little kc, maggielurva, jeff lin, jo ki

[sorry for the bad photography... i am still learning to use my new panasonic lumix!]

i had spent the last two days witnessing how jeff lin, the telos guru, tweaked my system and jo's system, and i must say, the lessons learned are far more worthy than tweaking alone in closed doors all by myself for the next 5 years.

the reason why i didn't blog immediately is, the whole experience actually set me thinking about my hifi philosophy and belief in all my 20+ years of dabbling in his hobby. i won't say jeff lin totally threw my belief out of the window or make me doubt my own self but i must say, meeting him and sharing together with jo ki give me another dimension and deeper insight into resonance control and balancing. i am more like a thinking hifi man now than before. let me share with you what i mean.

you see, all along, i view hifi from a holistic viewpoint - as a whole, it must convey music and that means the system must have the correct tonality, fluidity, freedom, balanced spectrum of sound, emotional contents etc. etc. and most of these elements cannot be measured. to me, it is more art than science. i am never a technical man who goes and measure how deep/wide my soundstage is, how much is the separation between the vocalist and the guitar...those things don't matter that much to me. as long as i could perceive a well-defined soundstage, i am happy. so i create a term for those audiophiles like me, i call them TAMA, short for Tone and Musicality Advocators.

then i slowly get to know and understand jo ki, master ken and now jeff lin and his followers like little kc. this camp of audiophiles is what i would now call SSTA, short for Soundstage Sculpting and Technical Advocators. these audiophiles puts top priority on soundstage definition, layering, imaging and they are always technical about their pursuit. they always use various forms of tweaks to achieve these desired results.

mind you, i am not saying that SSTA doesn't have TAMA characteristics or vice versa, so don't get me wrong.

my enlightenment comes from gradually appreciating SSTA's mentality and their requirements in hifi, and learning SSTA's way of playing hifi, as i believe TAMA combined with SSTA would make the perfect hifi. TAMA + SSTA is the perfect amalgamation of "softness" married with "hardness", emotions married with technicalities, which is what good hifi should be.

now, onto jeff's visit and what he did to my system.....

after listening to my system or less than 2 minutes, jeff commented that my sound was skewed more to the highs. what he wanted to do was to shift the spectrum downwards to enhance the mids and lows while maintaining the highs. he also wanted to correct the pitch of the singer, which he thinks was not right.

jeff basically did 6 things to my system, in this order:

  1. torque the 4 bolts on the bottom of my mana table
  2. torque the 4 bolts on the bottom of my mana soundframe which my hydra 8 sits on
  3. torque the 4 screws on top of my meridian g08.2
  4. torque all the screws on my maggie 3.6 (this was done by little kc)
  5. tried out the telos banana pins on the hydra 8 - this is like the RCA male cap but with the pin shaped like banana plug
  6. tried out the new reference telos power cord on my meridian g08.2
  7. tried out the telos titanium cones (set of 3) on the meridian g08.2

step 1) & 2) were done using a special spanar torque, which, accordingly to jeff, cost much more than the tohnichi torque driver that ck gnoh and hifikaki bought.

step 1) brought about tremendous improvements in terms of focus, imaging and coherence. suddenly images snapped into focus and the noise floor also went down a notch. even separation and layering improved in such a way the the musicians are no longer sitting on the same vertical plane. they are "pulled" further apart! this is simply marvelous.

step 2) went further to enhance what is already good. now, we could hear the throaty voice of the vocalists. the vocalist's diction is clearer and the whole pitch is more correctly defined. we can follow the vocalist better. can you imagine this - it is only by tightening the screws on the platform for my hydra 8!

step 3) was great too. now the images are very compact and real, without the "hairy" outlines before. guitar plucking is more rhythmic and dynamic contrast is more discernible. there is a tendency to crank up the volume to fully appreciate the dynamic contrast of the music. at this stage, i thought it was already great, anything more would probably upset the balance.

step 4) brought about negative results. the sound suddenly lost the delicacy and became more forward and blown up. i didn't make any comment on this but jo seemed to know my feelings when we exchanged glances.

step 5) & 6) proved to be too much of the good thing, resulting in a sound which is less natural, eventho' the soundstage was even better defined with better separation and layering.

i must say i am greatly shocked by the extent of improvement from step 1) to 3). you can dump another RM10K on your hardware (cables, amps) and still can't achieve this level of improvement. i am so grateful to jeff for "putting money in my pocket"! i suppose i would never leave my mana rack un-torqued for the rest of my hifi life!

the whole exercize got me thinking for the last two nights about balancing. i fully endorse the SSTA's school of thoughts but i maintain the belief that one cannot go too far. i told jo that i am a changed man forever because i am now willing to incorporate SSTA's techniques into my journey.

remember how i reported about ceraball's pros and cons in my previous posts? today i got the cerapucs (2 sets) and i put them under my monoblock. they seem to work better than ceraballs in that they won't roll off the highs. i observe an immediate improvement on the separation and layering of the soundstage but as reported by hifikaki, all FE ceraballs or cerapucs or cerabases need breaking-in to sound good. so i would leave them for a few days before i report on them again.

jeff's visit and sharing with jo ki have enligtened me. from now on, i would work to retain the strengths of my system, while learning the strengths of these SSTAs.

balancing is too easy a word to utter but to do it 100%, is almost an impossible act. that's the goal i have set for myself.


Anonymous said...

Four Big Sky Kings ?

aboon said...

ML and jeff lin look like brothers

philip said...

No!Little kc and ML look like brothers

GCK said...

ML, great insight to hifi tweaking. Yes, the spanar Jeff used to torque the nut on the Mana is more expensive. I saw it in the Tohnichi catalogue. Easily available from Unichi as well.

Like hifikaki said, I am not the resting kind of hifi kaki, I torque the whole CDP unit (all outer screws only) and left it to rest for a few hours. Last night, I listened to my system and I was totally surprised by the outcome. The highs was more delicate and airier. It was floating effortlessly. The whole soundstage cliked into focus (sharper)as though I have refocus the lens on a SLR camera. Layering became even better separated. Vocal size was smaller and more palpable. The whole noisefloor also drop quite a lot, more quieter.
Next in line is the phonostage, preamp, power amp and PLC in that order.
Like Ken said, YMMV :-)

Anonymous said...

Hifi is a journey which all serious enthusiast must travel. There is no short cut. The paths is in front of everyone but some may choose to walk in cicles until they are ready to follow the path.

We cannot force people to be ready but those who are ready will enjoy enlightenment.

I see a lot of arguments and disagreements here. These are what happens when walking in circles or trying to get people on the right path.

We are our own limit.

hafiz said...

RESONANCE,Resonance and resonance.......

THE aeronoticall engineers has known this from the early days of aeroplanes that resonance can actually cause a crack in plane structures and cause them to crack..

the torquing the finite elemente etcs gets their benefits from controlling resonance...

nobody should ignore them

Anonymous said...

Do hi-fi manufacturers use the correct torque for their speakers, amps and cdps? I do not know although I would like to think they do. I don't think they even use hand turned screw drivers but instead use power driven ones which would in theory apply the same force i.e be identical in a asembly line when done by the same person.
I don't this is a good practice for high-end components (source, amplification and speakers) as it would now be you who is (blindly?) re-voicing these components which maybe the explains the results of #4.
So how did you reverse #4?
Can you even reverse it and be sure it was the same as before?

reinh said...

I CONCcur with Hafiz,and would like to add that even on wires,RESONANCE control will bring about tremendous improvements.

since you are getting familiar with the finite elemente stuff ,why not try the cerapucs spider as cable elevators?

I HAVE BEEN USING THEM for quite awhile,just a chance discovery when I read about a very interesting system on AG

Schwabbe said...


Thanks for the great posts;
1.What was the brand and type of spanner use by JEff lin.

2.What was the value of the torque used?are they the same for all? do one decide where to start/?

thanks in advance ...keep up the good work on this wonderful blog

junrio said...

YES,Mr Hafiz is absolutely right..i may add another killer to the sound...static is actually omnipresent.

in short,IMO 2 killers of HIfi system[and wallet;



control those 2 things and all your hi-fi world will change forever

futurekaki said...

the 4 men looks the same size, i think must be listening to the same music :)

Anonymous said...

They also hear the same soundstage becos if one is significantly taller they will start to disagree.

Anonymous said...

I think one will disagree and the three will agree not to disagree. Practice you eyefi. Look again at the pic you see 3 longs and 1 shorts. And orso 3 short and 1 long ? So how can agrrree. music taste orso different man.

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...

aboon and philip,
no, when you play hifi together in such madness, everyone will look the same at the end!

i will find out from jeff the brand but it is not tohnichi. i think he used 5.5 kgfcm but he emphasized that the force can be varied depending on application. a good place to start torquing is the rack n speaker.

Ken said...

I don't agree with your reference that I am in the SSTA camp. I value TAMA as much as SSTA. I may not show it or talk about it but I value TAMA as much.

I feel that I have set this correctly because people may think I value SSTA only. I think your comments could sometimes be quite misleading.
In the future, I hope you do not assume that I am in this camp or that camp. Strictly speaking, I am in the camp of enjoying music and I want to enjoy it to the fullest. And in order to do that, I need SSTA and TAMA or what you may call it.

BTW, Jeff made a surprise visit to my place. I did not really expect it. He gave me a few pointers and I can say that his remarks completely transform the sound of my system. I have been scouring my cd collection since for "difficult to play" cds. All I can say is those cds sound marvellous in my system.

futurekaki said...

Do you agree human being is something wrong creature? As long you like it and agree with it. Pls do not think I am facing period coming!
Just take it away with your feeling :~

Anonymous said...


Wah, your english vely deep. Can explain your post

Anonymous said...

har, har....