AKIKO AUDIO PHONO BOOSTER REVIEW


What would high-end audio looks like in the absence of the audio tweaks and accessories? Well for many it would be quite a boring place :). Not only for the sake of the tweaking but for the little and not so subtle advantages, that they can bring. 

As the main high-end audio product categories are developing and expanding so are the accessories, that became sort of mandatory paraphernalia for many audiophiles and music lovers. In past few years, we're witnessing more and more high-end audio products, that are designed to supplement the centerpiece devices. One can draw the similarities between the car enthusiasts. Like with high-end audio, they can be pretty fanatical about the performance shifts with a wide array of accessories. So yes, we're not the only crowd exploring the upgrading realms...



AKIKO AUDIO


Akiko Audio is a Dutch company, Sander and Marc van Berloa father/son joint venture. The company was established back in 2011 with a clear goal of combining a passion and love for the high-level music reproduction with a help of stand out "tuning products". Over the years they've established an extensive dealer/distributor network in Europe, Asia, America, Australia, and Canada in order to help serve the customer's needs. 
"At Akiko Audio we are experts in the field of tuning and we believe the basis for every audio set is the right equipment. We respect the choices of our customers and stores that have put together their beautiful audio systems through much dedication, patience, and expense. We also believe that Akiko Audio accessories and cables will bring your music experiences to a much higher level. In our opinion, Akiko Audio products would be what an audiophile calls "the game changer". At Akiko Audio we work in a small team of select people, each with their own specialty. We also make use of external advisors as we find this collaboration helps us to improve our products and leads Akiko Audio to continuous technical innovation. We have distinguished ourselves from other brands all over the world due to our use of high-quality materials and pioneering techniques. All Akiko Audio products are manufactured in the Netherlands, in our modern, well equipped, workplace. Our excellent distribution logistics makes it possible to deliver the orders very quickly."

MEET THE PHONO BOOSTER


"Lowering the noise floor in the rendering chain is our specialty. A high noise floor results from contaminated electricity and high-frequency radiation. The electrical signal from your record player is especially sensitive to these disturbances. You have consciously chosen for analog rendering, so of course, information from the record groove shouldn’t be polluted with high-frequency noise. We developed the Phono Booster, a device which effectively reduces high-frequency noise, to render your music naturally and cleanly. Reducing the high-frequency noise leads to a very pleasant music rendition in the audio spectrum. This leaves you able to enjoy your record collection at its finest! The Akiko Audio Phono Booster: an entirely new device which lowers the noise floor in a unique way, without using electrical components or active power filtering."
You won't see any photos of the Akiko Audio Phono Booster. All the "secrets" are hidden within the special black resin. But, this is not the only task it performs. The resin also surpasses the microphonic effects. 


Phono Booster is a passive device, that combines various natural materials to provide the best effect. The chassis is made out of thick aluminum and the only connections are at the back. 


The Phono Booster can be placed close to the turntable (tonearm)  or nearby/on top of the phono amplifier. It connects to the turntable's ground or dedicated phono preamplifier connectors. The Phono Booster is completely passive device and as such is completely safe to use.

MUSIC


Of all the signals, the phono signal is the most fragile one as every little thing can affect the minuscular signal. So, the evaluation differs a bit from the usual runners.  

Especially with the testing of accessories its always recommended to use highly familiar tracks to establish a solid foundation, but Akiko Phono Booster impact was easily evident even across the more vibrant selection of the music. 

Indigo Girls - Nomad, Indians, Saints is still among my favorites outputs from one of the kind duos. At its core, an album was already mastered on a bit open side, but intriguingly the Akiko Audio Phono Booster brought up the additional sense of transparency, surprisingly not entering into the harsh realms. 

In a similar way the sonic scope was elevated with Charlie Haden & Pat Metheny ‎– Beyond The Missouri Sky (Short Stories) Universal Music Korea ‎– DZ3095. While keeping the overall warmer signature (as preferred by Charlie) Phono Booster added quite a noticeable-loupe-like scope, revealing more details. 

This was further evident with John Scofield: Country for Old Me where the rich, complex harmonics and note overlaps impact was not shrunk. The sense of the atmosphere and expanded with more focus and believability. I don't one can expect more than such positive impact from the particular product as Phono Booster is!

I cannot say, that Akiko Audio Phono Booster brought just subtle changes to the performance. With a wider array of records, it felt like layers of de-masking were removed, allowing much better flow of the music and a clearer, more vivid presentation. 

CONCLUSION


The evaluation of audio accessories can be both tricky and straightforward. With some of these devices, the quick AB comparing will bring an instant result, that can be either positive or negative. Some accessories' impact is more subtle and it takes a bit different approach. In such scenario, the best way is to keep the unit connected for a longer period of time and then return to the original setup, removing the add-on. Human perception is a complex matter, but we're also highly sensitive even to the little changes. Sometimes the brain needs to adapt to the new condition and one can recognize the difference after a certain period or in absence of the upgrade. 


Its a known fact, that after a hectic day and with a non-settled mindset the high-end audio system can sound brittle, harsh and un-involving. And all this with the very same system, that gave us an enormous pleasure a day before. So, it's not always exactly easy to draw the conclusions, especially when dealing with our senses.

As proven across the wide array of musical material the Akiko Audio Phono Booster brought quite a few different sonic upgrades. The clearer focus of the instruments and much better sense of the actual music's happening are on the top of positive attributes.  

Akiko Phono Booster also managed to increase the density of micro and macro dynamics and is certainly related to the lowering of the noise floor resulting in a much more deeper acoustical space. The solidity of a tiny information delivered substantial energy to the upper midbass and treble frequency spectrum, thus forming better and more vibrant rendition of vocals and acoustical instruments.   

A lot of audiophiles and music lovers like and love high-end audio accessories. When they work, yours truly is no different. The Phono Booster was designed from the ground to assist the phono amplifier, raising its performance and can remove sometimes very thick sonic curtains and shift a phono performance to the noticeable level of upgrade. 

I've tried Akiko Audio Phono Booster with the Gold Note PH-10, Thrax Orpheus, Grandinote Cellio, DSA Phono II, JA Audio HP-10 phono stages with the similar, positive results. Logically, the effect impact varied. That's for sure connected with the particular phono preamplifier internal designs. Everything connected with the high-end audio system is bound to a particular design of the products involved and the to a matching synergy. Phono Booster " effect" was varying across the selection of phono preamps mentioned above, but most importantly always with a noticeable benefit. 

Its hard to for any product to act universal, especially with the complexity and variety of the products, but Akiko Audio phono accessory has proven to be a potent sonic booster with not so small selection of the phono preamps. 

PRICE


€ 350,00

TECHNICAL


Dimensions: 98 mm x 65 mm x 39 mm (Length x Width x Height).
Weight: 430 gram.
All soldering is done with Silver Solder.
Gold plated Hirschmann 4mm banana socket.
60 cm Connection cable included.
The Akiko Audio Phono Booster is Hand Made.
Comes with 4 soft rubber feet.
10 years factory warranty. 
14-day money back guarantee. 

CONTACT


Akiko Audio
Churchilllaan 69
6226CT Maastricht
The Netherlands

Tel: +31(0)43-8515561