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Cracow sonic society
Cracow Sonic Society, meeting #81:
Srajan Ebaen („”) i Acoustic Revive RD-3+RIO-5II


1. Srajan Ebaen („”)

2. Yoshi Hontani (Acoustic Revive)

Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Pictures: Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Marek Dyba

Report published:
∙ in Polish on Dec 16th 2011, No. 92
∙ in English: Jan 3th 2012, No.92


It doesn't happen often, but obviously sometimes it does – by mistake I deleted all photos I took during our meeting with Srajan. For two days I fought with my computer to recover at least some of them and I failed. Damn it! So I called Jarek Waszczyszyn, who in fact invited our guest from Switzerland, but I got nothing from him – he simply did not take any pictures at all. To be perfectly clear – nobody except for me took any photos during this CSS meeting – so there was nothing left after Srajan's departure except for our memories and some notes on piece of paper. Yeah, the piece of paper with a table filled in with all participants notes on what they liked and what they didn't when listening to different versions of recordings. I will elaborate on that in a minute, because now what seems to be much more important is a question that Jarek asked: what will remain after we are gone, what will remain after our civilization? Since deleting dozen of pictures takes only two seconds, what will happen if we transfer everything to the network? What if than this network (cloud is now more popular word I think) is gone, or it changes so much that it is not same thing as we know it today? Same question goes for all the content we put in the virtual reality today – photographies, books, magazines, movies, music, computer games and so on – basically most sorts of arts that not only make electrons flowing along synapsis in our brains but also touch the very essence of our humanity. So what will be left if all that is gone? As weird as it might sound most likely it will be the things that we stopped appreciate in this „electronic era” - paper, plastic, metal. Like this piece of paper that is the only solid evidence of Srajan's presence here – thanks to it we know he was really here, it was not just a dream. Also like Compact Discs, that were in fact the main topic of our meeting.

Srajan Ebaen came to us from Switzerland, where he'd being living for quite some time already. He is a chief editor of the biggest audio magazine in the world, that has it's headquarters in USA – it is called „”. (He just sent us a note that actually from some time the magazine is registered in Swittzerland. In USA he has servers). „Biggest magazine in the world” is not a mistake. Surely common opinion says that „the biggest magazine” must be a printed one. As I represent mostly „new, electronic media” (mostly as I also work for an „Audio” magazine, that is still a paper one), you might find me not fully impartial, but you can take my word for it – me running a web based magazine has nothing to do with the statement that is the biggest audio magazine.
When it comes to the „size” of a magazine there are several ways to determine that. The first that comes to mind is the number of readers. In a „paper” world you take the total number of printed copies, you deduct returns, but also all copies delivered to different institutions and so on, for free. Most magazines will never give you the latter number as in fact it is quite a significant one. So when you deduct those numbers you get a final number of pieces sold, which equals to the number of readers.
When it comes to web based magazines it is also quite simple – there is a software that counts each person visiting particular web-page. Each of them receives an unique ID and those IDs are counted and are equal to the number of readers. There is also an additional parameter – how many times the web-page was visited regardless of unique IDs – an owner of particular ID might enter the URL more than once. The other, also important, element that allows to assess particular magazine is how it influences other magazines, and also how it influences sales of reviewed products. Evaluating these two things is very difficult and any given result is hard to verify. There is something called „quote index” used in science that shows how big influence a particular work has on the others, but in this case it is useless as in audio nobody quotes competitors because it might... support them (BS if you ask me!!). I'm not going deeper into this topic. In everyday life knowledge is build over experience of other people – the good ones and their mistakes too – that increases chances of success significantly.

Anyway – there are two main factors that tell us about how popular particular magazine is. And when it comes to the number of readers „”, as far as I know, is an absolute leader with over 200 000 readers a month and 1 000 000 of site enterings. To give you some perspective – an American „Stereophile” prints 80 000 pieces a month (and please remember that this number includes returns and free samples), including 40 000 pcs in Chinese. British „What Hi-Fi?” - 60 000 pcs. And these are the biggest printed audio magazines in the world. Another British magazine „Hi-Fi News&Record Reviews” prints „only” 25 000 pcs. Polish Magazines print from 20 000 pcs („Audio”) down to 6500 pcs („Hi-Fi i Muzyka”). Can you see these huge discrepancies between what's printed and what's published on the web? Some of you probably saw and realized those numbers for the first time and it might have been a shock for you but that's how it is.
There is still this second factor that could tell us how influential each magazine is but to get such data I would have to conduct extensive statistical research (all the data regarding numbers I gave you above were taken from official statements of particular magazines, or information I got from publisher's representatives). I hope I managed to show you what „” really is, what it represents. And what about its owner and chief editor?

Srajan Ebaen doesn't carry the first name given him by his parents, nor their surname, not even his wife's. He wasn't born in USA. Even though he runs an American magazine, registered there, kept on American servers, he doesn't live there anymore, although he did, for some time.
As you might learn from an interview I did with him (you will find it in January's issue of „High Fidelity”) Srajan is in fact a German born in Flensburg, the very north of Germany in Schleswig-Holstein, who emigrated to USA as an adult. Both he and his whole family are musicians – his brother and sister are actually active and quite known ones.
In USA he started his carrier as a blue collar first but than he started to write texts for online audio magazines like: „Positive-Feedback Online”, „SoundStage!”, „Goodsound!” and „EnjoyTheMusic” and later, bit disappointed by what he experienced there, but using gained experience he started his own magazine.
Somewhere on his way he experienced his own personal enlightenment – in India he was given a new name Srajan, and he started to change his own life. Today if you call him at 2 or 3 a.m. you can be sure he won't pick up the phone. Not because he's asleep but because he meditates.
OK., we know the origin of his first name. Now the surname. ‘Ebaen’ sounds quite exotic, right? Maybe because he created it together with his wife. They both agreed that their own names put together made it almost impossible to pronounce for ebverybody (his wife’s parents were Portuguese and Indonesian). So they took some letters common for their both surnames and created a new one - ‘Ebaen’.
One more word about his first name – when Srajan came to Cracow I asked Jarek Waszczyszyn how should I pronounce this exotic name. It turned out that everybody pronounced it in a different way, mostly wrongly. In fact it sounds more or less like ‘Sir John’.


We have Srajan „discussed”, so it's time for the main topic of our CSS meeting, that our guest took part in. We met to get familiar with two products of Japanese company Acoustic Revive:

  • Negative Ion Generator RIO-5II,
  • Demagnetizer With Many Uses for Audio RD-3.
They both work as „compact disc performance optimizers”. Each of them does it in a different way but the best result is achieved when we use both of them together, as their work is complimentary.
So what are they? These are electric devices, the principles of their operations are based on solid physics and the results of their work can be measured. I wrote about RD-3 already some time ago – its a demagnetiser, that neutralizes magnetized iron particles, that are part of each paint, each plastic and so on. It's very important for Compact Disc as when spinning with high velocity it becomes kind of a magnetic field generator, that might influence a work of optic system that is moved by electromagnets. What's more – magnets, even so small as magnetized iron particles, might influence also servo mechanism and circuits amplifying signal right after they arrive from the lens, because when conductor goes cross magnetic field there is an interference induced in this conductor. When CD is spinning we might compare it rather with moving magnet (magnetized iron particles) but the outcome is the same. The purpose of RD-3 is to demagnetize all magnetized elements inside CD and thus to minimize their influence on the whole data reading circuit. What really RIO-5II does is much more difficult to comprehend, at least for me. This device looks like electric kettle, or a blender. You put a CD on top of it and push a red button. What's happening next? I need to quote a manual that says:
„This will run the electric fan for 14 seconds, which irradiate the surface with natural negative ion on to the disc. RIO-5 II not only releases negative ion, it also emit infrared rays which works as a surface-active agent. This improves transmissivity of the laser beam inside the CD player, which leads to improved sound and picture quality. By using the RIO-5 II, it improves S/N ratio and dynamic range. All instrument and vocals become vivid and sounds fresh. On the picture, it gives depth and excellent color contrast..”
Yep, for me it also sound like fairytale, but I still encourage you to read all the documentation HERE, this should clear up things a bit. Regardless of how well the whole concept is described, how well the issue of demagnetizing and deionazing is explained, there is still one simple question that remains unanswered – “does it really work?”


That's why I organized a CSS meeting. Srajan was supposed to be kind of a „test-paper” (like Gerhard Hirt was during previous one), to tell us whether we had already totally lost it, or maybe what we were doing/hearing was still real/true. It was a simple AB comparison with unknown A and B. We took couple of pairs of exactly the same CDs and one of them was treated with both AR devices and the other wasn't.

I handed pieces of paper with prepared table to all participants and they were supposed to fill it in with their votes – which presentation, A or B, they liked more, which sounded better, more live-like. I had a „master-table” where I kept the sequence of treated and not treated CDs plus I noted participants votes. It was a blind test – participants never knew which CD was played at the moment (treated or not treated). We noted the votes and discussed what we heard.

The whole test was ran in Janusz system, who was a host of our meeting. This system consisted of : Ancient Audio CD Lektor Grand SE, Silver Grand mono power amplifiers, and First Generator; and also Sonus faber Electa Amator I (with modified crossover) loudspeakers; top Acrolink and Tara Labs cables; plus anti-vibration elements by Acoustic Revive and Base audio stand.

CDs were demagnetized and Ionized right before listening to them. To verify efficiency of RD-3 and RIO-5II we used following recordings:

  • Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto, Getz/Gilberto, Verve/Lasting Impression Music, LIM K2HD 036, K2HD CD
  • Verdi, Choruses, dyr. Carlo Franci, Decca/Lasting Impression Music, LIM XR24 018, XRCD24 (2007).
  • Muddy Waters, Folk Singer, JVC, VICJ-044-4118, XRCD24 (2010).
  • Pat Martino, East!, Prestige/Mobile Fidelity, UDSACD 2018, SACD/CD (2006).
  • Sara K., Hell Or High Water, Stockfisch, SFR 357.5039.2, XRCD24 (2006).
  • La Tarantella, L’Arpeggiata – Christina Pluhar, Alpha 503, CD (2002).


This is a part where I bring up statements of each and every participant, or I synthesize them to offer you only common output. Each time the way I chose depends on the kind of test we do and on the how the meeting in fact went. This time it seemed to me that offering you just common output/opinion makes more sense. That's because from the very first recording we listened to it was clear to everybody that the disc treated with AR devices and the one not treated sounded significantly different. We were all truly surprised. We repeated first three A/B comparisons couple of times so it was more of A/B/A/B/A comparison after all. We all felt that the difference was so significant that we wanted to be absolutely sure that it was a fact and not some group hallucination. As one of the participants said, I think it was Janusz, treating CDs with AR gave more significant change in sound than changing some cables in this system, maybe even more than changing one of the electronic elements. I did not feel that changes were that huge but I had to agree that they were significant, more significant than the impact of any anti-vibration elements, or cables we had changed before in Janusz system. The only change that mattered more was replacing 300B Create Audio for 300B Takatsuki (coverage HERE), but it still had not being that significant change. The improvements we observed here were mainly about basic sound and its harmonics being „better connected”. What we heard was more dense sound, with less treble, bit warmer overall tonality, and bit worse phantom images placement. I wrote that in Harbeth M40.1 test – resolution became better but selectivity worse. As at the same time there was bit less dynamics and all the elements on the soundstage were not so distinctly presented.

And that's probably why opinions of participant were quite contradictory – just a reminder – I did not ask them to recognize when I played CDs treated with AR devices, but I asked which version they liked more. Statistics comes first. We listened to fragments of 6 CDs and there were five of us. That gives in total 30 votes. And the final result was a perfect draw – 14 voice for, 14 against, and 2 undecided. That was another surprise as at the beginning we were all convinced that AR did such a great and good difference. And, in a way, we were right. Two last CDs we listened to were obvious winners for AR – we all managed to process the changes AR brought to the sound and most of us finally recognized them as good ones: there were 10 votes together and 7 were for, 1 against, and two undecided.
If you take a look at the table you can clearly see some tendency – each participant had his own preference, at least during listening to first 4 CDs. Later on the tendency changed.
How come? Well, on one hand the changes brought by AR devices were recognized as the ones making sound richer, more gentle, coherent and so on. And if you look again at the table you will see that these, above mentioned changes, were to most participants liking. They spoke about: „depth”, „saturation”, „smoothness”, „naturalness”. At the same time those who chose version without AR treatment spoke about: „dynamics”, „clarity”, „openness”. And this particular dilemma can be clearly seen in Srajan's notes who was undecided, as he pointed out that untreated version sounded sharper, with more precise phantom images placement and with higher dynamics, and treated with AR sounded warmer, with better depth and imaging.


Our meeting with Srajan was really an interesting and informative one. It allowed us to „see our reflection in his eyes”, to confront our opinions with his, and to learn how we all interpret what we hear. It turned out that we all, who cared for a good sound, heard sound in a similar way – it was the judgment of what we heard that differed us. That's why before you decide to buy RD-3 and RIO-5II Acoustic Revive for your system you need to check first if you like the changes they introduce – I can't tell you for sure that you will like those changes. I'd like to point out that the longer we listened to such demagnetized and de-ionized CDs the more right, correct they seemed to sound. Deep, rich, saturated, I might say „mature” sound does not happen too often. And the dryness of some systems built around clarity of sound and its dynamics craves for such a source of signal as CDs treated with AR devices. But our meeting also clearly proved that not everybody has to like the effect of that treatment – lesser dynamics, not so sharp images – all that could result in less open systems in a shift of tonal balance toward nasal effect. We did our job and now it's up to you to make a decision for yourself.
I can only tell you that I appreciated what AR products did for the sound more and more with every CD. The changes in sound were somehow similar to what I usually hear with Japanese high-end devices – cartridges, cables, also electronics. It is certain approach to the sound, that is not always so clear for us, Europeans. I'm not trying to say that Japanese approach to the sound always works best but maybe it's just me, not comprehending this approach completely yet. Both Acoustic Revive devices might give you a very nice glimpse to that special approach to the music reproduction.
Srajan – thank you for your time, it was a real fun!!!

Srajan in Cracow – by Jarek Waszczyszyn (Ancient Audio)

A need of socializing, meeting other people is as old as our civilization. People can sit together around a fire, beer keg, TV set, stage or a pile of records – that does not really matter. We present our achievements, what we are proud of. We listen to opinions, impressions and we share experiences with other people. That's how the progress is achieved. If the proper conditions to exchange information exist – civilization thrives. Beginning of each civilization was always located near seaside or along some river – in the places where communication was easiest.
We, audiophiles, are not really different from other people and our more or less formal meetings are based on the same need. Apart from socializing with other people sharing similar interests, we also come to sit down together and to listen to the same music, in the same place, using the same system. And the knowledge of the gathered people defines not only the prestige of the meeting but also its level of the competence. That's why we try to invite special people to our meetings – designers, editors and so on. Each and every one of them was an exceptional person but we expected even more for Srajan's visit. Wojtek described for you how special online magazine and its founder were in audio word and he reported on the outcome of our meeting.
My contacts with Srajan started when he still lived in USA, and we met for the first time when he came for AudioShow in Warsaw. Since then his magazine „” published some texts about Ancient Audio devices, very positives ones I have to add. During last Munich High End, Srajan started his tour from our room (Transparent Acoustic, Tidal, Musical Wire and Ancient Audio) – which I treated as a privilege. Seeing him in a good mood I took a risk and invited him to Cracow. There was no hesitation on his side, no „maybe”, „who knows” or any „diplomacy” - „with pleasure” he said and shook my hand. It was set than.
I had an opportunity to spend couple of days in Cracow with our guest. The first impression (comfortable shoes, jeans, leather jacket, beard, hat and a smile on his face) promised what I so much value myself: independence, sensitivity, respect for other cultures and a mission to fix the world. I don't mean some crazy idea but the real need to fix an audio world. And on that field the contribution of „” and its founder is simply huge. Thirty years ago the audio world was in fact divided into Japanese, American and British hi-fi with no room for any competition. That triumvirate of manufacturers, sellers and magazines seemed untouchable, blocking any, natural, development. Fortunately slowly but surely customs union, free trade agreements, and finally easy access to the information via Internet started to undermine that triumvirate. From the very beginning Srajan preferred to write about devices coming from new companies trying to find their place on the market – another review of SONY, Audio Research, Wilson Audio or NAD would not have changed anything. Instead texts about Trafomatic Audio, Zu Audio, Mark & Daniel helped those companies to cross a thin line between coming to being on the market and in customer's awareness and falling back to oblivion. And the customers also profit from that as they could learn about decent products offered with decent prices. Sometimes it might have been even a simple USB DAC with chopper power supply that allowed a poor student to enjoy the music before he could afford something better. Today many magazines follow that trend, including „High Fidelity”, but it was Srajan who started it.
Such an activity is a huge challenge for a single man (as there are no full time workers in He has no such thing as holiday. That's why I would like here and now again thank Srajan for his visit, especially that I realize how precious his time is.

Acoustic Revive

Yoshi Hontani
3016-1 Tsunatori-machi, Isesaki-shi
Gunma Pref. 372-0812, Japan
tel.: +81-270-24-0878
fax: +81-270-21-1963


Manufacturer's website: Acoustic Revive

Country of origin: Japan

Please direct your questions, suggestions, opinions, etc. to:


"High Fidelity OnLine" is an internet magazine, published since may 2004, devoted to high quality reproduction of sound and picture. It is a monthly magazine, but the articles are uploaded twice a month - in the beginning of the month and in the middle. The news column is updated on on-going basis, if possible. The main sections are: "Tests", "Events" (interviews, reportages, and similar), "Hyde Park" (user tests, opinions) and "Who asks..." (readers questions and HFOL answers). Articles from earlier issues can be read in the "Archive". Have a nice read!

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