Part III: Wherein our intrepid voyager gets his fingers into the cookie jar only to find rocks instead that could be lethal for your mental digestive system.

Kait and partner Igor - err, make that Dr. Thomas Silvinski, bring to their endeavors considerably more than the musings of tweaky enthusiasts or garden-shed tinkerers. Geoff, Machina Dynamica's self-described "Chief Cook & Bottle-Washer" (for once a potentially factual if incomplete job description), owns a degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Virginia. His work and studies have touched theoretical fluid dynamics, statistical thermonics, indeterminate structures and a host of other things this reporter is decisively baffled by, including but not limited to toiling in the fields (pun alert) of Extremely Low Frequency (ELF), High Frequency (HF) and the development of "math models" for sundry satellite networks.

On the off chance all that's not big-brainy enough for you, Geoff has in scholastic challenges past designed low thrust engines for space travel, one utilizing highly energetic Xenon ions to bombard high gauss metal. Turns out -- if you haven't already guessed it -- this process is also, to hear Geoff tell it, "great for coating razon blades". Razon blades? Is that like, for a smoother shave or for hand-to-hand combat with the hostile Orkon hordes of Planet X? I didn't ask.

In his current post at the helm of MD, Kait is the designer behind the previously mentioned Nimbus Sub-Hertz Platform, the Special Record Weight and an appliance more show-going audiofops have heard about, heard in action and perhaps even owned, namely the particularly well-regarded Promethean Base. The Brilliant Pebbles joined the party in 2001.

Partner Thom Silvinski is MD's Advisor for Planning. The first(!) Ph.D. in Computer Sciences at University of Illinois/ Urbana, Dr. Silvinski was among the designers of the Advanced Concepts Computer, a seminal foray into artificial intelligence and neural networks and the over-achieving abacus generally thought to be the inspiration for HAL-9000, that disturbingly sentient Supercomputer of the Stanley Kubrick classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

"Perfect simplicity is unconsciously audacious."
[George Meredith - 1828-1909]

Odd that all this scalpel's edge science would eventually produce a group of jelly-bean-jovial, mineral-filled glass beakers that wouldn't look out of place displayed in the typical museum gift shop. And in an abrupt 360° shift from the ennui that greeted the VPI Brick and Shakti Stone, the brilliant pebbles most definitively attracted the attention of my children and had to be carefully hidden from same. "You break it," I was heard to announce, "I bought it". Not to mention the kids swallow it and their mother murders me. In cold blood. Twice.

But hey, in a category where beauty is too regularly in the eyes of the blind, it's bad sport to tease a product just for being cute. And despite the pebbles' downright decorative gaiety of appearance, here was a listening trial from which -- unlike my expectations of the blunt instruments that came before -- I actually anticipated something. I mean look, you pour a cluster of little glassy rocks in a vibrationally excitable vessel, plop it atop, say, your loudspeakers and something's gotta go down. Or maybe up. For as 6moons bossman and earmeister General Srajan Ebaen once said to yours truly of another tweak that will go nameless, "Of course it changes the sound. Everything does." This deceptively simple but in truth hard-won wisdom predictably takes us full circle to tweaking's single most existential dilemma: Is change improvement or merely the audio-obsessed shut-in's answer to rearranging the tired tonal furniture? Pardon me as I strike the pose of Rodin's The Thinker whilst confronting that question: There. Slap-slap! Confrontation hereby over.

Machina Dynamica with Audiopax at the Bristol HiFi Show

As in all such philosophical puzzles, no answer is the only accurate one. And while the absolutists may reject any accommodation of subjectivity as sacrilege, I personally feel the whole change vs improvement question is a movable feast. An individual call. Besides, one might just as productively knead time and thought into the chicken/egg deliberation and anyway, it's well neigh time, ladies and gemstones, to seize them pebbles and rock out in the garden.

The highly padded shipment yielded three pairs of pebble-packed glass containers of smallish, small and even smaller sizes, with the largest having roughly the volume of a water cooler Dixie cup and the most diminutive of a scale reminiscent of those vials that were popular on the '80s club scene. Not that I'd know, mind you.

"The large bottle is intended for room corners, on tube traps and on speakers", explained Mr. Kait. "With several sizes of Brilliant Pebbles to work with these days [it pays to experiment], smaller bottles work in locations where the effects of the large bottle might be too powerful," he continued, "for example around small electron tubes or DACs." Too powerful? A jar of freakin' pebbles? Here you might sneak a peek at Kait's white paper on BP; available for the edification of all on the Machina Dynamica website (it even has cool moving graphs and demos to hold the brittle attentions of We the Mathematically Challenged). And in fairness, the Mpingo Disc had already proven to be "too powerful" in its own way when stationed near the small tubes, so I guess I can give the irony a rest.

The short form, surprise surprise? Not all pebbles are created equal. "[The discovery of] Brilliant Pebbles was quite accidental and something that took some time and reverse- engineering to sort out," Geoff told me. "I have always been prone to experimentation with a wide variety of concepts and Brilliant Pebbles, as one of those concepts, has evolved over a period of more than 3 years." I will leave the not-uninteresting treatise on the diverse contributions of the assorted, specially selected geodes and the unique "physical & electromagnetic properties" of certain "naturally occurring mineral crystals" to
those so inspired to delve or spelunker further as you rock-collecting geology buffs out there might say. For now, back to the whys-and-wherefores of the different sizes. "The large bottle is also effective on satellite TV receivers in terms of improving image density, color saturation and resolution - but not on cable boxes. I don't know why," confessed Geoff. Frankly, the occasional "don't know why" is a welcome, even credibility-building breeze of springtime freshness through the stuffy confines and relentless yadda-yadda of all these white papers your correspondent has had to examine lately, by and large dumbfounded all the while. The "Mini" BP which is actually the middleweight of the line and about thrice the size of the smallest option, "is effective on top of CD, DVD and SACD players" when placed, according to the inventor, directly over the spinning transport.

The newest BP variety and the runt of the litter is the Mikro, "very effective when used on Quantum Electroclear and Symphony field effect line purifiers in both video and audio systems," Geoff claimed. And it's not uncommon, he went on, for his more fervent customers to pop open the casework of their digital front ends and place the Mikro(s) on or near critical chips in the path. It wasn't discussed, but I would imagine that Blue Tack or another such benign bonding agent would be specified for these internal applications. The last thing one might want skittering free inside a component is a fragile glass container of tiny rocks, glossy glimmer and merry hues (and once again, as with the Mpingo Disc and Part 1's Shakti On Lines, I will let slide for this analysis the more intrusive, internal usage options). The Mikro is diminutive enough in both container and contents to make my heart go out to those who have to load them, putting me in
Machina Dynamica & Golden Sound at CES 2004
mind of the old "picking fly shit out of pepper wearing boxing gloves" job awaiting us low to mid-level sinners in purgatory. The smaller two offerings of the line are akin in contour to miniature moonshine bottles, stopped not with tooth-torn cork but with rubber plugs meant to be left in place. The sumo of the series has a top resealable by means of a metal clamping collar just like those found on vintage Mason Jars (or on bottles of Grolsh Lager for those among you who only rarely preserve your own jams and jellies). Here one finds the pebbles themselves to be larger and less densely packed than in the more condensed Mini and Mikro, and thus protected in the same way as the Tylenol I could use right now: With a bung of cotton stuffed between the crystalline pills themselves and the jars' flat glass cap. This cotton must be removed prior to use, perhaps for modest resale on AudiogoN to cash-challenged Brilliant Pebble cravers just getting started in the hobby.

Did I just use the C-word? Well be it cash, credit or PayPal, expect the Brilliant Pebbles to roll you back $99 each for the Original (or larger) version, $59 for each Mini and $29 each for the Mikro. But the Mikro, at least when affixed to a thin length of cord or even fishing line, would make an almost passable New-Agey necklace next time you’re in need of emergency gifting on the Significant Other front. “Of course I knew it was our anniversary or Mother’s Day or something along those lines, buttercup! Do you think me a knuckle-dragging brute?” And a coupla weeks later, you can dig it out from the clotted tangle that is her jewelry box and drop it back into the system. Sweet, huh? Think it over. Could be the best twenty nine bucks you spend this year.
Machina Dynamica with  UniWave at CES 2004