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This review first appeared in the July 2008 issue of and can be read in its original German version here. It is herewith translated and presented to an English-only audience through a mutual syndication arrangement with As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end has a link below it to his e-mail should you have questions or feedback you wish to send. All images contained in this review are the property of or Phonosophie. - Ed.

Reviewer: Jörg Dames
Source: Fonel Simplicité (variable outputs)
Amplification: Myryad MXA 2150
Loudspeaker: Thiel CS 2.4
Cable: low-level - Straight Wire Virtuoso; high-level - HMS Fortissimo
Review component retails: embedded in text

Visitors are always welcome, particularly at a quarantined pen man's digs where lonely pursuits between listening and writing are only occasionally interrupted by the telephone. Hence I predictably said 'yes' when Herr Ingo Hansen -- chief bottle washer and owner of Phonosophie, also known for his entertaining personality-- suggested paying fairaudio a visit. After a short briefing, we agreed on an investigation of the question how tuning accessories and devices from one maker might impact an optimized system (yes, I do employ sundry tweaks already). The efficacy of such devices is much discussed and derided, even amongst colleagues in the press who consider Herr Hansen's theory that "75% of the sonics are due to accessories" 100% balderdash.

Mind you, I'm no friend of percentages in matters hifi, no matter what direction they go. From technical conditions to personal biases, things are too open-ended for my tastes to allow for the pseudo objectivity of hard figures. Accordingly, in reviews I favor the descriptive bits over the final judgment call. To be sure, what's to follow won't follow the classic review recipe either since the diverse goods under consideration spent too little time with me. Rather, the idea was simply to get pampered for a day by Herr Hansen and, note book in hand, relax and observe.

Phonosophie has been around since 1986, first as the German importer for Naim, then as turntable tuner and early 'cable sound' maven. In the late 80s, Phonosophie launched its own turntable, the P3 as co-developed with Thorens. By 1996, Naim distribution changed hands and Hansen followed up with his own components. Today, Phonosophie electronics are carried by 19 domestic dealers while over the last eight years, Hansen has paid particular attention to developing tuning devices and accessories for which he claims to have about 130 dealers thus far.

The core philosophy is more live quality from the resident rig. Hello marketing. Although somewhat abstract perhaps (what, exactly, does 'live' sound like?), this slogan is based on a solid concept: It's about enhanced dynamics and clean power delivery to enable them. "You gotta start at the beginning. AC power. The entire system has to be capable of delivering maximum energy in the shortest possible time under stable conditions. The cleaner the AC, the more dimensional the recovered information." That's how their website puts it in one place.

Herr Hansen believes in triangulation. Besides AC delivery with its accessories of fuses, wall outlets and power bars, two other key factors are considered vital with tuning. One is mechanics. Components should interact with racks or shelving in 'harmonic convergence', with disturbance pattern redirected rather than blocked as is often popularized. Hansen rejects bolted racks and fancies solidly welded jobs since screw joints resist proper energy drainage.

His third focus is unequivocally the most esoteric. To put a name to it, say hello to the infamous room animators. The simple and intuitive background for those is that air is the carrier of sound propagation, hence the condition of the air -- including obvious aspects such as temperature and moisture -- is relevant. Naturally, the goal isn't to chill your listening suite down to the optimal 8° Celsius. Rather, the enemy Hansen means to attack is the omnipresent HF overload which the equally omnipresent cell phones among other culprits poison us with. Ultrasonic signals create agitation in the air molecules and thus, disturbances. Is the acoustic signal path through the air unclean, sonic impacts are the consequences. To clean this signal path between speaker and ear is the function of the room animator.

The weak blue light emanating from the animator is said to act as carrier for the internally generated vibrations which are claimed capable of "repairing your room's air". To generate the healing vibrations, the animator relies on a combination of quartz crystals and unspecified fluids. The first encounter with the animator was quite funny (retail €800) since of all places, it took place in my 16m² kitchen. After a brief cozy chat at the kitchen table, Herr Hansen ejected from his seat, stepped back about 2.5 meters from me and said something (I forget exactly what). I was to pay attention to the timbre and character of his voice. In the next motion, a room animator was plugged in and plunked on the floor. After a period of silence, Hansen spoke again. That wigged me out a bit. While I was negatively predisposed towards the small Nivea can, Hansen's voice did seem spontaneously softer and fuller. Very irritating.

Certainly though, such an A/B blitz was far too short to divine anything conclusive. Plus, I might have fallen victim to a crafty Hansen's vocal modulations skills. Off it was into the room and the pre-warmed system whose components, as usual, are listed in the intro above. Alas, not to track the animators just yet which I'd revisit later. Our games would kick off with cables. Mind you, I'm not entirely an ascetic or virgin on the subject. Particularly with high- and low-level signal cables, I'm invested. But even my power cords, outlet multiplier box and power outlets (let's not mention aftermarket fuses today) are a step up from the fully basic. Guesstimated, I've got about €3000 into it, mostly on wires.

Peu à peu we tore out my stuff and seeded in Phonosophie's, always with a listening session, A/B comparo and assessment on how the core character was affected. For AC sockets, Phonosophie goes for silver contacts, their own power cord and (instead of flying leads) a bus bar distribution system, the latter not only offering higher conductor cross sections but lower distortion from reflections and eddie currents. In use was the PH Dose 6 (AG) at €330, in our case tricked out with added animator technology (add €225) said to operate similarly on the alternating current as the room animators work on the air. Even Phonosophie's power cords (€280 each) were upgraded accordingly (add €225 per).

For speaker cable, Hansen tags your account at 92 euros for the stereo meter, add €194 for the necessary terminations. And yes, you guessed correctly, to the speaker cables, animators attached as well at €225 the pop. Whether those were vital or not is one thing, that I did take more than a few notes another. If individual contributions compared to my affordable power strip and cords were more subtle (though a common finger print prevailed), the complete swap (high-level cables, strip and cords) was quite impressive. The notes recount greater dynamics; better timing; overall higher transparency with less veiling; more tactile mids; and a more open, frontal and better sorted soundstage with distinctly better separation, i.e. higher localization sharpness between instruments.

In short, I was quite keen on the remodel. Equally interesting was the generally underlying tendency towards a greater live quality, something I was, as confessed already, inclined to write off as marketing drivel. Even though, our cable games hadn't completely swapped out all my old stuff. The interconnects were still original Jörg issue. Whether the context was wrong; or the Straight Wire Virtuoso simply a stiff opponent - while things opened up a skoch for more directness, they also grew harder and somewhat cooler. Personally, the inclusion of Phonosophie's cryptically christened PK2 BB 22 (€250 for 1.20m length, add animator for €225 each) was a step backward.

Cursory intermezzo
Neither forward nor backward it was with the first mechanical intercession whose concept was admittedly daring. On an empty shelf of my rack, the resident Birch ply shelf was exchanged for a €120 Control Board which sports resonance-compliant routed grooves on the belly. This was supposed to benignly affect my entire rack, i.e. all of the components placed on it. To my ears, nothing happened. Needless to say, those boards aren't really designed to support mere air but components. This interface of kit and support, as my experience has shown, can quite influence the final sound. I get good results with the aforementioned 12mm Birch ply slabs set on spikes into an aluminum frame without pretending at anything ne-plus-ultra. Hence further experiments with Phonosophie's Q-Board seem called for.

Small treasure!
But first, something completely different. Though seemingly outside our project brief, Hansen's traveling pack included a tweaked Teac mini system. Hansen routinely collaborates with Marantz and the Teac teaming here nets the box a Phonosophie logo. All of 215 x 110 x 358mm WxHxD, 2 x 25 watts "strong" and at €1.150 somewhat modestly priced, the nomenclature goes by CRH 255 and includes happiness with CD, CD-R/RW and MP3 discs. There's a USB input and a DAK/UKW RDS tuner. And, as you were betting by now, animators. Which suggests that Hansen is truly convinced of this technology since invisible tweaks which don't do nada wouldn't make too much sense. But there's more to the Phonosophie mod than just a few aliens. The entire power supply is redone. Fuses are upgraded. Contact resistance is reduced with silver cladding. Etc. Hansen simply puts the entire Phonosophie philosophy to work.

And make no mistake, the results are really impressive. Granted, short-term impressions carry rather less weight than our usually far more extended observations but I still recall how, a few bars into this thing, I involuntarily expelled a "that's the hammer" expletive. Colorful, controlled even on my nearly down to 2-ohm Thiel CS 2.4s whose sensitivity grants no handicap either, and fetchingly fluid and open. On the spot, I couldn't even file any complaints or think of overt improvements. We'll have to check our schedule for an opening but it could get really interesting if I slapped ears on this puppy for longer.

Mechanical intermezzo II
I promised further comments on the 870 Q-Board with its internal plumbing filled with quartz crystals and fluids. This time the board supported something, the very mini rig CRH 225 in fact. Lo and behold, things gained in color and fullness over my Plywood shelf. Peter Gabriel's somewhat hard So album mellowed out and silken'd up a bit. Not bad.

Animator Allegro
Finally a return of the room animator, not to test Hansen's voice this time but actual tunes. Given that we'd ping-pong'd incessantly and it was 2100 hours by now, my sensory acuity was doubtlessly compromised. Did my speakers sound significantly more tactile, open and simultaneously more relaxed? Or did Hansen's ongoing vibes of enthusiasm for his technology finally cast their spell psychologically? The latter should have been countered effectively by my mistrust of all tweaky esoterica. But it proved too much in all for the short time available. I'll have to revisit this topic in earnest and at length to have something valid to contribute. Readers with experience are encouraged to chime in as well.

Final profile: two highlights, one question mark... booked by the time this day closed. I remained impressed by Phonosophie's combo act of power strip, power cords and speaker cables in my system for unquestionable sonic gains in tune with Phonosophie's 'live' propaganda. Nice. The mini rig CRH 255 pricked up my ears too. Despite petite dimensions and moderate retail, this was a solution which competes with certain more expensive, more massive and discrete components. There I'm real keen on an extended follow-up session. This'll be necessary also for the animator technology. Who knows, tête à tête (or is that tit for tat), it might push me over the edge into becoming a voodoo devotee after all...
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