Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Visit to Dynaudio Showroom today

Went to the Dynaudio showroom at Adelphi after some shopping. Saw that they were having a 27% disocount on all Dynaudio speakers. I am quite happy with my BM6 currently LOL.

The Dynaudio Contour bookshelf was being played via the chord CD player and powered by Chord/Plinus amplifier.

Hmmm... key things i note: the sound is choked when vocals are being played- the pitch is higher, like at a different key, the singer sounds like she is "forced" to sing beyond her comfort zone; sound is grainy and noisy blackground (not crisp) when percussion is being played.

To think that this was the sound i was so impressed a year back.

So much has changed- my perception of quality audio has differed. I used to be impressed with an equipment when it reveals an obsure instrument that i have not realised was there with other equipment. That was the reason i changed my CDP from a Marantz CD6000 OSE LE to a CEC TL51XZ.

I have learnt to listen to the music as a whole and to look at the full picture first. It is like looking at a painting- do i like what i see?

Of course, whether i like the painting or not boils down to one's preference and reference.
Indeed, we should listen more to look for that reference.

Question is how do we identify a good sound that can serve as our reference?

I believe that one must be open minded and humble and learn from people who have been there. Their honest opinion and guidance is crucial.

In case you are wondering, i am still learning :P

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Portable Rig

In my last post, i shared about the tweaks that i have applied in my system.

The idea is that the tweaks can allow the equipment to reach a higher level of performance, when applied correctly lol. For many of these tweaks, after i have applied them to my system, i have simply left them there to work their magic. Sometimes, i get curious and want to listen again to the differences the tweaks make, thus i do some A/B on my own with and without the particular tweak.

Some tweaks that i cannot do without: the TAOC SBL-13MT used under the speakers; TITE-46P under the CDP; Acoustic Revive RR-77 Pulse Generator and RD-3 Demagnetizer.

My first post was in September 07. My main rig since then is still the same with the Korsun v8i as my amplifier and the Dynaudio Acoustics BM6 Passive as my speakers. I have many times contemplated changing my amp and speakers as the music was sometimes not to my liking, mainly because i have heard better and that is how i know the shortcomings of my rig. So the alternative would be to just shut the doors and live life as a hermit? That has been the advocate of people around me who are not into audio- just listen to your own rig and appreciate the fact that you have a separates at home. Audio can be expensive and the constant upgrading would mean the outflow of funds that could have been used otherwise. I can see the wisdom in that and throughout the year, after i have gotten my Acrolink/ Oyaide cables, i decide to stop purchasing any hardware and to just focus on buying music CDs.

The story would have ended here and this blog would not have been updated for some time...

What has happened?!

OK, need to backtrack a little. I am also into head-fi with the headphones/ earphones stuff. I carry a Sennheiser HD25 when i am outdoors and need some music to add some colour to the monotony of daily public communting. I used the Sound Deviced HX-3 portable headphone amplifier then together with my Panasonic SL-CT720 or iRiver H10 which i have rockboxed.
Better quality audio is the main reason for me to carry so much stuff around.

Rockbox is a free-Operating System for the H10. It adds features to the player that were not originally there, eg. support to playback FLAC files (loseless music), playback video, games etc. Amazing! It is like having a upgrade and modification done to your old player to give it more features and keep it up-to-date with the current players at no cost!

Anyway, i disgress.

OK, it was around in August/ September 2008 that i decide to overhaul my portable rig. The equipment that i have mentioned are just too bulky for me, especially the HX-3. It is in essence a piece of block wrapped in black colored-aluminium as shown below, on the CDP.

I would need a huge bag to house the portable rig and my other items. In fact, sometimes i will just carry my iPod Shuffle (1st generation) together with the earbuds for use on the go. However, the buds will fall off my ears when i am walking quickly! They just can't seem to fit in. Also, i will want to be able to listen to music while i am jogging and the earbuds just cannot stay in my ears. It was also around then that there were pictures, on the local forums, of portable rigs (including amp and player) that were of the size of my discman but twice as thick- this is still much smaller than the HX-3!

The portable rig has reached a new level in terms of being compact.

I started off slow. I first got myself a used Westone UM2 in-ear-monitors. These are different from the earbuds in that they have a tip that can be inserted slightly into the ear canal, thus preventing them from falling off in active use. I got them for S$280. Two years ago, when they were 1st out in Singapore, they were selling for above S$500 new! It was a monopoly then as only one shop brings them in. Now, the price for a new UM2 is S$399 with more shops selling them.

I use the UM2 out of my H10. The sound was much better than my earbuds but the bass was a little weak. Bass boost on my player did not help- it simply added more midbass which was boomy and drowns out all the other parts of the music. I want real bass where you can listen to the bass notes with the "flesh" / overtones. I know that i will need an amplifier to pump out more power than the headphones-out of the H10 can provide. I went shopping and bought a Graham Slee Voyager. It sounds much more enjoyable than my HX-3. However, there were times that it sounds a bit hard on the treble. The sound is also quite colored with little bass quantity (contour switch off). Switching on the contour switch gives a boost at both ends of the freqency spectrum. This gives back the bass weight but the treble is artificially boosted as a result.

Anyway, i was also looking for a new mini-mini interconnect from my amp to my player. I was initially using both the Jaben Cryo Copper and Silver. However, after a few weeks, the stranded conductor of both interconnect starts to get a little black. a sign of oxidation- the cables were not properly treated or sealed. I knew that they could not last long and decided to get new ones but not from Jaben anymore.

The other store would be Stereo Electronics. They have their in-house brand of interconnects known as the Ultimate-Link. I went to try their Silver reference. The sound is indeed much cleaner than those from Jaben with more details. It was then that i also tried the iQubes headphones amplifier. The 1st thing that struck me was the bass. It was full and natural sounding. It was what i was looking for! I did not purchase it then as i first needed to do some homework on my part about the iQubes.

So i went back to the forums and saw some threads on the Valgrind Caps and interconnects.

I was quite intrigued as there was many rave reviews regarding them. I was also new to the use of caps in the audio signal chain. I contacted the maker and it turns out that he lives quite near me! That was how i got to know Victor. He explained to me that the caps, which are to be placed between the player and the amp, act like a battery to boost the signal from the player before it is fed to the amp. To my ears, the improvement the caps brought was a sound that is more refined and the harshness disappears. The music just sounds more natural and inviting. The sound is rhythmic and no longer aggressive. I can listen to the music for longer periods. I bought the caps/ interconnects from Victor. After about 200 hours of run-in, the sound stage widens and opens up tremendously.

Victor also came by to my place to listen to my home-setup.

I will leave that to my next post :D

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Taoc and Acoustic Revive Tweaks

The interval between my blogging has increased. My previous post was in May and the one before was in January. Based on this interval in my last 2 posts and following a Arthmetic Progression (hee) , after this post, my next one should be in November 09!

Nah...it will not be that long. I will next post when i have some thoughts and also free time to type away.

I stopped off at the imaging of the music being rather hazy and also the music is a little muffled. I even contemplated upgrading my equipment lol. I must say that a lot has changed since then- both in hardware and accessories...but i will leave that for future posts haha...

I was introduced to the above tweak TAOC SBL-13MT. This tweak is really interesting. Its surface is rather smooth but it has an anti-slip property. When I lay it flat on a surface and try to push it at its curved side, it requires some effort before it will budge. Technically speaking, it has a high coefficient of static friction.
How is this useful?
I place it between my speaker and the base plate of my speaker stand. Even though the 13MT comes in pack of 4, i choose to use 3 under each speaker so that the speaker will rest firmly on every 13MT. I space the 13MT as far from each one as possible- in my case, they form an isosceles triangle. one beneath the centre front of the speaker and one beneath each corner at the back of the speaker. I have tried them close together also but the tightness of the bass disappears.
I will disgress for a moment. The purpose of a speaker stand is to transfer the vibrational energy away from the speaker cabinet. As a result, when one places his/her hand on the speaker stand when the speaker is on, one can feel the vibation on the stand. In my case, the 13MT is doing a fine job of tranfering this vibraration from the speaker cabinet to the stand. This can be verified by placing one's hand at the bottom of the stand and feel the vibration there. Prior to the 13MT, the vibration does not reach all the way downwards- it gets dissipated by the material of the stand about mid-way.
I must say that for my case this is an effective tweak that i cannot do without. The base tightens up. Finally i can hear the plucking of the strings at the lower registers of the frequency. As a consequence, the image firms up and individual sound becomes more focussed.

I was using blu-tack before this. Yes, the price difference is in excess of 50 times! However, to me, this is a tweak i cannot do without once it is in my system.
I also have other tweaks like the Acoustic revive: RR-77 Ultra Low-Frequency Pulse Generator, RD-3 Disc Demagnetizer, Quartz Resonator QR-8, RCA plugs SIP-8F and IP-2F; Taoc: footers TITE-46PIN and TITE-35S for my Cd player and amplifier respectively. All of these have played a role in fine-tuning my system.

I will start off with the TAOC footers first.

This is the TITE-46P that i placed under my CD Player. Again, i used the same principle of placing them as far apart as possible under my player in a triangular formation. The image gains in height, depth and width. Without these footers, the music sounds lifeless and lethargic and the soundstage just collapses.
As to how the tweak works, there are a few explanations that i have gathered.
One is that the footer allows the equipment to be stablised properly- i also used 3 footers under
my player. Thus, the moving parts in the equipment can work more efficiently and effectively.
Another is that the acoustic energy of the speakers will result in the vibration of the chasis of the equipments. This will degrade the performance of the equipment which chasis is vibrating. The footer thus works to transfer the vibrational energy away from the chasis.
As an extension of the above explanation, since the 46P is dense and heavy, it might also work to dissipate some of the vibrational energy from the chasis itself.
Whatever the explanation behind how footers work, they do improve the sound in my system. As they say: "Trust your ears!"
As for the TITE-35S under my amplifier its effect is quite subtle as compared to that for my CD player. Maybe it is because my amplifier is heavy that it is not affected by the vibration energy from the speakers or simply because there is no moving parts in the amplifier.

The above is the Acoustic Revive RR-77 Ultra Low-Frequency Pulse Generator. It has gathered hugely favorable reviews online. Just google "rr77+reviews" and you will have a whlole lot of articles on it.

From the manufacturer's website at http://www.acoustic-revive.com/, it generates the Schumann Frequency of approximately 7.83Hz. This is a naturally occurring pulse. However, due to the radio waves and electromagnetic waves that exist ariound us due to wireless technology, this frequency of 7.83Hz has been disrupted. Hence, the need to artificially generate this Schumann Frequency.

The explanations from the manufacturer's site is twofold: it affects both the equipment and the listener.

First, the Schuman Frequency produced by the RR77 neutralizes electromagnetic waves generated from an audio equipment and external harmful radio waves, thus enabling clearer music reproduction since the S/N ratio is improved higher and the distortion is reduced.
Second, the Schumann resonance activates the cellular immunity and allows one to feel relaxed and more at ease, thus raising the acuity of our senses. Thus, the listener can hear the details of the sounds that could not be heard before.
For me, the RR77 improves the imaging and also the density and details of the music throughout the frequency spectrum. The music just sounds more natural.
This effect does not only apply to me. Few months back, I got to meet Victor. He is a seasoned audiophile who has changed my perception of audio altogether. I will blog more about him next time :D
I invited Victor to my place twice. The first time was when the RR77 was in the room and switched on. He did not know about this tweak. I do not think he even paid attention to it as it was tucked in one corner lol. In his second visit, he commented that my system was flat compared to the previous. I figured that it was because my RR77 was not in the room. It was only when the RR77 was placed in the room and switched on that he commented the sound was back to before!
I bought the RR77 for two reasons: as an accessory in my music system and also in my bedroom when i sleep at night. I cannot claim that it has worked wonders for me. Sometimes when i have many stuff bothering me that i was restless at night, the RR77 could not lull me to sleep.
However, i do feel good that i have a Schumann Pulse generator next to me when i sleep lol ;)
Another thing i have to mention is that the RR77 does improve the image of a television. The black-white contrast becomes more obvious and the colour gradient appear more natural and smooth.

The next tweak that i will discuss is the Acoustic Revive RD-3 as pictured above.

The CDs that we have contain magnetic impurities both in the printing ink of the label side and also the film on the CD that stores the data. Thus, the stray magnetic field inherent in the disc will cause errors in the reading of the CD and thus degrading the sound quality.

For me, the effect of the RD-3 is a cleaner sound with more focussed imaging in all three dimensions.

The last tweak will be the SIP-8F/ IP-2F RCA caps.
These are applied on unused RCA jacks to keep out the dust and also to shield the equipment from stray Electro-Magnetic Interferences as the exposed surface of the caps are grounded.
There are two types of unused RCA jacks- signal input and signal output. The SIP-8F can be used on both types of jacks while the IP-2F can only be used on the former; if it is used on the latter, it might damage the equipment!
The IP-2F has an extra function as they are shorting plugs. This means that the positive centre pin and the grounded shield (area that forms a cylinder around the centre pin) are connected.
Thus the signal travelling through the centre pin will be transferred to the grounded shield. The
effect of this is to ground the stray noise that is within the equipment, thus improving the spund quality.
Personally, i use the IP-2F on all my unused input jacks (input of the amp) while i use the SIP-8F on my unused output jacks (Digital out of the CDP/ line output of the amp). I find the sound to be less harsh and gives a sense of darker background.
Wow! I think this is a very long post. In fact i started at 5pm and now it is already 1230 past midnight. Of course, i did some stuff in between. This post took about 2 hours to type in all :D
In my next post, i will reveal more about this mysterious character, Victor, who plays a pivotal role in my audio journey. I did quite a few changes to my system- the sound improved by leaps and bounds and best of all, financially, the nett output was almost nothing!
Until next time... :)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Acrolink 7N-A2070 & Oyaide MTB-6

A long Hiatus away from audio blogging indeed!

There have been many changes to my system:

1) It started off with the changing of my interconnect from my CDP to the amplifier. At that time (January/February), i was contemplating whether to spring for the Acrolink 6N-A2400 RCA interconnect as i like the weight and bass definition that it gives to my system. Alas, there was s used Acrolink 7N-A2070 RCA at one of the local forums and the price was really appealing! Yummy :p

So i tell myself, why not go for this cable since the price is so good and bypass the A2400...that's how the story goes and i bring home a pair of the A2070 lol. The box is really heavy and huge. No wonder it is so expensive- the shipping cost must have been quite a bit.

I managed to compare the A2400 to the A2070.

Physically, the RCA plugs of the latter is really much bigger than the former- potential buyers beware of the separation of the RCA inputs of your equipment- the A2070 RCA plugs might be too big! Luckily for me, the RCA inputs of my CEC player are spaced far apart hehe :) The A2070 cables are also more substantial in size and weight compared to the A2400.

How do all these translate sonically?

The A2070 carries on the strength of the A2400 and brings them all to the next level. The music is organic and fluid. The A2070 is very revealing. There is much more information from both ends of the spectrum compared to the A2400.

It is because of this characterisic of the A2070 that i find my setup being rather bright to the extent of the vocals being harsh and unbearable. Often i do not feel at ease listening to the music that my listening session become very short. Indeed, this very revealing characteristic of the A2070 prompts me to look into my audio signal chain and to find the culprit.

Ok, maybe it is the Oyaide Across 750 interconnect used as a jumper between the pre and power of my integrated. i replace it with the A2400. Hmmm... the music is more fluid but the brightness and harshness is still there.

Is it my Korsun v8i amp that 6moons review to be a little bright?

It was then that i recall from my mini headphone meet with Yotiao that the RCA out from her CEC TL51XR player also sounds quite bright and unpleasant. Could it then be the CEC player at fault? Reviews from Positive Feedback and forums indicate otherwise. So what could be wrong? The CEC has both RCA and XLR output. Maybe the XLR output will sound better? So off i go to get the Neutrik RCA-XLR converter. Indeed, the sound is more rounded and more bearable.

However, the music is still rather unpleasant.

Both Yotiao and me are using the PS Audio Duet. Could our power be at fault?

One easy way to try out will be to bypass the Duet and plug all the equipment direct to the wall outlet. The nose floor increases. At the same time though, the bass seems to be more punchy and extends further. Vocals sound warmer and easier on the ears. So far, it seems to me that the Duet might not be suitable for me. I need to try out the Duet in another system.

I know that Steven from Audio Basic will be more than happy to allow me to do an A/B comparison of my Duet with his Oyaide Power Distributer/ Conditioner. Actually, he joked during the session that the abbreviation of his shop is AB lol. It is indeed through AB that we know which products are superior! lol

In our test, with three other customers in his shop, the Duet distinctly filtered off the lower bass of the music. This is very obvious in our test track involving drum rolls- the resonance of the skin of the drum is simply not there with the Duet. On the Duet, the vocals and the instruments sound as if they have their treble tuned up. No wonder that my setup sounds unbearable.

All is not lost for the Duet though. In a setup with rolled off highs and excess lumpy/rounded bass maybe the Duet might have a place (lol :p) or simply, stick to unrevealing/sonically coloured cables. For me, I like my system to be as truthful to the source material as possible.

I was then considering between the Oyaide MTB-6 and Audio Magic Mini Reference. The latter is making waves in forums around the world. There is also a favourable review on it at enjoythemusic.com. In the end, however i got the Oyaide mainly because, my cables are entirely Acrolink/Oyaide. I am told my the local distributor that i will need Audio Magic cables for the Mini Reference to shine. As i have already invested quite a bit of time and energy auditioning and being convinced by the Acrolink/Oyaide, i do not want to start all over again-too heavy on the wallet and draining of my energy :p Afterall, our final goal is the music :D

At the end of the day, i brought home the Oyaide MTB-6. Immediately, there is increased extension on both extremes of the frequency response. The music sounds a little thin initially. After running-in, the weight of the music improves and my listening experience is much better. I can finally listen to the music for hours.

However, the longer i listen to the music, i find that the imaging is rather hazy and also the music is a little muffled. Is this a sign that i should upgrade my equipment? lol

Friday, January 18, 2008


A few days back, i was using Acrolink and Oyaide cables on my system: Oyaide on my amp and Acrolink on my Duet and CEC. Also, Acrolink A2400 IC from my CDP to Amp and Oyaide Across750 IC as jumpers on my amp. The tonality is very good except for a slight glare that i attribute to the Oyaide IC.

My Acrolink 4030 is terminated with Oyaide 004 plugs. I have compared with the 046 plugs prior to purchase. The former is simply more neutral and refined.

People say that the Acrolink 4030 is bass-shy. I agree with that to a certain extent. The bass is still there, only that the mids and highs seem to be of more prominence such that it gives the illusion of the cable being bass shy. In fact, the bass is very defined! Try pushing the volume up and you will get what i mean ;)

There is a way to bring back this balance. The solution will not come cheap though. You will need to get the Acrolink 6N-A2400 IC. This IC will give the system a fullness to the bottom so that vocals will sound more realistic and the dynamics in the music will be very evident so that you will no longer feel that the instruments take second seat compared to the vocals.

The Acrolink combination of power cord and IC will beat that of the Oyaide combination hands-down in terms of definition and staging. Side-by-side, the Oyaide combi sounds muddled and the vocals are a bit harsh especially when the singer goes for the high notes compared to the Acrolink combi.

Currently, i am trying out the 4030 with 004 each on my amp, cdp and duet. Vocals are very clean and airy. Cymbals and high hats have a delicate ting and sizzle that i have not experienced in my setup before. Very appealing indeed! However, the problem of the prominence of the bass taking back seat surfaces again...sigh...hee :D

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Grado PS-1 and Cables Shoot-out Impression :p

This is the Grado PS-1. It has already been discontinued by Grado for years. I was lucky enough to not not only to be able to take a photograph of it but also to have a listen to it- thanks to Yotiao. It is a pretty heavy headphone probably due to its metal cups.

Amplified by the PS Audio GCHA and fronted by the Bel-Canto DAC3 with the CEC TL51XR as transport, the PS-1 is a remarkable headphone. I compared it with the Beyerdynamic DT150 and the Ultrasone Edition 9 using The O-Zone Percussion Group “Jazz Variants” (Musik Von Einem Anderen Stern (Manger Test-Cd). On the PS-1, the details came through easily-the bass was tight and accurate and naturally-energetic, never boomy. In contrast, the DT150 seems muted in the bass area- which is really surprising- the DT150 has been one of my references for bass-listening that my Dynaudios sometimes has difficult producing- but then, things are much more complex with bass on speakers- one also has to consider room acoustics and speaker positioning etc etc. The Edition 9 was somewhat nearly there with the PS-1 but not quite. Sometimes, i do not understand why manufacturers choose to terminate the production of wonderful products like the PS-1. Is it to boost its cult status by having a limited-run of these superb headphones?

The PS-1 is indeed a keeper... ... if one can still find it lol.

Yotiao and I also had an ad-hoc cable shoot-out. We played with the various power cords and interconnects by mixing and matching them.

Worth mentioning is the Kimber Timbre. At less than S$200 for a 1.5m RCA pair, it is of very good value. It has plenty of details but the vocals can sound a little bright and grainy. In comparison, the Arcolink A2200II which is in the same price league, sounds much smoother and airier in the vocals. However, it sounds almost too lush for my liking-every singer seems to be smiling regardless of the type of song or album- but is still very detailed for the price.

Of course, we also have the Kimber 1030 at hand to do a comparison. The current price of the 1030 is more than S$2K. This Kimber, of course, compared to the above-mentioned Acrolink, sounded more transparent, but only slightly. The vocals are also not as airy as the Acrolink. I did compare the 1030 with my Oyaide Across 750, also a sub-S$200 cable. The difference is not as stark as i would expect given the price difference. 1030 is very slightly more transparent but the Oyaide has more airy and presence-sounding vocals. I think the 1030 has a reputation behind it and the bulk of the cost goes into supporting this hype. It seems to have been outclassed by newer interconnects using better materials and technology and also priced more affordably. A good case in point will be the Acrolink 6N-A2110II priced at about S$300. It is a step up from the A2200. It has not yet been run-in but it already has more presence and life compared to the Oyaide Across 750.

We also tried some combinations of power cord and interconnects.

It is really interesing that some combination will make the system sound very fast and another combination will make the system sound too slow. The track is still playing at normal speed- here we are onto the sonic signature being slow.

What is a slow sound like? On the CD: 黄红英《初次尝到寂寞》(HRP7234-2),Vocals sound draggy and heavy. The piano will sound very one-noted instead of flowing. With certain combinations, the piano can even seem to be delibrately a tiny bit behind in pace compared to the singer to follow her lead lol. It is really amazing what cables can do to the sound :D

It is really an eye-opening experience playing with the cables and the headphones- quite different from the local headphone meet i attended recently- in the meet it is just running around to try out other forummers' equipments. Anyway, Yotiao and I have briefly experimented with tweaking the "speed" using cables. This is in no doubt due to the revealing equipment being used- from the source to the amplification to the headphones.

Perhaps there can be another session of shoot-out where we can document properly the effect of each cable on Yotiao's system to listen closely to the qualities of each cable...

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Oyaide OR-800 ADVANCE Speaker Cables

I was using the Dynaudio OCOS speaker cables then.
I got them from Nicholas from Dynaudio Singapore. Nicholas is a big guy with a loud voice and jovial laughter. I once told him that his job was fantastic, being able to, in his line of work, listen to superb speakers. He simply replied that at work he listened to the Dynaudio while he has his Cabasse at home. Wow, what a luxury! At that time, i auditioned his Audience 42, the most entry-level model in the Dynaudio line-up. BTW, i had already gotten the Dynaduio Acoustics BM6 then. The Audience 42 is a really small speaker but the sound it produced is so large. I was grinning from cheek to cheek then and exclaimed that this was what lured me into Dynaudio in the first place. The BM6 that i have is from the professional arm of Dynaudio. I might share the story of my BM6 some other day.
OK, back to the story at hand. I was curious what the Oyaide has to offer in their speaker cables so i made a trip down to Audio Basic again. By then, i am already his regular customer in the frequency i visit him. This time, he did not want to do a shop demo. Haha, probably tired of having to switch cables for me so many times during the last visits. :p Thus, he offered to loan me the cables for a home trial instead! I happily accepted his offer. He loaned me the Oyaide OR-800 and also the Acrolink speaker cables- cannot recall whether it is the 1000 or 1400 series- they look identical.
So i brought back the cables for a home audition. The Acrolink sounds wonderful. Very alluring and inviting. I really wanted the cables for their sonic beauty. But deep down, i felt that the signature seems to be a bit coloured compared to my OCOS- with the Acrolink, the music just sounds so beautiful every album i played. That cannot be the case right, i mean, the recording quality will vary due to the materials and also the recording engineer's preference.
How about the Oyaide?
Compared to the OCOS, the OCOS sounds less refined. Extension is roughly the same between both cables though i would say that the Oyaide is slightly more extended. Details come through easily and naturally on the Oyaide. The only thing i do not like about the Oyaide is that it is factory terminated in spades. The speaker posts on my Dynaudio do not seem to be designed with spades in mind.
After some time of home audition, i decided that i would want a full-oyaide wiring on my set-up, yeah! :D
Is this the end of my hardware journey? Alas, no! Because i still frequent Audio Basic and i come to appreciate the Acrolink signature...

Oyaide Interconnects- Across 750

I like the signature sound of Oyaide- airy mids with full bass and nice staging. I decided to venture into their interconnects also.

First, some background on the cables that were plugged into my system:

I was using the Grover 'S' interconnect then. I borrowed the Black version from Yotiao to audition at home before deciding to buy the cable off Yotiao haha. I need two pairs since i need one to connect from my CDP to my integrated and another to replace the jumpers between the pre and power on my integrated. It was coincidential that i chanced upon a sale of the white Grover 'S' on another local forum. The seller used to be into headphones also but is now into speakers. His home setup then was nothing to shout about- antique B&W floor standers powered by Pioneer A400. Now i am not belittling the equipment. It is just that the sound is so very warm and slow and boomy. His CD collection really impressed me though. He collects first-pressings, meaning the first few CDs that are cut from the master tapes, thus ensuring very good sound. My opinion is that his system does not at all do justice to his wonderful collection.

Back to the cables, Grover 'S' IC is quite decent for the money. It consists of wires brewed up by grover terminated with SwitchCraft RCA plugs. It is just that he keeps revising his model every few months. It is very difficult for the user to keep up. To be fair, Grover does offer trading-in and upgrading for a fee. Though the White version that i later got was an upgrade from the Black version that i got from Yotiao, personally, i do not find measurable differences between the two to justify the costs involved in upgrading the cables.

Prior to the Grover, i was using DIY interconnects- Klotz GY107 terminated with Neutrik Pro-fi and also DIY Silver interconnects.

The former is really decent for the money-the sound has a smooth mids with a mid-bass hump. Details-wise, nothing to shout about though it trounce the QED Qnect 1-my very first Interconnect (excluding those freebies type) :)

The DIY Silver interconnect was made myself after drawing inspirations (hehe) from the ICs that i borrowd from FuWen. Pretty simple recipe: I got 4m of teflon-coated silver from AHF-Art audio (pse do not pronounce the name of the shop with the hyphen before the F lol). Cut the wire into 1m length each and slot each length into teflo tubings. For the Right-Channel, use a wire for the Ground and another for the Signal. Terminate the hot and ground onto Neutrik-Profi and that is my DIY Silver Interconnect. Now, that is no cheapo- DIY Silver IC. A 1m pair costs (S$28 X 4)+ S$50= S$162. The Silver wire costs S$28 per metre and the 4 Neutrik Pro-Fi plugs cost S$55. The signature is very detailed but some have commented that the mids are not full. Well, i would only like to add that this is a very rudimental design and the quality of the sound derives simply from the materials used. Overall, i do not think this is a worthwhile exercise as the materials used are simply too costly.

A better alternative would be to get some Oyaide PA-02 and terminate them with Neutrik Pro-fi. A 1m pair would costs about S$90 and should be excellent sounding for the price. I have gotten a 0.5m length as a mini-mini IC. The details are really there and the colouration is minimal, if any. At S$25 (terminated with Canare mini plugs), i feel it is a bargain that it seriously worth considering.

OK, ramblings aside. I wanted to try out the Oyaide Interconnects so i went forth to Audio Basic again with my Grover IC to do a comparison with his Oyaide IC. He has two models available- the PA-02 and Across 750. The latter is more expensive compared to the former. I sprang for the latter to avoid upgradtis-(yeah right :p that time i did not consider the Acrolink IC that Steven also carries)

The mids of the Oyaide have more presence compared to the Grover 'S' IC. That was the first thing that struck me during the audition. Another factor that spurred me to switch over to Oayide was the price. The top-up would be minimal. One thing i have to mention is that the Oyaide RCA plugs are very tight. I have to use another female RCA plus to loosen the Oyaide male plugs before i can confidently plug the Oyaide onto my system.

So there it is, another Oyaide purhase. At this point, you might have guessed it- i got another Across 750 IC to replace the jumpers on my integrated. But would you have known that i am onto the Oyaide speaker cables next? :D

Friday, December 28, 2007

Oyaide Tunami

OK. I left off at the Oyaide Tunami the other time. Right, i was looking for more bass "rumble" then.

Audio Basic in Adelphi has this power cord. It was retailing at SGD399 at that time. The shop owner and salesperson all-rolled-into-one, Steven, was a very nice person-very obliging and relaxed. I brought along my Violet Z1 to do a comparison via his setup. I was looking for more bass quantity- that was my basis in the comparison test.

Steven has many CDs, both audiophile and non-audiophile alike. He is a music-lover himself since his days in the manufacturing line. Alas, i was Noob then (still is lol) so i picked the only disc that we both have in common- Eva Cassidy Live at Blues Alley. Steven also recommended the Acrolink P4030. So we have the Acrolink and the Oyaide against the Z1...drumroll....

All the cords were being auditioned by swapping them on the CDP since the impact will be the most apparent on the source- the amplifier and the speakers all work on signals from this very source. ( This is an obvious but often overlooked point-the source is very important!-but i disgress.)

First we tried the Z1. Steven commented that it is not a cheap cable, probably in the S$400-S$500 range. He was quite right except that it was near to the upper end of the price range including shipping costs (grumble). Next up was the Oyaide. I was immediately impressed. Vocals were more airy and the bass quantity was more than the Z1. As a bonus, it is actually less costly than the Z1- would not be a pain on the wallet if i were to change to this cord.

How about the Acrolink? Alright, this was up next. The mids to high frequency are very detailed and airy. The bass is tight and accurate. The sound staging and depth is staggering. The retail is around S$430, still less than the Z1. By then, i was thinking that the Z1 is really overpriced lol. Considering especially that the sleeving at one of the plug of my Z1 came lose exposing the inner configuration. Naturally, i was curious about its configuration. As far as i can tell and share without being unethical, the Z1 is simply 3 colored PVC cords in a purple coloured "plastic" mould. Of course, the essence in the cord is in the unravelling of the manufacture code of the 3 cords. But this is impossible due to the mould encasing these cables.

Back to the story. After comparing the three power cords, i decided to have the Oyaide Tunami since it has the most bass quantity-something that i felt my system was lacking. I paid up and brought it home.

The Tunami is a stiff 1.8m cable. It is factory terminated with bright red special editioned 046 Oyaide plugs. I immediately took a liking to the plugs after inserting them in my setup. The locking of the plugs is very secure ensuring optimal connection. The Marinco on the Z1 in comparison always seem to be only half-inserted into the IEC of my CDP.

Of course, i let the new Tunami run-in on my amplifier. I listen via this cord as it was running-in. My impression was that there is now more bass quantity but i could use more lol :D

Thus, another Tunami two weeks later :P

BlackSandCables Violet Z1 :D

I used to own the BlackSandCables Violet z1 Power Cords. They were introduced to me by SGH moderator Yotiao- poisonous person! :p

What happened then was that i have gotten a used amp- the Korsun v8i. I noticed that the power cord does make a HUGE difference in the sound for this amplifier. With the Belden 19634, the sound was quite alright- the mids were acceptable with decent amount of details but the bass was far too lacking in terms of impact and depth. Whereas using the Belden 82803, the sound was more powerful but there is this harshness that was disturbing particularly from the vocals upwards to the highs. The bass was OK.

So i searched around for cables that i could use to swap my Beldens. The Violet Z1s were much raved about then and still are. Just search Audiogon, AudioAsylum and Head-fi. In fact, the VIolet Z1 and the Grover 'S' Interconnect are supposed to a synergistic match- this combination is recommended in the BlackSandCables website. (Will share the Grover Interconnect story another time ;) )

To the best of my knowledge, Violet Z1 started off to retail at USD250 for a 1m pair terminated with Marinco US plugs. Over time, the price went up to USD299 for the same configuration. Lately, when BlackSandCables shifted their domain toCanadian, they changed the price to be in CAD denomination- CAD is much stronger than the USD lol!

So after a loan from the kind Yotiao for a home trial, i decided to get 2 pairs- one for my Korsun and another for my CEC. BlackSandCables promised me a price of USD269 for each 2m pair. The shipping was a costly affair- i was billed over USD80 for the shipping of the cables back to Singapore! The cables are at most half a kilogram each! :(

Anyway, they were at my place a week later. They were much better than the Beldens in ALL aspects except the price lol. They sounded a tad bright initially but i attribute this to the cables being new. What i did was to swap around the cables i.e. this week cable 1 will be conneted to the Korsun while cable 2 will be connected to the CEC. Next week, cable 2 to the Korsun and cable 1 to the CEC. I will alternate this every week. I do this because the Korsun consumes a maximum of 1200W while the CEC consumes a paltry 10W max. It is easy to figure out which device will allow a better run-in of the cable. Running-in of cables and the plugs is a controversial business to the uninitiated but the sonic attribute is rather obvious given a revealing enough speaker or headphone.

Once run-in, the the brightness is gone. The sound is 'creamy' but with loads of details. This would have been the end of my foray into power cords. Alas, i was not very happy with the bass of the Violet z1. Not enough bass quantity. The depth is there alright just needed some 'rumble'.

I chanced upon the Oyaide Tunami in the Echoloft...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

My Home Setup

Main Rig

  • Tuner- Marantz ST4000 connected with Grover S black interconnect

  • Amp- Korsun v8i with BlackSandsCable Violet Z1 power cord and pre/power jumpered with Grover S white interconnect
  • Speaker- Dynaudio BM6 with OCOS speaker cable on Atacama Nexus 7 speaker stands

  • CD Player- CEC TL51XZ with BlackSandsCable Violet Z1 power cord and connected with Grover S black interconnect

  • Power Conditioner- PS Audio Duet with Belden 19634 power cord

Secondary Rig

  • Mini Compo- Denon U-DM31 with Belden 1860 speaker cables