Acoustic Who?

You neednít eavesdrop on back-room conversations to understand that high-end cables occupy a peculiar niche. As a practical matter, dealers are reluctant to take on new or little-known lines in a market engorged with familiar names. Compared with producing audio electronics, turning out cables is relatively easy, which explains, perhaps, why so many people are doing it Ė and why dealers are grumbling, ďEnough already!Ē But not enough, really. I want to come back to Acoustic Reviveís cables, having said too little about their strengths.

A unique device such as Acoustic Reviveís RR-77 practically sells itself. Because of their superficial resemblance to other designersí wares, ARís audio cables have had a difficult time establishing themselves in the USA. And thatís too bad. Perhaps I can do my small part by mentioning the originality Ken Ishiguro brings to all his conceptions. Nothing about the manís work is routine.

I wonít burden you by repeating ingredients. Apart from a correction to follow, I covered them well enough in the preceding Random Noise. Briefly, the speaker cable and interconnect employ oval, uni-crystal, annealed copper wire (Acoustic Revive calls it single-core) under a specifically fabricated silk sleeve, hollow copper coil and carbon-content overcoat.

As to the correction, since Furukawa, the manufacturer of Acoustic Reviveís PCOCC-A wire, is no longer willing to produce the 2.4mm x 2.6mm oval, AR has been using a 2.6mm round PCOCC-A wire, in triplicate as before, in its Power Reference power cord. Oval remains the shape of choice for the interconnect and speaker cable, at 0.8mm x 1.2mm and 1.2mm x 1.4mm respectively. (Oval is said to be less resonant than round.) I also neglected to identify Matsukin as the manufacturer of the proprietary terminations for ARís interconnects and speaker cables. The power cordís fittings come from Oyaide.

While oval wires, silk sleeves and copper coils are intriguing in their own right, if the cables perform no better than routinely, it wouldnít much matter whether Ishiguroís formulations included threads from the Shroud of Turin. As far gone as we sound geeks can be, even we demur from knowingly dropping a bundle on mediocrity.

Before I took on Acoustic Reviveís power cords, speaker cables, balanced interconnects and Power Taps, Nordost cabling and BlackNoise line conditioning provided the incentive for my Integris CDP, NuForce Reference V2 9SE mono amps, and Wilson WATT / Puppy Series 8 speakers. (NuForce, a company I work for, is the US distributor of the Italian BlackNoise line.) In terms of reputation and price, my Nordost cabling has been near or at the top of the crop: Valhalla balanced interconnects, Tyr speaker cables, Brahma and Vishnu power cords. The BlackNoise pieces are also in that league.

Going from one armful of power providers to another has not proved a night-and-day experience. And that perhaps is the most interesting observation Iím capable of making. The reputation Nordostís top-grade cabling has earned is the envy of the industry. In replacing Nordost with Acoustic Revive, I was, I admit, apprehensive. As impressed as I am with Ishiguroís work, I wondered whether his cables would prove similarly noteworthy.

As I made clear in my first report, the answer is yes Ė in Palinese, yubetcha! An observation I earlier made needs repeating. The AR product line, at least that part of it Iím familiar with, looks to a single goal. Let me put it this way. The RWL-3 Room-Tuning Panel, one of ARís most effective designs, functions in a familial way with ARís Power Reference power cords, Single-Core Line Cables (interconnect), Single-Core Speaker Cables, and Ultimate Power Taps.

The magic is in the midrange, audioís heartland. Get the midrange right and youíre home. Further, the midrangeís rightness in no way diminishes speed, nor is there diminution at the spectrumís extremes. And yet characterizing something as ďmagicĒ is likely to leave the wrong impression, and we are, after all, dealing in impressions Ė thatís what audiophilaís about. Youíre better served if I tell you that via this system ARís cables reveal no character whatever. Theyíre simply not there. Several old productions helped clinch the assessment.

The cellist Mstislav Rostropovitch, with composer Benjamin Britten as pianist (and a fine one he was), perform Schubertís Sonata for Arpeggione and Piano (performed in modern times on the cello), Five Pieces in Folk Style, and Debussyís Sonata for Cello and Piano, recorded in í61 and í68, and re-released on CD in í87 [London 417 833-2]. Itís a rare privilege to listen to a great cellist playing with one of the twentieth centuryís outstanding composers. London (now Decca) made good recordings in those days, particularly if Britten had hand in the proceedings. What I heard was, yes, a resplendent system, but more to my point, a fine recording proscribed by its periodís technical limitations. I have never felt so in touch with this disc. I was listening to a brilliant moment in history down to the smallest droplet of sound.

A more spectacular recording of a certain age (I mentioned this one in my Oyaide comments) conveyed the same immediacy: Carl Orffís Carmina Burana, with Robert Shaw conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Chorus, and vocal soloists, recorded in Soundstream digital in í80 by Jack Renner (Robert Woods, producer), and published in í81, suggesting that the performance first appeared on vinyl. The CD came out in í83, the year of the mediumís launch. As an aside, I do wonder at the disdain that greeted the compact disc with evidence such as this at hand. The bass drumís near-tactile clarity would challenge the abilities, as a skepticís guess, of just about any phono cartridge you can name. The chorus comes off huge and coherent, everything works.

Here at the Noble Pile, Acoustic Reviveís cables will serve as the standard against which others will be compared.

 

                                              


Rex tremendae majestatis!
 

      


If youíve been following these columns youíve perhaps grown weary of my many huzzahs for Acoustic Reviveís RR-77 Ultra Low Frequency Pulse Generator, or to award the little cutie a more imposing handle, Schumann Resonance Generator. In my listening room (doubling as our living room) the item under renewed scrutiny emitted its imperceptible 7.83-Hz whatsis 63 inches off the floor from its cubby in a shelving array, putting it a few inches above the recommended minimum of 1.5m. Iíve since moved the RR-77 to the top of a recent addition: an 80-inch-tall, freestanding bookcase, which Iíll return to in a moment.

As mentioned, operating the RR-77 via its accompanying wall-wart brings the soundfield closer to the listener. Dimensionality, spaciousness and texture improve. A good recording becomes more engaging. Turn the RR-77 off and the presentation becomes a tad boring. These impressions are relative. Youíre in a train gazing through the window at a mountain range. Walk to the open area between cars. Same mountains, different intensity.

Joe Cohen recommends replacing the wall-wart with an independent power supply; ARís Aki Monobe agrees. Acoustic Revive made one, a limited production, expensive, and no longer available. Joe suggested the KingRex PSU.

Its diminutive footprint about that of the RR-77, the beefy KingRex is made in Taiwan. If you go to Audio-Magus.com, youíll see that itís part of a line, several pieces of which, similar in size and appearance, have been designed to operate with the PSU. And hereís where the story takes an interesting turn. Since itís the only unit of its kind in town (at least I think so), people have been buying the KingRex PSU for their RR-77ís. The unitís solitary power outlet accommodates a 12-volt DC plug, as does the RR-77ís inlet, and, of course, the inlets of the components the PSU is intended to work with.

The guys at Audio Magus tell me that PSU sales for application with KingRex products slightly outnumber those for the RR-77 and that the balance may shift when the RR-77 becomes better known Ė an inevitability in my opinion. Audio Magus provides various lengths of good-quality umbilicals for RR-77 applications, where youíd probably want to keep the units farther apart than the short included jumper permits.

For reasons having to do with room aesthetics (read: in order to please my interior-designer lady, a paragon of tolerance), I relocated the RR-77 from its original location in the cubby to the top of a freestanding bookcase about 12 feet distant from the systemís center point and nine feet distant from the right speaker (see Sapien Bookcase, dwr.com) whence the RR-77ís effectiveness shone, albeit less brightly. It needed to be elevated to its recommended minimum of 1.5m or, ideally, higher. The solution lay in the taller Sapien Bookcase. The smaller Sapien is now upstairs, fully reloaded. The RR-77, atop its new perch, stands over six feet tall. The added elevation helps. (Iím told that the RR-77ís effective horizontal range is about 90 feet.)

Meanwhile, having first arrived at my own conclusion, I asked Aki Monobe whether a REM-8 atop the PSU would serve as an enhancement. His answer: why not? But think about that. I replaced the $425 RR-77ís wall-wart with a $190 PSU which I capped with a $550 REM-8. I tweaked a tweakís tweak! Am I an audiophile or what?! To make matters even more audiophilic, I replaced the PSUís plain-jane cable with a classy, after-market power cord. If you have it, use it, which, in my case, includes that spare REM-8. In its absence Iím just as happy with the part the PSU plays in the RR-77ís effectiveness. Recommended.


Local Chitchat

Itís been a couple of years since I last spotted the townís elderly Elvis impersonator. Jefferson Davis spent a night at our house in 1858. Too early to say whether the proposed condo-shops-restaurant-marina project down at the foot bridge will ever get under way. What stands there now is a partially demolished sardine-canning plant. Thatís it for now.