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Acoustic Revive

Manufacturer: Sekiguchi Machine Co., Ltd.
Price (in Poland): 51 189 PLN

Yoshi Hontai | MuSon Project, Inc.
No. 1-5-7 Nishi-Hommachi | Nishi-ku,
Osaka 550-0005 | Japan


Made in Japan

his review is, I hope, one of more interesting attempts to understand the phenomenon of the so-called “audio accessories” and whether they at all affect the sound, and if they do, then in what way. It has taken me some time to get down to it, perhaps half a year. Naturally, I could have done it straight away, without thinking twice; after all, I have practice, appropriate “tools” and a developed methodology. However, since that’s such a sensitive topic, stirring up lots of unhealthy emotions, I wanted to make sure I’m a few hundred percent sure of what I write. I had to verify my findings in several places, on a few audio systems and discuss them with different people. The final decision to publish the review in the May issue of “High Fidelity” was made shortly after I’d learned that Mr. Ken Ishiguro, the owner of Acoustic Revive, would be coming to Poland at that time. He was accompanied by Mr. Yoshi Hontai, representing Muson, Acoustic Revive agent outside of Japan, and a high-class photographer, Mr. Yuichi Matsuki (his work can be seen HERE). Knowing this, I arranged a meeting of the Krakow Sonic Society, and the Acoustic Revive Polish distributor organized an open day at the Nautilus audio salon in Krakow. This way I would have two days with Mr. Ishiguro, full of demonstrations, comparisons and explanations. The main body of this review was ready before that, but I added the introduction and some minor changes after the departure of the guests from Japan.


This is the most comprehensive change I have dealt with in my system. Swapping the speakers, the amplifier, the cables, or even the source are but spot modifications – important, but one-dimensional. Acoustic Revive products are designed to improve the sound of all audio components and are combined into several groups. You can find a detailed list, including prices, in the frame below. I focused on the accessories that I could add to my system without changing any of the components I use. Therefore, I left testing cables for another occasion. It will involve analog and digital interconnects, USB cables and speaker cables. The most important decision I had to make concerned choosing the testing method: I decided to test the system as a whole. We have repeatedly discussed individual Acoustic Revive products and in the next issue of “High Fidelity” you will find audition impressions on most of them individually in my report from this month’s Krakow Sonic Society meeting. What is remarkable is the cumulative impact of all particular changes. However, I was first and foremost interested in what all the accessories at once could contribute to the sound.

The system consisted of:

“Electromagnetic wave and Earth treatments”
- RGC-24 – grounding conditioner (preamplifier)/2,490 PLN (per unit)
- REM-8 – EMF canceller (preamplifier, CD player)/2,290 PLN (per unit)
Total: 4,780 PLN

„Isolation Under-Board”
- RST-38H (x 1) – quartz under-board (preamplifier’s power supply)/2,790 PLN (per unit)
- RAF-48H (x 2) – air floating board (preamplifier, CD player)/6,490 PLN (per unit)
- TB-38H (x 1) – under-board for power distributor (under a power strip)/2,690 PLN (per unit)
- RHB-20 [custom] (x 1) – Hickory board (under the RR-777)/1,000 PLN (per unit)
Total: 19,460 PLN

„Insulators, Spike Receptacles, Resonators”
- RCI-3H (x 12) – cable insulator (power cords, speaker cables)/790 PLN (szt.)
- RIQ-5010w/ RIQ-5010 – natural quartz insulator (preamplifier, preamplifier’s power supply, CD player)/2,590 PLN (4 units)
- QR-8 – natural quartz resonator (CD player, power cords, fuses)/590 PLN (8 szt.)
Total: 15,250 PLN

„Sound-absorbers, Connectors, Cables, etc.”
- ECI-100 – conduction improvement cleaner (all components)/750 PLN (per unit)
- IP-2Q – anti-vibration plug for RCA output (output connectors; CD player, preamplifier)/490 PLN (2 units)
- SIP-8Q – anti-vibration short-pin for RCA input (input connectors; CD player, preamplifier)/890 PLN (8 units)
- BSIP-2FQ – anti-vibration short-pin for XLR input (input connectors; power amplifier)/590 PLN (2 units)
Total: 2,720 PLN

„Room Tuning related products”
- RR-777 – ultra low-frequency pulse generator/1,999 PLN
Total: 1,999 PLN

„AC Power Supply related products”
- RAS-14 (x 2) – AC stabilizer (power strip, CD player)/3,490 PLN (per unit)
Total: 6,980 PLN

Such a comparison requires a relatively long time between auditioning the system WITHOUT Acoustic Revive products and WITH them (A and B). Hence, for the first few days I was listening to the music WITHOUT them, getting used to the sound, before listening to the music WITH them for the next few days. And they remained in the system – the sonic changes introduced by the accessories were so significant and so uniformly good that I decided not to return my system to its original state. For starters, however, I pulled out the RAF-48H platform I had been using on a daily basis from under the CD player, and the RHB-20 Hickory platform from under the preamplifier (which also sat on the OPT-30HG-SC HR/3P + OPT-30HG-UK HR/3P ceramic spikes from Audio RePlas, see HERE). However, I kept in the system the RTP-4EU power strip and the custom made spacers for my Harbeth 40.1 speakers; without them my system would not be the same.
To better understand how Mr. Ken Ishiguro sees the role of his products, you might want to read an interview with him, which you will find HERE. It is worth noting that in addition to the products available on the market, I also received to try out a few things that one cannot buy and that Mr. Ishiguro uses in his private system – tourmaline balls affixed to an adhesive base and crystals to be placed close to components related to the mains power line.
I’m not going into design details of all the individual products, since there are too many of them; let me refer all those interested to the manufacturer’s website:

Albums auditioned during this review)

  • A Day at Jazz Spot 'Basie'. Selected by Shoji "Swifty" Sugawara, Stereo Sound Reference Record, SSRR6-7, SACD/CD (2011).
  • Ariel Ramirez, Misa Criolla, José Carreras, Philips/Lasting Impression Music, LIM K2HD 040, K2HD Mastering, “24 Gold Direct-from-Master Edition UDM”, CD-R (1964/2009).
  • Bach, Goldberg Variations, piano: Glen Gould, CBS/Sony Classical/Sony Music Entertainment Hong Kong, 440092, “The Glenn Gould Edition, No. 0197”, gold-CD (1982/2013).
  • Bach, Violin Concertos, Yehudi Menuhin, EMI/Hi-Q Records, HIQXRCD9, XRCD24, CD (1960/2013).
  • Chris Connor, He Loves Me, He Loves me Not, Atlantic/Warner Music Japan, WPCR-25173, “Atlantic 60th”, CD (1956/2007).
  • Dead Can Dance, Toward The Within, 4AD/Beggars Japan, WPCB-10077, „Audiophile Edition”, SACD/CD (1994/2008).
  • Jean Michel Jarre, Essentials & Rarities, Disques Dreyfus/Sony Music, 62872, 2 x CD (2011).
  • Stan Getz/Joao Gilberto, Getz/Gilberto, Verve/Lasting Impression Music, LIM K2HD 036, K2HD Mastering, “24 Gold Direct-from-Master Edition UDM”, CD-R (1964/2009).
  • The Oscar Peterson Trio, We Get Request, Verve/Lasting Impression Music, LIM K2HD 032, K2HD Mastering, “24 Gold Direct-from-Master Edition UDM”, CD-R (1964/2009).
Japanese editions of CDs and SACDs are available from

It is good to begin with a statement, a personal confession of sorts. This way we authenticate our speech, we make it into something more than just another announcement. But we also make a stronger impact on the audience – and that’s my intention in this case, regardless of how much it may seem cynical and calculated. Make no mistake: every message, both written and spoken, has a purpose, and the sender of the message wants to accomplish something. This is normal and completely natural. Being aware of that it is important, then, not to miss what is most important: the content of the message. In this case, the point I would like to make at the outset is twofold.

First, my system without all products (parts, accessories or gadgets; call them what you want) from Acoustic Revive sounds brilliant. I really like its slightly warm and somewhat dark tonal balance, its incredible dynamics and outstanding smoothness. Anyone who has ears to hear (and who listens), after leaving my place tries to make some improvements back at home; often to build one’s own system from the start, and not infrequently to set up one’s first audio system in life.

For me, it’s the greatest form of recognition, when I find out that after auditioning at my place people buy their first amplifier or speakers, or re-position their speakers, or that after changing the cables they listen to the music deep into the night, astonished at how they could have so far tolerated the garbage from their loudspeakers. I envy them all; such “threshold experience”, especially one so pleasant, is fantastic! (Since some time my wife has obliged me not to play music to our invited friends, arguing that she is concerned about their wallets).

I’m no fool, though: I know that is not the peak of what audio is capable of; I know better audio systems here and there, or components showing more than mine do, and even cables (Siltech Double Crown) outclassing my own. It’s just that at home I have achieved a sort of balance between all the sonic components, my listening room and my expectations. I am happy with my system.

The second point I would like to convey is this: Acoustic Revive products that I used at home have not changed the character of my system, which is what I feared most, but instead changed its class. It is now a much more sophisticated sound. Deeper, cleaner, smoother, more accurate, more resolute. Darker but clearer at the same time; more dynamic but also calmer. Simply, a lot better. Closer to that I know from music concerts.

Anyone who has dealt with audio knows that changing a component brings a change of the sound. This is the basis of the audio industry, its axiom. Another axiom is that it takes an audition to describe real changes in the sound. The measurements are very important, but they really belong in the stage of product’s design and manufacturing. After that, they have a supporting role. There is one more, quite deep-rooted dogma concerning a definition of the so-called “accessories”.
A dictionary definition says that they are things “contributing in a subordinate degree to a general result or effect; minor fittings or attachments for a motor-car, etc.” (Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition). The basic notion is clear: these are additional components that are not essential, one might even say, redundant. Audio “accessories” are defined similarly – these are all the things that can be added to the audio system, but not necessarily. Cables have since long broken away from that convention, as they are indispensable, but any cables better than a lamp cord were thought to be an "excess" already.
The more I deal with audio, the longer I listen to music, the more I know and don’t know, the more convinced I am of a fundamental error that lies in such approach. I have repeatedly participated in auditions and demonstrations; have independently conducted hundreds of tests in my system, and although I only begin to understand what this is all about (as the meeting with Mr. Ken Ishiguro clearly helped me realize), there has already emerged a core around which I build. The key point is this: the so-called accessories are just as important as the basic components – the source, the amplifier, and the speakers (headphones). Frankly, they are often even more important, if they are properly designed and used.

The Acoustic Revive system tested in this review, taken as a whole, has brought in my audio system the greatest change ever, along the Harbeth M40.1 speakers and the Siltech Royal Signature Series Double Crown cables. I know what I’m saying. I have known this manufacturer since several years, have been the first to bring Acoustic Revive products Poland (thanks to Mr. Yoshi Hontai) and have been testing them at home, at the Krakow Sonic Society meetings, and in other systems. Never before, however, have I used so many of them at once. Now, I can finally hear what it sounds like.
AR products do not change the basic character of the sound – I know I repeat myself, but it's important. And that is what’s most precious about them. Talking about my satisfaction with the sound I had been able to achieve so far, I was implying that I would not want to change it, that I was afraid of changes. Even if some component, some speakers or cables were better than mine, I never had any desire – apart from Siltech – to modify, change, or buy anything. All I wanted was to make the sound I’d already had a better one.
This time I managed to do it. Almost everything changed. My first, basic impression was that lots of information appeared. It was not overelaboration or even detailedness – we are here on a completely different mental and quality level. Here, it was as if I heard more, as if I saw everything clearer. I am convinced that this is how a much higher resolution and a better differentiation manifested themselves. What first showed, were the elements associated with background events, with extra-musical elements. Take, for example, the murmuring bass on the album We Get Request by Oscar Peterson Trio, previously perceptible, but only now properly positioned on the soundstage, combined with the music by rhythm and space; making sense. Similarly, mono recordings from a compilation album issued by “Stereo Sound” magazine that after the change were spread out deeper, both in terms of spatial relationships as well as sound color. The worse the audio system, the more one-dimensional such a mono image; the better the system, the more it is differentiated. Eventually, it begins to compete with the stereo image for what it actually lacks – space! The Acoustic Revive system cleared the space between the sounds of some kind of crap, previously unnoticed, but – now audibly – having a big impact on the feel of naturalness. In result, we get something that is not usually associated with “cleaning”; “cleanness” in audio description, in the language we use, is reserved for a brighter and lighter sound. In high-end it concerns something else. Do remember what Mr. Ishiguro said about higher resolution, on the example of a 4K video projector? Well, his conclusion was that the higher the resolution, the smoother the sound. Not clearer, not more precise, but just smoother. The “cleanness” I’m talking about is just greater smoothness, gentleness.

One of the things I fear the most, adding new products to my system, and one I just can’t stand in any components, speakers and cables that I test/review is a bright top, garish midrange and too hard (contoured) bass. All of these things are needed at some stage and at some point are a step forward. Even then, though, they must make some sense, be translated into something else; otherwise they are just annoying coloration. The Japanese system makes the sound easier to listen to. It is at the same time louder and less aggressive. Louder, because we can listen to the same recordings at a lower volume level, not feeling that we changed anything; less aggressive, since upping the volume doesn’t cause discomfort. I heard both these characteristics, at the same time, on the album He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Chris Connor. The monophonic recordings originating in 1956 favor her voice: it is close to us, large, while the band and the orchestra are shown at a distance, quieter. The higher vocal components are slightly emphasized, which make it seem that the lady sings mostly through the throat. One can live with it, but it always draws attention. After introducing to my system the products from Mr. Ishiguro the color remained unchanged, except that the upper midrange aggressiveness, of which I previously did not realize, was gone. The vocal was even closer and bigger, but it was better connected with the instruments. The difference in the size of planes intended by the sound engineer was clear, but the context was equally significant.
Since I know that from each audition featuring Acoustic Revive products, I know that is not a coincidence: the sound is darker and smoother, despite offering much more information. Connor’s voice was still emphasized in the resonance frequency band of the ribbon microphones from that period (I assume this is what was used). Unfiltered, as there was no need for that given limited upper frequency response of audio systems from that time, it comes out to the front on a modern system with flat frequency response. With the AR system, I better heard why it’s audible but I couldn’t care less for that; as if technology moved on and stayed behind the music, behind what it was really all about.

Yes, treble is silkier, it seems darker and deeper, although there is – paradoxically – more of it. The bottom end is very similar. I was particularly curious about the sound of Gould’s piano on the golden edition of his Variations.... I still had in my mind what I had heard at Janusz’s, at a meeting of the Krakow Sonic Society dedicated to Siltech cable system, when we’d listened to the Crystal Glass CD version of this recording. A remarkable smoothness and calm, but first of all an absolutely unique bottom end. Now I observed a similar phenomenon at home. Although the Harbeths offer a strong bass with outstanding color and placing them on Acoustic Revive stands makes it very well controlled, without contouring, accompanied by other Acoustic Revive products theys sounded lower, warmer, more accurate, with nicer differentiated elements. Everything sounded more natural, more like what I know from music concerts, or when I soundboard the piano, double bass, electric guitar. Depth and breath; breath and depth – all at once, at the same time. More music in music.


The whole Acoustic Revive system which I applied to my reference system costs just a tad more than its least expensive component, the CD player. It can be assumed that it is similar money. Is it worth it to spend so much on “accessories”? Let me answer that for myself: it’s not just "worth it" but rather “it would be foolish not to do it”; without those accessories the system shows only a fraction of what it is capable of. A brilliant feature of Acoustic Revive products is that they do not alter the fundamentals of the system; they do not modify the sound in a way that most other “gizmos” do. They support all its strengths but point out its weaknesses, too. If there are more of the former, if weaknesses are not dominant, then they ignore the latter or help US ignore them. How is it possible that the products towards which some people not related to audio, those who do not listen to music on high-end equipment, or are deaf, malicious, or just plainly stupid, have a definitely negative attitude, affect the sound at all? Mr. Ishiguro designs them in cooperation with university technical departments, measures them, and shows the measurement results. And these clearly confirm what one can hear – changes do happen. But as to how such slight modifications can so profoundly affect the sound, I do not know, nor do I even pretend to understand this mechanism. However, since the changes made by individual accessories from Acoustic Revive are repeatable, both in terms of those listening, as well as audio systems, I assume this is a case of theory that has not kept pace with practice. As it actually usually happens in audio: experiments conducted by the “holy fools” – designers, manufacturers and audiophiles – translate into concrete results. That’s good enough for me, I do not ask for anything more.

The system receives GOLD FINGERPRINT award. It is the first time we give it, bowing low to Mr. Ishiguro and his abilities.

Acoustic Revive in “High Fidelity”
- INTERVIEW: Ken Ishiguro, Acoustic Revive, owner - see HERE
- REVIEW: Acoustic Revive USB-1.0SP/USB-5.0PL – USB cables, see HERE
- REVIEW: Acoustic Revive LAN-1.0 PA + RLI-1 – LAN cable + LAN isolation filter, see HERE
- KRAKOW SONIC SOCIETY: Acoustic Revive RAF-48H – isolation platform, see HERE
- KRAKOW SONIC SOCIETY: Acoustic Revive – anti-vibration components, see HERE
- KRAKOW SONIC SOCIETY: Acoustic Revive RST-38 i RAF-48 – isolation platforms, see HERE
- REVIEW: Acoustic Revive RTP-4EU + Power Reference – power strip + power cord, see HERE
- REVIEW: Acoustic Revive Disc Demagnetizer RD-3, Grounding Conditioner RGC-24 – see HERE