a reader left the following comment on the post on shun mook:

How can one be sure how big a vocalist's mouth should be? It cannot be that it always has to be 50sen big right? Because I would think it would depend on how the recording was made. If a system always portray a vocalist mouth as 50sen size, is that not colouration/distortion already?

i guess by now a lot of our caucasian readers would be puzzled as to why we asian audiophiles are fixated on the vocalist's mouth.

asian audiophiles place a lot of emphasis in the palpability department - they want to "see" the singer. the vocalist's mouth, is therefore a manifestation of palpability and presence. we are no longer arguing on whether it is true to source, because asian audiophiles believe that hifi should have the illusionary artifact that fools the listeners into believing the singer is really there, standing and singing for them, never mind if in the first place the singer is singing in the studio. asian audiophiles derive plenty of fun in tweaking the vocalist's mouth!

you are right, not all the time you can get a 50 sen's size. in fact, sometimes, the vocalist can be slightly in front or slight in the back, depending on the recording. the 50 sen is only a general guideline that applies in 80% of the cases.

some asian audiophiles (including some "sifu" that i know) can go to the extreme in tweaking the vocalist's mouth until it becomes so pin-point that it protrudes in a 3-dimensional sense. this normally requires the application of cones (underneath the cd player, preamp). i personally don't go to this extreme as i don't like cones as they will thin the tone and upset my tonal balance.

my preferred vocalist's mouth is slightly natural/fuzzy in outline but still, it is very palpable and no bigger than a 50 sen coin in size.


ken said...

There are a few things to note about the vocalist mouth.

Size of the mouth is only one aspect. Other things that are equally important is the height of the mouth and the palpability of the mouth.

I think getting a mouth of a 50 sen coin is not exactly correct. It is more important to ensure that the vocalist mouth does not have the diameter of a great white shark. Some audiophile would call this bloat and any audiophile worth his/her salt can sense this immediately when they listen to a system

Using a shun mook would make it easier for the audiophile to improve this aspect of audiophilia.
There are a few ways audiophiles use Shun Mook to this effect but what I do is to place/stick a piece of Shun Mook Mpingo disc on the front wall at the place where I hear the mouth to be. This way, I could easily ensure that the sound of the mouth emanates from the Shun Mook disc.
From here you can basically finetune your speaker placement to enhance the presence of the mouth on the disc. From here, you can "visually hear" the vocalist mouth that is extremely palpable and 3D.

Just my 2 cents

jr said...

hey ken,

thanks for the tips .
will go to low yatt this weekend and get the SM.

Surely tour explanation is worth mor e than 2cents!!!!


Ian said...


You pretty much sums -up the obsessions of my Asian friends!!!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Maggielurva,

Thank you for elaborating further in this blog my original questions on the '50sen vocalist mouth' effect.

You did mention in your elaboration that 'we are no longer arguing on whether it is true to source', I can accept that. A person is definitely entitled to target for a sound from his/her system that is to his/her liking.

You also mentioned that if go too far, the effort to focus the vocalist's mouth can 'thin the tone' and this fits my own experience. I have heard systems where the vocalist image was very pinpoint but the music lost some of its harmonics/richness, honestly I could not buy into this type of sound portrayal totally (this is of course my own bias).

This is a learning experience for me, so I hope you don't mind that I add a few more queries.
If one uses this tweaking method to focus the vocalist's mouth as described and is successful, what would be the effect on other instruments, say for example, a solo violin, a guitar, or a saxophone? Will they also have the same focus too?
Can this focusing method also be applied to vocals or instrument to the left and right of the soundstage?

I enjoy your blog, keep up the good work!


maggielurva 愛美姬 said...

hi tan,

some audiophiles claimed that they have "seen" mouth which is so 3-D that it has some roundness and dimensionality to it like a 3D object! i have yet to hear this kind of system but i really doubt tonally it will be what i like!

you don't need to focus on the instruments cos unlike the vocalist, which is always dead centre and of a certain height, musical instruments are spread across the stage randomly from cd to cd, so there is no point to "shun-mook" them.

have fun while your try the SM!

oh, btw, a fully shun-mooked system requires 150 pieces of mpingo discs, can you beat that?

ken said...


If you have managed to get a pinpoint vocalist mouth using the SM Mpingo disc, you will also find that the sound of other instruments fall into their own place automatically. So basically the hard part is getting the vocalist mouth.

Another thing is that I have never heard a system that uses Shun Mook to have a thinner sound or lose it harmonic richness. If you use SM products wrongly, ie, put them in the wrong place, you will find that the sound will be less focussed or fuzzy. I find that Shun Mook products to add a more "analog" sound to the system.

I used the SM to help me focus the vocalist and other musical instruments in the music. Don't get me wrong, my system is quite musical in it's own right. But I find that I enjoy even more when I get it to sound more "live".


junichi said...

hello Maggielurva,
In Japan,we tuned until we see the lips of singer moving.But need low power amp{Kondosan-Ongaku,WAVAC monoblocs etc..]with horn speakers[Japan people like horn speakers ,]Then need master.normal people cannot do, but master can tune the room.If close eyes ,can feel like singer in the room,but better ,because here you can sit and enjoy geen tea!!!

Jim said...

Maggie and Ken,

In a way I kind of agree with junichi,

The problem with the crystal -based system is the challange of placement.But ,hey,I guess that is part of the fun.

Being an impatient fool like myself,I fiend the Shaktis easiest to install.You do get the focus of instuments[the vocalist mouth is an instument too,no?]but mainly it increses the deapth of the soundstage,

Do you have Shakti in Malaysia?

will said...

To me resonators are an essential part of the listening experience.

I suggest those of you who haven't heard their system with th e resonators to do so

It is nothing like hearing it for yourself

lewis said...

Ken ,Hi!!
If I could trouble you with a few technical questions:

1.Do you use a test disc to find the approximate location of the voc mouth,if yes whic one?

2.Does the distance of the back wall behind the speaker important,i.e would there ever be a case where it might be too far?

3.what would be the best ways to secure the Mook on the curtain?


Ken said...

Hi Lewis,

To answer your question,

1.You can use any cds that has well recorded vocals situated in the centre of the soundstage. For example, Teddy Robin in his cd, Holly Cole in her green cover cd etc. If your system is of a certain level and well tweaked, you can sometimes observe the mouth movement side to side because the singer is swaying while singing the song.

2. You raised a good point here. The distance of the speaker to the front wall is extremely important. But so is the distance between the speakers. I would initially use heavy bass tracks to test. The reason is to make sure that the speaker is so positioned so that the bass do not boom. As we know, too near the wall, the bass boom. Speakers too near each other would make the sound fuzzy as the midbass would be overpowering as well.
After this, you would use some good vocalist cds to check again the placement to ensure that the sound is not too thin. You could also use this method to "focus" the vocalist mouth. You may need to toe-in the speakers to achieve this.

3. Maggielurva can answer this question. I usually stick the SM discs on to the wall. I was using the curtain last time to cover the frontwall. What I did was open a small gap between the curtains to stick the discs.


lewis said...

Thanks a lot Ken.
Will try Your suggestions!!!!

GCK said...

The effect of Shun Mook is there even if covered with a thick curtain. The disk need to be stick to the wall or firm platform for it to work. Best is to use Faber Castell (green color) blu-tack that can get at any supermarket. Use 2 small pcs (one at 12 oclock and another at 6 o clock). The logo facing you with the side dot facing 12 o clock).

Anonymous said...

I have been following this thread & was wondering if anyone can share their experience with SM Cable Tree. I have one but I did not find they are as effective as their Mpingo disk. I using it to support my pc to the amp.