(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! :-)


jim said...

wow,wow,wow........what a setup......

Panzer said...

I think GCK is one of the fastest mover and shakers in the local hi fi "tweak" scene!

I was really impressed with his system last night! All the good thing that can be said already said.

I feel really happy for CK, because his hard work and intuitiveness has paid off big time! Congrats man!

Panzer said...

I think GCK is one of the fastest mover and shakers in the local hi fi "tweak" scene!

I was really impressed with his system last night! All the good thing that can be said already said.

I feel really happy for CK, because his hard work and intuitiveness has paid off big time! Congrats man!

tg said...

opinion leader,this gck..........

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...

Hifikaki, you are getting creative with your blog title! it is my fave song, the original by dinah washington...

km ng said...

I heard Dinah sang "day" not "year."

Anyway, to me, the blog title reminded me of March 8, 2008 (well, exactly short of a week from today) where the political landscape changed forever in Malaysia.

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


the title just popped out when I was finishing the article. Then it was Jamie Cullum's later version of 'what a difference a day made' that came to my mind :-)

GCK said...

Hifikaki, Panzer, I am just your normal hifi kaki. Nothing of the sort that you mentioned.

However, I must say I grab the chance when opportunity come along in the form of the Clearaudio

TT and also my gut feeling about the Liveline was right.

I just got to read this. My computer monitor went bust on me when I wanted to log in this morning. Had to get a replacement from nearby shopping complex. Family commitment left me in the
night time to pursue hifi related stuff.

The XLR IC (poison) will be available shortly after further cooking. With further cooking,I
believe the slightly thin sounding tone you heard on the CD section will be gone. I have an extra
pair to spare. Bear in mind the poison is very lethal :-)).

hifikaki said...


I am sorry, I got your surname wrong on the post, it is Gnoh, not Ngoh, right? I realized it when I read Ken and maggielurva comments under 'monumental' I have corrected it in the post.

When your Lifeline is ready, we are all ready to taste the 'poison'. :-)