for those over 35 and constantly lament on the lack of good music today, mamma mia! is for you! the movie is a spirited adaptation of the popular stage musical and did i have fun watching it!

this is not a movie blog so there is no movie review from me. but i want to drive home the following points:

1] why is today's pop music cannot be as simple, sweet and melodious as ABBA's?

2] when the music is so brilliant, does it matter whether your hifi is low-end of high-end? you don't need soundstaging and separation, do you?

i left the cinema with slight teary eyes. it has been awhile since i was so moved by the music. so much childhood memories were recalled.

yeah, go call me a sentimental uncle. i live and die music!

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin?for
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

Look all around, there’s nothin?but blue skies
Look straight ahead, nothin?but blue skies

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

ladies and gentlemen, 2 months and 400+ hours later, the stage III concepts gryphon interconnects have finally broken in.

true to my previous postulation about this cable, it is the single most phenomenal upgrade i have ever had.

[jessica elba]

"There has been a failure in the attempt to use specifications to characterize the subtleties of sonic performance. Amplifiers with similar measurements are not equal, and products with higher power, wider bandwidth, and lower distortion do not necessarily sound better."

"Historically, that amplifier offering the most power, or the lowest IM distortion, or the lowest THD, or the highest slew rate, or the lowest noise, has not become a classic or even been more than a modest success. For a long time there has been faith in the technical community that eventually some objective analysis would reconcile critical listeners' subjective experience with laboratory measurement. Perhaps this will occur, but in the meantime, audiophiles largely reject bench specifications as an indicator of audio quality. This is appropriate.

"Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. We should no more let numbers define audio quality than we would let chemical analysis be the arbiter of fine wines. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment.

"Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not.

"As in art, classic audio components are the results of individual efforts and reflect a coherent underlying philosophy. They make a subjective and an objective statement of quality which is meant to be appreciated. It is essential that the circuitry of an audio component reflects a philosophy which addresses the subjective nature of its performance first and foremost."

to those audiophiles like master ken who reads measurements like a text book, eat your heart out ;-)

to me, music is an emotional connection; you just can't measure music reproduction and high fidelity. it is an art as much as it is science. that's why i play tube amps and i don't read magazines that have loads of charts and technical diagrams like my secondary science text book ;-)

pay a visit to your typical indian newsagent and you would have a hard time finding where they put their hifi magazines. they are always located at one inconspicuous corner where magazine of less "importance" are. even when you do find them, there is at most one or two copies available. such is the sad state of hifi magazines in malaysia.

most of the times, these magazines are left unsold and they would be sent to the 2nd hand bookshops, like the one in amcorp mall, and be sold at 1/3 of its original price. even at that price, there are not many takers. the best selling hifi magazine in malaysia, as far as i know, is taiwan's "audio art", which is absolutely one of the best in the world in terms of photography, sheer volume of articles and intellectual contents.

fact it, today's audiophiles are no longer reading hardcopy hifi magazines, save for the very few minority hardcore readers. there are many reasons for this phenomenon, chief of which are the widely available internet resources and lack of credible reviewers.

but many local dealers argue that those who read from internet are not the real buyers. real buyers are those who still read hifi magazines. i could understand where they are coming from but i feel that the internet readers and buyers alike would boom in the next 3-5 years in malaysia, judging from the awareness of local dealers and audiophile community towards online hifi resources. a case in point, local hifi trading blog, hifi4sale, has somewhat "forced" even the most internet-handicapped dealers/audiophiles to go online and post their 2nd hand items for sale. this is a very encouraging sign indeed.

many hifi magazines are barely surviving, with diminished readership, eventho their advertising revenue are still stable. many manufacturers still want the distributor to allocate a certain budget for advertising in hardcopy hifi magazines. in the end, you may end up with hifi magazines that no ones want to read or bother to buy and take it home. and this is already happening today.

it is with this awakening thought that i have decided to suspend my av xpress infinitely and concentrate solely on my blog.

the buka puasa was met with heavy rain today. it choked the kl and pj traffic entirely. the traffic jam was so horrendous that i couldn't help but find solace in my music. for the last few days, my player has been spinning aiza seguerra's "open arms". i must admit, i don't agree with the song selection (inclusion of don mclean's overdone "vincent" is not to my taste) but i find a couple of tracks hugely impressive.

"persistent rain" was so perfect for the situation i was in today - getting stucked in the traffic jam while the rain poured mercilessly on my car's windscreen - though i have no romantic stories to tell you. this is the best track of the album, one that i can listen over and over again.

journey's "open arms" (circa 1970s) is done with good taste. a lot of young generation like this track, from what i could find with my google. other good tracks include "i will be there for you", "longer" (dan fogelberg) and azra's own beautiful tagalog love song "para lang so 'yo".

little did i know that this is the number 1 best-selling audiophile album in singapore. aiza is already a household name in philipines, now it is time malaysians discover her.

aiza has a very clear, pristine and angelic voice. she is diction-perfect and pitch-perfect. it is very hard to find this kind of western-sounding singers in malaysia. to me, philipines has the most gifted singers in this region. they way they sing, they just don't sound like asians.

s2s is a s'pore label started by a japanese. judging from the excellent recording quality of this cd, we can expect more gems from this label.

seriously, i would love to produce an album like this.

heartily recommended, if only the song selection can be better.

sonics: 8/10
music: 8/10

the star, after much begging and string-pulling, finally published an article on 2v1g today.

3 months late? better late than never.

with web 2.0 catching fast on netizens, even audiophiles from sleepy kelantan have caught on with the blogging fad!

for the mandarin readers among you, here's one interesting hifi blog from my virtual friend in kelantan. calling his blog "fatty's hifi journey", you can certainly tell that chua has a great sense of humour.

his gear is definitely high-end; it would embarrass anyone out there who claims to be high-end.

but most importantly, chua's passion sees no bound, so too is his pocket, i suspect ;-)


chua's equipment list

  • cd transport-Reimyo CDT-777(Kubala Sosna Emotion power cord, Harmonix Coaxial)
  • dac-Reimyo DAP-999EX (Kubala Sosna Emotion power cord,Stage3 Concept Magnus RCA interconnect)
  • preamp-Audio Note M5 Line (Shunyata Phyton Helix power cord,Stage3 Concept Magnus Prime XLR interconnect)
  • power amp-Classe CA2200 (Shunyata Phyton Helix power cord,Audioquest Mont Blanc speaker cable)
  • loudspeakers-Marten Miles 3
  • others-Shunyata Research V-Ray (Shunyata Research PhytonHelix20A power cord),Bright Star Audio platform(DAC),Symposium Ultra platform+Symposium Roller Block(preamp),Accoustic Revive RR-77 X3, Isolation Transfomer,AC AnacomX5,Speaker Anacom,Accoustic Revive RD3,Goldmund Spike,Harmonix RF-999MT(speaker)),Harmonix RFA-7800,Oyaide (wall outlet),Symposium Svelte Shelf(power amp),Millennium CD Mat,Quantum Symphony Pro(Harmonix X-DC2 power cord),Finite Elemente Ceraball(for Shunyata V-ray - see picture)

this can make master ken pee in his pant. it would eat his scm100 for lunch.

if i am not mistaken, the atc el150 comes in two versions - the slp for passive and sla for active. the mid driver is taken from atc scm-150 soft dome mid driver, the tweeter is 25mm neodynium and the bass driver is atc super linear 375mm bass driver.

the first buyer in the world is a hongkie.

does it ever get into malaysia? we would direct this question to hi-way laser's kenny sin.

They came and they brought a breath of fresh air to conventional Mandarin pop music. Their debut album has earned them endless praises and accolades since its launch 3 months ago.

And now they are going to prove to their fans that they can sing live just as well.

Performing in their first ever gig together, Roger Wang, Regine Tai and Winnie Ho of 2V1G are going to enthrall audiences with a new set of repertoire - Mandarin, English and even Malay numbers - in No Black Tie (NBT) come 7th and 8th of October 2008!

No Black Tie (03-21423737) is the premier jazz club in downtown KL, located at Jalan Mesui, near to Istana Hotel.

Seats are limited by the small capacity of No Black Tie. Admission is RM30.

Please block your calendar now and reserve your seat through yours truly at 012-2083790.

See you at the gig!

Maggielurva has gone berserk with Chinese hifi products. After the Droplet 5.0 CD player, he dug up another Chinese disc player for review in AVXpress, this time it is the Shanling CD-300.

Honestly, I have no exposure to Chinese hifi, although I have read much about it in the hifi press, both eastern and western. Well, some said that the Chinese stuff gave better value than their more established western counterparts, but some users also cautioned about product reliability and inconsistent quality. And we all can see this diverse opinion in the comments posted under maggielurva’s blog entry for the Consonance Droplet (“hifi haute couture”)

While what I read and heard serve as good background information, I personally like to experience things firsthand. So it is interesting to get the Shanling from maggielurva, now is my turn to see (and listen for myself) whether this made-in-china stuff is a gem or a turkey.

This Shanling goes for RM6k (yes, six, the first time maggielurva passes me something that is below 5 figures! Refrsehing). In terms of features, it is an overachiever compared to anything under RM10k. It is a top loader with Philips' CD7II servo system. It has 24bit/192kHz upsampling, selectable from the fascia and the remote. It is tubed (two 6922 in the output stage). It has both single ended and balanced (XLR) outputs. Heck, you even get an XLR connection for the digital out in addition to the RCA one. Its fit and finish is excellent, reminds me of the various top range Marantz that I came across (well, they probably took a page from Marantz’s design, with the rounded edges and all that). The only thing I can split hair about its build is probably the sliding cover for the CD compartment, which does not slide as smoothly as the one on the Audionet ART G2 (brouhaha! I can see some of you falling off your chairs, comparing the Shanling to a RM28k cdp? Hifikaki must be high on something). :-)

But how is the sound quality, you ask. This is not something that can be concluded in a few hours of listening, so let’s leave it to the full review. But so far so good, I can listen to it for a few hours at a time - that is a good sign – it is not fatiguing, it is not boring, it can convey musical tension. Still, more work needs to be done on my part.

Do take the above as first impression, this is just the beginning.

[scarlet johansson]

3 years and 580 posts later, we have hit this auspicious mark!

looking back, the last 3 years has been filled with good memories. what started off as a place to sell "boutique" hifi items (hence the name desirable audio boutique) has become a major daily chore of mine! not chore la, on the contrary, quite a pleasure of mine ;-)

from apogee centaur minor to maggie 1.6QR to maggie 3.6R; from AQ anaconda, to stage III magnus and now its flagship gryphon; from arc LS25MkII to LS26; from meridian 508.24 to g08; from richard gray to shunyata hydra... along this upgrading process, my understanding and appreciation in hifi have leaped forward so much i almost couldn't tolerate the kind of sound i liked 3 years ago!

my criteria of good sound has also changed so much. i now pride "realism" above anything else.
realism emcompasses a balanced top-to-bottom sound; an "organicity" and "humanness" (i didn't check if such words exist!) that is close to live music.

a balanced sound to me is a spectrum where highs, mids, lows coexist together seemlessly without any frequency screaming for attention. highs must have air, extension and substance, mids must have body, density and substance, and lows must be tactile, bouncy and also substantial. heck, a good sound must have substance!

"organicity" means the flow, fluidity, cohesiveness, completeness, continuity of music. some call it musicality too.

and lastly "humanness" is the tonality of the sound that i give top-priority to and very few systems could achieve this single criterium well. i mean, if a human voice doesn't sound like a human voice, how good can your hifi be, never mind the soundstaging and imaging? it is in the tone, my friend.

i am amazed that i could go on blogging for that long. most bloggers gave up after 3 months. 3 years, 580 posts and 100,000 page views are definitely a milestone in a niche hobby like ours.

occasionally, there are some readers who try to spoil the party but most of the times, the moderator in me could make them see the bigger picture and act within the decorum of a good reader. as i have said, this is not just another me-too blog/forum/website. i don't allow it to be. it has too much personality ;-)

i don't know how many regular readers do i have (seriously) but to those who derive their daily joy from reading my scribbles, i thank you. you are the reason for me to go on.

i really hope i could continue blogging for another 30 years!

Willy, a jovial guy who always has a smile on his face, I met him in this year KLIAV show via a mutual friend. He visited me and listened to my system a few weeks later, and last night was my turn to reciprocate.

It was a good night listening to music for myself and maggielurva. Let’s start with Willy’s system from the top – his frontend was a Marantz CD7, the ‘statement’ CDP from Marantz and Ken Ishiwata, a CDP that I lusted after. Seeing a Marantz brought back fond memories as I grew up with the CD63SE and then the CD17MkIIKI. Marantz never failed to sound musical to me, and Willy’s system with the CD7 in it proved to be even more so in this regard.

The CD7 fed a Pass Labs X2.5 preamp, which in turn was connected to a pair of Pass Labs Aleph 0 monoblocks - 75watts of pure single-ended class A power into 8 ohms, double that into 4. I am a Pass Labs user myself, and once owned the 0’s littlest brother, the Aleph 3. I regretted letting go of the 3, I hope Willy would not make the same mistake with his 0s, they are absolutely a classic from Pass Labs (to me, all Alephs are, and I have to admit I have a bias towards the Aleph sound).

At the end of the chain was a pair of Audio Physics Spark. Slim and elegant these 2.5-way floorstanders were. Audio Physics are renowned for their soundstaging capability, and Willy’s Sparks lived up to this reputation, throwing a soundstage that was nicely 3-dimensional.

Willy has also addressed the electricity quality issue by installing an IsoTek power line conditioner. His cdp, turntable (a Rega with diy Pass Labs Ono, I gathered, which we did not listen to) and pre-amp were plugged into the IsoTek, and the Alephs were plugged directly into the wall.

The listening room was of a cozy size, I estimated it to be 10’x12’ (just a guess). Willy has done some acoustic treatment, such as diffusers on the front wall. He also ingenuously incorporated diffusion / absorption into his CD rack at the first reflection point at the side of the speakers.

Once Willy cued up the music, I was attracted. The sound had a natural body, was coherent, and came with an inviting tonality, it has airiness, richness and excellent harmonic structure. I believe it was the Pass Labs doing their talking here to an extent, it certainly was a presentation that I was well acquainted to. The sound was well-lit but not bright, I personally would prefer a slightly mellower top but that is a matter of taste. Vocals and violin were articulate and attractive. Violin, especially, had sheen and brilliance that came close to real life.

Despite their relatively slim stature, the Audio Physics had a big sound. These fellows were not afraid of big swings in dynamics and indeed they handled any such challenge with aplomb. Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez (ASMF, Marriner) presented just such an opportunity, the guitar was intimate but the sound would simply swell whenever the full orchestra came on.

Best of all, Willy’s listening room came with a cute little Miss. That is Willy’s little daughter, ever the daddy's girl, she would accompany her father during his listening session for hours.

With that, what more can a man ask for?

and that's abc records, headed by simon tsui.

the major players in chinese audiophile music recording include rain forest (now without lily chen, their trump card, who has signed to a mainstream label), perfect, hugo, rock in (hk), musiclab (hk), musicnet (hk) and a few whose names i can't remember, but among all these players, abc records is my fave label. in case you haven't read my previous posts, one of my best chinese audiophile recording comes from abc records - a-ming, the chain-smoking chinaman with the husky voice. the vocals are so well recorded that one would swear that he could taste a-ming's nicotine-tainted voice from afar! abc's teresa teng remastered series (pictured above) are also a perpetual best-sellers in the market.

canada-based tsui is a man of refined tastes. apart from investing in cutting-edge technology, he also believes in the "western" ways of doing things. for starters, he engages an english graphic designer for all his cd cover design work for he believes cover design is a major attraction for an album and in this respect, the westerners are more superior than his own chinese people.

tsui most recent collaboration with mark levinson opens his eyes to the genius that is mark levinson. tsui openly acknowledges that mark is a remarkable recording engineer.

in advancing the audiophile recording technology further, tsui's latest breakthru is what he calls the "HD-mastering CD". as a audiophile music producer myself, i know too well the loss between the master tape and the final commercial cd. my 2v1g master tape is easily 20-30% better sounding than the commercial cd!

the path between the master and final commercial cd involves too many variable - from the glass sampler to the disc replication process to the material of the disc is made of, all these carry a certain amount of fidelity loss.

tsui collaborates with germany's golden ear studio for this project. it has taken him two years to reach commercial viability. you can read all about it here.

one thing of interest here, tsui admits that "for audiophile recordings, chinese repertoire has a bigger market internationally". i fully concur with his observation!

yes, this one is a keeper.

bought it last night and have been spinning non-stop since.

if anne murray is a piece of hifi then she simply has the most gorgeous tone. in this fabulous cd, she even has a "ghostly" duet with dusty springfield in "i just fall in love again", this track itself worthy of the cost of this US-pressed CD.

trust me, one you read the liner notes where the 12 different iconic female legends (including carole king, sarah brightman, ONJ, k.d.lang, shelby lynne, shania twain) expressed their feelings of excitement in collaborating with anne murray, you would be so moved that you want to read it over and over again.

2v1g will be covering anne murray's "you needed me" in NBT gig in october and the duet here with anne murray and shania twain is the best source of reference for us.

the producer is phil ramone.

review to come.

my pride and glory.

it has been with me for the last 4 years, beating many intruders and competitors. 4 years is a long time in the ever-changing hifi scene and i dare to say it is worth every penny i spent on it.

but it has to go, now that i have found a new love.

stage III magnus is the 2nd ranked interconnect from stage III concepts. i have got two pairs out of 4 pairs in malaysia. it is a true collector's item.

this is balanced XLR connection, 1.5m in length. Condition: 8.5/10

stage III magnus has the most exquisite tonal color and highs amongst all the interconnects i tried all these years. it is especially glorious for tube-based systems.

RM4,300 per pairs. RM8,000 for two pairs.

call 012-2083790.

"If you want the subtle infusion of valves; if you want to be able to eliminate a preamp from the equation; if you value not just sonics but pride of ownership from massive construction and unusual cosmetics - the Droplet CD player from Opera Audio is the one". Quote from Srajan Ebaen, Editor of 6moons.

if hifi is a fashion, this will win some awards. this is the kind of hifi that your wife or girlfriend would approve, sonics notwithstanding.

a flagship product selling at only Rm12K? we are not kidding. opera consonance 5.0 droplet cdp is the object of desire/review for master ken. i say, ken, it is high time to replace your meridian 508.24!

if the droplet is a woman, she must be the most voluptuous and curvaceous female species on earth. accordingly, she runs hot, i mean, temperature-wise. it also comes with a complimentary 2-tier marble stand which i find too heavy to carry home.

i expect it to sound seductive, warm and romantic.... much like the imaginary woman that it suggests....

as usual i will pass it to ken, then hifi kaki then back to me for an all-round assault on this gorgeous beauty.

while mulling over a cup of teh tarik, hifi kaki and i brought out the subject of forming a hifi club in malaysia (since the idea was mooted by one hifi dealer). though the discussion here is purely academic, i would share it you here what is exchanged between us.

first, we are going to call the club "hifi utopia", not because we like the jmlab speaker but as an oxymoron to celebrate the idiosyncracies of this hobby. hifi utopia may never happen but at least that's what the club strives to achieve. the club mascot would be a happy audiophile kissing a hose-sized interconnect. just joking ;-)

there are a couple of critical success factors for hifi utopia:

[1] the club must provide real benefits to the members. this can come in the form of equipment on-loan , such as the cable cooker for members' use (great idea that was), a loaner record-cleaner or interconnect/power cords/etc etc contributed by dealers for the sole usage of the club's members

[2] a real discount for members for purchase of goods from participating dealers

[3] regular experiential sharing in the form of forums, talks, seminars - and NOT house visits, please. the club would invite hifi luminaries (local or overseas) to share their knowledge on a particular domain. dealers can be the sponsors for such events.

[4] some well-to-do veteran/senior audiophiles to provide funding for the club. the president should be someone level-headed, respected widely and preferably rich, not a recalcitrant like maggielurva.

[5] a regular platform for dealers to showcase their latest products. the club can organize listening sessions in dealer's showroom (or some neutral place) where members can mingle (or bicker!) in a conducive environment. of course, refreshment and food would be provided by dealers.

other less effective forms of sharing which we are not too keen include:

[1] regular talk-cock-sing-song sessions. this has proven that it won't work in the malaysian context due to our over-inflated egos

[2] house visits. this again is a waste of time knowing how malaysians behave when they listen to other systems.

as far as membership goes, hifi kaki feels that it should be by invitation (extended by the dealers to their valued customers) whereas i feel that it should be open to all and sundry. a lot of newbies (e.g the bunch from low yatt forum) want to come into hifi but have no means to gain knowledge or access to good hifi. hifi utopia would be a good avenue and access path for this bunch of newbies.

these are the basic guidelines for hifi utopia. do you have more to add?

the audio creations boys are offering this special discount to all readers of desirable audio.

buy the audio magic stealth mini reference at Rm3,888 (USD1,200) and get a good discount on their black thunder power cord.

Audio Magic Black Thunder Power Cord
Two 12-gauge, double-coated, silver over copper conductors with Teflon dielectrics, Mylar dampening, and surrounding triple shielding. By no means entry level, the black thunder promises significant improvements in detail, staging and weight.

Introductory price, 1.5m US plug RM480 (additional RM90 for UK plug) Special package price of RM380 with purchase of any Audio Magic power conditioner, while stocks last.

contact: Mikey 012-3315669

[can never get enough of charmaine sheh]

Hello Leslie,

I was reading your blog and came across the mention of AKG's new "female vocalist" mic. Then you mentioned my wire and I thought maybe I could help.

I would not recommend changing the internal wiring of such a small component, however we could have a couple of balanced microphone cables made for the two singers of 2V1G. They may work well with those beautiful new mics .

Many years ago I made some custom electric guitar cables for some friends in a local rock band.They loved them, but I never got to listen to the results myself, and I always wondered if they picked up any RF noise (they were not shielded).I imagine the conductor windings blocked any possible interferences.

If you are interested maybe we could experiment.

How long would these cables need to be? Please remember we cannot make cables that are too long.

Also, I would not recommend using XHADOW XLR plugs, since they have no incorporated locking mechanism which is standard on all pro-audio XLR plugs (Neutrik, Switchcraft, etc.). An unlocked plug may slip out easily if the singer moves or pulls the mic; certainly not worth the risk during a performance or recording session.

If you like the results and want to keep the cables, consider them a donation to the band.Let me know your thoughts on this.

All the best,

as usual, news travel a little late to bolehland - i only discovered this last week when jo ki (our local ls3/5a guru) recommended it to me.

as usual, malaysian record shops don't carry it.

can some kind souls from SG buy it for me and i will pay you back?

i have heard some of the songs and love them. shelby does justice to dusty springfield's classics.

i want, i want, i want.

yes, i am convinced that the cable cooker is for cable nuts like me!

i hereby would like to invite 2 more audiophiles to share the cost with me. preferably you are from kl la, else logistics are gonna be difficult. so far i have invited hifi kaki and GCK.

i want to buy the pro version, so if we have 3 parties, the share would be around RM800 each person.

come, let's start cooking up a storm!

p/s we can start a small business charging gullible audiophiles for RM50 per break-in session ;-)

latest: GCK is in! so i need one more investor.
latest: hifi kaki is in as well! hey, we are buying one!

AKG "Elle C" microphone in white
  • Condenser vocal microphone for female vocalists
  • Slender and elegant silhouette
  • XLR connector module with 24-carat gold plated pins for optimized connectivity
  • 24-carat gold plated transducer case for optimum conductivity and resistance to corrosion and humidity
  • Spring steel wire-mesh grill for extreme ruggedness incl. reliable control of pops and wind noise
  • Internal elastic suspension

Every musician knows about the very special nature of the female voice. Building on decades of experience in making microphones, AKG has designed a professional vocal microphone with a condenser transducer perfectly tailored to the female voice. The result is called the "Elle C" and delivers an extremely accurate, detailed, and natural sound.

In addition to its superb audio performance, the Elle C also matches the highest aesthetic expectations of performing female vocalists. Its slender, elegant silhouette and special finish in either high-gloss metallic or white pearlescent paint adds an exciting visual dimension to every performance.

budget permitting, we are thinking of buying 2 units of this gorgeous microphone for our 2"V"s for our forthcoming gig in october!

it is incredible that AKG can come up with a mic specially just for female vocalists. i suppose one could extrapolate and go on to produce mics for jazz, classical, rock, pop etc etc.

i wonder if i could replace the internal wiring with stage III cables, and the stock XLR connector with xhadow!

i have been a big fan of wong kar wai since "the days of being wild" - one of my all-time-fave movies - starring the inimitable leslie cheung and the classy maggie cheung. just like quentin tarantino, wong has a way with his camera but few actually know that wong's movies always boast of good soundtracks.

wong's "in the mood for love" introduced me to nat king cole. i fell in love instantly with nat's spanish classics like "quizas, quizas, quizas" and "te quiero, dijiste". music like this conjures up visions of endless nights of passion and eternal love stories. (think falling in love with salma hayek ;-) i just can't get enough of them.

truth is, i don't own any of nat's spanish albums, except for one cover album done by hong kong's TIS (audiophile label). aren't i happy to discover this from taiwan! apparently, producer mark pearce wants to refresh nat's spanish repertoire so he ropes in famous DJ lenny ibizzare to add some rhythm and beats to the music, the result of which is a modernized nat king cole! the remastering is done by big-time japanese audiopile label, s2s (not SS2, my dear!), who has done really well with many hot-selling audiophile titles.

but when i press on the playlist, i was greatly disturbed by the intruding beats!

i really don't need the "special" rhythm to modernize the songs, do you, dear readers?

[the gorgeous kim tae hee]

i am not sure if it is because of my frequency of upgrades, burning-in seems to take up a large part of my time in hifi. whether it is for tubes or cables, i do indeed spend a large amount of time in burning-in.

the law of physics is such that any new equipment would only sound optimal after at least 200 hours of burning-in. in my memory, equipment that took a considerable time to burn-in include the audio magic stealth mini reference (500 hours) and now the stage III gryphon interconnects (estimate to be in the region of 500 hours too). i have blogged about the minute changes in power tubes years ago, you can search the archive.

while burning-in is a long and boring process, observing the minute changes in the sound is an interesting one. for an interconnect and power cord, the first 10 hours are crucial, for it tells almost 70% of the "base" sound. once it is past 20 hours, the sound starts getting worse you can no longer use it as a guide.

i often leave my equipment (with the exception of power amp!) on overnight. in the case of burning-in the gryphon, i play my cd (XLO burn-in CD track #9, no less) non-stop for more than 10 hours a day. in the case of the audio magic, i had a mini fan switched on 24/7 to expedite the process. and the next morning when i wake up, i would switch on the system and monitor the progress. often times, it gives plenty of surprises, especially when the sound suddenly opens up, with its veil lifted. i would say in 8 out of 10 times, the sound changes, for better or for worse.

i always tell my audio buddies that the burning-in process is akin to a bud blossoming into a beautiful flower. if you observe it every day, the bud will bloom, the pedals will open up and the shape will form gradually - it is a magical process. in hifi, the same happens albeit in a more complicated ways. typically, an interconnect goes thru at least 20 cycles (the thicker the longer!) of what i call "peaks and troughs" - meaning it sounds good for 10 hours and then suddenly the sound changes for the worse, with the whole cycle repeating 20 times, each time the "good" gets better, the "worse" also get less worse, before the burning-in process completes.

the most frustrating part is when you think the "good" sounds has finally stablized, it gets worse again, so you need another 10-20 hours before you get back an even better sound. if you are the impatient kind, you may just give up!

trust me, i am an expert in observing these minute changes as i have played so many interconnects, power cords and tubes in the past 10 years. i certainly know when the cable has "some way to go" and when "it is well-cooked". i can't say i enjoy the process but i must say, you can beat physics and law of nature. i do know that in US, audiophiles buy cable burner which could expedite the process but i feel that's not a natural way to burn-in a piece the gear. during the entire 500 hours, i practically don't enjoy the music but waiting patiently for the day to come when i could sit back and relax.

if you are not into observing burning-in and you can't be bothered with "bad" sound for at least 200 hours, then my advice is - just enjoy the music!

it would be interesting to know what you do when you gear is burning-in.

it is not easy for an uncle like me to catch up with the latest music, without listening to radio and reading music magazines. i must say, i am not doing a bad job at all. at least, i still listen to/can appreciate colbie caillat and now jason mraz, when most of my peers have stopped buying cds since 1990. (most of them are still stuck with alan tam and air supply, what a disgrace!)

while we are at it, i picked up a copy of jason mraz and then realized that the song "i'm yours" is the rave of in the local airwaves!

the uncle in me finds jason's music largely palatable but too poppish for prolonged consumption.

review to come...


my happiest times come every time i go thru my entire cd collections to look for songs suitable for 2v1g, whether it is for gigs or albums. of course, i have to know whether my two "V"s can sing the songs well in the first place, this i will have to ask my singers' opinion.

i have a special place for damien rice's "o" album in my heart, not the least because of its beautiful haunting ballad "the blower's daughter" (check out the mp3 playlist). damien is a irish singer-songwriter who released the earth-shattering "o" album in 2003. the album is an acoustic gem and is considered as one of the best albums in 2003 by many. it is poetic, melancholic and yet full of hopes. if you have watched the movie "closer" starring jude law, julia roberts, natalie portman and clive owen then you will undoubtedly fall in love with the theme song "the blower's daughter". singapore's tanya chua recently did a live version of the song but her rendition is nowhere near the poetry of damien.

well, 5 years later, i still like the way "o" album sounds in my system. the recording is near audiophile standards. the guitar has a palpable presence. damien's vocals can come across as lonely, melancholic and eerie. the female backing vocals are superb but i was told she has left damien to do her solo album, what a shame for she makes damien's music so special.

if you are late into discovering this gem, don't hesitate, rush down to your nearest record shop!

p/s check out damien live in youtube!
p/s other non-chinese numbers we are doing for the gig include "getaran jiwa", "what a difference a day made" and "quando, quando".

more than a year ago, my audio buddy was in search of a cd player under rm20k. he auditioned many models, including my meridian g08, but ended up buying bladelius freja. he thinks g08 is too forward in its midrange, which to me, is really a matter of taste and system matching but i gather that his bladelius freja must be smoother-sounding than the g08.

to see how well a company is doing internationally, all you need is google. with bladelius, you see many websites with different languages popping up. which goes to show how well bladelius is being distributed globally and how aggressive their international marketing arm is.

RM10K is a very special price point for hifi in malaysia. it is neither expensive nor cheap, so products fall under this price point have a special attraction to cost-conscious malaysian audiophiles.

bladelius freja (now in mkII guise), at Rm15K, is way too expensive for mid-enders but way too cheap for high-enders. realising this, bladelius has come out with syn (pronounced as "sine", i was told) which provides a much less painful path to owning a bladelius cd player. at below RM10K, there are really not many top-tier products that are competing. off hand, i could think of meridian g06, rega saturn and ayre cx-7e (both could be slightly more than RM10K).

in bladelius' term, syn affordable. the high-grade 24bits/192kHz burr-brown DAC as well as the improved power supply optimizes a outstanding analogue sonic quality. isolated chassis design to separate the transport mechanism and DAC part is the best method to illuminate all un-necessary resonance.

bladelius claims that "syn gives the best sounding source in entry level range which no one can be able to achieve".

a bold claim that only you can testify. eugene (012-3222698) of audio matic @ amcorp mall is more than happy to accomodate your curiosity.

but beware, curiosity may kill the audio cat ;-)