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Positive Feedback ISSUE45
deMag LP, Disc, and Cable Demagnetizer
as reviewed by Robert H. Levi
Just recently I reviewed Furutech's Silver Arrows Phono Cable, a no holds barred and quite successful attempt to create the best phono cable for the very pickiest audiophiles. This got me curious about Furutech's top tweaks, in particular, the amazing looking deMag for digital and vinyl disks. Tom Campbell recently reviewed the deMag in these pages and I was drawn to this good looking piece like a moth to a flame. Would this pricy tweak take my system to new heights of realism? Will my twin beam Bedini be sidelined at last? I get the idea of demagnitizing CDs, but LPs, too? With the Bedini selling for as little as $100, is the deMag for $2150 truly worth the extra dough? You'll just have to read on for the world shattering answers to these tough questions!
The first test was a head to head comparison of identical CDs, one spun for 60 seconds on the Bedini, the other zapped once for about 15 seconds on the deMag. I asked two of my golden eared associates to witness and comment on the comparison. The CD used was the Dialoghi CD from Yarlung Records... a truly reference recording of a cello and piano recorded at 24/192. The system included an E.A.R. Acute CD Player, E.A.R. 912 Control Centre, and E.A.R. 890 Tube Monoblocks powering the Marten Bird Loudspeakers/REL Stadium 3 Sub. All was connected with the hot new Kubala-Sosna Elation Interconnects, AC Cords, and speaker cables...100% balanced.
Compared to the untreated disc's performance, the [noisy functioning] Bedini enhanced dynamics, smoothed the highs, and slightly sweetened the overall musical textures. This was very typical of its performance on most CDs.
We were not prepared for the change, or shall I say transformation of the other CD treated on the [silent functioning] deMag. Dynamics were enhanced at all frequencies yielding an evenness of tonality and drama much like a fine LP. The CD sounded much more analogue. Plus, the background got much blacker and the soundstage become more clearly defined. The deMag CD sounded much like it found some extra bits which made more music. The transformation was well beyond the Bedini or Acoustic Revive or any other demagnitizing device I have auditioned. All three of us agreed that the improvement was a serious upward leap in CD performance. The deMag is a solid reason to NOT play music from your disk drive!
The deMag also removed a layer of fine mist or grain obscuring the performance that I was unaware even existed. Once it disappeared, the music became significantly more lifelike. We then took the Bedini treated CD and zapped it with the DEMag. It now sounded like the other CD, no harm done. Treating the disk with L'Art du Son CD Treatment then with the deMag was even better...both treatments were additive resulting in superbly realistic sound.
There is nothing subtle about the DeMag's effect. With upsampling CD Players and DACs abounding, improvements upstream to the media and disk player mean even bigger improvements downstream at the DAC. The DeMag's value may be worth the dough just for the improvement to the CD or Hybrid disks in your collection. After all, you can zap five CDs at a time! Very nice! There's more to this story, much more!
The LP setup for the DeMag's test featured an uncompromising phono section. The cartridge selected was the newest and extraordinary Grado top gun, the Statement1, wound with seven feet of pure gold wire! SPT Stylus Cleaner was used on the cartridge. The arm is the amazing Helius Omega mounted on the near perfect E.A.R. Disk Master Magnetic turntable. The phono stage was the E.A.R. 324 Phono Stage and all was connected with balanced Kubala-Sosna Elation interconnects and AC cables. We used identical Sheffield direct to disk LPs that were washed well over a year ago and placed in fresh sleeves.
We played one of the records with no processing to get a base line sound. We then played one of the LP's freshly washed in a VPI 16.5 record cleaning machine with L'Art du Son LP treatment. The washed LP was more dynamic, had clearer mids, increased definition, and overall more lively and richer musical timbres. This is typical and was anticipated. We then zapped the other LP on the deMag, 15 seconds on each side, and played it. To our great surprise, the deMag LP sounded pretty much like the freshly washed LP. Backgrounds may even be a bit blacker with the deMag. WOW! This is fantastic! You just can't wash an LP every time you play it...that's damaging to the LP. Here is a method to make clean LPs sound their best without washing!! Killer!
Next we took the freshly washed LP and zapped it to see what might happen. Whoa! It improved even more. Not the giant leap we witnessed with the other LP, but a definite improvement in quiet and clarity. The deMag is additive with LPs and CDs. I still recommend occasional washings, but the deMag restores most all benefits with no wash, noise, or chemicals. The effect lasts most of a day. Redoing it each time you play it is no big deal.
Playing by the numbers, I’d rate a fresh unwashed LP at a 5. Wash it and it’s an 8. deMag it and it’s a 9. Do both [for you fanatics out there] and it’s a 10. Again, an occasional wash is sufficient. deMag the LP all you want for great sound.
There must be significant material on a record that has metallic properties. I asked Tim de Paravicini at RMAF about this and he agreed that the black material on the vinyl can be magnetized and a demagnetization would work. Based in part on his opinion, I requested this review. So far all who have tried this fabulous device on LPs have been amazed.
Using a setup including the ModWright Sony 9100 with tube power supply and Bybee Filters…all the latest updates from the genius Dan Wright, the ModWright was connected with RCA terminated Kubala-Sosna Elation interconnects to the E.A.R. 912. With an array of SACD only and Hybrid SACDs to test, another listening panel of four audiophiles gathered for the event. We listened to each disc to get a baseline sound then gave each disk a turn on the deMag… label down. Compared to the untreated disk, the dynamics were significantly enhanced, textures were more complex and organic, and backgrounds were blacker. I noticed a curtain of grunge seemed to vanish at all frequencies and ambience retrieval was clearer and better directed. The effect was NOT subtle.
We were a bit surprised by these results as SACD is usually not so affected by the Bedini or other like devices. Forget that, the deMag “vinylized” the SACDs according to one of the listeners. No doubt about it, SACDs benefit every bit as much as CDs by demagnetizing with the Furutech!
We then tried several CDRs made mostly in computer drives and burned on various CD blank brands. I actually figured they would be unaffected by the deMag. Silly me. The amount of improvement with the deMag was GREATER than the improvement on original CDs! Why? I have no idea. I thought CDRs were mostly chemical in content. Oh well. The improvement is shocking. CDRs sound more like SACDs after treatment. If you make CDRs off the internet or as a copy of a friend’s CD, the deMag enhances them significantly. Every CDR on every brand of media… black, silver, or gold… improved and became more organic, realistic, and dynamic. This was unexpected, but further enhances the value of this wonderful machine developed by Furutech. We concluded that though expensive, a major CD and LP collection [plus growing CDR collection] deserves the deMag royal treatment.
DVDV Test [No DVDA Player Available]
If you have not heard the many DVDVs from Classic Records or AIX Records, you have missed a great deal. I particularly like the “Zephyr Voices Unbound” from AIX in real 24/96 that’s easy to play on any DVD player. It sounds particularly alive in my superb ModWright Sony 9100 with all the upgrades as used in the SACD tests. I first played the DVDV as is and it sounded realistic and mellifluous as usual. I then zapped it in the deMag and played it again. This may be the biggest transformation yet. I would suggest that the definition doubled. Clarity of the images and textural cues popped. It was the clearest demonstration yet of the excellence of the deMag. It sounded like I changed cables or power cords not just demagnetized a disk! I detected a slight imbalance in the speakers with the left channel a bit lower than the right. The imbalance disappeared after demagnetizing. The deMag has proven itself a winner.
I have just one. I would have placed the AC cord outlet in the back of the deMag, not in the front. I turned the unit to the rear so the cord went out the back [or front], whatever. It doesn’t matter in use, however, just a bit dumb looking. Also, and this is not a quibble, how about making a lower cost deMag junior for digital media only? I think they would sell as fast as you could make them.
I recommend you peruse the Furutech website for a description of how the deMag functions from a technical perspective. Tom Campbell’s PFO review goes into this quite thoroughly. My conclusion is, if anything, even more profoundly complimentary. Of all the great tweaks I know of or used to make silver disks sound more like vinyl ones, the deMag from Furutech is the very best yet devised. Of all the great enhancements for LPs including a thorough wash, the deMag takes LP performance to a new level of perfection not attained by any other device known to me. Ditto CDRs and DVDVs. If you are an audiophile of the very highest caliber and a seeker of absolute musical perfection, the deMag is not just recommended, it is a required tool. End of story. Robert H. Levi
Audio Video Distribution