|Review: IsoTek stereo enhancements discs|
Monday, 09 July 2012 12:50
For the high-end audiophile (or is that sometimes "audiophool"), the world is full of some weird and wonderful products.
Some audiophile necessities, like cables, have people split into two camps: those who believe that cables make a difference – as I do – and are therefore willing to spend almost obscene amounts of money on them. Then there are those who believe that a cable is just a cable, that one cable is indistinguishable from another. Sacrilege!
In audiophile land, you also get some special CDs, two of which I will be discussing today.
The first one is the IsoTek Full System Enhancer and Rejuvenation Disc. According to IsoTek, the disc contains a variety of tracks featuring specially developed algorithms, which create a unique set of signals to reduce burn-in time and ‘run-in’ equipment. The disc can also demagnetise audio and audio-visual components.
Right about now, some of you are probably shaking your heads, your eyes glazing over, wondering exactly what “burn-in” and “run-in” are, and why on earth do you need a special disc to do these obscure things?
To simplify it: just as a car’s engine need to be run-in before it will give optimum performance, things like loudspeakers need to be run-in too. Speaker suspensions have to reach their optimum levels, and the components used in its crossovers need to settle down as well.
Even amplifiers need to run-in (and the manufacturer of my new amp advises that at least 200 hours is needed). IsoTek claims that the Enhancer disc will bring this run-in time down.
After running the disc a few time on my own system, I thought that it did indeed sound a little better. High frequencies sounded less grainy and the bass sounded richer. This, I'll admit, could have merely been my imagination, but I stand by my comments.
I’ve even started playing the rejuvenation track before I review audio equipment. At least this way, I think that I'm giving the review equipment the best shot at delivering the sonic goods.
The second disc, called The Ultimate System Set-Up, also by IsoTek, is one that I believe every audiophile must have.
This disc aims to improve your system’s sound by ensuring it is correctly set-up and ready to perform at its best.
The Ultimate System Set-Up disc contains a mix of music recordings from the Opus3 audiophile record label. Each one has been selected to test specific elements of audio performance such as timing, and dynamics and sound staging. There are also four test and tune-up tracks, each designed to help you set up your system and correctly position your loudspeakers.
With this disc, almost anyone will be able to check the phase of your speakers, position them so that you get optimum imaging, sound staging, and tonal balance.
I listen to and set up a lot of speakers, and I found that by using the disc and its special set-up tracks, I managed to get this done quicker than I did when I only listened to music. As a bonus, I also liked the music recordings on the CD. By reading the liner notes supplied with the CD, and by downloading some additional notes, I could zero in on the finer performance parameters of the speakers or the components that I was listening to.
As a set-up tool, the disc works well, and while it is a little on the pricey side, it in my opinion, offers good value to those that want to optimise their stereo system
Good: The set-up disc makes setting up and improving upon your current stereo system easier and quicker. I like the music on the disc too. I even thought that the enhancer disc helped settle my system down a touch.
Bad: The Enhancer disc is a little geeky even for me, and considering that it only contains three tracks, it is a little expensive.
Rating: Full System Enhancer and Rejuvenation Disc 6/10
Price: IsoTek Full System Enhancer and Rejuvenation Disc R220
Rating: The Ultimate System Set-Up Disc 8/10
Price: IsoTek The Ultimate System Set-Up Disc R325
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