Non-sticky sticky stuff...

The Harmonix system tuning devices

by Roy Gregory

Recent happy experience with the Reimyo CD player and DAP-777 DAC have left me with a niggling fascination for the products of the Combak Corporation, best known for their various strange, even bizarre, tuning devices. But then, since when has being ‘bizarre’ ever been cause for exclusion from the hi-fi industry? And if the secret of a great product is the whole exceeding the sum of the parts, then the Reimyo electronics could serve as an object lesson. There's no doubting the care and attention that goes into their circuitry, or the quality of the superb JVC K2 chipset, but it's equally clear that the careful construction contributes disproportionately to the superb sound that results. A key element in those structural decisions is Combak's understanding of resonance and system tuning, gained from extensive experience with their own, add on accessories. I was particularly intrigued by the contribution made by the DAP-777's disc decouplers. These provided a cup for the player's pointed feet, and delivered a pretty dramatic improvement in sound for something so prosaic. It got me thinking...
   The extensive range of Harmonix tuning accessories potentially offer the option of adding a little touch of Combak's magic to existing products in your system.
They can be divided into two basic categories: those that go on things, and those that go under them. The various feet and supports are not that controversial, and I experimented with a set of their large, TU-202ZX turned wooden feet back in Issue 28. Their effect was easily discerned but also particular in character, lending a sense of rounded warmth and space to proceedings that wouldn't necessarily be welcome in all systems. On the other hand, if that's what you're looking for then they were both sonically and cost effective.
   For this exercise I opted to include another set of feet, but also to investigate the rather more contentious aspect of the catalogue, “the bits that go on...” Because by “on” I don't mean sitting on top. The Harmonix tuning devices are intended to be stuck to just about everything, from drive units to circuit boards, input socketry to tonearms. I opted for a pack of eight RF-56 Tuning Bases, small metallic tiles, and eight of the flexible RF-333 Tuning Belts, intended for curved surfaces.

RF-900 Tuning Spike Base

These are small, slightly conical gold plated discs,
30mm in diameter and with a thin, felt interface on their undersides. Their summit has a small dimple designed to locate the tip of a spike. I have no idea what particular alloy they're made of, although they're surprisingly heavy considering their small size. With only four to play with, speakers were out of the question. But another, more obvious candidate offered itself. The Wadia 861 arrives complete with four steel cone feet and a matching set of steel discs on which to stand them. Substituting the Harmonix feet was the work of moments, making for swift and easy comparisons.
   Sure enough, substituting the RF-900 feet for the ostensibly fairly similar Wadia items produced a far from subtle change. The thing that catches your ear is the richer, more rounded and more vividly coloured tonal pallette. Instruments are drawn with a bigger, bolder brush, as are rhythms and the shape of melodies, giving music an appealing liquidity and flow. If toe-tapping is your be-all and end-all then you'll be buying a set of these as soon as you hear them. However, it's not all positive  >