Akiko Tuning Stick AC -- It IS Magic


None are more skeptical than I when it comes to tweaks. Most come and go; few survive for the long term. So it was with not a grain but a shaker of salt that I decided to try the $170 Akiko Tuning Stick AC (not the new Triple AC, which is $395), which one plugs into an open outlet on a power conditioner or into the wall outlet. I decided to try it based upon rave reviews in 6 Moons both for the version I tried, and more recently the Triple AC -- which I most assuredly WILL buy.

I plugged it into my Audience AR6 power conditioner and my skepticism dissolved as fast as the salt from the shaker would in water! This thing is magic, I tell you. It is transformative. My system is no slouch (PS Audio DSD DAC/VTL 7.5iii pre/Krell FPB 300cx amp/VSE 5HSE speakers, top cables and PC's) but this kicked it up about 20%-25% in sound quality. More depth, more realism, more liquidity, more naturalness, more life. I removed the device and reinstalled it several times just to check, and each time the sound became flat and one-dimensional.

I have only had the Akiko for about a week, but every time I turn on my stereo, and whether listening to music through the DAC or my Sansui TU-9900 tuner, my head snaps back and I say to myself: Zounds! Does that sound good!

So forgive me for gushing, but I have been at this audio mania for over 40 years and am not easily impressed., But this is an extremely impressive product. There is no guarantee the Triple AC, more than 2x the AC price, will be any better let alone twice as good as the AC, but I aim to find out. Of course, I cannot tell you what it will do in your system. Jaguar Audio sells these (nice, responsive folks) and I think they have a 14 day return policy. I doubt you will return it.

Neal
nglazer
I also purchased the Ikiko ac tuning stick 2 months ago and plugged in into an unused spot on my Furman, at different times with different amps and preamps in my system I also noted the difference, but in each case I preferred the sound without over the sound with the stick in play, in my system the sound was always drier and had lost some sparkle in the presentation. My system has progressed to a very good place and most changes even small ones are very noticeable but not always positive.
Very interesting Neal, thank you. I might just have to check one out. Have you tried the tuning sticks that attach to cables?
I saw one review that claimed that the best place to start was with the sticks that attach to speaker cables, and then the AC products.

Cheers,
John
Neal
Please post again when you given the triple stick a try.
thanks Pete
I also tried the Tuning Stick, but realized that it only transformed my system 19%. Definitely not 20-25% that I was hoping for and that some others have experienced. Mine went back within just a few days :)
Well I ordered a Triple AC, so I see for myself soon enough.
Will be interested to hear your impressions, jmcgrogan2. You are going straight for the gusto.

Tooblue, as I mentioned, I can only speak for IMS. The Akiko did not do much in my BR system, but was a revelation in Main Rig.

And Bojack, you obviously are not like us 1%'ers!

Neal
Tell me about it Neal! I have the big E-Tuning Gold Mk2 stick for my main pc from wall to power conditioner & currently two of the Universal tuning sticks (although I plan on adding another two for my twin run Jorma Statement sc's). I don't really need the Triple AC Enhancer as my Gigawatt PC-3 SE Evo coditioner already provides true equipotential grounding, but that product looks like a slam dunk.

When my new front end arrives, I will be able to properly evaluate if that combination works well (atleast in my system). For now, i'll keep dropping into this thread to read everyone's experiences.
I have an Akiko AC plugged into my audience Adept ar6TSS and noticed increased midrange and bass definition at the sacrifice of high level details. I think if a system is bright sounding it may tame it down to a degree.

Anyone trying the triple stick can you specifiy if it does the same or has the detail the single doesn't. Thx in advance.
@Bakardi, I wonder if re-terminating your AC tuning stick with a cryo'd Oyaide P-004 might resolve the imbalance? That is an excellent connector & should improve the top end. Then again, for about the same money you could simply sell your Tuning stick AC & order a Triple AC enhancer with the optional Rhodium connector ;)
It's amazing how different things affect our systems differently.

For me, I wasn't too impressed.
I tried all of the Akiko versions. The sticks, RCA, power, etc. The only place I noticed a minimal improvement was on my DSPeaker for my subwoofers. So, I ended up keeping just the rca version for that unit.

Using more than one of these items showed no additional improvement.
@Ozzy, it helps if you have a good Dealer. My Dealer said I can return the Akiko sticks if they don't improve the sound after auditioning them in my system.
Yes thx Melbguy1. I think I will try the triple after I here the differences from the single on this thread. The connector and gauge looks definitely better quality.

Listening to music had more depth, solid midbass and low end bass notes. Silent background for sure. My jaw dropped. But the extension and crispness was toned down.
I did not think the extension or crispness was attenuated or toned done; rather, I thought any stridency or sharpness was eliminated. Sort of like sand paper on rough edges.

Neal
I could explain my conclusions as if it had a filter over it tightening the midrange/bass but the highs were almost not there. Drumm symbols were half there like they were muffled. No "tsssss" or shimmer to them. I'm not sure of any break in period but I could have 20-30 hours on it.
Very interesting, I look forward to reading more from those that have used, or are using it!
Bacardi,

Perhaps try it in the wall outlet? See if that brings back your shimmer.

Neal
I had it in my Meastro outlet and it sounded 10% better overall than no Akiko but didn't give a more accurate soundstage of instruments and mid bass/bass when in the Audience conditioner. I am changing my system in a few weeks so I may take it out. What I'm putting in my system may not need the Akiko or any tuning.
Akiko Audio tuning sticks are the best tweak this listener has ever used. I have the Triple AC pluged into my dedicated wall outlet which feeds the system through my Shunyata line conditioner, along with Universal sticks on my speaker cables...speaker side. I also have a rca stick pluged into my subwoofer and a balanced version pluged into my dac.

As with most things to much of a good thing can reverse intended outcomes. I had another AC stick in my hydra 8 and I felt it added nothing and actually took away from the sound quality.The biggest improvement in my system is a more natural and harmonic upgrade to the sound.The higher frequency's have a more robust shimmer and the mid's have more coherent staging. Voices come alive in a more organic way. Meat on the bones if you will.

Of course ymmv but that's my story and I'm sticking to it...

Mark
01-29-15: Aolmrd1241
..that's my story and I'm sticking to it...

Mark
Pun intended Mark? :D
Interesting following this discussion as I have also recently acquired an Akiko Triple AC Stick. Similar to others I also have an Audience power conditioner and when I plugged the Triple AC into it, it was a mixed bag. The soundstage widened substantially as did depth with greater separation between players/instruments. Midrange presence and palpability improved. A very nice effect. However this was at the expense of treble energy, which was diminished as well as some reduction in dynamics. Plugging the Triple AC Stick directly into the adjacent wall socket that the Audience power conditioner is plugged into resulted in a return of the dynamics and treble energy I'm used to hearing. The improved soundstaging that had been present when the unit was plugged into the power conditioner remained but the marked palpability making instruments much more life-like and full-bodied was now lost. I'm left with the opinion that this is a nice tweak worth the cost to get improved soundstaging but having tasted the improved palpability my system is apparently capable of providing has made me think of looking into something that may work in a similar way, along the lines of a Entreq Tellus or Olympos and/or Cleanus (the Tripoint Troy is too expensive for me to consider), all of which have been positively discussed on the Whats Best Forum.
@Spar, I had exact results as you with the single stick in my system. Just wondering what receptacle are you using? I am using a Maestro now which I will be trying a Furutech GTX-D rhodium outlet in hope that the detail, seperation and grip will come back. I liked the grip(palpitation) it had on the midrange and bass. Soundstage was wide and deep and separation was there with loss of treble energy and crispness. As I took it out of the Audience and back to the Maestro the soundstage shrunk and the detail and crispness came back. Separation wasn't there as much either. Dynamics were there but not as palpable as in the Audience.
Thanks for your feedback on the Triple AC stick in your system Spar. I agree with your view about variable results using component or outlet-specific grounding devices. I had a play around with Acoustic Revive RGC-24 devices which produced varying results depending on which component it was connected to. I ended up selling two pieces.

Likewise I believe in a system-wide approach to proper grounding. The Entreq Tellus is a good example of an effective solution at a reasonable price. I use a Gigawatt PC-3 SE Evo conditioner which performs 4 key functions; distribution, conditioning, grounding and also provides extremely robust surge protection. The Gigawatt provides true equipotential grounding – not virtual, and is based around a sound grounding topology incl: star wiring. It has a circuit which improves impulse response with non-linear loads and levels the difference between input and output power, as well as a precise digital voltmeter which measures input voltage in true RMS. It is the best single box solution i've found.
I also can present my first reaction to using a Triple AC stick in my RSA Dmitri conditioner. As Spar has said, I also got mixed results. While I agree with his assessment about more bloom in the midrange, and decreased high's and dynamics, I felt that the soundstage lost depth and air, or space around the musicians. Overall, I did not care for the affect of the stick in my conditioner. However, I have not tried it in the wall outlet adjacent to the conditioner yet.

For someone with a digital and SS system who feels they are looking for some warmth and liquidity, this may be the answer. Personally, I think they would be better off with a tube buffer though. For my system, it seemed to have more downside than upside plugged into my conditioner. I missed the air, speed, and resolution that I get with the stick NOT in the loop.

Cheers,
John
@Bacardi, my results are based on using the Furutech GTX-D rhodium outlet with the accompanying wall outlet cover. Definitely try out this outlet. I found it to be a very nice upgrade and I think you will be very pleased with it. However, I do not think it is going to change your impressions (as well as mine and it appears others) on the Akiko.
Thx Spar, I have someone that has tried the Akiko tuning stick on his speaker cables near the cross-over and had great results. I may try those instead. I am awaiting the Furutech GTX-D rhodium and it will replace the Meastro outlet.
Bacardi,
I much prefere (in my systems) the Furutech GTX-D (Rhodium) over the Meastro outlet.
Keep in mind the Furutech is going to take about 500 hours to fully mature and not fluctuate in sound.
I have substituted the Akiko Triple AC stick for the standard AC stick, and the results are transformative. The realism of vocals and instruments, especially acoustic I find breathtaking. I have not noticed any high end reduction -- perhaps some "sandpapering" of rough edges in the treble. I recognize others experiences vary, but I can only say I am a believer.

I also would observe that it took a few days for the Triple AC stick to settle in, with the sound improving noticeably from when I first inserted it in my power conditioner and then took it out to hear the difference. I can only speculate that there may be a "burn-in" period with this device as we often encounter with IC's and power cords. My advice would be to insert it and leave it there for a few days, and then withdraw and listen for the difference.

Neal
Well I already returned my Triple AC Enhancer, it didn't really work in my system. I did have it plugged in for a few days before doing any serious listening. My rig sounded better without the stick. Obviously Neal likes it though, so YMMV.

Cheers,
John
Thanks Neal for starting this thread. I've had the Akiko tuning stick in my system for a couple of months now with excellent results. To me, it sounds best in the wall outlet. I have a Maestro outlet. This thread convinced me to try a Akiko Triple AC so I ordered one this morning. I'm thinking the Triple AC will go in the wall outlet and the Tuning Stick in my power conditioner which is a custom conditioner made by Mr. Cable. Should be interesting - I'll report back.
Will be interested to hear, Shayne. I have not tried in wall outlet yet. Groovin' on it in power conditioner for a while, then will switch -- no pun intended.

Neal
Hi Neal, if looking for Furutech goto apolloa-v.com and submit a reasonable offer price. Way cheaper than list.
Thx Lak, Anyone wanting my Akiko single ac stick let me know......prob try a triple.
Bacardi,

I would sooner stick steel toothpicks in my eyeballs than venture behind my rig and its jungle of cables to change outlets, unless there is some major scientific breakthrough on the order of, say, the Higgs boson.

Neal
Wow, you have that many.
Bacardi,

IC's from tuner to pre; digicable from Bryston BDP-1 to PS Audio DSD DAC; IC's from DAC to pre; IC's from pre to power amp; SC's from amp heading to speakers; power cables in Bryston, DAC, pre and amp, and from wall to Audience power conditioner . . . .

It's a jungle back there, I tell you! :)

Neal
Nglazer, I know cable jungle too. I used to have a full 5.1 home theatre set-up with Synergistic Research cables. Now that's a jungle. Mpc's, powercells, power cord mpc's, bullets, more mpc's, power strip, power cord, mpc-power cord, bullets & interconnects, mpc's, strings all over, mpc's and more bullets, speaker cables with bullets & mpc's with power strip with mpc's, mpc's for mpc's. (Catch my breathe!!!!!!). Whew!!!

Now that's all gone......there is a god.......
I've had the Akiko Triple AC in my system for about a week now. I wasn't as shocked at the difference sound as I was when I first used the Tuning Stick. The effect is much the same between the two. The Triple AC refines the sound even more especially in the upper bass and lower midrange. As with the Tuning Stick, in my system, the Triple AC sounds better in the wall outlet than in my power conditioner.