‘Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice
‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’
Firstly my heartfelt apology to Kamilla Liljegren of Coconut Audio, who contacted me last year (June) out of the blue to review one of her ‘Tweaks’, as she markets them, the Vibradome Blue Star. I am late to this, very – sorry – and as such recently checking her website it looks like the Blue Star might have been discontinued (1), however as Coconut Audio are still trading and have new products to replace/supersede the Blue Star I felt I would continue to do the review, if nothing else to highlight the ‘Tweaks’ and how one of them worked.
For what they are worth, here are my thoughts, and experiences.
Down the Rabbit Hole
I must be honest, I was somewhat sceptical of Conconut Audio and I was, after checking the website out, going to decline Kamilla’s offer of a review as frankly this smacked of ‘New Age’ mumbo jumbo. However I do have an open mind and I was curious, so after much thought I replied to her email and agreed to accept a Vibradome Blue Star for review.
Frankly I don’t understand how placing a Blue Star on top of any of my equipment could make a difference, and I won’t pretend to being knowledgeable about how crystals might be able to effect a piece of audio equipment, but Coconut Audio feel they do as their product range, which includes interconnects, speaker cables SATA, USB and powercables are all based on using crystals.
Coconut Audio say this about themselves…….
‘Founded in 2010, Coconut Audio is an ultra high-end audio manufacturer of tweaks and cables, specializing in natural based crystal technologies.
The first audio product, launched in 2010 was the VibraPortal, a revolutionary tweak that cleaned the sound of the audio system. The VibraPortal was better and cheaper than other manufacturers’ tweaks. Many upgraded versions were designed in the following years, until the VibraDome was released. The VibraDome became very popular because it was smaller and more affordable.
Year 2011 Coconut Audio shocked the world with the Hyperspace cables. By using crystal based filtering around the wires the performance surpassed its competitors. For the next 3 years Coconut Audio perfected their designs and had released hundreds of different models of tweaks and cables, each an improvement of the previous.
But Coconut Audio didn’t stop there, in 2015 the company implemented even more groundbreaking technology and processes with the new Holy products which are smaller and more powerful than ever before. Between 2010 and 2015 Coconut Audio had released 1000 different cables and tweaks……’
Coconut Audio say this about their products use of crystals, Crystal Technology, the term they use…..
‘The 0’s and 1’s can never change, but the timing can, and this results in different sound. We use piezoelectric quartz crystals to alter the timing. You are already using them, they are the technology behind clocks to keep an accurate time, and in the DAC of your audio system to keep a low jitter.
For robots a change of timing makes no difference, but for humans, the sound is perceived differently. Maximum jitter results in bright and edgy sound that you get a headache from, minimum jitter results in smooth sound, but for the human it sounds flat, dull and lifeless. In between the two there are billions of different sound flavors that depends on a collection of the resonant properties of the audio system, some flavors sound bad, some sound good. The goal is to make it appear like the noise is removed, while emphasizing all the good things. Finding the magic formula by accident is nearly impossible. It must be done by ear which can take more than 10 years.’
Interesting and there’s more…..
We use a complex array of resonant frequencies to filter out noise from the audio system by using 100% efficient natural minerals.
A resonant frequency is a natural frequency of vibration determined by the physical parameters of the vibrating object. It is easy to get an object to vibrate at its resonant frequencies, hard to get it to vibrate at other frequencies. A vibrating object will pick out its resonant frequencies from a complex excitation and vibrate at those frequencies, essentially “filtering out” other frequencies present in the excitation.
In other words, placing our product touching the audio chassis, will enhance the music frequencies and leave the noise behind.
To do this, we use a mixture of quartz crystals, ore and minerals. These formulas were fine-tuned by ear to 0.01 gram accuracy using months of critical listening to create a new world of musical bliss’
‘Crystal tweaking to perfection
Audiophiles have been tweaking with crystals for years. But they have failed to realize that when using only one type of crystal, the sound just takes a side step into a different flavor, because it only emphasizes a certain frequency.
Then we discovered that we could emphasize all frequencies with a collection of different crystals, and pick out the frequencies that “contained” the noise in the music. We removed the crystals from the mix which also removed the noise! This resulted in true improvements not found elsewhere in the audio industry.’
‘Why don’t others do it?
Because it’s too complex. Wouldn’t it be simple to just jam the audio system full of different crystals and get great sound? No, because different crystals can cancel each other out, and you end up going nowhere.
You also need to isolate the crystal formulas from each other, or it will sound flat and lifeless. The way the product is built plays a big part in how it sounds. It’s like a sandwich, it will taste worse if it’s mixed in a blender.
When our designer created the crystal formulas, he listened to the same music track 5-10 hours per day for many years.’
‘This is the heart of our products which we use for all new cables and tweaks. Without this formula the noise cleaning doesn’t work. Finding this magic formula has taken years of research and experimentation. We have designed more than a dozen of different formulas, all of them very good, but nowhere near the perfection of the 2-stage Unreal Crystal Formula.
When we first started year 2010 we designed a crystal formula for maximum micro detail, it was called the 1-stage Alien Crystal Formula. The problem was that this formula wasn’t as effective for digital components as it was for analog, so a year later we had designed another formula called the 4-stage Dolphin Crystal Formula, this worked best for jitter reduction and gave silky smooth sound with greater 3 dimensionality, but it didn’t give the micro detail of Alien, because the noise cleaning happened in too many stages which reduced contrast ratio. The best for contrast ratio will always be 2-stage cleaning, for example if you combine black with white, and no shades in between.
Year 2014 we did the impossible. We created the formula that gave all of the positive aspects combined, and more! The Unreal formula gives more micro-detail than 1-stage Alien, and greater silkiness than 4-stage Dolphin! It gave higher performance in both directions which resulted in much greater transparency, depth, separation and speed while sounding musically pleasing. You just want to listen more and more to it. And the best is that this formula gives the highest performance too, so you don’t need to sacrifice anything to gain musicality. Nothing is sacrificed with this formula. This is what happens when you reach perfection, everything just falls into place and all the weaknesses disappear.’
I am not sure what to make of all of this, I present their info without comment, but as they say, the proof in the pudding is in the listening – so down the Rabbit Hole We Go.
VibraDome Blue Star.
The Coconut Audio Vibradome Blue Star is a very beautiful item, like a precious jewel it glistens in the light. What its made of I can’t tell you exactly, but its 4.1 cm wide and perfectly circular. It sits 2 cm high, has a little weight but isn’t particularly heavy. Its deep blue surface, top, bottom and sides are encrusted with numerous crystals that are embedded into its surface.
The Blue Star can be placed on CD players, amplifiers, pre-amplifiers, DACs and other audio equipment with a flat surface. As the underside has crystals on it, one will need to be very careful placing the Blue Star on the chosen piece of equipment as it could very well scratch the surface of said item if one wasn’t careful.
And that is as much as I can say about the Blue Star, there is a bit more information on other Coconut Audio products on their website, but that’s your lot on Coconut Audio’s website referencing this particular product.
The current review system is as follows: Moon Andromeda CD player, Balanced Audio Technology VK52se pre-amplifier, Music Reference RM200 mk1 power-amplifier, Anthony Gallo Reference 3.5s, Atlas Mavros XLR interconnects, Atlas Mavros speaker cable. Audience AU24 mainscables, Analysis Plus Power Oval, Mark Grant mains distribution strips. Clearlight Audio Aspekt racks, Mana Reference table. RDC platform, SSC Big Feet, SSC platform, M8 cones, Telos caps.
Dead Can Dance – Into The Labyrinth
The Dali Demo CD
Listening or ‘Crazy, This can’t be !’
After a few minutes of listening, switching back and forwards between the ‘Tweak’ being on the CD player and then off, that was what I exclaimed to the empty listening room – loudly.
I am at a loss to be able to even begin to come up with any explanation for what I heard, as frankly it beggars belief that an object placed on the top of a very well made, and designed CD player could render the differences in sound I heard and repeatedly so.
Listening to the Dali Demo CD, track 4 – The Yuri Horning Trio’s version of the classic Police track Walking on the Moon, a beautifully recorded and played piece of music, I was shocked at the increase in image depth, width, height, focus, clarity and musicality that placing the Vibradome Blue Star brought about.
Removing it shrank the soundstage, made the music more homogeneous and a hint of digital glare on the recording that had not been obvious before this, reappeared. Fine details which had been pretty obvious shrank back into the music. At the beginning of the track drum stick strikes, and gentle brushing that had stood out before the Blue Star’s removal virtually vanished. The air and space around cymbal strikes, the shimmer and decay into space was reduced and the dimensionality flattened.
Phrasing and nuances in the bass playing rounded out and the lower frequencies lost a little weight, in essence the double bass playing lost a degree of its believability with the instrument sounding less real, solid and dimensional natural. With the Blue Star missing intakes of breath during the sax playing became less clear, less real, less like there was a human behind the instrument.
I played the track in full and in part a number of times just to make sure I was hearing things right, and being honest the improvements were so obvious the first time all I did was deepen my sense of shock, and bewilderment each time I swapped back and forward.
Moving onto Stimela by Hugh Masekela the openness, focus, instrument separation and airiness, heard with Walking on the Moon was still obvious with the Blue Star in place as it was also with Dead Can Dance’s – The Carnival is Over.
As well as clarity, focus and openness there was also a degree more sweetness to music with the Vibradome in place.
Curious as to whether the Blue Star would only improve the CD player I tried it on my BAT VK52se pre-amplifier and the Music Reference RM200 power-amplifier. My methodology was the same listening with it in place then off, both tracks in full and in part.
There was a difference with both items but placing the ‘Tweak’ on the Music Reference RM 200, brought about a bigger difference than placing it on the BAT VK52se. The improvements were much as with the CD but less so. If I had to rank this I would say on the Moon Andromeda came first, RM 200 second and BAT VK52se last.
After doing the main reviewing I decided to conduct a Blind Listening Test, so I invited a good friend down to do some listening and without telling him what I was doing I played the same piece of music for 1 minute and 15 seconds, the Yuri Horning Trio track 4 times, and after I played the track all 4 times I asked him what he thought. He was with ease, no hesitation at all, able to correctly identified the times I had placed the Blue Star on the CD player and he described what I had heard, though he used slightly different terms.
After revealing the nature of the item used I let him hear it placed on the Music Reference RM 200 power-amplifier and again he was able to correctly state when it was used and describe the sound change. Where we differed here was that he thought the difference was pretty close to when the Blue Star was on the CD player, whereas I felt the difference was greater with it placed on the CD player.
Well I came to this very sceptical, I came pretty close to saying thank you but no thank you to Kamilla Liljegren’s offer of a review, as frankly I just can’t imagine how things like this are anything but a con to gullible audiophiles who accept things with not even a remote basis in engineering or science (3), but in the case of the Coconut Audio Vibradome Blue Star its presence on a CD player, Pre-amplifier and Power-amplifier did make a very audible difference and being on either of those three items brought a repeatable improvement to music reproduction in my system.
I can offer no explanation for this, I am at a total loss but I heard what I heard and as such I must accept that this particular item does what it says on the tin, I just can’t tell you how. However what I can say is that I feel – for those with an open mind – that Coconut Audio’s Vibradome Blue Star, is definitely worth a try.
Source of loan – Manufacturer .
UK Retail Price £50 – available directly from Coconut Audio.
Organization number: 9201264307
VAT number: SE 920126430701
Contact: http://Email: email@example.com
(1) The Vibradome Blue Star, is still available and not discontinued.
(2) Link to Vibradome Blue Star product details http://www.coconut-audio.com/vibradomebluestar.html
(3) I am in the main a subjectavist but I do value science and measurements and while I realise these measurements can’t tell us everything in audio they do tell us quiet a bit about how certain things can affect an audio signal. Is there any way of measuring ‘Tweaks’ like the Vibradome ? I don’t know, but I would be very curious to know why and how this item does what it does.
That it does something to improve music reproduction in my system, room and location (location might be a factor) is for me, and my blind-listening test volunteer a given. We heard a consistent improvement and that is what’s important, that it has left us both scratching our collective heads as to how…. well that’s for others to maybe explain.
I realise doing this review, and publishing it, especially its positive conclusions may leave me open to criticism (especially regarding the degree of controversy whipped up in the past on forums re Coconut Audio products). I can hear it now, placebo, expectation bias, deluded etc but I heard what I heard – through a haze of active mistrust and disbelief in such products – and that I will stand by and defend.
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