TechTalk: Power supply matters
In high-end audio there are lots of discussions about “the best” power supply. You might read about “linear” power supplies being recommended. You can even find $10000 mains cables for your amplifier, gold-plates mains fuses and lots of other stuff that should improve audio quality.
We generally don’t recommend products like this. Does this mean that the power supply doesn’t have any impact on sound quality? Definitely not! There are many ways to improve performance, but it’s not always as easy as it seems. Let’s take our DAC2HD as an example. Almost half of the board is the power supply sections. You’ll see lots of different voltage regulators and other components.
The reason we designed such a complex power supply like this is so that it can be located where it matters, as close to the operating circuit as possible. Many users ask: “Why not just using the best external power supply available on the market?”
- There is no such thing as the “best”. Requirements differ a lot for different circuits. No company can create a power supply that works perfectly for every application. In other words, there is no such thing as “one size fits all”.
- External cables will also have an effect on the quality of the power. Running a 50cm cable from the power supply to the board will not only increase noise but will also have all kinds of effects on the performance under dynamic load conditions.
We’re using on-board voltage regulation on all our HiFiBerry boards. We never use the unfiltered voltage from the Raspberry Pi directly. Depending on the board, the power supply complexity differs. As the performance of the DAC2HD is better than the performance of our DAC+ Pro, it requires a more complex power supply.
Very poor external power supplies might not be able to provide a stable power supply under all conditions. That’s the reason we wouldn’t recommend the cheapest power supply that you can get on some foreign web site. However, you also don’t have to spend a lot of money. The power supplies that we offer in our shop have been tested by us. We can recommend these, but lots of other models might also do the job just fine.
A clean power supply is very important for high quality audio circuits. However, it is even more important that the filtering is as close to the circuit as possible.
P.S. While you might be interested in more details on the design of our power supplies. Sorry, we won’t tell. Some things still need to be our secret 😉
June 25, 2020