The Shun Mook Affair JS page 3

Kai insisted on opening the Avalons up completely with no toe-in, and told me to stop worrying and keep my cool---I'd still get that center focus I crave (and which I'd always foregone with the rad toe-in) while achieving a much bigger soundstage. I told the Mad Monks that I was surprised at first when Kai said we'd be using the Spatial Control Kit and other strategically placed Mpingos to change the system's tonal balance and soundstage characteristics. But what an attractive idea: no more calling on Hernias 'R Us to move these monster speakers. As they listened to my tale, the Monks smiled and furiously nodded their approbation. I was glad Dr. Tan was an intern---as the most extraverted of the group, at this rate he'd soon need a neck brace.

A word about our Avalon Ascents: I've heard a lot of palaver about the sound of these speakers, but in our listening room, and after a lot of effort, I think we've finally got it right: Each speaker sits on three Goldmund Cones, each cone is seated into the top of a Philips-head sheet-metal screw driven down through the compliant plywood upper layer of our old loft floor right down into the extra-massive subfloor. In addition to leveling all screws (a handy trick for compliant-floored audiophiles in old buildings), one screw under each speaker is also wound down into a beam. Solid. The outboard crossovers also get this treatment, but they rest on SuperSpikes on their screw tops rather than Swiss Banker Cones. I've also rewired the Ascents internally with the updated Avalon-supplied Cardas harness, which includes a doubling of the run to the woofer, making the bass sound more satisfactory with a greater number of amps.

I've also installed the big Sorbothane puck available from Avalon behind each woofer. This improves bass extension and tightness. The puck is bonded to a circular wooden platform with a notch cut through it so it can be firmly attached to a spar on the rear of the speaker's interior. Once you get that sorbo puck in there, good luck getting that woofer back out again---rewire first, then puck it!

Yet another reason I believe this pair sounds so fine is because of the heavy Harmonix treatment they've received at the hands of the Harmonix importer, Victor Goldstein, and associate Frank Garby---the two Bookends of the Audio Apocalypse. As a result, these two big buggers deliver Spine-Tingling Audio Thrills on a regular basis. The point is, in combination with my revealing front-end components, I was sure I'd hear if the Shun Mook devices were having an effect---and what an effect that was!

Mpingo Discs are small, ebony discs that measure about 1 (5/8" in diameter and about 1/2" thick. They're meant to be placed face- (logo-) side down on turn-tables and all front-end electronics; eg, CD transports, DACs, preamps. Like all Shun Mook products, the Discs are directional. They cost $50 each, so you can buy a few to experiment with in your system and then buy a few more, which I know you'll do after hearing them. The Mpingo I use on the large, flat VTA adjuster knob on the Forsell Air Force One Mk.II gives an excellent effect; I've placed three of them in a triangle around the turntable's platter, tangent to the direction of platter spin.

On some turntables, it works better to orient the Mpingos in toward the spindle. We entertained a friend from another audio magazine the other day, and as I lifted the four Mpingos from the Forsell and then replaced them, he was in awe: With the Discs in place, the sound was richer and more extended, and all aspects of the soundstage reproduction were enhanced---you don't need gold-plated ears to hear the difference.

I've got a Mpingo on the top of my CAT preamp; I move it to the top of the Jadis JP 80 MC's chassis near the line-stage tubes when that sexy French preamp is in the system. (It becomes a strange-looking beast with its Mpingo and Ensemble Tubesox in place.) There are three Mpingos on top of the Timbre Technology digital processor---its case is rigid and damped by design, and it takes all three to make the difference here, although usually one is sufficient on electronics. I've also got a Mpingo slotted in between the twin pair of speaker binding posts on each Jadis JA 200, and move them to the same or similar positions when switching amps.

The Spatial Control Kit consists of two L-shaped wooden brackets containing three bonded Mpingo Discs each. The brackets are meant to be placed against the side wall on the floor, parallel to the sides of the speakers, with the leading edge of the first Disc in line with the speaker's baffle. Shun Mook recommends leaving an 18"-24" distance between speaker and SCK---but space to taste, as it were. As part of the kit, you get three additional single Mpingo Discs: one to be placed on the floor at the listening room's back wall, equidistant between the two speakers and placed on its edge, logo showing and set to a 12 o'clock position, so it stands up and touches the wall or baseboard. Each of the other two Mpingos should be placed at the top of each speaker.

jvjessen's picture

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

ishis's picture

It's fun reading these old letters written by foaming-at-the-mouth Nay-Sayers, 26 years later. Other manufacturers of accessories (vibration control, room-tuning discs, etc) that have been proven to work in the years that followed, have gained the respect of Audio Lovers everywhere. People have to be open-minded about new ideas and discoveries of things we were not aware-of before. If you 'dump' on things you do not understand, you just sound stupid later!