Plixir Elite BAC 1500 – Power Conditioner Review
First, I am sorry for the long absence. I have not abandoned HeadMania and I thank all the readers who are still here with me.
A few months ago, I have posted a teaser pictures on HeadMania’s Facebook Page. It was with Martin Logan ESL 11A. I didn’t write the review yet, because I feel like I have to tune my system first to get the most out of these wonderful speakers.
The curious thing is that I was quite happy with the system right before the summer started here, but I only just got the speakers then.
A few weeks after, I found the system to be kind of muffled sounding, grainy and somewhat incoherent compared to what I was used to.
After a while it started to get frustrating. Before this, I was spending hours in my listening room and often falling asleep to the music. Now, the sound just didn’t manage to rise up to my expectations.
It took me a while to have an idea on why this happened, as there were some rare occasions when I did enjoy the sound. For some reason, I realized that on those particular days and listening time, the weather was a little colder than usual and I did not feel the need for air conditioning. Probably, the neighbors did not feel the need either.
This summer was extremely hot in Bucharest and everyone in the building powered on their air conditioners. What was the effect? Well, apparently the system was experiencing the problems I described earlier in sound. Probably, the high usage of big electronic devices like air conditioners, noised up/hogged the power lines.
I know, maybe some of you might think I am crazy, but experience thought me that the quality of the power really matters. I don’t want to debate this if you don’t believe it to be true. My arguments won’t convince you, that’s for sure. I’ve been in lots of similar discussions and well… let’s just say that you have to hear it for yourself to believe it.
I have used some power conditioners in the past and even a power regenerator. They helped in cleaning up the sound but unfortunately most of them took the life out of the sound, killing the dynamics and energy in the music, especially when coupled with a big speaker amplifier.
With small headphone amps / dacs, they could be a good addition to the system, but I didn’t find anything for the speaker amplifier and the actual speakers, which themselves need power as they have active power amplification for the bass section.
Recently, Razvan from avmall.ro gave me a call to inform me that he brought some really nice products to his store, some of which being power conditioners. I was really sceptical at first, but he said that for my system, I should try the Plixir Elite BAC 1500, as it should have enough power to juice up my system.
Looking at that product and seeing that inside it has a 1000 W custom made transformer made for audio, it really got my attention.
When you look at it, it’s a small black box. I left it on the dinning room table for a few hours. My wife saw it and tried to move it. She did not manage to do that :)) . It’s a lot heavier than it looks. It packs 24kg in a very small size. Other than that, the box is made of thick aluminium, having a very good build quality and a nice look.
Technology and Specs
The Plixir BAC 1500 is recommended for :
- Amplifier and pre-amplifier with less than 100W Class A or 250W Class AB per channel , together with CD player, DAC etc.
- Small appliances: DAC , headphone amplifier, phono amplifier and small active speakers
- Source devices: CD players, media servers, record players, etc.
- Mac mini Media server PC / laptop together with audio equipment
- Output power (RMS): 1000W
- Max. Load capacity short-term: 1500W
- Number of outputs: 5
- Input: 220 ~ 240V alternating current
- Output: 220 ~ 240V alternating voltage balanced 50hz
- Power consumption at idle: less than 5W
- Color: black or aluminum
- Weight: 24kg
- Dimensions (WxDxH in mm): 288 x 285 x 142
Some info directly from the manufacturer:
Our PLiXiR Elite BAC 1500 power conditioner is the best mains AC power conditioning product for your Hifi system; 1500 Watts of Pure Tone* power capable to support up to 250W per channel stereo Hi-fi systems. It is designed to naturally reduce the incoming AC mains noise while improving the current delivery to your system. Based on a custom single winding balanced power transformer, ground loop current and noise is reduced to negligible level to equipment connected to it, making it suitable for sensitive equipment like turntable and phono stages. It is the ultimate grounding box for your whole Hi-fi system. Options are availble to upgrade using Furutech NCF receptacle and AC inlet .
- Six USA outlets for Hi-fi equipment use. For all types of equipment, including high current power amplifiers to noise sensitive vinyl playback equipment.
- For six source equipment or 4/5 source equipment + 2-channel power amp use not exceeding Class A, 100 Watt or Class A/B, 250Watt per channel.
- Custom-wound balanced transformers with Noratel XQ (eXtra Quiet) noise attenuation technology
- Single-winding transformer dedicated models for 120 Vac and 230 Vac input/output, and each transformer only has a single winding for their intended application for the best performance possible
- Extra rigid aluminium vault casing − Thick precision extruded and CNC machined aluminium slabs form the casing for the PLiXiR Elite BAC 1500. The bottom plate is a hefty 8mm thick plate of aluminium that anchors the whole casing.
- Isolated by Bfly Audio – Bfly Audio’s Master Pro-Feet Series isolation footers from Germany are installed onto PLiXiR Elite BAC1500. They isolate the Elite BAC 1500 from the ill effects of self and environmental vibration and contribute to the natural sound of the Elite BAC 1500.
- Build and tested by Master craftsman — Each BAC is hand-made by a master craftsman. As much as possible, all electrical connections are done by point to point directly soldering with minimal use of connectors and joints that degrades sound.
I did not open up the box, as I would have voided the warranty, but I managed to find a picture from other products in the same series and I am pretty sure it contains a big ass Noratel XQ (Extra Quiet) balanced transformer which seems to be the brain and muscle of all the operation.
Listening Impressions and Tests
So, as Plixir suggested I have plugged the Master 10, the speakers and the DAC in it.
As I mentioned before, the speakers have their own amplification for the bass section:
|Amplifier||Woofer: 2 x 275 watts/channel (4 ohms), 2 x 550 watts peak|
Considering the above, I would have probably benefited from having a more powerful version like the BAC-3000, but the practical tests showed some really good results.
I also own a Vibex 11R power block, which was a very good addition to the system, but it did not manage to handle everything on it’s own. The first try of Plixir 1500 was directly through the wall and it the results were very good. I was actually floored by the level of energy I got from the music. It was like I changed my amplification. Somehow Master 10 was not getting the juice it needed. Vibex 11R could be the bottleneck, as it has under 25 000 uF.
The energy of the sound was incredible, but sometimes a little raw, loosing a little finesse. Talking to Dorin, the owner and designer of the amplifier I have reviewed here, I got the suggestion of powering the Plixir 1500 through the Vibex 11R, as the later offered some power filtration that would benefit the large transformer inside the BAC 1500.
After trying the suggestion from above, indeed with the exploding energy I also got the finesse back.
Ok, so let’s talk in depth about what improvements I got with the Plixir BAC 1500.
It’s like the bass suddenly became athletic. With Plixir 1500 it’s like it went for an year to the gym, respecting a very strict weight exercise program but also a strict diet, resulting an athletic, powerful and agile bass. It hits harder but also faster with better grip and control.
This was also a surprise. It’s like the midrange came to life. Every instrument/voice has lively textures and a life of it’s own. Now I feel like the sounds get out of the speakers, like I am listening to the real scene, not to speakers. The details, textures, energy of the midrange is mesmerizing. I actually felt like the midrange was actually brought closer to me, having more presence in the scene than before.
I felt like the voices became alive, getting out the speakers as they should, having considerably better textures and presence.
The treble is more present, showing more sparkle and better extension without showing signs of brightness or other artifacts that cause fatigue.
This section improved by at least a factor of 2. The attack is hitting like a small explosion when needed and the decay is fast but in a natural way, as I don’t feel that it’s cut off before it should stop. I didn’t know that Master 10 is capable of this. I really thought that M10 is more on the polite/mellow side, but not with Plixir 1500.
Dynamics / Energy
The improvement here is just amazing. I never thought a power conditioner would actually help here, but the big 1000W transformer must have the necessary power reserve to juice up the system. I could feel the energy in every type of music, from classical to rock. The violins, cellos have more energy in the strings and vibration, the guitars have considerably stronger plucks, the voices have better textures, presence, vibration, the drums have more impact, etc.
In a big orchestra, even the furthest instrument in the back has a life of its own and you can concentrate on it, while without plixir you would have ignored it.
Yes, you also have more details, as the sound is clearer and you can get more information from your music than usual.
At last, the grain I was telling you about disappeared. The Martin Logan ESL11A are capable of great transparency and you can hear everything if there is something wrong upstream. With Plixir 1500, I felt like the speakers managed to shine to their full potential. The background was clearer, leaving more space between the instruments, overall resulting better clarity and a clean window to the sound.
One of the effects of a very black background is the lack of harshness that usually keeps the background from being clean. This removal of harshness makes the sound more refined, smoother, more analogical & natural.
Well, what can I say? I missed the feeling of being very excited with an audio product and Plixir 1500 managed to remind me of that. Before Plixir, I also had the feeling that the Master 10 might not have the necessary energy for my Martin Logan ESL 11A and maybe that it doesn’t have enough power to drive the properly.
With BAC 1500, I was amazed to see the energy that M10 is actually capable of. It’s like I changed my amplification. The sound was infused with lots of energy and life and the PRAT become addictive.
Ok, besides the above, I also got rid of the grain in the sound and I got the transparency I always craved.
Unfortunately, all these improvements come with a price. I would have hopped this product would have been a little cheaper. Do I recommend it? If you feel your sound would need more energy or better transparency and if you can spare the money, Plixir 1500 would be a good choice. In my case, my sound system was far from it’s potential before adding this wonderful component to the chain.
Of course, depending on your sound system and the power requirements you could try a smaller/bigger version of what I had for review.
- Stronger, punchier, faster bass with better control
- More present/detailed/better textured midrange
- Sparklier, more extended/detailed treble
- Vibrant, present vocals
- Super transients
- Excellent energy/prat
- Very good transparency/cleanliness
- Excellent details
- Very good build quality and nice looks