These Foots Are Made For Walking
These words are written in the early summer of 2015 in Denmark, but re-reading my email conversation with Mad Scientist Audio from New Zealand where they now have winter, I think back to when February made me shiver.
Later same month, and after testing these footers from Kiwi Land and listening to tons of songs, I just remember how that music used to make me smile.
Mad Scientist Audio is a small company run by the nice guy Bob Pragnell who is the mastermind behind a range of HiFi-accessories. It was his BlackDiscus that first led me to try some of his items. They are small and black, hence the name of course, devices to mount on strategic places on your stereo or multi channel system. They are meant to be attached to your cables or on top of your amp. Other places to mount them could be on your streamer or your loudspeakers terminals.
Bob Pragnell is so convinced about the efficiency of these BlackDiscus, that he even gives away some of them as a free sample for yourself to test in your own system. Voodoo, snake-oil??? Go test them yourself, that´s what I did, and these small wonders are NOT going to leave my house again, and are all placed on speaker, USB, signal, FireWire and power cables. Can music save your mortal soul? Yes, with these small devices it sure can!
After Mad Scientist Audio found out how big the effect of his small round discuss where, he moved one step up, and made them longer and stronger, and named them BlackDiscus Sticks. Though not exactly black he felt that the name Blue Stick didn't fit. And they are easier to mount on cables - and yes, they work too. And when testing them the first time, I was so impressed that not a word was spoken.
But the Mad Scientist is not resting on his laurels. And as moss don´t grows fat on a rollin’ stone, last year he has released even more accessories, like his home made Power Cables, also based on his experience with the Black Sticks. These cables are named Neo, and come in white, red, navy blue or black. And Bob also reveals how to make a simple DIY version of his Power Purifier at:
Of course MonoAndStereo.com has made a review of the power cables, you can read it here: http://www.monoandstereo.com/2015/02/mad-scientist-audio-neo-power-cord.html
Lots of thoughts where running through my mind prior to this test… What if all this is just BS, and only doing tricks to my and other peoples minds? On the other hand, what if these footers really: could make those people dance and
maybe they'd be happy for a while?
We are having a ball
One thing led to the next, and suddenly Bob had made some things he calls BlackPod Footers that we have in for this review. Not even sure how they would perform, he compared them to the American Stillpoints, a brand that he'd never heard of before. His test, and his friends remarks too, surprised them all. Everybody liked the Mad Scientists Footers better then the way more expensive Stillpoints! More research led to different materials used on his Footers, and now they come in three different versions:
Zirconia Ceramic Ball
Alumina Ceramic Ball
Tungsten Carbide Ball
All balls are 12 mm.
The best way, according to Bob, is to use a combination of say two Zirconia and one Tungsten Carbide ball. Three of the same material will just not do it as good as the combination will I was told.
As Bob writes to me: “There are 3 footer types, but we now do two sets : ceramic, which is 2 x alumina, 1 x zircon, and TC set, 2 x zircon and 1x tungsten carbide.”
Now to one of my good friends, who also is a sound engineer for the National TV, doing live sound for Danish bands, and is a HiFi freak with some good (g)ear. So he knows when he hears something good or bad. He has several different of Mad Scientist’s Footers, and while away a week for the annual Roskilde Festival, he lent me some of his sets.
Here is my mail to Mad Scientist Audio:
Thanks a lot, your footers arrived already today. Very good timing bus:
One of my friends has lent me his Mad Scientist Footers while he was at the Roskilde Festival (a tiny rock festival in the middle of Denmark somewhere.... like Woodstock festival just with new acts... though Paul McCartney was still playing here too...;)
After he (my friend, not McCartney) got his footers back yesterday, I turned on my good ol' stereo and was in a state of shock. The sound was bad, really bad. I thought something might be broken (speakers?)
Today the postman came with your package, so now the sound is back where it belongs, in front of me and my speakers, and no where else. Thanks! I'll keep you posted and when I might have some questions of course ;)
Best Kurt “
So what was I actually hearing?
And did I compare them to Stillpoints?
No, I did NOT compare them to the Stillpoints, because the simple fact that I didn't have any. What I did compare Bob's BlackPod Footers with though, was the Danish Ansuz feet (and some Ikea feet, useless for HiFi and not worth to mention - but quite fun to look at, see picture). These Ansuz I have heard at several occasions with a tremendous outcome. They just do something magical to the sound of many a good system, the music gets a wonderful and precise rendition as if the system is broken when you remove them again. So they are not bad these Ansuz Darkz as they are called. I only had the Aluminum version at hand, I know that Ansuz also makes way better and way more expensive footers in 3 different levels, the ones I had was the most basic. And the sound, putting them under the loudspeakers was good. Removing them was a really bad idea. Changing to the BlackPods was even better, way better actually.
Do you recall what was revealed, my friend asked me when returning. Yes I remember the musicality of my sound system, not so much more some more weighty bass, but just more enjoyment of the music. I also told him: And the music was reborn and something touched me deep inside.
If you imagine some tiny details in the music, as a brushed drum kit way behind the singer, the sound of that suddenly was clear as on a spring day after a long winter.
When you are out on a boat, and the dark night sky is full of stars, and the sea as quite as only in your dreams, the stars are beautifully reflected in the sea. This image looks just like magic, and it´s how I seem to discover the sound with the BlackPods. Clear, shiny - and it definitely attracts you.
Do you believe in rock ’n' roll? Then I really urge you to try these footers, they are good, they are very good. But all kind of music just was better with these small footers, not just rock, and also the fact that some of your bad sounding albums now are worth to give a new listen. Not everyone is a believer of stuff like this, but it´s products like these that could make those people dance. And invite their partner, and ask him: Can you teach me how to dance real slow?
I am quite sure the answer will be something like: Man, I dig those rhythm and blues.
I also urge you to go down to the sacred store, aka http://www.madscientist-audio.com and get these footies. There is a 30 days return option, but I am pretty sure you won´t use it.
I also tried the different versions (my friends BlackPods), and there was a huge diversity. I tried a 3 piece set with two ceramic and one Zirconia balls, it was good, it was VERY good. The magic though came into my listening room, when I changed the Zirconia to the Tungsten version. Those small footies are worth their weight in gold.
And when I think back in a couple of month from now, maybe I think that:
I can still remember how that music used to make me smile
Kiwi News from down under:
Just before I hit the Send button with this review, a new small package arrived from Mad Scientist Audio. This time containing some small pipes, called Magic Tubes. Also these are to be placed on your cables. Only a mere 5 cm long, transparent and glasslike. And very light and filled with something that looks like sand with some extra stuff (strong Kiwi powder?). How should they could make any difference you might ask.
Dear reader of MonoAndStereo.com you have to wait some weeks for my latest brush up on these ones, I need to have some more time with these small Magic Tubes. I already can assure you, that I could here them doing something while I was standing behind the speakers and placed the tubes on the binding posts. Strange? Magic? Do they work?
Read my next review here at www.monoandstereo.com
All items are made by hand. That means that they are not 100% similar compared to another. So as every piece of art not is not a perfect copy to the next item, these are not too.
As Bob Pragnell writes on his homepage:
“If you've not heard what a high performance footer can do then you're in for a treat.” I tell you, I totally and completely agree.
His Bob´ness has the experience of working and designing hard- and software, as well as being a good photographer. And as a passionate man of science he really questioned his invention of his Black Discuss devices. Many, many blind listening tests later he could hear what they did again and again.
Words in Italic used and inspired and copyright by Don McLeans: American Pie
Text and photos: Kurs Lassen