Friday, 13 July 2018

SONY WF-SP700N Wireless Earbuds - Did Sony Did It Right?

After a major dissapointment of the first model, I did not put too much hope on this new model. But my first impression on this unit was actually the opposite.


Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Jacintha To Visit KL International AV Show 2018





Ask any music lover who's Jacintha and they will happily tell you of the singing sensation from Singapore that left a huge impression among audiophiles with two of her CD albums "Here's to Ben' - A Vocal Tribute to Ben Webster ! (1998) and a follow up hit, 'Autumn Leaves:  The Songs of Johnny Mercer' (1999)

Recorded under the audiophile  Groove Note label these two  albums quickly became must have demo discs for virtually every hi-fi showroom here in Kuala Lumpur as well as Singapore and are today regarded as among the better audiophiles recordings ever made. 

Jacintha or Ja as she is known to friends will be making an appearance at the KL International AV Show 2018 at the Groove Shop booth to meet fans as well as present and autograph her latest album ' Fire And Rain' released under the Groove Note label.

Most audiophiles know Jacintha only as an accomplished singer but her actual achievement is not limited  only to her singing and includes a string of distinguished achievements in the  theatre as well. Jacintha is a founding member of a performance company Theatre Works.
             
Do you remember these two, now iconic audiophile CDs?  Every hi-fi outlet here in K.L. and south of the border stocked them.

According to Raja Durai of Groove Shop the entire collection of Jacintha's works will be available in LP form at their booth at the coming KL International AV Show 2018 at the Sunway Putra Hotel July 20-22.

For further details contact:
Groove Shop at 012 3345801

Saturday, 23 June 2018

SONY HAP Z1 ES - A No Nonsense Hi Res Audio Player Part 1

This player have been in my system for more than 2 years and it still amazes me how SONY engineered this masterpiece. Here in Malaysia, the unit is one of the unspoken hifi piece of equipment eventhough a number of audiophiles and reviewers does have at least one unit in their system. Some have 2 units.

I decided to do a feature on this unspoken unit and this is Part 1 as an introdution.



Friday, 1 June 2018

El Hefe TV Is Launched


I am trying out something new. A video channel to supplement the blog. Look out for new updates via the channel as well on Youtube.

Look for El Hefe TV

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Perfect HiFi Gets The Mighty Kronos Dealership



What can I say? I still love Kronos. I mean everything about it, just make sense. Even the price is relatively attractive for a high end equipment. After a few years  since its debut in Malaysia, the Kronos brand dealership has landed to Perfect Hifi effective 18th May 2018.

To commemerate the occasion, Perfect Hifi hosted a launch event at their KL branch where Kronos legend, Louis Desjardin was in town to give an update of whats new. The event was done on 19th May where most of the hifi who's who was present including Mr. Dick Tan, Erik Goh, Lam Seng Fatt, Dato Danon, Yong Fan Shing etc.

It was a simple do but an exciting one as for the first time, I get to experience the new Kronos phono stage among other enhacements to the Kronos Pro. Paired with Audio Research and Sonus, the audience were generally amazed with the clarity and 'quietness' of the Kronos. 

Louis was his usual jovial self and explained to the audience what is the meaning of a complete and true analogue source. The basis of the design is to reproduce, as close as possible to the original master tape. The Kronos Reference Phono Amp is a 2 chassis design that sits firmly on a Kronos SCPS stands that was designed  to isolate resonance.

While we wait for the glorious sound to be show cased in the upcoming KLIAV show 2018, have a listen here.




















Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Getting Jiggy With SYZYGY - A New Sub in Town


SYZYGY Acoustics is relatively new here in Malaysia where the launch of their product was just done a few months ago in AV Designs new flagship store. The company was founded by a team of audio specialists who have been leaders in various well known premium audio brands in the USA, Canada and Europe. Based out of Princeton, New Jersey, this company offers a unique wireless solution for your subwoofer needs. Not only its wireless, it comes with a dedicated software app to fine tune the sub into your existing set up for both HT and 2 channel audio.

Given the chance to be the first to review this subwoofer in Malaysia, I quickly jump on the opportunity when Tony Low of AV Designs offered to send this unit around together with PMC 25.23 speakers (speakers is another story where I am in the midst of choosing a replacement to my already sold ProAc D18). I was given the the SLF 850 model which comes complete with the wireless module.

Specifications

Driver Size:10"

Type:Acoustic Suspension

Amplifier Power:1,000 Watts

Frequency Response:24-200 Hz

Room Output:104 dB

Dimensions:12.5" cube

Weight (net):28.4 lbs

Wireless:Yes

Analog RCA In (LFE):Yes

Auto Standby:                                                                                                                                     Yes

The unit uses BASH amplification where it delivers the high efficiency of a Class D amp but with the immersive sound quality and dynamic power of a Class A/B design. It gives out a high current, high output and low distortion.

Setting Up
Syzygy uses SoundSculpt Technology where the subwoofer makes a 3D sonic map of its space followed by an adjustment to its output to smooth out any aural peaks and valleys. During the set up, the unit sends out series of tones (just like a hearing test but it goes really low and loud) that measure the shape and size of the room, position of furniture and how your home decor absorbs and reflects sound. This data is capture by your smartphone or tablet and sent back to the unit where it is corrected and perfected to produce a seamless blend to your speakers.

WARNING! The signals generated during the set up go really low. It did rattle some of my furniture.

For the room acoustics adjustment, it uses Digital Room Correction hence its not really picky with the position of the sub.

All this is done wirelessly from your tablet or smartphone. Its like subwoofer setup for dummies :)

Do note, not all android phones is compatible to the app. My Blackberry KeyONE could not detect the subwoofer so had to resort to my Samsung Tab.

You can also turn the unit on and off from the app in which it is very useful to differentiate the sound from your set up with or without the sub. The unit also has an auto standby function where it will go on sleep mode after prolong time without any music signal.


The package comes complete with the transmitter and the receiver is already built in the subwoofer itself. All the cabling is also supplied plus the power plugs for the transmitter. You still have the option of connecting the sub using RCA but for me, I have put the sub at the rear of my listening position. The subwoofer can set up as front firing or down firing.

Rear sub set up

Transmitter





The Tracks

1. I Just Cant Stop Loving You by Michael Jackson - DSD
2. New York New York by Andrea Bocelli and Tony Bennet  - FLAC 24/192
3. Money For Nothing  by Dire Straits -  WAV 16/44
4. Kitakan Bersama by Ammarah - WAV 16/44

The Session - 2 Channel


I Just Cant Stop Loving You

With this Michael Jackson track, I can now feel a more enveloping experience on my 2 channel set up. The bass at times can be a bit overwhelming, hence I lower down the volume from the app. With the added sub, it does not just bring up the low end notes from the bass guitar drums, but it gives out quite a warmer overall experience and a tad of deepness in the vocal. With this kind of music, it can easily create a very emotional ambience for the listeners.


New York New York

For a more cheerful atmosphere, I put on this duet by Andrea Bocelli and Tony Bennet in one of their open air concert in New York. Given the live performance, I somehow didnt get too emotional when I listen to this track before even with its catchy tune. But with the Syzygy in play, again it gave a richer presentation where the overall presentation was taken up a notch in the liveliness and deep bass ambience. A track that sounded flat before is now more entertaining and emotionally expressed in a better way. No adjustment was needed on the sub.


Money For Nothing

A must have test track for bass heads. I was expecting heavy distortion on this track as I am paring the Syzygy with a set of speakers which are known to be bass heavy.. But I was wrong. The Syzygy instead gave a richer presentation to this track. I can feel that the music was all around me. The unit did not give out pulsating sensation  from the rear but what it does it fills up the void a 3D experience for me. It was indeed avery unique experience. This was one track that I did not need to adjust anything on the sub setting. The drums on this track was heart pounding with the Syzygy giving a very enveloping ambience.


Kitakan Bersama

Trying it with a a heavier ballad from this Singapore based band Ammarah, again the Syzygy added warmer ambience to this track. The bass again became a bit overwhelming, hence I lowered the volume. Even though it emphasises on the bass, it did not at anytime drown the vocals and the shredding guitar works. With the Syzygy, it definitely added more grunt to this track which suits the musical genre that Ammarah carries. 


The Session - Home Theater (5.1.2)

I also took the liberty to hook up the unit to my ATMOS set up replacing my SVS sub which is also on wireless mode. Paired with PMC 20.23 fronts, PMC Centre, SVS rear and Elevate speakers, the Syzygy was set up using the apps again and the I rerun the calibration on my Denon AVR.

Playing The Justice League movie, the Syzygy gave out quite a forceful bass response; enough to feel the vibration on my sofa. It does not give out the grunt that I get from my SVS but it is adequate to rumble some of the basic HT set ups I have seen around. Maybe the 12" model will give a more satisfying low frequency effect.

Conclusion

I was first skeptical about adding a sub to my 2 channel set up especially having the PMC speakers which are known to be bass heavy with its ATL technology. But given that the PMC 25.23 is inadequate for my hall, the Syzygy complement the speakers nicely. What confuses me is that the fact that I have to change the volume on the sub for different musical genre. It does a good job with creating the fulfilling envelope that wraps listener in emotion but having to change the volume, it gets a little bit troublesome.  But if you get that sweet spot, having a sub in your 2 channel system will give you wonders towards your low notes and that warmer ambience.  And with the wireless technology, you do not have to run long RCA cables if you wish to place your sub further from your set up. You do need a spare plug point though for the transmitter.

The Syzygy is a compact unit but offers flexibility of placement and can be set up for both 2 channels and HT. Room size still is important but there is always a bigger model that complement a bigger room.

Thank you to AV Designs for loaning both the PMC 25.23 and Syzygy sub.

Syzygy and PMC are exclusively distributed by AV Designs. For a demo, please call Tony on 012-2330771 or James on 016-3280237

Gear

2 channel
  • Source - Sony HAP Z1 ES
  • Amp - Musical Fidelity M6i
  • Speakers - PMC 25.23
  • Cabling - Vermouth Audio Black Pearl
Home Theater
  • Source - Oppo UDP205
  • LCR - PMC 20.23 and Centre
  • Rear - SVS
  • ATMOS - SVS Elevate
  • Amp - Denon 6200
  • Cabling - QED










Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Dali Spektor 2 speakers – small boxes, big stage


Article mirrored from Audiofi.net, published on 18th April 2018

DALI SPEKTOR 2 standmount speakers

+ Unsurpassed detail; huge soundstage for small speakers; balanced tonality.

– Maybe not for poor recordings.
Sound: 9/10
Value: 9/10

WHEN I was asked to review a pair of bookshelf speakers, I wondered – how do I do it, given my bias for floorstanders? I’ve had my fair share of bookshelf speaker experience over the years, from the likes of JPW, Heybrook, Mission, Epos and PMC. But after a while, I look for a floorstander to fill the musicality gap that I yearn for.
I took the Dali Spektor 2 mainly because I had never reviewed a Dali speaker before. The conclusion is an interesting one. Read on, folks…
Looking at the specifications, I kept my expectations to the minimal. A low sensitivity of just 84dB and nominal impedance of six ohms – I was hoping my Musical Fidelity M6i amp could provide sufficient grunt to drive these speakers.
Fresh out of the box, the Spektor 2 offers a well-built cabinet, with a high quality of workmanship and finish relative to the price point. Attention to detail and appearance seems to be on the positive side.
These are small compared other bookshelf speakers I used to own, with a height of 29cm and should fit nicely in a small-to-medium size room. It has just a pair of binding posts as the speaker terminals.
LISTENING
It had been awhile since I last played Time to Say Goodbye by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman. This was the first track I put on, hoping that I would not be hit by the brightness through the Spektors. My jaw dropped – the track sounded extremely pleasing to my ears, with no shrill or excessive treble. The first impression was that of the ambience of a concert hall.

Bocelli’s vocal did not suffer any lack of low-end notes and the high-pitched voicel of Brightman, was delivered with a luscious and sweet intonation. Vocals seems to be one of the Spektor’s positive traits. This, however, I already expected as my experience with other bookshelves has been similar – sweet vocals and clarity.
Now, a little bit of the bass test. Kicked in the Take Five track by Dave Brubeck. The Spektors maintained the sound stage with more distinction in clarity and detail. The percussion solo on this track was delivered with authority, with quite hard-hitting bass for the cabinet/driver size. However, the magical part was actually the saxophone on this track – airy, spacious and yet, not drowned by the piano and low-end notes. Everything was cohesive to each other. But I wanted more bass. Yes, more…
Way Down Deep by Jennifer Warnes was the one that made me forget about floorstanders for a moment. The Spektors can really dive deep for those heavy bass requirements. No sign of distortion coming from the speakers but it did rattle my furniture a bit, even at my usual listening level. I can easily say that the belief of bookshelf not being able to deliver enough bass was diminished instantly. The beauty of this is that it does not drown the clarity nor the treble from the track.
And now for some shredding guitars. Boo Hoo Clapping Song from local heros Carburetor Dung was up next. The opening guitar and drum solo literally pumped up my adrenalin and I started to drum along to this track. The guitar, even though coming from the angst of punk music, sounded energetic and melodious. No shrills but just thrills. Again, when the vocals kicked in, neither the bass or treble overwhelmed the clarity of the vocals.
The final track was by The Wonders, That Thing You Do. This, however, was a bit bright, as the highs can be a bit extreme. Quite surprising as this was a pop-ish song that is not so complicated to be reproduced. The bass line, which is one of the track’s melodious parts, sounded a bit flat. It might be the source but then, it sounds quite fine usually.
THE LAST WORD
Do not, I repeat it, do not underestimate the power of a bookshelf. Never again will I do that. Given the right design and amplification, you can achieve satisfaction similar to a floorstander with minimal musicality gap.

The Dali Spektor 2 can handle the complex dynamics of various genres (although pop seems to be a challenge) and the speakers are also very fluid in delivering the musicality. Most of the time, they produced a balanced sound, covering a wide spectrum. For their size, they can also provide you with quite a substantial sound stage.
Gear

Source: Sony HAP-Z1ES HDD audio player / Amp: Musical Fidelity M6i / Wires: Vermouth Audio Black Pearl speaker cable, Audience Au24 SE RCA interconnects, Siltech power cord

Price: £200

Malaysian price: RM1,615

Review sample courtesy of A&L Audio Station (+603-2282 9884) / WhatsApp + 6014 8222 333) / Find your distributor.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

BOSE SoundSport Free - They Did It Right... Well Almost









Seriously good. One of my best BT earphones/headphones purchase. I was hoping for Sony to nail this market of a true wireles earbuds but it failed miserably with my phone. It was disclosed to me that to now, the Sony is only stable with Sony phones and iPhone, but not other android phones.

Connectivity: stable without signal drop over 2 hours today playback. Connect to phone within seconds.

IP4: hopefully this one will last long. I have two other BT earphones.. One died within 3 months, the other 1 year through workouts.

Comfort: fits well in the ear and does not come off even with sweat. Went through rain yesterday without a glitch. Its also quite light.

Controls: the buds are well built that the small buttons are quite stiff. Need to press it stronger than other models to change track, control volume etc.

Noise isolation: Moderate. Reach better isolation at about 60% volume on phone. No leaks though.

Battery life: 5 hours

Looks: To die for.

Sound: 7/10. Belts out jazz, vocal, pop with enough energy to keep you going on your runs. Rock and heavy metal seems to struggle a bit where it can be a bit harsh on the ears. Not a bass oriented buds they are.

Extras: the carrying case cum charger can charge the buds for 2 cycles. I also received a special Bose powerbank for that extra juice.

Very unfortunate Bose Malaysia not bringing in this model. Purchased this in Japan at about RM950.

Overall: 8/10



Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Kuala Lumpur International AV Show 2018 Launch Event


On 21st March 2018 recently, 3DotEvents held their annual launch event for this year's KLIAV show which is scheduled for the 20th to 22nd July, from 10 am to 730 pm. For 2 consecutive year,s the event will be held in Sunway Putra Hotel where it all started 25 years ago. The usual venue of JW Marriot hotel have now seems to be a history for this annual event.

With the theme 'Cutting Edge AV Technology', this year the event will offer consumers with more options in the latest AV technology, Hi Res Audio alongside the usual 2 channel analog and digital based set ups.

The launch event was attended by the usual suspects in the local HiFi and AV industry, marking the continuous support of this event. Among the familiar faces were Tony and James from AV Designs, Joseph Ki, Greg Choong of APS, Kenny Sea of WKH, James Chin, Max Loh of MaxxAudio etc.

Thanks to Shaiful, we managed to get a glimpse of the confirmed exhibitors which includes Jaben Audio and CMY among others.

So mark your calendars avid HiFi and AV enthusiasts.

















Sunday, 11 February 2018

Galeri Seni Piring Hitam - Satu Pengalaman Dimensi Masa




Pi mai pi mai tak boleh nak pi,
Pi lah jugak ke Tasik Cini,
Mana nak carik LP,
Kalau tidak di Galeri Seni.

Setelah beberapa tahun berkenalan dengan Abam Mushtari Mohamad di alam maya melalui Facebook dan Whatsapp, akhirnya sampai juga niat di hati untuk melawat antara pusat khazanah yang penting di Perlis. Dengan hanya ada beberapa jam di sana disebabkan sibuk dengan urusan kekeluargaan di sana, Mushtari Mohamad sudi memberi waktu khusus untuk saya melawat galeri beliau. Tepat jam 1030 malam, 31 Januari 2018, saya tiba di galeri selepas sesi makan malam bersama saudara mara. Salam diberi dan Mush menyambut ketibaan saya dengan senyuman manih tak ingat donya. Hehehe.


Galeri ini diuruskan sepenuhnya oleh beliau. Dengan pengalaman mencari LP di pasaran tempatan dan luar negeri, beliau telah menyusun koleksi piring hitam beliau berdasarkan katalog Discog. Memang teruja dan boleh naik juling tengok koleksi yang disusun rapi.

Sebagai peminat tegar M Daud Kilau, saya tidak melepaskan peluang untuk bergambar dengan LP yang saya tidak miliki. Sayang sekali, walaupun saya telah sengih dengan penuh handsomenya, Mush tidak mahu kasi pinjam sama saya ini LP hehehe.




Selain LP, Mush juga mengumpul kaset2 lama dan juga CD. Saya tahu ada CD yang pernah saya berikan kepada beliau berada di galeri ini terutama CD2 khas dari KL International AV Show yang telah berlangsung selama beberapa tahun sudah.



Tidak melepaskan peluang untuk menandatangani buku pelawat. Dengan ingatan tulus ikhlas, majulah LP untuk negara.




Ruang tamu untuk mendengar LP berada di bahagian depan galeri ini.


Set up yang unik secara tersendiri. Ada beberapa pemain piring hitam di sini. Ada yang menunggu untuk diperbaiki dan ada yang menjadi perhiasan antik. Tapi speakers Tannoy di sini memang adalah satu model yang vintage tetapi masih bertenaga untuk mengalunkan lagu2 kegemaran saya.






Sedikit demo....








Galeri ini juga ada mempamerkan koleksi filem di atas cetakan DVD, Bluray dan juga format yang telah pupus yakni Laser Disc. Selain khazanah music, Mushtari juga ada mepamerkan koleksi unik barang mainan seperti set keretapi stim dan juga Hot Wheels.




Setelah beberapa jam melawat dan mendengar pelbagai LP, abam Mushtari kita menhajak saya minum2 di gerai di hadapan galeri ini. Terima kasih abam Mushtari. Tanpa individu seperti beliau, mungkin satu hari nanti tidak akan ada lagi galeri seperti ini. Satu pengalaman yang unik yang membawa saya ke dimensi masa yang lampau.

Saksikan video pendek ini.