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Herbie's Super Black Hole

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Digital usually suffers in comparison to analog---but after a lot of experimentation, I am convinced its faults are not so much in its “digitalness,” but rather the susceptibility of CD players to RF contamination, vibration, and problems in the optical interface to the disc. With the help of some tweaks, my digital system is now much closer to analog.

I want to review some of them.

First up is a CD mat: Herbie's Super Black Hole.
http://herbiesaudiolab.net/cdmat.htm

This is a small diameter, super-thin carbon fiber/silicone mat that damps vibrations in the clamping interface.

Before jumping in, let me describe my system. My CD player is the Naim CD5X, which I have always liked for its musicality and analog-like qualities. I am using the AKG K601 headphones together with a SET zero-feedback tube headphone amp, the Donald North Audio Sonett.

http://www.dnaudio.com/DNA-Sonett-headphone-amplifier.html

Even before tweaking, I feel my system has incredible musicality. What do I mean by “musicality”? It means I listen for emotions, for the ability of music to dance, to take flight, to soar to spiritual heights. I am not a “detail-freak” but I do talk about resolution and musical nuances. And I care about how beautiful music can be.

---- Herbie's Super Black Hole ---

I tested this with four tracks. In all cases, the Super Black Hole gave dramatic improvements in musicality. Technically speaking, I think this boils down to transient response, compelling pianos (soft sections) and microdynamics, but here are the details:

Tracks used were:

Mozart's Piano Concerto #9, first movement, performed by Alicia de Larrocha on piano. This piece features a lot of massed strings playing with quite varied articulation, and lots of solo piano.

Mahler's Fifth Symphony, first movement. This is an intense brassy high-percussion fanfare.

Mahler's Fifth Symphony, fourth movement. A quiet, spiritual, and lyrical piece mainly for strings.

Mozart's Hoffmeister Quarter performed by the Hagen Quartet. This demonstrates solo and small-ensemble string playing with varied articulation and rhythmic qualities.

Mozart's piano concerto #9, first movement.  Characteristic of Mozart, this piece opens with a catchy little phrase: one sustained note and five little dancy notes. It is followed by chords on the piano. The SBH brought out the contrast between the sustained note and the dancy notes... the sustained note was played with pressure on the strings, and the dancy notes were played lighter and slightly quieter. This subtlety was evident with the SBH and almost inaudible without it. Then, the piano enters. With the SBH, Alicia's chords had the same quality of being “pressed” (tenuto) as the first note on the strings---clearly she was mimicking them. Without the SBH, the keyboard sounded more like it was “slammed” and not tenuto. Later in the piece, string tremolos were much lighter and more transparent with the SBH.

Mahler's Fifth Symphony, First Movement. This is a brass and percussion tour-de-force. With the SBH the big percussion and brass chords seemed a bit quieter and lighter in attack. At first this seemed to cause a lack of impact, but with more listening, I decided the problem was a kind of monotonous heaviness and strain in the non-SBH configuration. It was evident that the SBH was not really softening the attacks when a kettle drum played rapid triplets—-this section had far crisper and more intense attacks with the SBH.

Transient response is important, and in my opinion good equipment can render transients with a range of character---some delicate, some soft, some crisp, some powerful. It is that range that is important. When a device imparts monotonous coloration to the transients, that full range is compromised.

Mahler's fifth symphony, Fourth Movement. The strings enter pianissimo (very quiet). With the SBH, they were quite lush and very, very compelling. Their beauty was not lost in the quietness. Without the SBH, they tended to lose presence and focus when they got quiet.

Mozart's Hoffmeister String Quartet. This recording has great presence and resolution---it tends to sound good on any system. But the SBH brought improvement to a couple areas. As this piece starts, two or more instruments play repeated notes. Their dancy character was much more evident with the SBH---more noticeable that the articulation had both a light attack and a bit of a pressed middle, and how those details contributed to the dancy quality. Basically it made them sound like better players (and they are already great players!). The SBH also improved the differentiation of timbre between the violins and the viola.

Analyzing these changes, I think the SBH made a difference to the transient behavior of the CD player, and improved resolution (including micrdynamics). It improved subtleties and brought out of hiding things like emotional character and spirituality.

Next time I'll review surface treatments.
 

post #2 of 21

I have one and I am very happy with it. It is a surprise¡

post #3 of 21

it's not a black hole it's a black ring.  

post #4 of 21

I have a hard time believing this =_=
The site sells small balls of wood that increases "dynamic mid-range" lol
This has to be a joke: "While the Millennium CD mat does a great job sonically, it sometimes lacks compared to the full-spectrum dynamics provided by the Super Black Hole"

 

post #5 of 21

Balls of wood? Super Black Hole CD Mats? Somehow I feel this is Crazy-Fi, and I'm not so sure it's the *-Fi that's beyond anything ever heard before... And where are the ceramic cable lift thingies? biggrin.gif

 

EDIT: With respect to the next poster's comment, I retract my post.


Edited by Roller - 2/13/11 at 4:00pm
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 

Guys, this is a forum about stuff like Tweaks. It says that in the title. People who use tweaks find these ideas sensible. I find the notion that vibration compromises component performance to be very sensible. That is a foundation for the theory of how this thing works.

 

So it's a bit inappropriate for you to post on a thread that is about Herbie's Super Black Hole with what is basically a criticism of the theory behind tweaks. That's not on topic for this thread. If you find this so unbelievable, why don't you talk about it in sound science. Don't hijack a thread to talk about it. That's not polite.

 

Thanks.

post #7 of 21

This sounds interesting. I always loved Habbie's tube dampers and my MPX still has their Tenderfoot on.

 

I liked the CD mat, but got tired of the remove/attaching process. This seems to solve it :)

post #8 of 21

I think you just got suckered into buying a sticker for $30.

post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by wind016 View Post

I think you just got suckered into buying a sticker for $30.



quoted. for. truth.

 

i'm all for people buying (virtually) whatever the hell they want as long as it makes them happy, but come on. how people are legally allowed to sell this (among the sea of other snake oil products beyond audio, like those "energy bracelets") is just beyond me.

 

EDIT: post is not directed to OP, just ranting in general. If anything, my opinion is that if a "tweak" performs the way it was actually advertised, then perhaps the item you are tweaking isn't that good of a product.

post #10 of 21

LOL, this is sure internet. You should post whatever makes you happy.

 

And thanks for a good laugh.  Also sorry if you have never heard any difference applying any tweak. I think it is part of the fun :)

post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 

There are so many ignorant people who think that models of reality are the same thing as reality itself. In their MODEL of reality, they don't see how the CD mat could do anything, so they feel smug and think it's on topic for this thread to mock it. Pretty much the definition of sophomoric---that is, one who knows much less than he thinks he knows. I think most of these people are probably not older than high school sophomores, too---at least their poor writing skills suggest that.

post #12 of 21

I apologize Mike1127 if you were offended by my post above. I didn't mean to provoke or attack you in any way.
I browsed the site and noticed many lofty claims by the manufacturer without any credibility.

Which caused me to ridicule the product.

Since there isn't much discussion about the product/tweak, I would like to know if the perceived dramatic improvements are placebo or really there. Would you care to ABX?
And another question up for discussion, what do you think causes the differences between the Super Black Hole vs. Black Hole?

Once again, I didn't mean to derail the thread, but I was (and still am) highly skeptical of the product and the manufacturer, Herbie's Audio Lab. confused.gif

post #13 of 21

these black holes dont sound as far fetched as some other products i have seen touted on Head-fi.    so they are basically supposed to be vibration dampers?  is that the idea?  sort of tightening the CD into the CD player so there is less wiggle room? 

 

post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 

Steve says the theory is that they damp wiggling in the cd clamp. He found this works better than a whole-cd-sized mat.

 

I always think blind tests are needed to get more knowledge about something, but as they are usually impractical, I'm okay with sighted evaluation. Maybe it misleads me. I don't really have a problem with that. But that kind of discussion should go in Sound Science.

 

post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1127 View Post

There are so many ignorant people who think that models of reality are the same thing as reality itself. In their MODEL of reality, they don't see how the CD mat could do anything, so they feel smug and think it's on topic for this thread to mock it. Pretty much the definition of sophomoric---that is, one who knows much less than he thinks he knows. I think most of these people are probably not older than high school sophomores, too---at least their poor writing skills suggest that.


I'm just saying what I honestly believe. You showed absolutely no skepticism when purchasing the product and you seemed to have only good expectations. Sounds like expectation bias to me.

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