Thursday, 30 January 2014

TAD Evolution Series Launch Event

AV Designs  again have hosted a launch event for TAD (Technical Audio Devices) Lab Inc latest Evolution Series disc player and DAC, appropriately named as the TAD-D1000 and TAD-DA1000. The event was held at their showroom in Rohas Perkasa on Thursday, 21st Jan 2014.

The event was a semi-formal affair with the attendance of the usual Malaysian faces of audiophille, journalists and bloggers.  The event was graced by the attendance of Mr. Takahashi of Pioneer/TAD Malaysia. He emphasized that TAD is very proud with this latest product as it was built for accuracy in music reproduction which came from an engineered approach. It is to deliver a natural and realistic musical experience.



A brief info sharing of TAD history was given by Ryan Lee, their sales and marketing executive. TAD was established in 1975 to develop professional level speakers or monitors. As it grows to develop other products for domestic market, TAD still is well known across the world for its accuracy in reproducing sound in over 200 professional sites. Capitol Records, Pixar, Walt Disney are some of the famous places that employs TAD products for their studios. George Michael, RHCP, Coldplay and Michael Buble are some of the big name artists that uses TAD in their album recording works.

And of course, their products have been highly reviewed by What HiFi, Stereophile and Techradar magazines to name a few.

Some of the key main features:

1. A newly developed unltra high carrier to noise ratio master clock UPCG
2. DAC circuit equipped with Burr Brown PCM1794A
3. A-synch USB transmission engine that faitfully reproduces high res sound sources up to 32 bit, 384 kHz.
4. Aluminium chassis and structure with low COG to minimise effect of external vibrations
5. A proprietary large sized toriodal PSU enables effortless playback of sounds with fast attack
6. Unique CD mechanism for outstanding precision loading and quietness
7. Simple and high sound quality system configuration made possible through a line output volume function in the DA1000
8. The DAC also comes as a headphone ampilfier with dedicated volume function.

The 2 products were then jointly launched by Mr. Takahashi (Pioneer), Mr. James Tan and Mr. Tony Low (AV Designs).



After that, it was all musical pleasure. James Tan demonstrated the capabilities of these 2 items. 4 tracks were played, first straight from the CD player into the full TAD system. Then it was followed by feeding the CD player to the DAC. Most of the audience were in consensus that the sound via the DAC was more luscious. Eventhough its the same DAC chip in both the CD player and DAC, the latter still sounded more appealing.

Overall, it is true what Mr. Takahashi said that its all about naturalness and realistic. Strumming of guitar sounded sharp and detail was given on every chord, the hollowness of the bass drum on one of the tracks can actually be heard and vocals were extremely mesmerizing with sweetness and lusciousness. There was also a complex piece arangement on one of the tracks but the CD player and DAC had no issues in detailing the multiple instrument piece.

I have seen and heard a few hifi equipments that has a price tag that can make a person goes 'You got to be kidding me'.... and even if I do have the dough, I will not purchase it. But this is one product that I believe is priced appropriately. You get a lot from it.... the built, the estatic design, the sound quality....just pure musical pleasure.... I love it.... But I still can't afford it :)






The D1000 disc player is priced at RM 66,999 and the DA1000 DAC is priced at RM56,999 and can be auditioned and purchased only from the sole distributor of TAD in Malaysia... at AV Designs in Bangunan Rohas Perkasa, Kuala Lumpur.

If you are into high end equipments and sound but dont want to hit that RM 6 digits territorry, have a listen to these 2 items. You will be surprised....but just be carefull that you might extremely mesmerized and you will just swipe that credit card to purchase one :)


Other information on the specifications are as below:








Sunday, 19 January 2014

Magnet MA400S - BBB... Beautiful But Beastly




 

I am kicking off this year review runs with a product close to Malaysia.... A Magnet MA-400S Limited Edition power amp... a design from neighbouring country Thailand.... courtesy Victor Pheh of HiFi Creations.... A BIG THANK YOU to Victor for his trust in my review.

And of course... out of eagerness to listen to this amp, the unit was delivered within 2 days of confirmation to review. It came with a Magnet power conditioner.....but I will leave that for a separate review.

Truth be told.... I didn't know what to expect of this product. Doing some research and browsing on the company's website (Magnet Website)...It looks that Magnet takes it seriously when it comes to corporate image as well. The company actually has been around for over 20 years now where the founder, designer Khun Pongtorn Malakul Na Ayudhya takes pride of his approach of handcrafted amplifiers.

BUILT

Weighing a monstrous 25 KG, I had the concern of setting it up on my own. But surprisingly enough, the way it was packaged, it was easy for even 1 person to unpack and set it up. One plus point is how the internal components are positioned such to evenly distribute the weight over the whole unit. It is not one of those design which is heavier at one end which can catch you off balance while unpacking it.

Solidly built aluminium chassis with a well thought design of curved edge for the heat sink fins... no concern of cutting yourself during handling. 

The front fascia is a clean design with a power button and a blue LED....soft to the eyes at night.

In the rear panel, the banana plugs on my IXOS 604 biwire speaker cable can snugly fit the speaker gold plated binding post (2 pairs to allow bi-wiring). There is also a gold plated ground post.

The RCA input is also gold plated and my Cambridge Audio RCA interconnect fit nicely into it.

Now... for the XLR balance input, it comes with a unique design protector cap.

The inputs are switchable between XLR and RCA. The switch is an old school type click switch.


The unit comes with a thick and sturdily built power cable with a US receptacle plug.

Its 10/10 in my books when it comes to built quality. 

SPECIFICATIONS

This power amp uses a Full Complementary Symmetrical Push-pull and direct coupling with JFET differential input circuit and output 200 WPC into 8 ohms. Its an AB design amp.

It has both unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR inputs which can be chosen with a flick of a switch.

It offers 2 pairs of speaker binding post so that you can bi-wire your speaker if you wish to do so.

There is also a remote loop to allow the unit to be turned on or off when receiver or pre amp is turned on or off. One trigger cable is included with the amp.

There is also a built in fuse to protect the amp from overloading. And yes.... a spare fuse is also provided. 



THE SET UP

1. Musical Fidelity M1 CLiC preamp/streamer/DAC connected directly to the MA400s using Cambridge Audio RCA IC

2. Sony XB930E CDP connected via Cambridge Audio coaxial cable into the M1 CLiC

3. IXOS 604 bi-wire speaker cable into ProAc Response D18

THE MUSIC

1. Eva Cassidy - Wayfaring Stranger and Wade in The Water
2. Maroon 5 - Moves Like Jagger
3. Because We Believe - Andrea Bocelli
4. Classical Music from French radio station - Classic and Jazz
5. Mariah Carey - Hero
6. Getz and Gilberto - Girl from Ipanema (Hi Res FLAC)

THE SESSION

I kicked it off with Eva's sweet and luscious voice. First thought was.... This is something different. The high frequency sounded elevated as in it was taken up a notch. Not an ear pinching level but its some how a little bit too clear and sounded digital. The guitar plucking in the intro of Wade in The Water was giving me the shivers as it sounded too clear and digital. The vocals were however quite upfront and sounded airy. The Wayfaring Stranger sounded livelier with the melodious guitar and keyboard sound. Quite a first impression it gave me.

Now, I thought of giving the unit a bit of a kick. Went in Maroon 5. Now this was a very good experience as the bass on this track especially in the intro part, was very authoritative and commanding. It does lack a little bit of punch and control but it still made me start tapping my foot....and my head started to nod to the beat. Now, thats what I call a unit that has that one element to move you. And this was played at a moderate mid level volume.




None of my review will be complete without my beloved Andrea Bocelli. This is when the amp really excel. The overall presentation on this track provide me with a very big and spatial sound. It delivered a powerful performance with quite a balance between highs, mids and lows. Andrea's vocal sounded crisp and deep. The music accompanying his vocals sounded uplifting and full of emotion. This is where I think this amp forte is; vocals and classical/opera-ish music. This was further confirmed when I put on a random classical piece from the famous French internet radio station Classic and Jazz. Played it loud and this amp just smiles on delivering such powerful performance through my ProAc D18 speaker. I am not much of  a classical music fan but I must say, one can be influenced into listening to classical music when listening to this amp. I wonder why not many exhibitor puts on classical music during the annual KLIAV show.



Mariah Carey's Hero was presented with a tad more bass than I would like it. Not overwhelming but it made her vocals seems a little bit 'mellowed'. The bass on this track was also a little bit dispersed instead of tight. The overall sound still sounded airy and that is what I usually like. 

Playing Getz/Gilberto hi res piece through this amp reveals quite a detail presentation of this track. Even at lower volume, it still provided me with quite refreshing sound. The different layers of music/vocals  in this piece can easily be delivered and noticeable.

CONCLUSION

BBB....Beautiful but beastly... Beautiful built quality with such a beastly speaker driving performance. Dont worry if you want to drive your speakers hard with this amp. It can deliver enough power for most speaker set up. It also does not run hot even without air conditioning your room.

The amp performs best for classical, vocals and jazzy music. For rock and bass heavy music, one might find that the low end a bit muddled. It might be my speakers but they do not sound muddled when driven by my MF amp. 

I now have a big admiration towards Asian hifi products after good experience with Magnet and also Kingrex products. Would like to be exposed more to designs from this side of the globe as well.

This unit can be purchased and demo-ed at HiFi Creations. Contact Victor on 012-2962799.

It is retailed at RM12,800.











Thursday, 9 January 2014

New toys for 2014

Just received these 2 Magnet products...

MA400 Limited Edition power amp and Iso-Clean-1000 Power Station Series....

Great start for 2014.... Review soon...



Courtesy of the nice and friendly Mr. Victor Pheh of HiFi Creations.... Sole distributor in Malaysia for Magnet products...

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

ProAc D30R is here in Malaysia


Its here in CMY.... Must find time to go and have a listen to it.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Reflection of 2013 Hifi Journey

A happy new year to all. Hope 2014 will be a better year for all.

Looking back into the past year, there were lots of things that happened that I should feel blessed.

THANKS
I took the leap into blogging on 1st Jan 2013. I actually have started this blog much earlier but didnt have enough guts to click on the Publish button... It was always saved as draft... And completed the year with 29572 pageviews. Thanks to all viewers and readers. That is 2464 views per month... Not too bad I think.

I know some readers do ridicule my reviews on other forum platforms which I have learnt to take it as a constructive learning but there are also nice and good supporters... which some really took my reviews as a guide to their hifi journey.

And not to forget the following people and companies for their event invitations, product samples and also friendship, in no preference order:

1. Tony Lee of LTB Enterprise for all the Musical Fidelity home demos, advices (life and hifi) and teh tarik.
2. James Tan and Tony Low of AV Designs for the TV callibration, launch event invitations, dinner and introduction to Bryston (still my reference headphone amp) and Darbee... 
3. Hifi4sale.net fellow moderators and bosses...thanks for entrusting me to be part of the moderator team.
4. Steve Chua of CMY One Utama for the cabling advice and also Beyer T1 headphone
5. Kingrex of Taiwan for their UD384 USB DAC and USB cable samples for review
6. RHA of Scotland for their RHA750 IEM sample for review
7. Editor of Audiofi.net for NAD390DD and Supra USB cable sample for review
8. Mov_freak for willingness to source for me the HFPA discs and deliver by hand... Erik, Victor etc...
9. Friends who visited me at home to enjoy music and do some friendly shoot out.
10. My ex-company colleague Mr. S.K....whom gave me an Amari RCM for a farewell gift. 
11. RAVE Systems Sdn. Bhd particularly TK Han and Uncle for their invitation of their Genesis and Tech DAS AFO launch event
12. Mr. Aaron for the Audeze LCD2 sample unit for test and review.
13. Mr. Dick Tan for the annual KLIAV shows and frinedly banters and talks.
14. Analogue Fellowhsip especially Dr. Paris, Kuan Yew Nam, Dato Danon, Song etc for their friendship and hifi wisdom sharing..
15. The regulars at AV Designs ...for their friendly welcomes and chats... Jo Ki, Willy, Felix, SFLam etc.. 
16. Feedback from Google+ members on this blog...you know who you are :)
17. Rock Corner especially KLCC, BV, Gardens, The Curve branches for their discounts on LPs.
18. Chong for the UD110 USB DAC review sample...its a keeper of course
19. Drife for bringing by my old flame ..the Sony CDP XB930E
20. Last but no least....my wife and kids who gives me the space and time to enjoy my hobby...and for the Beyer T1 headphone birthday gift.

Did I leave out anyone???


HiFi Progression

Referring to my posting on 1st January 2013... http://www.notanotherhifiblog.blogspot.com/2013/01/el-hefes-2013-hi-fi-set-up.html

I have only managed to achieve 2 out of 3 targets..

1. Upgraded my main DAC to from Musical Fidelity M1 DAC to an M6 DAC... my personal stellar purchase.... a keeper for sometime...

2. Record Cleaning Machine.... thanks to my ex-colleague and mentor Mr. S.K. from Jakarta, I now own one as he gave me an Amari RCM for a farewell gift.

3. Wanted to upgrade my office headphones to a new Musical Fidelity flagship headphones.... unfortunately.... there is still no sign of the production of this flagship model.... So I got sidetracked and got myself  (or my wife got it for me)....the Beyer T1 flagship unit...

Sidetracks:

1. Rekindled with an old flame... the Sony XB930E CD player
2. Lots of LPs
3. High Fidelity Pure Audio
4. BOSE AE2W bluetooth headphone
5. Darbee 

So, I am starting up 2014 with this set up:



Dream to have but most probably will never get one

1. TechDAS Air Force One turntable
2. PMC Fact 12 speakers

Dream to have but may put some effort in getting one in 2014

1. Bryston Mini T speakers to replace my Mission M34i home cinema front speakers
2. A projector and screen set up / 60" or 65" TV