Thursday, 25 August 2016

Grounding For The Better - J&K Audio Design 3io Blackbox



So you have a nice system (at least to your ears)... You sit back... relax... enjoying the music... and suddenly you start thinking how much is enough  when it comes to hifi hobby. I have concluded that ... it is LIMITLESS. I am not referring to new kit or new technologies. I am referring to how much more juice, excitement, enjoyment you can squeeze from your existing set up. I have always believe in the importance of clean power but due to bad experience of my set up being struck by lightning, I have been using surge protection for so many years until recently, I have revamped the power supply to my set up with several items including Frank Power Bank, Frank EM filter, Furutech US receptacle wall plugs, ECBs etc. The impact was not subtle.  And from this experience, I keep pushing for more.

Comes in this 3io Blackbox by J&K Audio. When the designer offered me to test this unit, I was at first wondering, what would this box do for me? But after further reading the product info, it intrigues me to see what it can do to my system.

WHAT IS IT?

In short, it is actually a grounding device. The Blackbox will help to draw and collect free electrons and control them from polluting the signal transfer. Too technical? In lay men's term, it takes away unwanted matters from the 'flow', allowing listener to hear more without unwanted 'noise'.

For more information, CLICKETY HERE

HOW DO YOU USE IT?

There are several ways that this box can be connected. You can plug it in to the wall socket next to where your set up is, direct to the grounding of your equipment or even onto a power distribution strip. For me, I opted to connect the Blackbox to the wall socket next to my set up is. It does require some run in time but the website does not specify for how long.

THE EQUIPMENT
  • SONY HAP Z1 ES hard disk player
  • Musical Fidelity M6i integrated amp
  • ProAc D18  speakers
  • Cabling
    • Siltech XLR Classic Anniversary 330i series for Sony to MF amp
    • Vermouth Audio Black Pearl speaker cable
  • Power tweaks
    • Frank Power Bank
    • Frank EM Filter
    • Furutech US receptacle wall plugs 
    • J&K 3io Blackbox plugged into the same 'line' of the Sony HAP Z1 ES
THE TRACK LIST
  1. Take Five - Dave Brubeck on WAV
  2. You Are Always On My Mind - Willie Nelson on WAV
  3. Enter Sandman - Metallica on FLAC
THE SESSION

The Take Five track.... literally gave me that take five meaning (relaxing). It just provided me another perspective of spatial definition when it comes to audio. During the drum 'solo', the percussion sounded very big in the overall sound stage. It gave me the visualization on how the drummer was set in the limelight on stage. The sound of the snare is very extensive that it really spreads out the details of each hit of the drumstick onto the drum skins.


When Willie took centre stage, it further expand my experience with the spatial spectrum that the Blackbox injected into the overall sound. His vocal sounded wholesome, warm and the emotional flow was recreated with a high sense clarity. Overall, the whole experience was very engaging as there was this controlled dispersion with the highs and quite sweet sounding mids. 


So far, for jazzy and folk genre, this Blackbox seems to be able to provide quite a change in the sound staging which created a different spatial experience. Next, I kicked in Enter Sandman by Metallica. Now, this was quite challenging to detect the sound difference with the Blackbox. The bigger soundstage and spatial experience was still there but there was some loss in clarity as the overall music reproduction of this track sounded a bit muffled at the beginning. However, listening to it more, it still provided this liveliness where the kick drums and shredding guitars were definitely livelier, hard hitting and somehow raw. Energized would be a good one word summary for this.




CONCLUSION

It works. Its just a matter of to what extend. It will depend on individual system, how its being set up etc.The main step up I would say is the spatial sense of the music reproduction. It gives a bigger sound stage for my set up. Subtle but enough to be noticeable. It somehow inject a new sense of liveliness, opens up the music more allowing listeners to experience a more engaging session. In my system, it might be subtle maybe because of the recent electrical upgrades I added but for those running straight from the standard wall plugs that came with the house, do try this Blackbox out. You may experience the similar benefit at a larger scale than me. Then, its just a matter of how many more of the Blackbox that you would like to install. Similar to the Frank PB, the more number of units you install, it may give you more impact. Highly recommended to be tested in your system for those who would like to squeeze more satisfaction from your system.

If you are interested, you can contact J&K Audio at jnkaudiodesign@gmail.com to place an order.
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