Sunday, February 21, 2010

Maxx AV showroom opens in Seremban

Home theatre fans take note - Maxx Audio Visual's new showroom in Seremban will open on Feb 25.


Maxx Audio Visual sells SV Sound products (better known as SVS which has a respected range of sub-woofers), Atlantic Technology and Klipsch loudspeakers, Panasonic LCD TVs and XLO cables.


The showroom is located about 1km from the Seremban toll and is in a commercial area called Kemayan Square. The landmark to look out for is the Seremban Specialist Hospital.


Maxx Audio Visual's 1,300 sq ft shoplot will have a modest-sized demo room 


Max Loh, owner of Maxx Audio Visual, said all SVS loudspeakers and subwoofers will be available for demo except the PC12-NSD.


He said there will be a low-key opening celebration on Feb 27 from 11am till 1pm with light refreshments to be served. 


If you are keen to attend, please send an e-mail to maxx@htkaki.com.


The address of his showroom is: 66G, Jalan Toman 4, Kemayan Square, 70200 Seremban, Negri Sembilan.

Related post: http://hi-fi-avenue.blogspot.com/2009/10/new-kid-in-town.html

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The RM5 tweak

There I was browsing around in IOI Mall in Puchong on Thursday when I popped into Daiso, the huge Japanese budget chain-store, and spotted a blue gel thingy.

It was a "shock absorbable pad" widely used by the Japanese to prevent furniture, fridges, TVs, computers, cupboards, boxes, etc, from toppling over during earthquakes by absorbing the vibrations caused by tremors. Japan is an earthquake-prone nation and the Japanese know a thing or two about  reducing damage caused by tremors.



The packet of blue gel pads


These pads are made of some kind of elastomer resin which looks and feels like Scholl gel heel cushions. Since these pads are designed to absorb vibrations, I thought I could use them as a hi-fi tweak.


And they cost only RM5 (US$1 = RM3.50) for a packet of four square pads measuring 4cm by 4cm and 5mm thick. Each pad can take a maximum load of 25kg and can be used for up to five years, so if the pads don't work, I will not lose much money plus I will have hi-fi components that can survive earthquakes.





At home, I placed them beneath the feet of my Rega Planar 3 turntable.


There was some improvement in sound quality - the upper mid and high notes were less jarring, the sound was generally cleaner, the bass was a bit clearer and images more well defined.


Not bad for RM5. But the downside is that if you knock the turntable sideways, it will jiggle for two or three seconds before becoming stationary and if you hit the side of the plinth hard enough, the stylus will skip.


However, the pads do clean up the sound and the improvement IMHO is worth more than RM5 - just don't knock the plinth.


My next project would be to buy a sheet of laminated glass, use the pads as feet and place the Rega turntable on the isolation platform.



Picture shows a foot of the
 Rega Planar 3 placed on a gel pad.


Next I placed the "earthquake" pads under the feet of the CEC CD player. The music sounded cleaner and more micro details were revealed.


I was playing a Barbra Stresand CD and I thought I could hear her breathing more clearly.


It just goes to show that hi-fi is not always about mega-buck gadgets and gizmos. There are always affordable tweaks to be found - even in a Japanese 100-Yen store.



Tuesday, February 16, 2010

More on the Rega P10 turntable

It is getting to be a bit like completing a jigsaw puzzle...


From a bit of information I found on http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showthread.php?t=208426, the uber Rega turntable is likely to be called P10.


The publisher of TONEAudio Magazine located in Portland, Oregon, posted yesterday at 6.04pm (US time): "That plinth (referring to the picture of the skeletal carbon-fibre plinth that I had posted earlier) is the P10 prototype that I heard last summer. They made it a point to tell us that that was only a working concept and could be the way the P10 ends up or could be something completely different. They also said that an arm above the RB1000 would also be part of this turntable concept."


The publisher will be visiting Rega in two weeks' time and will be meeting up with Roy Gandy. Presumably, he will ask Roy about the uber turntable and we can expect more info soon.


Looks like even as Rega are moving towards perfecting their uber turntable for release, hi fi fans are getting more and more details about it and becoming more excited too.

LATEST: Roy Gandy announces the launch of the Rega RP8 and RP10 turntables. Plus Rega's ultimate 40th Anniversary turntable. Click http://www.hi-fi-avenue.blogspot.com/2012/08/exciting-new-turntables-from-rega.html


Related stories:
http://hi-fi-avenue.blogspot.com/2010/02/regas-uber-turntable-may-be-out-this.html
http://hi-fi-avenue.blogspot.com/2010/02/new-rega-p1-turntable-on-way.html
http://hi-fi-avenue.blogspot.com/2010/01/coming-soon-regas-skeletal-plinth.html
http://hi-fi-avenue.blogspot.com/2010/01/performance-platter-for-rega-turntables.html
http://hi-fi-avenue.blogspot.com/2009/10/new-asia-sound-outlet.html

Friday, February 5, 2010

Rega's uber turntable may be out this year

Looks like the 'Ultimate' Rega turntable may be launched by the end of this year.

On Feb 3 when I had a chat with Phil Freeman, who is effectively the CEO of Rega Research, he was reluctant to confirm whether the turntable he and Rega founder Roy Gandy were tinkering with would eventually be marketed.


However he did reveal some details of the design which I have already mentioned in my previous post.


Last night, I discovered more details about the uber turntable from another forum - http://www.pinkfishmedia.net/.


In a thread, a forumer called JazzDoc in a reply posted at 5.04pm (UK time) on Feb 3 said:
"I saw Roy this evening. The 'uber turntable' is in prototype form. From what Roy said about it, and we only spoke briefly, the materials used are key to the new turntable.


"The arm will be a modified and improved version of an existing design. Roy told me that the entire range of turntables will also be revamped using newly available materials. The high end turntable will arrive sometime in 2010 but a launch date is yet to be set."


Check the link http://www.pinkfishmedia.net/forum/showthread.php?t=74828&page=3

What's in store for 2010. Click on image for larger view.

So what we know about the 'Ultimate' uber Rega turntable is that it has a skeletal plinth made of carbon fibre, a bearing housing and spindle made of ceramic (aluminium oxide), a sub-platter made of aluminium or magnesium alloy and a platter made of ceramic like the Rega P9.


Now we know that the tonearm will be an improved version of an existing design, possibly the RB1000. 


There is no mention of the mat, so we can only make an educated guess that it would be made of felt.


Phil told me that it was quite difficult to find a manufacturer who could make the ceramic bearing housing and spindle.


Rega found one ceramic manufacturer who initially said the job could not be done, but later managed to do it and got it right in its first attempt. If it is not done correctly, it would break easily.


The tolerance is so tight that the gap between the spindle and bearing housing measures only two microns. Phil said a low-viscosity oil would be used to lubricate the bearing, which is a single point with round tip.


The cost? Nobody knows yet, but Phil said it would be "very expensive".


These are exciting times for Rega fans...


Related stories:
http://hi-fi-avenue.blogspot.com/2010/02/new-rega-p1-turntable-on-way.html
http://hi-fi-avenue.blogspot.com/2010/01/coming-soon-regas-skeletal-plinth.html
http://hi-fi-avenue.blogspot.com/2010/01/performance-platter-for-rega-turntables.html
http://hi-fi-avenue.blogspot.com/2009/10/new-asia-sound-outlet.html

Thursday, February 4, 2010

New Rega products on the way

An ISIS CD player with a valve output stage and a revised P1 turntable are among the new Rega products to be launched this year.

Phil Freeman, who is effectively the CEO of Rega Research, said Rega will also launch a DAC, which should cost 400 pounds.

"The new P1 will have a platter made of phenolic resin instead of MDF and it will also have a new tonearm. Plus the plinth will be improved," said Phil, who has worked with Rega founder Roy Gandy for 31 years,

Phil was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, yesterday to meet the local Rega dealer, Eddie Tan of Asia Sound, and also Kim S Tay, Rega's head of marketing for Asia. At night, he was hosted to a sumptuous dinner with hi fi reviewers and bloggers.


(From left) Phil Freeman, his wife Lin and Kim
 tucking into a sumptuous pre-Chinese New Year dinner.

Phil said phenolic resin is a very stiff material which is quite low cost and works well as a platter.

"We haven't decided whether to give the tone arm a new name," he added.

Eddie Tan was quick to add that he has placed an order for an ISIS valve CD player.


On the so-called new tone arm which was featured in Rega's Christmas Magazine to dealers worldwide, Phil said Rega spent 50,000 pounds on a new tooling machine to replace its 25-year-old machine and the new model can make better arm tubes.


These new and improved arm tubes will be used in the tone arms of all models made from this year.


"With the new tooling machine, it is possible to make a new tone arm, but that is something for the next two years," he said.


As for the skeletal plinth that was also featured in the Christmas Magazine, Phil said it was a prototype that Roy Gandy and he are working on.


They are attempting to take Rega's turntable design to its zenith and the turntable, when both of them are satisfied with its sound quality, will be the ultimate Rega.


The unique feature of the prototype is the bearing housing and spindle which, unlike normal ones made of brass and steel, are made of ceramic.


"The bearing is single point with a round tip and the plinth is made of carbon fibre," Phil said. The sub-platter would be made of something light like high-quality aluminium or magnesium.alloy.


The difference in sound quality between the prototype and the Rega P9 is like the difference between the P9 and the P3.


They are quite satisfied with its sound quality but it is still very much a work in progress, and more work needs to be done on it before they will even consider marketing it.
"It will be very, very expensive," he said.


Phil also pooh-poohed the belief that the secret to the Rega sound is that it spins faster than 33 1/3 rpm.


"Every Rega turntable is tested before being marketed  to spin accurately. The lower-end P1 may have wider variations in speed, but the high-end P9 spins very accurately," he said.


Having said that, he noted that music sounds better if the turntable spins slightly faster.


Just like Roy Gandy, Phil has very strong views about things like mats, VTA adjustment and spring-suspension turntables.


On mats, he said Rega's felt ones work very well as the fibres provide grip while dampening vibrations.


When asked to comment on the controversial subject of VTA (Roy Gandy is not a believer of VTA), Phil slapped his forehead and said,"Oh no!"


He said if you were to raise the arm by a relatively big margin, the difference in tracking angle of the stylus would be minimal.


VTA should be adjusted if the cartridge is so tall that its rear hits the vinyl.


"Any VTA adjuster would compromise the rigidity of the tonearm. That's why we recommend spacers to raise the tonearm," he said.


On spring suspensions, he said the design began many decades ago when turntables were included in one-box music centres that comprised an amplifier and radio.


These turntables could play a stack of records and each time a new record was played, it would drop with a thud and the spring suspension was designed to absorb the impact, he pointed out.


A spring suspension would resonate and if the resonances are even-order harmonics, the turntable's sound quality would be pleasant but after a while the resonances may become odd-order harmonics and the sound would become unpleasant. That's why a spring-suspension turntable needs to be tuned every now and then.



Phil explaining the finer 
points of turntable design.


Just before everybody called it a night, Phil was asked about the future of the CD player given that Linn has stopped making CD players as of last December.


He agreed that the music industry is heading towards hires downloads and solid-state drives, but he is convinced that turntables won't die off. But the CD player is more vulnerable because its sound quality is not at the same level as turntables and vinyl.


But what is scary is that the big manufacturers may one day decide to stop making laser diodes - currently only Sanyo still makes laser diodes for CD players - when content is no longer stored in optical disks but in solid-state drives.


If laser diodes are no longer produced, then that's the end of the CD player.


Even now, some companies are using transports which they had bought some time ago before the manufacturers stopped production of the transports.


"Some Philips transports are no longer made," he said.


Asked if there could be a Rega digital stream player in the future, he said: "That's a computer. No, we won't make one."


Related stories:
http://hi-fi-avenue.blogspot.com/2010/02/regas-uber-turntable-may-be-out-this.html

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Is 3D football any good? Well, yes and no...

Every Malaysian football fan must be wondering how it was like to watch soccer in 3D.
Unfortunately 3D won't be available in Malaysia for a while, so we would have to depend on the opinions of those in Great Britain who actually watched the MU vs Arsenal match last Sunday in 3D.

Among the lucky ones was Dominic Dawes, the Editor of What Hi-Fi?

This is his report which appeared on http://community.whathifi.com/blogs/shows_and_launches/archive/2010/02/01/sky-3d-tv-is-it-any-good.aspx

"The 3D was certainly promising: the pre-game graphics were deeply impressive, coming out of the screen in genuinely 3D style. It made me wonder just how amazing on-screen graphics will become once the creators of said graphics have had time to develop their 3D ideas in full.

"But what of the game itself? Did watching it in 3D really improve the experience?

"Well... yes and no. Yes, the game did look good, and at particular moments, when the camera angle switched to a low, pitch-side camera, the 3D effect was considerably more pronounced.

"That said, most of the time when sport is being filmed, in order to get a good view of the game the main camera angle is a wide shot - taken by a camera some considerable height above pitch level. This makes perfect sense in terms of seeing the game, but from this angle the 3D effect is actually very subtle.

"Yes, it added a small degree of extra depth to the already good-quality, high-def picture. But if the intention was to knock us all out with the 3D 'wow factor' it didn't entirely manage it.

"Not that it looked bad, at all. It's just that the 3D element of the picture was not startling. To tell the truth, there were moments I almost forgot I was watching in 3D, and started to wonder what I was doing sitting inside with a pair of shades on.

"Once the market is swamped by 3D products later this year, we'll all have a better idea how consumers are reacting to it. Personally, I think video gamers and fans of animated, Pixar-type movies will be the first to really thrill to the benefits of 3D TV technology.

"But football? Is sport a key area for 3D? We'll see: certainly, some of Sky's demo footage of various sports looks amazing – intriguingly, most of it looks more impressive than the live footage of Arsenal Vs Man Utd did – but whether that makes consumers en masse want to traipse down the pub on a Sunday afternoon to put on a pair of cheap-looking sunglasses and watch the big match in 3D is another matter."

In the What Hi Fi? forum, most forumers said they would not waste their money buying first-generation and costly 3D TVs.

They said they would rather wait for the technology to mature and for more programmes in 3D to be available before making the decision to upgrade to 3D TVs.

At least one said he would not waste money buying a 3D TV so soon after having bought his LCD TV last year and when he does decide to upgrade, he would opt for a projector.

Another said if history is any indication, the first generation 3D TVs would be costly and the prices will plummet after that.

One of the few forumers planning to buy a 3D TV said he was already going to upgrade from a 32" to a 37" or 40" and might as well buy a 3D model.

So it appears that a lot of British AV enthusiasts are adopting a wait-and-see stance regarding 3D TVs.

Meanwhile, in Malaysia we are likely to be adopting a wait-and-wait stance before we can even watch 3D TV.