不用再糾結了 – Critical Mass Systems Black Sapphire MK3 與 Black Platinum MK3 層板開箱試聽

論音響之富貴,世界上頂級 Hi-End 器材很多,但如果說器材架和承板的話,我想沒有哪個配件牌子可以和美國 Critical Mass Systems 相提並論了,早幾年就聽說他們推出了貴到無論的 MAXXUM 卸振平台和層架,一件層板賣到 6萬元在音響圈中引起了不小的轟動。而今年又聽說 Critical Mass Systems 推出了升級版的Olympus V12,售價更大幅提升了約 50%,差不多要10萬元一件,堪稱是音響架領域裡的勞斯萊斯,實在不是一般發燒友可以消費得起的。但這麼昂貴的器材架層板,卻在全球音響圈掀起了一浪接一浪的換架熱潮,不少富豪級玩家試過MAXXUM 和 Olympus V12 之后,發現用上這款卸振平台(層板)調聲可以令原本已經玩到盡頭的器材再攀上了另一個高峰,此刻仿佛被封印的潛力才真正被釋放出來,簡直是太神奇了。

Black Sapphire MK3 與 Black Platinum MK3 兩款入門級層板

頂級的 MAXXUM 和 Olympus V12 層板的卸振性能無疑極好,但高昂的售價卻令很多音響迷望而卻步,有鑒於此,廠方研發推出了採用相同的原理設計的兩款較入門級的層板產品 Black Sapphire MK3與 Black Platinum MK3。朋友 A君垂涎 CMS 已久,這次約上幾個軍師一同來到廣州經銷商聲越美音響對比試聽兩款層板,打算從中二選一,回家用在他的 Esoteric K-03x SACD 機上。

拆包試聽


兩款層板的區別在於 Black Platinum MK3 比較厚也比較貴,層板的包裝算不上富貴,但保護還是不錯的。

層板很是厚重,看著就信心滿滿,原包裝有很厚實的膠袋封裝著

終於得見廬山真面目了,灰黑色的外觀雖然沒有廠方的旗艦MAXXUM那麼奢華漂亮,但和同類產品相比顯得更有專業的味道

這是較薄的 Black SAPPHIRE MK3

這是較厚的 Black Platinum MK3

兩款層板炭黑色外觀無疑比頂級的 MAXXUM 低調很多,細節上可以看到底板應該為一整件航天的鋁金屬板,外框同樣以金屬制造,內部則以多層不同密度的材質疊層加工而成,原廠配有墊片供隔離影音器材機腳及避震板之用,實際使用中發現用不用這幾片墊片區別還是蠻大的,尤其是低頻的通透感和凝聚力方面更是涇渭分明。

釘腳、釘墊、放於器材機腳底部的墊片是用航天級鋁金屬制造,是必備的附件

無論是單獨使用Black SAPPHIRE(寶石)MK3和Black Platinum(鉑金)MK3層板,或者配合腳架使用,廠方建議搭配同廠MXK腳釘使用才能發揮最大的效能。MXK腳釘採用航空鋁材制造,一套4個釘錐及釘墊足夠承重200磅。廠方認為很多音響迷用三點式方式使用避震支撐,雖然效果也很顯著,但卻強烈建議用家選擇4點式支撐的方式使用這套角錐,因此這樣可以帶來額外的30-40%的提升。使用時置於避震板四角,有趣的是放置的位置靠外或靠裡對聲音影響都不小,尤其是音場方面和低頻密度感的變化都非常明顯,玩家不妨多動手調校,以尋獲自己滿意的表現。

來自實驗室的理論研發

Critical Mass Systems 的頂級卸振平台產品之所以賣這麼貴,當然是有道理的,廠方的設計理論源於實驗室科學研究,通過結構和材料無所不用其極的研發,才造就了如今令人矚目的成就。在理論上,CMS 產品的概念基於 Thermodynamics 熱力學第一和第二定律的物理現象進行研發的。第一定律是能量守恆;能量既不能憑空產生,也不會無緣無故地消失,隻能從一種型式轉化成另一種型式,而能量的總和是保持不變。第二定率,能量傾向於從集中的狀況散發至逐漸消散狀況,而且不可逆轉。

振動是聲音的根本,卻是音響系統好聲的大忌,從諧振處理的原理上知道,理想的避震板大多採用復合材料制成,經合理的比例和結構才能有效引導、消彌振動能量,而CMS獨特雙區域減震系統有效發揮效果,讓音響電子產品的電子信號免受諧振的干擾,才能發出更傳真的聲音。比如現實身邊的例子比比皆是,在一個聆聽環境中,音響組合從揚聲器發出來的聲能量除了會傳到我們的耳朵之外,聆聽空間的其它位置,包括牆壁、天花、地板、家具甚至音響架上的器材,都會無可避免地受到聲波能量的振動影響,這些振動不但會影響對諧振非常抗拒的黑膠唱盤、唱臂和唱頭組合,也會波及對振極之敏感,位於器材機箱內的各種電子零件和元件,例如電阻、電容、電感、變壓器、晶體管和真空管等等,因而影響音樂訊號重播的質量,更甚者,上述的各種電子零件和元件在通電工作的時候,自身也會產生輕微的機械性能量(振動),在雙重振動影響下,器材的重播音質因此而大打折扣。

CMS 真正從科學的角度研究振動對音響重播的影響,並且採取最合理的方法解決這些振動。在美國,隻有兩間公司擁有研究阻尼物質方面的專利,一間為電子顯微鏡公司,另一間就是專注 Hi-End 領域的 CMS,因此 CMS 在卸震方面有獨到的技術。於是,CMS 深入研究如何透過音響架承板來轉化這些能量,以減少對器材的負面影響,結果 CMS 研制出已經成功取得專利注冊,廠方稱為 Filter System 的層板把外來的振動能量轉化為熱能消散。這些 Filter System 由上下兩層阻尼材料夾著一層厚身的特殊阻尼物緩沖物料(Elastomeric buffer)組合而成,由於上層與下層需要應付的能量轉移有所不同,所以兩者的阻尼結構亦不盡相同,上層是要把所有承載的器材因為受到聲波能量影響而產生的震動,經過機腳迅速通過阻尼結構而下傳至彈性體層轉化成熱能消散,而下層則是要把從地板和音響承架接收到的振動,同樣通過阻尼結構而傳導至阻尼層轉化成熱能消散,這樣便能夠令層板上的器材因為大幅降低振動影響而發揮出自身應有的重播質素。

在 CMS 的測試手段中,有一種方法是以測試汽車減震器的試驗平台,來測試產品設計的合理性和結構堅固性,經長時間測試后,用航空鋁材打造的釘腳已經嚴重變形,避震板卻依然安然無恙,而同時,避震板對震動的處理卻非常到位。CMS 避震板並不是企圖分隔震動的系統,它並不會阻隔諧振的傳輸,然而平台配合支撐架能有效調整諧振於音響器材本身的流入和流出量,CMS 避震板可以同時將平台本身和器材的諧振引導到地面和支撐架上。

大幅改善聲音清晰度、分析力

試聽避震板的過程是艱苦而有趣的,我們得反復把參與測試的器材搬上搬下的,以反復比較用與不用 Black SAPPHIRE MK3,及與 Black Platinum MK3 調聲板的之間的區別。當然,聲越美這裡用的素質本來就很厲害的Esoteric旗艦級SACD/CD播放機 K-01X,最后得到的答案都是基本一致的,使用兩款調聲層板獲得了正面而全面的改善功效,對音效的提升(准確講應該是對器材音效本質的發揮)非常有效。

無需糾結的選擇

將 Esoteric K-01X SACD 機置上 Black SAPPHIRE MK3 調聲板上,能夠發現當即就能夠大幅改善全頻的分析力及低頻的質感。比如播放鋼琴唱片,能感受到不用調聲板時較微弱的延音踏板運用效果變得極為明晰,而且頻寬向下拓展的能量感和清晰度都大幅改善,似乎鋼琴原本被遮蔽的琴箱共鳴頓時通通浮現出來一般,形體變得更加龐大而且保持清晰的形態線條感,琴音彈奏充滿前所未有的層次變化,這種改善大大提升鋼琴再生的聽感真實度。這種改善的幅度甚至遠大於換上一條高級線材。除了分析力和低頻密度感大幅增加之外,低頻反應也變得更加明快確實,在鋼琴快速彈奏的樂段它絕對不會令聲音拖泥帶水,演奏速度越快,聽起來越充滿快速有勁的力道,同時還有極為難得的音樂層次。另外,反復的比較之下,BLACK SAPPHIRE MK3和 Black Platinum MK3調聲板之間的區別還是非常明顯的,在乘放Esoteric K-01X的時候,兩者都大大改善了聲音的清晰度和音像的凝聚力,動態和分析力都躍升到新的境界。而相比較而言,Black SAPPHIRE MK3 顯得音質更透徹細膩、靈動鮮活一些;Black Platinum MK3 就顯得更沉穩厚重一些,但速度相對會稍慢一點。后來,經銷商聲越美建議將較厚的Black Platinum MK3 放在后級功放上使用,果然感覺更為合適,可令功放的背景寧靜度提升的同時,仿佛力水都大了幾分,令到控制力更從容、音場也更寬廣且更通透,高音呈現出另一種收斂而滑順細膩的線條,就算用大音壓播放也不會讓人感到心浮氣躁。

朋友最后的選擇是哪一款呢?你猜?兩塊 CMS 入門級層板各具擅長,但用於他家的 Esoteric K-03x 這款高級SACD音源器材的話,朋友還是更喜歡 Black SAPPHIRE MK3那種更通透、更細膩的效果,並不是因為 Black SAPPHIRE MK3 稍便宜一點,而是買到合適的才是對的。無需糾結了,乖乖掏錢就對了。你試過拿開避振板后聲音聽不下去的困惑嗎?這次的體驗就是這樣,沒有對比不知道效果,不信你也去試試看。

全文轉自《新音響》

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Critical Mass Systems CenterStage2 – Accessory of the Year @ HiFi+ UK

Although Critical Mass Systems is best known for its large and heavy rack systems, perhaps its most important product is the CenterStage2, a range of three equipment support feet designed to correct physical impedance mismatching to greatly reduce vibration moving upward from the floor, the reduction of the noise inherent to the materials used to fabricate the foot, and a means to transfer entropy out of the component. To these ends, each CenterStage2 footer represents an ideal combination of damping, elastic modulus, and thin rod speed. The three model are designed to accommodate different sizes and weights of components, although there is a good/better/best performance aspect, too.

The curious thing about the CenterStage2 is that you know when its working because it makes the system sound a lot worse, at first. Until the footers harmonise and begin to correct those impedance mismatches and beyond, the sound of the system goes thin, light, bright, and the soundstage and dynamic range all but collapse. Then, as it begins to settle, the sound undergoes a quick and significant change for the better, and it keeps getting a lot better. We felt that “You notice this change by a shift in your internal dialogue. ‘I’d forgotten just how good that really is!’ (referring to both record and equipment) seems to be the first sign. About an hour later, you find yourself composing a thank-you email to the designers of the components in your system. Although it’s the bass that first comes back, it’s the midrange that seals the deal: the enhanced clarity, the walk-in detail to the soundstage, which seems to not change a thing, all the while being far more enveloping than before. This is no small change, and as the listening progresses, you begin to find this feeling of being immersed in the music.”

Reviewed in Issue 163

AWARDS / THE HI-FI+ AWARDS 2018

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Critical Mass Systems Center Stage2 anti- vibration feet

Critical Mass Systems is well known for making some of the finest (and largest) high-end audio equipment support systems money can buy. So, it might come as something of a shock to discover that CMS maven Joe Lavrencik’s best-ever product might just be an inconspicuous vibration-control foot called the Center Stage2.

Joe is being perhaps understandably reticent about discussing the inner workings of the Center Stage2. According to the company’s white paper, Center Stage2 is made by “choosing and sequencing materials that possess the perfect combination of damping, elastic modulus, and thin rod speed to lock in the desired effect.” That effect is, “a catalyst in a complex energy reaction that occurs between your equipment and its environment.” The idea is that kinetic and vibrational energy act in an unregulated and undamped manner inside a product and Center Stage2 can “change the prevailing state of equilibrium in that energy reaction and to permanently hold it in a reduced or damped state.”

According to Lavrencik, “Center Stage2 was designed to exacting specifications using material science and First Law of Thermodynamics principles. It also relies heavily on the Second Law of Thermodynamics to meet its performance objectives. There is no new physics in Center Stage2, we’re simply applying physics in new ways to an audio foot.” Lavrencik focused on three aspects: impedance mismatching to greatly reduce vibration moving upward from the floor, the reduction of the noise inherent to the materials used to fabricate the foot, and a means to transfer entropy out of the component.

What this means in real terms is a black anodised aluminium foot with an almost free-spinning aluminium foot pad on the base, and the top is covered with stiff, black paper-like material. You have three sizes of foot, dependent on the mass of the device and the size of its own foot. You need four feet per device. They are placed on the underside of the device, not on a screw-head or as a footer under the component’s own feet. It works on practically everything except turntables and loudspeakers (but including turntable power supplies).

Here’s where it gets weird: you stick a quartet of Center Stage2 under your source component and… it sounds terrible! Add a set to your preamp, power amp, or integrated amplifier and the sound gets even worse. Your hitherto full, detailed, and dynamic sound is transformed into something thin, muddy, and flat. Next day, it gets a little better, then it gets worse, then better still, then worse again, and so on. Generally, it fills itself in from the bass upwards, with the bottom end being the first to return to prior levels. You’ll get about a week and a bit’s worth of audio mood swings. And it’s at that point the transformation happens and the system blossoms.

“You only change devices when dissatisfaction strikes, and Center Stage2 helps keep that dissatisfaction at bay.”

You notice this change by a shift in your internal dialogue. “I’d forgotten just how good that really is!” (referring to both record and equipment) seems to be the first sign. About an hour later, you find yourself composing a thank-you email to the designers of the components in your system. Although it’s the bass that first comes back, it’s the midrange that seals the deal; the enhanced clarity, the walk-in detail to the soundstage, which seems to not change a thing, all the while being far more enveloping than before. This is no small change, and as the listening progresses, you begin to find this feeling of being immersed in the music, which truly transforms your listening sessions, and it becomes uppermost in your requirements for a good system. Everything just seems more natural, more real, and more like the recording engineers and the equipment designers had in mind when they got creative. And the Center Stage2 is also one for the Pace, Rhythm, and Timing (PRaT) obsessives, in that a device resting on a set of four Center Stage2 seems to keep time better than ever. But it’s that envelopment that really captivates you and takes your attention. If you were a PRaT obsessive before you put a set of Center Stage2 in situ, you become a sonic envelopment obsessive who likes a bit of rhythm afterward.

I’ve used all kinds of feet and pods and the like before. The best of them seem to align one product to another harmoniously. Center Stage2 is not like that; instead, it erases many of the impediments that hold back a device. In the process, it gives the device resting upon these devices a promotion. Even the best audio devices have hidden strengths the Center Stage2 can unveil.

You can even gauge the magnitude of improvement to be had by the level of initial awfulness of the system sound, and this is also a gauge of equipment quality – things that can never blossom will never have much of a shine knocked off their performance at first, but that’s pretty rare. It’s also self-sealing as the kind of product that is unlikely to resolve enough to show what the Center Stage2 can do usually costs less than four Center Stages, and I doubt anyone is ever going to put a £500 device on £900 worth of Center Stages. Once you get to £5,000 though… Center Stage2 makes a hugely convincing argument.

Unless you are pathologically impatient (or a reviewer/inveterate box- swapper who changes components in a system on an almost hourly basis) there are no downsides. OK, so if the underside of your component is more screw-head than base-plate, then there might be installation issues, and you might find your system might need a spot of speaker repositioning to accommodate the system improvement, but that’s it.

Most audiophiles have a drawer filled with magic cones, domes, pods, and pucks. All of these devices were bought initially claiming a lot, and all tried, praised, used… and removed. The Center Stage2 – I feel – is different. They have staying power. I suspect those who try them will never look back. Instead

of being next year’s drawer fodder, the Center Stage2 makes you enjoy your system more and does so for longer. Judging by my reluctance to unpack components in a Center Stage’d system (which, to me, means empty pages and ultimately no job) I’d go so far as to say the Center Stage2 will make the MTBF (Mean Time Before Futzing round looking for a new audio product) stretch out longer. You only change devices when dissatisfaction strikes, and Center Stage2 helps keep that dissatisfaction at bay.

In truth, I’m envious of those who don’t have to put their system into a permanent state of flux because they can gain the most benefit from a set of Critical Mass Systems’ Center Stage2. Let’s not understate their importance… all other things being equal, I’d be happier using a comparatively inexpensive system resting on a quartet of Center Stage2 than I would a more esoteric system just sitting on ‘regular’ equipment supports. Although I’m generally a ‘different paths up the same mountain’ kinda guy, I can’t help thinking that this is the best of the best. If you can take the short-term pain, the long-term gain is more than worth it!

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Product of the Year Awards 2017: Accessories

Critical Mass Systems Sotto Voce Equipment Rack

CMS Sotto Voce racks are not just vastly less expensive than the firm’s state-of-the-art efforts; they also offer comparable performance in a more traditional and appealing package. The frame and shelves are made of gorgeous Sapele African hardwood (natural or optional black finish) with sturdy metal connections milled from billet aluminum. The sonic improvements are not subtle—bass tightens, transients gain more verve yet maintain better control, rhythms sharpen, and low-level noise plummets. It’s that last factor that opens the soundstage and is key to the SV’s remarkable ability to elicit dimensionality from a recording. Fully upgradeable to accommodate CMS’ upscale array of “filters” (they replace the stock shelves but are mechanically far more complex). The filters provide further noise reduction, while the “purity quotient” takes a sizable jump. Available in three heights, the tallest, at 38″, is a four-tier unit that offers 10″ spacing out of the box yet is easily adjustable.

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理論與實踐的完美結合 – Critical Mass Systems Olympus – V12 承架 + 層板

玩Hi-Fi玩得時間愈久,發覺自己對各種音響輔件可以提升整套音響系統音效的能力愈難理解,因為這些輔件在使用上與器材裡負責傳輸音頻訊號的電氣通道扯不上任何關係,換句話說用與不用理應同音響器材的發聲效能無關,但實際上耳聽為憑的親身體驗卻又並非如此,有一些輔件的效用顏為出色,而且經過不斷改良和提升效能之後,在一套音響組合裡所起的作用更加明顯,就算是身經百戰的我,聽到這些音效上的改進也會感到有點莫名其妙,甚至是匪夷所思!

問題是這些輔件的身價隨著音響效能的不斷改進而水漲船高,有個別產品的售價更是貼近甚至超越中高級別的音響器材,但它們在整套音響組合裡所扮演的角色卻又同樣是舉足輕重,實在令發燒友又愛又恨……這一類型的輔件首推近年在香港音響圈熱爆的地盒(說句題外話,是否全球我不敢說,但我肯定「音響技術」是全亞洲第一家實試地盒,並且認同具有真正效用而向讀者全力推薦的音響雜誌),其次便是承載音響器材的音響承架。

嘆為聽止
我在本刊2013年5月號的[草言草語]專欄裡報導過,我做了一個從未做過的決定—在沒有作任何試聽的情況下,訂購了兩塊給我的 Audio Note Gaku-On 後級使用的 CMS (Critical Mass Systems)頂級 MAXXUM 承板,要知道這款承板當日的定價高達6萬港元一塊,單從牌面來看這個決定當然是充滿冒險成份;但實際上我內心卻是胸有成竹!我如此充滿信心有兩大原因:其一是同文Lee388 兄在實試過 CMS 的 Black Sapphire 與 Black Platinum 兩款中級層板之後向我大力推介,他這個人玩音響的認知與熱誠是我信服的其中一位高手,既然CMS的中級產品已經有如此能耐,頂級的 MAXXUM 自然是毋庸置疑了。另一個原因是 CMS 的老闆兼設計師Joseph Lavrencik, 曾經向我詳盡解釋 CMS 的設計理論,物理定律的應用和產品的設計詳情,經過深入了解之後,對於Joseph的消震理論我完全受落“事實上當我把後級承上 MAXXUM之後,重播音效的大幅提升簡直令我和幾位寫手兄弟們嘆為聽止,亦顯示我作出了一個大膽而明智的決定。

熱力學第一及第二定律
Joseph 設計 CMS 產品的概念,是基於熱力學 (Thermodynamics)第一和第二定律的物理現象而研發出來。第一定律是能量守恆;能量既不能憑空產生,也不會無緣無故地消失,只能從一種型式轉化成另一種型式,而能量的總和是保持不變。第二定聖能量傾向於從集中的狀況散發至逐漸消散犬況,而且不可逆轉。Joseph 認為在一個聽室開動一套音響組合,從揚聲器發出來的聲 ·能量除了會傳到我們的耳朵之外,聽音室勻的其他位置包括牆壁、天花、地板、傢具甚至音響架上的器材,都會無可避免地受到聲音能量的影響從而引起震動,這些震動不但會影響對諧振非常抗拒的黑膠唱盤、唱臂和唱頭組合,也會波及對震動極之敏感,位處器材機箱內的各種電子零件和元件例如電阻器、電容器、電感器、變壓器、晶體管和真空管等,因而影響重播音樂訊號的質素,更甚的是,上述的各種電子零件和元件在通電工作的時候,自身也會產生輕微的機械性能量(震動),在雙重震動夾擊之下,器材的重播音效當然會大打折扣!

專利設計
既然明白到音響架上的器材,是無法避 免從喇叭傳來的聲音能量轉化而成的震
動,Joseph 便深入研究如何透過音響架 承板來轉化這些能量,以減少對器材的負面影響,結果 CMS 研製出已經成功取得專利註冊,廠方稱為 Filter System 的層板把外來的震動能量轉化為熱能消散。這些 Filter System 由上下兩層阻尼結構夾著一層厚身的特製彈性體緩衝物料(Elastomeric buffer) 組合而成,由於上層與下層需要應付的能量轉移有所不同,所以兩者的阻尼結構亦不盡相同,上層是要把所有承載的器材因為受到聲波能量影響而產生的震動,經過機腳迅速通過阻尼結構而下傳至彈性體層轉化成熱能消散,而下層則是要把從地板和音響承架接收到的震動,同樣通過阻尼結構而上傳至彈性體層轉化成熱能消散,這樣便能夠令層板上的器材因為大幅減少受到震動的影響而發揮出自身應有的重播質素。當然了,CMS這些層板會因應不同的等級而有不同的構造和效能,就以我買下來的 MAXXUM 層板為例,它的承受重量為110公斤,層板厚3吋,彈性體夾層厚 2.5 吋,外框用鋁合金製造,上層的構造是由 20 層三文治結構並以 6 種不同阻尼物料製造的阻尼層組成,頂板用三種不同物料製造以增加承載器材的能力。下層的構造則是由12層三文治結構並以5種不同阻尼物料製造的阻尼層組成,底板用特殊物料製造以增加耦合音響承架的能力。

對症下藥
CMS 為了承托 Filter System 層板而設計的音響承架當然也不會掉以輕心,相反,這些承架的設計與選用的物料是經過精密計算,並且參考彈性模量(Elastic Modulus) 和幼棒音速 (Thin Rod Speed of Sound 聲音能量在幼金屬棒內的傳遞速度)的數據才拍板決定。CMS 承架的水平支撐與多層承架的支柱,都是採用純度高達 96% 至 99% 的鋁合金製造,EM 為 64GPa,傳遞速度約為 5014m/s。釘腳、釘墊、放於器材機腳底部的墊片與鎢珠承帽是用純度高達 99%的鈇合金製造,EM 為105GPa,傳遞速度約為 5090 m/s。作為耦合承架與層板的圓珠用碳化鎢合金製造,EM 為 550GPa,傳遞速度約為 6220m/s。承架的內部也採用一種較軟的金屬作為阻尼物料,它的 EM 為 117GPa,傳遞速度約為 3810m/s。我訂購的單層 MAXXUM 層板採用大型的鋁合金x承架,配上4隻大型重量級釘腳腳座,放上我的Gaku-On單聲道後級之後,不但在外觀上帶來穩如泰山的感覺,實際聆聽音效更令一眾寫手兄弟和我驚訝得目瞪口呆,因為使用前後的分別之大完全超出我們的想像(我原來是使用特別訂製的2吋厚實心黑檀木板配不誘鋼釘錐!音樂的訊息聽得更多細節,能量感大幅增強,音場的結像紋風不動,人聲和樂器的線條更加立體鮮明“耳聽為憑,Joseph 和 CMS 開發團隊的設計理論與產品的效能完全能夠對症下藥。最令我感到驚喜的是;雖然我們都知道膽機對於諧振非常敏感,但今次只是單單換上這兩塊承放 Gaku-On 後級的承架和 Filter System 層板,便已經可以明顯提升草廬整套組合的音效和層次,實在是超出我的期望。經過幾年光景, MAXXUM 承架在草廬的地位仍然穩如泰山,直至今年 (2017) 年中……

更上一層樓
經過累積長達17年設計層板和承架的深厚經驗,Joseph 決定不惜工本開發一個效果完美,比 MAXXUM 更高階的新旗艦系列Olympus一V12,並且在今年的慕尼黑音響展作全球性首展。外觀上,Olympus一V12 音響架的支柱,x形水平承架與及釘腳腳座比起 MAXXUM 更大更粗壯,而層板的厚度卻是相同的3吋,外表也看不出有什麼明顯的分別,不過製作工藝的精緻度和打磨的滑溜光亮度明顯更勝一籌。Joseph 以充滿自信的姿態向我推介 CMS 的新旗艦,他表示 Olympus一V12 的 X 承架,多層承架的支柱,鎢珠,墊帽,墊片和釘腳腳座採用的金屬材料和它們的物理特性,是與 MAXXUM 完全相同,只是承架的x橫袒更潤更厚,支柱和腳座的直徑也由3吋增大至4 吋,換句話說承架有更重質量便會更加扎實和更穩固,好處顯而易見,但另一方面傳導能量的幅度則會更大,所以層板的設計要有更強的消震效能和更有效率才可達致預期的全面性效果。Olympus一V12 層板的外觀雖然看似和MAXXUM 相若,但其實內裡設計已是大幅補強—承重量仍為110公斤,特製彈性體夾層同樣厚2.5吋,但上層阻尼層的三文治結構增加至 27層,下層阻尼層的三文治結構則增加至18層!頂板和底板的結構則沒有改變。Joseph 聲稱 Olympus一V12 層板的阻尼能力是 MAXXUM 的兩倍,而且沒有任何負面影響!

 

押下重注
既然有 Joseph 的拍心口音效保證,我亦毫不猶豫度身訂造了兩套特別尺寸的Olympus一V12 承架和層板來代替草廬的 MAXXUM。到了十月中旬,兩套全新的Olympus承板便正式進駐草廬,當我們把兩者的組件作新舊交替之際,它們的分別便非常明顯,兩部 Gaku-On 後級坐鎮於 Olympus一V12 承板之上更顯得台型十足,貴氣盡露,不過始終是珠玉在前,MAXXUM當日在草廬開聲帶來的震撼仍是歷歷在目,雖然是押下重注,不過始終都只是把後級承板換高一級,音效還可以再有多大進展?內心難免會有點志怎……當一切準備妥當,按下CD機的Play鍵之後,熟悉的張學友一曲〈怎麼捨得你〉從 Tidal Contriva G2 播出,我頓時放下心頭大石,心底裡不禁要對 Joseph 喊一聲大大的 “Bravo”! 因為我清楚聽見小飛俠彈奏的鋼絃結他,不論是勾、是彈、是掃,演奏的力度,按絃手指的跳動!絃線的發音與顫動的餘韻,琴箱的共嗚與豐滿的泛音,學友演唱的咬字吐音,喉底的顫音,運氣的呼吸吐納,掌握歌曲的抑揚頓挫與及唱功的發揮,真的再多很多極細微,以前若隱若現的細節,動態對比更明顯,微動態更清晰,是這首歌曲在草廬的一次最佳演繹!播 Anne- Sophie Mutter 的嶄新錄音 [鰾魚五重奏」,哇!鋼琴、小提琴、中提琴、大提琴和低音提琴五件樂器在流暢地對答,在互動,樂器的音色條理分明,線條清晰,而且在音場內分佈的位置有條不紊,清清楚楚,就像在我眼前演奏一樣,聲音的像真度是前所未有!重播 RR 大植英次的「圖畫展覽展會」,樂團的能量感更盛,氣勢更加澎湃,但樂器的音色卻更加細緻,線條更清晰。

總結
要知道,原本當我轉用 MAXXUM 承板的時候,已經對於它們提升整套系統音效的能力拍爛手掌,憑心而論以聲論價我認為絕對是物有所值,直至執筆這一刻我仍然堅定地向有要求的發燒友推薦(已經改良至 MAXXUM MK3)。不過本著沒有最好,只有更好的發燒精神, Olympus一V12 能夠在MAXXUM 之上再有明顯的進步當然是難能可貴,只是高昂的售價或許會成為銷售的瓶頸了。由於我證實CMS產品的設計理論正確,而同文 Lee388 兄也經過實試有效, CMS 的 PXK 和 QXK 承架,與及採用和 MAXXUM 相同設計理論的專利 Dual Zone Damping System Filter 之 Black Diamond MK3,Black Platinum MK3 和Black Sapphire MK3 層板同樣值得大家考慮。

轉載自 “音響技術” No 436 Jan 2018

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Critical Mass System Sotto Voce Equipment Rack

CMS Sotto Voce racks are not just vastly less expensive than the rm’s state- of-the-art efforts; they also offer comparable performance in a more tradi- tional and appealing package. The frame and shelves are made of gorgeous Sapele African hardwood (natural or optional black nish) with sturdy metal connections milled from billet aluminum. The sonic improvements are not subtle—bass tightens, transients gain more verve yet maintain better control, rhythms sharpen, and low-level noise plummets. It’s that last factor that opens the soundstage and is key to the SV’s remarkable ability to elicit dimensionality from a recording. Fully upgradeable to accommodate CMS’ upscale array of “ lters” (they replace the stock shelves but are mechanically far more com- plex). The lters provide further noise reduction, while the “purity quotient” takes a sizable jump. Available in three heights, the tallest, at 38″, is a four-tier unit that offers 10″ spacing out of the box yet is easily adjustable.

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