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Rotel RLC-1050 AC/Line Filter and Power Sequence

Rotel RLC-1050 AC/Line Filter and Power Sequence

Running out of wall plugs for all your home theater components? Got some dirty power problems you'd like to correct so you can get the best picture and sound from those components for which you paid so much?

There are many solutions on the market aimed at either extending your wall power receptacles, cleaning your power supply, or both. Some are glorified extension cord/ power bars that claim more cleaning capabilities than they may actually have, while others are more cleaner than “power bar,” offering line conditioning but few AC outlets.

Fortunately, there’s also plenty of opportunity for the twain to meet. Rotel’s RLC-1050, for example, may steer closer to the “power bar” side of the stream than the “line conditioner” one, but it also offers a nifty feature that goes above and beyond both of those capabilities:

You can also set it to turn your components on and off in sequence, to help prevent a huge power load from being inflicted on your home at one time. Rotel recommends that if you're going to tread this path that you set sources such as CD players to turn on first, followed by signal processors (including preamps, etc.) and amplifiers. They should be turned off in the opposite order, starting with the amp. This is easy to set up, as outlined below.

An “international product,” the RLC-1050 is designed to operate on 115 volt/60 Hz or 230 volt/50 Hz power systems via a forbidden switch on the back panel of the unit (the manual warns you not to change it; it says it's set at the factory for the country in which it’s sold) and the “wall sockets” it provides are of a universal type that accept a variety of plugs. This makes it an interesting challenge to plug in your components until you get used to it, but it isn’t a big deal.

The RLC-1050 comes with a whopping 13 sockets that you can use – probably more sockets than you have components – and it will handle up to 1500 watts safely without threatening to shut itself down and complaining of being overworked.

If only my kids were that dedicated to working!

It is, indeed, a lot of plugs and a pretty good lot of watts, yet it’s surprising how quickly those watts can add up. A power amplifier is good for a whole mess of watts right off the bat; add a powered subwoofer and a TV to the mix and you can run out of capacity long before the sockets are filled.

I’ll give you an example. Our reference five channel power amp, which not coincidentally is also from Rotel, draws 800 watts on its own! Our reference front left and right speakers have powered subwoofers built in and each of them draws 700 watts. And our reference 57 inch 1080i compliant TV draws 300.

That leaves less than no room for the satellite receiver, DVD player, preamp/processor, laserdisc player (yeah, we still have one of them, gathering dust except for emergency use) or the component video switcher that take up the rest of the shelves in our rack. So we ended up not plugging the speakers into the Rotel, relying instead on an older and lower quality power line conditioner/surge protector that’s basically a glorified power bar. Perhaps we should have hit Rotel up for two RLC-1050’s!

But even with its limitations the RLC-1050 is certainly better than a kick in the teeth! We ended up using it for the five channel power amp, the Rotel preamp, satellite receiver, switcher, DVD and laserdisc players (none of which consumes much power), which is still a pretty good result.

Cosmetically, the RLC-1050 is an unusual-looking beastie, though you from the front it’s pretty straightforward. The front panel consists basically of a power button and a row of red LED’s above two rows of little rotary controls that set the on delay time and the off delay time, one for each power receptacle. Those little rotary controls can be set for up to 30 second delays for turn on and/or shut down.

Alas, those darn red LED’s are always on as long as the receptacles are powered, so you have this long line of lights shining out at you from the component rack; we can understand why this is the case (if they go out it means bad news), but we wish there were a different way to do this. Semaphore, perhaps...

The unusual look mentioned above comes when you peer at the Rotel from the back. Instead of the rows of power plugs we expected to see, the rear panel is only about half the height of the front, and none of the 13 power outlets are there. Instead, they’re mounted facing upwards on the "lowered" top panel of the unit. This gives you a lot more room for the sockets themselves, but it also makes hooking in the various power cables a lot more difficult, as well as a lot tighter if the RLC-1050 is positioned on a normal height shelf.

And wouldn’t you know one of the power cables we wanted to hook in had a great big end on it that ensured the RLC-1050 wouldn’t fit on the shelf properly unless we pushed it back so that plug end could stand up behind the rack.

Of the 13 outlets, all but one are switched. This, combined with the delay capabilities, gives you very flexible control over what turns on (and off) when, for those who want such control. We generally leave the big amp running all the time (we own shares in our local power company!) and prefer controlling each other component by ourselves (we’re also control freaks), so the delay wasn’t particularly important to us, but it’s there if you want it and we did test it (of course!) and it works fine.

And in a bit of design decision that would make Rube Goldberg happy, if you aren’t using the unit's 12 volt triggers or another component to operate the switched outlets, you have to run the supplied “AC Line In Control Cord” from the output on the rear panel to the unswitched outlet. This takes the unswitched outlet out of the mix, unfortunately, and that's how we ended up running the system. We’re sure there’s an excellent reason for this bit of design style but it didn’t bother us enough to actually bother asking about it.

What we really wanted the RLC-1050 for was to let us connect as many components as possible while helping to cleanse our electrical supply (which, where we live, consists of an embarrassingly noisy stream of electrons) to help let our equipment run at its best. And to this end it worked fine, so all in all we’re happy.

Sure, we wish we could have plugged everything into it in one swell foop, and that it didn’t have to be pushed to the back of the shelf to leave room for all the plugs (no, we didn’t have a spare shelf with larger capacity – and we didn’t want it on the top shelf, where it would look at little like Medusa), but the RLC-1050 works fine, and does its job very well - and isn't that just the way it's supposed to be?

Manufacturer's Information


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