Shunyata Dark Field Elevator V2

brion -- Wed, 12/19/2012 - 00:07

I got a shipment of the new Shunyata Dark Field Elevators, Version 2. They were on the porch last night when I arrived home, and well after the 7 p.m. deadline that Fed Ex delivers (closer to 9 p.m.) 
I can't say that I was expecting much when I first put one of these into my system last night. Especially after I looked at them, and thought, "Oh...plastic?!?"
That was the last time  those words went through my mind after putting the very first one under one point of the speaker cable, slooooowly turning the Dark Field Version 1 on its side to remove it, so as not to "disturb" the speaker cable. (Those who have Shunyata cables will already know of what I speak. They do settle after you move them, although I'm not sure I would say 24 hours, as some say, but, on the other hand,  I'm not listening for the sound of one hand clapping, either.)
Somebody with a better system than mine needs to get these babies. Vhiner, Oddeo, Lee: you guys have GOT to get these. (Screw yer budget! You'll thank me for this. You really, really will.) I initially only wanted a 6-pack (not the ab kind: the Shunyata kind) of these, but my Music Direct salesperson whined, "We're out of stock on the six-pack". To which I blithely responded, "Well, send the 12, then." Frankly, I was annoyed I had to spend $275.00 for what I was sure I wouldn't need. (It's good to be dumb sometimes: it makes you feel smart when you make the right purchase another time.)  Lemme cut to the chase: betcha can't put just one of 'em in your system and sit still for more than one cut before you jump out of your listening chair and start placing them - as I did - one at a time. One at a time... initially a minute or two apart, as the system just expanded in airiness, separation, body, color, tone and inner detail. I have all 12 installed and was pretty disgusted I didn't have 18 - and my cables are all Zi-Tron Cobras (uh, except for my interconnects, made by another eminent manufacturer). After about 10 minutes, I put them in quicker.
What they do for sound, and I am not exaggerating (by the by, I had to pull out my CJ preamp because no sound came out of the system. I suspect a static charge, as this happened when I borrowed the ET-3 for audition. It played 10 minutes later) when I say they are dazzling. I had to put in my old JVC XL-Z1010 player on the variable outputs (it allows for volume adjustments via the remote), directly into the Hurricanes, thru to the speaker cables and into the Hales Revelation 3s (for which I have much more respect). Each time I put one more under a power cord, or a speaker cable, I heard a continousness to the sound that I hadn't heard since the system was in my 23 x 40 basement. In fact, I thought the system would never equal the sound in the basement since 2003, when it was put into a more modest 13 x 20 room. In some ways, it does not (the Hurricanes may be slightly dark, but they are as realistic as hell), but in the sense of sound expanding into the surrounding air, it surpasses the basement by HP's "order of magnitude" (or 2 order of magnitude. I don't know how to measure it, but I damn sure hear it without the slightest effort, and I usually struggle a little to hear improvements in my system. Not because it's that good, but because I always thought the room acoustics, even with 35 tube traps, was "off" a bit. Larger (cubic) rooms are, in my opinion, still better. Don't blame me, Alton Everest himself made that particular proclamation)).
Back to the Dark Elevators. Shunyata is on a roll. More like a cross-country streamliner, jet-powered train.  Just put 2 or 3 of these under your power cords or speaker cables and tell me I'm crazy. (I won't believe you, but call me crazy, anyway. I'm in LOVE, L-U-V.) I couldn't believe my ears when I heard the RCA RCA Living Stereo CD, Khachaturian Masquearde Suite (09026-63302-2) grow in size,  focus improving wildly, as I put them in, at 10 second intervals (I couldn't hold out any longer than that, honest Injun (and I'm American Indian, so I can say this: you can't. Too bad for you! LOL)) to the point where I can now pinpoint the  (living) space surrounding instruments, even in the back of the stage, which, with the Hurricanes, has never, ever, EVER been the case. The sound is "dark" in the sense that the noise floor is nearly invisible (the Hales will reflect changes ahead of them, but they are not, by a loooong stretch, the quietest speakers I've had. That would have been the WATTS, back in the day), but also "light" in the sense that the sound is fluid and the sounds "float" in (again, living) air. And the triangles(!!!) are so vividly placed, that, as much as I'm sure a Magico, or TAD or any of JV's latest loves would bring the system to fool-ya life,  I can live with the musicality of this system right here, right now.
Spring for the 6-pack (I'm not a shill for Music Direct: if it doesn't improve my system, it goes back. And they do complain, because  if I can't hear a signifcant jump - (which means I read a magazine, so I DON'T strain)  -  I don't keep it) and try 'em out. And the first person who has a six-pack and doesn't want 'em, email me: if I haven't gotten another shipment, I'll buy 'em off ya. 
Oh, by the way, I didn't hear any other discs. I couldn't get past re-playing the Khachaturian over and over again just like a kid on Christmas. I just wanted to hear the oboe pop out of thin air again and again and the marching drum crack retorts like it was Judgement Day and this was the last session they'd ever play. The orginals, as decent as they are, are just not in the same league. At all. Oddeo and Vhiner, please try these out. I don't mind singin' in the rain alone, but one IS the loneliest number, in this case. I need someone to babble along with me. I'm laughing as I write this, because I don't truly care if I'm alone when I babble, because it's embarrassing to do it in the presence of others. Like I'm doing now. But I'm alone. In my bedroom, typing on a screen. But alone.
I'm going to bed. I was supposed to be asleep an hour ago, but I couldn't get out of the room: I still had 3 elevators in the box, and I couldn't leave. It became too addictive to give it up. So I didn't.
Grant, I love the power cords, the speaker cable and all, but for the price, these babies should be selling out of stock really, really, fast. Even faster than the proverbial hotcakes.

brion -- Wed, 12/19/2012 - 04:29

 A small correction - they're a polymer compound, not plastic (they just look plasticky-ish at a first glance). And I lied: i went to bed, fell asleep, woke up and started playing music again. It's 4 a.m. Couldn't help myself.
What I noticed during the short second round was that other discs did not sound as glorious as the Khachaturian, which actually pleased me, because it meant a more honest portrayal of CDs I knew never did sound great (Peer Gynt, a gold CD, by the LSO, I believe) was still pleasant, but not remotely as moving as the Ka-choo disc. Neither did a Naxos Tabula Rasa. This is all for the good. The tonal qualities of those discs remained the same, but they were not as superbly recorded, so my listening session was less involving, and after a half-hour, I decided, "It's bedtime, man. You got a job to go to in 6 hours." Fortunately, I don't need much sleep. But the return to Eden was not as gosh-darn-ecstatic as the first run, and I was relieved - and still happy. What I did notice with (purposely)  still-warming-up Hurricanes was that the low-level dynamic detail is quite, quite good, even with the amps not fully warmed up (takes a full half-hour for the H'canes to hit full warmup). So, that bodes well for A), good discs, and B), more development of sound quality on lesser CDs. They're great devices that open up the upper midrange and treble, regardless of CD, as I discovered on Pear (I mean Peer) Gynt, which sounds much the same, but with a somewhat more open quality on piccolos and strings on this CD.
Now, I'm going to bed. G'night, fellas.

Jon2020 -- Sun, 12/30/2012 - 10:13

Hi Brion,
I am happy to hear that you are delighted with the new version. I have a dozen of the original version under my cables and I was gob-smacked when I first  heard the dramatic sonic improvements to my system wrought by these seemingly lightweight accessories. But to read your vivid description of how much better the new versionss are, I feel this irresistible pang to open my wallet and get them. But I have paid quite a fair bit for the originals and i would hate to let them go. Maybe I will first add 6 of the new version to my current set-up and see how things go. Cheers!

brion -- Wed, 01/02/2013 - 04:20

I can easily understand your reluctance to replace ANYthing that cost a lot. What I can say is that, when you do replace them,  you should experience an epiphany of sorts. 
The way I see it, until we remove any forms of electrical interference (including static) from our systems, whatever we hear will not reveal to us how well the current system we have is working. Distortion is distortion, so getting a new preamp that is absolutely distortion-free, allows us to think we've moved forward  - and we have - but we still have a more subtle form of distortion hiding sixteenth notes, and filling spaces with grain and de-focusing imaging and making all flutes sound  generic. This is not just Shunyata's products I am referring to, but anyone's. Robert Harley proved that two issues ago in TAS when he got a new equipment rack that killed vibration and unleashed a completely new level of music to him, and after the hundreds of reviews he has written, he then wondered how much music he'd been missing during those product reviews. Vibration is a distortion. It's in our rooms (under- or over- damped walls, room nodes), it's in our electrical connections (varying voltage from the wall, poor current delivery) and the like.
As it happens,  the DFE 2s, when put under, specifically, Shunyata's own components, makes a big, BIG difference. So, before you upgrade your speakers, interconnects, preamp, or whatever spring for either updating your fuses (HP on his website HPSoundings, has finally realized the HiFi Supreme tuning fuses are among the best tweaks one can make to improve the sound of one's system (if you get 'em, get the Mundorf model (it's the most expensive one)) or get the DFE 2s for audition (don't you guys have the equivalent of a Music Direct in your country???). I heard more of a difference immediately with the 2s than I ever did with the Original Dark Field Elevators, something Shunyata, in the form of Grant, chastised me on privately. I told him I only had 4 and I didn't hear the difference. I'm not going to say "WOW" it I didn't hear "WOW."  What credibility is that?! But after I got 8, I heard more of what they did, although it still never gave me that WOW factor. I had a misture of the ceramic elevators and the DFE 1s, and perhaps that's why, but nonetheless, I didn't hear it. The 2s?? I heard it even thought there were 9 of the DFE 1s holding up the speaker cable and power cords. IT ONLY TOOK ONE, that's my point, to hear the difference and the biggest difference was a simultaneous lowering of the noise floor, purity (as in less "fuzziness" around instruments) and a greater sense of continuousness (all the instruments resounded in the same continuum of air in the acoustic, instead of one section's ambiance sounding different than another's. And it was a "living air" not the proverbial "black background" (which can be void of the airiness that distinguishes Boston Symphony Hall from the Musikverein, so the concert halls all sound pretty mucha like. One echo sounds like another echo when the acoustics sound generic).
So borrow one. Not two. Not three. 1.

Jon2020 -- Sat, 01/05/2013 - 09:44

Well, I went out to buy 2 but added just one first followed by both. Why did I buy 2 instead of just oneas you suggested? Well, it is because I had 2 source components - the dcs Puccini and the U-clock. When I added the original DFE's to my system, I found the improvement was most dramatic in the following descending order :-
For cables :-
1. Power cords
2. Speaker cables
3. Interconnects
For components :-
1. Source
2. Amplifiers
When I added the first DFE 2, I placed it under the power cord to the Puccini. The improvement was dramatic as follows :-
1. Lower noise floor
2. More air around and through instruments esp. flute, clarinet, saxophone
3. Less grit and grain - trumpets retain their edge but don't scythe the ears in some recordings
5. The sounstage is more well-defined while the "walls" of the recorded space are better appreciated
7. The separation of instruments in the recording mix is more distinct
8. Pace and rhythm are heightened which means more head-bobbing and toe-tapping
When I added the second one under the power cord to the Puccini U-clock, I got some more of all the above.
I am extremely pleased with the results and will remain happy with just 2 for now as the law of diminishing returns would apply to the other cables or components.

brion -- Mon, 01/07/2013 - 00:27

Exactly what I've  observed about their effects as well. The only statement you've made that I take exception to is the  "law of diminishing returns". The DFE 2s actually do improve with additional  units placed under  speaker cables in particular, but the power cords as well.  And given the higher resolution of your system to mine, I've no doubt that adding other DFE V2s will be more of a suprise than you might expect.  The speaker cable placement  improved the sonics as well as the musical experience greatly (I put them at 18" to 24" spacings) in terms of the noise floor and the air around instruments, as well as, as you so well put it, the walls (and, in my system,  even floors - and my system isn't particularly good at reproducing the floor).
There's not much point in praising them any further until they're more widely used in other systems, but I have a hard time imagining them  not making great improvements in any system into which they're placed.

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