Sunday, 31 May 2015

KOGA Onycs Power Amp - The Right Highs (Part Deux)

Now... for the part two, the Onycs was bi-amped with Musical Fidelity M6i where the Onycs was connected to the tweeter of the ProAc D18 and the M6i connected to the woofer of the ProAc D18.

First observation, there was no noise when these two amps are connected together via the RCA interconnect. Nice! I have experienced with some other power amps that give out a hum when connected to the M6i.


Girl from Ipanema had a more revealing intro with the vocal immediately created an impact of performance. Mainly I believe because now the Onycs is only running the tweeters, hence quite a dramatic change when the woofer is handled by another amp. Yes, you may say that its the effect of bi amping. But lo and behold.... This set up was actually the first mode that I reviewed this Onycs. NOT the pre power mode. This is because my reference set up has always been biamping. So, when I received the Onycs, I set it up in a bi amping mode first to have only 1 new element to the equation; new power amp. The highs from the vocal and also the overall ambiance of the track was just elevated with quite soothing and open soundstage.

The drums on Legion of the Damned was even more punchy and defined. But where the Onycs really shine is again to bring up the clarity of the Jaie's vocal and also the rhythm guitar.It made listening to metal music really enjoyable with its forceful impact and well balanced in the overall sound cohesion between music and vocal. Definitely the Onycs provide a very upfront presentation of the high notes of metal music.

The Onycs further excel in Gipsy Kings rendition of Hotel California with its wide and extensive guitar strums and percussion was even further elaborated. Again, with the Onycs only working on the tweeters, it produces such sweet and melodic guitar presentation.Not much improvement on vocal but the overall presentation was livelier than the pre power mode.The layers of guitars was very detail but at the same time you can feel that the track was given high focus during mixing in order to have that perfect blend between the multiple guitars and percussion.

Andrea's vocal on Because You Believe sounded more mellow than usual. With the percussion had more appearance, his vocal was a bit laid back and less energetic. Mellow and emotional are how I would describe it. Not so forceful and uplifting experience. Didn't get the 'Olympic' feeling. The overall presentation was still huge in sound stage and ambiance, but the forcefulness of his vocal and also the music at the last part of the song, was just not strong enough.

On Ode to My family, Dolores's vocal was a bit overshadowing the overall music. The guitar was also a bit bright to my liking. The violin however was very mellow and soothing. Was expecting a more soothing overall presentation for this track. The snare didn't sound to lively too compare to the pre power mode.

The piano intro on the Willie's track was jaw dropping. I attribute this to Onycs. Why? This is where I can feel the passion. Not of Willie's but the KOGA designer. He tuned this Onycs based on how he feels the track should be presented as per Willie's requirement. This was the perfect balance in all area. The highs, lows, mids, sound stage, detail, emotional... all come together as a piece that Onycs put them together in perfect harmony. This was the best experience I have with the Onycs.

Conclusions (Part Deux)

Although bi amping the Onycs with the M6i provided me with the best experience when it comes to Willie's track, but I feel it was not an all rounder performance or a perfect match to the Musical Fidelity M6i. Or it is the other way round? The MF does not suit the Onycs?

It still delivered an overall sweet and luscious highs but again, very track dependent. A Class D character was very evident especially on the Cranberries track.  Can be a bit ear pinching.

At this stage, I am leaning towards Onycs is better off to run and lead things on its own. A bit of a mixture between MF character and KOGA.

So, we are left with just one last review.... Onycs on stand alone mode connected directly to Musical Fidelity M6 DAc....where its attenuate knob will control the volume. Will it prevail as an Onycs alone champion?

Some samplers...

Saturday, 23 May 2015

KOGA Audio Onycs Power Amp - The Right Highs (Part Une)

The Onycs is the fourth offering from KOGA Audio after Aimez, Pentha and D'Bomb made their debut in the past two months and caused quite a stir in local scene. As I already had high regards of KOGA's product, I also have high expectation of this Onycs although I do have some reservation of its being a Class D amp. This is also a prototype unit as the designer would like to do more tweaking before the KLIAV show in July.


The unit is of similar size to Pentha which is half of a typical shoe box size but comes in a black matte colour instead of grey. It is still a 2 box design though with its PSU separated from the amplification.

Simplistic and minimalist are the virtue of KOGA Audio. In the rear, its equipped with a pair of speaker terminal suited for any standard banana plug, a pair of power inputs and a pair of pre amp input. Now, the front is of a unique design. It comes with an attenuation knob. It is somehow act as a volume pot as this power amp can also be directly connected to a fixed level source like a DAC, CD Player or even a phono amp. This attenuation allows volume control straight to the speakers.

The topography is as follows:
  • Freq response 20-20k,
  • THD <0.01%
  • Short circuit, and Thermal overload protection.
  • >90% efficiency
  • Differential inputs minimize common mode noise.
  • Adjustable gain
  • Quiescent current : 50mA
  • Maximum current : 7A

First to went in was ACDC Shook Me All Night Long on vinyl....and the first impression was... Loud... the Onycs can cope with the biamping with Musical Fidelity M6i. I was a expecting a high pitched delivery similar to when I first purchased Musical Fidelity M1 PWR Class D power amp. But no. It blended in with the system immediately. Drums on this track was forceful but the Onycs complimented it by delivering the shredding guitars with clarity and sharpness  that balances out the heavy drums.


As this power amp can offer 3 different use, I have split my review into the following:
  1. Pre power mode with M6i acts as a pre and Onycs alone driving the D18
  2. Bi amp mode with Musical Fidelity M6i (Onycs connected to tweeter and M6i connected to woofer of ProAc D18)
  3. Stand alone mode connected directly to Musical Fidelity M6 DAC
All interconnects and speaker cable used are Siltech.

Turntable: Clearaudio Concept
Phono Stage: Musical Fidelity M1 ViNL
CD Transport: Musical Fidelity M1 CDT


  1. Girl from Ipanema (Getz and Gilberto) - LP
  2. Legion of The Damned (Sil Khannaz) - LP
  3. Hotel California (Gypsy Kings) - LP
  4. Because We Believe (Andrea Bocelli) - CD
  5. Ode to My Family (The Cranberries) - CD
  6. You Were Always On My Mind (Willie Nelson) - CD


During all the three mode sessions, the same tracks were used.

Girl from Ipanema started off quite mellow with a more touch on the low notes. But as the song progresses, especially when the female vocal kicks in the overall song sound more lively with the right balance from the high notes. And when the saxophone started blowing....ooooohhhh such pleasure. The Onycs provided the right amount of balance to the bass heavy song.

Legion of The Damned was delivered in its most beastly manner. Each of Lan's double pedal beat was clearly delivered in its hard hitting fashion. The Onycs can cope to deliver the fast speed of this track including the guitar riffs. The growling vocals of Jaie Joekhannaz was also very enveloping as the Onycs brought up a certain clarity to the usual 'buried' vocal mixing of such track. Overall, the Onycs coped well with fast paced track and deep growling vocals such as this. So, metal fans, dont feel left out as this amp can give you a different experience in high fidelity.

I decided on Gypsy Kings's rendition of Hotel California instead of The Eagles due to its variation in guitar strumming, solos and percussion and also the screeching vocals. I was expecting quite a high pitched presentation but it was completely the opposite. The overall presentation was more on the warm side with a tad inclination towards a more bold and mellow character. It was so different from the MF M1 PWR amp I experienced before.

Andrea's vocal on this track sounded livelier than usual as if it was Olympics all over again. His deep voice can be heard vibrating throughout the song. There is some lack of clarity in certain part of the track but the overall sound stage that the Onycs provide overcomes that short coming. Especially the ending part where the Andre close out the track with a bang of musical instrument backing up his vocal.

With a mellow track like Ode to My Family, the Onycs can really create the atmosphere of serene and enveloping feeling. Dolores's vocal was presented in a very emotional way that it reminds me of the time when this album first came out. It was such a powerful album and the Onycs brought me back to the time where Zombie was the song for new bands in Malaysia would try to jam too.

No KOGA review will be complete without playing one of the tracks from KOGA sampler CD - Willie Nelson's You Are Always On My Mind. Now, this is where Onycs excel fully. The well controlled sound stage I experienced from PE35 EMI filter was even further enhanced with Onycs. I could feel that the overall track was delivered to how Willie would like the track to be heard by his faithful listeners. His voice was well extended in the right intonation and the blend of the mellow drumming and and back ground  vocals just added colour to the overall already good presentation.


For pre and power mode, the Onycs deliver quite a performance without the usual Class D character. It gives out a good control on soundstage while still provide a good quality highs, no ear pinching sharpness from some of the Class D amps I have heard. Given it also controls the low end in this mode, it could have a little bit more kick to the bass although it did a good job coping with fast paced metal songs. It suits best ballad, jazz, vocals, classical guitars and percussion music. It has enough power to fill up a decent sized hall with no issue.

Part Deux -  coming soon on Bi-Amp mode

Sunday, 17 May 2015

First Owner in Malaysia: Musical Fidelity Merlin System

Only after 4 days of its arrival, the first Musical Fidelity Merlin system was purchased by a gentleman whom wanted a neat and minimalist system for his lovely living room.

Tony Lee of LTB Enterprise, sole distributor of Musical Fidelity product in Malaysia sacrificed his Sunday afternoon when I requested that someone of high importance to me wanted this system to be set up today. Thank you for that Tony as he himself delivered and set up the system.

We arrived at about 245 pm at a very beautifully designed house and after a brief introduction to the new owner, Tony begin to set things up. It took about 45 minutes to set everything up. The owner opted for the speakers to be set up vertically to save space. I, however, due to excitement... also helped out on the amplifier, bluetooth and speakers set up.

To test that everything works, the Bluetooth was first tested. And the Samsung phone connected to the amp seamlessly. The initial sound sounded a bit rough but it was due to the quality of digital source. The first LP that went onto the The Roundtable was Eric Clapton unplugged but that was after Tony gave a crash course to the owner on the do's and don'ts.

Eric Clapton's Tears in Heaven was so emotional and we could not believe this system can deliver the emotional impact of this song. Such a bold presentation. It was then followed by Dire Straits Sultan of Swings. Very detail and tight deliverance of this track.

Each unit of the system is solidly built. Interconnects and speaker cable are provided.  It is a bog standard speaker cable with spades connection while the binding posts on the speakers and amp can fit banana plugs.

The amp churns out 50 wpc power and can easily fill up the living room with enveloping musical atmosphere.

I wish I had more time to listen to the system but it is a well refined system....minimalist but shear enjoyment.

Congratulations for the new owner. May he have a  long and unlimited musical experience.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

KOGA Onycs In Da House

KOGA's first Class D power amp. Comes with an attenuator for direct hook up to CDP.

Review soon.

It's Here: Musical Fidelity Merlin System and MX Series

LTB Enterprise have finally brought in Musical Fidelity latest offering; the Merlin system and MX series DAC and fully balanced headphone amplifier.
Musical Fidelity has finally jumped onto the bandwagon of DSD enabled DAC.
These items are already available at LTB Enterprise. Do call Tony for a demo.
The RRP of these items:
Merlin system (amp, speakers, turntable) - RM8300
Roundtable turntable - RM3900
MX HPA - RM 4400
MX DAC - RM 4400

Friday, 15 May 2015


The love hate relationship of Electricity/Power Supply and HiFi has been a debate in the industry as long as I can remember. There are believers and non believers. There are are abundant of scientific facts you can find in various forums or white papers to support and not to support the effect of power supply to one's hifi.  

There are so many devices out there to inject that extra zest to a sound system by controlling, filtering, stabilizing the power supply. So, how does electricity effects your HiFi system?

Quoted from Advance Electronic Limited: 'Electrical pollution or noise on the mains supply would cause that sound to dim, brighten and flicker, as your HiFi components tried to process the contaminated signal. HiFi source components are very sensitive to electrical pollution because the audio signal they produce is at a very low voltage, and this signal must be amplified in order to drive the speakers. Amplification is achieved by using the incoming mains supply to electronically boost the signal, and a polluted mains supply will prevent the electronics within your HiFi equipment from operating as intended. This causes a cascade effect within the electronic circuitry, resulting in a polluted amplified signal.... '

Some of the devices out there that can combat this issue may cost user an arm and a leg. Although there are cheaper alternative, I have yet to find that can really deliver what they are intended to do. Early last year, I have reviewed Magnet Isoclean 1000s which made wonders to my system especially for daylight listening. Since then, I am convinced that with the right power supply kit, it can provide a solution to certain electrical interference issues I may have with my system.

Then came Frank Voon's suite of products which I really fancy to have in my system. The first time I experience his famous power bank was during the RAVE System Launch Event back in 2013. Then, I also experienced the effect of power bank in a fellow audiophile, Sting's system. Both gave me such a wonderful experience that I yearn to have one in my system. However, given that I lost my man cave and my system is now in the main living room, I have to wait for Frank to visit my place and advice me on how the power bank can best fit into my system.

So, what exactly that I am unsatisfied with my system since I shifted from my man cave to the main hall? Lots  of it...:
  1. At times, my system sounds a little bit restricted to reproduce music especially during day time and particularly on my digital sources i,e, CD player, MD player, streamer and CAS.
  2. The liveliness in the digital sources seems not up to par to my analogue source.
  3. Power of all my 10 components are fed from my Belkin PF50 which acts more as a surge protector than any other function it claims to do.
  4. And this Belkin PF50 is plugged into an existing wall socket that share the same line with 2 other wall sockets. One of them is being used by the washing machine and dryer in the kitchen. Not ideal at all. 
  5. Less involving experience with metal music on digital format

So, I needed a solution that will not require another wall socket nor a bulky device to add onto my hifi rack. And then came Frank Voon with his latest product PE-35 Ground Loop EMI Filter.

A date was set on 25th April, and Frank and his staff came and install this unit in my DB.


This EMI filter is relatively lightweight and a non intrusive device. As you can see in the pictures above, it fits nicely in any standard distribution box (DB). It is sturdily built from high quality plastic enclosure and weaved cable enclosure.

The installation was straight forward enough. Frank is very familiar with the electrical circuit of the houses in my residential area. It only took 5 minutes for him to figure out which fuse/line is my hifi set up is connected to the DB.

The whole installation only took 20 minutes or so.

For a full explanation on what this unit does, please refer to Frank's website


I already prepared the following test tracks to see how this filter can improve my listening experience:

1. Bad Moon Rising - CCR on FLAC 24/96 and streamed via AptX BT
2. Louisiana 1927 - Aaron Neville on CD
3. Maybe - Birdy on MP3 320kbps and streamed via AptX BT
4. Enter Sandman - Metallica on CD
5. Bamboleo - Gypsy Kings on MD
6. You Were Always On My Mind - Willie Nelson on CD
7. Classic and Jazz French internet radio

All tracks were fed into my Musical Fidelity M6 DAC except for the internet radio which is streamed over the net via Musical Fidelity M1 CLiC.


As my issues is mostly due to my day time listening, the session was done between noon to 5 pm where the voltage in my system can peak up to 260 Volts.  Also, the session is done at lower volume than usual.

The old classic of Bad Moon Rising  was such a joy to listen to. Previously, the sound was a bit flat with very little life to the song. The guitar riffs was much more melodic even at low volume (less than 9 o' clock on the volume knob). The separation between the rhythm, lead and bass guitar was very evident, especially the bass guitar. Overall, the clarity and liveliness of this track was much more enjoyable than before.

Aaron's Louisiana 1927 was presented in a very emotional environment. The percussion on this track was subtle but extended especially on the snare. Did it match my analogue experience? not quite but much improvement can be heard and on my lazy days of spinning the black disc, I would be satisfied spinning the shiny silver disc instead.  The vocal was also very alive and emotional. Very entertaining.

Birdy's vibrating vocal on the Maybe track is very clear and non-mumble which previously can sound a bit muffled. Again, separation and clarity were the two characteristics that were very revealing and I like this. The sound stage remain similar to before but with this new found clarity and separation, I am much more convinced of how important clean power is to a system.

Metallica's Enter Sandman was the ultimate test as metal music is one of the genres that suffer most in my set up on the digital side. Playing this special edition fully autographed gold CD, I notice that Lars's hi hat was sharper than usual. While the bass drum was more cohesive into the overall music, Kirk's guitar solo was also livelier and the swirling effect was more evident. I particularly enjoyed the bass drum during the 'prayer' section. 

Just to push the envelope of separation, I played Bamboleo on my faithful SONY ES MD player. MD although was a smart medium for portability at that time, it can still sound compressed with its ATRAC format.  However, feeding this to the DAC and with the filter in place, the multiple guitars and percussion was presented in a layer by layer environment. Overall separation of each instrument was very clear that you can appreciate more the fusion of the different guitar strums and the percussion.

Willie Nelson's You Were Always On My Mind was elevated to a different level when it comes solidness of the overall sound stage. This track is quite famous of its big sound stage but at times, it can sound a bit too fluid and dispersed. This time around, I can feel that the presentation was more controlled and confined to my listening space with the right limit. I felt that I was wrapped in the music with no leaks around my hall. Excellent experience.

Last but not least, my favorite internet radio station, Classic and Jazz, based in France and broadcasting at 128 kbps. At the moment of this session, they were playing lots of Frank Sinatra's music.  The first character that popped up was in the low end section. The bass was more subdued and clear. At this broadcast rate, it can sometimes be more on the shrilling side due to the revealing treble. But the bass this time around just came up and provided a very involving radio streaming.


Did the PE-35 effect the music reproduction of my system? YES. 
Did it solve all the issues I face? ALMOST. I still feel I can extract more juice from my system. Need to explore other Frank's product.

In general, this EMI filter managed to  push my system to deliver more clarity and and separation of different layers of musical arrangement. It also brought out some of the lower end notes to a different level, more subdued and controlled manner. Overall presentation of my system on the digital side was livelier. It was expressed in a more emotional and enveloping environment.

Who can benefit from this filter? I believe, the one that will benefit most will be people without a dedicated power line for their hifi system or proper grounding system. It will be among the cheapest way to elevate their system to a different level without all the headache of reconstruction of their house wiring system.

One can order this unit from Frank Acoustics via phone +6012 2981011 and it is priced at USD650 excluding installation.

Special thanks to Frank Voon for his excellent advice and high quality workmanship.