The single-wiring terminals are high-grade WBT to accept 4mm bananas. Shinai's 40 kilograms rest on four extremely solid metal hemispheres, not the usual garden-variety feet or spikes. "Originally I wanted an alternative to spikes because they reduce coupling to a single point. They simply also scratch furniture. A hemisphere is a good alternative which I have used it since 2003. Our lateral amplifier stands have recesses for these hemispheres to become like steel joints which are also good for the sound." To me Shinai felt like a super sports car: beautiful, of high quality, lovingly finished in detail, uncompromisingly tweaked for performance—but not raw power!— and without frills to hit the racetrack. With that I just exhausted my annual quota of allowable automotive tie-ins.
From our prior Shinai review.
Sound and comparisons. I performed all tests with the J. Sikora Initial Max turntable, Kuzma Stogi S12 VTA arm, Transrotor Figaro MC and LinnenberG Bizet phonostage; or the streaming Waversa Wstreamer bridge and DAC built into the Norma Audio Revo SC-2 preamplifier. Either front end played into Qln Prestige Three or ATC SCM11 loudspeakers through the Grandinote. My resident setup combines the Norma Audio SC-2 with LinnenberG's Liszt stereo amp. Bass was probably the most impressive demonstration of Magnetosolid's influence. In fact my system never hosted an integrated with bass that played such versatile chameleon yet still could do solid reliable Rock. Rich, powerful, colorful, easy and relaxed, Shinai covered with equal aplomb DRAM's funk bass in "The Lay Down" and the "Birds" upright on Dominique Fils-Aimé's Nameless album. The gentle assertiveness of its presentation wasn't unlike that of the ASR Emitter 1. The incomparably more powerful German amp did create a bit more authority from more cubic inches (another car metaphor) but was overtaken on transparency, attention to detail and relentlessly timed speed. The Balanced Audio Technology VK-3000 SE could keep up on impulse response but was less transparent and potent.
Structured and physical, Shinai pushed the ultra-low roiling bass of Nicolas Jaar's "Colomb" [from Space Is Only Noise] and the densely woven wafting bass carpet from Massive Attack's infamous "Teardrop" through Qln's Prestige Three two-way tower. Casual, substantially locomotive, seamless and slag-free, it also unfolded the bassy landscape of "Variations" from the Submotion Orchestra's Kites. Even if such explicitness turns minor personal slight, I must admit that my usual Norma/LinnenberG combo felt comparatively clumsy especially in its upper bass. That was almost pudgy compared to Shinai's perfectly balanced effortless energy distribution. At the same time, the Italian controlled the crisp bass drum and slap bass of Rage Against The Machines' "Take the Power Back" nicely dry, always punchy and more realistic than any of the others mentioned. If memory serves, even Norma's PA 160MR monos can't quite deliver Shinai's fluid elegance. Still, they do produce even more pressure from larger transformers and thanks to regulated power supplies, have even more unwavering control all the way down into the infra bass.
Despite all its transparency and speed, I would characterize Shinai's bass as tending to the slightly lush and tonally rich. Its effortless control, undreamt-of structural overtone transparency, color hues and utter lack of boom or billowing reverberation no matter how bold the music then immediately relativizes my statement. I think this challenges long-cherished audiophile pigeonholing and exclusionary thinking, not only in discourse but in dispute. Here character traits often perceived as incompatible or mutually exclusive—think warmth, tautness, pressure, control, substance, lightness, power, impulsiveness, solidity and transparency—all meet without competition.