How Hi-Fi Magazines Write about Cables, Part 15: Tuning Sticks

This series, of which this article is the 15th, started out as a way of highlighting some of the ridiculous claims that hi-fi magazines – and others – make about audiophile equipment. It has covered cables, among other things, but has branched out to investigate other types of “audio equipment.” In this installment, I look at one of the most astounding audiophile products I have come across yet.

Tuning sticks. Because, “we’re living in the world of electrical and magnetic smog.” This is true; there are electrical waves all around us. Some from the wires in our wall (and they might actually be measurable, depending on what the wires and the walls are made of), some from things like telephones and wi-fi routers. There is also, of course, the stars and our sun; they emit all kinds of electricity. They shower us with waves in the full range of the spectrum, from ultra-violet to infra-red. They give off gamma rays and x-rays. And many of these waves get through the atmosphere just to muck up our audio playback.

And, so, we have the Akiko Audio Tuning Sticks. Which do something, sort of, according to the ad-laden website Mono and Stereo

Tuning stick

As the manufacturer says:

“The electronically amplified rendering of music is always cause for a certain increase in ‘noise’, especially when coming from a digital source. The Tuning Stick has been developed to lower this noise floor, so the music is experienced better. It may seem like magic, but applying selected materials does influence the sound (in the same way that choice of materials influences the sound of a speaker or cable).

“By combining different materials, we also combine their physical properties. Measuring the results then becomes a very complex task, but the fact that it works and is appreciated by many music lovers is a result we are extremely proud of.”

So, let’s see if I’ve got this. These things just sort of get attached to your cables, and somehow their magical powers make everything right again? Even if you have crazy expensive cables, these gizmos can somehow make them better?

“Sticking in onto interconnects or speaker cables, the effect was like a punch in your face. Direct and with booming impact. I usually don’t fetch for usual audiophile jargon, but here the easiest way to describe the affects [sic] of Universal Tuning Stick were deeper impact, wider soundstage, airer space around performers and instruments etc.”

Who could have guessed? It’s always the soundstage, isn’t it? The grammatically-challenged reviewer goes on:

“I tried the Universal Tuning Stick with cables from few manufacturers that apply different approaches. To my surprise the effect was the same only varying to the small degree.

“Most importantly the music become much more lively and presentable. At the end of the day all the attributes of a greater performance matters a little to me if they don’t adds to the main reason of high-end audio music reproduction; namely the musical impact and enjoyment.

Universal Tuning Stick set the pace that lingered for quite some time. This is for sure an the Akiko product in the line of Tuning Sticks to show it first while demonstrating.”

Those are pretty bold statements. And it’s not a pricey product; from €99 to €129 for each tuning stick (though the same company has other, pricier products).

The end of the review just piles it on:

“If you’re willing to give your system a bump in the performance with small financial injection then you can choose from company three Tuning Sticks.

“Each of them was designed for a specific purpose. As written above the most instant affect was clearly from Universal Tuning Stick, but don’t let this hold you back.

“As by nature Audiophiles we’re an endless geeks searching for new paths and accessories. Akiko Audio Tuning Sticks are the interesting high-end tweaks, that actually work and bring the quite some noticeably potency to a audio system.”

Let’s not blame the reviewer for the poor quality of the English in this review. It could be caused by some sort of leeching effect of the tuning sticks themselves. As for the tuning sticks themselves, they deserve some kind of award for being the most ridiculous products I’ve seen yet.

In fact, I need to come up with an award, or a rating system, to give to these wonderful audiophile products. Any suggestions?

12 thoughts on “How Hi-Fi Magazines Write about Cables, Part 15: Tuning Sticks

  1. How about awarding “Lice” (rather than “mice”)? A Five Lice award would be obviously buggy, all in the reviewer and/or manufacturer’s head, and in serious need of repeated nit picking. It could even be an acronym, such as Ludicrously Inflated Claims and Exaggerations.

  2. How about awarding “Lice” (rather than “mice”)? A Five Lice award would be obviously buggy, all in the reviewer and/or manufacturer’s head, and in serious need of repeated nit picking. It could even be an acronym, such as Ludicrously Inflated Claims and Exaggerations.

  3. I used to think that with the rapid advance of technology the major manufacturers would start working on increased sound quality in consumer goods through better amplifiers and speakers as cost of production went down. Instead, you still have to mostly pay to get into the better tier, and then there is stuff like this. There is a religion of belief in the audiophile world.

    • I think the quality of low-mid range stuff (entry level name brand) is a lot better than it was a couple of decades ago. You can get an excellent amp and speakers for less than $500. I think the overall level of quality of audio gear has probably increased a lot. But then there’s the rest…

  4. I used to think that with the rapid advance of technology the major manufacturers would start working on increased sound quality in consumer goods through better amplifiers and speakers as cost of production went down. Instead, you still have to mostly pay to get into the better tier, and then there is stuff like this. There is a religion of belief in the audiophile world.

    • I think the quality of low-mid range stuff (entry level name brand) is a lot better than it was a couple of decades ago. You can get an excellent amp and speakers for less than $500. I think the overall level of quality of audio gear has probably increased a lot. But then there’s the rest…

  5. Seems to me it’s about time I get into this business. If a carbon fibre tube filled with ‘black lacquer’ and (probably just) lead shot can be sold on for €120+ and there’s no organisation to regulate whether this ‘equipment’ does anything then count me in. With this and my homeopathy side-businessI should be minted… Suckers!

    • Let your ears be the judge before you call those friendly fellows suckers – I heard things wich are bullocks from an engineers point of view but they do work…

  6. Seems to me it’s about time I get into this business. If a carbon fibre tube filled with ‘black lacquer’ and (probably just) lead shot can be sold on for €120+ and there’s no organisation to regulate whether this ‘equipment’ does anything then count me in. With this and my homeopathy side-businessI should be minted… Suckers!

    • Let your ears be the judge before you call those friendly fellows suckers – I heard things wich are bullocks from an engineers point of view but they do work…

  7. Golly! They missed their chance to put magnets on than line up the electrons to reduce the friction so the music has a smoother flow to it 😀

  8. Golly! They missed their chance to put magnets on than line up the electrons to reduce the friction so the music has a smoother flow to it 😀

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