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This review first appeared in May 2023 on HifiKnights.com. By request of the manufacturer and permission of the author, it is hereby syndicated to reach a broader audience. All images contained in this piece are the property of HifiKnights or the manufacturer- Ed.
Reviewer: Dawid Grzyb
Sources:LampizatOr Pacific (KR Audio T-100 / Living Voice 300B + KR Audio 5U4G Ltd. Ed.), Innuos Statement
Preamplifier: Trilogy 915R, Thöress DFP
Power amplifier: Trilogy 995R, FirstWatt F7, Enleum AMP-23R
Speakers: Boenicke Audio W11 SE+, sound|kaos Vox 3afw all with LessLoss Firewall for Loudspeakers, Boenicke ComDev
Cables: Boenicke Audio S3 and 3 SE Evo+, LessLoss C-MARC and Entropic Process C-MARC, Boenicke Audio 3 SE Evo+
Network: Fidelizer EtherStream, Linksys WRT160N
Rack:Franc Audio Accesories Wood Block Rack 1+3
Resonance attenuation: 2x Carbide Audio Carbide Bases (under DAC, preamp and speakers), 3x Bindbreakers (under LessLoss power bar)
Retail price of reviewed components in EU (incl. tax): $836/ea. (-5/10% for two/three in a single order)
Years ago the LessLoss portfolio promoted an ambient field conditioner named Blackbody. This unusual product discontinued then redesigned and reappeared in 2020 as Blackbody v2. This is its story. If you're a newcomer to the audio hobby, the route beyond the starting point is fairly straightforward. You treat yourself to headphones/speakers and an integrated that covers all bases. Done. Since streaming is convenient, you'll probably do that. After some time you start thinking about separating your all-in-one into standalone equivalents of amp, preamp, DAC and streamer. If speakers were your first choice, next you read up on how much your room contributes to the overall experience. In pursuit of better performance, you'll most likely replace your original speakers with something more befitting your room which sooner or later means acoustic treatments to tame reflections. Then you read up on better cables, cleaner power and accessories to limit noise which can further improve your sound. If you've ventured this far yet remain adventurous to swallow the red pill and jump down the rabbit hole, LessLoss can show you just how deep it goes.
Since we covered their products many times previously, this well-established Lithuanian audio house no longer needs a lengthy intro. Suffice to say that they specialize in proprietary methods of signal conditioning. That's why their catalogue majors on devices which reduce ultra-high-frequency noise at various hifi junctures. C-MARC cables connect components, Bindbreaker footers work beneath them. Plug'n'play Firewall filters slip directly into speaker binding posts, their Power Distributor provides clean juice to each component it powers. Then there are three tiered versions of the Echo's End DAC and their latest Blackground 10x Power Base conditioner which surely deserves its own investigation. If you embrace DIY, LessLoss sell nude Firewall/Blackground modules for self installation and off-the-spool C-MARC hookup wiring. This rare support for home-based solder slingers is very commendable. Most signal conditioning accessories must connect to our system to do their work. My main rig is generously sprinkled with LessLoss via multiple C-MARC cables, external Firewall filters some even built into Boenicke and sound|kaos speakers plus three Bindbreakers under the Lithuanian power conditioner which enters Boenicke's own outlet multiplier with several previous-gen Firewalls inside. I view this hard-working army of noise killer highly lethal.
That said, today's Blackbody v2 is unlike other LessLoss product I sampled before. It addresses the ambient field not signal. It's their most radical and obscure effort to date. This lengthy theoretical piece explains the why/how of its MO. Many shall still call it esoteric if not outrageous voodoo. But charging that narrative or playing entrenched sceptic isn't the reviewer's job. I have nothing to say on products I've not heard for myself. But I'm willing to try even the most surreal stuff to learn whether it works for me or not then report back. Just to reiterate, today's pack of five shiny pucks felt quite far out on that score. It targets an issue I wasn't even aware of. Odds are, you weren't either. It's no secret that audio gear is sensitive to environmental radiation. The less seeps in, the better the sound. Power distributors or treated outlets, ground boxes, sundry filters and specialty cables all reduce pollution generated by our own AC power grid and the appliances plugged into it while anti-vibration isolators and platforms turn mechanical hardware oscillations into heat. Each product type becomes an active part of our system unlike a LessLoss Blackbody v2 which works by proximity. To explain the concept, Wikipedia describes a blackbody as an idealized physical object which absorbs all incoming electromagnetic radiation regardless of frequency or incident angle then itself emits nothing but that specific radiation dependent only on its temperature. In that entry we also see an elaborate electronic device in Poland's Carlo laboratory. The LessLoss Blackbody v2 is a passive miniaturized version thereof which purports to trap cosmic radiation hitting our planet.
Science-driven shoppers think of niche accessories like today's as unnecessary contraptions based on secret materials and mysterious principles. While LessLoss probably won't change their minds, they're refreshingly transparent. It's been decades since their war against noise started and they've become quite adept at winning. Blackbody v2 is yet another weapon in their arsenal to aim at an unusually elusive target. Each of these surprisingly hefty objects comprises nickel-plated copper shaped into a quite elaborately rippled surface to do the heavy lifting. Black cavities between its shiny reflector rings trap inbound light radiation. Upon entering the gaps it bounces around endlessly which turns into heat and eventually fades. That activity affects our sound. The materials involved are simple enablers. Copper conducts, surface nickel reflects. Although the concept reads simple, the challenge was executing the critical concave areas, inner rings, circular blade and central spike to achieve a solid mechanical structure with blacker-than-black areas without any paint. Shine a flashlight into those areas and they'll remain inky black.
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