May 29, 2010

State Of The Heart. KI Method MKII.

A bird's eye view of Jo's musical system.

When a tube enthusiast turns to solid state of the heart, you know he's on to something wildly special. So when Jo Ki, the famed guru of the LS3/5A club professes his desire for some FM Acoustics gears, I am all ears! Like many others, I made the pilgrimage to the hifi tavern again.

The KI Method MKII of integrating LS3/5A to the AB1 bass extender. Note the forward facing port of the AB1. Crystal tweaks to take care of baffle diffraction's.

Another look at the KI Method MKII.
When I got there, I also discovered that Jo had also been working hard tweaking his new pride and joy, in the form of the Rogers LS3/5A 60th Anniversary Signature(which I am told there's only one pair in the world, especially made for Jo by the good people at Rogers). The new tweak is in the form of the integration method for the LS3/5A mini monitor with the Rogers AB1 Bass Extender. For further details, one can go to

The Linn LP12 with Ittok arm and Koetsu Rosewood cartridge. Note FE Ceraballs tweak under turn table.

Not only had Jo went from tube to solid state amplification with KI Method MKII speaker positioning, the analog front end also benefited from a major upgrade, in the form of a Koetsu Rosewood MC cartridge.

During my visit Jo had a full FM Acoustics line in the system, from 122 MKII phono stage, 245 pre amp, 111 power amp and Forceline speaker cables. The full line of FM Acoustics as seen here would be setting Jo back by about RM$220k. Is the sound special enough to equal the investment cost of an average apartment here in Kuala Lumpur?

FM Acoustics 122MKII phono stage.
Switching power supply for phono stage.
The sound from the analog source has gone up by a few notches since my last visit. With the Koetsu and FM Accoustics gear in the system, the sound was invitingly warm, highly transparent, huge on micro dynamics, and surprisingly major transient response improvement, way beyond what I had previously taught possible to expect from the LS3/5A speakers! It's a major re learning of the BBC mini monitor's capabilities for me.

Though the sound was invitingly warm(perhaps due to the Koetsu and LS3/5A influence), it wasn't warmness as per the tube kind per se. The FM Acoustics gear never sounding tube or solid state like, it doesn't really leave any sort of sonic imprint of it's own, so it's hard to describe the sound, unless one hears it for one's self. The rise and fall time is fast and furious, never leaves the music sounding muddled. The tonal accuracy is also pretty spot on.

In fact, the musicality factor is so very good, one will soon forget to analyse the sound of hifi attributes just after one or two songs, and get distracted right in to the music. With well recorded music, the result is clearly "you are there" effect. With "live" performance recording, the experience is just surreal.

If one thinks Jo's system is good before, wait till you hear it now, and I am sure you'll be amazed how much more performance he has managed to squeeze out of the venerable LS3/5A speakers.
Audio Note DAC2. More FE Ceraballs tweak.
Top: 47 Labs Flat Fish CD transport. Bottom: FM Acoustics 245 line stage. There's no remote for this ultra expensive pre amp!

For his digital source, Jo has opted to stick with his trusty 47 Lab Flat Fish CD player as transport and Audio Note DAC 2. He seems to have gotten the black art poison real...... bad. Jo is having sleepless nights, listening to music till the wee hours of the morning. He even told me that he's fighting this upgrade itch so hard, that he tried to remove the FM Acoustics gear from his system, and tried to live with his tube gears again, only to fall terribly ill! Missing the FM Acoustics sound too much Jo???
FM Acoustics 111 power amp. This shoe box sized amp runs surprisingly cool!
FM Acoustics Forceline speaker cables. Apparently, these RM$20k cables must be used to partner the 111 power mono blocks for best results.
As I last spoke to him, Jo insinuated that he may consider parting with some of his huge vintage hifi collection to partly finance the FM Acoustic's acquisition. He was still recovering from his illness, yet still trying to give himself an excuse not to part with the cash. Jo, as your good friend and very under standing fellow audiophile, life is too short for excuses. I have two words for you, have you heard of "Sweet Surrender"?


Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

It is definitely sweet indeed.

Jo, I've been to your room dozens of times but never did I realize that not only does yr system sound but it is very photogenic as well. Really was drooling over the pics....maybe it is good photography by Big E...hahahaha...

Just kidding.

Yes agree with Big E...sweet surrender indeed!!!

PuchongWong said...

Jo,I've never seem u so in love with your system before,Not like this!Don't short change your system & pleasure for I know that in your hands,the FM equinpment can be unleashed to it's full potential,I agree with Big E,sometimes,one mustlearn to sweet surrender to win,Don't wait because life is too short for boring hifi!

Steve Sun said...

I think Mr. Ki just use the AB1 connects to LS3/5a with a jumper and put AB1 behind the LS3/5a. At lease it seems to connect them this way. However, please take this picture: Two pairs of main speaker cables are running into LS3/5a, AB1 separately (yes, bi-wire). Please special attention to the output terminals of AB1! It looks like there yet another jumper plugged into LS3/5a.

I personally tried bi-wire plus this jumper, the AB1 output so less bass! Should I keep that jumper plugged or not? If I should not It leaves only two wiringing method: “speaker cables into AB1, jumps into LS3/5a” or “biwiring”.

Since I am new to LS3/5a + AB1, I have never seen how Mr. Ki connects them. What is Mr. Ki’s “real” method? Thanks.