December 29, 2011

Riding The Wave! Wave Kinetics A10-U8 Component Control System.

The Wave Kinetics A10-U8 Component Control System is a high tech combination of semi hard clear compound, imbued with an internal pyramid cone like structure of ball bearings, and machined stainless steel cup base.

Wave Kinetics is a relatively new company, specialising in vibration control products. They are suppliers to the aerospace and defence industries. With a back ground like that, their products can certainly be credible in the world of audiophile voodoo tweaks. Our high end buddy Mark, brought in a few sets to try out.

Our other buddy, Jo Ki who is amongst the most supportive member of this product told me to try this Wave Kinetics A10-U8 Component Control System, because it took the performance of the Bryston BDP-1 Digital Media Player up by a few notches. I was initially daunted by the A10-U8's retail price of USD$700/set of 4, now factor that to the current USD$ exchange rate, plus freight and taxes(if applicable) to arrive at the total landed cost. Now that our buddy Mark's system is all over the place, I took the set of A10-8U from him to have go.

Jo advised that I should try it using 3 pieces of the A10-8U. Putting one piece each under the front panel corners of my Bryston BDP-1, and one at the middle, under the back panel, forming a triangle point of contact if viewed from plan perspective. One can try using up side down, or just as shown on picture, with the bearings facing up wards towards the hifi component's under side. I tried both and ended up using the 3 pieces of Wave Kinetics A10-U8 up side down, in which this review's sonic description is based upon.

The Wave Kinetics A10-U8 comes in a boxed set of 4 pieces.
Once the positions of the 3 pieces of A10-U8 are finalised, based on tweaking the vocalist mouth focus and balancing between the backing instrument's separation, I started the listening session. The most immediate thing that took my focus was the bass end of the music. With the A10-U8's under my Bryston BDP-1, the bass took on a very driven and propulsive quality. Bass lines tightened up, yet extending lower without sounding bloated. I also heard lowered noise floor and less digital hash in the already quiet back grounds of the the music. With less noise and digital hash, subtle tail end harmonic reverberations, timbre and texture were totally fleshed out from wood bodied string instruments like violin, viola and especially the grand piano, where the "grandness" became more prominent, just like the real thing. I found the rendering vocals improved too, where there's real body, lungs, throat and heft, compared to just a mouth! Male vocals especially sound more forceful and manly. However, all these were just the subtle improvements.

The main area of sonic improvement actually lies in the imaging and sound staging factor, where a combination of improved stage depth layering, spaces between instruments and vocal fore/instrument aft projection combined to elevate the whole effect more relief and close to 3D live likeness in musical experience. This is especially true with "live" recordings.

Using the Wave Kinetics A10-U8 is like using spikes without their inherent sonic signature, or vibrapod like semi soft compound devices without their bloated bass type ill effects. I found them to be very sonically balanced examples of high tech, yet easy to use vibrational control devices, if admittedly pricey too. However, as they say in high end audio circles, chasing for the last 2Hz of lower bass extension, the last ounce of "air" or the last 5% of performance envelope is never a cheap affair!

Now, it's up to one's self to decide if chasing the mile is worth while, but that last 5% for me is like the forbidden fruit! You know what they say about the forbidden fruit? It just taste sweeter, if you're privileged enough to have it!

Thanks again to our hifi buddy Mark, for generously sharing his toys with us.

Note: There are currently no Malaysian distributors for Wave Kinetics.

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