pl | en



Manufacturer: P.A. LABS.
Price (when reviewed): 24 500 EUR

Contact: ul. Marii Skłodowskiej-Curie 1
95-100 Zgierz | POLSKA


Provided for the test by: P.A. LABS


translation Marek Dyba
zdjęcia “High Fidelity”

No 233

October 1, 2023

The GIGAWATT brand, owned by P.A. Labs, is one of the oldest Polish audio companies. It has been operating under this name since 2007, being the direct successor of another company, PAL, founded in 1998. The connection between both is the person of the head and chief designer of GigaWatt, ADAM SZUBERT, as well as specialization in power products for audio and video systems. This is the WORLD PREMIERE of its latest top-of-the-line AC POWERMASTER power conditioner.

REMIERES OF AUDIO PRODUCTS at the Munich High End Show is an important event for large, well-known companies. For small ones as well, not that this is to exclude anyone, but it is the former that benefit most from such events, taking advantage of the so-called scale effect, that is, the combination of the importance of their company and the scale of the event. Such was the case with the latest AC power conditioner from Polish company Gigawatt, the Powermaster.

As we wrote in the news, it was first introduced in Munich, during the event taking place between May 18th and 21nd this year (more → HERE ˻ PL ˺). This is all the more pleasing because Gigawatt was one of the most recognizable companies there specializing in audio power products, and its power conditioners, strips and cables could be found in many top systems from major manufacturers. Nota bene, the Powermaster during presentation was placed on top of the anti-vibration platform by Divine Acoustics.

The announcement of a change in product philosophy combined with the simultaneous introduction of a flagship conditioner model by such a renown company was therefore noticed and widely reported. Expectations, to say the least, were therefore very high. Especially since the manufacturer’s claim that its new product is its "best, and most advanced design, and a perfect summary of the company's 25-year history."

That’s right, this year P.A.LABS, the company behind the Gigawatt brand, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. It started with the Power Audio Labs brand in 1998, and, I should add, I met its creators almost at the very beginning of their career and used a PAL power conditioner in my system for some time. A lot has changed since then, Gigawatt has a new, large manufacturing plant, which is slowly becoming too small anyway, and its products have come a very, very long way: from conditioners based on isolation transformers to complex, sophisticated devices - because that's what they have to be called - in which everything is done to make the signal path as short as possible, to have as few components in it as possible, and to make the conditioners have the lowest possible output impedance.

Today Gigawatt offers power conditioners as well as power strips, power cables, wall outlets, fuses for power rails and even anti-vibration feet - vibration damping has been recognized by this company as a potential source of noise as well. The Powermaster model is to be, as they say, the culmination of all this research.

The unit presented at High End 2023 was assembled literally two days before the event. Initial information said that production units would be ready some two-three months later. The Powermaster came to the test in the second half of August, i.e. a bit before that date, but still with a pre-production chassis. To my eye it doesn't lack anything, but the people at Gigawatt believe that every detail counts, and they would like to improve a few of those details.


| A few simple words...

owner, designer

POWERMASTER FOR US IS A PERFECT summary of our 25 years of development. It is the quintessence of our knowledge, experience and pursuit of perfection. In short, it's the new top conditioner and, of course, the best one we've made so far.

It's hard to believe that it all started exactly a quarter of a century ago.... Especially since memories of some events are still fresh despite the fact they happened quite a long time ago. In early 1998 a colleague of mine showed me a certain power supply device that was said to miraculously improve sound. As an electronics technician, I was aware that the issue of pure current could have some effect on sound, but I had not had the opportunity to explore the subject before.

The borrowed product really "did its job". Maybe it did not work miracles, rather it changed details, but I could hear a positive influence. On the other hand, its build quality left much to be desired. With great curiosity I looked under the hood and found that inside it was no better. Already the first look caught some imperfections and a general structural mess. Then, pointing out the errors and shortcomings to a colleague, I threw in a little joke: "If you want, I'll make it better, then you can compare them". Putting words into action was not easy, because I really wanted everything to be better, that is: more solid, more effective, and, well, prettier. After a month or so, I brought a box of quite a fair weight to a friend and left it for testing.

I didn't make it home in time when he called me exasperated and shouted: "Man! It's working! Come on ... let’s make such devices together!" I immediately cooled my colleague's enthusiasm by making him realize that such an undertaking requires a huge amount of work, time and investment. On the other hand, I started to think why not?

That was the beginning of an adventure that continues to this day, the latest result of which is the recently presented PowerMaster. Many things have changed since then - from the quality of the components we use, which are now mostly proprietary, to advanced digital techniques for analyzing and measuring the results of our work with the Keysight Technologies PA2201A laboratory power analyzer. That's why, in our opinion, our new power conditioner is such a unique product.

And since it’s an anniversary, I would like to remind you that it has been 25 years since the establishment of Power Audio Laboratories (P.A.LABS for short), which produced the Powerbox and PowerAC series of conditioners. In 2007, we started producing completely new equipment and introduced a new commercial brand GigaWatt.

Coming back to the PowerMaster - the unit delivered for the test was assembled in the so-called pre-production case. Of course, the form and visual details are already finally approved, but the very finishing of some edges is not perfect. Production units will be finished with the perfection GigaWatt brand is known for. AS.


THE FIRST PROGRESS TO CHANGE that changed the entire range of products was made already in 2019, when the Powerprime power conditioner went into production (test → HERE ˻ PL ˺). It had a revised design, slightly different solutions and heralded a big change for the whole company. Then the pandemic hit, which turned the whole plan upside down.

It wasn't until an interview last September, conducted on the occasion of a test of the PC-4 EVO+ '21 conditioner, that Adam Szubert, Gigawatt's chief executive, spoke about plans for the new top unit, which was to feature, first and foremost, an all-aluminum chassis, an increased mechanical damping of internal components, and the company's rhodium-plated IEC C20A input jack, instead of the Neutrik PowerCon standard used previously (more → HERE). As it turns out, these are just two of the many solutions that ended up in it.


THE POWERMASTER IS AN AC POWER CONDITIONER, equipped with twelve output sockets, grouped into three jointly filtered groups, four in each. The chassis, which we have already mentioned twice, is extremely rigid and is made as in very good audio amplifiers from milled aluminum plates. The front display glass is made of scratch-resistant 9H ceramic glass.

Under the glass, on the aluminum front panel, a three-position LED-type digital voltmeter has been placed, which has a slightly different appearance than in brand’s previous products. They introduced to their products, a precision TRUE-RMS voltmeter, with a measurement accuracy of <±0.5%. Rugged design with isolated inputs, resistant to distortion and measurement error caused by higher harmonics. It does not independently generate any interference that could degrade the quality of the power supply filtered by the conditioner.

The view inside should be familiar to those who know the company. It's exquisite, precise workmanship and meticulous details. As the manufacturer says, the device has a new internal circuit architecture that results in "stable flow and handling of high currents up to 100A continuously" and "up to 500A at peak." This is ensured by new filter module distribution buses with an extra-large 90 QMM cross-section and compensation batteries with "power factor improvement function."

In previous top conditioners, these batteries were manufactured by the Polish company Miflex to GigaWatt specifications, so we should assume that this is also the case here. The same company, also to Gigawatt specifications, made the filter capacitors. Probably in this case, too, it uses a two-stage current distribution system, which is the company's own development. It's based on massive distribution rails, made of polished bars of Oxygen-free OFHC C10100 copper with a purity of 99.997%.

The first stage is designed to allow an equal voltage distribution to the individual filter branches, while the second stage delivers current directly to each pair of output sockets via crimp and screw connections and wiring made with 4 mm conductors2 of silver-plated oxygen-free copper insulated with Teflon FEP.

Multi-point terminals have been used to mount cables to printed circuit boards, giving, as the manufacturer says, very low electrical resistance (less than 200 μOhm), very high current carrying capacity for continuous and peak currents (up to 300 A), and an extremely strong mechanical connection between the terminal and the board. The connectors are supported by larger non-magnetic screws than before, allowing tightening with a torque of 2.5 Nm.

The PCBs themselves are "ultra-strong", made of 4OZ Heavy-Copper with "extremely thick layers of copper with extreme cross-sectional area", which is said to result in "powerful conduction and minimized losses." The conductive layers of the PCBs and distribution rails are coated with a thick layer of precious metal compositions with "extreme conductivity." The whole thing rests on an internal anti-vibration platform suspended by shock absorbers. A ground noise filtering system has also been added to the package to eliminate ground interference.

The conditioner stands on new anti-vibration feet with the company's proprietary name Full Ceramic Isolation System. These are fully ceramic ZrO2 rolling bearings with zirconium balls and rings (with properties harder than steel). They resemble the designs of another Polish company, Pro Audio Bono (more → HERE).

Let's add that for the set we get Gigawatt's top cable, the LS-2 EVO model, 1.5 m long, and terminated with a 20 A plug. It is for it that the company's socket of this type with rhodium-plated contacts was designed. On the other side, it is terminated with a Shuko plug manufactured for Gigawatt, with a turned aluminum housing. The cable is made of twisted-pair (multi strand). Each bundle consists of seven thinner conductors forming a twisted pair with a total cross-section of 1.5 mm2 . The conductors are made of silver-plated 5N-purity oxygen-free copper, manufactured to GigaWatt specifications.

Above the socket you will find an excellent hydraulic-magnetic circuit breaker from Carling Technologies, which is custom-made in the USA to GigaWatt's specifications. This component acts as a circuit to control the value of the current flowing through the internal circuits, as well as the function of the main conditioner switch.


˻ HOW WE LISTENED ˺ The test consisted of comparing the tested conditioner, along with its power cable (I treat the two as a whole) to a reference system consisting of a power strip → Acoustic Revive RTP-4EU ABSOLUTE and a 2.5m Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9500 power cable. Both power cables - both of the GigaWatt conditioner and the Acoustic Revive strip - were plugged into Furutech FT-SWS (R) wall sockets. They are star-connected and run a separate power line, with Oyaide Tunami cable, from a separate AHP Klangmodul III fuse.

The thing on which there is consensus is the adverse effect of mechanical vibrations on the conducted current; these distortions are called triboelectric. That's why the Powermaster's designers treat the design of the chassis of the conditioner so seriously taking care of its internal damping and decoupling of circuits, as well as equip it with high-end anti-vibration feet. I also share this opinion, which is why for many years I used the company's RST-38H platform under the Acoustic Revive strip, and for some time it was replaced by the revolutionary Graphite Audio Classic 100 Ultra platform (test → HERE). The Powermaster stood just on it.

During the test, I switched the power supply to the entire "High Fidelity" reference system, that is: the Ayon Audio CD-35 HF Edition SACD player, the Ayon Audio Spheris III preamplifier and the Soulution 710 power amplifier. These devices are powered - respectively - by following cables: Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version and 2 x Acoustic Revive Absolute Power Cord. On the rear panel of the conditioner there is a socket for grounding, which I took advantage of by connecting the Nordost QKore artificial ground (test → HERE).


⸜ STAN LEVY SEXTET, Grand Stan, Bethlehem Records/Toshiba-EMITOCJ-62028, CD (1957/1999).
⸜ FRANK SINATRA, Duets II, Capitol Records ‎C2 7243 8 28103 2 2, Reference CD-R (1994).
⸜ JOHN COLTRANE QUARTET, Ballads, Impulse!/Universal Music LLC (Japan) UCCU-40001, Platinum SHM-CD (1962/2013).
⸜ JOHN COLTRANE QUARTET, Ballads, Impulse!/Universal Classics & Jazz UCGQ-9032, „Acoustic Sounds SACD Series”, SHM-SACD (1962/2023).
⸜ RADIOHEAD, Kid A, Parlophone/EMI 27753 2, CD (2000).
⸜ PERFECT, Live, Savitor SV001, „Lipiński Pro-Audio Mastering – Revisited version”, Master CD-R (1983/2017).


I BELIEVE THAT THE ACOUSTIC REVIVE RPT-4 Absolute power strip, which I have been using for years, is one of the best products of its kind on the market. There are, of course, even better proposals, Thunder Melody Grail Black being one of them, there are those that play in a similar league, but sound different, to mention Nordost or Shunyata Research products, and finally there are those I have not listened to. But there are also Gigawatt products, whose sound, in terms of character, over time became similar to what the Japanese company offers, and in terms of absolute quality have been in the same league for a long time.

Getting close to the sound the Acoustic Revive strip shows was not about copying either solutions or approaches. It was the result, the way I see it, of eliminating more issues that revealed themselves in the sound in a particular way, common to the best products. In other words - in the high-end by various means one eventually arrives at a similar, and often even the same, effect anyway.

In the case of the latest Powermaster conditioner, we have crossed the line drawn by Acoustic Revive. The Polish conditioner is simply better. Not by little, not as in "there is maybe something better here or there", but really better. The thing that strikes you immediately after firing up the whole system with the Polish conditioner is the energy of the sound. Fantastic with the Japanese strip, great with many other products I've reviewed and rated highly, this time it was even greater. Better without hardening the attack or emphasizing the upper midrange. The latter would mean not an improvement in dynamics, but its compression - that’s exactly how studio compressors work.

Powermaster showcased STAN LEVEY's sextet in a more explosive way. It was jazz, but swinging, with Frank Rosolino's magnificent trombone and Sonny Clark's fast, dynamic piano. The Grand Stan disc, originally released in 1957 on the Beethlehem label and remastered by Toshiba in 1999, showed that the Polish conditioner unleashed exuberance, energy and dynamics from this music. The presentation was still dark - I am talking about high-end darkness - but also crisp, clear.

So it was extremely interesting to listen to FRANK SINATRA's Duets II album. And that's because while the dynamics and energy of this powerful band, recorded, by the way, on a 24-track analog tape recorder, was clearly greater, at the same time the vocals were shown in a slightly more nuanced, slightly more mellow manner than with the reference strip. In the sense that the whole thing had more breath, and the foreground was pushed back a bit.

With the Acoustics Revive, this was also an excellent reproduction, but I could hear that Luis Miguel's vocals, recorded in a slightly more open manner, were gently, but still, pushed forward, and Sinatra's darker voice was slightly behind. These are minimal shifts, but in this type of system they grow into quite a problem, if only we hear that it could be different, better. And the Powermaster aligned the voices on stage, showed that these were duets recorded together, in the same studio, and not Luis added up to Sinatra. The Polish conditioner treated higher vocals and darker vocals the same, without favoring one or the other.


| Our albums


Impulse!/Universal Classics & Jazz UCGQ-9032
„Acoustic Sounds SACD Series”

SHM-SACD ⸜ 1962/2023

IN 2020 ACOUSTIC SOUNDS, an American publisher specializing in audiophile reissues of LPs, SACDs and CDs, launched a multi-year program called the "Acoustic Sounds Series." As part of it, it has offered new versions of UMe albums (Universal Music Enterprises), the division of Universal Music Group where its catalog is housed. And there you'll find titles by Verve, Impulse!, Philips, EmArcy, Mercury and others. Almost forty titles have been released to date.

In May 2023, UMe's Japanese subsidiary UMG Recordings (Japan) unveiled five titles collectively called the "Acoustic Sounds SACD Series". These were the most recent remasters, prepared from DSD files made from "master" tapes, and released on SHM-SACDs, i.e. single-layer discs, with a reflective layer having a different composition than classic discs, and with plastic of much higher transparency than ordinary polycarbonate. On August 26th. another five were added, and five more titles were announced for September 27th.

We know little about how this material was prepared. What is known, however, is that the remasters were prepared in 2019 by the U.S. branch of Verve Label Group from, as I said, as DSD files. The discs are being released as replicas of the first LP releases, with the disc tucked into an anti-static envelope and with OBI. These discs are only released in Japan, Acoustic Sounds is silent on the US versions.

I'm after listening to the first few albums - including Ballads by JOHN COLTRANE QUARTET, which I compared to the Esoteric SACD and Platinum SAM-CD releases. And what can I say... Whenever I see a new version of a well-known album I think to myself: Again? - What for?" Then I remind myself that from time to time the new digital versions are better than the previous ones, either due to new tools or a different approach to the material.

This time it is similar, and even stronger than usual. Both versions of Ballads I wrote about are excellent - they are different, but I listened to both. Until now. The SHM-SACD is much smoother, deeper, smoother. It doesn't have the kind of internal "tension" that I know from previous releases. And the dynamics are many times higher. I would say it's a similar sound to the reissue of this title on LP by Music Corner Records, but in my opinion - it's better than it. I already have the second series, I'm in the process of completing the first one, and the order for the third one has already gone out as well. .

WRITING ABOUT THE SOUND OF THE Stan Levy Sextet album, I mentioned the expressive and fast piano. Very similarly I perceived the change that occurred after switching from the Acoustic Revive strip to the Gigawatt conditioner while listening to the JOHN COLTRANE quartet's album Ballads. Ballads. The SACD version is much more refined, as well as selective, than the Platinum SHM-CD I've used in testing so far. But it was the changing of the conditioner that showed more accurately that McCoy Tyler's piano was so well separated. It was still a somewhat muffled sound, Van Gelder so recorded the instrument at the time, but nevertheless very selective, clear in the amount of information it carried with it.

Also Jimmy Garrison's double bass had more energy and was clearer with the conditioner. Its attack was gently emphasized, something I've heard before. It's often the case that power products do something like this, which I don't like, because it artificially raises the temperature of the presentation, and doesn't add anything new to it at all. Here it was part of a larger whole. Because along with the stronger attack, there was also more sustain information. I would even say that the bass got stronger and extended more because of this.

Which was confirmed in the very first seconds of Everything In Its Right Place, the opening track of the Kid A album by RADIOHEAD. Seemingly everything was similar to what I heard from Acoustic Revive, yet the energy of the bass, its "vibrato," so to speak, was much more visceral with the Polish product. And that means it was really great. By referring to my strip I am really telling you what changes are introduced compared to other top products, and thus describing the sound you get with the Powermaster.

And the latter complements and saturates the bass. Low tones are soft in a natural way, but they are also very well controlled. The midrange doesn't have a hint of brightness, but rather is complemented by its low end. So if your system is already heavily weighted, you will need to think about such changes that would open it up - and Gigawatt will take care of the rest. And after some time you will realize that it is not the conditioner that spices up the bass, but our system was artificially shifted in that direction. The conditioner transmits the energy in a more powerful way, making it unnecessary to correct this in the system in other ways.

Treble are smooth and resolving with it. It's a very resolving sound in general, so that the layers on the stage are separated and laid out in a very transparent way. Only that the transparency is not "laser-like," because hyper-transparency may easily lead to getting tired of the music after the first track. I am talking about transparency that through a deeper dive into the recordings allows you to better connect emotionally with what's happening in front of you. And then, even a strong hum (or an interference from the power supply) accompanying any of the instruments that end the title track from Kid A, will be perceived by us as a flavor left by the producers to make the recording more authentic.

And speaking of emotions: Gigawatt brilliantly captured what was happening in the fall of 1982 at the Stodoła Club. Recorded during two performances, PERFECT's Live album was shown with conditioner in an extremely energetic and fantastically differentiating way. The audience’s countdown that opened it, Ten, nine... and later the choral sung, "Po co?" had real energy in it, the energy of a rock concert.

The Powermaster showed that Damian Lipinski, who made this remaster, managed to strike a perfect balance between selectivity and weighting the sound, which benefited especially the guitars - perfectly sonorous, powerful, but also just plain cool. The slightly boosted mid-bass was not further emphasized by the conditioner, which we wouldn't want, but it wasn't slimmed down either, because that would be uncool too.


ALL OF THIS MAKES Gigawatt's new power conditioner a serious contender for the top systems, in which it will show more than we can imagine. It can be done equally well with some features of the sound reproduced somewhat differently, but you will then have to spend well over a hundred thousand zlotys on Thunder Melody's Grail Black (test → HERE). The Powermaster is just as impressive, and the differences are not great.

We get an incredibly energetic delivery with it with perfect tonal balance. Its bass is superbly controlled, but has both a soft attack and full sustain. The layers are clear, accurate, without cutting instruments out of their acoustic surroundings. The sound is not at all pushed in our direction, but is rather presented a bit further away, as if the stage had a greater depth. This is simply an excellent conditioner. It fully deserves our ˻ GOLD FINGERPRINT ˺.


THIS TEST HAS BEEN PROVIDED UNDER THE GUIDELINES adopted by the Association of International Audiophile Publications, an international audio press association concerned with ethical and professional standards in our industry; HIGH FIDELITY is a founding member. You can find more about the association and its constituent titles → HERE.


Reference system 2022

1) Loudspeakers: HARBETH M40.1 |REVIEW|
2) Line preamplifier: AYON AUDIO Spheris III Linestage |REVIEW|
3) Super Audio CD Player: AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF Edition No. 01/50 |REVIEW|
4) Stands (loudspeakers): ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom) |ABOUT|
5) Power amplifier: SOULUTION 710
6) Loudspeaker filter: SPEC REAL-SOUND PROCESSOR RSP-AZ9EX (prototype) |REVIEW|
7) Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|


Analog interconnect SACD Player - Line preamplifier: SILTECH Triple Crown (1 m) |ABOUT|
Analog interconnect Line preamplifier - Power amplifier: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCA-1.0 Absolute-FM (1 m) |REVIEW|
Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

AC Power

Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - SACD Player: SILTECH Triple Crown
Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Line preamplifier - ACOUSTIC REVIVE
Power Reference Triple-C (2 m) |REVIEW|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Power amplifier - ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power Receptacle: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE |REVIEW|
Anti-vibration platform under Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE: Asura QUALITY RECOVERY SYSTEM Level 1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

  • HARMONIX TU-666M "BeauTone" MILLION MAESTRO 20th Anniversary Edition |REVIEW|


Phono preamplifier: Phono cartridges: Tonearm (12"): Reed 3P |REVIEW|

Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

Record mats:


Headphone amplifier: AYON AUDIO HA-3 |REVIEW|

Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC