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Classification: Years ago Caelin Gabriel's Shunyata website categorized power delivery products into two classes - pace setters and noise killers. This nail-on-the-head classification continues to hold. Experiences with isolation transformers suggest that they belong into the second class. The aptly named Walker Audio Velocitor S belongs to the first. My earlier Balanced Power Technologies top-line unit and later interim custom AudioSector 240/120V step-down transformer with balanced power option (supremely useful while slowly rebuilding my US system to EU components) both sounded heavier and denser. They were noise killers. The Walker was more energized, quicksilvery, lucid and jumpy. That's a pace setter.

AC filtering—all of it becomes part of your components' power supplies—can err on the side of overdamping. While this might render backgrounds pitch-black and dead-quiet (hint), it perhaps also presents them as outer-space vacuum where as the famous movie tag line put it nobody can hear you scream. A more attractive humane silence would be charged with anticipation and thick with electricity. Obviously silence makes no sound either way. These are mere attempts at verbalizing impressions. A very pragmatic approach might ask whether the music feels quicker, more fleet-footed, gushing and edgier—life music after all has edges though usually no cheap hifi etch—or heavier, rounder and slower? Either effect has its place if it avoids excess. Which flavor do you fancy?

Enter the GigaWatt. First stop were two source components, the Linnenberg Audio cdp3E silver-disc spinner and Esoteric C-03 preamp. Outlet comparators were a Velocitor S and Furutech RTP6. Comparing power strips in track-to-track A/B succession naturally powers down whatever is plugged in. Potential sonic shadows would affect all three units equally so none suffered an unfair advantage.

As my casual impressions had suggested already, Adam Szubert's strip extracted no glaring or subtle payment for its protection circuitry. For most intents and purposes, it fell squarely into the pace setter category like my other passives. Compared to the Velocitor S, it was warmer and less 'lit up' but only by a few degrees. This mild shift into greater density actually suited my current environment better which—due partly to the listening chair's mid-room placement—tends to be lighter in the bottom octave than my previous Chardonne digs and thus overall leaner.

Where my recent ModWright LS100 6SN7 preamp addition with my white Trafomatic Kaivalya monos and to a lesser extent its own KWA100SE stable mate actually gets too potent down low—it's perfect with the FirstWatt F5 and J2—the GigaWatt's far subtler action was mildly fleshier across the board without concentrating its effects on the bottom octaves. Given Wojciech's prior comparison of GigaWatt power strips and conditioners, those desirous of a heftier dose of add-on meatiness must apparently step up to Adam Szubert's more active conditioners. To quantify the PF-2's action, it operated in the same milieu as switching my Esoteric C-03 transistor preamp from 0 to 12dB of gain. It makes things a bit mellower, softer, fuller and less on edge. 24dB on the Esoteric usually rather overdo it for my gear and taste. By comparison, the Japanese Furutech on the two source components split the difference between the GigaWatt and Walker. It subtracted some weightiness but not as much as the Velocitor S. Getting this relatively raw & unplugged a sonic delivery from the Pole with comprehensive protection insurance was unexpected but most advantageous.

Playing can-we-strangulate-you games with various amps none of which incidentally was anywhere near an arc welder netted no victims. While I can't speak to far higher levels over beastlier speakers and monster amps, I can vouch for the fact that 85-90dB peaks at the ear ca. 5 meters from 90-ish sensitivity 5-driver 3-way speakers never suggested that the PF-2's lower tier where the protection circuitry lives impinged on current flow to the upper tier's massive copper buss bars in ways I could hear.

The acid test: Taking a long time to even source, my CH-to-US wall adaptors are too fat to be able to fit more than one of them into our standard Swiss wall triplets. With no other outlet within reach, I could not get two source components wired to the wall at the same time to compare against the Polish strip.

No such limitations existed with the single power amp however. Having in the ModWright deliberately chosen my beefiest specimen, how would the GigaWatt survive being compared against raw utility power?

well. It was noticeably superior. The PF-2 delivered higher resolution which in this context suggested a lower noise floor. Wall direct was fuzzier, duller, opaque and somewhat hooded. Even bass was weaker, less defined and more portly/soggy. Reverting to the GigaWatt upped crispness and definition factor without—and this was key—introducing nervousness, brightness or that hyper focus of etchiness. The soundstage with its layers was more illuminated and developed. Now some rural 'phile might enjoy power delivery which won't benefit from the GigaWatt. Theoretically it seems possible. Not so our old Swiss townhouse in the village's historical district. The Polish power strip was unambiguously better. At this juncture I became convinced that Adam Szubert really knew his job. Substituting his copper power cord with a silver/gold Crystal Cable Ultra merely drove that nail home [above]. The Crystal cord moved things into lighter leaner more lit-up turf and with that introduced a small touch of what now seemed artificial glinting in the upper midrange. Without wishing to support urban myths, this did follow common preconceptions on the 'sound of silver'. Let it suffice that I preferred GigaWatt's own (and far cheaper) cord. Having just one PF-2 power strip on hand, I ultimately preferred running it on the sources. Was that because it here benefited two components, one of them digital?

€1.500 Shunyata Hydra-6 for comparison to the €999 GigaWatt PF-2.
Shunyata's"Venom filter" consists of one MOV and two caps, one across the AC inlet the other across the AC outlet.*
I wouldn't know. What I do know is that the combo of 6-outlet power strip and power cord for all of €1.290 did not have me lust after the far costlier Walker Audio Velocitor S. In a context of equivalently good but different pace setter performance for the GigaWatt—more suitable to my present system needs in fact—peace of mind from protection against catastrophic surges seems thrown in for free.

Only holier-than-thou types who cringe at the sight of a blue LED would turn that down. My first exposure to the Polish GigaWatt company now set to conquer the Americas mirrors the esteem my colleague at the helm of has for it. Clearly patriotism did not get the better of Wojciech.


* Their website has "six cryogenically treated SR-Z1 outlets connected to the Hydra-6's specialized CDA 101 copper buss straps eliminating all point-to-point wiring. The Hydra Model-6 Trident Defense System provides noise reduction with Shunyata's best five-element Venom filter array isolating and protecting each duplex outlet as independent power sources."

Minus the snazzy—some might say misleading—marketing terms, magic dust and signal cables, GigaWatt might be viewed as Europe's answer to Shunyata Research. This heats up the competition in the serious sector of this component category. The discerning consumer wins with more options, here specifically between the Shunyata Guardian Pro Model-6 and Hydra-6, BPT's Pure Power Center and GigaWatt's PF-2. For Poland and music lovers first there were Fryderyk Chopin and Henryk Wieniawski in the 19th century, Henryk Gorecki and Witold Lutoskaswki in the 20th. Hifi fans can now add GigaWatt for the 21st. That's the global village concept in action. Bravo!
GigaWatt website