A LITTLE HISTORY
company in general and their Aural Exciter (or on their new website,
now just called just the EXCITER, HERE)
are virtually unknown in the Home Stereo / Home Theater world.
Successful in the Broadcast / Recording Studio / Professional
/ / Live Sound Venue / Club Installation markets for 35+ years,
it can be safely said that essentially all the music you hear
on your radio or a CD or download from some website has at some
point in its life passed through an Aphex device, (they make many
other things) whether it be a superb microphone preamp or compressor,
or limiter, or Aural Exciter or gate, or one of their exemplary
guitar/bass foot pedals.
In the Los Angeles recording
studios, the early units were rented (by the minute!) and it was
considered a "secret" to getting a sound that was just
a little more magic than the "other guy" could get,
and by word of mouth, the studio use of their devices spread like
underground wildfire in the 70's and 80's. The first "big"
album to use the Aural Exciter was Fleetwood Mac, Rumors.
In the mid 80's, telephone
talk shows were the up and coming rage in AM radio. I had the
opportunity to set up a rather fancy station in Miami. Of course
the station management and producers were always looking for some
sort of "edge" to their sound, to make it "louder",
"hotter", "better" and so on, (and we could
hope more tasteful). I brought in an Aural Exciter processor and
hooked it up to the telephone audio feed, and the result was the
incoming telephone line almost sounded better than the host's
$1000 microphone! So we put a 2nd unit on the host's voice! The
producers of that show and the radio station management were stunned
at how their new-found clarity made their station "jump out"
on the radio dial it made AM sound like FM and everyone
Here's a recent article with
a nice history: www.musictech.net/2014/06/aphex-aural-exciter/
WHAT IT DOES
This same technology is available
to be connected to any home theater or 2-channel stereo system,
and it will amaze you. It is affordable and rather easy to use
it puts the FUN back into audio. Remember when you were
a teenager and the latest song came out on the radio an you sat
glued to the (probably not very good) speaker, enthralled with
the sound and at the same time wishing it could sound even "better"?
How it could have more bass, have cleaner and crisper highs, be
louder, punchier, and so on... and, "wouldn't it be nice
Here's another example. Let's
say you have a pretty nice 2-channel "stereo", with
pristine components and you think you are hearing everything that's
"there". Well maybe...especially if you still have a
high-end analog turntable/phono setup. But because of the limitations
of the CD technology, if you play CD's you are missing what can
only be described as the "air" in the recordings. But
you don't KNOW that, because you have never heard it any differently!
You have nothing to compare that's any better!
Please understand: the Aphex
is NOT an equalizer. (besides, equalizers don't make things 'equal'
but that is the topic for a large book, not this article...)
It is a dynamic, realtime processor, with separate sections that
operate in the low frequency area of the spectrum (the "Big
Bottom" part) and a section that operates in the high frequency
part of the spectrum (the "Aural Exciter" part). You
will, for example, be able to make cardboard drums from mediocre
rock n roll recordings sound much more alive and punchy; you will
be able to hear "way into" the mix as you have never
heard before; vocals will have a more intimate presence, and you
may even hear subtle things you had NO IDEA were there. Serious
classical students comment that for the first time they truly
hear the "wood" of the cello and violins as if it were
right in front of them, and they also always ask why this audio
information "gets lost" in the recording process...
I used to have a model of
the Aphex 204 set up in my high end store. Every time (without
exception) that people came in and brought a CD with them I would
say "watch my fingers and listen" as I pushed in the
buttons on the 204, and when they heard the difference their jaws
I had arranged for a unit
to be sent to the nice people at Secrets of Home Theater and
High Fidelity. Colin Miller has written an amazing and complex
review which you may read HERE.
I'll cut to the chase. You
can make an astonishing difference in your system, especially
when playing older CD's and rock n roll and it will add a magic
quality of air and ambience to dull classical recordings that
will stun you. Part of the enjoyment in this device is that IT
AFFORDABLY RECONNECTS YOU TO THE PROCESS OF ENJOYING THE MUSIC.
You now have:
a) various knobs to turn, and,
b) they actually do something you can hear!
Yes, you may leave the settings
alone at some nice position, but being involved with music YOU
THINK YOU KNOW and hearing it in what seems like a totally
fresh and exciting new way is a large part of the magic.
HOW TO CONNECT
With a 2-channel system you
can put one unit (2 channels) essentially anywhere in the chain:
either in the tape loop, between the "preamp out" and
"power amp line in", or even in the analog path at the
line outs of the CD player. If your preamp has a tape loop function
then that is the easiest place. Since the unit has both unbalanced
AND balanced connections it can be wired to anything.