Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Music Serums Vaccinate Your Audio System From Grain, Grit And Digititus.

The Audio Vaccine Music Serum for Amps & Loudspeakers
I had received a call from a good friend of mine several weeks ago. He is a prodigious audio system tweaker with a great sense of hearing.  He was raving about a product from Slovenia with a very unusual name. Audio Vaccine. "Mike you have to try these, they are different from anything else I have tried. I've tried the Akiko, Walker, Stein and other various tweaks and this one is different in it's purpose and construction."
Lately it seems there has been an explosion of passive signal and power conditioning devices based on crystals, and other elements. Most of these devices offer more tradeoffs than benefits. For example, a larger soundstage for a shift in tonal balance, or squashed dynamics. Anyhow, I was skeptical about the Music Serums, but was willing to keep an open mind. Especially since they had the endorsement from a fellow tweaker whom I respected.

I visited the web site of the Audio Vaccine Music Serum manufacturer and waded through a rough english translation of what these things are & do. I didn't get a whole lot of technical information, but I did manage to contact them and recieved a set of the Speaker, Gold amp and Rhodium amp Music Serums to try for myself.

The Music Serums are comprised of finely woven wires embedded in a proprietary material and crimp terminated to a high quality banana plug. They are then encased in a handsome wooden cylinder, and marked + or -, and amp or speaker. The banana plug termination is meant to be plugged into the binding post of an amplifier (in the case of an Amp Music Serum) or loudspeaker in the case of the Loudspeaker Serum). They are placed parallel to the signal, so no series filtering is taking place. They currently only make a banana terminated version, so if you use banana terminated speaker cables, you may be out of luck.

Three Versions of Music Serum

There are 3 versions of the Music Serum. Two versions for Amplifiers, and one version for loudspeakers.
  1. Gold Loudspeaker Music Serum
  2. Rhodium Amplifier Music Serum - Best for tube amplifiers
  3. Gold Amplifier Music Serum - Best for solid state amplifiers
The external design for all models is nearly identical but the inner details differ. Each MS is accurately marked (there is a sticker on the top) for which position it is intended (loudspeaker or amplifier; connection to terminal + or -). All use high-end quality bananas (Graham Nalty ultimate "Legacy range").
I initially listened to my system for awhile with no Music Serums installed in order to establish a baseline. The first ones I installed were the Gold Amplifier version on my Acoustic Imagery Monoblock amps.
What I noticed immediately were finer sonic textures. A much more delicate and refined sense of speed, nothing in your face, but something that was missing before. The textures were more distinct, but not etched or over hyped.  The soundstage was also larger and more coherent spanning the entire front plane and well outside the speakers. No holes, weak spots or drop outs, just a solid 3 dimensional sonic illusion. Vocal harmonies were simply stunning. All of the separation of different voices, each singing their own part, but combining as harmonies to in a rich and beautiful way.

The Rhodiums Amp Serum on a Solid State amp
Since I didn't have a tube amp to play with, I took a chance an hooked up the Rhodium Amp Serum to my solid state amps.  You could tell it was a slight mismatch, as the sound was a little more etched in the highs and a wee bit more forward than with the Gold Amp Serum. It made perfect sense that these should be used on tube amps.
The Speaker Serum By themselves
The Speaker Serum by itself was slightly different that the Gold Amp Serum by itself. To my ears, there was more emphasis on the big soundstage and cohesive nature of that soundstage. Not quite as much delicacy and refinement of the highs, but close. I think the Amp Serums were slightly more powerful in my situation. That makes sense, because I already have Bybee Speaker Bullets on my speakers. There may have been a diminished effect because of that combination.

Combining Amp and Speaker Music Serum
The familiar theme of delicacy, speed refinement and a huge soundstage came through. Nothing exaggerated or out of balance. There was just more music and low level speed with detail and sweetness that made for a very engaging listening session.

Do these have a place in your system?
Chances are, yes. They make the music less electronic sounding, more refined and more "real" sounding. While not inexpensive, in my opinion they are up there in performance with the likes of the $5500 Bybee Speaker Bullets, $2395 Stein Harmonizer System. Their effect is not just on the sound, but how I listen. They add a great deal of enjoyment to my listening by adding realism, delicacy, and flow. The only question you need to ask yourself is what is that worth to you?

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