Farad Super3 Power Supply with Level 2 DC Power Cables
Linear Power Supply Design and Execution Done Right
I first learned about Farad linear power supplies when I was looking for a power supply to replace the SMPS stock power supply on my QNAP TS-251+ NAS with a linear power supply. I was amazed at the variety of linear power supplies offered in the marketplace, but competition is always good. Since the QNAP NAS required five amps maximum current at 12V, the Farad Super3 with its 3 amp maximum current output wasn’t part of my final list of linear power supplies. With that being said, implementing the Super Capacitor design on the Farad Super3 intrigued my interest for a possible future application. With the recent upgrades of my digital front end to implement Roon streaming and a master clock, the opportunity to re-evaluate linear power supplies presented itself. Having space constraints on top of my Marigo Audio Lab L3 Isolation Platforms ruled out some of the larger footprint linear power supplies. Upgrading the power supply from a switch mode to linear on my NAS drive was significant, as reported in my review (here), so I expected moving up the linear power supply chain could be a worthwhile upgrade also.
Farad power supplies are designed and fabricated in the Netherlands under the supervision of Mattijs de Vries, who is also affiliated with the award-winning reference music servers by Pink Faun Music high-end audio. The Pink Faun Music Server employs variations of the Farad super capacitor linear power design in various parts of the circuit. Within the relatively compact chassis of the Farad Super3 linear power supply consists of a double regulated ‘super capacitor’ linear power supply. Mattijs reports that “super-capacitors combine a very high capacitance with high pulse power capability and low ESR values. They act like batteries without their disadvantages”. I found the Farad LPS unique because they incorporate the latest capacitor technology, EDLC Super Capacitors. They have an IEC power input, a gold plated GX16-4 output connector for flexible DC power cable choice, high induction double shielded power transformer, Schottky rectifiers, choke power supply buffering, and a first stabilization charging the Super Capacitor bank to create a dynamic battery like source. The output voltage is stabilized from this source by a fast transient, low noise regulator and post filtered with ultra-low ESR polymer and a 47uFWima MKS foil capacitor. The circuit is mounted in a small shielded aluminum enclosure on a gold-plated PCB with Star Ground and Star Power supply configuration. Farad power supplies are fully protected against short circuits, over-and under-voltage, reversed voltage, over-temperature, and surge currents.
The Farad Super3 linear power supply can be further summarized as follows:
- Available in 5, 6, 7, 9, 12, 15, 19 & 24 V, other voltages on request
- Maximum output current: 3 A
- Input voltage: 100-120 Vac or 220-240 Vac / 50-60 Hz
- IEC input, GX16-4 gold plated output connector
- High inductance, double-shielded toroidal power transformer
- Pi-filter supply input with over 50,000 µF electrolytics
- Ultra-high capacity: 1.3 – 3.3 Farad, using Super Capacitors
- Low noise regulator, post filtered with Pi-filter using ultralow and MKS foil caps
- Gold plated PCB with star ground and star power supply configuration
- µP-protection against shorts, over-temperature/current/voltage
- Crowbar protection: impossible to damage your equipment electrically
- Aluminum housing; fully shielded against EMI/RFI interference
- Radiation free to prevent polluting other equipment
- 0.5 DC power cable with 5.5/2.1 mm or 5.5/2.5 mm barrel included
- Weight: 1.6 kg / 3.5 lbs
- Dimensions: 130x40x200 mm / 5.1×1.6×7.9 inch
Although outboard linear power supplies are outside the direct signal path, the high-frequency noise generated by various external sources (appliances, fan motors, etc., and the supply itself) in the ac power line can negatively affect the audio signal. DC square waves voltages outputted by linear power supplies are interpreted by the signal converter as “ones” and “zero.” If noise is introduced into a DAC, streamer, or signal converter, the timing is directly affected and is easily heard. The cleaner the DC square wave voltage, the lower the digital jitter and the better the signal processing. A better power supply will sonically “align” the complex analog and digital signal into something that’s properly outlined and shaped. This alignment is responsible for a lower noise floor, better timing, and a more fleshed-out, clearer, and natural sound. In my Roon based system, I looked to address the weakest link by substituting the stock AfterDark 5V linear power supply on my AfterDark Rosanna Network Bridge (ethernet to I2S converter) and the stock AfterDark 12V linear power supply on my AfterDark Master Clock with the Farad Super3 5V and 12V linear power supplies (the main subject of this review). Farad Level 2 Copper and Silver DC cables are also compared in terms of performance. In both cases (AfterDark and Farad Super3 linear power supplies), I substituted the internal HiFi Tuning fuse with the excellent Synergistic Research Purple fuse that was fully burned in before the evaluation.
A Linear Power Supply on Steroids
My reviewing system includes the AfterDark Project ClayX Roon KARMANN Music Server, AfterDark Project ClayX Giesemann Rosanna Network Bridge, AfterDark Double Emperor Crown Master Clock for the EtherRegen, Ayon Audio S-5 Network Player/Preamplifier/DAC, Uptone JS-2 Linear Power Supply for Google Fiber Router and EtherRegen, Ayon Audio Odin Ill Build 4 amplifier fitted Siemens signal tubes, First Watt SIT-1 monoblocks, Cube Audio Nenuphar loudspeakers, Wireworld Platinum Starlight 8 Twinax Ethernet cables, Synergistic Research Galileo UEF speaker cables, Galileo SX interconnects, and Galileo SX AC power cables, Revelation Audio Labs Precept II A/C Mains, SR PowerCell SX, SR UEF Black outlets, SR Wide Angle HFTs, SR Active Grounding Block SE and UDG cables, SR Black Box, Marigo Audio Lab E3 Mystery Feet under all main components, Marigo Audio Labs ZSD-31/ZSD-41 SuperDots under all supporting components, Stillpoints Apertures, and PerfectPath Technologies Eden Gates. My listening area is 14′ and 10″ wide with a 9′ ceiling and has a nearly open back wall to1500 sq ft of first-floor living area.
Migrating to Roon in September of 2021 has been quite an experience. The Roon feature that randomly selects and plays music that aligns with your primary music tastes’ has allowed me to discover new music that I never knew existed. One of the random music album selections qued up by Roon was “Stoa” (ECM), by the jazz group known as Nik Bartsch’s Ronin. “Stoa” is a well-recorded album and a perfect example of how digital can sound when linear power design is done right. He may call it “Zen Funk,” but the real question is, what the hell is it? Swiss pianist and composer Nik Bartsch’s Ronin issued their ECM debut, “Stoa.” Ronin was a group created with the idea of playing live and plays a highly disciplined style of music that relies on interlocking rhythm, groove, and groups of tight, short melodic statements all stacked on top of one another. “There are those who will immediately think of Steve Reich’s minimalist discipline, but there are no equations to be solved here. It’s math music, to be sure, but it also got the good foot, the deep bass, and the drum ostinatos of James Brown & His Famous Flames or the JBs, or even the deep soul tight backbeat toughness of the best Stax rhythm sections. Bartsch’s melodic ideas are trance-like and hypnotic. They come across more as rhythmic statements than actual melodic ideas. There are Eastern aesthetics at work here in the stripped-down elementalism in this music. It’s full of discipline and is depersonalized so that the ensemble comes off as one voice. It’s clear Bartsch has spent time listening to some of the best experimental electronic music by artists such as Apparat, Thomas Brinkmann, Pole, Basic Channel, and Pan Sonic. And while there is improvisation in Ronin’s attack, it’s structured and tightly woven into Bartsch’s compositional structures. What makes the band tick is the rhythm section as Bartsch works his modulated and shuffled lyrical fragments against the section, assisted ably and minimally by Sha on contrabass and bass clarinets (who acts as another part of the rhythm section more than as a soloist or melodist).
It’s bassist Bjorn Meyer, percussionist Andi Pupato, and especially the brilliant drummer Kaspar Rast making it all happen in real-time. Bartsch plays a standard concert grand, but he also uses a Fender Rhodes. There is a sleek chrome and matte black, post-postmodernist, Euro-funky attack in sections of “Modul 33.” It begins with a near dissonant ambiance – created by small percussion instruments and bell-like gongs – that David Toop would cream over. But it’s toward the center where the action is: Bartsch puts the overdrive in his left-hand work in the middle register in a series of modulations that start from the middle of a melody and work both forward and back, always returning to a center that is really the only constant. The popping hi-hat and hushed snare usher in Sha, who shines here with his breath control and taut, stuttering, articulate blend of rhythm and harmonics that — reminiscent of Roland Kirk in the ’70s — create a locking groove for Bartsch to play short, fleeting chords before beginning his knotty theme contrapuntally against the rhythm section. There is nothing extra in this music, no room for metaphor or metonymy or the self-expression jazz has at its center for soloists. Time signatures shift methodically, and the reined in groove becomes the entire proceeding. The piano and stick work of Rast create the loping, hard, trance airlock that is “Modul 38 _17,” the set closer. “Stoa” may not be jazz or “Zen Funk,” it may not be anything at all, and yet, that is what makes Ronin’s “Stoa” such a powerful and illuminating experience. It’s one of those recordings that can be enjoyed by more open-minded jazz fans, but the true audience for “Stoa” lies in fans of the Necks (nothing quite so blissful here, though, folks) and experimental techno fans if they can get past the notion that all this music is made live.”
I thought this review would be a difficult task to accomplish. I wasn’t expecting to hear a significant difference between linear power supplies since both brands have an upgraded parts selection in their implementation. Having a wife who has entertained me with music on our Baldwin Acrosonic piano over the last 33 years and a son who been regularly practiced playing his Selmer Alto and Soprano saxophones through high school and college has helped assist me in how to evaluate reproduced music. Swapping in the Farad Super3 LPS for the AfterDark LPS on both the AfterDark Double Emperor Crown Master Clock and AfterDark Giesemann Rosanna Network Bridge, it became readily apparent how more accurate the Farad Super3 LPS was over the AfterDark LPS in reproducing the microdynamics of the piano hammers striking the strings yet was smoother and less stringent sounding. I know what a piano should sound like, and my previous reference, LPS, wasn’t up to the task. Twenty-four hours in with one Farad LPS on the AfterDark Master Clock and the second Farad LPS on the AfterDark Network Bridge (Ethernet to I2S converter) using the Level 2 Copper Farad DC cables … significant improvement. Switching to the Level 2 Farad Silver DC cable further increased the resolution of the system, with vocal intonation being more natural and the images being more layered and holographic without the slightest tilt up in the upper midrange and high frequencies. I found excellent synergy in my system powering the Farad Super3 linear power supplies with the Revelation Audio Labs Precept II cryo silver cable (a giant slayer in its own right as a source component power cord) and Level 2 Farad Silver DC cable. Farad also offers its AC power cord specifically voiced for the Super3 but was not tested in this review. The lower noise floor results in greater liquidity and dynamic drive, which were all there front and center on the album “Stoa,” while the frequency balance across the entire spectrum was also more natural on the Farad LPS. At the same time, the AfterDark LPS favored the upper midrange and high frequencies. For example, the Farad LPS and Level 2 Silver DC cable allowed me to eliminate the Roon DSP needed to dial back the forwardness and high-frequency grain I was getting with the AfterDark LPS.
The deep rhythmic bass on the Stoa album allowed me to further dial in the system bass while fully employing the Roon DSP capabilities. I lowered the bass boost at 100Hz from + 1.5dB to +1.2dB with the four Farad components installed, which welcomed and needed improvement. Given the inherent lower noise floor, I typically found myself reducing the main system volume as a result of hearing much deeper into the mix, which typically includes hearing more of the room acoustics and the air around instruments when present in the recording. The Farad Super3 LPS and the Level 2 Silver DC cable were the “Zen” my system needed to become whole … the music just followed.
“Extended Circle” (ECM Records), a 96kHz 24-bit download performed by Tord Gustavsen Quartet, is another ECM album I’ve recently discovered while streaming Roon. “Extended Circle,” the pianist Tord Gustavsen’s sixth offering for ECM, is like all of his compositions, elusive on the surface but imparting multiple shades of meaning. His first three albums with the label showcased a trio; his last three the expanded setting of a quartet. Gustavsen’s pianism is distinct and was developed over time while backing vocalists. The subtlety and lyricism from that time are embedded in his compositional DNA. His music as a bandleader has moved ever outward from a still – not static – center. This sonic impression was especially prevalent on the trio recordings, where an intentional emphasis on restraint was placed on timbre, texture, and space (and can be heard on the bookend trio pieces here, “Right There” and “The Prodigal Song”). Over the quartet albums, his work has embraced a broader palette of colors and dynamics with a considerably expanded harmonic field. With saxophonist Tore Brunborg, bassist Mats Eilertsen, and drummer JarleVespestad, Gustavsen pushes the circle’s boundaries and expands its reach. The traditional Norwegian hymn, “Eg Veit I Himmerik Ei Borg,” showcases elegant chord voicings balanced by a turbulent, rhythmic undercurrent led by Vespestad’s simmering drums and woody dynamic support from Eilertsen that adds tension and dynamic. Brunborg’s solo moves to the edges, nearly free of melodic constraints as Gustavsen’s changes become more percussive to accommodate him. “Staying There” is an excellent showcase for Brunborg on a nearly funky blues groove. “The Gift” finds his rumbling tenor utterance in the tune’s head, deep, warm, and soulful above a spacious, circular piano vamp and a rhythm section whose playing alternates between procession and shuffle. “Devotion” features a lovely arco playing from Eilertsen in a rubato tone poem; its melody is based on Christian sacred music. The elliptical group playing at its center is especially appealing and connected. “The Embrace” is a canny modern jazz meld of gospel themes and soul music. On the midtempo “Glow,” Gustavsen’s vulnerability shines through as Brunborg answers his lines with emotive assent and encouragement. In “Extended Circle,” the pianist’s roots remain contemplative. Still, the maturity of the communication among these players provides a more fluid and physical sense of motion, revealing a multi-faceted approach to both playing his tunes and improvising.
In mid-review, I compared the Farad Super3 to the Keces P3 (borrowed from a local friend) and AfterDark LPS. Judging just the tonal quality presented on the “Extended Circle” album, the Farad came out on top in recreating a dense harmonic presentation with a fuller and more prolonged decay time. The Farad system of LPS and cables plucked my heartstrings on “Extended Circle.” The Farad Super3 had the most balanced presentation, whereas the AfterDark favored the mid and high frequencies, and the Keces P3 highlighted the midrange. The Farad also had the lowest noise floor of any LPS, which I believe is a result of the exclusive execution of the EDLC Super Capacitors. Not only did the Farad Super3 shine in terms of tonal quality and balance, but my system’s presentation also took on a powerful sense of presence where the performers were performing expressly for me. The sound was all-enveloping, with the images blooming well past my Cube Audio Nenuphars’ front baffle, similar to when my Ayon Audio SET in parallel tube amplifier was installed. With the two Farads LPS installed at key places in the digital signal playback chain, I was able to lower the system volume by at least 25% and still be drawn into the emotion of the music. The sound of my system also excelled in displaying palatable reach out and touch its imagery. The smoothness of the sound, the tunefulness of the bass, and the reproduction of delicate details to their full effect are the other standout attributes of the Farad Super 3 LPS and Level 2 Silver DC cable. Once I heard the full capabilities of the Farad system of components and their impact in the digital chain, I had no desire to reinstall my original baseline components.
To my ears, the Farad Super3 LPs and Level 2 Silver DC cables did everything right in my system. This rightness was a perfect example of the “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Great strides were made in my quest for the absolute sound with all Farad products tested. I would imagine the Farad Super3 LPS would compete well with linear power supplies that are three times the cost, so I think it’s the best buy for the price and will receive my nomination for the 2022 Stereo Times Most Wanted Component Award. Highly recommended and my new reference.
Farad Super3 ps, with SR Purple fuse and Furutech Rhodium AC inlet, 703 euro
Farad Level 2 Silver DC power cable, 50 cm, 219 euro
Farad Level 2 Copper DC power cable, 50 cm, 139 euro
Digital Front End
Ayon Audio S-5 Network Player/Preamplifier
Qnap TS-251+8GB NAS drive
Uptone Audio JS-2 Power Supply
Uptone Audio EtherRegen
Ayon Audio Odin SET stereo amplifier III Build 4
First Watt SIT-1 monoblock amplifiers
Cube Audio Nenuphar loudspeakers
Revelation Audio Labs Precept II CryoSilver Reference A/C Mains x 3
Synergistic Research Galileo UEF speaker cables with Blue Fuse treatment
Synergistic Research Galileo SX interconnect
Synergistic Research Galileo SX ac power cords, digital and analog
Synergistic Research Atmosphere High Definition Grounding cables x 14
Wireworld Platinum Starlight 8 Twinax Ethernet x 3
Synergistic Research PowerCell SX
Synergistic Research HFTs on loudspeakers, Wide Angle HFTs on wall
Synergistic Research Active Grounding Block SE
Synergistic Research Black Box
Perfect Path Technologies Eden Gates
LessLoss Blackbody ambient field conditioner x 2
Marigo Audio Lab E3 Mystery Feet x 5 sets of 3
Marigo Audio Lab ZSD-31 and ZSD-41 SuperDots x 6 sets of 3
Custom-built maple wood rack with stainless steel support rod, sleeves, and cones
Marigo Audio Lab Window Tuning Dots
Herbie’s Audio Lab Preamp Ultrasonic tube dampers
Synergistic Research UEF Black duplexes
Synergistic Research Blue fuses
Still points Apertures x 6
Townshend Audio Seismic Podiums x 2 on Nenuphars
Furutech NCF Booster x 4
Furutech NCF Booster-Signal x 10
Oyaide WPC-Z aluminum mounting frame and carbon fiber faceplates
Two dedicated 20 amp AC lines using cryo treated Romex
Stereo Times Masthead
Frank Alles, Mike Girardi, Key Kim, Russell Lichter, Terry London, Moreno Mitchell, Paul Szabady, Bill Wells, Mike Wright, Stephen Yan, and Rob Dockery
David Abramson, Tim Barrall, Dave Allison, Ron Cook, Lewis Dardick, Dan Secula, Don Shaulis, Greg Simmons, Eric Teh, Greg Voth, Richard Willie, Ed Van Winkle, and Rob Dockery
Carlos Sanchez, John Jonczyk, John Sprung and Russell Lichter
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