Blogging on Audio
- Written by Howard Kneller Howard Kneller
- Parent Category: BloggingOnAudio BloggingOnAudio
- Created: 09 June 2021 09 June 2021
Founded in 1997 by Ken Ishiguro, Acoustic Revive is a Japanese maker of audio cables and accessories that is headquartered in the city of Isesaki-shi, about 60 miles northwest of Tokyo. As a teenager growing up in Isesaki-shi during the 1970s, Ishiguro became swept up in the ten-year anniversary of the Beatles’ Japan invasion and frequently visited local audio shops to hear the band’s music.
At the age of 16, Ishiguro purchased a modest analog stereo system and soon amassed a collection of vinyl records. Lacking funds to purchase tweaks and accessories for this system, but wanting to squeeze every last bit of performance out of it, he began building his own cable insulators and power conditioners.
Ken Ishiguro in Acoustic Revive’s listening room
Years later, Ishiguro found himself working for Sekiguchi Machine Sales, which designed and manufactured machinery that fabricated concrete blocks for construction projects. In 1995, after Japan’s Ministry of Construction prohibited the use of such blocks, the company fell upon hard times and laid off all of its employees except for Ishiguro and the company’s president. After the president passed away in 1997, Ishiguro found himself running a business with no products or other employees.
All the while, Ishiguro continued to build and tweak audio accessories. One such device was a CD and DVD demagnetizer, which Ishiguro conceived after he treated a CD with a tape deck demagnetizer and found that it improved the CD’s performance. Ishiguro states that although there were a few CD demagnetizers out there at the time, their performance suffered because they were handheld and not very powerful. Instead, Ishiguro’s much larger and powerful disc demagnetizer took the form of a small component. Later, he learned why the demagnetizers worked on silvery discs: ferromagnetic substances, present in a disc’s ink label and its coated underside, degrade performance when magnetized.
In late 1997, Ishiguro took a chance and changed Sekiguchi Machine Sales’ course, manufacturing and marketing his demagnetizer, which he called the RD-1. The product was a huge hit, and Ishiguro quickly patented it. He also changed Sekiguchi’s brand name to Acoustic Revive, which means to revive legendary musical performances without alteration. Currently in its third generation and now called the RD-3 ($550/all prices USD), this demagnetizer has sold over 50,000 units.
The RD-3 disc demagnetizer
It wasn’t long before Acoustic Revive began introducing a large number of products. In fact, while recently visiting the company’s website, I counted almost 90 of them, which include not only demagnetizers and other treatment devices for digital discs and vinyl records, but also analog and digital signal cables, bulk cables, and cable connectors; power cords and other power products such as power distributors, filters, and conditioners; LAN and USB isolators and other network products; speaker stands; component-vibration-management platforms and component footers; grounding products; and room treatments.
Ishiguro states that one thing that distinguishes Acoustic Revive’s products from those of its competitors is that they contain extremely high-quality parts and materials that are often uncommon and/or expensive. For example, several of the materials are said to reduce static electricity and thus noise through several methods such as the release of negative ions. They include green carborundum, which is a synthetic ceramic compound of silicon and carbon; smokey quartz, which is produced when radiation that is naturally emitted from rocks activates impurities in crystalline quartz, often causing it to become grey or “smoky” in appearance; tourmaline, a crystalline boron silicate mineral that contains numerous elements such as aluminum, iron, and magnesium; and even silk born of silk worms that are fed leaves covered in tourmaline powder.
Also, Ishiguro states, because it’s easy and inexpensive, virtually all other Japanese audio accessory manufacturers either manufacture their products overseas with foreign parts and materials or import such items for assembly of the products in Japan. However, Acoustic Revive’s products are exclusively manufactured in Japan, and almost all of the parts and materials that they use, including the green carborundum and silk, are sourced from there. Ishiguro noted the company’s longstanding relationship with Matsukin Co., Ltd., a Japanese OEM parts supplier, which he says manufactures to Acoustic Revive’s specifications the highest-quality cable connectors in the world. According to Ishiguro, Matsukin employs extraordinary production techniques and uses unusually pure and robust materials that are difficult to process and work with. Also, a Matsukin technician checks every connector with a microscope, a process that he claims most other manufacturers have long abandoned as too inefficient and expensive.
A microscope used by Matsukin’s staff to inspect Acoustic Revive products
A molding machine at Matsukin
Finally, Acoustic Revive has forged strong relationships over the years with recording studios, audio engineers, and music artists. Recently, for example, the company’s cables and power cords were exclusively used to mix and master Slingbaum’s debut album, which features such artists as D’Angelo, Ahmad Jamal, and Erykah Badu. Ishiguro even served as one of the album’s producers.
Kiyoseki silicate from the mountains of a small Japanese village
The latest material that Ishiguro has used in Acoustic Revive products is kiyoseki, which Ishiguro discovered through an audio engineer. This silicate mineral is found only in Katashina, a village located in Gunma’s mountains close to Acoustic Revive’s headquarters. It was formed approximately 65 million years ago during a period of high temperatures generated by an earthquake. Kiyoseki exists in two types, red and white, both of which emit negative ions, although the red type is said to emit approximately two and a half times more than the white—an amount that is about ten times that emitted by the colorful, piezoelectric silicate mineral tourmaline.
Acoustic Revive turns kiyoseki into a fine powder that is impregnated into Styrofoam, silk, and silicon, or mixed into a varnish that is applied to wood. A number of new or recently updated products from the company feature kiyoseki:
- RWL-3 Absolute room-tuning panel ($2500 each): A large (approx. 47″H x 26″D x 3″D) acoustical diffusing panel, this product has a structured foam core covered with tourmaline-impregnated silk. Ishiguro has now taken this a step further by mixing kiyoseki into the core.
- LAN-Quadrant cable ($1525): This Ethernet cable features a unique geometry consisting of four oxygen-free copper, single-strand conductors. The conductors are forged using a PC-Triple C process, which uses an ancient Japanese metal-folding technique that’s said to increase performance. Most recently, kiyoseki has been mixed into a liquid that is strategically applied within the cable.
- RT3S-30 turntable mat ($485): Geometrically grooved to eliminate vibrations, this mat is infused with natural minerals such as tourmaline and now kiyoseki.
An RTS-30 turntable mat
- RPC-1K power conditioner ($4750): An AC filter that runs in parallel with a home’s AC path, this product is housed in a hickory wood box, now coated with kiyoseki-infused varnish, that features a proprietary coil filtering circuit. The RPC-1K’s power cord is composed of a kiyoseki-infused connector and PC-Triple C copper conductors.
- Reality Enhancers ($660 to $825): These plugs are said to improve performance by (1) dampening and shielding unused RCA and XLR input and output connectors through the use of 2017-grade aluminum alloy, brass, and smoky quartz, thus protecting the component from vibration and external noise, and (2) shorting unused input connectors, thus stabilizing the component’s internal circuitry. The addition of kiyoseki within the Enhancer’s body is the latest upgrade.
Ken applying Koyeski-infused liquid to Reality Enhancer
- RGC-24K grounding conditioner ($1360): A single-component electrical grounding device, this product houses a blend of tourmaline, smoky quartz, and now kiyoseki. Together, these minerals are said to remove high-frequency noise and unwanted electronic fields.
- RCI-3HK cable lifter ($350 each): Made of vibration-suppressing hickory and mahogany, this product contains a mineral blend (which now includes kiyoseki) that is said to improve performance by absorbing and eliminating static electricity and other unwanted electronic fields.
RT3S-30 turntable mat, Reality Enhancers, LAN-Quadrant cable, and RGC-24K grounding conditioner
I look forward to hearing what kiyoseki brings to the performance of Acoustic Revive’s products. As for the future, Ishiguro told me that he will further roll out kiyoseki within the company’s existing product lines, look for other new performance-improving materials, and introduce numerous new products. I’ll be on the lookout for anything that warrants an update here on SoundStage! Global. One thing seems certain: whatever Acoustic Revive has on tap will be highly interesting. Given the company’s long list of innovative products, I expect nothing less.
Senior Contributor, SoundStage!
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