15 October, 2009

The Yumcha Diaries: 10-10-09

(Click on pics to enlarge)

The Yumcha Diaries: 10-10-2009

Part I. Pondering the evolution of the Republic took second place to music.
LKT, a famous photographer of HK, is an old friend whom I haven't kept in contact much. Recently we met again because of certain hifi matter. 10.10 双十 is a day that should not be forgotten, not because it's Taiwan's National Day, but because it's significance dates back to the old Republic, a day in history. After yumcha, three of us went uphill to LKT's beautiful flat, where we were later joined by mutual friends the Robin couple. LKT is a frugal audiophile who dabbles in DIY stuff. System:

Digital: Eastern Electric (1 tube)
Preamp: Much modified Ming Da tube preamp (5Z3, 2x 12AX7; 2x 6DJ8)
Amp: Bryston 4B SST
Speakers: Proac D28 (jumpers)
Cables: Lots of DIY silver stuff

From the start the system showed a preference to jazz, which had good presence. However, with violin and classical material, midrange was a bit sucked in and sound a little thinned out, though never unpleasant. We were very happy with the various esoteric CDs he played for us (highly recommended; see pics; click to enlarge). After a while, I noticed that he had both the +/- of the speaker cable into the woofer input, and therefore asked him to try having the + going into the tweeter input. Much to our surprise, the sound transformed, much more than usually, into a much fleshier whole. The midrange was no longer reticent, the presence even stronger, and the whole was organic sounding. Not bad at all for a little work! Decent sound! After this, we just spent our time sipping tea, eating the excellent 绿豆糕 from Taiwan, and listening to interesting music. How refreshing not having to listen to yet more "audiophile" albums!

(Click on pic to enlarge)

Part II. From Beryllium to Beryllium

Then everyone went to Robin's place to audition his Yamaha NS1000. I reported a visit in January (click here; check out the equipment list there too) and much has changed since then. The first thing that happened was when Robin (unusually) picked up a Garrard 301 in Taiwan for a good price. he is using it with Audio Technica's evergreen OC-9. The next big change came about when he visited me some months ago. He expressed his reservation about Beryllium and I demonstrated my Yamaha NS1000 to him. He had long been interested in this legendary speaker due to reports in the UK hifi press, like HiFi World. Robin was immediately smitten by its sound and got a pair soon after. recently we have been playing with these and I loaned him a pair of Foundation.

The sound of the turntable was positively one of the best phono setups I have heard (using ARC Sp-11's phonostage, which seems to have more than enough gain for the OC-9). Fully fleshed out sound with beautiful dynamics and a fast leading edge that is just right. I was mightily impressed by the OC-9, which seems to possess the usual AT virtue of clarity and speed but habor not even one whit of AT's somewhat hot treble. It makes me want to take out my ART2000 and install it! Compared to the JM Lab Micro Utopia Be, the Yamaha just seemed so right, and so Beryllium tweeters need not be hot-sounding. Compared to my in-room placement, it suffers little from placement against the wall, sacrificing just a little depth and with a mild boost in bass.

Compared to the LP, the Stello setup seemed rather anemic. Even the host was not too interested. Work is in progress to bring the digital chain up to par with the phono, no easy task.

What a bargain, the Yamaha. For more info, read my observations on my own pair (click here).

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