many systems i listened to in the past (including megabuck systems) committed this common and major sin - that their music seems strangled and canned, not being able to let loose and flow freely especially when playing dynamic passages.

while there are many reasons for this phenomenon but the most likely possibility in my experience is the over-treatment of AC. simply put, there is too much filtering and conditioning taking place that result in dynamics being curtailed or compressed.

many owners like to feed the AC with some sort of isolation transformer, balanced transformer or AC regulator (computer-grade regulator is the worse!), and that's not the end, it is then followed by another (or more) PLC(s) and many more tweaks such are ferrite rings, cable jackets or ENACOM filters. i shake my head every time i see this sort of over-treatment. do you know how much damage you do to the music? true, you might get a crystal clean and ultra-pure AC but the music is often sterile and lifeless.

how do i know? been there, done that. because i have tried that with daisy-chaining or clustering several RGPCs with some powertrans and other PLCS and the results were horrendous, to say the least. the music seems caged, strangled and not able to come out freely.

if you don't believe, listen to some of your friends' systems which are dynamically uncompressed and use it as a reference. a good system should play dynamic music that goes out its way, with no restriction whatsoever, to shake your aural senses and make you tap your feet and shake your body.

as a purist in hifi, i believe in the most direct and shortest path, whether in AC or in cable connection. don't introduce too many "devils" in between the path. simplicity is always the best.

hi-fi is not about listening to oh-so-gentle and come-caress-my-soul female vocals only. only if your system can handle dynamic music expressively then it is considered an all-rounder system. an all-rounder system is invariably the most entertaining system.

20 comments:

Glenn said...

Nothing could kill music more than an overfiltered Ac.

I noticed one of your previous reader uses Lavardin AMP.Now,Lavardin has been on the forefront in the fight against overfilterd components that has been propogated by the American.In fact Lavardin completely discouraged the use of ANY for of filtration at all and if you must you should only use passive filters.

The problem is not many Hi-fi products are as well engineered.A well engineered Hi-fi equipment should be built to withstand the assault of the RFIand their gang,and all you need is Superb PC[without/using passive shielding] and passive PLC,if there is ever such a term.JMHO

Anonymous said...

Most high end amps and preamp and CDP have external power supply. Aren't these a form of AC conditioning?

Using AC conditioning at the wrong place is a no-no. Used wisely, it will do what it is intended to do without negative effects.

The issue here is on education needed for the audiophile community.

Else everybody just runs out and spend their hard earn money and find results contrary to what's reported in reviews etc.

Maybe some guidelines can be put together in this blog to help people choose their PLCs.

J McConnel said...

Very imely article,maggielurva...

Finally you must ask yourself why are you in the hobby in the first place.

I for one use music as a way to se stress from my hectic life.Nothing could nurse my tired soul better than listening to a well recorded music ,by passionate artists at the best of their craft...hence I like my setup to be as simple and yet yield the best results.I come to the conclusions that you do get what you pay for ,if you know what to buy...

Now I know some people who use 3 different sets of different cable lifters[!!!!}for different kind of music.

the amount of cables they have in the room make you think you are in a snake farm..Not to mentioned the different kind of things you wrap and shine...you get the gist...well gy the time they get done ,normally they will be too tired to listen...

Or the people who are in it for the "bragging' factor How many of the x magazine recommended components they have ....

So finally I've decided on a Wadia CDP ,because I can make do without a preamp.A Delta-sigma amp because the bandwidth are so wide I could hear the space of the hall,and A gemme audio loudspeaker because they are so easy to drive.And I do not use power conditioners,because it doesn't make any difference in my set up...

Instead I realize that cables and IC do matter,and the biggest killer of good equipments are poor stands and bad equipment footings.

If you come and Listen i normally listen in the dark,at low volume,but the resolution are enought to mmake me waes up th enext day feeling refrwshed...

Julian said...

I like my intergrated CDP and intergrated amp.But I agree with the above that you must buy the absolute best..CDP with variable output control and intergrated amp made by the specialist.The Likes Of Lavardin,Neodio,The italian made Delta-Sigma,Danish made Bow tech...these man make seperates redundant.

As far as speakers are concerned you should go for high eff speakers.

There you have it .Set up at absolute minimum .And with the above you do not need any conditioners at all.

Not cheap ,but if you consider all the money spent on all the tweaks and cables that you could save,well worth the investment

KMLIONG said...

Hi Maggielurva,

On my recent trip in London I had an eart shaking,nerve numbing experience after listening to my friend's system;EMM labs CDSA Se Player;ASR Emitter[Ver Blue];Hansen's knight loudspeaker.

The sound was so good that I actually cried;the first time in my 52 yrs that I actually cried listening to music....

Of course I haven't heard any of them before ,but to me I had my musical epiphany that day....I am in the midst of trying to sort out my hi-fi,probably taking the route my friend did

Ash said...

Are you going the French way,Maggielurva?

Kurien said...

he reasons why NAIM is not as popular as as it should be is because they discouraged tweak.Of course having a seperate power supply are the only upgrade encouraged [and always audible from the first minute]...Even the power cord they recommend are by the unglamorous but extremely effective WIREWORLD..

The fact of the matter the NAIM engineers are amongst the most brilliant in the industry.; Does it say something?

Chit said...

Acactually you do get different flavour from different ares.

The japanese loves their Turntables ,tube amps and SETS

The German and the French are almost alike in their taste,very well engineered products that Doesn't need tweeking, and High efficiency speakers..

The americans love big bloated sounds,sound that could blast you out of the listening chair..

The brits love their intergrated,value for money products..


And lastly The Chinese;well they will try to copy everything they can!!!1

aboon said...

nice cartoon ;';

is that your hand squeezing aken,Maggie?

GCK said...

Hi Leslie, good topic for reminding me to look into my own system. You never know if the things you put throughout the years in the AC supply chain is choking the system.Only way to find out is to remove one by one.

Not only that, I came to know also that certain tweaks like tube dampers and RCA dampers can dampen too much and restricts the music. "Certain things are meant to vibrate", said one respected visitor to my system.

I guess a good PLC like Audio Magic higher model will clean up noise as well as not restricts the dynamics of the music.
Time to visit Audio Creations....

CHYIP said...

Maggielurva,

I rarely encounter negetive effects of any PLC on digital fronts,and to a certain extent ;Preamp.

But on the other hand ,Power amps especially monoblocks are complete different story.Almost always,Dynamic range would be limited ,sometime the timing of instruments will also change.

so to me monoblocks user should invest in the best PC they could afford,rendering PLC obsolete

Anonymous said...

Rather than comment on what PLC or how it is used you should hear the end results rather than assume that what is being done will do harm. If you can prove to the host that these tweeks do more harm than good then and only then do you have a basis to say tweaks such as isolation transformer, balanced transformer or AC regulator, ferrite rings, cable jackets or ENACOM filters are overkill. I think it was the Chair Guy in AC who swares by Enacoms and only Enacoms.

wlliam said...

aNONYMOUS,
dON'T YOU AGREE THAT MOST OF THE gear that need tweaking are not good enought to start with?

Why would you needEnacoms when your cable are well engineered.

That is My understanding of NAIM philosophy ,and a lot of other truly hi-end ,low key products

Dr Lim said...

I medicine ,we have a term to the effect of "sugar" pill to explain certain positive response in clinical trial;"placebo" effect.

I suspect a lot of stuff out there give these kind of effects to unsuspecting users.

To some,the infusion of science take the fun out of this hobby.But really,MOST things should be measurable.If a certain equipment ,doesn't give any sonic improvement,it is still okey;as long as your pride of owning it and the joy of looking at it is measureable}:{

Anonymous said...

William,
You use no tweeks because you use Naim?
In that case MaggieLurva should not be using Shunyata or Audio Magic unless you are saying what he uses (cables etc) are also not good enough in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Dr Lim,
In hi-fi we cannot discount placebo effect (reacting to something that's really not there at all) that's why we have double blind tests and where that is not possible a trusted second opinion.
Read this blog and you will see maggielurva's progressive opinions on RGPC, Shunyata and Audio Magic. Hardly placebo.

william said...

Anonynous ,my friend....

I didn't meant it as a personal attack to anyone..I am just giving a different view,based on the topic discussed by maggielurva;simplicity in hi fi..

Yes for Naim products,the shunyata,Audio magic etc will not give any sonic improvement because that was how it was created...the only upgrades are are seperate power supply ,that too must be NAIM made ones.


That is the philosophy crated by NAIM engineers[and to a certain extent Lavardin,Neodio}Just a differnt approach to hi-fi..

Is it better?Only you can decide.For me ,If I have my way ,I would love to have all tubes system,and yes Turtables are much superior to digital,but in NAIM ,it gives me hassle free components that allow me to cocentrate on the music and not the gears.

CHEERS!!!

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...

j mcconnell,
looks like you know what you want. congrats!

kmliong,
a good hifi, like a good performance, can touch the hearts. i, too, often clap in the middle of the night when i hear something stupendous in my system but many think i am mad. i am glad you were moved and i am sure you will do well in the near future.

ash,
i would but i can't think of anything french in local hifi :-(

aboon,
ken is bigger size than me; it should be the other way round ;-)

chyip,
yeah, some audiophiles don't like PLC on their power amps. however, my shunyata works on my ARC monos.

hi anonymous,
i didn't say any of those tweaks are no good, i just say over-using it can bring more harm than good.
of course, if the owner allows me to tweak, i would definitely build the system from ground zero (ie. start with no tweaks at all)
in fact, one of my readers is already heeding my advice (to remove all those power-related tweaks).

my journey in PLCs shows that i am also learning (and improving) all the time ;-)

dr. lim,
there is no such thing as placebo effect if your listening is good ;-)

Ken said...

ABoon,

Very funny ah ;-P

Seriously, I don't agree with Maggielurva assertion that too much overfiltering take the life out the music. Most of the older range of power conditioners does constrict the sound dynalically but not the newer generation equivalents.

You need filtering because the AC, one gets is poor. There is a also a lot of noise in the electricity. I use Powertrans with the RGPC and I find that they work for me. Each has its weak points but when I match them together, I found that the strong points emerge that I get from each component (Powertrans and RGPC) is there to be heard. The weak points seem to be obliterated when I "match" them together.

I am using the Rowland amp and I am now reviewing the Pass. Both are brute force American type of amp. I don't hear restriction at all, in the dynamics. When I listen to classical music, esp dynamic ones like 1812, the tympani whacks has to be heard to be believed. Sister Drum is, ooh, so nice. I was listening to Janis Ian last night. The drums is marvellous and so is Ms Ian. She was in her full glory. As the Americans, Ms Ian is in the room as opposed to Elvis is in the room.

If you have listened to "filtered" system and found them wanting, then it is the setup that is problematic or is poorly setup. The reason I say this is because I know of a lot of setup which has similar filtering (Powertrans & RGPC) as mine like Unc Cheong.

YMMV

Anonymous said...

Filtering done right is a good thing. When the truth comes out after good filtering, then it will be time to change components....many cannot handle the truth.