The AER Disc Energizer

by admin on August 26, 2010 · 30 comments

in Accessories

by Roy Harris

While waiting for the Eastern Electric Sabre DAC, the subject of my next review, which was held at customs in NYC, the importer, Morningstar Audio, suggested that I review another product. I believe he based his assessment upon the fact a customer who borrowed the product, “refused to give it back”.

Its goal is to “improve” the sound of CDs. It is a catalyst in the process and its method of operation is simple. Place the CD on a spindle, which becomes illuminated for 5 seconds. Then, remove the disc and play. Its effect lasts for 82 minutes. It is battery driven by 2 aaa batteries.

Unfortunately, the company’s website offers no explanation as to how/why the product works nor a description of the materials within the device. Although the pamphlet accompanying the product states the expected effect from using the energizer upon the sound of a stereo system The synthetic proof of the efficacy of the product is absent, leaving an air of mystery and one’s senses as the sole mode of evaluation.

Listening Results

While reviewing the Nagy’s digital cable, it seemed to make sense to apply the Energizer following the play of each recording. Thus, I generated a comparison between the sound of a stereo system with and without the use of the energizer. I will therefore, report my findings associated with each recording that was included in my review of the Nagy’s digital cable. I will mention a brief description of each disc so that it will not be necessary to have a copy of the Nagy’s review or refer to it , while reading this review.

Disc #1, was Holly Cole, DON’T SMOKE IN BED, track 1, Alert Z2 81020.

I found the bass frequencies more distinct, yet just as full, I.e., exhibiting the same weight. There was less emphasis upon the word “see”, I.e., a reduction in sibilance. A layer of veiling was removed and the remaining sibilance sounded more natural, perhaps resembling what one would hear at a recording session.
Disc #2 was FANDANGO–SCARLATTI IN IBERIA, Sophie Yates, Harpsichord, track1, Chandos 0635.

The sound of the harpsichord revealed greater weight and less sharpness, when strings were struck. There was more presence of the wood body and there seemed to be a change in the spectral balance away from the treble and towards the mid and upper bass.

Disc #3 was the CD Steely Dan AJA, MCAD 37214 DIDX 55, track 3.

Donald Fagan’s voice exhibited greater separation from the other instruments on the recording. The spectral balance seemed to be unchanged. However, overall, the effect of the sound reminded me of the sound of tubes, in the subtractive sense, creating a sense of euphonic coloration and hence pleasantness, as exemplified by the sound of the chorus, being less focused and slightly less resolved. The tenor sax sounded more natural in its timbral resolution, after using the Energizer.

The application of the Energizer to the CD Together, featuring John Williams and Julian Bream, track 1, RCA 09026-61450-2, restored some of the presence of the wood body that was initially absent . Both instruments sounded more realistic.

Thus, there was a change , again, in the spectral balance, away from the upper midrange/lower treble region toward the lower mids. The frequency response seemed more in balance having treated the disc.. However, the distance between listener and performers seemed to diminish.

There was a surprise when treating the last disc, Wessanaer’s Concerti Armonici,, for violin ensemble and continuo, track 5, Naxos 8.55384. While there was a greater extension in the bass, as evidenced by a greater presence in the bass viols, as well as greater fullness and warmth, the harpsichord became clearer,I.e., an extension in the treble. Yet, there was observed some veiling which reduced the realism in the sound of the violins–less so than when the disc was not treated. Thus, in spite of greater presence of the harpsichord, the violins still seemed subdued, but less so. It seemed that coloration was reduced, but not eliminated.

Conclusion

Although the AER Energizer has an “air” of mystery as a consequence of a lack of information about the product, there was evidence of a sonic effect each time a disc was treated.

In spite of one surprise, there seemed to be a consistent pattern regarding bass response, and naturalness of timbre, in the context of the components of my stereo system.

The effect of the energizer upon the upper frequencies,, i,e, upper mids, lower and upper treble, varied with the recording. I noticed, in one case, an extension in the treble, in another , I observed no change, while in another case, I heard a reduction in the spl in the upper mid/lower treble region. It is difficult to account for the changes I perceived, as I have no objective data to account for my subjective findings. The lack of “knowledge “ of the sound of the recordings and the limited sample size of the sources renders any hypotheses about why and how the Energizer is affecting the upper frequencies moot.

I feel more confident that the Energizer can enhance the presence of the lower frequencies,and contribute to a sense of fullness. I would say that from my brief exposure to the Energizer, I would say that it creates a less “digital” sounding CD, in the conventional sense, and closer to the sound of an LP. Thus, the AER Energizer may mitigate or address some of the flaws of many recordings and in some way may be synergistic with Nagys digital cable.

The AER Disc Energizer

Manufactured by Innoworks Product Creation Ltd.

Suite 2203, Kowloon Building, 555 Nathan Road, Mongkok, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Tel (852) 3525 1496

website
email

Price: US$840
Source: Manufacturer Loan

Associated Equipment

DAC: PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC
Transport: PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport
Preamp: Bent TVC passive
Amp: VTL Deluxe 120
Digital Cable: Nagys Audio
Interconnects: Soundstring Audio, Cryoset Copper
Speaker Cable: Ear to Ear
Power Cords: Ear to Ear, Western Electric copper
Speakers: Quad ESL and Magnepan 1.6
Accessories: Room Tunes, Egg Crate Mattresses, Sound Fusion Sound Boosters, Chang ISO 64, PS Audio Juice Bar, PS Audio Ultimate Outlet, Nirvana Audio Isolation Transformer

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

admin 08.26.10 at 9:29 am

Do you have a green pen, too? ;)

Great review, Roy! Many thanks. I’d love to hear the effects of the device.

Cheers, a

roy harris 08.26.10 at 11:14 am

hi anthony:

the product works as far as i am am concerned and i intend to buy it.

the importer is morningside audio, also the importer of the minimax dac, which will be my next review

admin 08.26.10 at 2:45 pm

Glad it works for you, Roy. Enjoy!

Andy Fawcett 08.26.10 at 6:27 pm

You’re a brave man, Roy - these products drive the rationalists crazy! I’ve noticed that the first time you play a brand new CD it often doesn’t sound too good. Whatever causes that, and static charge seems to be a possibility, then it does start to suggest a mechanism by which these devices could work … and also, perhaps, why the effect wears off quickly.

I was lent a Bedini clarifier a while back, which required that the disc be spun for a whole minute before playing. I treated one disc, heard no difference and then realised that if I wanted that sort of aggravation in my life, I was better off playing vinyl!

marvin fox 08.26.10 at 7:02 pm

Complete nonsense for this price .What else will they think of next? Roy you have not changed a bit in your reviews.

BT 08.26.10 at 8:01 pm

OUCH! this will forever haunt us audiophiles with google cache. Along with $1000 USB cable.
I buy good accessories. MIT, Nordost cables, spike isolation platform, even tube rings.
Because there is at least a freakin explainable theory behind these products.
And then there are these.
I’m discontinuing my RSS feed to this site.

MP 08.26.10 at 9:52 pm

This “review” would have been a great April Fool’s joke.

I’ve unsubscribed from the feed.

Philip 08.27.10 at 3:07 am

Well, I guess that if voodoo science has its place in the audiophile world it should have its place on audiophilia.com

I’m just glad it didn’t recieve a star component award.

admin 08.27.10 at 6:11 am

We cover everything audiophile on Audiophilia. As Philip says, this stuff is part of our audiophile world. That said, we have covered very little of the ’snake oil’ world here. But, Mr. Harris has his opinion and readers are free to agree or disagree, and even unsubscribe. But, I’m not sure what’s worse, knee jerk reviews or knee jerk reactions.

Now, where are my Shun Mook stands?

:)

roy harris 08.27.10 at 11:12 am

if the objection to the product is the price and absence of information, i can understand that.

if the objection is the price, i can undestand that.

however, there may be some disingeniousness, if the exact same review were asssociated with a less expensive product , then i have some reservations about the validity of the objections.

i call them as i hear them.

does anyone have the courage to question the truthfukness or integrity of the review? i direct this question to bp?

as many know, i have review many products, and will continue to review others.

this is the first time i have received such a vehement reaction from some readers.

what i am saying is: how much of the reaction is product based and how much is personal ?

how come there are no objections when components exceeding 10,000 are reviewed ?

Bob 08.27.10 at 12:06 pm

I have actually purchased the AER Disc Energizer last year in Japan (the Yodobashi Camera chain store) and it is still working very well.
Now, I cannot play any CD without using it. The music just sounds more realistic every time after the treatment.
The performance of Disc Energizer is better than any demagnetizer, light flasher, green pen…etc.
It is good value for money!

John 08.27.10 at 5:57 pm

Can you reproduce the effect in a blind test? I suspect not!!

admin 08.27.10 at 7:11 pm

Oh no, that old chestnut.

roy harris 08.28.10 at 11:42 am

hi john:

why single out this product ?

there are many amps, pre amps and cd players that won’t pass a blind test .

no one has answered my question regarding reviews of mega buck products. do readers object when a 50,000 + amp or speaker is reviewed ?

David T. Brown 08.29.10 at 10:48 pm

Roy,

With all due respect, you summarized things best in your previous comment: “there are many amps, pre amps and cd players that won’t pass a blind test”. Precisely… and therein lies the problem with a lot of expensive ‘high-end’ audio gear. I don’t deny that many audiophiles think they hear a difference when they use these components, but unfortunately if the effect is not statistically verifiable across a representative cross section of independent objective observers (or - for a small number of very discerning or aurally sensitive listeners - reproducible over multiple iterations of a given blind listening test for the same observer), then the purported advantages of the equipment in question effectively do not exist. (Sorry, Anthony - this perspective is not an ‘old chestnut’; when claims are being made about empirically discernible phenomena or measurable effects, you’re firmly in the realm of parametric analysis, not of aesthetic judgement or qualitative observation).

We’ll leave it up to individuals to decide if they wish to spend their hard-earned earnings on such esoteric equipment. And if perchance they are among the tiny proportion of the population who can reliably and repeatably detect a difference of some sort to justify their hefty financial outlay on pricey gear, then that’s great. But if they are not, they are (at best) victims of marketing, and (at worst) consummate suckers.

But I get really uncomfortable when new audio equipment is purported to have a detectable effect on sonic quality, but absolutely no explanation, mechanism or rationale is provided by its manufacturer for how it might actually work. C’mon, guys - this is a review. You are supposed to be providing your readers with knowledgeable insight and critical evaluation. A credible review requires the reviewer to do some background research and to demonstrate some healthy skepticism to address the legitimate questions which arise in the minds of your readers with any product - never mind for gizmos like the absurdly priced ferrett levitator profiled here.

By all means, let’s keep an open mind to new technologies and unconventional developments on the audio front - but an open mind is not the same as an empty head.

admin 08.30.10 at 8:53 am

Mr. Brown, Mr. Harris’ review is very credible. It explains his listening experiences, reports his opinions, and states clearly the company’s goal and lack of technical explanations. It’s an opinion. If he is skeptical, great, if not, he’s not. He’s not writing a White Paper.

And, when I hear the same scientific blanket claim ad nauseum that these findings are impossible without empirical data, it’s an ‘old chestnut’. And to me, a tired one, at that. In truth, though, I was applying the word to the argument not the merits of either side of the divide.

Happily, I’ve been surprised too many times to believe that everything must be measurable and observable to sound good or have a specific effect. That said, would I buy a CD whirlygig that costs $850 to add (possibly) a little effect? No. Looks like Mr. Harris thinks otherwise.

roy harris 08.30.10 at 11:02 am

mr. brown you have raised vaalid points, but there seems to be some inconsistency.

there are two issues, namely this review/product, and all products.

it would seem that there is no objective evidence to support claims made about the sound of components.

can you provide evidence that any product can be distinguished from any other product, based upon objective data ?

all reviews are subjective. in facrvthere is very little knowledge in the world, most statements are opinion.

the second issue is the product in question. it lacks any information about the materials used and the mechabism for its operation.

thus most reviews provide technical information but are not corroborated by objective data.

why haven’t you objected to all reviews which are not confirmed by objective data.

as far as i am aware you have selected the product being reviewed to voice your objections.

i find your reasoning disingenuous.

do you object to reviews in general because they are not supported by blind tests ?

roy harris 08.30.10 at 12:27 pm

mr. brown:

can you provide the names of publications which feature reviews which are backed by a blind test ?

you make allegations without evidence. where is your evidence ?

why read reviews if they are in fact subjective ?

how did you select the components which currently comprise your stereo system ?

are you prepared to justify your own purchases with a blind test ?

David T. Brown 08.31.10 at 8:05 am

Hi again Roy,

You are correct - there are indeed two issues here. The first is the general conversation about blind testing and unsubstantiated claims for audio equipment, and the second is the specific concern about the device you described in your review (and others of their ilk).

If you read my comments carefully, I don’t think you will find that I conflated the two issues at all, nor did I state anywhere that blind testing is the norm or even expected - for testing audio equipment. I was simply responding to the earlier discussion introduced by commentator John (and picked up on - somewhat provocatively - by Anthony’s ‘old chestnut’ comment) questioning the validity of such an approach. What I did state - and will stand by - is the fact that claims of superiority for any piece of equipment can only truly be substantiated if they withstand the test of dispassionate scientific scrutiny. This applies equally to empirical physical phenomena (like electronic specifications) and subjective perceptual phenomena (like better imaging or clearer low frequencies). The methods used are different for different analyses, but the principle remains the same: there must be a consistent, reproducible, and statistically significant observed effect in order for the claim to be scientifically credible. Note that I refer specifically to claims which are are being made about empirically discernible phenomena or measurable effects. Tests of this sort can be, and regularly are, applied to both physical phenomena and behavioural phenomena of all sorts in the scientific literature. Quantitative tests are also complemented by an array of very credible qualitative methodologies. This is not debatable; it is the way science works - and that was the basis of my first set of comments.

That said, I am the first to admit that subjective judgements of audio components by the listener will continue to be the dominant means of selecting systems, and subjective reviews by trusted and credible audiophiles will continue to be useful guides to the market. Blind testing is very rare indeed (not only for audio equipment, but for a wide range of other consumer goods). I never claimed otherwise. And as Anthony correctly implied in his follow-up comment, not all empirically measurable phenomena equate with discernable results - individual preferences do not always align very neatly with empirical testing.

But it is equally untrue to claim that listening sessions by a single reviewer can be uncritically generalized across a population of listeners. Don’t get me wrong - if the starting assumptions are reasonable - i.e., if the equipment performs some plausible role or function using credible technology, then we are frequently (and appropriately) willing to lend credence to the opinions of an experienced and discerning critical reviewer. This is indeed the basis of most reviews, and they can be quite informative and enlightening.

Most reputable manufacturers will provide specifications for their products that have some basis in scientific fact, and will advance some reasonable explanation or mechanism about what the product does to achieve the claimed results. This was most emphatically not the case for the gizmo you evaluated… the manufacturer didn’t even provide a rudimentary description of what the AER Disc Energizer actually does to the CD to set the stage for a credible evaluation. You said it ‘lights up’. Does it reduce static? Does it generate anything apart from visible light? (Other forms of electromagnetic radiation? Negative ions? Static electricity? Laser light? Pixie dust and moonbeams?) To establish a premise that this device is even worthy of further consideration, we need some insights about how it’s supposed to work, but none are forthcoming. When such a poorly documented product is presented without any plausible mode of operation or rationale, readers would be hard pressed to trust the opinions of any reviewer without expecting some additional analysis or objective substantiation. This is not an ad hominum attack; it is simply the response I would expect from any critical reader or discerning audiophile… and many of the pointed comments you received seem to bear this out. Are your readers, presumably an experienced lot themselves, supposed to simply take on faith, in the absence of any explanation of the purported mechanism, that putting a disc on this gizmo will somehow magically transform its playability and improve its acoustic characteristics? To couple a very expensive and highly dubious black-box device with a one-off, technically uncritical subjective analysis seems inconsistent with the standards and approach of this otherwise fine online publication.

You said that most reviews provide technical information but are not supported by objective data (by which I assume you mean empirical verification of the opinions of the reviewers). Granted! That standard of statistical proof is generally reserved for engineering journals and scientific literature, not popular reviews. But we need more than heresay and subjectivity, especially for contentious products. For example, Consumer Reports regularly presents technical specs and provides credible test data using well-documented methodology for a diverse array of products every issue (including consumer audio, incidentally), and has done so for decades. They also frequently present a range of of opinions about the products from a cross section of independent reviewers on their test panel. This is not a statistical level of rigour, but when these opinions converge, they are likely to be indicative of a real phenomenon. The net result is a publication that enjoys very high credibility amongst its readership.

You may indeed generalize and argue that there is ‘very little real knowledge in the world’, and that ‘most statements are opinions’ - but the corollary is certainly not that opinions are somehow the best we can do, especially in the context of critical analysis. This is a weak defense at best. I can find lots of opinions about the existence of aliens, or government mind control, or Elvis being alive and well and living in Tuscaloosa. My seven year old daughter is of the firm opinion that monsters inhabit her closet at night. But none of these opinions stand up to careful scrutiny or impartial observation, and most are not worthy of further consideration. Unfortunately, the lack of credible background on the AER Disc Energizer places it into the ‘Elvis in Tuscaloosa’ category for many of your readers, and we ask the reviewer to convince us otherwise by asking the appropriate questions and applying convincing evaluative criteria. I didn’t think that occurred in your review.

Though not a panacea, structured research methods set up some uniformly intelligible standards and transferrable, transparent assumptions which go a very long way to remove untenable opinons from the equation. These approaches are of course often too rigorous, complicated, or expensive to implement in every evaluative context, so in daily life we willingly revert to informed opinions by cognizant and critical reviewers. But please let’s not trivialize thoughtful inquiry by implying that everything is merely an opinion… to do so is truly disingenuous.

One parting comment: All of this banter is intended in the spirit of fulsome and energetic debate about a pastime we all love, not as a personal attack… I thoroughly applaud what you are doing, even if I have taken exception this time to how you did it!

admin 08.31.10 at 8:14 am

Well, I personally take it as a personal attack! lol

[Disclaimer -- Dr. David Brown is one of the brightest, nicest men I know (a great friend since 1971!!!). He has contributed reviews to Audiophilia and can discuss many subjects in great depth and with clarity and insight. ]

It’s a shame he’s so wrong about the objectivity of subjective reviews. ;)

lol

Cheers, a

roy harris 08.31.10 at 11:06 am

dr. brown:

i concur with your objections with the product reviewed.

however, i think most audiophiles, if subjected to a blind test , say comparing amplifiers would not pass them.

the review process remains mainly subjective, regardless of the information provided by the manufacturer and can be judged on its own merits, or lack thereof.

the fact that the product may be characterized as “mysterious”, does not invalidate the content of the review.

David T. Brown 08.31.10 at 12:25 pm

Hey Anthony,

Wow. Thanks for the gracious disclaimer (you see the lengths I have to go to in order to get you to say such things publicly!).

(Good thing we’re not involved in online personal attacks… with the ammo we have both stored up on one another since 1971, it would be mutually assured destruction).

Meanwhile, I’ll still hold onto the vain hope that one day you’ll be able to discern when the Emperor is parading about in the altogether… but of course, that’s just my subjective opinion. :-)

And Roy - thanks for engaging in this entertaining repartee with dignity and conviction. I look forward to future reviews.

John Carter 09.15.10 at 2:45 am

Instead of treating your discs every time you want to play them with this thing, you should instead treat them with this light and then immediately rip them to your computer as either wav files or lossless. That way the effects of this will forever be saved on your computer and you no longer have to treat a disc every time you want to hear it. Just fire up your computer and you’ll be all set!

roy harris 09.15.10 at 6:57 pm

hi john:

there is one issue which you may not have considered, namely the sonic difference between thye copy and the original.

one runs the risk that the computer genereated copy will sound “worse than the original, even if you have treated the original prior to generating the copy.

John Carter 09.16.10 at 12:41 pm

If it’s a bit-for-bit copy the effects should forever be preserved. Then just using a high-quality DAC with your computer will get you great results every time.

Have you tried this on DVDs? What’s it like with data reduced Dolby Digital tracks? Will the picture be improved at all?

charles rollo 09.26.10 at 9:55 am

Bill from Morningstar send me one for the NY Rave meeting. I concur with Roys assessment completely.
Speculation sucks. Hands on experience counts. What Roy needs to try next is putting the Energizer close to his gear and press the button. It affects the gear as well. Actually enhancing the effect.
I know Roys system and his likings in music reproduction. If there is a change in his sound to be heard by any tweak. HE WILL HEAR IT. Roy and I are very keen on high frequency reproduction. Especially when sibilance is present.
Now the price of $840 retail is a bit much IMO. If the price was within reason they would sell like hotcakes.

charles

innyc 12.06.10 at 3:42 pm

Proton Vibration alignment is supposedly the theory behind the device- this is a joke, right ? Look at the attached link -

http://www.ehow.com/how_6015717_achieve-alignment-via-law-attraction.html

Maybe if Roy used the device on himself he would feel better too :-)

James 12.31.10 at 6:44 am

Just a note to David T Brown,

Thank you for such an eloquent post, it was a joy to read. When I see “reviews” about nonsense products like these I find it hard to put those points across so clearly.

It is a shame that common sense is sneered at in hifi circles, it is also a real shame that the sensible points you raised have been met with a “lol” rather than any concerted effort to ally the readerships fears about the voracity of the reviewers rather wild and spurious claims for the efficacy of this “product”.

To me, this looks like snake oil, smells like snake oil and until the reviewer or manufacturer can provide evidence to the contrary I shall dismiss it (and any futre reviews from Roy) as nonsense.

Regards,
James.

admin 12.31.10 at 2:48 pm

David is presently on sabbatical in New Zealand. Not sure the research station has internet. I’ll be sure to let him know of your excellent comment.

All the best, James. And Happy New Year.

Cheers, a

John 03.09.11 at 10:49 am

“If it’s a bit-for-bit copy the effects should forever be preserved.” Hello John Carter how can any gizmo affect the recorded bits on a CD? This appears to a bit like the old freezing trick that was popular years ago, but heaps more expensive.

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