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Reviewer: John Potis
Analog Source: Merrill-Scillia Research MS2 table, Hadcock GH Export arm, Ortofon Kontrapunkt H cartridge; 1985 AR Turntable with Merrill mods/Hadcock GH Export Arm Garrott Bros Optim FGS Cartridges
Digital Source: Accustic Arts Drive 1/Audio Aero Prima SE DAC
Preamp: Bel Canto Pre2P
Power Amp: Art Audio Carissa, Bel Canto e.One REF1000 and Canary CA 330 monoblocks, Opera Audio Cyber 211 monos [on extended loan], Musical Fidelity A5 Integrated
Speakers: Tidal Audio Pianos, Thiel CS 2.4, Ohm Acoustics Walsh 4 with 4.5 mk.2 upgrade, Hørning Perikles, Klipsch LaScala IIs
Speaker cables, interconnects and digital cables: JPS Labs Superconductor 3
Power cords: JPS Power AC, Analog AC, Digital AC, Aluminata and Kaptovator
Powerline conditioning: Balanced Power Technology 3.5 Signature Plus with ZCable Cyclone power cord
Sundry accessories: Sound Mechanics Performance Platform, 2-inch Butcher Block platforms with Quest for Sound Isol-pads, Vibrapod Isolators and Cones, Ultra & Heavy ZSleeves, Viablue QTC spikes under speakers, Auric Illuminator, Gingko Audio Mini-Clouds
Room size: 12' by 16' with 9' ceiling
Review component retail: deStat $360; DVF-1 Record Flattener $1,480
"deStat completely removes dust and eliminates static on CD, DVD, LP, A/V equipment". That's what the press release on the Furutech deStat said, anyway. But I've heard such things before. I took Furutech's claims with a grain of salt. When I was offered to review the deStat, I accepted it on a conditional basis - if I liked it, I'd write about it. If not, back it'd go. The fact that you're reading this should pretty much sum up the rest of the story.
The hand-held deStat works by bathing the static-charged component to be treated with a balanced ion flow. Balanced refers to the fact that the ions are both positively and negatively charged and the process is said to neutralize the existing static charge. The deStat incorporates a fan to both facilitate the ion flow as well as to help blow away dust as it is no longer attracted to the treated component. The deStat measures 7inches wide by 3.25 inches high by 2 inches thick and it weighs 1.25 lbs, uses four AA batteries and was developed in cooperation with ORB High End Systems of Japan.
The process itself couldn't be simpler. Hold the deStat 10 cm (about 4 inches) away from the item to be neutralized for the duration of about 10 seconds while depressing the red button, making sure the fan is blowing in the direction of the component being treated.
|The deStat got thrown right to the wolves in my listening room. I'd spent the afternoon spinning vinyl and was concluding an afternoon listening to a series of George Thorogood albums and enjoying doing so. Appropriately enough, I was spinning More George Thorogood and the Destroyers [Rounder Records 3045] when I decided to give the deStat a try. Throughout the afternoon I'd noticed something just a little odd, something a little peculiar about the sound of the recorded saxophone. There was both a haze surrounding it as well as something that I'd suspected was mistracking - a little distortion at the instrument's upper reaches. It seemed subtle but I'd just picked up this series of albums and was yet to become acclimated to what they held so it was simply standing out as a question mark. As I said, I'd just unpacked the deStat and I was skeptical. Nevertheless, I gave the LP I'd just spun a treatment and replaced the stylus on "I'm Wanted".
"Wow" was my reaction. First, the aforementioned distortion surrounding the upper reaches of the saxophone was gone. The difference was not subtle and once the distortion was gone, in retrospect it was not subtle at all. The sax now sounded cleaner with no such hint of distortion. Almost more importantly -- certainly as obviously -- was the fact that it now also had much greater focus; as did everything on stage that I'd been viewing through my mind's eye. It was as though a fuzzy dimly-lit aura that had been surrounding the images was now gone. Rather than illuminating the images though, this aura had been obscuring and blurring instrumental outlines and upon its removal, the background had now become much darker. This new darker backdrop increased textural, microdynamic and tonal contrast, which just made the music pop. Overall there was an increase in solidity and tonal saturation combined with a sense of ease to the presentation. This became a common theme throughout my use of the Furutech deStat.
On another afternoon I'd just returned home from a visit to a local record store that specializes in the sale and trade of used music media, including vinyl. I was counting myself extremely fortunate that I'd been able to pick up a used copy of a long out-of-print LP by Crack The Sky, a band that enjoyed tremendous if spotty regional success in the early and mid 80s. I was now playing World In Motion [Lifesong PRT 1696] for the second time in a row and listening to "Breakdown" in particular when the possibility of using the deStat occurred to me. Though I wasn't thinking that the deStat could possibly represent a cure, I'd noted that the deep and powerfully recorded bass notes were breaking up. Rather than smooth and flowing, they sounded grainy and decidedly without that sense of ease. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that following the deStat process, the bass was now completely fixed. No more break-up, no more distortion of any kind. Again, the music had better focus and was emerging from a blacker background than just minutes before. The highly stylized guitars on "Needles And Pins" stood out of the mix with seemingly greater contrast as well as transparency and air. "Talking to Napoleon" assumed the same cleaner and more powerful bass presentation as well as a terrifically rhythmic flow.
By now I was convinced of the virtues of the Furutech deStat and it was time to start writing. Or so I thought. As I wrote out the intro, I was reminded that the deStat is recommended for more than just the LP. Furutech recommends the deStat for optical media as well. If I was skeptical before, I was near incredulous now. After I thought about it, it made perfect sense as to how the deStat may work with the LP - or maybe more to the point, with the phono pick-up. Considering the tiny magnetic fields and the generation of the tiny signals involved, that the not-so-tiny fields of static electricity could have a profound effect on the outcome made all the sense in the world. Heck, even the existence of a static charge on the LP is easy to verify. But it would seem that none of this would have anything to do with the way CDs and lasers go about doing their business. But, somehow, it does.
Looking for a really familiar CD with which I could spot the tiniest of changes, I went for Jennifer Warne's Famous Blue Raincoat [Private Music 01005-82092-2]. The opening cut "First We Take Manhattan" was as good a place to start as any. First, obviously, I played the song untreated. Twice. Then I allowed the deStat to have its way. I won't tell you that I was astonished by what I'd heard. That would indeed be an overstatement. But I was pretty sure I was hearing something. There was that bass thing again. It was tighter and more fluid. I was pretty sure about that. But there was also something about the soundstage. At first it seemed larger; it wasn't. But it was more obvious. I certainly sensed it more than before. It was more observable. Unfortunately, going back and de-deStating was out of the question. I had to be done with this disc. Just as familiar was Dire Straits' Brothers In Arms CD [Warner 9 25264-2], the title cut in particular. This time a single play-through would be fine before deStat-ifying. There it was again. There, there's that bass again. The improvement didn't rival the degree of improvement in the same area as on the LP but indeed the bass was more distinctive, more detailed and more liquid. There was no doubt about that this time. But there was a little doubt about the amount of air and space on this very spacey recording. It would seem that it got airier and everything opened up to let just a few more rays of sunshine in but once again, there was no going back to check the untreated disc. But there was a trend developing, howsoever subtle. And when you consider the fact that cleaning up the bass can also account for the increased sense of space, I was beginning to wonder if there were any gains to be had in the upper frequencies.
Looking to hear some upper percussion and saxophone, which had netted such gains as produced from vinyl, I cued up "Route 66" from the Brian Setzer Orchestra's self-titled CD [Hollywood Records HR-61565-2]. Long story short, the gains were strictly in the spatial realm this time but the changes were so slight that I wasn't even certain they were real. Neither was I certain about the relevance of the fact that I'd just brought this CD in from the car where it had spent at least four months. That is to say, this disc had been subjected to a very different environment than the rest of the discs and I'd have to conjecture that it may well have had much less residual static charge.
Next up was Thomas Dolby's Aliens Ate My Buick [EMI CDP-7-48075-2] and things got a little more murky. Okay, poor choice of words. Actually, by now I was noticing that one effect of the deStat was to make the music considerably less murky. Every CD so far reacted to the deStat with the effect of not only more air but cleaner and clearer air and a concomitant increase in the microdynamic feel. Everything seemed just a little more alive, a little punchier.
But once again, it seemed that the before-and-after differences were becoming less and less obvious. That's when I had a brainstorm of sorts, albeit of diminutive proportions. The Accustic Arts Drive 1 transport isn't a front-loader, it's a top-loader. It's also felt lined. As it was seeming that the more CDs I listened to, the less effect the deStat was having, was I building up a static charge in the player? There was only one way to find out. I treated the CD compartment.
|BAM! This was the missing piece of the puzzle. I'd still not effected a change of the same magnitude as on the vinyl LP but there was no doubt that things had changed for the better. The bass was more liquid and palpable. The stage was more vivid and perhaps most importantly, the music had newfound microdynamic life and more boogie factor. A little over a minute into "The Keys To Her Ferrari", there's a percussive instrument off to the left of the stage. It sounds like someone is smashing something against an extremely flimsy metal box of sorts. Where before all I heard was an almost indecipherable splash, it now had much more character, body and detail. I still can't identify for certain what they're hitting but I can hear much more of it.
|As I type this, it's mid September and unusually warm and humid|
|even by Eastern Seaboard standards. That's not exactly static electricity-inducing weather. Once things cool and relative humidity levels take a dive, I suspect the effects of the deStat will become even more pronounced. If this proves to be the case, I promise a brief follow-up since I'm buying this deStat.
The Furutech deStat turned out to be a piece of tremendous value and it'll take permanent residence next to my turntable - which isn't all that far from the CD player and it may even make the occasional excursion out to the DVD player in the next room. We'll see. If you're not happy with the performance of your system, the deStat won't change that. Its effects are not that pronounced or dramatic. But a careful listener will easily be able to appreciate just what the deStat does and it will take your vinyl listening pleasure to the next level. I can also well imagine that those living in drier climates may feel as strongly about the deStat when used on CDs and other silver discs as I did on vinyl. But even in my room I feel that the deStat has an important place as one of the smaller pieces needed to complete the digital puzzle. Good for digital, great for vinyl? That makes for a pretty solid universal recommendation. Go check one out and see if I'm right.
|DVF-1 Record Flattener
When I first became aware of the DFV-1 Record Flattener, I was excited. When offered one for review, I didn't hesitate. I wanted to try it. I've got a fairly extensive record collection and despite pretty good care, record warps just remain a fact of life for me. Some months ago I sat down for a listen to Pink Floyd's The Wall and couldn't believe my ears. A two LP set, I discovered that the first disc had become horribly warped - pinch warped to be exact. While the second disc was close to mint, the first disc was unplayable. I won't lie and tell you otherwise, I wanted a review sample to repair my precious LP.
I love the fact that Furutech has designed the DFV-1 while keeping in mind how precious shelf space is to the average audiophile. A completely vertical design, the DFV-1 can be placed just about anywhere. With a foot print of 19 by 7 inches, there's no room where it can't easily be stowed and its 21.5-inch height shouldn't be an issue either. At 24 lbs, this is one piece you won't need the help of your buddy to move around either.
|In use, the DFV-1 couldn't be much simpler. It comes with a two-piece plug slightly larger than the holes on the LP.|
|Assemble the two pieces through the LP's center hole and then use it to center the LP within the DFV-1. You open the two spring-loaded latches at the top of the DFV-1, lay the LP inside against the side that flips down and insert the plug into the centering hole and close and latch it up. Switch on the power, wait 5 seconds for the display to, well display, and one touch of the mode button later, you're in business for a 1.5-hour heating process to be followed by a 2- hour cooling process. The LCD display tells you exactly where you are at in the process at all times. Additional pressing of the mode button allows for additional time in the heating process, to accommodate thicker pressings or more severe repairs. You press the mode once for 1.5 hours, twice for 2 hours and a third time for 2.5 hours. Simple.
|As the LP slowly heats, it's pressed into shape by two smooth plates of what seems to be tempered glass. Because the hinges that close the DFV-1 are spring-loaded, as the LP softens, the flattening panels are allowed to do their job while the DFV-1's hinges draw the panels together. Truly a no-muss, no-fuss operation. Furutech even includes white cotton gloves and a synthetic feather duster to keep the DFV-1 clean. You won't want to press any dirt, dust or lint into the vinyl. In practice, that's really not all that much of an issue as most of the DFV-1 will never make contact with the precious grooves. Contact with the panels will be made at the center of the LP and the outer groove guard (the outermost raised portion of the LP). Only LPs with that groove guard can be repaired.
|The Furutech DFV-1 performed exactly as advertised and I can say that I wouldn't change a thing about it. It seems awfully well built and as long as the heating elements keep heating, the device should last a lifetime though it's only guaranteed for one year. It couldn't be easier to operate and I love the vertical design. Once it's finished with|
|its cycle, the display flashes at you as if jumping up and down alerting you to the fact that it's ready to play. This thing even emanates enthusiasm!
Alas, it's still an imperfect world. While the run-of-the-mill warps are easily fixed, my Pink Floyd repair was a failure. The damaged LP did get commendably flat, that wasn't the issue. But while the stylus can track it, the disc will have to be retired. The reason why is fairly easy to see when you think about it. The LP was so warped that if you were to trace the edge of the LP with your finger, it would zig to the left and right of what would be center if the LP were true. As it's true that the shortest distance is a straight line around the LP -- the line traced on a true LP -- you can imagine that the distance traveled around this LP was much greater than when true. That added circumference on the circle equates to added surface area on the LP disc. And when pressed, all that added surface area didn't just vanish into thin air. Something about the geometry of the disc had to give and none of those groves would ever be the same again. The groves were no longer concentric. There was one point on the record where the stylus would shift violently toward the outer perimeter only to be thrown with equal force back toward the spindle again. It wasn't pretty to watch and sounded even worse. Further listening proved that the treble performance had been shorn from the spectrum. Someone turned off my tweeters - well, that's how it sounded at least.
Clearly, the DFV-1 can't perform miracles. If you're as unfortunate as I to have such a badly damaged disc in your collection, it's certainly worth a try though. There was no playing this LP anyway. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. You could get lucky. For the vast majority of minor warps and concentricity idiosyncrasies (say that five times!) you're likely to encounter, the DFV-1 gets an enthusiastic recommendation for working exactly as advertised.
|Quality of packing: Very good.
Reusability of packing: Very reusable.
Ease of unpacking/repacking: Very easy.
Condition of component received: Very excellent.
Completeness of delivery: Very complete.
Quality of owner's manual: Very sparse as is very common for small Japanese products. However, all pertinent information is there.
Website comments: Very full of product information- and Furutech makes a great many products.
Warranty: Very comprehensive for the first 365 days.
Human interactions: Very non-applicable. All communications went through Jonathan Scull of Scull Communications as Furutech's press liaison rather than Furutech and were very satisfactory.