January 30, 2011

A 3 In 1 Audio And Video System.

Don't we all like 3 in 1 instant noodles and coffee, just because it's so convenient and taste rather good? How about a 3 in 1 A/V system? Rashid has been an audiophile since the days when turn tables was the music format of choice. Then the not so "Perfect Sound Forever" CD came to dominance, which Rashid had also adopted. Lately came computer audio, which once he had listened to the good Doc's system(see my posting about Doc's system titled "The Future Is Now" on the home visit tag), also quickly adopted. Well, how else can you get 3 in 1?

To complicate matters Rashid is also a movies guy, so the system must accommodate this wish too. In other words, this system does it all with discerning quality! Now where do we start?

Let's start with the dedicated AV room which measures 14 x 21ft, which is highly treated on every surface. All the room treatment was designed by Rashid himself. He is also a firm practitioner of isolation, with very precise and meticulous placement of cones and isolation racks. Rashid and his buddies are also avid cable DIY-ers, where they make all their own power cords, interconnect and speaker cables with excellent workmanship that results in factory like termination and finishing. Rashid is also big on Furutech wall sockets and ORB GG-8 high end power tap.
The view from the throne. There's a motorised roll up/down projection screen mounted on the front wall. When Rashid feels like music, the screen is rolled up, and is not visible.

The hard charging Eggleston Works Andra III.

Rashid's speaker choice is the Eggleston Works Andra 3, which has since relegated his previous Sonus Faber Concertino to center and surround roles in the AV system. He tweaks his speaker with an X-cap like tweak to smooth en the high frequency response.
The bi-wired speaker cables, with X-cap tweak for the high frequencies.

Sonus Faber Concertino speakers for AV center chanel...........

And surrounds!

The Linn Sondek LP12 turn table.

Threshold phono stage & Pioneer LX-52 Blu-ray player, tucked just beneath the turn table.

His turn table of choice is the venerable Linn Sondek LP 12, equip ed with the original Lingo power supply and an Audio Technica AT33 MC cartridge mounted on the Ittok LVII arm. A Threshold phono stage amplifies the cartridge signal.
Krell KCT pre amp and FPB 450 mono block power.

A Krell KCT pre amp takes the signal from the phono stage, CD player and out board DAC and passes them on to a pair of Krell FPB 450 mono block power amps, which runs in class A mode. It runs so..... HOT, I heard the heat sink ticking away as the heat stresses the metal.
Dedicated single phase, direct power to the room with circuit breaker box(left) and all Furutech wall sockets.

The ORB GG-8 High End Tap powers the whole AV system.

Top shelf, Theta Basic CD transport. Middle shelf, Wyred 4 Sound DAC 2. Bottom shelf, Krell Showcase AV processor.

A Theta Basic CD Transport feed digital signals to a Wyred 4 Sound DAC 2, which also receives digital signals from a Dell laptop for his latest computer audio craze. An external hard disk of 1 terabyte supplies all of Rashid's ripped CDs in native 16/44, and also 24/96 or 24/192 down loaded hi-rez files. Rashid uses J-Rivers music player software for his computer audio. An interesting feature is the Wyred 4 Sound DAC 2 also comes with a built pre amp to directly drive the pair of Krell mono blocks, which he also demonstrated.
Proceed power amps for AV center & surround chanels.

A Dell laptop running Windows 7 OS and J-Rivers music player software, with 1 terabyte external hard disk supplying a library of 16/44 rips and 24/96, 24/192 hi-rez downloads.

A 19 inch monitor mounted next to sofa for easy reference.

The main music source now are all here and it's digital!

The sound of this system is big, bold and can be beautiful, when the source allows, due to the system's highly revealing nature, it's really GIGO(Garbage In, Garbage Out) here. With well recorded music materials, such as Reference Recordings classical works, the system truly shines. It has fast transient response and dynamics scaling capabilities which few systems can match. This is not a system to pussy foot around with by playing sentimental sweet nothings. It does vocals relatively well too, if only a slightly forward high mid, a.k.a. the presence range will always put the vocals forward, should the singers on the CD's are too closely miked. Clearly, this system doesn't suffer for fools. This is one system that gets out of the way and let the music speaks for it self, for better or worse.

The sound stage is big and imaging is solid, with room filling spatial cues. That's the sound we heard from the CD source. The sound from the computer audio is a little different. While the computer audio had a similar tonal quality and sonic signature compared to his CD based system, it nevertheless had an anaemic and somewhat analytical quality to it. The music just doesn't seemed flow as freely as the CD based source. We did not get to hear Rashid's LP collection on his Linn LP12, due to time constraint. Further more Rashid says he seldom listens to LP anymore and that his turn table might be due for some up grades.
An overhead mounted JVC D-ila projector for excellent picture quality.

The system's AV capabilities are first class, with great picture quality from the AV Designs installed JVC D-ila projector, operating on standard 16:9 screen ratio with a retractable screen in front. There's a Krell Showcase AV processor as the heart of the system, with Proceed power amps powering the center and surround chanels. An interesting AV feature here is the use of two sub woofers, a Yamaha unit placed in the front and a Sonus Fabers unit placed near the sofa, a.k.a. the throne at the back of the room.
Room treatments on the back wall.

Ceramic cable lifters for routing cables.

A book shelf full of CDs, Rashid's physical library.

Ceiling treatments.

Corner traps.

When I ask Rashid what he felt can be improved in his system?

He replied that he is still looking for a better computer audio source, which I humbly pointed out the Bryston BDP-1/BDA-1 combo for his consideration.

He also feels that there's still more could be done with his room treatment. Perhaps any eagle eyed readers can make suggestions on this department here, in the comments section?

January 28, 2011

10 Qs For Andy Duffield, Sales Manager ROW, PMC Loudspeakers.

This is the second time I am talking to Andy Duffield of PMC speakers. I first met him during the 2009 KLIAV Show, when he was here to launch the Fact 8 model, which I eventually bought as my daily pair of reference speakers(which proved to be a highly controversial choice!).

Andy had just stepped in to his position then, but this time round, he is able to provide us with a whole lot more insight about what goes on behind the doors of PMC loudspeakers.

Andy with the big bad PMC boy, MB2-XBD active speaker system.

Big E: Hi! Nice to meet you again. For the benefit of our newer readers, please tell us some basic info about the PMC loudspeaker brand and company?

AD: PMC is based in Lutton, about 30 kilometers north of London. We have 34 staff working in the plant and most of our products are destined for major recording studios around the world, like Teldec, Sony Music, and WMG(Warner Music Group) amongst others . Many world class musicians, like Stevie Wonder, Robbie Williams and the artist formerly known as Prince, only work with the use of our monitors in the studios and their home audio system.

Domestic hifi loudspeaker has been our secondary market for a long time, but I can tell you that things are changing this year, PMC's 20th Anniversary as a company. We'll be coming out with a series of 20th Anniversary and Signature models to celebrate the occasion!

Big E: You mean near Lutton Airport? Care to tell us more about PMC's founders Peter Thomas and Adrian Loader?

AD: Yes, our factory is situated just at the end of the Lutton airport's runway. Peter was working in the Specifications Dept. at BBC and Adrian Loader was a console supplier to the BBC. They were good friends and serious audiophiles who shared a view that no loudspeaker could satisfy their needs at the time. They look at it from both ends, the professional(powerful dynamics but poor refinement) and the domestic hifi(very refined but lacks excitement of live music) sectors. They wanted to make a speaker that could do it all!

In the 1980's like the rest of British institutions, BBC was privatised. That led to many departments being closed and jobs cut. It was this time that Peter and Adrian started PMC loudspeakers in 1991.
The classic PMC LB-1 speaker is a highly successful model, too bad there will be no re-issues for the company's 20th Anniversary occasion.

Big E: With PMC's 20th Anniversary, would you be re-issuing the PMC LB-1 Anniversary speakers?

AD: It's funny that you asked, because our dealer in Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong asked exactly the same question! And the answer is no. I would agree that the LB-1 is a very good loudspeaker, but we are unable to find parts to build them anymore. We have however designed the PMC Fact 3 as the spiritual successor to the LB-1. Actually the Fact 3 has benefited from newer design knowledge and parts quality improvement, which makes it a better loud speaker.
The PMC presentation session of the MB2-XBD, and other top active speaker systems.

Big E: Despite PMC's success in the professional field, I've found that since owning the Fact 8 loudspeakers, that many of my audiophile buddies don't really know much about the PMC brand or it's products. How do you plan to address that?

AD: I'd agree that our brand is kind of an open secret, it's like a secret branch of the audiophile society. People would hear a PMC based audio system, and they would say "it's a PMC, but shh.......!"(Andy did this in a whispering tone) I think this is one of our problems, and it's our own fault that we may have not done enough on the marketing side of things, to communicate with our target market, the audiophiles and quality conscious music lover. We would improve our communications with our targeted audience for sure.

Big E: In the crowded high end loudspeaker market, how does PMC plan to differentiate it self from the other players?

AD: There's a two pronged strategy we plan to employ. One, we'd like to leverage on our success in the professional side of things. Let our customers know that should one demand the most truthful speaker, such as those used by professionals on the job of recording, mixing and mastering, then PMC should be right up there amongst the considered candidates. Two, did you know that PMC is the only loudspeaker manufacturer that still use Advanced Transmission Line for the basis of bass reproduction? I know there were other manufacturers doing it previously, but it's only us now, as most have either gone out of business or have given up on the transmission line designs.

Big E: Regarding transmission line designs, most experienced audiophiles tend to react rather negatively to them, they would either complain about bloated or muddled bass from such design, even before listening!

AD: Like I said earlier, there were other loudspeaker manufacturer who made transmission line design based products. Some do it better than others, and many audiophiles may have experienced poor examples of the design due to a myriad of factors, including poorly set up systems or inferior loudspeaker design amongst others. All I can say is with today's computer aided designed and simulated loudspeakers, PMC's Advanced Transmission Line products are much more refined and exact in execution than all the previous older designs. I urge our customers to hear our demos and judge for themselves, without any prejudice if possible.

Big E: Which other loudspeaker manufacturer does PMC most admire?

AD: I would say B&W, as they are the biggest loudspeaker manufacturer by market size, everybody in the business would likely be using them as a benchmark of sorts. B&W has a sales turn over 10 times of PMC's! I would like to add though that B&W is more of a mass market manufacturer, by offering entry level and lifestyle products manufactured off shore(in the Far East), while covering the top echelons of the market as well. PMC on the other hand will only build high quality products in the UK, which I think is our strength given our target market for high quality loudspeakers.

Big E: I can see much modifications to the Bryston supplied amplifiers and electronic x-overs for the MB2-XBD active loudspeaker package. Are they built in Canada by Bryston to PMC specs, or does PMC modify them in house in the UK?

AD: All the electronics supplied by Bryston are modified by hand in our UK factory. The reason we modify them is "NOT" because we think the Bryston stuff is no good, but Peter Thomas is the sort of a guy who'd always like to push a concept further. He sees much room for modification to suit our loudspeaker design requirements, like parts tolerance matching, removal of certain non critical, but signal degrading circuits and beefing up the power supply section for example.

Big E: Then why not build your own electronics from scratch?

AD: I think Peter would be in much better position to answer that! However I think it's due to our long working relationship with Bryston. Why try to re-invent the wheel, when there's already a very good working example? But we do try to tweak the electronics more to our loudspeaker design requirements, I think.

Bryston by PMC electronics. A pair of these stack comes with every pair of MB2-XBD, including all the matching interconnects and loudspeaker cables!

Big E: There's a trend towards offering custom paint jobs and other finishes for loudspeaker designs, to make them more decor friendly. Is PMC venturing in to that direction as well?

AD: We're British! So we're naturally more conservative. PMC prefers to sell our products on sound quality above all, rather than emphasize on the decor friendly aspect. However, we would consider making custom finishes available for our highest loudspeaker models as an extra cost option. For example, recently we made a pair of BB5 XBD-A for a middle east client who wants the loudspeakers finished in the same colour to match his Lamborghini.

I would also like to mention another trend in the absolute high end speaker market, and that's active loudspeaker systems. I was in the Munich High End Show and saw many new designs of the active variety. Looks like an interesting time for us ahead.

Big E: Thanks for your time with me. We hope to see you here again during the KLIAV 2011 Show this year?

AD: I am sure I'd be here during the KLIAV 2012.

With that last question, I make way for prospective clients of the MB2-XBD loudspeakers who are waiting in line to chat with Andy. I had certainly gained a lot of insight in to the world of BBC, recording studios and PMC from this chat session.

January 27, 2011

Ark, Brandon Perry.

Brandon Perry is the lead vocalist for the cult group named Dead Can Dance. I've not heard any of the Dead Can Dance tunes yet, but if Brandon Perry's solo work is any indication of their artistic quality, then we're in for interesting times indeed!

I say interesting because I can't really put a finger to classify any particular genre this music belongs to, but rather, there's Mood Music, Electronica, New Age, Gregorian like chants and many other facets all roll in to a fusion of explosive sound.

The CD starts of with a mysterious and moody sounding Babylon, followed by the special effects filled The Bogus Man. My favorite tracks are Utopia and The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea. There's also an interesting Jazz tinged New Age fusion track called This Boy. Brandon's singing style is largely monotonic and very slumber like, in contrast to the synthesiser generated bass heavy beat rhythm, punctuated by scores of electronica effects and pompous "Fanfare To The Common Man" like horn(quite possibly electronically generated too!) backing.

I strongly suspect that with the right kind of accompanying substance to aid and elevate one's senses, I believe this is the kind of music that one can let fly, with tales of floating bed/sofa, counter spinning ceilings, dimming lights, stars and perhaps, just perhaps, visits by angels or demons too. Not that I am promoting any kind of unhealthy activity in hifi-dom.

However, I did find long listening sessions of this 8 track CD to be musically monotonous somewhat.

The recording has crystalline quality, highly evident multi tracking, and heavy use of additional reverb to re-create the sense of spaciousness. My good buddy Jo, likes to use the Babylon track to show case his system's finely tuned bass control and tactile quality.

It's an adventure, if you seek to explore new music.

January 26, 2011

Set Up Notes And Follow Up Impressions Of The Rega RP1 Turn Table.

Rega RP1 in Cool Grey.

Following Odiosleuth's review of the Rega RP1 turn table, which I had set up at his place, I'd like to share some set up notes which resulted in the sound that he described rather accurately.

The Rega RP1 is very easy to install and therefore can be considered truly plug and play. All I had to do is to pull the semi assembled turn table out of the box, place it on a even surface, in this case, an acrylic rack that Odiosleuth had leveled previously. The cartridge is pre-mounted to the extreme front end of the head shell, so if one fiddles around and get lost, all one has to do is to re-mount it back to the extreme front end! I rounded the rubber belt from the motor pulley over to the sub platter, then mount the phenolic resin based main platter on top of the sub platter. I proceeded to attach the cartridge counter weight by pushing it all the way up the end stub of the tone arm to balance the cartridge weight, as per the instruction manual. The tracking force measured just 1.5 grams, when I checked with my resident Ortofon DS-1 digital stylus force gauge, which seemed to be on the light side compared to the recomended 1.75 grams. I proceed to listening test, but did not hear any sonic indication that the stylus was tracking on the light side, bass was still full and tuneful without that over sibilance on the highs which usually plague cartridges that tracks too light.

I heard the Rega RP-1 twice, the first time was at the Asia Sound Equipment show room, where they had demo-ed an RP1 vs the older P2 turn table, both mounted with the same Ortofon OM-5e MM cartridge. It was clear as night and day, from just 30 seconds in to the first tune, the RP1 showed that it had a lower noise floor and less white hash, or some would call it a less greyish back ground in the sound stage! The highs seemed tidier and less splashy plus the bass is better articulated compared to the more expensive Rega P2. I can clearly understand why Roy Gandy decided to shelve the P2 permanently once he introduced the RP1.

Then I heard the Rega RP1 again after setting it up at Odiosleuth's place. Comparing with his other source, which is the 13 times more expensive Ayre C5-Xe MP CD player, the entry level Rega Rp-1 did not have as much resolution, it's noise floor was higher and there were some pitch problems. However, for all it's weakness against one of the most formidable modern CD players around today, the Rega RP1 fights back with a big boned and textured sound. The mids are highly densed in a way that most digital source just find it hard to match. The Rega wasn't particularly hard hitting on the bass and dynamics department, but is rather slightly laid back quality in sound character that makes casual music listening an enjoyable task.

At the asking price, the Rega RP1 doesn't pretend(or have any intentions) to be a high end equipment, and it's honest enough to show the strengths of the vinyl format. It provides a painless entry in to the world of vinyl at a price that many of us would probably have more expensive power cords, which is unfair. Asia Sound Equipment will also sell you some upgrade parts should you wanna move up the audiophile food chain in the near future!

For the music lover, audiophile or otherwise, who wants to play music on teh tarik/roti canai budget, rejoice!

Rega is sold by Asia Sound Equipment, contact Eddie Tan at 03-79552091

January 24, 2011

CD Bible 2010

News from abroad: in the recent CD Bible 2010, an annual publication of Audiophile Hi-Fi magazine by veteran audiophile Chan Ying Kong (some sort of Penguin Guide for audiophile records), one Malaysian album made it into the prestigious listing.

Your guess is right: it is none other than 2V1G, the Made-in-Malaysia Chinese audiophile album that has been selling non-stop since its release in 2008. Over 20,000 copies sold to-date.

Congrats to Pop Pop Music for your persistence and vision.

January 23, 2011

Entry Point to the Vinyl World – Rega RP1 Turntable and Rega Fono Mini Phono Stage

Rega RP1 Turntable

What was an LP system doing in my all-the-while-digital-fronted system? Well, my hifi buddies, Big E included, have been subtly or overtly attempting to get me to embrace the glories of the analogue sound. If I get a Ringgit every time one of them asked “so when are you going to listen to LP since your new room is ready?” I’d be able to buy a pretty high end turntable by now.

Big E not only talks, but he walks the talk. He brought to my place the spanking new entry level LP system from Rega. For the beginners, Rega has thoughtfully designed a complete LP package, the RP1 system consisted of the new turntable, an also-brand-new RB101 tonearm and an Ortofon OM5e MM cartridge. Add a budget phono stage like the Rega Fono Mini and some records, you will be well on your way to analogue bliss.

Ortofon OM5e Cartridge

How much do you expect to pay for all this? How about RM1,100 for the RP1 turntable, the RB101 arm and the Ortofon cartridge, and another RM250 for the Fono Mini?

The Rega system is pretty much plug-and-play. Big E took the turntable and phono stage out of their boxes, hook up all the cables, install the cartridge counter weitght at the end of the tone arm and we were good to go. For the rest of its stay at my place, I did not have to do any adjustment. That sure took a lot of anxiety away from an LP novice like me.

Rega RB101 Tonearm

I am not exactly new to LP playing, I can still recall fondly the time I spent spinning my dad’s turntable in my pre-teen years. He was trusting enough to let me handle his turntable and system. Those were the more innocent days where we were not so hung-up with all the ‘audiophile’ matters. Music enjoyment was at the forefront, I remembered the songs and the occasional classical music records that we enjoyed so much. Alas, with the advent of the audio cassette, the turntable stayed silent for a long time, and one day, it was gone.

After such a long lapse, I found that I need to be reminded on the ‘ritual’ of LP playing – of such good practices as handling the record only by its edge and centre; run a brush over the record before play to clean the dust; mute the pre-amp when you lower the stylus etc.. Sigh, this sure is more convoluted than playing CD.

(Let’s not complain too much about this though, I am sure the computer audio guys could also tease the CD guys with “What? You have to leave your seat to load the music?”)

Rega Fono Mini

The more important point is “How is the sound?” Let me put this upfront –the Rega system has all the sonic footprints that are the hallmarks of an LP system. Despite its low cost, it flies the vinyl flag high!

The most obvious quality this system had was the continuity of the sound, its swell and ebb, and the transition from one note to another was continuous and smooth. There was also a natural roundness to the sound. These would be what people term as analogue sounding. To get such a thing on a CD player, I believe you have to pay big bucks, yet this Rega did it so easily.

This Rega majored on a relaxed musical flow, rather than being big on dynamics and speed. It has a sound that was easy to listen to, always musical and was never jagged or grating. The music was also portrayed with good body.

If you were a beginner who is on a budget, I can’t think of a better introduction to the world of vinyl. Do check this Rega out.

Rega is carried by Asia Sound Equipment, contact Eddie Tan at 03-79552091

January 22, 2011

A Fond Farewell To My Marantz CD7.

My Marantz CD7, now gone! But I hope it'll find the new home of ARC Reference amps as it's partners ever more fulfilling.

A few days ago, I've made a fate full decision, which may well come back to haunt me in the near future. I've decided to let go my ever faithful Marantz CD7 player. I was pretty sure it was the right thing to do, but today, as it's new cheerful owner, Mark(please take good care of the CD7) brought it out of my house and in to his car, I started to have second thoughts about my decision.

My love for the Marantz CD7 started the very day it was launched during 1999. When my buddy bought this unit in 2001, I was secretly hoping that one day, he'd up grade and it'll be mine. That very day in year 2006, my prayers were answered. From that day onwards, the CD7 had re-shaped my view and expectations of what is possible with digital music reproduction at the high end. It thought me much about that warm beguiling tonality, richness in timbre and harmonic texture, the experience of utter transparency and low noise floor. It's was a journey of discovering high end digital delight!

My audiophile life with the Marantz CD7 was mostly sweet, with only 2 occasions of sadness. The first occasion happened a little more than a year ago, when it's transport broke down, and was nearly destined for the scrap heap. Vultures were already circling over head, waiting to cannibalise it's carcass. I preserved and found a parts donor in the most unlikely Philips CDM12.4 transport. The Marantz recovered quickly and I was never happier. During it's time with me, the Marantz met with plenty of challenges from newer, better high end CD players, but my heart was never in doubt for it's capabilities. The other occasion of sadness is today, when it left my man cave.

It never crossed my mind, that I would one day make the cruel decision to abandon the Marantz CD7. Never until the un-expected arrival of hi-rez down loads. Hi-rez music files just made CDs seemed so archaic. After the brief fling, I could no longer return to CDs as an audiophile music format.

I am not sure if what seemed like a right decision today may well turn out to be so...... wrong tomorrow, that if I am gonna regret it?

Only time will tell.

January 20, 2011

PMC MB2-XBD Speaker Launch At AV Designs.

The PMC MB2- XBD Active Speaker System.

The high end speaker market is getting really interesting lately, with more and more six figure price tag candidates jostling for position in the market place. The latest to make it's appearance is the PMC MB2-XBD active speaker system. We'd call it a system because it consist of a pair of main speakers, a pair of sub woofers(PMC calls them woofers as they only supplant the main speakers which already extends down to 17Hz!), a pair of 3 way electronic cross overs, and 2 pairs of mono block Bryston amps which are modified by PMC to suit the system's requirements.
Andy explaining some of the finer features on the MB2-XBD speaker system.

Andy Duffield, PMC's Sales Manager, ROW(Rest Of World, just in case you're wondering!) was on hand to point out the MB2-XBD speaker system's advance features and provide a little bit of PMC's professional legacy in the recording studios around the world. He also pointed out the major studios in the world which uses PMC speakers for the purpose of monitoring recordings. Andy also introduced several highly successful musicians, all legends in their own right that insist only on PMC speaker systems in their studios and home audio systems.
Recognise any of these folks? The gurus of high end audio in Malaysia amongst the prospective buyers and three members of the press.

The supporting cast! When one purchase the PMC MB2-XBD Active Speaker System, one gets the Bryston supplied 3 way electronic x-overs and 2 pairs of mono block amps, plus all the necessary cables to go, especially match for the system. That makes it great value for $$$ compared to the traditional passive speaker systems at the similar price range.

The system used to demo the MB2-XBD speaker system consist of the mega buck TAD D600 SACD/CD player, Bryston BP 26 pre amp, and from there onwards the PMC modified Bryston 3 way electronic x-over and mono block power amps take over to power the speakers. A Torus Power RM16A supplies clean, isolated juice to the whole system.
The speaker system is nearly as tall as the 6 footer Andy!

Spot the difference? On the left is the PMC modified 3 way electronic x-over. On the right is the stock Bryston unit!

The 34mm fabric dome tweeter with front dispersion mesh & wave guide, especially engineered for even and wide dispersion characteristics .

The hand laminated dome mid range, which gives the PMC it's smooth, warm and transparent mid range qualities.

The 12 inch sub woofer, built on the Volt supplied spider chassis, to aid high power handling and give better heat dissipating properties.

The sound of the big MB2-XBD speaker system is effortless, will scale dynamic heights with ease and provide life like transient response to the music. It's tonally accurate, with slightly warm mid range and highly refined highs. The bass has a taut and slamming quality that'll challenge any Yankee made speakers at the highest levels. Lastly, it's frighteningly transparent and true to source! I was fortunate enough to stay back a bit and listened to some raw un-mastered, straight out of the console recordings which just blew me away! Andy could point out what the recording engineer was doing as the sound changed slightly song was being played. It was like as if we are in the recording studio console with the jamming musicians!
Andy giving Lam SF of Hifi Avenue a detailed brief of the MB2-XBD speaker system.

The PMC MB2-XBD active speaker is a very different beast altogether, and it's entry in to the high end market serves only to makes us richer for the experience. I must say, those shopping in the super high end category never had it so..... good!

Coming soon, my 10Qs for Andy!

January 18, 2011

Shunyata Research Moves To CMY Audio & Visual.

It's a new 2011 year and CMY Audio & Visual starts of with a new brand acquisition. The highly popular Shunyata Research range of power line conditioners and power cords are now available at all CMY showrooms.

An enthusiastic Odiosleuth is already on the ball! He is currently test driving the latest top of the range Shunyata V-Ray II PLC and Black Mamba HCCX 20 amps power cord. Watch out for his review to come soon.

The full range of Shunyata power line products can be experienced on demo in all CMY Audio & Visual showrooms. Or contact John at 03-21418552 for more info.

January 17, 2011

Best Music 2010.

This is the final instalment of our Best of 2010. You could say that I've saved the best for last, after all, all our prized high end audio equipment would have amount to a nought, if there's no beautifully recorded music for us to appreciate!

Most of my musical diet in 2010 is still consumed in the CD format, and some on vinyl(re-issues mostly). As the audiophile music landscape evolves towards hi-rez down loads, how much longer will CD remain as the dominant format? Only time will tell, but as we go along, here are my top 5 favorite music, so happened they are all on the vulnerable CD format, enjoy!

This Linn Super Audio Collection Vol. 4 has become my current favorite reference disc, not only because of it's pristine recording quality, but also musical integrity above all else. It's quite nearly the most complete reference disc available with a wide range of music genre, from girl guitar, female/male vocals, Jazz and various sub categories of Classical music, from choir, solo piano, chamber to large scale orchestra spectaculars.

Jz8 is still my favorite Pop Pop Music release to date. Caters mostly to more matured audiophiles with a taste of Jazz oriented Chinese pop music. Many have complained of a slightly bloated double bass on the recording, but on a well sorted out system, that's not a problem. Tey Cher Siang is a hugely talented young pianist that truly deserves our support. A genuine case of "Malaysia Boleh" at work here!

When ever I play Charly Antonili's Crash CD/LP(yes, I have both! The LP has been recently re-issued) on my system, people really sit up and listen in awe, song after song! Here's a drum kit focused recording that's musically relevant as much as it is an audiophile test disc. This CD will take one's system dynamic and transient handling abilities to the max! Are you sure your system can handle it?

Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances, conducted by Eiji Oue featuring Minnesota Orchestra is one of my favorite Reference Recordings. This recording not only captures all the dynamic crescendos of the performance, but also all the tonal beauty & harmonic richness and timbral texture of every individual classical instrument. There's never a dull moment on this CD, as I am thrilled by the roller-coaster like dynamic swings of the opening Non Allegro one moment, yet only to find my self appreciating the instrument's beauty of sound on the next slower Andante con-moto movement. The 24/192 hi-rez down loads version is now available too!

Brasileiro is the pretty and petite Z Yan singing Chinese pop tunes with a twist of Bossa. The music is easy going and certainly easy to like. The recording quality is also Pop Pop Music's best to date. Z Yan is also supported by a stellar cast of excellent musicians, like the above mentioned Tey Cher Siang on piano, Roger Wang guitar, and finally Salvador Guerzo saxophone.

Finally, I'd like to wish all our readers to "Enjoy The Music!"