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Reflection of Paino Tuner in 2010

The reflection of Piano Tuner in 2010

In the past 12 months, I was torn apart by managing two mega systems which I had no prior experiences before. The earlier experiences were rough and rocky. My repeated disappointments were soothed by many valuable opinions from our group. Digesting these inputs is not an easy task when contradictions arise. At some point, you just have to be yourself.

The initial setup of the Tidal Sunray system without the T1 sub woofer was complicated by many of my wrongdoings. The biggest mistake was I had not taken the jumpers out from the Sunray when the system was connected to the LPX active crossover! Not until these were fixed, I was basically walking in a circle. Then, the next mistake was the early installation of a vinyl system in a room that I am yet to familiarize with. Then the very low output of the Grandezza Reference (0.17mv) going directly into the Prescenio did not seem to have enough gain. Most of the time, the volume of the Prescenio had to be cranked up to 3 o’clock position. Obviously, bass weight is not enough again.

Mr. Zanden is right. It is important to have a reliable CD source for verification because LP involves too many parameters. I gave up the installation of the Gabriel for the time being and focused entirely on CD playback. The arrival of the Vekian CDT to complete the state of the art Stahltek digital playback system was the trigger point that aroused all of my energy to fix the room. I reworked the acoustics of the room after identifying the key reflection area is the SLANTED entrance. The angle was so perfect that it seems it was design by purpose to generate a reflective path directly to the listener position. It is for Fung Shui reason that the entrance was designed to open in such a way. Next, I fixed all the four corners with a total of 8 bass traps. (The last corner was not treated until DSo identified some standing waves located at the back of the right channel.) The heavy curtains on the right hand side were taken away in exchange for absorption/diffusion panels.

After all such problems were fixed, I was contended. At least, the performance has to be something like this. The subsequent arrival of the T1 sub towers is a shock. The compliment by Mr. DV during the Tidal dinner meant so much to me because he is someone who evaluates a system from music perspective rather than audio jargons. Since then, everyone who visited the AE showroom was simply blown away. Even if not completely, they know by heart the potential and the level of performance achieved hitherto is in an uncharted area. We have many overseas visitors booking a time slot for audition all the way from now till 2nd quarter of 2011. I have not yet even installed the Gabriel turntable. And I promise I will bring out the elegance attitude of Da Vinci as rightly pointed out by Uncle Ray.

I have to say Mr. Zanden is a truly experienced audiophile and music lover. He intentionally tested the system by loud volume and find the system is not as stress-free as the Cessaro Beta system in my home. He agrees the rack by Dynamic Contrasts is completely stress-free and void of any mechanical artifacts. The next week, I called up SRA and tailored made OHIO XL+2 boards specifically for the Prescenio. All other boards under the Tidal amplifiers are all by SRA now completely without mix and match anymore. It turns out Mr. DV and Mr. Zanden are both absolutely spot on. Mr. DV told me the piano was great but he would like the tone to be tender and gentler. Following Mr. Zanden testing CD – the Gladiator, I listened again when all mechanical vibrations are now better unilaterally controlled under the same philosophy. Bingo! There is so much more calmness in loud passages. The silence in between notes and different sessions of strings/winds can now be clearly felt.

Shanghai Bigpiece was the only one who listened to this system after all these changes. He kept saying to me, “Never heard something quite like this before”. And that was last Wednesday. I felt I can finally take a break on this system and let the music play. From the opening of the showroom on Jun 23, 2010, it took about 6 months to achieve where it is now.

In part 2, I shall write the same about my journey with the Cessaro Beta Horn system. Both Plastic Bag man and DSo had once told me to forget it because my room is too small for such a big horn system. Marvel also felt the lower mid bass was muddy. Mr. Zanden is the one who helps me to solve the problems step by step with each testing records. I am grateful of his assistance. I had done much more fine room treatment. I can confidently tell you guys that the Beta Horn system in my home is now roaring like a lion with full control on bass. The details and resolution are shockingly real. Image is palpable. Last but not least is the speed. Speed at all frequency is amazing. It is truly something extraordinary now. I don’t speak this lightly as my reference is the Sunray T1.

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to all of you

Piano Tuner

Comments

  • When you played Englishman in New York from the live recording of STING LIVE in BERLIN, I was totally immersed in the concert. I tried this recording on various reputable Hi End Salon in the Central area, I could perhaps listen for 1 minute. I didn't know the benchmark until I met you. You write well. The admission of mistakes in the public is a bravery act. Thank you for introducing me to your universe.
  • Hello English Teacher, I echo what you said. I don't think there is any showroom in HK can come close to this one. The weather in Beijing was very cold, and so I decided to spend the Xmas in Hong Kong. I believe I went there after Shanghai Bigpiece. The image palpability, the grand scale, the coherence from top to bottom and the presentation of details in a non-highlighted manner. When I listened to orchestra recording, I could feel the focus of each sessions. The presence is immense. PT asked me for help to check whether loud volume will cause fatigue because Mr. Zanden felt the sound was pressurized at high volume. I listened to Wagner, Mahler and Rach for 2.5 hours at a volume most of the time between 12pm to 1pm, I found myself totally indulged in the music without any fatigue. I guess that is the magic of SRA. PT uses only SRA in this system now.

    The result of AE's hard work is free of charge to all music lover. The beauty of it is to admit mistakes, share them and then improve.

    Keep up the good work!
  • I invited Mr. DV for an audition of the Cessaro Beta system last Friday afternoon after I cleaned up the room by using acoustics products that specializes in tackling the frequency range between 300hz to 500hz where the system produces too much relative to the size of the room. His listening approach is different from Mr. Zanden whom has a set of reference recording that follows him for years for a systematic check on tonality, imaging and sound-staging etc. Mr. DV, on the other hand, is very good at identifying the location of noises regardless of any recordings. He can always tell me where his ears feel pressurized and he is always right. I always treat those positions once he told me the noises are there.

    The afternoon started with a good comment first. He said, “Not bad, I couldn’t feel the physical presence of the horn. Even the lower mid horn disappears physically. Although the system looks huge, the sound is free out of the box.” He then listened more intensively on various recordings. He said he could only feel his left ear was pressurized somewhat. Then, we moved a panel on the left hand side leaning on a cabinet. It became much more quiet but the sound immediately deadened somewhat. We took it away. Then I could see he had some deep thoughts. We moved on to listen to one recording which he left in my home for more than a year. He listened to this recording and he said to me, “Raise the bass volume.” I followed. “Then he said “raised again”. Then I realized after I absorbed the frequency range between 300hz and 500hz, I have not correspondingly turned up the bass volume. When there was a peak in lower mid bass, the easy way is to reduce the bass volume. But after I cleaned that up, the bass volume should go back up. That’s very good because he is not familiar with this mega horn system at all. In fact, he belongs to entirely to another camp. Purely based on listening, he helps me detecting things I have forgotten.

    Later on we swapped around the “stuff” to achieve an even more balance presentation. He is very familiar with the application of the stuff and he told me it raises the performance of his system a few notches up once it is fully broken in and applies it to right position.

    The last magic touch was he told me to put two foams on the floor at the back wall behind the speakers. The bass is even more clean and controlled than without.

    The Cessaro Beta can now be played very loud in the room. No matter is rock music, electronic bass. The system can articulate well even with heavy lower mid bass attack content in a continuous manner. The bass layering is there. The weight is there. The punch is there. The bass really moves some air now and that very transmission of energy is unique. The speed of the entire frequency range is amazing. The imaging is shockingly palpable now. It seems as though Louis Armstrong is singing in front of me.

    Of course, there will always be further improvement. He recommends me to install another cloud above the listener position. I will do further treatment of the room. I have been enjoyed the Beta System night after night ever since Mr. Zanden’s last visit. Now it is getting better and better because of more room treatment. Room acoustics are interesting but very challenging to master.
  • I am known as an asshole in the industry. Even the very best from Harvard or MIT had to take a lot of shit from me. I rarely compliment anyone. But in the audio domain, AE has earned my respect continuously straight for 4 years. My audio life has completely changed after meeting JLam in Germany a few years back. Also, thanks for many mid-night conferences with PT. I am glad to see the company has moved forward to the next stage.
  • I went to visit Mr.DV’s system last night. My last visit was probably one year ago. I had a great time as the magic of the Da Vinci Virtu system really sparkled this time. To be frank, our previous visits were underwhelmed either by the imperfect setting of the Gabriel or scarcity of power (output gain) from the Orpheus Zero. But last night, with a vintage Studer CD as a transport working in collaboration of the Grim CC-1 clock, the energy comes back. And the performance of this vintage CDP with the clock should belong to the HK$100K class, in my view. I rarely asks if I can replay the same recordings again. It happened last night. The Da Vinci Virtu speakers produce extremely fine micro-dynamic details in par with Cessaro and Tidal. The quality of each tone is beautiful. It may be somewhat beautified but it is musical, enjoyable and touched me.

    The quality of discussions was good. I can feel everyone has matured in a big way in terms of listening skills. My evaluation is not as stringent as Mr. Zanden. I am speaking from my own feelings. Sound-staging and focus are not really there at the threshold yet but I know this is a matter of time and room acoustics work. But the tonality is very balanced with very fine details. The bass is dimensional with recognizable contour. The mid range is very natural. I was pleasantly surprised by the performance level of piano reproduction given the vintage CD source and the fact that my reference is the Tidal Sunray T1. The overall thrill of the system is on the soft and relaxing side but I have to say the quality of tone is truly unique. That is not to say it lacks strength because the tuning of each system reflects listener’ prevailing listening preferences. The ease of presentation from field coil drivers is also inimitable by other schools of thoughts. “The key here is to enjoy the potential of the system given the constraints and existing resources.” From my experiences, this system truly excels in strings and chamber music. The bottom line is the music involves me in spite of imperfection of the room and many other countless parameters. He moves me to the point of rekindling a plan to build a new Da Vinci Virtu system in 2011 for my own. Then, AE will have a Da Vinci Virtu, Cessaro Beta, and Tidal T1-Sunray all showing at the same time.

    Mr. DV is not the hard working type of audiophile but he is conscious of what is looking for and knows well what constitutes musicality. His many recordings from unknown performers in Eastern Europe are testaments to his true love for music.

    And this is the Da Vinci system that I recognize and fond of. I recommend owners of AAS Gabriel turntable to pay Mr.DV a visit to understand the philosophy of Da Vinci.
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