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Positive Feedback ISSUE 16
november/december 2004


Auric Illuminator - getting down to the pits!
by Ed Morawski


I'm not much for tweaks. I will admit to trying them, countless times, but I don't have much to show for the effort. The only one that made a noticeable difference was a Bright Star Air Mass platform under the VPI Aries turntable I once owned, but other isolation products never made much of an improvement. I tried the Auric Illuminator a few years back. For the few of those of you who are not familiar with this product, it is a kit consisting of a special fluid, a black marker pen, and 12 all synthetic polishing cloths. The instructions call for you to use the marker to blacken the inner and outer edges of a CD, then apply a few drops of the fluid on both sides of the CD and buff it out with one of the cloths. 

It worked on some CDs and had no effect on others. When it worked, it seemed to make the music more vivid, but after I had treated about a dozen CDs, the Auric Illuminator slipped my mind and I never missed it. The kit lay dormant on a bottom shelf. Then Blockbuster began renting DVDs, and I jumped on this new format, renting two or three a week. At first, all was bliss, but as time wore on, I began to notice that the picture quality of the rentals was deteriorating. Too manner sticky little fingers! One night I was especially engrossed in a movie when the picture began breaking up, then finally drove my otherwise reliable Panasonic RP-91 DVD player to its knees. The screen went blank. I couldn't see anything wrong with the disc surface, but something was obviously amiss. I began looking about for something to clean the DVD with when I spotted the Auric Illuminator. I didn't use the black pen, of course, but a few drops of the fluid and a good wiping, and presto! The DVD played flawlessly, and I was able to enjoy my movie. 

The Illuminator now occupied a prominent position next to my DVD player, and I used it often. It never failed to bring a DVD to life when I got a bad one. I even tried it on a brand new DVD when I finally decided to purchase one. The Fifth Element is a guilty pleasure to be sure, but what the heck. The Auric Illuminator brought out even more dazzling colors and noticeably cleaner audio.  

When I was asked if I wanted to review the Auric Illuminator, I was going to pass until I was informed that this was a new formulation, and a huge improvement over the old stuff. Okay, why not? A few days later, a box arrived and there was the same kit I had on my shelf. (The stuff lasts a long time.) However, when I examined the fluid, I discovered that it was considerably different from the fluid I had. The original was thick and bluish gray. The new formula was clear and thinner. 

I decided to do a careful comparison of both treated versus untreated CDs and the old versus the new formula. It just so happened that one of my favorite artists, Loreena McKennitt, was releasing remastered versions of her CDs, as well as a DVD of her music videos. I had purchased The Visit, and it had arrived only the day before. My original disc was one of the few I had treated with Auric Illuminator, and I was intimately familiar with its sound, but I would not use the old one in this test, only the new one, since it was also remastered. I first listened to the new disc, and noticed no huge differences. It was a bit more dynamic, but not by a huge margin. It was still very enjoyable, and I found myself listening to the entire CD almost without thinking about it. 

Then I treated it with the Auric Illuminator. First, I carefully blacked the edges. Audience recommends filling in any clear plastic around the center of a disc with the black marker, but since the center of this CD was covered by the label, I didn't go any further. Next I applied a few drops of the fluid to the label side and the music side. Audience states that doing the label side eliminates static buildup. I buffed both sides of the disc with a clean wipe and inserted it into my Musical Fidelity NuVista CD player. 

This time, I could easily hear a significant improvement! Most noticeable was an increase in bass definition. The first track, "All Souls Night," had much more slam, and dynamic improvement throughout the audio range. The music was more vivid, as I had noted long ago, but with this new formula, the difference was much more obvious. Loreena's harp sounded much more delicate while retaining definition. She doesn't play harp on all her songs, in fact she doesn't play it nearly enough to satisfy me, and because of this I often overlook it in the mix of her compositions. With the Auric Illuminator treatment, her harp came to the fore, along with other instruments, and was featured more. Each pluck of a string took on a life of its own, stirring the air around it and decaying slowly as the next string was struck. 

Audience had obviously made an improvement in the Auric Illuminator, but would it only improve certain recordings, as before? I am happy to report that this new formula seems to work equally well on every CD. I was in the middle of a speaker review, and had some really odd CDs lying about. One was Dido's Life for Rent, which sounded pretty bad. I like Dido's voice and her style, but not the engineering or production. I figured this would be a real test of the Auric Illuminator, and sure enough, the treatment worked miracles on this CD. Of course, it can't turn a bad recording into a good one, but the treatment made it hundred times more enjoyable. The synth bass took on more definition and tremendous slam, while the rough edges of the indifferently engineered CD were smoothed. Even the vocals seemed richer and less strident then before. 

I have tried the Auric Illuminator on about a dozen other CDs so far, and the improvement is instantly obvious. You don't have to strain to hear it. I was especially surprised at the improvement in the bass, but I suppose it is due to an overall improvement in dynamics, and the bass just improves to a level equal to that of the other ranges. By the way, Auric Illuminator still works wonders on DVDs. After viewing a DVD untreated, I used the Auric Illuminator and watched again. Not only was the audio clearer and more focused, but the video was positively glorious. All the colors were saturated and stood out beautifully. Highly recommended. Ed Morawski

Auric Illuminator
Retail: $39.95

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