Equipment Review No. 3 December 2001
The Mysterious Shakti Stones
This review is overdue for several reasons. First, the manufacturer initially sent only two sets (a total of four On-Lines), second, when placed as directed they didn't seem to do much of anything, and third, it has taken me this long to write up what has happened since.
I initially tried them on interconnects, one at each end, one at one end, one at the other end, as well as one in the center. No go. If this was doing anything, it was a case of a remedy searching for a problem. If they were controlling or eliminating EMI, as Shakti claims, how was I to know? If I use them and hear no difference, does that mean that my system does not suffer from EMI? I talked to Ben Piazza about my results, and he offered to treat my system personally, to see to what the Shakti products (Stones and On-Lines) could do.
Ben arrived with enough Shakti products to treat the neighborhood. He had boxes and boxes, and when I looked at him incredulously and asked "How many is enough?" his response was, "We'll know that when we're done!" This was good for him but bad for me, because by the time he was done I had eleven Stones and thirty-six On-Lines in my system. Ben spent the better part of eight hours playing the same damn song over and over and over again, as we first placed a Stone or On-Line here, then there, then here again. Imagine the horror of putting an On-Line in some spot, playing a song, taking the On-Line off, playing the song again, putting the On-Line back, playing the song again! After which Ben would either say, "Great, leave it there" or "Okay, that didn't work for me, what did you think?" I would either agree or ask to do it again.1 If we both agreed, it was on to "Great, now let's try one here," and the process started all over again. By the end of the day I was wasted, but was it worth it!
The effect of the first few Shakti products was not as apparent as when the effect became compounded. Each built on the others' ability to eliminate EMI in the component on or under which it was placed. Music became more relaxed, with greater clarity. Space and ambience increased. The soundfield became considerably more open and defined. At a certain point, the effect became quite startling as another Stone or On-Line was added. Shazaam!
I now have On-Lines across all binding posts (amps and speakers), on the RCAs of the JPS interconnects (they rarely worked well at both ends, but which end was most effective was not universal), and on all IECs and male AC plugs. There are also On-Lines in the middle of the speaker cables, as well as in the middle of some, but not all interconnects. There are Shakti Stones under the amps, under the power supply for the preamp, above and below the DAC, as well as on top of the preamp, the PS Audio 300, the transport, and the loudspeakers. Yes, I said loudspeakers. Ben has found that the drivers and crossovers can be affected by EMI too, so there they sit. I would say that the place to start is with your source and all AC cables and connections. The biggest bang for the buck is there, especially with digital.
Funny how you think it all sounds good till you try something like this. Adding this many Shakti products elevated my system several notches. These are a must for anyone who feels that they have it all. Until you "Shakti-ize" your system, however, you may never know how it really sounds. As far as my system is concerned, they are here to stay.
- Dave Clark
[Reprinted with permission from audioMUSINGS]
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