Random Noise 19
Random Noise 19
An audiophile’s sound system and connubial accord can sometimes be at loggerheads. Unless our fellow hobbyist enjoys the luxury of a dedicated space – a separate structure, ideally – 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 that’s us. As indulgent mates go, BB’s tops. I don’t offer these photos as a solution to anything – merely as one couple’s approach to a husband’s space-hungry hobby. The photos likewise show the Acoustic Revive products I’ve 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 Revive’s Grounding Conditioners peeping out from under the three components. A Golden Sound DH Pad isolates the CDP’s proprietary steel spikes from the cabinet’s 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 manufacturer’s Web site, which I recommend you access via the American distributor, LotusGroupUSA.com, if only to read Joe Cohen’s insightful comments.)
AR Receptacle Stabilizers occupy vacant Oyaide outlets. AR Shorting Plugs fill the CDP and amps’ 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).
Atop the writing table next to the couch are AR’s 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 I’ve been at it for about twenty years.) The art is mine. All else, shelving included, is Best Beloved’s doing. Actually, where my work hangs and stands is also her call. I don’t argue. The lady has a killer eye.
Valhalla’s more than a place in the sky
After a number of months in happy cohabitation with Ken Ishiguro’s cables, I became curious to know whether I’d hear an appreciable difference between AR’s balanced interconnect pair and the considerably more expensive Nordost Valhalla balanced pair they replaced months ago. The impressions I’m 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 cables’ arrival. I’ve always valued the Valhallas for those qualities mentioned here. So then, why wasn’t 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 system’s 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 “air” and detail? Not really. Was I in any way dissatisfied with the soundfield’s texture and breadth? Again, no. To the contrary, I was once again impressed by the familiality – the compatibility – of Ishiguro’s designs. The system is producing a sound that would change to greater or lesser degrees were I to remove or replace AR’s cables and accessories, but how to describe what I’ve 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. That’s 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 don’t see as a lesser quality. Owing perhaps to the slight difference these AR cables make to one’s 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 I’m just as sure I’ll go back to the Valhalla pair out of renewed curiosity – and of course to enjoy them again.
I installed a second RR-77, AR’s 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 we’ve enough in the piggy bank for a hi-def rig and sound upgrade. If you google Schumann Resonance you’ll encounter sites that discuss the phenomenon’s health benefits. Best Beloved and I have noticed little change in how we feel. It’s enough that the RR-77 does what it does so very well. And of course the description of the AR-77’s effects on Acoustic Revive’s Web site mentions nothing about health perks.
[Photos by Al Arthur]
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