Stein Music’s Intriguing Accessories

The Stein Music Harmonizers (approx. $1100 each; distributor Walter Swanborn of Fidelis AV is putting together package deals that include Stein’s Harmonizer accessories) are one of those mysterious sound-improving devices that are hard to explain to those who have not heard them. They certainly impressed Sam Tellig, who recently discussed them in his monthly Stereophile column.

They’ve also impressed me greatly. A set of four Stein Harmonizers has been residing in my reference system in Oakland for several months, bringing me much pleasure. To these ears, when set up correctly, they have a far from subtle effect on three-dimensionality, transparency, and realism. They take me one step closer to the real thing, making what comes out of my speakers sound less like hi-fi and more like music.

I was delighted to spend some time at T.H.E. Show with the Harmonizers’ designer, Holger Stein of Germany. Stein was showing the newest version of the Harmonizers, which were five years in the making.

The latest Harmonizers have a three-position switch on the rear. Those positions are (1) on with light, (2) on without light to preserve battery life for up to two years, and (3) off, to save energy when the system is not playing. Besides that, they function identically to their predecessor (which I have).

So how does the Stein Harmonizer work? Best to quote directly from Stein. Since, for him, English is a second language, I’ve given him an assist in the editing department.

”Some years ago, my wife used some rose quartz for decoration in our showroom. When we powered up the system, we had the impression that the sound had changed somewhat. It was not a big difference; it was something like moving a curtain into a somewhat different position. But it did make some change.

“We wondered what was causing this phenomenon. Then, while moving the quartz, we found it made a small change in the music. It was small, but detectable. So we asked ourselves how this can be.

“When examined closely, the atomic cores of rose quartz crystals have a very regular, ordered structure. Even the electrons around the atomic core are ordered. This uniform order is transferred to neighboring electrons, even affecting the structure of the air surround the crystals.

“Although there was not a huge difference, we wondered about the ultimate potential of these crystals to improve the quality of audio when used in an optimal manner. We thus spent years experimenting with the phenomenon, and invented complex techniques to improve and optimize audio performance. With these techniques, we were able to magnify the ‘normal’ effect of the quartz and ideally adopt it to what is needed for good audio.

“To get a slight impression of what the Harmonizers do, you can easily conduct your own experiments with rose quartz. In doing so, we believe you will hear its ability to make a subtle difference.

“The result of our experiments is a system that consists of two different types of active components called Harmonizers (A and B) and some passive Magic Diamonds and Magic Stones that magnify their effects.”

Also in the room, and pictured on the table on Stein’s right, was the Stein DE3 LP enhancer ($2800). The unit is said to radiate a special signal sequence that improves the sound of LPs. There’s also the DE2 unit for CDs ($698).

Stein has also developed equipment supports called Super Natural footers ($198/set of three). In the photo, one is resting in the palm of his hand. A set of three can support 200 kg, or more than 400 lbs.

Internally, the Super Natural footers contain three ceramic elements that provide fast resonance transfer. Their exterior is made of walnut to fine-tune components’ sound. Holes in the walnut on the sides and top also help control resonance. Finally, between the internal three ceramic elements and the walnut exterior is a vacuum-impregnated lacquered felt.

jporter's picture

I have also been witness to a similar startling effect in my listening room. One night I came home from work to find that my chihuahua had an accident right in the middle of said room. Before I went off to get the rug cleaner and some paper towels I decided to turn on some music. (Everyone is well aware of the soothing quality of music when picking up dog excrement). Well, as I backed away to leave the room I was absolutely stunned by the increased clarity and depth in the music. Mind you, I have had this particular system for a number of years, and I was well aware of its capabilities. After getting over my initial shock, I put two and two together (pun intended). It was the excrement that had changed the sound. I was able to modulate the effect by moving it around the room.I have spent the last several years improving the effect through changes in my dog's diet and the use of a proprietary platform that I developed. This incredible system will soon be available to the general public for $398 per unit. I currently have 4 in my listening space. I would love for Jason to come over and audition this groundbreaking product.

Glotz's picture

Do you know about rose quartz?  Have you actually tried any of these products or rose quartz in your room? 

My guess is no, and you should smear some of that dog excrement on your face.  I'm sure you look and smell better with it.

TheArt's picture

The Internet abounds with the likes of 'jporter' - people who love to share opinions based in ignorance.  And don't they always compose the most precious little snark-fests?

We should all listen to 'jporter', because he has not heard the Harmonizers and because he can barely spell quantum physics.  After all, who should we believe?  His keen instincts, or our own lyin' ears?

I have heard them in 3 different systems, and my advice to anyone who is reading this - including 'jporter' - is get a LISTEN to what they do.  It's downright amazing!

BTW, I've also discussed their basic principles with two physicist - one with a federal grant in sub-atomic particle research.  They both told me that the quantum effect of well-organized molecules (like crystals) on their neighbors is well-established and not new science at all.

Like I said, get an audition.  Then if you are not blown away - or at least very intrigued - we should see if some of that dog excerment is lodged in your ears. 

drblank's picture

some room measurement tests to show the effects of the product?  There are room measurements that can be done to prove whether or not it's doing anything.  In the world of acoustic treatment by placing various types of products (absorption, diffusion, etc.) in a room, it will improve soundstage, depth, bass definition, etc., and any changes that are made by adding various forms of room treatment will effect various measurements.  It's just a matter of how much treatment is needed to have a small or large change in the measurements, which proves their effectiveness.

So, how about some measurement tests to prove the technology?  I think that would add more credibility to the product if the mfg would actually spend the time to prove technology for us FIRST, before we spend money and time in testing the product in our home.  I think mfg are obligated to provide meaningful measurements to back up their claims.  It's only fair and reasonable business practices.   Would you buy a car without knowing any performance specs prior? Some industries require performance specs to be provided by the mfg. and some of them have performance measurements done by independant testing labs to have a rigid and constent testing methodology, I wish it was the same for the audio world.  It would remove most or all doubt on a new product.

Since the Harmonizer (not to be confused with another product made with the same name by Eventide), is some technology that isn't widely used and known about, I think it should be proven by measurements.

I've seen tweaks that come and go and the only ones that stick around for the long haul are the ones that proven and worthwhile spending money on.  Subjectivity is worthwhile AFTER it has been proven by measurements, especially with something that goes against conventional wisdom.

If you bought the product, do you still use it?  If you heard the product and thought it did a great job, did you buy it and still use it?  It would be nice to know.