The Audience Auric Illuminator Treatment and The Quantum Symphony Line Conditioners
|The Audience Auric Illuminator Treatment and The Quantum Symphony Line Conditioners|
|A Pro’s Point of View|
|6 September 2000|
Auric Illuminator" CD/DVD/SACD Enhancement Treatment
"The Auric Illuminator from speaker manufacturer, Audience, is a modest looking set of common objects: two plastic bottles with a non-toxic disc cleaning gel; cloths to clean the discs; and a black felt marker with kick-a-poo magic light absorption edging to be applied to your discs. Ordinary looking stuff. Extraordinary results."
When the UPS truck pulled up with an inconspicuous box bearing a hilarious outside message on each side — "WARNING ! This box contains SAT (Space Alien Technology)" — I knew that my recent habit, gassing myself with fumes of the sound enhancement liquid inside, had become addictive. Obsessive. Nuts. Audio-mania in extremis. The box’s message could not be clearer.
When you see the whole of the message (a joke that I’ll leave for your own discovery), you may begin to understand why our friends and wives look at us with squinty eyes. The box from Audience, bearing new disc treatment marker pens, was right on time to sustain my practice of sending off Auric-treated discs to listeners and, most important, to pressing plants.
The box also delivered a joke in the nick-of-time, along with an enhancement process worth every penny of the $40 that the full Auric Illuminator package costs.
Let me back track. The good news is this. I’m happy to report that my never ending search for large and small ways to improve recorded sound sometimes succeeds. Every so often, I come across a tweak that enhances sound playback and/or digital recording. There are many (far too many) claims to membership in the elusive "realm of sonic tweakdom." Some tweaks are useful. Few triumph utterly.
The UPS box brought me one that succeeds. The Auric Illuminator from speaker manufacturer, Audience, is a modest looking set of common objects: two plastic bottles with a non-toxic disc cleaning gel; cloths to clean the discs; and a black felt marker with kick-a-poo magic light absorption edging to be applied to your discs. Ordinary looking stuff. Extraordinary results. That's the good news. The bad news is that this stuff works so well, you can become addicted to its use. It will not blow your mind, but it will add significantly to your listening enjoyment.
I first came upon this highly effective treatment of digital discs at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas when I stumbled into the Audience showroom suite, at the Alexis Park, to find out how their complex but powerful speaker array system worked. It works very well. That’s another report down the road. Before I departed the suite, my host, John McDonald, gave me an Auric Illuminator package.
In truth, I’d been sent over to the Audience suite not only to hear an unusual set of stacked speakers, but to check out their disc treatment process. Legendary sonic guru, Dave Magnan, had insisted that the stuff was good. After nine months of almost continuous use, I now see why Dave Magnan recommended it. Dave is seldom wrong. This tweak is the real deal.
There are other such disc treatment systems on the market. I have used some that are fine. They, too, succeed it "illuminating" digital information. They, too, dig out improved musical reproduction from the pits and burns thrown at a compact disc or DVD player’s laser pick up. So far, the best of these is the Auric Illuminator.
I recommend it because, for so little money, I do not know anything that so greatly improves the sound quality of music in our still-evolving, as yet imperfect, world of digital encoding. Using this treatment process on your discs, you’ll hear improved imaging, more coherent harmonic structures, and heightened dynamic musical power. Sometimes you can spend several thousand dollars on an amplifier upgrade and not gain such vivid improvements. Whether you are aware of it or not, you are built to receive analog information. 24-bits and DVD/SACD sonic improvements notwithstanding, your ears need all the comfort and refined audio resolution they can locate. The Auric Illuminator truly furthers the possibilities of that happy occurrence.
Quantum Life Symphony AC Line Conditioner
Type: Line Conditioner
Price: $300 each
Operating Voltage: One External 9-Volt DC Adapter
Dimensions: 5.5" W x 5" D x 1.5" H
Weight: 1.5 lbs.
Distributor: Quantum Life Products
Address: 943-A Euclid Street.
Santa Monica, CA 90403
"They succeed at increasing the vividness of sonic details. They succeed at crafting, or releasing, a greater sense of musical ease and relaxation. In sum, the Quantum Symphonies — regardless of explanations bad, irrelevant, nonsensical, pretentious, funny, or all of the above — truly improve the sound of recordings."
When the two inconspicuous boxes-with-one-knob arrived for my inspection, I was unsure if the joke was at my expense or its own. In the past, I've shucked out a few dollars for sonic tweaks that went thud in the dark. Was the latest arrival at my gate another promise of acoustic failure?
Quantum's Bill Stierhout is a calm and persistent gentleman. I emphasize the term "gentleman." There is a dwindling supply of such these days. Perhaps cyber-communication, daily encloisterment at work and on freeway commutes, as well as the upscale pretensions of quick wealth via the "new (stock-inflated) market" have coagulated into a downward revision of the post-modern era: an Era of Perturbed Bluntness-at-every-fork-in-the-road.
Whatever the reality of our culture's decimated civility may be, in fact, it is frequently a subjective kindergarten. Complaints abound. In the Era of Inflated Markets, everyone is "empowered." Isn't that why many of us seek asylum in the acoustic beauty of home listening systems? I cannot imagine many easily accessible private spaces left on earth with the inherent calm and peace of an empty beach at low-tide. Your own listening room sound stage, with the telephone off the hook (and the neighbor's lawnmower in his garage) is one of them.
Enter, into such a kingly region, AC power conditioners. Such boxes as my friend Bill Stierhout sent me from Quantum are appropriate companions for increased privacy, added musical beauty, and all the upwelling energy that great music reproduction lends the tattered soul. The unobtrusive "Symphony" line conditioners are packaged with a brief "white paper" of sorts; a quasi-scientific, pseudo-Heisenbergian "in-depth" description of the chaotic routine of electrons. The narrative leaves the mind gasping for clarity. You do not want to lend credence to these descriptions. They meander much too far from the glory of the boxes they accompany.
But, much more important, the Quantum line conditioners work. They succeed at adding deeper background darkness to musical sound stages. They succeed at increasing the vividness of sonic details. They succeed at crafting, or releasing, a greater sense of musical ease and relaxation. In sum, the Quantum Symphonies — regardless of explanations bad, irrelevant, nonsensical, pretentious, funny, or all of the above — truly improve the sound of recordings.
The major benefit of these conditioners for me has appeared in their usefulness in my recording chain. I insert one of the conditioners near the electrical source that I am drawing current from. I place a second conditioner at the breakout point where I split the electrical current further down the line of my equipment. When I record live in the field, I usually have as many as twelve pieces of gear that draw current. I have found that a staggered, strategic placement of two "Symphony" conditioners along the line of my gear's electrical draw adds a discernible vividness and sonic definition to master tapes.
The appearance of such vividness is not an overwhelming "Eureka" event. I have never yet found that the subtraction of either Symphony box (or both of them) collapses the sound stage, blurs the music's focus, or in any way disrupts the fundamental sonic characteristics that I am seeking during the recording process. But I can report that, with these two unobtrusive conditioners working away at their job, every recording I have made with them in-the-chain — approximately seven — has shown an improved degree of imaging and tonal rightness.
On a scale of one to ten, the degree of improvement I am indicating is on the order of a 1.5, perhaps less. But a ten to fifteen per cent enhancement of vividness (in sum, a ten or fifteen per cent reduction of sonic grain), allows a significant addition of musical information. I may over-estimate the degree of improvement here. It may be a 0.8 or 0.9. Nonetheless, you see the point, I hope.
Eight or nine per cent sonic enhancement at the moment that a recording is being made is not an inconsiderable improvement. One squirms, squeezes, and scrunches his mind and ears (sometimes his body) just to achieve a one or two per cent enhancement, or the hope of such. Quantum "Symphonies" may not light up your life. I doubt they will deeply change the way you hear music through your sound system. But I believe they will make a positive contribution to listening pleasure in many quite good sound systems. I have checked out the improvement these conditioners register not only in my recording chain, but in my mastering (playback and monitoring) chain. The same degree and kind of improvement appeared there, also. Given the fact that one pair of boxes can improve the same recording twice, you can see that for me the usefulness of these conditioners becomes significant.
I have also taken the Quantum conditioners over to Steve McCormack's main sound system, which is a very (very) good system — in fact, often spectacular. We have found, with the Quantum boxes in the wall, even Steve's extraordinary sound presentation improves. These things work. They are not cheap, but I know that many folks spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on upgrades to very good systems, and receive, in return, less improvement than one of these conditioners is likely to lend.
I am keeping the boxes. They are part of my working routine. I wish I had the free change to purchase two more. Not only do the "Symphonies" improve their performance in serial linkage; they have use in one's video and surround sound/theatre system, too. I'd urge anyone to try one or two. You will certainly hear sonic improvements. The knob that I mentioned at the top, allows you to dial the degree of sonic change that you like. I am not making this up. Believe me, I have no idea why the conditioning works. I do not know what specific electrical load the knob alters. But the principle seems clear enough: generate random sub-sonic noise back through the electrical chain and, thus, lessen the inherent "chaos" of unconditioned electrical current.
Why not condition your electrical network at the source? In my world, sonic improvement are important. If they work, I am pleased. With the Quantum "Symphonies," I am pleased.
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