Saturday, September 2, 2017

What you rather listening to in your audio system..


...Is it a nice sounding from a system or what intended by the singer/recording engineer wanted to be.

Some of you  will ask how we gonna know what is intended to be as we are not in the studio. 

My post in 2009 stereotype audiophiles, I have wrote about few issues of being so called "music lover". Not many of us really love music since young, some of us attracted to music through system that they have heard from friend's setup or a hifi show. Being limited reference in music playback, or listen to almost same setup or level will not give you any idea how the music should sound. In this case experience does helps into finding what is right to suits what you are looking for in sound reproduction. If you have knowledge about music/instruments always an added advantage.

I have friend that asked me how did I know to mix n match the components that I have use. Again, this is due to long years in listening music through a various system, setup and to many places. I don't have high end system, I can't afford but I matched carefully at my level.

Back to the issue, playback is always a playback and you can never re-create the actual recording or event in your room. Having said that, the least you can do is to try to re-create the closest possible within your system capability. How?...have you heard of components has a character?...being natural, revealing, warm, sweet high, laid back, mellow mid and whatnot.

These are all the preferences that many looking for a playback, but in my case I'm looking  for a natural sounding system. You need a good source as I always believe in analogy of garbage in, garbage out. You need an amplifier that capable to deliver what has been pass through it and amplify at flat bandwidth as close as possible. Speakers are the most obvious sound change in a system than a components. If you got all things right but not at the speakers end, it's a waste. So how do I make my choice of component?. For the last 26years, I have listen a lot, to many systems and many places. This is how I learn about system interaction between components.



Next, the demonstration disc that has inlay notes or recorded voice telling how the sound should be heard is actually a great help for setup analysis and how your system perform. For example, Chesky The Ultimate Demonstration Disc. There is lots of audiophile jargon, terms in the disc, Depth, Atmosphere, Midrange purity, Transient, Holographic, Naturalness etc (some has used these jargon and know nuts). If you system can deliver 70-80% of the disc content, it already great and your system is enough as reference standard at your level (or my level). This is not your everyday listening disc or demo for a friends visit..😜.

It will be a great help and a must (for me) to listen this cd in high end system so that you get an idea how those jargon should sound. Although it is not 100% accurate (playback is still a playback) but at least a point of reference, if not your analysis is baseless.

A "natural reference" system will depend mostly on what has been feed at source level. If the recording is good or bad it will show accordingly and that is natural reference system. The bad side is, you'll be picky on recording but that is fine as I appreciate good work than mediocre. If your system sound equally the same on most recording, then it's your system character/quality.

You don't need to be in the studio. Preference to listen to what singer/recording engineer intended to is not 100% from the studio to your room, a sensible thinking would understand this. 

Experience is the most invaluable and thanks for reading this.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Home visit demo list



What's your play list for demo whenever friends come for a visit?. Many of us, (including me) will play the best recording in our collections to show our audio system capability. Most albums are not from the mainstream artist and not known to many. Exclusive recording label with high technology style of recording, singer that sings cover version of popular songs in enhanced recording 32bit digital or half-speed mastering, direct-to-disc 45rpm. Recording that captured exhale/inhale on purpose of the singer to add the so called "audiophile" feel to it.


These album will play to a good level in most system and great in high end system, it's a safe bet for a demo session for good sound reproduction. Having said that, we rarely play albums that recorded in normal industry standard..the mainstream artist that most people know.

Why don't you try to give your system a real test from recording standard, not recording reference album. If your system capable of producing great music in many of recording standard album, you got a great system..musically.


by the way not (not all) many reference recording album are produced musically in mind , but rather to show the fidelity. IMHO.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

My cheaper equipment better than yours!...



Sounds familiar?...often misunderstood by most beginners. Comparing expensive equipment into their entry/medium level system.

20 years ago I have used LC Audio mc phono stage with great success in my system consists of Clearaudio Champion/Rega300/Denon 103r - Naim NAC202/NAP200 - Von Schweikert VR1 Speakers. The sound was dynamic to my liking.

Once my good friend of mine has asked me to try Audio research PH  in my system together with ZYX mc cartridge. I was excited since he offered me a very good price if I were to buy from him.

When I hooked up everything for an audition I was hoping all gonna be great in my system..but NO...It's not. The whole sound reproduction was flat, sound staging was collapsed. How could it be with such high end branded items. After a week I decided to return it back to my friend.

I was thinking my cheaper phono stage and cartridge are superior, and I decided to bring it to test with his high end system. He hooked up my LC Audio phono stage with ZYX to his LP12 and sound was huge and dynamic. I smiled and thinking my cheaper LC audio phono is a killer.

After few songs we swapped the phono stage with Audio Research PH and I was totally wrong. The sound coming from his system are way way better all round, no contest!.

The conclusion is, if high end audio gears doesn't sound right in your entry/medium level system, it is actually your system that cannot deliver the best from the high end gears. Things which is made expensive from high quality parts definitely serves a purpose if it is matched carefully. The synergy between components are essentially important.

Cheaper products are more easy to mix and match for a safe sound reproduction. Like wise if they were perfectly matched, they can perform above their asking price better than poorly matched expensive audio gears. Experience is definitely invaluable.

Thanks for your time...till then



Saturday, October 10, 2015

Magico M Project, an instant rare...



This is my recent home visit to one of the most interesting system so far own by Mr Shahril. He is a well known high end audiophile in Malaysia and since he acquired a pair of Magico M Project has made him the only person using these speakers in Malaysia. There are only 50 pairs world wide, an instant rare!.

We met "unofficially" in FB as fellow music lovers and during last KLAV show we bumped into each other and he offered me for a visit aka listening session and I took the offer recently, long delay due to unfavorable working schedule. Arrived at his mansion in the evening and was greeted by him, very friendly and humble person.


His listening room...wow!..what can I say. It is the best looking, lovely ambient so far in my home visit. The room is large, acoustically treated at its best with small section of music gallery....coffee machine too...nice!

First on the Clearaudio Statement's  platter was Diana Krall. The room filled with lush sounding, contralto voice of her with piano tone that has a life like in the room. Bear in mind that piano tone are complex to reproduce..the hammers, the strings, the pedals, keyboards and the body itself. Not just the sounds its produced but the mechanical things that happen before, during and after it creates the sound.



Next on the platter was Tin Pan Alley by Stevie Ray Vaughn. I can't really say much on this.. it was truly awesome sounding track. Stevie's guitar tone was dry (in a good way) but as clean and refreshing as sparkling water. Stevie’s fierce playing style was the key to his distinctive sound, but he was also very hard on his equipment and that can be heard in this room as if his very best...the BEST!.

Soulution Series 7 amplifier  - 2 x 701 monoamplifier


Muddy Waters - My Captain from Folk Singer album has been an audiophile staple for years. It always gets into many playlist at hi-fi shows. It's a no doubt being one of the most popular demonstration track but never before has it sounded like this. Mr waters voice are so raw..great resonance with rich vibrant tone. Sometimes pleading, whispering, chanting and occasionally shouting, tells the whole story of the lyrics.



Hugh Masekela - Stimela from his live album Hope is another track that I've listened at many home visits. Bring on the whole concert into the room!...yes that was the feeling. The system can convey the airy, the feels of the venue convincingly. It was breathtaking experience as the drums, the bass blends in into the track. Masekela's voice again has distinct vibes in this track...Stimela on the right track!


Hydra power supply system


The whole system being augmented by Magico SubQ-18, the bass response in this system is truly amazing. Frank PowerBank storage also being used in this system, it sounded huge and I like it very much.




Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Siti Nurhaliza Unplugged Vinyl Album...

Siti Nurhaliza is an iconic, successful singer in Malaysia and its neighboring countries. The recent unplugged concert at Istana Budaya on 17th April 2015 has made another milestone in her career as this is her first album to be ever released in vinyl. This vinyl album is not the first from local artist since the resurrection of vinyl format.

It is double LP and the artwork is good, very nice in presentation. This album has been remastered for vinyl format at Sterling Sound, New York and pressed in Japan. On paper this is very promising and should sounds as it should be. Highly anticipated album for many  audiophiles in this format. Be it her fans or not, many has grabbed this limited released LP.



My expectation on this album is very high since the mastering and pressing of this album has been properly taken care to ensure its sound quality. 

On the very first track membunuh benci, the simple one voice one piano track is really good. The vocal projection from Siti is great consider it was a live concert recording. The reverberation of concert hall nicely captured in this recording.

When the second track kicks in, my perception on local live recording already sets in. The sound staging is nowhere to make this album a benchmark. When full musical instruments came to play, there is no sense of ample space in between musicians in a large concert hall. It was a great show to many of her fans, great recording is a must and all these should be feel in this recording. It was typical musical show like in tv program but her vocals remain focus and anchored strongly in the whole presentation.


It was like a tv show, yes...and I think it is suited more towards dvd or bluray format. The arrangement of music is nothing unusual for local standard. I was expecting a "pause" on every tracks even though it was a live recording and to cut out too much talking, chatting interactions with fans. In video format it is okay to do this. The medley arrangement also is a bit off for my liking.

As I said my expectation is high and I don't buy reasons like, "it's ok la for local show or artist". It's not...this is 2015. Our live recording still way behind many good production company and I don't know whether if it a recording engineers quality of work or the equipment used.

Let me get this straight, this album is okay. It is very good for local standard and don't get into placebo effect that everything on vinyl will sounds great. Yes, it is better than the cd since the mastering for LP was done separately...I guess.  Perhaps her strong vocal helps so much in this recording and we tend to think the whole presentation is great.

I have a strong feeling that if it is a small unplugged session in a studio, the recording will be much better. Large hall live recording is not easy to capture the sense of being there.

This is just my personal take and view on this album. If many of you satisfied with this album...just enjoy it.


P/s: I might have compared with international artist live recording, i.e. Kenny G live (great dynamic recording, listen to the drums, sense of the hall..very airy..the separations of musical instruments). too much isn't it?...but hey that was 1989 recording and we can't matched that yet?