This is an introductory post for those whom are wondering, "who is this fella?"

My system was featured in the September 2008 home visit by hifikaki and maggielurva. That kinda give an idea about my system set up.

From a very young age, I was fascinated by sound, more so when good music of the day was played thru a superb sounding rack system of the time. We are talking about songs like Mickey, Staying Alive and Woman in Love. That gave away my penchant for 70's music.

Since then, like today's I-pod generation, I was inseparable from my Walkman. I was living in the UK during my teens and the hi-fi scene there was really hot. I ditched my Walkman as soon as I had enough moolah to hop on to the hi-fi bandwagon. I somehow think, perhaps, some of the I-pod users today will be tomorow's hi-fi customers, in one form or another.

During my youth, I was distracted by other curiosities that seem more appropriate then, namely that shiny fast wagon and the desire to find consensual mating partners. For a short span of time, I was even in to AV systems and hi-end computer speakers.

The shiny fast wagon was getting heavier and slower by the day, when I started loading it with pre amp, power amps, speakers and sub woofer boxes. I came full circle the day my wagon become my mobile music room.

In the last few years my hi-fi fever has taken a life of it's own. What started as a modest system consisting of Marantz CD63SE CD player, Denon PM680R integrated amp and a pair of B&W DM620 speakers in the room during year 2003, evolved in to what you see in the September home visit featured. And I thought I could be musically satisfied in year 2003!

In my free time, I also dabble in to the DIY areas of high end audio, only for the fun of learning from the building process.

I love all kinds of music, never language or genre driven. I guess you can call me the DBKL of music.

That's it, a short introduction for those who do not know what Willy or a.k.a. Panzer is about.

ipoh audiophiles rejoice!

c&o audiophile's arrival in ipoh definitely helps to add further excitement to the thriving audiophile community in ipoh....

c&o is also the national distributor of telos audio products from taiwan, a brand that has garned positive reviews all over the globe.

of interest here is their XLR/RCA caps, said to effectively curb RFI and EMI and protect your unused connectors from rust, corrosion and oxidation . the caps are made of pure copper but plated in platinum and they are too cheap to mention! they certainly look and feel better than the cardas and other brandless caps in the market. master ken is a true believer in these caps as he has tons of them in his ARC preamp.

john sin, the boss of c&o told me that telos audio sells the RCA/XLR caps by the truckloads. it is their best selling item no less.

audiophiles on the budget should give this affordable tweak a try!

panzer would be reviewing the XLR/RCA caps as well as the gold series power cord and the interconnect.

john sin (mobile: 012-5269313)
3, lebuh taman ipoh (behind pantai hospital)
taman ipoh selatan
31400 ipoh perak

due to some last minute changes, i didn't go to the ISSE 2008 (international sight and sound exhibition) in singapore.

from what i heard and read, it was a genuine disaster. even singaporeans didn't think highly of it.
they even say KLIAV (kl's hifi show) is much better.

it is easy to point fingers at the organizer (the editor of the local chinese hifi mag) but in actual fact, it is the exhibitors who screwed up (by not setting up their systems properly). SGD15 admission plus a free LPCD - no matter how crappy the music is - is not a lot by today's standard. i suppose what the organizer failed to do is to ensure that everyone treats the show seriously by devoting some time to setup and tune their systems but hey, that's daunting task when you need their business to make up the numbers!

it was the same complaint lashed out at the local KLIAV show a few years back when it became a "pasar malam" (night market) of sort where certain dealers threw their stocks at hugely discounted prices to attract the bargain hunters. many questioned the true meaning of hifi show. but do you know that those dealers (who threw prices) were the happiest of the lot, every year without fail? (one rumored to chalk up RM600K sales in just over 3 days!) so i tell you, there are always two sides of a coin.

so when the organizer finally created a "pasar malam" show to specifically meet the demands of those bargain hunters, it was a major flop because malaysia seriously don't need more than one hifi show.

so, where does that leave the organizer? well, his position is certainly unenviable.

instead of travellng to sg, i spent my weekend in ipoh. it was all gloomy at the hifi shops, with every dealer expressing extreme pessimism with the current economic situation and currency fluctuation.

it is the same here in kl. every dealer i visited has some sort of plan for the bad times ahead.

my advice is don't shut off your dealers completely. if you can't afford the big items, how about buying some accessories? they need your support in times like these.

p/s i have put all the local dealers' websites/blogs on the right panel. do visit them once in a while.

p/s this blog is best viewed using mozilla firefox. IE seems to have some problems all the times.

Remember the song from Sade of the same title?

That's exactly the kind musical tone, un-explained feelings of lushness that Maggielurva's system imparted when I heard it.

I think regular readers would be sufficiently familar with Maggie's system details by now, and new curiosisties can look at the older post to get an idea.

The sonic presentation of the system starts off pretty nicely with some girl & guitar music, which shows off the contrast in the dynamics shading of the vocals. The voices had strong density, some would call it body, and always sounded real, by the way, did I tell you about the formation of the mouth, lips teeth and all(only if it's in the recording)?

As the music progressed, I slowly found my self admiring the total cohesiveness of the whole sonic picture, i.e the staging & imaging! The soundstage, as wide as the lounge permits, was completely filled in 3D, layered, no holes, just audible air(if it can be heard!) between singer and instruments. A little note about Maggie's soundstage, despite not sitting at the throne(a.k.a. the sweet spot), I was at one point, sat facing direct to the left speaker and yet the soundstage never fell apart, as it naturally does with most other systems, It held on from the same view as if you'd be in a less than ideal off center seat in a concert, the stage perception only slightly skewed. As this is my first true Magnaplanar experience, perhaps it's an advantage of the planar speaker design? Still I was not prepared for what was about to happen within the next half an hour or so. You can say that I slowly warmed up to it.

Maggie's system has a way of slowly creeping up on you, working it's magic slowly but surely, before I knew it, I was admiring the naturally rich tonal colours presented when playing string instruments with a wooden body like the violin, cello, double bass and piano. Only truly high end systems can replay such acoustic instrument's timbre with startling beauty. The piano notes attack, sustain and decay was convincingly long, but never was a note elongated for the sake of it.

Then how can a visit to Maggie's system be complete without a dose of Teddy Robbins Goes To The Movies? The CD had a feeling of an intense jam session and the system just lets all the energy flow convincingly. The snare drums, located on the back of the stage in track1 Dim Je Ping Ping, had skin texture, attack and post attack air. However, if there was a shortfall in Maggie's system, it was revealed at track6 Sai Hei. This track is filled with raw angst. If you're familar with the cantonese dialect, you'd understand the anger, frustration and disappointment, if you had to tell someone off "Sai Hei lah lei!" At the high point of the long electric guitar solo rift, with drums, rythm guitar and gutsy bass guitar notes blaring in back ground, the system just wouldn't completely let loose and let it rip. But then again, it's just a personal interpretation of the song and how it should sound like I've heard on some other systems, for better or worse.

Did I not mention about tonal balance of the system, in a well sorted out system like this, all I can say is you'd take it for granted, other wise how on earth would it be reproducing the beautiful tonal colours of the acoustic instruments mentioned earlier? But the high's deserves a special mention here, pristine, extended, unvarnished as in never shiny/showy, understated perhaps even with a hint elegance. I could hear on high hats each hit by the drum stick, distinct and with varying degree of strength use by the drummer. It's one of best that I've heard at any given system price tag, it's almost as good as a system I referenced for a long, long time, costing several times more. Mids are open, no edginess at the higher mids to outline imaging, just natural. The bass of the system is adquate but had a nice bounce to it. The start/stop of a double bass note followed by the next is a good example, handled very well. I think many are of the opinion that planars don't do bass well, but in a well set up one like Maggielurva's, it's the quality, rather than the quantity bass that matters. Most of us are perhaps just so used to the dynamic cone type bass, slightly bloated by an reinforced ported box. And I shall make clear that during the audition session, we(me and Wong) was never left with the impression of lack of bass. If the Wilson speaker owner didn't complain about the bass, then it's good sign.

System transparency is first rate, when listening to 2V1G's master copy, I heard vocal emotions, micro guitar playing details on track4 Tempting Hearts, that I've never felt/ heard before. Maybe it's the master copy, may be it's the system. I also note a chameleon like effect on the system that trully indicates it's superiority in this respect, it has that ability to convey a subtle stage, studio or hall effect in a given recording and a diferent venue on each recording apparent. It's as good as they come! That is unless Maggielurva executes his next up grade plans off course!

From what I can see, other than 1 pc of Shun Mook and some sponge pads to isolate overlaping cables, Maggielurva doesn't do much tweaks. I find that tweaks are pretty much band aid at best. As you move up in high end hi-fi, getting your system sounding balanced, the less tweaks you probably need to make it all come together. I think that pretty much sums up Maggielurva's system at present.

early birds catch the worm. i have decided to entertain guests only in the daytime when the AC is more stable and reliable.

big-sized and big-smiling willy and his hifi buddy, wong, arrived at my house at 9:30am sharp today. they were the first two who get to listen to the broken-in stage III ASP gryphon.

since i am so used to review others' systems, it is willy's turn to review mine.

willy has the story...

could it be old age that makes me keeping forgetting my once formidable trouble-shooting skills?

i had a few house invitations lined up but unfortunately TNB acted up on me. for the past 3 days the AC supply was quite terrible. so when it was restored to normalcy yesterday, i still felt something amiss when i switched on my system... where's the headroom, drive and dynamism of my stage III ASP gryphon, the raison d' etre that i fell in love with it?

i tried listening to my system at different times of the day. even at 1am last night, the sound didn't sound convincing. not only the sound lacks the above-mentioned winning elements, the gain is also noticeably lower (at least 5db!). the laziness in me didn't bother to dig up my fully-documented tips on trouble-shooting (which i posted here 2 years ago entitled when things don't sound right, if you readers could remember). so i just thought the AC wasn't fully restored.

i postponed twice my appointment with a prominent audiophile, who is very keen to listen to the stage III. and i am close to postponing tomorrow's appointment with two audiophiles who are also very keen.

not until i call mr. audio research - mr. yoon tuck chee of audio art - for some sage advice. he just gave me some tips, which i knew all along but have completely forgotten: unplug the power cord from my LS26 preamp and let it rest for 10-20 minutes. as simple as that. the point is to completely discharge the preamp.

it turned out that all i need is that. so simple.

this anomaly has been in existence with all ARC preamps, even the LS25, Ref1 and now LS26 and Ref 3. once in a while, especialy when there is a AC surge or AC abnormalcy, one has to completely switch off and unplug the preamp and let is rest for 10-20 minutes.

should i whack i own backside for forgetting such a simple trick? i think i full deserve it!

this year is the 50th anniversary of the musical genre called bossa nova and record labels are rushing to cash in on the popularity of this genre.

one of the best-selling albums in cd shops in malaysia for the past few months is this album called "back to love in bossa moments". it is a cover version album of pop classics done in bossa nova style by unknown singers.

i picked up a copy and was quite horrified by what malaysians like to listen today. while "bleeding love" (leona lewis) and "you are beautiful" (james blunt) were quite successfully re-arranged into bossa nova, the rest of the songs sound decidedly contrived and out-of-place. can you imagine kylie minoque's "i should be so lucky" and elton john's "your song" done in bossa nova? i shudder in disgust.

let me tell you, not every song is suitable for bossa nova or jazz arrangement. the problem with this album lies on the weak arrangement, wrong choice of songs and ordinary performance by the singers.

but this is what the malaysian market wants, i suppose :-(

listen to roger wang's re-arrangement of cai qin's audiophile classic "oblivious time" (bei yu wang de shi guang) below and you would understand what i meant by "the correct choice of song for bossa nova".

I was re-reading Russ Andrews' article on the mains supply a few weeks ago (you can find it here. There was a downloadable pdf version, but I couldn’t find it on the website now), it gave a wealth of good advice on improving the electricity supply to our hifi system, while, of course, pushing for some of his products.

What I found good was that the article was largely devoid of out-of-this-world claims, hyperboles, mysteries etc.. Someone like me, who fortunately still remembered some high school physics, could understand most of what he said perfectly well. :-)

A section drew my attention particularly: it was under chapter 11: “high impedance > mains cabling and mains circuit”, in which he compared the merits between a radial (spur) circuit and a ring circuit. He had this to say: “The advantage of a ring circuit is that looping the wire back to the consumer unit doubles the current handling capacity of the cable by halving the impedance. The wire in a radial circuit must be much larger if it is to match the lower impedance of a ring circuit.” That made sense. He went on to say that some who have installed spur circuits, which looked good on paper, have suffered sound quality degradation.

Diagram courtesy of Russ Andrews' website.

My current power supply to my hifi equipment was a spur circuit setup - 2 separate power sockets wired independently and directly from the fuse box (on the same phase (coming out from the same circuit breaker in fact) of the 3-phase power supply). Since the sockets were installed side-by-side in my room, I could easily convert them into a ring circuit, by connecting the two sockets to each other in the wall with short runs of wires - earth to earth, neutral to neutral, live to live.

I decided to try this last Sunday afternoon. In the process I also discovered that the earth cable to the socket was a little loose, which I tightened up (Russ Andrews also advised on the importance of good earthing). For good measure, I also put a few squirts of contact cleaner on every bare wire end and the socket terminals.

And what did I get out of one Sunday afternoon’s worth of work without spending money?

I measured the voltage from the sockets, 246v – normal voltage to my house. I switched on my system component one by one, all lights came on, no problem, a good sign. I pressed ‘play’ on my remote, expecting to hear something good, but there was simply utter silence for 3-4 seconds. I started to curse under my breath, thinking that I had to spend some more time rechecking all the power cords, interconnects and speaker cables. Then the next moment, the musicians just appeared and lit up the room. Wow. The system was working alright; the background was just much darker than before, much darker indeed. Apparently, I was so used to unconsciously hearing a very faint haze from my system, I did not know it until it was gone. More recorded details emerged from this blackness. Images were slightly more 3-dimensional. Bass and treble also improved with better definition. The decay of notes were clearer and more assured.

Any downside? I detected an occasional glare in the upper mid. Why? I don’t know. Will it go away? I hope so. It reduced after 2 days, let’s see after a few more days’ playing time.

This is absolutely the most cost-effective ‘upgrade’ to my system, equivalent to switching from a stock powercord to a very good aftermarket one, but all without burning any hole in the pocket.

My additional 2 cents: if you install a ring circuit, you'd probably want to limit the number of power sockets on the ring. I think every cut/break in the power cable may also increase the impedance to the current flow. I think it'd also be a good practice to dedicate a circuit to the hifi system without mixing it with other household equipment.

Disclaimer: Electricity can kill. Please get professional help if you intend to do any electrical work. This writer is not responsible for any mishap.

P.S. 28th October - The occasional glare in the upper mid was finally gone. The clarity in the sound and the quietness in the background remained.

ck's method of cooking audio magic PLC and power cord(s)

ck's message to me:

Hi Leslie, here is a photo of how the PLC is connected to the cooker plus 3 power cords.

After listening, the improvement is so much. Now there is more weight and the highs are more extended and bass is more springy.

I have recooked all the power cords and PLC for aonther 24 hours to see if it can further improve.

It's getting really exciting!
hey, ck, i am happy for you!

introducing jim smith's (US distributor for avantgarde loudspeakers) latest book titled "get better sound"...

why i think this is a great book is because jim smith hits the nail on the head by stating all the relevant issues plaguing audiophiles, especially those who are not getting a good sound:

"in all my visits to audiophiles' home - to my great suprise - i have never encountered one system that was performing anywhere near its potential. in fact, very few were performing at even half of the performance of which they were capable!"

"and yet the common denominator among their owners was the question - "what about upgrading to XYZ component?"

"but their priorities were misplaced. there was no need to spend another dime on components until they had gotten their system optmized to "play the room""

exactly my sentiments. but not all audiophiles are bent on upgrades all the times, especially malaysian audiophiles. some just don't know how to max out their systems because they don't know how far their systems can go. they don't have a reference.

go buy this book!

the last time i cooked a "real" dish was more than 15 years ago for my parents. i remember it was spaghetti bolognaise (that i learned in my varsity days) and my parents didn't quite like it.

if it was not because of my readers here, i wouldn't know that such thing called a cable cooker exists. sorry la, i don't read stereophile's recommend components ; -) so if i am not a good spaghetti cook, am i a good hifi cook? certainly. i cooked an interconnect as thick as a 10 gauge power cord in just 3.5 days! the aural dish is so delicious that i can eat it on its own....

operating alan kafton's cable cooker is a piece of cake. it is so simple that there's no way you can go wrong. i like his 12v dc powered concept - it makes the cable cooker universal in handling power requirements in different countries. what a genius, alan. nevertheless, i have yet to figure out how to cook a power line conditioner like my shunyata. ck will know, he is going to cook his audio magic stealth xxx soon.

you know what's the hardest part about cable cooking? it is knowing exactly when it is cooked, overcooked and simply uncooked. i have told you that i already had 400+ hours on my stage III gryphon and the sound still left me wanting, so i decided to adopt a 12-hour per cooking session to gauge the readiness of the "aural dish". here's how it went:

  1. first 12 hours - audible improvement. the bass finally came out, but still not quite there.
  2. 12-24 hours - yet more improvement but not quite drastic. not there yet.
  3. 24-48 hours - wow, completely transformed! the stage 3 charges the music with so much energy and headroom, but i wasn't satisfied that the details and highs haven't come out fully yet
  4. 48-60 - it sounded dull and lifeless. i was scratching my head
  5. 60-72 - still dull. getting impatient now. ok, cook it for another 12 hours and hoping for a quantum leap
  6. 72-84 - absolutely no improvement! time to stop cooking and investigate.
on the 4th day, after i have chalked in 84 hours on the cooker, it suddenly dawned on me that i could have overcooked my stage 3. i could have stopped at the 48th hour when it was already quite good. my eagerness got the better of me. let me describe to you the sound of an "overcooked" cable. it sounded dreadful; it was like the cable was having a bad cold; the highs were missing and the music was tense and unnatural.

calmly, i switched off the cable cooker and let my stage 3 "rest" physically without playing them. that's when miracle happened. 5 hours passed, i switched on my system again ... voila! it actually sounded much better than its previous state! convinced that "resting" will restore/undo the overcooking, i let them rest for further 8 hours.

8 hours later, i am jubilant, elated and smiling like a silly kid. i even danced like a champion, if only you could see me doing that. the cold is subsiding and like a recovering patient, the stage 3 started singing marvelously. and do i need to tell you how the fully broken-in gryphon performs in my system? no need la. i am prone to superlatives so take it with a pinch of salt. but if you insist, the gryphon is the best thing since hifi slice bread.... see, didn't i say i am prone to superlatives?

the cable cooker works 100% as it claimed, but not perfectly in the operation sense. if only alan kafton could take the guess work out of the cooking by building a "ready" switch that ejects like that in a rice cooker then i am sure it would cause less anxiety in neurotic audiophiles like me. just joking, alan. but rest assured, overcooking is totally harmless, that i can testify to you. i have heard that many audiophiles/dealers in malaysia are worried about overcooking and hence damaging their cables. trust me, it is only a myth.

but it is worth the admission price? yes, only if you share it like we do. yes, if you play many cables like we do. yes, only if you can tell the difference a cable makes in your system! for the rest of you who can't afford buying one, we are going to offer this cooking service to everyone for a small fee.

expediting your cooking skills from a novice to the god of cookery? audiodharma's cable cooker is your best solution!

now, excuse me, i am going to eat my music...

with the current global financial crisis, many hifi dealers are bracing for the worse in months to come. they predict that audiophile consumers would naturally tighten their spending (i.e. stop upgrading) and leave hifi out of their "priority" list.

i spoke to some people and they offer some interesting views on how economy impacts the entertainment industry. it has been shown that whenever there is a crisis, the entertainment industry, such as music and movie industry, seems to do even better because people have less money to spend on "expensive" entertainment but they can afford "affordable" entertainment like music and movies. also, they find solace and inspiration in these pastimes to help them through tough times. ever listen to mozart's piano sonatas when you had a bad day? they work wonders, don't they?

it does make some sense to me. this world is full of entertainment options and hifi is often ranked very bottom in the list because you have to stay at home to enjoy it. during bad times, youngsters and young adults would have less money to go clubbing, concerts or general merry-making so they would stay at home and listen to their ipods and play with internet. for the middle-age audiophiles, they would have less social obligations with clients, less product launches, less beer-drinking sessions and they would also stay at home to listen to their hifi.

so i urge malaysian dealers to work even harder in bad times like these to get more sales. if biz is slow, these are the best times to build up customer relationship by visiting them and understand their aspirations and frustrations. of course, it is inevitable that buying customers would squeeze more discounts from the dealers.

seriously, now is the time that busy audiophiles would stay at home, be a good hubby and listen to their hifi. who knows, you will find inspiration to experiment that tweak that you have always been wanting to try or reposition your speakers to get better imaging and depth, or build up your software collection by shopping for those cds that you have always been wanting to buy. or continue with any hifi project that you have shelved due to your busy schedule.

bad times like these are also best times to reflect and soul-search in oneself. whether you are a boss, an employee, a father, a husband, a son, an audiophile.... you shall find these slow times the best opportunity to unwind, medidate and improve on whatever you are doing.

whatever the case, the worst of times are sometimes the best of times.

christmas is just 2 months away and we've got an excellent Christmas gift idea for you to give away to your friends and loved ones!

double take's (roger wang and mia palencia) "one voice, six strings and 12 days of christmas" album, autographed and all wrapped up in the prettiest festive packaging, ready to be sent right to your doorsteps.

please place and confirm your order here (by leaving a comment and contact) before december 1, 2008 and we will send it anywhere in the world for you.

price is RM29.90 only before poslaju charges which depends on which part of the world you are.

for the audiophiles among you, yes, the recording is very good, typical of the high standards of all double take's recordings!

you can preview the album here.

centre circle is committed to make auralex the acoustics treatment of choice in malaysia. you can recommend auralex to your friends who have the following businesses/applications/facilities:

Vocal Booth Project Studio/Control Room Live Recording Room Large Rooms (Houses of Worship, Gymnasium)
Home Theatre/Listening Room
Teaching Studio/Rehearsal Space
Broadcast Studio
(TV, Radio, Podcast)
Video/Edit Production Room
Stages/Live Performance Venues

auralex has launched a new line called HomeDesign™ (HD) series which aims to please aesthetically as well as to offer unsurpassed acoustic treatment.

[1] subdude HD

for a moment, i thought this is some medication to pacify a juvenile drunkard! hey, auralex does have a sense of humor yeah!

The Auralex SubDude(HD) is a 15" x 15" x 2.5" platform wrapped with a cleanable black velour to fit any room setting. Its purpose is to prevent sound from transmitting through your subwoofer to surrounding surfaces.

offer price - RM450 only

[2] subdude

The Auralex SubDude is a 15" x 15" x 2.5" platform wrapped with ozite to fit any room setting. Its purpose is to prevent sound from transmitting through your subwoofer to surrounding surfaces.

offer price - RM320 only

[3] speakerdudes (HD)

SpeakerDudes(HD) are isolators for your speakers. They will decouple your speakers from the surface they rest upon, resulting in a more pure, accurate tone. Low frequencies will be projected and will no longer lack the definition you desire. Mid and high frequencies will be crisp and intelligible. Rattles and resonances will be a thing of the past.

offer price - RM350 only

[4] gramma & great gramma

The GRAMMA (Gig and Recording, Amp and Monitor, Modulation Attenuator) is an incredibly effective patented device that's used to float an amp or loudspeaker.

GRAMMA yields nearly total acoustic isolation, resulting in a purity of tone that has to be heard to be believed!

offer price - Gramma RM320/Great Gramma RM620

[5] moPAD

MoPAD Monitor Isolation Pads provide sonic isolation between your monitors and whatever your monitors are resting on, INSTANTLY improving the accuracy of your entire monitoring system

offer price - RM230

please help nelson (012-2876807) of centre circle to spread the news about these goodies to your friends in hifi and professional audio!

lo and behold, the first joint-investment by several audiophiles (maggielurva, hifi kaki and ck) has finally arrived with the added penalty of a RM500 custom tax! ooouch, what a pinch on the wallet!

we are talking about none other than the long-awaited audiodharma's cable cooker!

the cable cooker is physically lightweight and if you judge on its physical attributes, it is certainly not worth its RM3K asking price.

but who cares, we are cooking a feast already. first on the list to be cooked is of course the stubborn stage III concepts gryphon interconnects.... all are invited to maggielurva's first cable feast!

we shall report on our culinary experience tomorrow!

thiel speakers have always been a difficult animal to tame. they are power hungry and their tweeters are, for want of a better word, too hot.

i have listened to 1.6 and 2.4 many times in centre circle and even in friend's house and i was always underwhelmed. i don't like the highs from the tweeters. i am not sure if it is because of partnering equipment, they never failed to annoy me.

today i listened to 3.7 and my impression changed totally. the 3.7 has superb tonality; it throws a great 3-D soundstage; it images superbly and what's more important to me - the tweeters are no longer as hot. the whole presentation is very natural, to say the least.

i write this without reading any technical specs on the 3.7. i would never let technology to influence my listening.

suffice to say, i like it.

centre circle: 03-77282686

25 years in a cut-throat industry like hifi is a long time and bruce brisson's MIT has not only survived that long but seems to be doing even better than ever.

truth to be told, i have always had phobia towards cables which have network boxes with them. they always seem to curtail high frequencies. but many old timers vouched that MIT cables have the best separation and soundstage layering in high-end cables.

MIT's first full-featured power conditioner, the z powerbar, piques my interest immensely. it has this technology called PFC, which stands for power factor correction which is supposed to maximize AC efficiency by controlling the AC sine wave's phase angle.

power factor has been dubbed by some local electrical engineers as the main reason why the local AC supply is not good enough for hifi.

USD1,699 (RM6,000) isn't a lot of money for conditioner providing 10 outlets (5 duplex). i hope to get a chance to audition this product.

politics are for politicians. history and archives are for indiana jones. audiophile mud-fights are for other forums.

the test of the pudding is in the eating, why not give furutech a listening ear and judge for yourself?

eugene (012-3222698) of audiomatic, amcorp mall has brought in a wide range of furutech products to suit various budgets. and he is delighted because he finds good performance in them.

below are some of the products he brought in:

Reference series cables:

  • power reference III-N1 power cord
  • audio reference III-N1 interconnect (XLR)
  • speaker reference III-N1 3m/pair speakar cable
Evolution series cable:
  • evolution power cord
  • evolution audio interconnect (XLR+RCA)
  • evolution speaker cables
Power Distributor
  • e-tp60
  • e-tp60/20
  • e-tp609
well, eugene is a man of few words and a very down-to-earth sort of dealer. he won't make bold claims if the products aren't any good. in short, i trust him ;-)

retail convenient store, 7-11 in hong kong, has started retailing music cds.

i would be excited if this happens in 1980s. shouldn't they have done it 10-15 years ago when cd was still popular?

people stopped buying cds not because of inconvenience or lack of time to go to cd shops.

having said that, i have no violent objections to this move but it is not gonna help the dwindling industry.

just look at the pathetic state of music stores in malaysia, particularly tower records in 1-U. give it another year or two, it will disappear from this earth.

it is not likely that i would be tempted by meridian g08.2, now that i am still paying installments for my stage III gryphon.

from the picture, the slot drive looks awkward and not so elegant, i wonder what's the improvement brought about by this change. i have lost touch with the dealership for meridian in malaysia. time to call up steven ho of absolute hifi for some updates.

and by the way, we are building a recording studio in nzx commercial area, near to where audio creations is. we may call it "meridian studio" too, cos' it sound cool and international.

it is going to be an audiophile-grade studio in malaysia, altho' we won't splurge on mega-buck equipment yet.

my plan for 2009 is to release 3 major audiophile titles, including the much-awaited 2v1g's 2nd album.

the ambience in NBT at the end of the 2nd gig at 12:30am this morning, before we said goodbye to this magnificent stage, was one of unreal peace and serenity. it was a great contrast to the electrifying atmosphere just 2 hours ago. when the lights are switched off and curtain drawn, what is left is fond memories of a great performance that one would cherish forever.

2v1g gave a stellar show on the 2nd night and the most outstanding among the trio, to me, is actually our demure and very emotionally-engaging regine tai. she teased the crowd thoughout with her dimpled smile and sexy aura. eventho' winnie and roger were equally outstanding but my prize goes to regine, especially when she rendered her trademark ballads. she was so intimate and emotive, causing many in the audience to cry along with her.

the first night was great but it was filled with a bit of tension and nerves, and there were mistakes throughout. but the 2nd night, the 2nd night, oh my god, was absolutely fabulous, a near-perfect performance by the 2v1g trio. they were so natural on stage; the chemistry between regine and winnie was so good, as if they have been singing together for ages. i don't have to say much about roger wang because he is god, a guitar god. there were many young guitar players among the audience and they were all speechless after seeing the way roger played his guitar.

my clients who were there on the 2nd night, were all enthralled by such a superlative performance. one actually ushered me to one corner and tell me "i want them to do my show next year".

there were some defining moments on the 2nd night. time stood still and many people cried (yes, they told me) when regine belted out her tear-jerking "tempting hearts", even winnie shed some tears. and when it was winnie's turn to sing "coming home", the last song before the encore, she packed the song with such emotional intensity that the entire audience was totally absorbed and went completely silent. the silence from the crowd during these two songs were deafening - everyone is so engrossed in their performance. and when she ended her last note, the audience was already spent emotionally. such is the power of ballads.

there were so many definite winners in the repertoire. regine's "i have a date with spring" was tailor-made for her. winnie's "lover's tears" & "what a difference a day made" were so good that it won't embarrass the original singers. roger's arrangements and guitar solos in "oblivious time" (cai qin's classic), "getaran jiwa" and "lover's tears" were sublime; it gives me goose bumps everytime i listen to his arrangements. very likely, i will include these few songs in the 2nd album.

there are so many things that amazed me. the girls and even roger were only "good" during the practice but when they went on stage, they were totally transformed and sang like there's no tomorrow. they love the stage and they belong there. roger's focus and concentration are truly amazing; he played a near-perfect performance on the 2nd night. even he admitted that the chemistry within the trio is so rapidly build-up that they already feel like good friends having fun on stage. worthy of mention is how well the girls rendered english numbers; they harmonize beautifully on "you needed me" and "always on my mind". vocal training sessions with mia palencia have certainly paid off handsomely for the girls.

24 hours later, the euphoria of having watched 2 superb performances by 2v1g has somewhat died down and i am back to "normal" life again.

i wouldn't say it was once-in-a-lifetime but it was close to me because they are my babies. i was nervous on the first night because i am afraid that my first-born would screw-up. but after witnessing how they commanded the stage on the second night, i can say that they are ready for the world.

i am so proud of you, 2v1g!

some famous blogger beats me to writing a review on 2v1g's gig last night.

check it out here!

we just finished our first round of rehearsal tonight and i can tell you, 2v1g's maiden gig is gonna be a cracker.

many people, especially roger wang's fans, who bought the 2v1g cd commented they didn't see the true roger wang at play. this is partly true because it was roger's first foray into chinese ballads. he needs time to familiarize himself with this genre.

it is a different story this time. some of his arrangements we heard tonigh are simply gorgeous. song like lover's tears and oblivious time (bei yu wang de shi guang, cai qin's classic) are all given a cool jazz/bossa treatment; they sound totally different and refreshing. we were nodding our heads in total approval of his superb arrangements.

frankly, if you are a mandarin pop lover, you must not be miss this gig. it is gonna be a really good one.

p/s there are still some "staircase" seats left for the two gigs. the seats offer good view of the stage but you have to sit on parquet flooring :-(

Maggielurva and I made another home visit last Friday night. The host, Wong, is Willy’s friend, he came along with Willy when he visited my place. You sure make a lot of friends in the audiophile circle this way.

Wong preferred a little privacy about his system, so this time round I have no photos to share. We all need to rely on written words alone.

Wong’s system frontends consisted of a Naim CD5x cdp, a Linn LP12 turnatable and a diy tubed phono stage.

The pre-amp was also a diy tubed unit, it passed the signal on to a Conrad-Johnson Premier One with 200w of tube power.

Doing the honour of converting the electrical signal into music was a pair of Wilson Sophia.

The system was strung together with an assortment of audioquest and JPS interconnects and JPS loudspeaker cables. Power conditioning was done by an AudioPrism Power Foundation, I spotted one or two PS Audio powercords and some diy ones supplying the juice to the equipment.

Impressed by the equipment list already? Wait till you read about the heroic length Wong has gone through to implement acoustic treatments in his approx. 11ft X 17ft room. Now, this one has to be seen to be believed. It was the first time I saw treatment on full 6 sides of the room.

On the front and back walls, Wong has put up open bookshelves from floor to ceiling. The shelves were stuffed with stacks of documents and books, interestingly, there seemed to be a scheme as to how the stuffing was done – the shelves and their contents on the left half and the right half of the front wall looked exactly symmetrical.

The 2 side walls were fully covered with diy diffusers, similar in concept to the Auralex diffuser in the picture below. At the first reflection points, the diffuser’s empty spaces were stuffed with absorptive foam.

Under our feet, the room floor was fully carpeted. Above, there was a ‘false ceiling’ hanging a few feet below the real one. The ‘false ceiling’ has some of the ceiling cardboard tiles removed, again the pattern on the left and right halves were symmetrical.

We started with CD and switched to vinyl later. Vinyl proved its superiority once again, the music was more alive and the details were better resolved. The clicks and pops was easy to ignore in the face of these sonic improvements.

For me, the most impressive aspect of the sound was that it was always filled with energy. The music was always being propelled along by the system purposefully, but surprisingly there was no aggression (or probably it was not surprising given that a high-powered tube amp was at the heart of the system). At the quieter part of the music, you could sense that this power and energy was being held in reserve, and it would just get unleashed on any dynamic up-shift in the music. The system conveyed a total sense of ease on any kind of music played. The sound was smooth, lively and full bodied, it was not the delicate or anaemic kind. The music simply flowed. The system portrayed good details as it was, and maggielurva thought that the system has the potential to go even further in this area, I can’t say I disagree with his assessment there.

But the description of this system would not be complete without mentioning its bass performance. It had a distinctive approach in handling bass (to me at least), and the host mentioned that it was the contribution of the Wilson Sophia. This system loved bass, you could hear that the system relished the arrival of every bass note, soft or loud, it would pounce on it and belt it out with gusto. On dynamic and bass heavy track, such as track 15 on Manger’s compilation CD - “Jazz variant” by the O-zone Percussion Group, the bass hit real hard and literally shook the room. If you were a bass lover, you would think that you have died and gone to bass heaven! I salute Wong for his skill in working with and managing bass performance like this. In a smaller room and lesser hands (like yours truly), the bass would have wrecked absolute havoc to the sound.

The most apt description of this system’s overall sound would be the oft used, but in this case fully deserving, phrase - ‘Steel Fist in a Velvet Glove’.

just like in hifi, if your system has no contrast, it won't be able to portray the extremes of emotions very well
mrs. costello has visibly gained some weights since she became a mother, something which she proudly declared during the concert in kl last night. she even mentioned about her famous husband but i guess not many people know who her husband is. and yes, krall has the most beautiful blonde hair i have ever seen ;-)

the acoustics in plenery hall are good, tho' nowhere approaching the dewan filharmonik petronas (DFP). from where we sat, the sound did not have enough volume. anthony wilson's guitar came across louder than diana krall's piano but it doesn't matter, the quartet played a tight set throughout the entire night.

what impressed me is how seasoned krall's voice has become. it has a kind of tone that is akin to the best of wine reserved for the connoisseurs. many people dislike krall because they think her voice is technically perfect but lacking of real emotions and this i have to disagree. listening to her rendition of joni mitchell "a case of you" with just the piano with pin-drop silence from the audience, i could feel my goose bumps raised and my heart stopped beating.

and anthony wilson's is a gem, his guitar is so soulful and sensitive. i actually mentioned to my producer (chow) that how i wished roger wang is here. i am not saying that roger is not as good as anthony wilson but he could learn a thing or two from anthony. what i love about anthony's guitar is the contrast in his playing between the fast numbers and the slows numbers. there is a good mix of slow and fast numbers in the set and when it comes to the slow (really really slow) ones, krall (and her piano playing) sounded so very seductive and sensitive; it touched and moved the soul. and anthony's guitar playing complemented very well, like hand and glove.

a lot of local musicians i know do not have enough of contrast in their playing, this much i can tell you. most of them revel in playing fast dynamic numbers but when it comes to slow ones, they lack sensitivity and delicacy. just like in hifi, many systems can play dynamic bang-slam-thank-you-mam pieces well but when it comes to music with one or two instruments in stripped down format, it can't deliver the emotions and sensitivity. if your system has no contrast, it won't be able to portray the extremes of emotions very well.

overall, krall and her quartet delivered a night of quality jazz. but i wished the venue could be smaller with more intimate crowd. i was told that krall and entourage adjourned to no black tie (NBT) after the concert to jam with local jazz musicians but it was too late for me to go to NBT.

talking about NBT, yes, two of 2v1g's gigs are full house next week! yay, give me five!