November 29, 2009

An Ode To Utopia.

The view from the throne, note the night stars just visible on the top portion of wall? It extends to all over the ceiling too.

I travelled to the southern tip of Malaysia and met up with a few like minded enthusiast. I'd like to call this system a blast from the past, as it comprises of mostly 90's vintage gear. This time round, we'd work our way back from the JM Lab Ligne' Utopia speakers. Power amp is Krell KSA 300S. Pre amp is Krell KRC-HR. This system has two sources, analog and digital. The analog front is a Kenwood turn table from the 80's vintage, mounted with Denon D103R cartridge. Phono stage is the popular Phonomena model. Digital source used is Marantz SA14 SACD/CD player.

Krell KSA300S power amp.

Krell KCR-HR pre amp.

Marantz SA14 SACD/CD player. The only new millennium equipment here.

Kenwood turn table from the vintage 80's.

The Phonomena phono stage. See those silver braided interconnects on the left? There are Ah Siang's handy DIY work, very nice!

All equipments(except power amp) sits on sand boxes plus various degrees of isolation solutions employed. Speaker cables are the very expensive MIT oracle V.4, and the owner Ah Siang, recently replaced all his exotic NBS interconnects with DIY efforts of his own. They are too many different types of powers cords involved. A Works AVR is used for power conditioning, and incoming voltage regulator.

MIT Oracle V.4 speaker cables. They cost more than my speakers!

Work AVR transformer based voltage regulator.

An assortment of room acoustic treatment employed. Note the speaker and cup like device? They are additional resonators! Just joking, I've no idea what they're for.

Rear wall diffuser treatment. Curtains make good absorption treatment too.

The system is set in to a room measuring roughly 15 x 24ft. The listening environment is decorated with lots of reflective night stars on the ceiling, as Ah Siang is a darkened room listener, creating an illusion of the open night sky inside the room. The room has also been acoustically treated to a fair degree.

A closer look at the JM Lab Ligne' Utopia speakers. Note the plexi rail and white tow ropes just below the speakers? They're to allow Ah Siang to position the speakers by ingeniously manipulating the tow ropes from the throne, so that the speakers can slide towards the front and back for fine tuning!

As coming from a big system, the sound scale is big, with warmish tonality. Bass dives deep and have great slam impact. The JM Lab Ligne' Utopia speakers reminds me of it's closeness to the qualities of the bigger Grand Utopia I heard before. The mids are fluid and have great presence. As it's tweeters is non BE, the high frequency extension is somewhat slightly curtailed. This could be seen as a good thing as Ah Siang listens to mostly 70's Taiwanese recordings via LPs, Teresa Teng comes to mind here. Most of Ah Siangs CDs is made up of mostly Chinese and audiophile music.

A closer look of the speaker from the back, the Oracle V.4 speaker cable network box sits on it's own dedicated stands.

The sound stage is wide and perception of depth is good. I do however feel that with better sources, Ah Siang may take the overall sonic performance up another notch or two. As with all systems, the status is always WIP(work in progress). Ah Siang is already talking about his plans to further refine and up grade the system! However, he is not letting the cat out of the bag yet. Let's see what happens next.


PuchongWong said...

Listening to manger second track is like having someone sawing in the room,it is eerie and scary,有点怕怕。

Big E said...

P Wong,

You mean the sewing machine and German dialogue track? Yeah! that's pretty amazing on the Focal speakers.

The Wise One said...

Hey, tell Ah Siang to try the powertrans to cut the voltage down instead of the Works power regulator. It might sound better.