April 30, 2012

On The Cutting Edge, KEF Concept Blade Arrives!

The KEF Concept Blade speakers represents the company's state of the art design philosophy with cutting edge technology.

Perfect HiFi has brought in two pairs of KEF Concept Blade speakers in to Malaysian soil. There's the white pair that SF Lam wrote about in his blog earlier which has since been sold. I arrived to Perfect HiFi's IOI Mall's first floor showroom over the weekend only to catch the piano gloss black finished pair in action, powered by Audio Research pre/power amp combo and DCS Puccini CD player as digital source.
The Concept Blade uses the distinctive Uni-Q Single Apparent Source mid range and tweeter drivers in front while utilising 2 pairs of push-push side firing woofer on the sides, which looks very much like those also used on the latest R series speakers! Study the interesting speaker design from the transparent cut out diagram above. 

The sound of the KEF Blade Concept was nothing like I've ever heard from the company previously. Feed by capable amplification and distinctly capable source, the Blade projected a wholesome natural sound field. The 2 pairs of push-push side firing woofers on each side panel put out highly accurate and distinctive bass quality, matched by the coherence of the Single Apparent Source of the latest Uni-Q driver in front, which takes care of the mids and high frequencies. Here is a pair of speakers that more than justifies it's high tech, flagship status.

Go on, sample the cutting edge of sound quality, call Andy Tan of Perfect HiFi at 019-2112566, for demo appointment.

April 27, 2012

TEG's New Jaya One Showroom.

The Experts Group, authorised distributor for B&W loudspeakers for Malaysia and Singapore, have moved their showroom to an alternative location, still within Jaya One commercial building. Their previous showroom accessible from the basement parking is no more.

TEG is now located at No.72A, Jalan Universiti, Jaya One, Block J, Unit 29-G(Ground Floor), 46200 Petaling Jaya Selangor. Alternatively, just look for the Wendy Burger outlet in Jaya One and you shall see the new B&W showroom just a few doors further down.

Here are some pictures of the new showroom:
TEG store front with the Bowers & Wilkins sign.

The iPad/Phone/Pod corner, with various B&W Zeppelin and head phone products. 

B&W takes their association with the Abbey Road and Lucas Film studios rather seriously.

The lifestyle demo area for those with compact living aspirations.

This is the serious hifi demo area! Note the latest B&W PM 1 speakers in the fore ground. TEG also sells Arcam, Rotel and T+A electronics.

A full range of Olive Digital Media Players are on demo here too.

More B&W, Olive demo.

BDI hifi/AV rack in natural walnut finish. These racks are customed designed to fit modern living interiors for good sound, discrete wire routing and equipment ventilation in mind.

Even the center speaker is accommodated inside a pull out drawer with sonically transparent grille mesh. That's BDI rack design details.

More BDI concept hifi/AV rack.

The jewel of the showroom, the latest B&W 802 Diamond speakers. Driven by top flight Classe pre/power amp combo, sourced by Olive Digital Media Player and XLO Signature 3 range cables, the sound is highly involving, and pleasing to the ears! Now this is how real high end diamond tweeters should sound like, room acoustics aside!

Ixos loose cut cable reels are also available.

Raj is the showroom guy, posing with the B&W CM series speakers.

If you can't find the place or just wanna call Raj for an enquiry, dial this no. 03-79568989 for assistance.

April 25, 2012

Mark Your Calenders For, KLIAV Show 2012.

This year's KLIAV Show would be held from the weekend of 20th(Friday) - 22nd(Sunday) July 2012, at the same spot in JW Marriott hotel in Kuala Lumpur. The show's opening times are:

Friday, 20th July: 11.00am - 7.30pm
Saturday, 21st  & Sunday, 22nd July: 10.00am - 7.30pm

While this year's main theme is affordable big screens and state of the art 4K resolution projection system demo, which is on the AV side of things, stereo hifi fans would not be left out, as Dick Tan, Organising Chairman of the show, says hifi demo presence have been on a steady rise in the last few years and expects more for this year.

So, plan ahead and support our very own show, please mark your calenders now!

April 22, 2012

Doing The Double Take!

Double Take's re-union concert, held last Saturday, at the Bentley Auditorium was titled 1 Voice, 6 Strings, 12 Years. I was wondering how am I gonna keep my self interested for 90 minutes on a stage with just Mia Palencia and Roger Wang's guitar only?

It turns out I needn't worry at all. It was a highly entertaining concert. Mia had great stage presence and could carry her voice with a level of confidence that's rare in Asian show biz. And like any finely aged scotch, her voice has a naturally deep, yet transparent tone. Roger Wang's guitar style needs no further introduction, and when they perform as the Double Take duo, there's a certain undeniable chemistry that exist between them.

For me, the most enjoyable part was the Micheal Jackson medley act, which had Roger starting on various MJ tunes with his guitar and Mia has to sing it out impromptu! Needless to say, well rehearsed or otherwise, it was one mighty fun act.

The 90 minutes passed really fast and before we know it, Mia was already telling us that it's the second last song, and if we in audience wished to clap, sing along or let our hair down, now's the time! By the time the last song ended, Mia and Roger entertained us with one last encore!

I'll leave you with some pictures of the night.
The Bentley Auditorium at night.

Pop Pop Music is the Premier Chinese Jazz Movement.

Double Take CD sales were brisk that night.

Pop Pop Man, Leslie reminding the audience about observing concert etiquette.

Mia & Roger starting the concert, note the BOSE speaker system in between the two of them, which was rather odd, but it sounds good nevertheless.

Mia sings!

While Roger plays.

Roger proclaims "after 12 years, they finally decide to give me a mic!"

More Mia in action.

It was worth a night's out. My other half says we should do this more often!

April 19, 2012

Magic, O!

We gathered that our local Magico dealer, Audio Image, had delivered a few pairs of Magico Q3 and Q5 so far. We were very interested to listen to a Magico Q3 or Q5 based system, and as luck would have it, we received an invitation from a new Q5 owner, whom we shall refer to as ST, to have a listen to his system. What a pleasant surprise! It is not common that a highend audiophile opens his door to strangers like us, so we are very grateful for ST's generosity.

And so it was, a few of us descended on ST's bungalow on a Saturday afternoon. After the introduction, we were promptly led up a few flights of stairs into his listening room. ST appreciates the finer things in life, he told us that in addition to excellent sound quality, he also wanted his hifi system and his hifi room to look good, as after a long hard day, when he comes into the room to wind down and relax, he wants to enjoy not just glorious music but also beautiful sight, as such the equipment and the room deco must be pleasant too. Well, after my time in ST's listening room, I am certain he has achieved what he wanted on both counts - hifi and eye-fi.

I'll let this series of photos do the talking:

The system view.
Due to the number of equipment in the system, ST has positioned them in two layers. The front layer, which you can see in this shot, consists of the frontends and pre-amp. The second layer behind, hidden from view, consists of the monoblocks and power conditioner.
The room was designed and constructed by Centre Circle Audio. It has a nice and warm ambiance. It is acoustically treated with wood panels and Auralex's acoustic treatment material, both nicely incorporated into the design itself. In the photo above, the wood panel behind the loudspeakers with its uneven surface acts as a nice acoustic diffuser. Auralex bass traps are installed at the corners, together with Auralex sound absorbing foams at the sides of the loudspeakers (the burgundy coloured material).

A wood panel acting as diffuser is installed on the ceiling. If you look closer, you'd notice that each square in the panel has different depth, following the quadratic residue sequence approach used in many sound diffuser products.

The digital frontend is a Simaudio MOON Andromeda top loading CD player with separate power supply (not shown)

The analog frontend is a Clearaudio Innovation turntable...

...with a Clearaudio Universal tonearm and a Transfiguration Orpheus MC cartridge...
...and Simaudio MOON 310LP Phono Amp & 320S Power Supply
The pre-amp is the 2-piece Simaudio MOON 850P, the top dog in Simaudio's line-up

The monoblocks are the best that Simaudio offers - the MOON 880M, which give out 800w per channel into 8ohm, double into 4ohm.
Doing powerline conditioning and protection duty is a Shunyata Triton, seen above at the centre of the shot, flanked by the 2 monoblocks.
At the end of the chain is the majestic Magico Q5, 176kg/387lbs of aluminium chassis and more

To match his top notch equipment, ST does not skimp on cables. He uses mainly JPS Aluminata. Seen here are the Aluminata powercord, interconnect and speaker cable which go in and out of the Simaudio MOON 880M monoblock.
Other than JPS Aluminata, there are a couple of Shunyata powercords, the Python Helix and Anaconda Helix, which you can spot in the monoblock-powerline conditioner photo before (the ones with green and red plugs)
The JPS Aluminata speaker cable that goes into the Magico Q5

ST also uses hifi accessories to fine tune the sound. Here we see the Harmonix Tuning Spike Base under the Magico Q5. In fact, ST is so big with Harmonix Tuning Spike Base that he has 12 sets in his system, installed under almost every piece of his equipment
ASI's resonators are used to tweak the acoustic property of the room. This one is placed at the top corners of the room

More resonators from ASI. These are installed at the centre of the front wall

The more eagle-eyed among you would notice that ST prefers to stick to the same brands for his equipment - almost all his electronics are from Simaudio, and almost all his cables are from JPS. He told us that he preferred such an approach because he could be confident that there would be no mismatch issue with equipment coming from the same brand. I cannot fault such a philosophy, it will indeed take away much guesswork when putting together a system.

After just a short listening, I loved the tonal beauty of this system already, which I recognized as a beguiling quality common to the Magico line. I heard the same beautiful tonal colour from other Magico models, such as the V2 and V3, in the local dealer's showroom too. Just that the Magico Q5 in this system conveyed this quality more clearly and more prominently than the dealer's system. The system also sounded dynamic, fast and detailed. Both ends of the frequency spectrum were very extended. Bass featured prominently in the mix, it brought much exceitement to the listening experience though it could be just a bit overwhelming at times. The overall sound was not the thin and analytical kind, instead it had excellent body, a nice bloom and sounding simply musical. The sound was also non-fatiguing for long hours of listening.

Listening to this system is a joy. ST, thank you for your hospitality, we had a truly memorable weekend.

April 17, 2012

Doing The Double Take, Do Join Us!

I've got their CDs, I am a huge fan of Roger Wang, and I love Mia Palencia's voice. I am doing the Double Take gig, I am brimming with excitement actually. Please note the time, date and venue of the reunion concert on the poster above!

Picture taken during their KK gig last Friday!

Got your tickets? Hifi Maverick told me that as of today, there are still limited seats left. So if you've been deliberating, here's your last chance to grab those tickets.

Tickets are available from all Victoria Music and Rock Corner outlets, or buy online at www.airasiaredtix.com.

See ya all this Saturday!

April 16, 2012

Audio Research Reference 5SE Is Now Here, At Perfect HiFi.

Audio Research Reference 5SE pre amp, from a long line of distinguished excellence.

Andy of Perfect HiFi tells me that the latest Audio Research Reference 5SE pre amp is now on demo at their Wisma MPL showroom in KL. The rest of the latest Reference series is on the way.
Quantum by Nordost, seen here is the Qx4 power purifiers.

Quantum Qv2 AC Line Harmonizer.

While at Perfect HiFi, do check out the latest Quantum power distribution poducts, developed by Nordost. I've seen/heard a few buddies use them with much amazement. One thing is for sure, they highly polarise opinion. We sure hope to get a taste of these Quantum stuff soon.

Contact Alvin at 03-21421693 for demo appointment.

April 13, 2012

Yo! Greatness. YG Carmel Loudspeaker.

The YG Carmel in my man cave.

I had admired the YG Carmel loudspeakers since their demo, driving by all Nagra electronics during the last KLIAV show. Even during the hostile show environment, the baby YGs manages to shine, with a captivating "golden" tonality. When Mr Aw of The Audio Store told me that I am to bring these gorgeous babes home, I just couldn't refuse, challenging logistics aside.

You see, each of these all aluminium compact loudspeakers weights 40kgs or so, despite the diminutive 1 meter tall slim tower design. It needed the strength two strong men to bring them up to my first floor man cave. The Carmel looks like the sort of speaker that Darth Vader himself would buy, in it's all black anodised enclosure. From certain angles, these YGs actually does have lines similar to the Star Destroyer! In my man cave, it certainly matched the all black chunky styling styling of my Pass Aleph 0 mono blocks. This Carmel is a two way design, using a Scanspeak ring radiator tweeter and that top of the line Scanspeak Revelator paper cone mid/bass driver, popularly used in other high end speaker designs too.
Darth Vader himself would buy this YG speakers to match his Star Destroyers! The non-parallel surfaces serves to break up internal resonances and back wave.

The YG Carmel is easy to set up in my room, due to familiarity and an unfussy quality inherent in the speakers it self. I tried moving them a couple of inches up and down from the usual position that usually works. I ended up placing the Carmel 42 inches from the rear wall and 18 inches(measured from the corner of the front panel) from the side wall in my 10 x 12ft cave. Due to the speaker's strong low end response, I had to place them 2 inches further in to my room than usual. I also plug the speaker cables to the top(tweeter) terminal rather than the bottom(mid/bass), bi-wire able terminals. The YG Carmel rest on three threaded and adjustable floor pointed spikes, which I leveled out in my room.
The review pair is serial no. 85. Note the WBT style speaker cable terminals for bi-wiring or bi-amping. I used my Siltech Classic Anniversary 550L jumpers to match my resident Classic Anniversary 330L speaker cables.  

With a rated 87db sensitivity, the YG Carmel required me to turn up the volume level more than usual, compared to when using my 89db rated PMC Fact 8 loudspeakers. However, my 75W rated Pass Labs never sounded like it was struggling to power the YGs. In fact, with the YG's in my system, I heard greater bandwidth, higher linearity and more transparency. There's seemingly never ending head room built in to these speakers, because at volumes when my Fact 8 starts to sound harsh, encouraging me to back down, the Carmel just goes on and on, which is especially nice when I indulged in the heaviest rock/metal tracks, like those from Guns & Roses and Metallica. Even when at near concert like volume settings, the YG's never sounded like it's on the edge, there was never a trace harshness, or woofer bottoming out symptoms.

Tonality wise, the YG is chameleon like, which is rather true to source, as that it reflects the sonic character of the up stream components, such as amps and sources, as in true to the recordings played. Like I mentioned earlier, the YG powered by all tubed Nagra electronics during the last KLIAV gave an impression of "golden" hued tonality. I never heard any kind of "goldenness" in my system. With my all solid state Pass Labs amplification, the YG put on a more direct, and neutral tonality, if still a little on the warm side of things. I say neutral not as in the clinical kind, but more of the "get out of the way" kind, if ya know what I mean?
This is an excellent audiophile quality pop/vocal album. Maeve O'Boyle has that scotch soaked, dark, throaty vocals which makes her songs sounds that much like her life's experiences.  

Initially, the Carmel had highs that were a little sticky around the tweeter, a sign that the review pair of speakers was not fully run in. However after two weeks of continued playing had the tweeter opened up like a blooming petal. The highs had a softly, gently, cultured quality that is presents music in a slightly darker than usual back drop. The highs wasn't the kind that particularly grab one's attention, yet all the details, and subtle elements that make music so much more realistic is there for your discovery. If any thing, I rather call this YG highly coherent, from the highs to the mid bass driver.

Again, the mids were initially a little shut in, but that quality disappeared with time. I observed that the mids are probably not as beguiling or voices don't come across as attractive as my resident Fact 8, but that's a Brit thing. If I had to make a judgement call, the YG is probably the more reserved and uncoloured in it's mid range character but likely to be the more accurate sounding of the two. Please don't mistake my above judgement by implying the YG is a dull speaker. Far from it, in fact that earlier mentioned coherence factor goes a long way the tweeter hands over to the mid/bass driver that is one of the most seamless I've heard till date.

The YG earns extra brownie points in it's bass department. Though spec to deliver no lower than 35Hz, it actually sounds like it's diving lower, kicking harder and delivering healthier bass output, which makes the PMC Fact 8's spec look rather optimistic.  As a sealed box design. which usually sacrifices sensitivity for bass accuracy, I think YG made a well judged call on this matter of compromise. The bass response never overwhelmed the other reproduced frequencies higher up, or boom in my small room. It is always well controlled, even at rock concert like play back volumes.
The Scanspeak ring radiator tweeter, housed inside a shallow wave guide, and the 7 inch mid/bass Revelator driver sound seamlessly coherent. That star grille is attached by embedded magnets. 

I played all kinds of music thru the Carmel and always experience different sonic character based on the recording. If a recording is warm sounding, like Linn Record's All My Sins, performed by Maeve O'Boyle, than that's what you'd get. If it's an excellent piano recording like Black & White by Danny Wright, then the grandness of scale in the piano is portrayed vividly. Danny's piano play uses a lot of staccato techniques for an exciting effect, and the YG's delighted in it's performance. As the "worldly" Eminent Monk commented, a speaker that could deliver riveting piano performance like this, is what separates a pair of great speakers from the merely good.

Demure in size, but projection of scale is somewhat larger than life, in typical American high end fashion, reminding me the likes of Wilson Audio. This YG speaker will project an illusion of sound stage that is larger, with much depth and layering effect, if recording permits.  The YG sometimes made me feel like I am listening to the limits of my system, rather than the limits of it's own. It certainly deserves to be partnered with the best amplifiers and sources available, for best hifi experience.

Another look at the YG Carmel, also available in anodised silver.

It is always a headache when one sets up a high end system in a small room. What speakers does one choose to partner with the best CD players, and amplifiers? One can choose a small reference grade stand mount, at the expense of reproducing the lower frequencies. Or one can choose a high quality, small foot print, un-obtrusive nearly full range floor stander like this YG Carmel, priced at a whopping RM$53,600.00/pair. This is small high end speaker performance at it's finest available today, and that I do not doubt the YG Carmel one bit.

YG Acoustics is sold by The Audio Store, contact Mr Aw at 03-78872233 or 019-2682559.