Systems and Magic MiniBlack mains filter

16.05.2012..

Accessories, for the audiophiles, are a blessing and a curse: do they really come in handy?

Systems and Magic is an Italian small company, which, since the beginning, has stood out for the production of mains filters for the audio-video electronics of good quality. I remember several years ago when I went to Roberto Amato’s house to buy a filter Extreme. Roberto is the company owner and has his lab at home, in a fringe area of Rome.

I had been struck by the performances of this object during a compared test I made in the listening room of a friend of mine. So struck that I had to run and buy it perforce, as we audiophile usually behave when we want to get something.

It was astonishing to find out how a homemade object has such a solid and industrial make. How the designer is so competent in dealing with the problems we all have at home with the electric power. You must never forget that the electric power is the real and authentic essence of the musical signal that passes through the various stages of a system to reach the loudspeakers in the end.

 

For me, a good mains filter – although with different technologies and circuit approaches – is a real component of the system, not only a mere accessory. It is something crucial that helps the electronics to give their best in every situation we have in our mains. In fact, we have to consider all the noises and various distortions induced by what we have at home and by the external elements.

Generally, the mains filter introduces a certain margin of benefits more or less extended in relation with the reliability of the object. Having sound troubles, which are often retraceable in a perceptible deterioration of the dynamics and in some soft tonal alterations, is quite common. The last ones represent in any case a modification in the features of the electronic device that is connected.

 

Systems and Magic’s aim has always been bringing about some concrete benefits by reducing the distortion harmonics that insist on the line, although without introducing any deterioration and change in the musical performances. Instead, there is a certain degree of improvement in some parameters that are principally detachable in terms of more sound transparency and microcontrast and in an increased sense of liquidity of the sound framework, which is more refined, thicker, and less grainy.

 

This is exactly what my Extreme does. I currently connect it to my line preamp and, in turn, to the phono preamp if I chose the analogue or to the CD player if I chose the digital.

The problem of the Extreme is a limited rated load, against a maximum filtering efficacy. With the Systems and Magic MiniBlack we have a rated load of maximum 2.300 watts, with a less marked reduction of the distortion harmonics.

The employ is so different also because the Miniblack has just one socket and this feature makes it suitable to supply a big power amp or an entire system of medium or medium-low level.

The MiniBlack can also protect the electronics against short-circuits induced by failures or strokes of lightning, mostly if the device is always turned on or in stand-by mode.

 

The chassis is quite small, tidy but enough heavy being machined out of a thick gray aluminum plate. There are no plastic parts, except for the sockets. I have tested the model without cable and with the IEC inlet, but you can buy, at the same price, the model with 40 cm of built-in cable. You just have to get a power cable to connect it to the electronic or, if you want to use the MiniBlack on the whole system, a strong multi-plug adaptor.

 

The result this filter can produce is, first of all, the possibility of avoiding any failures when the system is connected to the mains and, considering the “natural” apprehension of many audiophiles, this is not a small thing.

The effect that the MiniBlack produces is analogue to the Extreme effect, only scaled-down.

I have connected it to all the devices I usually employ, included the electrostatic ones. Here, I have noticed a perceptible increase in transparency, due to the bigger separation among the instruments, as there was only air and “nothing else”; I mean that everything else is just nosiness.

Simpler is the perception of the single sounds, the soundstages are more precisely differentiated and everything is more intelligible, diverting the mind from the effort aimed to redo the event that often can generate a listening fatigue.

The tone remains free from any hint of filter straining. Undoubtedly, this is a merit, because in the past I have heard similar accessories modifying the clearness or warmth of the electronics, somehow or other.

Also the macrodynamic remains unmodified, while the microdynamic takes advantage from the increased intelligibility of the single instruments that are more lively and shining in their own light, less “invaded” by the other sound objects that are on the stage.

Besides, there is no slowing in the cues or less marked rise time.

Another aspect that has been improved is the augmented delicacy in the sound grain, a slight but perceptible refinement, mostly in the voices and in a stronger measure when the MiniBlack is connected to a digital source.

 

What kind of importance do the improvements have?

Perceptible, without any doubt, also to an inattentive listening session. And proportionally to the price.

If we put the Extreme at a degree of 10 and no filter usage at a 0 degree, with the MiniBlack I would say we are around 4/5. The MiniBlack can also be employed upstream of a complete system: an advantage to be taken into account mostly with medium and medium-low performances.

From my part, the respect I have for Systems and Magic’s products remains unchanged, for the commitment in the approach to the home mains problems and for the always positive and never disappointing outcome.

The price is fair, and the improvements we can get with it, make of this object something certainly recommendable.

Accessories, sometimes work.

 

 

Official technical specifications: to Systems and Magic website

Official Italian dealer: direct sale

Official current price in Italy: 265.00 EUR

Associated equipment: to Paolo "Miracle" Di Marcoberardino's system

by Paolo Di Marcoberardino
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