GigaWatt PF-2 & LC-2 MkII test - review

Power strip elegance and performance

GigaWatt PF-2 & LC-2 MkII

Power strip might look as one of the least important or controversial parts in the highend audio system. Yet, by just looking into any serious audiophile system or spending few minutes talking with even non hard-core audiophiles you’ll might quickly change your mind.

Power strip role might not have the sophistication of some other high-end separates, but one shouldn’t skip its basic and important role. There are many schools when it comes to even basic filtering of electricity and they can go arguing for lifetime. Some will go all the way and avoid any filtering while others embrace their active or passive role.

PF-2 is placed between power strip and power conditioning in the GigaWatt product line. This makes it a unique product that resembles some of the filtering techniques of their power conditioners product line. Company wanted to bring down from their upper echelon some of the attributes like effectiveness, efficiency and sound improvement.

Meet elegant bulkiness

There is no doubt where GigaWatt PF-2 was aiming when you first encounter it. Massive appearance and high-end look capture your sight and audiophile emotions instantly. Right proportions and elegant bulkiness makes PF-2 a unique power strip even before going into the sound attributes. As I respect well-designed and priced audio products I also admire and embrace products, which sparks our emotions and high-end aesthetics. PF-2 all metal black dust painted enclosure radiate with momentum elegance.

It’s interesting, that GigaWatt uses copper and nickel free connectors. They believe, that those materials interfere with the voltage drops and resistance. Strong silver coating on connectors acts as a protector of drastic impedance drops.

PF-2 double chassis enclosure is made of metal to create a closed shield, which avoids any RFI noise imprints. Like already mentioned PF-2 is not just a simple power strip. It incorporates passive filtering and everything under the hood seems oversized and built to the best specs.

GigaWatt PF-2 unique feature is blue LED, that signalizes proper power line polarity. This LED comes active with possible grounding problems.

As a standard GigaWatt supply PF-2 with 1,5 m LC-2 MkII power cable. This combo has proven to work well balanced.

Power striping

Does such thing, as perfect reasoning exists within high-end? For sure! As we grow older and hopefully wiser, our understanding and perception of things audio are changing. Not always for good, but that must be a self-observation and a thing of personal importance. It’s hard to be self-proclaimed audio guru when it comes to the people funds and the way they spend it. How much anyone spend and for what it’s the domain of any given audiophiles and high-ender. Thanks God for every option high-end market is offering. There are vast choices to be made in all directions. You can get as nuts or as stingy and reasonable as you want. Globalization brought us both positive and negative trends. There are already clear distinctions and straightforward camps as a result of worldwide economy and production spreading across the globe. Me, myself and I have a bit of biased view when it comes down to this. We might be enjoying the first excitement of things cheaper and more affordable, but at the long run it’s killing the major business and audio culture. People and audiophiles for that sake tend to miss out some basic facts. We so quickly forgot about industrial culture and what it brings to the table. Technical support, heritage, investing money back into new products, specifically created jobs etc. Quality and perception in hi-fi and high-end drastically changed from so called golden 80’s. We seem to quickly embrace everything so quickly without reasonable take back or second thoughts about things at larger scale. I do believe there is such a thing as consumer and manufacturer culture.

I’m first one to embrace the advancement of technology, but not by all cost and means. These is why I’ll always strongly support people and companies, that work hard by investing their knowledge, time and money into creating products that symbolize great value, offer customer support for years to come and design products that you feel like proud of.  

GigaWatt works in the direction. Company motto makes you feel in the right way. Well designed product, knowhow, long term plans, reliable products and design that gives you a sense of quality and right norms.

An active passive role

GIgaWatt PF-2 insertion in my active system shook some of my fundamental views about basic electronic filtering and its role for the balanced audio system. Even twenty some years ago we always started our audio system with off the shelf power strips. At least you would try to get some military or high-tech professional medicine laboratory based power strips. The importance of basic simple rules and laws we didn't even bring into discussion back then. They were ad hoc. Lot of things changed through years. Everything advanced in some or another way, but primal role and effectiveness of connectivity and distribution of power is still the same. We might get the ability to reach out for better parts and some exotic materials, but at the end of the day quality and break down logic is still unchanged.

GIgaWatt PF-2 first remarkable thing is a polarity check. When right, blue led is your positive signal. These also act as a signalizing method of any problem with the grounding. Not all houses and apartments are building up to the higher standard of grounding. I’ve seen some life hazarding house wiring, which had nothing to do with audio standards, but more with stupefying build quality. Be insightful when you’re dealing with your electricity. It might do all the difference and even save you J.

When you take as much efforts and funs as GigaWatt’s Adam Szubert did for custom made Shucko plugs used in PF-2 you’ll not just to create something, that would just pass the ordinary status.

In the matter of pureness of audio signal some of the hard-core audiophiles wants to strictly avoid the filtering of any kind like plague. When we come down to the real life high-end situation it’s a matter of many things combined and not just a matter of specific opinion. First of all PF-2 is covered by 250.000 & insurance for the way it’s build if it comes to the power surges. This should cover the stingy side of certain audiophiles J. Secondly, it’s always a vision of the design principle and performance of power amplifier, preamplifiers etc. on which they’re based. Even some of the best audio designer will admit, that there can be some benefits from passive filtering. There is no doubt about the importance of build in power section regardless of functionality of component. Different audio designers approach them in various ways. Some would strongly suggest to avoid anything between you power line and their components, while other like mentioned above will nod in agreement to at least trying them out. Synergy and practical use are the real keys here. When going so far and investing so much money for you bellowed highend audio system, there should be no mental restraints. You should at least try to insert device such as GIgaWatt PF-2 into your audio rig and compare it’s role of the absence.

There could be only one set of rules here. No audio imprint of device; in this case power strip. Can subtle changes happen evidently…?

Having Mactone MH-300B, Gryphon Atilla, Aaron XX, Lamm LL2 and quite few other components connected to the GigaWatt power strip my listening notes were extending a favorable red line conclusions or better to say righteous observations.

My embraced time period for any component under the scope is at least 300 hours. As written many times in my reviews, you’ll notice any dramatic or subtle change instantly if you’re long enough into this high-end quest. If you cannot spot the difference, don’t even bother creating statements, or they will come and chase you after a while. Efficient burn in will let the component resolve anything needed in the given time frame. You can safely track your listening notes and declare final findings with needed boldness.

Any positive remark of AC filtering would bring out a completeness of the whole audio spectrum. Filtering should act at least on this level with some noticeable results in the service of music.

GIgaWatt PF-2 took a noticeable role affecting my gears differently. We all know how any subtle changes affects the performance of MC cartridges and for that sake the accompanied phono preamplifiers. My Tom Evans and Zyx Omega X cartridge combination always felt like F1 with it’s impact and speed. Power striping Tom Evans with PF-2 resulted in an even subtler and additional bit of harsh free audio reproduction. Analog replay is such a complex thing, that even slightest change would add or distract the sound coming from the black grooves. PF-2 took away a certain edges of harshness that appeared on some vinyl. I’m guessing this is the way PF-2 effected the sound of solid state in general as my listening notes implied the similar results in Gryphon Atilla. Atilla is different at nature. It’s a warm sounding Gryphon amp. Completely different in character then its bigger brother Gryhpon Diablo. Diablo is more open, even a bit too much for a certain systems.

I recall from my notes that the warmness become less pronounced when inserted into GigaWatt PF-2. Some of the attacks that notably shaped a bit harsh definition projected with less grain and edginess. The broad territory of natural and grain free. Lens analogy would come handy here.

Mactone MH-300B is and exceptionally well designed amplifier. Being tube based, there is always some more noise comparing to  the solid state. Under the safeness and passive filtering of PF-2, some of that noise floor was brought down. These actively helped with lowering down the volume of already high gain mastery from Lamm LL2. Jointly these brought out articulation and timbre even more palatable. Yes, little nuances and late night listening notes. Joy and the absence of short life attention span. Sometimes audiophiles expect miracles and magic. Better to work harder J. You simply train yourself to notice the differences. And with enough mileage and undisturbed listening time it became a habit, which works favorable towards yours gain.

Where it all comes                               

It’s great to have and European company stepping out in front with a product like PF-2. Acting as passive filter, power strip, surge protector and polarity makes this a objective stand out.

I love the looks, the feel and most importantly what it does and how it behaves within the system. There is always a matter of synergy, but GigaWatt PF-2 impact was on different, but equal level with both solid state and tube based audio components. Addition to the both of the worlds.

Lamm LL2 is a preamplifier without typical tube sound imprint. It’s always a reliable test for me to see how any given product under the test will reflect with Lamm. GigaWatt PF-2 brought out and highlighted the right little devils that added to the LL2 blackness and correctness. Not a subtle change. A stepping stone difference.

Everything combined; GigaWatt PF-2 sets up the standard in its own way. Try find a product like these under one box and with a premium feeling at present the market. Very refined product and a reflection of Adam Szubert passion and knowledge.

At the end of the day, all that matters in high-end audio lies in the way that any given gear connects you deeper into music. A viable proof in the service of the music? Additional pleaser of aesthetics urges and needs? For me GigaWatt PF-2 covers both fronts in a grand style.

I’m looking forward to dive deeper into the GigaWatt product universe in not so distant future.


Matej Isak Mono and Stereo ultra high end audio magazine All rights reserved, 2012