Thursday, November 24, 2011

Rega RP3 turntable on demo

The first shipment of Rega RP3 turntables has reached Malaysia.

The much-anticipated Rega RP3, which was supposed to have been officially launched in Malaysia during the recent KL International AV Show, is now on demo at Asia Sound in Amcorp Mall, Petaling Jaya. It is retailing at RM2,500.

If you are on the lookout for a turntable that is slightly above entry-level, head for Asia Sound immediately.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chat with the founder of Linn

Wanna meet Ivor Tiefenbrun, the man behind the legendary Linn Sondek LP12 turntable?

Ivor will be in town on Dec 6.

He will be meeting with Linn fans at the Perfect Hi-Fi showroom at 140, Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur from 1pm-4pm.

You can ask him about the Linn turntable and other products coming from the famed Scottish marque.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Yin yang theory of turntable isolation

I have come up with this yin yang theory of turntable isolation and how it can affect sound quality.

In this previous post (click I revealed that my Rega turntable, which has no spring suspension, sounded better when placed on my DIY isolation platform made of gel packs and acrylic sheet.

However, when I had a Linn Sondek Majik LP12 for a week or so recently, I found out that a turntable with suspension like the Linn did not sound better with the gel isolation platform. In fact, it sounded worse.

The Linn Sondek Majik LP12 did not sound good on my DIY gel isolation platform.

Linn's advice is to place the LP12 on a light and rigid platform and I think that's pretty good advice.

The Linn sounded good when placed on an Ikea Lack table, but on the gel isolation platform, the treble was diminished and the sparkle in the music was gone. I even switched the acrylic sheet with a piece of plywood which made the sound even worse.

That was when I suddenly had this clarity of thought and came up with the yin yang theory of turntable isolation.

Yin yang is all about balance in nature.

From wikipedia: "In Asian philosophy, the concept of yin yang is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only exist in relation to each other.

"Many natural dualities - e.g. dark and light, female and male, low and high, cold and hot - are thought of as manifestations of yin and yang (respectively).

"Yin yang are not opposing forces (dualities), but complementary opposites that interact within a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system. Everything has both yin and yang aspects as light cannot exist without darkness and vice-versa, but either of these aspects may manifest more strongly in particular objects, and may ebb or flow over time."

So my yin yang turntable isolation theory goes like this - it is all about hardness and softness.

The Rega turntable is 'hard' because it has no spring suspension. So placing it on a 'soft' isolation platform which has gel footers will enable it to perform well because the system is in balance.

However, the Linn is 'soft' because it has a spring suspension and placing it on a 'soft' isolation platform will make the system go off balance and the performance of the turntable will be affected and the sound quality will worsen.

Thus the 'soft' Linn has to be placed on a 'hard' platform. 'Hard' and 'soft' will work, but not 'hard' and 'hard' or 'soft' and 'soft'.

It's all about balance.

Monday, November 7, 2011

M2Tech Young DAC available in Malaysia

The DAC which looks very good and has received much praise for its sonic quality is now available in Malaysia.

M2Tech's Young DAC which is 32/384 capable (despite the absence of commercially available files in that resolution) represents the fourth generation of DACs.

However, it was not the first to market a 32/384 DAC as the Antelope Zodiac Gold can also handle files through USB up to 384kHz and it was launched earlier.

It is only a question of time before 32/384 DACs are common, but at the moment 24/192 DACs are flooding the market.

M2Tech Young is brought into Malaysia by Michael Chai who is now having a special offer for early birds - RM4,500 - and the offer ends early December.

Michael Chai said he imports M2Tech products directly from Italy and not via Singapore and added that he is the authorised dealer for Malaysia.

Other products available are M2Tech EVO (RM1,550), M2Tech EVO Supply (low noise battery supply RM1,550), M2Tech hiFace 24/192 Async USB-SPDIF converter (RCA version: RM480; BNC version: RM580).

You can reach Michael Chai at

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The magic of Majik

The Linn Majik LP12 is the entry-level model.

I managed to get a Linn Sondek Majik LP12 for a week or so recently on loan from Perfect Hi Fi.

Many Linn Sondek owners already know that the LP12 is a fussy turntable and you have to set it right to get optimum performance.

In my house, it was placed on an Ikea Lack table (as has often been recommended) and the Perfect Hi Fi technician spent almost an hour getting the 'bounce' right with the jig that he brought with him.

Essentially all the hard work is to get the sub-chassis to bounce up and down vertically without any horizontal wobble by adjusting the three springs and you also have to ensure that the wires do not touch the plinth.

The Linn Sondek Majik LP12 is essentially the entry-level turntable in the Linn range and it comprises the turntable itself, an integrated Majik LP12 power supply, Linn Adikt MM cartridge and Pro-Ject 9cc tonearm. The Majik LP12 is upgradeable to the highest specs. The Majik LP12 costs about RM10,000 while the highest-spec Linn costs about seven times more.

The Linn Majik comes with the Project 9cc tonearm.

During the listening sessions, a friend who owns an old pre-Cirkus Linn dropped by and he could tell the difference between the sound of the old and new bearing. Linn with the old bearing sounds 'fatter' with larger images and has a warmer tone while the new bearing sounds leaner in comparison and more neutral in tone.

While the new bearing is definitely more neutral sounding, there are many Linn fans who prefer the older warmer sound.

Since I use a much-modded Rega Planar 3 with RB250 tonearm with Michael Lim's underslung counterweight and a Benz Glider MC cartridge, I could compare the two legendary turntables.

I have modded the Rega to sound - in my view - its best. There are pieces of Dynamat stuck on the Premotec motor and bearing housing and I have also changed the lubrication oil to Mobil 1 with a dash of graphite powder. The Rega is placed on the DIY gel isolation platform. The mat is lead-vinyl with a carbon-fibre donut.

The Rega sounded fast, neutral, detailed and lively. However, the Linn sounded neutral, lively, even more detailed and had a larger soundstage horizontally and vertically with greater depth.

What the Linn excelled in and surpassed the Rega by a mile was in the rhythm segment - it just seemed to deliver a more infectious and accurate beat - the pace was simply fabulous. This is what audiophiles call PRAT - Pace, Rhythm and Timing. Linn won hands down in this department.

Bear in mind it was a Linn with MM cartridge beating a Rega with MC cartridge; both were linked to the same phono preamp - a Creek MM/MC model.

The Linn Majik comes with the Project tonearm and the Linn Adikt MM cartridge.

When I had a chat with Linn's senior product design engineer David Williamson (click
he agreed with me that a Linn turntable is fussy and setting it up properly can be a chore, but he added that the sonic rewards outweigh the trouble taken.

I have to reluctantly agree with him (I have been a staunch Rega fan for at least two decades). But I still maintain that the Rega is unmatched in the plug and play department - you don't need to spend an hour or so to get things going properly.

The Linn is tuned to sound best as it is - with the thin felt mat and no isolation platform (the recommendation is to place it on a light and rigid stand). When I tried to tweak it by using the carbon-fibre donut on the felt mat or the lead-vinyl mat replacing the felt mat, the sound changed and I was not sure if it was for the better or worse. But for sure, these tweaks changed the sound.

I also tried flipping the felt mat - in many forums, Linn fans have mentioned that placing vinyl on the furrier side facing up results in better sound. After many flips, I noted a slight improvement in clarity with the furrier side up.

And I was always annoyed when the felt mat was stuck to the record whenever I removed the LP from the platter (some have recommended using double-sided tape to stick the felt mat to the metal platter).

The Linn Sondek LP12 has evolved over the years - the new platter is lighter and looks like it is made from a different metal than the old Linns. Its sonic signature has also changed with many claiming that the new Linn sounds more like a CD player and lamenting the absence of the warmth of the old pre-Cirkus Linns.

My view is that the new Linns sound more neutral than the old Linns and the PRAT is still very much evident and enjoyable. I could live with a new Linn (with my good ol' Rega next to it, of course).