Most power strips have two internal brass strips and notches for the power plugs. This means that all plugs are in series connection. This does not have to be a bad thing, though; it can actually have its advantages.
High-quality power strips differ on the following accounts: they have conductors made out of copper or any other good conductive metal, fit tightly, have good grip and have a high-quality housing.
A star-wired power strip has individual connections from the inlet to each socket. These connections can have various appearances. They can be solid-core or stranded wire. Its thickness can vary as well but is usually no more than 1.5 mm2. Imagine the space it would take to have a power strip with e.g. six times 2.5 mm2 wires!
standard extensionblock - brass strips inside
Advantages and disadvantages of Standard serial power strips
Because the sockets are serial, only the first appliance in line has the best power supply. In this position, your piece of audio equipment will sound the most powerful, with the most attack and be the liveliest. For every position you move backwards, your sound will be less lively. This is not only because of the length of the conductors, but also the other appliances that are plugged in “in front” are of influence.
This supposed disadvantage can actually be a surprise advantage! You will be able to tune your audio equipment as you wish; an appliance which needs a more powerful sound can be placed “in front of” an appliance which you want to tame slightly. Please note: I'm not talking about putting the amp in front of the cd player simply because it uses more power. In practice this is not always the best solution.
In my setup for example, I placed the DCS first because it can use some extra power. Next in line is the preamplifier and finally my Rowland power amplifiers. Were I to place the Rowlands “in front”, they would sound rather “open”. Being placed “after” the preamplifiers, they mellow out in the mids and they sound more fluid and relaxed in the highs. For me this works best.
When discussing gaining more power it does not necessarily have to mean heavy users like amplifiers, by the way. There is some controverse about this. My experience tells me each component has some sensitivity on “power strip position” but you simply cannot predict which order is best. A Wadia 861 cd player benefits more from a “number one” position than a Rowland power amplifier. Every set-up has to be checked out in this respect.
Advantages and disadvantages of star-wired extensionblocks
There are three distinct advantages to the star-wired power strips. First: the wiring; its sound is more natural and relaxed than power strips with brass connectors. Second: star-wiring and particularly its ground wires make for a better focus. Third: all positions in the power strip are equal. This means that you do not have to worry about where to plug in your appliances.
It can be a disadvantage, though; as you cannot tune your set-up with your power strip. But it probably saves you a big headache!
Starwiring internally. All sockets are connected to one single point from which they are fed power.
This is the CP-audio (netkabels.nl) starwired extensionblock. You can see how the entrycable runs to the middle of the block, from where it is distributed for all sockets. Under the shrinktube is an enourmous silverplated crimpingblock (thimble) in which all cables are tighty pressed together.