Blackbody v.2

A six chapter conjecture on the mental struggle of striving for the best noise floor

  1. Do I need it?
  2. Beginnings: some pre-history about earliest experimentation
  3. Ok, too much for me, I'm out!
  4. New Blackbody concept!
  5. Solar Wind
  6. Summary of the theory

Beginnings: some pre-history about earliest experimentation

Around the year 2003, after development of the highly effective DFPC Skin-filtering power cables, we turned our attention to signal cables. What I will very briefly describe here are rough categorizations of experiments carried out over the course of over 6 years. There were many additionally explored branches and sub-branches to these experiments. To be brief I am focussing only on the major categories which relate to the distillation of the main concept which lead to the establishment of the first Blackbody product in 2009.

At the beginning it became obvious that the most transparent tools were required in order to minimize influence from colorations born of the transducer. It is known that less moving mass leads to less transducer-influenced coloration. This lead us early on to use electrostatic headphones for cable experiments as they have almost no moving mass, do not have crossovers, and thus provide good conditions to more clearly hear the subtle differences we were seeking to uncover, describe, pinpoint and manage. Using these transparent tools, we considered every audible difference while varying clearly defined aspects of audio signal cable design.

While experimenting with various cable material compositions and geometries, one experiment in particular baffled us to no end. In a test devised to consider only material differences, a static geometry throughout all experimental cables of this series was used. Any other sonic difference would have had to do with material differences of the cables under test. After all, cotton is not PVC is not Teflon is not Mylar is not fiberglass, and solder is not copper is not silver is not gold, etc.

But here in this particular test, we changed nothing at all in the cable design except the color of pigment used in the plastic insulation. We used the same insulation material, thickness and geometry, with a difference only in its color. A difference in sound was observed. It was confirmed to be undeniable and repeatable.

That left a big question lingering in our minds. Many subsequent experiments led to our ultimate understanding of this phenomenon, which paved the way towards development and release of our first Blackbody product. (Today we'll refer to this original Blackbody as “Version 1,” then not yet so named because we never dreamed at that point of any second version).


But why should the color of dielectric plastic in a cable have any perceivable influence on sonic outcome? This intriguing and undeniable 'crack' in our common knowledge led us down one path where more and more sonic relations where discovered by influencing only the surrounding objects around the playback equipment. We ruled out any sort of acoustic vibrational influence by never allowing these test materials to touch any of the playback equipment, cables or even stands. We were diligent and careful to make sure this was always so.

Remember that these are empirical in nature. We did not log distortion using software. You can read all you want about the theory of acoustics but until you pick up the actual instrument to play it, you will have only theoretical knowledge. Active participation hones the senses and provides an even broader perspective.

→ The mind-boggling color-only experiment led to investigating the sonic influence of strong industrial pigments in large quantities (liters). These are toxic and highly concentrated chemicals, unlike hardware store paints which contain a very small amount of pigment. These chemicals are strong EM filters at differing wavelengths.

→ The clearly audible experiments with industrial pigment led to ideas about the strong narrow-band absorption and emissivity of various crystals. There was an “Aha” moment when we realized how much blind tinkering was in effect in the greater audiophile world around such crystal “talismans” and their critical placement in a system. Of special note was Tourmaline's large popularity in Japan's audio scene.

→ Experimenting with differing colors of glass led to a series of experiments with crystal glass. Normal crystal glass is around 24% lead. We also obtained crystal glass containing 80% lead.

→ Crystal glass is about 24% lead. Lead is conductive, but not crystal glass. Still, we could hear the benefit of electrically grounding the crystal glass via copper wiring. This was accompanied with experimentation using pure lead. The absorption of X-rays is a well known feature of lead.

→ This lead us to re-examine carbon fiber. This material was already known to us and used by us as part of the resistive surface material for our DFPCs (then still classified as a military strategic material which required us filing official declaration of usage paperwork to even obtain it! As an aside, years before, dropping an engaged cell phone into a bag of carbon fiber snippets resulted in its instant loss of radio coverage; this was the moment of birth of the idea that was later to become the original DFPC power cable!) :)

→ Having established that it is always a sharp and specific spectral absorption of high electromagnetic energy that creates the sound coloration, we once went so far as to change the atmospheric conditions in and around a well set up sound system by spraying pure oxygen in and surrounding the electronics, which led to about 10-15 minutes of radical change in sound quality before the higher concentration of Oxygen dispersed in the air back down to its regular level. We learned through this experiment that even something as rarified as the atmospheric makeup of elements influenced the spectral content of the signals. Further supporting our ideas was the fact that space telescopes provide spectral imagery which shows molecular makeup of far-away stars and space clouds. It was now obvious that it was the same sort of absorption and emission fingerprints of various materials which were in effect here coloring the sound, even if it was in rarefied gas form.

Lessons learned:

To summarize: too much of any one specific spectral filtration material was always perceived as an obvious and undesired coloration of the sound, and even that which we would normally consider “neutral” sound was actively being colored by the fingerprint spectral absorption/emission of the very elements in the atmosphere surrounding the gear. This was the “base state” which we experienced all the time, while being oblivious to it.

The various absorption spectra of these high frequency filtering materials were showing us a tendency. They should converge towards one ideal thing. The traits of this thing would be defined as accepting all frequencies, and reflecting no fingerprint of its own. To be perfect, we should find something that could never be considered “overkill”. The more of it present, the merrier should be the result. This pure blackness, this absorption of all frequencies, should have no EM reflection whatsoever. But what was that perfect thing? It had to be better than paint. In fact better than any physical material.

A pigment? There were no simple paints that did that, except special applications that need very complicated heating and controlled cooling procedures (vertical carbon nanotube structures as in the original Vantablack). These were incredibly sensitive and delicate, brittle, and expensive. But we are not primarily interested in the visible spectrum exclusively, which is a very narrow bandwidth in the scheme of things. For our purposes, we seek a solution that will be equally effective at any frequency, visible or not.

But another solution presented itself in arrays of reflective mirrors which when positioned properly would accept any light frequency and return them as room temperature blackbody radiation through countless inner reflections before their ultimate emission.

Indeed, this 'blacker than black' solution was adopted and developed and in 2009 we released the Blackbody product.

Review #1 (6moons)
Review #2 (Positive-Feedback)
Review #3 (Tone magazine)
Review #4 (Mono and Stereo)
Review #5 (Dagogo)
Review #6 (Stereo Times)

As seen by the general consensus of the independent reviews, with increasing direct experience, many could now easily appreciate the Blackbody's performance without skepticism. It was becoming as natural for an audiophile's ear to miss the Blackbody's presence as it was for the eye to visually appreciate that everything has its own shade of color. The two went hand in hand, and there were, and still are, many happy users of this first Blackbody around the world today.

The unexpected 'damnation' of the Blackbody: North.

As if the Blackbody weren't already too subtle a concept for most audiophiles to easily embrace, in the following years of investigating different positioning scenarios for multiple Blackbodies, an even more unexpected revelation began to emerge. For some reason, it seemed not always to be true that adding more Blackbodies guaranteed the very best results. It became clear that what direction they were set up was as influential as the number of them.

(Please take note: we are in the northern hemisphere and have never experimented in the southern hemisphere.) We, along with the experience of many other audiophiles, established that for the most effective results, the Blackbodies always had to be positioned towards the North. They could even be placed further from the equipment, but the rule was that they had to be facing North. Many experiments in many places revealed that no other direction gave better results.

We took on the mental challenge, trying to establish why this Northern direction would be of significance. Well, what is North? North is a faraway magnetic pole of the Earth. One might surmise that, because audio is based on electromagnetic alternating signals, this might somehow play a role. After all, the spectral neutrality of the Blackbody was based in terms of the electromagnetic spectrum. Various forms of filtration of EM energy through pigments, crystal lattices, material shapes, and their interaction with the gear's stray fields had at least some magnetic component to say the least. But so what? People had their systems set up in many cardinal directions in many places, and in all cases the North-facing Blackbody functioned best. (Again, we don't have data form the southern hemisphere.)

To delve further, we consider that the Earth is a large magnet. The small compass needle which shows us the North-South line at our standing position points towards the North because the needle is balanced and rotates freely to align with the Earth's magnetic field. It is a gravity balanced needle, so it is always parallel to the Earth's surface.

But in 3D, seen from space, the magnetic field does not run along the surface of the sphere of the Earth. The actual magnetic flux which we call “direction North” from our perspective is actually directed at an angle to the horizontal surface. This angle is clearly not the same everywhere on Earth. It changes with varying latitude on Earth, from the North pole to the Equator, and from the Equator to the South pole. At the Equator the magnetic flux is largely horizontal, but at the North pole it is vertical. Everywhere in between, this angle varies. The standard horizontally flat compass is not enough to show us the real flux direction in 3D. It shows us only the 2D component of the actual direction. This 2D component is the one tangential to the Earth's local surface.

To find out this other component, the local angle of incidence of the magnetic flux, a dip needle compass is used. It is first placed to show the Northern direction, and then it is turned 90 degrees on its own axis. Now the needle will settle at an angle piercing the Earth's surface, and this will correspond to the actual flux angle of the magnetic field at that location.

But positioning the Blackbody's face at this local magnetic flux angle did not give better results. However, what did give obviously better results was when the Blackbody's face was placed square to that local angle. It worked fantastically, and it worked every time, everywhere it was tried.

However many times we tried, regardless of system, location, time of day or night, this position proved itself in practice to be most effective. The very best sonic results were to be had when the Blackbody's front face angle was not only pointing towards the Earth's North, but also normal to the angle of incidence of the local magnetic field.

Mind you, we are not anywhere near the two extremes: the North pole (magnetic flux would be entirely vertical) or the Equator (magnetic flux would be horizontal). We are somewhere between those two.

What all of these angle calculations mean, in other words, is that at all of our trial locations, the best sound quality was always to be had when the Blackbody's face was in effect placed normal to the Earth's very axis of rotation. At the same time, this also means that the Blackbody's face was now always pointing directly towards the North Star, Polaris.

Continue to page 3.
  1. Do I need it?
  2. Beginnings: some pre-history about earliest experimentation
  3. Ok, too much for me, I'm out!
  4. New Blackbody concept!
  5. Solar Wind
  6. Summary of the theory