December 15, 2009
Blue Circle Audio Peed Al
Sea Thingee Power Conditioner
Gilbert Yeung, founder
and head of Blue Circle Audio, does things a little differently. His line of Thingee
products are scaled-down versions of some of his more expensive products, and Yeung has
further reduced costs by cutting back on the, um, cosmetics: Thingees arent fancy,
they definitely arent pretty, and they have funny names.
The results are products such as the USB Thingee, a digital
converter and DAC; the Fon Lo Thingee, a phono stage; the Batchee Thingee, a battery power
supply; and the Hat Peed Thingee, a headphone amp and preamp. They range in price from
less than $200 to over $1000 USD, depending on model and options.
Actually, "cutting back on the cosmetics" is a
bit of an understatement. These components are housed in sections of black ABS pipe, and
most of their internal parts are held in place in a solid matrix of silicone. On the
outside are a couple of stickers: the Blue Circle logo and the serial and model numbers,
the latter two handwritten. Thats it.
The subject of this review is the Peed Al Sea Thingee, aka
the PLC Thingee. PLC stands for power-line conditioner. I was provided the six-outlet
version, which lists for $229. A four-outlet version is available for $199.
The six-outlet PLC Thingee is made of a 4.25" length
of 4"-diameter pipe larger than the pipe used for other Thingee components, to
accommodate the PLCs duplex AC outlets. (The four-outlet version is 3.5" long.)
Its extremely solid, and should be immune to vibrations or resonances, as its
completely filled with silicone. In fact, there are no endcaps -- the silicone holds the
outlets and power inlet securely in place. One disadvantage of all that silicone is the
Thingees strong smell. Gilbert Yeung says he de-stinks each unit by storing it a
while prior to shipment. My review sample still smelled pretty strong when I received it,
but the odor dissipated over the following days and weeks; now I cant smell it at
The PLC Thingee has two Hubbell duplex outlets on the
front; on the rear are another duplex outlet and the IEC inlet. It comes with a standard
16-gauge AC cord, but this can be replaced with an audiophile cord. The outlets securely
grip anything plugged into them -- a nice touch on such an inexpensive PLC.
Inside the PLC Thingee is what Blue Circle describes as the
filtering equivalent of three of their BC86 Mk.III power filters ($140 each). Blue Circle
PLCs use individual filters covering specific frequency ranges to reduce noise, and are
claimed to not limit the current flow. Double runs of solid, 14-gauge copper wire are used
between the filters to reduce resistance, and the power inlet is soldered directly to the
copper wires. The Thingees small size means that the power path inside it is very
short. And because its power filtration works in parallel with your AC circuits, it will
have an effect on any outlet on the same circuit that is in close physical proximity to
the outlet the Thingee itself is plugged into.
The PLC Thingee doesnt suppress power surges, but for
$19.99 (or $44.99 for a pack of three) Blue Circle will sell you what they call a Yalu
Balula (dont ask), an external surge protector that can be plugged into the PLC
Thingee and that uses metal-oxide varistors (MOVs) and transient voltage suppression (TVS)
avalanche diodes. Because its external and inexpensive, it can easily be replaced
once the sacrificial MOV is tripped.
It may not be much to look at, but the PLC Thingee is well
built and functional. Once Id plugged all my cords into it, it was quite stable, and
its small size made it easy to place on a shelf, or discreetly hide on the floor behind
speakers or other gear.
I used the PLC
Thingee in my reference multichannel audio/video system, in series with a Zero Surge
series-mode surge suppressor. Zero Surge products use what I believe to be some of the
best surge-suppression technology currently available. I used a 1MOD15WI ($420), but Zero
Surge has basic 15A units that start at only $159 that could be used effectively with the
Because the PLC Thingees six outlets werent
enough to accommodate every component in my multichannel system, I plugged all of them
into the Zero Surge, this in turn plugged into the PLC Thingee, which in turn was plugged
into the wall. I would have preferred it the other way around -- I like the tighter
connection provided by the Blue Circles Hubbell outlets -- but the Zero Surge has
more outlets. I used Blue Circles stock power cord; the Zero Surges cord is
Although the PLC Thingee costs only $229, it spent a lot of
time in my reference system, which comprises an Anthem Statement D2 A/V processor, Bel
Canto e.One REF1000 monoblock and eVo6 multichannel amplifiers, Axiom Audio A1400-2
amplifier, Oppo BDP-83 universal Blu-ray player, Sony PlayStation 3, Trends Audio UD-10.1
USB digital converter, Paradigm Reference Signature S8 main and C3 center speakers, Mirage
Omni 260 surround speakers, and two Paradigm Reference Servo-15 v.2 subwoofers.
I also used the Thingee with a "real-world"
system: Oppo DV-970HD universal player, Trends Audio PA-10 SE preamplifier, TA-10.2P SE
power amplifier, and Paradigm Cinema 330 speakers.
Most of the inexpensive power-line conditioners Ive
used have had noticeable but relatively small audible effects, so I was surprised at how
much the PLC Thingee improved the sound of my reference system. The noise floor was
noticeably lower, and the background for music became much "blacker." Dynamic
range was also increased -- everything seemed just a little bit louder or softer,
depending, and imaging was more focused. All this was a lot more than Id expected
from a $229 PLC.
Listening to Mark Knopflers latest album, Get
Lucky (CD, Warner Bros. 093624974628), I was pleased at how natural Knopflers
conversational tone sounded. Words rolled off his tongue with an effortless quality, with
no sign of strain in his voice or in the system reproducing it. Whether listening at very
high or relatively low volume levels, I never had to work to hear his intonation, and he
sounded relaxed yet powerful on the leisurely "So Far from the Clyde." His
trademark guitar picking was there too, but I was especially impressed by the wonderful
smoothness of the flute on such tracks as "Border Reiver" and "Get
Lucky." The PLC Thingee also imparted a great sense of space and airiness to this
That sense of space was even more evident with the opening
percussion on "Lives in the Balance," from The Next Voice You Hear: The Best
of Jackson Browne (CD, Elektra 7559621522). The image outlines were amazingly sharp,
and placed precisely in the soundstage, in both the horizontal and depth dimensions. The
bass was even cleaner, with nary a hint of overhang, and a powerful, authoritative grip.
"Tender Is the Night" sounded exceptionally dimensional for a pop recording.
During the bridge, Jacksons voice imaged dead-center and deeper within the
soundstage, while the guitar was spread widely from speaker to speaker.
With the PLC Thingee inserted in my "real-world"
system, I noticed an immediate decrease in the amount of hiss emanating from the speakers
when no input signal was present. Did I say decrease? The absence of noise was
almost complete. Not only that, but the already pure midrange of this inexpensive system
became even more so. The lead female singers in "Satin Summer Nights," from Paul
Simons Songs from the Capeman (CD, Warner Bros. 093624681427), had a lifelike
presence that was amazing to hear through such a modest system. The individual voices of
their layered, wonderfully complex harmonies sounded as if they were originating from
different depths in the soundstage rather than being stuck in a single plane.
I suspect that the PLC Thingees effect on a system
will depend on the quality of the incoming AC. I thought I had pretty clean power feeding
my reference system, but the PLC Thingee was still able to make an extremely worthwhile
improvement in the sound.
While the Zero Surge 1MOD15WIs basic EMI and RFI
filtering cleaned things up a bit, adding the PLC Thingee easily took things to another
level of performance. With the Zero Surge alone, the background was a little blacker than
without it, but not to the same extent as with the PLC Thingee. Not only did the Blue
Circle make backgrounds "blacker," it expanded the soundstage, and gave the
sound an open, unrestrained quality. The sound was then less restricted to the speaker
positions, and seemed to extend farther into the room toward me.
The improvements wrought by the PLC Thingee reminded me of
what the Torus Power RM 10 power isolator could do. The RM 10 is relatively large and
expensive ($1900), and its massive toroidal transformer effectively isolates a system from
the AC line. The Torus made improvements in my systems sound that were similar to
what the PLC Thingee did: more precise imaging and a larger soundstage. I cant say
for sure which was better, as its been some time since the Torus was in my system,
and I no longer have one on hand for direct comparisons, but I remember that I was
extremely impressed by how much better my system sounded with it. The improvements made by
the PLC Thingee were roughly equivalent.
For such an inexpensive power-line conditioner, Blue Circle
Audios Peed Al Sea Thingee did a lot. It significantly improved the performance of
both my reference and inexpensive audio systems -- so much that it has found a permanent
home in my reference system. I should probably consider using a PLC whose price is more in
proportion with that system, such as Blue Circles own BC6000 ($1795-$2435, depending
on number of outlets). However, Ive found that the PLC Thingee has improved the
sound so much that Im more than satisfied with its use in my big rig. Its extremely
low price is just an unexpected bonus.
. . . Roger Kanno
Blue Circle Audio Peed Al Sea Thingee Power
Prices: $229, six-outlet version; $199, four-outlet version.
Warranty: Three years parts and labor.
Blue Circle Audio, Inc.
Innerkip, Ontario N0J 1M0
Phone: (519) 469-3215
Fax: (519) 469-3782