January 19, 2012

Best Speakers 2011.

Speakers are most difficult to judge of all hifi equipments. Their interaction with a given room will determine the final outcome of the sound you'll hear.  They are also responding to the amplified signal from the power amp. Impedance/Sensitivity/Watt matching will also play it's role in the final sound one hears thru a pair of speakers.

For review purposes, most big speakers are just too bulky to lug around, but we really did try, with the help of some dealers. Odioslueth was in the mood for some speaker up grades and some of the candidates here were shortlisted. Did he buy any of these?

PMC IB2i with stand.


You can say that I am somewhat biased on my choice here which is the PMC IB2i. For me, this is an aspirational choice, should one day my ship comes to dock! The IB2i has won numerous awards in other publications and I can see(no, hear) why. It has an effortless sense of sheer musicality, lead by a tight, deep diving bass with propulsive qualities. The mid range is as full bodied and "kau-kau"(Malaysian speak for describing creamy, aromatic, thick coffee or tea) as only a special 3 inch mid range dome driver equipped pair of speakers can provide. The highs are refined and smooth, but is not outstanding either. Top to bottom coherence is the order here. This PMC images stably within a wide, open sound stage, some thing that only well designed stand mounts do with ease. It's surprisingly easy on the amps too, as Odioslueth's 60W Pass XA mono block never seemed to run out of steam(except during the most demanding of orchestral crescendos!) when partnered with the IB2i speakers. Some have commented that it looks a little dull, but my advise to them when listening to these babies is "Cover the face, fire the bass!" Ha! Ha!

Dynaudio C4.

Dynaudio C4.

I've always loved the Dynaudio Confidence range, especially the C1. We had to listen to this pair of C4s in CMY's listening room, due to it's long, heavy packing crate which would've being too difficult to move up to Odiosleuth's 2nd floor man cave! The Dynaudio is supremely transparent, and has some of the most refined, yet pristine high frequency reproduction. Mids are true to source without any sugar coating. Bass goes low and articulate enough, but seems just a little shy from diving in to the deepest octaves. Some may complain that the C4 can sound somewhat hifi-sh, but I think that's the speaker's transparency at play here, it's simply reflecting the characteristics of the equipment chain up front, or perhaps the recording it self. John of CMY Audio & Visual tells me that Dynaudio C4 MKII is on it's way to Malaysian shores soon.

Marten Getz.

Marten Getz.

Marten Getz holds joint honours with the C4, Odiosleuth is very fond of these speakers as he always mentions about them during our hifi tea sessions. I can understand why. This speakers has open and highly extended highs, sweet mids, and well controlled bass. It really does nothing wrong except if telling the absolute truth is a crime! That's how highly transparent it is. I still can't forget how seductive Stacy Kent sounds thru the Getz. The Marten Getz offers an open window to your music collection. Did Odiosleuth made them his permanent reference? Stay tuned to find out.
PMC Twenty.21.

PMC Twenty.21

The latest PMC Twenty.21 are my current favorite small/budget speakers. They are highly transparent, and come with the famous BBC LS3/5A kinda sonic cues, if only in broad brush. Again, female vocals are their forte' providing some of the sweetest voices for the below RM$10k budget range. They are easy to position in the room and offers wider than expect bandwidth, dynamic range and volume loudness from such a small foot print. At one point during the world wide press demo, this diminutive pair of 21 silenced a crowd of 30 or so mingling seasoned audiophiles, and captivated them to listen thru a few songs until the demo stopped. It was as if time stood still for the crowd and only the music mattered, even if only for just a while. The music wasn't loud at all, but just enough to fill and immerse that rather large demo area with pure music. If that's not phenomenal, then I don't know what is?

There are other speakers out there for sure, some of which are better, if not more suitable in your own room and preferences than others. I hereby list them here, in no particular rank or order,  that I've heard else where, but not formally reviewed or previewed.

1) Triangle Magellan
2) Wilson Audio Maxx 3
3) Sonus Faber Cremona Auditor
4) PMC Fact 3
5) Magnaplanar Mini
6) XTZ 99.36
7) YG Carmel
8) Franck Tchang's Super Tango
9) Linn Majik Isobarik
10) TAD CR-1

We rate the Best Power Line Gear 2011 next!


Unknown said...

All this BEST XXXX does not mean anything to a average wage earner like me. While I do appreciate the "drool" factor, how many average joe can afford this kind of BEST XXX system? eg a whopping RM120K for CD player?

Wouldn't a best of the average joe system be more practical?

Or I might be entirely wrong, if your reader ship consist of the geographical crowd which define themselves as Gentlemen/Ladies of Leisure.

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...


Buy first, worry later.

Which geographical crowd are you from?

Unknown said...

i am from the working class, who has a mortgage of 20 years, kids education to save for, monthly car repayments, folks contribution, wife contribution, monthly household expenses etc etc.

And even if I want to buy first and worry later (which I won't), I do not have sufficient revolving credit or cash to buy these "exotic" toys.

An average Joe like me, still would like a practical BEST XXXX list - at least those items are attainable by the common folks - me included.

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...


Well, I think all of us have the kind of commitments you mentioned. The difference is at perhaps a different magnitude. RM10k a month or RM100k a month is also a commitment. At best, it is relative, IMO.

For budget or entry level BEST BUYS or AWARD components, there are plenty of literature out there which we can read about. What HIFI, HiFi Choice mazagines to name a few. Also there are various online subscription that you can subscribe to.

I guess, without speaking for them, HiFi Unlimited is a BLOG about their personal HiFi journey. Naturally, the way to go is UP. As with everything else in life, there is a natural progression to things. Even if you wanted to, electronic equipment won't last a lifetime. There will always come a time when you have to "upgrade". Would you buy yesteryear's PC? Even if you wanted to, it wouldn't prove very "green" to do so.

Personally, I appreciate HiFi Unlimited's Blog postings on equipment way over my dream list. It gives a local and real world account of how these equipment perform on our local shores. If I am smitten, I can always look at their down-line models, and dream some more.

It is easy to be cynical about the value of a product but if you know anything about R&D, it is a really tedious affair. Not to mention costly as well. Pitch that against the niche market it is targeted at, it becomes even costlier. However, if one studied the amount of work done, it is really mind blowing the details which goes into an excellent product.

Instead of asking why a CDP cost Rm120k, go have a listen to it, find out what's it all about and ask yourself then, would you buy it if you had that obscene amount of money as spare cash.

Otherwise, you and I will just be activists on our keyboards.

Big E said...


Like everything else that we buy in Malaysia, and perhaps rest of the world, hifi equipment is also undergoing a familiar economic syndrome called inflation!

I consider myself an average Joe, with just as much of life's commitment as any one else too. To some folks, my system is way too high end already, and to others my system is nothing compared to theirs. So in all fairness, as Felix has so kindly pointed out, BEST XXXX is relative to what you can practically afford or aspire to.

What were rating as the BEST XXXX per say in this blog may not actually be the asbsolute best out there in the market out there today. This I know for sure! However, I must quantify that the BEST XXXX here means the best that we've heard in a given year. And please believe me when I said we ain't heard em' all yet!

We also try to cater to the entry level, or folks just starting out in this hobby, which you have said you won't(then why complain???) by including or mentioning at least one budget equipment in each category, if you looked closely enough!

There's also another way to buy hifi equipment on a small(er) budget, it's called pre-owned or used equipment. Most of my equipment are bought from the used market, as is my car!

That's why we have a section on pre-owned equipments too, some of which are still rather costly admitedly, but were once some of the BEST XXXX rated stuff too. Ha! Ha!

Thanks for reading.....