Friday, December 20, 2019

News - Mr Speakers, renamed Dan Clark Audio released the Aeon 2 portable headphones in Singapore

SINGAPORE | December 20th, 2019 

Dan Clark Audio is pleased to announce the launch of the all new Aeon 2 Open and Closed high-fidelity over-ear headphones in Singapore. The new headphones build upon the legacy of its predecessor - the ever popular AEON Flow headphones, but ramped up with new design elements. Previously known as Mr Speakers, the company rebranded to Dan Clark Audio, the founder's namesake.

Dan Clark, founder of Mr Speakers, and now Dan Clark Audio, is an electrical engineer who has been working in and around the high-end audio market for more than twenty years. Dan’s experience includes working in high-end retail, designing amplifiers and electronics for personal use, and designing commercial and custom loudspeaker solutions, including the highly-regarded and award winning Platinum Audio speakers from the late 1990’s.

The new Aeon 2 features the latest engineering innovations from Dan, married with smart industrial design at a price that makes them not only attainable, but thoroughly enjoyable for the Hi-Fi community.

The original Aeon broke new grounds with its smart industrial design that is the hallmark of Dan Clark Audio design ethic. Known for its elegant shape of the ear-cups, lightweight nitinol headband, and the amazing performance of its in-house designed planer drivers, it was highly raved when it first launched. Now, with Aeon 2, it encompasses all the goodness of the original Aeon with the following new advancements:

Improved Performance

The new Aeon 2 features a colossal performance upgrade. Dan and his team took what they learned designing the most awarded planar headphones in the market last year - the Ether 2, and completely redesigned the driver from the ground up for the new Aeon 2.

New features include:
Updated driver structure flipped 180 degrees, removing magnet and flow structures from the direct signal path of the ear
Streamlined flow elements converted to a single construction, removing gaps
Higher precision machined flow structures vs. injection moulding
Superior Driver damping by developing new materials resulting in improved resolution and frequency response

The sum of all these innovations is a headphone that resolves music on an emotional level unheard of at this price point: visceral bass, transparent mids, and detail up top that is complementary not fatiguing.

Uncompromised Portability

The engineering team at Dan Clark Audio noticed that while the original Aeon came with a great case, it was a little bulky and hard to travel with. When they set out to create the next iteration of Aeon, the team knew they had to address Aeon 2's portability without sacrificing performance.

The attention to small details for their customers in mind resulted in a new case for Aeon 2, and an intelligent folding mechanism for the headphones, as part of its smart industrial design ethos. The new and improved Aeon 2 that would travel more efficiently without sacrificing function and performance.

The headphones are not only more compact and easier to bring along for your travels now, the new design actually improved the clamping, fit, feel, and structural integrity of the entire headphones. The form fitting and protective case also fits your cable of choice and takes up half the room in your backpack than the old Aeon case.

Pricing and Availability

Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 is available immediately at a recommended retail price (RRP) of S$1,399 (including GST) exclusively at AV One and Lazada (

About Dan Clark Audio

Dan Clark Audio was founded with a simple goal in mind: make great headphone products and have fun doing it. At Dan Clark Audio, we believe audiophile performance can be delivered at a variety of prices and we strive to deliver incredible performance and high value for each and every product. Founded by Dan Clark, an electrical engineer who has been working in and around the high-end audio market for more than twenty years. Dan’s experience includes working in high-end retail, designing amplifiers and electronics for personal use, and designing commercial and custom loudspeaker solutions, including the highly-regarded and award winning Platinum Audio speakers from the late 1990’s. Dan has a particular fondness for Isobaric subwoofers.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Plixir Cube 8 BAC Power Conditioner


Our very own home grown brand is back with a new series of balanced power conditioners. According to James Soh, Plixir’s owner and designer, the Cube series was introduced to offer a premium product to customers that wanted a very high quality power conditioner, but were unable to afford the top-of-the-line Elite series of products.

The quality of finish of the Cube is top-notch, and a far cry from Plixir’s first models and significantly better than the present Elementa series. In fact, it would be fair to say that the level of finish and build is on par with the Elite series. However, to bring the product to a lower price point, the Cube uses a more affordable Noratel transformer that uses trickle-down technology from the Elite’s XQ transformer.

Size wise, the squarish footprint (240 x 270 x 245 mm) of the Cube enables easy placement and economical use of Singapore’s very expensive real estate space. It’s diminutive size is deceptive though, and the Cube weighs a back-breaking 30 kg. 

The model on review offers 8 outlets of your choice (US, EU or UK) and supports equipment with total power of 2280 watts. A binding post is also offered in case you wish to ground any of your components to the Cube.

Like the rest of the Plixir models, the Cube runs warm to the touch (I measured about 8-9 degrees Celcius above ambient temperature) on standby. My review sample did not have any noticeable transformer hum or buzzing. 

Sound Quality 

My initial impressions of the Cube were very positive - an extremely low noise floor and powerful bass. I initially thought that the Cube even exceeded the Elite series in this regard. However upon extended listening, I found this to be not the case for reasons explained later.

Sonics wise, the performance of the Cube sits squarely between the first generation Elementa (I did not have the current Elementa series on hand for comparison) and Elite series. Tonally it is not as neutral and has a pronounced bass emphasis and darker midrange and top-end. While the basslines from the Cube appeared more impressive than the Elite at first, I found that the bass was not as tight and lacked the articulation and detail of the Elite. Double-bass had impact but you could not hear the inner detail  - you heard more of a single note rather than the resonance from the body of the instrument and the vibrating strings. Similarly, the midrange and treble were smooth and refined, but lacking in the last bit of inner detail, expressiveness and air that only the Elite could deliver.

For most audiophiles, the Cube would be more than enough. I could have lived happily with it had I not personally owned the Elite BAC - perhaps ignorance could be bliss for an audiophile. 

Cube or Elite ? The choice to me very much boils down to matching. Audiophiles who find their system too lightweight and shrill would love the Cube. Audiophiles who have dialled-in their system to perfection would be better off with the Elite. Like everything in hi-fi, horses for courses !


The Cube fits nicely into the gap in the Plixir series. The Elite BAC still remains at the top of the heap, but the Cube remains a very worthy model for consideration, especially in the right system. The high level of finish, compact footprint and competitive performance means that the Cube deserves a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED label !

Cube 8 BAC

Saturday, November 23, 2019

International Sound and Sight Exhibition 2019


International Sound and Sight Exhibition is on right now ! The show is on between 22nd - 24th November 2019 at Holiday Inn Singapore, Orchard City Centre. The address is 11 Cavenagh Road, Singapore 229616. The closest MRT station is Somerset Station.

I am very happy that the organisers of ISSE have chosen to bring back live performances to ISSE. There are also a series of technical talks by leading technical experts, including Rob Watts of Chord, and Roland Hoffman of Dynaudio.  

Basement Exhibitors

Simplicity Control had a number of interesting products on display, including speakers from ESD, electronics from Keces and a turntable from J. Sikora. When I dropped by, the Panda + speakers from ESD were playing, powered by a Soulution amplifier. 

The Panda + is an intriguing design with field coil drivers, and a massive 3 inch Beryllium tweeter (that's not a typo). This stand-mounted speaker tips the scales at 275 kg - better call your strongest gym mates to help you position this speaker. I was invited to touch the speaker - the enclosure is inert with no vibrations felt, and surprisingly warm due to the field coil supply. Drive units are designed in-house and the first-order crossover is set at 1.5 KHz. The price of these speakers is $28,800 - a real surprise given the build quality and design of the speaker.  

Nicole He of ESD Acoustics with the Panda + speaker

High End Research really surprised me this year. This must have been the smallest room they have exhibited in recent years, with easily the largest Wilson ever. That should be a recipe for disaster. Instead, this setup performed very well - a personal best for High End Research. 

The Wilson Chronosonic XVX retails for USD 329,000 which in Singapore dollar terms is enough to get your a decent sized public housing flat. These were in turn controlled by twin 80s era mini computers (actually Goldmund monoblock power amplifiers). 

The Vimberg system was not being played while I was there. Vimberg is the second line of Tidal, for commoners that do not have bank accounts flush with cash.  

Audioline always showcases equipment that I can only dream of owing, and this year was no exception. The Tannoy Canterbury GR is quite efficient at 96 db sensitivity and should go plenty loud with a precious few watts from the Accuphase lovely twins - wrong ! Instead, they were being played with ferocious power and dynamics. I caught the digital meters on the Accuphase hitting more than 40 watts on peaks. This was a very "live" sounding setup, with appropriate scale and presence.

Audiophiles are an indecisive lot - they want the best of everything, and the worst of nothing. The Acoustic Signature turntable pictured below has you covered. I'm a monogamous analog person, but I can imagine the appeal of this deck to some. 

The Kronzilla has the largest tubes I've ever seen. This is perfect for the audiophile who believes that size is everything. The T1610 power tubes used can deliver more than 30 watts per channel - no simple feat for a single ended tube amplifier. 

I have always had a soft spot for equipment from boutique manufacturers, especially gear from Japan. You just have to love equipment from Shindo. Naming your equipment after wine gets additional marks from me. 

AV One had Dynaudio speakers on display. Sadly, I had to miss the talk by both Rob Watts and Roland Hoffman due to time constraints. 

Seventh Floor

Audiomis had two different active speakers and some electronics on display. The speakers sounded very good and very friendly show pricing of S$ 369 and S$ 569 per pair of the HP3 and HP5 respectively.  

Tien Audio of Taiwan had a stacked pair of Falcon speakers. It's been a long time since I've heard stacked speakers - it's worth spending some time in this room. 

LZE is a manufacturer from Hong Kong. The kit looks quite nice and are quite affordable. 

Project Perfection focused on Furutech accessories. However, the setup was quite well done with very modest electronics (a Mytek Brooklyn Bridge and Benchmark AHB2 power amp) paired with Magico S1 speakers.

Audiosound did something very different this year. I spent a while enjoying movies on Netflix streamed from an Alpha Pro computer from Dreamcore. The model used carries a S$ 5,000 price tag and uses a water cooling system. A Lampizator DAC, Vincent amplifier and Elac Adante speakers completed the picture. The speakers deserve special mention. Designed by Andrew Jones, they deliver very good performance for the price. The speakers are far more complex than they look - the top driver is a coaxial driver which covers both midrange and high frequencies, while an internally mounted 6.5 inch woofer acoustically couples to the 8 inch passive radiator mounted on the front panel. The sealed enclosure can be placed quite close to the wall, and like any good sealed design, offers very tight and tuneful bass.  

Sky Audio's setup is well worth a listen. The active Dynamikks! speakers sounded very nice with a lot of scale and very nice high frequencies. Compression drivers do get a bad reputation for being too shouty, or in-your-face, and I was surprised how much I liked these speakers. The manufacturer is very clever to put the amplification, and electronic crossover in a separate external box.  

Do ask about the Zorin TP-S5 turntable from Taiwan. I was surprised that it cost far less than expected. 

Tritone's setup was clear, impactful yet delicate. The Muhammad Ali of setups alternated between loud rock tracks and intimately recorded violin pieces. They resisted the urge to use their larger speakers and instead stuck to the compact Legacy Studio HD pictured below which was well suited to the small room they were in. They did a talk in the evening to walk attendees through their technical services and Legacy's driver technology. They passed around a disassembled woofer and driver cone. The magnet assembly must have weighed a ton ! 

Eighteen 77 had setup a B&W 802 D3 with a Cambridge Audio source and Rotel Michi amplification. I had loving memories of Rotel Michi equipment from my youth - I lusted over their rosewood side-paneled equipment which was far beyond the reach of my very young and impoverished fingers. This setup was quite nice to listen to.  

Advanced Audio Acoustics gets my vote for best value for money product. The JM 3/5A is priced from USD 400 to 600 per pair depending on version. The representative explained to me that their speaker is not intended to be a LS 3/5A clone, but to improve on the limitations of the original in reproduction of low and high frequencies. The sonics of these speakers had me floored, with their power and finesse. The JM 3/5A just goes to show that you don't have to be rich to enjoy the finer things in audio. 

By the time I reached the show venue slightly after lunch, the only tickets available were for the last performance of the day. I was glad not to have missed Eve & Billy's performance. Eve has a lovely voice with very good pitch control and expression. Coupled with Billy's soulful guitarwork, this was a perfect way for me to end the show. 


This year's show was smaller with an ever shrinking exhibitor list. A lot of the big names in the local scene were absent, the latest absentee being Ong Radio. Personal audio items were also less prominent since Canjam Singapore is a more obvious choice. 

I preferred this venue although the conference rooms are smaller compared to Park Royal at Kitchener Road. Hopefully, the organiser is able to entice back the exhibitors of the past. 

See you next year !

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Curious Evolved USB Cable


Rob Woodland has had another go at USB cables - four years after the launch of the original Curious USB Cable, he has released the Curious Evolved USB Cable.

My original review of the Curious USB Cable can be found here. The premium model costs USD 550 for a 0.8 m length, compared to USD 350 for the original model. All prices include worldwide shipping.

According to Rob, "The Curious Evolved is the best we can do, and will benefit audiophiles who want the maximum performance from the computer based Audio system."


Physically, the Curious Evolved has a close resemblance to the original model. The power line runs externally, and a blue heat-shrink with the model name is the clearest distinguishing mark between the two. The cable has decent flexibility and should have no issues being routed in most systems.

My set-up has changed significantly since the review of the original Curious cable. My computer audio setup consists of a Melco N1-ZH/2 audiophile NAS, paired with a Weiss INT-204 USB/SPDIF bridge. For the purposes of this review, I swapped this with a Synology DS-214play NAS and an SoTM SMS-200 Ultra streamer. This allowed me to place the streamer box much closer to my DAC, and to use the Curious Evolved without any strain being placed on the cable. I also compared the Curious Evolved with a number of USB cables I had on hand, most of which are considerably more expensive than the Curious Evolved.

Sound Quality 

The original Curious Cable is in my view a cable that addresses many common weaknesses in digital playback :- a lack of dynamics and a flat and un-involving  sound. The Curious Evolved on the other hand is destined for the very best of setups - it simply lets digital gear perform at it’s very best.

Tonally, the Curious Evolved is very close to neutral, with the slightest hint of sweetness and a subtle softness to the leading edge of notes. Make no mistake though, this is not a weak and insipid sounding cable. Music is presented with high dynamic contrast, with good saturation and impactful low frequencies. It takes less artistic licence compared to the original Curious Cable, and bass lines are as powerful, or as subtle as captured on the recording. This neutrality is applied throughout the rest of the frequencies, with a very coherent and even presentation. 

By absolute standards, high frequencies do not extend as far as the very best in class, although treble is clean and clear as a whistle. Soundstaging is accurate, with appropriate width and depth. The Curious Evolved casts a noticeably deeper stage compared to the original Curious Cable that projects the stage forward.

Where the Curious Evolved really leaves it’s predecessor in the dust is resolving power and refinement. It unearths micro-detail and expressiveness in a way that eludes the original Curious Cable and presents it with class-leading power and grace. The real kicker in the equation is price - the Curious Cable is able to bring this all to the table without breaking the bank. 


If you liked the original Curious Cable and want to move up to the next level, this is the cable for you. If you are looking for a reference standard USB cable, this is a serious contender to consider, with excellent value too. Well done Rob !

Curious Cables

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Telos Macro Q


The Macro Q is a new device from Telos Audio Design to treat noise on your computer, NAS or streamer. Plug it in to any USB port and you are good to go. A special mention needs to be devoted to how well made this device is - the finish is absolutely gorgeous !

Looking very much like a small scale replica of it's larger relatives, the Macro Q is actually compact and light enough to be hanging from the USB port of your device of choice without any additional support.

However, a special cable (note the large gauge of the cable) is also provided to allow the Macro Q to be placed in tight situations. Operation is straightforward - plug it into any spare USB port and you are good to go. If all is well, you will be greeted by a light show from the unit. This is not a pass-through device (like the Audioquest Jitterbug), so you do need to have a spare port. 

Deployment is limited only by your imagination. Some users have taken to using the Macro Q on their network routers, AV setups or even in their cars to improve their stereo systems. Other claims of improved torque and BHP are unverified !

Sound Quality

The best description of the Macro Q’s effect is that it is a contrast and focus enhancement tool (to borrow a photography analogy). You get an immediate improvement in clarity across the audio band, with greater impact on the bass, and more extended highs. You can further tune the sound by experimenting with placement and support. Plugged into my Melco NAS, I found the additional clarity and high frequency energy to tip my system balance into brightness. The pig tail added some extra body and smoothness that suited my taste more. I also found that leaving the Macro Q dangling (whether from the pig tail or from the USB port) to impact the sound negatively, added a subtle smear to the sound. Adding a squishy footer to support the body of the Macro Q, or placing it on a wooden block improved things noticeably. With some ingenuity, I’m sure you could fashion some support out of children’s building blocks or the like.


This flexibility in tuning should help the Macro Q fit in a wide variety of systems. The efficacy of the Macro Q surprised me, given that the Melco is an audiophile grade NAS with great attention paid to minimising noise on both it’s network and USB ports. The Macro Q is well worth trying for anyone that is using computer audio as a source. 

I may also try the Macro Q on my Synology NAS, and my SoTM SMS-200 Ultra streamer - do check back for updates. 

The Macro Q is available at Audio Basic, local distributor for Telos Audio products.

Macro Q - S$ 360

Audio Basic
1 Coleman Street
#02-12, The Adelphi
Singapore 179803
Tel : 6338 3245

Thursday, August 22, 2019

News : Meze Audio launches multi-award winning headphones - Empyrean, the first Isodynamic Hybrid Array Headphone in Singapore

SINGAPORE | 16th August 2019 - Meze Audio, a high-end audio company renowned for developing premium audiophile headphones and earphones, introduces their new flagship: Empyrean - the first Isodynamic Hybrid Array Headphone with Eng Siang International as its sole official distributor in Singapore. 
The stunning pair is made in collaboration with Rinaro, a progressive audio company with over 30 years of research and development on planar magnetics. It has bagged 13 awards and counting since its initial launch.
Antonio Meze, lead designer and founder of Meze Audio said "Empyrean was born from passion, curiosity and innovation. As a business, we have allowed ourselves the freedom to experiment and take risks in search of the perfect sound. To generate something truly remarkable, one must dare to explore, and that's what we did with Empyrean. We pushed and refined industry's standards and achieved a true game changer for audiophiles."
Headphones with no compromise
The result of the collaboration brings a no-compromise ultra high resolution audio headphones with an Isodynamic Hybrid Array Driver, MZ3, made exclusively for the Empyrean.
With MZ3, an Isodynamic Hybrid Array Driver, a new standard in planar magnetic audio was established - the first dual shaped voice coil array. The only one of its kind, this unique piece of technology is one of the lightest and most advanced planar magnetic drivers on the market.
The MZ3 combines individual switchback and spiral shaped voice coils, allowing sound to be targeted with accuracy around the natural shape of the ear, ensuring absolute comfort and fit for the listeners. This also provides increased exposure of direct sound wave frequencies over the 10kHz range and improves imaging and location by decreasing the impact of short wave time delays caused by diffused field reflections.
Designed with users in mind
Embodying Meze's daring aesthetic, user-centred design elements and Rinaro's experience in research and development within the field of planar magnetics, Meze Empyrean is both a sophisticated piece of design, and one of the most technologically innovative planar magnetic headphones. 
An innovative feature is the Isomagnetic ear cup attachment which utilises the demagnetising field generated by the driver to hold the ear cup in place whilst also redirecting the magnetic field back into the driver and improving driver efficiency. Empyrean's cleverly designed pressure distribution wings - a patented suspension wings increase the leather headrest's contact surface area with your head and can help relieve uncomfortable pressure points.
Empyrean comes with 2 sets of detachable ear pads, in leather and Alcantara variants. Not just luxurious, each pad variant presents a different soundscape for the user. With the leather pads, one can enjoy the vocal and instrumental nuances of your favourite playlist, focusing more on the mids. The Alcantara pads gives you more depth and attention to the treble details. 
Exquisite craftsmanship
Meze went out of their way to create an audiophile headphone that is powerful yet lightweight enough for extended hours of use. A blend of premium materials, the Empyrean utilises exquisite craftsmanship and detailing that unmistakably Meze.
Each driver has been hand assembled and tested in an industrial facility in Ukraine. 
Designed and engineered in Baia Mare, Romania, the Empyrean is made of lightweight carbon and aluminium using high precision Computer Numeric Control (CNC) sculpted chassis, milled from a single piece of solid aluminium. Each cut is precise and a work of art in its own right.
  • Driver Type: Rinaro Isodynamic Hybrid Array 
  • Frequency Response: 4 - 110,000 Hz
  • Impedance: 31,6 Ω
  • Weight: Approximately 430g
  • Accessories included: High strength aluminium suitcase with foam inserts case, 2 sets of ear pads: Real leather, Alcantara, Cable options: 3m OFC cable, 4pin mini XLR plugs ending with 6.3 jack connector OR 1.3m OFC cable, 4pin mini XLR plugs ending with 3.5 jack connector or 3m OFC cable, 4pin mini XLR plugs ending with 4 pin XLR connector

Price and Availability
Meze Empyrean is available immediately at the recommended retail price (RRP) of S$4,599 (including GST) at authorised retailers including AV One, E1 Personal Audio, and Lazada (
About Meze Audio
Meze Audio was founded in 2011 in Baia Mare, Romania. Meze Audio headphones embody the classical values of clarity, balance and harmony. This is not a trend and it's not intended to last for just a season. These are Classics. These are devices to fall in love with. We achieve this standard by combining high-end technology and style with quality materials and good craftsmanship. To all this we add the most important ingredient: our passion.
All our models, headphones and earphones, are developed in-house from the ground up, in the spirit of our original 'no-compromise' vision.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Suggestions for a Refresh ?

Dear Readers,

It's been a while since I've done a refresh of the site layout, or format of reviewing. Any suggestions of what you would like to see in the future ?

I am open to any suggestions although two things I cannot accomodate are measurements, and video reviews (I'm a bit shy).

Best Regards


Sunday, June 30, 2019

Singxer SU-6 USB Digital Interface


The SU-6 is an updated model to the very popular SU-1 Digital Interface from Singxer. The SU-6 is more than 1.5x the price of the SU-1, but is still modestly priced for a high performance USB Digital Interface.

The burning question though for most people would be why the need for this product ? USB inputs on DACs are ubiquitous and having an off-board solution is practically speaking not required. Apart from the expense of an additional box, you also have to budget for an additional digital cable, rack space and other accessories like a power cord and footers.

My personal experience is that most DACs do benefit from being paired with high quality USB converters, often sounding significantly better compared to a direct connection to the DAC's USB input. In the case of the SU-6 (and also the SU-1 for that matter), it also brings I2S output to the table for compatible DACs. 


The SU-6 is a compact metal black box, with three indicator lights on it's front panel. The rear panel reveals the flexibility of the SU-6, with a DC jack for it's supplied external power supply (you can use any 7.5 - 9 V DC power supply with a 3A current rating), a USB input, and no less than 7 digital outputs, and a word clock output. Not bad for a product that carries a three figure price tag. 

The digital outputs consist of two SPDIF jacks (one coaxial and one BNC), AES / EBU, Toslink, and three I2S outputs (two HDMI sockets, and RJ-45). Since there is no industry standard for I2S, Singxer thoughtfully includes a bottom panel cutout with a variety of DIP switches to configure the I2S output. I did not get to test this, although I tried the SU-1's I2S output over HDMI with the Holo Spring and Denafrips Pontus DAC.

A word about the power supply - the SU-6 uses a 7.5 F (7.5 million uF) supercapacitor    power supply, the supplied switched mode power supply is used to charge up the internal power supply. 

The SU-6 utilises two Crystek CCHD low phase noise Femto second clocks. These clocks are contained in a metal enclosure for temperature stability. 

All common sampling frequencies are supported, including the ability to handle 32 bit data. DSD sampling rates cover DSD 64, 128, 256 and 512. 32 bit data is only available over I2S as the SPDIF standard supports up to 24 bit data only. 

The key differences between the SU-1 and SU-6 are set out below :-
                             SU-1                                                 SU-6
Power Supply       Onboard linear power supply           SMPS + Ultracapacitor power supply
Femtoclocks         One                                                  Two (Temperature controlled)
I2S                        HDMI                                                HDMI and RJ45
DSD Support        64, 128 and 256                               64, 128, 256, 512
Digital Outputs     AES, 2 x SPDIF, 1 x I2S (HDMI)       AES, 2 x SPDIF, Toslink, 3 x I2S (HDMI / RJ45)
Customised I2S   Yes                                                    Yes
Power Switch       Yes                                                    No

Sound Quality

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. In the case of the SU-6, it offers a sweeter taste with less astringency and a fuller and more refined mouth-feel compared the SU-1. I would also like to point out that my SU-1 has been modified to accept an external power supply - mine is paired with a Sounds Affairs Plixir Elite Balanced DC power supply. 

Modified SU-1 pudding performs at a much higher level than stock pudding, so I can assure owners of stock SU-1 units, that the SU-6 performs at a much higher level. That leaves the comparison then between the modified SU-1 and stock SU-6. Price wise, the SU-6 commands only a small premium, after you take into account the cost of modifying the SU-1 backplate, and an aftermarket power supply.

The SU-6 offers a high level of information retrieval, with a silky and refined top-end and  controlled bass with the right amount of tightness and bloom. Midrange is more laidback and richer compared to the SU-1, but is still detailed and textured. You do not get the feeling of information being smoothed over, but yet music is at all times very well behaved.

I would argue that the SU-1 is tonally more neutral, but without the refinement and fine resolving power of the SU-6. The SU-1 also comes across sounding as somewhat clinical and dry, especially through the SPDIF outputs. This required careful cable matching to balance out the tone. In this respect, the SU-6 is more cable agnostic. You are also able to tune the SU-6 through choice of power supply. The power supply used does have a strong influence on the sound, with noticeable differences between the stock power supply, a Sound Affairs Elite Balanced DC power supply (kindly supplied by Sound Affairs for the purpose of the review), and an Uptone JS-2 which I happen to own.

All testing was done through the SU-6's coaxial outputs paired with the Blackcat Tron digital cable. My AES cable went on a long flight to London, while none of my DACs on hand had an I2S input. 


The SU-6 is a fine performing digital interface and is easy to recommend, albeit at a price. The SU-6 retails for S$ 980. Factor in a good linear power supply too and cost of ownership is significant. 

The review unit and linear power supply were supplied by Sound Affairs Pte Ltd, distributor for Singxer in Singapore.

Sound Affairs Pte Ltd
100 Beach Road, Shaw Tower #02-34/35 

Singapore 189702 
Tel: +65 9694 9704


Saturday, April 27, 2019

Acrolink 8N-PC8100 Performante Power Cable


Just worked yourself to the bone saving your precious pennies for the flagship Acrolink 7N-PC9700 power cable ? The bad news is that Acrolink has launched a limited edition model, the 8N-PC8100 Performante Cable. I certainly didn't see this coming, especially so soon after the launch of the 7N-PC9700 ! Such is life, and we can only see whether this new model (limited to only 99 pieces in the world)  will dethrone the King of the castle.


Acrolink has somehow managed to retrieve enough stressfree 8N copper material from it's secret vault to launch this limited edition series (the current lineup uses 7N DUCC conductors). Technically, the PC8100 is closer to the PC6700, with both using 50 strands of 0.37 mm diameter copper conductors for neutral and live conductors, as well as polyolefin, tungsten and amorphous powder as filler (the PC9700 included carbon powder). The shield is different, with the use of copper foil tape and silver plated copper braid, instead of carbon tape and enameled copper braid on the PC9700.

Visually and handling wise, the PC8100 and PC9700 are similar, with identical plugs, and flexibility (or lack thereof).

Pricing will depend on your market, but be assured that the PC8100 will cost significantly more than the PC9700. In Singapore, the local dealer X-Audio is offering this cable for S$ 5,500 (or about slightly more than US$ 4,000).

Sound Quality

Admirers of the Acrolink Mexcel house sound will not encounter any surprises - the PC8100 treats it's audience to extended and silky highs, with a refined presentation that is precise and quiet.

A concise way to describe the PC8100 is that this is the progeny of a union of the PC9500 and PC9700, with a well-struck balance that highlights the strengths of both Mama and Papa cable. The PC8100 has the well-defined strength and muscularity of a bodybuilder, and the speed, elegance and grace of a ballerina ! Click on these links to see my previous reviews of the PC9500 and PC9700.  

But stopping short at this description would be doing the PC8100 a disservice - it is able to do everything slightly better than the PC9700, with a slight edge in resolution, micro-detail and background quietness. Throw in the low frequency authority and dynamics of the PC9500, and you have it all - at a price (financially). 

Your choice of poison really depends on taste. The PC9500 has the most powerful sound, albeit with a more raw edge to it - perfect for the rockers. The PC9700 has the most laidback and sweet tone - perfect for small scale jazz and classical works, or vocals. The PC8100 takes the middle road, which is great if you listen to both ends of the spectrum, but an audition is a must - it may be too polite for the headbangers and too forceful for the pipe and slippers crowd. The level of improvement compared to the PC9700 is more evolutionary than revolutionary, and the PC9700 owners should be able to sleep soundly at night. For the prospective Mexcel purchasers sitting on the fence though, this cable is really the one to have in my view.


The PC8100 demonstrates Acrolink's commitment to pushing the envelope of what is possible from power cords. If you move fast, you just could be one of the lucky owners of this limited edition flagship cable. A big thanks goes out to the guys at X-Audio for making this review possible.

Acrolink 8N-PC8100 Performante Power Cord
Price : S$ 5,500 

X-Audio Pte Ltd
Bukit Timah Plaza. 
1 Jalan Anak Bukit, #01-01S
Singapore 588996
6466 2642 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

SB Acoustics Ara Beryllium Speaker Kit


Welcome to Part II of the SB Acoustics Ara Speaker Kit review. This article covers the assembly process of the speaker kit, an upgrade to the Beryllium tweeter, and our very first episode of "Pimp my Speaker" !


A short walk back to the initial article of the SB Acoustics Ara Speaker Kit review would be useful to understand the speaker in depth. For now, let's have a look at the assembly and tweaking process.

Assembly of the speaker kit is quite easy for anyone with some DIY experience. I would not however recommend it for first timers as decent soldering experience is required, and the speaker driver units are quite expensive - one slip of your screwdriver is all it takes to destroy them.


My kit came with fully assembled cabinets and crossover boards. The crossover board is wired with their leads terminated in push-on clips for the drivers, and tinned leads for the binding posts. 

The most tedious part of the assembly would be the cutting of the fiberfill pads to size, and pushing / gluing everything into place. The crossover board can be a bit tricky to install though, as you need a short stubby cross head screwdriver to attach the board to the base of the cabinet. In my case, one of the cabinets did not have any pre-drilled guide holes and I had to hammer the screws into the cabinet to make my own guide holes.

The rest of the hook-up process is quite idiot-proof. The push on clips are sized to match the terminals of the speaker drive units, so you can't install them in reversed polarity. I also liked the fact that the holes for the binding post plate and both drivers had metal thread inserts - no more stripped MDF, and you can torque the bolts with confidence (but not gorilla strength please !). The length of the supplied cables were generous and you do not need to be a contortionist or Octopus to attach the wires to either the binding post or the speaker drivers. The binding post leads do need to be soldered though - the only time your soldering iron will get any action. A glue gun is also required to seal the guide holes where the crossover board wires connect to the binding posts, or you could use your imagination to seal them in any other way you deem fit.

Pimp My Speaker

Good Audiophiles like to milk every ounce of performance out of their gear and DIY equipment are a great way to express and showcase your creativity and talent. I installed the crossover board on top of the speaker, and extended the leads using Belden wire and terminals blocks. The speakers were given about 10 hours of run-in time in between each stage of modification unless otherwise indicated.  

Part 1 - Replace the sandcast resistors with Ohmite and Mills resistors

Nothing fancy used here - just wirewound Ohmite and Mills MRA-12 resistors. The latter have non-inductive windings. Despite their specified tolerances, all of the resistors measured very closely, within +/- 0.1 ohms of their stated values.  

The stock resistors are "thoughtfully" glued into place. Brute force is required here to detach the resistors from the board. 

There is a slight but noticeable improvement here, with an uplift in clarity and reduction in grain. 

Part 2 - Replace the plastic capacitors with Auricap XO film capacitors

The stock Jantzen Cross Caps supplied are quite decent, but the Auricaps are well worth the expense. The Auricaps improve clarity and lend an extra level of dimensionality and detail to the speakers. In comparison, the Jantzen sound flatter and drier. 

Stock crossover board in the middle of surgery

All complete except for the wires

Part 3 - Replace the speaker drive unit leads with Neotech OCC cables, and the binding posts with Furutech.

I used 20 AWG Neotech Pure Silver solid core OCC wire for the tweeters, and 16 AWG multi strand copper OCC cable for the woofers. I am not really fond of push-on terminals, and soldered the cables directly to the drive unit terminals.

The initial impressions were quite negative, with the speaker losing both drive and vitality. These cables use Teflon insulation, which have a reputation for long run-in time -  I put in 48 hours of run-in here. Post run-in, the cabling provided a higher level of refinement and micro-detail. The stock wiring has a more forward and incisive sound, but in terms of layering and staging, the Neotech is noticeably better. The Furutech FP-803B(G) binding posts just happened to be lying around - the stock posts would do just fine.  

I would rate the capacitor upgrade as the most effective, followed by the internal wiring upgrade. The resistors and binding posts could be left alone, unless you are the sort that leaves no stone unturned. Actually even with the stock crossover board, the performance level is already very high. 


The Beryllium tweeter is well worth the upgrade in my opinion. In my earlier article, I pointed at a slight discontinuity between the two drive units, and a prominence to the tweeter that called a bit of attention to itself. There were no such issues with my personal build (the version I heard used the silk dome crossover board with some modifications). I would only recommend the fabric dome version if budget is tight, or you have a dislike for extended high-frequencies.

If you felt that the base level kit was great value, this premium version will have the competition running scared - it's that good !