Saturday, 5 November 2011

CD-Less Set Up for Dummies

1st Write Up: 5th Nov 2011

I have been contemplating to write about this for quite sometime now. Finally today had the courage to start the write up. It took me about an hour just to come up with the thread title.

The reason I had the courage today is because I have been receiving quite a few PMs asking me about the basic CAS setup. So I hope to share what my understanding is on this matter.

I chose the title CD-Less instead of CAS because it covers the very essence of the different set up using computer which is putting away the usage of CDs.

DISCLAIMER: This is based on MY understanding and experience in setting up such system. Its neither right nor wrong.

BASIC Definition

CAS (Computer Audio System) - Music files (eg WAV, MP3, FLAC) played by a music software (eg iTunes, Winamp) on a PC/laptop. PC/laptop here refers to the physical unit of a computer, running on Windows or Mac or Linux, equipped with other softwares like INternet Explorer, Micorsoft Word etc and also serve other purpose then playing music. To play music, this unit must be physically ON.

DAS (Digital Audio System) - Music files (eg WAV, FLAC, MP3) played by a media player. Media player refers to a physical unit that its ultimate purpose is just to play music (eg MF CLiC, Bryston BDP1, SB Touch, Olive, Naim Uniti, iPod, iPad). The media player may also still be running on an operating system such as Linux, Mac etc. The music files can be stored on a NAS (Network Access Storage), thumbdrive, external hard disk etc. To play the music, NO PC/laptop is required.

What are the BASIC components?

Given that one would already have an amplifier and a pair of speakers, they can embark into either of these options.


1. PC/laptop/Mac equipped with sound card

2. Softwares eg iTunes, Winamp

3. Music files stored on the PC/laptop or external hard disc


1. Storage device eg external hard disk, NAS

2. Music files stored on the storage device

3. Media player eg MF CLiC, Bryston BDP1, SB Touch etc

BASIC Connection

CAS: 2 options available

1. Using an interconnect with 3.5 mm jack on one end and a pair of RCA stereo on the other hand, connect the 3.5 mm jack to the headphone output on the laptop and the RCA onto the amplifier

2. If your amp has a USB input, use a A-B USB cable. Connect the A side to the laptop and B side into the amp.

NOTE: The PC/laptop needs to be ON in order for you to play music.

DAS: 3 options available, depending on the input available on your chosen media player and storage method. Using MF CLiC as an example here.

1. Wired or wireless network. Connect your NAS using etehrnet cable into your home wifi router. For wired option, use another ethernet cable from your wifi router into the media player.For wireless, follow the instruction of the media player to connect to the wifi router. From the media player, use a pair of RCA interconnect and connect to your amp.

2. Direct USB connection from extenral hard disk/thumb drive. Use standrd USB cable. From the media player, use a pair of RCA interconnect and connect to your amp.

3. Direct USB connection to iPod/iPad. Use the standard Apple cable supplied with your iPod/iPad. From the media player, use a pair of RCA interconnect and connect to your amp.

Add ons


1. Dedicated DAC inbetween the PC/laptop and the amp.

- you can use an optical digital cable to connect from your headphone output into your chosen DAC optical input. This is usually limit the data transmission to 48 kHz. At least I know it works for Mac.

-if your chosen DAC has an asynchronous USB input, use an A/B USB cable to connect your PC/laptop to the DAC.

2. Tube buffer inbetween the PC/laptop and the amp

- a unit like MF 10D tube buffer will usually add some warmth to your system. Using an interconnect with 3.5 mm jack on one end and a pair of RCA stereo on the other hand, connect the 3.5 mm jack to the headphone output on the laptop and the RCA onto the tube buffer.

For all options above, use a pair of RCA interconnect to connect the DAC or tube buffer to your amp.

Where Do You Get the Music Files?

1. Purchase the files directly over the internet and store it onto your chose CAS/DAS storage device

2. Rip your existing CDs into your chosen music file format. Eg: iTunes

3. The best way - pinjam from your kawan Smile

So, there you go, the very basic of CD-less system. I started of using CAS but can no longer tolerate having my laptop crashing every now and then so I have moved to DAS with the following compnents:

1. 2 TB Western Digital NAS connected to Unifi Wifi Router

2. MF CliC connected to wifi router using ethernet cable and via homeplugs.


2nd Write Up: 7th Nov 2011

Streaming Convenience - More Add Ons

So, you have want music in every corner of your house? It used to be very expensive to do this as you have to run speaker wires through walls or over the ceiling to the next room. Plus your amp most probably can only run 2 pair of speakers and you have 10 rooms to fill it up with music.

Lo and behold. No more headaches wallet complaining to do this.

Currently, you have 2 options to stream music all over your house. The following is from the cheapest to the more upmarket ones

1. Wireless
1.1 Wireless via Wifi
Airport Express:

- Works with both Mac and Windows.
- Need to have your laptop/PC ON, so this is under CAS
- Need iTunes running for this to work
- If you have an iPad/iPod Touch/iPhone, you can select the songs you want to play on your laptop/PC from either one of these gadgets.
- The Airport Express (AE) basically connects wirelessly to your existing wifi router where music from your PC will be streamed to the wifi router then to the Airport Express.
- You plug in this AE to a electrical plug outlet in the room you want it to stream songs to, connect and active/powered speakers to this AE, select a song from your iTunes, and voila, you will be listening to music in another room as well. (OK, there is some basic setting you have to do on your PC for the first time usage)
- You can have as many as 16 (if I am not mistaken) of these AE in your house where each of them can be stream the SAME SONG at the same time.
- Each AE can be named (eg lounge AE, kitchen AE) and the volume can be individually controlled from iTunes or your iPad/iPod Touch/iPhone
- Disadvantage - you must have a good, stable and powerful wifi router. Weak wifi signal will cause signal to drop and you will not enjoy the music.
- Main advantage - cheapest available wireless option, can act as wifi router on its own as well and you can also connect to a printer to create a network printer for multiple PC/laptop wireless printing.
-Now, you can also stream directly from your iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone to these AE. BUt how it works is still the same as above: iphone -> home wifi router -> AE
- Want to make it sound better? These AE allow digital optical connection to a DAC.
- RRP: you can find them at RM330 brand new from online Apple store

Second choice would be Squeezebox Touch: However I do not have any experience dealing with this.

Thirdly which is the most expensive is the Sonos wireless system.

Similar concept as AE but does not depend on your home wifi router. It has its own dedicated wifi router, hence does not depend on your home wifi router signal. Less issue on signal dropping.

Depending on your choice of Sonos, some of the units comes with built in amp and speakers. So, thats all you need.

1.2 Wireless via Bluetooth (BT)

As the quality of music streamed via WiFi is as good as the performance of your router, some people wants a more reliable network for streaming. Bluetooth is another technology that has been adapted in music streaming.

The cheapest and simplest unit is the QED uPlay, retailing at about RM280 if I recall correctly. Its plug and play. Its also known as 'The Puck' as it is shaped as an ice hockey puck. It comes with 2 options to connect to your amplifier, either with stereo RCA or 3.5mm jack. It uses Apt-X technology for the BT signal.

The second unit is a more gungho unit by BRIK Audio. I have done a review on this under the Equipment Discussion forum. The unit is called BT Stage. All you need to do is to connect a pair of stereo interconnect from this unit to the amp, and you are done.

For both units, pairing it with any of your BT enabled media player (iPod, iPad, nokia phones, BB phones etc) is simple. Just switch on your BT on your device, search for BT Audio, key in 0000 as the code and voila, you are connected.

2. Wired

Music can also be streamed via ethernet cable, but again, do you want to run a long ethernet cable to other rooms? Very messy.

So, once you have chosen your streamer device eg Sonos, MF CLiC (or even if you have an Oppo BD95 EU blu ray player), you can purchase a pair of homeplug devices to avoid messy ethernet cabling. Make sure your streamer has an ethernet input.

Homeplugs basically use your existing electrical cabling in your house, to send internet data from one point to another. So, basically it is wired.

You take one unit of homeplug. Plug it near your wifi router. Connect a short ethernet cable from you wifi router into this homeplug. Then, take the second homeplug and plug it where you want to stream music to. Connect another short ethernet cable from this second home plug into your streamer.

Thats it. Both of the homeplug units will search for each other via the electrical cable in your home and send data to each other.

NOTE: Both of the plug outlets that you use, must be in the same phase of your home electrical cabling. No issue for homes with single phase wiring. But for 3 phase wiring, have to make sure the plug outlets are in the same phase.

3rd Write Up: 9th Nov 2011

My Set Up

1. First CAS set up (now retired Smile )

Hardware: ASUS - Windows based laptop
Software: iTunes, Foobar

Streamer: Airport Express in Kitchen, Lounge and HiFi Room

DAC: Musical Fidelity X-DAC connected to AE in HiFi Room

2. Second CAS Set Up (now retired Smile )

Hardware: Mac PC

Software: iTunes

Streamer: Airport Express in Kitchen, Lounge and HiFi Room

DAC: ARCAM rDAC connected to Mac via A-USB

3. Now moved to DAS

Hardware: Western Digital 2 TB NAS (also used to stream movies via Oppo BD player)

Software: NIL

Streamer and DAC: Musical Fidelity CLiC

4th Write Up: 15th November 2011

Quoted from The Absolute Sound magazine (2012 High End Audio Buyer's Guide)

Computer Audio is simply put as the playback of digital music files from a computer or hard drive based storage device.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Musical Fidelity M1 ViNL

Now folks, been running the COncept TT through the ViNL for about 8 hours now over 2 days. And my first minute impression of the unit just got better and better.

People might feel that I went over the top with the remark of the missing link in my TT venture but this piece of kit really did gave the BIGGEST improvement compared to when I upgraded my CDP, Amp and speakers. Value for money it is indeed. Especially for someone whom have been facing lows and highs of using TT for the past few months.


As the thread title suggest, it came in the increasingly popular shoebox black ash casing, similar to the other M1 series of CLiC, CDT, DAC and HPA. Relatively lightweight at 3.5 KG unboxed. Nicely finished with the normal 3 pin power cord, another feature that is always good in my book. I dont really like equipments that comes with those 9 Volts plug.

The display window is the similar light blue screen similar to CDT. It is easily legible from about 6 ft away.

The soft buttons for Power/Standby and the list of options between MC and MM and the response curve are very responsive and well laid across the front fascia.


1. 1 pair of RCA MM input

2. 1 pair of RCA MC input

3. 1 pair of RCA output

4. 1 pair of balanced XLR output

5. 1 trigger input

6. 1 trigger output

7. Earth connection

I particularly like the feature of having the XLR output but unfortunately I will not be able to use it as the only XLR input on my M6i amp is used by my M1 DAC. Bummer.


This is the best. Well, at least for me as these features really gave me the biggest improvement. More importantly, I found that music signature that I long for from the TT. I do believe some of this impression I get is due to the fact that my ears are accustomed to MF signature.

1. MC Loading resistor selection

There are 10 options available to choose - 10,18, 25, 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 or 470000 R (ohms).

To be continued....breakfast time...hehehehe...sign off 7:23 am.

Sign in 3:15 pm: Whooooppsss breakfast turn to sending my boy to school turn to errands hahahaha.

Now back to hifi heavan.

With minimal knowledge, what I notice is that the higher the resistor value, the 'louder' the TT sounds. At a 10 o' clock volume on the amp, the TT sounds louder at 47k R and softer at 10R. After few hours of listening, it does not only do that but what it does (to my ears), smoothens some harshness on the high notes at 47K. Tried some 'noisy' LPs, and the harshness on some of them are reduced.

I find myself to like 47K R best for older LPs and 1600 R on new LPs.

For MC, capacitor is fixed at 470 pF.

If you know the resistor specs of your cartridge, its even easier as it is recommended to match the settingns to the specs.


2. MM loading resistor selection

Two options available at 47K and 68K R

3. MM loading capacitor

Eight options available - 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, 350 and 400 picoFarad (pF)

For items 2 and 3, I have no chance to test it.


4. RIAA and IEC

The choice to roll off the output at very low frequencies from the normal RIAA frequency response can be activated by choosing IEC.

On one of my old LPs that is very noisy, choosing IEC sounds much better as it reduces surface noise.

Listening Session

First went in was Diana Krall - Quiet Nights. First track was Walk on By. It sounded really different from my NAD phonostage. One thing for sure, the warm MF signature has been injected into the Concept TT. Very nice indeed. It gave me this chill to the spine. Diana's vocal extremely blends into the entire song.

Then went in my famous Black Dog Bone LP. It sounded less mechanical using ViNL. It took away some part of the 70's sound and gave it more life. Not sure whether thats what you want from your 70's LPs but it did took away a lot of background noise which then gives me a good clean sound with a touch of warmth.

OK, now those LPs have always been good to me eversince I got into TT. Now the greates challenge is those so called 45 RPM audiphiles LPs, namely Metallica.

So went on Ride the Lightning LP. First track on was From Whom the Bell Tolls.

Applying 47K R and IEC, thats when Metallica sounded better than the usual sound I hear using NAD. More liveliness to the overall dull and flat sound previously heard via NAD. At 10 R and RIAA, its not worth listening to.

Next track was Fade to Black. The guitar intro was superb on 47K R and IEC. The drums still sounded a bit flat but there was an improvement.

I am still not convinced with this audiphile grade claim on 45 RPM. But I am glad this ViNL injected some life into my 45 RPM LPs.

Is it that good?

To me, YES. Why? Maybe because I am a novice in LP. Maybe because my forehead has an MF stamp on it. But my ears surely like what they are hearing.

Now, how much did I coughed up for this unit? RM 0.....hehehehe. Not yet paid as I am demo-ing it first. But from the 2 days affair, I will be poorer by RM 3900 soon.

I heard soon also this unit will be reviewed by our resident newspaper columnist hehehe. So for more technical evaluation, watch out for it.

Unfortunately LTB Enterprise does not have an LP set up to test in his shop. So for those who are interested, is best to wait for official review in the papers.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Confined Space: Musical Fidelity M1 HPA

Confined space in general has always been considered as a hazardous area, well at least in the oil and gas industry. There are also people who cannot stand being in a small area or room for a long time due to claustrophobic.

In hifi world,the terms of openness, airy, liveliness etc are widely use to describe how the music flow right from the source to the amp and to the speakers and provide the listener with all these experiences that can be described in the terms above.

Big speakers are usually related to big rooms in order for them to sing. Heck, I got a bashing for buying D18s in putting them in a small room. But hey, me ears are telling me that those speakers are filling up my room with music nicely.

Now, if we often describe the experience we feel with our system to be fulfilling in a given room size, how then there is a big following of so called head-fi??? Whom majority of them have confined their listening pleasure to a set of cans around their ears? Are they missing something that hifi and audiophiles quest for? Cost is no longer a strong reason for people to say that head-fi is cheaper than hi-fi hobby. I have listens to a pair of cans that cost RM25K, nearly double the price of my D18s. And I saw one guy walk away with purchasing it a few months back. !!!!

Enough of rambling. This is a story of how my recently conversion into the dark side was even further darkened by the introduction of Musical Fidelity M1 HPA. Coincidently HPA stands for Head Phone Amp. The idea of using headphones for listening pleasure came to me about 15 years ago but I was not introduced to it properly. I didnt enjoy the confined listening area around my ears. Never got into it again until I got my second child in 2010. Had to start thinking of option to enjoy music without waking up the kid.

Long story short, I went from Musical Fidelity X-Can V2 to X-Can V3 and to M1 HPA within less than 2 years period. And this HPA have further strengthen my believe towards the wonderful dark side of LP.

I have gone through most of the LPs I have now on both D18s speakers driven by MF M6i amp and also a pair of Alessandro Grado MS Pro cans driven by M1 HPA. Both methods gave me a different perspective of the LPs I play.

Here I give you a fe examples.

1. Brand new Diana Krall Quiet Nights - Via the D18s, her vocals were very transparent, fulfilling with a slight touch of low end especially on the Ipanema track. The details of each instrument was defined and well balanced. Of course the LP being brand new, didnt hear any crack and pops. Switch to the MS Pro cans, I didnt loose any of these characteristics. But wait, I gained something else, a sense of space. I feel like I was in the studio where Diana Krall was recording the album. Listening through the cans gave me this enclosed and more control over the reproduction of the album. I though my mind was playing tricks on me. I did the same comparision with Andrea Bocelli's album. It confirms further that confined is not always hazardous Smile

2. Now, vocal-based artists and albums are sometimes easier to comment on their good recording. But how about some heavy metal and rock stuff. Out went Diana and came in Guns & Roses. Still one of my beloved LPs thus fars, Spaghetti Indicent. PLaying Since I dont Have You on D18s just gives me the rocking sensation. The growling guitar of Slash and and the subtle drumming on this track can be considered to me as one of the fine moments of Guns N Roses in their career.The atmospehere it creates in my room was very lively and full of energy. And this was at my normal moderate listening level of 10 o clock on the knob.

Switch to HPA, hhhhhmmmmmm....bass was heaviers and defined, Axl's vocal strength was further refinedwith such balance with the guitar. Its even easier to hear the separation between vocals and instruments used on this track. Again, it gave me this feeling of me being in the recording studio with them.

3. Last example, went in Black Dog Bone. This was an LP from the 70s that is worth every cent (out of Rm40 I paid for it hehehe). I really love the quality (and the simplicity of the recording) from that era. It was clear that the band had fun recording the album. I can really feel that their songs blaring through my D18s have managed to give me this sensation of being in the 70s although I was only born in late 70s.

Switch to HPA and it became a bit too harsh mainly because the cracks and pops were much more evident and the ones that I could tolerate via the D18s, it were too loud for cans.

So, for TT lovers, try out headphones for a more defined experiences with LPs. However, ensure that you are exposed to head-fi properly. Dont make the same mistake I made 15 years ago. Mistake meaning I was listening to a RM15 headphone bought from TTDI pasar malam hehehehe. Get a dedicated headphone amp and a good pair of cans.

Finally, a little bit on M1 HPA.

Its a pure class A headphone amp with low impedance to drive cans with low distortion. I have tested this HPA with 5 different headphones:

1. Alessandro Grado MS Pro

2. Bose Over the Ear

3. Bose QC 15

4. Monster Dr. Dre Beat Studio

5. Sennheiaser PX100

All of them were driven nicely with no sound of stress nor distortion. For moderate listening, 9 o' clock on the knob is sufficient.


The HPA comes in a similar black ash metal shoe box casing like MF's other M1 kit. Sturdily and stylishly builts. Very sleek look. The PSU is built in and power via a good 3 pin plug. I however changed the power cable to QED Conduit just because I had a spare unit.


It comes with the following:

1. 1 x Line input

2. 1 x USB input (like MF other M1 kit, limited to 48 KhZ)

3. 1 x pre out

4. 1 x line out

5. 2 x headphone sockets

There you go. Another M1 kit that made it nicely onto my rack.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Clearaudio Concept Turntable

Write up inspiration: Black Dog Bone -Si Gadis Ayu album - original pressing from 1978 EMI.

It has been 10 days since I bought the TT but this is only the 4th time I get to listen to it due to my work and family commitments. But nevertheless, the experience I am having now while writing this up is out of this world.

So, lets recap the magical day. It must have been the longest 2 days wait for this unit. For everyone's information, I usually will not buy a piece of equipment if a retailer does not have the unit in stock at the point of purchase. Especially if I am to part with a few thousand RM. But nevertheless, past experience with CMY loaning me speakers, cables, etc which cost more than this TT, I only have confidence in them.

But the wait to listen to the sweetness of TT in my own room was still painfull !!!!

So on Monday 19th Sep, I called the retailer late morning to inform him that if the unit is ready earlier than 8 pm, just give me a call as I was ready to leave work early that day hehehe.

But at the end, the unit was only ready by 6 pm due to the heavy rain early in the morning. The retailer waited for the rain to subside before tarnsferring the unit from DU to Sunway Giza.

Two thumbs up for CMY for being punctual. 8 pm - the retailer arrived at my house.

2 boxes came out of his trunk - one with the TT and one with the acryllic dust cover.

Another 2 thumbs up to the retailer for calling me before hand to suggest the Elixir cartridge cleaner. So, there you go. I went out to get the full basic requiement for TT heheheh.

Inventory check:
1. 1 x ClearAudio Concept TT = comes with the Allan key to replace the cartridge, 'level' gauge and various plugs
2. 1 x ClearAudio Dust Cover
3. 1 x Elixir cartridge cleaner
4. 1 x ClearAudio MC cartridge - yes I swapped the MM with an MC
5. 1 x ClearAudio Clamp (CMY brought 2 models - I opted for the heavier Quadro clamp massive SS after comparing the 2)
6. 1 x LP brush
7. 1 x anti static gun

NOTE: Please excuse some of the terms I use if its not the norm for TT lovers.

Out came the TT, belt, sub platter (???) and main platter (???). I can see that the retailer knows exactly what he is doing. Setting up the TT, he also explained to me the parts although as you can see,
I could not really pay attention as I was eager to listen to the LPs I have bought earlier.

Next came out the plug which I opted for the 3 pin plug. But before pluggin it into my PF50 Pure AV, the RCA was first connected to my NAD PP-3 phone pre amp. Yes, this unit somehow does not match the rest of my set up, hence it is actually now hiding behind one of the kit hehehehe.

Then the power kicked in and the retailer switched on the TT to 33 RPM. But then, he further built my anticipation by explaining on how to take care of LPs ...aaaarrrghhhh hehehehe. But thanks for the information.From how to take out the LPs for its sleeve and how to store them. I thought handling CD was delicate. Boy I was wrong.

Then came in the anti static gun. My 1.5 years old daughter was with us throughout the set up. She looked at the gun and wanted to play with it.

First went onto the TT was the brand new Metallica Ride The Lightning album on 45 RPM. Just applied the cleaning brush briefly as this is a brand new LP. So, how did it sound????

Lets recap some info of the TT first:


This unit is actually quite heavy for a 'beginner's TT compared to Rega and ProJect. I particularly like the spike/stud underneath the unit. It made it really stable.
The tone arm however is very light to my shaky hands. I basically did not dare to take off the cartridge protector, let alone sliding the tone arm and dropping it onto the LP. I let the retailer do it for me.
My hands were too shaky hehehehe.

Power Supply

I was actually expecting a sturdier built for this price of TT but nevertheless, it also did not look like an RM10 adaptor. I just hope it will last long.


The RCA interconnect is built in together with the tone arm, so no way to change interconnects unless you change the tone arm.

Now back to sound....

My set up for the first experience is basicallY:

1. TT to NAD PP3 phone stage using the built in RCA
2. NAD PP3 to Musical Fidelity M6i amp using Cambridge Audio interconnects
3. M6i to ProAc D18 sepakers using QED Silver XT Signature cable

First song to kick in was Fade To Black. The first thing I notice is that I have to crank up the volume knob to at least 10 o'clock to get a decent sound.
The retailer mentioned that this is normal for TT. I grant that anything analogue seems to have a lower volume output. Same like my cassette deck.

But then, the guitar plucking at the beginning of the song did not give me that sensational feeling I was looking for. I had to put on the CD version of the track just to reconfirm this feeling.
True enough, at that point, I felt that CD gave me more sensational feeling. Getting a bit worried here.

So what went wrong? Where is that beautiful sweetness LP sound that I heard in CMY..both Sunway Giza and One Utama??

And then.....the retailer put on the first clamp (notice that above, I did not use any clamp). The first one is lighter (cant recall the model). But I can immediately hear the difference in the sound.

I guess the clamp does provide better levelness onto the LP spinning. Repeated Fade to Balck and this time the TT carried a heavier sound signature with the guitar plucks seems to be alive.

Sat through the whole song wit a smile on my face. And yes, you guess right. I then requested for the heavier Quadro clamp to be put on.

And things just got better. I basically forgot that the CD version is still playing on Repeat 1. Hehehehe.

With the Quadro, the whole song sounded more open, without loosing the grip on low ends and there was no sign of harshness on the high ends.

Ok, that is so called the audiophile grade of LP.

Lets go to the basic of 33 RPM LP.

Off with the Metallica and came in Guns N Roses Spaghetti Incident, courtesy of Mugenfoo generous offer to sell it to me. Its a Venezuelan pressing...rare indeed.

I cant stop smiling listening to the growling guitar of Slash on Since I Dont Have You before the drums kicked in. The sound of every tom and snare of the drums are echoed precisely to my ears liking.

Now, my ProAc can really sing with this TT. For this, I didnt bother to compare to the CD version as I know that the CD version will loose the battle.

Hmmmm... all good for the new LPs. How about the old one?

I bought the Black Dog Bone LP in Amcorp mall for RM41. Physically there was only one slight deep scratch, luckily only on the last track. I was actually worried that it can damage the cartridge but the retailer said that it should be ok.

This is when I was hit with the biggest confusion in my 15 over years hifi venture. This LP sounded so much alive compared to the new LPs I bought.

Literally, it gave me this feelings of being in the 70s and all I wanted was to put on a bell bottom jeans Smile. Sound exagerating right? But thats how I felt.

The raw but genuine guitar chords was simply amazing. And the sound of the drums which I think was set up hollow in the recording, gave me this feeling that the band really enjoyed making the album.

It was completely set up by 9 pm and I was another CMY's happy customer.

I only continued playing the TT at midnight after the kids are asleep. till 3 am hahahaha. And I was late for work the next day.

But then, the TT went on sleep mode from Tuesday night till tonight Monday night.

Back on Black Dog Bone and thats when I deciede to write this review.

But, its a different experience tonight.

What is the different????

I rested the ProAc D18....and listen to the TT using my newly acquired Musical Fidelity M1 HPA headphone amp, feeding music into my Grado Alessandro MS1 Pro.

But thats another review on its own.

NOTE: For all you TT lovers out there, try listening to your beloved TT via headphones. Its another whole new experience.


1. Easy to set up with plug and play approach

2. Suitable for beginners who would want a mid entry level TT

3. Well built, you will realise where your money is spent on - build and sound quality

4. Having a decent clamp can do wonders to the sound

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Yamaha RXV-2067 and Oppo BDP 95 EU

This review is long overdue due to some technical glitches I was having after I purchase the Yamaha RXV 2067 during the KLIAV 2011.

Before that, I would like to recap some of my ventures into the digital video medium. Putting aside the VCD era in 1994 to 1997, I first ventured into DVD when it was first launched in UK in 1998, i purchased the sony first dvd player that cost me 500 pounds. At that time, the discs were so scarced and cost up to 30 pounds each. Life was simple then because there was only one superior audio format which was Dolby Digital. At that time, I owned a Sherwood 925 AV RECEIVER which was a Dolby Digital ready meaning it can accept the 5.1 audio via 6 RCA cable and let the player decode the sound. I was a happy camper until....

DTS and multi region players came along in year 2000. I opted for the famous Wharfedale DVD player for 99 pounds, purchased from Tesco. At that time, DTS only came in Region 1 DVDs so I started purchasing DVDs online from USA. Aaaaahhh but the Wharfedaleplayer does not have onboard decoding, so thats when I purchased the Yamaha RXVa795RDS AV amp. It was among the first AV amps that could decode DTS. Life was good again until....

Blu Ray came along. While the format war was hot between HD DVD and BD, I purchased the Sony BDP S1E flagship player from Desa HT in 2008 together with a Samsung 42" Full HD LCD TV. Picture was so much better than DVD. I like and was a happy camper eventhough at that time, my Yamaha could only decode 'normal' DD and DTS. I put a hold on upgrading my home cinema to make way for 2 channel audio upgrades. I was a happy camper until....

2011 KLIAV show. After a few years focussing on 2 channel audio, this year I leaped into the so called DTS MA and DD TrueHD. I purchased the Yamaha RXV 2067 after comparing it with Onkyo and Marantz. I wasnt in the mood to set up this beast as it weighs a bit compared to my 795 unit, so I had Desa guys to come and set it up the very same Saturday night.

All set up by 830 pm after 45 minutes of moving around my set up. Desa HT guys are very pleasant people to deal with. And clean as they make sure no mess was left behind. All joy from now right?

Nooooo.... My so called Sony flagship BD player from 2008 cannot send DTS MA signal via HDMI. still not manage to experience DTS MA.

The Desa guys set up my system manually by specifying the speaker size, distance and volume. I can immediately hear the refined sound from the new amp compared to my 795. Decent movie volume starts at -30 dB. However, my faithful Wharfedale SW15 subwoofer, sounds a bit out of the league at the moment.

A few days after that, I started to play around with the YPAO mic. Using the suggested tripod method, I let the system dictates the set up. I expected the sound to be unbalanced because the living room I have. There is a big void over the stairs on the left side of the room. Aaaaahhhh but I was wrong. Reading through the analysis results, it took into account that void area and compensated the 'volume loss' on the left speaker. However, I notice my right rear speaker was a tad softer thatn my left. I checked all cables (I was using a Gale speaker cable from 1998), swapped the rear speakers, maximise the right rear speaker volume and still, very low volume. So I suspected something faulty with that section of amplifier.

Called up Desa and they came by the next evening. Did the same checks I did and yield the same result. Low volume on right rear speaker. And then he suggested something. Change speaker cable. And voila, everything back to normal. Balanced volume between all speakers. Callibrated the room again using YPAO and now its even more refined.

But, I still have not experienced DTS MA. Sad. Cannot sleep every night. So started to do research for a player that is future proof for at least 3 to 4 years more. Ended up to choose between a Marantz Universal player 7006 and Oppo BDP 95EU. I auditioned the Marantz at a friend's place and the Oppo at CMY.

I ended up purchasing the Oppo as I got a good price and also a one-to-one exchange for the first year if anything goes wrong.

And finally after 3 weeks of purchasing the Yamaha 2067, i experienced DTS MA for the first time in my living room. And just a few days ago, experienced 7.1 DTS MA on POTC Strange Tides. Superb.

One feature I like of the YAMAHA is that I can bypass the unit (no need to turn it on) if I just want to have the sound coming out of the TV when watching ASTRO B.YOND. I LIKE.

One thing I have not fully set up is the subwoofer. I am not getting the same 'blend in' like I used to have from my previous amp. I did connect both left and right channel subwoofer out from the new amp compared to previous amp where it only bad one sub out. Maybe thats why.

Or maybe I need a new sub?

As for the Oppo, Its a fast loading machine with ability to stream movies from my NAS as well. Previously I was using my Samsung LED TV to do that but I dont get the audio to feed through my AV AMP.

Now, I can heheheh.

Overall, I feel this is a good combo between Yamaha and Oppo. Picture is crystal clear, sound quality is really engaging especially after the cable change and also YPAO callibration.

Need to work on the sub though.

Hopefully this time I can stay a happy camper for a longer time.

Part Deux

A little bit more on Oppo.

So yesterday I watched 2 movies. Los Angeles Battlefield and an old movie Twister.

The LA Battlefield came with MovieIQ and BD Live features. Both needed internet connection which the Oppo wifi dongle connected to my Unifi router with minimum fuss. My router is on the lower floor.

First the BDLive. Its mainly showing what other movies available based on various genres. Good trailers shown. Once the trailer is fully loaded, the streaming is flawless.

For the MovieIQ, its basically provides you with the following:

1. Facts of the movie, score, casts etc
2. Explanation about the scenes

Now, the number 2 item is very unique. The player will first connect the BD to the MovieIQ database over the net. Then it will give you a code where you can then use your iPhone, iPad or other Smartphone to be connected and synced to the BD. You first visit the website and key in the code provided and the same MovieIQ features on the TV is now shown on your phone. You can then go back to a full screen movie on the TV and use your phone to access MovieIQ. Neat.

Now for the movie experience.

Both movies were in 5.1 DTS MA. The battle scene in LA was really engaging where planes, bullets were flying around my living room. A clear experience can be felt when an airplane was flying from my rear right speaker to the lft front speaker. The best way to experience this is to close your eyes and just listen to the effects churnedout from the Oppo and Yamaha.

Vocals were very clear on the centre channel although once in a while, it gets drowned in the battle commotion noise.

Twister on the other provided me a world wind experience. I can feel when the twister was approaching from far ahead and towards the screen. Really uplifting compared to my Dolby Digital upscaled DVD.

However, there is a different in picture quality between an older movie upgraded to BD and a new movie released originally in BD.

Twister picture can be a bit grainy compared to LA Battlefield. But It was still clearer than the old DVD. I can see frackles on Helen Hunt's face hehehehe.

The remote on Oppo is well laid out and huge buttons with backlight. I like.

Now is the time for me to update the settings for my Logitech Harmony 1000i remote to incorporate the Yamaha and Oppo.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Musical Fidelity M1 CDT

The main reason I want to test this unit is because I am intrigued of the 'balanced' set up. (Note: I have not purchased this unit. Its on loan for demo). Good question on the price. I have not asked. If I only decide to buy after the demo, I will know the price. Reason being is that, I do not want to get influenced by the price tag to evaluate the unit. Some people will tend to say a unit is good just becauce the price tag is above RM10K and anything below that is crap. So might as well I dont ask the price. But I feel that it will sell at about RM4K.

Now about the balance, a few months back when I purchased my M6i amp, I posed a question on XLR connection in this forum where I connect my M1 DAC to the M6i using XLR. However, I was feeding the M1 DAC with a signal via coaxial from XRayV3. So, the conclusion I got from this was that my set up was still not truly balanced. Some say XLR connection is only needed for long runs of cable and cheap units are not truly balanced eventhough there is an XLR connection offered on the unit etc. But I am still intrigued by the question whether a fully balanced unit is superior than the common RCA connection.

So, I was thinking whether to go for an M3 or M6 CDP. However, M3 does not offer XLR digital connection and M6 will make my M1 DAC redundant. Hence, when the CDT came into the market last month, I feel like testing and compare it with XRayV3.


Being in the M1 series, its definitely very lightweight. It still has the sexy black look similar to my other M series kit. Size is similar to CLiC and M1 DAC which it then compliment each other. It has a standby button which I like as I dont really like leaving the CDP to be on all the time.The button lay out on the front fascia is well laid oout and very intuitive. The display is of a bright greyish green. It is a bit too bright at night and it could have been better if the design came with a dimmer like the XrayV3. I am leaving the plastic cover on the display as I may decide not to buy the unit.

The remote feels cheap though, similar to CLiC. The difference between an M1 and M3 or M6 series are significant and it can be seen on the remote. Luckily enough my M6i remote can also control this unit, so I repacked the CDT remote into the bubble wrap.

The AES, coaxial and optical sockets are well laid out and firmly fitted. There is also 2 triggers where you can conncet any additonal device for power that can be run on 12V I think (have to recheck)

Loading mechanism

The CDT has a slot in mechanism which takes you away from the traditional tray loading. So no worries on mechanical failure there. However, I was listening to 10 different CDs last night and today and twice I encountered that the unit rejected the CD after loading. It ejects the CD automatically but no issues on the second attempt.

The loading however is very quiet and it will read the TOC of the CD as fast as 2 seconds.

CD format

It offers CD Text and can play CDR and CDRW. One bonus point over the XrayV3.

Hook up

I connected the CDT to M1 DAC using one side of VDH The Second XLR cable and from the M1 DAC to M6i amp, I used Siltech Classic XLR cable.

For the XrayV3, it is connected as follows:

1. Via coaxial into M1 DAC using Cambridge Audio digital cable and via Siltech XLR above into M6i
2. Via X-10D V3 using QED Signature IC into the the X-10D V3 and also into the M6i amp

The session

The test tracks:

1. Andrea Bocelli - Time to Say Goodbye
2. Janet Seidl - Till I Have You
3. My Hero - Foo Fighters

Volume was set at my normal listening level - 9 o'clock on the dial.

The unit is brand new, so I guess it needs burning in first. So I wasnt expecting anything major improvement. But lo and behold, the instant I put on Andrea, the room was fill with music. There was this liveliness injected that I though I was listening to a concert version of the track. I immediately change the CD into my XRay V3 just to make sure my mind was not playing a trick on me. I first tested via X10D.

And yes, it did not. There is a big different in the high notes. The CDT gave a brighter presentation of Andrea's vocal and the accompanied musical instrument in which it can be a little overwhelming. I guess the this is because the X10D does inject warmness to the music. But it was still much livelier than going via X10D. And the loudness of course is lesser than the XLR connection.

I then switched the XRay V3 to the coaxial via M1 DAC. Here is when the difference is not that transparent. I kept repeating the track and switching between CDT and XRayV3. Although the liveliness, the CDT wins hands on, but the clarity and detail, cant hear much different.

Same goes for the low end notes. On the track My Hero, the bass drum on both XRayV3 and CDT, provide justice to the ProAc. Bass was full, taut and very controlled.

Putting on Janet Seidl (a HDCD), provides the same presentation between both. I could start comparing them with HDCD decoding via my X-DAC, but it was 1 am, so NO.

I went to bed by putting on the Andrea Bocelli CD on shuffle repeat. I concluded that digitally, there is not much different between a coaxial and XLR connection. But somehow, the CDT added the liveliness.

Same story the next day? Nope. A big nope. After running in for about 12 hours, the liveliness of the CDT is more uplifitng and the high end notes were less harsh. I repeatted the above tests and found:

1. The CDT provides a much more open presentation of the music, with maintaining the similar level of detail and clarity from XRayV3
2. The low end notes on both units are very controlled and defined. It made the ProAc seems larger than its size.
3. The 'analogue' connection via X10DV3, although sounds very warm, now seems lacking in liveliness. Warm is important to me but now it sounds rather flat. Ooohhh is the X10D V3 going to be on sale soon? Heheheh.


Hhhmmmmm a tough one. Do I replace the less than a year old XRayV3 with the CDT? Is it really an upgrade? Or I am just going parallel and just want to really believe that XLR/AES digital connection is superior than coaxial and optical, especially that this set up will define that my system is truly balanced? Or do I really want to buy in to the believe that separate transport and DAC provides a better set up?

Too soon to answer hhehehe. Give me a few more weeks with this unit.

Maybe will try it with a Hari Raya song. Now where is my P. Ramlee CD.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Musical Fidelity V-Link

OK. Overdue review. Was travelling and sick for the past week.

So, MF distributor offered me to review this unit as it has just arrived in his stock 2 weeks back. Yes, the unit is actually on the market for a while now but just officially brought into Malaysia.

So what does it do? It basically offer a solution for those USB 48kHz/16 bit limited bandwidth input on any existing DAC, including my M1 DAC.

Connect the unit to yr PC/laptop USB port (using A/B USB cable), it then upsamples it to 96kHz and feed this signal constantly to your DAC via optical or coaxial. Just as long as your DAC coax or optical can receive 96kHz signal and above, you are good to go.

My M1 DAC detects the 96kHz easily as shown in the picture. Then the DAC upsamples it further to 192kHz. Not sure whether this repetitive upsampling is actually good or not. Hehehehe.

So my findings:


As it comes under MF's V series, the built is as expected to be lightweight, mainly to make it affordable. But nothing to complain about. It is however bigger in size than I expected. Light but sturdy with all the connections to be solidly placed and does not wiggle when you try to push in that coax cable in. You have to push your coax cable all the way in before it can output the signal.

The 'Lock' and 'Power' LED however is a tad too bright as you can see above in comparison the M1 DAC LEDs.


No external power supply is required. It takes power from your PC/laptop via the USB cable.

The Session

I did not do any serious comparison apart from an A/B comparison between the following:

1. Laptop connected directly to M1 DAC USB input
2. Laptop connected to VLink and to M1 DAC via coax

Tracks used:

1. La Mer - Kevin Kline
2. Time to Say Goodbye -Andrea Bocelli
3. My Hero - Foo Fighters

First impression of Vlink - Bold and bass heavy. It sorts off amplified the overall digital file.

Volume wise, there is definitely a different between straight USB connection than via the Vlink. At the same volume level on the amp, the Vlink produces a louder sound.

Details however, I cant seem to hear much difference between the two connections above. Maybe because both are upsampled to 192kHz anyway.

I would however give credit to Vlink for creating a livelier music experience. It does inject some air into the digital music. It might just be my mood that night but the La Mer definitely sounded more emotional and the vocals by Kevin Kline sounded so near to me.


For the given price, it is to me a well worth upgrading route for PC based music lover with limited bandwidth USB input on their DACs. Or even for DAC without USB input.

For me, I am not a hardcore PC-based music lover. I do stream my music across the house using AE, but I dont really measure their SQ. As long as there is music in the background I am OK.

So, its your pick.

Musical Fidelity M1 CLiC

Ok 24 hrs review:

So I got a message from distributor that the unit has arrived to Malaysian shores on Monday 11th July. So collected the unit the next day. Only 6 units were brought in the first batch which I have booked mine since last year Smile

Came home and immediately set it up into my system. Of course, being my normal lazy self, didnt bother with the manual reading.

What's included?

1. The unit itself
2. 3 pin plug power cable
3. Wifi antenna with extension cable
4. Network cable
5. Manual and warranty card
6. Personalised letter from Anthony Michaelson


The unit is similar to the other M series. Although putting it side by side with M1 DAC, it looks slightly higher. I love the black granite finishing. Adds a sense of class.

Its a compact unit which weighs next to nothing. Very light but sturdily built.

The screen, to me is just the right size where contents can be easily read through.

The power button is of soft touch nature. Press it and the unit will be on standby mode for 10 seconds before it boots up.

Remote: Aaaaahhh this is a bit sad. The remote, although feature packed, feels a bit el cheapo. It reminds me to one of my old VCD player 15 years back that cost RM99. The unit can only be operated by remote control, so dont loose it.

Whats the buzz all about?

This unit is an ALL IN ONE digital (7 inputs) and analogue (3 inputs) preamp, music streamer and internet radio. Once connected to the network (wireless or wired), it can detect your stored digital music (and pics) and details will come out on the screen. You can then choose and control your music using the remote.

1. 2 coax input
2. 1 optical input
3. 1 USB input
4. 1 USB/iPod interface input
5. 3 RCA analogue input

For output:

1. 1 pair RCA variable pre out. Can connect direct to power amp and use the CLiC to control volume

2. 1 pair of RCA fixed out. Can connect to any input on your integrated amp/another pre amp.

What can it handle?

The CLiC will accept the following formats:

  • FLAC (up to 24bit 192 kHz on wired LAN and up to 24bit 96 kHz on wireless LAN)
  • WMA/9 (up to 16bit 48 kHz)
  • AAC, HE-AAC (up to 24bit 96 kHz)
  • LPCM (up to 24bit 192 kHz on wired LAN and up to 24bit 96 kHz on wireless LAN)
  • Ogg vorbis 1.0 (up to 16bit 32 kHz)
  • MP3 (up to 16bit 48 kHz)

The seven digital inputs are configured as follows:

  • 2 x digital ipod/iphone, memory stick, USB disc drive
  • 2 x coax inputs (SP-DIFF up to 24bit 192 kHz)
  • Optical (up to 24bit 192 kHz)
  • USB input
  • Network connection

How does it fair with the claim above?

Connectivity - Superb. I tested the whole day with wireless connectivity. My wifi route is downstairs and this unit is in my hifi room upstairs. It can detect the signal easily. Only 2 bars on the signal icon though. Keying in my wifi password was easy. The remote comes with mobile phone-like keys. Repetitive pressing on button to select the alphabet.number you want. I only had to set it up once and voila, within 5 seconds, its fully connected to my network.

First, I scrolled to media server on the CLiC and found my NAS with over 8000 digital files. All grouped to usual Tracks, Artist, Albums, Genres etc. Next I booted up my laptop, and again within a few seconds after the laptop has been booted up, the CLiC detected it.
For my iMac however, it could not as I have not installed a Twonky Media.

Next I tried the connectivity for internet radio. It automatic goes to Malaysis directory and found 6 stations. Tested all of them within a span of 30 mins and no signal dropout at all. However, these are not the most famous local radio stations. So tried with London and US radio stations. Again, no issues of drop out signals at all.

How about connectivity to iPod/iPhone?

So I took one of my Apple docks and connected the Apple provided USB/iPod cable to the CLiC. The USB/iPod connection is not interchangable with front USB connection.

But, it could not detect my iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS. A note came out on my iPhone saying 'Could not operate 2 connections' or something like that. Ahhhhh this is when I started to open up the manual hehehehe.

Sooooo, I cannot connect it to a dock. Thats what went wrong. It can only be connected directly to the iPhone/iPod. reason being, the dock also have its own remote. Thats why the note came out cannot operate 2 connections.

Once I connected the iPhone directly to CLiC, it detected all my the songs on it and also the playlist within seconds. Its just then a matter of choosing the music you want using the remote.

On the screen, the song, album and artist is shown together with and also any picture/art cover attached to the song. It can be easily readable from about 3 to 4 feet away.

How about the other features?

1. I tested one of the coax connection using my Wadia 170i transport. It definitely produced a different sound compared to my previous connection via MF X-DAC that does not upsample. The sound is also different compared to the direct digital connection to iPhone. Definitely more uplifiting and airy I would say.

2. Also connected my BRIK Audio BT stage to one of the analogue connection. It does inject a sense warm and mellowness to the music.

The listening session

I connected the CLiC unit to my M6i using the fixed output with Cambridge Audio IC.

Now that everything has been set up, its time to play the music.

I first tried the digital files I have on my NAS which most of them are ripped to either 320kbps MP3s at 48kHz or Apple Lossles. I also have a few FLAC files.

This is where the CLiC really excels. These digital files which previously was played via Airport Express fed into my old but trustworthy MF X-DAC, sound very very alive. The presence of tracks played was definitely more involving.

Changing tracks manually in shuffle mode will take about a 2 seconds pause. But if you just leave the unit to shuffle on its own, there is no gap in between changing tracks.

It can also handle all the types of files listed above with no issues.

I am not comparing these with CD player SQ as it is different approach to music. I love the idea of accessing all my digital files with ease and without the need of turning on the PC/laptop.

One improvement that I would suggest is for the unit to show the rate of the signal coming through, similar to the M1 DAC.

I dont have much comparison to other similar units. The ones I can think of are Bryston and Olive. I have listened to both. IMHO the CLiC provides the most flexibility, multiple format adaptiveness and its feature packed. For that price, I didnt think twice to pre-ordered it since last year.

Now, where is that credit card of mine?

Thursday, 23 June 2011

BRIK Audio BT Stage


BT receiver – nothing to shout about. Light but nicely designed and ‘looks’ expensive. Power supply not the best quality. Running on 12V DC.

Power Master – Heavy duty. Heavy by weight in comparison with the size. The off/on button could be more sturdy. Sometimes it does not lock in when push to on.


Connected to my iPhone and iPad within few seconds. No fuss. Any sounds from the iPhone and ipad can be streamed to this unit. Even the sound of email coming in !!!. However, tried running a Radio App and it gave a loud buzzing sound. So be warned, make sure to lower down the volume before changing things on your iPad or iPhone. No signal drop out throughout 3 hrs usage. Yes, I was up till 3 am this morning. J

Set up

Connected directly to M6i amp using QED Signature IC. Playlist on my iPad for AB comparison as follows. All either in MP3 320kbps/48kHz file or Apple Lossless

1. Andrea Bocelli + Sarah Brightman – Time To Say Goodbye

2. Solianos – Di bawah Sinar Bulan Purnama

3. Metallica – Enter Sandman

4. Foo Fighters – My Hero

5. M. Nasir – Phoenix Bangkit and Mustika

A-B comparison done with the following:

1. iPad connected wirelessly to Brik BT Stage with QED Signature IC to M6i

2. iPhone4 in Wadia 170i dock feeding MF X DAC via coaxial with QED Signature IC to M6i

3. iPhone3GS connected to QED uPlay with QED supplied IC to M6i

4. iTunes on iMac connected wirelessly via Airport Express to M6i

I didn’t compare it to CD replay as the idea is just to test the level of SQ satisfaction VS convenience gained.

The Listening Session

1. The Brik BT Stage came out a bit harsh in the beginning with very muddled presentation. Didn’t like it. High notes by Sarah Brightman and Solianos sounded too harsh to my ears. The unit also somehow boost the bass level up a notch. I think that’s why it sounded muddled. Not very impressed. It got worst when I put on M. Nasir multi instrument music. Too messy.

2. Two thumbs up with the volume level though. Listening at 9 o’clock on the M6i knob, no difference in volume level between 1, 2 and 4. QED uPlay was the worst. To get the similar volume level, had to crank the knob on M6i to 12 o’clock.

3. Set up 2 above still gave the best SQ to my ears. Taking the digital files from iPhone4 and let the MF X-DAC do the processing produce very sweet sounding music.

4. Connectivity however was no issues on the Brik BT Stage. No signal dropout although sometimes changing between songs, I can hear ‘click’ sound. The worst connectivity was Airport Express as it was over my WiFi which is not that strong in my hifi room. So signal drops out once in a while.

5. Convenience – having the BT Stage is definitely a plus. No need to walk down to the rack and change music on the iPhone. Eventhough the Wadia has a remote, but you still cant choose your song.

6. However, after about 2 hrs of playing music on BT Stage, the sound seems different. Maybe because I was already sleepy J. I went to bed feeling a bit disappointed.

7. This morning, had a go again. Aaaaaahhh now the BT Stage sounds different. Not to say better but different. It still sounded a bit muddled but it starts to give out the character of the music. Multi instrument music by M. Nasir sounds more airy than last night. Maybe its just a placebo effect.


Can I call this BRIK a hifi piece that can satisfy my needs after 12 hrs of purchase? Yes for convenience, 50-50 for SQ.

Will it continue to sit together with the rest of my hifi kit? Will decide this weekend.

NOTE: Why did I buy it? The original power supply for my QED uPlay when kaput. And no warranty on the plug. Replacement cost RM150. End up using a RM10 AC/DC power supply bough from hardware store.

Why did I buy the Power Master? Same case with BRIK items like BT Stage, DAC and Phono Stage. Power supply ie plug not covered by warranty.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Musical Fidelity M6i Integrated Amplifier

OK here goes the review of my weekend bliss.

I have used the following to enjoy the M6i:

1. CD player via M1 DAC
2. MD player via M1 DAC
3. MP3 and M4A files streamed through AE and via M1 DAC
4, Internet radio from iPhone 4 streamed through AE and via M1 DAC

For CD player, I played the French Kiss OST, Andrea Bocelli and Janet Seidl for vocal test and Foo Fighters for heavier test on guitar riffs and drums. I 'cheated' a bit compared to my test on the M3i. I repositioned the speakers to be further distant from each other, toe in about 20 deg and pulled forward.

For vocals in the like of Andrea and Janet, it sounded truly transparent. Its like a clear phone call on a good day. The ukulele playing along Janet sounded very detailed and each plucking or strumming of the instrument can be clearly heard. The orchestra behind Andrea sounded very warm and uplifting. Again all these at only about 9 o'clock on the volume knob.

Then comes in Foo Fighters - My Hero track. hhhhhhmmmm the amp can really rock out my speakers. The drums on this track is one of the heaviest bass drums from Foo Fighters. It basically gave me a very controlled and refined bass drums. Not overwhelming but naturally balanced with the growling of Dave's vocal and his guitar.

I then switched to MD, playing Poison - Unskinny Bob and also The Gypsy Kings. Listening to an old album such as Poison usually does not kick the adrenalin in me but this time around, it made me turn on my drums and start drumming along. That kind of effect. When I put on Gypsy Kings, thats when the amp truly shine. The sound of several guitars on this albums was very detailed of each of the guitars. The amp can realy cope with the demanding strumming from this band.

The biggest surprise is when I was streaming music from my iMac and also internet radio from iPhone to the AE and feed through M1 DAC. Put on Diana Krall Live in Paris. really realy nice. The atmosphere of her songs can be felt in the room, thanks to this amp delivering enough power. Internet radio (mainly was playing US based jazz station). Very crisp. Even the lisps on the station DJ can be heard. Unfortunately, eventhough I have high res music on my imac, the AE an only deliver at 44.1 kHz.

Overall, YES M6i outclasses the M3i. But is it really worth the additional GBP 1700? To me, YES, well worth it.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Musical Fidelity M3i Integrated Amplifier

Hi all,

I have started my venture on upgrading my amplification from my 11 years old MF X-A1 and X-A50s monoblocks.

The dealer was kind enough to loan me the M3i (70 wpc) and M6i (200 wpc)amps for me to try out with my set up. So picked it up on Monday and decided to set up the M3i first.

First impression on packaging - Lavish and classy. It was wrapped in a black velvet bag and a pair of white gloves and static cleaning cloth was included.

I had to install the links to my ProAc D18s as the dealer did not have a mathcing power amp for me to biamp my speakers. Set up took about 30 mins.

The remote feels a bit 'unbalanced' once you put in the batteries. But hey, I am still happy as I have been living with the remote-less X-A1 for 11 years. The amp responds to the remote quite well as the volume change is not abrupt, allowing small incremental. Volume know was set at 10 o'clock.

First CD went in - Andrea Bocelli with Time to Say Goodbye track. Played it through the M1 DAC.
Vocals were bright but still have that boldness in it. The high freq was extremely evident but the tautness of the low freq can still be heard and experienced from the instruments used in the song.

Second CD - Metallica Black album with Enter Sandman track. The double bass from Lars' drumming is somehow sounded 'dispersed'. Tautness was still there but it sounded like it was a live recording. Hhhhhhmmmm not so good to me. Again, high freq was dominating but that brings up a few distortion effects from the guitars which before this, I could not hear it.

Third CD - Janet Seidl played via MF X-DAC HDCD. This was more balanced in terms of clarity, high and low freqs and liveliness.

I repeated all songs by playing it through the MF X-10V3. Now that really brought down the high freq to a lower atmosphere setting. The X-10V3 somehow smoothens the overall sound.

And that was the first 1 hour of listening to M3i straight from the box. I then let the system run for 24 hrs with Mariah Carey on repeat.

Then on Tuesday after 24 hrs run in - things changed dramatically. I used the same CDs and tracks but this time everything seems to be sweeters. Not too harsh on the ears. The high freq somehow was more controlled and still maintains the clarity of some of the guitar distortion. Low freq on Enter Sandman was more controled and sound less dispersed.

But that was nothing compared to Wednesday listening session. After 48 hours, I went through a very emotional session. The sound quality is just fantastic. It was a very pleasureable 2 hours of audio listening. It felt like the artist was singin live in front of me.

Nevertheless, I Bluetoothed my iPhone4 into my QED uPlay and start playing random music. Aaaaaahhh and all these was done withou having to stand up from the sofa. I love remote.

Similar to X-A1, I had to crank up the volume knob to 12 o'clock to get a decent sound level using QED uPlay. I was playing both Apple Lossles and MP3 at 320 kbps and 48kHz sampling rate. My my my, all the music sounded bold and 'large' really really satisfying.

Overall after 48 hours, I must say M3i has a lot of characters to offer. Will keep on running in till the weekend.

Now I wonder how the 200 WPC M6i will sound????