Review of Blue Circle BC 86 AC Line Conditioner
I just wanted to share a tweak that has worked wonders in my system. I am not affiliated with any audio equipment manufacturers.
I bought a pair of Blue Circle BC 86 'Noise Hounds' from a guy called Kevin Allen of www.harmonia-audio.com in Canada a couple of weeks back.
I'm a member of the Wisconsin Audio Society at www.newaudiosociety.com and a couple other guys in the club had been passing these units around to try in their systems.
I don't know much about the technical aspect, but they are a small blue box with a fitted power cord that plugs into any unused power outlet on your system circuit. They provide mains filtering of the typical noise and hash that resides in any AC installation.
We asked Kevin Allen to post information about this unit at our club website and he kindly obliged. The filtering affect is said to be cumulative, and a couple of people in the club were itching to try more than one of these units, so I went ahead and bought a pair from Kevin in Canada. They are around $100 a piece with free shipping into the US, so they fall firmly into the 'tweak' category, at least as far as pricing is concerned.
When the pair arrived, I plugged one of them into the same circuit that runs the system, and one into a spare outlet on another circuit. My first impression was that the whole soundstage was shoved backwards, and there was a 'thinning of the sound, which wasn't really attractive. So I unplugged the unit from my system circuit and moved it to another circuit and left it for a few days.
After one week I plugged one of the units back into an outlet on my system circuit, and listened for 20 minutes or so. I did not experience any of the adverse effects present the first time around, so clearly, these need some break-in time, preferably away from the system.
In the 20 or so minutes that I had available for listening, I couldn't detect anything significant, there was maybe a hint of extra clarity in the midrange with the single hound, but it was a strain to hear anything significant.
I've had some synergy problems with my system since adding a pair of Krell MD300 monoblocks. I've been fighting against a looseness in the bass, and a thickness in the midrange that presents a slightly 'smeared' sound. I sensed a little removal of the thickness with the single unit, but again, nothing really dramatic.
A few days later I plugged the second Noise Hound directly into my PS600 power plant, so I now had both units in the system, one in an unused outlet and the other plugged directly into my power conditioner.
On settling in for a quick flick through my Ry Cooder/Ali Farka Toure 'Talking Timbuktu' CD, it was immediately apparent that there was a significant change to the sound. Initially the sound seemed a little thinner, but after 30 seconds or so I realized that the midrange smearing and thickness that I'd been living with was almost totally gone.
There was a clarity in the soundstage that I knew the system was capable of, but it had been masked when I introduced the Krell's a few weeks back. Suddenly, it's all there again....The bass sounds cleaner and tighter and the midrange is improved at least 70% or more from pre Noise Hound days. The noise floor is reduced noticeably and sounds are coming from a much blacker background than before. Imaging is much tighter and there is more air around instruments and performers. The whole sound just gels together and sounds much more dynamic and at the same time more musical.
There are other improvements that I'm hearing on a daily basis, this is an across the board benefit to my system that performs way beyond the $200 price point of the Noise Hounds.
I should also add that we live well out of town, and I'd always thought the AC supply to be cleaner where I live now, than in a more urban setting. I've had very little benefit from dedicated lines and aftermarket power cords, so I just figured the AC is pretty clean to start with and the benefits of improved power components were always going to be more subtle.....wrong. There is nothing subtle about what the Noise Hounds are doing in my system.
What is also interesting is the fact that they work so well actually plugged into a power conditioner. I haven't tried both units in the power conditioner yet, but may do that on the coming weekend.
I highly recommend trying these units if you have a power conditioner, particularly the PS Audio units.
I can't say that everyone would benefit from two Hounds, but for an extra $100 it has to be worth a try. It's all system dependant, but in my system these have been a revelation. Very highly recommended 'components' that perform well beyond any 'tweak' that I've ever tried.