sorry that it has taken so long. this audio magic thingy needs an awful long time to burn in and to date, i have fed more than 500 hours. potential buyers beware - don't make any judgement until you burn-in for more than 500 hours.

so i am going ahead of master ken's review in av xpress and give you a first-hand, no-holds-barred shoot-out between these two PLCs, two of the best of the lot in the market today.

let's cut to the chase as we are not stereophile nor TAS which go on and on about technical specs and motherhood stories.

the main difference between the audio magic and shunyata is in the tonality, and my god, in this regard, they are day and night apart. the audio magic is decidedly more neutral; the midband is more natural and also blander. and it does not intoxicate the listeners the way the shunyata does. vocals presentation with the audio magic is very matter-of-fact; it is not that the singer has not enough emotions, it is more accurate to say that the singer under audio magic is more sober and more aware of herself and her singing. whereas with shunyata, the singer just immerses herself totally and couldn't care less about the surrounding and the audience - she just sings her heart out. this major difference is very stark.

now the interesting part. the audio magic is more effective in cleansing the AC than the shunyata, as apparent in the midbass and overall dynamic. planar speaker needs the cleanest AC to sound good and under the influence of audio magic, my maggie is transformed dynamically - the midbass kicks ass and the overall P.R.a.T also improves dramatically. more importantly, the audio magic manages to cure my AC problem better than the shunyata. i tested this on a night where the AC is not exactly great and the audio magic comes unscathed and unperturbed while the shunyata just collapsed. so confidently, i could claim that the audio magic has better cleansing power (against bad AC) than the shunyata.

in terms of making music, the shunyata has a little edge in my system and in this regard, i would declare the shunyata as the most seductive and tonally sexy PLC i have ever auditioned to date. the audio magic, meanwhile, is the most dynamic and cleanest PLC. also, if you are into rock music with plenty of dynamic headroom, the audio magic is simply the best PLC for you - it is a rocker's PLC, if ever there was such a term.

whether you choose the shunyata or audio magic is really a matter of taste, musical inclination and even listening mood.

p/s btw, i am comparing two similarly priced PLCs - shunyata hydra 4 and audio magic stealth mini reference, both a shade under RM4K

46 comments:

SAM said...

vERY ACCURATE DESCRIPTIONS.

km ng said...

Hi Maggielurva,

From your description, I'll choose the Audio Magic anytime.

To my mind, the final goal of high end audio to to achieve aliveness as in live music.

I think those sexy, seductive and other intoxicating stuff (your words) of the Shunyata are like sweeteners to the fresh fruit juice or icing to a freshly baked cake. They are "added" tonality to "sweet-talk" the ears, if I may say so.

BTW, which PLC did you choose?

Anonymous said...

Can We combine this two PLC?? Let audio magic clean the AC, after that let Shunyata tune sexy sound.

june said...

Good one anonymous!!!!!

Jim said...

anonymous,Actually that is exactly what you get in the Audio Magic Eclipse 2 and transcendence.

I am a use of the Eclipse 2,and has been hooked by AM neutrality.

Neal said...

Let us face it;
1]RG Gives the best High:nobody does Cymbals better than RGPC

2}Shunyata does the best midrange.Nobody does vocals better.

3]APC and PS Power are both bottom heavy.

You know what do you call that?Colouration.Hey there is nothing wrong with that but I do not think that music was meant to be reproduced that way....JMHO

Anonymous said...

I can better align with km ng's comments.

I am in the camp that prefers the PLCs and cables which are neutral while doing their functional jobs. That way we can better listen to our respective components ie. source, amps, speakers etc.

So in this regard, i would pick Audio Magic over Shunyata.

lib said...

Km Ng.

Very well said

Anonymous said...

I'll take Shunyata anytime based on maggielurva's description. When you listen to music, you want to enjoy the time, you are not there to analyze the music (unless you are a reviewer like maggielurva) :-)

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...

hi km,
i chose both!

hi anonymous,
combining two PLCs would result in over-filtering. i have done that with RGPC and the results are not welcome. (despite what the manufacturer said about clustering etc etc)

hi neal,
some people prefer vegetarian or organic food, that's perfectly fine ;-)

km ng said...

Hi Maggielurva,

How do you choose both when you say combining the PLCs would worsen the sound?

Or you use one PLC for each type of music? I don't think so that's recommended.

Do be careful on tonality "over-indulgence."

I would think it is almost every audiophile wet dream to have his female (read: audiophile) vocal to be as sexy, seductive and breathy like a dolled-up Megan Fox in a negligee giving you the bedroom eyes look.

But too much sweetie pie, honey bun female vocals can also make AC/DC sound limp and soft like my daughter's favourite boy band.

Just my alternative thoughts again.

Anonymous said...

But of course one will need the tonality "over-indulgence" IF one uses big ass solid state amplification.

If you are into SET and Vinyl, you will want as neutral a PLC you can get.

kappa said...

Not everybody likes neutral sound.

i am for one an addict of richard gray's high ,even though I know it is colouration on the part of RG.

To each his own....

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...

hi km,
i don't mean rose-tinted, sweet-as-saccharine, "lemah-lembik" kind of seductiveness. mind you, shunyata is not sissy nor weak. it just doesn't rock as hard as the audio magic. it has something special that makes music fascinating. hifi kaki would be able to further testify on that since he owns the hydra 8 as well.

kappa,
i beg to differ. shunyata's highs are better (meatier) than RGPC's, provided you use good cables. RGPC's highs are impressive on even ordinary cables/systems (with not much highs) but once you use good cables (in good systems) you may find them a bit thin in certain systems.

Dr al said...

To each his own indeed,

I have gone through PLC more than people go through their top up card.

I Listen mainly to 70s and 80 s classic rocks.I find singers these days do not tease you lomg enought.You know 2-3 mimutes song sa are just not my things.I love Dire straits.I love meatloaf..Those kind of songs taht goes on forever,proper songs.

Now ,When dire straits play I love listening to the rhytm of the cymbals,and to my ears nobody does cymbals better than Richard Gray.

Now,I would not call my system cheap,Boulders monoblocks{yup nobody does rock better than those american behemoths] Driving the Wilson Watt/puppy 7 to death,and I feel my original Meridian 808 hasn't been bettered by the newest reincarnation.

2 years ago I started using the Hydra 8,after seing thei ad everywhere.@-3 months later ,I gave it to my brother.Then Move on to PS Power.Stil;l no kick.I moved to the passive filtrations as advocated by the Japs.Dire straits,and meatloaf just do not sound the same.

Eventually[albeit reluctantly]I have to go back to my poor man's PLC RGPC .You see,I wanted to be a rock star,but ended up being a cardiac surgeon instead.So in those 7 minute of glory whenever i listen to Meatloaf or DS i always imagine my self on the stage,instead of in the scrub suits in operation theatre.

Call it ,colouration,.call it thin but to these ears when it comes to Dire straits,I could't live without my Richard Gray...

Like Kappa said,to each his own....

BTW,I find that RG likes Cryo treated cables Like Acoustic revive Power max,Furutech and the likes

km ng said...

Hi Anonymous of 4.23PM,

Agree with you on SET and vinyl but why do you need "over-indulgence" in tonality in big ass solid state amp?



Hi Kappa,

Colouration is one way to balance the sound since the beginning of high end in the 60s. You know, bright speakers with lush tube amps, for example. Thankfully, it is much less now.

To me, it's like mixing red + green + blue to get white.

I prefer "uncoloured" white anytime.



Hi Maggielurva,

Since you labelled it as a "shoot-out" and "final verdict", I think you've to choose one.

Your mind and heart have to confer to make a final decision.

Bee said...

Maggielurva,
I seconded KM Ng's motion.

If I were to put a gun in your head and make you choose,which one would it be?

Anonymous said...

km,

I find big ass solid state and most all transistors to sound "too lively" than tube amplification especially when matched with digital playback. So the right PLC will help.

On my digital source, i use a dedicated balance power iso trans. The bpt plugs into a passive PLC which goes to the wall.

All others (pre, power, phono etc) go into the passive PLC.

I find a combination of balance power and PLC work best.

CB Liu said...

Dr al,

Hard -Rocking Cardiac Surgeon.
how cool!!!!

kk Kong said...

anonymous,

The balanced power isotrans is a good one.

heard it in a fr house in US.

Do you get it here?

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...

hi km and bee,
in real life, a man has to be faithful and morally upright so he can only has one wife, in which case, i would marry shunyata.

but in audio, a man can be polygamous - i would make shunyata my first wife and audio magic as my girlfriend, for that occasional excitement ;-)

yes, shunyata if i can only choose one because your first wife will always stick with you come rain or shine.

km ng said...

Dear Maggielurva,

The review went down by the wire and thanks for stating your choice.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kong,

No i did not get the B-P-T but is other make at lower cost. The key is to keep it dedicated to digital.

KT said...

Maggielurva,

as an ex use of Shunyata hydra ,I have several issues:

1]The PLc doen't come with PC.You have to spend at least as much[often time more]to get decent sound coming fromit.It makes you wonder,am I listening to the PLC or to the PC.

2]There is absolutely no improvement as you move up the line fr Hydra 2[now discontinued] to the latest V ray.You only get more outlets.

as a result I have abandoned the Shunyata camp and move on to passive fil;ters by Acoustic Revive.

hifikaki said...

Great lively discussion here....!

I am a user of Shunyata Hydra 8 and am very happy with it. The most attractive part of the Hydra 8 to me was the way it made music sound so articulate. But to be honest here, I am comparing Hydra 8 with no Hydra, as I have not used any other power conditioner. To plagerize maggielurva - 'I'm married to the Hydra 8' :-)

Maggielurva mentioned that the sound of Shunyata is ‘seductive’, my own take of this seductiveness is that the Shunyata sound draws you into the music, you are involved with the emotion of the musicians (whether vocal or instrumental), and by emotion I do not mean just the ‘ying’ kind (sadness, lost love, sighs) but also the ‘yang’ kind (slam, strength, speed). You are not a bystander or observer any more.

Let me illustrate my own experience with Shunyata and Audio Magic (albeit a short experience) – you might have read my blog entry on maggielurva’s system (‘A Hifi Epiphany’), in it I mentioned that I was extremely impressed by his system’s sound.

Last week, I visited his place again. He suggested that he would compare Audio Magic and Shunyata for me in his system. He played the same music and I sat there marveling at the cleanness and the resolution of the sound (there is really nothing to criticize as far as hifi parameters for vocals go), but deep down I could not shake the thought as to why I did not feel the same ‘shock’ as last time. I sat there listening quietly, and thinking whether I have gone overboard in my comments the first round.

Then he changed out the Audio Magic and put in the Shunyata. When the vocal came on, I had goosebumps all over – I had a big grin and told me loud, “That’s how I remember your system to be!”.

The Audio Magic appeals to the mind and Shunyata appeals to the heart. Your choice. (And you know what my choice is :-) )

JK said...

maggielurva and Hifi kaki,

I left the Shunyata camp after I realized the amount I have to spend on 1 single cable to get the best sound out of it.

I think ,the PLC should just keep quite at the back and not show off their sonic characteristics.
I have moved on to Torus and my Bryston couldn't be happier...


BTW was the same power cable used for the audio magic and the shunyata in your audition,Hifikaki?

Nicholas - expat said...

hifi kaki,

From the discussion here, and from your and Maggielurva's description it seems that undoubtedly that the Shunyata has a very colourful presence. It is almost like it needs attention like a jealous wife.

Well, the problem with that is that every time you need to upgrade or change your gear you would need the Shunyatas approval first, because it is so coloured.

As for me, and majority of the readers here there seems to be a serious flaw as far as power conditioner is concerned.

Don't you agree that a power conditioner should be as quiet as possible and if you do not get the desired result maybe your electronics are not good enough, instead of hoping your PLC to do the job that could not be done by your electronics?

khlim said...

Maggielurva,

If you include the price of the PC to the Shunyata,what would the price be actually;is it still the same with the Audio Magic.

Just to make sure we are not comparing apple and orange

Anonymous said...

nicholas,

Very well said. Obviously some PLC are doing more than they should. But then again some systems need them that way. Just like some people prefer msg and some don't.

GadgetBuzzer said...

Maggielurva

Quote: "but in audio, a man can be polygamous - i would make shunyata my first wife and audio magic as my girlfriend, for that occasional excitement ;-)

yes, shunyata if i can only choose one because your first wife will always stick with you come rain or shine."

My friend, married men will know that your first wife will stick to you in all weather until she finds out about your girlfriend & your excitements! Unless of course u have so much cash that she will close one eye... and get her own boyfriend ;-)

hifikaki said...

Jk,
My audition of Audio Magic and Shunyata was in maggielurva system, maggielurva did the equipment switching and the same power cords were used.

Nicholas-expat,
My understanding of coloration is that one can easily discern a consistent similarity in a system’s sound regardless of the music played. I do not hear this in my or maggielurva’s system, the sound is varied/different from different CDs with Shunyata in.

I do not think that because I connect emotionally with the music more via shunyata because of its coloration. My conjecture is that because of the system’s transparency, raised by shunyata, the emotional content already encoded in the recording could come through easier. Listening to good music making is always an emotional experience, like in live music done by capable musicians. This emotional content, I think, is usually expressed by the finer touches of a musician (a vocalist’s control of voice/breath, little flexes in a violinist’s bowing, phrasing on a saxophone, variation in timing and dynamic level etc.), and I believe a more transparent system could let this music information through more.

I’d love to compare notes with your listening experience of Shunyata in your system’s context.

nicholas-expat said...

Hi fi kaki,
thank you for your explanations.Initially I was worried that you might take offence by my remarks.

My experience with the Shunyata is exactly like what maggielurva observed,superb midrange with very little to show for when it comes to rhythm.To cut a long story short ,I realized that this is as a result of 'doctoring'done to bring out the best in midrange.Afterall these are the kind of musics that most audiophiles use as test CDS to gauge how good any part of the chain being evaluated is.

That was why maggielurva had problems in appreciating the Virtues of KS Emotion;in fact you will not see many ultra hiend users use the Shunyata as their Preffered PLC,it add so much weight to the midrange that the vocalists mouth become so promonent.You could do a simple test to test for this.Use an unshielded PC or IC;like Argento ,and the Shunyata generally will not like them.

So what should a PLC do.The short answer is,NOTHING!!!But to elaborate ;you should get more rhytm,you should achieve a tonally balance sound,no part of the range [certainly not the midrange;that is the oldest tricks used in Hi-fi,lots of sp manufacturers use this trick]the noise floor should belowered[to test for this play a cd that has been recorded from old analogoe,Like Nina Simone,Eddie Pief Etc..you should hear more hissing]

To continue;the high rarely get rolled off[cymbals sounds are good tests,hear for the cymbals "clipp" not the so called intoxicating high that you hear in Shunyata]The space between instuments increase,and the vocals never come forward out of prominence.

Lastly,as you know already ;the very best engineered PC and IC doesn't you anykind of shielded ,this again will add colour to the sound.If your PLC doesn't like unshielded cords ;you know your PLC is engineered to 'cheat'

km ng said...

Hi Hifikaki and Nicholas-Expat,

Both of you have your points but I tend to agree more with N-E.

Reproduced music contains the macro, micro and emotional aspects, the latter the most subjective.

But somehow, I get the impression, for whatever reasons, the micro and emotional aspects are the most talked about by the blog owner and contributers here - the emotional aspects the most.

Even for tonality, or more correctly, the tonal balance, its the voice which, IMHO, is the most manipulated sound of all in a recording. How do we know what's the actual singer's voice? What about the other musical instruments?

Well, I'm of the opinion, that one (the owner and his equipment) must get the macro parts right first before going to the other two.

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...

hi all,

every audiophile has his own "secret recipe" for audio nirvana, and he will guard this secret recipe no matter what. we need to respect that.

it is true that today's high-end gear are more neutral that the older generation. in achieving that, it also loses the distinct character among different brands. there is no more house sound for krell, naim, ML, ARC etc etc anymore, which is sad because it is the house sound which we cherished so much in the past and made us sworn supporters/detractors.

to me, it is impossible to achieve absolute neutrality within the hifi chain. does a absolutely neutral system sound good to the ears? i doubt so. so, do you want a neutral system or a system that sound good to your ears? even live performances are coloured if it is amplified.

to end it with an analogy. visitors to malaysia, especially hong kongers, always find malaysian food too "heavy" (ie. colouration!) to their tastes whereas malaysians find HK food too bland and tasteless (ie. neutral)... so there is really no right or wrong as far as our taste buds are concerned.

hifi, to me, is all about personal tastes. as long as you find your secret recipe to good sound (as defined by your own parameters) then who are we to question your contentment and satisfaction?

good thread, anyway ;-)

hifikaki said...

nicholas-expat,

No, I don’t take offence by your remarks, life is too short for that. We are discussing about our common hobby anyway, where there are still a lot for me to learn about, so level-headed discussions are always good for me. :-)

Thanks for sharing your experience on Shunyata. What is interesting to me is that your experience is so different than mine. I would like to further add to my experience posted in my previous comment. Again, I want to emphasize that I am comparing my system with Shunyata and without Shunyata in it.

You experienced superb midrange (I take it as the only significant improvement for you), but my experience is that the entire audio band benefited. Take jazz pieces, (for example, Sonny Rollins’ ‘Way out West’ or ‘The Bridge’), the cymbal without Shunyata is a mess of high frequency sound, with Shunyata, I could hear distinctly the cymbal being struck and the sound spreads in the air. The saxophone takes on greater articulation and definition with Shunyata in (but then we do agree that the Shunyata midrange is great). The double bass without Shunyata is blurry and lumpy; with Shunyata, it went deeper, has a tune, and better resolved (each pluck sounds different).

In your experience, rhythm also suffered. But in mine, rhythm is enhanced, take Jazz again where rhythm is supremely important, things just swing harder with Shunyata.

All these improvements from Shunyata in my system, I tend to think, is due to its ability to lower the noise floor (feeding cleaner AC to the equipment), so that the music, which is already on the CD in the first place, could just come out clearer.

I don’t mean to say that Shunyata only improves on Jazz music, this is just an illustration. I observe the same with classical music and vocals (take for example, Ella Fitzgerald’s signing or Rickie Lee Jones’ ‘Pop-pop’ CD). One more example, with Shunyata in, The Sheffield Lab’s Drum and Track Disc xrcd24 (Drum Improvisation tracks 1&2) has also much more slam and greater transient speed.

Since our experience is so different, it would be very interesting for me to know the context where Shunyata gave the performance. Would you be able to post the system components where you heard the Shunyata in? This information should be useful to me as there might be compatibility issue with Shunyata that I (and also other readers here) can learn from.
(for those who are interested to know my system’s make up, please refer to a reply I posted under ‘A HiFi Epiphany’ (April 22nd)).

On whether PLC and PC is better shielded or not, I really can’t comment as I do not have the technical background. What I tend to rely on is the end result that my ears tell me. :-)

hifikaki said...

KM Ng,
Yes, to me, the emotional aspect in music is extremely important. When I listen, I want to be moved by the music making, feel the elation or angst of the musicians. I don’t like to spend my time listening to ‘nice’ music, but come away feeling empty or, worse, fall asleep. :-)

Only good musicians can put this ‘emotion’ in their music making. If it is on the recording, then I want my system to give it to me.

Some call this ‘soul’ I think….

Anonymous said...

When it comes to reviewing stuffs, you will need to have a fair assessment if a component is coloured or neutral. In this case, i read that the Shunyata is colored. Adding Shunyata is akin to adding Ajinomoto based on the HK food analogy.

How the component sounds in one's system and if the owners like it or not is a differing matter and is subject to personal taste and preference.

People who owns great stuff will first want to listen to a neutral PLC like the Audio Magic to hear how their own system sounds. If they find the need for improvement or the need to tweak the sound, then comes the Shunyata. Some systems really need the Shunyata.

Nothing wrong with the above at all.

This hobby is a journey and some may also be just starting out so the needs for a differing sounding PLC is understandable.

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...

hi anonymous,

thanks for your insights.

i actually didn't think the shunyata is that colored; i just said the audio magic is relatively more neutral-sounding. (at least, my system can differentiate!)

some have said that maggielurva managed to tweak the shunyata so that it sounded so good in his system. well, then, the credits must go to me for being able to coax the best out of shunyata!

those who have listened to my system can vouch that reviewing is made so much simpler because of its transparency, resolution and resolving power. some also remarked that it is neutral-souding. important thing is, with this system, i have a great "tool" and facility to to review stuff.

this hobby is very fun with all of us having different experiences to share!

Nicholas-expat said...

Hifi kaki,

Thank you for your interest.

My system is rather modest,nothing like yours;

1]CD Player:Metronome CD4 sig.

2]Pre:Lavardin pre 6/2

3]Power amp:Lavardin MAP monoblocks.

4]Speakers:Hanse Audio the knight

5]Cablings:Argento Audio Serenity Master reference from power chord,IC,SP cables.

6]Power Conditioner;Acoustic Revive RT4 with power max PC.

7]Accesories: Finite elemente Cerabase fot the sp,and cerapucs under all the equipments.

I do not know whether you have heard any of them,the brands that I use are not very famous;but more importantly They give me many hours of musical enjoyment.

Maybe one day I can invite you and Maggielurva over for a listen when i am less busy..

Yes ,as you might have guessed it I am French...

Anonymous said...

Hi Maggielurva,

Yes i do not think that Shunyata is that colored and it is just a relative comment. I do not doubt Shunyata's pefformance as i know of several friends who uses the V-Ray with their SET.

There is the need to tweak ones system to sound best to the owner's ears (to compensate for preferences or for shortfall as no system is perfect) and a different need to have as neutral sa system possible to review components.

I believe you when you say yours is neutral enough to use for component review as you know your system best.

The components you and your team have reviewed and/or are reviewing are all good stuffs so they will all sound good; just some will be better in different systems.

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

To Nicholas-expat, no wonder you find the Shunyata colored, you already own among the best passive power distributor in the market

"6]Power Conditioner;Acoustic Revive RT4 with power max PC."

I own the RTP6 Ultimate.. ;-)

Check out this thread on the RTP's

http://www.audioasylum.com/cgi/vt.mpl?
f=tweaks&m=154682

Anonymous said...

If one cannot afford the Acoustic Revive RTP ultimates, the Oyaide's MTBs are not too bad too..
Just found out that lil'kc is having a wonderful time with his latest toys...

http://lilkcaudioblog.blogspot.com

Eh.... what happened to the his link at the sidebar?

hifikaki said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hifikaki said...

nicholas-expat,

Thanks for posting your system here . You are the modest one, not your system. :-)

It is interesting the result you have with Shunyata in such a system, could it be that the American Shunyata cannot see eye-to-eye with French equipment? (just kidding).

You are right, I have only read about the brands you use, but never heard them playing since they don’t have dealers in Malaysia.

Look forward to future exchanges of thoughts and experience.

Anonymous said...

I wish to give my most sincere thanks to Maggie and hifi kaki here for their informative reviews and write ups.

I find that I can relate to their opinions and that's what matters.

In regards to the topic of PLC, their write up have helped me find my way to get the sonic results I so desried.

Keep up the briliant work guys!

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...

hi nick,

looking forward to listen to your "modest" system!

hi anonymous,
thanks for the good words!