Sunday, 27 November 2016

SVS PB16 Ultra and SB16 Ultra Product Launch

Maxx Audio in Seremban hosted a product launch event for the new SVS PB16 Ultra and SB16 Ultra on Saturday 26th November. This long awaited event was attended maaaannnyyy HT enthusiasts in the country and also by the regular audio reviewers like Willy Low, Vinod, Dick Tan and that one troublemaker of all time...Myself. The event kicked off at 11 am an officially ended at 6 pm wuth a steady flow of AV-philes throughout that time. It was so packed that Max had to arrange for every one to experience the new subs in a few demo sessions.

No hifi product launch in Malaysia can be conducted without having delicacies. Max and Ben specially ordered Nasi Lemak bungkus NIzam and also Bee Hoon goreng and also hot curry puffs. Yours truly arrived at about 1015 to provide Max with the Samsung 4K UHD BD player and once set up, this nasi lemak started make its way through my mouth. Yummy. Once done, the official demo started.

Batman vs Superman DOJ on 4K UHD

One of Epson on display projector

Max explained the new design adapted by SVS in this PB16 sub. With 1500 watss RMS power, this 16" sub , this sub guarantees a substantial LFE will be provided in one's system. It goes as deep as 13 to 280 Hz. The sub can be adjusted via its mini remote control and also iOS and Android bases apps. It weighs at a staggering 95 kg mark and it can easily be mistaken to be a small washing machine hehehe. You would need a big room for this to be made looked smaller. Customer have the choice of piano black or black ash finishings.

Max has deployed a 7.2.4 channel system in his 16.5 x 19.5 ft room. A bit crowded with speakers but still comfy enough to enjoy a full fledge ATMOS/DTS-X surround sound. The full set up list is as follows with its RRP:

  • SVS PB16 Ultra - RM14,499
  • SVS SB16 Ultra - RM 11,499
  • Klipsch KL-650-THX - RM 7,600 each
  • Klipsch KL-525-THX surround - RM6350 each
  • Klipsch CDT-2800-C II Top front and Top rear - RM1,150 each
  • Denon AVR X7200WA - RM 13,999
  • ATI 807 7 channel power amp - RM15,000
  • Parasound A23 Stereo power amp - RM6800
  • Oppo BDP-105D - RM5,999
  • Epson LS10000 projector - RM30,500

KL 650 THX Centre (similar to LR channels)

ATI 7 channel power amp

Oppo 105D, Samsung K8500, Parasound 2 channel power amp and Denon X7200WA

Klipsch rear speakers

OK enough of the tech talk. Now lets get into the nitty gritty:

When Max show case his set up, several different type of movies were played. Ranging from rain effect, bullet spraying war scenes, helicopter swirls, building collapse, martial arts and many more. My favourite was the war scene in the movie Bengazi. The PB16 shook the LazyBoy sofa with tremendous power and agility. I was surprised that there was rattling of the ceiling. The LFE provided by the two subs was enough to provide the guests on that day what these new Ultras can do. 

The sound of the spraying bullets and its impact sounded deep but subtle enough to differentiate it from explosives sounds. The speed and accuracy of the subs were evident enough that even in a chaotic scene like this, it delivers continuous LFE impact on each relevant sound. Matched and properly set up with the Klipsch speakers, the dialogue was still crystal clear. The mid bass was also presence where in a quieter scene of dialogue, the vocal sounded energized and with a deeper tone and emotion. 

The Klipsch THX Ultra 2 speaker set up was also very involving and gives out details of the movie with a high level of precision. With up to 97 dB sensitivity, they were driven effortlessly by the amplification in this set up. No sign of stress and I did not experience any fatigue listening to this set up through out the day.

Thank you Max and Ben for the invite. I a quite sure these new monstrous sub will be flying out of your shop into people's home very frequently.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

MatYeoX Interconnect: Clarity Beyond Its Price

I just love the local hifi scene. There are still a number of decent hifi and music lovers whom put forth ear satisfaction above name and price. Local DIY-ers go through various level of excitement by experimenting basic science and apply it to their hobby. I have reviewed a number of different components built by DIY-ers (most time, I will be the first to review), namely USB DAC (Stoner Acoustics), power amp, pre amp (KOGA Labs) and interconnects (KOGA Labs, Mizzal). Each have their own potential given the right approach and level of attention.

This time around, I have this pair of interconnect, courtesy of a well known HT enthusiast, MatYeo. He is not only one of those who people refer to when it comes to HT but he also caters the need of cabling for them. His debut interconnect is named MatYeoX.  

Basic Specification

The conductor material is OFC (Oxygen Free Conductor) with a gauge of 20. Braided shielding coverage is up to 95% and the diameter is about 6.5 mm. It does not sound like anything special but what matters is how the end product affect your sound.

Professionally terminated and finished with a nice red and black woven sleeve. You will be surprised how much it cost. Read on to know the pocket damage.

The Set Up

I used this IC with 2 sources:
  1. Lenco L78 to the Musical Fidelity M1 ViNL phono stage
  2. SONY HAP Z1-ES hi res player to Musical Fidelity M6i amp
  3. HECO Direkt speakers with Vermouth Audio Black Pearl cables

The Tracks

  1. Little Train by Niels Hennings and gang (WAV 24/192)
  2. Whiskey in The Jar by Metallica (WAV 16/44.1)
  3. Countdown to Extinction by Megadeth (LP)
The Session

The MatYeoX have been in my system for over a month now and have been part of many reviews actually. Even the PMC and Bryston. Hidden gem it is.

Little Train by Niels Hennings, Orsted Pederson and Sam Jones

This double bass track was the ultimate point where I find the glory of this IC. A heavy bass track like this, given the wrong cabling, may end up with a muddled or boomy bass. MatYeoX opens up the track to be more than just double bass emphasize. The guitar was made to be heard as nice back up instrument with quite rhythmic percussion. Rim shots sounded hard and detail under that layer of heavy bass. The HECO played a big role in expanding the bass line but the MatYeoX brought up a more refined overall sound. This was indeed the highlight for me when it comes to this IC.

Whiskey in The Jar by Metallica
Again, MatYeoX brought up that clarity of the metallic metal riffs by Kirk and gang. Somehow, it brings up the energy of the guitar, hi hat and even James's vocal. The bass drum somehow was subdued by the ferocious sound of upfront presentation. For a track like this, you may need a good IC 'moderator' to avoid any overwhelming bass impact.

The guitar on this track sounded sharper and more clarity can be heard compared to my previous Canare IC. The high hat sound on the percussion side also very accurate and detail alongside the warm bass I get from the kick pedal. Dave's vocal also sounded more upfront and coherent within the entirety of the track. It made this classic track sounded bold and really managed to recreate that 'dark' ambient to the listener. 


The MatYeoX is a no nonsense interconnect. It brings up a lot of clarity in my system when it comes to high frequency importance. It somehow will tame some low ends impact to avoid any extra unwanted boom. The built is of high standard with high quality materials as well. Its not one of those rigid type ICs physically. Easily to be 'snaked' into any tight set ups.

For RM90/meter complete with RCA, try it if your system suffer from certain boomy or muddled bass issue. It it does not work, its not going to burn your pocket or get a scolding from the wife. Contact MatYeo at 019-2224914

Friday, 11 November 2016

Samsung ATMOS Soundbar HW-K950 - All In One for the Simple Minded

This is a mirror from where my review was initially posted. 

+ Centre-channel clarity, engaging subwoofer, effective up-firing ATMOS speakers and flawless wireless connectivity. ATMOS effect well delivered with an immersive sound.
– Lack of calibration software and not much of a two-channel music experience.
Sound: 8/10
Value: 8/10

DOLBY ATMOS has been around for a few years and is now quite a stable platform, and it is increasingly common for moviemakers to mix their surround audio effects in this format. More and more movies are now screened in an ATMOS audio mix, either in the cinemas or on Blu-ray discs.
While cinema-goers are now spoilt with a more immersive sound, home theatre enthusiasts face the space challenge of setting up at least five speakers, a subwoofer and four ceiling speakers to achieve the minimum 5.1.4 ATMOS set-up requirement. This becomes a bigger challenge if the set-up is to be installed in the living room.
Samsung has come up with an alternative all-in-one, space-saving ATMOS soundbar, complete with wireless connectivity for the subwoofer and a pair of rear surround units with a built-in ATMOS up-firing speakers.
The Samsung HW-K950 Soundbar provides the minimum 5.1.4 channels through its intuitive speaker design. The soundbar unit houses the front-firing channels (centre, left and right) and a pair of front up-firing ATMOS drivers. The rear surround speakers are equipped with the rear up-firing ATMOS drivers and to complete the set-up, a subwoofer is also part of the whole equation.
What is really interesting about this package is the wireless connectivity between the soundbar unit and the rear speakers and subwoofer. A total of 15 drivers are built into this whole package, providing a wider dispersive effect.
The system provides a whopping 500 watts RMS and is equipped with six DSP modes to choose from. It does not stop there. For two-channel audio, there is also Bluetooth connectivity. It also supports Spotify, Deezer etc, streaming as well. The system is capable of handling HD Audio up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution and supports Samsung’s multi-room application.
Those with an existing Samsung SMART TV and Blu-ray/4K UHD player will be happy to know that the remote control unit that comes with the HW-K950 will integrate your existing equipment into the system and allow you to control your whole entertainment set from one remote commander. 

It is recommended to have two people to unbox this system. Mainly due to its length, it is awkward to handle the unboxing alone. Do take note that “wireless” refers to the audio connectivity from the soundbar to the rear speakers and subwoofer. You will need three AC points for the subwoofer and the rear speakers. So, do ensure you have plug points where you intend to set up the rear speakers and subwoofer.


Connectivity between the components is easily set up. Just turn on the soundbar, subwoofer and rear speakers and all of them will automatically detect each other. Once connected, a blue LED lights up indicating successful pairing.
Similarly with Bluetooth and online music streaming services such as Spotify. Using your mobile phone or tablet, just follow the step-by-step instructions and you will be enjoying wireless music within a few minutes.
There are two HDMI and one optical input at the rear of the soundbar. However, there is only one HDMI output to the TV but it is equipped with Audio Return Channel module (ARC).
I connected the newly-launched Samsung UBD-K8500 4K UHD Blu-ray player to this soundbar to experience not only ATMOS, but also 4K visual on my Samsung curve TV.

The biggest challenge setting up this soundbar system is the calibration. Modern AV receivers usually come with auto calibration modules which calibrate all speaker components to adapt to the room environment in order to produce the optimum surround effect. For this review, the calibration had to be done manually by increasing or lowering the volume for each speaker to achieve 75dB on the sound level meter app on my phone.
It is highly recommended to follow the guidelines by Dolby on the up-firing ATMOS with regards to height and the material used for the ceiling. The recommended ceiling height is between 7.5 and 12 feet and the maximum is 14 feet. The ceiling material should be reflective.
Watching the Star Trek 4K UHD Blu-ray disc, I was really surprised by the clarity of the centre channel from the sound bar. Even in a chaotic attack scene with powerful LFE, the dialogue from Spock and Captain Kirk was exceptionally clear.

The ATMOS effect was, of course, the highlight where the sound effects of falling objects tumbling down wreckages and laser beams being shot downwards were not only immersive but quite realistic and in sync with the whole movie experience. The rear ATMOS sounded a little thin at the beginning compared with the front ATMOS but a slight volume adjustment managed to overcome that. Sitting in the middle gave me the feeling that I was actually surrounded by the actual attack scene.

The performance of the subwoofer was also unexpectedly very engaging. Since it is wireless, I decided to site the subwoofer at the rear to test its wireless connectivity and effectiveness. Throughout the movie, the subwoofer worked tirelessly, delivering a rumbling bass effect that vibrated my sofa and the floor. Any explosion scene will grab your attention as the subwoofer will shake your seat. The effect dispersion could be felt across my viewing area.
Moving to a Superman: Man of Steel, the surround experience was even more engaging than Star Trek. The scene where Superman rescues people from a burning offshore platform provided me with even more engaging immersive effect. It was also directional (versus just a blanket noise effect); hence it related to the image being viewed. The swooshing sound of Superman flying from top right (rear) to bottom left (front) can be easily heard, giving me the directional perspective of the movie I was watching.
Moving to two-channel audio for music listening resulted in a different reaction. The sound is quite lifeless. Even after I tweaked certain parameters, I just could not enjoy listening to the system. With the audio channel now focused on the front, I could not get the same level of enjoyment when watching movies.
On Andrea Bocelli’s Time To Say Goodbye, the emotion of the song could not be delivered as well as from proper floorstanding or bookshelf speakers. For heavy metal or rock tracks such as Metallica’s Enter Sandman, I was expecting a heavier impact but the guitar solos sounded flat and the drumming, box-ish.


If you are looking for a simplified, no nonsense home theatre soundbar for your home, the Samsung HW-K950 is one worth auditioning. It is a Dolby ATMOS certified system and does not fail to provide the immersive ATMOS experience but in a smaller package.

Of course, you should not compare it with a full-fledged AVR-mega-huge-speaker set-up but for its intended audience, this Samsung system managed to deliver its main objective. Yes, the two-channel music performance is not up to par but with this level of ATMOS delivery, you will be watching more movies than listening to music.
A word of caution, though – I do believe this system works well in a moderately-sized room and not for bigger halls. In order to ensure you can experience the ATMOS effect, it is recommended that you use this system in a venue that follows the ceiling height and material recommendation by Dolby.
Samsung UBD-K8500 4K UHD Blu-ray player, Samsung UA65HU9000 65-inch Curve TV

Price: US$1,499
Malaysian price: RM5,999
Review unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia Electronics Sdn Bhd

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Bryston BDP Pi and Product Update

Bryston fans... the Pi is here. On 4th November, the mini sized hi res player BDP Pi was launched at AV Designs showroom in Kuala Lumpur. Retailed at RM5900, this nifty little player is targetted at the new comers to hi res audio. With the exception of DSD, this Raspberry Pi based player can play various and most common formats including FLAC. The BOT-1 optical drive can also be connected to this unit and can perform direct CD playback or for ripping. It has 4 USB inputs, 1 coaxial and 1 optical out and a network port. Connect it to a DAC and network cable and you are on the way to audio nirvana.

The Pi works similarly to the BDP2 that I just reviewed including the interface.

Brian Russel, President of Bryston graced the product launched event by explaining the features of the Pi. There were various questions coming from the usual local hifi enthusiasts. To the question of why Tidal and not Spotify, it is mainly because Tidal is claimed to be providing better sounding music streaming as oppose to Spotify. Why no DSD support? Mainly because of the limitation of the Raspberry Pi platform.

The usual crowd Jo Ki, Dick Tan, Willy Low, Venoth along with AV Designs James Tan and Tony Low and of course, yours truly.

In this instant, size does not matter :)

Brian also updated us with some exciting news of whats coming:

  • BryFi - the wifi speaker system. Currently pending for license/certification approval. 
  • The CD player is coming back. Using a similar topography of BDA3 DAC, Bryston is adding a Sony transport with slot in mechanism and launch the new CD player by year end.
  • BLP-1 turntable (already available) 
  • A miniature DAC to compliment the Pi and BOT-1

What is a product launch without a meal? We ended the event with a full of laughter dinner. Brian is one entertainer. Salute to you Mr. President of Bryston.

Here are a fewer samplers: