now this is something that will either excite or incense all ls3/5a lovers in the world - a china-made ls3/5a!

is it a classic reborn or a classic copied?
story to come...

i know, i know, most of you here don't like the music that i like but anyway....

muisctoxin (our music label that houses 2v1g) in collaboration with dongtaidu (a chinese indie concert organizer) is bringing in the fabulous indie act from hong kong, my little airport!

as stated last year, i have strong ambitions to become an indie concert organizer and this is my first project.

the date is 30th august 2008 (eve of merdeka), the ticket price is a very affordable Rm55 and the venue is a classy auditorium in PJ. it is a good venue cos you can avoid the jam in kl! this is gonna be the first time that my little airport perform in malaysia.

my little airport's music is called cutie-pop in hong kong; it is basically a refreshing blend of indie pop with cantopop, with thought-provoking lyrics and sweet melodies.

you can find out all about my little airport by just googling - they are all over the place.

it is gonna be one cool concert, i promise. we accept booking of tickets here.

check out this cute video - it is about a "naughty" date in a love hotel in hong kong ;-)

if you have an LP like wilson-philips here, can you concentrate on your music? or are you going to keep dusting the cover?

vinyl has made a surprising comeback in some retail circles of late with some music labels bringing in LPs, both new and old titles. this is happening in malaysia as well. it seems that LPs bring in more stable income while CD sales keep spiralling downwards.

latest to bite the dust is tower records, KLCC. rumoured to owe a debt totalling millions of ringgits to various music labels, news of tower klcc closing down had been circulating months ago. i was late in catching its last breath - sale as graet as 70% off retail price - was held on the last few days before the closure. i was told there was a mad rush among the (lucky) early birds. dang, i missed it.

note: i just found out - to my utter shock - great differences in my blog's presentation when i switched from my normal firefox browser to internet exloper! a lot of things are missing! please, readers, if you can, stick to firefox ;-)

i am not sure if my news is early or late, cmy audio visual is now the national distributor for usher loudspeakers. originated from taiwan, usher speakers have made quite name in the international hifi scene for the past 2-3 years. i hope to get a pair to review soon.

onto more exciting news. my earnest intention to seek a suitor for av xpress has finally been met. a local music label is keen to collaborate with me to "bring av xpress to another level" by beefing up the music contents, much like the "playback" magazine, the online music-cum-hifi journal owned by TAS. yes, we want to target younger readers yet not forgetting the hardcore audiophiles.

av xpress is my baby but i have to admit that i didn't start with much ambitions. i am so excited that i have now got a capable partner who is willing to max out the potential that it deserves.

with this collaboration, it also means that i have got viable funds and channel to do more audiophile albums in the near future, isn't that great?

in business, once you can't handle it alone it is best to seek partnership or collaboration. i have been waiting for this day to happen.

you shall hear more about this collaboration in this space here.

i am excited, are you, malaysian audiophiles?

I couldn’t resist the chance to borrow maggielurva’s Meridian G08 for a couple of days to compare with my Copland CDA822. Who could? Both CD players are class leaders and have garnered many positive responses, putting them head-to-head should be an exciting prospect.

The G08 is a current model in Meridian’s stable, while the CDA822 has been superseded by the CDA823 in the house of Copland. Both the G08 and CDA822 are in the same general price range (RM10k-RM15k) with the G08 being slightly more expensive by 20%-25%.

Well, it turned out that both are capable communicators of music, allowing me to enjoy my usual music selections. Their soundscapes are cut from the same cloth, being the kind that is neutral and clean, and not the kind that is euphonic or cuddly.

Having said that, the G08 and CDA822 do still show up differences. Do take my following comments as about the two players relative to each other, and not standalone review of both.

My first impression is that the G08 has a denser sound image, while the CDA822’s is lither. Further listening revealed that the G08 produces slightly more bloom, while the CDA822’s imaging is slightly sharper at the edges, thus the impression.

The Meridian, surprisingly, seems to produce heftier bass than the Copland. The Copland’s bass, though, has better articulation. The Meridian’s bass is also slightly warmer, which will be great for a system that tends towards some leanness. In my system, I have to adjust the speaker positions a bit to optimize the G08’s bass so that it does not occasionally creep up and obscures details in the midrange, but I don’t blame the player for this since it is a speaker placement issue, whose current positions were derived for the Copland.

The more significant difference in the 2 players is their handling of rhythm and pace. The CDA822 latches on the momentum of the music and simply propels things forward. While the G08 is also quick on its feet, it lingers a bit to allow you to savour the full development of the musical notes, sort of like letting you ‘smell the roses’ on the way. I find this to be quite charming, as it gives me a new perspective on the music. You may get slightly less adrenalin rush but gain insights into the music. In this sense, the G08 comes across as composed and more mature, while the CDA822 is more excitable. And don’t construe my comments to mean that the G08 is laid back or leisurely, not at all, absolutely not through my system.

Where the G08 pulls ahead is in the ‘humanness’ of its sound. I find this hard to describe, may be it is in its timbre or its natural body, it just sounds slightly more ‘right’ to my ears.

All in all, this has been an interesting exercise. I would rate the G08 to be ahead of the CDA822, probably just by a neck. The 2 contenders are not day and night apart, their differences, while can be identified in an A-B comparison, will mostly fade after a couple of hours or so of listening and are no longer critical to my overall musical enjoyment.

the good people of cap cd,a retail chain of audiophile cd shops in thailand, have ordered 100 pieces of 2v1g cds for the first order and here's their advertisement in local hifi mag (we presume)...

such music lovers the thai people are! thanks, steve surachade, for your passion in music and belief in our music.

we are targeting indonesia next!

once in a while, a cd player comes along that redefines your previous standards about digital playback and audionet art g2 is one such player.

i am totally overwhelmed by this player but my dealer wanted to collect it back tomorrow so i am savoring my last moments with it.

what stunned me about audionet is its adrenalin-filled, highly-charged energy and drive. it makes music so much more live-sounding, full-blown, energetic and purposeful. music through the audionet envelops the entire soundstage, front to back, left to right. because it has so much details and energy, the whole soundstage is set alive with oodles of details and sonic cues. switching back from audionet art g2 to meridian g08 is like alighting from a 3000cc car and hop onto a 1500cc car; suddenly all the zest, drive and headroom are lost.

i seldom experience this kind of paradigm shift in digital playback. audionet gives new meaning to words like live, energy, rhythm, drive, headroom, sense of purpose etc etc.

the only caveat - and i believe this is due to system optimization - is that this german player seems a bit less intimate in vocals and more laidback music. other this little quibble, this player is almost perfect.

both hifi kaki and i are sufficiently enticed by this gem of a player, and we are doing our mathematics at the moment....

p/s i am told that the eps (external power supply) unit which is sold separately, add another 40% to the performance.

hifi should have a life of its own

the great thing about hifi kaki being my reviewer is, we both look for the same things in hifi, that's emotional conveyance. some call it the "goosebump factor", while others call it the "connection". whatever it is, hifi without emotions is just a piece of hardware converting signals into wavelengths.

often, a piece of hardware is so technically accomplished that one cannot fault its technical prowess. it has all the hifi fireworks and pyrotechnics but when it comes to the ultimate human touch, it is no longer just about technology. maybe that's why analogue still rules.

subjective as it may be, emotional conveyance in hifi is more than tapping your foot or (you) singing in unison with the singer. to us, it is about how much you understand the singer's message; the kind of mood he/she is in while singing the song; his/her willingness to sing; his/her intelligibility; whether he/she sings in total sobriety or absorption; his/her whole gamut of expressions and more. all these can be easily discerned in a high-resolution system; nothing can escape.

a piece of equipment can be technically flawed but emotionally communicative or vice versa, technically accomplished but emotionally void.

to both of us, we much prefer the former.

hey, i am back! after a week of frantic order taking, i can finally go back to my hifi and music! bliss at last ;-)

hifi kaki just brought over the audionet art g2 and i didn't wait long to open it up and give it a test run.

if audionet g2 is bmw then my meridian g08 is at most a honda accord because the audionet overwhelms it in terms of dynamics, PRaT and bass quality/quantity! well, audionet is twice the price of meridian, you might argue but we are talking about two top contenders in their respective price range.

playing teddy robin cd immediately tells me that the audionet has more oomph and drive. the drummers seems more driven and motivated and the music just unleashed onto the listener effortlessly and naturally. even teddy robin seems more eager to please.

but things took a turn when i played my quirky dennis nieh jazz cd (a lot of people don't like this cd because of dennis' singing but it sounded superb in my system). true, the audionet has the same presence and palpability that the meridian is famous for but it somehow presents dennis in a more sober and no-nonsense mood. or to put it in another way, meridian's presentation is more sentimental, more touching, more organic and more musical and it makes dennis' baritone sexier. the magnetism of dennis' gorgeous tone is more pronounced in the meridian than in the audionet.

other that this aspect of musical flow, organic-ness and humanity, it is not too exaggerating to say that the audionet thrashes the meridian quite completely.

if early sales figures and accolades are indicative of an album's early success, then 2V1G is already a "small" unqualified winner. thanks audiophiles and music lovers, you show that you would not hesitate to support a local production provided it is a sincere and a good one.

i was extremely exhausted from taking all the orders online for the past 4 days but there is a deep satisfaction within me that tells me that i have done something right and good for the industry. this time, my satisfaction equals that of starting music exchange (my 2nd hand CD store in 1998-2006), and surpassing that of starting av xpress, hifi exchange, music matters... all these biz ventures take a back seat when it comes to something that relates to music. yes, music quenches my artistic thirst and makes me dream big.

a lady friend left me disgusted when she said blatantly, "frankly, i can't appreciate all these you are doing but to me, the most important thing is - do you make money from it?". if one makes music with money in mind then in all likelihood he will fail because his music would smell/stink of money. forgive her, she is merely a typical woman on the street.

even more premature is my distributor's suggestion to submit 2V1G for this year's AIM award (anugerah industri muzik, the local equivalent of the grammy's award). "you are not kidding", i told him.

but one thing for sure, with this kind of support, we could do gigs in places like no black tie. well, let's see how it goes.

i need a rest. i am not thinking much ahead. i am a simple bloke. i am happy i get to live my dreams. money, fame, recognition, success, status - if they do come - would be bonuses for me.

now, let me listen to my maggie and mull on my next dream to create a live gig venue for 2V1G and other talented local artistes. now, that would be some kind of dream, wouldn't you agree?

I finally had the good fortune to visit Ooi's place with Maggielurva yesterday. Before this, Maggielurva was giving out teasers as to how well Ooi has done up his listening room, so my interest was sufficiently piqued, as I also have one to do up soon.

Ooi is a high net worth individual, but is a friendly and down to earth chap. I don’t have pictures of his room and equipment to share, this is to respect the owner’s wish. Hopefully you can visualize the place via written words.

Ooi built his 3-storey bungalow from the ground up in a posh area in KL. There were a 2-channel music room and a Home Theatre room on the top floor, both stocked with high end equipment. We naturally spent the entire visit in the music room wallowing in the nice music emitting from his system.

The first thing that would strike any visitor was how clean cut the music room setup was. I think this place demonstrated quite clearly the critical importance of a well proportioned acoustic space. If you get the dimensions right, good sound would follow with just minimal work on acoustic treatment. I estimated the place to be about 16’X24’X10’ wdh (sorry, was more intent on listening than asking about exact room measurements). What I gathered was that Ooi specified down to the inch to his builder the dimensions he wanted his room to have.

The furnishing was tasteful and sparse. First, the lighting was warm and dimmable remotely, so we mostly listened blind, which increased the sense of palpability and the soundstaging. The speakers, a pair of Apogee Duetta, positioned about 9’ apart, 6’-7’ from the front wall, fired down the long side of the room. Behind the speakers was a window taking up 1/3 width of the wall, covered in heavy drapery. There were paintings hung on the side walls which would help to break up the sound at the first reflection points.

Between the speakers sat a Krell behemoth – the FPB-700cx, connected to the Apogees via van den hul SCS2 and fed by its captive thicker-than-a-water-hose power cord from the wall.

The listening seats were 3 plush single-seater recliners, arranged in a row. A thick rug was laid on the solid wood floor between them and the speakers. The equipment rack, a Finite Elemente Pagode, was sited beside the left most seat, allowing easy access to change CDs.

The frontend is a dCS stack, consisting of the Verdi, Purcell and Elgar, fed by a PS Audio PowerPlant P300 via custom made power cords. There was no separate pre-amp. Interconnects were custom length Clearaudio from the dCS to the Krell.

The additional light acoustic treatment for the room were four ‘pillows’, one at each corner of the ceiling, and 2 short pillars of diffuser/absorber at the corners of the front wall. Those were the only things in that room that were made specifically for acoustic treatment.

Last came the master stroke that I absolutely love and hope to follow suit - the back wall was covered entirely from floor to ceiling by an open rack which had drawers built into the bottom quarter of its height. Ooi’s advice was not to build cupboards as their doors would rattle, but drawers were fine. The rack not only displayed the CDs, magazines and books well but also acted as a great diffuser in the room.

The sound from Ooi’s system was utterly neutral, ultra clean and absolutely clear. The soundstage was wide and deep, and the image focus was sharp. Ooi stated that imaging and focus was important to him, he wanted the vocalist’s mouth to be realistically small, for example. Ooi has auditioned other brands such as MBL with an eye for upgrade, but could not get used to the relatively diffused imaging from the omnis despite their advantages in other areas, such as dynamics.

Additionally, nothing could hide from this system’s resolution, it was like the audio equivalent of High Definition video (if you have seen National Geographic on HD and normal broadcast, you’d get the drift).

The sound could be described as lean in a good sense – there was no extra fat and no excess warmth, but it was also not clinical or cold. One sensed that it was just how the recordings sound like. This must be the most neutral system I have ever heard. So anyone who like a bit of voluptuousness or romantic tint in their music replay, don’t apply here. All in all, if I could use the analogy of an actress, the sound would be the equivalent of a mature Nicole Kidman at her peak, and definitely not an Angelina Jolie.

The way Ooi put together his room and his hifi has a Zen-ness to it – everything has its place and its function, nothing more, nothing less, you know the investment was not insubstantial, but the end result was discreet and has an understated elegance. The entire place looked just so effortless.

Absolutely impressive and inspirational.

Pandering to audiophiles’ whims and fancies (mine included) with a RM28k CD player at a time when our petrol price just increased by 40% and everyone is hurt by inflation, does seem like poor taste. But, what is this hobby of ours if it is not a little oasis where we can retreat to and detach ourselves momentarily from the outside world, right? So let's bravely soldier on....

This is my first time crossing the path of Audionet other than in a hifi show. Its ART G2 CD player is my next review assignment for AVXpress. I have a high respect for things engineered by Germans, witness their automobiles, for example. The Audionet ART G2 is no exception, it is like the BMW of the CD player world - solidly built, a joy to use, and capable of taking you down all the twists and turns of the musical path.

After 72 hours of burn-in, the ART G2 is digging up musical details that I have never heard from every one of my reference CDs that I put in it. This is amazing, so when a reviewer says that he/she is re-discovering his/her music collection because of a new piece of equipment, believe it, as I am bearing witness to that.

Now, that should take my mind off the petrol price for some time.

today i invited a panel of judges (who came to my house consecutively) to review both the sonic and musical attributes of 2v1g album. the judges were hifi kaki, master ken and ringo - all highly discerning audiophiles with good ears.

without much surprises, the three gave a resounding thumbs-up to 2v1g, praising the excellent recording quality as well as the performance of the singers. here's what they said in gist:

master ken : "this will sell like hot cakes."

ringo : "most audiophile CDs emphasize on technical attributes (the recording) and the singers normally don't have souls and emotions. 2v1g have both."

hifi kaki : "...." (speechless)

Once in a while, an album comes along that changes your perception of how pop music can be played. You have all heard it in the grapevine and the moment is here - the launch of 2V1G's debut album!

2V1G is the brainchild of producer Leslie Loh and Chow Kam Leong. It is an acoustic trio that plays classic Mandarin love songs in a simple 2-voices 1-guitar format. Roger Wang (the Guitarist), Winnie Ho (the Vocalist) and Regine Tai (the Vocalist) combined to create a sound that is both refreshing and heart-warming.

This is a pop/audiophile crossover album - the first of its kind in Malaysia. Recorded using the legendary AKG C12VR microphone and mastered by Keith Yip from Hong Kong, the mastering engineer for HK Audiophile Diva, Susan Wong.

The CD is pressed in Hong Kong by Sony DADC, one of the top CD duplication factories in HK. It is an imported CD, priced at the normal standard CD price of RM39.90.

2V1G CDs will also be distributed in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and possibly Thailand. Just how many debut album, a Malaysia-made album no less, can go international? We are so proud.

With all these credentials, how could you not buy a copy and listen?

For online order and complete info on 2V1G, please visit our bilingual blog

[latest update]
orders start coming in as soon as i posted this blog. thanks for the support, malaysian audiophiles! we are proud to be the first malaysian audiophile CD that breaks into the international chinese market.

those who buy 2v1g because of roger wang, please don't expect the same flamboyant and "busy" style of guitaring as roger did in double take and no strings attached. as i have said before, roger wang has evolved into a more versatile player. in 2v1g, he plays in a mellower and heartfelt manner more suited to chinese ballads. it is a new roger wang like you have never heard him before. ultimately, the emphasis in on female voices and our two beautiful voices are equally impressive.

we have sold close to 120 copies of the 300 autographed copies, so if you want the autographed copies, please hurry up! ;-)

as pure as a purist can get - i have re-wired my entire ELCB/MCB with black rhodium jazz power cord cables!

black rhodium, a cable company from UK, has all along impressed me with it superb highs and textured mids due to its proprietary cryogenic treatment and silver coating. but it is not cheap at all. at RM400 a meter, i spend close to Rm1K for the entire re-wiring.

and the results? my, it is all worth it. the overall sound attains extra weight, openness and clarity; it is like a new car being given a superb polish. i also experience a deeper and more powerful reproduction of lower frequencies. since it is a high-current cable, i am also tempted to buy another 2m to replace my harmonic tech PRO-AC11 for the connection to my shunyata hydra.

are you a purist like me? then you can do no wrong by calling audio art (012- 5201066).

zest audio - classy and tasteful audio saloon

holfi driving dali helicon

can you spot the tall and handsome dali megaline?

young and friendly - ah bee, the proprietor

can hifi business be conducted in a low-key manner? what are the brands that can be considered as low-profile?

this dealer has been doing his business quietly and humbly for the last 8 years, away from the politics and attention of the regular audiophiles.

bee wu, or ah bee, for those who know him, from zest audio, located in city square, is one dealer who is unassuming, humble and honest in his business. even the brands he carries reflect the kind of personality in him. holfi, dali, j.c.verdier, ortofon and transfiguration aren't exactly hot names in hifi. i mean, they don't come to your mind immediately if you need to shop for new hifi. but they all have their staunch following all over the world. dali, in partcular, has been gaining momentum in the USA, after many rave reviews of their top-line megaline and helicon speakers.

zest audio, if ever needs a change of name, should be called "danish statement" because their holfi and dali line of products really do make a synergistic match. holfi, in particular, is very cool about its design philosophy. it never follows trends or hypes; it just quietly goes about with its business. their zero-feedback, single-ended and battery-powered solid state amps are known for their robustness and lively sound. dali, in recent years, has also gained popularity in malaysia for the helicon series of loudspeakers which uses carbon-wooden cone and hybrid tweeters.

besides speakers and amps, ah bee is also an expert in all things analogue. which explains why he does well with his j.c.verdier turntable, and ortofon and transfiguration cartridges. turntable tuning and adjustment is a tricky business and ah bee habitually helps his customers tune their turntables for a small fee.

many audiophiles have complained about snooty dealers in malaysia but it doesn't apply on ah bee. if you want a dealer who can become your consultant as well as you hifi buddy, he is a safe bet. zest audio also offers AV consultation and interior design for audio rooms and room acoustics treatment.

if you are the kind who believes that hi-fi should be personal, low-key and away from the loud and snooty crowd, then by all means, visit zest audio and you will fall in love with it.

please contact:
bee wu (012-2187677)
zest audio

this cd almost made me cry. maybe that is because my grandma just passed away last weekend or maybe i am just too sensitive over lowell's sincerity in his music.

lowell lo (lo kun ting), a cantopop singer-songwriter known more for his compositions than his voice, recorded this best-of cd in mostly unplugged format after a lapse of 18 years. despite the short duration of the cd (7 songs and 16 minutes only), lowell sings in the most heartfelt manner that touches my heart in ways most singers can't.

indeed, the best cantopop was made in the 80s and lowell lo's music would forever stay in the hall of fame of cantopop. including in this repertoire are mega hits he composed for george lam and the late danny chan. since there is no cd inlay, you must therefore watch the accompanying dvd and understand why lowell made this cd and why he wept during the recording of the song "pui cheok nei chau" (walk with you). there are many touching moments to savour.

looking at the current chinese music scene (both cantopop and mandopop), one can't help but sigh in resignation with the fact the chinese pop music has degenerated into such lows. music like lowell's is so simple, sincere and melodious that any listener with a bit of music sense would know how appreciate it. today's singers should all learn from lowell on how to sing from their hearts.

recording is good in the minimalist sense. 5 of the songs are unplugged with lowell and his guitar only. the other 2 have piano and cello accompaniment.

this cd is reserved for connoisuers - music that touches your deepest soul, makes you cry in total compassion, is indeed rare to find. this is but one exemplary cd.

highly recommended.

music: 10/10
sonics: 7/10

JRDG (jeff rowland design group) has re-entered malaysian hifi market once again.

the guy who's selling JR (jeff rowland) now in malaysia is also called JR, pure coindcidence or what?

story to come...