31 May, 2010

The Yumcha Diaries: 29-05-10 A Tale of THREE Maggies

The Yumcha Diaries: 29-05-10A Tale of THREE Maggies

After more than 2 months in NYC, it was nice to be back in HK and to have met up again with old friends and tasty dim-sum. It was also a little unsettling to learn of the health issues of an old friend. We ARE all getting old!

A Visit to Excel
After yumcha, five of us went to Excel Central hear their Magnepan 1.7. When we arrived, the Maggie 1.7 was already playing in their LARGE room (over 500 ft we estimate). The 1.7 must be getting a lot of attentions.

Sound was reasonably good at low volume and with simple material, but not top notch. The 2 entry level PrimaLuna Prologue integrated amps used (One/EL34, Two/KT88) have long been favored by 俞師傅. However, in this large room, they simply could not drive the Maggies adequately. Clipping was heard with vocals and Mahler seemed to be playing in a tunnel. A switch to the huge Krell integrated amp brought much better control, but the whistling on the Masekela Hope album and the cymbal touches were white in color and inaccurate. Despite the sonic shortcomings it is commendable that bass was quite full and good, though sluggish due to lack of power. Overall, the demo did not do the 1.7 justice.

Back to the Magnepan 1.6
Disappointed, we all went to jules' setup for some rejuvenation. His current setup:

Digital: Orpheus combo
Preamp: Cello Suite
Amp: ML ML3

Even though jules, busy with work and being dad to 2 young children, had not fired up his set in months, sound was really enticing, as usual. Rokia Traore and Masekela (see "CD recommendation 2" below) were immediately brought back to life. The VPO came out of the tunnel in Mahler 5 too. Indeed it was hard to fault the pristine sound. Since the amplification was familiar to me, I attribute the mesmerizing delivery of the treble, vivacious and rhythmically enticing, to the Orpheus (Anagram) digitals. This is digital done right and a relatively rare example of good-sounding 24/192. We spent a happy 2 hrs there before dispersing.

An Previous Visit to VASH
I'll use this space to tie up a little loose end. Months ago I had the pleasure of visiting Vash to audition his Magnepan 1.6 and, even more importantly, I was eager to hear his CAS. I hadn't brought a camera, but while sipping his latte I drew a picture of his wonderful home, full of toys. On that date his VERY complicated system comprised the following:

TT - Clearaudio Champion/Rega RB250 w/Clearaudio Audioquint tonearm wire + Expressimo Heavy Weight mod.
Phono - DACT CT100 (Battery powered)
SACDP (and DAC) - dCS p8i
CD Transport - Meridian 500 + 518
PC output via M-Audio Firewire Audiophile to p8i digital input
Balanced line stage - DACT CT100+CT101
Non-balanced line stage - Transcedent Sound GG (custom built with dual mono tubes power supply)
Power amp. - Sunfire Architect's Choice series II signature.

I must say Vash was one fearless man! Music was played LOUD, and the 1.6 was vibrant, fast and exciting. With Vash's GG preamp, sometimes there was a slightly restless quality. On that day, another DIY preamp of mellower flavor was also tested. Highly commendable too was the CAS playback, amongst the best I have heard. All in all, a highly satisfying afternoon.

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