26 July, 2011

Overview: Elekit Part I TU-875 TU-8230 TU-8300

Overview: Elekit, Part I
Review: Elekit TU-875 TU-8230 TU-8300

Updated March 5, 2015

Basic Info on Elekit

vkmusic (North American dealer); Victor Kung, whom I have yet to meet, is a great guy, very passionate about what he sells, very helpful to his clients and well regarded in diyaudio, where he runs the Elekit forum. Victor had put in a hell of a lot of work on Elekit, including translating manuals and flyers from Japanese to English for their older products like TU-875 and TU-879 (and his English versions were then used by other vendors without crediting him!) All Elekit users, especially those who DIY, should give him credit. If I were a North American Elekit fancier, I'd buy from him rather than from others who had less dedication.

Elekit official website
cnamusic (Elekit HK seller); Mr Lau is also a pretty helpful guy.

Finally, I am getting to it. Let me start to wrap up my Elekit journey. This article is mainly a formal review of the TU-875 preamp and the TU-8230 amp.

TU-875 full function Preamplifier

This preamp is no longer available but info can still be found:

Official Info
Great Japanese website showing assembly
香港代理 cna 舊網頁資料
發燒音響 12

Like the TU-870 (ECL82/6BM8) amp, this used to be a perennial in the Elekit stable. Many years ago, when I bought the TU-870 I also bought the TU-878 CD player, but for some reason I opted out for the preamp. Wrong decision that I was not to rectify until last year, when I ordered one through cnamusic.

Building the preamp was a more cumbersome effort than any of the amps. The small preamp incredibly houses a full-function MM/MC phono section (switched by a button in the back) and the densely populated circuit board took quite some work. Special care also had to be taken in soldering the closely spaced pins of the IC chip (for the MC phono), so this kit may not be for the first-time kit-builder.

Ergonomics for such a compact unit is exceptional. The volume knob to the right has a smooth feel. A gentle push on the left balance knob neatly selects inputs.

Power supply is by a wall mart (cna supplied kit is original 100V) but you can easily replace it with an aftermarket unit (cna sells a cheap Chinese SM 220V unit as well as a more expensive after-market power supply) or build a dedicated supply. However, over-kill on the power supply may not be too rewarding: as you see, the power supply is only for 7V DC, which is raised inside the preamp's tiny power supply section to a much higher 200V DC, hence the section inside the preamp is likely more important, and there is not much room for modification there.

Sonically, this preamp is truly exceptional. Its vanishingly low background noise shall shame many a (much) costlier preamp. It is hard to say whether the line section or the phono section is the more brilliant one. The line section uses only 1x 12AU7 and its sound is neutral, smoothly detailed and surprisingly sophisticated. Violin replay is top class: equally revealing of the string and the body; and managing to sound harmonically rich yet never etched. It is only in music of the greatest dynamics (such as well recorded orchestral music or piano) that the preamp restrains itself and sounds slightly flat in comparison with much higher-cost units with big power supplies. Nonetheless, what this tiny power supply section can do is still mind-boggling. I have partnered this preamp with amps from Verdier, Wavac, even Kondo, and it never bats an eye, such is its confidence.

The quiet phono section uses solid state for its MC section and 2x 12AU7 for the MM section. I have previously written something on it in a "group test" (click here). The tubed MM section is superior to many outboard phonoamps and compares favorably with classic tubed units, though you should not quite expect the performance of top-class units like those from ARC and MFA, for example. What is just as surprising is that the MC section, which has excellent gain (it can even manage my Ortofon MC-5000), manages to sound quite tactile and even handed, without the rather sterile cardboard quality of lesser outboard phonoamps. Taken into overall consideration, it is hard to think of any outboard phono units up to several times its cost that is as even a performer as this unit.

A miraculous performer and a best buy, certainly one of the best products in the Elekit range. It is so good that I brought it back to NYC to serve my vinyls.

TU-8230 2A3 amplifier

Official Info (hit 外觀.仕樣>> for more pics)

Unlike what they did for the TU-8300, cnamusic, dealer in HK, sold this in the original kit form. I first heard this in cna's showroom and bought one (first impressions here).

Over the Chinese New Year I built it in 2 days. As Elekit uses circuit boards for everything, including terminal strips and volume pots etc, the work was a little cumbersome, but not difficult. One also has to strip a lot of wires to connect the various boards. Some spots would have been just as easily hard-wired; nevertheless, I followed the instructions to a T and built it using all stock parts. You shall note the silver-capped output transformers are different in appearance from those used in the TU-8300.

I first used the stock valves, Chinese 2A3 and 6SN7. Satisfied that the machine was working properly, I lost no time in replacing the tubes with Ken-Rad black-glass VT-231 (imho the best 6SN7) and RCA double-plate 2A3.

This is a heck of an even performer and a dark horse. It runs very quietly and sounds very sweet, with excellent detail retrieval (I don't feel the need to upgrade caps), bandwidth and dynamics. For those who like more tube warmth, the amplifier has more finesse and tonal allure than its bigger brother TU-8300. When driven hard, it maintains its composure and one almost cannot hear any distortion.

My listening gave me the impression that this amp is at least as good as the other 2A3 amps I own or have heard (Sun Audio, ICL, Verdier), if not actually better. I actually briefly compared the TU-8230 with the Sun and ICL, and it more than held its own, quite an achievement. IMHO this is the best amp I have heard from Elekit. Elekit fans shall remember many years ago they had other 2A3 and 300B amps (that look like a bigger TU-875) but let me tell you those did not sound very good, nothing like this generation of TU-8230 and TU-8300. Perhaps I shall write a few more words about those in Part II.

A champ then. It is summer now and I actually use this amp more than any others. It runs very cool and yet has enough power and finesse for my Tannoy Canterbury. Yes, I match it with the Kondo M7 preamp and it is not shamed. It is that good.

TU-8300 Update

Official Info (hit 外觀.仕樣>> for more pics)
Japanese website with good pics
Japanese website that chronicles the assembly
Japanese website showing details of the parts

If you're reading this, you may remember that I have previously published a review (by my friend Danz) of this 300B amp (click here). This is a limited edition product, but may still be bought (as kit) from various places on the internet.

I took this amp to NYC, where it is driving my YL speakers ably. The amp is certainly run in by now, and my impressions have not changed much. It has a trace of leanness about it, but its driving power is quite exceptional. Not for the romantically inclined, but a strong contender.

The input sensitivity is way too high for my 104 db YL horns. I lowered it by adding resistors, but some background hum persists. Also, I changed the coupling caps to NOS Russian Military, which increased warmth.

23 July, 2011

Taiwan International Hi-End Audio Show 2011 TAA臺灣第21屆國際Hi-End Hi-Fi音響大展

Girl (I mean pic) borrowed from 普洛影音網

Taiwan International Hi-End Audio Show 2011
TAA臺灣第21屆國際Hi-End Hi-Fi音響大展

No, unfortunately I did not personally attend this show, but I shall refer you to this Taiwanese website for unbelievably extensive coverage. Even if you don't read Chinese you shall recognize all the brand and model names. Each floor receives separate coverage; the tabs near the top indicate the floors (2-3, 6-9).

Just click here and enjoy!

TAA臺灣第21屆國際Hi-End Hi-Fi音響大展於2011年7月20日~24日展開。

TAA臺灣第21屆國際Hi-End Hi-Fi音響大展

22 July, 2011

Overview: Wavac Part II - PR-T1 MD-805 MD-811

click on pic to enlarge

Overview: Wavac Part II
Review: Wavac PR-T1, MD-805 and MD-811

Wavac Overview Part I

Belatedly, here is Part II of my Wavac experience. To pick up where we left off in Part I, after Danz heard my Wavac combo, he decided to acquire a set. I loaned him my set but he continued to source for Wavac on the internet. In a surprisingly short time, Danz made the decision to go for the higher models. The MD-805 monoblocks were sourced from the UK and these arrived in HK while I was in NYC. Then Danz found a set of PR-T1 in New Jersey. Not quite knowing how impossibly heavy these are I volunteered to take these back for him so he can save on the considerable delivery charges. So the seller dropped them off in NYC and I was surprised (to say the least) by the very heavy weight (69 lbs) of the 3-piece PR-T1. However, the compensation was that I got to play with this beauty for more than 1 month in NYC before I got back.

clcik on pic to enlarge

Work of Art: PR-T1

In contrast to my more humble PR-X2, you can actually find some user comments and even review for this flagship preamp (enjoythemusic). Most certainly a work of art, aesthetically I'd say it is likely the most beautiful preamp I have seen.

I did not open up the power supply, only the main chassis. Although both use 2x 12AU7 per channel, If you compare it to the innards of the PR-X2 (in Part I) you shall notice that while the amplification circuit boards are quite similar the PR-T1 is distinguished by: 1) the presence of 2 large output transformers; 2) presence of 4 input transformers; and 3) a high-precision stepped volume pot. With all these transformers, the PR-T1 easily provides balanced XLR inputs and output, in addition to the RCA provisions.

In my month with the PR-T1 I used only the RCA output. As for inputs I used mostly RCA but I did try out the XLR in with my AQVOX phonoamp (reviewed here). As with my PR-X2, this is a high-gain design (favored by SET amp designers) and the gain pots proved useful in attenuation, although in this case of stepped resistor volume pot non-linearity at low volume settings is not a concern. The sound was wonderful with almost everything I threw at it: phenomenally detailed, with great presence and dynamics, a dark background and great tonal allure. There was not even a hint of frequency roll-off at extremes (that can plague designs using lesser transformers). This is one in the top echelon.

Odd man out: MD-811
Before proceeding to the magnificent MD-805 monoblocks, let me take a detour. I feel almost guilty, but for the sake of narrating my experience with Wavac, this has to be.

This discontinued MD-811 was relatively affordable ($4000) a decade back, and there were quite a few useful reviews (enjoythemusic; positive-feedback; and most unlikely HomeTheaterReview). 811(A) is a transmitting tube, cheap and readily available. But the design of Wavac was certainly not compromised. Despite its relatively low cost, it is largely of the similar design as the current MD-300B, employing the company's trademark interstage transformers. The following circuit is likely an earlier one, using 6F6 rather than the later 6Y6, but you get the idea:

By chance I spotted one on Audiogon while I was in NYC, and took delivery from a very nice gentleman before arrival of the PR-T1. The unit was in very good shape, and came with extra valves. Basically, aside from the power tube, it uses the same tubes as the MD-300B, a pair of 12AU7 and a pair of 6Y6.

Turning on the amp there was a sense of deja-vu. Its very quietness mirrors the 300B based amp, and it ran for long periods with stability. But it was also immediately apparent that the tonal balance is significantly different. Although the MD-811 has a beautifully refined treble, the MD-300B amp seemingly has more air on top. I was not sure whether there was some loss of detail compared with 300B (few tubes can match up in this regard) but after extended listening I think it is just apparently so. The MD-811 has excellent detail retrieval, but its much fuller bass, of the character that Dick Olsher (a very good reviewer usually) wrote about in enjoythemusic (see above link) tilts the tonal balance to make the treble seem a trifle subdued. .

As rolling tubes did not change much the character of the amp, loudspeaker and ancillary matching became more of a concern. My YL horns have 15" woofers and a full bass. I did not have my MD-300B on hand, but when I switched in my Elekit 8300 300B amp the bass was more controlled.

Herein lies the surprise: contrary to usual expectations, the MD-811 did not match well with the PR-T1. Admittedly, one is a flagship product and the other entry level; still, one would expect more synergy from the same company, such as I experienced with the PR-X2/MD-300B combo. With the PR-T1 switched in, bass was most certainly over-ripe. The MD-811 matched better with a leaner preamp, such as Elekit's TU-875. There, you see, because of this I was a little uncertain of the nature of the PR-T1 until I came back to HK.

Enter the Dragon: MD-805
One day, after yumcha, JCR33 and I went to hear Danz' setup, a little stressful for me, and you shall see why.

We only used Danz' MD-805B monoblocks, but started the session with MY PR-X2 preamp. I was instantly amazed by the physical beauty and awesomely clean power of the MD-805. Basically it held the Tannoy Canterbury in a visor-like grip and would not let go. To make a comparison, subjectively I think it is quite a bit more powerful than the Unison Research Smart 845, Airtight 211 and Kondo Ongaku I have heard. I doubt with even less than 90 db loudspeakers they shall be found wanting.

Switching in the PR-T1 was a humbling experience. Immediately everything became more fleshed out and smoother at the edges. At Danz' place, clearly the PR-X2 was leaner and even a little edgy, something not apparent at my place. As a whole, the sweeping power and commanding authority of the PR-T1/MD-805 combo was unassailable, so much so that the picky Kondo guru JCR33 nodded in approval. I can only console myself with the thought that in terms of detail, treble air and bass contour the more expensive setup (newly installed) has perhaps not necessarily yet (for my taste) completely over-taken my similar Wavac setup, which has been in place for much longer. With time, I look forward to the time when this system completely trounces mine.

21 July, 2011

CD Recommendations: Concierto de Aranjuez

CD Recommendations: Concierto de Aranjuez

The blind composer Rodrigo wrote one masterpiece, the Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra. For more info on this piece, read the wikipedia entry, which is lively and informative, though far from complete. I am sure you already know much of the music. If you think you don't, listen to the youtube clips supplied below and you shall realize you do.

There are literally hundreds of recordings available (click here), and it is hard to make a bad recording of this transcendentally beautiful music. Personally I'd opt for a Spanish guitarist accompanied by a Spanish orchestra if possible. Narcisco Yepes recorded it several times, but some versions seem to be out of print (for available ones, see here). All of them are delightful, so I'd go for the budget one shown (Universal/DG).

Yang Xuefei's version (EMI) is easily available, and has interesting fillers. I am not sure how "Spanish" she is, but she as always plays with character (to me much more interesting than those Japanese female guitarists). The Spanish orchestra and conductor are good too.

The wiki entry neglected to mention that the composer himself arranged his work for harp (for the great Zabaleta) and this version is performed to perfection in a new Sony/RCA issue (info in German; artist's website). Xavier de Maistre, harpist of the VPO, is magnificent, strong, fleet, nuanced, indeed better than some guitarists! And the fuller sonority of the harp is a great pleasure. This may not be easy to source but is worth it.

Jazzed Up
Over the years there have been numerous arrangements of this syblime music. Most famous is Miles Davis' version (arranged by Gil Evans), which Miles delivers in his sparse style (Columbia).

But last year I chanced on the Jim Hall version and fell in love with it (CTI; info here). The Hall version stays quite close to the original and I prefer it because of its use of guitar, which is still best in delivering that certain sultry feeling.

You can listen to Miles and Hall in the youtube clips below. Many other arrangements veer too much towards pop and should be avoided if you have heard or love the originals.

There are tons of videos on this music. I have selected a few, mostly of the slow movement, for your enjoyment/comparison. First, classical guitarist Xuefei Yang's Proms performance is not for the full classical orchestra, but it is atmospherically shot. I particularly like Yang's rather individual, even somewhat masculine, way. The EMI promo for her CD is great to watch too.

The Miles Davis version is great, but I still like the guitar better:

It's too bad Miles' version is the one every jazz lover thinks of, but I think Jazz guitarist Jim Hall's version (with a great band) is actually better, more atmospheric and closer to the original. You get the best of all worlds here, guitar and trumpet!

07 July, 2011

Review: Musical Fidelity M1 DAC

Review: Musical Fidelity M1 DAC

Revised and expanded July 16, 2011

While I am quite settled into my SET world and don't look much beyond in terms of amplification, I have retained quite an interest in digital products. One of the heartening things these days is that good digital products can be had quite on the cheap, and there is no better example than the Musical Fidelity M1 DAC.

This very reasonably priced (even more so in HK) and well-equipped DAC has been widely and glowingly reviewed (a good one from HiFi World; see also HiFi News, TAS). Of course, that alone does not arouse my curiosity. Think of the rave-reviewed Benchmark DAC1, which has always left me cold (non-involving sound), and it costs quite a bit more than the MF. More extravagantly, I think of dCS, which always seem to sound "good" but fail to draw me into the performance (interestingly, the HiFi World review compared the M1 to a dCS, albeit subtly).

Neither does the name MF previously mean much to me in digital products. Many years ago I had their Tubalog DAC for a while, but soon sold it because of its lack of details-the tubes were just buffers in the worst sense, ones that robbed details (much like their gimmicky X-10). Since then, I have heard quite a few of their CDPs, like X-Ray and A3, and none of them impressed me too much.

Neither am I necessarily a convert of upsampling, having heard just too many clinical sounding and expensive products. But I am not against it either, as I know if well implemented the result can be very good (an example is the Quad CDP-2, which is a very good sounding unit that like the M1 upsamples to 192kHz).

So what exactly drew me to the M1? I'd guess it was a combination of the following: (1) the wordings used in some of the reviews, much more detailed and "sincere" than the generic "rave" review; (2) The features, including balanced input and output; (3) great measurements across the board.

I bought a second-hand sample and was delighted from the start. I used it in the following system:

CD: Audio Research CD2 as transport-Gotham XLR digital cable
Digital Switching Station: Genesis Digital Lens.
DAC1: Audio Note DAC-2 (old version; PCM-63) connected with Gotham coaxial digital cable
DAC2: Musical Fidelity M1 connected by Gotham XLR digital cable
SACD: Marantz DV-6001 analogue out
Preamp: Kondo M7
Amp: Elekit 2300 or Wavac MD-300B (Ongaku is too hot in the summer)
Loudspeakers: Tannoy Canterbury

Since many of the cited reviews were very well written, and in great details, I'd not write much except to note a few of my impressions.

Most of all, I was impressed by the superbly clean, well-delineated and coherent sound, which does not highlight anything and impressively maintains composure even at loud level. Perhaps since I use tubed equipment, I found nothing etching or over-bright at all.

Comparison with the analogue out of the ARC CD2 (older Delta-Sigma unit using CDM12) reveals the ARC to be very slightly fuller in the midrange, but less well delineated (though it is no slouch in this area). Hence the M1 may not be for those who wants a very rich midrange or upfront sound in the vocals, although it is by no means recessed. With the M1, instruments, including vocals, have excellent presence, but always in a natural way. Aside from the XLR input, I also tested the RCA input, which worked equally well with the Marantz multi-player, raising the CD playback to a level almost comparable to the ARC as transport. Although the M1 has excellent measured performance, I still marginally prefer feeding it indirectly through my Genesis Digital Lens, which theoretically removes jitter originating from the transport, and which I use as a versatile switchboard. Last, but not the least, (unlike things like Benchmark) the M1 has a very good sense of the music's flow, good PRAT if you will.

In very big pieces perhaps the M1 loses a little ground to the AN DAC2 (as well as my Sony CDP/DAC R1) but its performance is still way above average, remarkable for something at this price. And all this with the RCA analogue out, as I have not even tested its XLR out! Neither have I used its USB in (may not be as great; see TAS review cited above). Maybe that's for another day.

The M1 is a wonderful product. Use it with a good transport, or even with a DVD player (which usually serves quite well in this regard) and the sound will beat many, if not most, of those way over-priced, so-called high-end CD players (particularly those from Germany). A bargain.

Addendum (July 16, 2100): M1 DAC vs V-DAC
There is a question on the internet regarding how different the M1 DAC is from the same company's much cheaper and compact V-DAC, which similarly has garnered much praise and did well against rivals costing much more in group tests.

The best info is from a Japanese site, where you can see the internals of both. Aside from the obvious difference of power supply (the V-DAC uses a wall-mart), as the author noted (Babelfish translation), the DAC section is very similar (pics of the DAC section are 180 degrees from each other) but I think the analogue output seems better in the M1.

01 July, 2011

Overview: YS Audio aka Audio Experience

pic: YS Audio's humble showroom; Solo2

Overview: YS Audio (aka Audio Experience)
Review: YS Audio Balanced A2 + Sonata KT88
The Yumcha Diaries 飲茶後記: 25-06-11 Spendor SP100

History of YS Audio (official website)
YS Audio took its name from its founder YS Chui, a known tube designer in HK. In the heydays of the early 90's, they had a store in a Kowloon shopping mall 聯合廣場, near Prince Edward MTR. Although this area of HK had a large number of hifi stores then and the building is next to the largest second-hand store in HK, its location nonetheless was a little odd, since the mall largely catered to teenagers. At that time I visited the store many times but came away with nothing. The products always looked beautiful and there were many interesting designs (you should visit the history page), but the prices were above average. I don't know why, the sound then was always a little too soft and euphonic for me.

(官方網頁) YS-Audio 始創人徐日生是香港有名的真空管放大器設計師, 九十年代十年間曾在發燒音响音响天地等雜誌撰文1988年起生產高級真空管放大器, 由1998年全部 YS-Audio 的產品都以Audio Experience 品牌發售。公司產品全部由徐日生先生和徐志偉先生在香港廠房親手制造自從由1998年起本公司的產品以銷售到海外為主, 多年來得到很多外國音响愛好者的讚賞

Later, YS Audio closed its shop in 1998 and operated out of a unit in an industrial building, its current location, which is to say the least a little out of the way for most of us. By necessity YS turned to other methods of selling, via Ebay and the internet. It must have been hard for them to have build up their reputation bit by bit, largely by feedback and word of mouth. For more than a decade, until recently, I rarely heard about, or had a chance to hear their newer products. But I am glad they have come back with a vengeance!

Fast forward to now, although the father is still very much involved, I'd think the son, Nelson Chui, has a large input in the designs. I say that because, from what I hear, the sound of YS Audio has changed dramatically and, for my taste and no disrespect to the founder, for the better.

YS Audio Solo 2
Purely by accident, I became reacquainted with YS Audio. First, a friend bought one of their amps (report below). Then, in close succession, a friend in the US asked me to buy their Solo 2 phono pre-preamplifier for him. As almost no one makes an active pre-pre these days, I became intrigued, called up and went for the pick-up. Back home, I tested it out and was very pleased by its performance (reported here). I called my friend and told him the good news and soon another friend in NYC also wanted one, and thus I met Nelson.

Showroom Audition
My friend icefox has been trying out and considering phonoamps for quite a while, and was interested in some of YS's products from the good words-of-mouth he heard. When we first talked on this topic I had never heard any YS phono products. Later, after I heard the Solo 2 we talked on this again and decided to pay a showroom visit. icefox is also fond of my ICL Model 4 phonoamp (imho a great product on par with EAR834, but that is for a later article) and would like a comparison. So I called up Nelson and asked if we could do that and he agreed without hesitation. Thumbs up!

Sound in the YS showroom was excellent. Click on the pic to enlarge, as I don't really remember the equipment used too much (should have written this up much earlier), but roughly:

Turntable: An old Sota with a humble arm and an AT cartridge
Preamp and Amp: Reference one/Sonata Reference KT88
Speakers: KEF LS3/5A
Phonoamps used : Solo2 step-up amp, Concerto plus and Concero Plus MC-TSE phono preamp.

We heard several of the YS phonoamps, including using the Solo 2 in lieu of the built-in stepup. There were differences but they uniformly made music; even the cheapest one was very good. As for the ICL, perhaps it showed a subtly greater rhythmic finesse but not everyone is sensitive to that. The preamp used was a balanced one, and the amp a Sonata Reference KT88. Although we listened mostly to the LS3/5A, Nelson actually has several pairs of speakers around, and a brief listen to a pair of Maggies revealed their KT120 amp to be a good match.

Nelson was very relaxed and we wasted a lot of his time! But we came away with great admiration for the products.

Concerto Plus
The next time I heard a YS equipment in depth was at SG's place (report here). Judging by the very good mono playback, the Concerto Plus is a winner.

Balanced A2 + Sonata KT88
Back to my HK friend, you have met this classical music and opera lover before in this blog (previous visits). For the longest time, we tried to persuade him to convert to tube gears, at least a tubed preamp. Recently, to make space I made the painful decision of selling the Spendor SP100 to him.

At first, even after some re-run-in (absolutely necessary after long-term disuse), the SP100 was not really making a sound that I thought was appropriate. Imagine our surprise when one day he bought the Sonata KT88 (most basic version with Chinese c-core power transformer) out of the blue. Apparently he liked the demo and the very reasonable asking price. We heard the amp driven by a digital preamp and the sound was definitely an improvement over the digital amp before, although a little lean. A tube amp takes forever to run-in.

Not much later he surprised us again by acquiring also the Balanced A2 preamp. And on this day we went after yumcha for an audition. I am happy to report the YS combo made the best sound I have heard at his house. The SP100 sound came back like magic! A smooth and refined top, beautifully transparent mid-range, and extended bass (although the host likes it rather lean)! I should add that that the host had done quite a bit of small-tube rolling to have arrived at the present ones used, nothing too expensive, but effective. heroic length is not needed (nor recommended).

As expected, the YS made a sound that has the bloom of tube, but not at all euphonic, a modern and neutral tube sound. Although that may not appeal to many of HK's misguided vintage tube aficionados, who mistake euphonics for musicality, they certainly appealed to me.