Wednesday, 20 February 2019

ATC SCM40A Active Speakers - Lusciously Good... on Both Sound and Sight




The ATC SCM40A (A for active) is not just another pair of speakers. When Kenny of Hiway Laser offered me to experience a full ATC set up in the comfort of my home, I did not know what to expect. My experience with ATC speakers and electronics have been limited to shop demo and KLIAV show. Though they sounded good in the shop, I always felt that they needed super duper efficient amp to properly push the full potential of ATC speakers. Given that, it is only appropriate that Kenny sent me a full ATC system i.e. ATC amplification through the built in active amps and the preamp as well.



THE BUILT AND SPECIFICATION

The beauty of having an active speaker is that it comes with a built in power amplifier. Hence, all you need is a preamp and connect i directly to the speakers. Mind you, you will need 2 power outlets as each side of the speaker will need to be connected to the power supply of its own.

The SCM40A comes with a dual suspension 25 mm soft dome tweeter and 75 mm soft dome mid range driver. It is completed with a 164 mm bass driver. The amp is a Class A/B 242 watter (tri amp; split into 150 W for bass, 60 W for mids and 32 W for tweeter).

When fully set up, the speakers will take up (HxWxD): 980 x 370 x 344mm (inc. foot plinth & amp, spikes add 25mm to height, grill adds 34mm to depth) of space. It is bigger compared to my PMC Twenty5.24. Each speaker weighs 36 KG and it needs 2 people to set it up.

For full specifications,  please visit ATC SCM40A.

I was also given 2 different pre amps to review, the CA2 MK II and CDA2 Mk II

The CA2 comes with 5 line inputs and a pair of XLR and RCA outputs. There is also an additional sub port and tape and headphone outputs.  The headphone outout is a little bit inconvenient as it is located at the rear panel. One of the inputs also offers an RIAA phono input, configurable to both MM and MC.



The CDA2 Mk II is an all discrete class A pre amplifier.  It comes with 2 analogue inputs via RCA and 1 via 3.5 mm mini jack. It is also a CD player on its own with premium AKM 32 bit DAC. Another unique input is the USB input with 384 kHz PCM data and native DSD256. I connected my SONY HAP Z1 ES and it is fully compatible. There is a slight click noise when changing from DSD to WAV files but negligible. 

THE LISTENING SESSION

Initially, Hi Way Laser provided me with the ATC CA2 MK II pre amp to match the speakers. I had a good 2 months with this babies so most of the review is based on this set up. I will briefly explain the difference when I changed to the CDA2 preamp.

With regards to the source, the review was mainly done on digital sources from the Sony HAP Z1 ES and ARCAM CDS50 SACD player. I tried connecting the analogue side of things either directly to the pre amp CA2 or via MF M1 ViNL and it sounded quite open and laidback. But for simplicity sake, I will stick to digital source.

Usually, I would list down the format/resolution of digital files that I use for the review. But this time around, I will be running a Guess The Format quiz. Hence, I will only list down the tracks.
  1. Time To Blow by Del Paxton
  2. Fragile bt Julio Iglesias
  3. Somewhere Somebody by Jennifer Wearnes
  4. Never Enough by Loren Allred
  5. Gurindam Jiwa by M Daud Kilau
  6. Tak Seindah Wajah by SM Salim 



Time To Blow by Del Paxton

On this track, the ATC combo presented an overall big soundstage, emphasizing on double bass delivery with a melodious piano sound. On percussion side, especially on the ride cymbal and rim shot, it was very evident to hear the extend of the dispersion. It made the overall sound full and not just bass filled. 



Fragile by Julio Iglesias

Just listen to that vocal. It sounds energised with lots of emotion. It maintains the soundstage scale like the previous track and at the same time, opens up Julio's vocal to spread across my listening hall. I must say that it was very pleasing to te ears to hear such clarity produced from my sources. The bass was not really evident like before but the overall presentation was leaning more towards a laidback but dynamic presentation. The overall sound was just very pleasing and made me want to dig up my other Julio tracks.



Somewhere Somebody by Jennifer Wearnes

Given that I loss the bass when I switched from Time To Blow to Fragile, I chose this track to test whether I can get best of both worlds. In my opinion, this is the track that delivered me the best performance of the combo. Bass was deep, extended without any signs of stress on the speakers and its built in amp. Vocal was sweet and full of emotions and the dynamics behind it was just mesmerizing. It will envelope the listener with such huge blanket of soundstage withoutl oosing any clarity to the microdetails of the track.


Never Enough by Loren Allred

How about the delivery of a very strong vocal requirement? This is one of the more modern track that demands a very capable system to really show the prowess of Loren's vocal. Loren vocal range can go low and really high throughot the track. This track gives me a really emotional impact when watching the movie and it is sometimes difficult to replicate that when listening to the audio track alone. But not with the ATC combo. I get goosebumps listening to this track. Loren's vocal was delivered with such intensity and strength that even at the high notes, although sharp, it sounded very melodious and detailed. At the same time, the sound of the instruments on this track also supplement the overall sound to be a wholesome experience, as if I was at the live show in the movie. However, I could do with a more dynamics on the instrument sound. It was a bit flat compared to he vocal.



Gurindam Jiwa by M Daud Kilau and Tak Seindah Wajah by S M Salim

M Daud Kilau, although some might see him as a weird singer, but in the local industry, he is one of the golden oldie artist that can deliver a very traditional vocal sound. On this track, the ATC combo managed to capture the emotion of this track and reproduce it with a very huge presentation with a deep focus on his vocal especially when it goes really low.

S. M. Salim is another golden oldie that can bring emotional tears to me especially whne played in the right enviroment and mood. On this track, the ATC kept it simple with high clarity of vocal and detailed note by note bass line. The violin also sounded sharp and full of energy. High level of dynamics were maintained throughout the track that made it very lively eventhough its a slow number.

THE CONCLUSION

The ATC SCM40A is a pair of speakers that will not only give you a highly detailed musical presentation but also huge and enveloping soundstage that will make you listen for long hours and try out different tracks frlom different genres. It was a pleasing experience eventough it was mainly digital based experience. Never once I felt fatigue listening to the his combo.

Who is this speakers for? First of all, it is for someone who wants a fuss free and headache free speakers. You do not need to worry about amp and speaker matching challenge and you will get the flexibility of choosing just the pre amp. I will explain more in my next article on CDA2 MkII.

Secondly, if you want strong presence of vocal and non fatigued experience of high frequency, the ATCSCM40A excels in this. Melodious and full of energy. You will be able to experience this across your listening area.

Thirdly, it is for those who wants best of both worlds; sound and view. The SCM40A is a looker compared to my PMC. 

Is it a bass nutter? Not really, it delivers clean bass but it will not shake your house down. This helps to even further deliver a strong musical sound, huge soundstage but will not give you listening fatigue at all.

The SCM40A is a worthy speakers for those looking for to upgrade/purchase a new pair of speakers and amplifier. The SCM40A is priced at RM46,750 and the CA2 MK II pre amp is at RM 12,500.

Please contact Kenny on 019-2813399 for audition.









Tuesday, 29 January 2019

PRO AUDIO TECHNOLOGY - All Kind of Rumbles





Home Theater scene has quite a big following in Malaysia. Based on the activeness of some FB groups, a lot of enthusiasts seems to be very contented with their set up. Names like Yamaha, Pioneer and Denon are the common and mostly used  by them. In the recent years, names like SVS and Rhythmik Audio have been popping around to dominate the subwoofer market.... and I thought I have listened to them all. Indeed I was wrong when today, James Tan of AV Designs  showcased me with 2 subs and its DSP module  from Pro Audio Technology.

I spent about 2 hours there where went through a number of movies and concert scenes which includes John Wick 2 shooting scene in the club,  War of the World alien arrival scene and also U2 concert.

First of all, AV Designs currently have on demo 2 sub models, the LFC-10sm and LFC-14sm, controlled by the PMA DSP module. They are still fine tuning the complete set up in the main HT room with the PMC fronts but I demoed the one in the smaller room with the Bryston fronts.

A little on the specs:

LFC-10sm

  • Extreme long throw, 10 inch driver
  • Compact enclosure but not an ordinary design. It reminds me of a car sub for ICE, placed in the boot.
  • DSP optimized performance 
  • 90dB sensitivity
  • 1000 W power handling
  • 22Hz - 80 Hz FR
  • Weighs 57 lbs
LFC-14sm
  • 15 inch driver
  • Ultra compact enclosure 16 x 16 x 12 inches
  • Weighs 49 lbs
  • 1000 W power handling
  • 22Hz - 80 Hz
  • 90 dB sensitivity
NOTE: Both models require to be matched with the PMA DSP module

PMA DSP Processor
  • Installer Prommable DSP Processing for all PRO loudspeakers
  • Software Selectable Input Routing for All Channels Plus Looping Outputs
  • Selectable Acoustic CompensationFilters
  • Configurable Amplifier Channel Powers - 200W, 450W and 1000W
  • Up to 4 channels and 4000W





How Did They Perform?

James have already done all the set up when I arrived. The subs were already callibrated through the PMA processor. First up was John Wick 2 scene. The shooting scene was delivered with such an impactful effect by the subs. The LFC10 was set up at the front of the room while the LFC14 was at the back. Thesub delivered the low extension in a very directional way. The long throw design of the LFC10 gave me a quite a rumble from where I sat. It truly described and delivered the bullet that was shot from side to side or front to back. Its very obvious in the directional feel of the low frequency delivered from the sub. While I prefer a more room filling bass, this directional effect seems to give a more realistic delivery of a shooting scene. First thumbs up.

Up next was the War of The Worlds. Not the best PQ on BD but the audio is superb to test these subs. This is where, both subs gave me a different perspective. The lightning scene and when the robots came out of the ground on the streets, gave me both experience of directional and also room filling effect. The rumbling of the streets cracking open can be felt across the floorboard while the laser shot by the robots were still directional.

So, we all know that movie soundtrack are mixed differently and majority are properly mixed. Now, how does this sub fair playing an old U2 Rattle and Hum concert? Well, it did quite well, kicking out the bass where its appropriate. Not really thud thumping like for the movies but it did blend well into the music.

One distinct character that I like about these subs is that it is dead silence when it should be. The lightning scene in War of The Worlds, the whole room went completely silent once the lightning stop (the scene in the backyard where the clothes on the line stopped swaying)

The Verdict

These subs set up is one serious gear for the HT enthusiasts. Its not really a looker  and may need your Home Minister's blessing but if you have dedicated HT room, these subs can really rock you. Its versatile nature to cope with different bass demands will provide you with a very effective impact. It further delivers the ambient of the scene you are watching.

Do visit AV Designs to experience it yourself.





Friday, 11 January 2019

Accuphase E370 Integrated Amplifier Review – Honest to the Music



Happy New Year to all readers. I am kicking off this year by accepting an offer to write for a Toronto based hifi review poratl and magazine NOVO High End. My first article have just been published on this Accuphase E370 INtegrated amplifier, courtery of HiFi Creations Trading.

You can read my review here - Accuphase E370 Integrated amp review

If anyone is interested to audition this unit, please contact Victor Pheh at 0122962799


Come Away With Me



Turn Me On



Sudirman



Drums



Various






Monday, 31 December 2018

Nura - This Is Not A Headphone or Is It?


If you are on Facebook and like to scout around and talk about HiFi or HeadFi, I am pretty sure the advertisement on Nuraphones is on your feed almost everyday :) I have been ignoring such ads but at one time, I accidentally clicked on it and I started to watch people with their amazed and confused face when they put the headphones on. I started to read up on it a bit and got intrigued with its claims and also some scientific facts on human listening. 

I discussed this a bit with the Mrs as she holds a Doctorate in Audiology and was a Cochlear Implant Specialist. She did say that basically what the Nura is doing is like a hearing test that I go through every 3 years in my main job. But for Nura to then come up with a hearing profile within a minute, that is something she said might be a manipulation of sound. So, I had 'no choice' but to order one. LOL!

For the unboxing, setting up and first impression of the unit, you can refer to my El Hefe TV videos. On this review, I will just write about the sound signature of it.

















Love Me Tender by Andrea Bocelli

His vocal sounded deep and rich. A very engaging way to experience the richness of his talent. The bass can be slightly overwhelming but that can easily be overcome by reducing the immersion level.  The overall presentation of this track was leaning towards warm with highly focused and enclosed ambient. 

Take Five by Dave Brubeck

The best presentation of what this Nura can do to your musical enjoyment. Detail, refine and yet still deep with bass texture and jazzy ambient. Best listened to at about 1/3 rd of the immersion scale. Mind you, this most probably be different form one individual to another based on the hearing analysis the Nura has done on your ear. The wind instrument on this track sounded really airy with great dispersion of the notes. The percussion especially on the ride cymbal was at a very enjoyable clarity. The bass digs quite deep especially with the immersion mode on.

The Girl Is Mine by MJ and PM

Fun track to listen to and the Nura presented this track in a very lively and merry manner. One of those that will get you into one of the happy moods especially if you grew up with these kind of music. The drums especially the hi-hat being manipulated can clearly be heard and made me tap along. The bass line although simple was deep and extended the way I like it. The shrilling voice of MJ was nowhere hitting the point of annoying like on some other headphones.

One by Metallica

Sometimes, when I get a really good pair of cans, I wonder why I even bother listening to hifi. On this track, I just realised that James said something during the gunfire opening of the track. The solo intro was so lively that it became emotional. Truth be told, this was the track that made me fall in love with the impact of bass drum. Its hard hitting but at the same time subtle enough to present this war track in its true sense. Once the heavy guitar riffs kicked in, it truly delivered the metal music that I like to listen to. Kirk's solo sounded melodic and James's growls was natural sounding.  


Rogue One - Movie

I use headphones for watching movies too. Having this movie on my Samsung S9, can't help but to test the Nuraphones with this movie. It was definitely a more immersive experience watching this movie with the Nuraphones especially during laser shooting scene or rumbling sound of explosion scenes. Sharp and unclustered sound on vocals even though in a noisy war scene.


Conclusion

I can say that this is my 2018 revolutionary HeadFi product. Something that is different from the typical new HeadFi product. At a fraction of a high end headphone price, you get a list of features that makes mainstream headphone brands seems like a rip off. Stable Bluetooth connectivity, Noise cancelling, music control (by tapping left cup), volume control (by tapping right cup), auto on and off when you put on the headphones and when you take them off and a plethora of customizable controls.

Inova (TM) is their patented architecture that combines in-ear and over-ear headphones. The inner buds deliver clearer melodies while over the ear cups deliver the bass that you can feel. 

The best part of it, the bass that it produces does not drown the mids and highs of any track especially the vocals. The bass reproduction is natural, tight and delivered with speed and authority. I guess they may be right about the fact that sounds remains the same but its human hearing that differs from one person to another.

At the price I bought with 20% discount, its a no brainer and can easily match the sound quality of Sony or BOSE NC BT headphones. Heck, when it comes to wireless headphones, I must say this is the best I have so far.



Wednesday, 7 November 2018

PMC Cor Integrated Amp - Retro In Looks, Fluid In Musicality


If you already have a series of award winning speaker designs and top notch studio capability, what will you do next? PMC, a name heavily associated to the ATL design have come up with its own 25th year anniversary amplifier design, aptly named as Cor.

AV Designs, the sole local distributor of PMC brand, loaned me a unit as I wanted to hear how my PMC Twenty5.24 would sound with this matching amp. I had my doubts as the wattage is lower than my resident MF amp but given its the similar design philosophy with speakers which aims for musicality, transparency and neutrality. The amp aims to neither add nor take away anything from your source,

The Specifications and Built

The COR is a pure analogue Class A/B integrated amplifier which can deliver 95 wpc into 8 ohms and 140 wpc into 4 ohms. Compared to my MF at 200 wpc, it would be interesting to hear how this COR can deliver the music that I listen to. Although there is always that question of what is there in power, but to me it is still very critical to ensure that any model can blend in nicely into a set up.

The chassis looks like a mix of modern and vintage amp. If it was in black, one may mistook it as  new Playstation 5 game console. It may appeal to most but some may have some reservation. Measuring at 432 mm x 87.5 mm x 401 mm and weighs 12 kg, I classify this amp as a moderately sized equipment.

One unique feature that I seldom see on modern amps are the bass, treble and balance function where the slider is actually a motorized version where you can change the settings using the remote. These functions which usually are seen to be a non-purist approach is however designed precisely to give very small step change when being used.

The amp is sturdily built. The chassis is of aluminium and built to precision. However, the industrial look may not appeal to all. On the fron fascia, you get a huge volume knob, a series of input selection buttons, mono and a bypass button for the purest signal.

The treble, bass and balance function works on a small motor where they can even be controlled via the remote and you will see the slider slides left and right. There is a small LED on each to assist you getting back to the 'zero' level.

The remote is made of solid metal and relatively heavy. It does feel a bit industrial operating it. The unit I had for demo had some sensitivity issue as the amp sometimes does not respond immediately. However, I was told that PMC has rectified this in their later production.

My favourite part was actually the big PMC logo on the bottom left of the unit which actually is an on/off/standby touch screen button. It turns blue when on and turns red on standby.

Ins and Outs

Simplicity is part of the COR where there are 1 x balanced, 4 x single ended RCA and 1 x direct inputs.

For the outputs, it comes with a pair of 4 mm binding posts and also a preamp out if you wish to connect to a power amp.

The Session

I decided to only use digital source for this review, mainly from the SONY HAP Z1 ES. This is because in the recent months, there was a debate on how this Hi Res player is not capable to really deliver good sound reproduction due to its lower output level compared to other modern digital sources. 

Fields of Gold by Sting in WAV 16/44
On this track, the Cor delivered quite an airy and huge sound. It emphasizes clarity on the mids. The vocal was engaging and upfront, giving an impression of free flow musicality. It delivers quite an emotional presentation.

Where Did The Children Play by Cat Stevens in AAC 16/44
The simplistic guitar intro was surreal. High level of tranparency. Vocal was again the highlight where Cat Steven's voice was ver engaging. Even the plucking of the bass sounded natural.

La Mer by Kevin Kline in MP3 320 kbps
Another track that really focuses on vocal. The deep voice of Kevin was reproduced with such an energy that I actually forgot that this was in a less superior format of MP3.

Take Five by Dave Brubeck in DSD
What can I say, the fluidity of the Cor was well defined through this track. The wind instrument was full of life and coupled with the punchiness of the percussion provided a very lively presentation. It did not suffer any sign of fatigue to deliver this track.

Japanese Roots by Takedake in WAV 16/44
The ultimate satisfaction came from this track. It hit me with a bang with layer and layer musical instrument can be heard. It was well balanced across a hugh spectrum without comprimising the clarity of any of signature sound.

Way Down Deep by Jennifer Wearnes in DSD
With the PMC Twenty5 24 being driven by the Cor, the bass that came out from this track was really punchy and extended in a certain way. It digs quite deep but without any boominess experienced in my hall. The speakers, given the wrong choice of amp, may sometimes give me a boomy bass. 

The Book of Morris Johnson by Zee Avi in WAV 16/44
This track however sounded a bit thin on the bass. Usually, this would be one of my reference in getting some good but fun bass. However, I did not manage to get the usual experience I get from this track. Somehow, the Cor tamed the bass a bit on this one.

Enter Sandman by Metallica in FLAC 24/192
Now for a more overall observation, I put on this track to see how the Cor performance is when pumping out a speedier and more attacking track. Kirk's shredding guitar sounded ferocious and can really pump up my adrenalin. Lars's drumming sounded bold and authoritative. 




The Conclusion

The purest amp I have heard to date at this price point. It excels in delivering a very musical and engaging presentation and matches with PMC speakers. It does not struggle to allow the PMC speakers to deliver the bass that it is known for.

The transparency and high level of clarity may not appeal to all especially for those systems that are bass shy. You may find the sound is a bit flat and sterile. It is very sensitive to the source that you play with. A bad recording may sounds worst through this amp but feed it with top notch recording, it will sing gracefully. Even by using the Sony, it does not suffer from any dullness in delivering the Hi Res quality music to me. 

It is again an amplifier that deserves a listen if you are looking for a pure and honest sound. It will not make you jump out of your seat for shear wow factor but it will engage you at an emotional level.

For a demo, kindly contact James Tan or Tony Low of AV Designs.









Friday, 26 October 2018

Music For Health: El Hefe, Maxx HeadFi and PETRONAS Collaboration


Back on August 15th, I was requested to give a talk on my health transformation journey and part of that journey involves music and my passion in hifi. For that talk, Maxx HeadFi was gracious enough to provide a sponsorship to promote healthy lifestyle for all PETRONAS MPM staff. Not only PETRONAS staff will get 10% discount on any headphones purchased from Maxx HeadFi but also 2 units of JVC sports earphones were given to award the most improved male and female runners before the big Putrajaya Night Run marathon event on 27th Oct. This marked the very first collaboration between El Hefe, Maxx HeadFi and PETRONAS.



Today, 26th October, the winners of the award were announced in a small informal event in the PETRONAS Twin Towers office. Max Loh of Maxx HeadFi was kind enough to be present in the event where he presented the 2 JVC earphones units to Sharina and Nghi as the top female and male runners with regards to mileage.

Special thanks to Max Loh who came all the way rom Seremban to hand over the gifts to the award receipient. We hope to see more involvement of hifi companies in promoting music as part ofthe health therapy.











Saturday, 13 October 2018

Custom Made Solution - Can It Provide the Satisfaction?


In the local HiFi scene, I am thankful that I have always had the opportunity to review some of the local products such as Stoner Acoustics DACs, KOGA amps, Doc TT SUT, Captain Sph SLAT TT, HiFiCreations Arpaggio, Frank Powerbank etc. Each of the product have its own flavour and I know,  there are many local and international audiophiles have them in their system. But this particular product is one that I have never had my hands on. Mainly due to logistic challenges as the designer is based in Melaka, about 3 hours drive away and his product is huge and heavy. 

Ben's Audio is a name that have been the talk of the local customs made amp group for the past few years. Although I am in contact with the designer off and on, but we have never had the chance to collaborate for a review to be done. One particular lucky audiophile in Melaka went through a custom made journey with Ben and his monoblocks are now residing as a reference to the owner Faisal or fondly known as CB. It is paired with a pre amp, also designed by Ben and Gyrodec TT, Trichord phono and Harbeth and Audio Note speakers to complete the set up.


Last Saturday, 6th October 2018, I had the chance to spend 3 hours listening to these monoblocks. It was not a critical review session but more on a first impression, for fun and giggles with the owner. I also had the pleassure to listen to them with 2 different pair of speakers. 



I didnt bring my recording microphone along, hence the sound quality may not be representative. So, to make it more interesting and fun, I have combined the videos of the 2 speakers being played with Ben's monoblocks and I will let you guess which speakers is represented by my description below.

First up, this Sheila Majid LP was presented in a huge soundstage and airy ambience. You can feel that the monoblocks elevated the overal sound to be a bit more orchestral. The percussion sounds more dispersed rather than splashy or hard hitting. I could do with a little bit more low end bass. But the detail and clarity is of the higher level of transparency.

After about an hour or so, we took a break and enjoyd a cuppa with local curry puffs courtesy of the Mrs. Then the next set of speakers were hooked up. Now, this is acompletely different presentation. With the second speakers, the music flows naturally with a smaller staging but it came with a solid body sound. Bass was tighter with loads of grip. It hits harder and digs deeper while retaining that valve sound. 

Now, both speakers have high-ish sensitivity, 86 and 93. And the monoblocks were delivering 20 wpc. However, I feel that monoblocks was less of a match for the speaker with the higher sensitivity, mainly due to the lack of subtance in low end frequency. 



We played other LPs as well just to ensure the comparison was evident with other higher quality LPs and the similar sound character was experience in both speakers.

On the whole, Ben's Audio monoblocks does match beautifully with one of the speakers. A journey which took the owner Faisal and Ben over a year to get that fine tweaks in the design to match well with his choice of speakers. It provided Faisal the body of the music that he desires and at the end of the day, we let go of any technical approach of the session and just enjoy the music. And at one stage, when I start to get goosebumps and I just close my eyes and let my head shake and feet tap to the rhythm of the music, thats the ultimate satisfaction that I got from this custom made monoblocks and the set up of Faisal. And I am quite sure he enjoys his set up a lot too.










Saturday, 8 September 2018

Exploring The Homes of British HiFi - Part 1 on Audio Note





August 2018 marked the month where yours truly went for a solo trip to fulfill 3 different missions. One of the mission is actually to explore and experience a couple of British brands in their own designer's den. The first stop on 29th August 2018 was in Brighton which coincides with my visit to my alma mater. Brighton is where one audiophile can pay a visit and experience Audio Note. Although I didn't manage to visit the manufacturing or the headquarter itself, I managed to get a couple of hours to visit the Audio Note Lounge, located at No. 25, Montefiore Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN3 1 RD. Dale Linzey (owner/distributor) carries mainly Audio Note and my favourite brand for a long time, Musical Fidelity. He also carries the Roon Nucleus if you are into streaming.


My jaw literally dropped when I first stepped into the shop as this is actually the first time I see with my own eyes, a huuuuuugggeee record collection. All these whiles it was just on the internet. That alone gave me goosebumps. I am sure Dale was skeptical of the purpose of my visit all the way from Malaysia but after explaining that I am not on any official duty as a reviewer but its more of a social visit, things got relaxed a lot. And I did mention to him that my listening experience to Audio Note during the KLIAV show in the past few years, left me a big question mark  on why people are so hyped up about Audio Note. I was far from impressed with the performance so I decided to really listen to them where it all started.


Since I only had only a couple of hours, we decided to use Roon as our source for the day. Various tracks were played, mostly based on my preferred tracks like Dave Brubeck's Take Five, Jennifer Wearnes etc. What I experience on that day was completely the opposite to what I heard in KLIAV show. Audio Note set up was lively, accurate and fast. Bass was well delivered and had a certain level slam that I am amazed of. The vocals through this set up was sweet and luscious with no sign of sounding too high of a pitch. I could do with a little bit more of mids to have an overall balance experience but that was negligible. 
















We also chatted about our experiences with various Musical Fidelity equipment. Truth be told, I was feeling rather dissapointed that the legendary MF brand was sold to Project recently, loosing its British grounds for the future products. 20 years I have been with this brand ranging from A1, XA1, XA50, XDAC, XACT, XRay, XCAN, V1 to V3 of X Series, KW550 Superchargers, M1 DAC, ViNL, PWR, CDT, M6 DAC and M6i amp. I must say I am currently quite lost with regards to the future of MF quality. But after talking to Dale whom is an MF enthusiast as well, I am well convinced now that I shall stick Musical Fidelity at the moment.

Back to Audio Note, I came out of the venue with a totally 180 degree turn on my perspective of Audio Note. Given the right room and was set up properly, It can sound B-E-A- utiful.

Thanks Dale for accommodating my request. Your CDs are on the way.