Tuesday, May 13, 2014

BlackDiscus and Magnets

I've been doing some experiments with various magnets and BlackDiscus. 
So far the results are this : you can often get a good improvement by careful positioning of magnets on BlackDiscus. But it's easy to overdo it.

Putting magnets on things is not new. Some have claimed that putting a magnet on a wire (for example) will improve the sound. Well, it's easy to see how it can affect the sound - an alternating current will exert a force on the magnet, making it wobble very slightly. This in turn affects the current. The actual sonic effect depends on many factors, but mostly the mechanical coupling between the magnet and wire. Usually it results in a rising frequency response, like turning the treble up, often with extra sibilance.

Anyway, that is not what I was trying to achieve with magnets on BlackDiscus. Rather I wanted to provide a "bias" field that is stronger than any other field in the vicinity. Ideally this bias field would be aligned with any nearby current flows. Why? Well the force (and wobble) mentioned above only occurs if the field is perpendicular (or has a perpendicular component) to the current. If the field is in the same direction as the current, no wobble.

Magnet on BlackDiscus - Digital link, so almost no current.

So the simple thing to try is just placing a magnet on top of a BlackDiscus. This works with both the free samples and the regular BlackDiscus.  The material is a little magnetic due to the iron compounds, so the magnet will stick to it. But you might find it sounds better with some Bluetack in between. You don't need a super powerful magnet here. In fact it can have it's downside in that it's harder to keep the field away from currents. With a fairly weak magnet the field will tend to be more localized to the BlackDiscus. One idea I intend to try is to use some flexible magnetic plastic, cut to size.

The effect, if it works well, is a lowering of the noise floor. So you get more detail You shouldn't get much treble enhancement or sibilance - if you do then check what currents might be nearby, and try aligning the N-S of the magnet in the same direction as the wire.

This "trick" doesn't work everywhere, but given how cheap and easy it is to try, it's worthwhile.

The second area that I've been looking at is with Kegs. Normally they have a copper ring in the center. This acts like an amplifier. By this I mean that if you remove the copper ring, the effect is less strong.

Replacing the copper ring with a small neodymium magnet makes it into a different animal. The effect is one of speed and clarity. However this is very easy to overdo.

Keg with magnet in center (heatshrink omitted) 

Kegs are used in Power Purifiers, being threaded onto the wires after the main filter. Replacing all 3 or 6 Kegs with magnetic versions produced a overly bright sound with lots of sibilance. Classic sign of magnet wobble.

After playing around with this I found the best way to tame the magnetic kegs was to only use two, on the Live and Neutral wires. And to position these a few inches away from the ordinary kegs. Then you get the plus effects without the negatives. It's also important to keep the two magnetic kegs parallel, so some heatshrink is applied to ensure this.

Prototype using magnetic Kegs - note the distance from the mag-kegs (center) to the other kegs (left)

I will be offering magnetic kegs as an option on Power Purifiers. Also I will be making a low cost high spec power cord with magnetic kegs filter built in. 11AWG teflon wire, one layer of cotton over each for damping, another cotton sleeve over the top. Audiophile grade power and IEC plugs, all for $129 (coming soon, but contact me if you can't wait).

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

New Idea for using Black Discus (including samples)

I was playing around with some Canopener size BlackDiscus a few days ago and noticed that they were just the right size to fit over the unused outlets on my power distribution board. So for fun I stuck three of them on there with some BluTack and had a listen.

To my surprise there was a very obvious improvement - increased clarity and presence, along with the normal BlackDiscus effect. This seems to be a little closer to how Power Purifiers sound than most BlackDiscus effects. I suspect that it's helping here in two ways:

  1. As a cover, stopping harmful electrons leaking into the air.
  2. As a mini-filter. Not as effective as the simple filter or Power Purifiers, but the same sort of effect)
(Don't take #1 too literally ;)

Anyway, it's well worth a try. If you don't have any spare outlets, unplug something (just to try..). I find Canopener size fits well, but you can use any size BlackDiscus. Use some Blutack or similar to attach, so that it absorbs any movement.