Years ago the company LessLoss had in its roster an ambient field conditioner named Blackbody. This unusual product was discontinued, redesigned and released in 2020 as Blackbody v2. It’s time to tell its story. Enjoy!
If you’re a newcomer to the audio hobby, the route from that starting point is fairly straightforward. You treat yourself with headphones or speakers and an integrated device for them that covers all the mandatory bases. You’re all set. Since streaming is convenient, you’ll probably go that route. Then after some time you’ll start thinking about separating your do-it-all electronic kit into several standalone components; an amp, preamp, DAC and streamer. If speakers were your original choice, next you’ll read how much a listening room contributes to the overall experience. In pursuit of better performance you’ll most likely replace them with something more tailored to your space, which sooner or later will accommodate physical means to tame sound waves bouncing off its walls. Then you’ll read how aftermarket cables, clean power and accessories designed to limit noise in one way or another can further improve sound quality. If you’ve gone this far yet still are the curious type keen to take the red pill and personally investigate that rabbit hole, the company LessLoss will show you how deep it goes.Since LessLoss products were featured on this site multiple times already, this well-established Lithuanian audio house needs no lengthy introduction. Suffice it to say, various in-house developed methods of signal conditioning are its specialty. That’s why this roster is largely built upon designs meant to reduce noise at various junctures of an audio setup. C-MARC cables connect components, while Bindbreaker footers work underneath these. Plug&play Firewall filters go directly into speaker binding posts and their Power Distributor provides clean juice to each product it feeds. On top of that there are also three differently tiered Echo’s End DAC versions and the company’s latest power line conditioner – Blackground 10x Power Base – that deserves its own story somewhere in the future. If you fancy DIY, the manufacturer also sells standalone Firewall/Blackground modules for self-installation and C-MARC hookup wiring per the meter. This rarely seen policy is very cool.
Signal conditioning accessories need to connect to our setups in order to work and my main platform is generously infused with those by LessLoss; multiple C-MARC cables, Firewall filters externally, and even some in-built into the two speaker sets I’ve been using, plus three Bindbreakers under the Lithuanian power conditioner that goes into Sven Boenicke’s own outlet multiplier with several previous-gen Firewalls inside. I find this entire noise-killing lot highly efficacious.Today’s Blackbody v2 is unlike any other LessLoss product I’ve sampled in the past, however. It was designed to condition the ambient field rather than the signal. It also is its makers’ most radical and obscure effort to date. This lengthy theoretical piece about Blackbody v2 thoroughly explains why it works and how. Many will still deem it esoteric if not silly audio voodoo. Still, changing that narrative or being one entrenched skeptic isn’t a part of the reviewer job description. I don’t have anything to say about products which I haven’t heard, but I’m willing to try even the most surreal stuff to find out whether it does something for me or not and report back. Just so we’re clear, today’s pack of five round shiny objects sent my way is quite far out on that specific score. It targets an issue I wasn’t even aware of and the odds are that you weren’t either.
It’s no secrecy that audio setups are inherently sensitive to noise. The less of it seeps into them, the better sound one gets in return. Power distributors/outlets, grounding boxes, various filters and many cables reduce pollution incoming from our households’ electric grid and components themselves, while anti-vibration pucks/platforms turn hardware oscillations into heat. Each listed product type effectively becomes a part of an audio platform, but not, as is the LessLoss Blackbody v2, made to work merely in its proximity. To explain what it is, from this Wikipedia page we learn that a blackbody is an idealized physical body that absorbs all incident electromagnetic radiation regardless of frequency or angle of incidence, and that it doesn’t emit anything by itself other than that specific radiation dependent only upon its temperature. There we also see an elaborate electronic device used in the CARLO laboratory in Poland. LessLoss Blackbody v2 is its passive miniaturized version, so essentially a trap for cosmic radiation that hits our planet.Science-driven audio shoppers think of niche accessories such as today’s affair as unnecessary contraptions based on secretive materials and principles shrouded in mystery. Although folks at LessLoss won’t change their minds, they’re refreshingly transparent about what they do. It’s been decades since their beef with noise had started and they’ve become quite the experts in winning that fight. Blackbody v2 is yet another bullet in their arsenal, just meant to hit an unusual elusive target. Each of these surprisingly hefty little objects is comprised of nickel-plated copper and sports a rather elaborate surface form that does the heavy lifting. Black cavities between its shiny reflector rings were cleverly machined to trap all incoming light. Upon entering these gaps it bounces endlessly to turn into heat and eventually fade. To simplify, one gets better sound when that happens. Used materials simply play enablers; copper conducts, surface nickel reflects. Although this concept sounds simple, the difficulty was in shaping Blackbody v2’s critical concave areas, inner rings, inner circular blade, and center spike reflective enough to result in mechanically achieved visible blacker-than-blackness, all without the use of paint. One can use a flashlight on these areas and they’ll still remain pitch dark.
It’s fair to ask why this report’s very unusual product should make any audible difference and exactly what noise it addresses. As per the manufacturer’s explanation, the earth’s magnetic field attracts ionic radiation emitted by the sun’s and the stars’ ever-changing scorching surface that generates solar winds and flares. The resulting ionic particles pierce through our atmosphere and even our walls to eventually influence our electronic components’ oscillating field generating circuitry. Blackbody v2 acts like an umbrella meant to decrease the severity of this phenomenon as explained above. Although this product doesn’t connect directly to audio hardware, it demands a specific setup to operate as intended. Here directivity and latitude are critical. Each Blackbody v2’s top is to face North in my listening room and sit on an acrylic cradle custom angled by the manufacturer to match my location’s latitude. I was told that all five loaner pucks ought to spread around my setup, just so their upper surfaces could act like defense domes for it. With all that in mind I positioned three Blackbody v2s on my rack’s upper shelves in-between components near their rear ends, while two remaining units sat atop center blocks of my twin QRD diffuser, so even higher. That way each shiny rippled surface faced the target direction, but not my electronic kit.LessLoss’ founder Louis Motek explained that a single Blackbody v2 absorbs little radiation, but the more of these buggers are used, the more and more pronounced their efficacy becomes. I was also instructed to daisy-chain them via bolts on their sides and short C-MARC cables included in the box. The longest cut with a Schuko plug and only the ground leg connected, grounded the first Blackbody to safety earth, while remaining units connected to the first in series. That way radiation absorbed by five pucks went straight into that huge sink instead of accumulating within their copper flesh. Louis also sent me several DIY Blackground units and mentioned meaningful benefits from including even a single such device before grounding the Blackbodies. I already have something to say about the Blackground product, but not today.
Although Blackbody v2s are small finely made jewel-like critters, five of them with cables in-between made a tad messy view. That’s just the nature of these polished absorber pucks. They simply have to be used as per the manufacturer’s suggestion to do their thing. Otherwise it doesn’t make sense to pursue them. I was also informed that during my tests, when not using some, I really should lock unused Blackbody v2s inside their flight case, have them facing downwards and best moved to a different room far away from my electronic kit. Although at first I didn’t know what to think after hearing this advice, it makes sense if we’ll agree that incoming cosmic bombardment penetrates everything, and LessLoss air purifiers work at their best when their rippled areas are exposed to it. An umbrella folded inside its sheath doesn’t really protect from rain, now, does it?I’m well aware that naming Blackbody v2 a “polarizing” device is an understatement. Most people won’t even consider this unusual conditioner as capable of making an iota of difference, let alone trying it out. They’ll see a fancy costly paperweight at best. I’ve never tested anything like it, however. The reviewer job demands auditioning stuff prior to forming any opinions. If stepping outside a comfort zone built upon DACs, amps and speakers is what it takes, so be it. Besides, LessLoss’ track record among customers and press is solid to say the least. When this company releases a product, my experience is that it does something no matter how non-mainstream or unconventional it is. Whether it’s a good ROI or not is a separate thing. That said, I was simply curious whether Blackbody v2 was able to audibly impact sound in my listening room and there was only one way to find out. I’ll say as early as now that it definitely wasn’t made for holding paper in place.
To start on a convenient note, I used all five Blackbody v2s separated. Daisy-chaining them was saved for later. I was told that an army of these pucks is more potent than just a single such trooper, so that way with minimal effort I could get the full dose of whatever they had in store. Transferring them from their cradles to the flight case and moving it elsewhere wasn’t as much of a hassle as I initially thought. These swaps were fairly quick because I didn’t have to turn anything off. More importantly, initial observations came after just several rotations. That was the most surprising part. Given the nature of today’s LessLoss I was ready for subtle differences revealed gradually within hours if not days, but that wasn’t the case. Not only this product did something, but it did that pretty much right away and in fashion obvious enough that I didn’t have to second guess what it was.The key observation about the effect of five Blackbody v2s on duty in my room narrows down to the way how the two used speaker sets rendered space there. The entire view grew a touch more anchored and denser in both cases, but higher humidity was the most obvious change. The air in-between key sound sources felt rich and fragrant just like before a storm. The overall vibe was less dry and chiseled. Instrumental and vocal shapes struck me as more moist and bloomier than before, while their outlines became somewhat thicker. Sound audibly leaned towards the extra color, boldness and aroma rather than twitchiness, sparks, elasticity and high contrast. Increased relaxation and less prickly incisiveness followed. Considering all this, Blackbody V2 was groomed to fit the usual LessLoss noise-killing profile indeed, so enjoyably familiar. The fact that the theory behind it raises quite a few eyebrows doesn’t change that.
Although this report’s set of five behaved along the lines of the manufacturer’s other accessories meant to act the part elsewhere, it wasn’t quite the same. It steered sound in my room mainly towards relaxation and softness, while i.e. C-MARC power cables or external Firewall filters did that aside other things, so their input was wider and more universal. “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” by QOTSA and “Run Londinium” from King Arthur: Legend of the Sword are two examples of intense angry fare, with Blackbody v2s presented a touch lazier and calmer than it normally is. That said, they inject tone and gravity at a somewhat higher cost paid in immediacy and dynamic scale versus other LessLoss products. If your setup is predominantly syrupy, thick and cozy and you like it just the way it is, these round passive pucks simply aren’t for you.All things considered, I think that the drawback explained above is a fairly small one given audible benefits. My system didn’t morph into an unlistenable slowpoke with Blackbody v2s engaged. Vast majority of setups will enjoy them. It’s one thing that dynamic limitations as described were well pronounced only on specific recordings loaded with snap and slams. The other is that today’s shiny objects didn’t make an outstanding difference by any stretch. Although their efficacy was sensible and I have no doubts about that, external LessLoss Firewall filters and C-MARC power cords still were more audible within my system. Come to think of it, maybe at some point Blackbody v2s would’ve surpassed these products. A single such unit absorbs very little radiation yet its action already registered. Two were more audible though not as much as five. Whatever it is that they do, my ears tell me that it stacks. Now I’m wondering what several dozens of these objects would’ve delivered. It’s also worth knowing that daisy-chaining them is the best use case scenario. Then the main Blackbody v2 effect becomes noticeably more pronounced without further trimming dynamics. At least I haven’t detected any changes in this regard. Several cables visible here and there to get that extra mileage is a fair trade. Let’s wrap.
LessLoss Blackbody v2 is based on a concept easy to explain, but measuring its impact on electronic audio devices probably is nigh impossible. Even the manufacturer doesn’t have all the answers. That’s why it takes courage to even think about sampling this stuff. It’s clearly meant for those who have their audio kits fully sorted and evaluate such products with their ears. For what it’s worth, three springs back Blackbody v2 worked for Srajan and now it did for me. If that feedback raises your curiosity rather than eyebrow, swallow the red one and enjoy the ride. You may like it. If you don’t, applying for a refund is way smarter than trusting internet know-it-alls. Just saying…
- Amplifier: Trilogy 995R, FirstWatt F7, Enleum AMP-23R
- DAC: LampizatOr Pacific (KR Audio T-100 / Living Voice 300B + KR Audio 5U4G Ltd. Ed.)
- Speakers: Boenicke Audio W11 SE+, sound|kaos Vox 3afw
- Transport: Innuos Statement
- Preamplifier: Trilogy 915R, Thöress DFP
- Speaker cables: Boenicke Audio S3, LessLoss C-MARC
- Headphones: HifiMan Susvara
- Speaker signal conditioning: LessLoss Firewall for Loudspeakers, Boenicke ComDev
- Anti-vibration conditioning: 12x Carbide Audio Carbide Bases (under DAC, preamp and speakers), 3x Bindbreakers (under LessLoss power bar)
- Interconnects: LessLoss Entropic Process C-MARC, Boenicke Audio IC3 CG
- Power components: LessLoss Power Distributor -> Boenicke Audio Power Gate, LessLoss C-MARC, LessLoss Entropic Process C-MARC, ISOL-8 Prometheus
- USB components: iFi audio Mercury3.0
- Rack: Franc Audio Accesories Wood Block Rack 1+3
- Network: Fidelizer EtherStream, Linksys WRT160N
- Music: NativeDSD
Retail prices of reviewed components in EU (incl. tax):
- LessLoss Blackbody v2: $836/ea. (-5/10% for two/three in a single order)