sometimes we are so consumed by hi-fi that we forget there are more important things in life, such as hi-fi!

Wah, I sure got problems in manhood already, I have been getting weak knees these past few weeks. First, it was the Naim CD5X, and then it was the Meridian G08, now it is the Goldmund EIDOS 18CD. Selling at more than 20K, wah lau, must be something good within lar.

I dunno whether it’s the Swiss preference or a similarity shared by rigs costing 20K and up, coz both Siltech and Goldmund share similar traits in many areas. The only difference between the 2 is tonal temperature, while Goldmund goes for the breezy cool and pristine sound; Siltech turns towards the lush and warmer tonal shade.

If you have not heard rigs costing this price, don’t even tell anyone about resolution and definition. This player is able to dig real deep into recordings, giving plentiful of details. Indeed, Goldmund has got really no problem in extending sky high and plunging super low. However, I find the details over staggering; do we really need this much of details to enjoy music?

Don’t even think of telling me that this might be false resolution due to excessive highs, coz the details cover from top to bottom. Everything is presented in an incisive manner, cohesive and crisp, snappy and visceral. The outline of the image is sharp and precise. Not only that, there is this classiness and elegance similar to Siltech, products of $$$? Your guess is as good as mine.

The bass, though articulate, is not as capable in building the musical mood like the Meridian. In fact, dry could suitably describe it as it’s clean and taut. Although the highs extend far better than Meridian, it lacks the weight to give it a sense of presence. I find the mids finely grained, too, but not to the extend of giving rough edges. Results of too much details?

If you are an audiophile rather than music lover, by all means, go Goldmund. The sound reproduced is top notch technically compared to Meridian, giving more details and resolution. Sadly, I listen to music rather than sound.

If both players come free, I would still go Meridian! Meridian dealer, hint hint!

Do you really like pop music? Britpops to be more exact? Don’t forget that a lot of rock started right after Beatles. Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple remain the few bands residing in the soft spot of my heart. Sandie Shaw, anyone?

With my rigs, clearly, it was not built around beats, but rather, on tonal attributes. When given the chance to audition one between CDS3, CDX2 or CD5X, I chose CD5X as this is the farthest budget I could push if I ever got smitten by it.

On first listen, I was really surprised actually to note its capable soundstaging and imaging qualities, something that Naim was not known for. Although the depth is kinda narrow and upfront, it throws a really wide stage in my setup. Live concert like?

This player holds rhythms and beats up above all else, there’s an overriding effect on all the music being played. You know like playing piano, there’s a beat keeper; this player plays the role of a beat keeper in my setup.

Listen to the drum work or any percussion instruments, there’s an energetic quality to them, visceral and on the spot. They never fail to follow the pace! But then, all else take a backstage, following the speed frantically disregard of genre played! Fuhhh!

On the other areas, I can live with the mids and highs. The mids is grainless and sweet, though not as communicative as Meridian (a far margin!), but definitely head to head amongst the good (not great!) players out there. Highs is not as extended, but enough to let you enjoy even audiophile CDs.

It’s great at making pop music, out of anything! But who would afford 10K just to play perfect pop?!

goldmund eidos 18cd sacd/cd player, currently auditioning. review by kc forthcoming.... stay tuned.

This is for those who might miss it in the comment section, plus some bits and pieces I might add in here and there.

Months ago, I read a review about this superb and so deemed the best sounding player within its price range player. Being a sucker for hyped reviews, I soon announced that this would be my dream player without knowing how it sounded.

Months later, Leslie upgraded. Man, how awed I was to find that it was miles ahead of the 508.24! Every single area, not just some. Sorry Les for discouraging you on the upgrade as I thought 508.24 was already a tough act to beat!

Anyway, after I had a demo at home, this is my next upgrade, PERIOD! BUT, if your setup is not transparent and balanced, forget about getting the G08. Coz this is one heck of a balanced player, doing everything in approriate balance yet never fail to embrace musicality as the ultimate goal!

From top to bottom, nothing stands out but integrating seamlessly to build up the flow of music and emotion. The bass is by far the most organic and articulate I have heard, the top is extended with a natural sense of weight and density.

The mid is the killer part of this player! Talk about presence and emotional conveyance, I have never listened so deeply into my CDs. This player has got the eerie capability of portraying the singer with full bodied outline, anchoring vividly in front of you!

Everthing takes a lifelike presence in my room. 508.24 has got the capability of giving the instruments individual space and dimension, G08 surpasses this by giving the whole presentation the space and dimension in a seamless organic canvas! Soundstage was deep and appropriately wide, with great layers.

I can only say that Meridian is selling this at lesser price than the player deserves! At sub 10K, I have not heard a player that came close to it, and that's a huge gap!


Of course, if I strike lottery, then maybe a 808 lor.

cheer chen.... best recording and best chinese album

the real joy of being a hardcore audiophile lies not in buying audiophile-approved cds (as they are mostly boring and soulless stuff) but discovering pop/indie cds that have supreme recordings.

introducing cheer chen qi zhen 陈绮贞 , the biggest indie artiste in the chinese music scene today. it may be a misnomer calling chen an indie singer since she has somewhat crossover appeal with the mainstream chinese pop music fans as well.

i will leave you to google her background. suffice to say that this 4th album, entitled "adventure" 华丽 的冒险 is her best todate, a tour-de-force of album that also wins my vote as the best chinese pop/indie album as well as best recorded chinese pop/indie album in the last decade. (note: as i speak, cheer chen has been nominated in the best female singer category, best album category and best production category in this year's prestigious golden melody awards - taiwan's answer to grammy awards - to be held on 10th june 2006).

some of you may not be literate in chinese but hey what's there to matter because the recording is so rich, raw, airy and sumptuous. recorded by taiwan's top recording engineer kenny and mastered by doug sax, this album is full of artistry yet never looses sight of pop sensibility. every song is a gem. every song is well crafted and immaculately produced.
a word of caution: if you are used to jay chou and lee hom variety, sorry you won't be able to appreciate this intellectual gem.

it has become mine and kc's favourite test cd to test a system's ambience, liveliness and presence factor. try track #11, the last track. if you can't produce the kick drum and upbeat tempo with aplomb, time to retune your system.

note: this album cover is the limited edition which is not available in malaysia. the normal version has blue cover.

My exposures to cables are mainly on AQ, Harmonic Tech, Stealth, Stage III, MIT, Transparent and WireWorld. Although I wouldn't care less to listen to cables below 2K, I was god smacked and flabbergasted and (you fill in here...) when I was passed a pair of Siltech Forbes Lake, the entry level to their signature series.

Damn, with the listing price of RM19K, my knees were weak even to get them up my apartment and plug it in. You could tell how excited and short breathed I was when I switched on the pre, power and CDP. It was like, 20k leh, must be good lar, if not how to sell at this price?!

I guess people who know me have already grown sick over my hype on new products I tested. But I assure you, this ain't no hype! I always have the problem of going gaga over products that was good in certain areas but fail to deliver the promise as a sonic whole. This is where I learnt to appreciate the presentation as a whole rather than parts of it.

This cable is by far the most expensive and delivered by far the best performance that graced my setup. With no change to the rigs, it is able to elevate the performance of my setup to a level of delicacy never before experienced. The minute changes in details and intensity in musical passage is second to none.

The transitional nuance (OK lar, microdynamics) between the softest and loudest passage alone was so captivating and delicate that it certainly mimic lifelike realism. The mid has got this classy elegance not easily found in lesser cables. Everything is portrayed in grainless manner, a quality I found in many hi-end rigs.

Cables below 10k have got a common tendency, to some extend, draw your attention to certain aspect of the sonic presentation. For example, AQ Anaconda has got the drive that would send you tapping your foot due to its bold and forceful drive. Stage III Magnus has got this rich harmonics and splendid highs that you would never fail to notice.

Some quibbles I have might be due to its overly done noise filtering network. With 2 huge chunks of ferrites per side, I sense certain shut-in in lower mids and slight bottom heaviness. Other than that, the cable gives perfect harmonic textures and density.

Forbes Lake exudes realism, classiness and grace to the presentation if your setup could live up to expectation.

We’ll have to wait to see if AQ Cheetah and Sky come any closer. Till then, it’s STATE OF THE ART!

The recent CDP comparisons have really opened my mind and enriched my knowledge, which I have never imagined gaining without years of bumpy rides!

I have been trying to replace my current CDP, tried Benchmark DAC1, no luck. Then I brought home the CEC TL51XR, the latest mid entry player from CEC. A belt driven transport with 24/192 DAC. Please be careful though, there are many players touting a 24/192 DAC, this only means that they are multibit players. They are not upsampling players, the players must explicitly state upsampling, or else, they are just 44.1 players.

Anyway, the CEC is no slouch a player. Giving instruments a complete harmonic texture with almost grainless presentation. Is this analogue sound? I'm not sure, but switching back to my Sony tells me surely that it is. The sound is rich and the mid is just smooth, tangible and densed. The Sony is a bit on the soft side, light weighted and grainy as compared to the CEC.

Technically, the CEC is very much more superior sounding than the Sony. There is no shortcoming in speed, drive and extensions. You want inner details? Plentiful. However, this player is neutral to a capital T! Well behaved and very much indifferent in presentation.

I once thought that the source should be as neutral as possible with almost no coloration at all. Hence, I normally stick to Jap players due to the cultural appreciation in freshness and rawness in food/seafood. And the CEC has got no problem in giving you this, everything is fresh from the CD with no additive at all!

However, when pitted against the behemoth Meridian G08, everything just paled down! The CEC lacked the extra zing, the quality to get you engaged in the music. Cheer track 11 seemed bland. Michelle's latest album brought no indulgence, too, she seemed like cold fish straight from track 1, which is not supposed to be!

With an entry level setup like mine, the CEC is able to give you well defined body, width and depth. But still, the cold fish nature is still very much apparent if you listen carefully. At sub 6K, I could be very much happy with it if my setup is on the bright side. Heck, with Stage III pure silver jumpers, I could bring more out from this player, but still a cold player it is.

TL51XR sure is sushi, just without wasabi!

naim cd5x - PRaT is a two-edged sword

if there is such thing called expedited learning then kc and i have the best of it in the last few months, trying out some really really esoteric stuff.

it is always fun doing a shootout in my system - the outcome will be known in practically seconds, due to the revealing nature of my system.

today, kc brought the following:

1) siltech G6 forbes lake (signature series), RM20,000

with a price tag like that, you would have expected that it would trash my stage III magnus (RM6,000) but it turned out to be a even contest. the siltech is even smoother and more refined than stage III, rendering minute details in a spectacular fashion. it is so classy and composed but alas, it is quite a slow cable compared to stage III. we suspect it is the network box (some sort of ferrite thingy) that causes all this slow speed.

both kc and i prefer the stage III magnus but our ears are opened by the superior refinement of the siltech forbes lake.

round 1 winner: stage III magnus

2) naim cd5x (RM10,000)

now, this is the most entertaining contest ever done in my listening hall. it is like pitting one hifi camp against another hifi camp.

pitting naim against the formidable meridian G08 is a suicidal act but we want to know how the new generation naim cdp actually fares.

playing naim cdp is akin to changing the drummer in a band, a drummer on steroid that is. the beat and rhythm of the naim makes every cd sounds like a pop cd! the drummer is always over eager and over enthusiastic member in the band, so much so the rhythmic foundation overrides the whole musical presentation. the drummer in naim cdp seems like drumming in isolation, totally out of sync with the rest of the band. the beat of the drum seems like in an auto-pilot mode, no matter what is the pace of the music!

this is fantastic for pop/rock music, we wouldn't be bothered with the out-of-sync drum but when you play female vocal audiophile type, that's where the naim sounded decidedly contrived. when we switched back to the meridian, ah, so nice and comfy. the drum effect slows down and follows the rest of the music in unison.

kc and i were so amused by this contrasting style of the two cdps.

the naim is suprisingly refined and elegant, tho' not to the exceptional standards set by the meridian. but it loses out to the meridian by a big margin in airiness, communication and emotioning.

the naim makes a singer sounds like she is a salaried worker, just wanting to get the job over and done with. but the meridian makes the singer such a wiling performer, belting the song with all her heart and soul.

this is a new generation naim for sure. it is much better than all the naim cdp i have heard in the past. for once, naim has class and refinement.

but seriously, the PRaT thing is a two-edged sword.

before shootout, kc had almost drawn out his cheque book and written a cheque to CMY but after the shootout, as usual, he was awaken.

round 2 winner: meridian G08