Acoustic Revive’s RAF-48H Air-Floating Board

Mike Silverton

[November 2013.]

air_floating_board.jpg

A geezer’s disinclination to heft major appliances directs my comments at audio’s lightweight peripherals. I’ve covered many and heard all doing something. Yet, like certain medications, effects sometime fade to where one wonders where they went. Among those items with staying power is Acoustic Revive’s RR-777, a Schumann-Resonance generator and successor to the likewise compelling RR-77. Small wonder it’s one of AR’s top sellers.

Another AR item in long-term use has been the 17x19x2-inch Air-Floating Board under my Integris CDP (http://www.aurumacoustics.com/). Integris’ Derrick Moss advocates air-suspension isolation. He uses a Townshend Seismic Sink along with a small carbon-fiber disc, Herbie’s Super Black Hole CD Mat, applied to the underside of the CDP’s transport clamp, the latter-which I acquired on his recommendation. My NuForce Reference 18 mono amps rested on foursomes of Nordost Quasar points (since-discontinued), and that was that.

My Japanese AR contact mentioned an improved version of the air-suspension platform: The new bladder is said to hold air longer. Having long suspected that the points under my amps weren’t the ideal approach to isolation, my interest engaged. I requested a pair to evaluate, and so we arrive at this happy pass.

The CDP and amps occupy the top of an old, solidly built Chinese cabinet. Most audio buffs agree that acoustic isolation is a good, which is to say, audibly beneficial, adjunct to audio’s basics. I recall reviews wherein comparisons noted differences based on materials – kinds of wood, metal and such, the harder materials producing harder-sounding outcomes. This manner of magical thinking suggests that electronic components floating, so to speak, on air ought to produce a sound of spectral delicacy. I’m kidding – mostly.

Early impressions are the more reliable if only because the ear too soon adapts to the new situation – the new normal. String quartets have been among the most revealing. The added platforms convey a difference for the better. The sound field occupies a somewhat larger, more dimensional and detailed space – not night-and-day, knock-your-socks-off, I-can-hear-the-difference-in-the-shower, but enough, surely, to add to one’s pleasure.

The six quartets of Haydn’s Op. 76 (Tacet 182, two discs) have become a standby reference in large part because I never tire of listening to the Auryn String Quartet’s stellar performances. A stronger sense of delicacy and spatiality registered early on. It’s important to mention that these Tacet recordings are upwardly tipped – a matter of the recordist’s style – and have sounded at times glary, whereas now I hear the highs as fine and clearly defined as gossamer in sunlight. Nothing about a chamber-music recording quite so delights as violins that seem to float.

Impressions of a system uptick sustained themselves through a succession of discs, a recitation of which I’ll spare you, except to mention that mediocre-to-bad recordings are all the more revealing of their deficiencies. Especially distressing are recordings lacking a convincing dimensionality, particularly depth – one of audio’s essential pleasures.

It’s important to mention that the three Air-Floating Boards operate in pleasurable synergy with a full suite of IPC peripherals: a Disc Energizer, Sound Power line conditioner, two Acoustic EQ panels and five Acoustic Energizers, all of which I’ve reviewed.

The downside to this report has nothing to do with the platforms. At the time of writing Acoustic Revive is without distributors for the US and Canada. I do know that, per platform, the US suggested list price is $1895. You may want to check in with http://www.acoustic-revive.com/ to see whether the situation has been corrected.