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Positive Feedback ISSUE 61
Stein Music - Glorious
I hope you have read my extensive PFO review of the Stein Music Harmonizers. (PFO Issue 59) I dubbed these "The Missing Link" for enhancing the recorded musical performance and creating a more life-like “you are there!” event in your listening room. My respect for this system tweak for top audiophiles continues to grow. But wait! There is even more to see and hear as the amazing Holger Stein has been quite busy creating a dramatic list of superb system accessories, a virtual secret in the USA... until now! Keep in mind that Holger is a triple threat. He is a physicist, an engineer, and an audiophile. Fasten your seat belts and prepare yourself for Stein Music from Germany transforming your system in your home and your CAR!
Stein Music Harmonizers - Model H2
The first system accessory to actually and truly address your speaker drivers without being in the circuit!! They activate the air in the room, reducing the capacitance of the air and making it more transmissive of definition and impact. This is verifiable and repeatable by listening. It closes the gap between the recorded performance and the real thing in your listening room. I think that it is a necessary and essential accessory to all great systems. Its effect cannot be duplicated by any other component that I have heard. It can be deactivated for listening comparisons, is easily adjustable, and is also easy to hide. The Harmonizer gets my vote for the ultimate audio wonder produced so far in this century for top audiophiles. Available at Tweek Geek and Fidelis AV. Read the full review in PFO cited above. About $2,100 for a two-unit package, including crystal stones.
Stein Music Harmonizers - Model C2
This is the Stein Harmonizer for your car! Plug it into your cigarette lighter, front or back, adjust the potentiometer to about 2 o'clock, drop the small black box in a seat pocket, and enjoy your high end car stereo like never before! I tried it in a Lexus with McIntosh custom system, an Acura, and a BMW with top systems on board and they were all improved... a lot! The music moves out of the engine and dash into the car itself. Your car system becomes a near-field super system. I heard this over and over again and am mightily impressed! This is no toy I assure you. The Model C2 is easy to adjust and easy to defeat; just leave it plugged in and hidden somewhere. Your car is instantly transformed into a small studio when you start the engine. Amazing. The better your system, the bigger the improvement. Get more definition, more reality, and more great musical enjoyment in your car. Even words are clearer! One box is $595, and it is all you will need.
Stein Music Demagnetizer for LPs/digital media - Model DE3
Looks like Mercedes Benz built this for Stein. This large black demagnetizing platform is the best of its type on planet Earth. CDs are smoother and more analog-sounding, while LPs are quieter and cleaner! As it does not have a spindle in the center, you zap your LPs [and CDs] in their inner sleeve, thus keeping them dust free. Excellent! The one-button turn-on-and-activate system is brilliant. The demag affect is consistent and extremely musical. It even has a tone to let you know it is zapping away. I have tried all of these demag devices on the market, big and small, and I think that this DE3 is the KING. I preferred it musically in a direct comparison to the big Furutech Demag on ALL media. Having said that, I should say that the Stein is a lot more money than the Furutech, which remains a very good value at its price point. The Stein is a must-own if cost is NO object! The DE3 is the most neutral, best looking, best performing, most powerful demag of them all. The MSRP is $3495.
Stein Music Naturals Wood Feet - Set of Three
Made of constrained layers of American walnut and a special soft polymer material known only to Stein, these small but mighty feet are the best value that I’ve found in equipment isolation since the ModSquad days of yore. In my experience, three of these under any piece of gear will isolate and refine audio performance about 75% as well as the Marigo Mystery Feet do (at 4X the cost). Yes, it is true that the Marigo Mystery Feet are still the ultimate in individual footers around today. The Stein Music Naturals are the high-value, low-cost alternative, and the go-to footer if you do not have deep enough pockets for the Marigo. You get three footers for $199, and they outperform everything that I had on hand for comparison, except the Marigos. What a deal!! They are beautiful, too. The Naturals have no weight limit, and work under the heaviest amps and speakers. One size fits all. I love them. Overall, the sound is enhanced and improved, but with results somewhat leaner and more vivid than the Marigos. The Marigos are more truly neutral and maximally musical. I have been searching for a less-expensive alternative to the Marigos for the everyman audiophile, and the Stein Music Naturals are it! The MSRP is $199 for three.
Stein Music E-Pads: Two for $110, or $55 each
These little squares, about half an inch by quarter of an inch, come in several versions, and remind me of the Marigo dots on steroids. But the Steins are much, much, much more powerful, and are made of exotic polymers and metals that affect the molecular composition of the metal or plastic they are attached to in major musical ways. Here's the deal. Affix the E-Pad model 11+25 or 33+25 to the drawer of your digital player, and get ready for a powerful musical change in all digital media! I tried this on the Ayre DX5, Oppo 95, E.A.R. Acute 2 and 3, ModWright Sony 999 and 9500, and the Alesis Masterlink... all dramatically improved, all more analog sounding, all much more involving and enjoyable! No kidding. This tweak is the real deal! A work of genius. A must-own for all digital players and transports. Killer accessory.
Big deal: I tried the E-Pad in an Esoteric 03, $15,000 transport, in the CD drawer. Before the E-Pad, the Esoteric sounding vivid, bombastic, and slightly glassy. After applying the E-Pad, the Esoteric was warmer, richer, not glassy, dynamic but not annoying, and smoother with truer timbres. I had a witness! This little tenth of an ounce square made a 75 pound transport sound more like music!! (I need a drink.)
Next we affixed a square on the back of the unit near the power cord. Yikes, it got more musical and sweeter. It never lost its focus or purity. Next we added a square on top of the square already in place. More improvement! We left it with the Stein Music squares and began experimenting with power cords and digital cables. What fun! When it comes to taming digital, these Stein Music E-Pads are the cat's meow!
The E-Pad can be used in many other applications such as tonearms, rear panel of amplifiers and preamps; you name it... just follow the instructions. But, I did not get the kind of consistent, break-out improvement I got with digital players... sorry Holger. You should try it on your gear or speakers and see for yourself... but do the digital player drawer first, and begin to enjoy the best in high-end digital performance like never before. I did all six of my digital players with sterling results!! Easy to use, with peel-off back and stick-on feature.
Stein Music ONYX DX-3002 featuring Digital SPDIF Cable and Re-clocking Box Combination: Retail $2695
This digital cable plus major league re-clocking jitter reduction box is no small affair. The box is rather large with built-in cables on each side. The whole thing is impressive, and the power comes from a slick external adapter with on/off switch. It looks important and it is! Sounding somewhere between the Kubala-Sosna Elation! digital cable and the Jorma Digital Cable, it has a presentation that is dramatic, powerful, and super solid. Placed between an Esoteric 03 transport and the E.A.R. DACute, it was most exciting, clear, and realistic.
As we changed power cords to the Esoteric, the Onyx changed, too. It is a revealing piece, and hard to maximize as a result. It is also bulky and tough to maneuver. That said, I liked it for its limitless transparency and textural rightness. The tape-like solidity of the sound is also very fetching. I’m not sure it is that much better than a top-of-the-line digital cable alone, but more experimentation is needed. Right now I would give the Onyx a conditional, but positive, recommendation.
Stein Music CD Plus Treatment Retail $67
This is an excellent, well-performing digital spray. It’s easy to apply, and easy to work with your clean cotton cloth (not provided). Not oily or weird smelling. Does not harm anything it gets on during application. I like it almost as much as l'Art du Son, which is my current CD polish reference. The Stein Music is somewhat more vivid and exciting, which I liked on jazz and rock, but not so much on classical. The l'Art is warmer, neutral, and more tube-sounding; the Stein is more dramatic and solid-state sounding. Both are excellent, and both are better than anything else I have tried...and I think that I have tried them all. I particularly liked the Stein on many Reference Recordings discs, as it brought out nuances with flare and energy that the RRs often lack. Good stuff this Stein Music CD Plus, and a great choice in many systems.
There are even more accessory goodies from Stein Music I have not explored. They also make a line of cables, an amp, preamp, and CD player. Plus, they produce a great-looking phono cartridge! I hope to test ALL of these at some point, as this company is truly working on the cutting edge of technology and demonstrates excellent musical taste. I am very impressed. More soon!