Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Furutech Furor

The Furutech deMag device has been causing controversy in high-end circles for some time now, Stephen Mejias' excellent blog entry reignited debate on the Stereophile forum. It's main purpose is to de-magnetize vinyl records although there are reports of people using it on interconnects, speaker cables, power cords, even CD's; all with positive results. According to the manufacturer while vinyl is not magnetic carbon black, the material used to make records black does exhibit some magnetic properties.

I'd like to thank Michael Fremer for posting the files for comparison sake. Not only does it let us look at (although in a flawed manner) what the Furtech demag device does or does not do, it also lets us all get a glimpse at how special Mickey's turntable is. The digital recordings were made using a Continuum Audio Labs Caliburn turntable, Cobra tonearm, Castellon stand and "probably Manley Steelhead, Lyra Titan i cartridge" as the analog front end according to Michael Fremer.

Right after the downloads were complete I listened to the two samples using the computer as the source through my Tivoli Model One table radio, just for fun. Even on the Model One after the first listen I thought I heard a difference. It was so small as to be indescribable, but "Step Right Up 2" was just a little more alive. From there I burned it to a CD-R and put it on my system.

There are two things that are important to mention. First, this is a digital conversion of an analog medium so some of the differences are bound to have gotten lost in that conversion. That seems obvious, but it's still worth mentioning none the less. Second, while my system is very, very good most likely it's not nearly as resolving as Michael Fremer's system.

Alright, on to my conclusions.

All comparisons were done over the course of a number of days. "Step Right Up 2" consistently bested "Step Right Up 1" in the following ways:
  1. The bass is more articulate and has a more complex tonal structure.
  2. The Scatting and the finger snaps at the beginning of the song are much more prominent.
  3. There is greater soundstaging depth and space in general.
  4. The sax sounds at once further back in the soundstage AND less veiled.
  5. The performance is more involving with a greater sense of micro dynamics, especially in the nuances of Tom Waits vocal delivery.
Were the differences HUGE? Not on my system but as previously mentioned the scale of those changes were probably reduced by the conversion process itself and the system that I'm using is several steps below the one that Michael is blessed with. However, I'm confident those differences are real. For someone with a ultra high end vinyl set up looking to add those last few drops of resolution the Furutech DeMag might just be the ticket.


Clint said...

I wonder if there's a low-tech solution that does the same thing. I've heard of waving your wife's Swiffer duster over the vinyl!

audioexplorer said...

A bulk tape eraser would be a possible DIY solution. Do you have one of those? If so I seen an interesting update in the future.

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