Tweakers' Asylum: REVIEW: Herbie's Audio Lab Black Hole Accessory by Quint
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Model: Black Hole Category: Accessory Suggested Retail Price: $4.49 Description: CD stabilizer mat Manufacturer URL: Herbie's Audio Lab
Review by Quint ( A ) on March 30, 2007 at 11:26:29
IP Address: 188.8.131.52
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for the Black Hole
I've always liked Steve Herbelin's products. Generally very effective and reasonably priced, and the customer service is first-rate.
I own his tube dampers, Tenderfeet, Iso-Cups and balls, and every iteration of his CD mats. I've particularly liked the CD mats. The Grungebuster 2007, in particular, was very impressive, easily besting my Marigo Reference at a fraction of the price.
To my surprise, Steve has apparently replaced the GB 2007 with something called the Black Hole--at a quarter of the price. Ever curious, I ordered up a BH, which I received a few days ago.
Appropriately enough, the BH is a circular black mat about the same size as the Grungebuster. Like all of Herbie's mats, it attaches around the spindle hole of the disc. I don't know all the technical details, but I think it might be loaded with carbon particles. Don't quote me on that, though.
Anyway, it's SUPER sticky--much stickier than any of the Grungebusters, which, while it might make it harder to remove, also addresses one of the few gripes I had about the GBs: namely, their tendency to lose adhesion rather quickly and not stick at all to some discs. No such problem here. I've applied the BH to about 20-25 discs thus far, and while it's lost some of its adhesion, it's still far stickier than any of the GBs.
On to the sound. Feeling that the GB 2007 was audibly superior to all the previous iterations of the Grungebuster, I used that as my reference. I used several discs, but the ones I kept coming back to were Dire Straits' eponymous debut and Neil Young's supremely well-recorded "Live at Massey Hall."
Though I certainly know better by now, there's still a nagging part of me that equates cost with level of performance. The Black Hole shattered that notion. From the first few notes, it was apparent that Steve has bettered the GB 2007, and at a fraction of the price. The things I noticed right away were improved resolution, transient speed, and high-frequency smoothness--areas I never thought the 2007 was particularly deficient in. The Black Hole is aptly named, as there is now a silence between notes that is downright eerie, allowing the sustain and decay of acoustic guitar to shine through as never before. On the Neil Young disc, Neil's guitar is very well recorded, and with the Black Hole in place, the guitar had a shimmer and bite, and the notes held in space longer, than with the 2007.
Bass weight and speed were also improved. On Dire Strait's "Water of Love," the bass is relatively deep and powerful, and with the Black Hole on the disc, that bass seemed even more powerful, not to mention quicker and better defined.
Overall, I'm incredibly impressed. It's VERY rare in this industry that a manufacturer replaces a product with a less-expensive version that's actually superior. Steve Herbelin should be commended for that. For $4.49 a pop (less if you order more than one), the Black Hole is about as close to a no-brainer as I can think of. I simply won't listen to a disc without it. Of course, YMMV, and Steve does offer a money-back guarantee, but I'm not sure many people who hear this thing will take advantage of that guarantee.
Product Weakness: Can be tenaciously sticky at first, but it eventually loosens up a bit Product Strengths: Faster transients, deeper silence between notes, improved resolution and overall dynamics, ridiculously affordable
Associated Equipment for this Review: Amplifier: Dussun V-8i Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): None Sources (CDP/Turntable): Oppo DV-970 Speakers: Von Schweikert VR-4 HSE Cables/Interconnects: Jena Labs Music Used (Genre/Selections): Rock/pop Room Size (LxWxH): 24 x 20 x 7 Room Comments/Treatments: Minimal Time Period/Length of Audition: A few days Other (Power Conditioner etc.): Jena Labs Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner
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Topic - REVIEW: Herbie's Audio Lab Black Hole Accessory - Quint 11:26:29 03/30/07 ( 19)
- Herbie's Audio Lab Black Hole Accessory: Highly Recommended - sanesmith 23:35:58 04/6/07 ( 0)
Ok I finally ordered one.... - Enchantment1.6s 08:01:25 04/3/07 ( 4)
- Same here alone with some Tender feet & a Super Sonic Stabilizer for my cd player. Should arrive beginning of next week. - gme109 15:17:22 04/4/07 ( 3)
- I got my black hole today... WOW! - Enchantment1.6s 16:38:43 04/4/07 ( 2)
- Very cool. - gme109 19:11:26 04/4/07 ( 1)
- not really... I have an original Marigo 'orpheous' mat but - Enchantment1.6s 19:21:01 04/4/07 ( 0)
OK, I gotta ask - bartc 06:06:11 04/2/07 ( 3) Betters Grungebuster 2007 - eratum1 19:05:09 04/1/07 ( 0)
Herbie's Audio Lab Black Hole Accessory - hartwerger 11:07:39 03/31/07 ( 0)
Herbie's Audio Lab Black Hole Accessory - Awe-d-o-file 04:49:49 03/31/07 ( 0)
+)*&#&^_&(^4%#^% it... - musetap 16:30:10 03/30/07 ( 1)
- Hah! You took the words right out of my mouth. - hartwerger 10:48:32 03/31/07 ( 0)
Question about this - hukkfinn 11:57:46 03/30/07 ( 3)
- Re: Question about this - RabPaul 20:06:33 04/1/07 ( 0)
Easy as pie.... - firstname.lastname@example.org 12:14:45 03/30/07 ( 0)
Re: Question about this - Quint 12:01:13 03/30/07 ( 0)