Music Sanctuary is a Singaporean dealer, which has gained fame for their specialized know-how of custom in-ears and upgrade cables – a store with its own identity, and philosophy on sound. But despite their local roots, their ambition reaches further than the grounds that hold them. Over the course of the last few months, their vision has started to translate to their own line of products, which will consist of modifications of existing ones – all tied by their ultimate pursuit for resolution. The tweaks generally include two products, returning in various forms: the Mitsubishi Precious Metals ‘K’ solder, and the PWAudio 1960’s cable.
The first product to (unofficially) launch under their own Project K brand name, was their modification service of the Sony WM1Z. By rewiring the internal cable to 1960’s wire, and applying the ‘K’ solder along with improved shielding and isolation of inductor coils, the modification not only increases the treble extension, but elevates the upper treble region. As a result, the WM1Z improves in resolution and stage, but also changes in signature: while it retains the Sony’s characteristic warm and darker ambiance powered by its enhanced bass, the midrange becomes more neutral in tone, as well adding a touch of sparkle to its treble. While there is a significant improvement in performance, it’s equally fair to say the modification results in a more analytical character when compared to the original. But this again, provides a peek into the Music Sanctuary ‘house sound’: powerful bass, high resolution, and detailed treble. And by doing so, reveals a glance of what’s to come.
Project K Soundwriter
Project K’s official debut comes now with the Soundwriter: a collaboration with PWAudio and 64 Audio, orchestrated by Music Sanctuary. The center piece is a modified A18, which has been rewired with single crystal core PWAudio wires; specifically, silver wires for the signal, and copper for the ground. And of course, the hallmark ‘K’ solder is applied as finishing touch. In addition, the Soundwriter foregoes APEX in favor of focus and resolution.
But the Soundwriter is designed as a statement piece, an exclusive offering delivered as full package – Music Sanctuary’s very own version of ‘the best’. Therefore, it comes stock with the PWAudio 1960 cable, offered either in 2- or 4-Wire form. However, the cable has equally undergone several modifications for this occasion, such as added shielding to both connectors, a Furutech plug, and you might have guessed it – the ‘K’ solder. Mine has been reterminated to 4.4, resulting in a fully Music Sanctuary-sanctioned setup: the Soundwriter, Project K 1960 4-Wire, and modded WM1Z.
Building forth on the A18, the Soundwriter naturally shares some general traits. But equally, the differences are larger than one might expect beforehand. For instance, although the A18 and Soundwriter can both be characterized as variations of neutral, there is a shift in their tonality, resulting from variations throughout their signature. Therefore, the Soundwriter isn’t so much a direct upgrade, but a ‘diagonal’ one; improving in performance, while simultaneously offering its own character.
Starting with its bass; the Soundwriter’s bass extends particularly deep, refocusing the emphasis to the sub- and lower portions of the mid-bass, in comparison to the A18. The result is a tight, but impactful bass, with the relative reduction in upper-bass serving its transparency, as well as airiness. Even so, the Soundwriter doesn’t offer an airier sound in an absolute sense. The loss of APEX narrows the stage, which seems to confine its space. In return, it creates a more three-dimensional stage, while maintaining a focused image despite its low-end power.
Similarly, the Soundwriter’s midrange behaves accordingly – a clear sounding midrange, that shines through performance: transparent, though pursuant to its mid- and upper-bass tuning, not particularly warm in tone. Rather, it offers a clean sound with a neutral stage positioning; neither overly forward, nor laidback. Even so, it doesn’t necessarily come across as analytical, or lean for that matter. Although it wouldn’t classify as ‘thick’, the lower midrange isn’t laidback, ensuring a sufficiently bodied vocal presentation. More importantly, it’s a dynamic-sounding midrange, by virtue of its tempo. Its midrange notes are not only resolved, but quick in pace.
But the highlight of its signature, is undoubtedly its treble; a treble that draws attention from the listener, in an appreciative, rather than offensive manner. It’s not necessarily a warmer, romantic treble in timbre, but it is especially realistic. Treble notes are defined by a 5 KHz peak, while keeping the upper treble region relatively linear, in comparison to the A18. Consequentially, the treble isn’t colored by an additional touch of sparkle, which benefits the trueness of its tone. It’s a treble completed by a full representation of the overtones, resulting in a well-timed and natural decay. In sum, a very complete treble presentation. And due to the equally clear tone of the midrange, one that remains perfectly coherent within the signature.
Taken together, the Soundwriter offers a distinct variation of the A18. In terms of general tone, it creeps closest to the A18 with M15 module, while deviating in its midrange body and treble presentation, with the Soundwriter offering a slightly fuller sound. By comparison, the A18’s stage is wider, although the Soundwriter’s is more focused. While it offers impressive performance, the Soundwriter’s forte is its treble, at least for me: one that presents micro-detail in a coherent manner, but remains smooth in its delivery. And most importantly perhaps, realistic in tone. Just as listening to the Legend-X makes me question whether there’s an inner basshead in me, listening to the Soundwriter in turn redefines my appreciation for the quality of treble.
The Project K Soundwriter is available for order from Music Sanctuary, and is offered with either the PWAudio 1960’s ‘K’ 2- or 4-wire. Price is on application.