I think the source is like the core of the setup, and that makes them ever so hard to judge if you do not know the in and out of the downstream rigs. But still, I'll try my best.

I got to know this brand like 3 or 4 years ago when I was just starting out to venture seriously in this music loving hobby. Anywhere I came across, there seems to be someone raving and proclaiming Vimak to be one hell of a source. However, even then, the business was no longer in operation. It went busted.

Now they come back with a bold product, the DT-600. Why bold? In this day of disposable technology, most if not all companies are using ROM drives already. Instead, Vimak used the Philips CDM Pro transport.

Anyway, the CDP is rugged and well built. And it's a CDP with a rocker's attitude. It's able to groove and rock! With its rock solid build, I guess using it as a dedicated transport would pose no problem at all!

With Jonathan Valin raving and praising the brand, how could I give EDGE a pass? I find myself agreeing mostly to Jonathan Valin, I guess he has the same taste as mine. Ops, or am I having the same taste as his?

This player is composed and put reproducing music as the utmost priority. The mids is liquid with not a hint of sibilence. The top is airy and smooth while the bass has got nothing to fault at. This is not blurry liquid nor softy smooth OK, this player has got resolution and a classy sound!

I find players at this price range to be at the best price/performance point. Players like Meridian G08 springs to mind and I really wish I have them side by side for comparison. This is gonna be on my radar when I am buying a CDP!

Nothing beats unboxing gifts during X'mas, or any other happy occasions. I was lucky enough to witness one joyous one in Aural Designs. In this case, Acoustic Zen Adagio and WLM Diva were supposed to make appearance. I could not hold my breath while looking at those huge boxes being unpacked and the speakers revealed to me! Ahhh, who could resist the exhilaration of unpacking new toys, and huge ones mind you!

WLM is a new brand to me. I wouldn't even know it if it's not for a Taiwan mag. It is a new brand conceived in 2002, with such long Austrain musical history, you can be assured to see the Austrian products more later. Anyway, the speakers were not setup properly and still new. However, one would not fail to notice its potential on first listen. The sound was extended at both extremes and fast. This speaker was about speed and agility, there was this freedom with the sound coming out from the speakers. I can foresee this speakers to excel at playing orchestral work!

Hey, do read the manual before proceeding in setting up the speakers. The Taiwan reviewer found it out the hard way.

Acoustic Zen was known for their cables. It was a surprise for me to see them venturing into making speakers. But I guess they are not the first one as Zu did it earlier. Just because they are round doesn't mean that they are dome tweeters. Yes, the Adagios use the almost weightless Kapton round ribbon tweeters. No harsh highs from them for sure! With the 6.5" ceramic impregnated bass drivers in D'Appolito array, you can be assured of fast response without the lost in musical body. The frequency response was even from my initial listen, but their nimble nature might not be for those head bangers.

Need I say more?! This is one of the better speakers to reach my wish list! Not a little bit better, but a huge margin of better! These speakers have no problem showing the quality of the upstream rigs. You would love to hate these speakers, it is these kinda speakers that drive you to push the limit. The upgrade chain reaction would be a huge one if you decide to get involved! When driven with the 318B, it was fast, agile and immediate with no issue handling huge musical works. It was with the 845SE that I was awed and resolute to own one myself. It was rich, composed, effortless and classy, a sound that you would appreciate instantly if you have traveled long.

With their honesty in musical presentation, you would suffer the consequences of not feeding them with nothing but the BEST!

Yeah, call me a spoiled little bastard! I have heard much good stuff, and still hearing heaps more of good stuff! I have heard many hi-end gears which are edgy and I have heard many hi-end gears which are heavenly musical!

Thanks to my burning passion and idiotic spending logic, I get to know many good people in our niche music loving hobby. One of them being Victor of Aural Designs. I still remembered when I first stepped into the shop without much intention of buying. Victor greeted me and somehow our conversation just flowed endlessly about my headache after upgrading to my current setup. He gave plentiful of tips which I find useful and beneficial.

Nope, my setup is not super hi-end. But I still remembered how I enjoyed music and kept the passion burning with heaps of CD purchases. Nowadays, I still buy a lot of CDs, but I could not listen long due to the hi-resolution edginess. As I traveled further and further into the hi-rez realm, I found many sharing my same problem.

I do not know whether the owners realize themselves or not, but their setups are plagued with the incapability of playing loud. I still remembered along my path of numerous upgrades, I pushed the threshold of the level I could play with my setup. They do not go louder and louder as I upgraded, but rather, I had to settle at lower level to contain the higher details, which could be unbearable at times.

Many a times, I had to take a few steps back to get the setup to regain the balance again. And as I go along, I found that stripping those tweaks that I put in earlier would yield better results. There was once I stripped away the pure sine wave power regulator to make the sound more pleasant. There was once I took away the IsoNodes to make the sound more balanced. There was once I took away the Pyramid Ebony Cones to get rid of the edginess. And recently, I took away all my Target spike footers to regain the air and body that were robbed away to give me the deluded focus and definition. More on these later.

Today, I visited Victor again. He was listening leisurely when I hopped in unexpectedly. My intention this time was clearly to listen to the Escalante Designs. In fact, I am very much interested in the Pinyon bookshelves. The initial setup was actually the Vimak DT-600, Almarro 318B and the Escalante Freemont. Man, was I again awed by 318B’s control, speed, agility and the ability to drive things many times its size!

In fact, 318B would definitely be in my second setup wish list. I listened happily but Victor kindly offered me the opportunity to listen to the EDGE CDP and the New Audio Frontier 845SE driving the Fremont. Holy mother of hi-end, I was awed and spoiled at the same time!

The EDGE CDP was smooth, liquid and composed without sacrificing a single bit of resolution. The New Audio Frontier (NAF) 845SE was even more of a surprise to me, everything Victor is doing defy my understanding and expectations on power wattage and SPL! I was definitely impressed with the 18 watter 318B, but to say I am impressed by the 845SE’s measly 25 watt is a total understatement! I was bowled over by its lucid highs, exquisite mids and clean taut bass.

Everything was on honey coating and golden sweetness. Now do not get me wrong as I did not mean it is heavily colored. This is actually what I am looking for, high resolution with liquidity to play loud! Damn, do you know how hard it is to get this right? Hmm, so far, only two I have listened extensively and still find them very very very times 654321 lovable!

Many have told me that they have traveled long and all the hi-rez routes to settle back with a musical setup. Yes I agree wholeheartedly, but resorting to colored and muffled tube amps is definitely not one of them! This NAF + Escalante + EDGE is hi-resolution musicality to the MAX! There is just not the slightest hint of edginess and hardness when pushed. Everything was just swaying with composure and rich tonal textures! Yep, you are getting the complete harmonic structure without the overbearing forwardness.

I am spoiled again. And 318B is no longer on my wish list as I know I have already completed my second setup, which is now residing in my room. Bring in the money, and let’s move on to build my main setup, again!

Oh, Tan is also very friendly and polite. And I also learnt that the life and death of audio brands does not lie in the hands of the manufacturers, but rather, the shops that are carrying them. As I can see, Escalante Designs, EDGE and New Audio Frontier would have a super bright future in our audio scene!

hooray, the product of months of planning and deliberation will be out soon, in about two weeks' time! we are all excited here!

you can collect your free copy at the following cd and hifi outlets:

klang valley: rock corner outlets
  • 1-utama
  • midvalley megamall
  • subang parade
  • the curve
  • sogo
  • kotaraya
  • giant USJ
  • bangsar village
  • great eastern mall

victoria music

  • atria (damansara jaya)
  • friendly records (kinta city)
  • Max
and the following participating hifi shops:
  • cmy
  • A&L
  • audio note/high end research
  • wo kee hong (distributor)
  • interglobal music (label)
  • CMS electronics
  • zest audio
  • audiomatic
  • osher audio
  • helter skelter (LP seller in amcorp mall)
  • new leaf (LP seller in amcorp mall)
  • dong fong
  • audio art
  • swedish statement
  • perfect hifi
  • audio perfectionist/music by design
  • hi-way laser
  • centre circle
  • audio synthesis
  • auto gadget (ICE dealer)
  • divine av

we are eagerly awaiting your feedback on our baby! make sure you get a copy!

i am getting this album by roger wang and farid ali! roger's recordings have always been great for audiophiles' consumption, i have great expectations with this album.

wait for my review ya.

in terms of recording quality, i always feel that rain forest (lily's label from china) lags behind hong kong labels like rock-in music (keith yip) and TIS (vili chang), or even musiclab. rain forest's recordings are natural but somewhat mundane, lacking the hi-fi qualities of those labels from hk.

whereas lily's sweet voice is always a selling point, she can come across as a bit impassionate and pedestrian. she doesn't quite emote well in her songs. every song is plain sailing for her. i don't get the intensity or climax i get from some really top-notch pop singers. a case in point - song number #12 by kit chan (retired s'pore singer). lily's rendition is so plain and emotionless. one should really listen to kit chan's version to know how much lily falls short. kit's powerful voice is like a vocal roller coaster, leading the listener from a high point to low, back and forth; there's just so much variation in kit's rendition.

chris babida's arrangement, on the other hand, is rather understated this time. the sparse instrumentation is perhaps to highlight lily's sweet voice but it can come across as a bit under-arranged. recording quality is generally good.

lily covers songs by faye wong, eason chan, leon lai, miriam yueng and danny chan, and most of the times, i prefer the original versions, except perhaps for danny chan's "a several minute date" (track 11) where lily's delicate voice shines through in this well-arranged simple ditty.

elsewhere, it is a rather boring affair.

sonics: 4 outof 5
music: 3 out of 5

the almarro amp - from japan!

new audio frontiers 845SE

escalante fremont speakers

my first meeting with victor peh, the young md of audio designs tells me that he is foremost a music lover/audiophile, only a businessman because he owns the business.
aural designs carries many brands that i have never heard of - escalante speakers, almarro amps, new audio frontiers are alient names to me. blame me, for i didn't normally read those reports from CES.
with the new audio frontiers 845 integrated amp driving the escalante fremont speakers, the sound is sweet, delicate and pure as expected from this tube. it has a certain euphonic quality that is not found in typical push-pull amp. i am also impressed with the tank-like looks of the edge cd player. the almarro is so exquisite that i mistook it for being a product of italian lineage. wrong, it is from japan! the almarro silver interconnect is another gem-looking cable and it sells for only SGD500 a pair.
by bringing such exotic products, victor certainly has ambitions and as an audiophile, the least you could do is to pay victor a visit and check out if any of his products tickles your fancy.

pete's workshop - a paradise of tools, tubes and gadgets

a rare tube tester

pete is repairing a guitar amp

pete's main listening hall - equipment galore!

record collections

another rare tube tester

richard allen ls 3/5a and spendor are the main speakers on duty

in malaysia, well before audiophiles heard of wiliam johnson (ARC), harry pearson (TAS) and jim winey (MAGNEPAN), all legends in their own rights, we have peter leong, the veteran audiophile.

in malaysia, chances are if you are a seasoned audiophile, you would have heard of the name peter leong. i have long been wanting to feature pete in my blog cos he does make an interesting story to me. pete finally relented, provided i don't feature his face in my blog. pete is a humble bloke, you see.

it must be more than 5 years ago when i first know pete. at that time, i advertised in the star's audiomart to sell my siltech, which i bought from ELPA (do they still exist in s'pore?) back in the late 80s. see, my fixation with silver started way way back in the 80s! pete was the first one who came to my house. i remember him being a tough bargain hunter. i sold both the siltechs to him, following by my REL strata 2 subwoofer. i didn't contact pete after that transaction.

fast forward to 2006. i reacquainted with pete 3 months ago when i bumped into him regularly in audiomatic in amcorp mall. one thing leads to another, and before long, we become pally. besides hifi, there is another thing that unite us - food, glorious food.

to write about pete, you must first be intrigued by his passion in hifi, fine food and women, the later i won't reveal much here. suffice to say that pete has more than 40 years in hifi, enough for you to write a book on him.

being an avid music lover, pete had his own band, called the strangers, even when he was a teenager in the 60s. strangers played in school parties and other fun outings. pete admitted that playing in the band was the cool factor that made him a chick magnet. i have no reasons to doubt pete’s popularity with women.

pete also made his own guitar amps. his first piece of hi-fi was the stereogram console, something like a turntable with attached console and speakers. pete remotely recalled that the brand was “PYE”. it played EP (extended play) records at 45 rpm. At his time, an EP only cost RM5 a piece. beatles and the shadows were the rage during those days and their LPs can be had for RM12 at popular music outlets like those found in Penang’s Campbell Street. just like any happenig teenager, pete’s happy days were spent attending dance parties and playing in the band at the local civic hall.

in the early 70s, pete bought his hi-fi from eastland trading. eastland carried brands like leak, harmon kardon and the solid-state phase linear, which was considered the krell of those era. a phase linear amp would cost RM5K++, hell lotsa money back then. coupled with JBL speakers, a basic “high-end” system would have set one back RM10K! with that kind of money, one can almost buy a house then!

according to pete, the hifi circle was small then because it was considered an expensive hobby. pete later owned lengendary amps like the mark levinson ML-2, ML-2 and ML-3, which didn’t change his life as much as his quad 2 and quad 22 tube amps. it was quad which led pete to become the tube aficionado today. in fact, some veteran audiophiles in malaysia called pete “the king of tubes”, a title that pete himself feel embarrassed to own up.

moved on to the 80s and pete fell in love with audio research (ARC) amps. it wasn’t too far-fetched to say that pete is the ARC pioneer in malaysia. back in those days, pertama audio was the dealer for ARC and pete was a regular customer of pertama. pete had owned such fabled pre amps such as ARC SP4, SP6, SP6B, SP8, SP10, SP11, SP14 and SP15. for power amp, he had owned ARC D70, classic 60, classic 30, classic 150 and VTM120. these are all classics in their time. pete has personally spoken to william z. johnson, the founder of ARC, during one of the CES in USA. pete told me that william’s all-time-favourite ARC amp is the dimunitive classic 30!

visiting pete’s house is an eye-opening experience. his collection of vintage hi-fi is awe-inspiring, to say the least. you are bound to find some esoteric vintage gear buried somewhere in this treasure throve he called his house. amongst pete's prized possessions are few unit of extremely rare tube testers (see pictures)that are out-of-production, and hundreds of vintage tubes of varied types and age. pete's workshop is impressive as well, complete with scopes and testing equipments which can make any DIYer green with envy.

i asked pete what equipment would make his desert-island gear, the kind that he would bring to a deserted island if ever there is such opportunity. pete pointed to his air tight ATM-1 power amp which he bought from japan and his treasured richard allen LS3/5a mini monitor speakers. he would also like to take his first sound passive pre along. of course, i know deep inside that pete would also bring along a woman with him, a complete necessity in an island.

does that mean pete does not appreciate modern hi-fi? pete reckoned that modern hifi has better parts/components and is more modern sounding, but he added that the lure of vintage hifi is akin to mum’s cooking, so familiar and so nostalgic. pete minces no words in telling me that he likes a certain kind of sound – warm, nostalgic, tubey, cosy, euphonic and intimate, so that practically rules out most of the solid state gear already!

pete’s parting shot is an advice his gave to budding audiophiles and novices: “use your own judgement; don’t be influenced by others; spend wisely and buy the music you like”. well said, pete, it may sound so simple but many audiophiles can still fail to appreciate this simple approach.

to curb rising cost, some cable manufacturers have long started producing their cables in china or some far-east countries. normally, the box carries the disclaimer "designed in the USA, manufactured in china". at least, some are honest about it; some don't even bother to declare.

as i become more and more perfectionist in my approach, i start to shun mass-produced cables, especially those outsourced to china. no offence intended, but i find the quality quite sub-standard.

one cable manufacturer i know is starting to taste some degree of success in malaysia and as a result, starting to cut corners. i have yet to listen to the newer batch of their products but suffice to say that the signs are all there to see, right from the el-cheapo RCA/XLR plug to the overall look and feel of the cable. look, we audiophiles are discerning enough to know where the money is spent on. if i were to pay RM10K on a cable, i expect perfection - from the sound to the aesthetics.

this is sad. which goes to show that many manufacturers (i am not accusing all), once tasted the sweet scent of money, will stray from its noble intentions which got them started in the first place.

but then again, how many manufacturers are anti-commercial and anti-establishment like holfi and spectral, to name but two?

janice vidal - some kind of voice

in 1990, we had faye wong that took the hk music scene by storm. with her icy-cool demeanour and ethereal voice, faye was the unexpected and reluctant diva that many wannabes tried to emulate but ultimately failed. faye is irreplaceable.

in 2000, we witnessed the rise of stefanie sun from singapore, who shook the chinese pop world with her unique and unusual way of singing. just like the propaganda said - "no 22 year-old sings like her", stefanie is a miracle that every music producer dreams of.

in 2005, hong kong saw the emergence of janice vidal 衛蘭 , a totally awesome commercial creation that encapsulates 色,香,味. she sings well; she looks good; she is sexy. producer mark lui, the godfather of pop music in hk, has hit the biggest bulls-eye yet with janice as his protege. janice's voice is god-send and heavenly, the kind that can resuscitate any dull song. she is going to rule the HK pop scene after joey yung retires.

music prodigies like them make the pop scene exciting!

this is my cartoonist's take of hifi cable.... yes, it is a very rough sketch but you do get the humour, don't you?

Janice (衛蘭) - Do U Know
I would kill to get her CD rite now! Her previous 2 CDs were gems in the pop scene. Although I liked her first CD more than the second, I would certainly not hesitate to recommend anyone to get both the albums! Her voice is sweet and persuasive, melting even the coldest heart. No one would fail to fall for her the moment she sings. Look at that sexy glimpse, plenty of orgasmic nites ahead!

Slated to be out 18 November!

Jill (衛詩) - Diamond Love
The younger sister has had a tough time following the sister's move, which garnered such huge fans and followings. With a more powerful vocal, she got her singing career started with dance music. Her first album was not even half as good as her sister's lesser than great second album, but still who would miss to get the younger sister's maiden effort?! This second album got my breath holding!

Slated to be out one day earlier, 17 November!


I have a penchant towards small bookshelves. I love them because they are generally easier to be handled and pushed by my smallish ARC Classic 60. I love them because they generally image well. I love them because I have a small room. Of course, these are the generalizations that I wished apply to most small speakers. Not all sound alike!

I started off being serious when I first heard a pair of ProAc Response 1SC, which until today, has garnered cult status and being hailed by some as the KING of bookshelves! I CONCUR! Anyway, I will write more when I finished running in my brand new R8s which I just brought home last Sunday. At the rate I am going, maybe another 3 years?

Seriously, I have space problem, hence the choice on small speakers. But would it also be space problems during growing years that most singers I like have small boobs as well? Fish, Joi, Yanzi, Tanya, Penny and some did not develop voluptuous front ends. Hmmm, I guess they are the same size as the circumference of my R8S's bass drivers.

I bought many CDs over the last 2 months and were busy spinning some of them.

蔡健雅 - T-time 新歌 + 精選
I bought this in hope that it contains her top rate works, indeed it does to certain extend. Few passable tracks were included and almost spoiled this collection for me, phew, at least most of the selections were good. She has no problem composing, but she definitely has problem finding the correct people to tap on her real talent. When she started off with Universal, they horrendously tried to sculpt her as the typical pop diva with tight tops! Back then, she still has baby fat lar!

Her works for others are way better than for her own! Anyway, generally good selections and great new tracks. Get it if you are a fan! I give 3.5 boobs out of 5.

戴佩妮 - iPenny
Her best and most consistent work! I still remembered the first time she came back after releasing her first album in Taiwan. So fresh and unpretentious. Years passed and she still looks unpretentious! She has definitely matured as a person, as well as a composer. Her previous works were too self indulged without much consideration given to public acceptance and pop ratings.

This album is filled with top rate works that are simple, accessible and enjoyable! Definitely THE album to put Penny among the first tier composers! I give 4.5 boobs!

梁靜茹 - 親親
SWEET is the single word to describe her! Being an avid fan, I have not missed much of her progress. Yes, she did badly with 燕尾魚, but regained with 絲路. But this album is really tailored to her best, being a sweet adorable. The surprise is the inclusion of a Hokkien track, which I think is the best in the album. When you have 陳珊妮, 蔡健雅, 周傑倫, 五月天, 鍾成虎 and 陳綺貞, how can this not be a good album?!

Get this to have the best in Taiwan pop! 4.5 boobs!

孫燕姿 - My Story, Your Song 經典全紀錄 (4CD + DVD + 100頁寫真年鑑)
WTF, you mean you have not bought this yet?! This is the mother of all collections! The best of the best of the best for the top pop diva now! Have you lived under the rock? Even the crabs under the rock could sing 我不難過! Leslie has not missed a single of her albums, I missed a few but I got 2 copies of this. Does that make us even?

BTW, if you have not gotten this, forget about getting it. It's limited edition! 5 FULL BOOBS! Hmmm, she sure needs them!

蔡淳佳 - 淳新歌佳精選
The size of the picture does show her position in the pop scene. Yes, she is basically next to an unknown. But I like her! Her voice so pure, clean and suave. The way she bites and pronounces is so similar to 陳潔儀, minus the latter's sexuality! She sings some 梁文福 works, much like Kit, all she needs is time to blossom. Even if she does not hit it big, still, she's lovable! 3 boobs, but try before you buy.

蔡依林 - 唯舞獨尊演唱會鮮聽版 & 混音專輯

蔡依林 - 舞孃
Since I am running in my R8S, how could I miss hers? Having the best dance music in the pop scene, she sure can move and dance! I followed her progress since her uni years and you would not fail to notice her hard work put into grooming herself as the top rated pop diva! Her albums, albeit filled with R&B and hip-hop influenced dance music, are very well mixed and produced. Some of the slow ballads included are not filler tracks, but rather first tier works!

Listen to her renditions of Faye's 懷念 and Sandy's 聽説愛情回來過, a surprise indeed and very likable. I like the BOOBS, anytime!

meridian 508.24 - creme de la creme of cdp circa 1998-2000

for a full review, http://www.stereophile.com/cdplayers/590/

asking price = RM5,888

AQ Cheetah DBS interconnect 1.0m XLR

for a full review, http://www.stereophile.com/cables/804aq/

asking price = RM2,888

those interested, call me 012-2083790.

I won't write on things that I have not heard of, or things that I have heard of, but not through rigs that I am familiar with. The key word here is FAMILIARITY, if I am not familiar with anything, I think I ought to find out more before writing.

I have been reading and doing research on CD players for a while now. I know, it has been ages I mentioned that I wanted to upgrade my CDP. Last bonus was used on FD frenzy to build up my sense of security. With annual review coming and bonus not quite far away, maybe I should plan something.

I have been reading a lot about this brand called Ayre, I read it as 'air/ayer' in Malay before realizing that it should be 'air' in English. Many Taiwanese reviewers were raving about it and many had bought it with their own money.

Most of the reviewers do not own stuff they review. And with so many things moving in and out every now and then, there's just no point buying! When reviewers buy something, it only proves 2 things. One is that it is hell good of a product, and Two is that it is affordable.

So, with many reviewers buying CX-7e and many raves on CX-5e, I guess I ought to find out more. Maybe I should go and have a listen.

Anyway, Ayre's president, Charlie Hansen was hit with an accident while bicycling. He's getting well and you could follow the progress here.

so fine and exquisite - even women love it

i am greatly fascinated by this new cable company, crystal cable. i read from taiwanese magazine audio art that it is started by siltech's president's wife! what a combination! imagine the synergy, imagine the sharing of technology, costs and resources. i really think it is a smart idea for a husband-wife team to do something that is complementary yet caters to different market segments. in hifi, we do have husband-wife team in transparent cable (don't quote me, i may be wrong). can you readers think of other high-end manufacturers who has a husband-wife team?

crystal cables look so exquisite that they can qualify as audio jewelry. in fact, the president's wife (forget her name) lets her son to design all the commercial ads! so you have crystal cables as shoe-strings; as guitar strings and a whole lot of other innovative ads. i have never seen hifi being so ingenious and creative.
this, my friend, is the future direction of hifi if it was to survive.

i wonder if it has the sonic signature of siltech. we tried the latest G6 siltech before and were impressed with its refinement and delicacy, especially the gold and silver composite. apparently the highest model (XLR) of interconnect cost a moderate RM12K, far from the top model of siltech. being a proponent a silver interconnect and the biggest fan of stage III concepts cables in malaysia, i am waiting to lay my hands on a pair of crystal cable.

on other developments, i just found out that i even have readers from my hometown in gopeng! thanks, dr. chan, for following my blog and thanks for using stage III cables too. hope to listen to your system when i am back for the next trip.

av xpress is progressing very well. a lot of dealers are very supportive. from december onwards, you will see me blogging more often here. some major changes are happening in my career and i am devoting more time to do things i like.

isn't life about doing things you are passionate about? like blogging about hifi and publishing av xpress.

We had lunch with the big guy behind Goldmund, Michel Reverchon and some key personnel of Goldmund. And that simple lunch turned out to make us some of the first few to know the latest and coolest development of Goldmund product and technology. But you guys are going to kill me if you know that the lunch took place last Thursday and what you read here might soon be common knowledge.

There are many brands out there as we do not have THE sound. Even between same instruments like pianos and violins, all with the same pitch, we are able to differentiate their unique tonal textures and sonic signatures. And I would say it is a god bless that we do not have THE sound, or else everyone would be listening to synthesized MIDI compositions. Speaking of MIDI, they do sound differently via Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Samsung mobiles! Arghhhhhhhhhh, vicious cycle!

Anyway, to get rid of all these uncertainties and variables, Goldmund has come up with an ingenious idea of certifying the room to Goldmund standard. Unlike THX certification, which is only applicable to commercial theaters, Goldmund offers this only to those rich and famous who deserve nothing but the best.

I have nothing against this though as there are just too many "voices" around us. We have our experiences and mistakes and the "wisdoms" gained or lessons learnt are unique to ourselves. All these push us nowhere but to THE sound we strived to achieve. Hence, certain brands would only suit certain individuals.

But what about those who want the most direct approach to good sound? And those who want to cut out all the hassles and just leave all these to the professionals? Audiophiles who traveled long in this audio journey would not fail to sum the room as part of the setup. The audio manufactures have left this to us so long that many of us screwed up along the way and many gave up due to frustration.

It is a dirty job and Goldmund has decided to roll up the sleeves to do it for you. Just give them a room, room measurements to be exact, and they will custom make the rigs for you. From building materials, furniture arrangements, down to equipment supports, every gory details is taken into consideration to give you nothing but the most cohesive and consistent sound.

Yep, you guess it right! There will be no more generic products, everything is custom built and unique to only your setup. There is no generic DSP for mass market applications, every computation is unique to your room. What Goldmund employs is no ordinary room correction tool, but also phase correction and time alignment utilizing state of the art computation power.

What does this tell us then? Wider sweet spot and lesser setup hassle. At the same time, these also make trickling down the technology so much harder at lower cost. When asked whether this would be a hindrance to Goldmund's market share, not the slightest doubt showed up!

And if a Goldmund certified room is not enough, the technology is extensible to multi room application with a media server employed. The medium could be of the traditional network cabling or the latest wireless transmission. When multiple wireless bands are locked down and dedicated for huge data transmission, you will have simultaneous high definition broadcasts! That is really hi quality home entertainment to the MAX!

It is a dirty job and Goldmund has decided to roll up the sleeves to do it for you. Not any you, but you who deserve nothing but the best! Well, only if you could afford it.

PS: we were offered the opportunity to witness the making of the first Goldmund room in Malaysia. Unfortunately, since I am on payroll, I had to leave as the lunch has already taken 3 hours.

verdict: average recording. pedestrian singing. good song selections.

verdict: hong kong's audiophile guru leo fung's biggest dud todate (produced and mastered by leo) stone-cold singing and artificial recording.

verdict: very good singing but tonal balance totally off (treble too much)

verdict: 2nd-rate lounge singer. good song selections but pity the pretentiousness

over the years, i have collected some bad cds that remain bad cds no matter how much my musical taste or listening skills advance. some of these cds, mainly MIC audiophile stuff that i collected out of curiosity, have been buried somewhere in my cd collection and never get to see the daylight again.

remember i told you that i am listening to more "real" music these days. i derive more joy in discovering that the latest jay chou, fish leong, stefanie sun or david tao comes with great recording. yeah, i consume tonnes of pop music. at least, they have got more soul than your average MIC anyone-also-can-become-audiophile-singer-wannabe recordings.

the good news is i want to give some of these away to readers of this blog. the newer ones i may sell half-price but you have to pay the postage if you are outside kl.

if you are in kl, just buy me a cup of teh tarik and i will deliver it to a mutually convenient place.

i finally got danny summer "am" III album from hong kong, thanks to kc. the local pricing sucks ass big time (almost double of that of HK), that's why i rather wait for friends to get it from hk. soon i will blog on the suck-ass local pricing which is killing the industry.

happily i switched on my system but lo and behold, my meridian g08's stand-by light is gone! no power at all. my heart instanly sank 39,549,650 feet.

apparently, a severe bolt of lightning had sent my beloved meridian g08 to ICU. i checked the fuse - that's gone and it is blown into a blackish ugly mess, so you can imagine the severity of the surge. upon changing the fuse, still the power didn't come up. something is serious, i said to myself. i ended the night without playing danny summer, or any cd for that matter.

the next day saw me driving listlessly to my technician's place to confirm my suspicion that the power supply of the g08 was fried. true enough, some of the surface-mounted chips on the power supply module were practically cracked/exploded! serious sh*t man. my technician warned me that the surge could have spread beyond the power supply module, to the main board. (there are only two boards in the g08, the rest is thin air!) he couldn't confirm it but advised me to get a spare power supply module from kwan (my meridian dealer) to isolate the problem. i am panicking like a sick child.

anyway, in the interim period, i got hold of ringo's meridian 508.24, the former model before the upgrade. when i powered on the 508.24, i thought my system has got other problems because the sound was terrible. it turned out that that is the normal sound of 508.24! major paradigm shift. imagine 508.24 was THE cd of choice in 1998-2000. the 508.24 seriously lacks the presence and drive of the g08. the whole soundstage shrinks considerably and everything seems to have lost its energy, as if the TURBO button has been off.

so i listened to danny summer with this less-than-ideal condition. i didn't really listen critically with the intention to write a review because the sound didn't really draw me into the music. yes, i am that fussy. so you have to wait for a fairer
review when my meridian returns from ICU.

my overall impression of this cd is not a positive one. it is quite slow and boring. it doesn't have the "jump" factor of the 1st "am" album. there is no denying that danny's voice has matured and he has become more emotive and expressive as he ages but i don't like the way the songs are being dragged to sound really slow and sleepy. i have listened to the cd for 3 rounds and still i am not quite enamoured.

some of the arrangement are pretty good, no doubt but i can't expect less with this cast of musicians. recording wise, again, i can't judge from the 508.24 but it can't be bad.

kc has been raving about this recording but not until i get back my g08, i will reserve my judgement.

i am not sure if you readers are aware, the new generation of cd players (like my g08) really pushes the aural boundary of the standard cd sound. for those who think cd technology has stopped advancing, you ain't see nothing yet.

last night, i entertained my last batch of visitors (some met for the first time) who came to listen to my system. i say "last" because i don't think i want to invite and accept invitations to listen to my system anymore.

the reason is nothing political nor personal. simply, i have concluded that human's hearing is so vastly different that it is difficult to find two persons with the same hearing, perception and listening ability.

for example, i laboured to get my vocal height close to four and a half ft and with the centre image right smack in the middle of my back wall. yet many listeners cannot detect it. some commented that it is skewed to the right/left and image height is a mere 3 ft, blah blah blah. imagine one of maggie's greatest strength is image height! it is both frustrating and amusing. because it is right in front of me; i get that everytime i sit in the sweet spot! it is not until i played them the ultimate test disc - chesky test disc #1 track #10 - with bob anders walking around within the soundstage that they are convinced that i got it right, and dead right centre. i had to resort to this test disc again last night.

how could this happen? i believe our delicate ears are built differently. i find that many listeners cannot quite detect the highest frequencies (above 16KHz, i guess) hence their perception of height could be majorly affected.

audiophiles come in many kinds. some are particular about soundstage; some imaging; some speaker positioning; some bass but very few are particular about intricate aspects like tonal balance, tonal colour and quality, harmonic texture, midrange liquidity, midrange density, moisture, microdynamics.... the list go on. why not strive to be an all-rounded audiophile?

over the years i only came across three (to be exact) audiophiles who could pinpoint my system's strengths and weaknesses accurately, and to my approval and satisfaction. one of them is our savvy audio note dealer, wong. wong is the first one and only one that pointed to me that my audio research's triode sound and tonal colour is in a league on its own.

my close-door policy is not meant to be anti-social but rather i believe some things are best left to the enjoyment of the owner.

who said that hi-fi is not a selfish hobby?

Back then, 13 years ago, a little boy was smitten by the fascinating world of home theater. Before long, he discovered the brand AudioQuest, a brand very well known amongst the home theater fanatics. Fast forward to present day, the boy has shifted his fascination from home theater to pure 2-channel stereo. And yet, the interest in AudioQuest is still fanning until today.

To be honest, I have never used AQ cables in my home theater until 2 years ago. And this is not even until I have started using them in my 2-channel stereo. I still remembered when one of my friends bought the AQ Type 4 ten years ago and how he raved on its fast and bold characteristics. I could only imagine as it was pricey for me as a student back then.

One day, opportunity knocked on my door and I bought a pair of AQ Python. I was awed by its bold and forceful presentation. It was honest and offered the best extension I had heard since I started in this hobby. In fact, Python was my first serious cable. I had tried many equally priced cables, and Python was the most direct one.

Months later, I replaced the Python with AQ’s latest offering, the DBS Panther. Back then, my priority was mainly chasing that better resolution. And AQ just fit the bill best. Again, with Panther, I was again awed by its sheer bandwidth, the highs came unrestrained and the bass did sink low. The improvements in detail retrieval were equally distributed in the highs, mids and lows.

It was not after I have tried the Anaconda of the older series that I realized the trend AQ was trying to improve. The series prior to DBS, AQ was trying their best to achieve unsurpassed bandwidth to give the best details, transients and speed. When I first hooked up Anaconda, I was blown away by its liveliness, it was a cable full of energy.

I had to pull my speakers further apart to contain that bold sound. Music was injected with ‘life’ playing thru Anaconda. There was the extra ‘zing’ quality that brings the best excitement from the presentation. Listen to any live recording thru Anaconda and you would not fail to experience the most robust drum actions! Hi hats hitting was rendered with weight and force, kick drum was deep and full bodied, vocal got a larger than life presentation.

The Anaconda captured the most expansive soundstage, vividly matching a real life performance. If you found them shouty, then it might be the room was too ‘hard’ for them, or you were having too much details from other rigs. But those are not our topic today.

The experience of going from Anaconda to DBS Cheetah was very much similar to going from Python to DBS Panther. This is the next phase of transformation for AQ sound. Upon replacing the previous series with the new DBS series, you’ll notice the lowered noise floor and smaller presentation.

What next when you have had the least compromise from the conductors? For AQ, they improved upon the insulators by charging them. In effect, we got the new AQ sound that was never before so quiet with the noise floor. What about the smaller presentation then?

When you got less noise, you would get less fuzzy outlines. When the outline was sharp, the imaging emerged as more defined and better delineated, hence, the ‘smaller’ presentation. AQ is definitely striving for refinement and poise now!

But do be careful with Cheetah as it was very potent and might trigger the upgrade chain effect. Unlike Stealth and Stage III, there was no twisting in the silver conductors. They were straight and direct. Hence, similarly, the sound was fast, taut and energized!

It had the tendency of veering towards overly preserving the transient attacks rather than sustaining longer for that bodily bloom. In this department, I would say the Anaconda fared better, balancing transient attacks and bloom. However, the bass of Anaconda had got the tendency of sounding flabby when compared to Cheetah’s.

You could try Cheetah to bring your sound faster by a notch or two, and yet retaining that refinement. If you think your sound is dry and thin, do yourself a favor by trying out Anaconda.

For me, the Sky is still the limit!

DVD-Audio is meant for high resolution. SACD is meant for high resolution.

Many mediums today are meant for high resolution. Blu-ray and HD-DVD are the home theater counterparts for high resolution medium.

But we are not discussing on the pros and cons of those mediums, we are not even talking about the hardware playing them. Nope, none of the discussions that would try to impart the author’s priorities on your buying decisions.

Today, we are just going to stick to CD as the main medium of discussion. Yes, a compromised medium in terms of resolution, but even then, are you ready for even CD-resolution reproduction?

I have been on the audio autobahn for the past 3 years, listening and trying things that I could dream of 13 years ago when I first got started. As we stay along the course of our hobby, or any hobby for that matter, leading us to just squeeze that last ounce from our wallet for that ‘last’ upgrade, many a time, we lend our fate to the hands of manufacturers and reviewers.

I for one failed to see the pitfall on upgrading and started trying and testing reputable gears and accessories. I failed to see the balance, the room, the rigs and the electricity that feed my rigs. And certainly, I failed to see my poor skills in getting that balance.

My hunger for resolution and high fidelity has pushed myself ever so close to the brink of giving up. Listening to those SOTA (state of the art) gears does elevate my listening skills and push my criticality level when listening. But to achieve SOTA sound, it is not a single dimension quest like chucking in loads of money.

Great sound is not warranted by the owners’ fat wallet, but is actually a cumulating of the owners’ years of musical quest and system building experience. Yes, I have heard big brands with poor sound. But that is just the mere reflection on the owners’ poor skills rather than horrendous pricing practice of the ill-intending-blood-sucking-manufacturers.

I have, single dimensionally, traveled fast in this audio hobby. Bringing myself up from nothing to something worthy of a glimpse. Yet, one could only travel this way thus far before realizing the big sound one could easily swallow.

I got a silly smack in the face finally to realize this is not merely an upgrade game. Great resolution has enabled me great musical enjoyment. Yet, the greed within pushed me overboard and I kept on upgrading. As I reap the benefits of high resolution, sound wise rather than bits wise, I failed to see the other ugly face of high resolution.

High resolution reveals the deepest musical contents. However, it too, reveals the dirtiest effects of less-than-acceptable-weak-links within the chain. Since the realization of this, I have slowed down considerably in upgrading and started looking inwards. Looking at what’s my main problem, rather than looking outwards for the next big upgrade.

So, do you deserve higher resolution?

sorry for the temporary respite from blogging.

the av xpress project is full of obstacles. my business model has been changing. i have sort of decided not to consult friends anymore, especially those who think that i am silly in venturing into this sort of project.

many believe that if i want to do it, i may as well do it in a grand and big way - i.e. make it a glossy and aesthetically pleasing publication. but that requires big money and that's something that i am reluctant to do. many also advise me to approach big dealers in order to secure big contracts. again, it is not my strategy.

i am going to DIY the whole publication - doing as much as i could, wearing as many hats as i could, for a start. never mind it is going to look crude and unglamourous (i may even use newspaper print material). the important thing is the contents and info that i am going to disseminate. i am not one who is particular about aesthetics, especially if it is a free publication.

as far as advertistement rates are concerned, i am going to make it affordable for everyone so that every dealer can partake. in doing so, i am also telling the big guys that if you don't follow you will "lose face".

and i am going to stay away from reviews. no point betraying my conscience in writing something that i don't mean.

if you are interested to write for av xpress, do drop me a mail. it is very tough but i am having fun so something must be right.

after a very tough and rough week of decision-making, yes, the av xpress 影音快遞 is on! i just had my first meeting with my media partner, margaret, on how i want the magazine/tabloid to look.

i must thank margaret for pushing me to commit on this project. she has no patience for my indecisiveness. she blatantly told me "to try it else i will regret for the rest of my life". she continued with "what's the point of you consulting so many friends, many of whom are not even familiar with the industry?".

my dealer friend, wong, who vouched to support me with his advertisement, warned me that the road ahead is long and winding, with many obstacles and i have to peservere. since i am only doing it part-time, juggling my time with my day-job is gonna be extremely difficult. i have to visit dealers, solicit ad, do listening/audition, write reviews....the list is endless but i am glad to have margeret to take care of my artwork/design and printing and circulation.

i also have to thank yodee for his trust and faith in me. again, it is yodee who gave me the scolding that "if i don't try, i will regret", "you are better than what you think you are", "business will evolve; get it up first, and improvise/improve as it goes along". thanks yodee, you are a pillar of support.

the only competitor in town, a chinese hi-fi mag that has existed for more than a decade had a rough beginning. i don't have a decade to invest my time and money on, so i am gonna to learn a few short-cuts and hopefully achieve the same level of success.

it has been quite an emotional turmoil for me coming up with this decision. but once the decision is made, there is no turning back.

p/s we target the inaugural issue on 18th jan 2007. it is going to be quarterly.

i have been comtemplating over a career in audio journalism for more than a year. not that i am the greatest writer on earth but my passion could last me a lifetime. imagine indulging in the most esoteric gear day in day out, and walking in and out of the dealer's showroom. but would i want a hobby to become a career? i am not so sure afterall.

the market for hifi has been declining globally year after year due to a multitude of factors. nobody seems to have the solution to the problem, least of all the manufacturers themselves. hifi is gettin more and more expensive. and it is alienating the younger generation. ask a young chap - will he spend more than 5 minutes sitting in the sweet spot analyzing the imaging of jacintha? or, will he be patient enough to warm up the monoblock tube amps? ask yourself - when was the last time you visited city square (or adelphi for the singaporeans), the once mecca of hifi? do you still read hifi mags?

in the light of this, why would someone still want to consider making a career out of a passing hobby?

i have a noble idea to let the local dealers to promote their stuff economically
in my publication, and at the same time giving the end-users a simple, no BS, reporting on the latest gears that hit the town. my publication would be like a marketplace activity report, once glance and you will know what's happening in the scene and industry. there won't be lengthy discourse or review on a particular piece of gear. any review will be short and snappy. there will be a lot of product information to help the consumers. there will be discounts; there will be promotions. there will be trading post. happening, vibrant and action-packed.

i am not sure it will even make money but that's how i want my publication to be. i want to play a role to push this industry out of the doldrums.

it is noble but it is quite silly as well.

it is a tough job but someone has to do it. could it be me?

Much to my surprise, most of my setup expenditures are on cables rather than the equipments. Many do not believe in such approach, and would rather part the dough on much substantial equipments, substantial in size and substantial in weight. Time after time, it has been substantially proven to me that the same dough might not reap the same rewards, depending on either you choose to get more the substantially sized up equipments, or the less substantial in physical sense cables.

I am glad that I have limited technical know-how in fully understanding the technical aspect of conductors, hence, the less likelihood of me getting a hard nite's sleep over the money parted on cables. And time after time, it is proven to me that with cable upgrades, the improvements are much greater!

There are a few camps on cable designs, one of the brands which I always wanted to own, Synergistic Research, believes in the interaction between the inductance, capacitance and resistance of the conductors. Brands like Siltech, Stealth Audio Cable, AudioQuest and Stage III put high priority on the quality of the conductors and take great effort in putting the best insulation methods. While Synergistic Research and AudioQuest employ ahead-of-the-rest shielding implementations, Siltech, Stealth Audio Cable and Stage III took extra step in designing ingenious cable geometries.

All these contributed in great cable technology advancements never witnessed before for the past decades ever since the discovery of better “lamp cords”! While the results seem debatable to many, let’s not get bogged down by this matter as I wish to share with you some cables, 2 power cords actually, that I tested recently and strongly believe in its effects.

Incidentally, both Stealth and Stage III employ similar geometry in their cables, only differing in the scale of their implementations. While both use flat twisted high purity silver conductors fitted in insulating tubes and spirally winding all the tubes to form the bigger cables, Stealth chose a bigger width for the ribbons while Stage III went on having more smaller ribbons.

Silver is potent and very intoxicating. However, one must realize that unless they are designed for hi-powered purposes, DO NOT use them on power hungry equipments. This brings us to the first power cord, the Stage III FE power cord. I have to apologize for not being able to take picture of it as somehow it just slipped my mind.

Stage III has never failed in amazing me with their persistency and consistency in maintaining the house sound. When I was first exposed to their Magnus interconnects, I was awed with the beauty in their presentation in tonal colors, harmonic textures and velvety smooth tops.

They have the uncanny ability to reproduce the rich harmonic textures of pianos, violins and saxophones. When dealing with percussion instruments, it is very important to vividly see the “action” from the impact of string/skin/metal to the vibration of string/skin/metal to the resonance of air and to the excitement of instrument body if there is.

Stage III is not only able to follow the action from the initial hit of keys to the vibrating strings within the piano, but also the resonating air interacting with body of the piano. This is very important in rendering the complete harmonic structure of the scale of a piano. Not only this, Stage III is also excellent in portraying the bite of bow on the violin strings. You could simply see the “jumping” action of violin when the bow changes direction.

Although Stage III and Stealth employ similar cable geometry, unlike Stealth, Stage III is less sparkling. With more bloom in the mids, there is certain darkness towards the musical presentation. This does not mean that Stage III is overly warm and mellow. It is just that when comparing the highs of Stealth and Stage III, Stealth is just lighter and go slightly farther; whereas with Stage III, the bloom in upper mids helps in giving more weights to Stage III’s velvety sweet highs.

From power cord to interconnect to speaker jumpers, Stage III is so consistent in this.

Without the mumbo jumbo technicalities, Richard Gray’s approach in power is direct, simple and does not involve any black magic. Amongst the companies above, Richard Gray is the last to venture into power cord business. Very little technical info can be found in their power cords.

When I first grabbed this cable, it feels dull and unsophisticated. The cable is wrapped in black cloth just like those found in electric kettle, iron and rice cooker, except that those are more colorful than RG’s boring black. And unlike other cables, the High Tension Wire, as it is named, does not induce tension on you to wrestle them around. They remain in whatever angle you twist them in. DULL!

Inside the cable itself are many more solid core coppers with no particular geometry I could feel when caressing the cables. Hmmm, is there a better word? With such simple build, would this bring miracles to the setup? Read on.

As suggested by Richard Gray, I put the cord from wall to my RGPC, replacing my Harmonic Tech Fantasy. Unlike popular beliefs, RG suggest to put the cords closer to wall first, then on higher powered equipments, subsequently to pre/processors. Surprisingly, source equipments are placed last.

Upon firing up, the imaging just tightens up! Everything seems to be better defined and get a more significant body. The instruments and singers have got a better contrast from the acoustic canvas that they are portrayed in. With images better carved out from the recording space, the sense of hearing the actual instruments/singers is even more stunning!

When listening to Susan Wong’s A Night at the Movies, you can sense her voice traveling and hitting the wall, then embracing you with rich reverbs. However, the echo does not overlap upon the acoustical space where Susan is occupying, can you imagine that?! The other eerie effect is to witness how the sound emancipates from the xylophone bars. When the bars were hit, you could sense how the bars vibrate the surrounding air, and sound expanding dynamically around the bars! Wah lau!

With my Harmonic Tech Fantasy cord, which is half the price of High Tension Wire, everything seems bigger and less defined. There is so much less “action” in the musical presentation!

OK, you might think I am a sound sucker rather than music lover. You have read me many times describing the sound rather than music. Taking the prowess of the cables in reproducing sound might not mean anything significant, but elevating yourself to a higher perspective, wouldn’t you get all the micro details and “action” from live performances?!

Under the holistic music reproduction context, you need great sound reproduction to reward yourself with great musical enjoyment! This is what I called the essence of HI-END!

When you know what you wanted and tried most, if not all, the brands you drooled over previously, there’s just no stopping of you progressing. Man, only months after getting my AQ Cheetah and I’m already wondering what AQ Sky could achieve. Looking at how far AQ Panther falls behind AQ Cheetah, I get all hot boiled just by wishing I could get a pair of AQ Sky the fastest I could.

Anyway, after trying the Siltech G6 entry level Forbes Lake, retailing at RM19K, I started to wonder what the G6 lower siblings could give. Forbes Lake and the higher siblings used to be from the G5 family, before moving up the G6 line with more gold filing up the gaps within silver. Awed by the performance of Forbes Lake, I eagerly replaced my AQ DBS Panther and AQ DBS Cheetah duo with the G5 SQ-28 Classic MKII and G5 SQ-88 Classic MKII siblings.

First impression? They are like morning breeze, cool, un-imposing and easy to listen to. Not the descriptions that you are expecting? Certainly less uhh and ahh, but that does not mean they are any less than stellar. In fact, at sub 10K, they performed admirably to demand such asking price. Indeed, they stand shoulder to shoulder with my AQ duo. And only personal taste would dictate your choice over to either AQ or Siltech.

Just like all the good silver cables out there, there’s a sparkling quality to the music played thru the Siltechs. Live concert recordings like Justin’s One Good Show were rendered in good sense of layering. Indeed, layering is still one of silver’s many fortes. The Siltechs are open, spacious and airy.

There’s this fine grain within the presentation and delicate tops that make them good in pub like recordings. With Bianca Sings Timeless, where the musicians are recorded live and performing together, there’s this ambiance that’s so like smoky jazz pub with music flowing fluidly. And like G6, they could really resolve minute details thru out the frequency range, very much so in the mids.

Good silver could give you great speed minus the brightness that many mistakenly likened to cheap silver plated cables. The Siltechs are indeed very fast, with lower registers emerging taut, defined and tactile. Unlike AQ with a much macho presentation, the Siltechs provide just enough bass, providing a solid foundation for the rhythm of music to build upon. This is not to say that the Siltechs are thin, on contrary, the Siltechs are more than capable in portraying the action of kick drum impact. A ‘thud’, air turbulence building within and the subsequent portrayal of drum body is vividly ‘happening’ in front of you.

To me, with a pair of resolving minis like R8S, I find the Siltechs veering towards the top. Might this give me the impression that they are slightly faster than my hot-like-tropical-sun AQ? Maybe!

What makes me wonder is that unlike its higher G6 siblings, the grainy presentation is very much unlike most of the silvers out there; and with gold within, the presentation does not carry as much density as desired like its G6 siblings with more GOLD within! The lack of extra bloom also severed the ability of the Siltechs to render a more solid snapped-in imaging.

They don’t “bite” as deeply as AQ with violin, trumpet, sax, piano materials. I guess this might be due to AQ’s excessively concentrated “qi” within the mids area that makes everything “bite” so hard. The overly energized presentation might make things ruthless at times, making Siltech’s less intrusive presentation preferable.

Clearly, at 10K, you can’t ask for everything! Depending on your system’s sound temperature, both the AQ pair and Siltech duo could bring just the right balance. Further criticism is just asking too much from 10K!