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...