An audiophileís sound system and connubial
accord can sometimes be at loggerheads.
Unless our fellow hobbyist enjoys the luxury
of a dedicated space Ė a separate structure,
ideally Ė system integration in a domestic
setting poses a challenge (read: bent wife).
The living-listening room here at the Noble
Pile works for Best Beloved and me. But
thatís us. As indulgent mates go, BBís tops.
I donít offer these photos as a solution to
anything Ė merely as one coupleís approach
to a husbandís space-hungry hobby. The
photos likewise show the Acoustic Revive
products Iíve reviewed in these columns and
elsewhere as docile friends of the family.
The low Chinese cabinet supports an Integris
CDP (AurumAcoustics.com) flanked by NuForce
Reference 9 SE V2 mono amps on Nordost
Quasar cones. You can see Acoustic Reviveís
Grounding Conditioners peeping out from
under the three components. A Golden Sound
DH Pad isolates the CDPís proprietary steel
spikes from the cabinetís impressionable
scalp. The silk-faced slabs behind behind
the Series 8 WATT / Puppies are AR Room
Tuning Panels. (I recently learned that the
W/P 8 is being succeeded by the Sasha W/P.
Info about Acoustic Revive is available on
the manufacturerís Web site, which I
recommend you access via the American
distributor, LotusGroupUSA.com, if only to
read Joe Cohenís insightful comments.)
Receptacle Stabilizers occupy vacant Oyaide
outlets. AR Shorting Plugs fill the CDP and
ampsí idle inputs and outputs. Behind the
cabinet, an AR Ultimate Power Tap for the
CDP, another for the amps. The system is
wired with AR power cords, speaker cables,
and balanced interconnects (see Nordost
Valhalla comments below).
writing table next to the couch are ARís
Disc Demagnetizer and Negative Ion
Generator. At the other end, an AR Ultra Low
Frequency, a.k.a. Schumann Resonance,
Generator caps a book tower. For this wee
wonder, the higher off the floor, the
better. Between and above the speakers would
have been the ideal location, but now and
again Best Beloved says no.
The CD storage shelves, housing fewer than
half the discs, continue in the study
adjoining. (Record reviewers have large
collections, and Iíve been at it for about
twenty years.) The art is mine. All else,
shelving included, is Best Belovedís doing.
Actually, where my work hangs and stands is
also her call. I donít argue. The lady has a
Valhallaís more than a place in the sky
After a number of months in happy
cohabitation with Ken Ishiguroís cables, I
became curious to know whether Iíd hear an
appreciable difference between ARís balanced
interconnect pair and the considerably more
expensive Nordost Valhalla balanced pair
they replaced months ago. The impressions
Iím about to share may shed light, perhaps
useful, perhaps not, on how an audio recluse
deals with sound. (Listening to recordings
via a two-channel system has proven a
solitary and somewhat austere pleasure.
Remarkably few friends and acquaintances
seem interested in staring at the wall
opposite in order to savor the sonic image.)
During the time I spent with the system
wired with AR power cords, interconnects and
speaker cables, well produced discs sounded
as fine as I could have hoped for. One
afternoon, out of idle curiosity, I
reinstalled the Nordost Valhallas and
straightaway heard them conveying a superior
sense of space and detail. Remember, these
are the interconnects that had been in the
system for a few years prior to the AR
cablesí arrival. Iíve always valued the
Valhallas for those qualities mentioned
here. So then, why wasnít I dissatisfied
with AR interconnects?
Perhaps if the they were less good, I would
have been. At least I like to think so. What
I can report is that the Valhallas work
spectacularly well with AR speaker cables.
The systemís exquisitely detailed and
dynamically subtle soundstage is probably as
good as it gets in this space.
But a funny thing happened on the way to a
conclusion. I reinstalled the AR
interconnects and soon after questioned my
perceptions. Was I experiencing a
significant diminution of ďairĒ and detail?
Not really. Was I in any way dissatisfied
with the soundfieldís texture and breadth?
Again, no. To the contrary, I was once again
impressed by the familiality Ė the
compatibility Ė of Ishiguroís designs. The
system is producing a sound that would
change to greater or lesser degrees were I
to remove or replace ARís cables and
accessories, but how to describe what Iíve
come to hear as the AR touch poses a
challenge. We are, after all, dealing in
subtleties, with the understanding that, for
an audiophile, any difference is a big deal.
Thatís what makes us such creepy company.
If I had to condense my impressions of the
Valhalla-to-AR interconnect swap, the word
would be compactness. The all-AR image
sounds a bit more contained, which I donít
see as a lesser quality. Owing perhaps to
the slight difference these AR cables make
to oneís sense of space, the exchange
provides a soundfield that differs, yes, but
as an equal. The AR interconnects will
likely remain in place for a long time, and
Iím just as sure Iíll go back to the
Valhalla pair out of renewed curiosity Ė and
of course to enjoy them again.
I installed a second RR-77, ARís Schumann
Resonance Generator, in our TV room. The
result is a better detailed, more richly
colored picture. The TV and its
self-contained audio are nothing special:
our big, old-school Sony will do nicely till
weíve enough in the piggy bank for a hi-def
rig and sound upgrade. If you google
Schumann Resonance youíll encounter sites
that discuss the phenomenonís health
benefits. Best Beloved and I have noticed
little change in how we feel. Itís enough
that the RR-77 does what it does so very
well. And of course the description of the
AR-77ís effects on Acoustic Reviveís Web
site mentions nothing about health perks.