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Positive Feedback ISSUE 61
Speaker Match - Audio's Holy Grail?
as reviewed by Robert H. Levi
One advantage I have by being around as long as I have is perspective. I have seen devices come and go that purport to reduce or eliminate EMF from your loudspeakers. Eliminating EMF would have noticeable benefits in improving your amplifiersí control of the speaker drivers, and would result in an improvement in definition, lower noise, reduced errant phase distortion, and markedly increase the sense of musical realism. The problem, of course, is all previous efforts from Zobel networks to filters of all types, have been complete failures. Most have created more problems than they fixed. If it could be done without harming the musical flow, benefits would surely abound... maybe beyond those imagined by audiophiles and inventors alike.
Enter Holger Stein of Stein Music. This German trained engineer, physicist, and audiophile has quite a track record with audio components which are astoundingly good and effective at remedying all kinds of audio and system-related problems. If he could actually create a device that fixes EMF, this could very well be the Holy Grail of audio systems, enhancing the overall sense of realism that an already cutting-edge system may be capable of.
I think that to achieve this kind of extraordinary Holy Grail status, the device would need to meet three criteria, as follows:
That's my criteria. Letís examine the device as it was sent to me by Stein Music. The Speaker Match is a modest-sized capacitor-shaped unit with two wires protruding from one end. The wires are tipped with very cool hollow banana plugs of gold over copper. They are designed to fit standard banana connectors on your speakers and, if necessary, stack with banana connectors from your speaker cables. The red connector goes on the plus binding post, and the black connector on the ground post. They hook up in parallel to the speaker cables. You need one for each pair of binding posts in use. If bi-wiring, you will need four. If not, only two. Hookup is intuitive, easy, and fast.
Holger has fashioned a device which appears to be made of wood and a resin-covered cardboard, and is hermetically sealed. It has "top secret" workings like many of his other devices. Being attached in parallel, it has no effect on power delivery directly to the speakers. In one of my systems, it is piggybacked with my Bybee Speaker Bullets that are hooked up in series, attached to the Speaker Matches hooked up in parallel.
The Speaker Matches were easy to install and I tried them on three systems...all with Marten Loudspeakers. I auditioned them on the Dukes, a two way monitor that is bi-wired and part of a near-field system. Next, I placed them on the Marten Birds, speakers that are three-way floor standers and also bi-wired. Finally, I tried them on the Marten Django XL, a three-way floor-stander loudspeaker that is single wired. Connecting cables were either Jorma Origo or Kubala-Sosna Elation!. Both digital and LPs were used as sources. Amps were all tube E.A.R. designs. Results with solid state amps would have been generally consistent, I believe, though I cannot say so based on direct experience.
The Sound with the Speaker Matches
Stein Music did it, by golly! They actually make a splendid device that zaps back EMF and its bad effects!!
The overall improvement one would anticipate by the Speaker Matches actually reducing or eliminating EMF is exactly, precisely, and dramatically what I heard in all three systems. I invited every golden eared audiophile I know to come hear what I hear with the Speaker Matches. They were astounded, too.
The increase in definition and the lowering of all kinds of distortion is major league and obvious and instantaneous. Imaging is strongly enhanced. The bass response is deeper, cleaner, clearer, and more dramatic. Soundstaging is wider and deeper. Timbres are richer and more realistic. Phase distortion is remarkably lower and no longer muddying up the imaging. The more revealing the system and speaker, the more incredible are the results. The speakers did a disappearing act on more material, more often than ever before.
The midbass comes alive with the Speaker Matches. This was the range I found most exciting. With the Django XLs, we had to cut back the bass using its bass output control. The little Dukes appeared to grow bass out of nowhere. The slightly lean Birds were lean no more.
Kettle drum thwacks were more powerful, deeper, and more mighty. They also took on a delicacy as they faded away the likes of which I have never experienced before. The systems played louder and the mids and highs were fleshier, with more meat on the musical bones. We heard no downside to using them, ever.
The Best News
The Stein Speaker Matches sell for $298 per pair, and two pair are all you will need for bi-wired speakers. On the economic front, I am flabbergasted.
None. I hear no flaws. No one else heard any flaws. They needed no break-in. No special installation. No adjustment or fiddling.
I am about ready to go out on a limb here. I already named the Stein Musical Harmonizers Audio's Missing Link. But, here I go again! The Stein Music Speaker Matches are truly the Audio Holy Grail, catapulting your top system to a level of realism unattainable by any other device that Iíve ever heard! I cannot help it that it is so inexpensive. Sure, I would be more comfortable recommending the Speaker Matches if they were $1900 per pair, not $298. The Stein Music Speaker Matches are instantly musically transformative, thoroughly enhance and refine your listening experience, are easy to use, and are set-and-forget-it. I discovered them; you will enjoy them to the max. I surely am! Robert H. Levi
Stein Music Speaker Match