Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Going down the rabbit hole...Fringe Tweaks.

I love making new discoveries, especially when they are unexpected. The last few weeks have been full of such discoveries. Case in point; my friend Wayne of The Bolder Cable Company dropped by with a new tweak. It was a clamp fashioned out of Ebony wood. It was designed to fit around AC connectors, like the ones on either end of an AC cord. Now I had been exposed to similar wooden tweaks before in the form of wood pucks, cones etc. and was always underwhelmed at their sonic results. These were the types of products for the fringe tweaker. I don't deny their effect, I just wondered within myself if the end result was worth the expense. To me they were not.

As we settled into the listening room, I decided to put on some well recorded jazz (Ray Brown, Count Basie Street XRCD) and "warm our ears up" to the system sans clamps first. Wayne and I listened for about 20 minutes, then I got up to place the first clamp. I placed it on the IEC connector feeding my modified Slim Devices Transport. I was watching Wayne's look as I was tightening the clamp around the IEC with my screwdriver. His gaze was focused, but then I saw his eyes widen just a bit. He said "you sit down while I put the other clamp on". So he and I switched places, with him now adding the second clamp to the other end of the same cord feeding the AC to the Transport. As I sat down, I thought the saxophone had a more fluid, flowing, analog sound to it. But since I hadn't been sitting there long I chalked it up to imagination. Then Wayne started placing the clamp on the plug end of the AC cord. I couldn't believe it, as Wayne was tightening the clamp, the sound was improving. Was I going nuts? I thought I was. But sure enough, extended listening both with and without the clamps confirmed what I thought I was hearing. Bottom line, I quickly became a dealer for Acme Audio.

Acme Audio offers more than just clamps, they offer affordable tweaks like Cryo treated, silver plated AC receptacles, silver plated cryo treated IEC inlets for DIY, and other tweaks that are reasonably priced. I have tried most all of his products at one time or another, and was always impressed at the bang they offered for the buck.

Deeper down the Rabbit Hole

Going deeper down the rabbit hole, I had been getting some calls from some very trusted ears regarding Acoustic Revive products. I had long been considering bringing this line in, since it fits so well with the company name, but was hesitant because of the very fringe nature of the products, and the expense. Acoustic Revive is a Japanese company. Japan, probably more than any other country, has embraced audio tweaks as an artistic form of system improvement. They bring a very unusual methodology to ridding a system of sonic gremlins, one that leaves us here in the states often times scratching our heads, or rolling on the floor in laughter.

But, with positive reviews rolling out, and positive comments from my trusted ears, I could no longer ignore the possibility that Acoustic Revive was on to something. So I called Joe Cohen of the Lotus Group, and placed an order. I ordered the Power Reference AC cord, RD-3 Disc demagnetizer (the previous version was re-branded by Furutech), the RR-77 ULF pulse generator, RTP-2 Ultimate power box, QR-8 Quartz resonators, FCS-8 Noise filters, and the DSIX powered digital cable. I figured that would be a good start.

For the next few blog entries, I will be reporting each one of these Acoustic Revive products. Please check back frequently. If any readers has experience with these tweaks, feel free to add your comments as well.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tell us about your first time...

Ah, the first time we heard music reproduced on a hifi system. Magical it was. I remember it like it was yesterday. My older brother brought home his first stereo. A Kenwood receiver, Sony Turntable, and Kenwood loudspeakers. Those brands are pretty much crap now, but "back in the day" they were a very decent start to a budding audiophile's first system. I sat and watched with interest while he patched the turntable into the receiver, hooked the speakers up with what looked like lamp cord, and fired the system up for the first time. I believe it was an album from Heart (that should date me). The song was "Barracuda". I was blown away. I had never heard music sound so real. Of course my only prior reference was the Panasonic all in one system with the obscenely named "Thruster" loudspeakers. But to my credit, the Thrusters were a single driver loudspeaker with no crossover!

I would sit for hours (unbelievable for a 9 year old) listening to his music. Eventually I learned to run his system through watching him, and play what I wanted when he was gone. That was the source of more than a few sibling brawls. Good times. Simpler times.

If you feel so inclined, write a paragraph or two about your first time hearing hifi.