Voodoo
AUDIOFILE - Val A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - February 22, 2014 - 12:00am

Voodoo” (not the audio equipment brand) is a term used by audiophiles to describe an audio gadget or accessory that does not perform or live up to the high expectations drummed up by its marketing hype or manufacturer’s fantastic claims. You realize you’re stuck with a dud, but usually only after shelling out a considerable amount of money. This is why, over the years, I have grown wary of believing products that boast of unbeatable quality or superlative performance, unless I have personally tried them out.

So, when a friend dropped by my listening room to have me audition two brand-new audio components without giving me any product information, I became more curious than wary. One of the two items is a turntable, the Acoustic Signature Storm Mk2; the other is something I have not seen before, the Akiko Tuning Sticks.

I have no problem auditioning tables. I have done this probably more than a hundred times since I got hooked on this hobby. The Storm is rated high in international reviews, and it is indeed a table capable of digging into the grooves of your favorite vinyl records to bring out hidden musical details. And yes, there’s nothing “stormy” about it: its price range is within reach and its output is more than anyone can expect from a brand with a reputable pedigree.

What I really like about the Storm is its spinning accuracy. The speed constancy comes to a low 0.043 percent, passing my stability test with flying colors. I measured the speed using my digital turntable stroboscope. The 45s spin accurately at 45 rpm, and the 33 vinyls, at 33 rpm. 

Weighing 28kg, the Storm has all the benefits of a real high mass turntable. You can expect deep, tight and musical bass, a steady midrange, vibrant and exhaustive high frequency reproduction, a sound-stage whose depth far extends to the front wall of your listening room but still delicate enough to reproduce sound with astounding authority. The Storm comes with Rega 700 tonearm but fitted with my Transfiguration Phoenix cart.

Now, on to the second item I had to audition: What the heck are Akiko Tuning Sticks? Made by Akiko Audio, a Dutch company based in Maastricht, the Netherlands, they are passive wands with plugs and straps with a smooth and sleek clear finish that shows a woven carbon fiber covering

What I tested was a set of sticks that include:   1 x Tuning Stick RCA; 2 x Tuning Stick Universal and; 2 x Tuning Stick AC.  Each Tuning Stick version uses a cylindrical stick that measures 22 mm x 150 mm. The “voodoo” claim is that these tuning sticks can suppress unwanted electronic artifacts and intrusion. Of course, high school physics tells us that, in sound reproduction, eliminating these obtrusions naturally result in quality sound — more natural and lifelike, if you will. But as to how they actually do this is simply beyond my comprehension.

What is surprising for me is that the voodoo actually works! Maybe an insight into what they are made of could give us a clue on how these sticks do their job. The sticks contain a combination of the following materials in different ratios depending on the version:

“Natural crystal also called gemstones: have a natural ordering effect on electromagnetic radiation around speaker cables and power cables. Paramagnetic mineral without iron: this material reacts with strong radiation, such as near power cables and equipment. Piezoelectricity: also called the piezoelectric effect, is the ability of certain materials to generate an AC voltage when subjected to mechanical stress or vibration, or to vibrate when subjected to an AC voltage, or both. The most common piezoelectric material is quartz. Various other solids also exhibit this effect.  A well-known example is tourmaline.”

Whatever it is, these two products are worth your listening time. Audition them at Listening In Style in Shangri-La Mall, Edsa.

For comments or questions, please e-mail me at audioglow@yahoo.com or at vphl@hotmail.com. You can also visit www.wiredstate.com for quick answers to your audio concerns.

ACOUSTIC SIGNATURE STORM AKIKO AUDIO AKIKO TUNING STICKS EACH TUNING STICK LISTENING IN STYLE SHANGRI-LA MALL TRANSFIGURATION PHOENIX TUNING TUNING STICK WHAT I
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