Radiology exploits contrast enhancers to push the resolution of imaging equipment up. The patient ingests non-toxic dyes which the body subsequently excretes. These dyes heighten contrast ratio so that the visual slides generated by the imaging gear better show a diagnostician lesions that embed in healthy tissue. If we remove this medical sector's Big C fright, it's still informative to see how it's not just audiophiles who chase higher resolution so they might better make out small details which embed in denser sonic tissue. But what if we're not primarily chasing detail as though combing for necrotic cells? What would our version of the ideal contrast enhancer do? In the most basic sense it'd simulate the effect of higher SPL when everything gets more intense. We'd get that higher intensity without increasing the volume. That's it. It seems little when put in a few brief sentences. That's simply very deceptive.
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Many an audiophile dreams of the day s/he can afford to live in a big freestanding structure with a big dedicated room where the system can crank out concert SPL. The hope is that this would regenerate the live experience with its goosebumps and tears. That's a really big deal. Once that audiophile's dream comes true, a significant other might simply turn the volume right back down. "You want to listen that loud, go live by yourself." Even if that's not the response, a given system and one's choice of music might still conspire against bliss by sounding stressed. On many counts, it'd be much preferable if we could simply clone the intensity effect without goosing our SPL. Why leak noise to bother others plus shorten our own sessions because our ears tire sooner? And what is the benefit of greater loudness in the first place? It works like SciFi's materializer beam. The transparent ghosts between our speakers get denser and meatier. A paler color palette gains saturation. Dynamics stretch their legs. A somewhat amorphous sense of 'there' becomes a more concrete certainty of 'here'. Now we've opened the proper door to see Corelli in action. That action quite differed from another recent mystery box, the LessLoss BlackGround. But let's describe the effect in the sequence in which I noticed its three core attributes.
First I 'saw' medicine's blue dye of enhanced contrast ratio. Blacker background. Stronger image pop. More veracity. These and similar phrases all describe the same observation. Next came the shotgun effect. It's when noises like claps, cracks, pops, rattles, slides, snaps, ticks, zings and the like pack more startle factor and focus intensity. It's because they're closer to ordinary household noises like silver ware rattling, a car door slamming, a boiling pot's lid chattering, a key dropping. Our ear/brain recognizes their suchness as the antithesis of smooth. These are very steep fractional events with telltale sharpness and all lack of indecisiveness. That had percussive noises in my music quicken. They clearly hit deeper like a stronger bow bent farther sends a faster arrow. The third thing I noticed was how high sounds in general were more explicit and brilliant. Very much unlike the LessLoss from a few weeks ago, the sonic gestalt didn't go smoother, softer, mellower, creamier and slightly darker. Au contraire. Like that very courageous old company tagline Brightness in Sound by Italian speaker house Albedo, this sound was more illuminated from the top down. Its clarity came from removing prior opacity and energetic laziness. That led directly to my favorite benefit of all: the ability to use rather lower playback levels and still feel more of music's kinetic charge.
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I clocked these changes over the first hour of use. I wanted to observe how Corelli would manifest for the first time against my status quo. It's always in that virgin encounter of unknown vs familiar that difference registers clearest. Getting used to things quickly is part of the human condition. It's probably why certain Indian sadhus observed a rule of not staying in one place longer than three days. They believed anything longer to be sufficient to develop attachments and lose their freshness of perception. Back to my setup, Corelli Corundum wasn't a tone/texture builder like the Lithuanian BlackGround had been. The physically quite heavy Dutch box instead acted as an energizer and accelerator; exactly my kind of musical vitamin C injection. Voilà, my first impressions for the smaller upstairs system which I deliberately curated to welcome low background listening late in the evening. Checking back later in the day with all the electronics still on, I heard no further changes I'd be sure of. What morphed during the first hour was seemingly key? "The effect can fluctuate slightly each day for the first 2-3 weeks. After that the unit is stabilized and operation constant. However, the effect is immediately audible from the first minute. For A/B it is then important to actually remove Corelli entirely. Simply pulling its power cord isn't enough."
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