the fabulous, ultra trendy, uber cool, super hip hangout hostel in mount emily

like what renee zellweger said to tom cruise in "jerry mcguire", listening to the partial spectral setup (SGD50K spectral studio master reference CDP, spectral studio rerefence preamp, spectral studio reference processor) in normal audio gives me the feeling of being "complete".

the other components are YBA monoblocks, MIT Oracle MA speaker cables (I think it is the top model because it looks seriously bulky) and you guess it right, avalon acoustic speakers. (sorry, in my rush, i forgot to ask which model it is)

first impression is details, details, details. as many experienced audiophiles know, the main thing separating first-tier major league digital sources with 2nd or 3rd tier players is resolution. paying the hot-selling teddy robin's audiophile cd (review to follow) for the first time, i didn't have any reference point to make but i could feel oodles of details forthcoming, and in an very organic manner. never since my experience with the dCS three-piece combo (also close to RM100K) had i heard so much details. so when i come home today and played on my meridian, goodness gracious, i could only hear about 70% of what i heard of the spectral!

sonic character wise, the system is accurate but never analytical. the sound didn't quite open up, which later i found out, was due to the avalon being not run-in. the overall tonal balance is on the cool side, neither warm nor cold.

the teddy robin is a demanding cd to play cos you have to play it loud to appreciate the dynamics, especially the impressive drum works but the system could "load" the avalon pretty effortlessly.

short of understanding the acoustics in the room and the YBA monoblock's character, i could extrapolate and imagine how incredible the spectral could have have performed in a well-tweaked system like mine. in fact, i could go further and say that it is even better than the audionet ART G2 cdp (RM25K)i heard last year. i know, there is a gap in the prices ;-)

before i left the room, i felt like doing a renee zellweger and uttered the words "you complete me" to the spectral studio master reference cdp, a definite object of desire to the well-heeled.

[post-script] i would like to recommend you the fabulous and terminally cool budget hostel "hangout" in mt. emily. SGD110 for a twin sharing room. where to find?


aboon and friends said...

We are waiting
It would be nice if you could compare th espectral to Wadia,Weiss,EMM labs and others in the Rolls Royce category....We well sell our house if th esound is really good

Louis said...

Can you give the detailing with regards to cablings,speaker,acoustic treatment in the listening room ,and power conditioner?

mafan said...

I can bet you that the speaker is an Avalon speaker and the cables are MIT cables .It seems that the spectral is notoriously difficult to match,partly because their version of digital is a unique one

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...


wishing thinking! no dealer in the right mind, would lend me their top gun and let me shoot-out with other competitors' top guns! and i don't have that many rich audiophile friends either ;-)

you know what, i think all of them are cool in the right system.

spot on!

Passionate about Digital said...

This is my humble opinion and you might not agree...
There are several things to consider abt a cd player..
a]the power supply
b]the transport.;specialist vs cd-rom basedetc
c]the chasis
d]The Electronic
e]the anti jitter mechanism
f]the clock
g]the converter
h]the wiring and terminal out
It is safe to say that as far as the checklists are concerened the Spectral is the only one that got everything right!!
I have never heard the system but you are a lucky man Maggielurva..
The problem with Meridian an EMM lab is that they only put their best effort s on the computer/electronic part of it.Dvd-rom based transport meridian?you must be kidding!!!

Anonymous said...

agree with the above
EMM lab and Meridian could seriously challange Spectral if only they put their pride aside...
Meridian is one of the leader in digital processing but they should follow Spectral in using top of the line transport{Esoteric custoim made in the case of Spectral]Emm lab should seriously tackle the problems of power supply{Spectral has 4 different ones!!!
and sort out the chassis.

DS said...

Hi - This looks almost exactly like the setup I heard at Norman Audio, is this at the same venue?
If not mistaken, the source used in this setup (as seen in the picture) is the HDD-based Soolos setup, with an external DAC.
I may be wrong.

Husky said...

There are 3 owners of Naim flagship CDP [555] in Malaysia .I think nobody does power supply like Naim.But I just cant help wondering whrether these owners got to compare with spectral .I certainly has heard the Naim abroad,and it snubbed the top of the line Wadia flat....

aaron said...

I cant understand this and someone PLEASE explain it to me.
Why would any hi end manufacturer use CD rom based lens[PLASTIc}as a transport?Do they think we are stupid?If a company like spectral[I plead ignorence,I havent heard of them until I started following this blog}could use top of the line Esoteric transport surely everybodyelse could do it..I suspect it got something to do with EGO and politicking??

EricLOh said...

Keep up the good work

Alain said...

More closer to reality,using the checklist that Passionate abt digital provides ,I think Rega got most things right.Good power supplies,reasonable chasis,Audiophile transport,Unique chips....Hey I think they are the Spectral for modern man.

eddie said...

I hope Norman Audio brings the setup and show it during this year's kl AV show.Maggielurva can you lobby Norman audio for us?

Ilovehifi said...

Robert Harley seems to be a big fan of spectral .One think I don't understand is their conscept of wide bandwith.Can anybody explins that to me?

abeh said...

Maggielurva ,Good job well done!!!
May I officially nominate you to be our Audiophile ambassador?
We may not be a rich bunch, but we sure love our musics just like anyone else [if not more]

Anonymous said...

I think Wadia has a seroius flaw in their digital volume control.
Spectral seems unlike any other so called 'audiophile' componies.
No advertisements, Minimal Reviews',but real obsession to make things right.When you consider all that ,the are almost like what F.P. Journe is to watches.

Kelvin said...

agree with Eddie
norman audio should bring the Spectral set up to the AV show in KL.
I hope Weiss,Oracle,Wadia and EMM lab would come too...I could almost sense a revival in interest of hifi in Malaysia;just like the good ol'days

Zack said...

I know for afact that Spectral do not take their products for granted.They spend as much effort in making sure they cables that they use matches their system[In their case it's often MIT],they often use their own Amp or from componies that share their philosohy of ultra low distortionsno feedback design.
My point is all of us can learn from this.Pay attention to cables,choose a good matching amp,and if we could get 70 % sound of spectral we are more than alright alright.

Ricky-expat said...

dcs is another company that does digital well.Their new Scarlatti transport also uses top of the line Esoteric transport.As i see it ,{i might be wrong]'
dcs and spectral got everything right.the dcsmight be slightly better because of their better antijitter mechanisms and clock.
Esoteric is just slightly behind them.They have gotten the transport and the clocking right,just need a bit more polishing in the processing part
As for the rest, they should Learn from rega,their understanding of what it need to execute good digital is superb!!they even have their own software in house engineer ..

alon said...

I agree with Passionate abt hifi abt the list ,but to say that spectral is the only one that got it right is an overstatement..
dcs ,metronome and to a certain extent Wadia got them right too
fotr me dcs seems to be leading the pack

hatim said...

I think it is hi time that all the big players come to KL.For some strange reasons most of the distibutors for hiend are based inSingapore.I think a lot of the companies think that Malaysia and Singapore are the same Countries....I think it is hi time that the local distributors promotes M'sia more agressively.

lee said...

agree with Hatim .That is why we need to support our dealers more ,and our dealers to give us the respect we deserve

eric said...

Hi Maggielurva,thank you for sharing with us your experience.
To me reading your descriptions and watching the pics you took ,really open up my eyes.
You are talking abt a very expensive digital set up but look at the extent they go to match the cables.Look at the extent they go to treat the room acoustically...
To me it is a masterclass on how to put a system together.
It start with hardware ,but never take the ancillaries for granted

Well I think it is save to say that you have thew Golden ears amongst us.I would nominate you as our own Robert Harley,serously,You've heard some very good are also sensible[and not embarassed to admit abt the meridian shortcomings] and abv all you are passionate..


drk said...

Agreed with above with regards to paying attention to details.
I was in Penang over the weekend and happened to see a fairly impressive hifi shop.I went into their listening room and heard a 80k system playing.I knew something was seriously wrong because I got a similar speaker..I asked them to see their cabling and all I could say is horror!!!The american plug ofthe hiend cble was replaced with the cheapest uk plugs all plugged in direct to the wall!!!!No power conditioner etc..I left the shop feeling sad ,because the real loser is hifi

max said...

Again I think a loy of you guys are wondering what the fuss is all about spectral getting it right,

May I say that the important thing about any components is to research about the componies ' policies and find out abt the passion they have.

I have foud out in my humble experience ,to keep to specialists' company and forget abt greedy multinational...

Good products speak for themselves .I subscribe to stereophile,but I dont ever remember seeing an ad for spectral products

Norman Audio (Malaysia) said...

I believe what you see in the pictures comprises the following:
CD player: Spectral SDR-4000S
Alternative source: Sooloos Source with Spectral SDR-2000 Pro DAC
Preamp: Spectral DMC-30SS
Power amp: YBA Passion 1000 monoblocks
Speakers: Avalon Eidolon Vision
Cabling: All MIT/Spectral interconnects with MIT Oracle MA speaker cables.

If you are really interested in Spectral (& MIT), do drop us a line. There is much to explore regarding its philosophy, technology & execution.

Best regards,

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...


yes, i believe it is the same setup. norman audio in adelphi singapore. but they didn't play the sooloos HDD server with the spectral processor

abeh & eric

thanks for the nice words. i feel embarrassed actually. i am not golder ear yet, just someone who knows a good sound when i hear it ;-) and i do have this lofty goal of promoting hifi+music in this industry

to the rest of the readers,

you guys are way better than me in terms of understanding digital technology. i am not so much of a techie or specs guy. i choose the sound that moves me. i would be happy just to have any of those big names, provided it moves me ;-)