The Shun Mook Affair Sam Tellig
Stereophile Vol.17 No.11 November 1994
I hied me down to Radio Shack to see what I could find on sale. Lo, I discovered the Optimus 990 speakers (catalog #40-1125) marked down from $149 each to $98 each. That's $196/pair. I pounced (at least to the tune of a 30-day money-back trial).
Each speaker has a horn tweeter, and its 15" woofer is said to provide "thunderous" bass. Specs are sparse: 100Wpc maximum power handling (minimum not specified). I set the speakers up on 12"-high Target stands and hooked them up to the 7W SE-1.
Wow. Now this was dynamic stuff. Things immediately sounded different from what I'm accustomed to: the midrange was recessed, the top rolled off, and the bass was...well, thunderous. Tightening the screws on the bass drivers (don't tighten too much!) helped to clean things up.
Then I had an inspiration: I took a Shun Mook Mpingo disc and put it atop each Optimus 990 cabinet. The treble smoothed out rather nicely (although the midrange was still recessed and the top rolled-off), and the bass took on a tightness and became more defined.
Now I was getting somewhere. I tried three Shun Mook Mpingos per speaker---which is more money spent on the discs (retail) than I paid for each speaker on sale. Still further improvement. By messing with the Mpingos, I was able to adjust the depth and width of the soundstage, smooth out the treble even more, and pretty much stop the bass from booming (although it was still extended and powerful).
Then it hit me that Asian audiophiles tend to like big horn speakers. It stands to reason that Shun Mooking might make more of a difference on such speakers, since they have big cabinets. I can visualize the people from Shun Mook smiling as I write this.
I remember my first conversation with the Shun Mook fellows:
"What do these things do?" I asked.
"Change sound!" replied one of the Shun Mookers. And that, indeed, is what they did---rather dramatically---on the Optimus 990s: change their sound. I tried the Mpingos on the RA Labs and they did the same thing---especially the soundstage. I moved the Mpingos like checkers, and they sort of pulled and stretched the soundstage with it.