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Positive Feedback ISSUE
Quadri Beam Clarifier
as reviewed by Bob Neill
"All of us would love to have a plug-and-play system that would create the magic instantly, but that is not reality. To achieve excellence, you have to work for it and excellence comes with the details." Lloyd Walker
Tweaks are a pain, Clark Johnsen's uncanny ability to demonstrate their tangible worth notwithstanding. I have tried my share of them, with and without CJ's counsel. Most produce a difference, generally subtle but still real, for better and for worse. Over the past decade I have sometimes had the feeling that some were offsetting others to the extent that it was often hard to say who was doing what to whom. More through a passionate desire to simplify my audio life than out of any disciplined critical program, I have weaned myself from most of them. As of several weeks ago, I was down to applications of the new formula Auric Iluminator to all new CDs; occasional applications of Nordost Eco static inhibitor to my cables; and increasingly rarer spins of CDs before playing on my aging Bedini Dual Beam Clarifier. Sometimes the Bedini seems to do something subtly ameliorating, sometimes not. It was clearly about to walk the plank.
But. But the late Backwoods Barry way up in northern Ontario kept whispering sweet somethings in my ear about his new, ‘latest and greatest,' Quadri Beam Clarifier. Yes, Barry. Yes, Barry. And then finally I sent a note off to Gary Bedini asking to audition his new beast for a possible review at PFO, whereupon, a few weeks later, arrived something that looked virtually identical to my Dual Beam Bedini. Humph. Disappointed, I set it aside for a week or so… until Barry came at me again: "Well, what do you think?"
So I put on Bach's Solo Violin Sonatas and Partitas (DHM) by Kuijken and heard its familiar power and eloquence on the new Manley Stringray integrated amp I'm trying out on my Reynaud Trentes. It sounded a bit warmer and a bit earthier than it does on my all Audio Note rig. But I am accustomed to the fascinating Reynaud/Audio Note difference, so no problem there. Okay, CD out, into the Quadri Beam for a quick spin, back into the Audio Note transport, and… oh. Not at all subtle. To begin with, it sounded like a better recording. Clearer. Clarified! Much more transparent sounding. The short ride in the fast machine had moved the sound of the Reynaud system a step or so toward the sound the Audo Note system. More openness and clarity without giving up any of its characteristic warmth and sensuality. It was if the system had cleared its throat!
More CDs. Madeline Peyroux's voice on her new CD, Careless Love (Rounder), is more present, its unique timbre clearer. On CPE Bach Cello Concertos (BIS), attacks on strings are clearer and the solo cello itself has more glow. The whole orchestra sounds less like one sound and more like instruments—it has more character. There is less congestion. On Gerry Mulligan's Big Band box set from Mosaic, the acoustic bass is clearer, brass seem less throaty, Mulligan's baritone sax is crisper, its bark more pronounced and dramatic, the whole band seems more present. The viols on Phantasm's Orlando Gibbons; Consorts for Viols are more articulate. Thomas Zehetmair's violin on Eugčne Ysa˙e's Sonatas for Violin Solo (ECM) has more hair on it! This CD coming out of the Quadri Beam makes my whole system sound better.
What is this all about?
I still hate the idea of tweaks, but this piece of equipment clearly demonstrates the truth of Lloyd Walker's remark. Based on my experience with the Dual Beam Bedini, I had come to feel that the problem it proposed to solve wasn't such a big deal. The Quadri Beam demonstrated that it is a big deal. But what is it a big deal about?
"As a result of the disc manufacturing process the disc has inherent noise distortion which becomes more apparent as the disc is played over and over again; coupled with the polymer ability to hold electrostatic charges, it acutely masks the true dynamics of the digital media."
Okay? This is as satisfactory an explanation as most that I have heard, but I am not really qualified to assess it. I have heard similar explanations for years, beginning with the little piece back in Stereophile years ago about the experience of one of the writers degaussing discs with a tape degausser. There does seem to be some general agreement that there is a problem, about what it is, and more or less how to go about solving it. All I can say with confidence is that CDs spun on the Quadri Beam sound clearer, more alive, and all around better. A lot better. This tweak stays.
Quadri Beam Clarifier
Bedini Electronics, Inc
Bob Neill, in addition to being a reviewer, runs a small audio business called Amherst Audio in Amherst, Massachusetts. He is a dealer for Audio Note, Audience, Blue Circle, Elrod Power Systems, Manley Labs, TG Audio, and JM Reynaud.