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Krakow Sonic Society
Krakow Sonic Society,
meeting #76:
Acoustic Revive – anti-vibration elements, system

Contact:
Yoshi Hontani
3016-1 Tsunatori-machi, Isesaki-shi
Gunma Pref. 372-0812, Japan
tel.: +81-270-24-0878 | fax: +81-270-21-1963

e-mail: e-hontani@musonpro.com

WWW: Acoustic Revive

Country of origin: Japan

Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Photographs: Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Krzysztof Kalinkowski

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Acoustic Revive is a brand owned by SEKIGUCHI MACHINE SALES CO., LTD. Its brain, moving force, good spirit and whatever you can think of is Mr. Ken Ishiguro. In the AR catalog we find connecting cables, but its main area of interest are the so called accessories, which are, in this case, an equally important element of the system, together with electronics and loudspeakers. As Mr. Ishiguro says, he wanted music to be played “not as if it is reproduced by a mechanical device”. “Only listening to naturally created sounds, without artifacts introduced by electronics allow us to hear, what the artist envisioned.”

He tells in his interview for “6moons.com”:
“I was listening to the Beatles when I was fourteen years old. It was 1976 and it was the 10th anniversary of the first arrival of the Beatles in Japan. There was a Beatles revival boom in Japan at the time and I was listening to their music using a boom box. But I wanted better sound quality and a better system. Audio was very popular in Japan in the seventies, with audio systems being sold even in department stores. After getting out school for the day, I would stop in audio shops and listen to the music. I couldn't afford to buy the high-end audio systems the shops had as a child so I bought something more modest. I started spending all of my part-time job and pocket money on analogue records and accessories to improve the sound quality of my system.” [...]
“I like to listen to all kinds of music from old historic to the latest popular music. I like all music from the different cultures around the world. I also go to concerts and listen to live music whenever I can. Lately I've been listening to a lot of 60s to 80s rock & roll. I think that rock music in that period had a lot of creative elements in the recordings that compare favorably to the creativity and artistry seen in the best classical and jazz. I personally think that if a system can play rock & roll superbly, then it can also reproduce any other genre of music well.”

Mr. Ken Ishiguro has five systems in his house, on which he tests the kind of changes introduced by elements manufactured by him:

  • Westlake BBSM15F loudspeakers, Pass Aleph 0 (x4) amplifiers, Mark Levinson LNP-2L preamplifier, Wadia Pro & Wadia 21 CD player, phonostage Goldmund PH3 and a Roksan Xerxes 20 & Artemiz & Shiraz analog system;
  • Loudspeakers Avalon Diamond, amplifiers Viola Bravo, DAC Goldmund Mimesis 21E, preamplifier Goldmund Mimesis 24ME, CD player Burmeister 979, phonostage Connoisseur 4.0 Advance, Roksan TMS & Graham Model 2.2 and Lyra Titan 2017S Special analog system
  • Loudsepeakers B&W 820 DX2 & 803 DX2 & HTM2D & ASW825, power amplifiers Goldmund EIDOS 18x5, AV processor Goldmund Mimesis 30 ME, universal player Esoteric UX-1 Special, external clock Esoteric G-0RB and a Mitsubishi LVP2001 display
  • Acoustic Energy AE2 loudspeakers, Macintosh MC602 power amp, preamplifier Hovland HP-100 and Esoteric X-01 Special separated SACD system; and
  • Loudspeakers Sonus Faber Signam, Sonus Faber Musica and a Bow Technology Wizard system.
[Source: Eter Audio]

After good experience with platforms RST-38 and RAF-48 (read HERE) we were more and more interested in what the manufacturer has to offer. Strolling through the company’s catalog, its web page and price list we were amazed – the amount of available elements, their exotics and esoteric was putting even us off scale, us who saw many different things. Like I say – we saw many things, we heard lots of products, which seemed nonsensical at first glance, strange and often just stupid, after listening, after comparing, they seemed useful, changed the sound in a more or less obvious way, many times to the best.
I know now, that I cannot laugh at everything I see, and what escapes my experience. Many years of experiments, hundreds, or maybe even thousands, hours of listening sessions taught me one thing: before I exclude anything via listening, it is not excluded. It may be suspected, temporary, but still possible.
The case of Acoustic Revive is more interesting, because the man behind it is an engineer, and he backs up the working of each and every device with a concrete theory (physics) and measurements, made in universities. This is not a “mad inventor”, who listens to something and starts selling it. The research made by this company is very rigorous and resembles normal scientific experimenting. First there is theory, then practice (listening session), then measurements and then the final listening sessions. If the effects are repeatable in all Mr. Ishiguro systems, then they go to manufacturing.
To be completely frank, there is a bit of hypocrisy from my end. I know, that this is good methodology. I know many people, who own those “contraptions”, who use them and who are happy with them. I even try to understand the theory behind it. I mix that with my experience and a soft spot for everything Japanese and their audio. Yet standing in front of “natural silk to place under sockets and plugs” I give up. I know, I need to verify that sometime, listen, as only then I will be sure, but I put this away from me for as long as possible, as I did with the Harmonix RFA-7800 spots, which are on my shelf, unpacked, for more than half a year now…

Everything that deals with vibration, their transmission and their cessation is quite obvious for me. This is why for me this part of the price list was very interesting for me. The more, as two products from that range – platforms – turned out to be better, than their description in the company materials.
This time the meeting should be at Janusz’ place, with his ultra-precise and mega-transparent system based on Ancient Audio products (the player Lektor Grand SE, amplifier Silver Grand Mono and conditioner First Generator), modified loudspeakers Sonus Faber Electa Amator (I), cables from Acrolink and Tara Labs and Base rack. The methodology of this test was different than with the platforms. Because we had many different products to listen to, in many places, I decided to prepare some kind of “reduction”, we will use all the products at once, placing them all where they should be, and then removing one by one, reducing one “decoupling” level after another. Because we knew the influence of the platforms RAF-48 under the electronics and RST-38 under the loudspeakers, those stayed in their places all the time.

We chose the following products for testing:

  • anti-vibration platforms RAF-48 under the CD transport and DACs, price 4990 zl/pce.,
  • anti-vibration platforms RST-38 under the loudspeakers stands, price: 2490 zl/pce.,
  • supports for spikes SPU-8, 490 zł/8 pcs.,
  • quartz supports RIQ-5010, price 2490 zł/4 pcs.,
  • supports for loudspeaker cables and power cables RCI-3: 590 zł/pce.,
  • quartz resonators QR-8: 590 zł/8 pce. From the beginning we set a hierarchy in which we wanted to listen to the individual elements:
  • most important for us were the quartz isolators RIQ-5010, we placed under the feet of the CD, under the SPU-8 supports and under the loudspeakers (between the speaker and stand),
  • in the second wave the SPU-8 alone, placed under the spikes of the loudspeaker stands.

Both the cable supports RCI-3 (8 pcs, four per channel) and the quartz resonators we left at the end, collectively assuming, that if they will introduce any changes, those will be minimal. But as it turns out, life writes its own scenarios. But about that after the main part.
Because for us it was most important, how in a system with the anti-vibration platforms already applied, which do work – and how! – and which we all bought, the anti-vibration elements will work, which from the point of view physics, and our experience, should have substantial effects on the sound – RIQ-5010 and SPU-8. Like I say, the described experiment was based on reduction – we initially applied all the important supports (except for the QR-8) and we then removed them from below the elements.

SOUND

Discs used for the listening session:

  • Abba, Super Trouper, Polar Music Production/Universal Music Japan, UICY-9508, CD.
  • Dominic Miller, Fourth Wall, Qrious Music, QRM 108-2, CD;
  • Peggy Lee, Mint Jazz, Capitol/Toshiba-EMI, TOCJ-9327, CD.
  • Stan Getz, The Peacocks, Sony Music (Japan), SRCS 9186, Master Sound, CD.
  • William Carter, Santiago de Murcia, Linn Records, CKD 288, SACD/HDCD.

RIQ-5010 under the Compact Disc transport

The first experiment was to use the supports RIQ-5010 under the feet of the Ancient Audio Lektor Grand SE. The device was first equipped with Finite Elemente Cerabase feet, and the semitransparent, smoked rings were placed under those.
The RIQ-5010 and RIQ-5010W (smoked and transparent versions) of the feet supports are made from colored or natural quartz. Each ring has a diameter of 50mm and is 10mm thick. Those can be placed also atop of a device or close to the connectors. Standard isolators generate a sound that is unique to them, being a derivative of the mechanical characteristics of a given material, and usually the only thing counting is if the sound is liked by the listener or not. According to the Acoustic Revive company materials they have tested every available material, which generates nothing from itself and which improve the quality of the sound. It turned out that smoked and clean quartz. They allow – as we can read – to extract “clearer, lively sound”.

Ryszard S.: As for me, I do not feel the need to buy this contraption – and you know, that both platforms are brilliant and I am buying them. With the quartz under the transport feet I heard something that damped the sound a little, as if it would get fogged.

Janusz: The Peggy Lee disc was more to my liking with the discs under the feet. Also The Peacocks disc. I think, that the midrange was nicely underlined, what made the vocals seem fuller and smoother. But the rest of the discs were definitely worse – they sounded better without the discs.

Ryszard B.: In my opinion the quartz helped to extract something “intrinsic” from the recordings on the discs, which were tonally balanced. But if those were on the bright side, then it was bad, as if they would underline their flaws and extract any dirt. In general bass seemed better without the discs.

Tomasz: For me it is the other way round – the sound without the quartz discs was darker, worse. This is why I did not like all the pieces, except Dominic Miller, when played without the quartz under the feet. Especially Abba – this was a completely different disc with the quartz isolators.

Mariusz: My first contact with those quartzes, about two years ago, was completely different than now – her they work differently than in my system, than I remember. In my system, they just mudded things. Yet I do not hear any positive element, which would, in my opinion, justify the usage of those isolators. With the discs under the feet everything got wrong. Without them, things were better readable.

RIQ-5010 under the loudspeakers

The next step was to see, how the sound will change, when we take the discs out from the loudspeakers – under each Sonus Faber loudspeaker there were four discs, and the loudspeakers were not bolted to the stand. We screwed them tight after removing the discs.

Mariusz: In this case we deal with an alternative, but qualitatively equivalent, presentation. Without the discs the sound was clearer, more resolved, but lost somewhere the coziness, fluency and intimacy given by the discs. Without any doubt, they generate a more fluent, nicer sound. So in general – this time I liked it better with the discs, but not because it was better, but because I like this kind of presentation better.

Tomasz: I like the sound better and better, when we removed the discs first from the player and then from the loudspeakers. Only with Dominic Miller and the discs under the loudspeakers the sound was better for me. Abba sounds better without the isolators, but earlier (with them installed) the shortcomings of the recording were audible better.

Ryszard B: I concur with Mariusz findings, but my conclusion is different by 180°. The differentiation of timbre was better without the discs, and that makes the sound more open and – for me – better.

Ryszard S: I am going in the direction of beauty – first I thought, that the isolators gave that “something”, but now the sound is better without them under the loudspeakers.

Janusz: I cannot hear now any visible difference, significant enough to justify the usage of the discs. With Miller, the difference for better without the discs was clear, however.

SPU-8 – brass supports below the spikes

Those are supports for spikes, made from one kind of brass. In this case I would like to condense our opinions, because when reading my notes, I see exactly the same sentences spoken by all of us. To be sure, we took the supports out and placed them back under the spikes. The SPU-8 pads are fantastic!!! Removing them from below the spikes – and there was also the platform RST-38 placed already, which introduces big changes! – results in a faded sound. Resolution diminishes immediately. Although earlier the changes were clear, it was possible to show quite precisely what was changing, and to what extent, now the change was very big and clearly unanimous (with the supports). Just like Janusz said, it was a shock! Miller just disappeared in our eyes without the pads, just like Carter’s guitar. This is an element everybody should try out in his system NECESSARILY!!!

RIQ-5010 under the SPU-8

This test we called the 3 times YES! We mean, that on the RST-38 platform (first YES!) we placed the RIQ-5010 discs (second YES!) and on those the brass pads SPU-8 (third YES!). And although earlier the quartz discs divided the listeners, now they all were unanimous: that was IT! I will quote Janusz’ opinion, because it summarizes well what we heard:

Janusz: Frankly speaking – this is beautiful! Bass in this configuration reaches low, but is also very well differentiated. This is a pedigree, romantic sound. Beautiful, superb treble! Only Abba was weak – now it can be heard nicely, but there is also no doubt, that the recording is not so well. The vocals on that disc were much to the front, but also the sibilants were stronger. With Peggy Lee the resolution was smaller, but in general everything sounded nicer, really swell. There was velvet, depth and good localization. This is, after the platforms, the best, until now, change brought by Acoustic Revive elements.

RCI-3 i QR-8

Finally, just before I left, we tested the cable supports RCI-3 and we glued the quartz resonator QR-8 on top of the CD clamp. We did not have much time for that, because that was deemed to be only a formality, removing those elements from further testing. But you have just read, how well quartz discs sounded placed under brass pads, didn’t you? Please magnify that influence by two and you will have the change brought by the RCI-3 supports. Because we tested in this system other cable supports, also some much more expensive, and the change was never worth mentioning, this time the change was so big, that we were baffled – we listened for a few seconds and we started to laugh – a bit from ourselves, from our foolishness and a bit from being tired. To verify our findings we removed them and placed them back a few times, and played various discs – the result was always the same: with the RCI-3 the sound was deeper, more vivid, clearer and better. And QR-8? Please don’t ask, because this is a complete strange thing – the change is audible, when it should not be there. I will not say anything else, I do not want to engage in that, because I completely do not understand why it works – it will be best, if you try the QR-8 yourselves.

Conclusion

As you can easily see from the above, all Acoustic Revive elements change the sound. We conducted the sessions in an ultra-transparent system, and this is for sure a part of that story. For a full picture we should repeat the same tests in another system – and we probably will do that someday. But it is important, that the changes are there, and that they are clearly audible. But not each change, and not in all cases is perceived unanimously positively. The RIQ-5010 discs result in a smoother, deeper, slightly less resolved sound in the midrange and stronger sibilants. If they will sound good will depend on a given system and our preferences. On the other hand, the spike supports SPU-8, the cable supports RCI-3 and also (I am ashamed, but I have to be truthful to what we heard, even if we were wrong) the QR-8 have a positive influence on the sound. Also the combination of the RIQ-5010 and RCI-3.
As always I encourage you to make your own test, because only those can be the basis for any choice. But I hope, that our work was not wasted, and that it will be handy for you as a kind of direction sign, or at least a reflection point.

Acoustic Revive
Distribution: Eter Audio

Previous meetings of the Krakow Sonic Society:
#75: What sampling frequency? How many bits?
#74: Acoustic Revive RST-38 and RAF-48 – anti-vibration platform
#73: Kazuo Kiuchi (Combak Corporation) in Krakow
#72: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9100 vs. Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
#71: Capacitors in loudspeaker cross-over
#70: Blue Note on XRCD24 Audio Wave
#69: Power in the walls
#68: McIntosh – MCD7000+MA250 vs. MCD301+MA275
#67: Tara Labs The Zero
#64: HQCD + Blu-spec CD
#63: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-D6300
#62: System RCM
#61: KT88 tubes
#60: Power cable Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9100
#59: Power amplifiers - Ancient Audio Silver Grand Mono Vs. Reimyo PAT-777
#58: Cables over the top
#55: Racks, part 1
#54: Power, part 2 (Furutech power cables)
#53: K2HD discs
#52: SACD player Accuphase DP-700
#51: Isolators (anti-vibration platforms)
#50: Power, part 1 (power plugs)
#49: Accuphase – digital (r)evolution
#40: Digital vs analog or 25 years of the silver disc
#35: CD players – Accuphase vs. Ancient Audio
#34: Jazz in The Pawnshop. Vol. 1
#33: Power amplifier Ancient Audio Silver Grand pre-premiere
#32: Power amplifiers Nagra MPA vs Ancient Audio Silver Grand (prototype)
#31: SONUS FABER Minima Amator vs Electa Amator vs Guarnieri Homage
#30: Loudspeakers Eryk S. Concept Nuvo in Krakow

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"High Fidelity OnLine" is an internet magazine, published since may 2004, devoted to high quality reproduction of sound and picture. It is a monthly magazine, but the articles are uploaded twice a month - in the beginning of the month and in the middle. The news column is updated on on-going basis, if possible. The main sections are: "Tests", "Events" (interviews, reportages, and similar), "Hyde Park" (user tests, opinions) and "Who asks..." (readers questions and HFOL answers). Articles from earlier issues can be read in the "Archive". Have a nice read!
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