One of my favorite rooms at the 2012 CES was the Acoustic Zen/Triode room. Robert Lee of Acoustic Zen and Santos Oropel of Twin Audio Video, a dealer for those wonderful Triode amplifiers, were both very enthused about a product called the Sakura. They used this hair dryer shaped device on all the CDs just before they played them. Oropel explained that it’s a handheld device that eliminates and neutralizes static charge, and would I be interested in reviewing it? The claims made by these folks and the manufacturer’s literature seemed too good to be true, but I promised to keep an open mind. After all, there’s been a history of products in the ‘Tweekasphere’ claiming all kinds of sonic benefits and many (not all) end up not only emptying your wallets of cash, but often degrading the sound quality.
I’ve known Robert Lee for almost 15 years and his reputation as a well established and well respected designer of cables and speakers. I know he would not associate his name with a product of dubious quality and therefore I had to take this product seriously and perform a full evaluation. I’d also be careful of the ‘placebo’ effect. After all, many people get a good results due to a placebo’s ability to influence the brain. It’s been suggested in many studies that a person is influenced by what he sees and what he’s told to expect. I bring this up to indicate how careful one has to be when reviewing a product and to give you as unbiased and objective opinion as I can while also employing the help of my colleagues as additional sets of ears [Chicken! -Ed]. It is also just as important to begin a review without predisposed positions, positive or negative. Each position can and will color your experience. This effect is applicable to any field where observation occurs. Just ask the physicists.
Read more about Placebo and how its effects can relate to audio here .
Now, the Sakura device.
The Sakura looks like a hand held hair dryer and creates a balanced ionized flow of air which you direct at your CDs, DVDs and records just before you play them. As directed in the instructions, I held the Sakura about 4” (2.5” to 5” in the manual) above the surface and held it there around 10 seconds. The action is supposed to eliminate any static electricity on the discs and as a result create better sound.
I tried this with various CDs and on different systems in colleagues’ homes. It was unanimous that the Sakura had a positive effect on the sound. Clarity improved with background instrumentation and voices better defined as if a layer of grunge was lifted. Images seemed a little bigger and more three dimensional. The soundstage grew larger and the music seemed to have more impact. The efficacy varied with source - some, very apparent and on others less so, but still noticeable. I also tried it on DVDs. I used Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival 2007 - the Sakura made subtle improvements in the video quality and major improvements in the sound quality. A friend who came over with various CDs for listening was amazed at the improvements he heard. ‘It’s like the discs were on steroids’. That’s quite an endorsement from a non-audiophile with no preconceptions or agenda. I did not tell him what I was doing to his discs - this was definitely not a placebo effect. I also tried it on vinyl with differing results. I already use an anti-static brush and I found no real appreciable sonic advantage of one over the other.
I felt a little silly pointing the ‘hair-dryer’ at my CDs. My wife gets a good laugh at this and swears I’ve finally lost it. The reality is it does work and I intend to use it on all my discs. Over the years I’ve spent many times the cost of the Sakura for all kinds of isolation devices, sprays and other treatments, some of which are taking up space in my closet and doing no one any good. I am recommending the Sakura without reservation for all who are interested in squeezing out the last ounce of performance from their sound systems. Warning, not a placebo.
The Sakura Handheld Static Charge Eliminator
Distributed by Twin Audio Video
PO Box 681, Loma Linda, CA 92374, USA
Tel 909 954 2175
Source: distributor loan