Thursday, 24 December 2015

KOGA MALAYSIA Member HiFi Session #1

KOGA Audio is not just a newly established local hifi brand, but it is also a following where there are active KOGA Malaysia members group on Facebook and also a Whatsapp group. The members varies from newbies to the product designer himself to DIY-ers to veterans to musicians. A bunch of happy go lucky hifi and music enthusiasts gents (unfortunately no female members yet) that just speak hifi and music all day long.

After quite sometime of virtual reality interaction, yours truly suggested to have the very first hifi session within the members. Based on the principle of enjoying the music and mutual respect of each member's set up, a date and venue was set. On a Saturday, 19th December, the first session was conducted. Mr. Shaiful of Bandar Sri Permaisuri hosted the evening for initially a group of 7 people. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, only 3 of us managed to turn up.

The theme for the day was on digital music.

Mr. Shaiful's set up was a simple set up comprising:
  1. TDL RTL2 speakers
  2. Xiang Sheng tube/solid state pre amp
  3. Quantum power amp
  4. Nakamichi CDP
As there was a request to listen to hi res audio, I brought along my Musical Fidelity M1 CLiC streamer/DAC/pre amp and a thumbdrive loaded with FLAC files of 24 bit 44/88/96/192 music files. I also brought the QED uPlay bluetooth module where it is connoected to the CLiC via optical cable.

Shaiful also play flac files with a tablet as it source. Directly connected to the Xiang Sheng preamp via a 3.5 mm stereo plug to a pair of VDH RCA interconnects, his system reminded me how beautiful the sound from the TDLs can be. Low frequency was extended and fill up his hall. With a hard thumping and extended bass, it sounded very warm and natural at the same time. One can argue that TDL does not deliver the true transmission line philosophy but hey, it still sounded good. Partially I believe the tube pre out from Xiang Sheng helped a lot to provide that warm sound.

We then tried connecting the QED optical directly to the digital input of the Xiang Sheng but it sounded a bit rough. Reminded me of the BRIK Audio set I had before. We then connected it via the CLiC and the CLiC connected to the Xiang Sheng. The sound improved giving a bigger soundstage to the set up. From there on we were playing various tracks for about a few hours. Jazz tracks like Dave Brubeck and Del Paxton came out a few times where the piano sound was very upfront and the vocals were really mesmerizing on Ella and Louise tracks. We also played a few of hi res Metallica but all of us agreed to switch back to melodic music like jazz and ballad. Hi res metal seems a bit on the highs and we prefer warm and controlled low end.
It was definitely a fun evening where digital format was playing non stop and we didnt feel fatigue at all.

We hope to have more of these hifi sessions among the members to share their music and hifi passion and also knowledge. As for Shaiful's set up, it does proof that hifidelity enjoyment can still be achieved at minimal cost. His set up cost lest than RM2,000 (about USD500) yet it still sounded amazing. Kudos to him.

Thank you again Shaiful. We shall have another session with your newly acquired KOGA Aimez power amp.

Friday, 18 December 2015

A New Wireless Source Is In Da House

A few moons ago, I wrote about this unit being more of a value for money purchase compared to iPhone 6s. Although the price is higher than the previous flagship Passport, I still feel this unit has more to offer than the iPhone6s. Especially with its capability to expand the memory up to 2 TB. Presumably this is to cater for the 4K video recording capability.
First impression on playing hi res music via its built in speakers, quite a wide scope can heard. With sharp cymbals and clear vocals.
Will soon review its capability via headphones and Bluetooth.
PRIV: A choice for the exceptionally rare!

Friday, 11 December 2015

A Collection of Malaysian Underground Music Volume 1 - Not For Weak Hearted

A long wait.... but its worth it. Meaty sound with quite detailed presentation. 

When I first heard about this compilation LP, I immediately pre book a copy. Mainly because of my love towards this kind of metal music and the fact that I no longer own the cassettes of these local underground bands.

The sleeve is one of the better quality sleeves produced for a local LP release. The artwork design is eccentric with a mixture of bloody gory zombies and cartoon based art. Reminds me a lot of the band Gorillas.

The music.... What can I say... I am a sucker for a good various type of metal music and of course thrash music. My favourite track is the first track Thrash Or Be Thrashed by Central Disposal. The overall sound quality is in between medium to good. Very meaty sound with regards to providing that metal adrenalin. Even for this kind music, the reproduction of the music is filled with high clarity and detail. The speedy double pedal on the drums brings out the slam in each track. However, at times, it can sound a bit thin where I had to crank up the volume to about 12 o' clock on the amp. Nevertheless, it is indeed a good production overall. A very good and exciting initiative to elevate the LP passion among the local metal lovers.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Different Source With Different Excitement

My faithful MDS JA20-ES MD player.... delivering James Horner masterpiece.

My favorite vocal.... spinning on LP.

Whatever your source it, if it is set up to your liking, it can provide unlimited excitement in your listening session.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

PMC Continues To Impress Me

PMC loudspeakers reinstated my interest for a decent 2 in 1 home theater and music reproduction at home. Ever since the twenty 23 and Centre speakers were set up in my house, I have enjoyed hours and hours of movie mayhem and also the good old 2 channel music. Heck, I am still dreaming to have the 26's in my house.

When Tony Low of AV Designs messaged me about a small informal gathering to welcome PMC International Sales Director, Mr. Miles Robert and hear the latest update, I quickly said yes. Hence, on Tuesday 1st December, I went for a short session to hear what PMC is working on in the near future.

Arrived at AV Designs at about 530 pm and there was the usual crowd; Mr. Dick Tan, James Tan, Tony Low, Jo Ki, Willy Low, Tan TE and Uncle Peter. Within 10 minutes, we are all gathered around Miles to have a informal chat.

A little bit about Miles: Quite an easy going and friendly Director he is! He has been with PMC since 2002 and also that was when he last visited Malaysia. He has all the experience in studio production, broadcast sound in radio and television, post production and film mixing.

The Biggest News

Believe it or not, PMC was involved in this very unique collaboration with Wu Tang Clan in a historical music initiative to bring back some appreciation for an artist's work. They were basically asked to produce a one-off pair of speakers as part of the world's only musical work of art which has been created by Wu Tang Clan. This piece of art (both the music and PMC speakers) was sold in an auction in NY to a mystery private collector for an undisclosed sum in the millions. How is that for unique? Imagine you have the only piece of music or CD and speakers in the whole wide world. Even Barack Obama cant take that away from you :)


Read more here and here

Second Big News (at least for me)

I have never knew that PMC was utilized a lot by composers and major studios especially in UK and US. When I say a lot, I mean A LOT. Even the latest Bond movie Spectre, the score was composed using PMC speakers. Studios like Metropolis, Backyard, Capitol are using PMC speakers such as the QB1-As for their mastering. Thomas Newman, a renown American film score composer, composed his masterpiece on PMC IB1s monitor system for the hit US show Six Feet Under.

Third Big News

2016 will bring a big surprise to PMC fans. Its PMC 25th Anniversary, hence they are coming up with something special. Something that no one would think PMC will produce. I can tell you.... but I will then be tracked down by HMS Secret Service :)

The Award Ceremony

Miles was then presented with 2 awards (its AV Designs award from the 2015 KLIAV show) but it was based on PMC set up.

.... and after that.... It was just chit chat about the economy of the world hehehe.... and how it is impacting our beloved hifi passion....

No visit to AV Designs is complete without a dose of music ....

Thanks Tony and James for the invite and also to Miles for the update sharing. With this kind of updates and industry initiatives, I am proud to be one of the owners of PMC products.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Kirlin Cables - Bold and Big

My curiosity in microphone cable as an element in our hifi system grew bigger each day since my exposure to Kadas last month. Most of the articles on the net concludes towards mic and audio cable have no difference between them apart from thickness. However, there are people who advice never to use mic cable as a speaker cable. OK for line level interconnects but not for speaker cable.

KOGA Audio again loaned me a mic cable, built as an IC with RCA connectors under the brand Kirlin. The model is MBC 20AWG. More information can be read here

As oppose to Kadas, Kirlin seems to be more visible on the net with a properly established website with association with a list renown musicians and artists.


KOGA maintains to keep the two left and right channel separate from each other. The cable itself is flexible similar to Kadas. The RCA plug however is of a different version which feels sturdier and also easier to connect to the RCA connections on my source and amp. Again, KOGA Audio did a good job in its workmanship.


Being a microphone cable, it is fully shielded.


It was of different character compared to Kadas. It presented a bigger soundstage and leans more towards a emphasizing the low end spectrum of things.


Given that I am now quite familiar with my mini set up downstairs, this review was only done by using the IC in between Musical Fidelity M1 PWR power amp and M1 CLiC streamer/DAC/pre amp.


1. La Vie En Rose - Louis Armstrong (FLAC 24/192)
2. Rock and Radical - Butterfingers (CD)
3. Pink Panther Theme (WAV)


The trumpet sounded mellower with the higher frequency was filtered down a notch, creating a less high pitch presentation. Louis's deep and 'rough' vocal blended better into the rest of the songs with minimal focus on the strength alone. It made me feel more at ease as it lets my emotion run free rather than being focussed on his vocal. It was balanced throughout that you dont feel that there was any element of the song that was more revealing than another.

Now, Butterfingers rawness and prowess was felt through and through. Again, no real focus on vocal nor other part of the music. It was well balanced between vocal, guitar, drums and even the bass line was easily recognised. Detail yet balance when it comes to delivering the grunge factor. Emmet's vocal also was more energized as if it was gelled up Loque's shredding guitar. The crash cymbals also sounded more detailed with a distinctive dispersing sound.

To see whether I can get the emotion going without the presence of a singer, I playe the Pink Panther theme. Now, this entertaining yet complex piece, sounded really big that I could not believe my small mini monitors can sound that big. I was concern that given the warm and lower end frequency character in the previous track, it will start distort my speakers. But no! The Kirlin just delivers this track beautifully. In fact, the last strike of at the end of the track which I usually feels that it can sound too high pitched, sounded full and bold that it really gave me a shock.


Firstly, I do feel the merit of using microphone cable as an interconnect in a hifi system. In fact, maybe it has not been given enough credit in this industry. I am sure there are still the dodgy ones just like the hifi interconnects we see in the market but, it is quite a provoking thought if I change all my interconnects to microphone based cables.

Specific to Kirlin, it does deliver a warmer sound compared to Kadas and also more tonally balanced. Given a good source, this Kirlin will allow the source intended sound to be delivered in details, bold and bigger soundstage to your amp and ultimately your speakers.

Give microphone cables a go. Its relatively an affordable option and if you dont like it, convert it to karaoke microphone :)

Kirlin and Kadas can be ordered to the length you require by contacting KOGA Audio at

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Kronos - The Next TT Revolution In My Book

Every other hifi visits that I go to, I get to see various unique turntables. Each with its own merit and forte with regards to certain sound character and also the mechanism of the TT itself. AFO, Clearaudio, Thorens, Lenco, Dr. Feickert, Rega, Musical Fidelity, Linn etc...each of them carry a different experience. Owning a Clearaudio and Lenco (used to), I have grown accustomed to certain level of excitement in listening to TTs when I listen to a fellow audiophile TT set up. I am 'blessed' with a strong will of going back home and still feels that my set up is able to deliver the same satisfaction and at times, even more than these other TTs.

But on 24th October, I have experienced something different. An excitement that left quite an impression sonically of a very unique TT; built wise and sound quality. Thank you to Victor Pheh of HiFi Creations for his invite to a private listening session of the mighty Kronos. I also had the privilege to meet and chat with Kronos designer Mr. Louis Desjardins.  The first time I had listened to this TT was in 2015 KLIAV show back in the mid year. And it was already mind blowing at that time. Snippet from that show below:

Now, this write up is not a review. It is more of an experience sharing of a wonderful music listening day... delivered by a Kronos - The Next TT Revolution In My Book!

I will not bore you readers with the technical specs of this unique TT as the net is already full of technical spec reviews of it. It is a TT with the highest number of awards received at least for this year. But what mattered to me how it faired in providing the listening pleasure.

Maybe the one thing technical I will mention here is its dual platter system; with the bottom platter counter rotates. This is the heart behind this TT. This is claimed to eliminate the torsional forces. For full specs, please click here.


This TT was nicely set up in a small cozy apartment, fully converted to be a dedicated listening venue. There are still some minor works to be done but relatively a very comfortable and sonically acceptable venue to do some critical listening. The Kronos was supported by Magnet amps, Nagra pre and Skogrand cables throughout. The power management was via Frank's Power Banks. Six of them if I am not mistaken!


The first few tracks were selected by the host and Louis. Coincidently enough I believe this first track was by Louis Armstrong. The vocal sent a chill to my spine. Such emotion that I can feel it to the core. The deep 'rough' voice of his was unmistakably very well delivered by the Kronos. The trumpet of his, was soooo melodious and energized yet still delivered an overall airy and lively ambience. On top of all that, I can hear layers of music presented throughout this track. From the soft 'background-ish' percussion to the centre stage of the vocals.

I have not listened to techno music for such a long time. And even that, my exposure to this music genre was limited to the music I heard during my clubbing era. Louis then played Doin' It Right by Daft Punk. Even though I am not really into this music genre, it really got me going. I literally got up and started to move my head to the rhythm and beat. Excellent extensive bass delivery. Looking at those huge towers you call speakers, I was expecting a hard hitting and physically in your face bass slam. But no. It was sweet bass I call it. Extended low end that wraps around you throughout. Nice!

One of the track that I requested was this Metallica's rendition of Lynyrd Skynard's classic Tuesday's Gone. I have purposely brought this LP along as I have yet to find one other set up that can deliver a heavier music genre especially metal. But yes, the Kronos delivered such a distinctive performance even for Metallica. Heck, if James Hetfield hears this, he might be setting up a Kronos in his home! Lars's drums on this track was presented in such detail that the dispersion of the snare and hi hat sound was very evident. Again, wind instrument, the harmonica in this song sounded very melodious with a level of sharpness that was just adequate to create the emotional harmonica solo. Detail and more details... thats what I can conclude from this track... and it was the highlight of the session for me.


Louis is a very passionate man. Passionate for music. For the perfection of music delivery. Throughout the 3 hour session, he was moving around making sure everything was set up properly. To the question on where to start when building a system, he strongly believes in the source. Get the wrong source and your amps and speaker will not be able to deliver. He also have a preference on a tube phono stage for its sound. But the Kronos can deliver the same performance with other type of phono stage. High efficiency speakers is also good to be in a system. Technomusic seems to be Louis's interest and he is very passionate of it. However, I was surprised that he played the Metallica track at least three times :).


You want to listen to the black disc? Really listen? This is one TT to me delivers what the LP medium is intended to deliver. The science behind the dual platter spinning in opposite of each other, eliminating torsional forces means nothing if it cannot deliver the music to the audience. And this TT, my beloved readers, is the one TT that I personally feels have delivered the long awaited quality. I have heard various tweaks, mods, design have been introduced in the market with regards to suspension, stability, vibration elimination etc, but this gem, definitely delivers what it claims. This is one session that made me feel uneasy when I returned home and started listening to my set up again. It might be the whole she-bang of Kronos, Magnet, Nagra etc.... but I believe in garbage in garbage out... But in this case, the Kronos was definitely putting in top quality caviar into the system...

My set up is not necessarily expensive in this beautiful world of hifi in comparison with the high end set ups but I have always been contented that I have reached that level of satisfaction. Even coming back from listening to various set ups of friends and show rooms, I still am very happy with my set up. But this day, Kronos has put something in my conscience that I am missing something.

Thank you again HiFi Creations and Louis for a very entertaining session. Kronos is definitely a beauty in all aspect.

If anyone interested to audition, please call Victor on +6012 2962799

Look at the smiley faces below...

Saturday, 31 October 2015

KADAS Interconnect: Mic-ing The Source

There is always the never ending debate on how interconnect and speaker cable colour our hifi system. But very seldom and maybe even never there is a discussion on microphone cable and how it effects the recording session. As the source is always deemed to be one of the most important element in a system, why don't we go to the extend of using the same microphone cable as the interconnect to reproduce the sound where it originates from? OK maybe not to the extend of the very same cable in the studio but what happens when you use a microphone cable as an interconnect.

In the past few months, there was a big buzz in the local DIY-ers scene on various different cables available for them to toy around with. I was then given this Kadas KE 80M interconnect by KOGA Audio to give it a shot.


For physical built, I prefer flexible and separated cables between left and right channel. And thats what exactly I get from Kadas. The flexibility allows user to easily arrange the cables in tight spots. However, the RCA plugs itself is quite tight to connect them to the hifi unit. It is a gold plated RCA and the high quality workmanship of KOGA Audio can be seen.

The cables itself is directional. It is clearly marked on the sleeve, hence I followed it in my review. 


Non... seriously... I could not find any literature on the net let alone a company website. But google it and you will find many event management or studio websites mentioned about KADAS mic cables.


I was told that the cables have already been run in. The first impression was leaning more towards a high level of clarity on vocals and refined low ends.  It gave me goosebumps as the track was presented in a such detail.
The IC was used in two different set ups:

Session 1 - Between Musical Fidelity M6 DAC and M6i integrated amp in my usual set up
Session 2 - Between Musical Fidelity M1 PWR power amp and M1 CLiC streamer/DAC/pre amp


1. La Vie En Rose - Louis Armstrong (FLAC)
2. Rock and Radical - Butterfingers (CD)
3. Wake Up Boo - The Boo Radleys (MD)

Louis's vocals gave me the goosebumps. I seldom like listening to digital tracks for songs that I have the LP but in this case, to my surprise, his vocals sounded smooth with no sign roughness. Quite a warm ambience and full of expression which usually, I only get when listening to it on LP. It does focus a lot on clarity of vocals. And somehow, with that level of vocal clarity, it lifted the whole soundstage to a different level.

Rock and Radical was presented in its rawness where Emmett's vocal was again the centre of attraction (as always when it comes to this Malaysian Kurt Cobain). But this time around, all other instrument shared the same lime light. Loque's guitar was surprisingly mellower than usual but in this case it was good because of the high pitch notes. The drums, hhhhmmmm... hard hitting snare and sharp crash. I like it. 

With the Boos.... it was indeed a beautiful morning to wake up to. The intro gave me a shock with the level of energy. The wind instrument sounded refreshing with high level of detail. The details of the percussion which I believe a tambourine, was lingering nicely as the background sound as if it was a layered recording. Nice. Again, for the third time, vocals seems a strong virtue of this IC. Can it be because it is a mic cable?


Not to say I was not convinced with the findings, but hey, it is my first review of a hifi related product after I have moved my set up from downstairs to upstairs. So it might be due to different room acoustics. So, for the fun of it, I then connected this IC to 'newly' set up mini hifi downstairs. Hence, why this review took a bit longer to be published. The mini hifi consists of my existing MF M1s but I threw in an unused full range speakers to the equation.
Louis's vocals was again exceptionally the centre of this track. Excellent delivery of clarity and strength. Just listen to the clip above. I have yet to experience this track in this level of emotion as this is not my favourite Louis's song.

Rock and Radical, although the vocals was also the centre of attraction, the overall 'balance' sound of all the instrument was not at the same level I experience with Session 1. But I am quite sure this is due to the speakers I am using here.  The percussion while was still authoritative, was not hard hitting enough. The shredding guitars lost a little bit of rawness.

The Boos, also was presented in a similar manner like Rock and Radical. Vocals was upright and shining, while the wind instrument and percussion took a little of a backstage compared to Session 1. Nevertheless, I do believe it is the speakers limitation.


It makes me wonder.... why there is no notion to use the same mic-ing cable that the studio uses as part of our hifi. We always say that the recording quality is very important to ensure the playback on our system is the best. So, I am sure the studio too uses good quality cabling. So, why not use the same in our system? A question to ponder.

On this KADAS.... lies a vocal strength. Clarity and high level of details are some of its strong virtues. Suffer from muddled vocals in your system, give this IC a try. Contact KOGA Audio for advice on this.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Mrs Was Right - I Still Need A System Downstairs

When I had to combine my downstairs hifi sytem with my home theatre upstairs last month, my wife told me that I will not last long before I will set up a another system downstairs very soon. Tried to live with Xounts 2.1 but it is just not hifidelity sound.

So tonight, with some simple DIY to make a speaker cable, I have set up a small digital system for downstairs pleasure. Using Musical Fidelity M1 PWR Class D power amp and M1 CLiC streamer/DAC/pre amp, I have set it up to drive a pair of mini full range speakers I had lying around somewhere.

Satisfied camper now!

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Mobile Phone As A Source?

Yesterday, the iPhone 6S was made available to the Malaysian market. As much as I was a big Apple fan, I can't help but to feel that it is no longer value for money item. I have used iPhone from the first model till iPhone 5 before I switched to Samsung Note 3. But not for long before I landed onto Blackberry Passport. I did have intermediate Blackberry experience with the Bold, Torch and. Curve, Z10 before but mainly because it was provided my company as one of the perks.
So, why am I writing about mobile phones as a hifi review?

Like it or not, I cannot deny the convenience of network or wireless music. The streaming technology has improved vastly especially in the past 4 to 5 years. What's gone is the unstability that the wireless kingdom can offer.... let alone the sound quality. I have tried so many of these devices and wireless medium where I believe it is currently has reached the pinnacle.... at least for now. From the days of Apple Airport Express to Logitech Squeeze to Sonos to dedicated network media player. This was all based on wifi or ethernet connection.

And then there was the Bluetooth medium. From BRIK Audio to QED uPlay puck to dedicated BT DAC. Nowadays it is quite standard for any good branding DAC comes equipped with BT AptX module. Your truly have 2 units that offer this function... Musical Fidelity M6 DAC and the Oppo HA-1 headphone amp and the recently added QED uPlay Plus.

Now, the part that most hifi manufacturer failed to address is the source when they offer BT function. And which sector has picked up this opportunity? The mobile phone industry!

iPhone has been the most successful music library on the go kit for many years. That time has long gone where its rivals in the likes of Samsung, Oppo, Sony and the 'lag in technology' Blackberry have been offering a more flexible operating system, bigger storage capacity and AptX BT for many years. Not to mention the ability to play hi res audio straight out of the box.

Yours truly have been using Blackberry Passport for nearly a year now and have been very satisfied for the following reasons:
  1. Sound quality when streaming via BT
  2. Big storage capacity with 32 GB built in plus 128 GB external microSD which it manages smoothly
  3. Able to play FLAC files with inhouse app
  4. Excellent battery life

This is compared to my previous experience with iPhone and Samsung. And with iPhone particularly, have not evolved in any area of music delivery apart from better built in speakers over the yea. Its BT have yet to adopt Aptx and still cannot play FLAC unless you use a third party app.
I am looking forward for Blackberry Priv and do hope the Malaysia Telco companies would still have some faith in Blackberry.

Although no indication of the price for this unit, but traditionally, Blackberry flagship model (apart from the Porsche design) has never been priced above RM 2,400 (~USD 600) which makes it more value for money compared to iPhone with respect to music playing.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Audience For The Simple Minded - My Hifi Shop

On Monday, 5th October 2015, I had the pleasure of attending a small do by the latest outfit to the list of hifi shops in Malaysia. My HiFi Shop Sdn. Bhd. is located in Jaya One just besides the recently opened Swedish Statement hifi shop.

My HiFi Shop is actually only scheduled to be opened in a couple of weeks time but as the CEO of Audience (yes, the brand), Mr. John McDonald was on his Asia tour, the shop decided to host a small informal do for the local hifi fraternity.


Yours truly arrived at 1145 am and was greeted by the Director himself, Mr. Thomas Teo. After a quick look around of the shop (which is still in final touch stage), I was introduced to John. John is such a down to earth hifi enthusiast and full of passion when it comes to hifi talk.

By 1230, there was already a crowd in the venue. Familiar faces from and are among the audience besides the owners of the famous Leben amps. John then gave an introduction to some of his famous cables, interconnects, power conditioners and The One full range speakers which was on demo. The audience threw out some interesting questions and these are some of the jeez of John's respond:

  • Silver vs copper... which one is better?
    • I prefer copper....
  • Directional vs non-directional?
    • Audience cable have markings on them but its more for indicative purposes
  • XLR vs RCA... which one is better?
    • XLR suits better in an all round balanced set up
  • What is the optimal length for your cables and interconnects?
    • We build to whatever length you require
  • Thin or thick cables?
    • For power cables, the proper gauge is more important. For the rest, other factors like material and insulation is vital.

The attendees then were treated with beautiful music played from Dr. Feickert Analogue Blackbird TT and Leben CS-600 integrated amp.

Thank you Thomas and Isaac for the invite and good luck on the official opening.

The My HiFi Shop is located at:

H-97-1, Block H, 
The Suites, 
Jaya One,
No. 72A, Jalan Universiti,
46200 Petaling Jaya,
Tel: +603 79321883 or +6016 6661699

Audience The One full range speakers are quite impressive for its size. It could fill up the listening hall with ease. 

Audience The One Version II

Some of Audience RCA and speaker cable range and also John's full range driver design
Dr. Feickert Analogue Blackbird 
Leben CS-300
Leben CS-600
Dr. Feickert Analogue Woodpecker

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Xounts 2.1 System With QED uPlay Plus

As I am in the midst of revamping (more like downsizing) my hifi set up, my downstairs living is now empty... in a musical sense.... No more TV nor a hifi system. I still have the Arcadia portable TT and also the Bose Wave system but those have been parked across the dining table. 

Luckily my Mrs too cannot live without music, hence I am in the quest of a minamalist system. Coincidently, one of my FB mate, Laz Shamsudin messaged me saying that the Xounts 2.1 system is back in stock on Groupon. And at RM269 inclusive of GST and Postage, this seems to be a low enough gamble.

The item arrived within 5 days. Nicely packed in a box. The parts are smartly packed in the box, ensuring everything is protected in postage.

Assembling the unit took about 30 mins with its clear instruction booklet and the first that was tested .... was the light!

So, What is This Xounts?

It basically a speaker-lamp system that is designed around 2 .1 speaker system using NXT technology. Its basically a pair of mini speakers mounted onto the frame of the unit plus a down firing slim subwoofer.

The Specifications

Incorporated in the system:

1. 3 x 3.5mm Aux In (one inside the unit and 2 in the rear panel)
2. 1 x 2 pins power socket (inside the unit and its for low powered unit)
3. 1 x wireless receiver (inside the unit and uses RF)
4. 1 x wireless RF transmitter (comes with power supply and another 2 x 3.5 mm inputs)
5. 1 x Philips energy savings bulb

So, all together there are 5 inputs to this system.

The power cable is hard wired into the rear panel alongside with volume and bass control with 2 x 3.5 mm aux in mentioned above.

No remote! Which is the biggest gripe for this unit.

The Session

First impression... it can go loud.... really loud for a medium size living room. Bass was a bit muddled, hence I lowered down the bass volume to about 12 o clock  on the dial. But clarity was there, crystal clear sound, The sample above is from Arcadia TT streamed wirelessly to the Xounts.

It did take loooongg hours before the SW to open up a bit and sounded more refined. Connecting my faithful Blackberry Passport to the unit via 3.5 mm jack, the overall sound coming from this unit sounded more subtle and refined compared to the wireless mode. The wireless mode sounds a bit harsh and constraint.

Listening to Azlan and The Typewriter's rendition of Jeritan Batinku, the Xounts produced quite centralised sound. Although the dispersion of sound is sufficient to be heard across the hall, but it does not give that full soundstage feeling. Its loud and could deliver the stunning vocals of Azlan... also a thud thumping experience when it comes to the double kick pedal of the drums. But it still sounded 1 dimensional.

Playing a hi res file of Eagles Hotel California via the RF wireless streamer, I can feel that this wireless module somehow does not deliver the refined and detail of the hi res file that I have.

After more than 200 hours of running in, only then I can start to experience a more open sound, with less restrain on the musicality. The sound is more airy and have some energy to it. Compared to before where the sound was quite flat, this unit now delivers a more lively sound with sufficient bass control and depth. I find that setting the bass dial to about 1 pm, gives the the best result.

Placement of the unit is also important. Its better to have the area on both sides free from big furnitures.

Many Inputs is Enough?

Now, if I was the designer for Xounts, this is how I would spend my cost on to rather than offering 5 inputs:

1. Just 2 Aux input
2. Replace RF module with the option of Bluetooth or WiFi
3. Remote... at least for the volume.

The RF module...although sends out a very stable signal, is not portable. You need to connect it to a power source and stationed it near your source. Hence, its not portable at all.

And each time I want to reduce the volume, I would have to go behind the unit and meddle with the small volume knob.

Very inconvenient for a lifestyle speaker design.

Because of this, I had to enhance the Xounts capability by adding a BT module.

QED uPlay Plus

I used to own the famous QED uPlay Puck BT module. But since I have purchased two BT enabled DACs, I have since sold the unit. I was actually planning to re-purchase the puck, but it is no longer in stock. Hence, I had to settle with the uPlay Plus.

Setting up is simple. The beauty of this unit is that I can tap the power source from the internal 2 pins plug  socket inside the Xounts. I then use an stereo RCA to 3.5 mm cable to connect to the rear aux in for the Xounts. The uPlay Plus unit fits nicely underneath the Xounts, just beside the down firing SW.

Connected to my BB Passport, I played the hi res file Hotel California again. Voila, instant change in sound signature. Via BT, I feel that it helped the Xounts to give more justice to hi res sound files. The percussion now sounds more punchy and natural and the guitar plucking sounds more natural. The overall song sounded more involving.

And with this addition to the unit, I now have control on all the music I have stored on my phone and also on my 4 TB NAS over the home network. Plus, I am now able to control the volume from my phone. I just set the volume knob on the Xounts at 12 pm, and I control the volume on my phone.


For RM269, this is much better than a mini compo which I used to adore growing up with them. However, at its original price of about RM2800, I would not suggest to anyone who is fussy with audio quality from a unit. Its overall design is a bit behind time with minimal convenience of the modern hifi world.