------UPDATED with additional observations------
For those interested in the Stellar P3 Power Regenerator, here are my initial impressions (just picked it up so I reserve to right to change my mind later).
I begin by saying I am not an engineer. I listen to music, not equipment, so I don’t have the fancy vocabulary you sometimes find in audio reviews.
I also try not to kid myself. It’s very simple: I either hear a clear difference or I don’t. No BS. If I think I hear a difference but I’m not sure, because my-brain-knows-it’s-supposed-to-find-a-difference-and-therefore-by-golly-it-will-find-one: that goes into the “no difference” bucket.
I have a modest set up, but methinks it sounds quite good. I like it better than the sound produced by quite a few rooms at RMAF (yes, I know the rooms suck). My philosophy is to maximize what I have through careful placement etc. instead of chasing expensive new stuff.
- Onkyo SACD player - I listen to CD/SACD only (for those of you getting rid of your $15-40 Wagner, Beethoven, Mahler CDs/sets for $3 online because you’ve switched to Tidal & Qobuz: thank you. I’m the guy buying them)
- Schiit multibit DAC
- Exposure 2010S2 integrated. 75wpc @ 8 ohms. A little bird tells me it’s class AB with a passive preamp stage, whatever that implies.
*Wharfedale Jade 3. 6 ohms, 86db
*Room is about 30x40ft with speakers on the long side
*I don’t know how good or bad my power is. I’m in Denver.
With all that out of the way, back to the SP3. Listening straight out of box, only the amp plugged into the SP3 not the source/DAC (for now). I’m comparing vs amp-into-wall.
VEILS WERE LIFTED!
Just kidding. However, yes, there is a no-BS improvement in sound.
more bass. The Schiit DAC had improved that aspect already and now even more with the SP3. To the point some tracks (Dire Straits Six Blade Knife, Monk’s Columbia box set) have too much. Switching back to the Onkyo’s internal DAC helps tone that down.
bigger soundstage. Not hugely bigger but definitely wider. In one case (St Saens 2e concerto pour piano - Cecil Licad) instruments felt about a foot higher too. Not sure why it would do that.
some improved, er, harmonics / texture in strings. For instance, Mark Knopfler’s guitar has a clearer “twang” to it. Piano sounds clearer as well (Harry Connick Jr, 25).
I think Paul likes The Look of Love (Dusty Springfield - Casino Royale). I do too actually, but if you’re going to go down the 007 rabbit hole you have to go with Shirley Bassey - Goldfinger, Matt Munro - From Russia with Love and Tom Jones – Thunderball (nowadays, 007 songs are a disgrace but I digress). With Bassey as in Jones not much difference but with Munro his voice seems to come from a bigger “circle”; it has more effortless presence. Not a huge difference mind you but I heard it.
Compared to Audioquest Niagara 1000 (a conditioner, not a regenerator):
This may be apples to oranges but I put it here because a) I can and b) some folks may be contemplating these two. The Niagara had a rave review in Stereophile. A few months later, a follow-up review was more, shall we say, ambivalent (thank you very little, Stereophile. Next time just publish the second one). So the SP3 was going to be a last shot at this whole power thing.
The N1000 sounded the same as amp-plugged-into-wall with most discs, and better with none. Then I played one of my favorites: St Saens piano concerto #2 (Andre Previn - Cecil Licad - London Ph). The Mac Daddy of piano concertos. For some reason this piece magnifies equipment difference more than any other I have. The N1000 was unacceptable. Piano notes have a sort of “decay” or “half life”, even in quarter notes or shorter, that makes the sound bloom somewhat (apologies for the lame vocabulary). The N1000 killed that decay. It sounded like the notes were cut short or muffled. The SP3 does not do that, and St Saens sounded glorious, with improvements as noted above. If I’m going to like your equipment, it had better kick ass with this piece or you are done. I’m not bashing Audioquest (a fine brand, I use their power cables) but the N1000 is not for me. YMMV.
FYI, the SP3 has two other functions. Once is called Multiwave. The manual attempts to explain what it is but it’s greek to me. I hear no difference. The other function is a cleaning function that purports to degauss magnets using high frequencies or something like that (for MM??? Not very clear either). Have not tried that yet.
In my relatively modest system the SP3 makes a clear improvement. Will it in yours, if for instance you have one of those exotic low-power tube affairs made from unobtainium hewn from Mt Everest and meditated into shape by levitating monks in a Tibetan lamasery? I don’t know.
Voila. Well done Paul (or whoever designed this thing). Glad to answer any questions.
I listened some more and here are my second impressions. Amp-into-wall vs. amp-into-SP3. First I wanted to get a better handle on vocals so I listened to the sublime Grieg - Peer Gynt - Paavo Jaarvi - Estonian. Sy. Orchestra (quasi-exhaustive movements, which is rare, and with lyrics - yes, you’ve been listening to Peer Gynt all wrong).
First the baritone in Peer Gynt’s Serenade. A subtle difference but everything seemed more “in its right place” via the SP3 compared to a bit more “stuff overlapping” without. Then the soprano in Solveig’s song: beautiful in both cases; honestly cannot tell a difference.
Next, Beethoven’s Fifth - Kleiber - SACD (1st movement) via Onkyo internal DAC as the coax will down-rez to 16/44.1. Again here, the different instruments seem more separated, less mushed together.
I then moved on to some bass / soundstage testing. First up Vangelis - Blade Runner soundtrack (the one disc edition, not the more recent three disc one). The opening titles have a IMAX-caliber soundstage and bass rumble / bass hit even without the SP3. With SP3 the bass went a bit deeper. The “harp arpeggio” (or whatever that is) that goes left to right sounded more string-like. The soundstage went a bit wider but most noticeable to me was that it was higher. Harrison Ford’s voice also sounded a foot higher and further back.
And for the finale, since nobody was home at that moment, the cannons from the Telarc - 1812 Overture. The cannons themselves sounded the same. However, right before they fire, as the fanfare thump-thump-thumps along the soundstage again seems a bit wider and the sound a bit more holographic. But here the bass thump was a bit less pronounced.
Having noticed it several times now, I think we have a soundstage-widening / instrument separating theme. In some cases it seems like the SP3 takes the musical energy and spreads it wider and a little thinner.