The "Beast" Pure Power APS 2000.

In an over promised world, it is very seldom that you find a product delivers all or most of the sell lines coined up by the ad's copy writers. Pure Power APS 2000 makes bold claims about being the best audio power conditioner your money can buy! We'll find out soon enough.

The unit supplied for this review is finished in brushed black front panel and and steel body. The unit weights a shocking 37kgs! Hauling this "beast" up to my 1st floor audio cave required the help of a very good friend indeed. Most of the weight is contributed by the 6pcs of 12V DC batteries built inside the unit. Other than power conditioning, Pure Power APS claims to function as an UPS, surge and lightning protection, plus EMI/RFI suppressor are amongst the 10 things it'll do. Read more about the product on

According to my electronics engineer friend, the re generator route for audio power supply is certainly the best way to be assured of good sound. However, with the unit fresh out of the box, I gone thru the manual and very quickly hook up all the input and output power cabling, press and hold down the "ON" button, the unit "clicks" start and here we go!

Upon powering up the batteries only show 51% charge, I proceed to start casual listening. After a few songs, I just didn't want to listen any more! The Pure Power APS 2000 made my system sounded really awful. The highs were grainy, the lushness in the mids had given way to a certain hardness and the bass while sounding powerful but was lumpy. I left the unit "ON" to charge for 48 hours, before returning to a 100% battery charged.

The multi display indicating batteries 100% charged.

Now, with the batteries fully charged, my whole system(mono block power amps included) powered by the Pure Power APS 2000, the sound took on a more confident note. All the previously mentioned qualities are gone. Immediately apparent now is the startling clarity offered by the music playing system, like a window glass that has just been wiped clean. Noise floor is very certainly brought down by a mile. I found my self now admiring to the focus of each and every instrument within the deep, wide sound stage!(Now this is recording dependent, if the recording has it, it'll be reproduced)

The vocals are now very palpable and believable. In fact so good, with recordings that have it, you can certainly hear a face in the room too! This is scary at night. Ha!Ha! Bass now though powerful, like as if my little Audio Physic Sparks had grown a pair of 8 inch woofers! But the bass quality is low, tight and certainly for string bass instrument, like the double bass or electric bass guitar, there's an elastic quality to it that made me wanna boogie!

String instruments like violins and especially the piano, which is one of the most difficult to reproduce instrument by hi fi, had a certain realistic quality to them. In my system when previously playing solo piano recordings, I tend to only have a idea about the key board area, but with the Pure Power APS 2000, the grand piano body is also presented within the sound stage.

The multi display indicating system load 36%.

The Hammond B3 keyboard is another instrument that benefited from using the Pure Power APS 2000. It now has a very like able texture to it, never ear piercing, like it sometimes does in a lesser system. The Pure Power APS 2000, powering my whole system never ran out of steam, with my system constantly loading it between 34% and 48%, based on the switchable multi display, which is really cool. The unit is rated at 8.7 amps and can certainly go very much higher for short burst of time.

Note the big breathing griles for the built in fans. I can hear the fans "" away when no music is played.

However, if there was an area that I was not thoroughly convinced, it's the highs. It's got a very airy, extended quality to it, but it almost always sounded just a little ragged. Not that it's unrefined, just somehow not what I am used to hearing from an high end system.

The 2 big red JPS Inwall to power the pair of mono blocks. the black cable powers the Isotek Sigmas, which filters and in turn power my CD player, turn table, preamp and phono stage.

Time to bring back my electronics engineer friend with his tools of trade. We measured the outputs of the Pure Power APS with an oscilloscope attached, and it was reproducing a perfect output sine wave of 240V consistently. However, when we magnified the sine waves and we saw the minute saw toothed shape in the sine wave, indicating the Pure Power APS has Class D switching devices inside. That probably explains the way the highs sounded.

On the advise of my engineer friend, my resident Isotek Sigmas was brought back in to service. This time, we left connected power amps directly powered by the Pure Power APS, but used one of the outputs to power the Isotek Sigmas and all my source and pre amps powered thru the Isotek.

I proceeded to play some music again, and wah lah! This time, I know that I am hearing the right kind off high frequencies that I am used to getting before! All the rest of the other good qualities mentioned earlier are retained! I strongly suspect that if I replaced the Isotek with a Shunyata Hydra, than it'll even be more perfect!

I really liked the Pure Power APS 2000 powering my system, even more so when used with an auxiliary passive filter like the Shunyata Hydra, or in my case the Isotek Sigmas powering the source and pre amps. Used in that context, it's probably one of the best power line solutions money can buy today.

But the competition is heating up in the PLC market, Torus Power just updated their range of PLCs. I've just secured a model 8A for review. It'll left to be seen next if the Torus Power will maintain their supremacy.

Pure Power APS is sold by Sound Precision Sdn Bhd, contact Mr Eng, tel: 012 2353763

(well, it is actually less than a year, read on :-) )

Maggielurva wrote about CK Gnoh's (GCK) system almost a year ago under the title 'sweet surrender' (May 24th 2008).

Being a 'progressive' audiophile :-), CK's sytem has gone through substantial changes since then - probably only half of his system components survived since that last visit. While Maggielurva visited CK a few times in the intervening months and got a good handle on his system's evolution, I had not. It was high time for me to get an update.

We visited him last night, a bunch of eager guys consisting of Maggielurva, Panzer, Puchong Wong and myself. Being the affable person CK always is, he has warmed up his system for a while waiting for us. But we got there late, as I screwed up my 'time management' at another visit (story to come). So sorry, CK.

Ok, let's get to the system changes.
The full system view
The digital frontend remained as the Marantz SA11S1, but the analogue front was totally changed from Rega (I believe it was) to Clearaudio - Ambient turntable with CMB (ceramic magnetic bearing) ugrade, Satisfy Ebony Wood tonearm and Stradivari cartridge. I think any hot blooded LP-phile would swoon at the sight of these. The phono stage was a custom design unit from local dealer Audio Image, CK swore by its performance, gushing about its performance more than once. Our listening to LPs later bore this out, the LP frontend's performance was streets ahead of CD. It was more open, more detailed and simply more alive.

Clearaudio LP system with the custom design phonostage underneath
CK changed his pre-amp from a passive unit to the jewel like Nagra PLL (now, it was my turn to swoon). The power amps and loudspeakers further down the chain stayed the same, consisting of the VAL MP211 monoblocks and Audio Physic Scorpio.

Nagra PLL preamp, with its external power supply (left) and the phonostage's power supply (right) on the top rack

VAL monoblocks

Audio Physic Scorpio
However, the interconnects that strung the equipment together saw a big revamp, they are now Livelines by Acoustic System Int., replacing Stage 3. The speaker cables, the Luminous Audio Synchestra, survived though.

CK also reworked his power supply set-up, now the Audiomagic XXX PLC took centrestage, augmented by 2 Promitheus Audio Power Energizer. The XXX was fed by an Audiomagic Illusion 4D powercord from the wall. The rest of the powercords were Cryoparts Cryomax 3 self terminated with Marinco and Oyaide.

Audiomagic XXX PLC below the the Marantz SA11S1
Additional accessories included footers/spikes/resonance control/EMI absorption etc including Shun Mook cable jackets, Shun Mook Diamond Resonator (under Marantz), Finite Elemente ceraballs (under Nagra), Aurios (under phonostage and monoblocks) and Soundcare Superspikes (under Audio Physic).

A mention of CK's setup of course must include his famed resonators for room tune and treatment, they consisted of the Acoustic System Resonators, 2 Copper and 6 Silver. It really slipped my mind - I did not take any photos of these little wonders, you would have to do your own google search if you want to know how they look like.

Phew! I am out of breath now writing up on CK's equipment. Thanks to CK for compiling a list for me, no way my mind could hold all this information after just a 2 hour visit.

Hold on, hold on, I am not done yet, I must also mention the Tohnichi torque driver that CK used to tighten the screws on his equipment and loudspeakers. I don't have to go further about the Tohnichi, you have read Maggielurva's earlier post on the effect the torque driver wrought in CK's system.

I did not have the benefit of following each evolution stage of CK's system. I just have my 9-month old memory to fall back on. My impression was extremely positive however. One major improvement area was Coherence, everything clicked into place - with better focus and improved pace over the entire sonic spectrum, all the musicians were heard playing together, there was no feeling of the guitar/violin rushing ahead and the double bass lagging behind the singer for example. Detail retrieval had gone up too (this quality shone through even stronger via the LP frontend), little nuances in a guitar rift or a singer's voice came through very well, adding to our listening pleasure.

Other areas that his system was doing great on my first visit were still there, they might have even been improved on further - soundstaging (I believe it had gone wider), midrange purity (must be the SETs), and sheer listenability with totally non-fatiguing sound.

My fellow cohorts who have apparently visited CK more times than me must have more to add. So, please pile on, guys!

CK's system has the potential to move forward even further, and CK of course is not someone who stands still. I can bet that if you blinked, he would have left you to eat dust! :-)

in all my 20+ years of hifi, i haven't seen a tweak as ground-breaking, impactful and life-changing as the torque screwdriver. .

ck had his audio physics speakers fully torque-ed and the whole desirable audio team went to listen tonight. my god, the improvement is nothing short of astounding. a 20% quantum leap in performance from just RM600 investment on the tohnichi torque screwdriver. if this is not ground-breaking, i don't know what is.

in the past, i have made several comments on ck's system which he didn't take seriously. tonight, i hope he understands what i meant.

the best part about audiophile fellowship is the sharing. nothing beats the joy of seeing your fellow audiophile achieved audio enlightenment, and being able to communicate with you. i am a very critical listener and a lot of times, my comments or constructive criticism - if i am generous enough to make them la (as most times, i just keep quiet) - were taken in the negative way.

i hope this gigantic tweak has elevated ck to another league in audiophile ladder (a ladder of endless pursuit of perfection or imperfection!). i hope with this gigantic improvement, ck would be able to share with me on a much much deeper level. like-minded sharing is the ultimate joy of this hobby that we love so much.

i was told that some veteran dealers/audiophiles knew about this tweak long ago but seldom share it with others. at desirable audio, we believe in the generosity in sharing. because as more people attain good sound, there will be more contentment. with more contentment, there will be more fellowship and sharing. with more fellowship, there will be more goodwill and positive upgrades. with more positive upgrades, the hifi economy will improve. it is a win-win-win situation for you, your friend(s) and the dealer.

heartiest congrats to you, ck gnoh.

What's this? Curious? Stay tuned!

lately, i have been labeled by my hifi friends as the hifi madman, simply because of my intention to move house.

weeks of bad AC problems have rendered my system unplayable, even after 2am in the morning when everyone should be soundly asleep, it doesn't sound good. plagued with such misery, i have thought of biting the bullet and moving out from this area altogether. i don't think i am insane but many of my hifi friends do think so, except wong tatt yew, my dealer friend, who empathizes with me as he had been thru this path at the peak of his hifi fever. one even "scolded" me for such ludicrous idea. he said, "there is more to life than hifi".

this miserable episode has given me much audiophilia nervosa. i begin to enter the gate of audio hell where my only obsession is to gauge whether the AC quality is good for playing. i play the same old few tracks repeatedly, day in day out, night in night out, to gauge the sound. i lose my music. i suffer silently. no one understands me.

then one bright idea came this morning at 3am. it suddenly dawned on me that i have using the red-colored phase (of my 3-phase) for more than 2 years now. it used to be the most stable (with minimal voltage fluctuations throughout the day) and best-sounding, could it be that it has been overloaded or redistributed by TNB (our national power company)? without hesitation, i sms-ed my electrician at 3am and summoned him to come in the morning.

it took my audiophile-trained electrician less than 5 minutes to change the red-colored phase to yellow-colored phase (the remaining one is blue-colored) and i immediately switched on my system.... lo and behold, it comes alive! that is the true sound of my system! i jumped up in elation and punched my fist in the air! yeah! yeah! yeah! that's the way i like it! (a-hak, a-hak)

the recent furutech IEC plug upgrade, the new meridian g08.2, the new hydra 8 (read later part of this post) all combined to push the previous sound boundary to another level. it is my all-time-best sound i have ever attained. another milestone. marvelous!

the moral of the story is - one must think out-of-the-box in solving critical hifi problems. i have been so obsessed with other issues that i lost sight of the fundamental suspect. it would have saved me so much pain and agony had i realized this simple trouble-shooting skill. i just documented this tip into my hifi trouble-shooting checklist, which i refer to from time to time.

i would urge all users who have 3-phase electricity in their house to periodically listen to each phase and pick the best phase for their hifi. one could never understand how TNB loads and re-distributes each phase from time to time. ultimately, use your ears as the judge. please ask a qualified electrician to do the switching for you.

i am smiling again, so happy that i have gotten back my sound, after 3 months of suffering.

[hydra demystified]

i loaned master ken my shunyata hydra 4 last week. while he was sufficiently enamored, he commented that the hydra's main drawback of slightly duller highs (as compared to his RGPC) prevented him to consider further, and he is not willing to "tweak" it like i did.

readers here should know how much i and hifikaki adore the hydra. to maximize hydra's potential, one has to use good interconnects (silver preferred) to compensate for the highs, which is hydra's only weak point. hydra's seductiveness in the midrange, immense musicality and superb naturalness eand how it retains the full tonal colors of the original sound are what kept both of us enchanted for so long. so far, no PLC can come close in these critical areas.

recently, in tiny dot singapore, i observed many hydras being sold in echoloft. many have converted to acoustic revive apparently. it will be interesting if i can get hold of an acoustic revive PLC and do a shoot-out. i will check with happy audio visual. i will leave my dissection on PLCs for another day but watch out or a PLC "party" coming soon!

i got hold of a hydra 6 from a friend, doubting that it can be any different from hydra 4. voila!, it is actually much better than the 4! there are more details, more energy, a bigger soundstage and even lower noise floor. hifikaki explained that because the 6 uses 3 duplexes (which has a filter on its own) as compared to 4's 2 duplexes only. in fact, he think hydra 8 is even better because i has 4 duplexes!

without hesitation and as a reward for myself for solving the AC problems - at least for now - i upgraded my hydra 4 to hydra 8. this must be the quickest buying decision i have ever made!

the hydra 8 is superbly large-scale, weightier and more expansive and dynamic than either the hydra 6 or hydra 4. it is a worthwhile investment again.

i think it is time to savor my music without getting anal and mental.

this is the uncanny madman signing off with a evil grin - yes, i am mad but i am true to my hifi and my music!

AOR Reference 003, pretty in white.

Sometime in late July last year, I heard a story about how a local David slayed an American Goliath in the power cord stakes. The myth, apparently pointed out that this locally made RM$1K plus power cord, beat an American branded high end product costing ten times more. The rest they say is history!

Sometime in August last year, I was home visiting our resident LS3/5A guru, Jo Ki and came across this pretty in white looking cable, seemingly made of litz construction. I asked, what's this?, my host reluctantly shared with me that he was helping a friend test and develop this interesting power cord, apparently, designed to work best with Torus Power Conditioners and digital playback equipment, such as DACs and high end CD players.

I gave my dear friend, Felix a call, and asked to try his latest efforts. He told me that he was finalizing production details of his then, yet to be named power cord. Two months later, in October, my sample arrived. I asked, what took him so long?

He told me that to build each power cord consistently, he had to prepare a jig to facilitate the litz construction, the cable's high purity copper cores are sourced from a reliable supplier. All terminations are of silver solder sourced from a well respected high end manufacturer in German. Standard American style male plugs and IEC female side is sourced from Holland. British style male plug is 13 amps MK Duraplug with rubber body(like those usually seen on high end big Krell power amps), not plastic. Standard power cord length available is 1.8M and 2.1M.

But the real secret in shaping AOR Reference 003's final sound, is in the building process. Each termination screw has it's own torgue spec!, as is each plug body screw. To protect the cable outer screws from being mucked around, all screw holes are waxed. Felix further adds that it takes him a little more than 2 days to build a power cord. Each power cord, will sound the same as he not only checks their impedance, resistance and capacitance to spec, he also burns them for a few days, then listens to them on his own system, to ensure all AOR Reference 003 sounds the same. He also tells me, each system only needs one AOR Reference 003, best used with the source, if not pre amp duties is good too. I totally trust his ears!

I plugged the AOR Reference 003 in to my Marantz CD7, replacing the Isotek Premium power cord. The comparison from here on is made between the Isotek Premium and the AOR Reference 003. From the first notes, I was blown away. The Marantz CD7 being a player of slightly mellowed nature, suddenly sounded as if it just completed a 12 week fitness program.

The AOR Reference 003 made the overall sound a little more focus, the level of energy and micro dynamics of the Marantz CD7 was improved considerably. Also improved is the transparency of the CD player, seemingly able to dig out more information out of the CD medium than previously. Low level detail previously masked is now brought to the fore, but ever so naturally and never calls attention to it self.

However, at times I felt the power cord can be just a little more refined and civilised. Not that it's bright or harsh, just wishing that at times when playing music of more mellowed nature, it can just be a little gentler, yes, that's the correct word.

I then proceed to try the AOR Reference 003 on my DIY Pass ONO clone phono stage, and found that it gave the same kind of improvements as per the CD player experienced earlier but only this time, the leap was bigger, much bigger. Not one who does things half way, I called Felix again to request for a second AOR Reference 003 to power my phono stage, again, the wait was another two agonising months!

The two ends, MK Dura plug and Furutech FI-11(G).

My wish for a gentler sounding AOR Reference 003 came in the form of the Furutech FI-11(G) IEC female plugs. With the Furutech installed, the experience of the sound was life changing!(refer back to my 8th January 2009 post, A Tale of IEC Plugs) The Furutech maintained all the positive attributes of the AOR Reference 003, but also made improvements the to weaker areas, to make the power cord such a world beater. I called Felix, told him to come listen to his product again with the Furutech, he was impressed, took my two AOR Reference 003, went back and did further studies on the matter.

When returned to me about a week later, he told me that it'll now sound even better! Apparently, all the cable to plug termination screw's torgue spec on the IEC female side have been revised for the Furutech, as well as the amount of silver solder used for that affected end. Now, that's attention to detail! The returned cables are simply magical, giving more airy highs, a little warmer mids, and the killer micro dynamics which I found so amazing, never diluted one bit!

The Furutech FI-11(G) is now a cost added option(take the Furutech option if you're really serious about sound!, IMHO) when buying the AOR Reference 003.

There's a now a 2-3 month's waiting list for this power cord. Felix tells me the waiting list is growing still. He can't make the power cords any faster, as he has to personally make, and test each power cord. Now, if this isn't a custom product worthy of a signature, then I don't know what is!

If you're thinking about spending some serious $$$ on power cords, you owe it to your self to check out the AOR Reference 003.

If interested, you can call Felix to enquire at 012-3662408.

The Ceraball Universal, with the M8 screw and jamming nut assembled(as per diagram D).

We were provided loaners to play with the last time(smart tactic Adrian!, give'em honey and they'll stick like bees). After returning the loaners, I started missing the Ceraballs effect. So I had to get some of my very own, but this time with a twist.

I managed to wrestle two sets of Ceraballs Universal from our friend GCK. I decided to use them under my pair of Audio Physic Spark speakers, which weight in at 17KGs each. Just nice for the Ceraballs.

Audio Physic Spark with the original spikes in use.

When using the Ceraballs Universal to screw under the speaker feet, do remember to use the jamming nut on theM6/M8 attachment screws provided. I tried using the Ceraballs under the Audio Physic with and without the jamming nut, and found that the Ceraballs does nothing for the sound without it. It sounded exactly the same as using the M8 spikes provided by Audio Physic. The speakers are then adjusted to balance on all four Ceraballs using a water mark level provided by Audio Physic.

Audio Physic Spark with the Ceraball Universal.

With the jamming nut in used, and the speakers put back in to their original position, the effect was like as if my system had an EQ installed, with the adjustment of a smiley curve! The bass and treble frequencies overwhelmed the mids! But that was just what I needed, I had always thought, that if I had a little more in room bass response, I could pull the speakers a little further in to the room, to better re-create stage depth, an area which my system could further improved upon.

The speakers are further pulled in to the room by 4 inches. Making them sit 36 inches away from the speaker's back wall, and 16 inches away from the side wall. With the speakers repositioned, I found the smilley EQ curve effect gone. The system now sounded very tonally even, as before, with a touch of warmness, but that mid range bloom so evident before has very much subsided. With the new speaker position, the stage depth does indeed improved, without compromising stage width, which is something that, I had to do a balancing act before. not this time. Bass also extends lower and tighter. In short, it's like I've upgraded to a bigger Audio Physic in to my room!

Nice shoes!

Since I had FE Spider like rack, I wondered if the FE Spider Ceraballs fit? Again I borrowed some from Adrian to try for fitting. To my surprise, they fit really well! Some how the rack and the Spider Ceraballs just locked in like hand in gloves.

I opted to retain the glass shelves I had and allowed them to sit in between the Ceraballs and the equipment instead of having the equipment sitting directly on top of the Ceraballs. I like the look better that way, well, hi fi can also be eye fi sometimes. With the limited lateral movement of the Ceraballs along the X beams on the Spider like rack, the glass shelves also makes equipment balancing on 4 Ceraballs easier. The whole rack was re-adjusted for even balance using the same Audio Physic provided water mark level.

As before, with the Ceraballs under the Marantz CD7, only minor effect was observed. The sound tightened up somewhat, with an overall tidier presentation. The Ceraballs did a little more when added below the Pass Labs X2.5 pre amp. It allowed music to breath a little more freely within the sound stage. Musician which sometimes appear to elbow each other now has their own playing space within the sound stage. You can say the sound stage is a little more 3D in effect. The slightly excessive highs have given way to a more mature, mellow yet airy qualities. The mids now allows the voices gain more palpability and density. The already tight bottom end now gained an elastic quality too, that makes bass guitars and double bass instrument that little more believable. Kick drums are now distinctly heard, with each kick, even when the music mix is very busy.

Ceraball Spider under CDP and Pre amp.

The biggest benefactor of the Ceraballs Spider is the Rega P25 Turntable and phono stage. With the Ceraballs underneath both equipment, the vinyl part of the system can finally catch up to the CDs. I found my self suddenly playing much, much more LPs than before.

Ceraball Spider under Turntable and Phono stage.

The final tally, I got 2 sets of Ceraballs Universal, and 4 sets of Ceraballs Spider.

Perhaps it's the way my system is flawed, kinda plays to strengths of the Ceraballs. I can't be sure, but I suppose YMMV is still a caveat that is relevant, based on ML's earlier findings with the Ceraballs.

Lastly, word leaked out to some of my hi fi buddies that I had spent a small fortune on the Ceraballs. Suddenly, I am the butt of all jokes Ceraballs.
One suggested perhaps that I should also have 4 Ceraballs under my listening chair, but with my weight, the Cerapucs would be a better option!, if only he'd pay for it.

Another even suggested that I should have a Ceraball stuffed in to my ass! Well, if it made my hi fi sound better, with out feeling the pain in the ass!, I'd certainly consider.

after months of preparation, MTX (musictoxin xpress) will soon see the light!

we plan to have it distributed in prominent record shops all over malaysia.

pdf download will be available at the following blogs/websites:
1) desirable audio boutique
2) musictoxin
3) axcess tickets

besides, we will also consider starbucks cafes nationwide.... any other places, please suggest to us!

some key contents:

0) fantastic contest to win 3 tickets to watch nah youn sun live at kk jazz festival in june!
1) roger wang speaking on 2v1g's crisis
2) interview with JZ8, the dynamic chinese jazz duo
3) leslie loh [positive vibes] - leslie recommends 5 top chinese albums of 2008
4) joseph ki [listen critically] - audiophile guru joseph talking about 5 audiophile albums that impress him
5) chow kam leong [ jukebox] - chow travels down memory lane with some classic memorable his from the 70s
6) tay cher siang [ talking jazz] - cher siang talks about 5 jazz albums that influence his career
7) axcess tickets' calender
8) no black tie calender for march and april 2009
9) many previews of audiophile albums from interglobal

publication date is 2nd march 2009!

make sure you get a copy!

for someone who has little patience, i have been experimenting patiently with the FE ceraballs for the past 3 days.

i am amazed as i dwelve deeper into them. maybe i am a tweak virgin, pardon me.

first things first - the ceraballs must be used in 4 pieces to derive the full benefits, not 3 as stated by my fellow bloggers here. when 3 pieces are used, the full (positive) impact of the ceraball is largely compromised.

it is darn difficult to balance your equipment on 4 pieces; there is bound to be one single piece which is "loose" and not in tight contact with your equipment's base. when this happens, the resultant sound is again hugely compromised!

here's the trick i found out: balance the two pieces (back or front, depending on whether your equipment is front-heavy or back-heavy) using two hands simultaneously. move the two ceraballs in opposite or random directions until such point where the tips of ceraballs are into tight contact with the equipment's base. when you reach this point, you normally cannot move the ceraball anymore. stop there!

also, as astutely observed by ck gnoh in his comment in "the power of titan" post, the positioning of the ceraballs is critical. it requires minute adjust! it is really a tricky balancing act as you move the ceraballs wider or closer apart, forward or backward. the moment you get the best highs, you get less focus; the better the focus is, the less highs. you have to experiment until you get the best bass and best stereo imaging and the least compromised highs. as i have said, these are the pluses and minuses of the ceraballs.

after many trials, i managed to somehow maximize the ceraball's positive impact and minimize its negative impact. my highs are (arbitrarily) 3-5% less than what i used to get but i gained more in terms of imaging, focus and soundstaging. could the 3-5% loss be considered as excess highs/energies? i need to mull over this in the next few days.

there is still much to experiment with these balls of fire but this tweak virgin is definitely having fun!

Just got my hands on these two hifi soft wares, and to share some music with the younger audiophiles. The more experienced guys would have probably heard both these great recordings before, the usual 'Seen that, heard that" group. But if you've missed it previously when released here is your chance again.

Linda Ronstadt, For Sentimental Reasons.

Released in 1986, it's song's are typically classic American Song book choices. However, with the backing orchestra under Nelson Riddle's direction plays superbly. This recording, apparently is the last done by Nelson Riddle, features Linda Ronstadt for vocals. She doesn't do her usual singing style here but appears to have accommodated the orchestra really well.

The mood of the music is very well portrayed by the orchestra, from the dreamy opening track, Wish Upon a Star, to the really romantic tittled track, For Sentimental Reasons and the really dark sounding, Round' Midnight.

The DAD recording is superb, with very fine, soft, airy highs, lush string sounds and the vocal presented slightly up front, but never forward or bright sounding. The hall ambiances is realistically captured. In high resolution systems, you can even hear Nelson Riddle counting in the back ground while Linda sings!

Micheal Ruff, Speaking in Melodies.

I got this on the latest reissued 180gsm 2 vinyl set. This Shefield Labs recording bears all the hallmarks of the Shefield Labs sound. Great separation, gutsy dynamic bass guitar and drums, warm piano reproduction with realistic decay, horns comes with burnish tone, textured Hammond B-3 keyboard and great vocal focus.

The music is typical 80's A&R friendly pop, but performed with great musicianship and presentation. I constantly found myself doing the "Air Guitar" unconsciously. Lyrics range from inspirational to romance and doing good for the world sort a thing.

My favorite track is actually the bonus track that came with this 2 LP set, which takes up the whole side 4. The full performance of I'll Find You There runs for 6 mins or more, and the last 3 mins are a jam session between the back up singers, saxophone, bass guitar and drums! At one point I heard 3 singers, evenly spaced behind my speakers, 2 ofthem in the room corners and Micheal in the middle, very palpable and in my room, doing a jingle, each heard clearly, teeth, tongue and all, add the bass guitar, then drums kick in to full dynamic effect. It's a cracker!

ithe ARC sitting on the ceraballs, with the unused cerabases infront

i had reported earlier that the FE ceraballs didn't work on my mana rack. they dull the sound and curtail immediacy.

but it doesn't stop me from exploring further. i got two sets of ceraball universal from adrian wong of audio image (016-6001218) yesterday to try on my ARC monoblocks and the results are truly rewarding.

first effect, the ceraballs made the bass shape like a ball of low energy, they tidy up all the smearing of low notes. the bass now takes on a 3-D spherical "form" which is very much like the real bass notes that we are used to in real life. lovely! this is plus point number 1.

2nd effect, the ceraballs enhance soundstaging in a very unique way. the keyword here is tidiness - they tidy up all images, again reducing smearing and improve delineation; they make the images more compact and more 3-D. the images now floats within the soundstage more convincingly and palpably. also, because of this tidying act, the separation and layering of instruments and musicians are more pronounced than before. to me, this is the single most rewarding asset of the ceraball. and i must tell you this wonderful panaromic effect - all the musicians seem to play on a 3-D platform that is anchored solidly on the plane behind the speakers.

i would like to warn you that the ceraballs cannot be used to the extreme. in my case, 2 sets under my monoblocks are already the most my system can take. it has a tendency to dull the sound and reduce immediacy but in my case, because my highs/immediacy are so brilliant, i could tolerate a bit of compromise. when i tried the 5-times-more-expensive FE cerabase, the drawback could immediately be felt. the cerabases are a definite overkill for the 27kg-only monoblock, it is just not heavy enough to derive the full benefits. the resultant sound is dull and liveless.

i thoroughly enjoy this new presentation that i am getting from my RM1K investment.

the affordable finite elemente ceraballs are infinitely satisfying for these financially trying times.

after dabbling with it for another night, i must say the ceraball is not without its shortcomings. the way the ceraball enhances the stereo imaging and soundstaging requires a bit of compromise. it does rob my system off some high frequency brilliance that i love so much but that could be "false and excess highs", i am not quite sure. but overall, the pros overwhelm the cons. i particularly like my soundstage now, very dimensional and palpable.

Panzer has comprehensively written about the IsoTek Titan power line conditioner, so I thought of doing something a little different. Instead of listening to the Titan on its own, I'd combine it with the Shunyata Hydra 8 that I am using. Anyhow, as the Titan has only 2 outlets, my Pass Labs XA60 monoblocks could be conveniently hooked up to it, while the frontend and pre-amp would remain on the Hydra 8 (the Titan actually has a facility for the user to add on a IsoTek power strip so more equipment can be plugged into it, but we did not get it from the distributor, Centre Circle Audio). Both the Hydra 8 and the IsoTek Titan were plugged directly into the wall.

So this write-up is to be read in this context - all comments on the Titan were when it was used in tandem with the Hydra 8, all comments on Hydra 8 were when it was used alone.

Now, are you ready for the things that have changed in my system with the Titan? Here we go:

One - Oh, my goodness! The BASS! The IsoTek at one stroke eliminated my nagging reservation about my system's bass performance where sometimes a bass note could come off as a 'blob'. The IsoTek tightened it up considerably, adding definition and power, now bass notes came off much tightly packed, more like a punch or a ball of energy. The amps had a better grip, listening to music with considerable bass content would make one think that the amps were not just 60w but probably 100w-120w.

Two - Oh, my goodness again! The entire sound became more energetic, not aggressive mind you, but the sound filled up my room easily, and the system handled much more easily anything that got thrown at it. This was especially so with music that had great dynamic swing. I wanted to wave my hands in the air and punch my fists in the sky. It was a thrilling ride!

This aspect was most influenced by the addition of a trio of Finite Elemente Ceraball Universals (you can see them in the picture above). With this result, I consider the Ceraballs essential for the Titan's performance, ymmv.

In all of these, the tone of the midrange remained rich and retained its natural body, a hallmark of the Shunyata I believe, the addition of the IsoTek did not alter this.

Three - complex music got unravelled better, simple music retained its composure (did not get rushed or overblown), giving an overall more confident sounding presentation. Each note was better formed - you can discern the beginning and end of each. Timing and pace became more precise.

Next, let's touch on one area where the two presented different perspectives: the highs. It is the area where the Hydra 8 and the Titan differed the most, in my opinion. The IsoTek's highs were slightly more extended and more open, Shunyata's were slightly more honey-like - sweet and smooth. IsoTek's highs were presented with details and in a straightforward manner, while Shunyata's emphasized on nuances and had a feathery touch. I can't say which one is better, both were attractive - one is more for the brain, the other the heart - but since I heard them, I've been thinking how I could get both. How indeed?!

I have a feeling that this will not be the last time you hear from me about IsoTek - I'll love to investigate them further. For me to add the Titan into my system now feels like an overkill, at least financially, at the same time the Hydra 8 will be severely under-used.

My final say is this - contrasting the two, the Shunyata Hydra 8's sound could be described as a sweet embrace, while the IsoTek Titan made it into a bear hug. Quite befitting the Titan name, isn't it?

Tubes Galore!

Many systems easily gives the "they(the performers) are here, in the room" presentation, but just a few days ago, I experienced a system that represents that "you are there!"perspective. This is the story of such a system.

Sting(the system owner, not the English man in New York!), goes around the world as part of his job demands. He is an ardent fan of live concerts, not the stadium filling type mind you, but rather the intimate Jazz bar, or acoustic live type of performance. The type of concert that Hardrock Cafe best known for. These performing environment forms his point of audio reproduction reference. Sting's music diet consist of mostly live recordings of such performances and live studio recordings, of acoustic folk, pop/rock and blues musical genre mostly.

Von Schweikert VR1 Reference, note the tuning beaks.

Listening to this system, one gets the feeling of being transported all the way to the event!, being part of the audience, smoke, beer and all the sensation of "being there!". The system re creates the "stage" literally to a very high degree convincingly. The air is not only between instruments, but also between the performers! As a certain hifi guru used to quote, "breathing the same air as the musicians" now makes so much sense to me. The sound stage is virtually 3D in presentation with almost life sized scale, when playing all these recorded live performances. One of my favorite live performances ever recorded is Eva Cassidy's Live at the Blues Alley, it's like I was there. With this type of presentation, all the usual audiophile sound description almost becomes meaningless. But this is an hifi blog, one with high end aspirations if I might add. So we'll still dissect the sound just a bit.

Tonality is warm, highs airy and smooth, but full of energy so important to the aspect of recreating the "live performances" so convincingly. The mids have body and density, not only have mouth, but chest and waist portrayed. The bass, though does not extend particularly low, does has enough heft, to still make bass guitars and kick drums, well, kick ass!

This is a system to immerse yourself in to the live event re created!

Naim CD5 & Flatcap.

So what's the equipment list, you ask? Here goes, starting with a Naim CD5 supported by a Flatcap to power the analogue section of the player. A Naim DIN to RCA cable is used to send the signal to a DIY tube pre amp.

DIY tube buffer design pre amp.

This pre amp is an interesting one, because it is a tube buffer by design, incorporating and step attenuator and selector switch. The buffer design nature means no gain and no feedback. In theory at least, it should sound as transparent as a passive pre, minus all the drawbacks usually associated with the passive unit. Built quality and parts are impressive, with a pair of Sylvania 6922 forming the heart of the pre amp, flanked by parts like 1% metal films resistors and 3% Mundorf Silver/Oil caps, to improve L/R channel matching tolerance. Eat your heart out! Musical Fidelity X-10D, which ever version!

Inside pre amp, simplicity!

From the tube buffer pre amp, which solves the impedance matching issues between source and power amp, connected by Mogami Studio interconnects which is perhaps, the STAR of the system, a pair of VTL MB-250 Signature tube mono blocks. These are some of the sweetest sounding muscular amps around, having played with a pair before in my own system, I know their 250 quality watts very well.

VTL MB-250 Signature.

The amplified signals are sent to a pair of Von Schweikert VR1 Reference mini monitors, which are mounted on top of half filled, four pillar stand. Speaker cable is vdH The Wind.

Von Schweikert VR1 Reference, worth another look?

The music system's power is supplied via dedicated 45 amps power line especially installed for the job. Promitheus Balance Power Supply is used to condition before sending the juices to the CD player only. All oher equipments draw power direct from wall via, Wire World Tundra distributor. Various Harmonic Tech A/C series power cords are used to connect from distributor to all the various equipments.

Dedicated 45 amps power line for audio.

Promitheus Audio Balanced Power for Naim CD5 only.

Cable elavators, made drom left over legs from "shoe rack" deflector panels.

Various tuning methods are employed, from equipment isolation spikes to what seemed like tuning beaks, placed on the two front corners of the speakers. These are in fact, resonators in disguised. Sting would not tell me the source of the resonators, so I can't share that with our readers.

Speaker tuning beak?

No, but a resonator!

Room tune/treatment is taken care, by a variety of, guess what, shoe racks! I did not know about them prior to my visit, but Sting says he got inspired after reading about it from this blog! He used a total of 22 sets shoe racks, deployed in the front and side walls, plus ceiling corners, all double or quad layered. The back wall of the room, is lined with drapes. CD racks also lined the sidewalls for further deflection qualities.

Shoe rack ceiling corner treatment.

2 and 4 layers shoe rack deflector sandwich.

Drapes and ceiling corner treatment for back wall.

Did I mentioned that Sting is also an avid photographer(the really nice looking ones are taken by him) and accomplished bass guitar player too?

It's alive....!

Well done, Sting!



















1) 700i (700w Output) - RM 6900.00

2) 1050i (1050w Output) - RM 10,500.00

3) 2000i (2000w Output) - RM 13,200.00
the above ad was posted in hifi4sale. i am going to find out how genuine it can solve my power problems.

i visited hifikaki together with master ken last weekend. we both have a common sad story to share : that the AC supply in bandar utama absolutely sucks ass and the hours when we do our listening are the same, meaning that certain hours are definitely no-no, like between 6pm-1am.

it is an old problem looking for a breakthru solution.

mr eng, your purepower better be good!

When planing to enter the world of high end audio, what do you think of first? The budget of course!, nothing matters without budgets. So now you're prepared to spend the $$$, what do you have to think about first?

Many newbies whom I posed this question to answered with which gear to buy! Some even think to the extent of which cable they wanna buy. Not one person thought about where are they going to set up the system, once purchased.

Now, this is the most important factor of them all! Before anyone even think about buying any piece of audio equipment with the aim of achieving realistic high end sound, think about where you'll likely want to set up your system, because you're likely going to spend many hours of your waking time, in the place with the aim of enjoying music.

Be it in a dedicated room, or in an open area of the house, like the lounge or hall area, be sure the environment is quiet, and reasonably conducive for music enjoyment. Once the area is identified, think if you wanna pull a dedicated power supply line to the said room or lounge?, however that could be fixed at a later date, sometime after you've set up the system.

The room or space where the audio system is to be set up will very likely influence the final sound you'll hear thru the speakers, due to a factor called speaker/room interaction. The speaker cones acts like a moving piston in the room thereby, exciting room modes. There's an exact science where the dimensions of the room will indicate the room mode frequencies. But let's just take it easy for now an leave the science to the pros. Look at the link here, taken from , look thru the spec sheet, and you'll see from the 4th row down to the left of the speakers line up technical spec, noted as , "Require Space" and you'll see that it clearly indicates the minimum room sizes suitable for each model. From my experience with Audio Physic products, your room size can be slightly exceed or reduced, use the chart as a guide. You may even find that some room sizes able accommodate 2 or 3 models, in that case, an in room demo would be required, and your ears will determine the final choice. More speaker companies should provide this crucial information, which in my opinion makes speaker buying so much easier.

Good, now that you have your room, and speaker choice, based on the speaker specs, again looking at the technical chart provided by Audio Physic for is various models, you can then shortlist a few amplifier models, that will in theory be mode than adequately power your pair of speakers. Amps should in theory be a "wire with gain" and nothing more. It's job is to take a low level signal, amplify the signal with minimum of distortion added or signal corruption. Ideally it should also be very transparent in sound, and not lose information along the way.

Finally, you can work towards your choice of source, be it digital files streaming system, CDP or Turntable. A source's job is to extract the maximum information out of it's carrier. The source may even be slightly tonally coloured, if you're in to that sort of a thing.

Finally, you can look into your choice of auxiliary equipments, like cables, power conditioners and equipment racks. If you followed the speaker to room size ratio as per advised by Audio Physic(if you're in to Audio Physic stuff like me), you should require very little room treatment. But in the quest for perfection, some room treatment can enhance the whole listening experience.

Once all the above has taken place, you can then look at tweaks, if that's your kinda thing. It can be some crystal bits on top of speaker's corner, or sound tuning beak, as Totem speakers calls them, Shun Mook, cable evalators, like Shunyata Dark Field, you get the idea. Non essential items that do help to squeeze the last ounce of performance from your system if implemented effectively.

I don't know how true this is, but my personal experience tells me this is a better way. More experienced sifus may have other ideas, perhaps?

I finally felt that my system's sound settled down enough a few days ago to insert the Cardas Golden Reference speaker cables which Panzer passed to me. They replaced the Transparent Audio Musicwave Ultra in my system. The Transparent cables also form the basis of comparison in my listening sessions.

The Golden Reference was heavy, probably due to a high amount of metal in its construction. However it was flexible enough, so its routing & installation was not too difficult, but Iike Panzer's experience I had to tighten the amp/speaker terminals more, otherwise its weight would pull the cable loose over time.

I of course have heard/read about Cardas, it being one of the longer serving companies in the hifi cable arena, but I never had any of their cables in my system before, so this was my first experience with Cardas.

The most common comment I heard about Cardas was that their cables were warm sounding. This was borne out in my experience too. This sense of warmth made listening with the Golden Reference an easy experience.

In addition to this warmth, the Golden Reference also sounded natural, voices and instruments were delivered with good timbre. The Golden Reference brought to play a broad sweep of sound with great density and air, the sound simply filled up the front portion of my listening room. Within this soundscape, there was a sense of energy giving it a certain 'yang'/sunny quality. There were a lot of details to savour - these cables did let through a great deal of information.

The Golden Reference's treble coupled to my speakers' silk dome tweeters was smooth and civilized - matching, I believe, is important, incisiveness and explicitness are not what the Golden Reference is about, but if your system needs a slightly gentler hand in this area (say, taming a bright or rough treble), the Golden Reference will be your panacea.

Despite these qualities, there was one more that overrides them all - its musicality. Every time I switched on my system, I would continue listening on for long hours, the Golden Reference made listening a pleasurable experience, so much so that I found it difficult to pull myself away.

And I bet it is this quality that will capture many hearts.