having sat thru for 3 consecutive days manning the av xpress booth at the main entrance of the KLIAV show, i discovered a few things:


[1] serious audiophiles came on friday, the 1st day, and they number in the range of 800, which is actually the entire population of audiophiles in kl, if not this nation

[2] casual enthusiasts came on saturday and sunday. they are not really serious but they just wanted to know what's the fuss about

[3]i printed 5,000 copies of av xpress and i felt stupid and naive, because that was an excess of 2,000 copies left. and the 3,000 copies given out includes casual visitors who collected it because it is free and not because they love to read. serious readers would account for at most 500 people. so how could a hifi publication survive in malaysia?

[4] most rooms have serious boom problems and it makes serious listening very uncomfortable. i didn't get to visit every room but my most pleasant experience came from ong radio showroom with the mcintosh 275 pushing the opera speakers - silky highs and emotive delivery, very musical combi.

[5] most aesthetically pleasing showroom goes to audionote. simplicity at its best. nothing in excess. that is how every showroom should aim for.

[6] the least popular booth goes to my neighbouring booth - the STUFF gadget magazine booth. because the magazines are not free, most malaysians don't take a second glance except for a couple of hardcore readers.

[7] the most popular booths go to the cd stalls at level 4, organized by shanghai bookstore, around the world music and interglobal music. throngs of people patronize these stalls, myself included and i have got some real bargains.

[8] cutest gal in the show goes to yao yao in audionote showroom. she with the megawatt smile and friendly demeanour. mr. wong tatt yew, you chose the perfect gal to attract the visitors to come to your room!

[9] doing "charity" has never been that fun and satisfying! my decision to make av xpress a non-profiteering publication is a wise decision. i have gained respect and i can hold my head high. many of you are appreciative of my efforts. let's hope that this journey is a fulfilling one in the long run!

now, the myths...and there is one only myth...

[1] if the total attendance of the show is in any way indicative of the hifi population in malaysia, whoever that claims/boasts that a hifi magazine can have a circulation of 22,000 copies must be the greatest BS-ter in world! let me tell you, the correct figure is 500. yes, 5 pathetic hundred.

Nope, they were only on display. But I have heard them.

The top of the line Audio Research Reference series.

CD7 and Ref 3, this's like R3 X 2 as the output stage in CD7 is exactly like the one in R3!

Ref 210, huge power!

I still love ARC very much. But the asking price is just too much to bear! But one day, I will be back!

Any audio show have been a great learning ground for me to appreciate the house sound of brands available. Where is a better place to have most of the brands under one roof than audio exhibition?

But then, how do you tell what real instruments sound like without listening to the real deal? I was excited when I saw this simple, un-amplified performance in Panasonic room.

Learn what we called density, ultimate resolution with un-imposing quality, micro dynamic, complete harmonic structures, tonal textures of violin and correct timbres of instruments.

I guess one of the thing we could do in audio show is to have guides ready at the entrance and have guided tours every half an hour. I'll do it the next time, hahaha...

I know I know, it might not be close to their Tower series, but there must be some place to start, right?!

Go check them out as JR is really putting up a great sale! Starting from RM2999 for SCM 7 up to RM7999 for the SCM 19, how can I not drool?

If it's not because of the recent damage in my bank account, I would definitely keep a pair of SCM 12 (older Entry series) and SCM 19!

Guys, there's no better time to start with ATC than now!

You are happy when you are good, you are even happier when confirmed that you are darn good!

The moment I stepped into this room, I was hooked! I sense SILVER! The shimmering highs, glittering with air, extensions and elegance, a quality that's hard to come by with copper. That's a quality I hold pride in years of owning my R8.

Metal dome might give you that excitement and raw metal feel, that smoothness could never touch that of the silk dome! Many criticized the lightness in soft dome's presentation, I bet you have not even invested in serious cables! Put a well balanced silver cables and soft dome tweeters, and you'll be in for a shock!

That was what has been confirmed after being told that the cables were indeed silver plated Westlake cables! I really have to show respect to those brands with strong studio heritage, after hearing the ATC, Spendor and Westlake speakers, there's certain right-ness in their presentation that many brands could not provide.

Oh, back to the room, the speakers used were Opera. I have had numerous encounters with this brand, always partnered with Unison Research. However, this was the first time they were partnered with McIntosh! Many times listening to the McIntosh previously, I was less than impressed with their American brute force.

This time, I was really shocked! The combo made me a convert! You really got to be awed by their micro dynamism and refined qualities, otherwise, find someone well learned to acquire the knowledge. When playing Cai Qin, the hold of breath, the varying pressure asserted to the vocal chord, the light pause, the frail trailing and the emotion on the brink of breaking down were so vividly preserved! Damn, I would kill for these!

You can't go wrong in this room and I am a convert to McIntosh!

zhang's sophomore album

zhang's debut album

despite being nominated in 4 categories (including best newcomer) in this year's taiwan golden melody awards, folk-pop singer-songwriter deserts zhang xuan (張懸) didn't win any awards. but it doesn't stop me from rating her debut album as one of the best recorded chinese pop albums of 2007.

read my previous review at http://desirableaudio.blogspot.com/search?q=zhang.

that recording has been a permanent feature in my demo. recorded in a live setting, it is full of raw energy and zing, with pristine guitar playing and airy ambience. friends of mine love it when i play it on my maggie.

zhang's sophomore album has just been released on 20th july and as usual, it will take months before it reaches our shore. if you can't wait, order online.

i certainly can't, after having tasted the excellent debut album.

What would you normally do if you were a 26-year-old male? Falling in and out of relationships? Constantly checking your Friendster account and anxiously waiting for your next date? Maintaining a blog with the hope of attracting the opposite sex? Well, Nick Chua, Malaysia’s youngest audio designer and arguably the most successful to date, has no time for that. Instead, Nick is heading one of the most promising audio brands today, Promitheus Audio. And it is from Malaysia.

Unless you have not been accessing the internet (e.g. Audio Asylum and Audio Circle) or latched onto the audio grapevine for the past 12 months, the word “TVC passive preamp”, which stands for Transformer Volume Control passive preamplifier, has been taking the audio world by storm. Ok, we exaggerate a bit. Let’s say it’s a mild but bracing storm nonetheless. Discussions on the merits and affordability of the TVC have been rife and many users, mostly overseas, swear by the excellent price/performance of the TVC. And one of the reasons behind all this euphoria is a 26- year old Malaysian, whose maturity and foresight simply belies his age.

Nick has a degree in Engineering and lectures part-time in Electronics. At 18, he built his first phono preamplifier (also called phono stage). His ambition and confidence grew and very soon he started a side business in building transformers. Any audiophile would tell you how important a transformer is and that a transformer is the heart of the amplifier and can make or break the sound. Each transformer is painstakingly hand-wound by Nick’s chief sifu, someone who has been building transformers all his life. The transformer business saw Nick dealing with guitar amp manufacturers (i.e. Ceriatone) and audio manufacturers from far and wide. In fact, Nick admitted, rather regretfully, that most of his business is from overseas, with very little support in Malaysia, except for the rare few who are loyal to his work.

The transformer business brought Nick a decent income, just enough to make his audio hobby enjoyable. It wasn’t until the success of his TVC project that Nick started to expand. Currently, Nick maintains a staff force of 10 people, mainly technical staff who work on the full line of Promitheus Audio products. Nick admitted that the main problem with a start-up company is the lack of cash and funding. Being young and inexperienced, Nick faced some difficulties in coming out with substantial cash for the company. But, as luck would have it, Nick’s gamble on the business has paid handsome dividends but refreshingly, he still remains humble. “Being a designer is nothing glamorous. I am not a greedy sort of person. I would like to take one step at a time”, asserts Nick.

With the resounding success of the Promitheus Audio TVC (Nick did not disclose the volume of transactions he does online but admitted it is “very big”), is Nick starting to dream big? “No, this is the trap for a budding audio manufacturer. The pitfall of mass production is that you would compromise on quality. Bear in mind, every single one of our products are hand built with much care and attention to detail. Once we grow bigger, we would lose that competitiveness. We would like to maintain what people call “flexible manufacturing”.” Nick says matter-of-factly. In fact, one of Promitheus Audio’s biggest headaches at the moment is shipping and logistics. Nick has very generous policy on shipping damages and refunds as he believes in doing business “the western way” to suit his overseas customers. And this generosity sometimes can result in losses and lost of productivity.

On his future plans, Nick states that he plans to develop Promitheus Audio into a high-end but still affordable brand by introducing a statement or reference line of products. His key challenge now is marketing and funding. He plans to make an appearance at the giant CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in the USA next year to showcase Promitheus Audio products to a larger audience base. We were curious whether his overseas customers realize that Promitheus Audio is a Malaysian brand. “Sure, they do”, Nick states proudly.

On a lighter note, we asked Nick on his marital status and if he is seeing anyone at the moment. Nick nonchalantly says, “I am still single and unattached. No time at all. I work from 8am till 2am every day, 7 days a week.” Oh dear! Perhaps there may be a few attractive and single female audiophiles among AV express readers who are interested to woo this enterprising young man?

We also asked Nick what advice would he give to an aspiring audiophile who wants to build a successful audio brand on his own? “You must first enjoy the hobby and not think of making big money overnight. You must be willing to sacrifice. You have to build a friendly business that is customer driven. Once customers are happy, your business will grow”. Sagely advice for anyone, in any field.

As we left the Subang Starbucks café that night, we couldn’t help but admire this determined young entrepreneur who has single-handedly raised the Promitheus Audio brand to great prominence in the competitive and cut-throat audio industry. Nick Chua has certainly taken the path less traveled, compared to many young men of his age. This path is fraught with difficulties and challenges but we are all rooting for Nick to shape Promitheus Audio into a successful brand internationally. And looking at Nick’s talent, determination and insistence on high-standards, this isn’t a far-fetched possibility. Go Promitheus Audio!

Website: http://www.promitheusaudio.com/

Audio Image (03-79563077) in PJ distributes Promitheus Audio TVC passive preamp and Power Energizer.

Other Promitheus Audio products:
Power Transformers, Audio Transformers, Non-Oversampling DAC, Tube Active preamp with Output Transformer, MM/MC Phono Preamp, Power Amps, Pure 4N hand-made silver interconnects, Pure 4N hand-made silver speaker cables, Solid state output transformers, Ebony cones, Balanced Power Supply, Power Energizer

these maggies don't look like they're correctly positioned!

perhaps it is the asian way of playing hifi (gwailos don't seem so particular, methinks) , we are very particular about centre imaging and the all-important vocalist's mouth. the perfect vocalist's mouth has to be pin-point, right smack in the centre and forms a spherical shape no larger than a 50 sen coin, with texture and density. of course, it is easily said that done; many audiophiles fail to achieve this without trying for months or even years.

since my house went thru a major re-painting exercise, i have been listening sporadically. while i get back my tonal balance but i am not totally satisfied with my new sound - my centre imaging has become slightly diffused and out of focus, this is perfectly understandable as every movement or re-arrangement of objects in the listening room, may it be furnitures or furnishings, can cause deviations in sound.

another rather weird effect is - and i am not sure if it is due to the ICI pentalite's vibrant and lively nature - images seem slightly larger and have that "hairy" (or fuzzy) outlines which is not very pleasant; they are just not as compact and sharp as before. this anomaly will take me more time to resolve. i will work on it later.

so, now that my house is settled (and i am enjoying the smell of new paint!), i have time to re-tune my system again. let's resolve the vocalist's mouth issue first....

i apply the steps i learned from my sifu years ago. it took me about 30 minutes and i got a much better result already. i just moved forward the right speaker by 1cm (with the same toe-in) and the the vocalist's mouth "snaps" into focus. it comes with practice, i suppose :-)

this article on the same subject was written by yours truly in music matters' website 3 years ago and i would like to share with you here again.

just remember - every movement (re-arrangement, additions, removals) in your listening room counts. it is advisable to re-apply these rules every time you have some movements in your room.

Many people struggle with speaker positioning, partly because they are lazy to experiment, partly because they just don't know how to.

We have heard experienced audiophiles who own ordinary/modest equipment and yet they could produce a soundstage that is wide and deep, simply because they are willing to spend countless hours in speaker positioning. Many sifus have this advice when it comes to the art of speaker positioning - "Quickest time to get it done is 3 months; longest time to get it done is 3 years or maybe forever!" Go figure.

We won't go into in-depth details on how to do it (for that, Robert Harley's "Guide to High-end Audio is more comprehensive) but we would teach you here how you know you have successfully positioned and balanced your speakers.

Speaker positioning is not about measuring the room and place the speakers symmetrically vis-a-vis the room. Most audiophiles commit this fatal mistake! Unless your room is perfectly balanced (left & right) else placing speakers symmetrically makes no sense! Listen here - the ears are the best tools in speaker positioning and balancing.

There are four basic steps in positioning your speakers. Move them in and out relative to the back wall and side wall. Some speakers sound good nearer to the back wall (e.g. naim speakers) and some work best if they are further away from the back wall (e.g. dipole speakers). Experiment until you get the balance (e.g. bass response, depth, layering). Moving speakers in and out relative to the side wall is important to create the right imaging (centre fill) and separation. Whereas the degree of toe-in affects tonal balance, soundstage width and spread.

Ultimately, choose a CD with excellent spread of the soundstage (e.g Eric Clapton MTV Unplugged, Diana Krall's Live in Paris), with multiple layering and distinct separation among vocalists and instruments. Of course, you must have heard this CD in a reference system before, to know its fullest potential!

We must also emphasize on the importance of balancing you speakers on both channels.

Balancing speakers is extremely important for two reasons:

1) To create the correct size and pin-point imaging of vocalist's mouth - this is a skill that most people don't have. A lot of systems have vocalist's mouth that is "senget" (skewed) and distorted. When correctly done, the vocalist's mouth should be a point source smack in exactly middle of the back wall, that has body and meat, with palpability and presence. It should hang in the air with correct height and scale. Of course, some people argue about how big/small the mouth should be. To "tweak" the mouth's size, one could use shun mook/cones/spikes but that's another topic/tip altogether.

2) To have the highs, mids and lows arriving at your ears at the same time. When speakers are not balanced, you could hear that some frequencies are more prominent than the rest.

The trick in balancing your speakers: Sit on the middle point on the same plane of both speakers. Imagine drawing a straight line linking both speakers and sit in the midpoint. Listen to a CD with vocals alone (note: the vocalist must be standing smack in the middle and not moving about as in a live concert!). When your speakers are correctly balanced, the voice should come from a point on top of your head, with EXACTLY the same volume and loudness on BOTH channels. When the speakers are not correctly balanced, one side will invariably sound louder than the other! Start moving the louder side slighly forward, say, by not more than 1cm at a time. This is minute adjustment, you have to practise this until it becomes second nature.

The amazing thing is once you get it done correctly, you may be shocked that the final position of the speakers are not symmetrical! i.e. one side could be 1" or a few cm more forward (relative to the back wall) than the other side. When you sit in the sweet spot, you would find that everything snaps together and voila! singer stands right in the middle!

After balancing the speakers, now, how to know your speakers are correctly positioned, relative to the side wall and back wall?

Basically, correct positioning means the speakers must blend in perfectly with the room and environment. For one, it must disappear! In fact, in top-notch systems, you could not hear the speakers' sound, whichever angle/position you listen to!

A perfect soundstage has the following charateristics:

Note: You may not get all these attributes all at once, depending on the room acoustics, the quality of your hardware, racks, cables, interconnects.

1) The speakers totally disappear
2) The soundstage is spread out wide and deep, giving you a 3-D illusion
3) You could sense the word "layering" especially on classical recordings with musicians sitting on different rows. It is especially difficult to produce front-to-back layering.
4) You could sense the word "depth" with instruments coming from miles away
5) Pin-point imaging. This is opposed to "blur" ("Moong" in cantonese). A pin-point image is precise and has outlines that are sharp and distinct.
6) Excellent separation. Instruments exists as distinct sounds in the soundscape. You can easily count the number of instruments/vocalists in the background.
7) Image specificity. This is about the exact positioning of each image in the soundstage. The image should be stable, solid and in the right place.
8] Image density. A dense image gives the illusion of body and texture, in order to sound real.

You will be suprised that even a modest RM10-20K system (total spending) could achieve all these in varying degree. Again, the trick is - experiment, experiment, experiment!

So, next time, when you see a hi-fi salesman, who just simply plonks the speakers - whatever speakers you want to audition - right on same spots marked on the floor/carpet without further listening and adjustment, you could be darn sure that that guy doesn't know much about speaker positioning, much less good sound!

yes, we have gone black and white, in newsprint no less! and it is free-of-charge once again!

this marks the birth of the first "independent voice" in the hifi industry in malaysia. it is all the more noble because we have become a non-profiteering publication.

2,000 copies will be circulated free at the KLIAV starting friday.

some of the contents:
- convergent entertainment devices (with focus on ps3)
- why midbass is important in car audio
- 2nd hand hifi in malaysia
- personalities in hifi show - a humourous look
- excitement in kampar, perak
- CJ audio on hifi accessories
- short review on stage III magnus interconnect
- choosing the ultimate speakers

many thanks to the following advertisers, for making this issue possible:
- enzer (monsoon)
- audio note
- CJ audio
- C & O audiophile enterprise
- av synergy
- centre circle audio
- home audio design
- dong fong enterprise

make sure you pick up a copy at the show!

keep the passion going!

you would have thought that today's kids and even adults have to many things that clamor for their attention and would be the least interested in reading a long-winded tale about magic, sorcerers and witches.... but jk rowling's "harry potter" proves that if you have a good product, people will still wait patiently for it and pay good money for it. just look at the hype and phenomenon it has created worldwide with its latest edition! and we are talking about people of all ages! people who woke up at 4am and waited outside the bookstores.

today's hifi industry definitely needs a jk rowling phenomenon to resuscitate and revitalize it from its slumber. we need good and excellent-valued products like the NAD 3020, musical fidelity A1, pioneer A400, celestion 3 of yore. we need friendly and helpful dealers who don't look down on you and judge you on your wallet's size. we need more youngsters to embrace this hobby.

jk rowling is a miracle in the publishing and movie industry. hifi manufacturers need similar geniuses to create a breakthru in the industry.


Not sure u know about this forum

http://forum.lowyat.net/Audiophiles, although most of them are youngster and do not have the buying power, but they are the more active group in information sharing. Lot of headfiers and DIYER TOO.

The problems of why peoples not visiting local hifi shops, mainly becoz of finance capability and the internet savvy know the pricing elsewhere and after compare with local price, they tend to be disappointed.

You see in this forum peoples rush to SG to buy akg headphones, sennheiser, headphone amps perhaps one day lavry DAC or Benchmark DAC.(http://jaben.wordpress.com/) Well potentially one day full speakers setup. This sg company even sponsor us forum and accepting orders from US. The market is there and wait to be cultivated.

Local dealers need to change the mindset and make frens with new generation to survive.

Even those audiophile cd local shop not doing homework thru internet and depend on supplier to tell who is releasing new albums and their cd usually with high price tag.

Lot of peoples rather shop in yes asia.I one time even being "chun" by one of the hifi shop in city square. I just ask how to differentiate us pressed and local pressed. The woman insulted me that this is trade secret. I think very funny, not that she produce the cd. After this i never visit her shop to buy any cd.

If they hope putting adv in your mag one month and want to see result and i guess is fairy tales. People do not lack info but rather lack money and friendly mentors who cares the pockets of the consumers.I envy hifi climax in taipei, there i can try diff setup and have wide selection of system to suit any budget and they have wide selection of cds and mags. I myself bought 2 issues of their classical music mag
call MUZIK.

Dealers and consumers have diff dream in msia. We all dissapointed with each other.

My 2 cents.

new kid in the block - CTT Audio, puchong

we always encourage young adults (25-35 year-old) to go into hifi. As the hifi population is aging rapidly, we need new blood to help the hifi economy and contribute new ideas.

it is heartening to know that three mid-30s chaps got together and started a 2nd hand hifi enterprise just two months ago. The shop is called CTT audio and it is located in puchong. chia say wei, the 36-year-old partner, told me that their main business is in smart home solutions (eg. security alarm, security door, digital lock, CCTV). since they have some spare space in the office, they thought of utilizing the space fo their hobby.

currently, they got their 2nd hand stock mainly from friends. The CTT guys are are UK hifi supporters hence you can find many famous UK brands in the shop. Brands like Cambridge audio, KEF, monitor audio, marantz, REL subwoofer, epox, NAD are perennial favourties.

soon, CTT audio would also carry new items too, mainly AV stuff.

to help CTT audio, we have linked its website with this blog. You can find their website on the right side of this blog (sponsored links).

please give them a chance. the future of malaysian hifi rests on these people!

call chia say wei of CTT Audio (012-2165678, 03-58820388)

This marks my second chapter in audio journey, not only in terms of scale and potential, but my foray into serious floorstanders and solid state amplification.

Well, I still have my MB Quart floorstanders and Arcam Delta 290, if you consider those serious also, then OK lor. But the Bladelius Thor and ATC SCM20T are something that's rivaling my tube setup, of course, the potential would definitely surpass the tube's.

Finally, after months of seeking high and low, and changing minds a couple of times along the way, at times, almost giving up, I am now a proud owner of ATC SCM20 Tower!

When the owner demoed the speakers to me, it was so familiar! There’s something that I could not sense from the new SL series and entry series. I could sense the musical rawness in Kingsley’s SCM20 and in Yong’s SCM100, but none in the new SCM11, SCM12, SCM19, SCM40 and SCM20SLT.

If my perseverance in pursuing girls is as persistent as how I pursued the ATC SCM20 Tower, I would have long quited audio. Hahaha…

Guys, expect more in this page again!

regine in the studio

i have written enough about my singer for the 2V1G album, winnie ho. it is about about time i introduce you another sweet voice, regine. two of them make up the "2V" (two voices) in the album.

regine is a recording artiste who has one solo album under her belt. she is currently signed to music toxin, the production house that belongs to my producer, jin liang.

regine is a well-rounded artiste. apart from her singing and acting engagement, regine is also a talented songwriter. her compositions are mostly catchy pop tunes. one of her many compositions was recently picked up by gigi leung, the hong kong singer.

regine's voice is sweet (not in the cutesy way but sophisticated way) and soothing, and it provides a good contrast to winnie's raspy and powerful voice. she is very excited about the opportunity to work with roger wang. i am excited to see them in the studio too. there is bound to be plenty of sparks among winnie, regine and roger wang.

the progress of the 2V1G has been slow but rest assured, it will be out before x'mas this year :-)

good news! audio art has accepted my offer to help them to manage a 2nd hand hifi blog. check the sponsored link on the righ side of this blog and you will see link to audio art's blog. just in case, the URL is http://audioartipoh.blogspot.com

we will start populating the blog in a few days' time. so it is not officially ready yet. i will make another announcement later. make sure you broadcast it to all your kakis. i believe in the power of internet viral marketing and word-of-mouth :-)

dong fong still hasn't come back to me but it is quite likely they will join too.

i don't think you have to worry that they are based in ipoh. make a trip there and enjoy the scenery, food and hospitality of ipoh folks. i am sure the respective bosses will be too happy to bring you to the famous lou wong's ngah choi kai (bean sprout chicken)!

paint does matter (part 2)
yes, it is confirmed - sonically, ICI pentalite is better than pearl-glo. the pentalite lends a certain airiness and liveliness to the sound; the gain is perceptibly higher too. music seems to breathe more freely. i tend to think that the pearl-glo paint contains rubber-like content hence absorbs quite a bit of sound. anyway, i am into my 4th day and the sound keeps improving. there is still a bit a hardness left in the mids but i am sure it will go away in days to come.

my av room, with the music lover's wall... repainted with ICI pentalite apple green :-)

can you recognize some of the artistes/bands in the posters?
(faye wong, new order, cocteau twins, jesus and mary chain, spandau ballet, teenage fanclub, dave wang jie)

pete leong, a regular 2nd hand hunter himself, suggested that i should help some big 2nd hand hifi dealers to build a website and list their equipment online, after all the star's audiomart is getting stale and unimaginative.

i thought about it, why not? in fact, i am writing an article about 2nd hand hifi in my forthcoming issue of av xpress. i am going to offer my services to both ah chee (audio art) and ah lin (dong fong), both based in ipoh, to build a blog for them to list their equipment. for the uninitiated, audio art and dong fong enterprise are arguably the two biggest 2nd hand hifi dealers in malaysia.

i have called the two gentlemen and am waiting for their consent. as usual, i am doing this for the love of hifi and i won't charge them a single sen. it may sound unbelievable but it is true.

if that happens, then you all are gonna benefit. you, you and you.

Some readers asked what happened to their beloved audio blog as they have not been able to get thru days ago from China.

So I checked and re-sent them the URL again, fearing that they might have gotten the URL wrong. Still, no luck!

Since I have no recollection of bashing MIC products, I have no idea why has our beloved audio blog been blocked.

I know I have been preaching a lot of hi-end products from the West and not been writing a lot, hmmm, or never, on MIC products. But that does not earn us a place in their block list lor.

Is the Chinese government scared of the people buying Western products, become pro-west or they want more people to buy MIC product? Maybe some MIC dealers could expose me on their products.

i just repainted my whole house. based of advice from wong tatt yew, i changed from ICI pearl-glo paint to pentalite, which is supposed to be better for the sonics.

lo and behold, when i switched on my system last night (with all the positionings and furnitures intact), it sounded vastly different and dare i say, slightly worse than be before. the midrange becomes brittle, hollow and slightly grainy and sibilance was high; it just doesn't have the solidity and concentration of the previous sound.

i am no sure if that is caused by the new coat of paint not fully dried up but it certainly is an ear-opening experience for me. i suspect the moisture in the paint creates havoc in the sound reflection on the wall and maggie being a dipole, is one well of a sensitive speaker.

p/s i tried listening again tonight, it is much better now with the mids getting fuller and more bodied. amazing!

latest update: this is the 3rd day, and the sound has more or less come back in full force. i marvel the experience!

a couple of my friends, who are puzzled with my persistent problems with electricity, consulted some senior electrical engineer friends of theirs who are well-versed in this field. two of them came back with the same answer - a possibility of TNB's power factor. i don't have an EE degree but basically it means that the voltage and current have different leads and lags. apparently, it is something that no power conditioning or regenerating devices can rescue.

the perfect power factor is 1, which supposedly means that the voltage and current coming in is in sync.

to alleviate the power factor problems, one could build capacitor bank in parallel the the mains. i don't really know how this can be done. i need to do some research, including writing to dick mccarthy of richard gray power company.

one my friend, bernard, reports that by inserting high-values capacitors into his chang lightspeed power gang, it helps to reduce this bad electricity phenomenon.

i shall report more on this in the next few weeks.

with the new "river" series of interconnects out in the market, i now dare to nit-pick on the previous generation of dbs cables, without the fear of offending the dealer. the cheetah silver interconnect (RM4,800 for 1m), 2nd ranked after sky, is a minor flop in terms of tonal balance. no matter how much one tweaks, one just can't rid of the mild emphasis in the mids. it was very irritating!

truth be told, the cheetah can't even compete with its predecessor, the copper-made and my once long-time reference anaconda and the silver-made amazon, eventho' these two cables are notorious for their long burning-in time and fast cooling-off characters.

but bill low is not one to sit on his comfortable laurels, i am sure he knows the weaknesses of cheetah hence he keeps the sky intact and replaces the cheetah and panther with a totally new "river" series which includes colorado, columbia and niagara (in ascending order). the metal & carbon-loaded synthetics composite used must have something to do with taming the brightness - it is only my guess, don't flame me for that.

at RM5K++ for 1m, the niagara holds great promise. i am hoping i could get one to try on in the near future. i would love to try all the silver cables in the world!

this is an expensive toy, called "demag", that is supposed to demagnetize LPs, any CDs, DVDs, SACDs, CD-Rs and DVD-Audio discs. this device also is great for removing the built-up magnetism in interconnects, speaker cables and power cords.

yes, it works even for cables! the demag removes the residual magnetic fields that build up over time in any cable.

it is claimed that demag will result in an increase in resolution and a more natural sense of “flow” to all of your records and discs.

but at usd1,800 a pop, only deep pockets need to apply! it is reported that hugo's boss (pun intended), eik yew goh (spelling) is so convinced of the benefits of the demag that he has bought a unit to be used for all his recordings. btw, congrats to mr. eik for his huge success of the LPCD series of audiophile cds.

for poor souls like me, i have to rely on my XLO and DENSEN discs for those all-important demos.

if someone tells you that he/she likes danny chan (chan pak keung), chances are he/she must be well over 30s or even 40s. danny chan was famous for his goody-two-shoes image and motivational (albeit sentimental) ballads. many students who grew up in the 80s must have heard of at least one danny chan's hits.

danny chan was a permanent idol of mine in my secondary school days. ACS ipoh being an english-medium school, most of my classmates were true-blue "english-educated" ones and very few of them listened to cantonese songs. it took someone as courageous as me to influence my classmates into liking danny chan. very soon, most of my circle of classmates had already bought cassettes of danny chan's early albums. see, there were signs that i would be a good music reviewer even at that early age:-)

danny chan died of drug overdose in 1992. it has been 15 years, and i still occasionally dig out my danny chan collections, especially during late-night listening, and enjoy in reminiscing the good old times. but most of my memories were bittersweet ones rather really upbeat ones cos i refuse to believe how times flew, as his music reminds me of my 2nd girlfriend and my happiest days as a student.

somehow the new-generation singers in HK, without excess baggages like us mid-lifers, don't see the sentimentalism and nostalgia in danny chan's music. this music theatre tribute to danny chan is brimming with upbeat optimism and happy music, and i like it this way. chet lam yat fung (http://desirableaudio.blogspot.com/2006/07/folksy-gem.html) was last introduced in this blog as a popular folk-singer in HK. and his albums are generally good sounding, sonic wise. i like the way some of danny's ballads are turned into pop-rock tunes with classical baroque style prelude. perhaps, this should be the happy way to remember danny, instead of sulking that he had left us too early... danny would be happy that his later-year intepreters remember him that way.

let's not waste time further, this is a refreshing cd. if you are a danny chan fan, listen to how creative these cover versions are. if you are not, then discover why yesteryear's cantopop was much much better than today's. seriously, modern cantopop is pure crap...

the bummer is - it is selling at RM80 in rock corner (import cd price huh)! you can find it cheaper in yes! asia online site. i bought mine in HK for only RM40.

click to enlarge.

famous journalist-cum-writer lam yuet (lin yue) from sin chew jit poh interviewed me on the "trials and tribulations" of starting av xpress.

article appears on the 9th july 2007 monday edition of sin chew.

click to enlarge.

in fine print - "life was so much easier when we had single-ended triodes"

i started playing hifi in 1988 and i have seen the industry going thru major ups and downs. this current scene we are seeing now, is the worst of it all. very few people are playing hifi, even fewer people are buying. generally hifi has been relegated to a very niche and exclusive hobby. as a new and late-entry-into-the-scene publisher, i don't see the light at the end of the tunnel. i shudder every time i think of the future of hifi and hifi publication in malaysia.

today i had tea with one of my dealers. he regretfully told me that he is considering closing down his business. "this market is deader than dead; i am losing money every month", he lamented. another dealer in city square told me that he is fed up of having no customers visiting his shop. the signs are all there.

what can we do? very little or a lot, depending how to see it.

after some serious soul-searching. we want to turn the table around.

it is going to be like this:

the magazine is going to take on a new and unprecedented direction. we are going to become the 1st ever totally independent, "underground", free, and self-financed magazine in malaysia, with very little ad revenue. in particular, we want to help those small dealers with no advertising budget.

to drastically cut down costs, we are going to be using newsprint (newspaper quality) and it will be in black and white tone. we will write whatever we feel like; promote and review whatever we feel like; publish whenever we feel like (no deadlines nor fixed frequency)and we won't even bother to edit our articles. it is going to be raw, rough but original and spirited.

there will still be ads. availability of the ad space will be on a first-come-first-served basis. the payment of the ads will be totally by voluntary donation. the proceeds of the donation will go towards funding the printing costs, which is peanuts compared to using the kind of quality paper now. me and my contributors won't get a single sen from writing. everything is voluntary.

sceptics (there are many) will ask: aren't you silly in doing this kind of charity? you think that all dealers will appreciate your efforts? sceptics will remain sceptics la. just like if you don't believe that cables make a difference, you won't be convinced even if they do. actually, that is simply because your system has not enough resolution la :-)

we cannot always take and take from the society. sometimes, it is good to give back. it is good for one's karma. and it also makes you a better person.

this is our greatest service to the hifi industry in malaysia. a record, if ever there was one.

to those who still complain after this (about our standard of english, our distribution, magazine not thick enough etc etc), we will just stick up our middle finger and tell you where to go. oppss...sorry for a momentary lapse of manner and refinement :-)


"those people who buy mercedes are stupid!i am not stupid!", rebutted one audiophile in athens when asked if he feels stupid to have spent 70,000 euros on his system.

"i stoppped being normal when i reached the age of 35 - i became an audiophile", confessed another, who is in the audiophile club of athens.

"i am normal! those who don't play hifi are abnormal!", yet another rebuttal from another audiophile who spent 200,000 euros on his system.

ladies and gentlemen, watch this beautiful video directed by ken barnes, featuring a group of super high-end audiophiles based in athens, greece and be amazed by their perfectionist attitude and dedication to the art of hifi.

will such utopia ever happen in malaysia?

note: if your internet is slow, it may take ages to download. so leave you computer on, and come back after 30-45 minutes. trust me, you will enjoy the video.

this is damn farnie.....

does rowan remind you of any local hifi dealer or does the customer remind you of any of your friends, or even yourself? hahahaha....

many people don't know that before rowan atkinson made it big as mr.bean, he was already quite famous with comedy show "not the nine o'clock news" and "black adder".