lily rehearsing in the studio. photo courtesy of avbuzz

cai qin aside, can you think of anyone else who can stage a big-scale concert in SG and HK? i mean, audiophile singer, not your regular pop singer.

yes, lily chen jie li from china! she with the ultra sweet voice from the rain forest label.

it shows that audiophile singers mean big business too.

here's hoping that more and more audiophile singers will attract the concert organizers.

but most importantly, come to malaysia la ;-)

the problem with chinese albums is they try too hard to have as many genres of sound as possible in one album... the great thing about miriam yeung's "meridian" is that it does not try to be anything at all

the year is closing and i am writing my last album review, which customarily, should be the top 10 albums of the year. the problem is, i don't have 10 in number because most of the chinese pop albums i heard on radio this year suck, i can only recommend one which has become my personal fave of 2007, despite negative feedback from some quarters in the internet.

(note: instead of nominating "the best cantopop album" and "the best mandarin pop album" separately, i will just lump this under "the best chinese album".)

the problem with today's chinese albums has always been that they try too hard to have as many genres of sound as possible in one album, at the risk of being labeled "safe" and "unadventurous". they want to be like the western artistes, so they experiment, so they have R&B, pop, ballad, rock, rap and whatnots all in one album and often times, the singer can't even deliver cos they are not so versatile as western artistes. the cantopop from HK are many times worse than the mandarin pop from taiwan in committing this sin. i ask you this - why is that teresa teng only sang chinese ballads and her music is so cherished and memorable? the beauty of chinese pop music has always been the melody. yes, the sweet melody. once you lose that element, you have lost the plot.

the beauty about miriam yeung's "meridian" is it does not try to be anything at all but just good cantopop music. yes, it doesn't have a standout song and yes, it is not exactly karaoke-friendly as her previous hit albums but to this reviewer who is so sick of the eason chans, the joey yeungs, the louis koos of cantopop, this album breathes like a cool breeze in spring time.

it has plenty of ballads but most of them are not overly commercial or have commercial motives. it takes a seasoned and mature artiste like miriam to throw away her commerial hat and attempt something totally un-mainstream and un-calculated. damn those cantopop albums, they are all made for awards, radio airplay, karaoke and commercial acceptance.

bravo to miriam for her bravery. to me, this is the meridian (high point) of miriam's career.

2nd hand cd biz is deader than dead now, according to proprietor naz

how do manage a biz that is ever changing?

when my ex-partner, naz, decided to close down music exchange last year due to high rental, he is left with a huge collection of CDs and LPs so it is only natural for him to continue the biz in another place with a different biz emphasis.

amcorp mall's flea market was the natural choice for him as it is already famous for 2nd hand CDs and LPs, but how to stand out from a dozen of similar stalls there?

early in 2005, naz bought an entire collection of rare LPs - for a song - from a woman who inherited from his dad who passed away a decade ago. apparently, her dad was such a crazy collector who scouted all over the world for jazz and blues LPs. those who were lucky to see it said it was the most precious and rarest of jazz collection in this world. initially naz only sold to his usual "kaki" and those lucky ones were absolutely delirious to find such titles going for less than RM50 on the average (one buyer actually estimated that any of those titles can fetch up to RM1,000 in ebay!) soon the news leaked out and all the major LP collectors in town - including those really low-profile and hardcore collectors - soon came to amcorp mall to harass naz for early-bird preview of this legacy stock. it was such a hoo-ha in the audiophile LP circle. this experience also made naz, who is a non-audiophile, a bit smarter.

naz slowly realizes that 2nd hand CDs are long dead and buried, only LPs can survive and only audiophiles are willing to spend on LPs. so slowly, he accumulates his stock, getting rid of all those unpopular CD and LP titles and slowly buying from overseas good LP titles of various genres such as jazz, rock, pop and classical. audiophiles will be delighted to find out that he has a cool collection of verve, CTI, blue note, living stereo, riverside, pathe, impulse, 180g ,200g, colored vinyls and many other labels.

at the same time, he rented a shop in peel road to house all his treasures, and customers can visit the shop by appointment.

at the last count, naz has accumulated more than 30,000 LPs, making him the biggest LP seller in malaysia.

Helter Skelter
6-3A-6 Queens Avenue,
Jalan Bayam, Off Jalan Peel,
55100 KL (Behind Carrefour)
Phone: 012-3801691
Price: Depends of title, condition rarity ( From RM5 to RM150 on average)

Opening Hours: By Appointment

many know me as a diehard planar+ribbon speaker supporter. my first love was given to the apogee and my 2nd and current love is with the magneplanar. a planar diehard would remain a planar diehard no matter what, even when people are accusing the planar of not doing enough bass and lacking dynamic punch. the thing is, a planar can do many things that a similarly-priced box speaker can't and it produces music like no other.

yet if i were to die today, i will regret of not having owned a martin logan, not exactly a planar but an electrostatic hybrid with an equally beguiling mids and one that excels in soundstaging. past detractors of martin logan have always been accusing the speaker's lack of integrity with its cone woofer but this accusation is justifiably brought to an end with the release of the "summit", its latest statement model.

moving ahead with times, martin logan has entered a new era with its latest release, the purity. purity is powered with a 200-watter digital amplifier hence it dispenses the need for external amplifier/s. what's more, it is made for the iPod generation, with host of system connectivity options. equipped with a standard line-level input, purity is able to connect directly to devices such as digital music players, flat screen televisions or even computers. additional speaker level inputs also allow purity to function in a more traditional receiver or pre-amp equipped 2-channel or home theater system.

like the summit, purity integrates perfectly with its high-resolution 6.5-inch aluminum cone woofers to supply an authoritative bass performance that will give most stand-alone subwoofers a run for their money.

retailing at RM13K, purity will definitely add class, elegance and great music to your home. the question is, are you ready for the great electrostatic sound?

norman audio (019-3189911)

Long time no write. :)
Anyway thought i share this music video with you all. The Police's Every Breath You Take is one of my all time favourite song. This is the parody version done by Dean Glenn Hubbard to spoof Ben Bernanke. Enjoy..

radiohead's website with its pay-as-you-wish digital download screen

echoing the unprecedented act of the recent radiohead's pay-as-you-wish digital download for their latest album, local chinese pop singer, penny tai, has also announced that she won't be releasing CDs anymore. instead, fans will find her singles being released periodically online for downloads.

these are shocking announcements by mainstream artistes. these must be the biggest experiments in digital-era music industry to date. have they grown tired of the middle-man (record labels, distributors, retailers)? or are they catering to their core fans who have stopped buying CDs? what are people willing to pay for music? how many will pay full price? will people pirate it anyway?

so many questions, so few answers.

here's my take but you don't have to agree with me. i gather my experience from observing behavioral patterns in younger generation like my cousins who are all in their early 20s. these young chaps may like music but it is just one of the many pastimes that are fighting for their increasingly short attention span. they have 20 times more entertainment options than folks who are now in their 30s, 40s or 50s. they have no loyalty towards any singer/artistes/bands. music to them is totally disposable - like it, download it, don't like it, trash it! it is only a mouse click's away from the recycled bin. they don't collect music like the older folks do; they are simply too busy.

true, the population of music listeners have increased many folds compared to that of a decade ago (and we have the downloads, mp3, ipods to thank), but does it represent an increase in CD sales? no way! so by making it free for online download, it does mean more young people are getting exposed to your music but does it mean these young folks will fork out money to buy it? i seriously doubt so.

i know, i know, there is another side of the argument. music labels have been having it easy for too long by charging $40 a CD with one good track and sue the customers for file-sharing. they claim that they needed the money to manage the artistes and pay all the overheads. i have no doubt that many young and net-savvy music lovers overseas are applauding radiohead's decision because these young music lovers respect intellectual property and are willing to pay for what they like. but in malaysia (and this part of the region) with our young citizens? you must be kidding!

as far as music industry is concerned, it is now living in the twilight zone. nothing is too obvious (except for the continued downward slide of CD sales and the merger/death of record labels) as to which "method" will prevail in the long run.

introducing pass labs' first integrated amplifier, one which promises to give local favourite and best-seller, the 150-watter bladelius thor, a run for the money.

the INT-150 is based on the company's acclaimed X-150.5 stereo amplifier. Design technology and refinements include pass labs' patented super-symmetry circuit, said to improve performance by precisely matching characteristics of the two halves of a balanced amplifier. Rated at 150 watt into 8 Ohms (300W@4 Ohms), same as the bladelius thor, INT-50 is touted to be dynamic and can drive difficult loads with ease.

get yourself a chinese new year present, watch out for its arrival at centre circle (03-77282686)....

listening to carpenters makes you forget that punk ever existed... this is how and what pop music should be

i have this urge every once in a while when i switch on my bedside personal lifestyle cd system to some local chinese radio stations - i feel like smashing my system to smithereens! my god, those chinese pop songs they play - for a chinese pop music connoisseur like me - are so unbearably trashy and crappy! my instant reaction is to switch to mixed FM or light & easy to seek solace and gratification. at least, i don't get angry listening to these stations despite the repetitiveness of the format radio. at least the music they play is great music.

i guess the same deterioration applies to western pop as well, tho' to a less degree. the problem with chinese pop music is, many singers are substandard and the music is too formulaic and predictable. that's why chinese cds have no collectible values, save for a few classic singers/titles.

baby boomers like us always reminisce about the good old days of pop music. the 60s were great with beatles and bee gees; the 70s even better; the 80s had the new wave, synth pop and new romantic; the 90s were not bad with the britpop, and far better than now, the 21st century! can you seriously name me any memorable acts since the dawn of the millennium?

call me old-fashioned and jaded middle-age, whenever i am upset with today's music, i dig out my collection of trusty cds, such as the carpenters' ultimate collection (double cd), which contains a whopping 30++ evergreen and bittersweet tunes that will surely soothe and rejuvenate your passion in music. listening to carpenters makes you forget that punk ever existed. this is how and what pop music should be; this is music that makes the listeners happy and sad; this is the reason why we love pop music.

what's your favourite cd(s) that you listen to to rejuvenate your jaded soul?

there's been talks about reviving musicexchange, the once most happening 2nd hand cd shop in kl....and yours truly is partly responsible for the resurrection.

it is going to happen in 2008. this time we are going to make it different, with live performances (acoustic set) by indie bands and singer-songwriters. it is gonna be a melting pot of indie cultures and non-mainstream music.

even talking about it makes me sweat with anticipation.

watch this space closely...

we (as in 2V1G and the producers) were invited to appear in stella inflight's IFE (inflight entertainment) chinese programme for the february CNY and valentine's slot. stellar group of companies, originated from australia offers a myriad of services, and its subsidiary, stellar inflight, provides IFE for several major airlines in the region. its clients include malaysian airline, qantas, air brunei and air new zealand.

frequent flyers would know that the IFE would invariably have a channel for chinese pop songs, with a host introducing the songs and some guest stars being interviewed.

stella inflight's office is located in damansara perdana and the office is posh and classy. the studio itself would have cost a few million dollars to set up, with good sound proofing (luxurious wood-paneling) and some serious pro gear. regine knows the audio engineer there, mr. edmus wong and suprise suprise the host for the progamme, happens to be a long-lost friend of mine, ms. amanda chong, a former RTM newscaster and drama actress.

the session was fun and lively and our girls (winnie and regine) answered every question posed by amanda with eloquence and intelligence. in fact, one thing i am proud about our singers is that they are both intelligent and articulate and speak perfect mandarin, besides have a great ability to sing.

of course, roger wang couldn't join us. in fact, we didn't reveal the trio's name, as "2V1G" is still a tentative name.

so, travellers who fly MAS, QANTAS, air new zealand and happen to travel in the "eventful" month of february, remember to tune in to the chinese pop channel!

in the mean time, we still have 6 more songs to go before we wrap up the recording. we want to complete it by the end of this month so that we would leave january for the all-important mixing and mastering. i have been asked frequently by many friends - when is the record out? thanks for the interest, guys!

check out avguide blog link on the right side where robert harley, TAS' editor-in-chief reported on the world's number 1 audiophile, a chinese no less.

while i admire the passion and unlimited wealth of mr. ji hui li, one simple question pops out from my inquisitive mind:

does he really have all the time to play all these massive collection of equipment and LPs/CDs? or is he a mere collector?

i read somewhere that "bigamy is having one wife too many; polygamy is also having one wife too many". haha. dear readers, what's your view?

when TICE came up with power conditioning devices in the 90s, many sceptics viewed it as unnecessary. a decade later, power management devices, to use a collective term are now the de rigueur of hifi. in malaysia, the leading brands are richard gray, shunyata, exact power and a couple of others. now, another player SINE, joins in the competition.

SAF 30A silver cryo power conditioner boasts the following features:

> 30Amps Hi-End EMI Filter is employed
> 12 AWG Solid Core Copper is used in internal wiring
> Extra thick Gold plated outlet and IEC male with Cryogenic Treatment
> Damping Material filled inside the chassis to reduce resonance and unwanted vibration
> 25 amps Circuit Breaker are with Cryogenic Treatment
> Equipped with Hi-End Grade Compensation Capacitor
> A Special compensation circuit to enhance the flow of the electricity
> 15mm Aluminium Alloy Chassis


Input Voltage: 100 - 250VAC / 50Hz - 60 Hz
Maximum Loading: 6600 Watts (220V), 3300 Watts (110V)
Dimension: (L) 290mm (H) 90mm (W) 125mm
Net Weight: 5.7 KG
Gross Weight: 6 KG
Colour: Black, Silver

Is it as good as it looks? the only way to find out is to call JR of CJ Audio. (40429429, 012-2950036)

** - means "simply amazing" in bahasa malaysia.

when it comes to musical talents among the various races in malaysia, i have always thought highly of the malays. veteran singers like sheila majid and zainal abidin and newer singers like dayang nurfaizah and now sean ghazi, all impress me with their vocal prowess, charisma and supreme showmanship

sean ghazi, he from the broadway heritage, is malaysia's answer to michael buble. just as buble pays tribute to frank sinatra, ghazi pays respect to the father of malay pop, p. ramlee, in a couple of timeless classics, in this highly acclaimed debut album. (note:the cover you are seeing now is the deluxe version with a vcd)

backed by an australian orchestra, ghazi alternates between his favourite broadway tunes, a pink martini's cover, an anneke gronloh's (a dutch/indonesian diva in the 60s) cover and some timeless p.ramlee's covers and some others, all with a delightful swing/big band sound. one simply couldn't believe that a malaysian singer can be so versatile.

even from the first track "semalam" (last night), an original composition by ghazi himself, you will smile approvingly as you sink yourself into the nostalgic feel yet modern arrangement, and ghazi's voice, oh, his voice, is the kind that can make any woman wussy and warm inside. step aside, buble!

a few songs stand out immediately, "rambut hitam, matanya galak" (black hair, beguiling eyes), an anneke gronloh's classic, has that elegant swing that invites you to sit up and dance and sway your hips. if you are too young to appreciate this, let your parents hear this and they will snap this cd away from you!

and p.ramlee's "hujan di tengahari" (rain in the afternoon) is modernized with a big band sound that will surely get the listener slow-dancing to the beautiful melody. it even has a musical passage of "singing in the rain" (as befitting the malay title) melody towards the end, such magical touch! ghazi's delivery is first-class, full of swing and rhythm, never missing a beat.

deliciously palatable, this CD is "sungguh mengkagumkan", definitely one of my top 10 albums in 2007. it has been a while i last heard a memorable cd from malaysia, regardless of language and genre. sean ghazi's "semalam" ranks high alongside sheila majid's "legenda" (1992) as musical breakthroughs in the local music industry.

to those expat readers, this is the best x'mas present for your overseas friends who want to sample some of the best music in malaysia.

what are you waiting for?

p/s sample tracks can be heard in sean ghazi's official website

i have always had respect and appreciation for young talented singers who bring classics/oldies with a new contemporary twist to the new generation of music lovers and in this respect, kudos to buble and david foster for reviving so many evergreen tunes in their last 3 studio albums, with audiophile-pleasing recording quality to boot.

since most of you have bought this album, i don't see the need to write a review. instead let's deal on its recording, which to me, scores at least a B+ in my sonics checklist. oh, this applies to US pressing only. those who have bought the malaysian pressing, like what reader nyaba said in his comment, it is good only for the dogs.

to appreciate buble's music, one must play loud, with at least 11 o'clock on your preamp volume pot. only then, the full intensity of the bass and dynamics will shine thru. and your system must have good highs, as there are plenty of brass instruments in the big band (what a band!). the highs must have sheen and adequate "brassiness" to make the band sound comes alive. in track #11, one of the best tracks in the album, a cover of elvis's calssic "always on my mind", one should hear the beautiful waves of of the string ensemble sweeping gracefully at the background. in lesser systems, this string section may be submerged or made insignificant. the piano lines have plenty of weights; one can feel every tinkling of the ivory with good density.

buble's music also has big dynamic swing and contrast, so your system mustn't be wimpy (puny 300B needs not apply, just joking). also the bass in buble's albums have been consistently good; it plumbs big depths so your system must do bass well.

buble's vocals are very textured and dense; it has plenty of emotions in the midrange. it must not sound thin!

it has been almost a year since av xpress' birth. i still receive occasional phone calls from dealers telling me that they want to advertise in av xpress.

but when i start telling them my marketing approaches, the positioning of the magazine, the distribution network, most of the times, it drew a blank on their faces. they simply don't understand (and appreciate) things like "independent" magazine, non-traditional distribution network and online marketing.

traditionally, a magazine needs to please advertisers because they need advertising revenue to survive. the magazine's publisher/editor needs to "spend quality times" with the advertisers to improve PR and to get the sales. and more often than not, the publisher needs to write pretty things about their products. the publisher/editor not only needs to be a good sales and marketing person, he also needs good PR, must be thick-skinned, able to handle the politics of the business and has tons of patience and perseverance. which, sadly, is not my forte. well, i am a pretty good marketer and i have decent PR; it is just that i don't sell out or please anyone, especially people i don't particularly fond of. to know oneself is half the battle won, haha.

call me unorthodox, un-business savvy, anti-establishment - i don't think that's the way i want av xpress to be. maybe i don't need to depend on av xpress for my livelihood, i dare to be bold about my approaches. that's cool.

local dealers, by and large, don't understand online marketing and they don't give two hoods about online audiophile community. true, the buying ones (mainly middle-aged audiophiles who are not internet savvy) are still shunning away from internet. but things are going to change with this blog and others like hifi4sale blog garnering loyal readers.

that's why i think av xpress is ahead of its time, in the malaysian context at least. given time and persistence, it will be a force to reckon with, that's my personal belief.

Veteran dealer, JR. Yan has started a new shop under the name “CJ Audio” and it is going to create a niche in the market by focusing on hifi accessories! JR feels that a lot of his customers can spend thousands of dollars on equipment yet they neglect the fundamentals of hifi, such as having good power and good contact via high-grade IEC outlets. A lot of these accessories are very affordable and they make a great impact in sound if applied properly.

CJ Audio specializes on accessories, be it power-related or LP (turntable)-related. Besides, it also deals with affordable cables, power cords, tweaks, jumpers and the like.
Most of the accessories are sourced from Hong Kong and China. Some of them like power filters are locally designed and assembled using imported parts. One of his key products is SINE from Hong Kong.

JR states that interested customers can loan some of these for their home trials with no obligation.

Talk to JR now and find out if your hifi is adequately accessorized. JR also promises to "belanja" new visitors, especially newbies, to a cup of cafe latte at the starbucks cafe on the ground floor!

CJ Audio
Unit 1.23, First Floor (Directly above Pizza Hut)
The Mall Shopping Complex
100 Jalan Putra
50350 KL

Contact : JR.Yan – 012-2950036

my fave cable manufacturer finally revamped its website after what seems like an eternity it looks really futuristic but uploading seems slow.

despite being a top-notch quality cable, stage III is very much cottage industry and operates in small scale compared to the likes of AQ, MIT and transparent. part of the reason is due to the designer's insistence on doing everything by hand and sourcing everything from US of A. this way of doing business is rare but it also explains why they are so good.

i don't need to change my stage III cables for the next 3-5 years, that's how happy i am with them.

local dealer: audio art (012-5201066)

Some crazy guys including my partner and myself have gone nuts when we have discovered the weakest link in our typical mid to high-end car audio. Top-notch equipment alone and tuning expertise of well-known enthusiast and competition cup holders just does not cut it when what we are seeking is analog (vs. digital) sounding and tonal quality close to the best of home audio or actual performances. We are two certifiably crazy dudes that are willing to venture into the unthinkable even when it means spending more time and money than actually making money, seriously! Besides, the importance of proper signal cabling in our car audio system and a robust power supply to the equipment, our attention has gone to examining quality of crossover components that come with typical car audio components or even the active/powered ones from external processors or crossovers built into the player or amplifier. Understanding the different materials used in capacitors and inductors/coils can be interesting but what really drives us is the end results. Simply satisfying beyond what we have experienced in conventional car audio! Cost aside... :P

publisher of absolute sound and hifi+ has just launched an online music journal called "playback". i spent a good hour downloading it and reading the contents and i am glad to say i find the whole idea smart and makes business sense.

you often see hifi magazines having music as a by-product or secondary contents, playback turns the table around - it is a music magazine with hi-fi as a by-product and i think this is damn cool.

first, you will attract more readers (you know hifi mag readers are dropping by the day), those musicphiles as well as audiophiles. musicphiles don't mind reading secondary contents about hifi to find out how to improve their systems but they would definitely not touch a hardcore hifi magazine. whereas audiophiles would read playback to find out what software (CDs or LPs) to buy, in addition to their regular hifi diet. either way, you win.

malaysia has done this via the MUSIC magazine a couple of years ago but it was such a disastrous project. the contents were poor (predominantly focusing on boring classical music) and very few hifi dealers advertised in it.

let's hope that playback will succeed in converting more musicphiles into audiophiles.

i have always wanted to add interesting audio-related feeds to this blog but i don't want to clutter up things. today, out of inspiration, i have added the following: (please look on the right side of this screen), please scroll down....

1) ear doctor's story - taiwanese ear specialist's audio escapades. be warned, ear doctor is into ultra high-end, so are all his doctor friends! you will notice that taiwanese audiophiles love clearaudio, wilson, siltech, mbl and ARC! almost all doctors in taiwan use ARC R3 preamp! this is a mandarin blog. fret not, you can still admire the beautiful pixs. (ear doctor is also a fantastic photographer!)

2)little kc's audio blog - interesting and hardcore hifi blog from our ex-blogger, who is now residing in tiny dot. kc dabbles in many brands that are unheard of in malaysia. it's in mandarin tho' :-(

3) hifi 4 sale - this is fast-emerging as the echoloft of malaysia, with many secondhand stuff updated daily. alas, we have an exciting online marketplace in malaysia!

4) the absolute sound - the most authoritative audio magazine on earth. it would be great if HP blogs too ;-)

hope you like these little additions.

it is quite regressive when digital technology is so advanced these days that audiophiles are still going back to the (concept of) analogue sound. i am writing this topic because i am one of them.

you may argue that if you want analogue sound why not play turntable or cassette but that's missing the point. i am telling you that you can get quite some measure of analogue sound even from digital playback like cd. my co-blogger here, mikey, can tell you that as a car audio consultant, he too embraces the analogue sound, that's why he is strongly advocating analogue-sounding head units by the likes of mccintosh.

the main 'problem' with digital playback - especially for car audio - is that it can sound a tad too artificial, bright, thin, shrilly and cold. how then would we be able to convert this sound to a fuller, thicker, bodied and warmer sound, which essentially and collectively constitute what we call the analogue sound? better still how could we combine the best of analogue with good attributes of today's digital playback (such as a quieter noise floor, clean highs and bass)? it is possible, let me tell you.

i am not going to reveal the whole recipe, as it takes years of experiment, system matching and trial and error. of course, a tube-based system helps a lot. i am not saying that you can't achieve analogue sound with a solid-state-based system but it is much harder. just the same, a lot of tube-based system sounds mushy, coloured, overly-romantic, ill-defined ("mong) and" slow.

a good power line management system like the shunyata hydra is absolutely essential. (cos it lets your system perform to the best of its ability, sans the nasties in the power line) in my case, it transforms my system from a rather showy and hi-fi-ish sound to one that is essentially, for want of a better word, analogue-sounding. the shunyata is also stunningly airy and atmospheric.

in the past, i am a sucker for highs, the more extended the better. i did achieve that - rather spectacularly - with the combination of ribbon tweeters, silver interconnects and richard gray but in the long run, it proved to be too much of a good thing. too showy and too attention-seeking. i soon grew tired of that.

to me, highs must be still extended but it must also have body and meat and most importantly, it must not rob the midrange of its body as well. now that's where the compromise/dilemma lies. too much highs and lean mids can often result in better image delineation, giving the illusion of "sharp focus and better imaging". but in real life, images of vocalists are often fuzzy and "fat" and not really as focused. once you get a full midrange, you often lose out in the image/focus department.

in short, the analogue sound i am seeking is one that is full of liquidity, warmth, richness, meat and devoid of digital artifacts like what commonly plaguing most car audio and many home audio systems. the acid test for this is, for me at least (let me qualify this statement carefully lest i offend people) is to check whether your system can play multi-instrument multi-musician studio recorded pop albums. on most systems, car audio notably, these kind of recordings often sound harsh and over-bearing. if you dismiss that as "oh, this cd is badly recorded" then most likely you are running away from the reality ;-)

if you can achieve the above, coupled with the clarity, pristine highs, airiness, quiet noise floor, better headroom, good bass of modern digital playback, you would then have some kind of best-of-both-worlds combination. and my friend, that's where audio nirvana is.

fake ARC amps have been found in hk!

the fakes are easily identified by the sticker (like the one in the picture) which carries the serial number. the real mccoy has it engraved on the metal chassis (as all ARC fans should know).

i wonder how the fake ARCs sound like!

Sounds like a cool name for a band, isn't it? Simo Disc Repair Machine Revives Your Bad Discs!

Music lovers who have kids or pets at home will sure encounter this - damaged or scratched optical disc like DVDs, CDs that are unplayable. You just don’t know what to do with them. Throwing them away is such a waste but having them around is also an eyesore.

Fret not. SIMO's new Disc Repair/Cleaning machine is just the solution you need. Even if your discs are still playable, you can use SIMO to help clean and maintain your collection of disc to its original pristine condition!

Simo can repair/clean CD, CD-R, CD-RW, VCD, DVD, DVD+-R, DVD+-RW, GAME DISC, PS II, X-BOX DISC and other optical discs. It supports 12cm and 8cm disc.

Usual Price:SIN$270.00/each.
Intro Price: SIN$240.00/each.

Reserve your unit today @ MUSICLINK AV DISTRIBUTION
100 BEACH ROAD, #02-46-49
TEL: 62911106

many of my audiophile kaki told me that i am a rare audiophile in that i don't quite subscribe to audiophile cds. instead, my main diet is pop cds!

over the past 3 years, i have many cds that impressed me musically and sonically, but i find myself going back and forth to the same couple of cds whenever i need some "shiok sendiri" self-ingratiating satisfaction from listening to my system.

these three cds have continually given me immense joy and pleasure.

(1) cheer chen's [a glamorous adventure] (top in the picture)

this is fast-becoming my best chinese pop CD for the last decade. i own 4 different pressings - china, taiwan, hk and malaysia. the quality of the music and recording puts shame to many of today's chinese pop albums.

cheer chen has become quite legendary in that she is the only indie singer-songwriter that rose to mainstream fame. and this cd has a lot to do with her unwavering status in the chinese pop.

try playing track #7 "self" in full blast. the full glory of cheer's angelic voice coupled with the intensity of the melodious soup of noise come unabated. i get multiple aural orgasms every time i listen to this track.

trust me, if you only listen to western music and think lowly of chinese pop music, this album could very well change your perceptions.

and the recording, my oh my, is simply marvelous.

(2) deserts zhang xuan's [my life will] (left in the picture)

zhang is a breath of fresh air, much like cheer chen when she first came into the scene 10 years ago. But zhang is rockier and edgier. her guitar-playing is not as delicate as cheer chen (Cheer's chording is more sophisticated) but just as effective no less. think alanis morissette and suzanne vega rolled into one.

this superb recording is raw and zingy and the ambience is warm and airy. in no way should your system present a sissy and tame sound with this CD. it should have plenty of oomph and drive.

only in taiwan will you find talent like zhang xuan. and only in taiwan will you find chinese pop recordings with such finesse.

(3) a-ming's [someday, somewhere, someone] (right in the picture)

this is my fave audiophile CD for the past couple of years, not so much because of a-ming's singing but the supreme recording that comes with it.

you definitely need a top-notch tube amp to fully enjoy the glory of this sumptuous recording. the liquidity of the midrange, the layering and separation of the musicians in this cd is par excellence. a-ming 's singing may be weird, especially his english diction but you can't take away his musicality.

this is the best cd from the catalogue of abc records (an audiophile label started by simon tsui), which apparently has suspended its business due to legal problems with their teresa teng releases. what a shame.

Another new cable manufacturer enters the already saturated market of audiophile cables! Black Rhodium is from UK, not exactly a land famous for audiophile cables, as far as Malaysian audiophiles are concerned. But things are going to change with Black Rhodium garnering rave reviews in many Hi-Fi magazines.

We have tried their POLAR series of power cords and came away very impressed. All “POLAR” cables are Deep Cryogenically Treated by Frozen Solid Audio Limited in a process specifically designed to meet the needs of Black Rhodium’s high performance audio cables. The special Cryo treatment results in stunning clarity, rich overtones and crystalline highs. It also adds depth in music as a result of more precise imaging and a quieter background. Starting at RM1,800 for the Polar Knight (2.0m), Black Rhodium is fiercely competitive.

As far as we know, Black Rhodium is one of the very few who offers Cryo treatment at this price point. Siltech and Stage III concepts are the other two, though they play at a higher level playing field.

Home Audio Design. (012-3223239)

the whole production team went to no black tie tonight and watched the singer-songwriters round organized by pete teo.

it was a stunning night of good music and exemplary showmanship. of the four singer-songwriters, pete teo and mia palencia stood heads and shoulders above the rest. mia was especially outstanding. from a top-notch jazz vocalist to a guitar-playing singer-songwriter, her progress in music is nothing sort of phenomenal. both regine and winnie were so enthralled by mia's performance that winnie uncontrollably uttered to me halfway thru the show, "leslie, i think i want to quit 2V1G project now. mia makes me feel so small and little." i can empathize with her because when you compare chinese pop delivery with western pop delivery, the latter is so much more expressive and entertaining. the right words to use on mia palencia are "commanding presence". she is such a entertainer on stage; she is born for the stage and she belongs there.

the same goes for pete teo. he is such a natural performer. whether you like his music or not, you can't deny that this seasoned troubadour is witty, charming and convincing on stage. from loud sing-alongs to tiny whispers, pete had the audience sitting on the edge of their seats to savour every minute of his poetry. he is so very good.

back to the studio, regine was recording one of my fave songs in the album, 心动 (tempting hearts). for reasons best known to her, she started weeping during one of the takes and we have to take a short break because of that. female singers are sensitive souls; they can weep when the sentiments call for it. we wonder if the song touches her or that she is frustrated with herself for not getting the right feel for the song.

from commanding diva to weeping songstress, music makes the world go round. my world, for sure.

If you are having problems with noise from your car hi-fi, specifically irritating alternator whines that comes and goes or permanently haunts your music enjoyment, I may have a remedy for you.

Causes of alternator whines or locally termed "aeroplane noise" are bad wiring (running signal cables and wire cables together), a weak battery or charging sytem, bad grounding or ground loops and in many cases cheap amplifiers that are prone to a high noise floor.

If you are haunted with alternator whine and additional grounding does not fix it then you might want to consider this gadget. Unlike the suppressors you see being used by low end installers, this really works without actually limiting the current flow or in layman's term supressing the power.

The Cap 33 works like a small capacitor and is only rated at 33,000 (μF) microfarad. You basically connect it between your car's battery and it's alternator. More details in the Helix website - Audiotec Fischer or contact Autocraft Electronics (M) S/B @ 603-80709231

Shanling MC-3 High-end Music Centre

Even China is catching up with the rest of the world! China Hi-fi manufacturer Shanling has released an iPod-compatible, fully integrated audio system. The MC-3 combines a high quality CD player, tuner, dedicated iPod input and tube power amplifier all in one chassis.

The CD player is a top-loading Philips VAM-12 pick-up mechanism with a high-quality analogue tuner and a full iPod interface. It uses a high quality Burr-Brown PCM1738 DAC chip, as used in many high end CD players, with upsampling to 24bit/192KHz.

The amplification stage uses a pair of 6P1 single-ended tube in the output stage. The whole package oozes class with its incredibly stylish stainless steel chassis.

MC-3 could be your solution if you are looking for a compact system without compromising on sound and build quality! Audio Synthesis 012-3203380.

just got my hk pressing from yes!asia online cd store. now this is what i call an audiophile cd.

those who have bought the malaysian pressing, sorry, mate, please throw it away or chuck it into the drain. it is at best 60% of hk pressing. hk pressing is richer, more transparent, more air, more details, better imaging...more of everything. even the printing is more superior.

to universal malaysia, you also screwed up the 2nd photo in the booklet. so much for made-in-malaysia goods.

this is one last straw for me. never ever again.

note: i was told that universal malaysia only brought in a single batch of 100 pieces of hk pressings, so you have to be fast if you want to buy the imported version locally.

tonight's recording session ended earlier than expected cos our winnie girl is tired and totally off form. her voice is lethargic and uninspired. my producer decided to call the session off.

regine had earlier recorded 黄莺莺 (tracy huang) 哭砂 (crying) in the afternoon. i took a listen. it was a very emotive and excellent recording.

we will be taking tomorrow's evening off to attend the singer-songwriter round in no black tie. mia palencia and pete teo will the artistes performing at the gig.

have you ever fallen in love just by listening to your fave singer(s) singing infront of you? seriously, you should experience that at least once in your lifetime.

tonight we begin the all-important stage of our recording - vocal recording. previously, our singers have only been practising leisurely while roger played his guitar. now they have to sing like a real pro. and sing they did. and i was practically moved to tears, not to mention my goose bumps were all raised.

the AKG mic gives out superb tonality - clear, rich, layered and textured. listening to winnie's voice coming out from AKG is worth a million dollars. my dealer-friend michael describes this experience succinctly - "so sweet and full of emotions that one is salivating and perspiring over with excitement". yes, it is that superb. our astro champ is simply the best malaysian singer that i have ever heard in a long time. our recording engineer, vong and producer, chow, kept joking that winnie sounded a lot like fish leong, their former protege, in certain parts of the singing. i interjected and said that winnie is even better than fish leong because she has a wider vocal range and a far more expressive voice. whereas winnie commented the similarities could be due to the fact that both fish and her like sandy lam a lot and they were influenced heavily by sandy.

singing in duet 陈洁仪 kit chan's [喜欢你] (liking you), winnie is all sweet and demure (you can detect her smiling when she sings) while regine is equally convincing with her dulcet voice and her healing-from-love-lost voice. i even dare to say if kit chan were to listen to it, she would approve it instantly.

it was exciting and eye-opening too to see how my producer, chow, "designs" the two-part duet with vocal backup and harmonization. i can tell you that only with the right vocal backup and harmonization the song will come alive. it is like decorative accessories on a beautiful woman; with the right accessories, a beautiful woman will look even more radiant and sparkling. ditto for a good song. it is beautiful to hear how winnie and regine backs up each other in the duet.

i was foolish to listen too much to the raw mix cd from the practice sessions, half knowing that the raw mix is the worst and rawest version of the recording (even worse than demo), and made some premature conclusions. the raw mix is supposedly just a guide and should be listened only by the producers and singers and not third-parties. i will be wiser the next time around.

if the ensuing 11 songs are as good as this one then i will go completely gaga. i can't stand such subliminal delivery. i will die of extreme joy and enjoyment.

absolutely incredible.

p/s i can't take photos as i don't want to disturb our singers during vocal recording

roger showed his real substance in the last session of the recording, a positive sign that he is getting the hang of playing chinese ballads. which poses a question to us - are we going to re-do the previous songs? in the end, we chose to re-do 3 songs from the last two sessions.

it was great delight to see the real roger wang at play, his full mastery is evident in the jazz-meets-classical-meets-pop song [我要我们在一起] ("we want us to be together", original sung by 范晓萱 mavis fan) where it takes a guitarist of the highest order to emulate the piano prelude of the original song. winnie was visibly impressed with roger's arrangement and if all goes well, this is going to be our hit single.

as an indication of roger's come of age with chinese ballads, we did a record 7 songs in the short span of 3 days, with most songs taking only 4 takes to complete. that was a remarkable feat. even roger himself is pleased with his productivity. so we rewarded him with more pork dishes! i think out guitar man has put on weights after his 3 trips to kl!

we re-do the guitar for [回家] "coming home" as we felt that winnie's intensity doesn't not match roger's casual picking. in the end, roger added more appergios and winnie reducing her rubato to make the whole song faster and less draggy. this is going to be one refreshing cover!

my favourites for this session, apart of from winnie's [我要我们在一起], is regine's [心动] (tempting hearts). the guitar intro by roger is heartbreakingly beautiful; it pierces thru the listener's heart and make it bleed, this is the most romantic song of the album. regine's rendition has the appropriate measure of romantic sentiments too. superb ballad!

two dealers, wong tatt yew of audio note and michael ng of audio creation respectively, paid a visit to the studio over the weekend. i guess that now that they have witnessed our recording process, they would have no choice but to give me sponsorship money ;-)

as we bid farewell to roger at the LCCT airport, my producer chow shook hands with roger and said, "thanks for the talents, roger". i guess that sums up our sentiments towards our guitarist, without whom this project would never be complete.

Many music lovers have started yearning for compact lifestyle systems in their bedroom. It has to look cool and stylish and the sound has to be good. To some, Tivoli Audio has answered their prayers with supremely stylish lifestyle systems. But to many, Tivoli Audio is still considered high-end.

Here comes ENZER Gold Harmoni Personal Music Center, with a styling that is sure to please a price tag that won’t hurt your pocket. Crafted from a single continuous wood, the Harmoni sounds every bit as great as its looks. It houses a CD player, a tuner and an alarm clock to wake you up, in case you get too indulged in the music. The CD sound quality is pristine with good bass response.

Retailing at less than a grand, The Harmoni has been a best-seller for Enzer since its launch.

Call Enzer Malaysia 03- 2092 1660 to find out more about this great product.

i realized that i had been focusing on the quality of music in my review and didn't talk much about recording so here's an addendum.

the recording quality is good but it just doesn't have the richness and warmth that i yearn, considering that my system (for a cd-based system) is already very analogue and rich-sounding. taken in that view, i would expect this cd to sound a bit anaemic in most systems.

but i like the hall ambience and airiness. the musicians are spaced out quite sparsely around the stage (you can double check by watching the excellent accompanying dvd) hence giving the whole presentation a "distant" and less "intimate" feel, compared to, say, jian pain zi part 1.

having listened to it for more than 10 times now, i still would not retract my negative comment that the arrangement is too old-school and classical for my tastes.

i would post another review on the recording once i receive my HK pressing.

i write this review after listening to this cd for 5 rounds, to make sure that i am fair. frankly, i am not even the slightest moved by cai qin's renditions. 一点感动都没有. i even fell asleep halfway during the playback.

what went wrong? the arrangement. no disrespect for the award-winning producers/arrangers, but the arrangement here is too safe, too easy-listening and lacking the creativity, clever improvisation and sparks of a one-take recording. these are essentially perfect pop songs but they were given a rather academic and chinese classical (read boring) treatment, resulting in the songs losing some of its pop sensibilities. i would expect the kind of exciting arrangement like 金片子(jin pian zi), cai qin's previous studio album. in fact, some of the golden classics like jacky cheung's 吻别 (goodbye kiss) and dave wang jie's 一场游戏一场梦 (a game and a dream) sounded contrived with the unimaginative arrangement.

what's left then is cai qin's voice to carry the whole weight of the song. as usual, her velvety voice and rich tones are every audiophile's delight. the recording, too, is excellent, tho' nothing near to the standards of jin pian zi part 1.

the best song for me is track 11, lo da you's 海上花. the rich ambience of the concert hall is fully heard and the soundstage is well laid out, with the whole ensemble spread out nicely around cai qin.

i won't say that this is a poor album but coming from cai qin and the top-notch production team which includes maestros like eik yew goh of hugo as the recording engineer, this is a mild disappointment and definitely a letdown to the most highly anticipated album of the year.

[post script]
there are two pressings here. the malaysian pressing is selling for RM49.90 at victoria; the HK pressing is selling more than RM65. i haven't compared the two pressings yet as i still haven't gotten my HK pressing.

music: 3.5 out of 5
sonics: 4 out of 5

What do you get when you team up an automotive firm with the pioneer of digital audio? A terminally cool product, that is for sure. In conjunction with Meridian’s 30th anniversary and Ferrari’s 60th, the Meridian-Ferrari partnership is looking to sweep the rug out from under your current home entertainment setup with the F80. The funky F80 is an oddly-shaped and still mysterious "home entertainment center." Aside from looking more like a semi-circle and less like an AV component, the device purportedly packs DAB / FM / AM tuning, a CD / DVD player (no word on HD DVD / Blu-ray just yet), and 80-watts of power dispersed through the two front-firing speakers and rear-mounted subwoofer.

The F80 is out now in five official Ferrari colours – yellow, silver, red, white and black – while limited edition luxury finishes will be unveiled later this year. Retailing at RM11,800, not exactly cheap but it sure boosts your ego factor!

You can visit AV Synergy in Amcorp Mall (012-3310223) if you can't wait 'til race day!

One of the biggest spin off in the iPod series is the amazing number of accessories developed for the iPod audio players. It's a whole industry of its own. I am guilty of spending a small fortune on these things as well ranging from docking stations, remote controls and of course, external speakers.

The latest and greatest made-for-iPod external speakers to date is the B&W Zeppelin. I was very interested when I heard that B&W has gotten into the iPod bandwagon. Being a B&W fan (speakers and of course BMW cars as well.. .), I went to the B&W showroom in HK a week ago to listen to it. Unfortunately the manager told me that it will only be available in Dec or early 2008. What an anti-climax...

Hence I was rather surprised when I saw this speaker unit in the local Apple dealer (which B&W showroom swore is a grey import) in the mall just now. While I did not have time nor was it the right environment to test it out, what I heard playing through it was lovely. Good tight bass, lovely mids and highs. This is definitely the one to go for if you are in the market for a pair of iPod speakers.

The only thing that may stop one from buying it is the price. It sells for USD599 in the US and HKD6,750 (about RM2,800) here in HK. You can pick up a decent mini system for that price that plays CD/DVD and comes with a radio. The B&W is only an amplified speaker unit with no frills except for a basic remote control unit for your iPod. It does have aux in though in case you want to connect other audio players to it.

Worth the money? For the sound... I would be very tempted though.

the undisputed queen of chinese audiophile music is back with yet another smouldering hot audiophile cd! this time, cai qin covers classic hits by legendary singers such as jacky cheung, dave wang jie, angus tung and phil chang. anticipation runs highs as these songs are the best songs in the chinese pop history, can cai qin outdo the original singers?

from what we read, it is recorded in one-take using some esoteric microphone and mastering is done in germany.

is it another best-seller in the making? we are waiting with bated breath. watch out for a review here!

p/s i am organizing a group buy so that you can enjoy a good discount.... stay tuned!

It is ever so often I meet someone and the conversation goes to the part where we ask what you do for a living. My quick answer would be, I am a car audio consultant or at times I'll say that I am a car audio distributor.
Speaking to a person that is not all that familiar with car audio can be quite challenging. Well, I take that back, not challenging per se but tactfully amusing. Almost automatically, as a gesture to keep the conversion going, the person may ask me how much does car audio cost. Such a simple question yet I have to pause briefly. What will you reply?

I have to keep in mind that the masses know they have a cd player and it's either a sony, clarion or something that starts with an A. It came as an OEM or it was once changed to an aftermarket replacement when the original konked out. I have to remind myself that they do not listen to audiophile cds or anything close to it and the younger generation may say, ya mp3s!! while the older will nod their head telling me which radio stations. For added enjoyment gospel comes to mind and as a distraction for the kids, childrens songs is a must.

My initial answers to these questions were full of explanations. Since I focus a lot on high-end gears, it is hard to give an approximate figure. I came to realize the more they nodded, the more they could be lost. I understand too that if I mention that depends on the budget, it could sound like I am trying to find out how much they can afford.

Now I find it simplier to give a response by asking a question or two in return. Are you a music lover? Do you know what an audiophile is? The reply helps me figure out how much interest is actually tied to the question and if they have the knack to understand what it takes to reproduce good music.
Suprisingly, most people have the love for music but not enlighten enough about the industry. If only we audiophiles can spread the word around (just like many people do in MLMs), we will help our music, audio and related industries to grow exponentially. Look at how the AV shows and computer fairs are starting to become.
People go for bargains rather than to learn the emerging developments in the industry. We seriously need to open up rather than to keep it to ourselves. It would be cool if we can get them to read the desirable audio boutique blog for a start.

our former blogger kc (aka little kc) is now a reviewer in an online hifi site, i believe he is the first malaysian to be invited to an international online hifi publication.

here's his debut review article...

(note: the last character is "m"... i don't know why it is half hidden!)

way to go, young man!

SCM 19


i am just helping a friend...

we are offering the following ATC entry series loudspeakers (brand new) at 40-50% discount off normal retail price:

[2] ATC SCM 11
[3] ATC SCM 19

we offer a standard 6-year warranty. we also stock original parts.

limited stock. first come first served. ATC's website

interested for an audition, please contact me at 012-2083790.

desperately seeking andy gibb shadow dancing

let me share with you my bizarre experience. remember i told you that i used to entertain audiophiles in my house regularly, during the heat of my hifi passion. and amazingly, many of my CDs had gone missing along the way. i couldn't figure out why but i suspect there are some thieves among those visiting audiophiles. among the CDs i lost are norah jones come away with me (USA pressing), andy gibb shadow dancing (the subject of this post), carpenters greatest hits (gold disc) and many others. now that i have practically stopped entertaining people, i haven't since lost a single CD... i think i know who is the thief ;-)

anyway, i greatly treasure my andy gibb shadow dancing and this cd has long been discontinued. if you were a teenager in the early 80s, you would know why i am so crazy over this CD. lo and behold, i found it on ebay! being an ebay virgin, i didn't consult anyone and went on straight to bid for it....

for the first few days, i remained the highest bidder and i was so confident of getting the CD. but dang!, i didn't know that in the game of bidding, the last few minutes/seconds before the bidding ends is what that counts most! as a result, i was outbidded by not one, but three buyers! i was a sore loser and i promise to be wiser the next time.

but you know what's the most frustrating thing? from amazon to ebay, many sellers just don't entertain malaysian buyers. i knew this all along when i shopped for hifi stuff (e.g. tubes) in USA sites but i thought that was 5 years ago??? no, they still think malaysians are fraudsters.

so i consulted my friend, an ebay expert and a fanatic music lover from the oz, and you know what is his sage advice - "just wait for the reissue la! the sound gonna be better and you may even get bonus tracks!".

but friend, you are not an audiophile la! who wants reissue?

I almost bought a hacked (to unlock the SIM-lock to the US AT&T) iPhone when I saw it a few weeks ago in my regular shop... until I asked whether the firmware can be upgraded... and the answer was no. Is that important? To me it is becoz a lot of gadgets are sold these days without thorough user testing and there will almost always be a need to upgrade the firmware in the future.

But the iPhone is a very enticing piece of gadget... imagine a phone, wifi internet browsing, iTunes compatibility in a sexy design and a brilliant touch screen user interface. There are shortcomings though... like only 8Gb storage, no external memory card slot, built-in battery that cannot be changed like normal mobile phones and no 3G (only the slower Edge).

Apple has also launched the iTouch, which is an iPhone without the phone bit. This goes up to 16Gb of built-in memory. And that's the problem because both devices are great video playback devices but with only 8 or 16Gb storage, that's hardly enough for both music and videos. And the iPhone is not much more expensive than the iTouch (considering you are actually getting a mobile phone in an all-in-one device).

So I think I will wait... until the iPhone Gen 2 comes out with at least 60Gb storage, replaceable battery pack and 3G (better still HSDPA or 3.5G).

some things are better late than never. when my producer handed me this cd and asked me if i have listened to it before, i shook my head. the closest i get to rickie lee jones is her chart hit 'chuck e in love' and that was way back in the early 80s.

jones' music style is both idiosyncratic and distinctive. her music can go from free-verse beat poetry, jazz flourishes, torchy balladry to really bohemian stuff. her voice is playful and plaintive, worldly and coquettish, indeed one of a kind. in many songs here, her voice wavers and floats over the lyrics, dreamily, as if she couldn't care less how she sings. which is really really cool for someone who is unfamiliar with her works.

"pop pop" is full of smooth and laid back covers of some jazz standards and oldies, delivered in jones' inimitable style. her delivery is vulnerable or even flirtatious, depending on how you look at it. she caresses each note as if she is teasing with it. she has a way to make the listener weak in his knees. opener "my one and only love" gives me plenty of goose bumps. in somewhat uneven phrasing, jones' voice cracks, fades into a whisper, then comes back up; this is the most free-form of jazz i have ever heard. quite amazing.

but my absolute fave is "hi-lili hi-lo" with the starting verse "a song of love is a sad song, ask me how I know" delivered in possibly the coolest manner by jones. i adore this song so much that i think this album is worth listening just because of this song!

stark, naked and emotive, that's how i would describe this album if i were to describe it in three words. overall, the arrangement is sparse and the musicians are top-notch. recording too is superb, very analogue and "thick-sounding".

i believe this album is out of print since it was released in 1991. but i am going to get this regardless. delicious stuff.

music: 5 out of 5
sonics: 4 out of 5

[trial listening]

Over the past weeks I've noticed in scrutiny how people select/buy their car hi-fi largely based on looks alone. How can this be and how can people pre-judge based on appearance? Okay, it could be safe to say that an experienced buyer may be able to guess how a speaker will perform using paper vs. aluminium vs. pp cone midrange or metal vs. silk dome vs. glass tweeters. However upon closer inspection, some of us may have experienced or be suprised how smooth some metal dome tweeters can sound or how smooth sounding good silver cables can be .

Vendors are also smart in manipulating this by pointing out certain products are better than the other because of certain materials or construction being used (half of which are copycats and do not work as intended), which could be true if the person has done his comparisons but in many cases it is pure sales talk. Worst of all if he/she has not even tried or auditioned the product.

Did you know that we see things at 1,086 miles per second and we hear at 1,100 feet per second? Our culture is speeding up because it’s crafted a "seeing is best" mindset. We have television, internet, movies, the list goes on. If the visual world is communication, then is it based on visual alone? It seems to be heading in that direction, doesn't it?

If only we can transform into bats and use our sonar chirps or a dolphin with our sonar clicks, we can understand how to see with sound. In order to hear, truly hear, we must slow down to what seems like a baby crawl in comparison to the speed of light and our sight’s reflection.

Possibly feelings come into play in our selections, differing from male and female. What could be the speed of feeling? Is it faster or slower than light or faster or slower than hearing? And how is it being quantified or tested; measured by feet or by miles? No one really knows, yet can it be measured and if it was you, what would that be?

Feeling is instinctive and touch/smell is a sense. Could feeling be a sense as well? What is different between feeling and hearing? Is there a definition to its difference? Do you sit and watch television with a sense of touch or smell? Have we ever thought of hearing a television program by turning our backs to the telebox? Why not? Why not try it and feel this exact disconnect, this gap, that I'm talking about. Strain your ears to hear. Learn again what it means to hear and what brings sight and sound together?

We see a picture of a perfect 10 women, so beautiful that you want her or if you're a woman, want to be like her. You meet her in the streets one day and hear her voice. It squeaks as if you were running a chalk backwards across a blackboard. You can't wait to run and hide. The disconnect, the gap, was there. But gosh, darn it, she’s a 10, you say. In a split second from sight to sound, the desire to be like her to have her dropped, it wasn't the same.

What would change in your selection if you began really hearing, slowing down to 1,100 feet per second? What would you loose? or rather what would you gain? Would the gain be positive? All thoughts to think about, to mull over in our simple yet complicated little minds.

It should be encouraged to shift a little in your life and begin to give equal value to hearing if you can. To listening to the universal sounds, to what is far below the speed of light. Light that gives you the ability to see. But to begin to see with your ears. A phrase frequently used, "It's not what you say but how you say it". All our senses are on different parts of our rainbow. Don't loose sight of hearing. Practice differently today and tomorrow. Lie in bed and hear the surroundings, the walls. Hear the breeze whenever outdoors. Hear the trees and plants grow. Yes, you can once you learn to hear again. Hear your heart beating and learn how to discern between sight and sound. Close your eyes in the next meeting, what do you hear? What do you not?

It is unfortunate we are not babies, thus it takes a longer time for us to develop our brains to stimulate our listening capabilities. In hi-fi terms, learn how to critical listen. I'm not talking about putting yourself into listening fatigue but practicing how to enjoy music at a different level. Enjoy your sound system but not get engulfed in it. Listen to the music and picture what is behind it... that way we can bridge the listening gap between sight and sound.

The selection of audio signal cables available in the market can be a daunting task. You have to first understand the character of your equipment and find a matching cable to augment your system.

Same goes for car audio, but honestly speaking the selection is less intimidating that home audio. Cables are like equalizers, where picking the wrong ones may destroy the whole tonal balance.

Car audio branded interconnects comes in many varieties, from the conventional two channel to even four channel in one jacket. Popular lengths are 2 meter, 3 meters and 5 meter pairs, depending on where the amplifier is placed. Personally, I prefer mounting the amplifiers under the front seats if space is available. This option allows me to invest in better signal cables that will not cost me an arm and a leg as compared to longer lengths.

Most car audio cables focus on shielding as the main priority because in general the car has a higher noise floor than home. Some cables reject noise better than others and therefore, most people will question the suitability of using home audio cables in car audio, arguing that shielding is insufficient. My answer is simple: understand the construction of the cable and try them. I have seen many home audio cables that is way quieter and performs leaps better than the best available car audio cables.

As a very basic sound guideline to using home audio cables in your car is to pick a cable with not too much emphasis on the highs. Remember, the sitting position in your car does not give you the distance compared to home audio and thus, the tweeters are much closer. A detail freak will most likely select a cable with only emphasis on highs and the end results will be a rather fatiguing and thin sound. My advice is to pick a cable that has good, clear and heavy but not overly done lows or a blend of clarity on the highs, mids and lows. Cables with good separation and imaging is a plus but it should never make the music thin or emotionless. Good lows tend to give a thicker and more analogue sound that is less tiring at loud volumes.

More on cables soon..... nothing beats trying!

We should know better that car thefts have grown to an alarming rate over the past years, so much so that when you report a missing car the police office looks at you with an ‘so what, it happens everyday’ attitude. Auto theft is largely a big-city crime. It scares me knowing that motor vehicles are stolen every minute, every day from shopping malls, streets, driveways, parking lots, garages, and back lanes.

I was told an experienced car thief can steal your car in less than a minute. Most cars are seemingly stolen for the value of their parts including the performance and car audio accessories. Since the majority of us do not purchase insurance for our car audio, it is best to stay away from dark parking spots and non-fee parking areas that have no video cameras or a pay booth. You have to be extra careful if you own a car which belongs to the list of top stolen cars.

As a car audio enthusiast, you may want to keep your music in your car and not outside. It is advisable not to blast the music upon reaching your destination and it is good practice to turn your stereo off two minutes before. This allows you pay better attention to your parking surroundings and best of all, to let your battery charge up a little before turning your car off.

I hope this is not a boring subject to touch upon since this is my first virgin post as a contributor to this excellent blog (thanks Leslie!) Sharing it here serves as a reminder to you and me that the unexpected can happen at a blink of an eye. Alternatively, I wonder if this cute little watch doggie can scare the car thieves away or most likely get stolen along with it? :D

some stark changes happening in me...i am seeing myself veering away from being a hardcore audiophile towards a much more serious musicphile (i was already serious before), thanks largely to my recent involvement in my audiophile CD project.

gone are the days where i look forward to house-to-house visits to listen to others' systems and spend countless hours at the mamak stalls talking about nothing but hifi. such activities are still fun, once in a while, and with the right crowd, but i no longer yearn for it. there are many reasons for that. chief of all is the politics behind this hobby. it is not really my character to take the mickey out of someone's system and offer quick-fix solutions to whatever perceived shortcomings in his system. many audiophiles revel in such activities but that's not really the most intellectual part about this hobby, for me at least.

making my first album makes me realize that hifi is nothing but a conduit, some neatly assembled hardware to produce the kind of sound that i want. ultimately, it is the music that touches my soul and moves me. now that i have found the hifi sound that i desire, i am going to concentrate on discovering more good music, or better still, make music that i like, and hopefully other people would like.

which is not to say i am not going to upgrade or dabble in hifi anymore. far from it. i am going to be much more critical in selecting hifi components from now onwards cos i now know the process of music-making and i have better understanding of the oft-abused term "musicality". i have witnessed the difference in roger wang's guitaring, based on his moods, health conditions and feel for the music. musicality is such an abstract thing that it has to be heard to believe.

and the wonderful thing is, now when i sit in my sweet spot with my system on, i am less anal (well, a leopard cannot change its spots overnight ;-) about the little blemishes here and there. instead, i just get drown in the music.

and if that little ipod or MP3 player can give you the same vibes without spending the kind of money that i spent, you are indeed very lucky ;-)