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?

Monday, April 6, 2015

James Newton Howard & Friends..old but gold


James Newton Howard as known to many as a great musician, composer and arranger. This album are from Sheffield Lab recording during 1983 when Yamaha developed new series of digital synthesizer DX7, DX9 & GS1 and has given James Newton Howard (JNH), David Paich and Steve Pocarro to compose and demonstrate new music on these equipments. David and Steve are band member from TOTO, the band which has recorded many hit songs in their era such as Africa, Rosanna, I'll be over you, Pamela etc.





The album has been recorded at MGM studio in California with under supervision of Sheffield Lab chief engineer,  Steve Haselton. The full album consist of 9 track and it was recorded live direct to disk, the best way to get the most, faithful of sound in recording. There is no cutting of master lacquer disc in this process and no tape recorder too. The cutter hit the disk, thumbs up from recording engineer and all recorded directly from the session.

In this album if you familiar with musical instruments or even better if you can play drums, piano or synthesizer, you will be delighted when listen to this music. Bear in mind there is no guitar in this album, it just drums, percussion and synthesizers. But make no mistake, by far this is the best live recorded album and most highly rated album in Sheffield lab history and It is in my top 10 favorite album too.

The drums played by Jeff Pocarro are truly remarkable. It was tight, explosive drumming on all over the tracks. The cymbals, floor tom, kick bass are all realistic, and the snares sound will hit you right on your face on certain attack.

The Bass works are all from synthesizers and it sounded so good. Three musicians involved in the synthesizer section alone, they are JNH, David Paich and Steve Pocarro. Joe Pocarro was on percussion.




This is a highly sought after album and one of my reference album of all time.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dr. Rashid's system



I was invited by Dr Rashid, a dentist who has high passion in music to his place in Kajang. Very nice customized room with all the acoustic treatment made this is one of the best hifi room I ever been. It even has a computerized locking door!.

The heart of the system are the explosive combo of FM Acoustics pre and power amplifier. I have experienced with this combo with Naim SL2 speakers, Naim CDS3 and Roksan Xerxes/Aro few years back and this combo throw everything at listeners faithfully...dramatically...100% musicality.

Looking Dr. Rashid's FM Acoustics combo,   roughly I now what sort of performance that I would get from this session. This is follow by a pair of JM Lab speakers that can deliver excellent low end bottom grunt with lightning fast speed. You can see many high end audiophiles using this speakers as their choice.

He got 2 set of turntable to play with, the Air Force One by TechDas and Vertere turntable. He demonstrated the excellent technology of AFO that has an Air bearing / Disc suction / Air suspension. When the stylus on the records with the disc suction in place, you can tap the record without any noise coming out from the speakers...dead quiet.


From Malay recordings to jazz, rock, pop musics. The room become alive when music starts to play.

Overall the presentation is very dynamic. The system is transparent enough to get into the recording.

As for me i feel that not only listening but see how the musician play. Maybe it just my preferences of presentation...dynamic.

The FM Acoustic amplification is the star of the system as mentioned. I have listen Jm lab with few other amp..but not as dynamic as this.

Between AFO and Vertere...both got their own strength. Musicality on vertere is hard to beat while the AFO offers the accuracy and bag of detail..but vertere is no slouch. Value for money..i pick Vertere.