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.


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