Time flies. In about less than a month, AE is going to hold the 2nd Super Hi End Show at the HK Convention Center in partnership with Audio Technique. My crew was discontented with the sonic performances last year. The silent display of Zanden Chouku was unexpected thereby messing up the entire system configuration plan. Absence of public show experiences was another blow as we had never worked in such a tight schedule to set up a mega system for public listening in an alienated acoustics environment. On the positive side, that also suggests tremendous room for improvement. The learning curve is a steep one for certainty.
Although the atmosphere of the show was cozy and the subsequent impact on sales had been positive, the sonic standard that my crew wanted to achieve was a “failure”. The encouraging part was that a handful of encouraging emails were sent to AE complimenting our passionate and serious attitude. That meant quite a lot to me, and I am truly thankful of your support.
The challenge this year, to be frank, is no less than last year for one single reason. The “Carmen” by Cessaro will be shipped directly to the HK Convention Center. That means I will be listening to her together with all the audiences on the day for the very first time. That also means the Zanden Chouku has never met Carmen before. But what exactly is the Carmen? Essentially, it is an extreme form of Lizst. Instead of the 11” woofer used in the Lizst, the Carmen is going to embrace a 16” woofer. This is an immense technical challenge because it is difficult to ensure the speed of a 16” woofer to be able to catch up with the two 12” drivers employed in the subwoofer session inside the cabinet. As a result, a new 16” woofer has to be developed from sketch. And the goal is to make the mass of it even lighter than a 12” driver. The speed according to Ralph will be almost as the same as the field coil 16” woofer installed in David’s Brahms in HK. And we succeeded. Then the whole cabinet has to be widened because of the extra diameter of the new woofer. The mathematics of the bass horn has to be recalculated given the increment in width. And for Carmen, we go as far as using stronger internal structure to further reduce the mechanical distortions of the internal bass horn. And the quality of crossover parts applied is second to none in the world exclusively for Audio Exotics.
As of now, Ralph Krebs of Cessaro is working around the clock to make it a reality. I have not seen any real picture of it as well. But I trust Ralph. My idea is to make the Carmen getting a lot closer to the Beta 2 without the need of installing a huge bass horn which is not a practical solution for 99% of the audiophile population. We also want to keep the aesthetic of the Carmen as one big majestic sculptural object.
And then the almighty Chouku by Yamada has already been working stably at AE now. I don’t have to comment too much as many who have experienced it knew the height of the summit. The Chouku has allowed the Lizst to reach its full potential, and that is the first time I felt the speakers has already reached the limit. Mr. Zanden always jokes with me that good sound only last a short while because we immediately want more once certain threshold is reached. And then the birth of Carmen follows suit.
I also want to say a few words about Robert’s Takumi K15 preamplifier. This is a super league preamplifier for one single reason – it can catch up the lightning speed (carries with incremental energy as rhythm accelerates/decelerates) of Zanden Chouku. I can’t describe the experiences by words anymore but those few who had already experienced the Takumi K15/Chouku below 30 hours of operation know what I am talking about.
I always encourage direct conversation with designers more than looking at the specifications. Measurements only tell us what are the wrongs but they never tell how right is right. That is why AE will bring in the star team again this year so that audiences have an opportunity to see them in person, take photographs and talk to them in real time. Dietmar Braumer of Trinity (DAC and phono) , Robert of Robert Koda (Preamplifier), Yamada of Zanden Audio (Power amplifier), Miguel of Tripoint (ground noises filtration device) ,and last but not least is Ralph Krebs of Cessaro Horn System.
The whole hi end audio world is reading this forum intensively. I want to use this opportunity to say a few words. The equipments selected for the show are primarily for the purpose of maximizing the synergy amongst the chosen equipments at this particular timeframe subjectively perceived by the AE crew as the best given our experiences. I encourage both end customers and manufacturers to have an open mind despite presence of competing products. The fact that I have chosen A over B for the show does not suggest one is more superior to the others under all circumstances, especially the choice of cables. If the show is solely for business orientation, I should have picked a much smaller speaker and a much more affordable amplifier.
This is a show about conviction, demonstration of knowhow, and institution of professionalism. Sales are important but secondary. The audio business is not a pretty one. That is why AE decides to walk a different path. When I read newspapers everyday in Hong Kong, negative sentiment prevails vehemently. People are getting very serious about complaints with each passing day, but spare no effort to improve amongst ourselves and to right the wrongs. This is not good to the young people. I do not want to walk this path.
And I also believe every move that one makes could potentially bear either positive or negative influences on unknown people sometimes to the infinite scale. Many are watching us. Thus, I must demonstrate a positive attitude utilizing our knowhow and experiences to do a great show. We want audiences to witness our improvement with each passing year because the hope for betterment cultivates positive externalities.