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Acoustic Revive

Price (in Poland): 2450 PLN/pc.

Kontakt: YOSHI HONTAI | MuSon Project, Inc.


Provided for test by MUSON PROJECT

ACOUSTIC REVIVE is a Japanese company founded in 1997 and run since then by Mr. Ken Ishiguro. It specializes in audio cables and anti-vibration products, but also offers innovative products, the ideas of which are most often sourced from University of Tokyo. This time we test one of the most "esoteric" products of this type, namely "plugs" for unused RCA and XLR sockets.

echnology is one of the areas in which precision is key. This applies to both precision involving the technology as such, but also to the language it uses. In this respect, it resembles basic departments, such as mathematics, physics and chemistry, with which it is associated in all possible ways. So in our industry, we give names to departments, series, products, their types, etc. The more accurately we categorize, the more accurately we can describe the product.

However, there are products that are difficult to categorize. This was the case, for example, with the Nordost QPoint. The manufacturer defines it as "Resonance Synchronizer". However, this would be a detailed name, because we do not know other products of this type, maybe except the REM-8 model from Acoustic Revive, which in turn manufacturer calls "EMF Canceler".

Both are used to reduce RFI / EMF noise in audio devices, but they still have no common name. Why? - It is simple: their common name has not been established yet, because such products are scarce, they are rare. And this is not the only example of this type, because the "plugs" (this is the name I should use at the moment, but intend to improve it soon) from the Acoustic Revive are a similar case. The Japanese manufacturer calls them REALITY ENCHANCER PLUGS.


Mr. Ishiguro has mentioned on several occasions that he treats such products we are discussing as full-fledged elements of the audio system, so he insists on calling them "Reality Enhancer Plugs" or "Reality Enhancer". And this is because - as he says - these are not ordinary "plugs" for unused sockets. These are complex mechanical and electrical components, built using expensive components. I respect this opinion, the more so that Ishiguro-san has proven many times that he has excellent hearing and is not afraid to experiment.

But I also can't forget that, ultimately, the role the tested products play is really being "plugs" for RCA and XLR sockets. In addition, at least in Polish, the name "Reality Enhancer" evokes drugs rather than an audio product ... Therefore, I will talk about "plugs" and "endings", alternating with "Reality Enhancer". Over time, if more products of this type appear on the market, there will probably be some general name for this group of products.

What really these things are? They are primarily elements that protect electronics against the effects of high frequency noise and electromagnetic fields (RF and EMF respectively). Although the audio circuits are shielded with metal enclosures, the audio jacks are something like "antennas" moving the ground and signal path outside the device. The simplest way to protect them is using simple metal plugs, something like hoods on unused connectors. You will find them on the Internet, because they are offered by many companies that manufacture audio accessories. Just type in the search engine: "Protective Caps". Some of their versions intended for INPUTs short-circuit the signal with ground, which additionally helps to reduce noise.

There are also plugs prepared from the selected material, often using proprietary technologies. Such products are offered by Cardas, a cable specialist, under the names "Protective Caps" or "RF / EMI & Dust Protection" (RCA C SS, XLR C SS F, XLR C SS M, accessed on: Jan. 13. 2020) and another specialist, this time in the field of the elimination of noise in power supply systems, Telos. Their product is called "Quantum caps".


Acoustic Revive products are still different - they combine the classic role of "plugs" to protect against noise and dust - because this is also one of their roles - with an even deeper noise reduction effect and with a mechanical system that dampens vibrations. Mr. Ken Ishiguro, who I interviewed by email, will tell you all about it.

Owner, designer

WOJCIECH PACUŁA: How the "reality enhancers" differ from other, similar products?
KEN ISHIGURO: The reality enhancer is different from short/terminate-pin of other companies in terms of design and materials:

  • vibration control structure with 2017 Aluminum, brass and natural smoky quartz,
  • inner wire is PC-TripleC/EX: conductivity 105% ,
  • quartz, silk, various ores etc (as I informed you before) .

WP: How does the sound change with the enhancers?
KI: Timbre and texture are improved as vivid (we may be able to say "raw"). Also S/N ratio is improved, sound focus becomes clear with sense of three- dimensional density and thickness. We can say that "reality is improved dramatically", so it is Reality Enhancer.

WP: Where did the idea for developing new plugs come from?
KI: A purpose of development of Reality Enhancer is improvement of the old ones (SIP-8Q etc). I hoped to develop effective accessory for output terminals because audio industry has not been interested in this topic very much up to now.

WP: What are you working on right now?
KI: I am working on a phono cartridge with PC-TripleC/EX wire.

WP: Thank you for your time.
KI: Thank you and greetings for all „High Fidelity” Readers!

New Acoustic Revive products for plugging RCA and XLR sockets are available in two versions: for outputs and inputs. The former short-circuit the signal pins to ground, the latter only shield them:

  • RES-RCA: plug for RCA INPUTS,
  • RET-RCA: plug for RCA OUTPUT,
  • RES-XLR: plug for XLR INPUT,
  • RET-XLR: plug for XLR OUTPUT.

They were made extremely solidly and carefully, and the plugs intended for audio outputs have a lighter housing, those for inputs darker ones. The name of the company was screen printed on them, but clear inscriptions: "INPUT" and "OUTPUT" would come really handy so that user does not mix one with the other (at least in case of RCA plugs as XLR ones are clearly different). The point is that while the inputs can be short-circuited, which is even desirable, the outputs must not be, because this could even damage the output of the device.


I've been using Acoustic Revive shielding caps for years. First these were plugs for RCA and XLR (SIP-8Q, BSIP-8Q i IP-2Q), and later on I added also ones for Ethernet sockets, called RTL-1. I use them in both Ayon Audio Spheris III preamplifier and CD-35 HF Edition (№ 1/50) player. And I used the new plugs with later during the test. What I still miss are BNC and USB type B plug but maybe at some point Mr. Ishiguro will prepare theses as well.

I compared the sound of the player with and without Reality Enhancers – I plugged in and out all of them at once. I listened to 1 and 2 minutes long music samples in A/B/A and B/A/B sessions, where A = player without plugs, and B = player with plugs.

Recordings used for the test (a selec- tion)

  • Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, Darkroom | Interscope Records/Universal International UICS-9161, “7” mini LP”, CD (2019)
  • Frank Sinatra, My Way (50th Anniversary Edition), Capitol/UMe USM Japan UICY-15851, “Signature Sinatra”, CD (1969/2019)
  • Kazuo Yashiro Trio, Love Is Here To Stay, Takt Jazz Series/Nippon Columbia COCB-54090, „Dig Deep Columbia”, Blu-spec CD (1968/2014)
  • La Mandragore, Convivencia, Fidelio Musique FACD031, “XtractCD”, CD (2010)
  • Mayo Nakano Piano Trio, MIWAKU, Briphonic BRPN-7007GL, Extreme Hard Glass CD-R (2017);

The first words from the song A Day in a Live of a Fool surprised me. I started with this song because the day before I received a new version of this release from Japan prepared for the 50th anniversary of original release. So I was curious what they managed to achieve this time. Anyway - the first several seconds with bass and drums, then enters Sinatra and I knew immediately what the Reality Enhancers were doing to the sound. I did not have to spend a long time listening, wondering, assessing - the changes were obvious and significant.

The sound with Mr. Ishiguro's "reality enhancers" is richer and more weighty. Sinatra's vocal is not particularly warm here, although it is impressive in volume. It sounded very good without any plugs in my player, it was a good release of this album, but I lacked some more richness. My system is particularly sensitive to this aspect and if anything is wrong in this respect I can immediately tell. It was not bad without the plugs, but I had an impression of slightly emphasizes upper midrange, so its lower part, the one responsible for the "crooner" sound, was too light.

Plugging the RE in changed this picture. Maybe these were not as big changes as after using other anti-vibration feet, but they were still big and went - in my view and in my system - in the right direction. In short, this direction could be called "making sound more credible". Because the performance was more natural with them, closer to my expectations, and without them it was a bit more sterile and therefore less real.

No less interesting was the comparison made using the Kazuo Yashiro Trio album entitled Love Is Here To Stay from 1968, so only a year older than Sinatra's album. The material was recorded by Mr. Okihiko Sugano directly on two tracks, without reverbs and compressors. It was released in 2014 on a Blu-spec CD by Nippon Columbia, or Denon.

This time I tried the B / A / B comparison, i.e. first with the plugs, then without them and back again. This time the deepening of the timbre was less important and it wasn't this feature that made the sound better. This time, removing "Enhancers" from the sockets reduced the resolution and internal richness of the sound. The difference was smaller than with the Sinatra disc, but unambiguous, which I confirmed several times by inserting and removing the Acoustic Revive "plugs".

This is a purist, well-made recording that has no problems with timbre - hence, maybe smaller differences. However, deepening of the sound stage, deepening of the instruments themselves after equipping the player with plugs was interesting and important. The change I perceived was primarily about the better fluidity that Acoustic Revive products brought to the sound. Without them, the album sounded great, I lacked nothing, but after returning to listening with the plugs I immediately knew that it was IT!

The changes in question are not reserved for the best recordings only. Billie Eilish's album entitled When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? reacted to Acoustic Revive products in a similar way. Released last year, it was one of the most important albums of the 2019 season, not just for me. Prepared by the siblings, Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O'Connell and Finneas O'Connell, brought fantastic pop music, in addition produced in a way that should have made many accomplished bands and performers envious. What's more, at the end of 2019, its Japanese version was released in the form of a 7" mini LP, so in the royal size.

The album without "Enhancers" sounded just worse. For a moment I did not know why it was so, why it sounded in a less interesting way, but several A/B and B/A switches explained this situation for me a bit (although with each next switch I kept finding new elements). The Acoustic Revive products do something, something cool with the sound, which makes the recording more interesting, more immersive. With the Billie Eilish album they showed better vividness, the bass seemed to go lower, and the vocal tracks spread out in space were clearer and at the same time better synchronized with each other.

But it's also not like that "Reality Enhancer Plugs" impose some one common theme on all recordings. That's what cables, feet, electronics do, and that's how we 'tune' our systems, right? Mr. Ishuguro-san's plugs work in a completely different way, so less like a kind of "filters" – that's what cables and anti-vibration elements are - and more like elements "triggering" potential, be it music releases or devices.

Because playing the phenomenal Mayo Nakano Piano Trio album titled MIWAKU, a disc released by sonic extremists from the Briphonic label on the Extreme Hard Glass CD-R disc, showed different influence of the plugs (more about this disc and the label HERE). The piano with them was more sonorous, so there was more of the upper treble, and the kick drum sounded more dynamic and punctual; the sort of "fatness" of the bass was also gone, one that I'd never noticed before, but the plugs proved it was there.


Acoustic Revive products, I think, are getting the best out of the recordings, but their influence is not always "good". They allow them to speak with their own "voice", which improves system differentiation. It could be said, quite generally, that they improve the vividness and depth of the image, perhaps through a darker "background". This is a phenomenon encountered with good audio products, that is based on sort of purifying something behind the sound, which makes the sound itself deeper and more "free".

It is easy to make fun of this type of products because they are rare, and in addition the technologies they are based on are still unknown outside the military or medical industries. Even for engineers. That's why you can laugh, idiots have the right to do it anytime, anywhere. However, if you have a minimum of good will and are even only a bit open-minded and ready to consider things you do not know and which you cannot explain - you must listen to these products.

They will work best in top-shelf systems, but even relatively inexpensive devices' performance will change with them so much that you will buy more and more of them, turning your electronics into hedgehogs. As I did years ago - now the spikes will simply be longer. And the price? - Well, these are the most expensive "supporting" elements I know. But also the best. Are they worth the money? It depends who we ask, the vast majority will say no. And they will be right. But for those 2% with top systems they may turn out to be the best and cheapest (!) way to improve the performance. And that's who they are intended for.


Reference system 2018

1) Loudspeakers: HARBETH M40.1 |REVIEW|
2) Line preamplifier: AYON AUDIO Spheris III Linestage |REVIEW|
3) Super Audio CD Player: AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF Edition No. 01/50 |REVIEW|
4) Stands (loudspeakers): ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom) |ABOUT|
5) Power amplifier: SOULUTION 710
6) Loudspeaker filter: SPEC REAL-SOUND PROCESSOR RSP-AZ9EX (prototype) |REVIEW|
7) Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|


Analog interconnect SACD Player - Line preamplifier: SILTECH Triple Crown (1 m) |ABOUT|
Analog interconnect Line preamplifier - Power amplifier: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCA-1.0 Absolute-FM (1 m) |REVIEW|
Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

AC Power

Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - SACD Player: SILTECH Triple Crown
Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Line preamplifier - ACOUSTIC REVIVE
Power Reference Triple-C (2 m) |REVIEW|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Power amplifier - ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power Receptacle: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE |REVIEW|
Anti-vibration platform under Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE: Asura QUALITY RECOVERY SYSTEM Level 1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

  • HARMONIX TU-666M "BeauTone" MILLION MAESTRO 20th Anniversary Edition |REVIEW|


Phono preamplifier: Phono cartridges: Tonearm (12"): Reed 3P |REVIEW|

Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

Record mats:


Headphone amplifier: AYON AUDIO HA-3 |REVIEW|

Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC