just how could this be possible? ken, a bass freak and a lover of ass-kicking ATC speakers, praising, for the first time, my maggie's performance? it is like bon jovi telling karen carpenter that he likes her music.

i had a fabulous weekend. my story goes like this...

my closest hifi buddy, ken, has been on hifi sabbatical for the last 3 years due to work commitments. before that, we used to talk day and night about hifi, with him stationed in ipoh and me in kl. ken was the one who introduced me to high-end cables and for that i am eternally grateful to him.

ken knows his hifi like a guru and is one who doesn't mince his words - straight-talking, no-nonsense guy. in hifi preferences, we are also world apart yet we share common fundamental beliefs, that's why we click so well and respect each other. ken likes his hifi live, loud, and dynamic whereas i like my hifi tubey, classy and intoxicating. it is then easy to understand why ken loves ATC and behemoth solid-state amps like jeff rowland. for the record, he has never praised my system whole-heartedly, because he thinks my maggie can't do bass and is dynamically wanting.

but that was before yesterday, when he visited me for the first time in the last 12 months.

the first disc i played for him is rickie lee jone's "pop pop" and almost instantly, ken uttered, "i like this! you system has never sounded like this before?!". was it a question or a statement? he meant the highs and the mids. he thinks my highs used to sound glamorous, showy and a tad thin in the past. then i proceeded to play a lot of complex and juice-sucking, dynamic stuff - including my current fave, teddy robin goes to movie, the cd with 6 fabulous drummers on rotation - while blasting the volume way beyond 90db. ken kept mum for a few moments; the silence is deafening. he looked baffled as he uttered in total disbelief, "how could this be possible? this is maggie being pushed by only 120 watt of 6550 triode, furchristsake!"

i counted. he uttered the same sentence 3 times. i am not even sure he was talking to me or to himself.

then, almost as if he has regained he composure, he turned to me and said, "i have only ONE small gripe - and that's totally nit-picking - you vocalist's mouth is not as small as it used to be". i answered, non-chalant, "yes, i know, i haven't really bothered to tweak it yet". did i say ken is a man of few words when it comes to giving understated, positive assessment?

just how could this be possible? ken, a bass freak and a lover of ass-kicking ATC speakers, praising, for the first time, my maggie's performance? it is like bon jovi telling karen carpenter that he likes her music.

it is my time to regain my composure. i pointed to one small inconspicuous silver fascia black box at the back of my hifi rack and said to him, "you know why? it is all because of this."

and that small little silver-plated black box is called shunyata hydra 4.

23 comments:

Hanson said...

Congrats!!

I have been following your system and thoughtyou have a deep[ understanding of what is needed in Hi -Fi ..

I do not own a maggie but my mouth drools wheen I think of your system

Super clean power,glorius cables matching,and ARC amp...How do you top that?

niz said...

You can"t find A more different way to enjoy hi-fi than you and your friend ken
The fact that you 2 remains friends is a miracle enought!!!I think if anything it reflects the maturity on you and yr friend's part....

harry said...

Jeff Rowland-ATC VS ARC-Maggie?

How could you even sit in the same room without causing serious injury to each other??Amazing!!!!

Jo said...

MaGGIE,

do you change the stock power chord that comes with Shunyata ;if yes what is the cord now?

tim said...

Hi,
I am a bit more like your friend,in term of Hi-fi set-up though I cant ever imagine a sabbatical from Hi-fi..

There is something about the midrange in a system like yours that makes people like feel feel like throwing out all our stup and convert to Maggie and tube...

Having said that I feel your kind of gears is less forgiving to poor power supply and poor cabling,@ issues that you have tackled admirably..

CHEERs

loebb said...

Dear Maggie,
It 's nothing like sharing with someone ain't it.

You really think the Shunyata is that good?I looked through at some of your old postings and noticed that you were using RG before..

You sure have guts to move over the other camp,Huh?

norman said...

I notice that almost all of the reviewers of major Hi-Fi magazines use either Shunyata and Audience as their power conditioner.

Do you think they know something that we don't?

Hafiz said...

Hi Maggie,
Glad you had a wonderful time over the weekend...

I have tried many power conditioners and I am glad you have highlighted the importance of good,clean power .
there is no doubt that RG has been championing the importance of clean power,and in UK the ISOTEK range has undoubtably becomes the king of power conditioner..

I have tried the SHUNYATA and AUDIENCE and thought bost of them clearly superior to both RG and ISOTEK...but one day I tried the REIMYO ALS-777with HARMONIX X-DC 'Studio MASTER" AC power chord,and I just couldnt return them back to the dealer.It has been with me ever then

With Power conditioner I feel it is important to swap around the AC chord too,with some AC chords clearly superior to others.

What do you think Maggie?

Jimmy & friends said...

Hi,
Found your blogs while surfing on Audio Federation's Audiophile "s guide to the galaxy...

The say you are Singaporean but after % minutes I realized that you are MAlaysian!!

WE ARE SO PROUD OF YOU !!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wait till you try some high-end Japanese power conditioning stuff...then you may want to say bye bye to Shunyata, Audience, Isotek etc.
Just search Audioasylum website for Acrolink, Oyaide MTB/R1/F1/M1, Acoustic Revive RTP ultimate etc

Also check KC's review of the CSE RK100 at

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/1107/cse_rk_100.htm

When it comes to tweaking and power conditioning, you have to hats off to the Japanese, they are right at the top when it comes to EMI/RFI and vibration control and power conditioning.


;-)

allain said...

Anonymous,

Agree with you with regards to the Japanese Companies Tuning devises, most of japanese homes are small and they need to get them spot on.

But when it comes to power conditioners and cables they are too much coloration.i.e they are not Neutral enough.

I refer you to UHF magazine review..

aboon said...

agree with alain,

The Japanese Brands :play" ard too much with the sound....too much ajinomoto for my liking

Anonymous said...

Please be specific as to what japanese cable is colored, you painting with a very broad brush all Japanese brands. Please tell us what you have tried to give that kind of impression, name the cables and product please. Otherwise it's a case of WW2 animosity being carried over.

allain said...

Furutech reference PC and cables,and furutech AC dist.

I used to own the m replacing My Acoustic Zen Gargantua 2 PC and Silver ref Ic & RGPC power Dist.Made the mistake in believing their hype.

I the made some research and found that it is the characteristic of Japanese cables and PC to add sonic characteristic...

I know I am a white man but I am French....and I love Harmonix Tuning Devises and absorbtion feet .they are truly MAGICAL

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...

hi guys,

part of the joy of writing this blog is getting to read some really funny comments from you readers like aboon and now harry!

just to let you in on a secret, my friend ken is saving up for a shunyata hydra (to replace his RGPC)... shhh, don't tell anyone ;-)

hi jo,
hydra does not come with a stock power cord and they recommended you get their own brand, which is way too expensive if i want their top-league PC so i resort back to my ever-trusty harmonic tech PROAC-11 (which i can't stop recommending to users of RGPC) and it works just as well. besides, i don't quite like the lower-ranked shunyata power cords.

hafiz,
yes, it is very important to experiment with different cords for power conditioners as most times their stock cords are not the greatest.

loebb,
i am not the kind who likes to proclaims "which-is-the-best" (i have more substance than that!), but i found shunyata more natural, analogue and live-sounding with fantastic mids and bass. the caveat is, its highs are not the best so be prepared to experiment with power cords with good highs (such as my PS audio extreme statement single crystal). once you get it right, he hydra is hard to fault.

i am a staunch believer that different power management system gives TOTALLY different sound. so rather than changing other parts of your system and spend more money, it is more "fun" to play with power gear. i will stay with shunyata for at least another 1 year before i get itchy and try out other major contenders like audio magic and audience. trust me, it is a fun challenge to get it right!

i have never been able to try any japanese power gear so i can't comment but i do know that japanese have distinct tastes for hifi which is unique and quite different from the rest of us.

allain,
it doesn't matter whether you are french or malaysian, in hifi, all of us are equal ;-)

Guan said...

This I gotta hear. Might try to swing by with KK to hear your "dynamic" Maggie -a unique beast for sure ;)

Anonymous said...

Of all the japanese brands out there, you use Furutech as the example to tar all Japanese cables and power accessories as colored. Let you know an open secret, Furutech stuff are not very popular in Japan. They routinely copy other japanese companies plugs such as Oyaide, relabel other Japanese brands as their own to market as their own outside Japan. More of a marketing hype company than an innovation company.
Eg their RD2 demagnetizer tech comes from Acoustic Revive.
their Destat/LP flattener product comes from Orb, their top US$6K power distributor comes from Audio Replas.

The real Japanese cables that you should try out there are Acrolink and Mogami. Acrolink designer is Be Yamamura, who spent more of his life designing audio equipment in Europe than Japan, well known for his work with Italian A.R.T cables and Yamamura Churchill range of speakers and electronics. Check out

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue26/yamamura.htm

and Ken Kessler write up of him and Acrolink at

http://www.stereophile.com/images/newsletter/805Bstph.html

As for Mogami, psst... do you know that the famed Audience AU24 is OEM mogami stuff. Just google for Audience and Mogami.

Check
http://www.mogamicable.com/index01.html

Sad to say, but many of the top audio cables brands in the West do not own metal foundries and many in fact oem their cables from Belden, as well as Taiwanese (eg Neotech) and Japanese companies such as Mogami, Furugawa etc. The Japanese lead in cable manufacturing may be mostly attributed to the work of Professor Atsumi Ohno of Chiba Institute of Technology. He was the one who patented the famed OCC process(Ohno Continuous Casting) for making PCOCC cables. Even Taiwan's Neotech license the technology from this Japanese professor. You can read about Ohno's work in detail at

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue30/psaudio.htm

which incidentally is an interview PSAudio's Paul Mcgowan but discusses the relationship of metal purity with good cable performance.

Please do more real research than depending on rumors and hearsay.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to tell you that Acoustic Zen designer used to work for Harmonic Tech... and here's a clue where the cable are sourced from

http://www.soundstageav.com/onhifi/20060415.htm

On top of this, they use the OCC cables, remember Ohno Continuous Casting of JAPAN.

So remember the source when drinking the water... ;-)

Anonymous said...

Don't believe many high-end cable manufacturers use oem cables..
check out

http://afublog.blogspot.com/2005/08/pad-purist-audio-design-is-very.html

Anonymous said...

Oops seems that the stereophile URL I gave for Ken Kessler write up of Be Yamamura and Acrolink got truncated. It should be

http://www.stereophile.com/images/newsletter/805Bstph.html

Enjoy the knowledge..

Anonymous said...

Truncated again

"http://www.stereophile.com/images/newsletter/805Bst"

"ph.html" should follow 805Bst

Anonymous said...

"i have never been able to try any japanese power gear so i can't comment but i do know that japanese have distinct tastes for hifi which is unique and quite different from the rest of us. "

Sorry to tell you that the Japanese do not have Martian ears, and I can assure you their hearing acuity and taste is the same as yours. Otherwise many won't be enjoying their Sony playstation, walkman, Pioneer/Toshiba plasma, DVD players as they are made by a race with different hearing standards :-D

Japanese music may sound different, and some of their singers too squeaky for western ears but take note that many of Teresa Teng's popular songs come from Japan, as well as many canto pop songs that you like may be actually japanese in origin.

No harm meant, but to correct some of these unproven stereotyped characterisations some may have.

Anonymous said...

Hi all,

I'm Ken, the guy Mr Maggielurva was refering to. To put the record straight, I am not a bass freak. I did not choose the ATCs for the bass but for their dynamics and also the stupendous midrange. This is the only speaker that I know of is capable to handle those huge dynamic swings that we always hear in live music

I have listen to Leslie's setup for a few times over the years. And I hope he is not angry at me for saying this, this is the only time I have ever truly like the sound of his system. I feel the biggest gain in his setup is the mids and bass. It is more voluptous and well controlled.

I have my setup finally up and running...after a hiatus of 5 weeks. The sound is getting better everyday. Surprisingly, there is very little echo. I haven't really tweaked