Monday, 24 April 2017

Fenomena Music Is Here To Rock!

While thousands around Malaysia celebrating Record Store Day, there was one venue that took this special day to launch a new music shop. Its not just another music shop but it comes with a theme...a theme known by all rock kapak fans.. Its called Fenomena Music. Located in Plaza Damas, right beside the existing Dream Studio. It is under the same management of Dato Zaharul Anuar.

It was also not just a launch as there were several special events planned on that day:
  • Launching of the reissue of Fenomena Double LP which was opened for pre-order for the first numbered 100 copies at a discounted price of RM275. Expected to be released by June 2017.
  • Listening session of the double LP Test Pressing
  • Special RSD issued 2 tracks Fenomena EP and the full album signed by the cover design artist Tapa Otai
  • Meet and Greet session with Search
  • Wings Belenggu Irama green vinyl that comes with a T-Shirt.

I arrived slightly early at 1120 am instead of the start time of 12 pm. Mainly to get a good parking! So it was still a quiet affair at that time. The crew were still busy doing lats minute preparation. It didn't really look like an RSD day but more of a Search day which I am ok with that. The main reason I was here is because of Search.

Music is fun but when I see Datuk and his crew breaking their back preparing the venue, I realise that it is hard work to ensure things are in order for the artist and fans. Most people think it is a walk in the park for those working behind the scenes to get the music to the fan base.

By 1245 pm, the Vespa team arrived lead by the one and only, Amy Search.

Amy came in a full coveralls, maybe oil and gas companies can take him as a resident artist for the offshore operations (joking). Soon after, the rest of the band members arrived but of course still without Yazit the drummer.

By 2 pm, the Fenomena Music shop was officially launched by Search. ... and soon after that the door was open for fans to start shopping and pre order the Fenomena double LP.

All and all, it was  a different RSD atmosphere here where the guests were mainly here for Search.  Thank you to Fenomena Music for bringing new opportunities for local music fans to meet their favourite artist and also to have the chance to own the Fenomena LP at a more practical price compared to the ones online.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

To SLAT or Not To SLAT?

In hifi world, Lenco turntables are legendary for its idle wheel design and also among the most tweaked or custom made turntable that I have seen over the last few years. Its interesting to see how this notion created different school of thoughts on the capability of a Lenco. While I have owned 2 Lenco (GL78 and L78) with different plinths, I have only listened to a custom made Lenco in other people's system.

I first was introduced to a simple tweak of the SSS mat (Sien's Stainless Steel) which I have reviewed here. While it did provide a different sound perspective, I wanted to hear a full custom made Lenco in my system. The obliging Captain Sien (SpH) offered to loan his own personal unit to me for a week so that I can experience what the buzz is all about. My personal big thanks to Capt Sien for this opportunity.

It does look really grand and at first glance, it does not look like a Lenco at all. At least if it is compared to mine. But when you see underneath the hood, then the famous idle wheel mechanism can be recognized immediately.


There are a few parts that are completely different from my Lenco.
  • SLAT - Sien's Lenco Alternative Top Plate
  • SLAB - Sien's Lenco Alternative Bearing
  • SSS - Sien's Stainless Steel Mat
  • Golf ball Tonearm 
  • Plinth - wood base and Corian material top
  • Knob and screw in to lock speed adjuster
  • IEC socket to allow your choice of power cable
  • Denon D103 cartridge
  • The base unit is a Lenco L75 as oppose to mine an L78 unit
It is a heavily custom made unit which SpH aims at getting his preferred sound signature. The built is relatively solid and sturdy. The critically acclaimed golf ball tonearm is however is a bit of a personal concern. Mainly because I have shaky hands. I was expecting a heavier tonearm but it is not much different in weight compared to the stock Lenco tonearm. I particularly concern on the lift mechanism where you have to hold it for a few seconds at the lift position. If not, the tonearm will drop on its own slowly. I was informed that this lift mechanism design is being looked at to be improved. Even the full golf ball design is going through an enhancement towards half ball design. 


Quiet. Quieter background. Thus revealing more. Dispersed bass but goes down deep as opposed to hard hitting. On this Dire Strait So Far Away, the sound stage seems to be elevated and airier. The vocal's breadth was also quite forwarding. It is a completely different sound from my L78. It does give listeners a different perspective. As this was a 45 RPM LP, I had to use the unscrew, slide to adjust speed and re-screw knob to get the right speed. A bit cumbersome as oppose to the stock Lenco which was at a flick of the speed adjuster. I am quite fascinated by the 'big picture' of the sound reproduced from this SLAT design as it had a touch of revealing more details of the music.

So Far Away

  • Musical Fidelity M1 ViNL phono amp
  • Musical Fidelity M6i integrated amp as pre
  • Musical Fidelity KW550 superchargers/monoblock
  • ProAc Response D18
  • Vermouth Audio Black Pearl speaker cable


  • Dire Straits - So Far Away
  • XPDC - Kau Bukan Milik
  • Andrea Bocelli - Era Gia Tutto Previsto
  • Diana Krall - Temptation
  • Metallica - Atlas Rise

This reissue LP of XPDC is one of my favourite local LPs. On this track, the guitar sounded melodic and energetic. Wider soundstage with enough airiness to have that analogue feeling. Vocals again is very upfront with high clarity. Bass is a bit shy, hiding behind the guitar strength. Given this is a melodic rock song, the heavy presentation of guitars and vocal might just do the trick for most but I could do with a little bit more bass punch.

Kau Bukan Milikku

With the track Era Gia Tutto Previsto, the warm vibrato vocal of Andrea was brought to another level. Very forwarding and wholesome at the same time. You can sense the energy in the vocal enveloping the listening session. At certain peak, the highs can be a bit dominant but I tribute this to the cartridge rather than the SLAT itself. Another evidence here how the SLAT package reveals a bigger soundstage.

Era Gia Tutto Previsto

I really want to hear this SLAT to blow me away with some shocking vibes. So, opening of this track Temptation in which I usually experience a sensation zing when that snare is hit. On the SLAT is sounded dispersed and not energised, echoing my experience in the first 3 tracks for this review. In trying to get most of the energy to go to the vocals, it somehow miss out on some key roles on percussion. Diana's vocal of course became the spotlight. The strength can be felt to be dominant again with some genius strokes on the double bass. It is still not earth shattering but it blends in nicely for a jazz tune like this.


Now that I have established a good reference for vocals and soundstage, I wanted to push the limit with some heavy music and see how this model holds up especially in the bass. For metal music, the SLAT definitely can rock it out as well. The bass is not what I expect but the high tonality and separation on the vocal and ferocious guitar works makes up for the lack of bass reproduction. It still managed to move my feet and follow the beat to Lars's drumming. The overall sound seems to be heavy on the highs but quite adrenalin heavy as well. It did manage to create that heavy metal sound that moves you. 
Atlas Rise


Its a tough one here. The design itself brings out a different sound character from Lenco. This SLAT unit should be seen on its own glorious self as it does provide its key characters - revealing details, quieter background, forward vocals and clarity and airy and bigger soundstage. The bass which is a more dispersed presentation may be preferred by non bass heads and definitely it helps in creating that live jazz feeling. I cant really pin point which part that created the bigger impact so I believe its the combination of SLAT, SLAB and golf ball tonearm. Alternatively, you can also try different cartridges.

For someone whom is looking for a Lenco Turntable, may want to demo this unit at Capt Sien's place. It may provide you with a different perspective on Lenco like what I experienced. I would still recommend for Capt Sien to look into the tonearm lift issue to ensure the built is sturdier. This SLAT unit is custom made by Capt Sien, so do contact him to demo and discuss the design that you fancy. Capt usually will require for audiophiles to bring in their own stock Lenco L75/78 for him to work on. Have fun Lenco-ing!

The ball in the bearing originally was a tungsten carbide ball which was replaced by a ceramic ball in this review. The tungsten carbide ball sounded more dynamic as reported by a few customers who had theirs changed. The golf ball is now changed to a 1/2 ball-1/2 aluminum top which is easier to align and adjust.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Pengeluaran Semula Piring Hitam Belenggu Irama - Rawk Habis!

Dalam beberapa minggu lepas, gelombang penerbitan semula album2 lama muzik tempatan telah dikejutkan oleh beberapa perbincangan alam maya mengenai kualiti penerbitan semula itu. Walaupun banyak yang memberi pendapat yang membangun tetapi ada juga yang berbaur menghina dan tohmahan. Pada pendapat saya, ini tidak seharusnya berlarutan di dalam industri muzik kita yang tidaklah sebesar mana. Apa yang merisaukan saya ialah pihak2 yang bertungkus lumus untuk membawa semula nostalgia muzik2 80-an dan 90-an dalam bentuk piring hitam mahupun juga cakera padat ini berpatah hati dan menghentikan perancangan untuk menerbitkan lebih banyak album2 lain. Secara peribadi, saya amat bersyukur kerana di zaman 80-an dan 90-an, saya tidaklah mampu untuk membeli CD atau LP. Kaset pun, terpaksa betul memilih kerana dalam setahun, saya hanya mampu menyimpan duit saku untuk membeli dua kaset sahaja. Saya lebih banyak berharap kepada Pilihan Bersama FM Stereo untuk memutarkan lagu2 kegemaran saya di mana saya akan merakamkannya ke dalam kaset kosong.

Namun, tahniah diucapkan kepada syarikat seperti Dream Studio yang terus berkhidmat untuk memberi peluang kepada peminat2 muzik tanahair untuk memiliki album2 kegemaran mereka dalam bentuk piring hitam atau CD. Yang terbaru dan hangat diperkatakan sekarang ialah penerbitan semula album Belenggu Irama oleh kumpulan Wings dalam bentuk piring hitam (LP). Bermula dari semalam 6 April hinggalah Ahad ini 9 April, keluaran terhad piring hitam album ini ada dijual di Istana Budaya bersempena Konsert Wings and Super Friends di sana.

Seperti juga album Hijau Zainal Abidin, saya telah diberi peluang untuk menilai Test Pressing album Belenggu Irama ini sebelum penerbitan semula secara keseluruhan. Keluaran semula kali ini telah dilakukan di negara Jerman. 
Inspirasi Taming Sari Edisi Pertama

Inspirasi Taming Sari Test Pressing

Semasa memutarkan lagu Inspirasi Taming Sari, terus saya dapat rasakan impak dari adunan semula album ini. Ianya lebih bertenaga daripada edisi pertama. Nada rendah atau bass lebih padu di mana pukulan deram Black jelas lebih jitu dan keras, menepati genre rock yang dibawa oleh Wings. Petikan gitar Sham juga sangat bertenaga dan berat. Vokal Awie walaupun tidak sebesar vokalnya sekarang, boleh dikatakan lebih jelas daripada edisi pertama. Bergantung juga kepada kartrij yang digunakan, edisi ini juga memberi peluang kepada pendengar untuk menikmati pementasan audio yang lebih luas berbanding dengan edisi pertama di mana bunyi agak tertutup tetapi fokus.

Biarkan Berlalu TP

Pengalaman yang sama saya alami apabila memutarkan lagu Biarkan Berlalu. Pementasan audio yang luas memberikan kepuasan seperti menonton Wings secara live. Ia berjaya menyampaikan suasana audio yang lebih menyeluruh dan emosi genre rock balada ini dapat saya menjiwainya dengan lebih kepuasan. Dapat saya rasakan semula perasaan saya pertama kali mendengar kaset Belenggu Irama di era 80-an. Setiap alat muzik dan vokal sememangnya timbul secara seimbang dan tiada satu elemen yang ditenggelami oleh elemen lain. 

Secara keseluruhannya, agak puas hati saya mendengar Test Pressing ini. Ianya mngkin masih belum mencapai tahap audiophile tetapi sememangnya ada elemen peningkatan dapat didengar pada keluaran semula ini berbanding dengan edisi pertama. Kekuatan lebih kepada nada audio seimbang dan bass yang lebih padu. Mungkin juga ada pendengar yang akan mengatakan nada tinggi atau treble nya agak tinggi tapi ini mungkin lebih bergantung kepada sistem masing-masing. Untuk peminat Wings, melainkan anda mahukan edisi pertama yang boleh mencecah RM1,000 di pasaran online, LP keluaran semula ini harus menjadi sebahagian daripada koleksi anda. Kualiti bunyinya walaupun subjektif kepada setiap pendengar, ianya masih jauh lebih menghiburkan berbanding dengan kaset rakaman saya daripada Pilihan Bersama FM Stereo. 

LP ini boleh dibeli di Istana Budaya sehingga 9 April ini pada harga RM175. Sebahagian dari harga jualan akan disalurkan kepada badan2 kebajikan.