Friday, July 2, 2010

Passion for hi-fi

Some people have called Sam Chan of Tropical Audio an eccentric chap, but I think it is just that he is extremely passionate about music and hi-fi, and - of course - his Harbeth speakers.

After I met up with him when Harbeth's designer and owner Alan Shaw was in town (see http://hi-fi-avenue.blogspot.com/2010/05/listening-to-hot-music.html) I asked if I could review his Harbeth speakers.

He quickly said yes and actually sent a pair of Harbeth P3ESR personally in his car to my house in SS4, Petaling Jaya.

He spent some time listening to my system (I was reviewing a pair of PMC OB1i then) and commented: "Everything is there, but 'presence' is missing."

Of course, 'presence' is an element that cannot be quantified or even described and one man's 'presence' is another man's poison.

Just like Alan Shaw, he has strong views about lots of things - he did not like the exotic power cords that I was using (Oyaide Tunami, DH Labs Power Plus, Supra LoRad), the speaker cables (DH Labs Silver Sonic Q10 single-biwired to the PMCs) and the power distributor (Furutech e-TP60/20).

He complained that they "filtered" the sound.

Then a few days later he telephoned me and said he would bring over his reference cables - rare Quad speaker cables and interconnects.

"They look like Pasar Road cables, but don't be fooled. They are good," he told me.

Then he asked me what speaker stands I used. I said I had a pair made of steel with four pillars which were heavy.

He made a second trip to my house to hand over to me the Quad wires and his pair of open-frame lightweight speaker stands.

"If you think your speaker stands sound better, tell me. I want to know and investigate," he said.

Sam is that kind of hi-fi addict who is always searching for the ultimate sound.

He has found his hectare of hi-fi heaven in the form of his Harbeth speakers on his open-frame stands (a design he found to be right for the Harbeths some 25 years ago after testing numerous models) driven by Quads (606 Mk I - "The Mk II sounds bad because a new designer who joined Quad then messed up the power supply") connected with Quad cables and interconnects with everything powered direct from the wall sockets with normal power cords.

Well, nobody can find fault with him for having such passion for hi-fi and for having found his slice of sonic heaven even if others disagree with his views.

Did I agree with him? More will be told in the review of the Harbeth P3ESR to be posted soon.

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