I Can See Clearly Now: A Tale of Power-Line Conditioners and Home Theater
Power-line conditioning has been getting a stronger and stronger foothold in high-end audio systems. Audiophiles are finding that once they encounter power-line conditioners that work well in their systems, the improvement is significant enough that they are willing to part with $500 or more for a single unit or even more money for multiple units. But the home-theater crowd seems to be missing some of the fun. Well, Im here to tell you that a good PLC on a video monitor is something you wont want to give up once youve seen its effects.
Last fall, Mike VansEvers shipped a big box-o-fun from the Florida factory to my upstate New York domicile. Of course, I focused on the two-channel music system; thats what PLCs are for. But one of the PLCs was cryptically labeled "clean line jr. Model 11 - video." Video? Video? A phone call to MVE verified that it was indeed intended to be used with direct-view, rear-projection or front-projection video monitors. The first night I watched Independence Day on laserdisc. I decided to view half the movie without the PLC, then connect my calibrated Sony XBR direct-view monitor to the clean line jr. Model 11 - video PLC for the second half of the movie. Eeeeiiiiiiiiiii ooooowwwwwww cowboys! I shouldve done that a long time ago. But who wouldve thought a video monitor would perk up like that? I guess Mike VansEvers did.
Lets get into some specifics. Theres a sequence in Independence Day where a captured alien ship is launched from earth in an attempt to sabotage the alien mother ship. As the alien ship clears the atmosphere, there is a shot looking back at the cloud-covered earth. Without the PLC, the clouds look flat and gray but nothing you would have complained about -- probably. With the PLC, the clouds have traces of color and there are more shades of gray visible. This gives the clouds depth and realism that is totally lacking without the PLC. Immediately after that shot, there is a change of perspective, and we see what Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum are seeing out the forward-facing windows of their alien ship: stars against the black of space. Without the PLC, the stars are shimmering, light-gray blips. With the PLC, the stars are stable white pinpoints against jet black.
These descriptions pretty much sum up the effect. When you see the picture with a PLC in place, you never want to look at the picture without it. The improvement in dimensionality and tonal scale is easily visible. Reds dont block up as fast as you are used to. This means that red sweaters and cars dont bleed outside their outlines, and you see more shades of red, so there is a depth and reality to all things red that wasnt present without the PLC. This translates to purples, lavenders and magentas which are far better rendered than ever before. In fact, Im quite sure my monitor with the PLC is producing shades of purple, lavender, and magenta that Ive never seen on it before. Something happened in green too. The set seems to reproduce finer gradations of green, making jungle scenes and landscapes seem more dimensional and real. Greens were already better rendered than reds or blues on this set, but the clean line jr. Model 11 - video PLC took this up another notch. The blue end of the spectrum seems least changed.
The improvement is visible in every scene regardless of content. Even if the image is black and white, there are noticeable improvements in detail and dimensionality. I spent days getting used to it. Deep Space 9 and Babylon 5 never looked so good. Even cable TV, bad as it ever was, looked better.
If I were a normal person (you know what I mean here), Id have been happy with my discovery. But nooooooooo -- I always have to look for something better. So I plugged the VansEvers clean line jr. Model 11 - video into an outlet on the VansEvers multi-outlet Model 85 home-theater PLC ($650 retail). This meant power was conditioned once in the Model 85 and once again as it went through the clean line jr. Model 11 - video -- so it was double cleaned. Did it make a difference? Yup. Its even better this way. Not quite two times better than the Model 11 video by itself; call it instead 1.6 times better. Now things were REALLY smokin-- like the boiling fire during the opening title sequence of Terminator 2: lots of oranges, yellows, and reds flooding the screen. This looked miraculously three-dimensional with the double PLC trick.
I suppose that now I dont have to tell you that I think PLCs and video monitors belong together. Youre never going to catch me without some PLC-ing going on with whatever monitor Im using at the time.
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