Marja & Henk
Financial Interests: click here
Sources: PS Audio PWT; Dr. Feickert Blackbird MKII/DFA 1o5/Zu DL-103;
Streaming sources: XXHighEnd; iTunes; Devialet AIR; La Rosita Beta; Qobuz Desktop, Tidal Desktop; Sound Galleries SGM 2015 [loaner];
DAC: T+A DAC8 [loaner]; Mytek Brooklyn [loaner]
Preamp/integrated/power: Audio Note Meishu with WE 300B (or AVVT, JJ, KR Audio 300B output tubes); dual Devialet D-Premier; PTP Audio Blok 20; Hypex Ncore 1200 based monoblocks; Trafomatic Kaivalya; Trafomatic Reference One; Trafomatic Reference Phono One; Music First Passive Magnetic;
Speakers: Avantgarde Acoustic Duo Omega; Arcadian Audio Pnoe; Podium Sound One; WLM Sub 12; Sounddeco Alpha F3; dual Zu Submisson MKII; Soltanus Virtuoso ESL; Taket Bat-Pure super tweeters; Bastanis Sagarmatha Duo [in for review]
Cables: complete loom of ASI LiveLine cables; full loom of Crystal Cable cables; full loom of Nanotec Golden Strada; Audiomica Pearl Consequence interconnect; Audiomica Pebble Consequence;
Power line conditioning: PS Audio Powerplant Premier; PS Audio Humbuster III; IsoTek Evo 3 Syncro; AudioMica Allbit Consequence
Equipment racks: Solid Tech and ASI amplifier and TT shelf
Indispensable accessories: Furutech DeMag; ClearAudio Double Matrix; Franc Audio Ceramic Disc Classic; Shakti Stones; Kemp polarity checker; Akiko Audio Corelli, Zanden ZVA-1
Online Music purveyors: qobuz.com, tidal.com, bandcamp.com, amazon.co.uk 
Room treatment: Acoustic System International resonators, sugar cubes, diffusers
Room size: ca. 14.50 x 7.50m with a ceiling height of 3.50m, brick walls, wooden flooring upstairs, ca 7 x 5m with a ceiling height of 3.50m, brick walls and concrete floor downstairs.
Review component retail: €350

Audio reviewing is a nice job. Not only do you get the chance to play—in both senses of the word—with all kinds of gear, it also fine tunes your hearing. It happens when a new piece changes the overall sound - for better or worse. It then is important to find out why. Is it an emphasized system mismatch or a real improvement from the newcomer? An audio system is a synergistic composition of many parts, electrical and acoustical. Each and every part of the system contributes in its own way and then there's the room which the system sits in. Over the years we auditioned many accessories that where advertised as sound improving, class lifting or even pure magic. Some were much ado about nothing but never with devices from the Dutch father/son initiative Akiko Audio. Their Tuning Sticks, Triple AC Enhancer and more recent Corelli Power Conditioner simply work. All of them make a smaller or larger improvement to the overall sound in the room. Depending on where a stick or enhancer is placed, the impact varies. All electronics pollute their surroundings with EMF/EMI and the ban on incandescent light bulbs in favor of CFL and LED lightning isn't helping either to create a clear environment. Without joining the tin-foil hat movement, if there is an option to clean up some of the EMF noise, why not use it?

That in densely packed audio environments the cleaning action of all Akiko Audio products we'd tested thus far is effective was a given to us by now. The proof is simple. Just remove the stick or enhancer. After a few minutes—the effect is not instantaneous—the sound alters. During those few minutes when the pollution builds up again, the listener gets back to the previous listening reality. In most cases the sound loses its pleasantness. Compare the effect to over-sharpening in Photoshop. Reintroducing the filtering device rids the sharpened edges of their pixilation just enough to make the sound pleasant again. Just as with removing the device, the effect of adding it kicks in after a few minutes. We imagine the innards of the stick or enhancer to contain various crystals which warm up by the captured EMF radiation. The thing is getting activated. Without fully understanding the workings of the Akiko devices, we only know for sure that they work and that we feel better off using them. So it was easy to approve an inquiry about whether we were interested to review Akiko Audio's latest, the Phono Booster. That is meant to connect to the ground of the phono preamp or at least to the ground wire of the turntable.

A phono signal is the smallest signal in an audio chain. In our case, the Zu DL103 puts out 0.3mV; not much. In order to prevent interference on that tiny signal, we had already attached an Akiko Audio Tuning Stick to the cables that connect the Dr. Feickert Blackbird with our Trafomatic Reference One tube phono pre amp. When the Phono Booster arrived, we met a 430g black box measuring 98 x 65 x 39mm, front adorned by a company logo while the back sported a gold-plated Hirschmann banana socket. At the bottom were four tiny feet. And here we had for the first time a criticism with an Akiko product. These feet were hard and not anti-slip.

Just as for all other Akiko devices, the inactive internal parts are potted in black resin. Opening the Booster is of no use. There is nothing to see. Information on the website only reveals that it "consists of two compartments with a clever AA-1425 mix of natural materials joined together with internal wiring". So be it.