But first, a hoof upstairs. For a smaller room I voiced this hifi to be leaner, more quicksilvery and enunciate crisper. I find those qualities useful for the lower SPL my more intimate setup favors. For you hardware junkies, this chain reaction begins with a portable Shanling microSD transport on batteries feeding a USB bridge on ultra capacitors. You see them next to my Ikea seat. From there a 6m HDMI cable forwards I²S to a Denafrips Terminator Plus DAC whose output hits an icOn 4Pro autoformer volume control. That connects to an icOn active crossover. The 80Hz high pass feeds a Crayon CFA-1.2 current-feedback amp with Meanwell switching power supply fronting petite 4.25" MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini monitors. Those run a hidden isobaric mid/woofer inside the aluminium case and an external LessLoss Firewall on their input. An 80Hz low pass hits a Dynaudio 2×9.5" force-cancelling sub whose forward placement compensates its 2.5ms digital latency. While the BlackGround underwent its 24-hour settling period sans signal, I expected its now familiar impact to dovetail still better than downstairs. There I'd unconditionally loved the tonal enhancements but felt less enthusiastic about how musical phrasing or PRaT relaxed. For my tastes those aspects want more sharply drawn leading edges. Aside from wondering how my predictions for the upstairs result would fare, I was perhaps still more curious whether lessened proximity would automatically dial back the downstairs effect. For a guesstimate, just 50% of the tonal enhancements traded for greater subjective speed might hit my personal bull's eye more centrally? And if still too strong, how would unplugging the unit reduce its impact? If any of this tracked, our Lithuanian mystery box would really double as an awareness tool. It would audibly alter the downstairs performance in the middle of the house from the upstairs room at the far side without plugging into anything. Incidentally, did you take note of the flagship Cen.Grand SilverFox headphone amp in an earlier photo and wondered? If so, yes I also tested HifiMan Susvara planarmagnetic earspeakers in the downstairs room. Same difference as with the speakers.

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While clocking the upstairs 24-hour settle time, another brief think stop. Wilson Audio pursue different design priorities than Harbeth and Spendor, Vivid and Wilson-Benesch. Questions asked net certain answers. Those define focus. That informs a design approach and engineering culture. How could outcomes of very disparate approaches all end up in exactly the same spot to do everything equally well or identical? LessLoss pursue a very distinct line of inquiry to end up with distinctive solutions. Then they happily 'overshare' their ideas. Bill Stierhout of first QRT now Add-Powr likewise did and still does for his take on 'electrical environment conditioning'. Nordost licensed his earlier tech but simplified their explanations. While I don't know how certain Ansuz tech differs over being simply next-gen QRT—having come from Nordost, its principals certainly know Stierhout's concepts—they frame theirs in more accepted engineering terms. Unlike LessLoss, it sidesteps being lumped in the juju drawer. On that score Louis Motek hands detractors the doll and full arsenal of needles. Playing safe PR is very different. To another point of relevance, anyone who pursues fine hifi over multiple decades will define their sense of sonic rightness far more narrowly than a beginner still sampling all the options. That dropping a loaner component of powerful steering into a very precisely dialed system might move the sound outside its owner's narrow aim should thus be virtually expected. Likewise for requiring some subsequent adjustments. It's all standard grist for that mill and no complaint or critique. In fact, upsetting my balance enough simply reiterates how potent this stuff is.

Upstairs confirmed three things. One, I still had my wits about me. Two, audiophilia's law of relativity held. Three, 24 hours really are minimum for the BlackGround action to saturate and salute. I'd snuck in a sample session six hours after moving it. Not even close. As to one, my predictions held. This nets two; how everything is relative. Because of this system's greater leanness from far smaller drivers and other choices, my ears appreciated the uncut dose of textural enhancements and didn't hear the same rhythmic softening as downstairs. Here the LessLoss bedded in all roses no thorns. An example of sensory relativity is the framed photo of the red rose. Duplicate it five times. Now mount each inside 5cm wide mat, one in solid blue, another in yellow, black, white and green. Hang them all on a wall under even lighting. Compare the exact hue of the rose. We know perfectly well that our photos are identical. Yet our eye/brain intermodulates the surrounding color into the central subject. Red adjacent to blue looks different than red adjacent to yellow, green etc. Just because measurements prove how the rose's tint hasn't changed doesn't invalidate that to our eyes, it has. Perception is subjective reality. The same goes for a hifi's tonal balance, tonality, texture, PRaT and other qualities. Change one and all the rest nip and tuck in response. Just because measurements notice no change doesn't imply that our ear/brain remains immune. This interdependency and connectedness of all facets of sound in motion explains how denser moister textures can influence subjective speed, beat fidelity, separation, transparency and more. It's why curating a hifi so all its aspects hit our personal ideal balance is a real artificer's pursuit; and why upsetting such a balance is all too easy. Something goes up, something else comes down. Sometimes, it all goes up together; or close enough to be content. Upstairs the BlackGround was that! How about returning to the big system under the mystery box's remote control?

Vertical tritium tubes mark the hours, two of them 12'00". The long yellow marker can show date and month and accounts for leap years.

Louis Motek: "It's really weird to switch our polarized mind from binary switches, plugs, routing, plumbing, valves, interconnectivity networks, point-to-point connections, ruled grids, cartesian planes etc. to spheres of influence over time, gradations of heat maps, growth curves, contagion effects, statistics, genetic traits carried through generations, evolution, erosion etc. The light is on or the light is off. Yet phosphorescence and nuclear radiation with its half life exist, too." I can relate. Some watch indices and hands coat in phosphorent Superlumina. Its captured photons simply dissipate quickly. Only a Seiko in my collection remains barely visible in the early morning. Other watches use sealed Trigalight tubes which contain a decaying beta emitter called tritium gas. Its detaching electrons hit a colored powder layer which glows in response. Though not as bright as the quickly dimming Superlumina, tritium glow is constant and purportedly good for 20 years. Such watches remain legible all night long. In fact, the brightest of my lot is a Vostok Europe from Lithuania's Vilnius. As shown, it mounts its green and yellow tritium tubes vertically inside tiny deflectors to amplify the glow. It works splendidly even though you can't see it during the day; a bit like an 'offsite' BlackGround which remains active regardless.