[English] Pachanko Labs : Welcoming and discovering the new Unregulated Power Supply (UPS) for servers

Even if it has not been always the case, i allow myself to say that since few years, it is well akckowledge that paying attention to the power supply of a digital system is one of the most important even one to take into account since the first stages for the ones who want to improve their setup. During my hifi digital journey, starting by powering NAS with a linear power supply instead of the standard PSUs (let’s keep aside the discussions around OS and the impact on the sound to avoid any terrific discussions), we finally start by selecting products which were designed around strong competencies and performance on the power side or, at least, for which it is possible to select a different PSU to improve the Sound Quality (SQ). I will not enter into consideration between linear (LPS) and SMPS power supplies, both being interesting and highly depending on the design and component.

Since years, through interest and passion around IT and HiFi, I spend times on optimizing my system through going back and forth between server and server/player. In the past year, I focused on the server side with strong interest driven by the DIY (even if I have no competency for this approach) and the different threads on Audiophile Style. During years the power supply of servers relyed on DC/ATX convertors like the ones of HDPlex (400W and 800W) which support the supply of ATX board with a singgle power supply in DC. ATX solutions appeared through the DIY passionated people, but also through manufacturers like HDPlex with thei first ATX 400W supply and more recently their 500W ATX. In the past months, JCAT released a high end ATX Linear PSU : Optimo S ATX (>4.500€) for which the production of the first batch has been slowed down due the worlwide crisis on components supply chain. Seems JCAT is working now on the second batch of this product that has been sold-out before the production. Feedbacks concerning this LPSU, even if quite rare, are highly positives cocnerning the SQ whatever it is for a server or a server/player setup.

Aside of the LPS or UPS stories, and still looking for performance improvement, the manufacturer of High-End servers TAIKO proposed a version of his server DC/ATX convertor based on Gallium Nitride (GaN) technology. This convertor can be supplied by a DC voltage between 16 and 48V and seems to achieve the highest level of performance with an Unregulated Power Supply (UPS) with voltages between 30-36V. Thus, the DIY stepped in this approach and proposed some drawings/designs for such UPS.

PACHANKO LABS , server, power supplies and cables manufacturer located on the Réunion island, started his journey areuond UPS after few discussions between us. Since the beginning, it was clear for him that they need to bring their own know-how and expertise in terms of design and components selection. Few weeks ago, PACHANKO LABS released their own UPS power supply (Unregulated Power Supply) as you can discover on the picture below.

The design of this PSU unregulated delivering 12A under 36V relies on :

  • 600VA encapsulated O-Core with pure silver winding
  • 112.800uF (Mundorf) of total capacity
  • a soft starter
  • a DC Blocker

The case is built from anodized aluminum also available in black color. The case is produced in La Réunion with a lot of attention to details and quality as always with PACHANKO LABS and as you can see on the above and below pictures. The connection with the DC/ATX convertor is done through SPEAKON connectivity (external and internal). This cable, or double cable, is part of the STELLAR DC range. Like the transformer, the soft starter and the DC blocker are designed by PACHANKO LABS. With all that, the overall weight is close to 25kg and if we are referring to the old audiophile times of the. 70-90’s it should ba a good sign.

Once everything is conencted to the TAIKO DC/ATX convertor through the SPEAKON connector, you just need to press the power supply button on the front panel with the custom colored LED. After less than 1 second in order the soft starter operates, you can swithc hon your server and enjoy the design and performance which present a very low output impedance in order to maximize the DC/ATX convertor performance.

I will not describe the specification of the server you can find on the specific page “Matériel de Référence” and it is time to move to the listening tests with specific focus on the titles below with a wide range of live, studio, voices and percussion styles.

  • Naïssam Jalal Quest of the Invisible – Ivresse & Al Leil
  • Seu Jorge & RogêNight Dreamer – A Forca
  • Ethnic Heritage EnsembleBe Known Ancient / Future / Music – N2 Deep
  • Kyle EastwoodTime Pieces – Letters from Iwo Jima
  • Marialy Pacheco & Omar SosaManos (Live) – El Bola

I was not able in this setup to compare different power supplies as the PACHANKO one is delivering only 36V and other power supplies i could use are delivering 19V. For this reason, i will focus only on the overall output and will not make any comparison.

Concerning the listening sessions, what is striking after a hundred of hours of burning time, is the attack of the notes pushing timbres more natural including applause during the live titles (Marialy Pacheco – Bola). The impacts on the percussions like on the title Ivresse de Naïssam Jalal, are really impressive in terms of realism and details, at the same time very tight and resolved bringing enough transparency to appreciate how the percussion person is playing with variation and implication. On the title Al Leil, same artist, this is up to the piano and the flute to be put ahead with a rythm posed and maintained.

Concerning the voices….on the Seu Jorge live session and the title “A Forca”, the presence and very strong voice are pushing this title to performance I never listened previously on my setup.

This is clear that PACHANKO LABS is proposing an exceptionnal product both in terms of design and manufacturing but mainly in terms of SQ supporting high level of performance of a digital system. This is quite often that the server side is underestimated in terms of performance. This product is mainly dedicated to high-end server/server-players through the price requested, but it is clearly a key step forward in the system for the ones looking for strong SQ which is probably the case of people who already invested in products from TAIKO AUDIO. Could be interesting to see if PACHANKO LABS would propose a version with lower voltage (< 30V) in order to provide a solution for the HDPLex 400 DC/ATX convertor more widely available and used on the market. To conclude, always good to remind that this product is designed, assembled and components mainly produced on the Réunion island and really impressive to see so much of competency on this small land. When you would have listened to this product it would be very difficult for you to go a step back or at least your server will not allow you to remove this UPS.

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