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DC power supply


Manufacturer: JPLAY
Price (in Poland): 1500 euro

ul. Rymarska 45/1
53-206 Wrocław | POLAND


Provided for test by: JPLAY

A POWER SUPPLY is a component that supplies power to at least one electric load. Typically, it converts one type of electrical power to another, but it may also convert a a different form of energy – such as solar, mechanical, or chemical - into electrical energy., accessed: 19.05.2020

o be clear: there are no audio devices that could operate powered directly from an power grid, wall socket - in Poland the current in the socket has a value of 230 V and a frequency of 50 Hz.

First of all - audio devices use direct voltage, and the power grid provides alternating voltage. Secondly - almost always electronic devices need low voltages, in the range from 5 to 60 V. The exception are tube devices, often requiring even higher voltages than what the power grid supplies, but even they require DC current. The supply voltage must therefore be rectified (alternating → constant), but also smoothed out and stabilized. This is what the power supply does.

The vast majority of power supplies are in-built devices. It's a safer solution, but it also brings technical advantages. The rectified and stabilized voltage travels a short distance to the powered components and is not exposed to high-frequency noise and mechanically generated noise - the latter is called triboelectric noise. The downside to power integration with audio devices is their negative effect on the audio signal. Therefore, where it is most troublesome, i.e. in phono preamplifiers, a large number of manufacturers separate the power supply to a separate chassis.

Specialization | External power supplies are almost always "dedicated" to a certain product. So they provide the right voltage (or voltages) for it, they also feature plugs that the designer has chosen for them. However, just look around to realize that we are in the middle of a revolution in which power supplies play an important role. Every smartphone, tablet, even lights illuminating our desks have them. Such power supplies are standardized, that is, they offer one of several, most often used voltages, they also have standard plugs. These are so-called wall plug power supplies - simple, switched mode power supplies mass-produced by specialized manufacturers, almost exclusively coming from China, Taiwan, Indonesia etc.

The reason for the separation and specialization of this type of manufacturers is quite simple - money. One of the biggest costs when introducing an electric product on the market is its technical testing and safety certificates. And each market has its own procedures. However, when we separate the power supply into an external housing then these costs are borne only by the power supply manufacturers, not the by those who make devices they supply. And in the case of mass production, expenditure on certificates pays off quickly.

Power supplies in audio | Audio producers have followed a similar path. Today, when buying a digital-to-analog converter, a small headphone amplifier, even a "desktop" amplifier or small active loudspeakers, we will almost certainly get them with such a universal power supply. Thanks to this solution audio products are cheaper, but also - from the start - their potential is limited. So, some companies quickly spotted an opportunity and offered "awesome" power supplies. Let me mention just two of them - Teddy Pardo (Israel) or Tomanek (Poland). One of the producers who has entered this path relatively recently is JCAT, a "hardware" branch of the run by Marina Ostapowicz, JPLAY.

Owner, designer

Power supply in audio plays a key role in providing the highest quality sound. Developing our reference USB card, the JCAT USB Card XE we realized that unleashing its full potential will require providing it with adequate power. Designing our own power supply was therefore a natural next step for us. This is how the Optimo 3 Duo power supply was created.

Although the primary goal for Optimo 3 Duo was to work with our computer cards (USB and NET), we designed it to be as versatile as possible. Listening tests played a large role in the development process. In different systems, Optimo 3 Duo prototypes powered different devices - DACs, USB interfaces and network devices. Based on the observations, we selected the best solutions and components.

This approach, focused on sound quality, has led to the use of many unique technical solutions, for example a chassis, which - up to the smallest screw - was made of non-magnetic stainless steel. MO


Power supply | The JCAT power supply looks extremely solid and inspires confidence. Before we start talking about its design, I would like to emphasize that it is one of the better-made products of this type I’ve seen. This is a large device measuring 195 x 395 x 85 mm (W x D x H, without feet) with a solid front panel made of a thick sheet of black anodized aluminum. Thick, bent sheets of non-magnetic steel were used for the remainder of the housing.

Optimo 3 Duo is a stabilized linear power supply, equipped with two separate boards. So it offers two independent power supplies with the voltage selected by the user upon order. As Marcin says, "the boards for each output are galvanically separated, so you can connect two completely separate devices without losing any quality." The basic JCAT system is offered for 5 V / 3 A output, but 9 and 12 V versions are also available. However, you may have to wait for them for up to four weeks. The output voltages may vary - for example, one will provide 5 V and the other 12 V.

Cables | The set includes two high-quality power cables, 1.2 m long, for connecting the power and powered devices. They are made of PC-OCC copper - 54 wires per conductor, with a diameter of ø 0.12 mm each, in a Teflon dielectric (the company does not disclose who manufactured it). What we do know is that it features a double shielding.

From the power supply side, it is terminated with a solid, great speakON plug from the Neutrik company. Its mechanical design is remarkably good and it features a lock mechanism that ensures it stays safely in the socket and it mechanically stabilizes the entire connection. Usually powerCON plugs from this company are used to power the devices, but in the case of low DC voltages it does not matter.

From the side of the powered device, the cable can be terminated with any plug matching a given socket. It is unfortunate that the electronics industry has not developed its own plug standard for power supplies and each manufacturer uses its own types. For this reason, there are not many such high-class connectors. The exceptions are companies such as Oyaide and - with its own system - LEMO. For the test we received Optimo 3 Duo capable of delivering two times 12 V / 3 A and with plugs fitting the Mytek Brooklyn Bridge input.

Design | The JCAT power supply is designed for products from the top shelf - its price speaks for itself. But that's exactly why it is brilliantly made and looks just as well. The IEC power socket is a good start as it comes from Furutech, features rhodium plated contacts, and the integrated fuse is also manufactured by this Japanese specialist.

Inside, there is an impeccable order - this is one of the characteristics of products that come from the hands of Marcin Ostapowicz. A large 100 W toroidal transformer was placed in the front. The transformer was engulfed with epoxy resin, damping its vibrations, and properly shielded. The whole was then screwed to a separate metal plate, and the latter, via rubber pads, to the bottom of the housing. Two secondary windings come out of the transformer.

The power supplies themselves are identical - they consist of rectifying bridges, a bank of power supply ripple filtering capacitors, and LT3045 voltage regulating circuits, bolted to large size heat sinks. Shottky diodes in the rectifier section are low noise type, and the capacitors come from the "Fine Gold" series of the Japanese company Nichicon. There are six of them, each with a capacity of 3300 μF. As we read on the manufacturer's website "the power supply noise is below the measuring range (<2 μV)".

My attention was attracted not only to the neat assembly, but also to following of the star ground philosophy, with a common point near the IEC socket. If you want to ground the power supply with an "artificial ground", it is best to do so using the screw on the bottom that fastens these cables. Perhaps in future versions of this power supply it would be worth to move this point to the back wall, with a separate socket.

Optimo 3 Duo power supply has a high load capacity, so it can be used with various types of products - servers, file players, digital-to-analog converters, routers, etc. But not only one of those - Marcin says that "in addition to Mytek, you can connect to it, e.g. the Nordost wave generator" (QPOINT - ed.), and at home he connected the Acoustic Revive Schumann wave generator to it and was "shocked with an improvement it caused". So it all depends on our creativity and needs.

Let me add that the power supply is delivered in a very nice, well-designed box. This is becoming more common, but still draws attention. JCAT does it great.


The Optimo 3 Duo power supply was tested in the "High Fidelity" reference system, where it was connected to the Mytek Brooklyn Bridge. Mytek features a small switching power supply, bought by this company from one of the suppliers as a complete system, shielded, with screw outlets.

I placed the JCAT on top of the Acoustic Revive RAF-48H pneumatic platform that sat of the top shelf of the Finite Elemente Pagode Edition rack. I powered it using the Acrolink 8N-PC8100 PERFORMANTE NERO EDIZIONE № 1/15. On top of the JCAT I placed the Nordost QRT QPoint featuring an external Nordost QSource power supply. The performance of both systems, with and without the power supply, was compared to an analog system consisting of the TechDAS Air Force III with SAT LM-09 tonearm and X-quisite ST cartridge.

JPLAY in „High Fidelity”
  • TEST: JPLAY FEMTO | music software player
  • TEST: JPLAY | music software player

  • Nagrania użyte w teście (wybór):

    • Alice In Chains, Greatest Hits, Columbia CS 85922, DSD64 | DSD rip (2001)
    • Art Pepper, …the way it was!, Contemporary Records/Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 2034, SACD/CD | DSD rip (1972/2008)
    • Cannonball Adderley, Somethin’ Else, Blue Note/Classic Records HDAD 2009, PCM 24/192 | WAV rip (1057/2000)
    • Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande Rain on Me, Interscope/Tidal Master, digital SP, MQA 24/48 (2020)
    • Patricia Barber, Companion, Premonition Records 90747, CD | FLAC rip (1999)
    • Roger Eno & Brian Eno, Mixing Colours, Deutsche Grammophon/Tidal Master, MQA 24/44,1 (2020),
    • Sara K., Don’t I Know You From Somewhere?, Stockfisch-Records SFR 357.6055.2, CD (2008);
    • The Weeknd & Doja Cat, In Your Eyes (Remix), XO | Republic Records/Tidal, digital SP, FLAC 16/44,1 (2020)

    You won’t find it in the text, because it we digressed when talking about it, but during the exchange of emails with Panagiotis Karavitis, an editor of the "Part-Time Audiophile", at one point he pointed out that there is not a single switching power supply in his system (HF | № 186 • The Editors series | 28 | HERE). A bit surprised, I wrote that he uses the Mytek Brooklyn DAC+. And it does feature a switching mode power supply. And I almost saw in his return email how he smiles and says, "but I power it with a large external line power supply - only then it makes sense."

    And he was right - it really does (make sense). The JCAT power supply gave the Mytek Brooklyn Bridge the most of all the upgrades that I applied. And these were: placing it on a passive EMI/RFI Verictum X Block filter, adding the Acoustic Revive LAN-isolator RLI-1, placing mountain crystal discs (again an Acoustic Revive product) on top of it, and finally using a high-class power cable.

    It was all important, it did result in clear changes - in proper order: power cable, passive filter, LAN filter, discs - but these changes only prepared this small device for what the Optimo 3 Duo power supply was able to bring with it. Maybe because it is well made, every element in it is refined, from electronics, through the chassis, to the packaging, or maybe simply because I respect what Marcin does and in addition we share a similar "sound taste" - I don't really know, what is the main reason for my strong recommendation for this power supply.

    But I know one thing for sure - it's worth it because it introduces to the sound same features as the best AC power cables. First of all, deepening of the sound. I started the listening session with files from the NAS disk, mainly DSD and high resolution PCM, and I could hear it best with them. But the changes introduced by the JCAT impressed me with two 16/44.1 PCM recordings - with live albums of Patricia Barber and Sara K. In both cases the body of vocals was clearer, bigger and more natural. In the sense that it lost part of the "plastic" coating, which is - unfortunately - ubiquitous in audio. With the power supply it was less noticeable.

    I heard the same thing with PCM 24/192 files, which years ago I ripped from the perfect reissue of Cannonball Adderley's album entitled Somethin ’Else, which the Classic Records label prepared on HDAD. The thing is that with the power supply the presentation was deeper - both in the sense of space and in the internal dimension. The sound was simply richer, contained more information. And so it seemed more powerful, clearer. It was more mature.

    And switching this power supply on does not "boost" the sound, it does not push it closer to us. On the contrary, everything seems a bit quieter. Usually, the goal for such change is to neutralize the bright upper treble and the glassy sound attack. The perspective automatically extends deeper and improves the vividness of the sound. Here it's about something else. Because it turns out that there is more treble with the JCAT power supply. So the sibilants in the voices of Barber and Sara K. were more obvious, I could hear them better. The cymbals on the Adderley disc sounded more clearly, the sound of synthesizers from the great Mixing Colors album by Roger Eno & Brian Eno was more elaborated.

    It wasn't bad before, Mytek is doing quite well as a files player, mainly thanks to the excellent D/A converter section. However, it is so that good devices not only show as much information as possible, but distract us from elements that better stay „hidden”, for example, by extinguishing a sharp attack. Unfortunately along with the information (resolution). In the case of the Mytek’s player section it is about its average dynamics and not entirely clear treble. Connecting the power supply to it changed it a lot. Everything was more open, but not at all brighter. I would even say that the sound was more shrill without an external power supply.

    This was particularly audible with material in CD quality and with files streamed from Tidal. Most contemporary recordings - let it be the new Lady Gaga’s Rain On Me, a remix of a great song called In Your Eyes of the artist known by the stage name Weeknd, and finally the new Sia’s track entitled Together. They are share a great production, high budget, but also a massacred dynamics and low resolution. The JCAT power supply caused them to sound more open, more dynamic, but also to offer a more balanced sound, they were not pushed towards me, as if a little of the compression was removed.


    The JCAT power supply is a great way to improve the sound of any audio device, but above all of those that are involved in playing audio files. With it, you can power two different devices simultaneously - for example, a D/A converter and a file player/streamer, or a router. Its outputs are galvanically separated, so the devices will not interfere with each other. The elimination of the switching mode power supplies from the system, which almost always - apart from the most sophisticated systems - pollute the power supply, also has a good effect on the sound of other audio components in the system.

    This is a very well-made product that the manufacturer has taken seriously, using extensive knowledge of computer-based music reproduction systems. The power supply is not cheap and is intended for expensive and very expensive devices. Used with them it will not just cause „dotting an I", but it will become a full-fledged system element, as important as the devices it powers.


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