LessLoss Blackbody test review

When everything seems to be critically set up and well balanced in our high-end audio systems, do we still need to finalize, tweak and refine it? Some say that when you’re done with cabling, system synergy, audio isolation, and room refinement, it would be time to enter the realm of micro fine-tuning. It seems that there is no end to the worrying with audiophiles. Does it ever stop? Well, hardly.

As we all learned over the years, like it or not, everything affects the quality of the audio. I have already provided an introduction to this topic in my previous articles and reviews, but entering the realm of ambient-field conditioners, we’ll have to go into some more elaboration.

Electromagnetic (EM) Interaction 

For decades, and even more if we take into account Tesla's and others' findings, we’ve been dealing with the matter of EM interaction. We learned that not only does EM radiation affect the things happening around us, but every object can radiate or show a unique EM fingerprint. Even far planets are analyzed in this way, not to mention objects from our daily life (TV, car radio, mobile phones and even more importantly: audio).

Ask any senior and well know audio designer about EM interaction. In recent years many leading high-end audio manufacturers started putting in enormous research, time and funds into the build of their enclosures. Not only for  aesthetic and acoustical resonation reasons, but to deal with everything that can directly help in achieving a passively or even actively controlled EM shield.

Audiophiles might scoff at the "micro vibration time loop" with its never-ending quest for satisfactory ways of dealing with them. But yes, this is needed. Even to the extend of going into crazy elaborate solutions, yet does it stop here? How far does the audible realm of influence go, after all?

With regards to near-field EM interaction, every electronic circuit emanates some sort of "pulses" (formally called radiation). Dispersion and interaction thereof depends on the build of the chassis and the way that designer initially sets everything together. Some contemporary and legendary ultra high-end audio designers acknowledged this and took many measures to deal with EM interaction. Usually this brings up a complicated thing to consider when planning the circuit layout, chassis and final look of the component. The late Kondo San might have been controversial for some, with his unique view of everything regarding audio. His view of motion of sound included many so called "esoteric" findings, but these are actually slowly and gradually starting to establish themselves, today, as proven and widely accepted. His urge to connect and to see things mutually influential to one another and in a  symbiotic way, opened up many closed doors. Now, coming to the issue of EM interaction and the flow of energy,  he proved that different materials, simply by being paced near the circuit in various ways, can affect the outcome of sound quality drastically.

We audiophiles so often want to establish science as the foundation of high-end audio, and at the same time we try to avoid it! It's utter nonsense, this disparity. All fields of science have drastically advanced in the past few decades and virtually every field of our lives have been touched by its developments. But it seems, when anything contemporary and high-tech is introduced to high-end audio, instantly there are hordes of "knowledgeable elders" and "vicious youngsters" who aim to prove it wrong. Why such an inquisitional urge? Much of the fuss deals fundamentally with the general population's fear of leaving their own comfort zone. Every change in outlook and understanding demands moving forward and automatically calls for a needed adjustment of both our thinking and listening habits. Are we ready for this? 


Have you seen 2001: A Space Odyssey? Remember those black monumental objects? The LessLoss Blackbody strikes my inner clock of perception in a similar way. This is passive device: there are no cables, no connectors, no batteries and even no switches or controls. So how can it do anything?

"Blackbody" refers to a perfect theoretical device from physics, that by its nature in its wholeness absorbs and eliminates any EM radiation which strikes it. The LessLoss Blackbody doesn’t claim perfection in its modus operandi, but as we’ll see, it deals more than effectively with EM radiation.

I feel compelled to say it clearly up front: there is no voodoo, no mystical, nor any esoteric fishy business here. This is simply a well thought out and researched project from the already proven mind of Louis Motek. He’s got not only great wit, but it seems that his critical mind works effectively and sees things a step further than we might. Seeing the Blackbody for the first time (and trying to understand it) might set your mind at processor overflow. Within dealings with the technological world you always have to establish a sound base for reasoning and then tread carefully from there.

Absorption and reflection 

All circuits within an audio component are in some way passively touched by these phenomena. According to the build materials and the way the component is configured internally with regard to those build materials, the circuit will absorb and reflect EM radiation, as will those build materials. To state that there is no interaction is to negate radio transmission and reception, mobile phone networks, radar (try and tell that to the police next time they catch you speeding), the varying color of the sky, and even your own reflection in the mirror. All of this is absorption and reflection. Some more precisely tuned than others, but the principle in all of these is the same.

In Use

The Blackbody is supposed to be placed pretty close to the component it is to condition.  In practice, this distance should be around 15-40 cm away. It is all a matter of practical testing and finding the right positioning. Because
circuitry is not always mounted in the same place within all audio gear, you might want to take off the lid from your gear and "learn" how the topology is laid out for your particular audio component.

The Blackbody is not limited to being used alone, only one per component. It can be used in stacks of multiple Blackbodies. As with the LessLoss Firewall, you’ll get best result with a combination of several. There are no hard and fast rules about them, but generally it can be said that more will provide better results.

Louis sent us a quad set of Blackbodies. Like in Sun Tzu's Art Of War, I could strategize, plan and experiment with four of them influencing my different audio setups. Sometimes it was not practical to use a further distance because of confines provided by limited rack space, but in my other setup I could easily surround the DAC, preamplifier, and  power amplifier under an orchestrated Blackbody attack with ease. 

Enchanting, Sleek Looks, Sure, But Was the Sound Affected? 

The Blackbody is a passive device that hides among other things reflectors behind a slick and almost uni-body monolithic enclosure. You cannot argue about it’s contemporary and great design that fits very nicely with my Lamm LL2 and Lampizator Level 4 DAC. Black is universal beauty. Remember?

So what exactly happened when introducing the Blackbody? Like I said and wrote many times: if I don't hear the difference to some extent instantly, then I become very skeptical about it. True, there is always some time needed to adjust to new things. Nonetheless, throughout the years I learned that there is at least some significant change right up front, otherwise, there's nothing there worth mentioning. 

As with my prior experience with the LessLoss Firewall, I felt that the change upon introducing the Blackbody was in the same league. The effect was perhaps not as immediately strong as with the Firewall, but my findings were the same. It seems that somehow the very DNA of the designer imprints itself into his products. I mean this seriously. A strong conviction gives a fixed outcome in the products released under one's unique thinking and manufacturing. Otherwise wouldn't world would be a void place...?

The real change that the Blackbody brought forth was evident within a few moments. It was an instant reminder of LessLoss's recognizable clarity and focus.

The effect varied and depended on the distance and (not a surprise) on what kind of component was under influence. With the combination of Lampizator Level 4 DAC I could experience a more lively impact, than for example with Mactone MH-300B or Lamm LL2 preamplifier. The performance of the Burson Soloist was also elevated.

Somehow the LessLoss Blackbody brings about so-called "blacker than black" backgrounds. The sense and pace and of atmosphere surrounding the music adopted an even more coherent believability at moments. Note: this is not a simple "plug & play" addition. For the Blackbody, you’ll need to put time and effort into the best placement. Not only this, you might even need to make more room for these black passive devices. Their most desirable range can go beyond 15 centimeters and some populated audio racks don't allow this much spacing.

I wouldn't call the Blackbody a "tweaking" device like footers, resonance dampers, etc. While in their basic role they might easily be thrown into the same camp, the LessLoss Blackbody still acts as a different beast altogether. Discovering the workings of the BlackBody did not only depend on its positioning. There seemed to be a relation to its “massiveness” as well.

Lately my friend and audio designer confirmed what inserting better power cables could do to the system. I didn't need to try to emotionally "prepare" and convince people about the importance and effect of LessLoss power cords. My friend was amazed with the change that only two LessLoss DFPC Signature power cords brought about. My own face grinned quietly with his findings. We can be called charlatans or esoteric knights. I don’t actually mind. Through the years I managed to easily show the difference, every time, with good high-end gear, even to the most religiously skeptical bunch of hardline "unbelievers." Notably, professional know-it-all recording engineers. Of course, there are some "snake oil" and "me, too!" products out there, but that needn't deter us from experiencing and enjoying the many more well researched and carefully designed high end audio products. It’s not like the whole world works against the high-end audio society in conspiracy. A healthy skeptic lives within each audiophile as well! I tend to see healthy skeptics and audiophiles generally as intelligent and broad minded people, with only certain exceptions.

I think the minds of the present youth are even more punctual and ready to hear new changes. Just make a digital audio difference, like showing them a better sounding system or a better file format, and they are receptive. Many even reach out to analog for reasons which are not just fashionable.

The LessLoss Blackbody changes the way I perceive the music. The differences were perhaps not as avid as on the Lampizator Level 4 DAC, but all of them, even the Lamm and the Mactone, clearly did benefit and it was not on such a small scale as to go without affecting the experience in a tangible way. 

I love what with Lampizator Level 4 DAC brings to the analog-like digital transfer of my beloved music. In combination with the LessLoss Blackbody, some of the attributes I like came out even better. Not sure why exactly the impact was so pronounced with the DAC, but it might have to do with something regarding the importance of incoming and transferring the timing of signals. We're all still learning about everything connected to digital-to-analog conversion, but those bits seem to matter a lot. I’m finally seeing a flame flickering with hope when it comes to digital audio and the Blackbody contribution here is a positive revelation. None of the tweaks I made so far managed to bring out the music from the DAC as did the LessLoss Blackbody. This is why I choose to avoid calling it simply a tweak. Louis Motek always packages his views in a certain logically compelling way. The logical loops are closed. This is what makes LessLoss so different and what resonated with my "inner audio clock" right away.

The Analog Realm is Not Immune or Special

Now not to forget. I still enjoy my analog setup very much. Somehow I fixed my mind into thinking that the LessLoss Blackbody won't do its magic with my turntable-based components. We all know the basics of how phono cartridges create the signal from vinyl and needle vibration. There are of course magnets included. It should have dawned upon me earlier to try the Blackbody with my Tom Evans phono stage and pickup. I loved the change almost as much as I did with my Lampizator DAC! With enough space around my turntable, I played alternatively with one, and a combination of four. Facing four Blackbodies towards the turntable and phono stage proved to give constant results. More music happened in what I recall now as correct pace and rhythm. As with the Lampizator DAC, if I removed a Blackbody, I could instantly feel the absence of it. There is no better test then removing something out of your audio system and experiencing the difference. Either you'll miss it or you won't. When we come to the basics, it’s as simple as this. And I did miss it.

One more thing I clearly noticed was the effect of placing them facing North. Not sure why, but in my second system, if they were turned slightly towards the North, performance was noticeably better. Who knows why? North pole attraction, the Earth is a huge magnet, the spin of electrons, the absolute phase of audio signals, or some other magnetically affected reason. There's no clear answer, even from Louis Motek on this one, but as I study my notes, they come up repeatedly with this remark. (To be clear: Louis Motek gave me the tip to try this. I probably miss this. He says that customers throughout the world have reported this same finding, whether they live in the North or South hemisphere. Intriguing as the Blackbody contains no magnets!) 

Sometimes I felt that the effect of the Blackbody was perceptible in only a few seconds. On other occasions everything seemed to come into place after about 5-10 minutes. Could we be playing with something that underlies the mysterious, as yet not at all understood, phenomenon of "burn in?" Anyhow, I could really hear this and wrote it into my listening notes. So to be fair I felt compelled to share this with you. Please try it for yourself. 


What do you do when you think all upgrades to your high-end audio system are concluded, and you're ready to just enjoy the music? Just sit down, close your eyes and listen. That is the basic plan.

In our continuing joint "LessLoss system approach," we tried to show and present the importance of a balanced system. LessLoss audio now offers a full assortment of components that, as proven here, work symbiotically in their combination. There is a very strong impact and unison in employing a one-brand route when designing your own system. There is still a strong influence of synergy among given components, but universally when things are balanced, especially with cabling, there is more than a strong chance that this tactic will be successful. And this throws out many difficult trial-and-error sessions. Remember the time when we all respected a single branded full system? This is still a great working solution. Burmester, Gryphon and MBL have proven this again and again.

For a review of a device as "politically sensitive" as the Blackbody, I spent longer than on most equipment reviews. I spent an intensive three months on this, with at least two hours of critical experimentation per day, combined jointly with other gear under review. In my late night notebook, this translated to more than 20 pages of short notes. With a device likely to raise more than a few eyebrows such as the Blackbody, I felt that I had to be as objective as possible and to allocate an even greater time to let my impressions settle over time. Yes, reviewing takes time and effort to do right, because a change in sound is easy to come by, but to establish whether that change is indeed a change in the direction of more genuine quality requires very critical and careful examination. Especially since I don't want to become the laughing stock of the audiophile world. I have my own portion of healthy skepticism, too. 

The LessLoss Blackbody might twist many minds with its goal. This is a device which carries out an inherently important task that is often overlooked or not even acknowledged to exist. How? As mentioned at the beginning, some high end audio manufacturers put enormous time and effort to blend the technology and materials to achieve great-sounding shielding, EM reflection safety loops, and resonance free enclosures. The Blackbody can be an addition to more affordable and otherwise greatly designed components. Many manufacturers offer outstanding products built within non-fancy cases. The Blackbody can help in dealing with near-field EM interaction and elevate the performance to levels way above the expected. And with an already refined chassis, you can always add the Blackbody to achieve realms of quality unimaginable before. There is no such thing as a perfect device. Nothing works like this in our material world.

Spend some more time thinking, and especially listening, and your understanding and perception of things high-end audio might not only change, but also broaden in a grand way.

Matej Isak

 Mono and Stereo ultra high end audio magazine All rights reserved, 2012 www.monoandstereo.com