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Audio Ramblings - the
Acoustic Revive RR-77 and QR-8 Quartz Resonators,
with a bit on the Audioengine 2 loudspeakers
Previous Audio Ramblings I have spent a fair amount of space on dealing with noise in my system using various products from Audio Magic and Acoustic Revive, all making a noticeable improvement in lowering the noise floor and whatnot that gets in the way of my musical enjoyment. Yeah, they all seem to have a positive impact on the music allowing the system to breathe just that much more effortlessly.
At the time I was deep into these products, I came across Jeff Day's (then of 6moons) review of the Acoustic Revive RR-77 ultra-low frequency pulse generator ($424.99). Ah… something else to add to the system to reduce or "do something" to the music. At the time this device was also getting things stirring over at Audio Asylum—that bastion of open thinking and tolerance—where it was either loved or trashed. Key to the love fest were the posts by Satfrat who spoke of the RR-77 as being the pinnacle of the cat's pajamas. Along with this was the suggestion that the unit would benefit from a better AC supply as opposed to the standard wall-wart as supplied. Well, if you want the complete skinny on what is behind the RR-77, then go and do a search on AA or at the very least read Jeff's review as he has it all there in a few hundred words …well more than that, but Jeff has done the research as to what is going on in the RR-77 …Schumann resonances to be exact …so read his review to get the complete lowdown.
All I can add is that yes, Jeff is not bonkers, nor are the other RR-77 adopters… the device is doing something to the room, the system, or the listener …or all three for all I know.
Yeah, it works. I hear the same as Jeff and all the rest: improved spatial ambiance, a bigger grander more holographic soundstage/soundfield, and a greater sense of ease or naturalness to the music… yeah it works as advertised. And it works better …well, make that a lot better, with a more robust or audiophile-like power supply. Say one from the good people up at Audio-Magus… the King Rex PSU ($169.95) is quite cool and is a perfect fit for the RR-77. I ordered one and found that it is a simple plug and play with the RR-77. No problems at all and the two make musical magic together. Oh, and toss a Shakti Stone on top of the King Rex to boost the pair just that much further down the pleasure curve.
Photo courtesy of Audio Magus
The RR-77 is an interesting item to play around with. Yeah, it does need to be 5 feet or higher to do its thing, but having it off to the side or simply anywhere else in the room (well, in mine at least) does not seem to have any influence on its performance, which may or may not be audible depending on the individual.
Turning it off and on when unsuspecting guests (audiophile-geeks of course … you know, those who walk among the living and are into this sort of thing) is quite a revelation …either people hear it or they don't (or should I say respond to it?)… doesn't seem to be much of a middle ground.
Case in point, the other night I had a couple of friends (definitely of the audiophile persuasion) over after dinner out and each reacted to the device with either a "Uh.., don't hear any difference, what did it cost you again?" to a "Wow, the soundstage just opened up and everything took on a more relaxed feel!" The first response of a non-reaction was given freely immediately during the demonstration of sorts… whereas the other gent sat silently and only later did he offer his quite spot-on positive reaction—and with no prior information as to what the RR-77 is supposed to be doing.
I am assuming that his delayed response was due to him being perhaps a bit intimidated by the first fellow's declarative that whatever I was turning on and off was something to not spend one's money on …a waste it is! After the first fellow left though, we got into a conversation regarding bourbon and cigars and lo and behold… "Hey, earlier whatever you were doing with that thing that you were turning on and off, well it really was quite audible." "I heard it every time … way better on …more dimensional and relaxed." "The soundstage really opened up." "Cool."
Neither fellow had any inkling as to what I was doing with what, other than I was turning something on and off while they sat and listened to the system with a disc of their choice. Which leads me to suspect that much of what it is doing may be more centered on how people are affected by its output …that Schumann thing. Yeah, it works for some, but not for all. Fellow two hit it right on the head with no idea as to what was going on. Fellow one simply had no response—positive or negative… for him the device did not make one iota of difference. He is immune to this affect…a freak of nature I tell ya! Schumann, Numan! I ain't no human!
Yeah, but while going to a better PSU for the RR-77 is tweaky, try adding a few of the Acoustic Revive QR-8 Quartz Resonators ($125 for a set of eight) to the mix. They allow the RR-77 to do its thing with even greater effect. These are very smallish (say a .25 of an inch) smoky quartz discs that can be attached (via a sticky peel-off disc on one side) to anything that one wants to change (for the better or even not …I suppose) in terms of its resonant frequency. Of course being so small is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on where one stands with respect to such things. Either it is too small to make a difference or it is small so that the difference it makes is just right. All I can say is that the QR-8 is not going to make any dramatic difference …no jaw drops here, but they will make a difference …and one for the better if you choose the right place on the right thing.
They did help on the RR-77 and they do make a subtle improvement to the music… yeah, I know this is starting to sound like a broken record, but… with the Acoustic Revive QR-8 things just sound better; more natural and less artificial. Easy to try so one can go to town. Not all that expensive either so knock yourself out. I have them here and there …on AC sockets and plugs and on various components (sort of trial and error, but tap on something to hear where it rings the loudest). Yeah, the system sounds better, and no doubt it can still sound even better… but that is another tweak down the road.
The Lotus Group www.lotusgroupusa.com (US Distributor for Acoustic Revive products)
Acoustic Revive www.acoustic-revive.com
Audio Magus www.audio-magus.com
In a recent issue of Stereophile (Vol.30 No.12, December, 2007 for print or the Stereophile website at http://stereophile.com/standloudspeakers/1207ae/ for the screen), Robert J. Reina went nuts over the diminutive Audioengine 2 powered loudspeakers. I mean he loved these to the point of saying, if I may quote him directly… "I have never been more impressed with or more stunned by a component I've reviewed for Stereophile than I was with the Audioengine 2. The level of sound quality produced by this uncolored, detailed, articulate, and dynamic speaker, in all situations, was beyond reproach, and its ratio of value to cost borders on the criminal. It extended my enjoyment of music into a new realm of portability that I hadn't before thought possible. I can't think of a single reason why every reader of this magazine should not go out right now and buy a pair of Audioengine 2s."
Okay so in reading his comments one can assume that these speakers are the second coming of someone's something or other, so I just had to put into a request to the guys at Audioengine to get me a pair. Heck, since I had the Benchmark DAC1 coming in as well, could this be a match made in computer-based desktop music system heaven? Spoiler alert… this is a killer set-up, but more on the Benchmark in a future column!
So how good are they? Uh… yeah, they are good. Very good indeed. Robert hit it out of the park with these …well Audioengine did, as they are stellar products for the $199 a pair asking price. Yeah, they are small, but they do not sound small. And yeah, they are fudging with them to get that level of bass and musicality from such an impish speaker. And no, to me they are not the last word in neutrality or transparency, and yeah, they are more from the hi-fi camp than that of the ultimate musical truth crowd. But who gives a crap? At this price and size (along with fact that they have their own amp and preamp) you are too swept away by what they do do, that all the rest is rather moot. I mean let's be serious here… these are the size of two bricks stacked together and cost only $199 a pair. You get like a 15-watt amplifier, a preamp, cables, and a build quality that defies they price.
Simply put, they play loud, they play deep, they sound quite good, they look very nice, they work, they are easy to use, they have not failed no matter how insanely loud I have played them …or the insane music being played through them, and they are only $199 a pair in black. They are as musically fun to listen as anything I have ever experienced and yeah, I love them too. Heck, we liked them so much I ordered another pair for Carol to use.
A couple of caveats. They do like to be aimed up and right at the listener (place a cone or something under them so that they are staring you right in the face) to sound their best. Doing so allows them to become way more evenly balanced tonally… if not they can be a bit dark and forgiving—too rich and tonally warm, not dull and rolled off mind you… but the tweeter really needs to be seen to be heard.
They will overload if the bass is very deep and played a bit too loud—say much from Laswell or the dub sub titles that are filling my shelves …or hard drive space! Of course since I am only sitting a few feet away, volume levels should be in the sane range …though my son has come in from another room more than once asking me to turn them down! How's that for a change?
The latter ones come in a matte black as opposed to the piano I have here which mitigates finger prints and marks. These are a 10 on the cool scale.