Monday, August 27, 2012

Xeo - the wi-fi solution

Everything is going wireless these days and to keep with the trend, renowned Danish speaker manufacturer Dynaudio has launched the world's first high-end wireless stereo system.

Called Xeo, the speakers come in two models - standmount (Xeo 3) and floorstanders (Xeo 5). Both are active with built-in DACs and digital amplifiers.

They communicate with a processor, a small box that accepts digital and analogue signals from sources as diverse as turntables and iPhones. Inputs include USB, Toslink, coax and analogue RCA.
The signals are transmitted digitally on the 2.4 MHz bandwidth to the speakers.
The maximum resolution is 24bit 48KHz and higher resolution files will be downsampled.

Dynaudio's CEO Wilfried Ehrenholz

Dynaudio's CEO Wilfried Ehrenholz, who was at CMY's showroom at Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya, last week, says it is the same bandwidth as wi-fi routers, but there is no interference.

So far there has been one case in Dusseldorf, Germany and one in Russia where the owners experienced drop-out issues.

"We still don't know why it happened. The drop-outs result in a clicking sound," he said.

When Dynaudio launched the Xeo system at the CES in Las Vegas, Wilfried said he found there were 240 wi-fi networks in the area, but the Xeo played without any issues.

The Xeo system can handle three sources simultaneously. That means you can have three sources playing at the same time - for e.g. a CD player connected via Toslink, an iPod on a dock connected via coax and a laptop connected via USB and the songs can be streamed wirelessly to three sets of speakers, for e.g. one set in the living room, one set in the upstairs bedroom and one set in the kitchen.

Wilfried showing how small the transmitter box is.
Playing with the Wadia iPod dock.

Xeo 3 (left) and Xeo 5.

The operational range depends on the location. Outdoors, the range is 300 metres while indoors, the signals can go through two or three walls.

Wilfried says the Xeo speakers are surprisingly not fussy about the type of room they are placed in.

"They sound good in all sorts of rooms and I am not sure why," he says.

Dynaudio's CEO Wilfried Ehrenholz and CMY's John Yew.

The wireless Xeo system is Dynaudio's answer to how to capture the young market where 95 per cent of youths listen to music on smartphones and headphones.

These days youths listen to mostly MP3 downloads, Internet radio and music files in computers.

Judging by how successful Dynaudio's solution is, the Xeo looks set to be the route for young music lovers to migrate from iPods to high-end stereo.

CMY's John Yew said the Xeo 3 costs RM9,120 (list) while the Xeo 5 is priced at RM17,360 (list).

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Winnie Ho sings at Singapore hi-fi show

Jazz songbird Winnie Ho

Winnie Ho, Malaysia's rising Chinese Jazz songbird, is a guest singer at next week's inaugural MOD Digital Audio Convention (DAC), to be held on Aug 25 and 26 at Raffles Convention Centre, Singapore.

Fresh from her appearance at the just concluded Tianjin Jazz Festival, Winnie Ho will be singing some songs from her popular album "The Jazzy Sounds of Teresa Teng" and at the same time, promoting the latest "Definitive Audiophile Edition" to audiophiles in Singapore. 

The album sold well in the recent KLIAV and Taiwan's TAA Hifi Show and the Singapore's distributor for pop pop music, S2S music, hopes to expand their Chinese repertoire with this strategic partnership with pop pop music.

Winnie's showcase time:

Saturday, Aug 25: 3pm and 5pm
Sunday, Aug 26: 3pm and 5pm   

Friday, August 10, 2012

KLIAVS 2012: Bryston's star performer

For headphone enthusiasts, Jaben was around again in this year's edition of the KLIAVS.
While that was quite welcome, what was more exciting was the Bryston headphone amp.
At the AV Designs room, I saw someone testing it and waited patiently for him to finish.
When it was my turn to test it, I heard music through a pair of Denon headphones.
Then I tried the AKG701and finally, the star performer - the Grado PS1000.
I did not spend enough time playing with it, but I know for sure that it can drive anything with its 3-watt output. Even the infamous AKG K1000 can be driven by the Bryston.
James said he would pass it to me for a more comprehensive review after the show and I am actually anxious to compare it with my resident tube Melos SHA-1 headphone amp/preamp.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Exciting new turntables from Rega

Roy Gandy

Rega fans, start drooling.

First there will be a 40th Anniversary turntable to be launched by June next year.

The price? 25,000 to 30,000 pounds. So you can be assured not very many will be made.

Rega's Roy Gandy, who had dinner with hi-fi bloggers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Thursday night, revealed that the 40th Anniversary model is a radical design.

After much probing, the bloggers managed to extract juicy bits of information from him - its spindle will be made of zirconium which costs 1,000 pounds each to manufacture; and it will be named after a song.

That song will also be recorded and released in a special vinyl 40th Anniversary set.

Roy declined to confirm if the plinth would be skeletal and if carbon fibre would be used. He also did not say anything about the tonearm.

He only said it is a "radical design" which uses different materials and something about "reduced mass".

Rega will also publish a book on turntable design in conjunction with its 40th Anniversary.

Roy also announced that the RP8 and RP10 turntables will be launched in October and the P9 will be discontinued.

The RP8 will cost 1,600 pounds while the RP10 will be priced at 3,000 pounds.

The RP8 will use a different platter while the RP10 will have the same platter as the P9.

Again Roy declined to confirm if they would look like some of the turntable designs that had been posted online.

It seemed a bit ironic because the chat with one of the best turntable designers in the world actually started with a discussion on CD players and the Apollo-R.

We were chatting about how much further Rega could improve its CD players and he said there were fewer companies working on CD players especially on the processor chips.

Rega had found a model that worked well sonically and bought 40,000 to 50,000 pieces of it before the company went bust and that amount would be enough to last another 10 years or so.

He said the chip was more powerful than those found in other CD players except that used by Meridian and it could get more information from the disc.

"The only improvements for the CD player would be in the DAC, output stages and filtering," he said.

Then we started talking about more controversial things like streamers.

Roy said he could not understand why anybody needed a streamer when a laptop can be used instead.

He said he had asked even the experts what streaming was and they could not give good definitions.

On whether a CD player sounds better than a laptop with DAC, he said: "If everything is right, the computer with DAC can sound better using a music player like Audacity." 

He opined that this is because the computer does error correction better than a CD player.

But the streaming must be via USB rather than SPDIF.

On why the Rega DAC could not accept 24/176.4 kHz music files, Roy said it was because such files were not around when the DAC was designed.

"But the problem has been fixed with a firmware upgrade and the later batches of the DAC can accept 176.4 files," he said. Owners of Rega DACs from the earlier batches can send them to their respective Rega distributors for the upgrade.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Leslie does Malaysia proud

Leslie Loh of poppopmusic, the producer of audiophile CDs, has done Malaysia proud again.

He announced on Facebook that "Taiwan's Biggest and Oldest Hi-Fi Dealer, Taifu Audio Group will be giving out a FREE compilation audiophile CD to those who buy the new Dynaudio "Xeo" wireless Speaker, and pop pop music has been proudly selected as one of the contributors to the CD!

"And there's a commentary on Winnie Ho's "A Thousand Words" by famous veteran Audiophile Dr. Cai. The highly authoritative and widely respected Dr. Cai is the choice person when it comes to audio commentary in almost every compilation CDs given out by Hi-Fi dealers or Hi-Fi show organizers."

Well, kudos to Leslie and may there be more audiophile CDs and (free) downloads.