Born of Experience, Friendships & Love Of MusicBeing in business for nearly 15 years, you get to meet, and share experience/knowledge with some really great people. Some well known, some relatively unknown. This post is about the birth of a product, I call it Sonic Tonic, as a culmination of over 10 years working with Mr. Jack Bybee, and a fellow group of like minded music lovers whom I will call my "Tweak Gurus".
A Bit of Mad Science TooI owe a great deal to these people. Together through our love of music and what we think it should sound like when reproduced, we continue to push the boundaries of what is possible with audio through very unconventional means. We are mad scientists, given completely over to the dark side. The experiences we share are available to you, if you decide to trust our experiences, our anecdotal evidence, and our ears.
It's a lot to ask. I know. Hell I'm about as scientific minded as they get when it comes to anything else except audio. That's because my ears and the ears of my colleagues/friends have heard things. Things we can't measure (with conventional tools/methods), things we can't really put into adequate words, but can only hint at with rambling cliches. It's wholly inadequate, but I've found a way to get beyond words, hype, bullshit and the like. I let you put my experiences to the test, try them in your own system on your own time, and see if they are for your ears. It's simple, costs little to do, and cuts through the crap.
Everything Makes A DifferenceI have been experimenting with crystals, metals, and other materials in respect to the effect they have on signal transmission and room acoustics. Let me just say that everything, EVERYTHING in your listening room has some effect on the sound of your audio system, and in more ways than you think. Even the air in the room, it all affects performance, and can be altered.
You've seen my experimentation with Copper rods (still ongoing, with more blogging to come...) alongside conventional acoustic treatments within a listening space. This is a fantastic, and inexpensive tweak. The copper brings openness, naturalness and enhances dynamics. Even a well acoustically treated room. That was my first unconventional means of attacking a common problem. inexpensive to try, and I make no money from it. It is simply me sharing something that brings more excitement to the listening experience.
|A 1/2" copper rod suspended from my ceiling.|
Playing The FieldThen there are the crystal based products. Not necessarily cheap, but that is about to change...
For the crystal based products there are of course Jack B's latest inventions: Room Neutralizers, Quantum Signal Enhancers. Let's not forget the Stein Harmonizer system, Synergistic Research HFT, UEF, Audio Magic P.E.A. and PulseGen technology. All of these use crystals, resonance and either are energized by or produce a "field" that enhances certain aspects of music reproduction. All do something to the sound, or to the listener perhaps, that enhances or at the very least changes the sonics of a system and/or room.
These have all been an inspiration of sorts, and I have listened to them all. I have much respect for these manufacturers. It takes hundreds, even thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars to develop a product such as this. That's before one dime is made. Think about that the next time you read or hear someone bashing a manufacturer for egregious pricing in light of parts count and cost. It's the original idea, the research, the time, and money invested beforehand with no guarantee of return. This needs to be calculated into the MSRP in addition to the material cost of production. Then one has to project how many will be sold (good luck with that in the audio industry) and hopefully come up with a number that will produce a reasonable profit. But I digress....
Rolling My OwnMy own experimentation began by placing large crystals of quartz, amethyst, tourmaline and other stones on top of cables, components etc. Most had next to no effect, some made me think there was a good improvement, only to determine later that it made the sound to bright and edgy. Not to mention looking like a crazy person to my family and friends.
I also learned that the process of evaluating the effect of crystals is a difficult process. This is why I also think that Crystal based products get a bad rap sometimes. Their effect takes time to develop, sometimes a few days to stabilize. Removing them from the room does not immediately remove their effect either. It appears the room itself needs time to "discharge" once the crystals are removed. Usually an hour or two. Up until I learned this I made too many snap judgements. Removing crystals and listening immediately afterward had me thinking that some made no difference. However, returning to the "un-crystallized" room hours later I would notice their absence. This was the cause of many re-evaluations.
After many months and nearly ten thousand dollars (this stuff really adds up over time) I did hit upon something, and I call it Sonic Tonic. The great thing about it is it doesn't take a lot of material to be effective, therefore 1) it's relatively inexpensive, and 2) it can be made in a small enough form factor to be discreet and versitile. My initial experiments were in the same blue vial/bottles that are used now. A little Blu Tak on the bottom of the bottle and they adhered to all of the connectors on my power cords. After 100 or so other tests, I was prone to be underwhelmed. This time was different.
|Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you Sonic Tonic.|
And the warmth, texture and richness that were now apparent in guitar, piano and vocals was outstanding, mezmerizing, and just super fun to listen to. I did not expect this from a little blue bottle.
It's hard to express magnitudes in audio these days. The entire industry is a crowded street bazaar with everyone trying to use ever more colorful hyperbole in order to rise above the noise of the crowd. Sad, but it's where we are.
In light of that, I offer you this. I have been the Tweek Geek for nearly 15 years, and working with audio and tweaks for twice that long. This tweak ranks right up there with the offerings from Bybee, Stein, Synergistic and Audio Magic. I know first hand that it synergizes with every one of those manufacturers' products, and adds something to the performance that none of them do. I am also confident that Sonic Tonic can improve ANY system at ANY level of expense or tweakery.
|A Bottle of Sonic Tonic on an XLR connector.|
|I especially liked the Tonic on Power cord connectors. Perhaps because of the|
high em fields usually found in these areas.
It's Not Just Me
Finally, one of my beta testers who actually wrote back to me after having the Tonic in his system for about 5 days writes:
The sound is much more revealing due to the lowered noise floor. When distortion is reduced, the inner details are readily heard. And, a bonus, the volume sounds louder even though I am using the same volume setting as before!Vocals are greatly improved. The intelligibility of lyrics is much better - vocals sound more natural.Electric guitar is filled with greater textures and beauty - more purity, less glare. Some climactic passages are downright majestic!I am hearing detail in the bass (which is prodigious) that I didn't know existed. What fun!The highs have this nice "sparkle" that I find pleasurable (and natural to their instrument - cymbals, bells,chimes).The Sonic Tonic renders complex musical passages easy to follow. Quite a feat.Orchestral music is more lifelike and emotionally impactful. Very satisfying indeed.I now have an "endless soundstage." No walls - just sound beyond my room's limits. Who knew?
So there you have it, a product that promises a lot, doesn't cost much to try, AND is guaranteed to produce results or your money back. Properly placed in your audio syste, Sonic Tonic is the little blue bottle that will arouse your senses and heighten your listening pleasure, guaranteed.