Foundation Research LC1 and LC2 Power Line Filtration Components
|Foundation Research LC1 and LC2 Power Line Filtration Components|
Part of Foundation Research Noise Reduction System
27 March 2003
Integrated AC power line conditioners/power cords, 8’ x 14 AWG
LC1: 6 amps RMS / 8 amps peak
LC2: 20 amps RMS / 28 amps peak
Music First Distribution
76 Morgan Drive
Caledonia Ontario Canada N3W 2L6
The LC1 and LC2 are bi-directional line filtration systems that serve two functions:
- Filters the noise in the incoming ac line going to the treated component
- Inhibits noise from being injected back into the ac power line from the treated component
The LC1 is an enhanced power cable with a dedicated line conditioner positioned in the center of the cable length. The total length of this dedicated integrated power cable/line conditioner is 8 feet. The body of the conditioner measures 8 inches long, 5 ½" wide and 2 ½" high (not including the supplied rubber feet). The cable ends are terminated with high quality connectors that include a Pass & Seymour hospital grade AC plug for the outlet and a Schurter IEC320 IEC receptacle to the component. The cable is approximately ½" thick and consists of an outer sheath, a woven shield, and three insulated high-purity copper stranded cores. The LC1 is designed to be used with line stage preamplifiers, CD players, DVD players, transports, DACs, turntables, tuners, and electrostatic loudspeakers.
The larger LC2 is very similar to the LC1 in operation and only differs physically by an inch in length and is designed for all but the largest amplifiers. The manufacturer recommends using the following approximate guidelines when applying the LC2:
- Transistor Class AB Push-Pull: 240 watts rms total (L + R)
- Transistor Class A Push-Pull: 120 watts rms total
- Transistor Single Ended: 60 watts rms total
- Vacuum Tube Class AB Push-Pull: 140 watts rms total
- Vacuum Tube Class A Push-Pull: 70 watts rms total
- Vacuum Tube Single Ended: 35 watts rms total.
The designer, Ed Wolkow is a veteran in the audio industry. Ed graduated from Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario Canada as an Electronics Engineering Technologist in 1980. Prior to his transition to audio, Ed designed and developed various amplifiers, power supplies and logic circuits for local industry.
Ed then decided to pursue his first love, which is audio. Ed’s other products include the NL1 speaker cable noise load, the V5 vacuum tube phono stage, and the V6 tube line stage. Upcoming Foundation Research products include a monaural power amplifier, the T7.
The Theoretical Approach
In my opinion, the goal in the pursuit of audio nirvana is "believability". When your system reproduces a live performance in your home environment in a way that is completely believable, then audio nirvana is reached. The goal of audio nirvana also results when one listens to the music and not their system. This goal is reached in stages along the way and is dependent on how much you enjoy music and what “level” your system is at. The terms “audionuts” use to describe believability include: image, soundstage, timbral accuracy, transient response, dynamics, etc.
There are two interrelated factors that directly affect the believability of one’s system:
- System time coherence
- System noise floor
Examples of time smearing include the skin affect in cables, flutter in transports and turntables, and jitter in cd playback. The ear-brain perceives this smearing as blurring, veiling of sonic portrait, flattening of soundstage, unnatural tension in the emotion of the music, and frequency response unevenness.
AC power treatments and related products as of late are becoming one of the most effective ways one optimizes their system to achieve "believability" by improving a system’s time coherence and reducing a system’s noise floor.
Prior to the implementation of FR components in my system, my AC power delivery consisted of a pair of Ensemble Magnaflux power cords, a single Isolink feeding my Audio Note CDT-2 transport, an Ensemble Magnaflux power cord feeding my TacT RCS2.0DD preamp/room correction system, and an Ensemble Magnaflux power cord feeding my TacT Millennium MKII amplifier. My reviewing system also includes the Talon Audio Khorus X MKII speakers, Stealth Hybrid MLT speaker cables, Stealth Varidig AES/EBU digital interconnects, Aurios 1.2 MIBs with tungsten balls, and four dedicated 20 amp AC lines.
The application of the Foundation Research products occurred in steps. I first replaced the Ensemble Magnaflux power cord feeding the TacT Millennium MKII digital amplifier with the larger LC2 designed for amplifiers. I did not need to strain to hear how the LC2 was improving my system. Within 10 seconds I knew my system had been transformed with layers of digital glare, haze and grunge removed exposing the shading/texture and spatial detail locked within the previously clouded noise floor. The tension in my system that was not noticed before was removed which also allowed me to relax and enjoy the music as it was intended. More amazingly, the transient response and dynamics, which tended to suffer when inserting other power conditioners in my system actually improved. This was confirmed when listening to the piano solo on the song title, “Old Devil Moon”, Jacky Terrason and Cassandra Wilson,Rendezvous [Blue Note]. The piano key hammers hitting the strings exploded with dynamic attack. These improvements were further enhanced by floating the ground on the three prong AC plug feeding the TacT Millennium MKII.
As I installed the LC1 on the TacT RCS2.0DD replacing the Ensemble Magnaflux power cord, the system improvement was not as dramatic as on the TacT Millennium MKII but the affect was additive. The main improvements were heard as an increase in separation of instruments and image depth. Floating the ground on the TacT RCS2.0DD provided the added benefits of an even lower noise floor.
Foundation Research recommends treating all components in a system for the maximum benefit, so the last component treated was the Audio Note CDT-2 transport. In this case the $695 LC1 replaced two $450 Ensemble Magnaflux power cords and a $1795 Ensemble Isolink power transformer. After taking the Isolink out of the system, I came to realize that in comparison, the Isolink tended to take the life out of the music and bloated the bass response. With my system fully treated the bass response was even tighter, the drivers on the Khorus X MKII were better integrated and the image depth improved all adding to the goal of "believability."
The amazing thing is that all the above improvements were achieved without any of the trade-offs commonly heard with other power conditioners I've used such as the PS Audio Power Plant, Adcom ACE-515, and the Ensemble Isolink. I believe the outstanding performance of my system with the LCs, in terms of noise floor and dynamics, is likely due to two major factors: the first is that each component has its own individual filter and receives a largely isolated source of filtered AC; and the second is that the LCs have tremendous current capability with the LC1 capable of delivering 6 amps RMS (720 watts at 120 volts A/C) and the LC2 an amazing RMS current of 20 amps! (2400 watts at 120 volts A/C).
There is one additional item I should mention before closing this review. Although the LCs are shipped grounded, one should experiment with grounding schemes. In my system, the best sound was achieved with the LC2 and LC1 grounds floated on the TacT Millennium amplifier and RCS2.0DD preamp, while leaving the LC1 on the Audio Note CDT-2 transport grounded. Your mileage may vary as with many things in life and audio; experimentation is the key.
Are the Foundation Research LCs for everyone? Probably not. There are those who will never “believe” in AC conditioning and there will be others that will want a product that provides AC current regeneration or spike protection or who knows what? But in my experience, the Foundation Research LCs do not exhibit the shortcomings that often come with these added capabilities.
Not only do the LC1 and LC2 provide some of the most “bang for the buck” when compared to competing line conditioning/power cord products, they also provided one of the best system improvements I have experienced in my journey to “believability”. Once the Foundation Research products are employed in one’s system, ac straight from the wall will no longer be an option.
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