February 5, 2012

Room For Harmony! Stein Music H2 Harmoniser, Magic Stones & Magic Diamonds.

Let's start the year with something rather controversial! I would normally consider the items in this review as mere tweaks, however, I've just learnt that more than a few people have professed not being able to listen to music without them anymore. The items in question?

Stein Music H2 Harmoniser, Magic Stones and Magic Diamonds. Now, let me put my usual "suspicion" across audio products(especially tweaks) with names containing the word "Magic", "Voodoo", or any other connotation hinting of mystical phenomenal. It just simply shouts "snake oil" to many that I know too. Many who came to my "bat cave" in the last three weeks had noticed the extra Harmoniser cubes, plus the Magic Diamonds and eventually discovers the more subtle Magic Stones too! Their first reaction was "I didn't know you're in to this sort of a thing?" What are they?

I therefore had to explain that as far as I know, based on Stein Music's web page, it would explain in layman's term, that our speakers convert incoming electrical signals from the amplifier to sound waves by moving air via controlled driver excursions. The Harmoniser is supposed to do something to the air in the environment where the speakers resides, and apparently sound waves travels much more effectively within "harmonised" air. This reminds me that a few years ago, some audiophiles felt more appreciative of the music being played, after installing a Medklinn air ioniser, in fact some claim that a pair of the said ioniser is even better! Was the music sounding better because they were more attentive with the ionised air, or does the positively charged air really allows sound waves emitting from the pair of speakers to travel "more effectively"? Hard questions with no simple answers, really.

Stein Music H2 Harmoniser is a smallish cube that has an "ON/OFF" switch and an "Intensity" adjustment knob at the back panel. There's also an input for wall wart power supply, but all the units brought in by AV Business are battery powered, which Vincent says will surely last more than a year at least(even if left powered up 24/7), before requiring any replacements.

A buddy introduced me to the very friendly Vincent, of AV Business System, who is the local distributor of Stein Music, a German hifi company which also manufactures speakers, besides innovative tweaks. Vincent brought me the whole she bang of the stuff you see in this review and helped with setting up. Yes, there are some product knowledge required to use these item, all made clearly known in Stein Music's web pages. However nothing beats having an experience sifu to show you the ropes.

The first(and most important according to Vincent) thing that went in to my bat cave was the H2 Harmoniser cubes, attached on their dedicated stands. Vincent says that for my small cave, only a pair of H2s are required, and bigger rooms will require two pairs. The Harmonisers are set up in the space just behind the speakers, and the front stage each corner wall(as seen below). The Harmonisers are then powered up, with a blue LED as indicator of their "ON" status. The back panel of each H2 contains a 3 step "ON/OFF" toggle switch, which allows one to switch "ON" with indicators LED or without, and "OFF". There's also and "Intensity" knob which allows you to tailor the effect of the Harmonisers to suit. We set the intensity knob at half way to start. After showing me how to use the Magic Stone and Diamonds, Vincent left me to my own devices.

One of the H2 Harmoniser on it's dedicated stand placed behind the speaker at one corner in my room. I left them powered up all the time in my room in the past few weeks, and yet the blue LED never flickered or dimmed. 

I started listening after Vincent left me on my own. I didn't hear much sonic change if at all. So I left the system running for about two hours, while I had a shower and dinner. However, once I returned from dinner for another listen, I noticed this time that my sound stage had skewed one sided and the vocal image also drifted nearly two feet towards the right corner of the front staging wall! I wondered if my speakers were moved, but a quick check confirms that they are not, and stayed where they should be. My next suspect was the H2 Harmoniser cubes, as they seemed a little out of symmetry when viewed from the throne(sweet spot). A quick telephone call to Vincent and he reminded me to toe them(Harmonisers) in directly towards the sweet spot and everything should be O.K. I then work on the positioning of the Harmoniser cubes. I found out that placing a pair of these babies requires just as much care and attention as one would do when placing a pair of speakers. I'd work with locking the vocals in the center as my guide, and once centered, I made small degrees of toe in adjustments to the Harmonisers to make sure the an orange sized mouth is achieved(this is also a known fetish of some audiophiles that I know!). I then made small adjustments to the intensity knob to ensure the vocalist mouth is well formed and not skewed or singing with cleft lips. All that effort took nearly 3 days to complete, but once done, I found that not only the vocalist mouth, benefited from the Harmoniser, the rest of the sound staging also opened up and stage depth layering was more noticeable too, with each instrument placed within is own "hallo-ed" space of air. I also noticed tighter bass, with cleaner transient lines, especially bass guitar. I played Marcus Miller's gutsy and hard hitting Silver Rain CD rip Intro track followed with Bruce Lee and experienced the sharp, agile transient yet crisp bass guitar attack notes with fulfillment.

The Stein Music Magic Diamond on my front wall, stuck on with blue tack, or other similarly sticky material.

A closer look of the Magic Stone on my back wall.

Another Magic Stone placed on the floor corner of the room. There should be one Magic Stone used for every room corner.

I next embarked on the use of Magic Stones, said to provide further tweaking enhancement to the Harmonisers. The Stones are triangle shaped made of polycarbonate material. To be frank, these Stones reminded me of the Shun Mook phenomenon when in used! Vincent supplied me a box of 6 magic Stones, in which 4 are used to placed on the floor each room corner. Another two is used to align the front and back wall of the room, by carefully pacing them on the same height, right in the middle of both walls. I found these two Stones to be of most demanding to place properly, as again, they will effect the imaging with pin point effect. Failure to align these two Stones properly will result in ghosting of center image. They also effect imaging height too. It took me a further 2 days to complete fiddling with the Stones, especially the two on the front and back wall mostly.

I found using the Stones can help to further enhance the out lines of imaging property, making each image seemingly etched out from the back ground. Some may like this, others don't. However, there's the third and final step to the Stein Music tweak story.

Stain music Magic Diamond on top of my speaker, just above the tweeter.

It comes in the form of 3 pieces Magic Diamonds. It's a diamond shape polycarbonate, meant to be placed on top of speakers, just above the tweeters. Again, there's some experimentory elements when it came to finding the exact placing of the Diamonds, but this was relatively easy compared to the earlier two. It took me a mere 2 hours to find the sweet spot on both the tweeters. I find that using the Diamonds as a final step completes the whole Stein Music tweak game plan as it's effects fills in to the etched out lines of the images, giving them more rounded body and resulting a more 3D element in imaging and sound staging quality. I did not use the third Magic Diamond as it requires me to climb up and stick it on to the middle of the ceiling. Big E is too Humpty Dumpty for this task and all the king's horses and all the king's men................(you know the story).

Stein Music calls this a "Room Conditioning" system which is rather innovative, a 3 step audio tweak that's very complete. All it requires is some experimentation effort for best results.
An illustration showing how all the Stein Music tweaks are applied in an AV room.

After reading all the above, some may accuse me of hallucinating as result of using banned substances, other's will surely ridicule me as a "psycho acoustic". If there's anything, I am probably more guilty of the second charge, but that's O.K. as long as I can live with my hifi system, sans the Stein Music Harmoniser H2, Magic Stones and Magic Diamonds later. I don't know yet as they are still in my room this very moment. D-Day reckons and that's a scary thought!

Lastly for the most scary thought of them all, the price tag! AV Business has priced  RM$6,436.00 for the complete Stein Music tweak package as tested here, consisting of one pair of H2 Harmoniser, 6pcs of Magic Stones and 3pcs of Magic Diamonds. And this is a time limited/while stocks last introductory offer!

Stein Music products are carried by AV Business System, contact Vincent at 012-2949933. 


RadioWizard said...

Yeah, right. Barnum was right, of course.

slapit said...

I feel like I just read a comedy sketch, but it's not funny, it's just sad and weird.