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 aren’t fancy, they definitely aren’t 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. That’s 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 PLC’s duplex AC outlets. (The four-outlet version is 3.5" long.) It’s extremely solid, and should be immune to vibrations or resonances, as it’s 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 Thingee’s 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 can’t smell it at all.

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 Thingee’s 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 doesn’t 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 (don’t 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 it’s 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 I’d 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 PLC Thingee.

Because the PLC Thingee’s six outlets weren’t 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 Circle’s Hubbell outlets -- but the Zero Surge has more outlets. I used Blue Circle’s stock power cord; the Zero Surge’s cord is hardwired.

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 I’ve 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 I’d expected from a $229 PLC.

Listening to Mark Knopfler’s latest album, Get Lucky (CD, Warner Bros. 093624974628), I was pleased at how natural Knopfler’s 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 disc.

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, Jackson’s 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 Simon’s 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 Thingee’s 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 1MOD15WI’s 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 system’s sound that were similar to what the PLC Thingee did: more precise imaging and a larger soundstage. I can’t say for sure which was better, as it’s 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 Audio’s 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 Circle’s own BC6000 ($1795-$2435, depending on number of outlets). However, I’ve found that the PLC Thingee has improved the sound so much that I’m 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 Conditioner
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