17 January, 2010

The Yumcha Diaries: 16/01/10

The Yumcha Diaries: 16/01/10

Yumcha is kind of a ritual. Although a eating activity, it centers itself on a beverage and the conversation that brews over it. I think most people just went for meeting friends. This day was even more so, as JC was in HK, bringing with him a few rare guests. On this day, he was every inch the host, and the 13 of us had a good time.

While camera talk has continued unabated, a newly shaven tubediyer explained first the notion then the procedure of the "consecration of the house" (for lack of a better English term) prior to moving in. 不是普通入伙仪式那么简单,更像入伙乾坤大法。The ritual involved salt and other 风水 peculiarities, of course terminating in firecrackers.

Termination of cables is yet another myth-laden subject and certain people make a ritual out of it. Old friend stardust and I had a good discussion of our favorite Gotham cable. How do you terminate (for RCA) a model that has 3 conductors and 2 shields? I think most people would opt for using only 2 conductors, fewer 2+1- and even fewer 1+2-. How to connect the shield is another story. While most of us would leave one end unconnected, some would connect at the distal end while I out of routine connect at the proximal end. This has to do with whether one adopts "star grounding". Of course, one can reverse the cable and use it. Interestingly, stardust told me he obtained rather better results connecting only the outer shield for this particular model. Equally interesting, he told me the factory-terminated cables sound rather different and better! This should make those who pay more money feel better.

Too bad I had to go after yumcha. JC went on to a marathon home-visit tour and a few people went on to visit ghost. A beautiful day was certainly not wasted.

16 January, 2010

The Yumcha Diaries: 09/01/10

pics: Crossover and drivers of Yamaha NS-1000 (pics courtesy of thomasc2; click to enlarge)

The Yumcha Diaries: 09/01/10

Yamaha redux

A little while ago, in R33 thomasc2 posted some wonderful pics of innards of the Yamaha NS-1000, one of my favorite speakers. That's the first time I saw the substantial crossover. Then, being the DIYer and tweaker that he is, he took out the tweeter and mid-range and placed them outside the box. The speakers now look like some kind of old KEF or Sequerra (pic here)! After yumcha, 3 of us visited him. His system:

-Source: DIY CDM-4 transport into DIY TDA-1541 16-bit DAC (phono not used that day)
-"Preamp": DIY stepped attenuator using AB resistors (the CJ Premiere 7 used for phono only)
-Amp: Jadis JA-200
-Cables: Generic, mostly DIY

All of us were envious of Thomas' room, spacious and with high ceilings. All 9 people at yumcha could have easily stuffed into it. It is a good sounding room with no significant audible problem, even with minimal room treatment. The sound was relaxed and non-fatiguing. From slower vocals to violin music, everything was rendered well. The "Yamaha" sounded very open, but I was not sure HOW different it is from stock form. Thomas told me there was naturally less boxiness overall, and that he thinks the treble and mid-range outperforms his Wilson Watt 2/Puppy 3. I would certainly think so, particularly with tube amp!

For my taste, and this is nit-picking, I'd have appreciated a wee bit more rhythm and pace (P.R.A.T.) in certain music. I think that may be due to the passive preamp. When it comes to the preamp, thomasc2 and I belong to different camps. He believes in Less is More, and hence in the passive attenuator (particularly with a strong amp like the Jadis), whereas I believe an active preamp is essential in preserving the rhythmic, and hence dynamic, stucture of music. But then this division is common and not deterrent to enjoying different tastes!

Thomas is a meticulous person. One knows that already from the way he took apart and re-assembled the Yamaha. He told us he also went over his Jadis and found a lot of resistors have drifted way off, even opened! There was a lot of stuff lying around. Next time, I'd love to hear the Wilson and his DIY transistor amp.

02 January, 2010

The Yumcha Diaries: 02/01/10

The Yumcha Diaries: 02/01/10
It's Meat Meat, Meat!

The weather warmed up a little. I arrived late for the first yumcha of the New Year, and was glad to find some old faces among the seven of us. The waitresses continued to aggressively peddle their coupons, an irritating practice that is unlikely to abate. Cameras once again dominated the conversation. It makes me even want to take up an SLR again (I still have my primitive Minolta all-manual).

As we had a dinner gathering to attend to not much later, five of us went for a little sojourn at BenYC's. His Jensen and electronic crossover sounds different every time. By the time the setup started to warm up we had to depart. On our way I found out BenYC has a pair of Jensen fullrange. We had an interesting discussion on the possibility of using the fullrange and his current tweeter and bass. That would likely obviate the need for the electronic crossover for at least the mid-range up.

Then we all went to the dinner party. The host's place had been recently meticulously renovated, and looked a million bucks. Just days ago he had hooked up a make-shift system in haste for the party:

-Digital: Rega Apollo via Mogami interconnect directly into
-Amp (both with volume knobs): Dignity Audio 6550 SE amp first; then ICL 300B
-Speakers: The MIGHTY Klipschorn hooked up with Belden 9497
(lying dormant: TT; Counterpoint SA2/5.1; Melos 333; Wadia cdp)

Meaty Sound
As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by fulsome sound. Really, plug anything into the mighty Klipschorn and it will sound great! The percussion on the Tony Bennett and Jimmy Smith CDs all sounded incredibly tangible. I had some library CDs with me. Heifetz's Sabre Dance (a scintillating performance) was as well rendered as Liszt's piano concerto (effervescent performance by Nelson Freire, stunningly recorded). We played Andrew Manze's Biber Rosenkranz Sonata (from HM's 50 anniversary box), a beautiful performance, but almost everyone preferred the old Heifetz's recording quality, which had a more limited but direct sound. Of course, we played a little with hifi too. Changing from the fuller sound of the 6550 to the more complex sound of the 300B was revealing. Although less powerful, the direct-heated triode far out-stripped the 6550 in nuance. Next time, we'd like a full setup WITH preamp!

There's a wonderful article on Klipschorn in the July 09 issue of the HiFi news, which includes much praise by David Wilson.

We also briefly listened to the hifi setup in the daughter's bedroom. Usher S520 racket-mounted on the ceiling looked really cool. This was driven by a T-amp and humdrum source. Sound was dynamic!

Then BenYC played the Aria from the Goldberg Variations, an emulation of Glenn Gould, his hero. I must say it was nicely turned and everyone thought the sound of the Yamaha upright wonderful and better than any canned music. No contest.

Lots of Meat!
From the hors d'oeuvres onward it was an onslaught of mostly meat, culminating in a rack of lamb. BBQ skewered chicken and pork, grilled goose liver on toastand arugula salad were all wonderfully fresh. Then we had some ox-tail soup and fish and garlic bread before the lamb finale, all washed down with a lot of wine. Kh33 joined us mid-way. Immediately things livened up and darts were flying around during the "discussions" on "super-tweeters"(most of them are just tweeters) and ""subwoofers" (most are just woofers), Wilson, AN etc etc. Ah, the "good old days"! :-)

I had a great time playing with the two lovely children. A funny thing, how our perception changes. When I first walked in I commented to the host that the boy and girl looked more like him and his wife, respectively. The more I looked however my impression turned to the opposite! How inexact, our sense of "like" and "alike"!

On my way home, I took this pic of people's feet. I rather like it. To enlarge any pic, just click the pic.

01 January, 2010

主编的话:2010 看 “后 97“ 年代

主编的话:2010 看 “后 97“ 年代


“...可以说,八十年代结束于1989年。八十年代早结束了一年。 1976年结束了七十年代,七十年代早结束了四年。 不过,算上1976年后的四年,八十年代有十三年。 七十年代呢,从1966年算起,有十年,所谓十年“无产阶级文化大革命”。按 decade 划分,不准确,不符合。人生不是猪肉,不可以这样一刀一刀按斤切..."

那我们香港的零零年代呢?我认为应该称为 “后 97“ 年代, 还没结束,漫长的等待但愿不会以悲剧画上句号。我是不乐观的

回到音响,与很多其他的东西一样,这 "十年" decade 最大的改变来自网络的普遍化和图片上载的改进。也跟其他的东西一样, 这有好有坏。好的是资讯多了,人多了,联络频繁了; 坏的是不好的资讯多了,分裂多了分薄了力量,一般素质越来越差, 更流于肤浅,有贡献的文字比恶毒攻击更稀少,场面靠一些风花雪月支撑, 颇有"冲喜"之味。可叹!

在这浮华的年代,有心人只好默默地用自己的经验和方法在海里捞针, 能做好自己的就很好了!这个 Blog 开办才一年多, 但由实践带来的新想法却不少。我希望新的一年能更实际地为大家带来更充实的内容, 这样才能答谢那些鼓励我的人。 我欢迎读者给我意见 (doctorjohn@myself.com)。

我在香港的时候, 每星期都会过深圳。那里没有电脑, 没法写东西以至很多题材只能装在脑里。如果一切没变的话,我希望今年能在那里搞一台方便自己。现在是太多东西想写,时间却太少。

自从〈掌心雷〉手写板报废了后,都在用简体拼音法输入中文, 一方面因为母语是国语能适应,另一方面也能令自己的发音更进步,一举两得。以往会用翻译器翻成繁体,可是有些字,像〈最后〉的〈后〉或 〈这里〉的〈里〉, 是翻不过来的, 只能成为繁体里的白字 (一些中英文都糟糕透的猢狲还曾为此大造文章, 煞是可笑)。其实我也嫌烦,就索性用简体吧, 反正一家,而文章重要的还是内容, 创新和表达。当然,有时间的话, 我是会想学个繁体的键盘输入法, 毕竟繁体字好看,也是传统。

在此祝各位 Happy New Year! 展望每个香港人能最后自己说了算!

附:《七十年代按这里 按这里 可看部分。张郎郎宁静的地平线〉一篇 非看不可;里面有个死囚的爱情故事,令人看了唏嘘不止, 痛入心肺。这书最好能买下,以便慢慢细嚼。书里面有许多小故事,对于国家,个人,以及自由民主的反思与响往, 还有受害者表达出来的宽恕与宏观 , 更令人动容。反之,充斥香港网上, 用来攻击人的〈爱国〉,〈爱港〉,〈黄白〉论调, 每每显得表面, 而因缺乏对自身及历史的认知更为可怕。