Audio Ground Box – the WHYs and the HOWs

Ground box has become an intrinsic part of an equipment in the audiophile setup. Fans of such boxes will never get hold of them enough in adding at least one to every equipment of theirs. Let us look at why it helps in the audio chain of equipment and how it can be connected

The fundamental of ground box is really just to ground out the signal further – no matter how audio equipment are designed and built with grounding in mind, inherent interference from anywhere will get into the signal path at every opportunity. These include cable pickup from the air, electrical noises introduced from power supply, electrical components receiving EMI pickup so on and so forth. The vast complex nature of electrical principles happening in the entire equipment chain just presented a whole lot of instances where signal noise can be added and/or generated. These interference are not necessary perceivable noises we can or try to hear from speakers or headphones. They could suppress certain frequencies and/or raise the noise floor that ever slightly, giving rise to our perception of ‘veiled nature’, ‘muddiness of sound’ and ‘not transparent’ enough as we chase our own level of satisfaction of sound. For clarity, interference and noise will be used interchangeably here.

By grounding out the signal at different point of the signal path through introduction (connection) of the ground box at different entry path of the equipment chain, our aim is to get rid of these ‘noises’ as much as possible before they get amplified further down the link. This is the sole reason why we always strongly recommend to place the ground box FIRST at the source of your equipment. These are the DAC, CD player and turntable. Bear in mind we are talking about signal noise and less of those grounding issues that caused hisses and hums. These audible noises can only be resolved through correct grounding techniques and NOT by connecting ground boxes thinking they can magically remove the noise. It may help, but it will not clear up the inherent ground noises entirely.

Effective ground box will primarily make the sound turns out significantly more transparent in the background as a result of lowering the noise floor. This really brings out the tonality and timbre of the music where we can achieve better clarity across all frequencies. High resolving system can hear more details. But the point is, it will just sound ‘right’, not just better.

Our own version of the ground box with the Aucharm.

Aurcharm grounding box first make its appearance in our store a few years back and there have always been a lot of interest in it. With ergonomics and efficiencies in mind, we spent quite a bit of time in developing our own ground box to be better than the Aucharms.

QA Premium Audio Ground Box packed in a lot more minerals within the box to really improve the grounding effect. At almost 2kg in weight, QA ground box has managed to blend in a vast variety of high quality earth’s natural minerals together with pure conductive element. The effect is a more immediate and noticeable improvement than either one of Aucharm’s two boxes of different size.

The main physical difference we could see is the cube shape nature of the QA ground box compared to the rectangular form for Aucharm’s. The cube shape allows one to place the box in various orientations where the grounding cable can be best placed to connect to equipment – it will remain a cube in anyway.

Below: Likely placement of Aucharm grounding box is more or less limited to 1-2 position.

Below: The various positions you can place QA ground box – versatile and helpful

As mentioned earlier to have the ground box connected to the source first for best effect, turntables are the most straight-forward as they have ground jack most of the time. The included multipurpose crocodile clip can be clipped onto the ground jack or it can also be removed to reveal the banana plug. Plug that banana plug end into the ground box and secure the spade end to the ground jack of the turntable.

As CD players and DAC seldom come with ground jacks, connecting to any spare RCA ports found at the back panel is the best way of hooking the ground box to these sources. The grounding of RCA ports are all connected, even S/PDIF coaxial digital out port that took the form of a RCA. While the crocodile clip could be used to clip on to the RCA port directly, you can purchase the additional RCA-to-banana-plug cable at just S$7.90 to have a more secure connection. Just plug the banana plug end to the ground box and connect the RCA end of the cable to any available RCA port of your CD player or DAC to secure the ground connection.

Connecting to S/PDIF coaxial digital out in the form of RCA is perfect if there is no more available RCA ports behind your CD player or DAC.

After the sources, preamps are next in line for the ground box connection, followed by power amps and speakers. These subsequent equipment should follow the principle earlier of using the best type of plug for the choice of the connections. The included multipurpose crocodile clip should yield some combinations available in connecting to any available grounding post of the preamp, or it can plug straight directly to the negative post of the power amp output/speaker input. The RCA cable can be utilised here too if there is available RCA port on the preamp/poweramp.

Below: Like a turntable, certain preamps and most phono stages will have the ground post, and this is how the three main methods could be used to connect with the ground box.

At the point of power amp output, although the ground is also shared up to this point at both the negative posts, the effect of the grounding box will be improved if one box is connected to one negative post of EACH channel, instead of connecting just one ground box to one negative post of the power amp. Reason being that with the signal is at the highest level at this output end, amplified signal interference is best grounded to one ground box each. This is also why one ground box is recommended for each speaker too.

Additionally, we do have another cable that has the UK plug at one end. This cable is useful for the ground box to be used on the mains where all equipment plugs go, or basically it can be plugged onto a spare outlet of a power conditioner strip if one is being used. This has the effect of grounding out the electrical noises coming from the mains and keep all the current feeding to the rest of the equipment at its cleanest.

This cable comes with UK plug to allow the ground box to be connected to a shared mains or power conditioner strip.

So, the ground box practically has quite a number of ways and means it could be connected to your choice of equipment. Do play around with the placement and hear for yourself where it performs the best in keeping the sound to your most preferred listening! But very importantly, do take note that it is crucial to only connect ONE equipment to ONE ground box! A single ground box CANNOT BE SHARED between two or more equipment! Because this can result in the possibility of shorting out the ground paths at the wrong locations! So please do not try that with the aim of saving money as it may turn out you will spend a lot more!

A tip we would like to share when the single time you can share the ground box between two equipment is ONLY when the two equipment are not turned on at the same time. i.e a ground box is shareable between a turntable AND a CD player because, most of the time, only either one of the machine is turned on and playing. But do take note that the one equipment not being used should be turned off at its mains too. Having it on standby or off but still electrically connected may still has the possibility of introducing that feed of the AC current noise routed to the other equipment with the ground box as the bridge!

Our QA Premium Audio Ground Box is available for order here. Entirely manufactured by hand from various raw materials, up to 12 days are needed for completion. But do check with us if we have stocks available when we do make extras as and when, especially during those batches of mass order.

Upgrading the Muzishare X5 EL34 Integrated Tube Amp

Bringing our modification upgrades to the next level, we have completed testing on upgrading this beautiful Muzishare X5 EL34 integrated tube amp. It was a resounding success.

Upgrading potential is very high on this Muzishare amp. In fact, for tube amps, coupling capacitors play a huge part in the extension and spaciousness of the sounds, as much as the tubes have the greatest say in the sound flavour. Replacing over a dozen of the capacitors in X5 bring up the performance value to another notch. Importantly, this goes to say Muzishare X5 itself is already a fantastic amp to begin with.

The quality of Muzishare X5 can be easily seen from the intricately-designed and CNC-machined chassis. Beneath it, the wirings and components are similarly hefty. The capacitors this amp should be using deserved a lot more better.

There was not even a brand.

We chosen Jantzen Audio, a high end brand from Denmark, to be the major branded capacitors in our modification upgrade. The Superior Z line of their caps have been lauded as one of audiophiles favourites for a long long time and reviews of these caps have never failed to impress. Their constructions are huge for similar capacitance of lesser grade caps, if you see the before and after photo of the upgrades. Luckily, their elongated shapes make the arrangement in the tight spaces possible and logical. Other top of the line caps include Nichicon KX series, ELNA Silmic II and Vishay BC. ELNA Silmic II is renown for using silk fibres in the cap itself that will “a superior acoustic characteristics.” Nichicon KX series of caps are audio-grade in itself that will normally only be seen in upper high end range of tube amps.

The effects of these upgrades are almost immediate. X5 accepts EL34, 6L6, 6L6GC, 5881 tubes and all these tubes have great tonality of characters. But what the upgrades have aided is the ability to hear the additional smooth, silky vocals, and the spaciousness of the textured details. Leave much of the flavourings of sounds to the tubes, these upgrades presented such a clean and neutral slate akin to a clean plate for even the slightest subtlety of the food, or sound, can appreciated when being served. A few more hours of burnt-in and they open up; natural, extended and musical.


As part of the bundle to at least have the amp powered up suitably in a high standard state of operation, we are adding in one of our customers’ favourite product, the Furukawa OEM 17mm thick Audiophile Superb Clarity Power Cord FREE. Cable is 2m long to suit most circumstances of connecting. Pairing this cable with the upgraded amp ensures the amp is well-fed with clean and quality current of juice for excellent output preparation.

Do head over to the product page and read more in detail of the specifications and see more photos and place your order. Order will be shipped out in 14-18 days with ALL the upgrades done, after which you only have one job, enjoy.

Our journey

It was then a part-time sideline to satisfy the ever-growing interest in audiophile myself. Who knows serving the customers of this sideline can be an even growing satisfaction?

While there was a year and a half break in between this period to serve a greater need in my main job as a Photographer, QA was well-rested in the same duration, always having the intention to come back when a time can be right.

It was in 2017 when QA was relaunched with the entire makeover of the brand and website, with internet security high on the list of priorities. SSL was thus introduced site-wide. But more importantly, payment gateway is processed on the side of Stripe, offering even more protection to customers’ credit credentials. These infrastructures serve as a crucial foundation to build upon the trust of customers.

Yes, these are signs of growth and QA aims to grow. For those who follows QA close enough, the stop-gap period when these new infrastructures are being implemented after the break, QA was engaging in the buying service of products from various e-commerce platforms. It was a great platform tapping into consumers’ interest in the growing market then. The availability of choices and options given to consumers were immense. Too immense, though, that QA was not able to leverage on a focus group of products as well as the target audience.

Vacuum tubes. I got to bring that essence of personal belief back in. The glowing beauty of these hot glass bulbs caught my eyes and love the very first time I saw them personally. They were a marvel in decades before, and they are still a marvel now. A vintage product in the ever technology-exploding field of audio definitely should have its place now, at least in Singapore, like how the turntables are turning tables.

Too many great Audiophile products are out there in the world with superb potential yet to be discovered by a larger group of consumers, and they often lack the outlet to get hold of as well. QA is turning towards to be a source for products well-curated that can provide a positive listening experience to audiophiles. You will find audio tubes and tube amps high in our emphasis as that is what I want to be when QA is being thought of.

In 2019, our inventory had undergone some refresh, to cater to the advancement of technology, market prices and most importantly, customers’ varied choices. Performance and value were still the two factors high on our prerequisite list our products must feature in order to be profiled and offered. And we had realised our growing knowledge and experience should now value-add to serve up even more efficient and improved products.

Rising to be one of our USPs, we have begun providing modification upgrades to components in both internals and exteriors of products to push their performances even higher. Stock components can never make it in this perfection-chasing hobby/past time/profession, whatever you called it. For QA, there is no snake oil or placebo on these deemed ‘insignificant’ upgrades; we have done enough experiments to be sure to say different capacitors DO sound differently, as much as a 15-35% change in sound in relation to a tube/opamp change.

Hence there was no reason for QA not to polish gemstones further that are already unearthed when their potentials have much room to scale up. In some instances, we are confident our upgrades will even be comprising of full/re assembly and branding here fully in Singapore.

In 2020 we have successfully become the sole distributor of Muzishare tube amps from Zhuhai, China. For the first brand which we could proudly carry as our product line, it had since garnered wide interests, both locally and abroad, on the superior quality of Muzishare tube amps which shone on its high performance and affordability in compared to other brands on similar specs.

Not long after, R100, a flagship model that was offered in the choice of 211, 845 and 805 SET tubes make its way into our demo sessions. Almost all who have heard it had only positive things to say. By 2021, the improved model of R100 which included the remote control and better-included tubes was making waves in the community, while on their end, Muzishare was bringing on a EL84 tube amp for the headphone user crowd.

2021 was an incredibly busy year despite the unfortunate global pandemic. There was wider recognition for Gotham cables which QA has always been confident that they will make a stronghold for most of the audiophiles who have given them the opportunity. Positivity and surprises were the various feedback that will propel QA to populate more cables types from Gotham in the coming days ahead.

TeddyPardo then became the 3rd brand QA was pleased to have dealership with, as we sought to bring their stable and high quality LPS, not just primarily for the Naims, but also basically any other equipment that require DC votlages to the greater audience in South-east Asia. One can be definitely sure through QA is where you will be getting on hand one of the finest LPS made entirely in the Middle East with extensive warranty and sales support.

Mid 2022 is when things being planned earlier in the year materialised. Not only is Muzishare X9 finally be available for auditioning now, which keeps up the continuity in the confidence of tube amps QA had placed in Muzishare ever since, but having a dedicated space in the form of a retail shop is probably the biggest statement for that!

Having a retail store open is definitely one of the greatest milestones thus far in the history of QA, enough said. Not only has this underlined the commitment QA has placed in providing for the audiophile community, it also meant a great deal from the support QA has gathered from its customers and we fully appreciate that. So please, feel free to drop by the shop, have a chat and I hope you can enjoy a wonderful listening experience too.

There will definitely be a lot more things to look forward to but execution of plans will take time. Things change, but providing warranty support is our beliefs on the quality of products we carry and it will continue to be true. Competition is still inevitable, but we know we have more than what figures can be counted for.

8 years in and counting, it is an evolution of how QA has become, but it is always a growing phase for QA. Newsletter subscription is not in QA’s current plan, so do follow us on the various social media to keep up to date what we are busy at in giving you more performance and value for all the music we love!

How we test our vacuum tubes

We do our testing of preamp triode tubes with the Tube Imp tube tester specifically on their mutual conductance (or transconductance as some say), measured in the unit Gm. Mutual conductance is a common way of measuring, to be it simply, how much life is left in the tube, by measuring the change in plate current across the change in grid voltage. With operating characteristics from tube data widely available, we chart the readings according to what a specific tube type typically shows.

Every single tube type has their own operating characteristics; hence 12AU7’s Gm rating is different from a 12AX7’s Gm. Looking at different readings of Gms across different tube types may be difficult. So to put it simpler for you, we converted the readings into a percentile. It instantly allows the gauge of the tube’s lifespan to be so much easier. A reading of 92% simply means, theoretically, it has still up to 92% of lifespan.

The two percentage readings you see is because a preamp triode tube is actually comprised of 2 individual amplifying sections. So the reading is for one of each.

There are many talks and hearsays on a pair or quads of tubes got to be balanced/matched to sound the best. Matching only applies to the power tubes like EL34, 6L6GC, KT88, 6550 tube types; basically tubes at the output stage of the amp where current draw of the tubes are kept in similar range. Even so, amps with biasing features are totally not reliant on matched tubes to sound their best. Our tube amps like Yaqin MS-110B and Muzishare X5 have their biasing adjustment built into the amps, so unmatched power tubes are never a problem operating in such circumstances. What are the advantages then? Money is saved! Probably too much mark-up is done to tubes being sold just because they are matched. We are not saying that is not important, but if your tube amp has easy bias adjustment, there is certainly no need to spend an extra premium on power tubes being matched which we can only trust some seller to really do the matching.

With matching not applicable to preamp tubes, we then talk about them being balanced. As previously mentioned, a preamp triode tube has 2 amplifying sections in each tube. So a balanced preamp triode tube means the 2 readings within it is very close to each other. So how much of a variation is considered balanced? Well, the good news is this ‘balanced’ attribute of a preamp triode tube is actually not that a big issue in determining the good from the bad. Still, a range of not more than 15% difference between the two readings of a preamp tube is more than fine. And our tubes listed are definitely within that range.

In conclusion, do take precautionary note on getting tubes from sources that advertised their preamp triode tubes are matched, as there is no need for that as far as preamp triode tubes are concerned in audiophile devices. While balanced preamp triode tubes are desirable, if the extra premiums are paid just for them being balanced, the cheaper alternative with some slight variation is probably the better deal.

A Smooth EL34 Tube Amp for both your Speakers and Headphones

Muzishare is a brand that enjoys quite a bit of popularity worldwide. It is hard not to, when it has the design appeal and construction of a fine tube amp, and performing just as well as it looks. X5 from Muzishare possesses all that great quality and carrying the EL34s as its power tubes, we do need further decision to bring that in as the first Muzishare tube amp on sale at QA.

EL34 tube is a very versatile tube type in terms of the varieties it has for replacement and rolling. Main sound signature for EL34 is the smooth and sweet midrange it extends to the upper region of the frequency spectrums. Vocal lovers, this tube type is your best companion! Be mesmerised by your favourite artistes singing with a true presentation in front of you, probably even catching the breathing done!

Getting more details of this amp is entirely possible if better quality of EL34s are inserted in or with rolling of 6L6G/6L6GC tubes. Your listening experience may be transformed with a livelier soundstage and added crisp. If you find yourself having 5881s instead, no problem too. These military tube variants are acceptable into this Muzishare X5 tube amp as well. That is what we called flexibility.

Pre-amp section of the tube amp is driven by 2x 12AU7 and 2x 12AX7 tubes. Easily available with different brands and vintage types too, rolling these tubes will add on to the fun of creating a sound flavour to your liking!

With so many tubes available for rolling, biasing of the tubes is important to ensure the tubes put in are always operating at their best settings. X5 brings tube biasing to a great level of ease, with just a flat-head screwdriver needed. The front panel of the amp is a VU-meter lookalike that negates the requirement of a multimeter. That is the bias meter used for gauging the correct amount of current going to the tubes. There is a knob on the top of the amp on the right-hand side indicating which tube to select to while doing the bias, and that is also indicative of the reading with respect to the tube it measures off. Biasing is simply adjusting the adjustment screws on the side of the top panel respective to the tubes labelled until the needle in the bias meter points to the accepted range.

To the right of the bias meter are two fantastically-made aluminium knobs from CNC machining. Controlling the volume is a smooth act, while changing between the input settings is a solid affair. With 4 inputs selection to plug in and choose from, you can plug in a wide range of sources to play your favourite music from!

Two wonderful features of this X5 are found to the left of the bias meter. A 6.35mm headphone out ensures this amp not only powers speakers, but it can also drive headphones of any sizes and demands without difficulties at all! Dedicated tube-powered headphone amps can cost close to what this X5 is offering. At the same time, they may use tubes less commonly found for replacement or rolling. This restricts the headphone amp from performing to a variety of sound flavours.  An amp like X5 almost brings the best of all worlds in giving you one package with exceeding performance, cost and versatility.

The switch beside the headphone out is to toggle between Ultralinear and Triode mode of the amp. These two modes are common connections within the circuit of tube amps that provides different power outputs and also different flavours of sounds. Ultralinear has a high power output, i.e higher gain. It boots a higher dynamism to the sounds, like a SS amp in some sense. This mode is great for orchestra, ensemble and classical genre of music.

Triode mode on the hand has a lower power output. Volume control tends to need to be higher for similar sound level appreciation. However, this mode has an emphasis to midrange of the music. Hence it is a very popular mode chosen for vocal genres like pop and opera. Either mode can be toggled on the fly even with the music being played. A-B auditioning can be done to see which mode is preferred.

At the back panel are high-quality binding posts and RCA jacks that are bound to secure all connections hooked to them. RCA caps are provided to cover whichever ports not used to prevent oxidisation of the contacts. A voltage switch at the back allows the X5 to be usable anywhere in the wold regardless of 110v or 220v AC.

Weighing close to 18kg, the entire amp was constructed out of solid materials like steel and aluminium. The front panel is already one 10mm thick aluminium. The rest of the chassis is an enclosure well-glazed with sand-blasted glittering gloss that does not leave fingerprints. Quality of the construction extended to the cage. No tools are needed to fix it over the tubes. With a banana-plug-like feature, the cage can be affixed securely to the amp. Removing it from the socket is just as easy and quick. Brilliant!

Finally, the other piece of well-machined hardware is the remote control. Crafted entirely out of aluminium, it matches excellent with aesthetics of X5. While it only offers volume adjustment and mute/unmute operation, having that remote on your hands is undoubtedly a convenient in controlling the volumes while seated comfortably on your listening spot.

Order your Muzishare X5 integrated tube amp now!!






Warranty Service is our Top-Most Priority

One particular comment from potential customers which I got very often is that they could be getting the same item online themselves at a cheaper price.

Anyone can buy things easily online nowadays, and as an online shopper myself, I can definitely understand that in terms of price comparison.

However, striving to be a responsible online retailer and provide trust to customers, we place as much emphasis in our service and after sales support as in making prices attractive.

With our products imported from legitimate suppliers, we took out the guesswork that you may have in confronting with so many variations you see in sites like Taobao and Aliexpress. There is no need to worry about getting unreliable or mismatched item in the process of choosing one that is the cheapest. We took our own product photography; so what you see in pictures is what you get.

While you may still be getting the exact same item cheaper online by yourself, any problem you may encounter on the product later can leave you by yourself too. Even in the case of your online merchants allowing you to ship back defective items for servicing, the shipping fees incurred for that may just add up to what could be a good deal from the start becoming a costly deal at the end.

That is why one of the most important service from us is to provide warranty, for ALL of the items. Big or small, cheap or expensive, new or used (some tubes), every items we sell have got to be covered.

No worries of not able to find the person to speak to, no worries of not able to find an email to send, no worries of expensive overseas shipping fees and finding out where to ship to. Our warranty given to you is meant to just give you a simple and effortless process; just leave it to us. As long as the defect is under the scope of warranty and within the warranty period, you will get it back fixed.

At the end of the day, these are savings in our prices that will be counted in days to come. After all, values come in many forms not just quantified by figures alone, and we are always confident in that what we provide can be priceless.

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