Acoustic Reviveís RWL-3 Room Tuning Panel,
Power Reference Power Cord and
RTP-2 Ultimate Power Tap



Whatís Japanese for sorcerer?

Greetings, fellow enthusiasts, from one lucky audio geek. Iím assuming that my good opinion of the RR-77 Ultra Low Frequency Pulse Generator, among other Acoustic Revive goodies, has occasioned this bonanza.

Which reminds me to apologize for a glib remark. In my comments about the RR-77, I appropriated ďweird scienceĒ from something Aurum Acousticsí Derrick Moss emailed regarding the mysteries and misdirections of acoustic isolation, with reference to the steel points he developed for his Integris CDP (my player). The ďweirdĒ of ďweird scienceĒ suggests multiples of strange. Improbable. Goofy. Mad-scientist shenanigans.

Thereís nothing weird about Ken Ishiguroís designs. Unusual, yes, perhaps even baffling. But if youíve been around our little principality for any time at all you know that Audiophilia boasts a number of developments and practices that have defied, and continue to defy, conventionality. Some even make a difference, and Ė mirabile dictu! Ė sometimes for the better. For example, whoíd have thought that demagnetizing a digital disc or subjecting it to a rush of hot air awash in negative ions, or attaching a virtual ground to oneís CDP, or bathing oneís listening room with a 7.83 Hz electronic pulse would affect how recordings sound? Iím referring to Acoustic Reviveís RD-3 Disc Demagnetizer, Rio-5 II Tourmaline Negative Ion Generator, RGC-24 Grounding Conditioner, and the drop-dead astonishing RR-77, all of which, here at le poste díťcoute, arrived before todayís assault on common sense.


Hot damn! The FedEx man!

Three cartons, two larger, one smaller. The larger: the two nicely boxed RWL-3 acoustic panels stand, unpacked, just shy of four feet tall by 2.5 feet wide. Apart from their color, they resemble the Quad ESL 63. If you click on Clement Perryís photo essay of his visit to Acoustic Revive, the last page shows the panels in a maximal array. ARís Web site, acoustic-revive.com, provides a less than exhaustive description of what goes into these slabs. The smaller: Power Reference power cords, RPT-2 Ultimate Power Taps (line conditioners), and REM-8 EMF Cancellers. My next report will cover Acoustic Reviveís interconnect, speaker cable and REM-8.

Having attached the feet (thereís a wall-mounting option), I positioned the panels behind my WATT / Puppy Eights, making no other change to the system. I put on a disc Iím familiar with. To tell you that it sounded different states the case anemically. After having sampled a number of familiar discs, I can report that everything Iíve played sounds different. As for the pleasure quotient, Iíve clocked more sweet-spot hours in the past few weeks than in the preceding few months, but Iím already ahead of myself in that Iíve factored the power cords and line conditioners into my euphoria.


But we have to start somewhere

To begin, then, with the panels. In reporting on this and that Iíve mentioned the stereo image. While itís always been good, now itís better focused. Iíve a better sense of stability. Instrumentalists and vocalists sound more lifelike. And I have a heightened perception of midrange riches, along with a better sense of low-end solidity. And, most important, itís an all-around easier system to listen to. In an exchange of thoughts about the panels, Clement Perry used the term ďsilky.Ē I cannot disagree, if we understand silky to mean other than euphonic. The system retains its snap, crackle and pop. The panels are doing something for sure, but theyíre soaking up nothing, at least nothing Iím reluctant to part with.

To put that in relative terms, before the panelsí inclusion the system was upwardly tipped. Itís a perception to which Iíd have objected before the RWL-3sí arrival. But it cannot be denied. For the most emphatic evidence I can offer, my wife Lee is actually coming into the room to kick back and listen. I assure you, my fellow enthusiasts, this marks the dawn of a new and better day. Domestically, I mean. Our global descent into the crapper proceeds apace. I just read a review of Paul Therouxís latest railway travel book in which the author sees the world through which his train passes as dingy, disorderly and impoverished, which calls to mind Voltaireís recommendation that, the world being what it is, weíre better off tending our gardens Ė in our case, our aural gardens. But I did vote for Obama and wish the man well.

While I feel safe in stating that the two RWL-3 panels have brought about the most pronounced change yet to the listening room, Iím also obliged to confess that I was impatient to check out the power cords and line conditioners. The RWL-3 pair, which require no break-in, told their story in short order, and a lovely story it is. Like all cables, the Power Reference power cords profit from use. Inasmuch as itís difficult to differentiate between power cords and the line conditioners they connect with, I cannot say whether the two RTP-2 Ultimate Power Taps also do better after a proper burn-in. I can say that, en suite, itís a killer combo.

                

The RTP-2 is a line conditioner like no other. If you havenít already, read Russell Lichterís thoroughgoing report on the RTP-4 (with two rather than the RTP-2ís one duplex outlet) and have another look at Clement Perryís photo essay. In addition to the elegant Oyaide hardware Acoustic Revive modifies by way of selective cryogenics and additional plating, the machined duralumin case encapsulates a bed of tourmaline, green carborundum, and quartz, which, in combination, is said to cancel powerline nasties. The RGC-24 Grounding Conditionerís disc contains a similar mix. So far as Iím aware, itís a unique approach to noise elimination, and it seems to work like a charm.


Anecdote break

A forum thing happened on the way to the Funny. Iíve been using the disc demagnetizer, negative ion generator and virtual ground for a number of months, and the ultra low frequency pulse generator for somewhat less time. In the midst of my listening sessions, I put on Heinz Holligerís Violin Concerto with soloist Thomas Zehetmair, the composer conducting the SWR Symphony Orchestra, ECM New Series 1890, released in 2004. Wonderful music, but it didnít sound right: not really awful but a touch flattened, constricted and congested. As I say, just a touch, but certainly not the sound I had anticipated. I remembered this as a well recorded disc.

Hereís what happened. The weather looked iffy, so I turned off the amps, CDP and AR units before I left the house for the afternoon. In firing up the system when I got back, I had neglected to turn on the RR-77. Now and then the skeptic within asks, can this device really and truly accomplish what Iím pretty sure I hear it doing merely by emitting an electronic pulse Ė the so-called Schumann Resonance? I turned the RR-77 back on. The disc regained its old allure. I had performed a test all the more valid for its being unintentional.


We pick up where we left off

The panels did their transformative thing with Nordostís Valhalla balanced interconnects, Tyr speaker cables (similar in construction to Nordostís more expensive Valhalla speaker cables), Vishnu and Brahma power cords, and BlackNoise 2500 and Extreme line conditioners in place. I mention this merely to reassure. If youíre using cabling and line conditioning youíre happy with, as I have been with the goods just listed, I wouldnít think of urging you to ditch the lot and go whole hog for Acoustic Revive. In my opinion, which I arrive at parochially via this sound system in this room, Iím confident that the RWL-3 Room Tuning Boards (to call them by their proper name) will make their contribution felt with any combination of quality cabling and line conditioning.

But the imp of perversity reminds us that Acoustic Reviveís power cords and line conditioners sprang from the same imagination that gave us these remarkable panels. While Iíve yet to install their interconnects and speaker cables, I can tell you at this early stage that ARís power cords and line conditioning mesh with the panelsí virtues in a synergistic fashion. They all seem to bear the same sonic stamp: the most attractive midrange Iíve yet achieved; deep, beautifully defined bass; sweet yet meticulously detailed highs; a soundstage you want to reach out and touch. (I put the RWL-3 in the plural because Iím using two Ė with space only for two. Oneís a possibility, as are a half-dozen.)


A sprinkling of magic or a whole lot of science?


I pose the questions. Answers are quite another matter. Enough to mention that tourmaline appears in several of Ken Ishiguroís designs, as does silk. The RWL-3ís grille cloth consists of an ultra-fine silk textile said to contain tourmaline, which is said in turn to enhance the panelsí effectiveness. So far as Iím aware, designwise, the panels are unique. The innovations donít stop there. Iím familiar with many fewer high-end power cords than our hobby has to offer. However, I hazard to guess that nothing out there quite resembles Ishiguroís conception, incorporating, as it does, three strands of oval, single-core, annealed copper wire (specifically PCOCC-A, a uni-crystal copper extruded by the Ohno Continuous Casting method) under a woven silk sleeve itself enclosed under a Teflon-coated copper coil. Thereís more to it than that, including a black mesh overlay and Oyaide hardware. For a more detailed explanation and look, acoustic-revive.com.

Moving right along: Nordostís Valhalla interconnects and Tyr speaker cables are still in place. After the recommended number of burn-in hours (between 50 and 100), the system, via its five AR power cords and two AR line conditioners, is producing ravishing results. In terms of wakefulness and sleep, Lee and I are on a circadian cycle. Itís light, weíre up, itís dark, we retire, and thatís only a mild exaggeration. The urbanites among you will find my bedtime ludicrous and my arise-time appalling. But, as a preshrunk authority, Iím here to tell you, Godís-honest truth, that listening to quiet, well recorded, beautifully performed music before first light is an experience like none other. In evidence, a gorgeous Naxos released in 2006, volume two of John Dowlandís lute music performed by Nigel North [Naxos 8.557862]. The instrumentís distinctive textures within a richly ambient space are immeasurably exquisite. The panels are in no way subtractive. Nothingís withheld. And the AR power cords and line conditioners conjoin as soulmates.

Another much too early session with Morton Feldmanís Crippled Symmetry (1983), a masterpiece if ever one was. Bridge 9002 A/B, a two-CD set released in 1999, features members of the unfortunately named California EAR Unit: Dorothy Stone, flute, bass flute; Arthur Jarvinen, vibraphone, glockenspiel; Vicki Ray, piano, celesta. Itís an especially Romantic reading in which the music flourishes. ďHushed volume, vivid but subtly muted colors and slow tempos only heighten the effect of individual sonorities,Ē from John Rockwellís excellent notes. ďFeldman chose his colors instinctively but with fanatical precision.Ē To report that I sat enraptured through 87 minutes of music, hearing it for the first time in more than a manner of speaking, tells you something about the sound systemís uptick in texture and finesse.

Lest Iíve lulled you into a pleasant reverie, in the US, the RWL-3 panels are $950 each. A two-meter Power Reference power cord lists for $725, and Iím using five. Two RTP-2 Ultimate Power Taps, at $1295 each, bring the total to mucho dinero (MSLPs courtesy of LotusGroupUSA.com, Acoustic Revive and Oyaideís American distributor.) The panels seem to me well priced. Quite apart from what they do for the room, theyíre large and well made. The $725 power cord is hand-assembled (see Clement Perryís photo essay) and unique in its application of quality materials. Among its other distinctions, the line conditioner is milled from an ingot of duralumin, which would be of little interest if the thing didnít perform as well as it does. The same can be said of everything here.


What into where, and final impressions

To summarize, the RWL-3 Room Tuning Panels are operating in concert with five Power Reference power cords and two RTP-2 Ultimate Power Taps. Three of the power cords connect the Integris CDP and two mono NuForce amps to the Power Taps; the remaining two connect the Power Taps to the wall outlets, for the present, four FIM 880 duplexes. I want to check out Oyaide outlets in the near future. Of the audio systemís four dedicated lines, two are in use at present. The NuForce mono pair occupies one RTP-2; the Integris CDP, the other.

Luscious midrange notwithstanding, the system sounds more energetic Ė from the low end on up, snappier, dynamically subtler, more explosive when it should be. Before Acoustic Reviveís multi-faceted input, the room was a touch bass shy. Given the welcome differences these products have brought about, Iím eager to comment on other AR designs for the next outing. This will include the REM-8 EMF Canceller, RIQ 5010 and RIQ 5010W Natural Quartz Insulators, smoky and clear respectively, XLR 1.5 SPA Single-Core Line Cable (interconnect), and SPC-PA 2.0 Single-Core Speaker Cable.

You canít judge a book or an audio component by its cover. If the item isnít sheathed in opulent armor, the audiophile may indeed see it as a mass-market interloper. By high-end audioís macho-bling standards, several Acoustic Revive products are not what youíd describe as eye-candy. The disc demagnetizer, negative ion generator, Schumann Resonance generator (which is what Iíd like to begin calling the RR-77), and EMF canceller Ė to be covered in my next review Ė donít aspire, heftwise, to the high endís standard. The RTP Ultimate units are the exception: theyíre beefy because they need to be, likewise the virtual ground. Donít be fooled by minimal packaging. This is all potent stuff.

Finally, an amusing misspelling Ė amusing to me at least. Throughout these remarks Iíd been writing Ken Ishiguroís name as Ishiguru. Subconscious mischief? A guy who can come up with this kind of stuff deserves to be called a guru, or maybe a magus, or maybe even a sorcerer.