Herbie’s Super Black Hole CD Mat - Wow!

I just received the Herbie’s Audio Lab Super Black Hole CD mat in mail. It’s a little black disc that fits atop a CD which has silicon on one side (the side that touches the CD) and carbon fiber on the top. I’ve only listened to a few songs (electronic genre) and my first impression was simply “Wow!” I’m hearing so much further into the recording. I’m hearing the ambience much better. Notes have more texture. Imaging seems to have improved. On one track, there is a sound that is panned to the right and repeats three times. I thought it was identical on each note, but with the CD mat it’s easy to hear that on the second note, it actually moves 6 inches towards the center of the soundstage and then back out to the right. It’s always fun to rediscover your music when you find a tweak you enjoy. 
From their website, this is how they say it works:

“By reducing micro-vibration in the CD spin during playback, laser-reading error is potentially reduced. (Error correction in audio CD discs is not perfect; it is algorithm-based "guessing," not binary like in data CDs). By damping the disc/clamp interface, micro-vibrations generated by spinning discs are hindered, keeping them from permeating throughout the player where capacitors, op-amps, micro-processors, and other sensitive parts can be adversely affected.”

I can’t confirm whether or not that’s the whole story to how it works, but I’m convinced it does something amazing. I will report back after I listen to some more music of other genres.
Even more important than the interface between the CD and the CD transport is the CD itself which, for at least two reasons, tends to flutter and wobble and vibrate whilst spinning. The CD laser tracking servo system cannot keep up with the severity of the tracking problem, what with the nanoscale dimensions of the laser beam and the data spiral. In order to stabilize the disc from wobble and flutter more severe measures are required. I am currently experimenting with fo.Q CD Stabilizers, a small black doughnut-shaped damper 🍩 that adheres to the CD label side. My Mystery Tweak involves damping the CD itself, completely stabilizing it.

Question, does the Black Hole go on the label side or the data side of the CD? From the quoted description it sounds like the Black Hole should go on the data side (down side).

“By damping the disc/clamp interface, micro-vibrations generated by spinning discs are hindered, keeping them from permeating throughout the player where capacitors, op-amps, micro-processors, and other sensitive parts can be adversely affected.”
Thanks. So, it’s apparently very similar to the fo.Q CD Stabilizer. 

Thanks for sharing. I have not tried Black Hole yet but been using SID mat for a while and it continues to amaze me. SID is designed to eliminate reflections from the CD label and absorb the stray laser light. By using SID in my player I’ve heard improvements in imaging, more air and space between the instruments and vocals are simply more palpable. 
Not to rain on anybodies parade here at all but this has been current since about 2010 I believe?
Anyways yes it does work pretty well.
I have been using it in conjunction with GK,s NDM in my C.E.C belt drive CD transport and between them red book replay is almost like a whole new media than previous.
Highly recommended for $35 or less.
I’m more than a little skeptical regarding the claim that a CD tweak like SID or any other audio product eliminates scattered laser light and I’m going to tell you why. It is because the scattered laser light is mostly invisible light which is not (rpt not) amenable to absorption by ANY color. The nominal wavelength of the CD laser if 780 nm, which is in the infrared part of the spectrum. Having said that green or turquoise will help somewhat with the red portion of the scattered laser light, which is present in the lower part of the laser beam spectrum.  The CD laser in not monochromatic so there’s some RED 🚨  in the laser light. My product New Dark Matter is the only (repeat only) audiophile product absorbs all forms of light, from Blu Ray to DVD to SACD to CD, including infrared.

Pop quiz: free NDM to the winner!

What color absorbs scattered Blu Ray light?
Mkgus ...

After getting really excellent results from Herbie's tube dampeners, I decided to try the Black Hole. I heard no difference. I set the Black Hole aside and haven't used it for a couple of years. Now that the system is tweaked to the nines, I'll try it again to see if I can discern a difference. 

I'm also using Herbie's feet under the CD player to good effect. 

Black hole or Super Black hole Frank.
There is supposed to be some difference.
Maybe like orange to blue fuses.......
I had something similar from Herbie’s that covered a bit more area than the Black Hole mat (it might have been the Millennium CD mat) and sometimes it would come unstuck from the CD and jam the CD player’s tray upon opening.

This one is smaller and it states that it more firmly attaches to the CD.

All the best,
I had a SID mat but sold it here as I no longer needed it with my Esoteric SACD player.  With the Esoteric player, I heard no difference in sound with the mat on or off.  I think it has something to do with my players VRDS NEO clamping system. 

It is fairly small but it does not " attach" as such.
It relies on the fact that it's base is a moderately sticky silicone affair so tends to stick where it is placed.

I would be extremely surprised if it became detached from the CD while playing though.
I have been using the Super Black Hole to good effect for years.  If the silicone side gets dust on it, it will not adhere as well to the label of the CD.  I've found a "donut" of duct tape does a great job of cleaning the silicone providing for maximum adhesion.  

I agree with others here who mention the stability of instruments in the soundscape, the palpability of vocals and greater airiness around the instruments.  The soundstage opens up as well.  A steal for the improvement it yields.   

I have yet to buy a product from Herbie's that doesn't perform as explained on their site.  
@geoffkait - Has anyone answered yet? I’d say Orange, unless you consider the Blu-Ray LASER’s color to be Violet(many do), in which case; it would be Yellow.  Can't say/haven't tried.
The Blu Ray laser is 405 nm so it’s violet. Yellow is the correct answer. PM me if you want to receive the prize. Technically since 405 nm is almost at the very end of the visible color spectrum there will also be a lot of scattered (invisible) ultra violet light.
I have the small Herbie's Black Hole mat. It was Herbie's latest mat at the time.  It has never come off during play. I'll try it again tonight and report back tomorrow. 

@oregonpapa  Hey Frank, do you have the black rubber Black Hole Mat that adheres to the label side with adhesive or the Super Black Hole Mat with the sticky silicone topped with carbon fiber?
hifiman5 ...

It's the "Super Black Hole CD Mat. I'll be trying it out in about an hour or so. I haven't tried it for a couple of years now, and that was long before the majority of the latest tweaks were installed. 

LOL. Rip that crap. It just sounds better, I can recommend an NVME SSD, right from the PCIe bus as a player.
A $35 DVD burner is so much more capable than any CD drive for ripping your stuff. ;)
NDM is not a CD mat. NDM is a set of 10 ultra thin adhesive plastic squares that are placed on the top surface of the CD tray and the surface of the Mini CD tray, if there is one. I estimate total thickness of NDM to be no more than 1/32”. There is plenty of space between the CD and NDM whilst the CD is playing. This arrangement places the NDM right where all the action is for optimum effectiveness. NDM absorbs all (rpt all) light whether visible red, blue, violet, whatever or invisible infrared or ultraviolet. 🤗
Disc stabilizers have been around since the 80’s. Monster Cable DISCUS+, DeMat. Both discontinued, but still effective.

To hear Mr Kait tell it, every playback iteration should be radically different. They weren’t in the 80’s and are less so today. It’s simple to prove that they aren’t. It’s a non-issue for properly set up systems.

The light level in the player relative to the photo detector level is next to nothing. I’m fairly certain Mr Kait’s NDM absorbs nothing extremely well.
Mr. Eels, I realize you think you know something about this subject but you don’t. First of all, as I just got through saying, NDM is not a CD mat or any such thing.

The scattered light levels inside the CD transport can be quite high, up to 100% of the direct reflected signal. Think of it like you would a lightbulb in a small room. The bulb illuminates the whole room. You do realize light travels at the speed of light, right?  Even if the scattered light is only 75% of the direct signal amplitude it will still be detected by the photo detector as real signal. Therein lies the problem. Scattered light is not something I made up. I did not invent reality.
The SID has equally bogus claims. If light is reflected from the label, it can't be neutralized by the SID. Additionally, shining a red laser at green surface does not result in no reflections.

I know a little about light. I was Senior Software Engineer at Photo Research, Inc. 
Apparently they didn’t teach you very much, Mr. Eels. For starters the CD laser isn’t red. Don’t tell anybody. It’ll be our little secret. 🤫 How ‘bout them apples, Mr. Smarty Pants? 🍎 🍎

I have used various CD mats over the years and all have made a difference in sound.....some better and some worse. The Herbies Black Hole mat is the best I have ever heard and for awhile they were not being made.....Now I see they are back....get one....incredible! Dirt cheap.

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I’ve found that with some CDs the mat works great but with others I can hear the drive mechanism sounding like it’s unbalanced, which obviously isn’t good for sound. Could this be because I’m not seating the mat properly and the center of mass of the CD/mat “system” is off center? It looks like it’s dead center to me. Any pointers? Do some CDs just not get along with the mat?
Is there a measurable difference on these? 
I’ve worked with all wavelengths. 
Diode pumped, Q-Switched, mode locked, femtosecond 1053nm for the last 14 years. 

I can think of several ways to eliminate this stray “light” from a manufacturer standpoint if it’s truly an issue. 

I like to enjoy music though and not worry too much about measuring stuff so maybe you have something here. 
I can think of several ways to eliminate this stray “light” from a manufacturer standpoint if it’s truly an issue.

>>>>>I’m all ears.

My CD treatments include:
1. Sanding the outer and inner edge with sandpaper to reduce shine and reflection.
2. Black the outer and inner edge and the entire top of the CD with flat black opaque paint marker.
3. Apply Ultra bit Platinum Plus to both sides of the disc.
4. Use Herbies Mat.
5. Zap the disc with the now discontinued Mapleshade Ionoclast (like a Zerostat)....removes static.....very, very important...unfortunately, the effect only last 10 minutes of play time.
6. Damp the CD clamp in the player with EAR SD40AL damping material (round with hole in middle).
7. Paint the CD tray with flat black opaque paint.
My CD treatments are classified. New Dark Matter and the Mystery Tweak. 🤫 Hint - the CD laser is not (rpt not) red. BLACK is very tricky and can do more harm than good.
My friend Robert came over last night and we gave the Herbie's "Super Black Hole CD Mat" a workout. We a/b/a tested a number of CDs. In each case, the Herbie's mat degraded the sound. It had a dulling effect, in that the highs were obscured, and a veil was placed over the entire presentation.  It took the life out of the music. 

I was somewhat disappointed, in that, I'm using Herbie's tube dampeners throughout the system, and Herbie's feet under the CD player, both to good effect. I'm a big fan of Herbie's tube dampeners. 


Thanks for the report oregonpapa, I was waiting to hear your thoughts regarding the Super Black Hole CD Mat.
lak ...

You're welcome, Lak. 

The last time I tried the Herbie's mat, I had yet to install PPT's "The Gate," their "Stop Its," and the SR "Orange" fuses. I didn't detect the shortcomings of Herbie's mat listed above. In fact, I reported at the time that there was no effect at all, either good or bad. With the latest upgrades, the system is much higher in resolution, and the drawbacks of the mat could clearly be heard. 

These comments apply to my system only. The Herbie's mat may offer an improvement in a system that is overly "hot" in the highs where glare needs to be tamed. Or, perhaps with recordings that have that digital glare we all detest. In these circumstances, the Herbie's mat may make a perceived improvement.  For me, it goes into the box of "tweaks that don't work." 

Again ... Herbie's tube dampeners are a "must-have." They were a very significant improvement over the stock dampening rings supplied with the electronics as they came from ARC. 

How are these mentioned mats different than the craze of the eighties when it was discovered that a shade of blue green was the optimum color for laser defraction or flection. Some Japanese cos. still incorporate the color into the insides of there equipment. You dont however see the green edge pens, although  I thought those worked well for tightening up the cd presentation. Some claimed trouble with flaking. But the green color was the magic color. Isnt the bluray laser blue. Ive read that the blue laser light cuts a cleaner pit and therefore the improved resolution of blu-ray and supposedly the same with the Japanese SHM-cd format.

As it turns out CYAN (turquoise) is the complementary color of red. So, cyan absorbs red light. The Green Pen and some other devices including your humble narrator’s Codename Turquoise tray masking kit, absorbed stray CD laser light that was visible RED in color. And this was generally audible. However, things are not necessarily what they seem here.

The CD laser light nominal wavelength is actually 780 nm, which is in the invisible near-infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The reason the CD laser appears RED to the naked eye is by design - as a safety feature 🚨. The laser beam is not monochromatic so the wavelength of the lower portion of the laser bandwidth is between around 650 nm to 700 nm, I,e., RED. But most of the laser bandwidth is above 700 nm. Let’s say from 700 - 850 nm, for purposes of argument. So it is invisible. That means only 25% or so of the scattered light is affected (absorbed) by the color CYAN, and the Green Pen and Codename Turquoise. Therefore most (75%) of the scattered light is still potentially able to get into the photodetector. And no color, not even BLACK can absorb invisible infrared light. So, one might imagine how much better the sound might be if ALL of the scattered light could be absorbed.

The laser wavelength of Blu Ray is violet 405 nm.

extra: joke - Richard Feynman was pulled over by police for speeding. The cop asked him, do you know how fast you were going? Feynman replied, I’m uncertain.
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geoff said:

I am currently experimenting with fo.Q CD Stabilizers, a small black doughnut-shaped damper 🍩 that adheres to the CD label side. My Mystery Tweak involves damping the CD itself, completely stabilizing it.

Should I assume this will work in concert with NDM?  How long before it's available?
Thank you for digging into this subject.
I have a Acoustic Plan Drive Master CD Transport (please see link).
http://www.acousticplan.de/html/drivemaster_english.htmlI'm not an engineer, so I'll try to keep this simple.
Since the CD does not sit inside a "drawer," and the laser doesn't ever see the label-side of the CD, do you have a product recommendation that would allow me to enjoy some of the benefits you have been discussing.

Thank you in advance.

Yes, I was reading some of the earlier comments.

I'm going to give this a try.

Thank you!


Just rip it with a cheap DVD burner. Yup there are some that will play anything.

 No transport can match an NVME SSD for sheer capability and files do sound better off one.