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.

5 comments:

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...

hifi kaki,
your writing is damn good and accurate. you even described ooi's sound better that i could ever think of. bravo, bro. you are one hell of a good hifi writer!

Jinjang Joe said...

This bro has got good taste...Apogee, classic stuff. Also very well paired with Krell FPB-700cx and DCS.

hifikaki said...

maggielurva,
you are too generous. Just trying to do the best I can. :-)

jinjang joe,
yes, Ooi does have a great appreciation for the finer things in life.

cush said...

Very interesting system.

I am surprised that he managed to get good sound from the dcs paired with the krell .I find both to be very,very detailed .But I think the Ap[ogee kind of neutralized the 'clinical ' sound of both

lackery said...

When I see someone dare spend so much on a stand {Finite elemente Pagode is the best,period] and yet still keep an old pair of speakers;I can only come with one conclusion;this dude sure has good ears...

BRAVO !!!