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  • Amplifiers and PLCs: Go or No Go?

    It happened again. I visited an audiobuddy with large power amplifiers (cj ART300s) and asked him to pull out the PLC he was using with them. Instant improvement. What are the clues? Lack of dynamics, no top end, a muffled sound, flat images, etc. . I can’t tell you the number of times this has happened from homes to shows and can only wonder if people switch back and forth and listen and compare the two scenarios or just plug their amps into a PLC and accept that it sounds better?
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
    -cj 40th Anniversary ART300 monoblock amplifiers
    -Merrill Audio Elemente 116 monoblock amplifiers
    -cj GAT preamplifier Series 2 preamplifier
    -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
    -Lyra Atlas SL, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Allnic cables, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords
    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

  • #2
    I've not dealt with too many manufacturers, but they've all recommended (or even warned) against the use of PLC's with their gear.

    Comment


    • #3
      were talking power amps here, not preamps right?
      Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Shelter 501 Mark II Cart (St) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (St) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (St) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (M) , Luxman Tonearm (M) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (M) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, Sennheiser HD-300 Headphones, Headroom Max Balanced Headphone Amp, DIY Silver Interconnects

      Comment


      • #4
        My experience exactly. I used to have the original PS Audio power conditioner (PS600?). At the time I was using the Jadis Defy-7. A visiting speaker manufacturer suggested I remove it and go straight into the outlet. It was a total gamechanger. The conditioner went right up on the ‘gon and I never looked back.
        PROGRESSIVE SOUNDS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
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        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by JCOConnell View Post
          were talking power amps here, not preamps right?
          And the title of the thread is "Amplifiers and PLCs: Go or No Go?'
          SP-10 MKII table with custom power supply designed and built by Peter Noerbaek with an SME 3012R with Dyna XV-1S cartridge, VPI Avenger table with rim drive and JMW -12-3D arrm with Lyra Etna SL cartridge, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers with a pair of Def Tech Ref subs.

          Comment


          • #6
            So a PLC is supposed to prevent other than 60 Hz from reaching the amplifier. An amplifier with a linear power supply essentially modulates the power supply outputting it to the speakers. This modulates the current draw from the AC line more or less matching the amplified input signal. At frequencies other than 60 Hz which is what the PLC is supposed to eliminate or minimize, the amount of current from the AC line allowed in time no longer matches what is required by the amplifier then reproduction of the input signal would be compromised.

            Don't know if I managed to correctly state what I meant to. The instantaneous current demand from the amplifier is not met due to the interaction of the PLC. The power reservoir (meaning the power supply caps and choke(s)) could be drained below that level needed to sustain accurate reproduction of the input signal at intervals matching higher/highest input signal levels.. Not exactly hard clipping per se but more a softening. I think it would be quite noticeable on piano played back at realistic levels, well maybe. It would be more noticeable with lower efficiency transducers because of the greater power draw needed to achieve realistic sound levels. Keep in mind I mean instantaneous power requirements not a constant power level. Another shameless plug for high efficiency speakers.

            I could be wrong but until proven otherwise I'll stick to it.

            Comment


            • MylesBAstor
              MylesBAstor commented
              Editing a comment
              No PLCs do much more than that.

              But yes, depending on what is going on the PLC can limit an amp’s draw.

            • tima
              tima commented
              Editing a comment
              I don't think you're wrong in characterizing a possible scenario. Dynamic instantaneous current delivery is probably the key characteristic any power conditioner must address above all others. But are you claiming *all* power conditioners fail to do so?

            • Rust
              Rust commented
              Editing a comment
              "No PLCs do much more than that"

              I'll disagree in regards to a passive PLC (not a regenerative device). It may act as a distribution device with multiple outlets. It may have surge protection but typically does not have overvoltage or undervoltage protection, that is disconnect when voltage rises above or below a preset level. The primary function is to act as a filter, that is to prevent other than 60 Hz from reaching the connected component(s). This may be done by utilizing one technique or several combined.

              The question is can the PLC (whichever one is in question) be transparent to current draw which can closely approximate what the PLC is supposed to prevent in which case can the PLC in performing its primary function act as a choke point or have other deleterious interactions.

              I can't judge the designs of any particular PLC because the manufacturers are quite opaque about the technical details, shrouding it in made up terminology and catch phrases. Given the pricing of the top models, I won't be testing/comparing any of the top models either.

          • #7
            There are a lot of power conditioners on the market used in audio systems with amplifiers, and different ways to use them. Lumping them all together without specifying any shared characteristics or specificity is just generic product bashing or shallow analysis.

            Comment


            • #8
              I agree painting all Power conditioners by one brush is not productive.

              Do we care to name the type or manufacturer of the said conditioner?

              A good power transformer will have a primary resistance of a couple of ohms. For the most part anything you do with an inappropriate conditioner is going to increase that primary resistance which is not good.

              We are looking for maybe up to 15amps of peak current. That is not easy to do for the price of even the most expensive consumer conditioners on the market.
              Front end: Aesthetix Io Eclipse with 2 Power Supplies and Volume controls
              Brinkmann La Grange & RonT Tube Power supply with Kuzma 4-point ,FR64S, Brinkmann 12.1 , .Koetsu Jade Platinum,Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum, Lyra Atlas, Lyra Etna SL Goldfinger Statement, KLAUDIO RCM, HRSM3X
              Amps: Wyetech Topaz, Futterman H3 Quad II,Citation II, Marantz 8b, 5 ,2
              Pre-Amps:Marantz 7, Marantz Model 1 Consolette Pair
              Speakers: Quad ESL 57, Beveridge Model 3 DD amps, REL S/2 x 2
              Otari 5050BXII, DeHavilland 222

              Comment


              • #9
                Originally posted by tima View Post
                There are a lot of power conditioners on the market used in audio systems with amplifiers, and different ways to use them. Lumping them all together without specifying any shared characteristics or specificity is just generic product bashing or shallow analysis.
                Sorry Tim you must be thinking of another reviewer or forum accusing me of shallow analysis. Hardly. For the record. I (in Sounds Like... magazine) along with Enid Lumley (TAS) introduced the concept of using power line conditioning and the nasties that travel on our AC lines to the audio world
                back in the early '90s. In fact, Enid and my reviews of the Tice Power Block/Titan appeared in our respective magazine at almost the same time.

                I also have over the intervening years come to re-evaluate the role of PLCs, filters, power cords etc on amplifier performance. I even said as much at the Meet the Editors panel last year at Axpona. Back in the '90s, PLCs did improve the overall performance of audio equipment. But designers have gotten much smarter in their power supply design. In fact, a couple of years ago, I put the Tice power block/Titan back in the system and was shocked at just how colored it was. Our systems have come a long same way. I think that it's hit or miss whether PLCs (or power cords for that matter) work in your system. And they all come with their own set of plusses and minuses.

                As far as these PLCs go. I have probably listened to 10 or 12 different PLCs or like devices (with the notable exception of Shunyata who never returned my calls). Richard Gray never forgave me for my negative review. By and large, these PLCs all have the same coloration with large amps. Darkening the sound. Rolling off the upper octaves. Constricting dynamics. Erasing subtle information eg. the sound is way too smooth. Even crazier things such as shrinking image height and homogenizing the soundstage. Sometimes even adding harshness. YMMV. Oh and I was the very first person to review and put Shunyata's power cords on the map years ago. All of these PLCs come with their pros and cons. No different than any other piece of audio equipment. Everything has a sound or signature. While other parts of a system may benefit from the inclusion of PLC devices such as digital and front ends but that's not what this thread is about.

                I also purposely limited the discussion to amplifiers and asked for members to contribute their experiences. You are certainly more than welcome to share your opinion and experiences but attacking me/people is not what we do on THIS forum.
                Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                ________________________________________

                -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
                -cj 40th Anniversary ART300 monoblock amplifiers
                -Merrill Audio Elemente 116 monoblock amplifiers
                -cj GAT preamplifier Series 2 preamplifier
                -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
                -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                -Lyra Atlas SL, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Allnic cables, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords
                -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

                Comment


                • #10
                  There is a reason many amp manufacturers are adamant not to use a PLC with their amps.
                  SP-10 MKII table with custom power supply designed and built by Peter Noerbaek with an SME 3012R with Dyna XV-1S cartridge, VPI Avenger table with rim drive and JMW -12-3D arrm with Lyra Etna SL cartridge, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers with a pair of Def Tech Ref subs.

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

                    Sorry Tim you must be thinking of another reviewer or forum accusing me of shallow analysis. Hardly. For the record. I (in Sounds Like... magazine) along with Enid Lumley (TAS) introduced the concept of using power line conditioning and the nasties that travel on our AC lines to the audio world
                    back in the early '90s
                    . In fact, Enid and my reviews of the Tice Power Block/Titan appeared in our respective magazine at almost the same time.

                    I also have over the intervening years come to re-evaluate the role of PLCs, filters, power cords etc on amplifier performance. I even said as much at the Meet the Editors panel last year at Axpona. Back in the '90s, PLCs did improve the overall performance of audio equipment. But designers have gotten much smarter in their power supply design. In fact, a couple of years ago, I put the Tice power block/Titan back in the system and was shocked at just how colored it was. Our systems have come a long same way. I think that it's hit or miss whether PLCs (or power cords for that matter) work in your system. And they all come with their own set of plusses and minuses.

                    As far as these PLCs go. I have probably listened to 10 or 12 different PLCs or like devices (with the notable exception of Shunyata who never returned my calls). Richard Gray never forgave me for my negative review. By and large, these PLCs all have the same coloration with large amps. Darkening the sound. Rolling off the upper octaves. Constricting dynamics. Erasing subtle information eg. the sound is way too smooth. Even crazier things such as shrinking image height and homogenizing the soundstage. Sometimes even adding harshness. YMMV. Oh and I was the very first person to review and put Shunyata's power cords on the map years ago. All of these PLCs come with their pros and cons. No different than any other piece of audio equipment. Everything has a sound or signature. While other parts of a system may benefit from the inclusion of PLC devices such as digital and front ends but that's not what this thread is about.

                    I also purposely limited the discussion to amplifiers and asked for members to contribute their experiences. You are certainly more than welcome to share your opinion and experiences but attacking me/people is not what we do on THIS forum.


                    Myles well said and my experience with PLCs was very similar and costly. lol

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      The simpler you keep the signal path the better, the more you add to the system the more you change the system often for the worse Yet we all keep adding stuff .

                      Just a bunch of junkies chasing a high .

                      I am trying to buy less stuff of better quality and set it up properly but I do get side tracked always something new to look at and listen to and then take it back out.

                      PLCs were at one time a cure all for a problem you may not even of had but it was a must have at one time now the new has worn off.

                      I think with nothing to back it up the bigger the amp the more harm a PLC would do becoming a kind of limiter or choke on the power. Just IMO

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
                        It happened again. I visited an audiobuddy with large power amplifiers (cj ART300s) and asked him to pull out the PLC he was using with them. Instant improvement. What are the clues? Lack of dynamics, no top end, a muffled sound, flat images, etc. . I can’t tell you the number of times this has happened from homes to shows and can only wonder if people switch back and forth and listen and compare the two scenarios or just plug their amps into a PLC and accept that it sounds better?
                        Never came across one that wasn't an instant sound killer, even the so called passive ones that you're supposed to just plug in an empty outlet. I have to say that my experience with the popular these days cat litter boxes isn't any better.

                        david

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                        • #14
                          So when a PLC manufacturer designs and builds their PLC do they ever share what amplifiers they used during the design phase? I would assume they use some references (tube & solid state) other than measurements only.
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                          • #15
                            Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

                            Sorry Tim you must be thinking of another reviewer or forum accusing me of shallow analysis. Hardly. For the record. I (in Sounds Like... magazine) along with Enid Lumley (TAS) introduced the concept of using power line conditioning and the nasties that travel on our AC lines to the audio world
                            back in the early '90s. In fact, Enid and my reviews of the Tice Power Block/Titan appeared in our respective magazine at almost the same time.

                            I also have over the intervening years come to re-evaluate the role of PLCs, filters, power cords etc on amplifier performance. I even said as much at the Meet the Editors panel last year at Axpona. Back in the '90s, PLCs did improve the overall performance of audio equipment. But designers have gotten much smarter in their power supply design. In fact, a couple of years ago, I put the Tice power block/Titan back in the system and was shocked at just how colored it was. Our systems have come a long same way. I think that it's hit or miss whether PLCs (or power cords for that matter) work in your system. And they all come with their own set of plusses and minuses.

                            As far as these PLCs go. I have probably listened to 10 or 12 different PLCs or like devices (with the notable exception of Shunyata who never returned my calls). Richard Gray never forgave me for my negative review. By and large, these PLCs all have the same coloration with large amps. Darkening the sound. Rolling off the upper octaves. Constricting dynamics. Erasing subtle information eg. the sound is way too smooth. Even crazier things such as shrinking image height and homogenizing the soundstage. Sometimes even adding harshness. YMMV. Oh and I was the very first person to review and put Shunyata's power cords on the map years ago. All of these PLCs come with their pros and cons. No different than any other piece of audio equipment. Everything has a sound or signature. While other parts of a system may benefit from the inclusion of PLC devices such as digital and front ends but that's not what this thread is about.

                            I also purposely limited the discussion to amplifiers and asked for members to contribute their experiences. You are certainly more than welcome to share your opinion and experiences but attacking me/people is not what we do on THIS forum.
                            If you don't mention a particular product or some characteristic or qualifier about power conditioners that ties into your many experiences of people removing them and discovering instant improvement, then that appears to lump all? most? power conditioners together.

                            Since your description of the experience of people removing power conditioners and receiving instant improvement is so broadly stated, it wasn't clear what your point was about power conditioners other than power conditioners don't lead many in your experience to better sonics -OR- the people who discovered improvement upon removing them were not adept enough to do a comparison? What else could you have been talking about? It sure read like your message painted with a really broad brush, covering an entire product category. You made no exceptions. Now you come back in this message and mention particular brands and some past review, but my reply was to your first post. My comment wasn't about you or something you wrote in a magazine. It was reasonasble critique Myles of what you wrote in your first post- sorry you took it so personally.

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