The Audio Geek!

Acoustic Revive USB & AudioQuest JitterBug

Some new accessories have landed here recently. As main system duties are now totally covered off by the Kyron Audio Kronos system and Wadia / Apple front ends, there are no near term 'big boxes' or additions to be made to the system. Perhaps a dedicated music server / streamer if you believe in the improvements over a 'normal' computer front end. Otherwise there is just tinkering around the edges.

Fantastic! For not much money one can go wild with all sorts of weird and wonderful tweaks and in the interest of full disclosure that is exactly what I intend to do! The new additions this quarter are an Acoustic Revive USB cable and a pair of AudioQuest JitterBugs.

thumb_IMG_5968_1024

The Acoustic Revive USB-1.0SP (to use it's full name) cable is an interesting beast. Separate A-connectors for power and signal from the computer (source) end, into one USB-B connection at the DAC / amp end. This cable is beautifully made, of sensible thickness (if a little stiff) with aircraft-grade aluminium plugs at all three connection points. From the Acoustic Revive website, the internal construction is stated as:

'USB-1.0SP and USB-1.0PL USB cables are equipped with a very thick 0.8Φ Solid single-core PCOCC-A conductor (the highest diameter USB cable currently available on the market) to achieve an overwhelming Dynamic range and Frequency range that was previously impossible to create by conventional USB cables.
The purity of PCOCC-A (annealed PCOCC which does not have crystal grain) exceeds the high purity copper such as 6N when it is made into a cable, and its overwhelming conductivity is far superior.
We also applied PCOCC-A as a solid single-core to avoid stray current(Strand jump phenomenon) and to achieve an accurate digital transmission, resulting in a clear and blur-less sound image, wide and deep sound field with an accurate phase and a full three-dimensional acoustic field.'

Additional materials include PE shielding and cotton internal damping. Later versions (the SPS) changed the shield and damping materials.

thumb_IMG_5969_1024

So what do I hear compared to my previous Kimber reference? The first trait that hit me was speed. After my years with the Zu Audio speakers, I became 'hooked' on my music having a pace that sets feet tapping and head nodding. I easily walk away from high quality reference systems if they in any way start to linger, plod along or just hold the full rhythm back in any way. Not an issue with the Acoustic Revive I am pleased to report. This also renders 'ordinary recordings / sample rates (I am looking at you MP3s)' adequately listenable as rock songs in particular can be entertaining without reaching any audiophile heights. I figured this out listening to (and enjoying) 'Bow River' by Cold Chisel off the 'Barking Spiders Live' album even as a 192 kbps MP3.

The next trick on decent recordings is, added to the speed, is detail and the starting and stopping of notes and or instruments where you hear the leading edge, the content, and the trail off. Pretty cool.

I enjoyed the tonal balance, with the emphasis on 'balance'. Probably not the weightiest bottom end I have heard but it is especially tuneful across the spectrum. Those looking for words like 'tipped up', 'euphonic', 'Stygian' are probably looking at the wrong cable with the AR. I didn't get a sense that it was in any way acting as a de facto tone control.

The logistics of the implementation of this cable can be difficult given it's relative lack of flexibility depending on where the two USB connectors are placed on your server or computer. On my mid 2013 Apple MacBook Pro, the USB ports are on either side of the keyboard base so the main issue is having enough length of cable to stretch side to side then to connect back to DAC.

Even when using headphones, soundstage and imaging are to the fore. As a lover of old Australian rock and blues I cued up '32/20 Blues' by Chain from a 30th Anniversary edition of 'Towards the Blues'. The position of guitar and harmonica in the intro can be easily heard and the separation continued throughout the track.

These impressions have been gained from my headphone system (Apple MBP, Audirvana Plus (V2.2.3), Benchmark DAC 1 USB, audiophilleo 2, Grado GS 1000, AKG 702) with the USB cable having about 50 hours burn in to date.

Now sadly as I write this the JitterBugs are still on back order with a revised shipping date of September 28. If there is any synergy and improvement with the AR USB cable then I am expecting nice things. Roll on next week!