September 27, 2009

Well Matched and Excellently Done

I have been wanting to blog about this system for a while. In fact, I wanted to do this since I knew its owner more than a year ago. However, I never quite got the owner's go-ahead.

I visited this system again a couple of weeks ago, and I finally understood why the owner acquiesce to my request now. His system's performance previously was no slouch, but he had brought it a few notches up since. I was surprised by the magnitude of improvement that it has shown. That was the best ever performance that I have heard from it over a number of visists.

So here, I give you Mike Lau's hifi system.

Like many Malaysian audiophiles, Mike had his system placed in the living room. It was the most prominent feature that would attracted any visitor's attention. Since the living room was pretty spacious and opened to other parts of the house, there was no problem of echo, boominess or other ills that could afflict a system in a poorly set up dedicated room. I was simply impressed by the bass performance from this system, it was very well defined with no bloatiness or boom at all, each bass note was clearly delineated with no smearing while at the same time solid, hefty and could go deep.

Whatever acoustic treatments Mike did, he did it discreetly. There were some curtains and bamboo blinds on the wall and windows, and carpet on the floor, those were all that I could see. However, Mike did pay rather extensive attention to isolation of his equipment with various cones and platforms, you'll see some of them in the photos to come.

Mike's latest acquisition was the Ayre CX-7eMP cd player, a player that Big E and me also sang praises about just last week on this blog. I am glad to know that Mike heard and recognized the same fine qualities from this player as we did. :-)

The tranducers were a pair of Thiel CS2.4 (it saddens me to know that Mr. Jim Thiel, founder and designer of Thiel Audio passed away a few days ago). This pair of Thiel defied all the stereotypical comments about Thiel speakers that I have heard before - bright, sharp, technically accomplished but not quite organic/musical. I do not know what magic Mike had conjured up, but here I did not hear anything, none whatsoever, that would confirm these comments. Again, another prejudice debunked for me.

With the Thiel coupled to the Pass Labs XP-10 pre-amp and X250.5 power amp, the sound was very coherent and musical - we listened and listened, and if it was not dinner time, I would have stayed on and requested more.

Soundstaging from this system was impressive, the stage was nicely thrown up behind the plane of the speakers, and it was wide and had excellent depth and layering. Images were well focused and had natural body, it was not one of those thin-but-taken-as-well-defined kind of sound. In fact, it was more analogue sounding than digital.

For electricity supply, Mike used a Furutech distribution block C-TP60/20 with a Furutech cord to the wall, powercords to the equipment were the excellent JPS Labs Kaptovators and Power AC+. Being the methodical person that he is, Mike said that he had not found the power line conditioning product that could fulfill his expectation entirely, it was a win-some-lose-some proposition compared to getting the juice directly from the wall, but he is on the search. Given his past achievements in building his system, I bet when Mike found what he wanted, his system's performance would go up a further notch.

The cables that strung the system together were JPS Labs Superconductor 3 from cdp to preamp; Audioquest Colorado from preamp to poweramp. Speaker cables were Furutech Reference 3 that he was testing out at that moment.

This is one very well matched system and I was very impressed with the enjoyable sound to say the least. Mike's dedication to this hobby of ours had seen him moving his system performance from one level to another, always upward.

Excellently done, Mike!


Big E said...


Now ya know who fell absolutely head over heels for the Ayre CX-7eMP, that he bought one instantly!

By the way, great purchase decision Mike, I couldn't have found a better sounding CDP for the budget my self, unless you spend a little more for the bigger brother Ayre C5-xeMP multi player! He!He!

A little bird told me one of the HiFi Unlimited guys is absolutely smitten by the Ayre C5-xeMP! I wonder whom it could be???


GCK said...

Well done Mike! You hifi upgrade is certainly fast and furious :-)

The Wise One said...

Wah Unc Mike,

A big congrats to you! That sure calls for a celebration!(Heh heh, what a better way to sneak in a free makan!)

David said...

I don't know about the sound? But the system sure iooks good!

mikelau.2 said...

Big E,

I have you to thank for the purchase. GCK, TWO, David..thanks for the compliments. TWO, you are welcome..always enjoy tt with you.


Michael Ng said...

hi mike,

great to have visited you today. impressed with the passion you have and hands-on with your gears. will bring some nice cds on my next visit.


mikelau.2 said...

Thanks Michael,

Glad to have met you. Am still learning the finer points in hifi.