it was funny, i was asking my singer for "songs for heartbreak" whether she could cover this
and she said "she can't relate to this kind of indie alternative music". i told her the song is by leonard cohen and covered by tones of other singers, including the late jeff buckley in this definitive version.
suddenly, it dawn on me that i could do an audiophile album for alternative music, in a minimalist style like what jeff buckley done in "hallelujah"! wow! that would be terminally cool!
all at once, these songs came to mind:
1) radiohead "high and dry"
2) the verve "the drugs don't work"
3) new order "bizarre love triangle"
4) the cure "friday i am in love" (katie melua did a jazzy version of it!)
5) jeff buckley "hallelujah"
6) coldplay "yellow"
7) damien rice "the blower's daugther"
8) jesus and mary chain "about you"
8) and many others of similar genre
and the greatest thing is - i have already a male singer in mind! this guy used to imitate robert smith (the lead singer of the cure) like no others and he is a great indie singer..... i am sure he would agree to do an album like this!
an alternative album recorded in an audiophile manner, this must be a breakthru!
check out my next candidate for the "songs for heartbreak" project...
she scores high in my "sonic checklist"... my only worry being that she is too "big" for sentimental ballads. she needs to subdue her power and dynamism and channel it into other departments like tenderness, sensitivity and delicacy.
i have full confidence in her!
you can listen here.
i have a funny feeling that bondy has heard of 2v1g's version of tempting heart (xin dong) ;-)
The audiophile music market has been slowly shrinking here for the last 10 years or so.
But since the outbreak of the financial tsunami, the market suddenly worsened at a much accelerated pace. Now the economy is getting better but CD sales doesn't pick up at all. People are talking about digital download will replace CD. But the problem is when you sell one download, the paid download copy will be freely distributed to friends and then friends of friends of the one who actually pays.
Who will bother to fill in his or her name and credit card no. to download when his or her friend can share a free copy which is exactly the same as any paid download one? Some audiophile labels are starting to sell 24 bit 96k wave files via the net. I believe they are in fact killing themselves. The 24 bit 96k wave file are of course better sounding thanh the commercial CD. But how can they recoup the money they spend in a brand new production? Of course there is no question of recouping the investment if it is old master. But sooner or later, download sales of old master will exhaust. If these labels invest in new recordings, they will not be able to recoup.
So much for the bad news, a few days ago, I received a test pressing of the HQCD version of Susan Wong's first CD and it sounds really beautiful, much much better than the normal CD or XRCD. I hope HQCD might bring some excitement to the CD market.
Keith Yip, Rock In Music
bondy chiu hock-e strikes again! the follow-up to her successful debut "listen", this time it is called "listen, listen" will be out in late september!
i am certainly impressed with ms.chiu's fast-paced production. it shows that with money and dedication, one can churn out album after album... unlike yours truly who is still struggling with 2v1g's sophomore album :-(
the special edition of the album was on sale during this month's AV show in hong kong. this time bondy sings in mandarin.
watch out for it at you favourite record store!
i was introduced to veteran hifi reviewer from the star newspaper, lam seng fatt, yesterday and he too has a blog called hifi avenue ...
since lam is a journalist, he brings the latest update from the local industry. of great interest to me is lam's interest on the hard disc players and its progress and evolution. readers who want to know more about this topic would definitely find great info from lam's blog.
so besides desirable audio, we now have hifi-unlimited and hifi-avenue! the more the merrier!
in a recent interview conducted in a hifi saloon in taiwan, in conjuction with her latest album release, cai qin, raised a few eyebrows about what she expects from audiophile recordings....
fact #1 - cai qin's real voice is not as thick and bassy as most audiophiles would believe
most audiphiles would tweak her sound until really "kao kao" (concentrated and thick-sounding) and think that's how cai qin sounds like. in real life, cai qin's voice is actually quite clear, precise and light. she sounds definitely younger than her age. so the next time you tune cai qin, don't make her sound like 70 year-old!
fact #2 - cai qin's doesn't think any of her albums so far are close to her real voice because no one album does sound the same. every time she listens to the monitor speakers in the studio, she always disagree with the sound.
cai qin is not being arrogant. her explanation is that every recording studio and the equipment it uses has its unique sound and all the engineers tend to beautify her voice to a certain degree.
fact #3 - which albums then is closest to cai qin's real voice?
cai qin tactfully answered that it must be the best-selling album because it is endorsed by most people.
i don't have any evidence of her sales, but i would hazard a guess - it must be "lao ge" album.
fact #4 - what's cai qin's definition of a good recording?
cai qin thinks a good recording must represent the era the recording is made. a 1960's recording must conjure up images of that era - the hairstyles, the clothes, the culture, the colors, the setup... all the visual cues that is related to that era. it is really up the the recording engineer's imagination to capture all these cues.
there is a new hifi blog in town and it promises to offer you unlimited amount of hifi!
please visit hifi unlimited (http://hifi-unlimited.blogspot.com)
the names sound familiar; i am not sure who the bloggers are but they sure know their RCA from their XLR!
please support them!
one night while listening to selena jones' singing "still" (a lionel richie classic), i conceived another idea to produce a totally refreshing english audiophile album with a female voice.
as usual, i want to do it differently, especially on song selections. there are just too many "over the rainbow", "fly me to the moon", "the look of love" etc etc, songs that are played to death by audiophile female singers.
if i were to produce a audiophile female voice, i would definitely avoid the above mentioned classics. instead, i would choose some fresh songs that i cherish for the last 2 decades. songs like "just once" (quincy jones), "love so right" (bee gees, and i would do it like what david foster did for michael buble in "how do you mend a broken heart)... there are just too many that the ordinary audiophile producers and female vocalists won't touch.
but the greatest problem is finding the right female vocalist in malaysia. you know what's happening in philipines? the so-called audiophile labels are making tones of female voices cd by hiring 2nd-grade singers from the lounges, karaokes and what have you and dress them up with different names. the price of this kind of cd in philipines is only RM20. they are a dime a dozen; absolutely no quality control.
but for me, my female vocalist must be real good. definitely no wedding singers or pub singers. i am looking for someone semi-established who needs that extra dimension in her career. i have consulted a few industry people and they offered me names like atilia, elvira arul and ida mariana, all good singers in their own right. i am going to call them one by one and see if they are interested.
if it happens, you are going to get a real treat from pop pop music. you bet i won't produce another "over the rainbow". :-)
Are you young, energetic, and have a passion for AV and music?
Do you like to twiddle in state of the art hifi and AV products all day, and get paid for doing so too? Sounds like too good to be true? CMY has a proposal for your consideration.
In an expansion drive, CMY Audio Visual seeks extra Retail Sales Staff to be based in one of their Petaling Jaya showrooms. They hope to get, young, energetic individuals, whom have a passion for all things AV and music, plus would like to seek a career in the retail industry.
Perks of the job includes:
1) Playing with hifi and AV products all day.
2) Sales commission applicable.
3) Experience the retail industry.
However, the job also requires you to:
1) Work long hours as shopping centers retail from 10am to 10pm daily.
2) Work on public holidays.
If you'd like to try out for a career in hifi retail experience, here's your chance to do so with an established market leader.
If interested, please call John at Tel no: 016-2861000
I have being asked by CMY to invite all you Dynaudio fans out there to attend a presentation by Wilfried Ehrenholz , on Thursday, 3.00pm, 13th August 2009, at their Damansara Uptown Showroom(formerly known as the Naim center) in Petaling Jaya.
Even if you're just a little bit curious like me, please take the oppurtunity to hear what Mr Wilfried Ehrenholz, CEO of Dynaudio, and indusrty leader, has to say about his products and our hobby in general.
You may call CMY at 03-77272419 or 012-2873551(Chan) or 016-2861000(John) for RSVP.
You may also e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for RSVP.
So mark your calenders and make it a point to be there.
See ya all there!
Andy Duffield(left), with my KLIAV show buddy Lin, the Terenganu PMC Club President(right). Lin has a pair of the original PMC LB1 and hopes to grab the pair of LB1 Signature out of AV Designs showroom soon! Readers eyeing the LB1 Signature better hurry before Lin grabs em! I guarantee the LB1 Siganture is a special breed indeed.
Andy Duffield is Sales Manager for PMC speakers. He came to the KLIAV accompanying the latest PMC PB1i and Fact 8 speakers on demo/display.
I had the opportunity to sip a cuppa with Andy during the show and learn more about the man, the company and the products.
Panzer: Hi! you've been to Malaysia before?
Andy: No, actually this is my first visit to Asia, after KLIAV, I'll be doing the Hong Kong and Taiwan shows next month. Any other Asian hifi events that I should be aware of?
Panzer: You should really check out the Guangzhou AV show in China, which is probably held during the later part of the year. It's possibly the largest event catering to the AV markets in the region.
Andy: O.K. I'll check with our partners in Hong Kong about that.
Panzer: So how did you get in the business of selling hifi speakers?
Andy: I've been working on the professional side of PMC for a long time, probably 8 years or so, very recently Peter(Peter Thomas, PMC founder and chief designer) had ask me to help out on the consumer side of things and so, here I am!
Panzer: Care to explain the latest rational behind the i series speakers? By the way i stands for "improved"?
Andy: Yes, i is for "improved" indeed! The i series upgrades happened mainly because as we gear up to comply with the newly regulated RoHS program(for those whom do not know, RoHS is a set of strict environmentally friendly guidelines, which all electronics sold within EC must comply to) , effectively enforced within the EC this year. With that objective, Peter set out the re-evaluate every component in the speaker manufacturing line to ensure compliance. Whilst at it our previous driver supplier, Vifa had moved their manufacturing operation out of Europe, which makes it less convenient for them to supply us the drivers that are custom ed to meet PMC specs, which are subjected to very tight tolerances in specifications. So we looked around and found SEAS, which is a reputable speaker driver manufacturer of the highest quality in Europe. The i series tweeter are built by SEAS to meet our very exact specifications.
Panzer: Ahh......SEAS!, I know their drivers sonic character very well. They tend to sound very clean, articulate but at the same time so..... analytical too!, which is not what I'd like in my hifi sound reproduction. However, my brief experience with the PMC GB1i speakers in my own system revealed the sonic character of a different kind. The high frequencies were still articulate, detailed, clean, and if I may add somewhat a little sweet too, which is good.
Andy: Exactly!, we do not take just any standard, off the shelf SEAS driver and plonk them in to a PMC box, whilst the drivers cosmetically and physically look similar, some of the materials used, like the voice coil windings, and the dome fabric process is somewhat different from the standard SEAS drivers. Which explains the difference you've heard between the standard SEAS tweeter and a PMC spec SEAS manufactured tweeter. They are made differently and therefore will sound different!
Panzer: What sort of a L/R tolerance in decibel spec does PMC applies to it consumer speaker lines?
Andy: Our in coming QC procedure makes sure each and every component that goes in to our speakers are checked to ensure they meet very tight tolerances in the 1st place, like for example, all our capacitors are 10% and our resistors are 1% spec, for use in the speaker's crossovers. The drivers are matched to very close tolerances before final speaker assembly. Peter personally listens to every pair of speakers manufactured, compared to the final R&D approved test pair, before they are boxed and shipped out of the factory.
Panzer: I heard that Peter has a huge collection of all the British speakers ever made worthy of vintage status?
Andy: Not only that, Peter has a museum in the PMC factory that is a collection of every speaker model that PMC was ever manufactured! It's usually the last pair of the production line.
Panzer: So, what hifi system do you have at home?
Andy: I've been privileged to work at PMC, where we are allowed to take speakers and amps from the R&D for home trials and report our findings. I personally do have a pair of the original PMC GB1s at home. They are powered by an old integrated amplifier and sourced by a Linn turntable.
Panzer: No Bryston amps for your own system?(PMC distributes Bryston electronics in the UK, just in case our readers didn't know)
Andy: Ohh... that too, I get to bring back various Bryston gears back home to evaluate. So there's really no hurry for me to purchase one right away, but if I really wanna upgrade my home audio system, when my kids are a little more grown up, I'd certainly be going with Bryston amps.
Panzer: PMC uses Bryston amps in their powered monitors and speakers too right?
Andy: Well, yes, we do get amplifier modules from Bryston for our powered monitors and speakers. Peter then strips away all the un-necessary bits off the modules, like the protection and non-audio related circuits, and in the process, he usually beefs up the power supply section too! The end result really does sound very different from a standard Bryston amp. That's why we call them "Bryston by PMC" amplifiers.
Panzer: Why launch PMC LB1 Signature re-issued in Tiger Eye wood finish, so soon after the original LB1 model just ended it's run about a year or two ago?
Andy: I am not really sure about the details of LB1 model, it was discontinued as I took on my present position. However, I do know that the PMC LB1 has had a very long production history and in some markets like Hong Kong and Japan, we keep getting request for them still. In response, Peter has incorporated our latest improvements in to the LB1 and uses parts ultra tight tolerances, plus that special Tiger Eye wood finish which is unique, finally each pair is especially match for L/R chanels. Peter performs all the QC and signs off on every "Signature" speaker himself, hence the designation.
Panzer: Well, thanks for spending tea time with me.
Andy: It's very nice to have met you too.
With that I concluded my quick chat with Andy Duffield of PMC speakers UK. Thanks to James of AV designs, for making the arrangements possible.
With the 2 days I attended the KLIAV show, I only managed to chat with 2 of the personalities over a cuppa, courtesy of the exhibitor's time and suitable arrangements. I did briefly chat with Justin of Sooloos Meridian, but that wasn't something I could post here about, not without his approval anyway.
So I start having Koffee with Franck Tchang.
Panzer: You're Asian, yet your company is established in France, why and how it become so?
Franck: I am Vietnamese by birth, by my 2nd birthday, my family moved to the United States where I grew up. I returned to Asia post graduate to work in Taiwan and Japan for a few years before finally moving on to Europe, where I finally choose and settled in Paris, France.
Panzer: Why Paris, France?
Franck: I enjoy the Parisian life style, it's a vibrant city that makes my creative juices flow. I do my audio stuff by day, and play music by night.
Panzer: You mean play in a band for gigs?
Franck: Yeah! absolutely.
Panzer: What instrument do your play?
Franck: I play the electric and acoustic guitar.
Panzer: So you actually used your "live" musical performance to benchmark your products and hifi?
Franck: Yes, there's no substitute for "live" music! We can only try to get closer somewhat in the reproduction of the musical event captured on a recording, by neutralising the room effect on your audio system.
Panzer: So your Resonator room tuning cups are inspired that way?
Franck: Yes, very much so.
Panzer: I understand from what I read, most room treatment devices need a certain minimum surface area vis a vis room area to work effectively. Your Resonator cups are so..... small, tiny even, by comparison! So how does it work?
Franck: I agree and you're right that when it comes to traditional room treatment methods, you need big surfaces to work effectively, and that always bring troubles to family harmony, if you know what I mean?
Panzer: The lady in the house doesn't agree with the home decor appearance of traditional room treatment?
Franck: Exactly, so that led me to think un-conventionally. I needed to do something discreet yet effective for the application. I looked around scientifically and physically, then realised that by using density to replace surface area volume, I actually could make a more effective room treatment device.
Panzer: Huh??? Care to elaborate?
Franck: You see, the Resonator cups come in various grades, the most cost effective being the basic resonator cup to the most expensive being the platinum resonator cup. The difference is in the materials used as indicated by the product name, and in between two just mentioned, there's the silver and gold resonator cups available too.
Panzer: How does the material used to make the resonator cups have a difference to the end result?
Franck: You see, the basic resonator is made of brass(Franck hands me a brass cup sample, after a quick look and feel, he takes the brass cup back and drops it on the glass surfaced table a couple of times) hear that? (as the cup dropping on the table produces a ringing chime like tone) Now (Franck hands me a platinum cup to look and feel). How did that compared to the earlier brass cup?
Panzer: It feels heavier and somewhat more substantial.
Franck: Exactly, you see, the different metals used to make the cups all have different density and weight for the exact same shape! (Franck now drops the platinum cup on the glass table surface for a couple of times) You hear that? Do you hear the difference in the ringing tone?
Panzer: The platinum cup seems to ring with much more clarity and possibly at a higher pitch and frequency level too.
Franck: That's right! That's a result of the different metals used. The platinum, is a purer,and higher density metal, in comparison to the basic brass cup. Hence the different response and effects different areas of the audio band frequency wise.
Panzer: WOW! That's really some clever science behind the resonator cups! Thanks for expanding my mind.
Franck: (finishes his cuppa) Time's up! I gotta get beck to work, there's another round of presentation to start in a few minutes.
Panzer: Good bye!
Franck: Bye! and we must meet up again soon.(He gets up and rushes back in to the hotel)
I personally find Franck to be a humorous fella and hugely entertaining, not to mention, enlightening at the same time. I thoroughly enjoyed spending my koffee time with him.
Well if you had missed his presentation during the KLIAV, let's hope the good guys at CMY does bring him back again sometime soon.
Now, for the final part of the KLIAV 2009 show full report.
AVP Soundcraft, the new Simaudio representitive in town, show cased a full line of the flagship Moon series electronics powering a pair of German Physiks omnidirectional speakers. The sound was highly impressive to say the least. With lightning fast transient response, tight, solid bass and very airy highs, making sound staging very believable and convincing. Too bad the mids were a bit lean for vocals, and the music choice was rather limited to showcase the system's strengths. One of my personal top 3 fav demo.
Over the Simaudio Moon???
A closer look at the German Physiks speaker.
Great synergy from the ML and KEF combo! Noticed the Nordost Valhallas streching across?
The Burmester Perfect Sinewave Regenerator, very potent indeed!
More KEFs on display.
The latest Dali Euphonia MS5, and VTL tube amps!
PS Audio Perfectwave memory player with VTL 6.5 Signature pre amp.
The ATS Marketing room featured their full range of locally made hifi supports, racks, speaker stands and isolation cone sets.
The Ayre/TAD Ref 1 demo room, presented by Pioneer, is one of my top 3 fav demos. The sound was highly resolved, transparent and very coherent. Though some others had remarked that for a big system, the sound was rather small scale, but that's my point actually! How many big systems can portray sonic imeadiacy like a smaller system??? I also found that the highs tend to beam at certain frequencies from the speakers, but that's more of a set up issue, I guess. The system is made up of Ayre CX5e CD player, KX-R pre amp and MX-R mono blocks powering the TAD Ref 1 speakers.
AV Designs had some very impresive surround sound AV system on display, probably the best AV display of the show! They had devoted most of the show time for AV demo, which has short changed us stereo dudes a chance to hear the new PMC PB1i speakers powered by full Bryston electronics in it full musical glory. I did get a chance for a private audition and it was impresive. I was so musically awed by the sound, I had forgotten to take the pictures! Sorry James.
The new PMC Fact 8 speakers on silent display, no sound! James tells me this is PMC's new direction for the next generation of speakers.
I missed this Bryston setup, which was in my room just a few days before the show.
Next up is the Kondo demo room, displaying the full Kondo Japanese set up. Many remarked that it did heavenly vocals and organically beautifull music. I personally think this set up is more for conoisuers whom are very seriously well endowed!(think $$$...........)
The Sooloos Meridian room was show casing more of the user friendly interface in the Sooloos music server, feeding low level signals straight in to a pair of Meridian DSP powered speakers.
Another room featuring music servers is the Norman Audio demo room featuring a pair of Avalon Acoustic NP Evolution Series 1.0 speakers power by an intergrated amp. Crystal cables were on display too.
The Avalon Evolution NP 1.0 speaker.
Lastly, my personal top 3 fav demo at the KLIAV is also the most expensive, the Swedish Statement main demo on the 4th floor, cost a whopping RM$1.2 million! The sound is understated, refined and highly transparent. It's strength is more in micro dynamism rather than macro dynamism. Most say that I had eye-fi ed rather than hifi ed. But my point is, irregardless of price, it's still the single most impressive system on display(I am talking sound wise!) Most have failled to factor in the point of diminishing returns at this level of high end audio. Frankly, the sonic diference between an RM$500k system and of those costing more than a million is somtimes not that much either! Never expect to double the returns for the double of your $$$ investments, well at least that's the way it is with high end audio. Anyway, this is where the big boys play! This system had plenty of room treatment help from our dear friend Joamonte, whom spent more than 3 sleepness nights tweaking the system.
And lastly but surely, here are the following results of our Readers Choice for Best Show Demo.
Let's continue with the KLIAV show report.
Electrades show cased the Sugden electronics and Spendor speaker combo in two systems, first the Sugden Masterclass series with Spendor S5e speakers which was making nice, warm, cuddly, if undistinguished music.
Electrades also showcased the Sugden A21 series electronics with the Spendor SA1 speakers, which were in "silent mode" when I got there. I've always loved the Sugden A21 amps.
The Sugden A21 SE amp, middle rack.
The Norman Audio/Hi-Way Laser demo room featured Krell Evolution electronics driving the big, bad, ATC SCM50A SL speakers. Ken's favourite demo room!
Krell + ATC, not your average combo, but stil sounds excellent according to Ken.
SQC Audio from Singapore demoed this Canadian made, weird bomb like room tune contraption, called Sonic Enhancer, to be placed on top of speakers, or any where you deemed gives you the best sound! An enthusiastic uncle from Hong Kong demo-ed the 4 in 1 contraption, where you can split the unit in to 4 pcs spreading it's properties all over the room, or for maximum fire power, just stack all the 4 pcs together on top of your speaker. I heard some sound changes during the demo, but I could not ascertain if the sound changed for the better or worse. The demo was done using all DIY electronics!, the said uncle's handiwork. A breath of fresh air, perhaps?
My good ghost from the past caught up with me in the form of car audio boys, K.K. Lau and Extro Aim, a new company set up to market Micro Precision drivers for both car and home audio uses! The top of the line Z series feature speaker cones hand made from clam shells and other organic materials by Mr Thomas Hoffman in Germany. Even the speaker surround rubber is joint using organic latex sap, harvested from Christmas pine trees! It's also claimed to be "Probably the best sounding speaker in the world". Yeah, Probably!
Next up, is another claim to be "The best loudspeaker in the world, period!" room, yeah! you've guessed it. It's the YG Acoustic speaker demo room. Partnered with Audio Space Reference grade tube amps and Jungson Chinese made flagship CD player, the sound was very smooth and lush. But based on the said demo, YG's advert copy writer's claim will just have to wait to be proven in another more convincing demo. By the way, no one sells YG Acoustic speakers in Malaysia just yet, and they are inviting any interested parties to come forward to represent them.
A&L Audio demo-ed the Focus Audio FS88 driven by Densen electronics, and cables by Audioquest.
Tropical Audio demo-ed the Quad/Harbeth again!, as did every other year. This time it's the Harbeth Super HL5 to take center stage. Sam Chan is the antithesis of the typical audiophile in us. He throws caution to the wind, by using computer grade UPS for power supply and un balanced speaker wire length between the two chanels. Plus, I spotted a hasty speaker wire joint job going to the right speaker!!! All this, and yet, so many have praised this room for it's natural and engaging sound! I personally disagree though, but that's just me!
CMY demo-ed the very balanced, yet big sounding Dynaudio Confidence C1 with Jeff Rowland electronics on one of the smaller rooms upstairs. Cables by Siltech and power supply by RGPC. One of Hifikaki's top 3 fav demos. He likes the overall fatigue free, organic sound with big solid bass coming from the small Dynaudio C1s. I couldn't agree more!
The Jeff Rowland Capri and the 501D mono blocks. Did you know they're class D amps??? They sure don't sound like it.
Another CMY demo is the Prima Luna tube amps, CD player with Usher Tiny Dancer pairing.
Yet, more CMY demos, this time it's the Naim/ProAc partnership.
C&O Enterprise made it's maiden appearance in KLIAV with Telos tweak guru, Jeff Linn, on hand to answer all your questions and doubts(if you have any) about his products. Also on demo were Onix speakers and electronics with all cables and accessories by Telos(who else?), which many remarked about the "Nice" sound.
Telos tweak guru! Jeff Linn, too bad I don't speak mandarin well.
Telos cable lift, Jeff offered me some for a test drive later.
Onix amp and CD player, making some very pleasant sounds.
JAS Audio room demo-ed their full range of electronic, speakers and Zion isolation bearings, which my hifi buddy bought a set, found it so....... good, he went back to the show again on the second day hoping to get another set, only to be disappointed, that all the Zion stock that they brought in for the show was sold out! He swears by the Zion 4 in 1 bearings now, and intends to order another set from Hong Kong.
Jas Orsa, the bookshelf was on play when I heard this room, sounds very nice indeed, must be those Zion bearings???
JAS Array 2.1 amp, using 845 and 300B tubes combo.
JAS Musica 1.2 CD player with tube inside, note the center window. Also my favourite Tong Lee CD, Dialougue II
Zion 4 in 1 bearings, my hifi buddy just couldn't get enough of them
More show reports to come later!