Where a few years ago we were stormed with torches and pitchforks when we talked about hi-fi cabling and we were already completely committed to journalistic suicide when we wanted to point out the usefulness of additional audio groups, power cables and power conditioners, this topic has been fortunate in recent years. much more widely accepted. So when Audio Essence approached the editors to give its new power products a try, we didn’t have to think twice about it.
The PLiXiR Elite BAC 1000 power conditioner is based on the galvanic isolation of the hi-fi set from the mains. To this end, the PLiXiR is equipped with a thick symmetrical 240 to 240 Volt toroidal core transformer and distinguishes itself from the active and passive mains filters, which mainly flood the lower end of the market. However, thanks to this beautiful construction, the BAC 1000 is a weighty boy. Despite the fact that this is ‘only’ a relatively small 1000 Watt version, the compactly designed unit still has a weight of 17 kilograms.
The BAC 1000 is equipped with four power outlets, a (fortunately normal!) Euro plug connection for the power cable and is also equipped with a power switch. All connections are placed on the back of the conditioner. This makes it easy to implement the unit in the set and the device cables can be easily routed behind the set. The housing is made entirely of 5 mm thick aluminum and this hermetically sealed Faraday cage keeps all magnetic fields in and external influences out.
We can talk about it for a long time, but power products really only have one important task and that is the lossless transmission of the mains power in its purest form. Nothing sexy about it, but a science in itself. The first task is to get rid of pollution that audio components don’t like. This pollution comes in different forms. Namely high frequency (RFI) pollution that adds noise to the audio signal, but also in the form of hum caused by magnetic fields (EMI) and by unfortunate ground loops in the music chain.
Finally, in very rare cases there may even be DC voltage present on the electricity network, which can cause the equipment to hum mechanically and your set will perform less well as an additional disadvantage. There are several methods to minimize the aforementioned pollution. We ourselves are most enthusiastic about the current filters with an isolation transformer with which both the neutral and phase are disconnected from the mains and the equipment is supplied via the secondary side of the transformer. The advantage of such an isolation transformer is, among other things, that the mains current is stripped of any direct current. This does not happen with power conditioners at the lower end of the price segment.
Balanced, the magic word of the 21st century?
PLiXiR also uses galvanic isolation with its Elite BAC power conditioners. The transformer allows low-frequency between 50 and 60 Hz to pass unimpeded and high-frequency mains pollution is effectively filtered out of the power signal through the use of special core material. When using a symmetrically wound transformer, the mains voltage on the secondary side is divided into 2x 120 Volt AC voltage and ‘Common Mode Rejection’ ensures effective suppression of noise and other disturbances.
This way of noise suppression has been used successfully for years with balanced (XLR) microphone cables and interlinks. An absolute ‘zero point’ is created between these two 120 Volt windings, which prevents any ground loops. Finally, the designer has ensured that the output impedance of the secondary side of the transformer is kept as low as possible so that the hi-fi set can always have sufficient power available during dynamic music passages and the set will always perform optimally.
Power conditioners in practice
We are now used to plugging digital music sources into the filtered outputs of a current filter and the (pre)amplifier into an unfiltered output. Powerful (power) amplifiers usually suffer from passive filtering and often show this through a loss in control, dynamics, definition and detail. That is why we have used it to plug the (power) amplifiers directly into a wall socket, unless unfiltered high current outputs are available on the power conditioner. This BAC 1000 current filter has four identical outlets and no distinction is made here. The PLiXiR has been specifically developed to also be able to connect heavy power amplifiers.
Furthermore, no passive or parallel filtering takes place and the grounding has also been left untouched, except for the creation of an absolute zero point through the symmetrical construction. The noise suppression method mainly has a mathematical approach because the peaks in the zero and phase are mathematically canceled out against each other. Now you will probably think, why is this not supported by measured values? Measuring the total noise suppression, provided it is performed under the right conditions and with the right measuring equipment, is not always easy and can give a wrong picture if the measurement is done incorrectly. We therefore prefer to look at it from the theoretical point of view and then assess it based on listening results. Would you like to know more about the methodology applied by PLiXiR? The PLiXiR corporate website contains a lot of information in this area and this is supported with childishly simple illustrations.
During this review we play with our ‘small’ set for a change because our Bryston reference set is staying with the importer for a few weeks as a preventive measure. This ‘small’ set consists of a first generation integrated Leema Pulse amplifier, a Cambridge Audio Stream Magic 6 network player and we have chosen a vintage Denon DCD 960 20-bitter with an original Johan Ketelaar modification as the player of our large mirrored music collection. We use Usher MD2 hi-fi loudspeakers, Driade Flow 405 loudspeaker cabling and Driade Flow Reference 808 RCA interlinks. A very affordable hi-fi set with an unbeatable price-performance ratio.
After we have included the power conditioner in the configuration, we have to conclude after a few weeks that this small set actually plays very well via this PLiXiR. We experience a significantly better sound quality than before. It’s hard for us to admit, but this small set comes very close to the sound quality of our reference set with this power conditioner. Besides the fact that we experience a significant increase in control, definition and dynamics compared to the situation without filtering, the imaging qualities in particular are one step higher. We experience a nice wide soundstage with an excellent and razor-sharp focus without blind holes. Where the PLiXiR mainly gains in peace, sound depth and realism in vocals and the reproduction of instruments.
Smart investing pays off
Over the years we have seen and tested various filter techniques for a short or longer period of time. Whether we were using a power conditioner with active filtering, passive filtering or active noise canceling, each of the methods has specific advantages and disadvantages. One of the methods with which we always achieve good results is by galvanically separating the hi-fi set from the mains. We have also experienced that a good power supply does not only bring an audible improvement to the most expensive and highest-quality hi-fi sets, but also shows surprising improvements especially in the sets from the middle class. Probably because the high-end manufacturers put more R&D into the power supply of hi-fi components anyway. In any case, our mid-range hi-fi set plays at a level that we thought was impossible in this price range.
Despite the fact that this PLiXiR Elite BAC 1000 has surprised us several times about the performance of our set, there are also a few small ‘disadvantages’ to using this type of power conditioner. This way of filtering requires a few Watts of power consumption because the primary winding is continuously supplied with power. However, for many music lovers with thick power amplifiers that are already on 24/7, this will not be an insurmountable problem. For those who like to save on power when not listening, PLiXiR has equipped the power conditioner with a power switch that reduces power consumption to zero.
Another ‘disadvantage’ is that any network pollution from outside the home is partially, but not 100% suppressed. Here additional filtering is required on the secondary side of the transformer. Despite the fact that technically this allows very nice ‘silent’ values to be noted, this does not always offer audible advantages. Moreover, most pollution of the mains electricity takes place in the house. Provided you do not live directly under a high-voltage pylon or heavy industry is nearby, of course. In the case of grid polluters in the house, think especially of the switching power supplies in computers, the now infamous (earlier generations) halogen dimmers and cheap chargers for mobile phones, among other things. The method applied by PLiXiR is extremely effective in 99 out of 100 situations.
PLiXiR supplies a wide range of power conditioners. These all work on the same principle and the choice mainly comes down to the amount of power that is desired. PLiXiR specifies the 2/3 rule as a rule of thumb. Add up all the specified consumption and/or power figures of the hi-fi components and add approximately 30% of the power to this to be able to absorb any power peaks. As a rule, you will arrive at a power of around 400 Watts. One of the most popular models from the manufacturer is the BAC 400 and it even has a very affordable price tag of 1249 euros.
Audio Essence also offers interested customers the opportunity to try the power solutions of PLiXiR at home for two weeks without obligation. We think this is the perfect opportunity to dispel any doubts about the effect of mains filtering and to experience how your set can also perform under better conditions. More information about Audio Essence, The STATEMENT powercord and the Elite BAC Power Conditioners can be found on the distributor’s informative website (audio-essence.nl).
Most music lovers will be aware by now that simply connecting a high-quality hi-fi set with the cord of the old iron and a junction box from the five-euro box of the Gamma has no favorable effect on the sound quality. We’ve had the pleasure of playing with the BAC 1000 power conditioner in combination with The STATEMENT Powercord from PLiXiR for a few weeks and are absolutely thrilled with the high-end performance of our mainstream set. The method of PLiXiR removes many disadvantages in the field of filtering. Unfortunately also a part of our savings. This way of filtering comes with a slightly higher price tag. However, this is an investment that we are happy to pay, given the significantly improved display performance.
- Elite BAC 1000 € 2249,- (there is already a 150 Watt version for € 650,-)
- The STATEMENT € 625,- (1.5 meters in length)