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Close Encounters of the FOURTH Kind



human has such a strange feature - he is impossible to clearly define a goal which, from the standpoint of his reality, is the best for him. And it is not about the way of thinking of ordinary John or Smith, this thesis I refer to the whole "mankind". Just look at the history of inventions… The man usually never found what he was looking for, but almost always the “search” resulted something good... We can wrap a ham and cheese sandwich in aluminum foil, not because someone felt such a need and was trying hard to invent it. This aluminum foil appeared only because a few guys flew into the space, so in fact... the foil we know appeared by the way. The same story-magical gel pens, that write even upside down. This is a special invention for cosmonauts so they can write in the weightless state! ...For the American astronauts of course ... because the Russians simply wrote with a pencil. And so on, so on, the examples can be multiplied. These cases may be seen as trivial stories. But it is symptomatic for our "normal", everyday life. We are surrounded by the objects, inventions, technologies which original assignment was absolutely different.

When at the end of the 15th century Christopher Columbus sought a shorter (read less expensive) rout/trial to India, he found America and "baptized" the poor indigenous Indians, so native Indians became Hindus. Our brave conquistador sailed to collect pepper and vanilla, but heard the El Dorado fairytale ("EL Hombre Dorado" - a man covered with a gold dust for ritual purposes). Suddenly the gold rush took control over all the Catholic Europe which slaughtered the entire "bad" Indian population because they did not want to say where the gold is. O, I'm sorry, most of them were baptized before they were murdered so they wouldn't go to hell... Love your neighbor as yourself ... The search of a mythic El Dorado started a whole series of the successive expeditions. This became the target and a dream of the average European from the 15th century, like nowadays dreams about Volkswagen car and 60-inch LED TV. Probably 99% of these 15th century dreamers not only did not return rich but did not return at all - they were swallowed by the jungle. They plundered the continent so thoroughly that not to get lost, they drew very good maps and that’s why the Americans (no longer Indians) could elect Donald Trump as the President last year. Although considering that in principle he won only thanks to the electoral voting system, it is possible to risk the statement that the Indians chose him. All because of Columbus. There is also a theory that US citizens thought that they were voting for Donald Tusk, but this is hard to prove ... because they would not be so stupid to vote for Donald Duck ... didn't they ...?

But returning to the conquistadors, they didn’t bring the gold, but they brought the potatoes, that were the essential element of the Polish peasant diet for another 500 years. Until today, potatoes garnished by fat, are a part of a typical "healthy" and ... "tasty" Polish meal, served with the salads and burnt piece of meat. Burnt on Polish gold ( Rapeseed oil). And what? Poles are not a goose, they also have their own Eldorado.

But let`s return to the conquistadors. That's what you get if you don't respect foreign culture and you don't appreciate it and if you don't want to get to know nothing about it. Then you are blind to another version of truth than the one which you recognize as the common knowledge. The Indians (let's call them so for the needs of the article and not to put the cat among the pigeon) for thousands of years, high in the mountains cultivated an innocent plant, such a "weed" ... I'm talking about a chenopodium quinoa in popular language called Quinoa. Indians were generally pretty wise. Unlike Europeans, they did not think that the earth was flat. They knew astronomy, medicine (for example, they knew about cancer), and they also knew that food was not only to appease one's hunger. They even knew the beneficial effects of Quinoa seeds to the human body. It was their basic diet, especially in the high mountains, where the climate and soil conditions were bad and where they could not afford to eat "fish and chips" daily.... Today's medicine and biochemistry are just discovering the complexity of nutrients in the quinoa's inconspicuous grains and their beneficial effect on human internal organs. I will not write about it here, there are plenty of information on the internet. I will say only one, quinoa and not fattening potatoes, is the basis of cosmonaut diet.

But returning again to the conquistadors ... unfortunately they didn't bring 500 years ago the real Inca Gold, as today we used to call quinoa seeds... !!


And what does my introduction have to do with audio again, after all, I haven't written anything about the "Spanish Inquisition" and "breeding season of moose ..."? Many of our "homies", audio equipment enthusiasts and good sound lovers, behave like the 15th century Europeans possessed by vision of El Dorado ...! In their gold rush, which prompts them to seek better devices, more and more expensive systems, they ruin themselves. They also often forget what really matters. Just like conquistadors did. They simply forget about good room acoustics, good power supplying and anti-vibration protection. And just as the conquistadors overlooked quinoa because it was small and inconspicuous, contemporary audiophiles often overlook the small and inconspicuous, but essential elements of their often large and bloated systems.

Ladies and Gentlemen...!
I present the audiophile Inca Gold ...!

I lead you directly to the fairyland of El Dorado ...!
I present to you the FUSE ...!


APH 2; 5X20 version „gold”


  • Alexandra Sumorok – Ph.D technical sciences, art historian and specialist in the field of Stalinist Architecture and Art of Socialist Realism period. Like most women, she is not interested in audio equipment. With the greatest pleasure she likes to listen to ... silence, which is very rare in our house... ;-). Hereinafter referred to as AS.
  • Mark Moczkowski – IT manager, electronics and short-wave radio fan. With audio equipment he has rather little to do, but he likes to listen. He takes part in my "testing" of a new equipment from the moment when I bought in the 90’s my first CD player. It means from the very beginning! Mark was always "good" in physics; hereinafter referred to as MM.
  • Tom Gucajtis – multi-year DIY device designer, “Audiostereo” forum member, hereafter called TG (Top Gear ... ;-))..
  • Becik (Swaddle wrap) - the fruit of my loins, he has been listening from the stage of the embryo, because then we did a lot of tests and he had no choice. Now there is no way back for him and he has already his first audio system in his room!
  • Witek Kamiński – architect; hereinafter referred to as WK.

  • Unspecified being called in dead language-Latin "Spirtus" (rctified spirit), located in different concentrations in beverages which man must drink in order to maintain vital functions of the body ... It hasn’t directly expressed an opinion about the sound, but had a definite effect (purely scientific) on ours ...



  • Anplifier LUXMAN L-507s
  • Digital source SACD YAMAHA CD-S2000
  • Analog source PRO-JECT RPM-5.1/ORTOFON 2M BLUE, Custom Version One
  • Turnable pre-amplifier RCM Sensor SE 10/10
  • Loudspeakers VIENNA ACOUSTICS Beethoven Baby Grand
  • Power cords WK AUDIO® THE ONE
  • Interconnect (pre-amplifier→ power section) SUPRA EFF-I/NEUTRIK
  • Interconnect (turnable/pre-amplifier) SUPRA EFF-I/NEUTRIK rca/XLR
  • Interconnect (sacd) SUPRA EFF-I/NEUTRIK XL
  • Speaker cables VDH THE REVELATIONS
  • Anti-vibration platforms WK AUDIO® PURE SERIES
  • Power conditioner GIGAWATT PC-3 EVO SE Limited Edition
  • Circuit breaker GIGAWATT GC20A
  • Fuses AHP II gold
  • Digital source MARANTZ CD-17
  • Tube head phones amplifier DYI
  • Interconnect VDH D-103 MKII
  • Sennheiser HD 580, modified
  • Power cords WKAUDIO® THE TWO
  • Anti-vibration platforms WK AUDIO® FUSION SERIES
  • Fuses AHP II gold
  • Carmen McRay, Live At Birdland West, Concorde Jazz, SA-CD
  • Gustaw Mahler, Symphony no. 3, W.P Claudio Abbado – DG, SA-CD
  • Gustaw Mahler, Symphony no. 2, W.P. Gilbert Kaplan – DG, SA-CD
  • Getz/Gilberto SHM~SA-CD
  • Czajkowski, Symphonie nr. 4, L. F. Jewgenij Mrawinskij, PLATINUM SHM~CD
  • Ray Charles, Genius Loves Company, SA-CD
  • Stephan Grapelli, Live at the Blue Note, TELARC JAZZ, CD
  • Diana Krall, All For You, Impulse!, CD

First we listened to sources with unchanged fuses, unchanged fuse was also in the amplifier. Then we changed the fuses to ahp in the sources, and finally in the amplifier, but already with the ahp fuses left in the sources.



AS: While listening to Tchaikovsky, the sound of standard fuses was practically unacceptable ... !! It was sharp, flat, squeaking, yelling, just a tragedy! After putting in the ahp fuses the sound became more full, had more air, became deeper and thoroughly sounded. In principle, replacing of the fuses allowed me to listen to this record ... On the Ray disc, after replacing the fuses the difference in sound was no longer so great, but for example, Norah Jones vocal became cleaner, more emphasized, more accurate. The sound also got the air. This is the abyss that divides sound before and after switching from standard fuse to the better one!

MM: Tchaikovsky with standard fuse just a tragedy! After replacing the fuses on ahp, on both discs I heard a big difference, the sound became softer. The space or the bass didn't change, but the sound became cleaner and better separated from each other. For example, Nora's vocal came out and became more readable. Compared to them, the standard fuses are very sharp and draw like a knife on the glass... It's impossible to listen to the music like that! Replacing the fuses made a colossal and very audible change in favor. It's astonishing that the equipment is sold with such a "junk" like a normal fuse.

TG: I'm not generally a supporter of bass in your system, but with ahp fuses it became cleaner and better articulated. Also, Nora's voice became much cleaner and clearer. The vocal came out before the instruments and was just better audible.


Here we did the in the opposite way ... first we listened to the ahp fuse and then put on a standard one.

AS: After switching to a regular fuse, there was again a big difference. The sound became like someone had closed it or put a foil on the speakers.

MM: In my opinion there was less difference than with Marantz, but after removing ahp fuse the sound became compressed and screeching. Just like you would play the mp 3 file. Nora's voice became flat and seemed to have lost half the tones. Bas has lost its fill and dynamics, but not in terms of loudness, but in terms of ability to show contrasts. For example, in Mahler these silent drums with ahp fuse sounded long and clear and after the exchange they were almost inaudible. With ahp fuse it was nice to hear, it was spatially and clearly. Such a change from better to worse was more severe ...!

TG: In Marantz, the differences were harder for me to capture, because in its sound everything bothers me. Here the change was audible for me at once in flash! Everything has lost its fulfilment, it has become lean, like it would start to play in compressed way. It sounds like everything is audible, but some essence has vanished from the sound. With a good fuse you could hear that something is hanging in the air ... and now you only hear that there are just some sounds.

3. LUXMAN L-507s

In this case the change of the fuse caused a lot of trouble for some of our listeners. For this we decided to carry out the test in the sequence a-b-a.

AS: This is the abyss in sound after replacing the fuse on ahp! Both the Mahler symphony and Diana Krall are definitely better, but perhaps there are more differences on the classical music! The sound has much better color and much more can be heard, some details appeared which so far I hadn't heard. The space and depth appeared in the symphonies, the instruments sounded longer and they were more audible, as if someone had taken off the foil from the sound. On Diana Krall record, you could hear that the instruments were well placed on the stage and well separated from each other. Everything was more dynamic and energetic! Also her voice was better exhibited from the other sounds. Listening to music has become a real pleasure, and for me it means that its reproduction must have the right color without the harshness and sharpness. In this case, replacement the fuse on ahp also added additional detail, accuracy, air, energy and space. So in my opinion the replacement of the fuse brought the desired effects and directed the sound system development in the right direction!

MM: I do not know what had happened, but after changing the main fuse in the amplifier to the audiophile one (T4A-editor) the sound on the Ray's record is worse for me. Everything became narrower and a little sanded, dry. I've lost the pleasure of listening. I think that this is different than with the exchange in the source where the improvement was immediate and indisputable. I will say again that I do not know what happened. But after changing the disc to Mahler this time everything is playing better, there are more dynamics and detail. The trumpet at the beginning has more complete sound and it is more realistic, it is not some kind of sound, only a specific instrument embedded in a particular space. Maybe in the case of Ray, it was a matter of bad realization, the error of which showed a better fuse ...? After re-switching to the regular fuse, the music scene became slimmer and the sounds of the instruments became artificial.

TG: I do not know which sound I prefer more, with usual fuse or ahp. In my opinion, on the Ray's album the music scene was narrowed down and everything started to play as if it was in the middle. The sound became more massive. In Mahler symphony in my opinion some changes were good and some not. The sound became solid, massive and powerful, but slightly rounded off and it lost such a specific element of "immediacy". It seems to me that a lot depends on what concrete we are listening to. If we put a so-called "normal" CD, which is usually recorded fairly bright and dry, replacing the fuse with ahp will bring a clear improvement. But when it comes to discs, let's call it briefly, "audiophile" the changes for the better are no longer so easily defined. While in the case of sources I had no doubt about the beneficial effect on the sound thanks to the better fuse, that in the amplifier some aspects of the sound before and after the replacement of the fuse had their "advantages and disadvantages". Therefore, I would not be able to make a binding decision right now which option is better. Generally, I could live with ordinary fuses in the amplifier ...


WK: This time I specially excluded myself from the commentaries about the sound changes during joint listening for two reasons. Firstly, because the fuses required to warm up, for my taste several dozen of hours of listening. They were immediately thrown down into my system as soon as they came. They worked there over a week. I know the sound of my equipment and the sound of my discs by heart. I don't have to do myself the a-b, a-b tests to hear something and compare something. I could listen to for a long time and slowly form the opinion about replacing the fuses. This means that at the beginning of the common listening sessions, I had a big advantage over the rest of the participants because I had already made up my decision about it. I didn't want to influence the rest of the participants. Besides, I did not want to base my opinion on short 2-3 minute listening sessions and top 2-3 discs. Such a rigor was a necessity because of the time of fuses replacement. Otherwise nobody would remember anything and couldn't compare. I did not want to play with my co-workers cheated cards. I knew that their task in a certain aspect is much more difficult, because limited in time!

In the simplest and shortest way you can say: In my opinion changing fuses in sources brings quantitative change and it's absolutely indisputable. This exchange is also, as the test showed, the simplest to catch. (Please note that simple doesn't mean easy ..!). Immediately we get more of everything. More details, more air, more dynamics, better definition of sound. We also get better color, less dry sound, less sanded, less "compressed" as Marc aptly called it. Simply said, our local pumping station got a better pump and that is why we have better pressure in the tap - more water ...!

Everything is different in the case of an amplifier. Here, replacing fuses, in my opinion, is a much more complex process that requires more attention. The exchange doesn't mean more, it means just better! And in this point in the audiophile world is a crack. Because for one "better" means more and for others "better" means simply better ...! And that was exactly what we heard in the discussion!

The first "impression" is that the whole sound was lower ... and slowed down! Now, I believe that such an observation is simply misleading. It doesn't mean that we won't hear it in the first moment. It means that it is only an illusion in relation to the phenomenon that is actually happening. And only our brain has so wrongly interpreted it at the first moment...! Right now most of you probably think that I try to equivocate and pass a hot potato ...! Let's visualize this problem by switching the SACD layer to a CD in the player. At the first glance it seems that the CD is more dynamic because it plays louder. Only that, the volume has little to do with dynamics, because greater dynamics means more contrast between the sounds which are quiet and which are loud.. So, a quick switching between the layers can give us a clearly audible ... but also an unambiguous wrong outlook about it ...! The SACD layer is objectively more dynamic, end of story.

High tones take on a true, full definition. They stop screeching in a simple and monotonous, compressed and average way. So it may seem to the layman that there are fewer of them, but in fact there's exactly the opposite, there are more of the high tones only that they have better dynamics. Not every second of the recording is loud and has the same frequency! Where, for example, in the sound of the cymbals was heard that they were, now you can hear that they are playing, that their sound is still high but now it contains many components. During the concert in the philharmonic the strings, the trumpets and the cymbals ... after all, they don't always play a high "c". Even most of the time, they move in the area of midrange tones. Does it mean that the live music doesn't have a high tones? Well, no, because when it's necessary they can so pinch that ears hurt...! That's what we call dynamics.

The low tones do not play stronger, although it seems to be more of them. This can only seem because the amplifier has just better control over them, so it plays them more accurately. Their definition, depth and diversity is better. Only through this we can get the wrong impression that there are more of them...! Because by their quality we are able to hear them better, they more attract our attention!

Mid tones need special attention! I can bet that in many systems they didn't exist until now ...! It is happening because, with a good fuse, the amplifier stops behaving "nervously". The amplifier is starting to be like a Porsche, which goes 200 km / h. You can hold the steering wheel with one finger because for this car this is not an effort at all. I often wonder what is the main determinant of the sound which we can hear in live performance. It seems to me that its main feature is the lack of both: dynamic and tonal compression. It's like the "live" sound simply had no complexes ... and it didn't have to prove anything to anyone. When playing the middle tones, it doesn't have to increase anything, because someone can say that there is no bass, or that there is no high tones and that’s why the sound is lazy. Who cares..? Such are the middle tones after switching the fuse. Non complexes...! They become "beautiful", smooth, flowing, long-lasting. They are simply natural, not increased by higher bass or lower high frequencies. That's why the vocals are so beautiful! They lose their roughness, they get color, become clear and vibrating. And that's why, the participants in the test indicated that replacing the fuse in the amplifier had been good for the sound after the insertion of Mahler's disc. The classical music played on real instruments, in their natural environment which is the historic hall of the Vienna Philharmonic, it's primarily the richness of the middle tones!

The whole of the transmission becomes flowing. Sounds are long and thorough. There is no nervousness, rattle sounds and unnecessary rush. All these sound characteristics are wrong interpreted as slowing down the sound or losing the dynamics. In my opinion, they only mean that the fist reaches the nose. Not that someone quickly but ineffectively is waving his hands at the front of us ...


Christmas in the audiophile world, in my opinion happens only once. Only once can we get so much for so little, because replacement of the standard fuses is only a drop in the ocean of expenditure on your audio systems. What we get in return is a quantitative change in case of sources and a qualitative change in case of amplifiers. The end result is simply stunning. Full, coherent, accurate and retail sound without the sharpness, with enormous space and breath. As a colleague Tom aptly noted: before the exchange of fuses we heared sounds and after the exchange we feel that something is hanging in the air ...!

I'm not sure if the ahp fuses are not one of the cheapest on the market. Despite this, they did a great job in my audio system! I think that they should be an obligatory items on the list of the less affluent, or less experienced audiophiles. In the first case they will be forever, the second they will be the beginning of further search. In my case, fuses stay in the system, somehow I can not imagine listening to music without them ... ;-).


When we enter a dark room during a sunny day, we feel as if we were blind, we do not see anything. Obviously that does not mean that we are really blind! Simply our eyes just need a moment to adapt to the new lighting conditions. After a few seconds we start to see normally. All shapes, colors, textures and details. Please remember that the ear has the same ability to accommodate as the eye! After switching the fuses in the audio equipment we can immediately hear that the sound is different. Let our ears accommodate to the new perspective. Let them to remind themselves how the sounds really sound without the dazzling sun.

The AHP supplied for testing by distributor:

Audio Forte S.J.
D. Bączewski, A. Wójtowicz Sp. Jawna

ul. Rejtana 7/9 
02-516 Warszawa


  • Close Encounters of the THIRD Kind - The “fishermans” from Lodz to the “miners” in Katowice, close encounters hits the road. LINK
  • Close Encounters of the SECOND Kind - About the black death. LINK
  • Close Encounters of the FIRST Kind - about dogs and cat, or: does the length matter? LINK