View Full Version : Red Wine Audio Battery Power Supply Review

May 11, 2013, 06:39 PM
As I was unpacking the Red Wine Power Supply thinking of whether it had a return policy. I was so convinced it wouldn't make a damn bit of difference, I was all set to return it Monday. I already have the CAPS getting clean power from an APC S20, so what could this battery PS really do? Stupid thing. I was mad at myself for even buying it.

I nonetheless unpacked it, hooked it up, more boxes, more cables, and likely a complete waste of money. I went through a few well known songs from my normal playlist. Sounds great. Stupid thing. Waste of money. It won't make a difference. Keep the packaging neat and tidy I thought. This is going back Monday.

Switch over to the battery. Start the playlist. My eyeballs just about popped out of my head as Diana Krall's voice jumped out of the blackest black background my digital has ever produced. Color me impressed. It's staying. The shipping boxes are already in the trash.

To reaffirm what I was hearing, I searched out a couple reviews. Truth be told, I did not read a single review prior to buying it (I went on the word of my friend Ted Brady).

Impressions of the Red Wine Power Supply by Chris Connaker

Enhanced Power Supply Option - Red Wine Audio, Black Lightning High-Current Battery Power Supply

The easiest component to upgrade in the CAPS v3 Lagoon design is the power supply. Lagoon is powered externally via its DC input or internally using a two-pin connector and internal PSU. Intel recommends using an external power supply and the outside DC input although doesn't give any reason for this recommendation. The SOtM tX-USBexp USB card can also be powered internally (4-pin connector) or externally (DC input). This combination of motherboard and USB card, both with external power options, is terrific for a CAPS music server.

My requirements for an enhanced CAPS v3 power supply were low noise and the ability to power both the motherboard and SOtM tX-USBexp card via the same supply. My research lead me to Vinnie Rossi of Red Wine Audio. RWA has been a leader in battery powered high end audio for years. In addition, Vinnie is one of the nicest guys in the industry. Looking at his Audio Circle forum readers will see all the dedicated RWA users and kind words about Vinnie's customer service. Both the quality of the products and integrity of the manufacturer matter greatly. Many computer audiophiles have been burned by online direct sales from companies who've since disappeared and or stopped offering customer support. CA readers should have zero hesitation working with Vinnie Rossi and Red Wine Audio.

A few months ago I asked Vinnie about his Black Lighting High-Current Battery Power Supply and its ability to power a CAPS v3 server. Vinnie responded with a few questions and a resounding certainty that there would be no problems. Vinnie has customers powering all kinds of computers, among other items such as audio components, with the Black Lighting. Vinnie recommend I measure the power consumption at peak and study state for the v3 server I wished to power. I purchased a Kill-A-Watt power strip and ran the Lagoon server for several days. The consumption never reached above 25 watts. With this information Vinnie recommended a single or double LiFePO4 (LFP) battery pack based Black Lightning depending on how long I wished to run from batteries. I selected the single battery option as a start knowing I could always upgrade to a double battery solution by simply adding a battery to the existing chassis. One great feature of the Black Lightning is its ability to power components with different input voltages. The Intel DN2800MT motherboard has an input voltage of +9V ~ +19Vdc (12V recommended) and the SOtM tX-USBexp card has an input voltage of +6.5V ~ +9Vdc. With this information Vinnie configured the Black Lightning for 12V output and crafted a power cable sporting one 12V connector and one 9V connector with a linear regulator.

Note: CAPS v3 Carbon runs for eight hours on a single battery Black Lightning.

The positive impact of the Black Lightning High-Current Battery Power Supply could be heard immediately and without playing even one track. Powering both the SOtM tX-USBexp and Intel DN2800MT motherboard with the Black Lightning in battery mode removed very audible noise from the my system. The background of my system in an idle state, while powered on, was very noticeably blacker. Even the most casual listener could hear the difference in blackness before a single note was played. I was instantly impressed by the Black Lightning and conducted further testing to figure out how much or how little needed to be done to increase performance of one's audio system. I initially assumed that powering only the SOtM tX-USBexp card via battery, with the internal PSU disconnected, and the motherboard powered via the Seasonic PSU would yield an equal or nearly equal benefit as powering the entire server via battery. I was wrong with this assumption. Even though the clean battery power source of the Black Lightning was used to power the SOtM card that sends power to the USB receiver chip in the EMM Labs DAC2X I still heard harsh electrical noise through my speakers. Based on this test it appears that noise from the Seasonic PSU / motherboard combo is getting to the SOtM card via the PCIe slot's gold connectors. With this knowledge I thought maybe powering the motherboard from the battery supply and the SOtM card via the motherboard could clean up the noise. Wrong again. Both of these attempts cleaned about 20% of the electrical noise from what I heard through my speakers. Removing the Seasonic and powering everything with the Black Lightning once again cleaned up my system beautifully. Once the CAPS v3 Carbon and SOtM card were powered with the Black Lightning and the music started flowing the sound was stunning. This combination is far better than previous CAPS designs in all areas. Now that I've run both the CAPS v3 Lagoon and Carbon servers from the Red Wine Audio Black Lightning High-Current Battery Power Supply I can't go back to standard computer power supplies. The difference is audible, repeatable, and wonderful.

Computer Audiophile - Computer Audiophile Pocket Server C.A.P.S. v3 Carbon (http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/496-computer-audiophile-pocket-server-c-p-s-v3-carbon/)

May 11, 2013, 06:51 PM
Haha, I hope Ron (roncagg) whom I met in the Redwine Audio room at the NY Audio show chimes in. I think he owns the power supply, too. Redwine gear sounded fabulous with Harbreth speakers and a Briscati front end!:audiophile:

May 16, 2013, 10:19 PM
Allen, yes indeed I have a black lightning that has 2 12v batteries and I power my red wine audio CD transport and my simaudio moon lp3 phono preamp. I didn't do any real A/B testing but the phono preamp had a very cheap wall wart which many people recommended replacing.

I may have decent power, or less resolving ears/speakers, but I have to say it is hard for me to tell much difference between my RWA signature 30.2 LFP-V in battery versus A/C mode. For what it's worth!

May 16, 2013, 10:59 PM
Now you got me thinking Mike!! :facepalm: