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This review first appeared in the September 2009 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity. - Ed.

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacula
Review system: Go here
Review component retail: €6,490

The GigaWatt company was founded in 2007 as a subsidiary brand of Power Audio Laboratories (PAL) to design and manufacture. I knew and admired the people from PAL from the very first day when I saw a photo of the inside of their power conditioner in an advert. It looked better than anything money can buy not just within Poland but anywhere. As the promo leaflet put it, “…the design team's target was to fulfill certain basic requirements that are characteristic for all GigaWatt products: maximum unlimited current efficiency; effective protection against spikes, surges and noise in the power grid; and thus a significant improvement in the performance of connected devices. Several innovative technologies were introduced to achieve improvements such as better resolution and dynamics from audio equipment and higher quality and resolution in pictures from video devices.”

GigaWatt began its line with three components. The first was the PC-3 power conditioner derived from the Powerbox but with improved design which started a new line of power conditioners. Later the less expensive  PC-1 and PC-2 models followed, then the power strips PF-2—already reviewed by us and winning the Year 2008 Award—and the entry-level PF-1. The reference PC-4 power line conditioner dedicated for top high-end systems was supposed to be introduced by the end of 2008 but bowed sooner and had its world premiere during the Polish Audio Show 2008. This product had been long awaited by customers who’d read about the project code-named PowerGate during its development stage.

: This was one of the most difficult reviews I've recently done and involving in an equally intense measure as presented to this month’s meeting of the Krakow Sonic Society concerning the replacement of the AC wall socket and in-wall power distribution wiring for an audio system. There are several reasons for this. First of all sound changes from power grid elements are structural and not 'particular' concerning details. Such changes are far more difficult to verbalize because nothing springs to mind during the first seconds of auditioning. There are no radical changes. Only once we key into a particular tone or gestalt can we say that replacing the already very good PF-2 power strip with the PC-4 gives us a different enough presentation to make conclusive changes and allow us to make a decision – to buy or not to.

In my opinion these changes are vastly positive. I didn’t begin with this statement because it is very system dependent but because it is also listener dependent. What are your expectations? It is also important what methodology of comparative auditions is followed. Logic tells us that the most important thing is how the whole system will respond when powered from the PC-4. In this case you should notice that the sound becomes cozier compared to running straight out of the wall. That is probably not the most precise description there is but the best at hand. It is not about a softening of the sound but rather a gentler overall presentation. That's a big difference. Softening sounds like a negative, getting worse than before.

The whole system plugged into PC-4 will sound cozier and after some listening you will find its presentation more accurate. I would go even farther and say that this sound becomes the original sound and the one from the wall socket or earlier power strip suddenly appears raw or unrefined. But again it is not the case that after a brief audition you throw yourself at the new device screaming "I'm not giving you back in a million years!" Before this new power conditioner was installed, I’d already loved my system. But this is the high end. You get there step by step and not in one huge leap. That is also why the problem once identified doesn't go away. Getting back to ‘normal’—used again to my own power strip— took a long time and a lot of effort. But I finally did succeed. I managed to forgot about the PC-4.

What I described above was very clear with Sinatra's voice. Only The Lonely is a mono recording where the voice takes a privileged position over the instruments. It is deep, strong and rich. The PC-4 proved to be even smoother than I had thought before so that those little whizzing sounds in the upper midrange probably not even audible or at least unnoticeable for most people but most irritating to me proved to be mostly flaws from the power grid. Sinatra suddenly grew big not in size but intensity as though he stood a bit closer to me. There is one highly overused audiophile phrase about “removing the curtains from over the loudspeakers”.

It doesn't exactly match because we here don't obtain more treble but there is some parallel. Similar changes arose with The Beatles re-master 09.09.09. The sound became more vibrant and had more depth. At the same time everything on the soundstage took a step back to further increase depth and perspective. No doubt the acoustics surrounding instruments had become much better. That's why the strikes at the edge of a drum on “Corcovado”, a piece from the We Get Request recording by Oscar Peterson, had more air around them with the PC-4 feeding the system. It's a paradox but exactly why these strikes were stronger and more coherent with the rest of the sound. I think this is the correct sound – the one we should be trying to achieve.