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Power Line Conditioner

Price: 6490 euro

Distribution: GigaWatt

ul. Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej 1
95-100 Zgierz

WWW: GigaWatt

Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Marek Dyba

Company GigaWatt was founded in 2007 as an effect of splitting of designing and construction divisions of Power Audio Laboratories (PAL), that created a new brand. I knew and admired people from PAL from the very first day when I saw a picture of the inside of their power conditioner in some commercial. It looked better than anything money can buy not just in Poland but in the whole world. As it reads in the promo leaflet: „Designing team's target was to fulfill some basic requirements that are characteristic for GigaWatt's products: maximum, unlimited current efficiency, effective protection against spikes, surges and noise in power grid and thus significant improvement in powered devices performance. Several innovative technologies have been introduced, to achieve improvements such as better sound resolution and dynamics from audio equipment and higher quality and resolution picture from video devices.”

At the beginning GigaWatt introduced three devices. The first was power conditioner PC-3, that in fact derives from Powerbox but with improved design, and this one starts a new line of power conditioners. Later less expensive models were introduced - PC-1 and PC-2. The next two were power strips PF-2 (we already reviewed it and rewarded with Annual Reward 2008) and the least expensive PF-1. The reference power line conditioner PC-4, dedicated for top high-end systems, was supposed to be introduced by the end of 2008 but they managed to finish it earlier and it had its world's premiere already during Audio Show 2008. It is a long awaited by some Customers power conditioner, that already during development stage was announced as Powergate project.

We've tested so far:
GigaWatt PF-2, 2008 Annual Reward; explanation HERE,
GigaWatt PF-1 (w systemie) HERE.


This is one of the most difficult reviews I've done recently, involving in equally intense way, as presented this month meeting of Krakow Sonic Society, concerning exchange of electric wall socket and wall-in wire for audio system. There are several reasons for that. First of all changes of the sound caused by power grid elements are rather structural and not “particular” (not concerning details). And such changes are much more difficult to verbalize, because nothing comes to your mind from the first second of audition, there are no radical changes. Only if we find a “key” to particular tone than yes, we can say that replacing (very good one by the way) power strip PF-2 with PC-4 gives us different enough presentation so that changes will be conclusive and will allow us to make a decision – to buy or not to buy.

In my opinion changes are vastly positive. I haven't started with this statement because it is a lot system dependent but also Listener dependent – what are his expectations. It is also important what methodology of comparing listening session would you chose. Logic tells us that the most important thing is how the WHOLE system will act when powered from PC-4. In such exact case you should notice that the sound becomes more cozy comparing to feeding the system right from the wall outlet. That is probably not the most precise description but it is the best that comes to me at the moment. It is not about sound softening but rather about more gentle overall presentation. That's a big difference because softening sounds pejorative, like getting worse than before. The whole system plugged in to PC-4 will sound more cozy and after some listening you will find such presentation as more accurate. I would say even more – this sound becomes the “original” one, and the sound from wall socket or power strip will suddenly be recognized as raw or unrefined. Again – this not the case when after a short time of listening you throw yourself on the new device screaming “I'm not giving it back, not in million years!” Before this new power conditioner was installed in my system I had loved that system already! But this is high-end – you get there step by step and not in one huge leap. That is also why the problem once identified doesn't go away. Getting back to “normal” - meaning getting to use my own power strip – took a long time and lot of effort. But finally I succeeded and forgot about PC-4.

What I described above I could hear very clearly in the Sinatra's voice. Only The Lonely is a mono recording where the voice takes privileged, toward instruments, position. It is deep, strong and rich. PC-4 proved to be even more smooth than I had thought before, so that those little whizzing sounds in the upper midrange, probably not even audible or at least unnoticeable for most people, but most irritating for me, come mostly from flaws of power grid. Sinatra suddenly grew big. Well not in size but in his intensity – like he just stood bit closer to me. There is one highly overused audiophile's phrase about “taking the curtains off the loudspeakers”. It doesn't exactly match here because we don't get more of top range, but there is something there. Similar changes I could hear from new The Beatles remaster - 09.09.09, sound became more vibrant with more depth. At the same time everything on the soundstage took a step back to show even more depth and perspective. No doubt the acoustics surrounding instruments was much better now. That's why the strikes at the edge of a drum from Corcovado, a piece from the We Get Requestrecording of Oscar Peterson had more “air” around them with PC-4 in the system. I's a paradox but that is exactly why they were stronger and more coherent with the rest of the sound. I think that is the correct sound – that is what we should be trying to achieve

The sound with PC-4 opened really nicely. But not because there were more trebles. As already said at the first moment you have the impression that upper midrange is with conditioner smoother and darker. Despite of that everything is more clear, because depth of the soundstage is bigger and thus spaces between performers are bigger - its like everybody on the stage was pushed away from the others. So you can “see” them better. This hilarious effect of better clarity with more smooth top-end was easily noticeable when listening to Viaticum e.s.t., especially in my favorite piece - The Well-wisher. It is very warm, focused on coherency. Any “extraction” of details isn't good because sounds start to “stick” to each other. Recording was done in such a way that the sound is very “dense” and it has to be played with utmost precision not to ruin the whole effect. I think that my system manages it very well and I liked it also before with the power strip. But with PC-4 in the system it got even better, much better. “Better” – cliche, it's better when someone puts a pillow under your head – but I can't help it - “better” is what you get when using PC-4 in your system.

It doesn't have to be a positive effect in every system. Just to make it clear – I am talking about really well composed hi-end systems even top hi-end systems. If the sound is too warm it will also be better but you will not get all this micro-information PC-4 offers. It will work better if top-end is bit too bright or the bass lacks bit of control – PC-4 is able to modify that and diminish “thickness” of the low-end. The point is – not everybody has to like the effect. Because in audio objective “better” isn't always “better” for particular user. Objectively – I have to try at least – PC-4 is a step in the right direction, a great foundation for future changes in the system. Not every system is prepared for this conditioner, not each of them will “response” in such an attractive, dynamic way as it does with power strip. Described advantages will be there but they simply might not be decisive. On the other hand if you already have almost perfect system that needs just final touch, or if you want a foundation of the system so that you can build one around it than you have to check this Polish power conditioner in your system out. There will be audible changes but in quality not quantity.

The sound will change in described way but important will be not HOW MUCH it changed but simply HOW is it different. Sound with this device in the system becomes richer, deeper, more “mature”, definitely better settled between loudspeakers. It is beautifully crafted, sound-improving Polish design that can make you proud of. Maybe not for everyone, not always changing sound in a way we like it but it is kind of ultimate device – the one that can be a solid foundation for building your system.


GigaWatt's power line conditioner PC-4 is a powerful device in aesthetically, functionally and mechanically well designed chassis. It is one of the best designs I've ever seen – maybe except for wonderful Accuphase products, like PS-1210, or PS-510V. The device weights 50 kg and is delivered in extremely solid wooden case. It's been made of scraps which makes it ecological packaging – green point for GigaWatt! Two people have to take it out of the case – don't even try to do it on your own. Most of the weight is placed near the front of the device. Front is made of thick brushed aviation-grade aluminum but the weight comes from huge separating transformers. There is a big red LED display acting as volt meter. During the whole time of the review it showed solid-rock 235 V, so 5 V more than standard voltage. Display is placed behind acrylic plate. There are no push buttons, knobs or whatsoever except LED display on the front of PC-4.

At the back we get what it is all really about - sockets. There are twelve of them to your disposal - 4 separated outputs with 1500W for sound sources and digital units, 4 separated outputs 1500W for analog devices and 4 high current, 3500W outputs - for those there are no transformers nor coils in the circuit. All outlets are Schuko type, so no ground pins (two flat contact areas on the top and bottom side of the plug instead), with silver plated pins and they are manufactured for GigaWatt only. A high quality Gigawatt cable, LC-2 HC with a PowerCon 32 Amp plug is a standard accessory. PowerCon is so much better plug than traditional IEC – it is used widely in professional devices. It's been developed by Swiss Neutrik, and based on Speacon's plugs, that were developed as speakers connectors. Also professional connector Powercon HC type with silver plated pins was used for power inlet. It is able to carry continuous current load of 32 A. The main switch, that also controls the value of current going through conditioner, is Carling hydraulic/magnetic one utilizing continuous current load of 25A. This switch is manufactured in USA according to Gigawatt's specification and for GigaWatt only. This advanced, costly safety element is short of flaws common for typical breakers and also of negative effects delivered by regular melting fuses – limitation on power output.

Inside there are four shielding cases – two for separating transformers with combined power of 3 kW and two for filtering elements – and a big PCB were all wire connections are done. On the back panel there are sockets connected with thick silver plated bars. As already mentioned PC-4 was designed to be able to carry continuously current load of 25A, assuming that power grid is able to deliver such a current. Same applies for internal elements of conditioner. Such a huge surplus in power capacity is not needed for lossless power transfer from power grid, but to have a current reserve for impulse loads. A current reserve is a fundamental thing when supplying current to power amplifiers, capable of peak loads up to 50A - many times higher than their nominal values GigaWatt's maximum load is almost three times higher than needed for devices using standard IEC inlet, that carries current of 10 to 16A (depending on the standard). In Poland we have nominal 230V in power grid which means nominal value of 10A only. But power-hungry amplifiers could occasionally use peak loads up to 50A. PC-4 was designed using modern CAD techniques, that was used for planning of internal circuits. Also the highest quality advanced high-current safety elements and connections were used.

Conditioner is equipped with anti-noise passive filter and galvanic separation circuit. The multistage anti-noise filter is mounted on a massive double-sided PCB with wide, silver covered traces. The function of the filter is supported by a buffer circuit (three times size of the one in PC-3), with a new generation compensation cell, used to increase the current output of the conditioner with non-linear loads (like power amplifiers) and to decrease the difference between power on input and output. Galvanic separation is achieved by using two powerful, low-noise, toroidal transformers, with triple electrostatic shield and a shield lowering the dispersion field. The current from the filters is transferred to the output sockets by means of distribution bars, twisted connections and large cross-section, silver plated, copper wires insulated with FEP Teflon. A power distribution system is composed of massive distribution bars made of thick copper slabs. Separate bars leading to each socket allow for a stable and even power distribution regardless of the load on each socket.

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  • CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Prime (tested HERE)
  • Phono preamp: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC (tested HERE)
  • Preamp: Leben RS-28CX (tested HERE; soon to be changed to Polaris II, tested HERE)
  • Power amp: Luxman M-800A (tested HERE)
  • Integrated amp: Leben CS300 (reviewed HERE)
  • Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann (tested HERE)
  • headphones: AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, 600 Ω version (reviewed HERE, HERE, and HERE)
  • interconnects: CD-preamp: Wireworld Gold Eclipse 52 (tested HERE; soon to be changed to Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, article HERE), preamp-power amp: Velum NF-G SE (tested HERE)
  • speaker cable: Velum LS-G (tested HERE)
  • power cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9100 (CD; reviewed HERE) and 2 x Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC7100 (preamp, power amp (reviewed HERE)
  • power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2 Filtering Power Strip (reviewed HERE)
  • audio stand Base
  • resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD (article HERE ) Turntables change continuously, as do cartridges. My dream setup: SME 30 with Series V tone-arm and Air Tight PC-1 cartridge (also in the PC-1 Mono version).