GigaWatt. Jacek Kłos talks with the owner of GigaWatt, Mr. Adam Szubert, about new solutions and ideas for the future.
J.K.: When was GigaWatt founded?
A.S.: Formally In August 2007.
What did you do before that?
Since 1998 I co-authored Power Audio Labs – a company dealing with filtration of power current.
How many ideas used at PAL found their way into GigaWatt constructions?
The year 2007 meant for me the end of work in my previous company. Devices created after that date are completely new products, what is also represented in a new naming convention. But it is impossible to step out of oneself completely, change the way of understanding the problems, on which I worked for years. So I do think in a similar way, but this does not exclude development and introduction of new ideas. When we made the Powerbox v2.0, we thought, that this is the end of the road. Soon it turned out, that we only made a small step into a completely new area. Now the more we dig into the construction of conditioners, the more we see the complexity of this area. And all the experiments just stimulate further search for better solutions. This process does never end.
I understand, that you are thinking about broadening your product range?
I cannot think about a different scenario. We specialize in hi-fi and hi-end class products. Last year we proposed three devices, this year we added another three: the smallest conditioner PC-1, the top one PC-4 and the LC-2 power cable. The current catalog lists three conditioners: the mentioned two and the PC-3, two power strips – PF-1 and PF-2, and the LC-1 power cable.
The PC-3 exists in two versions, a standard one and SE. What is the difference between them?
PC-3 SE is a special edition. We make it from higher class components. Special transformers and internal cabling are employed, as well as a more potent filter and golden fuses.
Your top conditioner PC-4 powers imagination, especially its price.
True. 6500 EUR is not nothing, but we did invest lots of work in it. It uses also best possible components and the best solutions we could think of. It is really something special. The beginning of the PC-4 goes as far as the project Power Gate, which we made at Power Audio Labs. As you probably know, it was not finalized. The project uses active elements besides passive ones.
That project was about power regeneration, and re-creation of power with reference voltage and sinus?
Yes. But after many experiments we departed from that idea. It turned out, that it was not an universal solution. It could not drive amplifiers, due to the low current output. So we quit thinking about a power regenerator, and the PC-4 uses only passive components. But it is possible, that in the future we will revisit the idea, and use a regenerator for sound sources, however currently we concentrate on combining optimal parameters with universality. This – we hope – was achieved in the PC-4. This is an advanced construction, equipped with an electro-hydraulic switch, power distribution bars, made to our proprietary specifications, silver plated cables in Teflon isolation and advanced filtering modules, using nano-crystal technology as well as a compensation circuit.
How does this compensation circuit work?
It increases the momentary output of the conditioner in situations, where an abrupt increase for current appears. Usually this happens, when an amplifier needs to reproduce a strong impulse. The circuit releases the energy it has stored, what allows the full range of dynamics to be retained. What is interesting, that this works in very short time intervals, in the range of milli- or even nanoseconds. It turns out, that such a short interval is enough, to visibly improve efficiency and comfort of an amplifier, even at the same, old power line.
Does this compensation work only for high-current outputs?
It improves the efficiency of the whole unit. It is an element of the main filter, and in consequence it affects the function of all outputs.
What is this “nano-crystal” technology?
Practically, we do no longer use filtration based on ferrite cores. This is an old, and not so effective solution. It causes losses of energy. We use modern, nano-crystal cores instead. Their molecular structure makes them, despite smaller dimensions, more effective and capable of conducting higher currents. If we want to keep a similar effectiveness as with ferrite filters, we can create much more compact ones. Nevertheless, in the PC-4 we employed a circuit, that is three times bigger than in the PC-3. This can show, how big the current reserves of the bigger model are. In hard figures, this means the ability of transferring transient currents of around 100A
A significant change compared to earlier models is the overload protection.
This is true. We changed the fuse to an electro-hydraulic Carling switch. It is worth mentioning, that this switch comes from the top line of products of this American company. Other manufacturers use similar switches from the budget line or even simple “home” grade over-current protections. The main function of the switch is to protect the conditioner from overload. This switch measures the current on ongoing basis, and controls if it doesn’t exceed the maximum value. In case of the PC-4 this means 25A. When this value is reached the conditioner will switch off.
This is similar to modern home protections?
The way it works is similar, but the details are different. Home protection uses simple over-current switches. The element used in the PC-4 is much more complicated, of a much higher quality and, unfortunately, price. Recently all GigaWatt products are covered with a policy, guaranteeing the safety of the devices attached. The value of the policy is 250 000 EUR. This is our way to show, that we are fully confident of the efficacy of our protection circuitry.
What is the superiority of this solution over traditional fuses?
A fuse is like a bottleneck. This is the element, that is mostly responsible for compression of dynamics, so often attributed to conditioners. The small cross section of the conductor limits the current. In addition, a small wire gets warm easily, and this increases the resistance when working with high loads at extensive time periods. This is not a favorable phenomenon, especially because audio devices work with impulses. Especially in case of amplifiers, the ability of supplying maximum power in a very short time, is key. Lack of this ability, is perceived as compression of dynamics, and in consequence, impoverishment of the music. In an electro-hydraulic unit, full contact of conductive elements is maintained all the time, what allows them to work with maximum effectiveness. Only when the threshold value is exceeded, this contact is interrupted. So this module connects or does not connect. The only model, that still uses conventional fuses, is PC-3, in other models we do not use them any longer.
Having said that, do you offer a possibility, to mount such protection in the PC-3?
Yes. In near future we will offer an upgrade for the PC-3 and PC-3 SE.
Are the switches you use selected in a special way?
Even more, those are made to our specifications. We define the load characteristic, buildup characteristic and connections. In general this means the key parameters for the function of the element. Only the external dimensions remain standard. All the rest, including color and description, are defined in the specifications. It is worth noticing, that most components we use, are either made by ourselves, or made by suppliers to our unique specifications. This makes our products really original and meeting our rigorous requirements. Besides the switch we also import output sockets, made to our specs. They come from Germany, and GigaWatt is their sole distributor in Poland. The contact elements are factory silver plated and demagnetized. The transformers are made in Poland.
How many transformers are used in the PC-4?
Two, each has 1.5kW power.
Do they hum?
Well wound transformer, connected to mains, where there are no drastic distortions, works quietly. But in general – the higher the power of the transformer, the louder it can get. A problem starts, when there is a fault in the construction of the core, or during winding of the wire, or when there is DC current in mains. AC does not make problems. It is the DC component, which is the culprit here. For example customers, who have simple thyristor dimmers, may experience problems. It distorts the sine wave, what can cause the mentioned hum. It is better to avoid such devices. The PC-4 contains silent transformers, but when those are to work in extreme conditions, then something might happen.
Shunyata resigned from galvanic separation at all.
This is a question of approach to the problem. This is why our cheapest conditioner PC-1 costs almost the same amount as our most expensive power strip PF-2. Some clients value galvanic separation, while others do not care for it. Everything depends on individual preferences. We receive questions about conditioners from mastering and recording studios. I just say, that we are planning to enhance our line with devices for the professional market. There is a large niche there. All elements of the PC-4, starting with the power cable and socket, were chosen to work with a load of 25A. The power socket from Powercon can take more – it is rated at 32A. This gives a hint at the performance of the unit. If we would limit the current already on the input, then it would impair the output parameters.
The power cord is detachable?
Yes. The PC-4 is supplied with an LC-2 HC cable. This is currently the best cable in our catalog, and the Powercon plug is factory installed.
Will this cable be able to be exchanged for something better in the future?
There is nothing against that. This can be our cable or from a different manufacturer. A client can give us their favorite cable and we will replace the plug.
How the current is cleaned in the PC-4?
The current goes from input directly to one of the filters. Then, based on its destination, either to high current or separated outputs, it goes to the transformers or a second filter section. Finally it is distributed among the individual branches, connected to the output sockets. The individual sections remain separated. Their setup is also different. The circuitry for digital sources is different from the analog separated ones, and those are again different from the high current ones. After going through the filter circuits, the current goes to the power distribution bars. The connections are made with silver plated copper cables, in Teflon isolation, and the cables are terminated are crimped and bolted. We eliminated soldering, because the methods we employed allow for better contact and higher loads. Finally the output sockets are connected with power distribution bars, made from silver plated copper.
How does filtering for digital and analog sources differ?
Both types of devices differ in terms of working characteristics. Digital sources draw current in a linear way, rather than in pulses, what allows for better filtering without having to worry about losses in dynamics. Also those units generate far more distortion, mostly with high frequency, and we need to protect all other elements of the system from those. A well made filter protects against this distortions, not allowing them to interfere with analog components.
What are the distribution bars used for?
They distribute the current to the separate output sockets. Those are made from solid copper, which is the silver plated. Every bar in the PC-4 – the live, neutral and protection – has 30mm cross-section. This is a lot, but when high currents are to flow through those, there was no way of cutting corners there. A similar set of bars, although not silver plated, is utilized in the PF-1 and PF-2. We value this solution high. Just like most of the mechanical components, those are made in Poland. First they are cut from thick sheets of copper, in a process, that does not create heat. If we would employ any other process, their surfaces would oxidize. We would then need to use aggressive chemicals to clean them. The process we use, allows to eliminate such problems. After cutting, the bars are cleaned and bent by digital machine tools, according to a master. In the PC-4 we add silver plating, because this increases the propagation of the power on the surface of the bar, but most of all it improves contact, what in the end transfers into sound. The sockets are also silver plated, the resistance of the connection point is practically immeasurable. The transmission happens fluently and practically without resistance on its way.
What are you planning for the future?
We think about bettered versions of the PF-1 and PF-2 power strips. Then we will amend our offerings in conditioners and introduce the PC-2 EVO. We want also to introduce higher models of power cables, the LS-1 and LS-2, which will be hand made from copper cables with Teflon isolation. The cables will be shielded. We will also mount filters in them, similar to the models Ultra and Ultimate by PAL. We plan also to create a third segment of products. Worked out filters will be introduces, with a complication closer to conditioners, than to power strips. Those will be positioned between strips and conditioners, also in terms of pricing. The most expensive filter will cost more than the top power strip, but less than the top conditioner. The filtering circuits will be designed from scratch. They will have some original solutions.
Can you be more specific? What will be the difference between a filter and a strip?
The difference is in the most important thing, the printed circuit, responsible for cleaning the current. There will be also the compensation circuit and the Carling electro-hydraulic switch. The common elements with the power strips will be the distribution bars and cabling. But effectiveness and complexity will be much higher.
Do you plan to sell GigaWatt products abroad?
We are in talks with partners in Germany, Finland and France. But we have not signed any contracts yet.
Will any of those contracts influence the pricing of your products in Poland?
We will try to avoid that.
In this case, there is nothing else left for me, as to wish you all the best with your company. Thank you for this conversation.