The Shun Mook Affair JS page 2
The String, the Broomstick, the Cardboard Boxes, the Startled Audiophile, & His Wife
Don't assume that every trick you pick up from me will cost you a fortune. The following Three Mad Monk Guys' Tuning Tips are freebies, and won't cost you more than a few bucks at most---if you buy fresh materials.
After shaking off PBL (post-bagel lethargy), we got down to work. Phase One started with an earnest request for a wooden broomstick or mop handle and some string, à la Kathleen. The Monks lashed the stick to the top shelf of my enhanced Arcici SuperStructure equipment rack, its spikes sitting on the flat heads of Philips-head screws set into the floor (footnote 2). Once the Monks had the stick tied down, they hung the XLO Signature Dedicated Phono Cable from the Forsell by its Cable Jacket. "Higher" highs? [badaBOOM] But really, whenever possible, keep your wires up---it subtly improves the sound (especially of delicate low-level phono signals), and helps to keep Grungus disgusticus at bay.
Satisfied with his handiwork, Andy Chow rubbed his hands together and asked where those cardboard boxes were that he'd asked me to pick up before they arrived. Dr. Tan and Bill Ying looked at me expectantly as they asked if we were finished with the Sunday New York Times, and would we mind gathering together as much spare newspaper as possible?
The drill is to stuff the boxes with varying amounts of newsprint, place these boxes on end in the rear corners of your listening room (behind the speakers) at approximately the height of your speakers, and listen until the bass tightens up to the point where you sit around nodding, saying, "Yup, that's it." We used three 18" by 12" by 13" boxes in each corner. You could use larger boxes at the bottom, medium in the center, and smaller at the top, or use the same size for all three, as we did. We found the best sound when the bottom box was stuffed more tightly than the middle and the middle more stuffed than the top. If you try this yourself (as I urge you to do), reinforce the boxes' sidewall stiffnesses by using magazines on the sides, tops, and bottoms---good, heavy-stock European fashion mags do nicely, although we joked about using the Times's "Book Review" for the same purpose---and fill the boxes' centers with the scrunched-up newspaper.
All adjustments were made by listening to material with stygian bass and judging when it sounded tight and deep enough. If you think I'm kidding about all this, I have videos of the box-stuffing Monks bent over my system, ministering to it like a bunch of Oriental healers. Use your ears---you can go too far, at which point the bass starts to sound dried-up and over-damped.
It didn't take us long to get the bass under control, which now had the added benefit of slightly clearing up the lower midrange, rendering that part of the frequency spectrum a bit more transparent. As we sat down to some informal listening, I described to our guests what we'd already accomplished with their associate, Kai Mui, from Crescendo Sound in New Joisey. Kai had been over to install the Mpingo Spatial Control Kit (SCK) and to make sure I was using the other Mpingo Discs correctly. I described to the Monks how I'd always listened to my Avalon Ascents in the relative near field with a tight toe-in snapping in a well-defined and very palpable center image (for which I'm a complete sucker, and also to avoid Sidewallus reflecticus). I'd opened up the toe-in when the Harmonix room treatments were added and moved the listening chair back.
Footnote 2: That's some audiophile wife I share my musical passion with, huh? Would your Significant Other allow such arrangements?