P20 and P15 Impressions & Review

300+ lbs (shipping weight) of regeneration arrived at my doorstep. I will provide my impressions and review of how these perform in my system in this thread.

My current set-up:

Amp: 2x Simaudio Moon Rock monoblocks (1/2/4kW @ 8/4/2ohm)
Pre-Amp: McIntosh C1100
DAC: PS Audio DSD Sr.
Speaker: B&W 800D3
Conditioners being removed: APC G5 (15A) and 2x APC G50 (20A) Rack Filters
Regenerators added: 2x P20 (the P15 is for my home theater which will be detailed at a later time)
Power Cables Regenerator/Amp: Pangea Audio AC 9 Mkii
Power Cables Components: Pangea Audio AC 14 XL Mkii
Interconnect Cables: Audio Art Statement e Interconnect with Furutech rhodium XLR termination
USB Cable: WireWorld - Platinum Starlight 7
Speaker Cable: Audio Art Statement e SC Cryo Treated Speaker Cable with Furutech Ethereal rhodium spades

Looking forward to getting everything set-up this afternoon and providing an update as I become acclimated to the integration of the P20s/P15 in my systems.

Cheers,

Tony

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Are you planning to ABing between P15 and P20?

That has got to be something quite fantastic that near field. Nice.

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That’s a really big set of headphones. :star_struck:

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I had to take a few days to give me enough time to cool down and give an appropriate first impression. I am going to separate my initial feedback into two separate posts, 1) customer service and 2) impressions. Unfortunately one of my P20s was DOA, this post will cover customer service:

I contacted support via phone and they had me swap fuses with my other working P20, the problem still persisted. I tried to update the firmware on the bad unit and it left me in an infinite loop. Customer support told me that the unit needs to be returned so they can look at it. I wasn’t given any time line for the process and was told to summarize the issue in an email, provide a photo of my units serial number and they would give me a return shipping label.

The customer service I received did not meet my expectation. I took a day off work to receive the packages that required signature and then I was spending my time to troubleshoot a $10k MSRP product. If PS Audio is going set a premium price on their products, they need premium service to compliment that. Having purchased $40K + in MSRP of PS Audio products over the past two months (that’s as much as a Mercedes C class), my expectation would be an advanced replacement P20 unit being sent out that day. I wasn’t going to argue with the customer support person over the phone, instead I wrote an email to Paul and Co. informing them of my displeasure.

Paul said that this was not right and a DOA new unit should result in an advance replacement being sent. He is working internally to address the issue and will follow up with me on Monday. I have been in contact with Paul throughout the weekend which is the saving grace of my poor experience.

I enjoy PS Audio products when they work, but I really think they missed the mark here when they could have turned a negative into a positive customer support experience by sending an advanced replacement initially.

Now lets get into my impressions of the working P20 and P15 that I received. At least two of the three units I ordered were working!

Plugging in the functional P20/P15 I was greeted by a high pitched noise eminating from the back of both units as captured here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCOKExaQMwU&feature=youtu.be

Fortunately this is only audible when in close proximity to the units, I cannot hear it from my listening position. Unfortunately what I can hear from my main listening position is the transformer hum in my mono block amplifiers. For some reason the P20 is making my amps transformers sing louder than they do when pulling directly from the wall outlet. Prior to the P20 there was a hum in my amps but you had to be directly over them to hear it, now I can hear it anywhere in the room. It reminds me of my Grandmother’s fish tank’s pump hum. Keep in mind I have two dedicated 20A outlets running to my audio room. This is not a ground issue either as I tried a cheater plug and the hum volume remains the same. I can’t seem to modulate the hum loudness either in changing from sine to multi-wave output strength. Paul and Co. are in the process of helping me figure this one out, according to Paul this is the exact opposite of what he would expect to happen (the transformer should become quieter when connected to the P20). So that was a head scratcher for me and I spent three hours of trouble shooting this weekend by unplugging various SMPS to see if they influenced the hum level to no avail. I wish I could bill PS Audio for this time :wink:

I proceed to upgrade the firmware to 1.23 and everything went smoothly. My in-home power was much cleaner than I expected it to be. The incoming power sine wave is just slightly clipped at the top and varies between 1%-2% THD depending on the time of day:

Now we can get to some positives! I took frequency response measurements before and after P20 integration with a calibrated microphone to see if I can put objective data to subjective listening impressions. I also listened to several of my reference tracks (Nils Logfren-Bass & Drum Intro, Ke$ha-Praying and Young Jeezy- Put On) prior to P20 installation so I could provide as close to an A/B impression as possible.

Even after my frustrating day and me wanting to be angry at PS Audio I have to say I was impressed. I wanted to dislike the P20 seeing as how I already had pretty clean power going in but it won me over nonetheless. The best way I can describe the sensation is as if you were listening to music from outside your room with the door closed. Adding the P20 opened the door. Everything was much clearer, cleaner and the bass was more dynamic/responsive. Now keep in mind that I described this as the sensation I felt, not the magnitude of that sensation. The improvement literally wasn’t as significant if the door was closed/opened. I would say the P20 improved my systems performance between 10-15% from where it was. At this point in the game (for me) that is a huge improvement when I am fighting for inches.

I expected the frequency measurements to reflect my subjective impressions. They did not. I ran a full range frequency sweep from 1-20kHz pre/post P20 integration. I also ran sweeps from 1-100Hz in 5% master volume increments from 30-55 master volume setting on my pre-amp as I figured this is where the power reserves of the P20 would be realized. The data is below and the differences between having a P20 and not are within error of microphone placement/measurement tolerance. Green traces are without the P20 connected and the Red traces are after the P20 was connected.

Now keep in mind frequency response does not tell us everything. If that were the case then we wouldn’t be lusting over speakers we can’t afford, after all most of the higher end speakers have similar frequency responses. To be completely honest, I thought prior to doing the measurements that the P20 had to boosted the loudness of my system in general. That’s what it felt like from my listening impressions, 25% on my master volume felt like 30%-the dynamics increased as well as the over all sound level. There is some magic happening here with the P20 that measurements don’t divulge. I am an Nanoscience Engineer by trade, so trust me I believe data is king and it can ultimately set you free- but something special is happening with the P20 in my system that frequency response doesn’t describe.

I was also impressed by the load the P20 could handle. With all my gear connected to the one functional P20 (even my 1600W capable gaming PC) I was only loading the P20 to 65%. I think you may see my other unit up for sale when I receive my replacement.

I had a similar experience with the P15 in my home theater set-up. The sound stage was more open and the bass more responsive. I also noted the picture on my 75" Sony HDR 4k set improve. All in all I will be a happy camper if PS Audio can explain/fix why my monoblock’s transformers are now singing louder when connected to the P20 and I receive the replacement P20 I am owed.

Cheers,

Tony

I do not, sorry. The P15 is currently sitting at 9ft elevation on my home theater wall rack. I had to put the unit on my shoulder, climb a ladder and then hold it out arms stretched perpendicular from my body to place it on the rack. Good thing I am young (30) and a power lifter. Every year that passes it gets harder and harder to refer to myself as a ‘young guy’ :smile:

Trust me I am kicking myself as I wish I could use it to test if it makes my monoblock amp’s transformer hum as loud as the P20 does. It’s just not worth the effort for me to take it down at this point.

-Tony

Yes, another mystery how a perfect product leaves the factory and arrives DOA, despite being packed for shipping as good as they are.

I can’t hear anything untoward in that video.

Some people get better results plugging their amps directly into the wall socket. There are a few of us here that do that.

Maybe you are too old? It is high frequency ;). Haha just kidding, I can hear it played through my speakers though when I click the link. As mentioned, not a big deal for me as I can only hear it when next to the unit, not from my listening position.

You’ve discovered you have the headroom available to power your system with a single P20. Why do you need 2 of them? Can’t you just get a refund on the returned P20?

I bought it through a dealer, not through PS Audio. If @Paul or @Schroedster offered that option I would take it.

A merchant must give you a refund on a faulty product delivered DOA…under consumer law replacement or refund is the prerogative of the user, no?

And all US sales have an obligation free 30 day trial period, whether sold direct or via dealer. No?

Snow outside in April? Maybe I should get my eyesight checked as well as my hearing.

That is a crazy installation on the wall you have there. And the dog looks not to be messed with.

Hi Todesengal,

Have you switched the P20 to multiwave and upped the effect to 6 from the factory default of 4? This actually quieted down my amp, in Sine mode my amp made noise where multiwave corrected this. No idea why straight sine wave does this but multiwave also adds to the overall effect of the power plants anyhow.

Let me know how that goes.

Hi Veneet,

Thanks for the suggestion, I tried all the multi-wave settings it made no difference.

I don’t think that’s how it goes. Or at least in my experience with two separate PS Audio dealers.

Hahaha April (snow) showers bring May flowers? Isn’t that how the saying goes? Yup up in New York State we had 30/snow Friday to 65/sunny today.

I prefer the sound coming out of my speakers from the P20. I prefer the sound of my amp’s transformer coming out of the outlet.