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Located:
San Francisco, CA

Frank Cheng

Reviewer

A third-generation audiophile in his family, Frank Cheng has been in this hobby for 25 years (2017). Frank'ls grandfather was one of very few people that had an audio system back in the 1940s in southern Taiwan. He had obtained his PhD and returned to Taiwan to practice medicine right amidst WWII. Frank's older uncle was also an avid audiophile and his father kind of followed their footsteps. Earlier this month (April 2017), Frank had visited his grandfather's house and dug out some 78s and early 33s (made of the same hard material as those 78s). Frank ran an audiophile club here in the Bay Area in the late 1990s to early 2000s. The group started out as a get-together from folks that met on the Audio Asylum forums. The membership had grown to 60+ members at one time. But everyone had since got married, had kids, moved away, etc. "Many great friendships have come out of that group and many of us keep in touch these days on Facebook and various online forums." Although he was somewhat particular about sound quality early on in his life, Frank had a Japanese boom box and a walkman/portable CD player until an acquaintance in college handed him this digest size magazine called "Stereophile". It opened his eyes and ears to the world of High End Audio. Frank's first system consisted of a California Audio ICON Mk II CD player, Audio Research LS-1, Forte Model 6, and Thiel 2.2s back in the early 1990s. Frank will be the first to admit that he gets excited about the equipment aspect of the hobby as much as the music. He used to travel to Denver for business every month and he would plan his October travels to coincide with the RMAF; then it was The Newport Beach Show. He had also been attending audio shows here on the west coast for decades. His dream birthday gift/vacation would be to attend the Hong Kong and Taiwan High End Shows which happened to be in two August consecutive weekends. He had said that was something he was going to do when he hits 40. "But hopefully I will actually do it when I hit 50 in 3 years," Frank demurs. Frank built a dedicated room from the ground up while doing a full-house remodel around 2012. "It had been an interesting experience trying to get the room designed. Because of my background as an Architect, I wanted a room that not only sounds good, but looks good too. I had mandated that any type of acoustical treatments used to be either hidden or be incorporated as an architectural elements. The last thing I want to see is bunch of these diffusing and absorbing panels hanging on walls. Just about everyone I had spoken to failed the test, so I ended up buying bunch of books to read on my own. I was fortunate to hook up with George Cardas of Cardas Cables. He gave me some guidance and I put together the design of my room with the dimensions of 14 ft wide in front, 16 ft wide at back, 21 ft deep, with a slope ceiling from 8 ft to 14 ft. Unfortunately, real estate here in the Bay Area is a premium and my room doubles as a Home Theater room as well with two complete separate (audio and HT) systems occupying the same space." The main system consists of: Analog Front End 1: Michelle Orbe SE + Graham 2.2 + Benz M2/Raos MC5 cartridges (Raos is a hand-built cartridge from Taiwan with some serious local following) + Morrow PH4 phono cable; Analog Front End 2: Transrotor ZET 3.2 + SME V + Shelter Harmony + Furutech AG-12 phono cable; Digital Front End: Mark Levinson #37 Transport + Sonic Frontier SFD2 Mk II (NOS Amperex 6922 tubes), Illuminati D-60 digital cables; Amplification: Esoteric E-03 phonostage, Audio Research Ref 2 Mk I w/ GNSC Reference Level mod (NOS Amperex 6922, RCA 6L6GC, RCA 5AR4 tubes), Pass Labs X350.5; Speakers: Magico Q5; Verity Parsifal Encores Interconnects/Speaker Cables: Synergistic Research Absolute/Designer/Resolution Reference II series with outboard power supply; Power conditioning: 6 dedicated 20amp lines into each room with PS Audio outlets. Isotek Nova GII. Powercords from PS Audio, BMI, and Electraglide. Frank also has a second system in the master bedroom with many legendary components and several headphone-based systems in the study room. Frank remembers with fondness that the wife of Stereophile reviewer Miles Astor had a column in Stereophile giving her non-audiophile's observation of this hobby. He had loved reading it and thought it provided a refreshing perspective and human element into this hobby. Frank recently purchased a photo book from Amazon which showcased LP collectors from across the country, he thought it was very interesting to "meet" people in those photos who are just as passionate, if not more, about collecting LPs. He recalls that Taiwan's leading Audiophile magazine, Audio Art, also has this type of articles from time to time profiling audiophiles around the island. "So I thought this would be something different in this digital age, to put more focus on the people in this hobby, and their stories associated with the systems they've put together."

System
						Analog Front End
Analog Front End 1: Michelle Orbe SE + Graham 2.2 Benz M2/Raos MC5 cartridges (Raos is a hand-built cartridge from Taiwan with some serious local following) Morrow PH4 phono cable Analog Front End 2: Transrotor ZET 3.2 SME V Shelter Harmony Furutech AG-12 phono cable
						Digital Front End
Mark Levinson #37 Transport Sonic Frontier SFD2 Mk II (NOS Amperex 6922 tubes)
						Amplification
Esoteric E-03 phonostage Audio Research Ref 2 Mk I w/ GNSC Reference Level mod (NOS Amperex 6922, RCA 6L6GC, RCA 5AR4 tubes) Pass Labs X350.5
						Cabling
Illuminati D-60 digital cables Interconnects/Speaker Cables: Synergistic Research Absolute/Designer/Resolution Reference II series with outboard power supply
						Speakers
Magico Q5 Verity Parsifal Encores
						Headphones

						Home Theater

						Accessories
Power conditioning: 6 dedicated 20amp lines into each room with PS Audio outlets. Isotek Nova GII. Powercords from PS Audio, BMI, and Electraglide.
						Room Treatment
Custom listening room
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