Based on ecstatic reviews all over the Interwebs about Auric Illuminator, I purchased the New! Improved! version. I don't know how much money Audience, the manufacturer, is paying these reviewers, but it isn't nearly enough for the results they are getting. I spent $50 for this stuff, and it is the absolute definition of snake oil. The important parts of my system for evaluating the Auric Illuminator are my Oppo UDP-205 player, my Marantz 8805 pre/pro, and my Martin Logan 60XL speakers. I "treated" three CDs and one DVD, including the use of the black marker, in what was a quite tedious process. After carefully listening to these discs, I can report that the Auric Illuminator MAKES NO AUDIBLE DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER. And if you really think about it, why should some clear goo on the disc and black marker on the edges make any improvement? Do not buy the Auric Illuminator, unless you have more money than sense.
It's a real product?
It's digital content. As long as the audio/video equipment is functioning properly, and the disc isn't damaged, there is nothing that can be done to the disc to make it sound better. This would be like waxing my HDMI cable so the electrical signal slides across the cable faster for a better picture.
It is a a real product, albeit a worthless one. A Google search will bring up dozens of glowing reviews. Here is a typical one, ""It is 'jaw dropping' effective," raves Jim Dowd in the January 2000 issue of The Stereo Times online. "It improved all aspects of soundstaging with every CD I treated and 'illuminated' every instrument in a smooth and focused manner. It removes most of the clouding and smear from older recorded CDs, and brings added life, snap, and focus to newer CD recordings." Sadly, none of this is true.
I remember when every "Hi Fi" magazine had a free green marker pen on the cover, claimed to increase the accuracy of playback by eliminating scatter of the playback laser light from the disc-edge. It was snake oil then and it's snake oil now.
CDs either play properly or are very audibly broken (stutters, skips etc). There are no high and low quality bits! I expect the designers of a CD player have engineered it to work despite any spurious light from scatter etc. If they didn't, it won't sell.
Sorry you got ripped-off. :(
Stay skeptical of EVERYTHING in the hi-fi and "audiophile" world! Most of the audiophile community is nuts, often fooling themselves. Most audiophiles "don't believe in" blind listening tests. And there are lots of things that can be measured but not heard (in blind listening tests). That's why HydrogenAudio requires blind listening tests before posting any claims about sound quality here. Just for example I could easily build an amplifier or preamp that goes higher than 1MHz and that "extended" frequency response could be easily measured (I have an oscilloscope on my bench at work that goes up to 100MHz) but that doesn't make it sound better than one that goes a little over 20kHz.
Anything digital is usually very-good or perfect. As you probably know digital audio is 'just numbers" and those numbers rarely get corrupted. Think about the Internet... What I'm writing now will go all over the world through all kinds of connections, and yet if you see a spelling error you can bet it's a mistake I made. If there is a digital error it's probably going to be very-bad and obvious like maybe you can't get to HydrogenAudio at all. To be fair, audio error detection and correction CDs is not as good as most storage (or transmission) formats, but still, if you get an error it's usually pretty obvious.
Most digital-to-analog converters and modern analog electronics are pretty-good too. Switching to an expensive amplifier or receiver is unlikely to improve the sound, but it could give you more power and more features.
The thing that makes a BIG difference is speakers. Every speaker (or headphone) sounds different and upgrading your speakers will probably improve your sound. The acoustics of your room also makes a difference and if you already have very-good speakers, measuring and treating your room could make a better improvement than further-upgrading your speakers. (I have not measured or treated my living room.)
...If you are recording with a microphone, microphones also vary, and a "real preamp" or audio interface that works with stage/studio microphones will perform a lot better than a soundcard and computer mic. But even in the pro recording world there is a fair-bit of nonsense & mythology surrounding microphones & preamps.
Acrylic works on safety glasses. It covers up scratches.