It’s easy to install, can be customized to meet the unique requirements of your system, and will provide seemingly unlimited and pure power to your system. It can enable your components to reveal details in recordings you never knew were there.
Recording engineer David Elledge is the one person behind P.I. audio group, LLC, and he’s out to prove that extraordinary power conditioning can be had for a not-extraordinary price. Mr. Elledge calls each one of his devices a BUSS, and there are several configurations: UberBUSS, MiniBUSS, and even a DigiBUSS if you’re living a purely digital lifestyle. And there’s a 250VAC EuroBUSS for our friends overseas.
For my review, Elledge sent me a one-size-fits-all UberBUSS. It features four modified 20A Pass & Seymour 5362A power receptacles, so you can plug up to eight components into it. It also utilizes a Furutech inlet rated at 15A @ 125VAC. It’s all housed in a black box made from non-metallic materials to prevent eddy currents. And it sells for $1195.
I’ve got a wide variety of components to power with the UberBUSS: solid-state amps, tube amps, preamps, turntables, and a 4K TV. I’ll plug them all into the UberBUSS and report what happens.
P.I. audio group UberBUSS Power Conditioner
- Robustly built
- Very competitive price
- Can be customized for any combination of analog, digital, and video sources
- Surprisingly good at improving a system’s sound quality
The UberBUSS has no electronic triggers, no power switch, no circuit breaker, no computer cable ports, and no cards. It has only one purpose: to supply the best possible power to your components. Elledge has done extensive work to eliminate every component that is not absolutely responsible for optimum sound quality. He also utilizes components that exceed necessary specifications by at least 300%.
Dave Elledge became acutely aware of the necessity of high quality, clean, and plentiful power for audio applications back in the late 1970s and early 1980s while working as a recording engineer and producer at The Sound Studio and Quincy Street Sound studios in Albuquerque, NM. When he had to rebuild the power supply in a piece of production gear, he was shocked to find how minimal and low quality the componentry was. So, he bought a newer, larger transformer, high-power rectifiers, and considerably larger electrolytic capacitors, and set out to repair the gear. The improvements both to the longevity of the components, but, more importantly, in the sound quality of the recordings made in the studio were readily apparent, so Dave went on to rebuild the power supplies of all the gear in the studios.
Elledge is no stranger to either electric or system synergy. He has several decades’ experience as a recording engineer and producer and has rebuilt his share of audio gear. It was while rebuilding the power infrastructure of a recording studio that he set out to, well, perfect it.
P.I. audio group sells bespoke power solutions, and Mr. Elledge will build for you a device that provides the best possible AC current to supply your devices. Contact Elledge, tell him how many digital and analog components you want to power and what they are, and he’ll build exactly a device to power those components for you. And you’ll get one designed with the plugs and current flow of your own particular country.
If you’ve been to an audio convention lately, chances are good you’ve seen and heard P.I. audio group conditioners without knowing what they were. They are rather non-distinct, and there is very little or no branding. Pure function before passing fashion. Several high-end vendors are using P.I. audio group conditioners in their presentation setups.
40A, limited only by input and output connectors
Made-to-order UNS C10100 electronic oxygen-free copper
One standard Furutech FI-06NCF IEC C14 inlet rated at 15A @ 125VAC
Four standard Pass & Seymour 5362A Heavy Duty Extra Hard Use receptacles
5.5” wide x 6.5” tall x 10.5” long
The UberBUSS is a study in synergy. Each section depends upon the others to get maximum performance. There are essentially three sections to an UberBUSS, in addition to the power inlets and outlets:
- There is the initial section that Elledge calls the “Brick.” This is a non-inductive massive EMI/RFI filter that does the majority of the heavy lifting for the performance aspect of the UberBUSS.
- Next is the Power Factor Correction network. This increases the efficiency of inductive loads attached to the UberBUSS. It provides a Power Factor of 1 under most circumstances. Power Factor is directly related to the efficiency of power conversion and utilization in components.
- The last section is what Mr. Elledge calls “FinalFilters.” These are high-frequency filters not unlike those seen in other power filters. However, the difference is that these are capable of filtering a much broader bandwidth than what is normally used (which is typically a .47ufd capacitor).
One of the biggest differences in the UberBUSS is its internal wiring. Elledge has it made for him and he buys it in large quantities to keep the cost down. The copper used is UNS C10100 electronic oxygen-free copper, and it is produced in the US. As a result, the UberBUSS is capable of 40A internal throughput without any strain on its components. In other words, its current handling is limited only by the input and output connectors along with the current available at the input.
The unit’s power inlet is a standard Furutech FI-06NCF IEC C14 inlet rated at 15A @ 125VAC. Other inlets are available, including any of the 20A Furutech connectors or the Neutrik powerCON 32A @ 250VAC chassis connector.
For power output, the UberBUSS uses four standard Pass & Seymour 5362A Heavy Duty Extra Hard Use receptacles, rated at 20A. Optional receptacles include what Elledge calls the “UberPuerto,” which is a Pass & Seymour 5362A which is hand-polished and treated with his proprietary RFI mitigation compound internally with graphene-treated contacts. He can use any of the available Furutech receptacles, or any others you prefer. Elledge will work with you on that and build you a BUSS to your exact specifications.
Elledge thinks of his conditioners as concepts, more than actual fixed products. He consults with every customer to determine exactly what the UberBUSS is powering before he builds it. He can also have custom finishes put on the enclosures, such as high-gloss piano black, to match your décor or other components.
Adding the P.I. audio group UberBUSS to my system could not have been simpler. I plugged the components in, then listened. The UberBUSS does not come with a power cable, so I used a ten-year-old Zu Audio cable I had lying around. To be honest, the cabling in my system is a varied mix; I am not someone who can afford a system-wide loom of PS Audio or Shunyata cabling, so I use what I can afford. So far, I’m pretty happy with it.
I have two dedicated 20A circuits installed in my home for my system utilizing three Pass & Seymour outlets. I don’t remember exactly which outlets those are, but they are hospital-grade outlets with very good mechanical connections. Nothing too fancy, but nothing too cheap, either.
The real work started after I plugged my components into the UberBUSS.
When I first received the UberBUSS, I plugged my McIntosh MC2505 solid-state amplifier and C28 solid-state preamplifier into it. I thought it best to start with components I have many years’ experience with. I immediately heard a slight improvement in the overall resolution of my components. There was slightly better imaging and soundstaging and, dare I say it, a less vintage sound quality. The warm but fuzzy mid-1970s sound began to sound less fuzzy and more focused. Most surprising was the increase in efficiency; the dynamics and low-level detail of these components immediately improved.
This surprised me quite a bit, as I had both of these components rebuilt a little over a year ago. I simply did not believe they could sound any better. So, we’re off to a very good start with this P.I. audio group UberBUSS.
Elledge told me that his components work best when energized, so it’s best to keep them plugged in. I continued to hear improvements in the system as the UberBUSS aged. My MC2505, in particular, carried the flow of music more accurately, and its soundstage improved quite a bit, which is no mean feat, as this is not an area in which this amplifier excels.
Recently, an audio technician told me that he didn’t see why audiophiles spend so much money on power conditioning equipment for older components when it’s likely that the power circuits of those components just aren’t working as efficiently as when they were new. “Why spend thousands on a power conditioner when you should just rebuild the component’s power circuits and listen to the components the way their designers intended?” The technician was certainly making a good point, and my vintage McIntosh components certainly sounded much better after their power circuits were rebuilt. However, repairs to vintage components are expensive; it can easily cost as much as a good dedicated power conditioner to have a single vintage component rebuilt by a competent technician nowadays. But secondly, even if a vintage component is in its best possible condition, why not power it with the best electricity you can afford?
So I put that to the test. And what shocked me the most with the P.I. audio group UberBUSS was the improvement I heard with my McIntosh MC30 tube amps. I’ve owned these amps for roughly twenty years, and with the UberBUSS they sounded better than I thought possible. The MC30s are often considered the best tube amp McIntosh ever made, with good reason. Their monstrous transformers and 6L6 power tubes can control speaker drivers in ways that you wouldn’t expect thirty watts to be capable of. Their imaging and midrange are legendary, as is their ability to portray the timbres of the human voice. When powered through the UberBUSS, their imaging gained a sharpness and clarity I never thought possible; I could finally hear how the orchestra was situated behind Doris Day when I listened to one of her mono Columbia LPs, and I could hear the sound baffles around her as she sang. Amazing.
The P.I. audio group UberBUSS showed me is that is was possible to get the last bit of quality out of amplifiers built over forty years ago, even after they had been refurbished. A most impressive accomplishment.
So, what about contemporary amplifiers? The P.I. audio group UberBUSS arrived while I had D-Sonic’s excellent M3a-600M mono amplifiers in my system for review. These amps are no slouches by any stretch of the imagination; their seemingly endless supply of power provided thrilling dynamics and low-level detail. How could a P.I. audio group UberBUSS possibly improve these amps? It improved them in ways I hadn’t even considered. Once again, it all came down to focus. When powered by the P.I. audio group UberBUSS, the D-Sonics portrayed a much more holographic soundstage. I could more easily picture each instrument in a 3D space. But most excitingly, the front-to-back aspect of the soundstage expanded considerably. Whereas I felt like I was sitting in front of the band performing, the music began happening around me, and behind me, with the P.I. audio group UberBUSS in the system. It was much easier to lose myself in the music with this quality of playback.
I also plugged my 65” Vizio 4K TV into the UberBUSS. The blacks got blacker and the brights got brighter, which improved picture resolution in every way. I had to recalibrate the TV to optimize it for the UberBUSS. A very nice, and unexpected benefit, indeed.
To test whether I was imagining these improvements with the P.I. audio group UberBUSS was easy enough; I just took it out of my system and plugged everything back into the wall outlets. To his credit, Elledge urged me to do this. And when I did do that, I missed it immediately. The sound lost a good bit of soundstage and low-level detail, and it became, well, slower. Notes did not seem to be flowing in time with other notes as accurately as they should.
Jain’s debut album is a very intimate and delicate affair. Some of the songs feature string instruments played to add color to music, like a distant watercolor wash. I’ve been enamored of this recording for years but listening to it with my Oppo UDP-205 and McIntosh MC30 amps plugged into the P.I. audio group UberBUSS showed me a whole new dimension of the recording.
I found it much easier to pick out room details; I could hear that some of the songs were recorded in a small room with Jain quite close to the microphone. But her vocals made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, because I was hearing so deeply into her breathing and how she carried and varied notes as the songs developed for the first time. I finally understood what it means for imaging to be holographic. It was the best my tube amps have ever sounded, and the best playback of this recording I’d ever experienced in my system.
Torrini’s bittersweet and heartfelt singing always brings a smile to my face. But it’s the song “Lifesaver” that really gets me. It features the sounds of the interior of a boat. I take it to be a wooden sailing ship, with the creaks and cracks of wooden beams rubbing against each other, and the singer sitting on a bench inside of the boat.
The sounds of the boat complement the song, but previously they appeared as a background effect; more window dressing or a textual filler than an integral part of the song’s narrative. But with the P.I. audio group UberBUSS in the system with the D-Sonic amplifiers, I felt, for the first time, that I was actually inside of the boat. After that, the sounds of the boat became an integral part of the song, thereby giving much more importance and impact to the playback of the song. My fiancée described it best; she said that the song was playing around us instead of playing at us.
I love the albums made by trained musicians and composers playing primitive monophonic synthesizers from the 1960s. The panning and swirling effects are extreme and kitschy, the soundstage is big, wide, and spacious, and the blurts and blaps of the synthesizers can give any speakers a good workout.
Dick Hyman made a few of these albums, and this one features such wig-out funk trips as “Give It Up Or Turn It Loose” or the sci-fi madness of “Kolumbo.” With my Parasound XRM phono preamp driven by a Grado Platinum V2 HOMC cartridge on my Garrard 301, the soundstage of this album seemed like it was a mile wide, but the drum kit was planted firmly in the left side of my listening room. With the P.I. audio group UberBUSS in the system, the panning on the album took on a 360-degree realness as the songs swirled around my head and floated away as though I didn’t even have a pair of speakers.
- Very easy to use
- Can be built to a wide variety of specifications
- Adds clarity and precision to sound quality I didn’t think possible, even with vintage components
- Very competitively priced
- Nothing, really
I’ve come to think of the P.I. audio group UberBUSS as a clarifier; it brought improved clarity and precision to every component I plugged into it. It was as though the glasses I was looking at music with for so long were clouded and greasy, and along came the P.I. audio group UberBUSS to clean their lenses and show me what was really in front of me. That’s the best way I can describe its effect. And for $1195 you can clean the lenses of up to eight of your components. And make your TV look better. It brought a correctness to my system that I never thought possible. And I’ve realized that I can’t remove it from my system. Mr. Elledge claims that the return rate of his conditioners is approximately 0.3 percent. And now I can believe that.