A new page in Marvel's system

In the journey of pursuing the ultimate high fidelity performance, I am no different from many audiophiles in a constant battle with room acoustics, deficiencies, noises of all sort.  I wrote below in a thread below in Aug2013:

" To me, my room deficiency is still the biggest challenge for me to achieve the most optimal balance of the sounding. I need to learn more not just from Jlam/PT, but also the secret weapon of AE: Master Chik, the house vinyl expert of AE, indeed he is also a master tuner on speaker positioning. The magic in AE showroom will not be there without the final touch by master Chik...."

A few weeks ago, I invited Master Chik to come to my place and this time is not for setting up or fine tuning of my system, the sole objective is to heighten the sonic performance by addressing the room acoustics deficiency, integration of the main speaker with the subwoofer, etc.  Obviously there is no 'end-state' solution, I am however very much contented with what we (and indeed mostly Master Chik) have achieved after a half day endeavor of positioning the speakers, placement of the absorption and diffusing panels here and there.

To form an initial ear verdict of such, last week, I have invited 2 hifi comrades who have visited my place many times: Eddie and Romanovyn to come and listen....



  • Marvel,

    Master Chik is an all rounder. He really understands. There is nothing voodoo from his dictionary. The only issue is whether he will tell you everything even though the improvement already made you happy.  He always 留力。

    I am sure he performed magic for you just like what he did for Azzurri and my home in China. I suggest you to invite Mr Zanden over and test all of his records on your system.  Then you truly know where you are because he has the credentials and the set of recordings he brought over to play during AE show were all great stuff representing a wide variety of music.  

    For mega system at your level, you need a consistent testing protocol by soneone who is truly experienced.  Listening impression test reports are fun to read for casual references.  

    I am sure your system must be unique now after Master Chik's consultancy. 
  • Mr Wavac,

    I have been on private conversation with Mr Zanden for a long time hoping to get him some time on my system.  He is one of the most respected and stringent listeners that I have ever known.

  • marvel bro, so when is Mr Zanden coming to test your system?
  • The recent visit to Marvel's home is a very pleasant experience. It again shows that I chose the right path. With more in-depth tuning and room acoustic treatments, all Cessaro systems can reproduce the live-like feeling of live performance. After master Chik's tuning, Marvel's system has a big leap to get very close to AE showroom's performance. 
    The bass is very authoritative, the image is extremely 3D, the resolution is very high. More importantly, I think the sound is so musical, a sound for home listening. Comparatively, Marvel's system is less "show-off", a more relaxing and mellow sound than AE showroom's. We can listen to this system for all day without feeling tired. 
    If I have to be picky, I think the large glass windows are reflecting back too much treble that would cause some noisy backgrounds when too many instruments were playing. But I think this can be treated with room acoustic means. 
    The overall performance of Marvel's system is great. 
  • Another fruitful day for me to have 2 masters, Mr Zanden and Ralph of Cessaro visiting my system to give their comments and particularly the tuning by Mr Zanden is really mind boggling and ear opening.....I am really thankful for both of them in giving me the ultimate push and this final icing on the cake is not immaterial. 

    My salute to Mr Zanden and Ralph!


  • Of course I am helped by the fantastic four by Goebel!!
  • Mission Impossible

    I have known Marvel bro for a great length of time, probably longer than most of those AE users here and when he invited me to visit his home to review his hi-fi system as well as to tweak his room acoustics, how can I say no !

    I find it amusing to get drawn into recent forum debate after Marvel shared with fellow audiophiles his system has reached new heights after receiving meticulous tuning by master Chik.

    After Marvel contacted me, I requested him to send me a few shots of his listening room so that I can prepare some tuning devise for the job but honestly speaking, I was not confident of being able to make much audio improvement after studying the surroundings of his rather huge listening area which spans the entire length of his home.

    Finally, the day (last Sat.) came and I was pleasantly surprised to be accompanied by Ralph (my favourite speaker designer) on this trip. After stepping into his room, Marvel was playing a live recording of Joan Baez, however, as time is of the essence, I asked him to hit the pause button so that I can get familiarized with the room characteristics immediately.

    Those who have visited my home in the past would remember the clapping of my hands at different locations of my long living/dinning area which exhibits an evenly distributed sound. But not in Marvel's den, although the area between his system and listening position (sofa) is okay, the rear side (dinning table and open kitchen area) has a different tone and finally when I clapped my hands loudly by the door entrance and the stairs to his upper floor, I can hear echoes, rather distinct echoes........

    Next, I asked Marvel to play track 2 of Aron Neville's "Warm Your Heart" to test the system's sound balance. To my surprise, the overall sound was quite good as master Chik has indeed done a jolly good job on his system earlier as well as placement of those acoustic tuning gadgets from the United Nations. I was also surprised to hear the system has pretty nice tonality plus good dynamic swings. Bass goes fairly deep but a tad slow as compared to AE's room as well as your truly - this is attributable to the inherent design of the Cessaro Alpha (have you ever seen a champion female athlete with the bust of  Marilyn Monroe !). Having said that, the bass is easily better than many conventional designs, however, I urgently need to tackle anomalies in room acoustics of this listening room.

    To cut to the chase, all systems have their strengths and associated weaknesses caused by resonance in the room and speaker placement can NEVER overcome such problems. In Marvel's case, the sound is not perfectly balanced (is there a perfectly balanced room !), the energy on the right side (where the listener is facing) has less energy and the sound pressure level is  lower than the left side (by 1-2 dB ). After repeated tweakings which turned  out to be a humbling experience for me, I was unable to fix this acoustic anomaly.

  • Notwithstanding my failure to address the slightly uneven sound, other parameters perform with flying colours. The tonality is very good with instruments clearly audible, the macro dynamic range is easily among the best few systems I have listened to. After continued acoustic tuning to utilise the excessive energy reflecting towards the side wall, the 2 doors on the right side plus the side of the cabinet located right behind the sofa which acts as a back wall, the acoustic tuning job was finally done. Afterwards, the most obvious improvement is the reproduction of harmonic decay plus emotion of the vocal which are on par with some of the best 'valve'  systems (this word is intended with a very subjective connotation as I an unable to discern the aforesaid attributes from solid-state electronics)  I can recall.

    In closing, if you pretend yourself sitting slightly off the centre in the middle row of a concert hall, after adjusting to this mildly unbalanced sound phenomenon, then you will not be bothered by it and begin to enjoy the concert (I am also plagued by an incurable hum noise caused by my beloved Thales tonearm).  Likewise, I started to enjoy the music from CD and then LP from Vertere T/T from Marvel's system but time flew quickly, I needed to leave for the airport.

    The above so-called review more or less (less is  more) sums up my true and fair assessment of my first encounter with Marvel's super toy (perhaps girlfriend). It is a fine sounding system capable of playing musical tunes and better than many audiophile systems that I have heard in the past. If you ask me what area of sound reproduction can be improved, then sound image (as compared to the rock solid central image and almost 3-D sound stage of my own system with virtually black/quiet background) comes to mind.

    Looking ahead, as I am totally unfamiliar to the acoustics side panels, wall partitions, hanging portraits and vertical sound panels in Marvel's listening room, I have no idea whether they produce a  synergistic or counter-productive sound. I believe Marvel will get busy during upcoming X'mas vacation to move around these fairly large acoustic tuning parts surrounding his system.

    If readers of this forum can use an open mindset to read my above review, the positive evaluations far outweigh the negative ones by a wide margin, Finally, when the acoustic tuning was over and done with (2+ hours), I looked at Marvel sitting on his hot seat to evaluate the newly tweaked sound coming out from his proud system, he looked excited and ultimately satisfied. So if the rightful owner is well pleased, I reckon this means "mission accomplished".

    Happy listening Marvel bro !

    Mr Z

  • Laudable though the aim to achieve the ultimate fidelity in music reproduction, we are all constrained one way or the other.  The credit is always given to those who can walk an extra mile.  Mr. Zanden has accumulated a wealth of listening experience and likewise Master Chik and Ralph.  Their sheer presence in my place is already a big encouragement to me that this system can have 'hope'.  

    'United Nation' is the best word to describe not only my tuning gadgets but also to my system components.  To make them sing the same song sheet is already a challenge especially when there are always members come in and go on a frequent basis.  I am far far away from PT to have a 'unifed nation' in his home system taking away a lot of the integration challenges like output gain matching with input impedance, max loading, impedance setting traversing from source to preamp and then power amp, etc....Would Marvel eventually park with an Unified Nation?  Frankly I don't think so.  But I am working towards a unified cabling and a permanent house amplification system.

    Mr Zanden, my heartfelt thanks to your help on last Sat, your last endeavour was the most most eye opening and mind 'rocking' one to me.  Forgive me for my naive, I was grinning when you were so focused doing the purification exercise for me.  My jaw really dropped to the floor when I sat down and listen to the same Aron Neville Track 2 which we listened more than 20 times on that day.  The last time when we listened just melted me!

    You should change to use Master Zanden in this forum instead.

  • Well done, Marvel!  Not easy to be endorsed by Mr.Zanden!
  • Phew!  A serious assessment by a elite audiophile known globally is no small feat!  Marvel, you are the man!  

    Can you change to a bigger pair of power amp to match your Marvel fame?  What about Eric by Engström?
  • Jeff, Voy,

    I got a message from Master Zanden requesting me to make donations to help the needed for the modest service he has rendered...what a respectful and holy act!!  On that day, i was unable to grasp more of his time to listen to more variety of music but the focus was there to harmonize and calm down the resonance/reflection of some hollow rooms and reflection areas.

    To the question of Voy whether I need a bigger pair of amp, this is still being considered.  Lars Type 2 serves me faultlessly pairing with Monica.  Eric is certainly one of the best choices and so far, Lars amplifications yield the best coupling with the speaker and room acoustics.  Let's see....


  • Marvel,

    It is very clear those tad bass drivers need power.  Eric rocked the Carmen this summer.  What are you waiting for?
  • Raymond,

    I have a few ideas in my mind, no hurry to finalise now:  Chukoh+Chuoku; Trinity; Lars; Takumi (if Robert is back on his super amp)....what do you think?
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