Thursday, July 26, 2012

KLIAVS 2012: High-end CD player designed by Malaysian

Designer of the Loit Passeri CD player Kam Lup Yoong.

The high-end Loit Passeri CD player.

One of the surprises of the KLIAVS was that a high-end CD player on demo was actually designed by a Malaysian who is now a PR of Singapore.

The CD player is the Loit Passeri and the designer is Kam Lup Yoong, who hails from Johor Baru and whose parents are still living there.

He explained that the motor is a Philips CD-Pro 2 which is attached to an aluminium frame which rests on gel isolaters.

"The power supply is also well designed with the analogue and digital circuits individually separated from the power transformer," he said.

Kam also explained that the patented current to voltage converter uses a pair of 6H30 valves and that the CD player uses carbon fiber as its 'skin'.

Certainly the Loit Passeri looked and sounded impressive.

I had to ask him why the player was made in Singapore and he said it was because the project was funded by the Singapore government.

"But I'm from JB, and I still go back regularly to visit my parents," he said.

Actually I felt at once proud and sad - proud because a Malaysian (by birth) could design such a CD player, but sad because Kam is a fine example of brain drain.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

KLIAVS 2012: Odd stuff

The Elipson system.

The 'wok' reflects sound from the speaker at the top of the sphere.

There were at least two components that I saw which I thought were odd.
One was the Elipson BS50 Tribute speakers which were not only spheres, but had something that looked like a radar dish or a wok which acted as a sound reflector.

The other odd thing that I spotted was a valve amp with the valves glowing in green light. It turned out to be a McIntosh MC275 LE 50th Anniversary and it apparently has LED lights beneath the valves to light them up in green. However, it is not cheap to be a greenie in this instance - the amp costs RM32,200.

KLIAVS 2012: The best of...

The following is a list of stereo systems that were impressive. Please note they are listed in random order.

Swedish Statement/Audiomatic

The Vitus/Marten Byrd 2 system.

Sperling turntable with Ikeda tonearm and Ikeda cartridge.

An English audiophile had alerted me that the system in this room sounded good to his ears, so I made my way there yesterday evening.
Eugene Ngoh was fiddling with some knob when I walked into the huge room and I knew immediately that any sound system would have to be up to mark to fill all that space with good sound.
The system comprised the Sperling turntable, which looked like some spaceship, with the Ikeda tonearm and Ikeda cartridge, Vitus RP101 phono stage, Vitus SL102 preamp, Vitus SM101 monoblocks and Marten Byrd 2 speakers.
My previous encounters with Marten speakers have almost always left me feeling rather unmoved by its cold sound.
This time, it was different - the sound was warmer and more endearing.


Mission/Audiolab system.

Recently, CMY became the distributor of Mission and Audiolab products.
Naturally, CMY dedicated one room solely for its new range of products.
The system comprised Mission 796SE speakers, Audiolab 8200 CD player, 8200Q preamp and 8200 monoblocks.
This system could rock and sounded quite good.


The ProAc/Naim system.

Next door, CMY had set up a system comprising ProAc K6 speakers biamped with a Naim SuperUniti for the tweeter and a NAP 250 for the bass/mid.
The ProAc speakers cost about RM70k and they sure sounded like high-end speakers which, of course, they are. This system sounded dynamic and punchy.


The Sugden/Spendor system that sounded quite good this year.

The Well-Tempered turntable. Note the golf ball.

Normally, I don't quite like the sound of Spendors driven by Sugdens as it would be rather dull and boring.
But this time, the system comprising a Well-Tempered Labs Versalex turntable, Spendor SP2/3R2 speakers, Sugden LA4 preamp and Sugden Masterclass AA power amp sounded surprisingly dynamic and punchy.

Acoustic Alchemy

The BFA Tulip hybrid integrated amp with DAC.

New kid in town that brought in Beyond Frontiers Audio. Danny Lim teamed up the BFA Tulip integrated amp with Triangle Genese Quartet speakers. The source was a cheap BluRay player spinning CDs but the DAC was the BFA Balanced Tube DAC. It was quite an impressive debut for the new kid. 

Maxx Audio

The Triangle/Exposure system.

Right next door to Acoustic Alchemy was Max from Seremban who stuck to the simple and safe route of using Exposure CD player and amp with Triangle speakers.
Not much can go wrong with this combo.

Jo Ki's room

As usual, Jo Ki chanted some mumbo-jumbo and sprinkled star dust on his LS3/5A-based system which left listeners bewildered by how the small monitor speakers could sound so big and bassy.

Acoustic Arts
The Epos Epic 5 speakers were affordable and sounded quite good,

The BAT Rex/Epos Encore 50 system sounded much better but was very expensive.

One of the best bargains in the show was found in this room and it came in the form of the Epos Epic 5 speakers which cost below RM3k. They gave the best bang for the buck in the show.
But next door, the higher-end system sounded much, much better.
The flagship Epos speakers - Encore 50 - were driven by the BAT Rex pre and Rex monoblocks with the BAT VKD5 SE CD player spinning the silver disk.
As usual Vincent made the system sing.

Audio Note

The Audio Note system.

The speakers were pushed to the corner of the room.

Last year, the Audio Note system was one of the best sounding in the show. This year, a lower-end system was set up and it comprised a CD2, Oto SE (10 watter SET) and AN E2X speakers.
Though the all-Audio Note system's sound was not as seductively impressive as last year's, it still deserved a mention as one of the better-sounding systems this year. 

Perfect Hi-Fi

Audio Research/Sonus Faber system.

The Sonus Faber Aida speakers are huge and need lots of space.

On Level 4, Perfect Hi-Fi had set up its signature system comprising a pair of gigantic Sonus Faber Aida, Audio Research Reference CD 8 CD player, Audio Research  Reference 250 power amps and Audio Research Reference 40th Anniversary preamp.
Though the Sonus Faber still had a sonic signature on the warm side of neutral, the match between the Audio Research and Sonus Faber was better than last year and the system sounded quite impressive. 
The price? Well, the speakers alone cost RM550k.

Perfect Hi-Fi

KEF Blade and the LS50.


In the KEF room, there was another bargain buy - not the beautiful KEF Blade speakers but the KEF LS50 which cost around RM4k.
Not only was it a bold design just like the Blades, but it sounded pretty good too. But bear in mind the other components in the chain - dCS Puccini CD player and Pass Labs amps.

KLIAVS 2012: Long list of firsts

Malaysian audiophiles were lucky enough to hear some components that made their debut in Malaysia at the KLIAVS 2012.

Among these components were:

* the Weiss Medea+ DAC
* the Weiss MAN301 Music Archive Network player (both in the  Rave room)
* The Beyond Frontiers Audio Tube Balanced DAC (it made its Asian debut)
* the Loit Passeri CD player
* the Ktema Accordo standmount speakers
* the Avantgarde pre and power amps
* Marten Byrd 2 speakers
* Sonus Faber Aida speakers
* Sperling Audio turntable
* Bryston BHA1 headphone amp
* the Wyred 4 Sound media streamer
* Dali Epicon 6 speakers
* Dali Fazon F5 speakers
* Wilson Benesch Vector speakers
* Exposure DAC

Weiss MAN301 media player and Medea+ DAC

Wilson Benesch Vector speaker

Beyond Frontiers Audio Balanced SS integrated amp

Beyond Frontiers Audio Balanced Tube DAC

Beyond Frontiers Audio Violet hybrid integrated amp

Loit Passeri CD player

Wyred 4 Sound media streamer (left)

Volent speakers

Avantgarde preamp

Avantgarde power amp

Sonus Faber Aida

Bryston BHA1 headphone amp

Sperling turntable with Ikeda tonearm and Ikeda cartridge.

Eugene of Audiomatic standing beside the Marten Byrd 2.

The Dali Epicon 6 and Fazon F5 speakers.

Unico 50 hybrid amp.

Unison Research Simply Italy SET valve amp.

Ktema Accordo 

Some components that were new to the Malaysian market were on static display. These included:

* Beyond Frontiers Balanced solid-state integrated amp
* Beyond Frontiers Violet hybrid integrated amp
* Volent CL2i and CL3 speakers
* Unison Research Simply Italy valve SET amp
* Unico 50 dual mono hybrid amp

Friday, July 20, 2012

KLIAVS 2012: Volents are here

Volent CL2i

Volent CL3

There is another treat in store for audiophiles - the highly-regarded Volent speakers are in KL.
A pair each of the Volent CL2i and CL3 in Pearl White finish will be on static display in the Avantgarde room.
These made-in-Hong Kong speakers have been praised highly by many audophile magazines in the West.
My wish is for them to be hooked up to the electronics.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

KLIAVS 2012: BFA makes grand entrance

Beyond Frontiers Audio is making a big entrance to this year's KLIAVS.

Several of its components will be making their Asian debuts here. These include:

* Solid-state integrated amplifier
* Tube DAC SE
* Hybrid integrated amplifier with DAC
* Fully-Balanced Tube DAC

BFA Tulip hybrid integrated amp with DAC

Beyond Frontiers Audio, which is effectively a continuation of high-end marque Sonic Frontiers, has been highly praised and has picked up many awards such as:

* Best of Show at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - Stereo Mojo
* Most Wanted Components 2010 - Stereo Times
* Product of the Year 2010 - Stereo Mojo

BFA is so serious about making an impact in this part of the world that they have sent their financial backer Bosko Pjescic and digital designer Adrijan Sabolcki to Kuala Lumpur to explain their design philosophy to audiophiles.

The BFA electronics will be demonstrated with various loudspeakers from Triangle in Acoustic Alchemy's Room 8033 (Level 8).

Note: Acoustic Alchemy is offering a 10% discount off Beyond Frontiers Audio components and selected models of Triangle and Martin Logan speakers.
To enjoy the discount, simply print out the discount coupon at the top left corner of this blog and show it to Danny Lim (tel: 016-2187398) of Acoustic Alchemy by Aug 31, 2012.

KLIAVS 2012: Wilson Benesch returns

Looks like this year's KLIAVS is shaping up to be a fabulous treat.

A brand that has been absent from the AV show for a few years is making a comeback - Wilson Benesch.

The new Wilson Benesch Geometry Series will be part of a live demonstration at the AV Show courtesy of its Singaporean / Malaysia Distribution partners, Reference Audio.

There are two models in the Geometry Series - Vector and Vertex.

Wilson Benesch Geometry Vector
Wilson Benesch Geometry Vertex

The Vector is a 2.5 way floorstanding loudspeaker using advanced materials technology.

From Wilson Benesch's website: "Thanks to the cleverly engineered A.C.T. monocoque / poly alloy shell structure, complex bracing is no longer accepted as a design compromise. The shell design delivers huge amounts of air volume, despite its small external surface area which is another key factor in the success of the design. Assembled by hand, each high performance material, is bonded to another high performance element, resulting in extremely high levels of mutual self damping. The resulting complex hybrid construction is virtually inaudible, exhibiting one of the lowest signal to noise ratios of any loudspeaker in the world, yet is capable of delivering all the dynamic energy from the ultra powerful drive units.

"The Tactic II mid range drive unit is capable of remarkable transients that are never hindered by crossover parts. The control aff orded by this design is limited only by the amplifier. Impedance characteristics are benign, so low power amplifiers can be used. A quintessential design feature of all Wilson Benesch designs has been the 2.5 way crossover. This ensures seamless integration from the lowest bass to the highest mid range, with the absolute minimum of phase distortion. Designed to function in complete harmony the Semisphere Tweeter then takes over. This latest innovation from Wilson Benesch, is the result of many years of considered development that has been driven by a comprehensive critical evaluation of the best technologies in the world, including the remarkable Sphere from Murata. The design incorporates advanced
materials technologies that deliver extended high frequencies but without ever sounding un-controlled or sibilant."

The Vertex is a 2-way stand-mounted loudspeaker. Unlike many stand mounted designs, the Vertex and its stand, work in harmony to attain structural integrity, vital to the control of key components. Mounted with high tensile bolts, the speaker and stand become one.

The advanced carbon fi ber A.C.T. monocoque, requires no additional bracing. Each element has been carefully selected and developed by Wilson Benesch, once bonded, each adjacent high performance element results in a mutual self damping. This complex hybrid construction is inaudible in a structure of this size. A unique advantage of this design, is that the air volume to cabinet size ratio is outstanding."

I know all these sound like PR hype, but I am confident that these Wilson Benesch speakers will match all that hype.

KLIAVS 2012: Maxx-imum quality

Maxx Audio Visual will be in the same room they were in last year - Room 8031.

As usual, Maxx AV will demo components from Triangle Electroacoustique, Rythmik Audio USA, Exposure Hi-Fi and Odyssey Audio.

KLIAVS 2012: Free hi-res download

Leslie Loh of poppopmusic is offering a free 24/96 WAV hi-res download of a track from the audiophile version of The Jazzy Sounds of Teresa Teng.

This is to entice audiophiles to buy the actual audiophile CD at the InterGlobal Music stall on Level 4 of J.W. Marriott Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, at the KLIAVS 2012.

Here're the download instructions:

1) Please paste this link onto your browser

Please be patient with the download! It is a HUGE file!

2) Once the file is properly downloaded, right click on your mouse to save the source (a WAV file) onto your pc hard drive. depending on your browser, this service may be chargeable. For example, if you use Apple QuickTime, you need QuickTime Pro, which is chargeable. If you use  Google Chrome, then this service is totally FOC. So, please explore with your browser.

3) Sit back and enjoy the most unorthodox 'The Girl From South Sea (nan hai gu niang)' ever!

Some of the for this song, some of the best musicians in the scene are featured. They include percussionist Valtinho Anastacio from Brazil, trumpeter Eddy Wen, saxophonist Julian Chan and of course our maestro pianist-cum-arranger Tay Cher Siang from Malaysia.

Tay Cher Siang's idea of this bold arrangement is inspired by the fact that "The girl from south sea" was written by a Malaysian composer in the 1970s, so he could be inspired by Jobim's "Girl from Ipanema" which carries the same sentiments lyrically. So he thought it would be a good idea to fuse the two versions together and have a fabulous crossover. yes, indeed, that was how the arrangement was born! 

Mixing and mastering was done by Nick Lee of the Ark Studios. 

This definitive version emphasizes more on the instruments and overall musicality (unlike the normal edition, which is more vocals-centric). It has better palpability, bass (lows), highs, separation and imaging, etc, compared with the normal edition.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

KLIAVS 2012: Lethal mix - Avantgarde and vinyl

Avantgarde Duo horn speakers.

Avantgarde preamp

Avantgarde power amp
Wilson Benesch Full Circle turntable with ACT 0.5 tonearm.

Wilson Benesch The Ply cartridge.

Vinyl addicts should head to the Audio Note Malaysia room where the all-Avantgarde system will be on demo.

The turntable system will comprise a Wilson Benesch Full Circle turntable with Act 0.5 tonearm and The Ply cartridge matched with the FM Acoustics 122 phono linearizer.

This system looks set to be exciting because it will be an Avantgarde XA preamp and XA power amp driving the Avantgarde Duo horn speakers.

Obviously I will spend much time in this room.