AUDIO FILE Review

Zap 'em all!

What price hi-fi tweakery? ANTHONY LIM witnesses some Bedini magic and marvels at the improvements brought about by listening in the buff

AND now, ladies and gentlemen, a little night music. Sweeter, refined music, that is. No killer wires nor any expensive hardware for this; all you need is a little handheld device called the Bedini CD Clarifier.

The Bedini CD Clarifier Eh, whassis, you ask? Well, what we have here is a rather inexpensive cure for those incessant digital headaches. Actually, come to think of it, the cost to performance return ratio is impressive enough to make this one of the most cost-effective tweaks yet devised, or so I think.

But I'm getting ahead of things, so let's go back a little and describe the CD Clarifier and what it does in detail.

This little gizmo from Idaho-based Bedini Electronics is about the size of a cellular phone, weighs half a kilo and runs on a nine-volt battery (the samples here come in black, not white as in the pix). A rotating spindle and an operating switch make up the only protrusions on the Clarifier.

A rotating spindle? Well, yes. The CD Clarifier is just what its name suggests. It does its deed on CDs (ho!). Simply place a CD on the spindle, flick the switch for about 10-15 seconds and zap, all them bad mojo is history by the time the disc stops rotating. Place said treated disc in your player and enjoy improved imaging, clarity and specificity, among other betterments.

Now, according to Bedini, what the Clarifier does is polarise the stored data by discharging a special electromagnetic beam that effectively removes the noise distortion and interference on a CD created in manufacturing and through repeated use. The company doesn't disclose the workings of the Clarifier in detail, but in all likelihood, the device borrows some workings from those test CDs that demagnetise a system by sending signals through each component.

Bold claims, but does it really work, or is it like those you read in just about every piece of car wax literature? Well, to answer the question, the Clarifier does its job better than any car wax ever will. So there.

Yes, I zapped countless CDs, and each and every time the results were astonishing. At first, I thought I was imagining it, that maybe it was all psychological, but a few discs in, it was obvious that what I was hearing wasn't auto-suggestive.

Distinctively, imaging specificity improved significantly, and voices lost the sheen of graininess that was there when the disc was unzapped. Separation is another area where the Clarifier improves on. Instruments that are cluttered together gain more specific prominence after treatment, and voices have better focus and more body.

Images gain depth; indeed, fore-aft dimensioning is wider and better delineated, and there's simply less etchiness after a disc has gone a round with the Clarifier. I sat, almost bemused, through Kronos Quartet's Black Angels album in its entirety, and found that the changes had added a different perception and perspective to the material.

But, there's a bum part to all this though. The whole effect lasts through just one playing. The next time you want to play the same disc, you've gotta give it the once over again. Kinda tiring, and the battery does tend to go quite fast, but what the heck, the returns outweigh these little niggles. In fact, you could quickly find, like I did, that the Clarifier is an outrightly addictive proposition; you simply won't play discs without first giving them the invisible ray gun treatment.

This, people, is a tweak that works (hey, it actually works too on Video CDs, though nobody or nothing can do anything to make the pix LD-like). So, are you zapped? No, wait till I tell you how much one costs. How about a mere 180 crunchies? Zap! Zap! And zap!

Model: Bedini CD Clarifier
Price: RM180
Review sample courtesy of The Hi-Fi Specialist (03-451-1548), 101-A Plaza Ampang City, Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur.