TB-38 Isolation Platform
- Cabinet and Top Board made with Finnish Birch plywood
- Filled with Natural Crystal Particles Dimensions : 347 x 215 x 45(H) mm Effective size: 298 x 169mm
- Price: $895
RST-38 Isolation Platform
- Cabinet and Top Board made with Finnish Birch plywood
- Filled with Natural Crystal Particles Dimensions : 480 x 380 x 47(H) mm each Effective size: 432 x 332mm each
- Weight: 5.90kg each
- Price: $1100 (each)
RAF-48 Air-Floating Platform Board
- Cabinet and Top Board made with Finnish Birch plywood
- Dimensions : 482 x 382 x 45(H) mm
- Effective size: 430 x 330mm
- Weight: approx. 4Kg
- Max. load capacity: 60kg
- Air filling terminal for use with Air Pump that comes in Black or White
- Price: $2250
- US Distributor: The Lotus Group
- Phone: 415-897-8884
This review started out by sending off an email to inquire if there were any new products appearing in the Acoustic Revive lineup. A few days later I was told there just happened to be three products about to be introduced and so it appeared my timing was perfect. Mr. Ken Ishiguro and his design team created these new items to aide audiophiles cope with an audio systems arch enemy, vibration, yet each one attacks the problem from the perspective of different source components.
First there is the TB-38 ($895.00) for use under power strips, the RST-38 ($1100.00 each) for placement under loudspeakers and finally the RAF-48 ($2250.00) that can be used under CD players or turntables. They are known to create products that tend to provide solutions for our audio needs in very unique ways. For further details please refer to their website and read through detailed descriptions of the audio accessories being offered there. To give you a small sample of what I mean look at their RWL-III Acoustic Panel whose silk front covering is made from silk worms that have been feed Tourmaline, a product which releases negative ions in order to smooth out the sound within the listening room. Then there is the RR-77, a device that while located in the same room is not directly attached to your system. The RR-77 is said to generate the Schumann Resonance within the room that in turn effects the music being played. If you have not yet explored their website you might just be surprised with the various intriguing techniques used in their design process. As unusual as this may at first sound Acoustic Revive goes through extensive research to develop all aspects of their products leading to numerous awards and excellent reviews worldwide.
Today though we will take an in depth look at just these three new products. One thing about these isolation platforms is their versatility. Each platform can easily be lifted up and placed elsewhere, perhaps in a home theater room or a second system in the bedroom, wherever or whenever the need arises. Bein that these are not one hundred pound components, that would take two full grown people to safely lift, I consider them to be quite portable as each weighs less than six kilograms (13.2 Pounds to the rest of us…). In fact the heaviest part of the experience might be removing the component placed on top in order to transport the platform elsewhere. I like purchasing items that I can pick up and place in my home theater room only to later return to my two channel setup for a more serious listening session either that same evening or perhaps even days later. I guess its that feeling that I’ve gotten a two for one bargain which helps me to mentally justify the added expense of purchasing still more audio gear.
The TB-38 comes in three pieces that you assemble yourself. Assembly is actually a misnomer as this process is so ridiculously easy to do. You are supplied with a hollow wooden box with an open top,a bag of natural crystal particles and finally a wooden board to fit over the box. All you need do is to pour the crystal particles into the open box, smooth them out with something like a ruler or your hand and then place the top board over the box covering the crystals. You then insert the TB-38 under the power strip/conditioner and you are all set to go with no other adjustments to perform. If it sounds simple that is only because it actually is. Both the wooden box and board are made up of what Acoustic Revive calls the “best Finnish Birch plywood” which the design team chose for its sonic properties. The TB-38 is unusual in that it is made specifically for use under power strips in an effort to make the sound of an audio system more like a natural event. Having never tried anything like this, with a power strip before, I wondered if it would have any noticeable effect or are we just looking at the emperor’s new clothes. Happily the TB-38 platform worked as advertised and actually better than anticipated.
Having in my system two power strips, but only one platform, the TB-38 was placed under the one used solely for my two mono block power amplifiers. The nice thing about the TB-38 was that the effects were immediately heard as there is no break in period needed. With Jackson Browne’s Solo Acoustic Vol. 1 (Inside Recordings INR5205-2) CD there was an increase in the sharpness of the guitar notes when listening to “The Barricades Of Heaven”. The tonal quality of individual guitar strings appeared more lifelike as well as given a sense of a more expanded soundstage. On “These Days” there was an increase in the decay from the sound of the piano keys as vocals were more “lifelike”. Soundstage increased left to right while a lessening of digital edge helped provide a sense of ease to the music. With Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde (Columbia CGK 841) CD “Rainy Day Woman” had before sounded a tad to distant from my listening position for my tastes. Now with the TB-38 placed under the power strip it was as if one had moved me a little closer to the performance. Bob Dylan’s voice took on greater clarity, as did details in the background with the band laughing and singing becoming more pronounced. On one of my favorite pieces from this album, “I Want You”, the harmonica took on a more distinctive tone as musical shading increased. Digital “glare” was again lowered, always a welcome event, and there was an added sense of silence within the background of the music. While these are all subtle changes they did add up to affect the overall presence of the music. The real test came though when removing the TB-38 after serving two weeks within my system. This was when a feeling that something was missing came over me, an element to the music that made it (for lack of a better word) musical. This is the magic that can be found in good systems while lacking in degrees with others.
Next up was the very similar, and yet slightly larger, RST-38 isolation platforms. The primarily use for this is for under tallboy loudspeakers. Well I have just the loudspeaker for them as my Legacy Focus 20/20’s have a relatively small footprint (15” wide by 13” deep) while weighing in at 185 lbs each and standing five feet five inches tall. The RST-38 is said to be able to hold a loudspeaker with a weight of over 100kg (220.46 lbs), although how much more is not exactly stated. I would check with the dealer or manufacturer first before testing anything over that weight. As for the RST-38 they had no apparent trouble at all holding my 185 lbs loudspeakers. I keep waiting to hear a creak or a groan as if the platforms were under too much strain, but not even a small noise could be heard, as it seemed to easily handle this heavy load. The RST-38 is also made with a Finnish Birch base and its companion wooden top just like the TB-38 only it is a bit larger. The new RST-38 is a replacement product for the recently now discontinued YST-64, with the difference between the two being the type of particle fillings used.
Where the YST-64 was supplied from the factory with polypropylene filler the RST-38 now uses much more expensive natural crystal particles like the TB-38 platform mentioned above. The design concept here is that loudspeakers create vibration that can be transmitted to the floor that then gets sent back up into the loudspeaker thereby causing distortion to the music. In order to minimize this effect crystals are used to absorb the vibration changing it into thermal energy that is than dispersed instead of being transmitted back up through the loudspeakers. The result is hopefully clearer more transparent sounding music. The choice by Acoustic Revive to use crystals was explained to me as being twofold. The first reason was that the crystals themselves have a resonance point far above human hearing and therefore create no sound of their own to effect the music. The second reasoning had to do with the faster transmission speed of crystals and their ability to eliminate vibration that much sooner. Not being a scientist or having done any research on these topics I can’t attest to the scientific validity of either statement, but I can listen to the effects that the RST-38 had on my system and report back to you with those results. Silly me asked if Acoustic Revive is offering to sell the RST-38 with different fillings or even without any so that new owners may experiment on their own. I was quickly, but quite politely, told that would not be an option as the crystal particles is the right choice for this product. In fact it seems that some owners of the previous model YST-64 are already asking the factory if they can purchase the more expensive crystal particles separately in an effort to upgrade to the newest RST-38 model.
My first listening session was done with one Optimus LX-10 floorstanding center channel loudspeaker used in my home theater setup. This loudspeaker has a linaeum tweeter, that I just love, as it can play quite loudly while still remaining crystal clear if feed a pure signal. Later on the RST-38’s were placed in my two channel setup under a pair of the very tall Legacy loudspeakers mentioned above. Now the Legacy’s when purchased new in 2004 retailed for $6500 a pair in the standard finish. Mine has the Rosewood option which brought the total to about $7200, not a small amount of money for sure but I’ve seen loudspeakers priced a lot higher (and lower of course). At $2200 for the pair the RST-38 isolation platforms are right in line price wise as an option to be used underneath the Legacy’s. As for the Optimus loudspeaker spending $1100 is a stretch because when new it was priced lower then the cost of one platform. While pushing the envelope here with the cost versus performance ratio it was done in an effort to hear various effects on different loudspeakers and in order to determine the usefulness in a home theater environment. Keeping in mind that sometimes we must use what is on hand at the moment let us take a look and see how effective this single platform was.
The RST-38 was placed under the floor standing Optimus LX-10 center channel loudspeaker because that is where most of the dialog within movies actually takes place. For this reason it is important for the center channel loudspeaker to be capable of replicating the human voice with a high degree of clarity as well as accuracy. I certainly do not want a shrill sounding voice or one that is too chesty in its presentation of male vocals. I put on a variety of movies with always the same result, a sense of an increase in space and clarity as well as a more natural sound with regard to the tone of peoples voices. The RST-38 was definitely making its presence felt in a positive way. Next up was the music DVD, Supernatural Live Santana (ARISTA 07822-15750-9). Now I turned down the volume to the front loudspeakers so that the center channel could more easily be heard. One particular song worth mentioning, among so many on this DVD, was “Angel” with Carlos Santana on guitar and Sarah McLaughlin on vocals and piano. With the RST-38 in place underneath the center channel loudspeaker it was quite obvious a change had occurred. Carlos’ guitar came across sounding more like an acoustic guitar should and notes lingered a little bit more as their decay took on a nice natural presentation. The piano also had a nice three-dimensional effect that was lacking before and Sarah McLaughlin’s voice could now be heard as it changed when she moved up and down the musical scale. Vocals had the added effect of just the right amount of air breathing through them making this seem that much closer to the sound of a live event taking place. These subtle effects brought added magic to their performances making me feel closer to experiencing what it must have been like sitting in the audience during the recording session as the DVD was being made. Now came the hard part, as I had to lift the two heavy Legacy loudspeakers off the floor and up onto the RST-38 platforms. With the help of my two sons I was able to do this, without too much effort by either one of us, since we all equally shared the load. At my age dad has no intention of being a hero. Once the loudspeakers were in place atop the platforms I was ready to return to my comfortable chair and listen to music.
Staying with Carlos Santana’s Supernatural (Arista 07822-19080-2) album, but switching from a DVD to a CD format, I listened for passages with deep bass to test the new platforms with. Bass response had always made its presence known when listening to “Maria Maria” as we have some truly deep floor shaking lower frequencies at work here. With the RST-38’s in place though things were very different. Bass remained strong and its presence definitely felt however the floor was now decoupled from the loudspeaker in a way as to not overemphasize the bass response but rather to present it in more natural way. Music could be played at a higher volume as lower bass response was no longer so overpowering. The powerful bass presence did not any longer take away from the performances of the Product G & B with the accompanying Cello, Viola and Violins but rather added to them. With the lower frequencies in their proper perspective mid-range and upper frequencies were able to display themselves more prominently rather than being smothered from the effects of too strong a lower bass presence. The guitar of Carlos Santana sounded more detailed as mid-range and higher frequencies could be heard with greater distinction. It was almost as if the Legacy’s had transformed into a loudspeaker that now had a wider frequency response allowing various musical instruments to be more clearly differentiated in light of this better balance. The RST-38 platforms allowed the Legacy’s to take on a more articulate and detailed sound like the full range loudspeaker they were supposed to be. When listening to “Love of my Life” cymbals had an unusually nice shimmering effect that had before gone unnoticed, while the guitar speed of Carlos Santana remained lightening quick as it played distinctly in the background. The individual performers now appeared with more separation between them giving a more transparent effect to the overall performance. I must admit that the RST-38 isolation platforms greatly impressed me with some very welcome changes it brought to my audio system.
This isolation platform is slightly different from the above mentioned TB-38 and RST-38 in that it uses air rather than crystal particles to rest the Finnish Birch top upon. It needs no assembly; as it is setup already at the factory, expect of course to pump in the right amount of air with the supplied hand pump. The base is also in a Birch finish the same as with the other two isolation devices. One difference in appearance though, is the addition of an air fitting on the front located in the center of the bottom box so that you may use the supplied air pump to inflate the RAF-48 to the desired height. It was recommended that the ideal inflated height is to be between 4mm and 5mm from the edge of the base, but no more.
The RAF-48 has been designed to allow air to escape a little at a time in order to prevent full pressure being constantly exerted on the tube inside the wooden enclosure. So you will need to pump air in before playing music each day, as it will not hold it for too long at a time. While a three hour listening session was not a problem when I checked it the next day it did again need more air. Total time to re-inflate the platform for me was a little less than one minute. A small inconvenience, like dry cleaning records with a brush before playing, but an inconvenient fact nevertheless.
Actually my wife smiled as she saw me using this small hand pump saying that it was about time I got in some exercise on a daily basis. The concept with the RAF-48 is to improve the signal to noise ratio thereby making for a quieter, CD player, amplifier, turntable, etc. which would in turn then increase the transparency and texture of the music being played. Listening was done both under CD player and turntable to see what effects I could hear. With the maximum load capacity a recommended 60killograms (132.277 lbs) my equipment was well under the weight limit so I was all set to go. While it may seem a bit obvious, I was cautioned not to step on the RAF-48 or jump up and down upon it. I would think that the inner tube used to hold the air would not welcome such an event and suggest you resist the temptation to try it.
Having just finished listening to Bob Dylan’s “Blonde On Blonde” (Columbia CGK 841) CD, with the TB-38 isolation platform, this seemed like a good time to check out what the RAF-48 could now accomplish. There was an increase in the ability to hear more clearly individual musicians within the band that in turn led to a greater degree of optimal layering effect. Soundstage width stretched out a little more than usual and vocal timbre could be heard as being closer to live. Listening once more to “Rainy Day Woman” the band members singing in the background appeared as if they had moved closer to the front of the soundstage, a similar effect I had noted with the TB-38 platform. The RAF-48 though created this effect to a slightly greater degree than did the TB-38 platform. Overall the RAF-48 gave my CD player a feeling of a sonic upgrade to that of a more expensive version of the same player.
Moving on to Buddy Guy’s CD Skin Deep (Silvertone 88697-31629-2) with “Every Time I Sing The Blues”, bass was tighter with more of an overall punch to it as the guitar had a greater sense of detail and transparency with each chord. Guitar rifts were clear, tight and quite fast while music from the keyboard floated in the background enhanced by a nice lingering decaying effect. Once again the CD felt uplifted in many ways as if I had just listened to a better recording of the same song. Now it was time to place the RAF-48 under my turntable. Being a small-scale vinyl fanatic, as I have close to one thousand albums in my collection, I intend to play records for some time to come. As I said before being fairly easy to remove from under my CD player to place beneath the turntable I could now use it for two different source components (one at a time obviously). With the platform in place I proceeded to listen to some of my favorite LP’s. Once again I was not disappointed as the RAF-48 increased my listening pleasure. Volume levels could now be raised as the background noise level had decreased with more of the music coming through with greater clarity.
I had not previously noticed that the sound from my turntable was slightly colored but listening with the RAF-48 in place seemed to indicate that it was. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Damn The Torpedoes (Backstreet/MCA Records MCA-5105) now sounded more distinct as it lay against a more silent background where his raw voice could be heard with greater distinction. The saxophone playing of Miles Davis on Kind of Blue (Columbia PC 8163) displayed a truer sense of timbre, as did the accompanying instruments within the band. With recording after recording, details took on a sense of improvement as bass seemed to extend a little and a noticeable sense of air on the upper frequencies came to the forefront.
Listening to The Best of Ella Fitzgerald (PBM 001), on “Dreamer” one got a better sense of depth as the layering effect of Ella Fitzgerald with her background singers, along with the accompanying band, produced a well balanced front to rear and left to right sizing of the soundstage. While my turntable placed upon my Salamander audio rack has always been a fairly stable environment, the RAF-48 provided even greater stability making less likely the odds of my cartridge skipping upon a record as heavy feet walked across the room. All in all a worthwhile addition for those who like playing records and enjoy listening to all the smaller details found within their vinyl collection. Totaling all these effects together added up to an overall feeling of naturalness giving the illusion of a truer to live event happening right there within my room.
Once again Mr. Ken Ishiguro and his associate have come up with some very interesting and effective products designed to bring out a more natural sound to ones high-resolution audio system. This was the first time I had thought to put an isolation platform under power strips/conditioners yet it worked for me. The other two products of course are not new in their basic concept, a platform for CD players or turntables and another for use under loudspeakers. However Acoustic Revive’s unique approach to creating a solution for the problems of the effects of vibration within our audio systems sets them apart from other manufacturers. Who would have thought to use crystal particles to fill Finnish birch wood platforms as a solution to controlling music robbing vibrations? If you would like to take your system to another level then step up and contact the dealer nearest you or if your lucky enough to attend an audio show where they are present you might even take the opportunity to talk with them in person. Just when I thought they had made all the
new products they would for awhile out comes the TB-38, RST-38 and the RAF-48 isolation platforms. While not only attractive, as well as versatile, they also had the effect of making my system sound more natural and closer to a real performance. All in all these are three heads up products from our friendly audiophile neighbors across the ocean in Japan.
The Listening Environment:
The review room is eighteen feet eight inches long by thirteen feet wide. The loudspeakers and equipment are kept on the short wall. The cathedral ceiling starts at eight feet and sloops upward to thirteen feet at its peak in the middle spanning across the short length of the room for the full thirteen feet height. The hardwood floor has a nine by six foot oriental rug lying down the long ways toward the system placed dead center in between, yet not under, the listener and the review equipment The room has no doors but two openings. One is in front of the right Legacy Focus 20/20 loudspeakers, which gives access to the hallway while the other is behind the listening position and opens to the formal dinning area. The room is treated with two floor standing acoustical panels, one behind each speaker, and the audio equipment is located in a Cherry Synergy Twin S30 Salamander audio rack against and in the middle of the short wall. I have two power conditioners that plug into a PS Audio Power Port receptacle located behind the audio rack. There are also two Blue Circle Audio MKIII Power Line Pillows one on each of two outlets on the long walls next to and behind each loudspeaker. The Legacy’s are located about six feet seven inches from the rear wall to their front panel They are also twenty one inches from the rooms side walls to the middle of each loudspeakers. The Legacy’s are twelve feet apart from each other to form a triangle with the listening position that is also angled at twelve feet from loudspeaker to listener. In the corner of each short wall behind the Legacy’s are a pair of 1989 Klipsch Klipschorn loudspeakers that are sometimes used for reviews. If the Klipsch loudspeakers are used I would then reposition the two acoustical panels to slightly behind the listening position one to the left and the other to the right of it.
Placette Passive Preamplifier, Samsung HD-841 CD/SACD/DVD Audio universal player, Monarchy Audio SM70-Pro mono block amplifiers, Oracle Delphi MK 1 turntable (with custom made phono interconnects), Grace 707 tonearm, Denon-301 MKII Moving Coil cartridge, Whest PhonoStage.20+MsU.20 power supply, PS Audio power port receptacle, PS Audio UPC-200 Power Center Acoustic Revive RTP-2 power conditioner, Two Blue Circle Audio Mk III power line conditioner Legacy Focus 20/20 loudspeakers finished in Rosewood, Cherry Synergy Twin S30 Salamander audio rack
from aﬀordableaudio, By Anthony Nicosia