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Authorized reproduction from:

The Inner Ear Report, Volume 10, #2

85 Moorehouse Drive, Scarborough, ON

Canada M1V 2E2

Tel: (416) 297-7968 FAX: (416) 297-0311

 

Blue Circle

Powerline Conditioners

Models Powerline Pillows

BC80 Series

In previous issues, we published reports on the Blue Circle BC3 preamplifier (Vol. 9 #3) as well as the BC2 monoblocks (Vol. 9 #4). In this issue, we are going to explore the merits of the company's Power Line Pillows, which we have used in various set-ups in our studio for about a year. Before we get into the meat, here's a recap of the company's origin. Founded several years ago by Gilbert Yeung, Blue Circle Audio Inc. manufacturers and markets amplifiers, a preamplifier and powerline conditioners. Over the years, the company has established itself in domestic as well as in export markets around the world. Some of Blue Circle Audio's most successful components are the various models of Power Line Pillows which can be employed by anyone who has electronics at home. The company manufactures four power line conditioners--all of which have identical sonic characteristics.

Appearance:

The appearance more or less matches the appearance of the BC3 preamplifier, featuring wooden chassis with stainless steel plates (BC83, BC84, BC85) to accommodate the plugs on the rear of the PLPs. The top of the line model also has a (trade marked) lit up blue circle, activated by a switch. They measure (BC81--8.25" x 3" x 15.5"; BC83--10" x 5.125" x 17.5"; BC84--4.5" x 3.625" x 5" and BC85--5.125" x 9" x 6.75") (W x H x D). Although the units are "functional electronics", they mange to look unobtrusive and the top of the line model, the BC85, is attractive when the logo is lit up and glows seductively in the dark.

 

Technology:

The company states that "to help cushion the blow that "infected" power lines deliver to your high-performance components, the engineers at Blue Circle Audio have developed the POWER LINE PILLOW". The BC80 Series is designed to act as a buffer, ensuring that your components receive the cleanest possible AC signal. This will allow audio components to properly reproduce recorded signals without interference caused by anomalies picked up along the AC route.

 

The BC81 is a parallel unit without outlets. It's designed to work alone or in tandem with other models in the line. Acting as a full-sized filter across the power line, the BC81 works exceptionally well with electrostatic speakers when connected to the second outlet on the same receptacle as the speaker panel.

 

The BC83 features six industrial-grade outlets ensuring reliability and performance. Each pair of outlets is controlled by one of three filters.

 

The BC84 utilizes Hubbell hospital-grade components and is designed for use with remote amplifiers or electrostatic speakers. Housed in a smaller chassis without feet, it may also be used as a base unit on which other models may be "stacked" for increased filtering. The BC84 features two filters controlling one receptacle.

 

The BC85 offers the same configuration as the 84 with Hubbell hospital-grade outlets and AC plug. Its appearance matches the unit to other Blue Circle Audio products while the use of Audio Selection dampers as feet helps reduce introduction of external vibrations to the chassis.

 

For the ultimate in line conditioning the BC85 can be "stacked" with the BC84. Components plugged into the BC85 will now benefit from greater (4x) filtering. Both the BC84 and BC85 include a new, Blue Circle Audio proprietary design AC cord featuring four low impedance wires which are custom wound specifically to minimize RFI and EMI.

 

All models feature fast MOV's high voltage protection against lightning strikes. The units offer high voltage protection circuits, series/parallel-configuration, Hubbell hospital-grade outlets and plugs, non-current limiting, non-magnetic chassis and proprietary design power cords.

 

Input voltage is 100-120Vac 50/60Hz. maximum power not exceeding 1875 watts.

 

How they Sound:

Imagine a 1/2 inch water pipe fed with 10,000 gallons of water. Obviously, the pipe presents an obstacle to the flow. The flow can be controlled by a faucet but even when the faucet is wide open, the flow will be relatively slow. Now imagine that you have replaced the 1/2 inch pipe with a 12 inch pipe and an appropriate faucet. When this faucet is wide open, the stream of water will increase tremendously. Now, substitute the unrestricted flow of power to your components. Power line conditioners address this flow with various technologies--some understandable, some totally mysterious. A power line conditioner must deal with phase, spikes, limiting factors and other gross variations that arrive at your house, compliments the electric company in your town. Blue Circle Audio put it correctly when they stated: "The power being delivered to your audio system is anything but constant. Between the generating plant and your home, there are any number of physical properties and events which adversely affect the quality of the AC signal. Anything which might detract from or degrade the performance of your equipment will, of course, seriously affect the main purpose of the system, namely, the accurate reproduction of the recorded signal. We often take the AC signal for granted and believe that "out of sight is out of mind." But just imagine yourself at the theatre: your seat offers terrific sight lines but is situated adjacent to a group of patrons more interested in chatting among themselves. Consequently, your enjoyment of the event is compromised by outside forces. Noisy theatre patrons can be dealt with. So can noisy AC lines."

 

The Pillows introduce a lot more "air" to the sound stage. Improved imaging is only part of the deal. There is also more "body" to the music, improved--if only slightly--resolving and better defined inner detail. The sonic signature--yes, there is one--is the Pillows' ability to "sweeten" the sound somewhat, thereby introducing an elevated degree of musicality to the system.

 

Synopsis & Commentary:

Every single time we took the Pillows out of the system, we noticed a harder sound, often intensifying to unpleasant harshness throughout the system. The best way to evaluate power line conditioners is to use them for a while with the preamplifier or front-end components plugged into them. Once you have heard a difference with YOUR ears (not your audiophile friend's) we think you'll want to invest in one of them. The Blue Circle line offers enough models to make an intelligent choice. A word of warning: as with all other electronics, there can be a mismatch with certain components and it is advisable to first audition to ascertain that the Pillows work for you. The Pillows did a fine job with all our in-house components, indicating minimal system dependency. Power Line Pillows--how descriptive and catchy. We would like to close with one of our Editor's favourite quotes: "If you can hear it, buy it".