For audiophiles and music lovers who love to read...
What we do know is that it's neither a filter nor signal conditioner but instead emits something. It's a passive device that forms a resistive parallel load and keeps speaker impedance below 23Ω across the spectrum. Each wood enclosure also houses a resistor trimmer that must be precisely and manually adjusted to within 1/200th of an Ohm. The external wiring is LessLoss and Sven personally assembles and calibrates each ComDev. Since it can connect to either speaker or amp posts, use what works best. Once connected, the passive circuit engages instantly with zero ramp-up. It demands CHF 1'100/pr which isn't crazy given Swiss labor and Boenicke's established position. ComDev the name is a contraction of communication device. When asked about it, Sven played it enigmatic again to not pre-bias my auditions. He simply mentioned that with his tweak, any passive speaker audibly improves the perceived hookup between listener and music. That I naturally had to hear for myself.
My choice of ComDev juncture was quick 'n' easy. Call me lazy but the terminals of my speakers were two steps closer than those of the Trilogy 995R monos. I attached each module's pig tails to the posts as shown, listened, disengaged one leg, listened again then repeated as often as was necessary. Although ComDev doesn't filter, early on I did view it as a filter just to start somewhere. My money was on a filter's usual benefits so a particular type of silence that kicks in whenever noise lowers. Here I mean a somewhat denser darker overall perspective, greater smoothness from less grit, more air, expanded tonal variety, more clarity and dynamic contrast plus increased blackness behind images. All these things I already improved with various accessories and cables which add up nicely. In that game more is better so my setup contains a few noise-busting tweaks primarily of LessLoss noise-attenuating tech. Their combined action translates into performance that sensuously flows but is also very meticulous. Recently one visiting manufacturer described my sound as processed just right – generously buttery, highly informative, properly elastic and free from excess fat, abnormal gloss or hoodedness.
But ComDev clearly wasn't yet another noise assassin. It operated outside that norm to become extra intriguing. First auditions didn't result in firm observations I could hold onto but the notion that this did something was present. Although I couldn't target what exactly right away, it was nonetheless there. Upon paying closer attention to Ladysmith Black Mambazo's lead singer on "Homeless", I then earned my first solid clue. That virtual projection was closer and more specific than it normally is even if the supportive choir remained behind the soloist as usual. Caetano Veloso's voice on his awesome cover of Nirvana's "Come as You Are" followed suit as did its more pronounced bass guitar. These images and my ears now occupied the same shared space which normally casts as more distant so less tangible. Värttinä's folk song "Linnunmieli" opens with a happy female voice just off to the right. That too felt fleshier, finer outlined and portrayed as though I once again stood on the same floor. Type O Negative's front man Peter Steele preached on about forgiveness with "Christian Woman" as though his entire focus targeted specifically moi.
By then I had my 'aha' moment: ComDev's peculiar ability was to somehow project each cut's main performer right in front of the listening chair with newfound articulation. The fabulous musical collaboration between Blixa Bargeld and Teho Teardo has resulted in Still Smiling and Spring whose tracks "Mi Scusi", "A Quiet Life" and "Soli Si Muore" are amongst those I keep coming back to. These recordings are a bit odd in that Bargeld's silhouette is blown out of proportion. Now Einstürzende Neubauten's main man stood tall and wide as usual but sounded as though he had something to say just to me. This omnipresent very personal act wasn't problematic in the slightest. It was a fine new asset that stood out as the key focal point which I now saw from better vantage. The weight of Bargeld's calm words delivered meticulously one at a time still felt majestic but noticeably more intimate. That was unexpected but had a major impact on how each track portrayed. The more hours ComDev put on the clock, the more it flourished into a potent perspective-altering tool that didn't ask anything in return. That was key.
Though my grasp of ComDev's action was firm by now, I still cued up familiar favorites from my daily playlist. "Vienna" by Ultravox, Recoil's "Breath Control", Portishead's "Threads", "The Louvre" by Lorde, Tool's "Prison Sex" and Eivør Pálsdóttir's "Trøllabundin" all had vocal lines pop in a new way. Although here and there I also heard some expanded dynamics and residual grain shaved off, ComDev's ability to rework front-row imagery remained its prime attraction. After several leisurely listening days it got so pronounced that I wondered how I had first perceived it more vague. Sometimes that's how it goes. How this little box did its thing was very curious. Unlike my DAC, it went about its business without moving images forward or enlarging them. Its action maintained their size so its intensifying was different. To describe it, think of the nearest images as inhabiting rectangular frames locked inside a landscape as wide and tall as your room/speakers allow. ComDev changed those renders from their original flat panes into bulging cylinders then injected extra air between them so they stood out more. One big change when we progress from two to three dimensions is cubic volume as the space which objects suddenly occupy because they're no longer paper thin. That was the ace Sven's newest portfolio addition played. This extra 3D substance made all the difference. Considering the above, I also thought that the ComDev name brilliantly describes its main utility. It enhanced comms between my ears and hardware indeed, but on a refreshingly new level that was beyond reach of all other tweaks I'm familiar with.
By no stretch are audio accessories mandatory of course. You don't need any to hear music. Your system makes sound regardless. Their input is generally best ascertained when we remove them again. Otherwise we may not fully appreciate what we're missing. What's more, tweaks are for shoppers whose playback hardware is already locked in but who want to further optimize it without selling a kidney. If you're such a person, Boenicke Audio's ComDev fits that profile to perfection. It offers a rare imaging service not achievable by other means known to me. That's not too shabby for a set of two petite wooden boxes which most people will regard as snake oil in the first place. Not too shabby at all!
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