Shun Mook Audio Mpingo Discs
Published on September 21, 2012
Shun Mook Audio Mpingo Discs
1½ x ½-inch round discs of African ebony wood for resonance control
Shun Mook Audio
618 Grand Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610
Ph.: 510-893-8403 Fax: 510-893-3818
I’m probably opening myself to a lot of hate mail and lost readers by even reviewing these products which have caused no little controversy in the audiophile world for many years now. Stereophile had a major go-around with them back in 1994. I recently saw a list in that publication of the most popular audio tweaks over the years, and the Mpingo Discs were on the list. I realized that although I had tried many of the items on the list (some actually worked) I had no experience with the discs, so I requested some to review.
It’s interesting that everything I was able to find both in print and online on the discs was either a total rave or alternately a total denigration of the whole thing as a mind-boggling scam. One publication had a huge rave about only one single Mpingo disc on the AC plug going into the audio system. So this review may be original in that I did find a very slight enhancement in one application of three discs, but that was all.
The Shun Mook folks sent me six of the discs. I think the description above and the photo makes it clear what the Mpingo Discs are. A four-page “Applications of the Mpingo Disc” comes with the discs. The discs have a logo in Chinese on one side and on the edge of each is a punched dot they call the “Pointer.” The sheet advises the user to usually face the logo down toward the component, and adjust the tonal balance by turning the disc, using the Pointer as an indication as on a clock face. They say that turning it clockwise from straight at you increases low frequency energy and counter-clockwise boosts the high frequency range. In case you think you may be missing something so far—you’re not. There is no connection of any sort between the discs and any components they are to affect.
I tried the discs repeatedly as instructed on various of my components, including my SOTA turntable, tube amps, Integra preamp, Oppo disc player, and the AC plugs at my Bybee AC filter and going directly into the wall socket. I heard no difference at any of these. I tried them in many different orientations on the turntable. I also tried them on the entry-level speakers in my office, since Sam Tellig raved in 1994 about the taming of the sonics he achieved on some cheap on-sale Radio Shack speakers with just a Mpingo disc on each. My results: nada.
However, when placing one disc straddling the two binder posts on the back of my three frontal Von Schweikert speakers, I was able—after many comparisons—to hear an extremely small enhancement. I had the Pointer pointing straight down on all three (6 o’clock position), as instructed, and the logo facing the speakers. I heard a very subtle increase in soundstage, depth and richness of detail. But when I had someone remove them and replace them while I listened my accuracy as to which I was hearing was far from correct.
The belief system in operation here is different from the Western one. Out of Asia have come things such as acupuncture, herbalism, and feng shui. These discs seem to be part and parcel of the latter area of proper placement, etc. Perhaps with much higher-end gear and much more time than I have, I could come up with some more serious results.
I think the proper thing for me to do is to send three of the six Mpingo discs back to Shun Mook and move on to other much easier-to-review products. By the way, the discs are only part of the array of similar products Shun Mook offers. They have a Spatial Control Quartet and Sextet, which involves a series of the discs on special stands, and their top-of-the-line item is a $2800 Resonating Record Clamp for your turntable, also of African ebony. You might have a look at their web site.
[The Shun Mook folks have responded that the reason I heard so little enhancement is the Bybee AC filter on my AV system, making it overly damped.]