iFi AC iPurifier – Power Immaculate
We reviewed quite a few types of audio devices so far, but this is the first time we dwell into a device that promises to purify the power that is fed to your audio devices. iFi AC iPurifier is here to clean your power and to give you a noise-free experience.
iFi is a well-known company from UK, part of the respected AMR group (Abbingdon Music Research). iFi has created some of the best audiophile instruments there are, like their iFi iDSD Black Label Micro, which we reviewed in the past https://audiophile-heaven.com/2017/05/ifi-idsd-bl-pinnacle-of-dac-and-amp.html .
We knew for a while that iFi also designs power cleaning solutions, along with products like their iEMatch and Groundhog, which further help one get the best sound possible from the audio setup they already own. This being said, we are aware that reviewing a power cleaning solution might come as slightly controversial, so we’ll try to stay as technical as possible, and follow along with real-world impressions as best as we can.
It should be noted that we have absolutely no affiliation with iFi, we am not receiving any incentive for this review. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by iFi or anyone else. We’d like to thank Hoomairah from iFi for providing the sample for the review. The sample was provided along with iFi’s request for an honest and unbiased review. This review will be as objective as it is humanly possible, and it reflects our personal experience with iFi AC iPurifier. Every opinion expressed is ours and we stand by it. The purpose of this review is to help those interested in iFi AC iPurifier understand it better and know if it is a worthwhile investment for their audio collection.
First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:
iFi AC iPurifier is packaged in one of iFi’s signature packages, made by materials which are trying to protect the environment, along with an elegant and unique presentation. The main box is white in color, and rectangular in shape, and it includes a hefty amount of information about iFi AC iPurifier, along with its purpose and a few other interesting bits of information.
iFi glued a “Noise Terminator” sticker on the box of the AC iPurifier, which we found quite cute and amusing. The device itself is based on the EU plug in our case, as we’re currently situated in Bucharest and wouldn’t be able to review AC iPurifier otherwise.
The package contains all the minimum extras necessary to keep the AC iPurifier running, beneath the manuals being the AC iPurifier unit itself, along with a bag of dehumidifying bag. Since it doesn’t have any connector besides the power plug, nor needs anything else, the package is simple but elegant.
The AC iPurifier unit is seated in a foam cutout, which keeps it scratch and dust free during transport.
Build Quality/Technical Data
AC iPurifier is built like a tank, being a round, white cylinder which is meant to be plugged in the power mains of your audio setup. Our unit comes with the EU / Romanian standard power plug, but there are variations for other countries as well.
The top of the unit presents two LED lights, both of which can shine both green and red. The first light is the Polarity light, which indicates whether the AC iPurifier is plugged in the correct way, and we managed to experiment a bit with this, seemingly there being a correct and a wrong polarity possible in a power outlet. The second LED light on top of the iFi iPurifier is an “Earth” LED, which basically indicates whether the power outlet has grounding and whether that is wired properly. After experimenting with it, we noticed that the power outlets in Bucharest do have grounding, and that they are indeed wired correctly, allowing for iFi iPurifier to function correctly.
iFi iPurifier is meant to clean the AC power mais and to eliminate any noise which may arise as a result of irregular power. Since we are doing the tests in Bucharest, this is a place not known for clean or coherent power, and we have blackouts once or twice each month, a lot of industrial machinery being connected to the same power lines as our precious audio setups. In this situation, AC iPurifier comes in really handy, as we know we already have a wide variation in the power factor. Voltage surges might be an issue as well here, and iFi AC iPurifier is really handy to protect against those.
Technically, all power should come in clean and should be regulated strictly, but having very expensive and very sensitive speaker setups means that those can react to fine changes in voltage and power delivery, especially when it comes to speaker setups which are always connected to the power mains. If there is no grounding connection for those speakers, or if that grounding isn’t done correctly, there will always be a humming noise coming from them, which can be quite quiet, or which can become quite loud, sometimes being considerably louder than the noise floor of a listening setup or of a song, resulting in actual noise which can be heard throughout a song.
To properly understand noise which can be induced by Voltage Variation, one first needs to understand how AC works, or how Alternative Current works. There is a wikipedia article explaining those things in detail here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_hum
AC iPurifier basically eliminates all of the issues that are brought on by AC and usage of high-gain, high-precision and sensitive Audio Equipment, being a very user friendly all-in-one solution for cleaning the mains.
It is extremely complicated to say that we can take any kind of objective measurements of AC iPurifier with the equipment we have available at this moment, and even the best speakers we have right now, which are Edifier S1000DB, are not the most revealing or sensitive pieces of equipment there are, so the final results might be quite different for certain setups.
This time I had my girl help me with those tests. Since we could do the tests together, having the AC iPurifier connected to the same mains as my laptop, Monitor and my speaker setup, we tried to write our thoughts separately and then compiled them for this review.
All of the tests have been done using Edifier S1000DB Speaker setup, in a Bucharest apartment, at moderate to very high listening levels.
Starting with the bottom end, there is a small trace of more precision to the bass, especially when it comes to the upper mid-bass where it feels a tad cleaner and more precise with less bloat amounts.
In the midrange, each musical note seems to have a bit more definition, with every single musical note seemingly having better definition, each micro-texture from an electric guitar bearing a better definition and resolution, more details being presented to the listener, and with slightly less noise.
In the treble, the high notes seem to come a tad smoother with less overall noise and harmonic distortion. Since the tests were taken at very high listening levels, the integrated amplifier in S1000DB were clearly able to reveal those differences better, being under higher gain, having more voltage running through them, subsequently being more prone to noise and other similar issues.
The soundstage seems to be larger with AC iPurifier, the better resolution and detail in the midrange and treble helping shape the soundstage with a larger overall presentation, along with a deeper one. Since the S1000DB is a very specific speaker, AC iPurifier seems to also help it gain a blacker background, but then again, the power mains in Bucharest are not very clean, and other listeners might experience widely different results with different speaker setups and different levels of AC power inherent noise.
Another thing we noticed through our tests is that the timing / ADSR of each musical note seemed a tad better, with a bit better dynamics, but this might be a subsequent result of lowering the noise floor rather than a standalone result on its own. Microtextures, especially those presented in Mindless Self Indulgence synths seem to have considerably better resolution and to be better resolved. The guitars in Metallica’s music bear quite the improvement, and the vocals in Pop music, like Melanie Martinez feel more natural and seem to be presented better.
The hum coming from S1000DB is also eliminated well when using AC iPurifier, but it should be noted that S1000DB doesn’t have any Grounding in their power line, being a self-powered speaker without grounding, although our typical power plugs do have grounding, so AC iPurifier does a good job there as well, electronic music, like The Glitch Mob being presented with better bass definition. A different, better speaker / amplifier setup would present a different result but with self-powered speakers, the difference is there, at least in our experiment.
Value and Conclusion
At the end of the day, we need to carefully consider what we’re presented with. iFi AC iPurifier is a very handy product, which can help eliminate all noise that is creeping into one’s music from the power mains, along with the typical amplifier hum when the ground connection is missing.
It is not a very expensive product, being around 130$ in most places, and it offers quite a few services. Considering that most people own speaker setups much more expensive than this, AC iPurifier has a fairly good value and offers quite an excellent service.
One of the best parts about AC iPurifier is the surge protection, being like a second fuse you can add in your system to protect your investment and expensive speaker setup, Many people have setups which are worth thousands, iPurifier being surely welcome to help protect their investment.
At some point I considered giving the AC iPurifier to an uncle who has much more expensive speaker setups, but my girl told me that this one power cleaner has to stay in our system as she really likes the improvements it brings in our listening setup, and who am I to argue after all? I love having better protection and noise removal for both my listening experience, and the extra safety for my electronic devices.
At the end of the day, one should take iFi AC iPurifier for what it is, a very user-friendly solution which can bring serious improvements in sound, by cleaning the AC mains, which is able to analyse the polarity and the grounding of your home, along with offering one of the best prices for this type of products, most power conditioners costing many times the price of iFi AC iPurifier, without always offering the same amount of features or safety (the extra surge protection sure comes in handy).
We can totally recommend someone to look into iFi AC iPurifier as a power conditioner / mains noise removal / extra surge protection, and especially at loud listening levels and when the power is not exactly clean, this is surely going to have a positive impact on your overall listening experience, without costing a fortune.
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Full Playlist used for this review
We listened to more songs than those named in this playlist, but those are excellent for identifying a sonic signature. PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality are all revealed by those songs. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music!
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