Country of Origin
This review first appeared in November 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: 2 x Carbide Audio Carbide Bases (under DAC, preamp and speakers), 3 x Bindbreakers (under LessLoss power bar)
Retail price of reviewed components in EU (incl. tax): $446/ea., $12/ea. for jumper wire
The Lithuanian BlackGround is the latest LessLoss accessory fit for both standalone work as well as reinforcement for their BlackBody v2. Reviewed in May, the latter disc was unlike any other product I've sampled. These shiny surprisingly hefty pucks resemble jewelry but are a very particular passive conditioner designed to clear our ambient field not the signal. This protects our systems from cosmic particle bombardment on a sub-atomic level as a niche threat that's off our collective radar. If you now arch eyebrows, you're not alone. I've been there, too. The Blackbody v2 is a radical and obscure effort. Such products are as surreal as it gets; until they're not. Years back general consensus was that all CD transports, DACs and streamers sound alike because they're the same zeroes and ones. Cables, anti-vibration isolators, USB sorters and power conditioners too were widely considered incapable of making an iota of audible difference.
Fast forward two decades and the entire industry is in a very different place. Audio manufacturers know more. So do listeners. Boundaries of what's effective and useful have significantly expanded. These days even network switches aren't scoffed at as hard as they were a year ago. In this context the Blackbody v2 is still one of a kind so even open-minded listeners may find it too far out. LessLoss however did their homework so should you wish to know more, look here. It's fair to say that the theory behind these discs is complex and not common knowledge. It addresses an issue not many are aware of let alone see as relevant to our audio performance. But in practice a set of five Blackbody v2s had a noticeable impact in my room. Such products target a curious audience willing to test their perception and investigate whether a small shiny passive object can make any audible difference or not. Today's story is about the BlackGround which fits the same narrow profile.
To kick off, let's lead with this quote from Srajan's review. CEO Louis Motek explained that "BlackGround pairs real-time voltages in the sound system with the ground potential to in effect generate a continuous lower impedance path for the cosmic ionic particle influx to follow. Any electrical discharge always chooses the path of least resistance. That's what BlackGround represents because it is always at the exact same voltage as the signal. Thus atmospheric noise is dealt with before it interferes with the music signal we want to protect. Because the path follows the signal voltages in real time, we could in fact say that to this cosmic noise the music signal itself becomes the conductor instead of succumbing to being modulated by it. Why more and more BlackGrounds are effective is that each additional unit further lowers this impedance path for less and less intermodulation with the signal."
The takeaway is of a passive voltage conditioner that acts as low-impedance path for noise yet is neither a grounding box nor current conditioner like the company's Firewall because no power or signal currents flow directly through it. Instead it taps into existing real-time voltage regardless of conductor. AC or DC doesn't matter. Positive, negative and ground paths all happily apply for the treatment. The BlackGround's unmarked terminal accepts these voltages which are conditioned inside its body in real time while its ground-marked post connects to our building's own ground to drain. On top of that is the proximity effect. LessLoss say that the BlackGround already does half its business unconnected to anything. Its efficacy just sitting near a system implies similar MO to how the LessLoss Blackbody v2 protects it from atmospheric noise. Although wiring individual BlackGround units to BlackBody v2 units to create a single interface is highly recommended and hardly a chore, I intended to check their standalone behaviors first. Louis explained that the potency of these blocks compounds so the more of them link up, the lower their impedance and the higher the overall impact. Lastly the LessLoss founder explained that the BlackGround greatly enhances the Blackbody v2 performance. To him these two products should really go together. Since both were at my disposal, that was on the menu.
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