(Multiwave) Power to the People

By their very nature, most audiophiles seem perpetually restless, never content with that last tweak. Following in that hallowed tradition, PS Audio has been trying to reinvent the technologies traditionally used in power-line conditioners to optimize those pulses of alternating current that juice our audio systems. The company made waves with the introduction of their Power Plant line of products last year (see previous report); their P300 garnered a very positive review from Stereophile's Robert Deutsch.

Now PSA is at it again, this time announcing the introduction of their Multiwave technology, which they describe as a "performance-enhancing breakthrough in providing AC power" which, the company claims, is optimized to help users get the most out of their audio and video systems and components.

According to PS Audio, Multiwave technology uses "simultaneous multiple waveforms, embodied in a unique library of Multiwave patterns, to coax top performance from connected products. Multiwave technology also gives users—for the first time—the ability to dial-in, or customize, both the level and quality of AC power appropriate for their own home-entertainment systems." The company says that the first application of Multiwave technology will appear as a $250 option for all Power Plant models, whether installed at the factory or, by customers, via an upgrade kit.

Multiwave was developed by PS Audio's Paul McGowan and engineer Doug Goldberg. The company explains that "the secret of Multiwave is in the nature of the power supply it's intended to feed. Power supplies are integrators, or filters: they take in a frequency, and integrate it to DC. We discovered it's possible to get the benefits of a composite frequency by stacking the frequencies, creating what we call Sequential Frequency Multiwaves, SFM for short. One frequency followed by another and another delivers the same response as multiple frequencies, but without the drawbacks." Goldberg and McGowan say that a lengthy process of experimentation led them to focus on "compound waveforms that embodied the benefits of multiple frequencies."

PS Audio also claims they have found that different A/V systems and products respond better to some Multiwave patterns than to others. "One that works especially well employs a partially square sinewave with a broader peak that allows power-supply capacitors to use more energy over a longer period of time to charge. This reduces power-supply ripple, and significantly enhances audio and video performance. This type of pattern is called Partial Square Multiwave, PSM for short, and is actually the most significant waveform of them all."

To facilitate experimentation for finding the ultimate Multiwave setting for their system, the company says that Power Plant/Multiwave users will be able to switch between the Multiwave patterns developed so far—including three partial squarewave patterns, waveforms that randomly vary between different frequency combinations, and 15 original pure sinewaves.

An in-depth interview with Paul McGowan, conducted by John Atkinson, is available online from the Stereophile Archives.