August 4, 2011

Impressions of KLIAV 2011 - Conclusion

This is my last post on KLIAV 2011. It is time for me to tell which rooms were my favourites.

While many systems produced good sound quality, I’d like to pick 3 which impressed me more than the others during my visit. Each coming from a different category, they are mentioned in no particular order.

The first one is what I call a ‘Real World’ system. It is something that probably many of us could own after some hard work and some hard saving. This system consisted of the Triangle Magellan Cello loudspeakers driven with no fuss electronics - an Exposure CD player and a Krell entry level integrated amplifier.

This system came from Maxx Audio. It was playing some female vocal music when I was there. The Triangle Magellen Cello’s highs had an ethereal quality, the mid was rich and articulate, the lows was well defined and solid. The result was very musical.

The second one is what I call an ‘Aspiration’ system. Pretty much cost no object. If you can own one, you have arrived. This is the big system from CMY, it consisted of Wadia’s 4-piece frontend – the 971 CD transport, the 931 Digital Controller, the 922 mono Decoding Computers, Jeff Rowland’s Criterion pre-amp and 301 monoblocks, and Dynaudio’s Evidence Temptation loudspeakers.

This system was playing in a big room. Like all big rooms at the KLIAV venue, this one had its problems. For example, the sides were not solid walls but just stacked boxes and a curtain. Sound bled from the neighbour obscured musical details. The human traffic made the listening environment a noisy one. The space was huge, so the sound could have a little hollowness or could be a little echo-ey.

Despite having all the cards stacked against it, one word popped into my head listening to this system – Poise. The system put a grip on what it had to do and just went about producing music as faithfully as it could.

It was playing some Chinese orchestral music when I was there. A short listen might not impress because there was little hifi fireworks. But a few minutes later I was hooked. It sounded coherent, I could ‘get’ the music. There was no bright treble or boomy bass. The system actually imaged pretty well at the sweet spot. I also like the grand scale that it conjured up, this big system did sound big.

My third favourite system is a ‘Special’. It is special because it was the only system in the entire show that was not set up by a distributor or dealer, but by an enthusiast. And let me ask, other than JoKi, who would have the daringness, not to mention the stature, to put one's own system out in a new environment and let thousands of people listen to and scrutinize it, not making a buck in the process, but all in the name of just sharing our common love for hifi and music?

JoKi’s LS3/5A based system has been the mainstay of the KLIAV for many years. It has become a must-listen for many. This year, the frontend was changed to the Bryston BDP-1 and BDA-1 media player and DAC, and the amplification to FM Acoustics.

As always, this was a very musical system. Many visitors just sat down and were attracted to stay for longer. I was treated to a track with just a male voice and solo guitar. Each pluck on the guitar had excellent transient attack and speed, followed by the harmonic richness of the note. The vocal was imbued with emotion. The system also portrayed pretty good air and ambiance. I’d love to visit him at home and listen to this system again in its original habitat.

So that was my KLIAV 2011 experience.

I realized later that I had missed a few rooms with interesting products such as the Orpheus + Ktema room and the Vitus + Marten room. I was too rush. Well, there is always next year.


Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...


Your views are my views! :-)

The orpheus + ktema room - Love the looks but I suspect seriously insufficient run-in. It sounded dry, boxy, out of the box sound with little low extension. Great dynamics and punchy. Obviously one which promises great performance. Especially given the price tag. I listened to it on Friday and Sunday.

I was very amazed with the cables used in the Dynaudio room. Diminutive with big sound. Liveline cables were they?...

OdioSleuth said...


Glad to know we share similar views. :-)

The cables in the big CMY room were indeed Liveline by Franck Tchang of ASI.

Interesting construction method, as in mixing different types of metal in series (!), as I gathered from a post in the Hifi Avenue blog.

I missed the Ktema/Orpheus room. This system somehow seems to polarize opinion.

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...


Yes, the nice guys at CMY explained that there are 5 different materials connected in series in the Liveline cables. I was very intrigued by its small size but "big" performance.

The Ktema is definitely unconventional. Design wise, it's nothing I've seen before. So obviously, it's either a love or hate scenario, IMHO. Some might be sold by it's good looks and price tag. While I like how it looks, I was convinced only of its dynamic capability and punch. If I have a chance, I would definitely go for a listen again. It is an interesting product no matter how you look at it. Pricey too.