Thursday, 23 July 2015

The Small But Mighty KEF LS50

I have read and heard so many people singing high praises with this pair of speakers. The one or two experience I had at the shops and AV show, I was not really impressed with them. However, it may be due to incorrect set up or improper listening room.

Now, thanks to a friendly audiophile fellow, I had the chance to experience what these KEF can really deliver. Time flies fast when you listen to a good set up. His whole system was quite simple but of high reputation as well. And with a properly engineered room treatment, his gentleman pad is one pad that one can spend hours without experiencing fatigue.

His system comprises a Lenco 78 and Linn LP12  with Rogue Audio phono stage as analogue source and Marantz+ Rega DAC as digital source. The system is then powered by a Primaluna tube amp.

Rogue Audio tube phono stage with changeable MM/MC input

Linn LP12

The LS50 delivered such an enveloping experience with quite clean and detail performance. The low end extension was surprisingly involving coming from a small unit. The only other bookshelf that gave me a good low end notes experience was the PMC Twenty 21. The room treatment also helped to bring out a big soundstage experience.

The LS50s may not be the best looking speakers, but the performance was definitely at a level that is very much comparable with a good floorstander speakers. 

Listening to David Sanborn and Eric Clapton, the music was layered and the bass was just filling up the room with sufficient punch and the vocals was just sweet and engaging.

Not much to complain on this speakers now except that it should be residing in my house as well, maybe for my third system.

Congrats to the system owner. Very nicely set up, appropriately sized for his audio den with good matching of components.

Sampler 1 from Linn LP12

Sampler 2 from Lenco L78

Sampler 3 from Lenco L78

Sunday, 19 July 2015

SONY DVP-S7000: Another Long Lost Love

Thanks to HiFiLab, I have just collected another of my long lost love from my college days in the UK.
Everything is working perfectly. Connected to my Oppo HA-1 DAC/Headphone amp. Immediate reaction was this DVD player still have some juice to milk more modern CD Transport. More rekindling review soon.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Interconnect Overload - DIY Wonders Part 1

The beauty of this hobby and passion in hifi is you tend to meet with other people that has one or two tricks under their sleeve into achieving their each own audio nirvana. In the past few months, I was added into a KOGA Audio Whatsapp group where its members are a bunch of light headed hifi enthusiasts. And among all of them, there is one member that works offshore and has a an electrical knowledge in the background. So, in his free time, he actually does hifi DIY stuff. Among them is that he makes his own set of interconnect based on two brands; Gotham and Micron Acoustic.

Intrigued by numerous debates on the web about audiophiles spending insane amount of money on ICs and cables, I decided to request for a few samples of these DIYed ICs for a review. I must admit that I grew in the hifi scene with the basic red and white ICs that comes along with a hifi unit that we buy. As time goes by, I went through the journey of finding the most suitable match with my hifi and I have settled with Siltech. So then, I received 4 different ICs for this review to see whether is it true that cheaper cables give an inferior of sound.


All the ICs have a quite a flexible built. It is sturdy enough to withstand any unintentional force applied to them. Their conduit also feels a little too rubbery for the local tropical climate here. I do wonder how the built quality will deteriorate with time.

The cables were also terminated to a moderately priced of RCA which allow easy connection on the hifi units. Overall, you will enjoy the flexibility especially if you set up your hifi too near to each other.

I am also happy to report that all these ICs do not create any hums when connected to the Lenco.


I have chosen only two tracks but these tracks I have them on vinyl and CD/Digital format
  1. Era Gia Tutto Previsto (Andrea Bocelli)
  2. Whiskey In The Jar (Metallica)

There are 2 sets of review:
  1. All ICs used between my Lenco GL78 and the Musical Fidelity M1 ViNL phono stage (analogue)
  2. All ICs used between my  Musical Fidelity M6 DAC and M6i integrated amp (digital)

Gotham GAC-2 AES-EBU

Gotham GAC-2 V1

Micron Acoustic

Gotham GAC-2 AES ultra pro

Bass heavy. That's how I would describe this Gotham IC model. Once connected to my system, it immediately brought up low end notes up a notch. Even with the piano intro sounded quite bassy and it made Andre's vocal sounded deeper. At times, it sounded a bit bloated with bass but after listening to the track a few times, its more focus towards piano strokes. 

For Whiskey in The Jar, the rendition by Metallica version, Lars's drum pedal was dominating the overall track. It sounded very authoritative. James's vocal took a step back and was buried within the music. Kirk's guitar riffs and solo was very revealing. It truly presented this in a heavy metal fashion.

Sound staging is a little bit effected somehow as at times, I felt that I have lost the big sound from my system.It may also be that the IC provides a more controlled reproduction of the tracks.

Gotham GAC-2 AES-EBU

With this IC model, the overall musical presentation is more balanced where the bass injection is more subtle but still bold enough to be noticed. The warm envelop is more evident with this model. The piano strokes sounded extended with its low notes while Andrea's vocal sounded more dynamic and energetic.

With Metallica, the drum pedals no longer dominate the performance. James's vocal came out more alive than the previous IC. Its more nicely blended into the musical arrangement. There was also a stint of Jason's bass line can be heard. A more refined presentation compared to AES Ultra Pro.

This was the best presentation of Andrea's rendition of Era Gia Tutto Previsto. Vocal was very emotional and fluid, blended well with the rest of musical equipment especially the piano. Even when Andrea was hitting the high notes, it sounded so natural. The piano keys sounded neutral and sweet.

This was more of neutral presentation overall. Bass was not too heavy. Detail and clarity were more evident with Jason's bass line was brought up with much more detail but was not over powering the overall track. Lars's footwork sounded more laid back and Kirk's solo was more melodic compared to the other two Gotham ICs.

Micron Acoustic

The piano strokes was buried behind the powerful voice of Andrea. This is one IC that helps to bring out the clarity and refinement of vocals. At high notes, Andrea sounded a bit restricted but this was compensated by airiness of the vocals. Some layering and colouration between the different musical instruments and the vocals were very evident. This helps a bit with sound staging that the Gotham AES Ultra Pro fails to deliver fully.

The hi-hat on Whiskey In The Jar track was restricted from sound extended as if I am not mistaken, Lars was playing with an open hi-hat set up. It sounded 'safe' and more localised. There was a good blend between vocals and music with a similar layering was experienced. The bass line from Jason was less revealing, which took away the warm character that I heard from Gotham. Not necessarily a bad thing.  


The table is a summary of my review on the 4 IC. Stay tune for Part 2 where all these ICs are used to run digital platform.

If anyone is interested to try out these ICs, kindly contact Mizal via Whatsapp on 012-2746548

Sunday, 12 July 2015

El Hefe's Personal Awards for KLIAV 2015

This may not be What Hi FI Awards, but I really enjoy this year's show. Despite of physical economic situation, most of the exhibitors put  lot of effort to make good set ups. Its only fair to give thanks to all exhibitors.

Most Consistent In Performance Year After Year

PMC Fact 12 and Bryston source and amplification by AV Designs

It was rather a simple set up with Bryston B135 SST2 Integrated Amplifier, BDP-2 music player, BDA-2 DAC and BOT-1 Optical Transport. All hooked with Wywires cables. AV Designs managed to create quite a laid back but impactful set up in a moderately sized and open venue. Clean and detailed sound with subtle bass response.

Their full Bryston home theatre speaker set up was also very involving. They showcased a similar series that I experienced in their show room but now with Bryston ceiling speakers as well instead of PMC wafers.


Most Unique Design/Set Up

I have seen small ones, old ones, new ones, huge ones.... but never have I have seen a very stable and unique design such as the Kronos Sparta Turntable.

HiFi Creation set up two rooms for this show and both rooms feature Kronos turntable. At first glance, I thought it was a 2 in 1 TT.... only upon close look, then I realised its a 2 platter system with the bottom platter is moving counter clockwise. And upon further look, even the whole unit itself was heavily engineered where stability and isolation from vibration were among the commonly known issues for a TT design that Kronos have excelled to overcome.

Sound quality of the whole set up with Kronos, Magnet amplification, Skorgrand cables, Frank Power Bank, diffusers and Victor's own excellent bass thumping locally designed and built speakers, it was rather a very big and bold sound with lots of character.  


The Sexiest-To-Die-For

Devialet 200 and Franco Serblin Accordo speakers not only look so sexy but the sound quality surpasses a lot of minimalist systems. Very refined yet delivers substantial details and bass impact especially for relatively small speakers. I really enjoyed the shear sonic performance from this set up.

The Devialet 200 (if I remember correctly) amp is quite a character as it does bring out a lot of detail through the Accordo speakers. WTL Trading from Melaka have managed to set up these gems with optimum performance in mind. Now I wonder how this set up will sound in a more audio friendly environment.

Also thank you to their staff that explained to me the features of the amp and also the unique Accordo design.


Most Innovative and Compact ATMOS

Maxx Audio did it again this year. Even with a relatively small room to showcase an ATMOS set up, they did a marvelous job especially with their custom made 'ceiling' speakers stand. As the hotel did not allow to punch holes in the ceiling, Max came out with dedicated speaker stands as high as the ceiling. And with the dual SVS sub and Prime set up, the experience of ATMOS can be lived and breathed in this room. The demo disc was also perfect to compare between 5.2 channel and 5.2.4 ATMOS channel. 


Most Surprising Performer

SoulNote system from Japan, brought in by Audio Art from Ipoh. Very clean design, delivering crisp sound with enough low end impact. Very affordable audiophile set up. The biggest surprise was the 10 watter monitor amp is the force behind the performance of the set up on that day.


Endless-Spoil-For-Choice Set Ups

This award must be given to 'newcomer' to the show Stars Pickers with their spoil for choice headphones, IEMs and headphone amps. I believe this is the first year they joined the show eventhough they have been operating for nearly 2 years if I am not mistaken. Started off in Kepong before they move to their current shop in Kota Damansara. I personally like the Audeze EL8. Was heavily contemplating to get one on that day especially with the discount but I have to be patient. Their list of headphones ranges from Oppo to Audeze to Hifiman and many more. 


The Most Majestic

To my eyes, the Naim Statement carries its name as it intended to. Standing tall alongside the giant Dynaudio speakers, it was definitely making a statement to deliver a mighty view and sound. One could not resist but to step in into this showroom.


Survival of the Flattest

No, I am not referring to TVs. I am referring to flat speakers by nature but delivering fat and big sound. This award was a tie. Both Spatial and Clarisys provided an involving performance from their set ups. Spatial is smaller by size but is not shy to deliver a bold low end even with its open rear concept. Clarisys also deliver an astnonishing big sound and the clarity from them, makes you wonder how the whole set up works.


Most Awaited Product

Leben amplifiers are quite unique inn physical design and sound characteristics. I only know of one person who uses Leben locally. The one and only Sting as how he is known in the local hifi scene. Listening to his setup makes me wonder which company will bring these babies into Malaysia. And sure enough, this year Leben was showcased and very soon, according to Isaac, a local show room will be established.


Things That Should Have Been

Another awaited product debut is the home grown KOGA Audio. A newcomer with its own suite of amplifiers was supposed to be an exhibitor but due to a conflicting work schedule, the designer decided to postpone its official debut to 2016.


The Grand Award

El Hefe's most prestigious award goes to.........

Every exhibitor, press force, attendees, technical speakers, sponsors and of course Mr. Dick Tan and 3DotEvent company for another lively show.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Damage of KLIAV 2015 Show

A visit to this event will not be complete without commercial damage to my pocket.

But the highlight of the acquisition is Todd Garfinkle's autographed limited edition CD which I received for the review I did on his music and recording. Thanks Todd and Dick Tan.

Kuala Lumpur International AV Show 2015 - A Good Mix

It was the time of the year again where audiophiles, headfi-ers and AV nutheads locally and neighbouring countries would be in JW Marriot hotel to attend the Kuala Lumpur International AV Show, organised by 3DotEvent. Its a 3 days (3rd to 5th July) event but yours truly can only attend on the second day due to the fasting month.

I arrived at 955 am and the first person I met was the head honcho himself Mr. Dick Tan, looking sharp in a suit. After collecting my Press badge (Yes, after 2.5 years of reviewing, I was finally recognised as a member of the press hahaha... thanks Mr. Dick Tan) and the free Commemorative CD, I went down to the GF to kick start my visit cum exploration.

My personal objective:

  1. To demo the Audeze EL8 open and closed back headphones
  2. To demo Oppo PM3 headphone
  3. To experience Dolby ATMOS
  4. To demo Devialet
  5. To find bargain LPs and Bluray discs

The entrance was its usual display of Lucky Draw prizes which I had never won before :)


Asia Sound

Asia Sound had both active and static display of various Rega products and to my surprise, a pair of Zu Audio Omen speakers.


Wo Kee Hong: Marantz and Klipsh


Desa Home Theatre

DHT continue to provide special prices for various hifi and AV equipment including ATMOS enabled AVRs.



OPPO had set up their demo point around the beginning of the whole AV show area with HA-1  and HA-2 headphone amplifiers and PM-1 and PM-3 headphones on active display. I managed to demo the PM-3 and PM-1 using the HA-2 and HA-1 amps with the music source coming from my faithful Blackberry Passport.

Each unit has its own unique offering with the PM-1 is more suited for home use and PM-3 for on-the-go music.

I was also greeted by their marketing, who flew from China for this event. Ms. Tina was very articulate with all the Oppo products and would be interested to know how Malaysia is responding to Oppo products. There was a request from Ms. Tina to inform guests of their latest products. Please click here.



CMY had a small room at this level, mainly for lock stock and barrels on sale especially on QED cables.




Creek and EPOS

Devialet & Franco Serblin ~ Accordo

I was quite entertained with Devialet. The last time I heard of them was in Paris in 2013 but was not all that impressed when it was paired with Focal. With these Accordo, it sounded quite immersive. And its look is just to die for with the toggle remote.





Perfect HiFi with Linn System

Maxx Audio with 5.2.4 Dolby ATMOS set up using SVS Prime speakers

Max went for simplicity this year but have put in a very effective speaker placement for ATMOS experience in a small room. With custom made speaker stand as tall as the hotel room wall, the whole demo was a very immersive experience.

NOTE: SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 set is going for RM4299 for this month ONLY.


Had a wonderful chat with David Kestez on this HECO speakers and BMC media streamer (both audio and video) Quite an impressive set up these pair have. For its price, the HECO can deliver very clean and detail sound while maintaining a certain extensive low ends.

HiFi Creations

Our home grown speaker designer maestro Victor Pheh went all out to show the prowess of his new Addacio Supremo speaker design. I had the privilege to listen to these speakers during its design stage. Its a 4 piece speaker unit that will definitely send a chill down your spine when it gives you the bass attack. Very dynamic and big sound.

Victor had two room side by side with both having KRONOS Turntable as a source and four units each room of Frank Voon Power Banks.

Phono Stage

Skogrand Galore




Clarity MP

A simple system but with very melodious  delivery of music. Fluid and detail at low volume. A good pairing of Mark Levinson and Ravel
 Another CMY

 Dynaudio and KARAN amps

Spatial and Crayon

I was very surprised with the SQ of this speaker. Unique design with big  sound even with such a small/lack of cabinet.


Another CMY

Mission+Audiolab, ProAc with Primare and various tweaks.



An alternative to ceiling speakers for ATMOS would be these XTZ upfiring speakers.


SoulNote from Japan

Bluetooth equipped integrated amp

I was also very impressed with this affordable set up from Japan, brought to you by Audio Art in Ipoh. I was at a state of shock when David mentioned that it was just a 10 watter amp!

I must pay them a visit again in Ipoh when I go back there during Hari Raya break.

Centre Circle

Various HUGO and Pathos stuff


 A new product from China.


CMY Flagship Room - Naim Statement

Headphones Galore

I was also very impressed with Sony IEM. Veeerryy good noise isolation with high level of comfort in your ears. Even the conversation of the gents in front of me, I could not hear at all.

Sony is also giving 10% discount on their product during this event.




AV Designs

Full fledge ATMOS with Bryston speakers and PMC Fact 12 for stereo with Bryston amplification and digital source. Impressive set up.


Lampizator DAC with iTunes


Leben with AudioNote

Isaac mentioned they will be setting up shop in KL soon. So, Leben fans can now demo or get their hands on these luscious unit locally.


Star Pickers Headphones Galore

I am soooo tempted to get the EL8 either open or closed back especially at the price of RM2750. I have always wanted to have a pair but their previous models of LCD were just physically too heavy for my head.

There were also the usual LPs and BluRay galore but I am proud to say that I managed to control my lust towards the extensive options of music and movies there.

So, recap on objectives:

ACHIEVED ALL YEAY! WITH a slight sway on cables. I also purchased a Supra USB 2.0 cable to replace my starting-to-give-trouble-el-cheapo-cable.