Audioplan is a long-standing German company, known for its loudspeakers, cables, and power products. In the early 1990s, when the British audio world was going through one of its insular phases, Audioplan was one of the few loudspeaker brands from Continental Europe to succeed in the UK market, and the company doesn’t ‘churn’ its products regularly. All of which makes the absence of the company’s power products in our list of reviewed products something of a mystery; we’ve tried and loved the company’s loudspeakers and cables, and these products command similar respect within the wider community and among our reviewers.
We’ve three products in Audioplan’s power product line-up here, and it’s worth taking them in turn to describe who benefits most from each one, because although they work together, I feel they also have different potential customers. Central to the Audioplan power concept is the PowerStar SIII, a drum-shaped power distribution block fed by a 20A ‘C19’ power socket, with an additional 4mm grounding terminal above the inlet. There are seven sockets on the black top plate of the PowerStar SIII, which sits on three Delrin feet. These are removable, and there’s also a keyhole-shaped recess on the back panel, allowing the PowerStar SIII to be wall-mounted. The PowerStar SIII is made from 5mm thick Delrin-coated aluminium, and the block is both relatively light and not cold to the touch.
No failing of Audioplan at all, but the L-angled commonly plugs used in UK 13A systems don’t look quite as aesthetically pleasing when arranged in a circle: seven power cords rising straight and tall from the top of a giant hockey puck look organised, but the same turned through 90° and laid out not to clash with one another looks a little messy. Fortunately for those of us with more delicate design sensitivities, a lot of audiophile power cords intended for the UK come supplied with top-end plugs, and aesthetic order is restored as a result. There are matching PowerCord S and U designs, which we used throughout, and these will be the subject of a later review.
The layout is more than just for aesthetic purposes. The PowerStar SIII is styled this way for optimum star-earthing properties. Inside the box, the cabling is equidistant to the socket, in the way no conventional bar-shaped power distribution block can be. The only stipulation is the central socket is designed for use with either integrated amplifiers or preamplifiers. Star-earthing makes the PowerStar SIII almost perfect for Naim systems, because the company goes to great lengths (pun intended) to ensure ground lines are the same distances internally, and this has demonstrable effects on the system’s noise floor. Extending that precise grounding from the fusebox to the power inlet helps, too, and given a distribution block can add a metre or so of extra cable between one device and another, this kind of defeats the object. Traditionally, the options open to the user have tended to be captive designs, or custom made ‘hydra’ power cords made up of multiple cords and a lot of electrical tape. With Naim now supplying all its new products with Power-Line Lite with floating pins in the plug, stripping out these plugs to go captive loses out on the benefits of the floating pins, but using a conventional power strip loses out on the benefits of star earthing. The Audioplan PowerStar SIII addresses both without compromising either.