A friend has a very good hifi system. One of the best. The sort of system that makes music sound so good you could stay in the listening room living on beer and crisps, give up all obligations of work and relationships, and just listen. It is largely a system made by Naim with Neat Accoustics speakers. Like many of us he is a chronic sufferer of the hifi bug and believes that perfection can be improved upon.
So, in this quest he recently purchased a Marigo Labs Signature 3-D Stabilizer. The home company is based in Portland, Oregon; the item has been around for a few years and costs, full price about $200, although it seems a cheaper version, without gold plating on one side can be picked up for about half the price. So what is it?
To examine, it is a thin disc, the size of a CD, green on one side (the top), and gold underneath. You are advised not to touch the gold surface in case of finger print staining - unusual for real gold I would have thought. Obviously the exact nature of the material is a closely guarded secret - the manufacturers state it is "carbon fiber and kevlar composite with embedded ultra-fine silver wire for stray field suppression, plus anti-static black coating and optically absorbent green, which synergistically creates a new level of performance for both audio and video digital replay". I can confirm that it is non-magnetic.
The disk sits on top of a CD and accompanies it into the player. The purpose of the three sets of triangular holes remain unclear.
How does it sound? My friend lived with this appliance on his very transparent hifi system and reports that the difference is slight. Maybe there is a slight mellowness of sound, a slight taming of treble. Nothing you would suddenly notice if you walked into the room.
I have tried this on my more modest, what might be called, a mid-fi system capable of great sounds with most material but not in the sort of league that makes you never want to venture to a live concert again. And I found it much the same - a small improvement perhaps a little less graininess to the stereo picture. The sort of hifi improvement that could be exceeded with a different mains cable or mains block. Perhaps nice to have, but not worth the bother of placing it on top of every CD that goes into the player, or shelling out funds equivalent to many hours of recorded music.
But how does it work? All those suppressed stray fields, absorbed static and extremes of the light spectrum must add up to something. I suppose in a world where this disc competes with speaker leads, interconnects and mains cables that can cost several times the $200 asking price, equally with little in the way of credible explanation of their stated efficaciousness, one should not make too much of a case about perceived value against pricing. But having said that, if I did own one of these, there would be a number of friends with whom I would not demonstrate it to nor share the price.
Don Lodge November 2011