The tower of musical power…
By Roy Gregory
Static on the surface of vinyl discs and optical media is an all-pervasive problem that significantly undermines audio performance, eroding musical quality. It’s an easily demonstrable phenomenon and once demonstrated, one that’s difficult to ignore. So much so that I’ve become a dedicated user (and advocate) of the various different Furutech De Stat devices: It’s hard to argue with their results, even if the ergonomics leave something to be desired, increasing the risk of handling errors as you balance the vulnerable discs in one hand and wave the De Stat with the other. A recent clash of vinyl surface and ‘hairdryer’ left a (thankfully replaceable) vinyl record savagely scarred and unplayable, an event that made the arrival of DS Audio’s ION-001 anti-static device all the more welcome.
Weighing in at €1,700 (including sales tax), or around four times the price of the Furutech De Stat III, the DS Audio is going to have to offer some serious performance advantages to make it worth considering. It does and it definitely is!
Essentially, the ION-001 works in exactly the same way as the Furutech devices, bathing the disc to be treated in a wash of positive and negative ions that act to dissipate any surface charge. But the major difference is operational. Not only is the DS Audio device both free-standing and mains powered – so no more balancing acts with cherished records and no more running out of batteries or waning performance at just the wrong moment – but where the Furutech treats the disc before playing, the DS Audio operates throughout the vinyl replay process. The ION-001 houses two pairs of ion emitters in a tall, square section and slightly tapered black tower that you stand beside your record player’s platter – preferably within 5cm of the records edge and the closer the better. It’s heavy enough to stay put but not so heavy as to cause problems – although more on that later. A pair of ‘letter-box’ slots look down on the platter, while all of the connections and controls are located out of sight on the rear face of the unit, keeping things neat and tidy. The emitter slots illuminate with a slightly garish green light (it IS a DS Audio product!) although its brightness is adjustable and you can even turn it off completely. I resisted the temptation to kill the lights purely on the basis that it reminds me when the unit is switched on. Each ION-001 has a finite lifespan. DS Audio suggest that should stretch to 10-years if the unit is used for three hours every day, but clearly, leaving it permanently powered, either on purpose or by mistake is to be avoided. Other than switching it on and off, that’s it. The ION-001simply sits next to your record player, continuously discharging accumulating static.
Although the DS Audio ioniser is clearly (and not surprisingly) intended for use with LPs, like the Furutech it also works on optical discs. Simply place the disc in the area between the emitter slots and the platter of your record player, turn on the ION-001 for about ten seconds and residual static will be banished. Of course, this means it’s operating in ‘treat then play’ mode, which nullifies at least one of the product’s potential advantages, but don’t let that put you off.