Filtering Noise Out & Music In – Plixir Elite BAC 400 Power Conditioner Review
Plixir Elite BAC 400 is a high-end power conditioner that can output 400 Watts of power, enough for most DACs, Headphone Amplifiers and for more than half of the speaker power amplifiers out there. Even if you go a bit overboard, it has a fuse, and it comes with plugs for every country. The price is about 1500 USD at the moment of writing this review, and it will get paired with both desktop and portable elements, like Mytek Brooklyn DAC+, Sw1X DAC I Special, and Audio-GD Master 19. Most of the time the comparisons will be embedded in the pairings, as I’ll be comparing how the sound is like with and without the Plixir.
Plixir and the company associated, My Sound Affairs, are both high-end producers of audio products from Asia. The coolest part is that you can always get a much stronger version than the BAC400, as this one is good to go mostly for DACs and Headphone AMPs, rather than full sized Dekstop-Class Amplifiers. I can totally vouch for the interaction with the company, and I already know at least a dozen people owning BAC400 and other Plixir products, just in Romania. People simply love those products, and everyone had an exceptional interaction with the company selling those, My Sound Affairs.
It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with My Sound Affairs or Plixir. I’d like to thank MySoundAffairs for providing the sample for this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in Plixir BAC400 find their next music companion.
First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:
We’re talking about a pretty simplistic package with BAC400, but at the end of the day, it has everything we could need. It comes with a beautiful pouch to protect it from scratches during shipping, soft foam to keep it in place, and a tiny box, for the extreme weight it has.
What to look in when purchasing a high-quality component for your system
The build and the idea of a power conditioner is quite simple. This is a large, fully metallic unit, with one input AC socket and four AC sockets for output at the back. The whole idea for it is to condition and filter the current entering your system, so that fluctuations on the AC line won’t introduce distortions in your listening rig. Certain systems are far more sensitive than others, and it all depends on how well implemented the power stage is in your system.
I noticed more differences with power amplifiers, headphone amplifiers and DACs with undersized power stages, which are more sensitive to power fluctuations. The more consumers you have running at once in your home, the more effect the Plixir BAC400 has. Also, I noticed a big difference when testing it in Bucharest, living in an apartment, where there’s tons of people running lots of electronic appliances all at once. If you live at home, and if you have few neighbors, and not a lot of appliances, the effect of BAC400 and power conditioners in general is reduced a bit.
There’s an on/off switch at the back, which would be pretty cool for turning off your entire system, but you have to place BAC400 on the floor, given its weight and purpose, so that on/off button is not easy to reach and not practical to use. I also noticed a big change in my overall system, with large improvements to the whole sound, if using BAC400 to condition the power going to my computer, but as I currently need a strong PC for video editing, if I’m running a game or doing heavy work, BAC400 won’t be enough, as my CPU + GPU greatly surpass the 400W rated power of Plixir.
There’s no self noise coming from BAC400, it is not sensitive to placement, cables used, or to whether there’s one device connected or all of the plugs are used. Basically, it works exactly as designed, and works perfectly, without any single issue I could detect. I never pushed it above the rated 400W, but since it has a fuse, the most natural thing to happen is for that fuse to burn, and after you’ll replace it, you’ll have it up and running again.
I tested the BAC400 in a multitude of systems, and did a lot of testing for this one, which is why my written review is coming out so late after the original Youtube Video. Also, we replaced and copied Audiophile-Heaven over a new platform, which is also why we have been so slow during the main part of 2020. At any rate, BAC400’s results will depend a bit on your current system, and how sensitive it is to power conditioners and power filters in general. I used mostly basic power cables for all tests, all equipment has been left on default if I don’t mention it being changed, with the only variable being changed being either engaging BAC400 as a power conditioner, or using a cheap power extension from a local shop (since I do not connect my audio devices directly to the wall outlet ever, having too many things to connect).
The overall improvements BAC400 brings to a system are a cleaner overall background, with less noise. I also noticed much less distortions and with certain systems, especially in critical situations. This means that pushing your headphone amplifiers to Maximum, with really hard to drive headphones like HIFIMAN HE6SE resulted in a huge difference. At lower volumes, the differences were present, and it improved the sound, but a tad less. It affects mainly the bass and the midrange, with very little differences in the treble with most setups I tested it with.
The bass is generally better defined, and less distorted. Better depth and more rattle with less loose and uncontrolled bass are what BAC400 did in general. At the DAC level, it affected bass less than at the amplifier / headphone amplifier level. I never noticed a thicker sound, or a change in the overall signature, but it did seem to remove an odd hum when using it with larger speaker amplifiers.
The midrange is where it does its magic with almost all systems, regardless whether we’re talking about DACs, AMPs or even when connecting my PC through it. It always gives better definition and a blacker background. I could notice better layering, more background information in my songs, and without an alteration to textures or overall character. This means that you don’t lose any part of your sound, the BAC400 just helps take some of the stress of your AC converter off.
The treble is generally the same, similar extension and overall clarity. Most of the systems I tested the BAC400 with are not overly bright or sparkly as the final sound, and none didn’t have a huge distortion there to begin with.
Pairing / Comparisons
Based on your requests and questions, I went with the Mytek Brooklyn DAC+, SW1X DAC I Special and Audio-GD Master 19. I also noticed large improvements with speaker amplifiers like the Roksan Caspian Amplifier, but given the fact that it may draw more than Plixir’s BAC400’s 400W rated power, I can’t recommend it for it.
In fact, about half of desktop amplifiers do draw more than 400W at peak or the recommended 30W, so I avoided recommending pairings, but this is where power conditioners make most of a difference. I will do my best to review a larger power conditioner in the near future, so I can let you know exactly what to pair with your power amplifiers.
Plixir BAC400 + Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ (1500 USD + 2000 USD) – The first thing I noticed with the DAC+ was the blacker background, especially on the headphone output, where it has a lot of power, but at times I could say that the bass and the mids aren’t absolutely controlled. This didn’t take away anything from the warmth and smooth character of the DAC+, but rather defined it better and showed that it also has a beautiful midrange. The company even has an external power supply input, in case you want to go for a higher-quality LPS, and it is a known thing that there’s space to improve the power stage of the DAC+.
Plixir BAC400 + Audio-GD Master 19 (1500 USD + 980 USD) – Audio-GD Master19 has a really well designed Power Stage already, but upon testing, using the Plixir BAC400, especially while driving really power-hungry headphones like HIFIMAN HE6SE, HIFIMAN Arya or even with ROSSON RAD-0, I could notice a cleaner bass, with better control, depth, and a cleaner midrange with more background information and less distortion.
Plixir BAC400 + SW1X DAC I Special (1500 USD + 2700 USD) – SW1X DAC I Special is a magical DAC that even has a tube-driven power stage, but the magic doesn’t stop there. The midrange is magical, and that’s where Plixir BAC400 helps the most. It ain’t the bass that’s improved for the DAC I Special, but the mids, where they become more coherent, have a better definition and clarity. I’m not sure if the original power supply was struggling, but BAC400 clearly helped a lot.
Value and Conclusion
Plixir BAC400 costs quite a bit, and at 1500 USD, it is not so easy to recommend unless you have a pretty good system already. In fact, it wouldn’t even make much sense to get it for an entry-level system, as you may not even notice the differences. Also, do not get it for Feliks Audio products, like Euforia or Echo, as both of those have really good power stages already. Pretty much everything else I tested showed some improvements thanks to the BAC400 and power filtering in general is a simple trick to improve your system, if you’re not ready to go to a more expensive component, or if you already reached your end-game.
The package of BAC400 is exactly what it needs to be, as it really can’t take any extras. Of course, you should make sure to order the one you need, for example do not get the European version if you live in the USA.
The sound and improvements it brings are pretty cool, with a clearer background, less distortion in the bass and mids, more detail coming through, and for some systems removing hum or other problems the system had.
Before the end of this review, I would like to add BAC400 to Audiophile-Heaven’s Hall Of Fame for being one of the best ways to improve your system and listening experience, without taking anything away from the character of your music, and for having a really nice design / build quality, along with support from MySoundAffairs.
At the end of this review, if you’re looking for a good power conditioner, then BAC400 is an easy choice, it has enough power for DACs, Headphone AMPs and some lower-energy desktop speakers amplifiers or integrated amplifiers.
You can ge the Plixir BAC400 from MySoundAffairs / Plixir: https://www.plixirpower.com/products/elite-bac-400
Full Playlist used for this review