Review of NYAL "Black Hole" amplifier.
-By Uncle Yarra-
It is not very often that one is privy to a first-in test of a new amplifier direct from the manufacturer. However, this magazine must have made an impression on Harvey Rosenberg as we were approached directly by him to test the new high-horsepower flagship of New York Audio Laboratories, the behemoth Black Hole Amplifier.
As any reader of Rarefaction would know, we are firm believers in Buckminster Fullers proverb
If somes good,
and mores better,
then too much should be just about right.
The Black Hole amp takes this to a new level, one might even say biblical proportions.
A quick perusal of power output at the end of this review soon raises the obvious question of which, and what type of transducer needs to connected to this device to:-
This quandary befuddled us for some time, until I remembered one of my contacts in an UFOlogist group, who had access to two atmospheric thrust units from a craft originally recovered from the Roswell crash site. These were in great condition for their age, and how could we turn down the opportunity to use such a retro piece of gear !?
Not only have our alien audiophile compatriots been handling terawatt devices for centuries, they have impersonated various deities with considerable success (as evidenced by thousands of cave paintings around the world). So the lot was cast, the Black Hole unit would be tested with two Edrukian class-M thrust units with the original power conduits & integral connectors.
The next question of course was where to conduct the test. As luck would have it we found that by touching two fingers to the input, there was some noise induced so that the thrust units engaged enough to support the weight of two amplifiers, the thrust units themselves, the entire staff of Rarefaction and set a trans-Atlantic crossing record. This simplified transport considerably.
The test site was chosen so that I would be listening 30 feet underground in a concrete bunker some 3 miles away for the near-field analysis, and 20 miles for the far-field listening tests.
The Black Hole amplifier has the eminently popular retro look, with large chunky knobs and switches. Switching from one mode to another has a very positive feel, made easier by the factory-supplied hydraulic winch.
It is pleasant to see an amplifier without all the ridiculous Class A/AB/AB2/B/1969 functions that only populate the interior of the chassis with excess wiring. Instead, this unit uses a unique switching method that has NO capacitance and NO inductance. It does this by electrostatic coupling of a rabbits foot to a holy relic of the mode of choice. A great idea, as well as being soft & furry.
Warm-up time is a little on the long side (3.15 * E9 seconds), and definitely an issue we have with this equipment. Although to be fair, Dr. Rosenberg indicated it was a limitation of the power supply, and he secretly told us that a cold fusion reactor unit is being considered for later models, which would reduce warm-up times without the corollary of cathode poisoning.
When you consider that we were doing an above-ground test of such a powerful device, and the covers were off the unit, we just HAD to listen to Vivaldis Four Seasons. As you have probably already guessed, theres only one season that has thunder & lightning, and only one amplifier we know of that can ACTUALLY produce it !
And produce it did, the meteorological bureau reported sprites (gigantic ionic perturbances of 30-odd cubic miles extending well into space) with a density rarely seen, let alone the purplish-blue columns of light within the atmosphere. I actually got sunburnt from the small amount of light coming through the listening bunkers periscope. What can I say ? I like listening to strings near-field.
Next of course on the classics list was Handels Messiah, and I think that if there were any atheists in the bunker with me they would have been converted to Christianity immediately. It certainly fooled some seraphs that came down to join the chorus, but their harps were no match for Black Hole. Hallelujah !
At this stage it was time to venture out into the heat of the desert and retreat back to the safety of the far-field listening area. The composer who would have loved to time travel to listen to Black Hole, Beethoven, left us with one of the finest legacies of high volume music. At the end of a bowel-quivering rendition of the 1812 overture, there were scars in the landscape that would have formed an extensive irrigation system had there been any water left around.
I also had some excellent pressings of the Mormon Tabernacle choir, and the surrounding vegetation was compressed immediately into thin paper religious pamphlets during the choruses (although I dont believe they went past the listening area as there were no bicycle tracks evident).
Unfortunately, I had only brought two rock albums with me to test, AC/DCs Highway to Hell and the Stones Sympathy for the Devil. I say unfortunately because for some reason I couldnt seem to get any program output from these albums. When I told Dr. Gizmo about this, he indicated that he wasnt sure, but the phase may have needed to be reversed on the religious input (something to ask your dealer about before you leave the showroom).
The most obvious place to begin a description of the performance of this amplifier is the bass reproduction. Although the previous paragraphs have no doubt extolled the virtues of this amplifiers ability to amplify the nethermost regions of the frequency spectrum, it is nonetheless balanced and doesnt produce unnatural reverberation or decay. The mid range really is liquid smooth, as evidenced by the parting of the storm waters left over from the Vivaldi tracks whilst in Moses mode. What could be smoother than something that slips through a large mass of water effortlessly ?
This was our favourite mode of operation, and vocals were clear and commanding, even through the reinforced concrete.
Islamic mode was another favourite, especially the subdued hypnotic highs produced by the essential call to prayer familiar to anyone who lives near a mosque. Christian mode also produced excellent choral timbres; to our reckoning, some eight thousand separate voices could be distinguished.
Our only quibble with this unit is that a Krishna mode was not available. We had hoped to enjoy the orgasmic sensations of having the entire human body reverberate to Krishnas name. This would be an excellent modification for subsequent models. Also Jewish mode failed to work as we were testing on a Saturday- whaddya gonna do ?
As indicated by the manufacturer, Total Harmonic Distortion is factory set @ -10%. This was verified by placing 0.5 gram of Wrigleys Spearmint gum on the end of the distortion meters pointer. The amount that the pointer is bent backwards when connected under test was measured to be 9.8% THD, which measures well considering how much flavour had gone from the gum.
As we were using high efficiency transducers (680dB/W @ 1km), the full-power bandwidth extended slightly beyond visible light, into UV-b, as evidenced by my sunburn. This bodes well for trustworthy, conservative ratings from this manufacturer.
One matter that has not been mentioned yet is that during the testing, we attracted considerable interest from some low-flying military aircraft. To allay their fears and ensure that we were not disturbed, the output protection devices, 90mm howitzer cannons, were disconnected. Real world engineers accept the fact that such devices may colour the sound, but this was not the case with the Black Hole units, and we would not recommend disconnecting them, as performance stayed the same.
Those philes considering purchasing this amplifier would probably need to be on a farm or property of some description, as there are certain requirements for reliable, trouble-free operation.
Anyway, enough from me, here is the specification pamphlet, including block diagram, as supplied by NYAL.
Power Output :- 10MW into 0 Ohms (or less)
Full Power bandwidth :- DC to visible light
Power consumption:- 18 grams of Plutonium/month, as a 38kg nite-glo fuel rod
Distortion :- minus 10% THD (48kg/silicon/minute, via distortion exhaust)
Damping factor :- 6.023 * E23 (adds approximately 8 minutes to calendar year per hour of operation)
Modes :- Moses/Evangelist/Christian/Islamic/Jewish all switchable.
Harmonic Resolution :- 1 CH (Only measurable on this unit, defined as the ability to harmonically resolve one strand of carotene per inch of vaginal distance)
Special notes for operation:-
A 50 yard exclusion zone is required at the rear of the amplifier during operation, due to the room needed for the large pit filled with silicon pellets that the distortion vent exhausts into. Also extended operation can contribute to global warming due to physical coupling of output devices to atmosphere.