2nd Generation Stein Harmonizers
A piece of personal history. I've long lived with various harmonizers, and quite committed to use them as an essential part of my audio system. About Stein Harmonizers I first wrote early 2012.
Later I came across the Synergistic research system, and made a very elaborate comparison with Stein Harmonizers (1st generation). Both turned out to be great room improving systems. However, the Synergistic system appeared to provide more attack and more upper level detail in the sound, and thus at that time replaced the Stein Harmonizers.
But then again, as good (good as "good to listen to") as the Synergistic system was, I gradually realised that something was missing, and that there was something unnatural or synthetic about the sound that I didn't miss. I did like the Synergistic system, but I wanted to have more of the prestigious mid range that is so dear to me.
Unveiling the 2nd generation
Fortunately, Holger Stein kindly send me a quad of new (he does not call them 2nd generation) Harmonizers to experiment with. They came in a beautiful, Apple style box. Everything is well thought out. The stands (12mm round polished metal bar) are stable and make the Harmonizers look like a piece of audio furniture. The black piano gloss surface of the wooden chassis is visually perfect. Accessories too have become more fitting. For instance, wall mounting is now more elegant.
Technically the cubes feel more solid now. Switches and knobs are more logical and professional. Clumsy transformers and external power supply are gone, 4 AA battery operated cubes are easy to install and use. The batteries are said to last more than two years with the Harmonizers on all time (while the LED is off), Lithium batteries even 8 years.
All former Harmonizers, these new ones included, are upgradeable up to the Signature version. I haven't tested the Signature Series Harmonizers yet; will do so in coming weeks.
As before, Harmonizers must be used with Stein diamonds, either black or blue ones, or the new Blue suns (also available in a signature version). My suggestion is, as always, to use the diamonds sparingly. Filling the room randomly with any number of diamonds is bound to result in less than an ideal sonic environment. The whole idea is to find a level where one cannot "sense" them working at all.
Exact placing of the diamonds is another important issue. If placed where they should not be, they typically make the sound of the system unnecessarily thin.
As Holger Stein stresses: "They're very critical regarding an exact placement, so you may need some time to position them correctly. A customer who was left with a bunch of the diamonds and finally ended up using 30 pieces, told us that pulling one out significantly degraded the performance."
Blue suns are made out of epoxy resin which carries a very complex internal structure. I used only two Blue suns at the back of the listening room - with good results. Four made too crisp a sound. I have attached a third Blue Sun behind a closed door .... experimenting is not forbidden, actually it's recommended.
As for the Harmonizers, I don't allow them to point straight at the middle of sound stage. Instead, the one in the background shoots a bit leftwards, and the one that stands on the floor shoots more to the right. This way I've been able to have a very interesting soundstage.
Harmonizers together with Blue suns make the midrange bloom in a way that I've been waiting. I'm sure if you heard the effect you'd say: Wow, what is this!
I stress: using Harmonizers/Diamonds is not a single trick with a single narrow effect. The effect is a more holistic one. Suddenly one senses how an unbroken and enveloping sound fills the room. As if the listener became a part of the whole system and music. Not many audio products can achieve a similar effect. Using 5-6 Schumann resonators could come close but it would not still be the same.
It is well known that the room is an instrument. What is less well known and understood, is that even if the room is treated with acoustic elements (diffusors, damping devices etc.), there is still a lot that one can do in order to improve the sound, or rather to create a surrounding where the sound can deliver its full potential.
Harmonizers and the black diamonds, when correctly adjusted, placed and tuned, create, as a byproduct, a sound that is hugely appealing, addictive even. And if you get bored with the current harmonized sound, simply turn the knobs upside down, or redirect the cubes, or bring one cube closer to your sofa table, or ... Tuning possibilities are endless.
Were the new generation Stein Harmonizers worth trying and reviewing? After all, they all look the same. My definite answer is that these second generation Stein Harmonizers are better, and better to the extent that I'd consider them totally new products, and as such certainly deserve a new review.
BTW, Stein is selling a module that is said to improve the effect of the 1st generation Harmonizers.
As to the prices of the Stein Music products, visit: