Audioplan’s FineFilter S and PowerPlant 100S are easy to describe, because they share a lot of common design elements: both feature a short captive lead entering a rectangular box with a single power output socket on the top. The 16A capable FineFilter S has two toggle switches flanking the captive lead input, the right one switches the earth filter in or out, while the mains filter has a low and high pass filter, as well as a neutral position. The PowerPlant 100S, meanwhile, is a 100VA power transformer and a filter.
The PowerPlant 100S is great for decoupling smaller digital audio devices from RF interference, as that transformer acts as a buffer. The larger the device, however, the more the transformer seemed to filter a little too much high frequency energy, so it’s not recommended to be used with the more power hungry streamers and SACD transports. In a relatively RF-filled environment, however (such as a modern house filled with Wi-Fi routers and switch-mode power supplies), the PowerPlant 100S is surprisingly good at reducing background hash in a good DAC. People often wonder why a digital device can have background noise at all, neatly forgetting the ‘to analogue’ part, and it’s that section that most benefits from the PowerPlant 100S.
The FineFilter S is perhaps the most difficult of the three to pigeonhole in this way, but is equally effective. Used in some components it can add a sense of authority, weight, and body to the sound, and in others it can add some much-needed lightness and air. And, it must be said, in other systems it can seem to make the soundstage seem deeper and wider while only trading tiny amounts of dynamic range and rhythmic fluidity in the process. On its own, I found it worked particularly well in with headphone amplifiers, adding a sense of even-handedness and air to lateralised sounds, and when I removed it, I missed it, which is always a sign of great performance.
Using all three components together is interesting. Placing the FineFilter S before the PowerStar SIII, and then putting a PowerPlant 100S in the line before the digital device worked well, reducing the noise seemingly inherent in the system without the attendant dynamic range reductions normally found when filters are given a relatively heavy load.
Audioplan adopts a ‘first do no harm’ approach to its power products, and that is hugely refreshing. Each product here addresses a specific need, and addresses it well. Although the PowerStar SIII has an additional bonus for Naim Audio users, all three come highly recommended.
Audioplan PowerStar SIII: £495
Audioplan PowerCord S: £195
Audioplan PowerCord U: £625
Audioplan FineFilter S: £575
Audioplan PowerPlant 100S: £525
Manufactured by: Audioplan
Distributed in the UK by: Ikon Audio Consultants
Tel: +44(0)7956 476299