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Tweak du Jour - Black Ravioli Pads
Are the Black Ravioli Pads stuffed with black magic ...
or complex BS ?

If you are looking for a great pasta recipe, this is not it. Neither am I about to evaluate the pasta known as ravioli. However, I'm about to tell you how to cook up, perk up, grade up an audio system with the help of these things they call Black Ravioli. They are made in Scotland, designed by Derrick Ethell and, although they are not edible, they are designed to complement and enhance the performance of audio and video components.

The Black Raviolis share the namesake pasta's shape but are filled with an unknown rubbery substance wrapped tightly in a black nylon fibre pillow. Nothing in the Raviolis' appearance prepared us for the experience when Jody Hickson of Globe Audio Marketing got on his hands and knees and began placing them under everything audio.
The Sound:
My first experience with these little thingies was at out ex-president, Sol Scharf's country house where a major system set-up was being finalized in a dedicated listening room. His system employs two sets of Orpheus monoblocks, a WLM subwoofer and a pair of Gran Viola speakers (reviewed in Vol.16, No.4) powered by a Bryston 4B SST (reviewed in Vol. 13, No. 4) and an Audio Aero Prestige SACD player (reviewed in Vol. 17, No.2) also used as a preamp. The balance of the system included the Exact Power EP 15A power line conditioner (reviewed in Vol. 16, No.3), and a whole mess of Nordost Valhalla cables (reviewed in Vol. 13, No. 2). Although a resonance/vibration-inhibiting shelf as well as Core amp stands (reviewed in Vol. 17, No. 1) were in the set-up, Hickson began by placing the BRs under one pair of amps and asked us if we noticed any sonic changes. Not only did Sol and I hear the addition to the system, we both agreed that it enhanced an already great-sounding system; one that I thought needed no additional tweaking. Next, Hickson placed four more Raviolis under the other pair of amps and - bang - the sound took on an even more engaging quality. Three more BR were placed under the CD player — and again we noticed the improvement. Every time a BR was added to the system, the sound got better – it’s that simple.

Well I was impressed enough to ask for more info and some Black Raviolis to "play around with". Back in Toronto, Hickson came over to my house, got on his knees once again and I clearly heard improvements every time a BR was added to the in-house system. We began with four BRs under the EAR 899 amp. This resulted in a more elevated sound stage and better-defined space between instruments and voices. Later, four more BRs were stacked under the amp, which further improved spatial elements on the sound stage, but also added a touch better resolution to fundamental (musical) notes.

Next, we placed four BRs under the CD player (another EAR product, not yet reviewed). This seemed to free the sound from the system's loudspeaker enclosures, taking up the overall sonic refinement by a few notches. Adding another set of BRs didn't result in added improvements, possibly because the CD player was already resting on a resonance-inhibiting shelf.

The next step amazed me inasmuch as I can't account for it. A single BR was placed between the CD player’s RCA inputs and another on the amp's outputs. This "freed" the sound from the system's enclosures ever-so-slightly, adding resolution to the sound.

Having placed even more Raviolis around, under and between the system components, I decided to leave them there for a few days and listen to some of my favourite music. About three days later, I removed them and listened to the system again; and their absence was immediately noticed.

Synopsis & Commentary:

The Black Raviolis will be a revelation to all those who truly think their system doesn't need improving. The BRs aren't a tweak that modifies or mutates the sound of a system so they won’t improve an inadequately performing set-up. Rather, they are to be used to heighten the performance of a system that has been carefully assembled and is already performing well. The result will be gratifying to the demanding, experienced listener, as the Raviolis reveal the potential of the wonderful world of high-end audio. In light of their price, the Black Raviolis are certainly a low-cost, high performance accessory that will spice up the performance of an audio system. Imagine, if you will, standing on a hill admiring a beautiful landscape. You climb a ladder or a tree and in this elevated position, you'd see further into the scenery. That is exactly how the Black Raviolis work. They allow a better look into the musical landscape, without, however, altering its appearance. If you haven't tried the Black Raviolis, you'll not miss them in a good audio system. However, once you have had the opportunity to hear your system totally "raviolied" it will become clear that your audio will go from good to great with the help of these little tweaks - I kid you not. The Black Raviolis are simply one of the greatest tweaks I have run across in over two decades of reviewing.
Black Ravioli Audio Pads  
Globe Audio Marketing
$150.00 Set of Four  
The aim of the designer, Derrick Ethell, was - and I paraphrase, "to sink all vibrations to absolute ground". A big claim to make, but the BRs do just that and I find their effectiveness approaching audio wizardry. These small pads are extremely efficient at dissipating the disruptive energy that is constantly being generated and stored by system components and their weight-bearing bases (stands or shelves).

According to Derrick, the Ravioli pads are completely passive and cannot modify the designed performance of any component. However, there can be significant differences in how individual components will react when the Black Raviolis are applied to a system. The pads are inconspicuous when in place and can accommodate the weight of a wide range of equipment. However, they will be damaged by spikes.
The Black Raviolis are designed to ensure a firm connection between equipment and its support.

They are deliberately flexible so that the component and pad can achieve optimum integration. It is recommended that, as a starting point, the pads be placed under all four feet of the component which is sitting on a flat non-resonant platform. Three point support of equipment is generally inferior to four point support and is not recommended. Additional benefits may be achieved by stacking Black Raviolis under specific equipment. However, it is recommended that before stacking is considered, single BR pads be installed throughout the system.

Derrick states that "there should be continued gains in performance while the components and the Raviolis settle into their optimum position". The integration time can vary from one to five days, depending on the number of components, their weight and the number of Raviolis in the system. Although my auditions with Raviolis in place revealed immediate improvements, it is said that A-B comparisons do not reflect the full benefit of the Raviolis until after the break-in period when they have settled to their maximum operating condition. Based on my experience, I believe that placing the BRs under the most sensitive component, such as the source component(s), renders the most conspicuous improvement. However, Derrick claims (and I take his word for it) that benefits will also be realized by placing Raviolis under other components, such as transformers.
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