A Visit from an Angel (Part 1)

(Originally Post October 2010)

Studio J was visited by an Angel yesterday… an Audio Angel.n  

A very good friend of mine, who has been in the pro and high-end audio business for many years, stopped by for a visit yesterday. I first met him when I was designing the multimedia studio at Kanda Institute of Foreign Languages in the mid-nineties. He was on his way to Mito to see a client and wanted to stop by and “make Studio J sound better”. I have been very, very happy with the sound of Studio J. In fact, this same friend introduced me to Shimamoto San of Allion (http://www.allion.jp/dengen.html) who designed and installed the dedicated electrical system for the studio which drastically improved the sound quality and lowered the noise floor beyond audibility. (You can turn the volume up to 10 without any noise!)

I was a little skeptical, but he has surprised me in the past with his electrical magic, so I kept an open mind. First, he pulls out this white material shaped to wrap around a cable. He proceeded to wrap it around the firewire cable that attaches to the audio interface. The material was originally designed to shield against radioactivity but he found that it is also highly effective at shielding against RF waves. I didn’t think it would make a difference. I mean, he just wrapped something around the firewire cable! We started up the MAC and listened to some tracks that we had listened to beforehand. They sounded different. Warmer and smoother with more definition. Amazing!

Next, he opened up the TC Electronic konnekt24D audio interface and proceeded to stick white sheets, made of the same material, onto the DSP chips and around the timing crystal. We plugged it in to check for possible overheating of the DSPs, then closed everything back up. He then wrapped the AC adaptor in a big sheet of the white material and we gave it a listen. The sound was much clearer and more defined, especially the high end, more accurate stereo separation and greater sense of depth. What is this white material made of and why does it have such a profound effect on the sound?! “I can’t tell you Jeff, they don’t even make it anymore.”

Our last test was a recording. I went into the studio and made a quick vocal recording. Sarah Maria by James Taylor (an old favorite for testing mics and pre-amps). I came back out and listened to the playback and literally got teary eyed. I usually don’t like to listen to the dry playback of only my voice, I like to add some reverb or a musical instrument before I feel comfortable comfortable listening to it. No more! I could now hear every subtle nuance of my performance. It was like a veil had been lifted from the speakers. And these speakers were sounding incredible before the magic white material!

Nabe and Shintaro were in the studio last night and were the first to hear the difference. They both know the Studio J sound and could not believe that it could get better. They were blown away by the difference too. I am reminded of the excitement I felt when Shimato san finished the installation of the electrical system. It feels like a door to a brand new world has opened. Come and hear for yourselves.

Thank you Audio Angel!

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