Saturday, January 30, 2010

Red Devils vs Gunners in 3D

Tomorrow's Arsenal vs Man United EPL match will be broadcast in 3D.

Alas, you will have to be in the United Kingdom - and only in selected pubs - to be able to catch the action in 3D.

According to, as a precursor to the launch of 3D TV, Sky will broadcast the much-awaited match in 3D at selected pubs around UK.

The Premier League match will be filmed in 3D and broadcast in nine pubs located in London, Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Dublin. They've been kitted out with some of the first 3D-Ready TV sets in the country, supplied by LG, reported.

But Sky is not releasing details of exactly which pubs will show the game in 3D as "we need to manage demand and ensure the pubs' regulars get to see the match," says a Sky spokeswoman.

LG's 47in LD920 TVs will be used for Sunday's 3D broadcast, and customers will be supplied with passive glasses to view it. The LD920 3D TV will be on sale in the UK from April.

"LG is committed to making high-quality TV more accessible and this initiative with Sky does just that," says Stephen Gater, head of marketing, home entertainment LG UK.

As 3D TVs become more widely available, Sky will roll out its 3D channel to hundreds more pubs from April.

Sunday's game at the Emirates Stadium will be covered in two feeds, one for Sky's HD channel, one for the 3D one. Eight specially-engineered 3D camera rigs will house 16 of Sky's high-definition cameras, to provide comprehensive stereoscopic coverage from all angles, said.

The website also announced that Sky will launch Europe's first 3D TV channel in April.

Gerry O'Sullivan, Sky's director of strategic product development, told "2010 is the year for 3D TV. People have already embraced 3D cinema and because Sky's 3D service uses the same kind of technology, we're confident there will be demand for sports, movies, concerts and drama in 3D."

The million ringgit question is: When will Astro transmit in 3D?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Watch out for: ProAc Carbon Pro 6

ProAc's flagship speaker the Carbon Pro Eight now has a "younger brother" - the ProAc Carbon Pro Six was launched at the CES in Las Vegas earlier this month.

David Amey, head of DNA Marketing which markets ProAc speakers around the world, said production of the ProAc Carbon Pro 6 will begin by the end of February.

"It will have the same ribbon tweeter as the Carbon Pro 8 while the dome mid will be from Visaton. There will be two 6 1/2-inch carbon-fibre woofers.

"Just like the ProAc Carbon Pro 8, the Pro 6 will have carbon-fibre horns for the dome mid and carbon-fibre composite plinths. The bass loading is similar to the higher model - downfiring and aimed at the plinth," David, who was at CMY Damansara Utama in Petaling Jaya on Sunday to unveil the ProAc Carbon Pro Eight speakers, said.

He added that with the Carbon Pro Eight taking over as ProAc's flagship speakers, the Pro Ac Response D100 has been discontinued.

In terms of size, the Carbon Pro Six will be taller than the ProAc D28 but shorter than the D38.
In the United Kingdom, it is priced at 18,500 pounds. The Malaysian price is not known yet, but a pair should arrive at CMY's showroom by April/May.

The specs are:
Nominal impedence: 4 Ohms
Recommended amps: 10 - 250 watts
Frequency response: 25Hz - 30kHz
Sensitivity: 90dB
Dimensions: 46.75" (118.5cm) high with spikes, 8.5" (21.5cm) wide, 14.5" (37cm) deep.
Weight: 97lbs (44kg) each

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A musical experience with ProAc

David Amey explaining the technology used
 in the making of the flagship ProAc speakers.

CMY's "A New Musical Listening Experience with David Amey of ProAc" turned out to be more music than talk.

On Sunday afternoon, about 25 audiophiles turned up at CMY Audio & Visual's showroom in Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya, for the musical experience.

David Amey, head of DNA Marketing which markets ProAc speakers worldwide, actually did very little talking and let the flagship speakers, the ProAc Carbon Pro Eight, do the "talking".

The mood was quite casual and David talked about the usage of carbon fibre by ProAc and how advantageous it was for the factory to be near hitech firms that make carbon fibre components for F1 motorsports.

After that short speech, the ProAc Carbon Pro 8 started to "sing", which was what the audiophiles turned up for anyway.

Audiophiles who turned up for the ProAc/CMY event.

During my previous session with the speakers (, they were driven by Jeff Rowland pre/power amps.

Yesterday, Naims were used. The CD player was the Naim CDS3 with power supply while the preamp was the NAC 552 and the power amp was the NAP 500. Speaker cables were the ultra-expensive Siltech Emperor Crown while interconnects were from Naim.

When the Jeff Rowlands were used, I noted that the ProAc Carbon Pro 8 speakers lacked that last bit of bass grunt that would have made them really great speakers.

With the Naims, that sonic weakness disappeared. When Pink Floyd was played, there was no lack of bass punch and when a classical piece was played, the fortississimo parts were delivered with great slam.

It was clearly evident that the ProAcs matched fabulously with the Naims. Together, they created music of a quality achievable only by a handful of systems.

Light refreshments were served and while some audiophiles nibbled on the sandwiches, others took the opportunity to ask David to reveal more about ProAc's technology and designs.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

AudioFile reviewer Shahriza Hussein dies at age 66

I've just returned from the mosque in Kampung Melayu, Old Town, Petaling Jaya, where a group of friends bade farewell to an old buddy Shahriza Hussein who passed away last night. He was 66.
Shah was well known in the car industry because he was the publisher of several motoring magazines.
He was also well known in hi fi circles because he used to review components for AudioFile in The Star.
I had known him for many years and will fondly remember him for his keen interest in stereo and sound quality.
If I recall correctly, he had a limited edition Luxman L570Xs Class A amp and a pair of Thiel CS2.1 speakers.
Recently, he wrote a book entitled Legacy.
He left behind a wife and two children.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bryston vs Bryston

The Bryston 3B SST2 is on top.

There is no visible difference between the Bryston 3B SST and the new 3B SST2 power amp; the differences are inside the box.

The 3B SST2 has a push on/off power switch, new output devices, increased power supply capacitance (30,000 MFD per channel), two new ultra-low-noise power transformers (I have been corrected by Bryston's James Tanner - the transformers have not been changed), and lower noise and distortion levels.

Power output is the same as the 3B SST at 150 watts per channel 8 ohms, 250 watts 4 ohms, and 400 watts bridged 8 ohms.

Though the two power amps look alike, they surely don't sound alike.

For the past month or so, I have been using a Bryston BP-6 preamp (retailing at RM10,100) feeding either the resident 3B SST or the 3B SST2 (retailing at RM16,000) connected to a pair of Rega RS7 floorstanders (I spent some hours listening to the SST2 with the resident ATC SCM40s too). The resident CEC 3300 CD player, sometimes connected to a Musical Fidelity A3-24 DAC, spun the discs.

Soon after I had finished reviewing the preamp (see I started to compare the Bryston 3B SST power amplifier with its successor.

The differences in sound quality are quite apparent - the mid is so much richer with the 3B SST2. Vocals are smoother and creamier.

This is evident more so with female vocalists than males. I listened to Barbra Streisand, K.D. Lang, Eva Cassidy, Cleo Lane, Susan Boyle, Charlotte Church, Joni Mitchell and they all sounded richer and fuller. I played Il Divo and the quartet's voices sounded creamier too, but the effect was not as great as it was with female voices.

The "smoothening" was not restricted to vocals only - the entire mid band had this creamy texture. In comparison the 3B SST sounded leaner, more analytical and detailed.

There was no difference in the treble between the two power amps. Both played high notes without grain and with great extension.

It was in the bass region that the two power amps again sounded different. The old 3B SST's bass had more slam and sounded fuller and deeper. The 3B SST2's bass was more polite, and lacked grunt and pace.

This difference in bass presentation could easily be heard just by playing two songs on the Wilson Audio Ultimate Reference CD - Fanfare For The Common Man and Mating Dance - which feature drums and percussion.

So it would appear to be a trade-off. With the 3B SST2, you get a richer mid with a less dynamic bass. With the older 3B SST you get a leaner and more analytical mid with a bass that has grunt.

Should you buy the new model or stick with the old one? Let's put it this way - if I were to play Susan Boyle or Barbra Streisand, I would use the 3B SST2. If I were to play Adam Lambert or Chris Daughtry, I would use the older 3B SST.

It boils down to the type of songs you listen to.

Bryston components are distributed in Malaysia by AV Designs Sdn Bhd which has its showroom in Rohas Perkasa building, Jalan P. Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-21712828 or 03-21712825.

Related post:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

World Cup in HD

Malaysians will be able to watch all the World Cup 2010 matches in High Definition (HD), it has been confirmed.
But the historic 3D broadcast of the opening match between South Africa and Mexico will not be beamed here.
However, to be able to watch the matches in HD, you will need to subscribe to the Astro B.yond package and, of course, your TV must be HD-ready.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

AV Designs clearance: Up to 60% off

Check your bank balance now! 

AV Designs Sdn Bhd will be clearing their stocks at up to 60% off on Jan 23 from 10am-5pm.

There will be Bryston amps, PMC speakers, Denon, Pioneer and Sanyo components, projectors and AV receivers on sale.

AV Designs is on the mezzanine floor, West Wing of Rohas Perkasa building, Jalan P. Ramlee, KL. Call them at 03-21712828 or 03-21712825.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Coming soon: Rega's skeletal plinth turntable

A new tone arm will be launched soon

Looks like Rega is exploring the benefits of the skeletal plinth.

There are various schools of thought regarding plinths - one is for lightweight ones while the other is for heavyweight ones.

Thus you have the aluminium or acrylic types versus the granite or marble types.

There are some manufacturers who have opted for skeletal plinths to solve the problems caused by vibrations.

Clearaudio Master Reference AMG Wood CMB Turntable, Clearaudio Innovation Wood Turntable, Clearaudio Master Solution and Solution models, Creek Wyndsor Turntable, the JA Michelll Gyro SE and TechnoDec and the Pink Triangle Tarantella are some of the turntables which were based on this design philosophy,

In Rega's recent Xmas magazine, there is a section called 'A sneak peek into 2010 prototypes' and there is a picture of a skeletal plinth which looks like it's made of carbon-fibre. It looks absolutely stunning and I'm sure every Rega fan would be waiting with bated breath to find out how it sounds.
The skeletal plinth of the new Rega turntable.

There is also a new tonearm in the making, a new Brio integrated amp and a DAC. The white drive belts will also be a permanent feature and this year will also see the launch of the valve version of the ISIS CD player.

Rega fans can expect lots of innovative things for them this year. Watch this space!

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Performance Platter for Rega turntables

Rega turntables are so tweakable that there are lots of gadgets that are touted to make them sound better.

There are companies like Groovetracer that makes special counterweights to improve the tonearms, acrylic platters to replace those made of glass and MDF and subplatters to replace the cheap plastic stock model.

Michell also makes counterweights for the Rega while another company called Iron Audio makes its own version of the acrylic platter.

Eddie Tan  placing the
Performance Platter on a Rega P3-24

Now, Malaysians can be proud of the fact that a local retired electrical engineer by the name of Michael Lim has come up with his version of the Rega acrylic platter.

The platter designed by Michael Lim uses pure acrylic which is sand-blasted to give it a matt look.

"The sand-blasting also creates a rough surface which will slow down and dampen vibrations. You can use the platter without a mat," he said.

There is a recess cut out for the record label so that the part of the vinyl with grooves will have better contact with the platter.

The aptly named Performance Platter is thicker than the glass platter which lowers the centre of gravity and gives it the flywheel effect for rotational stability.

Hi-fi shop manager Eddie Tan will gladly demonstrate how effective the Performance Platter is. He will simply play a song on a Rega P1 with its stock MDF platter and then play the same song with the Performance Platter. The sound immediately becomes smoother, the noise floor is lower and the images are more solid and stable.

Designer of the Performance
Platter, Michael Lim

Michael Lim said the Performance Platter can be used with the Rega P1, P2, P3-24 and the old Rega Planar 2 and 3.

"With the Rega P5, you will have to stick three cork footers on the underside of the platter to raise it by 2mm so that it won't knock the wooden edge of the P5's plinth which juts out.

"Even with the P5, it is not necessary to change VTA if you are using Rega's cartridges. As for other cartridges, it depends on their height. If you use an Ortofon cartridge, you may have to change the VTA. A metal washer will be provided for free," he said.

With a Rega P5, it is necessary to stick
three cork footers to raise the platter.

The Performance Platter costs RM395 and is a fabulous upgrade. Eddie said since it was introduced in late November last year, he has sold about 30 of them.

Michael Lim has not finished with his designs - after all he is an inveterate tweaker and owner of some 20 turntables - and his next product is a sub-platter.

"The hub will be made of aluminium while the axle will be of stainless steel. Unlike others, mine will use the original ball bearing that comes with the Rega turntable. The hub will have concentric rings to slow down and dampen vibrations.

"The diameter of the sub-platter will be exactly the same as the stock plastic model," he said.

Many vinyl addicts have discovered that the secret of the so-called "Rega sound" is that the sub-platter is slightly smaller than required making the platter and hence the record spin slightly faster than 33 1/3 - with the Regas, records spin at 33 2/3 to 34 rpm. Rega tweaked the pitch, making the sound livelier, bouncier and pacier.

The Groovetracer sub-platter is the required size and many users have reported that it gives a neutral and "un-Rega sound".

Michael Lim is fully aware of Rega's "secret" and has decided not to change things.

The sub-platter, still unnamed, will be available by next month.

Michael Lim has a third trick up his sleeve - a 20-25kg marble plinth for Rega turntables. He is still looking around for someone who can make it to his specs.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

World Cup to be broadcast in 3-D

The World Cup soccer tournament this summer will be broadcast in 3-D, but it cannot be confirmed if Malaysia will be among the nations that will have this new format.

Reports said ESPN and Discovery channels plan to start broadcasting 3-D programmes to American homes soon.

ESPN said it will have a special 3-D channel for beaming live sports events and this will be set up in time for the FIFA World Cup which kicks off on June 11.

The channel will not operate 24 hours a day, but plans at least 85 live events in its first year, AP reported.

Discovery announced it will partner with Imax Corp. and Sony Corp. to bring out its own full-time 3-D network. The companies did not say which shows it will air on the new channel, which is to launch in 2011, the report said.

In an interview, ESPN's vice president for technology, Chuck Pagano, said the network is preparing for a "3-D tsunami" in the TV industry".

"It brings a sense of 'wow' when you watch a football game," he told AP. "It's just a new universe for watching TV coming down the pipeline."

Samsung will unveil its 3-D TV at CES 2010
in Las Vegas. Pic: Korea Times

Home viewers will have to buy new TV sets and 3-D glasses.

Sony, JVC, Panasonic, Samsung and LG are planning to market 3-D TVs this year. They are debuting their 3-D TVs at the CES 2010 which opens on Jan 7 in Las Vegas.