The Shun Mook Affair BW page 3

According to Shun Mook's promotional literature, part of what their devices do is derived from the way they're made, part from what they're made of, and another part from the way they're arranged. Asian cultures have elaborate traditions of harmoniously arranging objects; the Japanese art of ikebana and the Chinese practice of feng shui are but two that come to mind. Part of the benefit to be derived from these products may stem from their harmonic spatial relationships, both to each other and to all the other objects in the room.

At the WCES---see my report in this issue---I spent approximately 20 minutes in the Shun Mook suite. I examined all the products they had to offer, and was given a demonstration. I didn't hear anything which I could attribute to their products, but that doesn't mean the products didn't perform; I just didn't hear whatever it was they were supposed to do. The noise from the hallway and adjacent suites was quite high; a demo at the CES is perhaps the worst place to evaluate something as subtle as the possible sonic effects of a small wooden disc. I have many doubts. The rational part of me says:

1) Any object (which, according to physics, must have resonant properties) introduced into the listening room will have some effect on the sound;

2) Any object (weight/mass/resonance) placed on a turntable (which must convert mechanical vibrations on the order of a few millionths of an inch into a stable audio signal) will have an effect on the sound;

3) Any wood, no matter how common, with a mass and density similar to African ebony root will produce similar effects if similarly machined and treated;

4) There's no way to verify the supernatural properties of African ebony root, except by faith alone; and

5) The audible effect of a single small wooden disc placed atop a loudspeaker will be overwhelmed to the point of inconsequence by the combined ambient noise of all other resonances in the room, unless its specific resonant frequency is excited.

But that's my belief system talking. Western science doesn't have all the answers, or even all the questions. I'm willing to allow that I, like a novice tasting wine for the first time, failed to perceive the performance because I lacked the necessary background. I didn't get it in Las Vegas; back home in New York, with a system he knew intimately, Jonathan obviously did.

My Internet-surfing friend also said that, among Asian audiophiles, Shun Mook devices are very highly regarded. I suggest we subject them (the devices, not the 'philes) to the same scrutiny, or lack of it, that we apply to all those products which sneak in the door and into our systems masquerading as the latest work of a Nobel laureate. We like to delude ourselves that the purpose of audiophilia is to achieve the Ultimate in Realism. If that were the case, we would spend our disposable income on concert tickets, not on recordings or things associated with getting the information off them. What we're really after is the Convincing Illusion, and both the power of belief and the practice of ritual magic help make that illusion real. High-end audio is simply another vessel into which we pour our persistent religiosity. If a few more mystical objects make that exercise a bit easier or more rewarding, well then, why not?

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jvjessen's picture

Edit: Stuff like this really should require a blind test with multiple staff to give a more credible review.

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