The Shun Mook Affair

Editor's note: When Jonathan Scull reviewed the Shun Mook devices back in 1994, he unleashed a hailstorm of controversy that continues to this day. Below is his original report along with some of the follow-up articles and fallout.

Shun Mook resonance-control devices
Jonathan Scull

Prices: Mpingo Discs, $50 each. Spatial Control Kit, $450. Super Passive Diamond Resonator, $400. Record Weight, $895. Approximate number of dealers: 5. Manufacturer: Shun Mook Audio, 618 Grand Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610. Tel: (510) 893-8403. Fax: (510) 893-3818.

Bong...bong...bong... A Taoist bell rang softly and delicately in the mist. All was still. The sweet, mellow reverberation seemed to go on forever---great decay, but no leading-edge transients to speak of. I was sure the Bong... wasn't digital.

I slapped myself and wondered if I could think of anything in non-audiophile terms. I realized I couldn't, forgave myself immediately, and moved on.

Suddenly the mists parted, and three figures stood before me. I recognized the ephemeral forms as The Two Mad Monks from Planet Shun Mook---Dr. Yu Wah Tan (Doctor Tan to his friends) and Bill Ying---in company with their constant companion and Monk Superior from Cable Jacket Land, Andrew Chow. I met their gaze; we communed wordlessly for a few meaningful moments.

Finally, Andrew Chow broke the silence and said, "Hi, Jonathan! We're here! Where's Kathleen? You know Bill Ying and Dr. Tan from Shun Mook. I tell you, we're really looking forward to the bagels and Scotch Salmon you promised us for brunch!"

Bongggggg! Let's eat! Over a riotous meal of Balducci's Best Boy Scotch Salmon and H&H bagels, we chatted about music, the meaning of life, and learned more about Shun Mook's original and very effective products---some of which had been in Kathleen's and my system for some time. Between bites, Yu Wah "Doctor" Tan and the ever-phlegmatic Bill Ying filled us in on why they chose to make the Shun Mook products out of African ebony wood. According to Dr. Tan, they found that "most fine instruments, like the cello or double bass, use ebony in the finger boards. The right resonance! Resonance is energy, so you can't eliminate it, you can only transform it. Even buildings have moving energy, you know." (As if to emphasize the point, just then our old loft building quivered with the vibrations of a passing truck.) The basic idea is to preserve and tune these resonances rather than damage the sound by trying to eliminate them. That's the problem with Sorbothane-like treatments, the Monks explained: They damp, but can't eliminate, resonant energy, which is then re-released, effectively smearing the sound.

Dr. Tan explained how there are resonances, and then there are resonances---some good, some bad. Good resonances are like the ones in a violin, which by its very nature "resonates like hell!" Bad resonances are the mechanical ones found in preamps, for instance, that are outside the musical spectrum. With steel-to-diamond tips in the Super Passive Diamond Resonators, the Shun Mook products attempt to preserve the "good" musical resonances and evacuate harsh, mechanical, non-musical resonances---"The diode effect!" (Doctor Tan always speaks in exclamation points.) He's infectious---good thing he's [rimshot] "The molecular structure of carbon in diamond gives the effect of brilliance of sound," added Bill Ying. Thus, the genesis of the Mpingo Discs, Passive Resonators, and the Shun Mook Record Weight.

Since JE already gave you the lowdown last November (footnote 1) on Andrew Chow's Original Cable Jackets (with which I concur, word for word), I'll concentrate on the Shun Mook products here. Suffice it to say that the Cable Jackets are wonderfully synergistic with Shun Mook's resonance-control devices.

Footnote 1: Vol.16 No.11, p.143.

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!