I've been expecting this upgrade with great anticipation. Those of you who have read my Gold Note PH-10 phono stage review know how much I loved it. And it should not come as a surprise that I purchased the review unit for permanent use in my system. If you haven't read that review, I suggest you read it first before proceeding further with this one.
Design and looks
The PSU-10 Super Inductive Power Supply is exclusively designed for the PH-10 phono stage to further enhance the vinyl listening experience. It is a proprietary dual choke design powered by a double inductor driving both the negative and positive high current stages.. It also features an inductive filter on the analog stage. The PSU-10 uses its massive power supply to shield the PH-10 phono stage from electromagnetic interferences and, therefore, insulating it from the AC power system. It delivers high quality power using 4 transformers, 3 of which are exclusively dedicated to the pure power supply and 1 transformer dedicated to the inductive filter.
Just like PH-10, the PSU-10 is made of the same solid machined aluminum. It features the Gold Note logo in the upper left hand corner and a small blue light below it. The back panel has the power connector, the PSU OUT connector and the power switch. My review unit came in a silver finish. It is one of the two currently available finishes (the other being gold), in which the PSU-10 is available now. Hopefully other colours, including red (the colour of my PH-10) will follow later in the year.
A supplied cable links the power supply to the phono stage from the PSU OUT connector to the PSU connector on the back of the PH-10.
I shut down my PH-10, disconnected the power cable and connected it to the PSU-10. I then linked both units with the supplied cable and turned everything in sequence described in the user manual: first I tuned on the PSU-10 with the switch, then PH-10 with the switch and then pressed the knob on the front of the PH-10. But when I tried playing a record, no sound was heard. I did some troubleshooting and eventually called Jonathan from Sonic Artistry for some advice. After a few more phone calls, it was determined that my PH-10 required a firmware update. I followed the instructions on Gold Note's website, quickly flashed the update using my laptop and a USB cable, and after connecting and turning everything on again, I was in business. This time, my PH-10 showed an icon in the bottom right hand conner of the screen, indicating that an external power supply was being used.
A few days before getting the PSU-10, I received a very interesting and very well recorded record. It's a 45 rpm 12" EP from an Argentinean group of musicians called Serà Una Noche (MA Recordings, – M052AV).
Although I have the full album in HiRes digital format, I wanted this vinyl EP to really test my system. Side 2 features probably the best instrumental track from the album called Nublado. This record presented an excellent opportunity to compare the sound of the PH-10 with and without the external power supply. It is a dead quiet pressing featuring very dynamic tango music played on a bandoneon, a guitar, a cello, and a clarinet with some percussion and tabla.
When I played the record for the very first time, the results were immediately evident. I spun it probably 5-6 times by myself. A few days later I had some of my friends from the Greater Toronto Area Audiophile Club as well Ed from Sonic Artistry, over for the demonstration of the PSU-10.
Using this same record, we did a couple of A/B comparisons playing the same musical fragment with and without PSU-10. Adding the power supply had an immediate and striking effect. The noise floor had dropped considerably, which translated into more clarity and detail, larger imaging, better bass control and faster dynamics. The differences were very apparent to everyone present and everyone preferred the sound with the power supply.
Similar results were heard with other records we played that afternoon:
- Peter Gabriel "So" (Geffen Records – XGHS 24088)
- Opeth "Deliverance & Damnation" (3LP remixed reissue, Music For Nations – 88875094281)
- Chris de Burgh "Spanish Train And Other Stories" (A&M Records – SP-4568)
Over the next month no matter what record I played, no matter the style (be it rock, metal, jazz or classical), everything just sounded so much better with the PSU-10 power supply present. Another record that once again blew me away was Vanessa Fernandez "Use Me" (Groove Note – GRV 150-1). Yet another record with an amazing recording quality. It sounded like live performance right in my living room! Precise imaging, lots of air between the instruments and a massive sound stage.
I am really reluctant to give back the review unit as I enjoyed it so much in my system. If you own the Gold Note PH-10 phono stage, this upgrade is A MUST, as it will immensely improve the already amazing sound you get from the phono stage. And if you are considering a new phono stage, and Gold Note PH-10 is on your short list of candidates, I urge you try and audition it together with the PSU-10 power supply. I am confident it will blow away the competition, which may cost thousands more. It is that good of a combination and I cannot praise it highly enough. I myself will definitely buy it later in the year for my system.
As usual, a big thank you to Jonathan and Ed of Sonic Artistry for providing the review unit and supporting me along the way with their expert advice.
Turntable: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Cartridge: Ortofon 2M Red Phono stage: Gold Note PH-10 Amplification: Marantz NR1401 AV receiver Speakers: PSB Stratus Bronze DVD/CD player: Denon DVD-3800 (Region free) Network streamer: Bluesound Node2 Network storage: Synology DS-214 2-bay NAS server USB DAC: Meridian Audio Explorer² Headphones: HIFIMAN HE-400ii, Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Cables: KirmussAudio High Resolution, Kimber Kable 6TC, Transparent, WireWorld Ultraviolet