Country of Origin
Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, COS Engineering D1, Denafrips Terminator, Soundaware D300Ref, AURALiC Vega, Jay's Audio CDT 2 MkII & DAC-2 SE
Preamplifier: Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature with WE 300B/VT52 or Elrog ER300B/50; Nagra Classic, Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage II, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVT module); April Music Stello HP100 MkII
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos; FirstWatt SIT1 monos, SIT-3, F5, F6, F7; Goldmund/Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics NC500 monos; April Music Stello S100 MkII; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; SAG AIO; Bakoon AMP-13R
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Acelec Model One; Cube Audio Nenuphar; Kroma Audio Mimí; Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V & VI & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence; Fram Midi 150 & 120
Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL3000/5000 and Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo; Ocellia OCC Silver
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps/sub, Puritan Audio Labs PSM156 & PS106-DC
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room, hence no wall behind the listening chairs
Review component retail: $TBA
Ambient field conditioner. Not a movie from Amblin Entertainment, about aliens 'n' stuff. No levitating bicycles. But for some levity, your hair may still see lift-off from the concept's hot air blowing in from a faraway sun. No longer have hair? Perhaps roll up your eyes instead. But with their track record, LessLoss products tend to resist such antics. Main man Louis Motek is fully aware. Lack of a plausible theory scares off science-based shoppers from devices whose mode of operation remains shrouded in mystery.
So today's Blackbody v2 comes with a long string of theory. Read it all here.
To reduce the Motek string to its essentials, we type in solar wind/flares ⇒ influence of high-energy cosmic radiation on electronic components ⇒ creation of an absorber to reduce our electronics' exposure to it.
Once we've made that link between the faraway and close at hand, we're prepared to educate ourselves on how ionic radiation enters our planet. That leads to directionality and angular focus. It meant that there was a best direction or angle at which the original $959 LessLoss Blackbody worked. Listeners had to experiment to learn what that direction and angle were for their specific location. That led to the original's eventual demise and v2's changed shape for reduced variables thus higher effectiveness.
What is a blackbody? A theoretical material or device which absorbs electromagnetic radiation no matter its frequency. Such a device would reflect nothing back inside our visible bandwidth. It'd look to us blacker than black for its utter absence of any light. "Our device is a specially formed array of concentric reflectors whose total emission pattern approaches an ideal blackbody." Getting our feet back on terra firma is learning how the Blackbody v2 can connect to the ground pin of our AC wall outlet; how multiple units can daisy-chain to take up only one AC socket and string out the joy.
Feeling grounded again?
Are we really immune/disconnected from and not influenced by this solar activity of electromagnetic and ionic radiation? How about our equipment?
The BBv2 purports to address the never-yet addressed reasons why our hifi sound still fluctuates despite effective AC/DC conditioners and zero hardware/setup changes. Among advanced listeners, that flux is a shared pain and constant frustration. Louis chased probable cause to eventually suspect the sun's always changing surface conditions and how they expose our planet and gear to constantly varying ionic bombardment which is guided by our earth's magnetic field and generates the auroras at its northern and southern poles.
The Blackbody v2 is his attempt at calming the immediate sphere of our most sensitive components by setting up a trap. The solar energy disturbances in our environment enter his disc but never come out again. Hence ambient field conditioner.
Being invited to test this stuff with just my biological sensors aka ears, I accepted. I didn't understand their Firewall for Loudspeakers either. Just so, it worked so well that an award wrote itself. Its afterglow maintained my adventurous mood. Before it faded, I'd ride it again. Cue Marvel's Silver Surfer.
"Have I come this far only to strike a wall of stone?"
Across our hobby, attentive readers have noted an influx of UHF noise dampers. Many of these newer devices focus on EMI/RF pollution which hitchhikes a free ride on our gear's ground connections. This often involves a material trap of undisclosed composition to absorb electro smog; and umbilical wires which connect our components to their trap. Acoustic Revive, Akiko, CAD, Entreq, Shunyata, Synergistic Research, Tara Labs, Tripoint & Co. all work along similar lines. Conceptually, the LessLoss Blackbody v2 differs by not connecting to signal ground—just safety earth if installed—and claiming effectiveness well beyond the GHz range by targeting ionic energy. Once we return from outer space to our listening space, the concept isn't as outré as it might have first read. And to square the circle on how LessLoss' views are systemic, we now mention their upcoming C-MARC Entropic cables. Those will apply "a series of controlled conditioning processes" to AC and signal cables to accelerate break-in-related effects "to some 200 years of regular burn-in". So we see how this Lithuanian concept considers various ingress points for out-of-band noise—airborne antenna effects, AC grid/ground effects, intra-component effects—and applies proprietary tech to close them off; and considers how to best optimize signal flow. The Blackbody v2 applies its own cleaning to the air space which surrounds our components. It and the Firewall pursue improved conditions under which our signal can propagate less disturbed. Hence signal conditioning; and today's ambient field conditioning.
Subtle stuff? If the Firewall for Loudspeakers was anything to go by, far from it. But falling for or rejecting any hifi kit just on the basis of a fancy theory or compelling story is for chumps. Grown-ups listen to mint their own experience. Then they place a personal value on it. Or not. I had no preconceived notions about my own reactions. I'd have to wait and hear.
In the meantime a Canadian client had commented on Louis' Blackbody theory. "I work in the tech industry for a large software company. About ten years ago, my job was leading the North American support escalation team. A customer had a massive data-center outage. Nobody could figure out why. During one of our conference calls with the hardware vendor, customer and CPU manufacturer, one of the lead CPU architects on call mentioned that they believed the causation of the crash and resulting outage had been an increase in solar flares. At the time we laughed it off. Interestingly, the server-hardware manufacturer agreed and added evidence based on other customers who during the same time period had experienced similar random outages. In later discussions with the CPU architect, I learned that many of their critical data centers are buried deep in the earth or mountain sides to mitigate the effects of solar flares on sensitive servers. This is absolutely real. I think you may be onto something about how general solar activity might destabilize the perceived quality of our hifi sound."
LessLoss don't claim protection from system failures by massive once-in-a-decade solar flares. They propose that minimizing our hardware's exposure to normal/constant ionic radiation has benefits which evolved listeners with high-resolution systems will appreciate. If so, was my system sufficiently resolved and my hearing keen enough to hear the effects of the Blackbody v2?
… to be continued…
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