Review: Xtreme A/V LLC Xionic Tourmo Gun Tweak
I haven’t posted here in a long time, and quite honestly I never thought my first post back would be about a modified hairdryer. But this strange device, called the Xionic Tourmo Gun (XTG), designed by Brian Kyle of Xtreme Cables and Xtreme A/V (http://www.xtremecables.com or http://www.XionicTG.com), is well worth speaking up about. Clark Johnsen recently posted some thoughts on PFO, so I’m sure this will be somewhat redundant, but here goes.
I’m not a very technically minded person, so I won’t try to explain the science behind it, but it has been shown that showering CDs/DVDs (and LPs) with negative ions produced by heating tourmaline pellets has a beneficial effect on the sound produced by those media. In my experience, the effect can be, and often is, stunning. (However, I have tried my wife’s hairdryer, which claims to contain tourmaline, and I didn’t hear any improvement using that.) I own a product called the RIO-5, by a well-know Japanese tweak manufacturer called Acoustic Revive, that operates on that very principle. I always use the RIO before listening, and its effect has been eye-opening on pretty much every disc I’ve treated. I’ve found that discs have to be treated before every play, but that’s a small price to pay for the sonic improvement.
I was ecstatic with the RIO’s performance, but when Brian asked me if I wanted to hear his finalized XTG, which is basically a large hairdryer modified to hold a special blend of tourmaline pellets, I said why the hell not? At a shade over $200, it was almost a third the price of the RIO and, from some online scuttlebutt, well worth the expense. Besides, it comes with a 14-day money back guarantee, so I didn’t have much to lose. Now, I know what some of you are undoubtedly thinking: “Two hundred clams for a glorified hairdryer? Now I’ve seen it all.” Well, cast aspersions if you will—I expected it when I started typing—but unless you’ve heard what devices like the XTG and RIO can do, it’s best to reserve judgement until you do so. If you have heard it and disagree with my assessment, that’s fine. Not everyone hears alike.
When I received Brian’s newest creation, what greeted me was just what I expected: a big black Conair hairdryer (at least I think it’s a Conair; there’s no identification on it). I was somewhat let down by the mundane appearance, but, hell, we’re mostly in this for the sonics anyway, so que sera, sera . . . .
Operation is pretty straightforward. Put the dryer on High Heat/High Air for 15-20 seconds to let the tourmaline heat up, then switch to Low Heat/Low Air and treat each side of the disc for the same 15-20 seconds. It’s not quite as user-friendly as the RIO, IMO, but again the sonics are the thing.
My aim from the beginning was to pit the XTG directly against the RIO. I have several discs of which I have duplicate copies, so I figured I’d RIO one and XTG the other, and compare. The discs in question were Dire Straits’ self-titled debut, Badfinger’s eponymous 1973 effort, Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak, and Johnny Cash’s Unchained. I would’ve never thought there could be a significant difference between two such devices, but there was—and it was consistent and repeatable.
On every cut I demo’d, the XTG proved superior in the sonic parameters I consider most important: air, separation, stage width/depth, detail retrieval, and presence. With the exception of separation and air—which were pretty amazing improvements—the differences weren’t mind-boggling, but they were audible. On Badfinger’s “I Miss You,” Pete Ham’s sweet tenor floated on a cushion of air and space I’d never experienced before. In addition, his closely miked vocals had a sense of presence and “you are there”-ness that the RIO-treated disc could not match. These improvements stretched to the other discs as well, where instruments clearly had more separation and the soundstage was wider and deeper.
I’ve rarely been knocked out by a tweak as much as by the Xionic Tourmo Gun. Maybe the Jena Labs Esoteric 3D-X CD treatment, but that’s about it. This thing is the real deal, and pretty much a no-brainer in my book. IMO, it absolutely transforms the CD-listening experience—and reportedly it has a similar effect on LPs, which, because of their larger size, won’t work with the RIO. That flexibility, along with its superior performance, puts it over the top. Maybe it’s not quite as user-friendly as the RIO, but I’m more than willing to put up with a little extra effort in this case.
My wife and friends mock me about “blow-drying” my music, but I just smile in the knowledge that my CDs have never sounded this good. As we all know, tweaks can be hit-and-miss, but the Xionic Tourmo Gun is a straight-shot bullseye, William Tell style.
Oppo DV-980 CD/DVD player (modded), Von Schweikert VR-4 HSE speakers, Dussun V8i integrated amp, Jena Labs cabling and power conditioning
Acoustic Revive RIO-5