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’.

26 comments:

jacky said...

where are all these people hiding?

This guy sound like he could be a mentor to a lot of people.

Anonymous said...

he is in Puchong. i listed to his system before. impressed!
best system for jazz and classical music.

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...

wilson's way of doing bass has always been a contentious issue, to me at least. on some tracks like the manger disc, the bass came in full force, both in volume and quality, and it is truly sensational. on faye wong's "sky" cd, it does strike me as a bit "trigger-happy", too much and too soon (timing wise).

however, for those who relish bass, wilson is really a prime speaker choice.

Anonymous said...

Jacky,
Owning an expensive system does not make you a hi-fi guru/mentor. There are many people who don't need visitors to tell them that they have a good system thus are happy to "hide" from world.

Hifikaki,
Noticed you use Manger's Track 15 on a number of occasions. The true test of a system is how it handles the music the owner listens to not what you or anyone else listens to. BTW did you notice the dynamic contrast (some instruments are softer than others) on that track. If any system can't reproduce that then more work needs to be done.
I don't think ML's system would handle that track better than your system just as I would expect ML's system to handle to Faye Wong better then yours. I think you get the picture.

hifikaki said...

Hi anonymous of 8.51pm,

I do not bring my own music to any home visits, all music played was the hosts' as I subscribe also to your point that "the true test of a system is how it handles the music the owner listens to". Both the Manger and Faye Wong CDs and all other CDs and LPs listened to were Wong's.

It turned out that I also own the Manger CD and use it in my own system. :-)

Jacky said...

Anonymous,

I fully agree with you that an expansive system does not gurantee an equally 'expensive'sound..

but you could make an educated guess based on the equipments assembled whether it is going to be good or not..Mr Wong seems to have a good mix of stuff including DIY-that always show maturity IMHO..


Of course when it comes to Wilson speakers,you either like it or hate it,a bit like KRELL.In Wlison speakers are notoriously difficult to positioned especially to 'tame' the bass

Seah said...

I thgink Mr Wong has a very interesting system,one that you do not come across regularly amongst audiophile in this part of the world.That says a lot about the man,and his security.

JK said...

wilson speakers are difficult to set up independently.

in US the sellers of willson sp will follow the trick lay out to get the best

Wei loong said...

i agree that Mr Wong doesnt use the typical "Malaysian" products.

I mean how many of your friends use Audioprism power conditioner-instead of the Typical RGPC or Shunyata.

Or the JPS cables insted of the typical AQ,Transparent/MIts..

thi ha said...

wilson speaker is an acquired taste.

but the most mouthwatering thing fot me is the conrad-johnson amp...yumm...yummmm

gg said...

I know a lot of people are eyeing the Wilson,but to me i like his sources the best;Naim cdps are alwaysvery musical;and my truest love LINN LP12 tt

Anonymous said...

Actually, this Mr Wong is an old hand in the hi-fi game.

He's had various set ups over the years and they are all made up of very un-usual equipment in the local context.

He knows his stuff!

germaine said...

Anonymous ,I must agree with you;

1]I have never heard a Naim-Conrad Johnson combo;

2]Conrad johnson-Wilson?Very unusual It is always Krell-Wilson ain't it?

It would be interesting if Mr Wong[or somebody] could tell us his thought process in buildimg up the system

Liam said...

Yes me too..

For example,it would be interesting to find out why Audioprism PLC and not the Shunyata?

Or the CJ and not Krell?

chee said...

For me it is his choice of cable JPS;so UnMalaysian..I mean you read about them and often wonder how they are;never actually know anyone who owns them..then bingo,you have someone in your neighbourhood hav8ing them

Anonymous said...

I use a JPS PC and even plan to get their SC3 ICs. What's so unMalaysian about it? Anyone who knows CentreCircle would know about JPS.

chee said...

What I mean is it is not the tYPICAL HI-END CABLES that hi-enders [amongst my friends at least]use.

Normally they will use [my friends] the usual suspects ;Acoustc Zen,MIT,Stage 3,Transparent,Harmonix.

I suppose Centrecircle is not doing a goood job promoting the JPS brand here.

Anonymous said...

I am posting on behalf of Wong.

He likes his fornt end musical, hence his choice of British stalwarts like Naim and Linn LP12 with Clear Audio Sigma Cart.

DIY pre amp and phono stage is taken from the design of MFA Reference, which he feels in terms of high end audio tube design engineering, still not surpased till this day.

As for his power amp choice, he like Krell too, but that very sight of the CJ melted his heart. The amp is freaking big and weights 60kgs or so! It was not the sheer brute, but again the quality of the CJ's circuit design that caught him. The amp being close to 20 years, has being recently refurbished using high end modern parts(with closer toleraces in specs).

As for the Wilson, what can I say, I've always heard him say he wanted a pair of Wilsons since day one I met him! So he got it when he had the chance.

For someone originating from the electronics industries, he's very aware of the product technical merits and value. So his choice of cables and power conditioner reflects it.

Room tune has been his current audio adventure and will quite possibly continue for a little while.

As you may have gathered by now, Wong is a rather shy guy and I hope my posting here would give you all just a little more insight to his "unsual" equipment choices and partnering.

I have learned a great deal from Wong in the form of audio product engineering spoting and DIY projects.

Willy.

ray said...

Thank you so much Willy,

Likewise, I think your discriptions give an excellent insights to his choice of gears....

Well one thing for sure,you are lucky to get close to one great audiophiles..

LING said...

I agree that Naim and LINN makes very musical front end..

I alsoi think that CJ are better than Krell,pound for pound

happy that his hi-fi dreams come true

hifikaki said...

Hi Willy,

Thanks for dropping by and your excellent post on Wong's hifi choices!

Anonymous said...

No worries guys,

I could only contribute with Wong's kind permission, because I felt his audio journey is a worthwhile tale to tell.

Regards,

Willy.

jimmy said...

how i wish i can write as good as you, willy...

Anonymous said...

Sifu Willy, you write so well lah. :)

Jungle Boy aka 'the fly'

Anonymous said...

Sifu Willy, not meaning any disrespect, would you agree that the MFA is not surpassed. How about the Matisse Fantasy?

Jungle Boy aka 'the fly'

Anonymous said...

Thanks guys,

My wrirting is ordinary at best.

Jungle Boy, as for your question in regards to the Mattise Fantasy Pre-amp which I have had the good fortune to hear a couple of occasions, which I rate highly.

However, if it has surpassed the the MFA MC Referenc in terms of high end audio tube design engineering?

Your guess is as good as mine. I was only reflecting Wong's approach to equipment selection.

Also don't address me as sifu please, I am not qualified. I am in fact the humble hi-fi student still learning from the likes of "sifu" Maggielurva and a few others here like KM Ng.

Willy.