Since the first part of this write-up, which you can read here,  I’ve been busy concluding the final crossover compliment for my Ayon loudspeakers. It’s been a time consuming and interesting experience. Time consuming with regards to implementing, running in and assessing any changes incrementally and interesting with regards to the experience and journey the project has taken me on – at times working backward in order to strengthen the sonic bond between components once more experience had been gained through hours and hours of listening tests as each next stage was configured.

Like any other system change, it’s often likely that one step forward can often result in two steps back. You may be fortunate enough to add a power cable to a component and instantly it’s transformed with more detail and depth but possibly has lost some bass appeal. You may then take that change away, but when adding the previous power cable the benefits of the upgrade exceeded its loses. So then it’s down to knowing and or experimenting where you may be able to regain some of that lost bass presence, whether it be isolation or an interconnect change, for instance, to reform the tonal synergy and at the same time retain the new benefits.

Much is the same when fettling crossovers, there is a process where the no-brainer upgrades from mediocre and ccost-effective yet better components, to good strong upgrades at reasonable costs, begins to become a trickier task. Again, like cables and other tweaks, when you start to move past the mid-priced product band and start to delve into the high-end, ultimate refinement becomes a far more intricate task. I relate it to finely tuning a high-end racing car. Anybody can add an aftermarket £300 exhaust, a new air filter, and better tires to an everyday driver for a little more excitement but finely tuning any motor vehicle for hardcore racing is a task of synergy, very fine tuning, computing and timing expertise, you simply cannot just buy a range of expensive parts, bolt them together and expect them to perform flawlessly for you.

Now to a certain degree I will admit that my experience with Mundorf’s Silver Gold products have all been fantastic but if I was to be uber critical I will admit that I balanced my speakers to a degree where I felt I had the best synergy when doing a little too and fro-ing and not just using every one of their highest level components and saying well this must be better (for me in my system with these drivers) because they are more expensive.

The task of installing the first Silver/Gold products was a real revelation in upgrading the sound quality all around and my initial task as before was to change out the capacitors. I reverted to the Evo range of products again, moving from the standard aluminium in oil Supremes to the Evo Silver/Gold  – these added an extra level of detail all around and an Evo being an Evo has a punchier quality over the more, I’d say, natural appeal of a Supreme, although the Evo is a good natural sounding cap especially in its Silver/Gold form they are a little more driven, which is something I like personally in my presentation as they add a touch more enthusiasm to the electronic music I do like to listen to. The next step up from these is the silver/gold in oil.

Introducing these gave me similar benefits in drive and soundstage size along with good layering from each capacitor, with the “Oil” versions offering stronger tonality and more naturalness. I spent a month or so with the Silver/Gold in Oil options in place as their potential was more appealing in texture, and background silences added an additional sprinkle of delicacy during passages of acoustic music that had fewer instruments playing, allowing for smaller artifacts to create a more complex and holographic rendition in overall presentation, whilst not losing any drive and enthusiasm when things got busier or a genre change was made.

Appreciating the combination of Silver/Gold in Oil my obvious craving came for the Silver/Gold in Oils with the Supreme winding over the Evo winding. These caps are Mundorf’s signature capacitor – an expensive, yet incredibly well made and bespoke cap which is noted to be one of the very best on the planet and really only used in extremely high-end speakers, but again although expensive not beyond the means of many who spend large amounts on cabling.

The Supreme Silver/Golds in Oil are the most deliciously sweet, in-depth and vibrant sounding upgrades I have ever made – period. The connection with the music became so vivid that I hesitated to even progress with any other changes in my speakers and once again quietly commended Accuton for engineering a driver that could expose so much more than I ever initially expected possible due to the chosen crossover components originally found within my Ayon speakers as standard!

Listening to a range of Jazz and Acoustic music I experienced inner detail and micro details in a way that I had never obtained from my system before. Imaging and timing were more accurate and the devilish tweeter which I once believed would always have a love-hate relationship with me finally found its position in the overall picture as a leading force, just so delicate and airy with perfect tone and shape. I had a manufacturer bring some equipment over for review a little while after these had settled in and we sat listening for a couple hours, while we talked about the journey I had made with my speakers and what I still had planned for them and he said to me before he left that he felt I had probably the best sounding and most carefully put together system he had heard to date, he even said he would follow my progression and read these write-ups with the expectation that he would do similar with his speakers. The same has happened with other industry professionals, retailers and acquaintances just recently who have said after reading the first part of my write-up they too have made some critical changes to their speakers and many have stated that what once felt like a minefield of options along with a lack of knowledge actually proved to be a pretty straightforward and incredibly rewarding process, which was great to hear and exactly what I was trying to achieve with this type of story. I am in the process of helping a couple friends with similar upgrades and it seems like the general consensus really is, if we can obtain such benefits from changing a few internal components in our speakers then why isn’t everybody doing it? Well exactly!

Moving onto inductors – the initial upgrades I mentioned within part 1 of this write-up were a distinctive benefit to overall performance, especially in bass stability and background silence, aiding finer details to emerge with more presence along with adding an extra layer of emotion and believability to my systems performance.

During some more discussions with the ever helpful and knowledgeable guys at Mundorf with the plan to start trying some of the Silver/Gold inductors, their Sales Manager Armin Tosta threw a spanner into the works “Dan, we have just released a new capacitor range, the Mundorf Supreme Evo”. “Oh no!” I said. My experience with each of the top Evo and Supreme caps still gave me sleepless nights and at one time I even contemplated breaking down the values required and rebuilding them with different values of each cap to create the whole as both had such strong benefits.

Now I was confronted with a set of caps which were exactly where my mind had been wandering for a while and the benefit of less overall components and space used.

So inductors to one side just now I decided to take a full complement of the Supreme Evo Silver/Gold in Oils – and admittedly was very excited at the prospect of them being a combination that would keep me excited as well as maintain my interest in each of my favoured yet very different genres of music.

How very true this would be…initially during break-in the caps were a little exuberant in the top-end, but this soon faded and what was conveyed in its early days to be a slight lack in bass extension soon relaxed into its flow. The dynamic intensity is incredible with this cap, so impactful without ever overstepping the mark or becoming exhausting They sit behind the fine line and effortlessly portray music in such a way that they never over-dramatise anything but keep you completely invested and drawn to the different appeals in excitement from each category of music you throw at them.

Timing especially was a notable point, their slightly faster and crisper leading edge abilities offered fast guitarists such as Nils Lofgren the ability to show off their handiwork and upper-bass notes had that extra touch of speed over the Supreme options. For those who enjoy a slightly more effective speed to their punch without losing control in the leading edges, these are a great option. Like the Supreme (none Evo) counterparts soundstage depth was fantastic and the ability to provide realism within the acoustic space exceptional.

As I had the Supreme Evo and Supreme top of the line caps here and with the ever thinking brain that I have, I came to the conclusion that even though I could wholeheartedly live with each set of capacitors in my system I needed to do a little experiment. So I ended up going back with the knowledge I had acquired through testing to replace the Supreme Silver/Gold in Oil back into the tweeter circuit and leave the Supreme Evo Silver/Gold in Oil in the mid/bass filter. This decision was somewhat of a revelation, now we are not talking huge differences here, we are talking about an ultra fine tuning process with a careful ear and much listening thereafter. The combination of the two in this position gave me additional delicacy and texture in the treble and brought my tweeter to a stage where it didn’t just integrate as I had strived so hard to achieve, but now had a relaxed sweetness combined with the mid/bass crossover point and character of the mid/bass that now exudes such confidence that I found after the complete burn-in process finally spoke to me in a way that its confidence was more towards – simply enjoy the result of your efforts, rather than stand up and look at me.

The last couple of stages in upgrading my Ayons have all been to a point where I felt I could happily live with the presentation they gave but again, with further persistence and scope to try other components even further benefits were achieved that I couldn’t actually understand until they were made, remember this is as much a process for me as it will be for you.

Some time had passed since my capacitor changes and I was ready to make some additional changes – a package arrived from Mundorf containing Silver/Gold foil inductors, these are very pretty and the foil is absolutely impeccable and manufactured with perfection, rather a shame to be hiding them within my speakers in fact – but I’m not going to be moving my crossovers external  just yet. Alongside the inductors were a set a Mundorf Supreme resistors, with a side note saying “I know you like the Duelands but give these a try”.

When the chance arrived I had the inductors fitted over my Mundorf Copper wire variants, which were already a good upgrade over standard. Oh my!! I was admittedly at a stage where I’m sat listening to music more frequently and really enjoying it to the point where I’m thinking “can this really get any better?” Yes, was the simple answer, what I was contently believing was the most effortless, relaxed and confident sound I had ever had taken on an even more effortless, seamless and convincingly more natural appeal, whoever said inductors do not make a difference needs to explore a range of Mundorf’s offerings as I have personally heard dramatic changes in them.

The amounts of air, space, and darkness within my background allowed for so much more prominence in detail retrieval, overall resolution and shape to the soundstage that once again I was just in awe of what Mundorf had produced along with these Accuton drivers, we can give some credit deservedly to Ayon for great cabinet design but these are now far from the speakers that left the factory. The increased transparency into the music is absolutely stunning now and each piece of music is just full of colours without having a rose-tinted glow to it – if you understand what I mean? Each track sounds more individual, each layer has additional space and individual timings of instruments are now more defined and the increased separation has more personality and stronger overall flow and rhythm, helped along especially with a depth a bass note that just resonated and decayed into a black void.

I hesitated for some time to implement the resistors I was sent, mainly because I didn’t want to rock the boat and partly due to knowing that the Duelands were so transparent anyway, I didn’t believe for one minute that the Mundorf’s would compete in their wire form over the graphite Duelands.

I’d say I am right to a degree, but what I’m still currently finding is that the slight trade-off of transparency over the Duelands has been replaced with a slightly better tone and slightly better texture, along with being a little smoother sounding, it is a tough one I must admit, as opening up the window to the music and being able to hear through the layers with strong soundstaging is something I champion, but without great tonality and texture you may as well just have a budget system. The differences aren’t so huge that I have been deliberating much I must admit and with the additional transparency found with the introduction of the inductors and each and every Silver/Gold product as a whole, my current decision has been to leave the Supreme resistors in as I have achieved the benefits of the Duelands elsewhere and realistically have complimented that with a little additional texture and slightly more relaxed presentation to gain a balance that is just addictive, to say the least.

Final Steps

As the final steps to complete the full Silver/Gold makeover I still had to add the Silver/Gold wiring loom to the speakers and attach the accompanying binding posts. I have a range of Silver/Gold wires here also from shielded to unshielded and multi-core variants, which when I have the opportunity, in time, with be building some speaker cables, power cables and interconnects from, and as Mundorf have collaborated with WBT to produce a Nextgen Silver/Gold RCA plug it only seems fitting to explore some wiring configurations.

As I said back in part 1 I have always championed the Silver/Gold wire and have used it in many projects for its tonal qualities over pure silver whilst retaining all the benefits of detail and transparency.

For the Ayons I used a two core variant from Mundorf which has a pair of 1.5mm Teflon coated cores, plenty enough current-wise for speakers and still keeping in line with my findings that the standard thinner cable wasn’t just quite thick enough.

Now, this stuff is very stiff to work with, although can be shaped easily and will stay where you route it, – just ensure you relieve the stress of it coming off of the crossover itself by securing it to the board itself.

In any situation where I have used Silver/Gold wire previously a notable jump in resolution is immediately apparent and in this case the jump in resolution was again instantly noticeable. Presentation was cleaned, more transparent and the top and bottom end extended perceivably further. I lost some texture for sure and this choice of wire I thought at first is not really the ideal choice for ceramic drivers, but after some extensive time settling down the Silver/Gold wiring does things that most wires can’t. At times the sound is so resolute it becomes haunting and certain passages from certain tracks can be incredibly eerie. It never ceases to surprise me each and every time I switch the system on these days at how tactile the sound is and I think I will go forward and backwards between the Silver/Gold wire and the Studio Connections for a while as they have different characters, but both have incredible charm. As far as any other internal changes are concerned I’m going to leave the current combination to do what it does best…music!

I always believe that once you are able to stop analysing and are able to just comfortably relax into the music and forget the electronics, what you have been searching to achieve has finally become reality. HiFi is all about the electronics, I hear many of you groan at this statement but it’s true! It’s true in the fact that it has to be all about the electronics in order to be all about the music! Obtain a true musical performance that ultimately allows you to connect with the music in its most natural form and a true audiophile can’t be happier. The issue we have with much of today’s electronics is they are not voiced naturally enough, even in the high-end arena, which leaves the end user with either the need to constantly keep changing products, or, with a little investigation, start making the changes for yourself.

Addressing a speakers crossover is one of the most beneficial investments you can ever make given my experience – do it within reason and within budget and don’t be afraid to buy and try, there is a large resale market for components.

Dan Worth

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