Gato Audio DIA-250; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; AURALiC Merak [on loan]
Loudspeakers: Albedo Audio Aptica; soundkaos Wave 40; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Submission; German Physiks HRS-120, Gallo Strada II w. TR-3D subwoofer
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; KingRex uArt, ZU Event and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan]
Power delivery: Vibex Granada on all components, GigaWatt PF-2 on amps
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Rajasthani hardwood rack for amps
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: Irregularly shaped 9.5 x 10m open floor plan with additional 2nd-floor loft; wood-paneled sloping ceiling; parquet flooring; lots of non-parallel surfaces (pictorial tour here)
Review component retail in Europe: €10'050 with LS-2HC power cord

Adam Schubert is the CEO
and chief engineer of GigaWatt. His company is an established Polish outfit which has squarely dedicated itself to audio powerline products. The catalogue starts with passive power bars—outlet multiplier boxes—then tops out with progressively more sophisticated active filters aka conditioners. Various levels of power cords connect these offerings to the wall or your components. Adam's device under review today is 2015's top-of-the-line active model. It's the MegaGiga if you will. But the only thing dinosaurial about it would be audiophiles who as yet haven't faced and fessed up to the power issue. Like resonance control, power delivery is a subject worthy of investigation. Obviously it happens after a system's basics of electronics, speakers and signal cables have been handled. Whilst it's not possible to predict what particular power delivery approach will most convince a given listener—passive, active, regeneration, battery, voltage stabilization, balanced power, isolation magnetics, DC blocking—if personal experience and those of fellow scribes are anything to go by, it'll be the rare critical listener indeed whose situation works best ... well, straight off the wall.

GigaWatt exhibit at Warsaw's audio show 2014.

Mind you, the wall outlet does remain the ultimate decider and reference. Any box or gizmo asking green longer than a mechanically robust properly wired-up outlet multiplier box to add the necessary power sockets (it's the rare domestic hifi scenario which has sufficient wall sockets in the right places) must justify its existence and price with better sound and picture. The only justifiable exception to that rule at least in my book would be sonically benign surge and brown-out protection which sounds no better or worse. It simply adds peace of mind to your hifi investment to protect against lightning strikes or power outages. Having had our former Cyprus rental by the beach of Coral Bay hit directly by lightning—our ears literally rang for a few hours after, that's how loud the strike was—I can vouch for the wisdom of effective protection. My stereo kit and computer only survived because our landlord, a certified electrician, had installed an over-spec'd magnetic circuit breaker on the main junction box. Much to the delight of our local electronics shop, our three telephones and two answering machines were all fried to a crisp however. That's because the surge had taken them out through the phone lines. Unbeknownst to us, coastal lighting strikes were actually very common in Peiya.

For most users of course, the power issue isn't about catastrophic events. It's about HF contamination from today's mobile devices for which in-wall power distribution wiring can act like antennae; the ubiquity of switching power supplies in modern appliances which dump ultra-sonic noise back into the power line; and the various industrial appliances like fridges, air-con units, washing machines, dryers and various lighting devices which multiple households hang off a shared mains. Even our own hifi gear can inject power-related noise back into the AC line. Better conditioners thus attempt to attenuate or block this back-flowing noise and isolate critical components from each other. It's like welcoming others into your hot tub but insisting they shower first.

Just how effective various hifi power products are obviously depends on the severity of your situation. Someone living downtown in an old apartment building with ancient out-of-code wiring across from a cell phone tower should be worse off than someone deep in the country with just sheep for neighbours. How much to allocate to proper power delivery is a fair question. Numerous companies aren't at all shy to charge multiple thou for a single power cord. It's an extension of the off-kilter pricing for exotic signal cables. Those trends can make all but the most thick-skinned mad. Still, we shouldn't allow them to obscure the very real benefits that can be had from addressing the underlying issue. Quality clean power delivery can be a sonically far more relevant investment than worrying about the next D/A converter. The important thing is to keep referencing direct utility power to insure that we're not paying for partial improvements with setbacks elsewhere. If you're paying dearly for enhanced performance, it better be categorically better.

With the PC-4 EVO DCB—PC for power conditioner, DCB for DC blocker as an add-on filter option—one looks at €10'050 when fitted with GigaWatt's very best high-current power cord. Sticking to Swiss hifi kit, that could be a Goldmund pre/power duo of Job Sys Pre2/225 plus a lovely pair of solid-wood Boenicke Audio W5se monitors on stands whilst leaving room for a quality DAC and cabling. Allocating the same funds to just a plain black or silver box which power cords plug into is the antithesis of sexy. It also plays to prevailing albeit well-deserved cynicism: that boutique high-end is all about wallet rape on good-intentioned but ill-informed consumers. Anything goes in the pursuit of better sound. So let's take a closer look at what one actually gets with GigaWatt's range-topping hardware. Because there's quite a lot of hard rather than vapor to this ware.