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Divin Laboratory is HALOED



  • I have missed the AE Super Show last summer, so this my first encounter stepping into the Divin Lab.

    I try to keep an open mind as usual knowing PT always brings along something truly special and it does take some effort to really figure out the philosophy and ideas behind the design and what it is trying to achieve. 

    First impression is the proportion of the image relative to the size of the speaker.  It didn’t sound as big as the speaker look at first.  We played a couple of tracks and I soon relies what this speaker is capable of. 

    The soundstage is simply the deepest and widest I had ever experienced in any system, and the density is so rich packed full of details that you feel you are completely immersed into the music instead of observing the soundstage from a distance.  What you get is a realistic proportion of every piece of instrument especially vocal, while being surround by a huge and immersive soundstage.  This is the complete opposite to many of the very large system I had experienced in the past where everything is oversized and out of proportion, and this is also the reason I was never a big fan of supersized speakers.   This experience changed my perspective permanently and sets a new standard for me in what music reproduction is really about.    

    Another feature that stands out instantaneously is the speed and control especially the bass.  With speed and control, it can fill-in a lot more details and texture in between.  I think Trinity Golden Reference definitely played an important role in this.   This really stands out when we are playing rock and pop music.   The thing that still leaves me very confused is how it can be done with a tube amp driving such a big speaker.  

    What really stands out after listening to a variety of music is how all rounded this conventional speaker is capable of.   From vocal, jazz, to classical, there is not one thing that I can pick on no matter how critical I am trying to be.  Ironically, there is one thing that Divin can do better than anything else I had experienced and that is the reproduction of rock and pop music.  

    Surprisingly what strike me the hardest is when PT played something that is very close to my heart which is rarely used as a test piece by X Japan.  I never knew how important these songs meant to me until now.   These are the music that I grew up with.  They mean a lot to me, but I never really had a chance to appreciate it at its finest, probably because the hardware never really delivered the kind of impact it is supposed to.  But having the ability to reproduce something as powerful as what you can experience in a live rock concert is an unique experience.  When it come to speed and intensity with a high level of refinement, nothing comes close to what Divin is capable of in this department.   

    I think PT your hard work and perseverance had paid off once again.   This is an extraordinary level of achievement.   I just hope you can you find a way to shrink down to a size so that can fit into my living room. 

  • edited January 2020

    I have been delayed in writing this review or experience on Divin laboratory. Promised Chris to write something about this, cause I was the first customer to visit . But I felt difficult to start and hard to grip a solid thing to write ,because I visited too many times. I witnessed it’s step by step changes by first simple setup, just to turn it on, to what it is right now. Each time I thought it reached the top but it was the beginning after the next visit.  Instead of writing about the “sound”, let me write more about this laboratory.

    It is really a laboratory instead of a showroom to me and to all AE member here and to every music lover. Let me tell you why.

    I asked Chris why you named this laboratory instead of showroom. He want this place become a “Must Go” place for all music lover, like a 3 star Michelin Restaurant in Hong Kong guidebook. It is a place to share, to learn and to educate for both the product and the music lover. How music can touch your soul and recall the deepest emotion. Become a point of interest in Google that people are really to pay a trip to visit.

    “Anyone?” I asked. “Yes, anyone” he replied. Then I am sure he will be busy like hell and spending all your weekend here. And he did after open this lab. Visitors from abroad, non audiophiles, friends ,all AE members and anyone who are interested to visit. I think he regret this decision. Hahaha.

    All the people who visited this lab, Chris will take their comments seriously, not matter what age group or experience. He digested them and Intergraph into his lab. Some are good and some are bad. But the open mind approach is the key for the next wonderful product. This is his belief and setup this laboratory. This is the real Laboratory, Not a showroom, that we all build together. “To push the limit” as AE spirit. This I really respect. Of course, the by-product is business, to sustain this laboratory to sustain and keep running.

     i witness the first day of setting up

    The first time we "open sound"

    Some sound treatment added after Chris spent almost every nights there for weeks

    The first group of people to come by and listened when the room is not fully ready yet. 

    Her first time to listen "HiFi".  

    Chris was nervous since it was the first group of visitors. Even there are inexperience people here. he listened.

    How I become a first customer to visit?

    One day, Chris rang me up and asked me to build a NAS for his Lab. Cause I have a very Unique way to build my NAS and network system; learning from never ending experiments. So I told him why not let me do an experiment with Edison, applying all the knowledge we know about CAS and network, come up a unique solution for AE as a whole package instead of just a NAS. Of course, based on AE Spirit, he said YES, without knowing what it is.

    We want to prove that CAS replay can be as good as Vinyl or CD, if one setup them right. To eliminate “Network noise” is the key and with the help of the best Ethernet cable in the market, Goebel, Dalby and Vertere.  Thanks for Chris trust and allow this workshop to focus on CAS first to change the perception of what CAS can really do. With the top league system in the world, sure we can come out with the best CAS in the world. Based on this belief, we start this little small project in Divin Lab, focusing the back part of the system that no one want to pay attention to. The result, i think the rest of the testimonies can tell the story. We learned a lot from this experience together and Thanks for Divin Laboratory.

    Some tasteful artwork to make this place more personal. His Rhino and A beautiful artwork.

    one simple report!

    I never heard something like this before......i think i said that before repeatedly right after i visited AE in this past few years ... They always surprise me.

    Zanden's KuAn + Goebel.......

    Man! how further can we go? it is a never ending game! Salute to Yamada San and Oliver

  • See you guys in the show! and ADD OIL!
    i know they are working very hard right now preparing for the coming show!
  • Kahw/Mac,

    Damn very truly yours report on Divin Lab.  I shall go deeper into the spirit matter.  PT is a rebellious person.  His mind is holistic.  Don't bother him with small items.  I have been following the economist side of him for 15 years.  He had given up conventional analysis in his own professional field for a long while.  His private clients in the financial world follow him closely on global issues.  His calls on the RMB depreciation in 2014 and subsequently happened in 2015 saved the asses of many riches.  His analysis on Sino-US trade war earlier this year was the masterpiece ever.  He was on stage telling everyone the trade war this round was real deal shortly after Chinese new year. People thought he was crazy and insane and the dominant view is Trump is a business man after-all. The common interest is do make money.  There will be no trade war.   This is a very narrow perspective.  PT asked, "Do you know him personally?"  And he does not see there is a common ground in "long term" interest between two countries.

     It was not about the trade deficit.  This is the only chance US could contain the rising influence of China once or never.  And his view is US would concentrate power on all fronts.  The assault would be holistic with rising intensity conditional on each subsequent move taken by China.   We listened.  It was a great narration but this view was not welcome because Chinese people do not "like" such view.  Damn, damn damn, look at the damn RMB exchange rate now.  Look at the equity market.  Now all the story tellers change their story line.  
  • If people never open their mind and accept new ideas, we shall never improve.  He shared with me privately about the biggest challenge of AE is never on the finance side.  The biggest challenge is "scarcity of time" to educate and the "rigidity of old mentality".  He can only exemplify by the results to inspire. 

    In my view, he goes very far to the extreme.  If I were him, I probably would give up long time ago.  The audio business is too trivial from a balance sheet standpoint.  His intelligence and time should be spend somewhere else to make more money.  But he keeps on doing illogical damn things in the audio field.  I was inspired.  Then I am inspired again, again and again.

  • And I like the Rhino!
  • edited February 2019
    A breathtaking listening session at AE Divin Lab by Mr KK Wong
    Chris and I were on holiday during CNY. We had breakfast together with my son last Friday before we went to Divin Lab.  Soon after we arrived, Chris casually played the Bodyguard soundtrack LP to warm up the system. My expectation on the very first song was modest as Zanden Kaun probably takes 30 minutes to stabilise. Immediately, I was utterly captivated by the soul of Whitney Houston as though she was singing in front of me.   The realism is beyond words.
    My attention turned immediately to the Zanden Jinpu phono which allows curve selection on top of the standard RIAA curve. Chris selected the EMI curve in reverse phase to play it.  We went back to RIAA and the sound was obviously wrong. This LP under the Arista Label was produced in the 90s.  Why does the EMI curve right the RIAA so much?  Chris simply follows the menu from Yamada san of Zanden to choose the right curve with respect to different recording labels. 
    We both went thru the journey of using Zanden Model 1200Mk3 that also supports curve selection.  Yet, the differences before was not as profound as now. Without getting the fundamentals right, all assessments on gears are inconclusive.  In Divin Lab, it is not anymore about achieving absolute zero distortion from the engineering measurement standpoint.  It is about the transcription of aura into musicality.  After all, the human ears is not a linear measurment system.  God made our ears a non-linear system.
  • edited February 2019
    The extreme realism achieved by Divin Lab is attributed to: (1) minimal phase distortion amongst the drivers of Gobel Divin Majestic speakers.  (2) availability of eq curve selection for analog playback.  (3) the presence of the almighty Tripoint Elite NG.  
    What followed in the audition were all reference recordings that I knew extremely well except Mahler Symphony No 5.  
    Every time when a track of music was played,  my son's reaction was identical to mine - very different from what we listened at home.  When Chris switched back to RIAA on the same track, the experiences resembled mine at home.  When the right curve was selected,  I can hear more pauses and pulses.  
    The voice of God in Noye's Fludde (Decca curve, reverse phase) was so authoratative coming out from the rock solid Hartvig Statement turntable coupled with Miyajima’s flagship Destiny 天命 cartridge mounted on Thales Statement Gold arm.  That stunning voice coming from a height of around 10 feet corresponds to the pictorial descriptions in the pamphlet. This is THE best ever playback on this musical I have ever experienced. It is picturesque.
    Next was Mahler symphony No 5 (teldec curve, positive phase) that I seldom listen.  We discussed at length on the role of the conductor in the symphony.   We could easily feel the pacing of each sub instrument group within an orchestra follows the baton of the conductor.  This is amazing. Now I understand why there must be a conductor there. Because each group’s pacing are somewhat different.  The conductor’s job is to synchronise them so as to achieve harmonious tonality in a holsitic way from the orchestration.  

    It is hard to imagine what I experienced at Divin Lab.  Next was my favourite Dvorak Symphony No. 9 ‘New World’ by Fricsay, DGG (teldec, reverse phase).  This is a very enlightening orchestral piece to describe the challenges and homesickness of Dvorak living in America as his new home.  Never could I imagine an audio replay system revealing all the mechanics of orchestration of BPO was so ambivalently emotional under the command of Fricsay. We no longer refer to transparency of audible details.  Rather it is the ‘inaudible’ aura that transpires into emotions.  
    Joan Baez, Diamond and Rust in the Bullring is the most favourite of mine. This live recording captured the chorus of the audience like surround sound alongside the reverberation of the huge Bullring stadium.  With the correct eq curve setting on Zanden Jinpu, my son and I were repeatedly amazed by the palpability of Joan Baez alongside the audiences.  Indeed, we felt like sitting together with audiences singing in chorus with Joan!  The magic disappeared once the eq curve was back to RIAA. 

  • edited February 2019
    Before we ended the audition session, Chris revealed the presence of the new Tripoint Elite NG (Next Generation) in Divin Lab. This is the extreme of extreme grounding technology by Miguel of Tripoint Audio.  (Chris told me only 10 would be made to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the partnership between Tripoint and AE.). This gorgeous masterpiece was plugged into the Vertere Electrical Phase Management Center, which was chosen as product of the year in 2018 in the AE community.  I also have one.  
    We swapped a Dalby Ode Grande ground cable originally connected to Zanden Jinpu phono from Elite NG to Elite (Side by Side comparison).  All the distinction between right curve vs standard RIAA became less distinct!!!!  I really mean ALL.  My ears could no longer be listening in a relax mode.  Palpability of everything collapses.  Aura disappears.  The NG goes beyond the depiction of more silence.  It reveals aura of the venue.  
    I had learnt so much from this session. The key takeaways are: (1) eq curve selection of Zanden Jinpu matters very much. (2) zero phase distortion of the Goebel Divin is phenomenal. (3) Tripoint Elite NG transcends the listening experience into a virtual reality where I can co-share the space with the performers in the recordings. 
    Chris’ relentless efforts on noise mitigation is the prime strategy for achieving such uncharted performance level at Divin Lab.  This is an open known secret.  But how many of us have the conviction to follow?  

    KK Wong of Marvel Music 
  • I had been to Divin Lab a few times in the past few months, and witnessed the gradual improvement every time I visited. Chris understands the whole system and the room deeper and deeper to tune it to the most live-like HiFi room I ever experienced.

    With correct electricity phases managed by Vertere's Phase Centre, correct eq curve by Jinpu, extreme ground noise mitigation by Elite NG, optimized treatment of diffusion and reflections, speaker positioning, etc., Chris can reproduce the nano details of recordings to achieve this level of realism. 

    The result is really jaw dropping: it is so delicate with pinpoint sharpness of vocal and music instrument positions, and with the rich ambience of live orchestra. This mega system is so versatile to handle all sorts of music!

    I learned a lot with Chris sharing his experience in system and room acoustic tunings. This again shows that you need the patience and knowledge to create this sound than simply acquiring the most expensive gears. 

    But before you can reach that level, you must understand what the gears should do for you and react with your room. Chris is so humble and generous to share his views with other audiophiles to help people to reach that level. This is the true spirit of AE!

  • edited March 2019
    Divin Lab is an experience that I urge all who are serious must pay a visit.  I am a solid state guy all over my life. But as I grow older, preferences do shift.  Then I finally realised it is not preferences at all that lead me to show my deepest respect to Yamada san of Zanden, Oliver of Gobel, and Soren Hartvig of Hartvig, and Miguel of Tripoint for the Troy Elite NG.  They are the major contributors to a Divin experience. I was totally “freaked out” after a 1 hour session.  It was far beyond “shock”.  I can’t explain. Please arrange a session before we can discuss further 
  • 1.  The Divin Lab 1.5


    Time has flown by and the Divin Lab is now one and a half years more mature.  With anything living, if fed well, it will develop and improve.  Obviously the rate -determining step will be the amount it is being fed and the stimuli being induced by its parents. 

    Physically it has matured to becoming a very relaxing and inviting abode.  The finished entrance, furniture and art pieces are just a taste of what will be seen when one enters “The Lab”.


    How I felt after my experience in the Divin Lab 


    As I entered, I noticed, yet again why it called the Divin Lab.  Those Majestic’s looked as if they have grown another foot taller.  I immediately noticed the footprints left by Stirling in the form of blue pieces of tape on the floor, annotated with measurements.  Fascinated by the effects of his work in Sheung Wan, I approached and slowly tried to decipher the numbers in the hope I could do a “Stirling “ of my own at home. 

     Then came Javiers masterpiece, the Wadax Atlantis Reference DAC.  It absolutely dwarfs the Wadax Atlantis Server sitting below it.  Three chassis placed in series, which looks like a central DAC console flanked by dual mono power supplies.  With 4 sets of Arthurs’ Revopods mechanically stabilizing the Reference DAC, we can just about "guestimate" its weight.  The digital side was further supported by Wadax Atlantis transport.

    The Wadax Reference Dac braced by the Arya RevoPods 

    The central electronics were held up by Yamada’s Zanden Chukoh and Kaun.  Beautifully built, these aesthetics flow into the Jinpu phonostage which accepts the transcription of analogue from the Hartvig Statement battery supplied turntable, Thales Statement tonearm and the Miyajima Destiny cartridge.


    My "I have to worked harder" face..... 

    Going around to the back shows the arteries, veins and nerves that integrates these.  Skogrand, Dalby Audio, Argento, Vertere, Goebel and JMF Audio are all synonymous with Audio Exotics.  Then appears a new comer that makes an appearance in both Divin and Sheung Wan by the name of LA Sound (Lozzo Atestino Sound, not La as in “the” in French).  I presume Lozzo Atestino is the municipality where the Marchetti family originates from.


    The unsung heros!


    It is not a system created by Chris if it didn’t have a barrage of artillery that defends electrical and mechanical “additives”.  One of the stars of 2018 was the Arya Revopods.  This can be seen under the Reference DAC, Server, Power supply to the Jinpu and Chukoh (all placed on the ultra highend SRA and FalkenOhr racks and stands) and hidden in the back under the two arrays of the Vertere Phase AC Management Centre.  The latter, being another winner in 2018. 

    This unassuming orange power distribution bar looking contraption ultimately allows one to toggle with the phase of the incoming AC currents.  Now how clever is that?!  So what, one might say?  My answer is “day and night!” 

    Next, comes the Tripoint Audio’s Troy Elite Next Generation and the Empress.  Nestled behind most setups, Divin Lab included, these components unassumingly sit there.  Its best not to ask what they do, as it will only raise the skepticism and audio witchcraft has been written elsewhere.   Do an A-B-A (then please keep it on) comparison.  As the grounding units of Troy move into the next century with the NG, will there be an Empress Next Generation?

    too long....


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