Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014 HiFi/HeadFi/HT Reflection

First of all, I would like to say thank you  all those who have visited, commented and bashed my blog.  Without all of you, this blog would not reach over 70,000 visitors (40,000 this year alone compared to 30,000 in 2013 when I started the blog).... and NO.... this does not include my own visit :)

Secondly, thank you to the following individual and companies in NO order of preference:



  1. Victor Pheh of HiFi Creations for loaning me the Magnet power amps and power conditioner for the first 2014 review
  2. James Tan and Tony Low of AV Designs for PMC poison especially the PMC Twenty 26
  3. Max Loh and Yoon Tat of Maxx Audio for your SVS and AudioPhysics poison
  4. Steve Chua of CMY Audio OU Branch for the Oppo poison
  5. Spin Doctor Mastan Latiff and Khalizul for the vintage GL78 TT
  6. Tony Lee of LTB Enterprise for the continuous Musical Fidelity updates
  7. Chong of Stoner Acoustics for the UD120
  8. Nick of Hard Graft Records for getting me those great metal LPs
  9. Stevie of Tower Records for getting me the long awaited Charles Trenet LP
  10. Radzi of Teenage Head Records for an excellent RSD this year
  11. Khairul Fahmi from Embrace JB for all those Legoland LPs :)
  12. Foo Lek Choong for RSD shopping and continuous TT poison
  13. Mr. Dick Tan for not forgetting me in KLIAV show
  14. Willy Low of AV2Day for sharing hifi wisdom 
  15. Erik Goh for hifi sessions and kopitiam
  16. Bassraptor, WongKN, Foong, Bal for managing HiFi4sale
  17. Blogger Sting for personally helping me with the PMC26 review
  18. Mr. Andrew Everard for his kind comments and advise on my Oppo HA1 review
  19. Wilmslow Audio in UK for providing me with a replacement tweeter for my TDL RTL3SE
  20. What Are You Listening To Right Now FB Group for an excellent HiFi session this year.
  21. LP Lovers Forever Whatsapp Group
  22. PMC UK for the souvenir gift
  23. WhatHiFi UK for shortlisting my hifi set up for the top 10 finalist for July 2014

Did I leave out anybody?


I started 2014 with a personal target to improve on my HT set up as I am quite happy with my HiFi and HeadFi set up.




Dream to have but may put some effort in getting one in 2014

1. Bryston Mini T speakers to replace my Mission M34i home cinema front speakers
2. A projector and screen set up / 60" or 65" TV

So how did I do?

In
PMC Twenty 23
PMC Twenty Centre (swayed)
Samsung LED CURVE TV 65" 9000 series
SVS NSD12 Subwoofer (swayed)
Oppo HA-1 headphone amp (swayed)
Lenco GL78 TT (swayed)
Many many many LPs and BluRay and HFPA

Out
Mission M34i
Infinity Primus Centre
Musical Fidelity M1 HPA
Wharfedale SW150 sub

YEESSSS... I am weak when it comes to HT/HiFi/HeadFi... So sue me... :)
So...whats in store for me in 2015? With the oil price slumping.... I may have to set an objective of ZERO hardware changes.... except for the following:

  • Installing the presence and surround back speakers to complete my 9.1 channel home cinema (speakers are already available, just need installing)
So, I am starting my 2015 with:

2 Channel HiFi Set Up

Musical Fidelity M6i integrated amplifier
Musical Fidelity M1 PWR power amp
Musical Fidelity M6 DAC
Musical Fidelity M1 CDT
Musical Fidelity M1 ViNL phono stage
Musical Fidelity M1 CLiC universal media player/streamer
Bryston BHA-1 Headphone amp and Alessandro Grado MS Pro headphone
SONY MDS JA20ES minidisk player
Onkyo Cassette Deck
ClearAudio Concept TT
GL78 Lenco TT
Apple TV
Dell Windows Laptop with Samsung UA55HU8000 TV
Belkin PF50
Full Siltech Classic Anniversary 330L cable, IC, power cable, digital cable
Tombo cable elevators

and...

Home Theater Set Up


Yamaha RXV 2067 AV receiver
PMC twenty 23 front speaker
PMC twenty Centre
Wharfedale Diploe rear speakers
SVS NSD12 subwoofer
Oppo 95EU BD player
SONY CDP XB930E CD player
Apple TV
ASTRO B.Yond PVR
Marantz DV4000 DVD player
Samsung UA65HU9000 65" UHD Curve TV
Darbee Darblet DVP5000

Bedroom Set Up


Oppo HA-1 headphone amp with Beyerdynamic T1 Tesla headphone
BOSE WAVE system






Saturday, 27 December 2014

Naim Mu-so Is Here



The highly acclaimed wireless network music player, the Naim Mu-so is finally here in Malaysia. Managed to sample the quality in CMY, One Utama today. Thanks to Steve Chua for the demo session.

At RRP of RM 6,300, it can be considered as a 'higher end'.... all in one wireless system. But for those looking for simplicity without compromising on SQ, do audition this unit. This unit is going out the CMY door like hot goreng pisang. I was tempted to get one immediately but was saved by the presence of the Mrs and also there was no stock available at the shop heheheh :)

This unit can go loud.... really loud without any sound of distress. Superb.

Enjoy the short sample below.


Saturday, 20 December 2014

SVS Haven in Seremban - Maxx Audio Visual


I first got to know Max Loh sometime in early 2012 when I was working on projector and screen installation for my home. But then the project was deferred as me and the Mrs was blessed with our 3rd child. Nevertheless, we still keep in touch based on our common interest in home cinema and hifi.

Along the way, I have gotten to know about Max's renowned status as the King of Sub in Malaysia, primarily with his SVS line up. However, since 2012, I have only manage to experience SVS shear power during the KLIAV show in 2012 and 2013. This is mainly because his shop is in Seremban, about 1 hour 45 mins from my home and with 3 kids....its just so darn impossible to visit his shop.



Nevertheless....comes 2014 and I wanted this year to be my home theatre year. I wanted to revamp the whole set up except for my AVR. TV, front speakers, centre speaker...aaandd a subwoofer...  Max came back various options of SVS subs and AudioPhysics front. I had to scrap the idea of projector and screen as its just not conducive enough to set it up in my living room. 

Max and Yoon Tat.... did not complaint of my request to test out subs and speakers at my house.
At the end, I finally succumbed to the SVS sub poison and became one of the owners of a very talented sub.

And finally after over 2 years, I made a point to visit his shop in Seremban on my way back from a bowling tournament in Melaka on 13th Dec 2014. It coincides with the new arrival of SVS Prime Series..... and the word Prime is just an understatement for this very capable speaker range at a fraction of a price.






After enjoying that, I was then treated with the SVS Ultra set up....




All and all, it was  good visit...Max and Yoon Tat were being their ever friendly self eventhough I know they were actually a bit under the weather.

For excellent dual sub experience.... Maxx Audio is the place to visit.

You can visit them at 66G, Jalan Toman 4, Kemayan Square, 70200 Seremban, N.S.D.K. Tel: 017-6778820, 016-3229428, 06-7620811 Email: maxx@htkaki.com, info@htkaki.com







 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Revival of Another Old Gem - TDL RTL3SE

Last year, I managed to rekindle my love with an old flame....the Sony CDP XB930E CD Player.
It was true sentimental moment.... and since then, I have this urge to get back all my older kit when I was a student in the UK.

Back in 1997, I have purchased this pair of TDL RTL3SE from Richer Sounds, Brighton. It was my first 'major' hifi purchase at GBP400. At that time, the exchange rate to Malaysian Ringgit was 1:7, hence it was about RM2800 for the pair. Big money for a first year student there. How lucky I was to be able to work part time manning the Dinky Donuts kiosk in Brighton's famous Palace Pier.

Anyhoooo..... this pair have been driven with various amps.... Starting with Sherwood, Marantz PM57, Musical Fidelity X-A1/X-A50 bi amping and lastly Yamaha RXV795RDS. It has seen a share of 2 channel stereo and 5.1 Dolby Digital/DTS home cinema. I have lived with my home cinema without the need of a subwoofer for quite sometime as with the bass I am getting from this pair, there is just no need of a sub.

However, 10 years later in 2007, after moving from Brighton to Dungeness to Folkstone to KL to Bangi.... one of the tweeter died on me. It just stopped working. After Yahoo-ing for TDL, I was shocked to read that TDL has gone bust. Further research led me to Wilmslow Audio. Though not the same brand, I managed to locate an equivalent tweeter. But of course, I then had to move house again. Hence, instead of bringing this pair from my late mum's house, I decided to purchase a new pair of speakers... the Mission M34i. And thats it, this TDL was kept in the store room until this year. After my mum's passing in June 2013, I finally had the courage to start cleaning my late mum's house. And that when I was rekindled back to this pair. Immediately brought it back to my house and started to Googling for Wilmslow Audio. A quick email to them, and sure enough within a day, I received a reply with a suggestion from Neil. After exchanges of a few emails (and a few delays due to my normally hectic life), I purchased a pair Monacor DT-99 was purchased via Paypal. About 3 weeks later, the parcel arrived. It costs me RM338 ~ GBP66.66 for a pair plus postage from UK to Malaysia.



My 3 steps Tweeter Replacement (not to be followed)

1. Test the new tweeter by connecting an extension cable from existing tweeter to the new one to ensure the crossover is working
2. If the new tweeter works, uninstall the old tweeter. I just cut off the old tweeter
3. Strip off enough length of the cable and wrap it around the terminals of the new tweeter
....all in 20 mins

I then put my ProAC D18 to rest..... and the TDL RTL3SE took centre stage....






Jazz on my TDL RTLSE

And now.... my TDL RTL3SE.... is being bi-amped by Musical Fidelity M6i and M1 PWR. Playing this jazz track.... it just bring back memories of my Brighton life.

The bass from this pair somehow is more open than the D18 but not as widely spreaded out by the PMC Twenty 23 and 26. But it still delivers quite a stunning performance for a 17 years old speaker.

So thank you Wilmslow Audio in the UK. Pleasant company and people to buy hifi components from.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Enjoying Movie With BT Headphones


Just realised that my curve TV comes a with a BT function for headphones. Will be testing the experience with a movie soon.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

PMC twenty™ 26: Punchy, Musical, Consistent (PMC)


When I was just about to settle down with the PMC twenty 23s.... the 26s was introduced to the market.  I first 'saw' the speakers during the KLIAV show this year in July but it was only on static display. The yearn to listen to these babies sing was made known to James Tan and Tony Low at the show. So, they said that I can come up to their outlet in Rohas Perkasa a couple o weeks after the show.  but of course.... then came Eid holidays.... Merdeka holidays... etc....  I just could not find the time to visit them... 

But luck was on my side... One fine day.... Tony Low messaged me and asked the magic question... 'Do you want to review the PMC Twenty 26 speaker in your house?' I thought I was dreaming. Definitely this speaker deserves a more worthy reviewer. But nevertheless, I accepted the challenge. A date was set which was a Sat 11th Oct and at exactly 2 pm, the technicians from AV Designs arrived and unboxed the speakers.

 


To my surprise, its not as slim as I thought having experienced with the 21s and 23s. Heck, its even bigger than my ProAc D18.

   

Similar to the 23s, there will be a few '1st time' experience:


  1. First time ever that I am having a proper 3 way speakers in my set up 
  2. Fully testing a PMC speaker with a Musical Fidelity set up. (Note: I have not tested the 23s with my MF set up and the 21s was reviewed briefly without proper stands). The PMC I heard of have always been partnered with a Bryston set up.

SPECIFICATIONS



One thing that baffles me is the weight. It states to be 22.5 kgs each but it seems to be more difficult to move it around compared to my 25 kgs ProAc D18s.


THE SET UP

I wanted to test this speakers in its own single wired glory instead of bi/tri amping it, so I disconnected my MF M1 PWR power amp, and just connected with the main integrated amp.


  • Musical Fidelity M6i integrated amp (200 wpc)
  • Sources:
    • Musical Fidelity M6 DAC
      • Musical Fidelity M1 CDT transport
      • ASUS dedicated CAS unit
      • SONY JA20ES MD Player
    • Musical Fidelity M1 ViNL phono stage
      • Lenco L75 on Shure MM Cart
      • Clearaudio Concept on Concept MC Cart
  • Cabling - full Siltech Classic 330L series for speaker cables, interconnect and power cable


THE PLAYLIST

I thought long and hard for this as the 26s needs to be tested with various musical genres.


  • Andrea Bocelli - Era Gia Tutto Previsto on LP
  • Puan Sri Saloma - Istana Cinta on high quality MP3 via iTunes
  • The Cranberries - Ode To My Family on LP
  • Metallica - Tuesday's Gone on LP
  • M. Nasir - Mustika on CD
  • Zee Avi - The Book of Morris Johnson and Siboh Kitak Nangis on CD
  • Azlan & The Typewriter - Jeritan Batinku on CD
  • Bone Thugs N Harmony - Days of Our Lives on MD
  • Nas - Street Dreams on MD


FIRST IMPRESSION

Physically.... its a beauty. High WAF. No doubt. Its just too sexy to be a speaker. If there was an award for Sexiness in Hifi.... this will be one of the top contender.

Having to live with 21s and 23s before, I sort of already have an expectation of this speakers. More extended low end, more 'head room' ie spaciousness and bigger soundstage. But, spinning a track by Andrea Bocelli on CD with the speaker fresh out of the box was a bit underwhelming. The soundstage was big no doubt but it was just a bit muddled. A quick Whatsapp to Tony clears the agony. The speaker have just seen less than 2 hours of run in.

So, I get to witness these babies grow as I get to run them in till month end. At the end of the review, I actually have run in the speakers for nearly 200 hours.

The next few days was just playing around until it reached 100 hours of run in. Each time I listen to them, the PMC twenty characters starts to show more of its colours. 

THE SESSION

By the time this official session was done, the 26s have been run in for 100 hours.

The ultimate vocal test. What really impresses me when it comes to vocal capability is how it blends with the music. Very so often, I can hear that the vocals can be rather detached from the music, giving the listener a sense of separation. Not on the 26s. I believe having the mid range created an even distribution between the vocals, the piano, the percussion and the violin. Andrea's mellowed but energetic vocals was reflected in its full glory and emotion through the 26s. No issue of high pitch hurting my ears nor any overwhelming bass.

On Istana Cinta, I purposely used this track to test the speakers against an old recording with not much care taken into remastering it. Quite a forgiving speakers 26s are. Saloma's vocals was mesmerizing and make you fully understand why Tan Sri P. Ramlee adores her. The soft percussion on the snare and hi hat was very clean hit by hit. The violin was also very sharp and precise. Overall, the 26s delivered the track with a staging  of the 60s era which these old tracks can really get help with; speakers that can make the listener re-live or experience the 60s ambiance. 

Dolores husky voice was presented in a way that I have yet to experience before.  Full of emotion with high level of clarity.The guitar works was also was beautifully delivered with such detail. Its like providing a true definition of what Cranberries is all about. The percussion, thanks to the ATL, even the soft tap of the kick pedal can be heard through this speaker.

One of  my favourite Metallica's cover song is Tuesday's Gone. The most evident character of the 26s was revealed on this track...Musicality.Everything was fully balanced from the Hetfield's vocals, to the harmonica to the guitar plucking to the sharp and precise drumming. Such a sentimental emotion was delivered by the 26s which its not easy to represent a metal band sentimental side.

M. Nasir's Mustika is well known for its usage of a number of traditional instrument e.g. angklung, gamelan etc. I have heard this track through so many speakers in my hifi life. Again, the 26's just delivered another musical experience that surpasses the performance my previous speakers. The soundstage on 26s can really fill up my hall and I was not even really blasting the set up. Layer and layer of musical instrument can be easily identified and it made me visualize the different placement of the instrument players. The gamelan was really apparent.

Zee Avi's works, the Miri lass who made it big in USA, have always been one of my favorite test track. In the Book of Morris Johnson.... The sound of the clapping hands echoed across my hall, filling up the hall with such elevated musical experience. The overall song sounded 'floating' and just give such a lively experience. While on Siboh Kitak Nangis, her vocals was perfectly centered as if she was physically in the centre stage. The sound of the soft wire brush rubbing against the snare was really clear and the guitar was really melodious. Another very well balanced presentation of the 26s.

I know PMC speakers can deliver the low end notes with no issues. But can it balance it with the high notes? Azlan's screeching vocals can sometimes be deafening if its played on the wrong speakers. No issues here. He can scream all he wants and the 26s just balances it off with solid low end and mids without compromising the vocals presentation. It still made me wanted to get on my drums and just play along as the drum play on this one with its double pedal can really pump up your adrenalin. And it did. Every single kick was punchy, precise and full of impact.  

Now, to really test the low ends of the 26s, I cant help but to bring in my college days music...in the likes of Bone Thugs 'N' Harmony and also Nas. Both are known for solid bass works in their rap music. Punchy and more punch.... I really enjoyed the bass extension delivered by the 26s. No sense of struggle and just sweet low end sound from these babies. No excessive booming.... just beautiful but punchy bass. It doesn't overshadow the vocals nor the harmonies by the group. Same goes with Street Dreams by Nas. Solid solid solid bass. It fills up the hall and made me want to start to rap. Not that I am any good at it.

VERDICT

So, is this the end? Not quite. This time around, I have stored in a special treat for all you readers out there. Just because its Halloween. I invited another hifi blogger by the name of Sting to have a second opinion. It might be biased of me since I am already in love my with PMC 23s and I might be blinded by it. And this is what Sting thinks of the 26s:
  • Depth and ambience are among the strength of the 26s. Room filling capability with really good in depth presentation.
  • Bass passage flow was very fluid.... may it be for single note or multi pluck bass notes Sufficient bass.... no lacking nor excess
  • Disappearing speaker.... You will just not realise that the music is coming from where the speakers are..
  • Midrange is very evident.... clear and crisp vocals... deliver the emotion of the singer.
  • No sense of fatigue. We listened straight for 4 hours and still wanted more.
  • Worth every RM.... if you cannot afford it... Visit AV Designs every day to get a dose of these speakers for free (Just Joking Tony and James)
Like the title of this blog entry.... PMC = Punchy, Musical and Consistent.... and the consistency is referring to character of the twenty series from the 21s, 23s and now embedded in the 26s.
I am now facing a hard time to go back to a 2 way speaker since I have experienced the benefit of having a mid range driver. The 26s have really given me a different experience. I am actually very satisfied with my current set up, even after having to listen to set ups that cost 5 times more. But this time around..... the 26s is haunting me. Delivering something that the D18s did not. OK, its unfair as its not a true apple to apple comparison.But I cant help it.

Does it match a Musical Fidelity set up. I believe it does. But I guess a more powerful amplifier will just bring out more from this speakers.

Did it deliver its peak? I believe there is much more that can be extracted from this 26s. With a more proper room acoustics, more powerful amp or even better sources, this 26s can provide endless musical enjoyment.

Buy it for its punchy and extended low end, balanced across the spectrum of frequency, musicality level that mesmerizes and for its shear sexy looks. And all you need to get all these is RM 33,700.

The PMC twenty 26s can be auditioned at AV Designs, Mezzanine floor, Bangunan Rohas Perkasa.  Give Tony Low a call on 0122330771.

A very BIG THANKS to Tony Low and all the staff in AV Designs.


Now the big question.... Should I hang on to this speakers?????








Wednesday, 22 October 2014

After A Naked DAC Comes A Naked Amp




After a series of successful USB DAC namely UD100, 110 and the latest 120,  Stoner Acoustics is currently in the middle of designing an amp. Not sure yet the direction that he is taking as the prototype amp can drive both headphones and speakers.

Yesterday he visited me to present me with this full range speaker and his prototype amp.

The speakers an be easily driven by this 5 watter amp and it can drive my Alessandro Grado MS Pro and Beyer T1 easily. In fact, I was mesmerized by it when I test it with my T1. Sounded like I was listening to my own pair of speakers.

We tested the amp briefly with my resident bigger speakers and surprisingly it was quite good. He needs to do further refinement with regards to low sensitivity speakers but I kind of like the sound signature the little amp is delivering.

All the best Stoner Acoustics. And thanks for this Deepavali gift.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

PMC twenty™ 23: The End of My Front Quest


                                                      



   

I took my time with this pair as it will be quite a hefty investment if I do like them. But it was indeed a very worthwhile investment. Especially for my home theatre experience, this speakers have elevated my enjoyment by a huge leap.

There are a few 'first time' experience here:

1. This will be my first purchase of a black coloured speakers. All my previous speakers have always been either mahagony, veneer or rosewood ie Mission, TDL, Heybrook

2. This will also be my first PMC speakers putting aside the centre speaker that I have purchased earlier.

3. It will also be my first slim sized speaker

4. Not to mention, it will be my first time having a matching front and centre speaker.

As usual, James Tan of AV Designs being his accommodating self.... Agree to send a brand new pair to my house after working hours. He arrived at about 9 PM and the unboxing started.


 

Such beauty...so shiny... That I dont even dare to help James in installing it.... I was afraid that I will put a scratch on the unit.











Now.... does PMC need an introduction? I dont think so. As mentioned, this year is about upgrading the home theatre experience. After an eargasm with the centre channel and 21s, can I go wrong with the 23s?

FIRST IMPRESSION 

With its slim design, one would wonder how will it fill a big room especially an open hall like mine? One of the reason I think why I dont get a lot of excitement from my previous Mission is because the speakers just cant cope with the open listening area.

Now, as the main objective is more for home theatre, running the speakers with the movie Star Wars 1, the Darth Maul vs Obi at the end of the movie, creates quite a realistic fight scene from the soundtrack also the swooshing sound of the light sabers. While with the 21s, the sound upgrade from Mission was already very noticeable, these 23s just made me realise that the 21s can be sound a bit box-ish.

Playing a straight 2 channel stereo music, the 23s did a fantastic job coping with the fast and complex drumming of Lars Ulrich on Enter Sandman. The bass coming from these 23s are astonishing and full. However, given that it was driven by a Yamaha AVR, I cant help but to feel that the dynamics can be better.

Mind you, these 23s, are brand new. Hence, most definitely they will be needing some break in time.

SPECIFICATION

Available Finishes                       : Walnut, Amarone, Diamond Black, Oak
Crossover Frequency                   : 1.8kHz
Dimensions                                  : H 918mm 36.14” (+25mm spikes) x W 152mm 6.0”  x D 330mm                                                          13.0” (+6mm grille)
Drive Units                                  : LF PMC twenty series, lightweight doped 5.5”/140mm cone with                                                           cast alloy chassis , HF PMC/SEAS®, 27mm twenty series,                                                                     SONOLEX™ soft dome, Ferrofluid cooled
Effective ATL™ Length             : 2.4m 7.8ft
Frequency Response                    : 29Hz – 25kHz
Impedance                                    : 8 Ohm
Input Connectors                          : 2 pairs 4mm sockets (Bi-amp or Bi-wire)
Sensitivity                                     : 87dB 1w 1m
Weight                                           : 13.2kg 29 lbs

The grills are magnetic type.

THE SET UP
  • Oppo BDP 95 EU
  • Yamaha RXV 2067 AVR
  • QED XT Silver Signature Anniversary, HDMI and Coax cable
THE TRACK/MOVIE LIST

Movies:
  • Star Wars 1
  • Rise of the Guardian
Tracks
  • Candle in the Wind on DTS HD MA 5.1 channel and 2.0 channel (HFPA)
  • Berita Kepada Kaman
  • And I Love Her
On Star Wars 1, the pod racing scene, even with the rumbling sound of the engine, the 23s did not over shadow the centre channel. It blended nicely into the crystal clear Twenty C. The stereo imaging gave such a realistic experience where the swerving of the pod from right to left, a really spacious and big sound was produced by the 23s. Something that I seldom experience with my previous Mission M34i.

On Rise of The Guardian is where I knew that this was for me. A truly enjoyable experience watching this movie with the 23s in the fore front. Especially during the scene where Jack Frost was about to receive his past memory from the bad guy himself. In this lair, the 23s re-produced the 'floating' vocals of the nemesis as he floats around the lair. EXCELLENT!

I must say that I am not really an Elton John fan except a couple of his songs. But nevertheless, this track made me really teary eyed as the 23s deliver such emotional musicality on both 5.1 channel and 2.0 channel on Pure Direct mode on the AVR.The bass from the tom2 of the drums was really sharp and punchy... just like the drums in those time. Elton's vocals on this track was so natural but at the same time was really strong and melodious. The presentation was really a lively musicality with a warm low end, natural mids and crisp high ends. Sounds like a perfect speaker isn't it? Well, it might as well be at this price.



On Berita Kepada Kawan (Indonesian very famous song by Ebiet G. Ade), it was even a very emotional listening session. The 23s are also good in uplifting the vocals presentation to sound coherent with the rest of the music while also centring the image smack in the middle between the pair. Again the classic retro hollow drums of those time was accurately presented where every single beat and also hi hat sharpness can be experienced. The overall sound was really energetic with a good focus on raising up the presentation to sound big and bold. It really made me realise how much I have been missing with my previous Mission M34i speakers.

And I Love Her is one of my favourite love song  from the Beatles. The version I have is the Mono box set. This was highlight of my review actually. While the tracks before have really given me the picture that PMC is all about sounding big, not on this track though. The song sounded flat and it has taken it down by a notch. However, it is not in a bad way. I believe this is how The Fab Four wanted the listeners to listen to their masterpiece. It was tonally balanced between the vocals, guitar, percussion, bass....aaaannnddd the 60s aura. It was such a relaxing session listening to this tune.

And it was only an AVR amp that drove this speaker to deliver such a musical experience. Imagine if it was driven by top notch stereo amp....

Conclusions

Yes and Yes again. Yes to home theatre duties and Yes to 2 channel music duties. I do not know why I have been contemplating all these while to test out PMC speakers. It was not far off from ProAc when it comes to price. Thanks again to James Tan from AV Designs. The 23s is perfect for someone who is looking for:


  • Excellent bass reproduction. Not boomy but really an extensive low frequency
  • Slim size but still look sexy
  • Big sound that fills up the room
  • Hard hitting bang for movies and musicality for music
  • Natural and neutral overall sound, just like what the artist wants you to hear
Do yourself justice and go for a demo if you are in the market to find a good pair of floorstanders for your movie and music duties. The speaker is sold by AV Designs at an RRP of RM14,200.

 Now.... to listen to the newly arrived 26s!!!


Saturday, 11 October 2014

Live Musical Theatre: P. Ramlee The Musical






Me and the Mrs are very particular of what musical we choose to watch as most of the locally directed shows are crap. But Tiara's production have always been our trusted production to give us a good show. And a good show it was. 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Doctor in The House

A few moons ago... I was introduced to the magical world of Lenco by Spin Doctor Mastan.
And today... he was featured in one of Singapore's newspaper.
Proud to own one of his masterpiece.
Malaysia needs to appreciate more of the local hifi DIYers, designers etc.
Photo courtesy of Jess Jaramillo..

Friday, 26 September 2014

The Good, Never The Bad and Never the Ugly.....

An Indonesian audiophile residing in KL.....

One of my work and hifi mentor... have  been in and out residing in Malaysia... is an avid fan of Luxman amps, JBL B&W and now Audio Note Speakers, Musical Fidelity DACs.... and this is his temporary set up while he is here in KL.

I wish I can have a listen to his main set up in Jakarta. 



A newbie starter kit.....in Damansara Height







As our FB group of What Are You Listening To Right Now (WAYLTRN) had our first gathering few months back, an avid music listener cum drummer cum an old offshore friend...had his first poison of the black disc.... I then hooked him up with one of our most friendly hifi/AV dealer to fulfill his musical serenity desire..... which also include his home theatre requirement.

And of course... Maxx Audio did not fail him. Pioneer BDP, Marantz AVR, Clearaudio Bluemotion TT, Audio Image Phono Stage, Acoustic Energy Series 1 5 channel speaker and of course... Maxx's strength in Malaysia... an SVS sub.

Our friend is a happy camper now... wonder when I can get back my Cranberries, G & R and ACDC LPs hehehe

Oh... I have also poisoned him with High Fidelity Pure Audio...




A Malaysian audiophile being unorthodox.... Zu Audio, Tri CDP, Leben amp...and PTP Lenco Kek Lapis TT.



Sting has been in the scene for quite sometime... an avid music listener... who dares go for serious experiment in hifi component matching. With zero chance to demo any of these kit locally... he did and extensive research to ensure everything blends in... 

And... he is also enjoying the benefit from having Frank Voon famous power bank....

Malaysia hifi scene is very much alive... a lot of interesting set ups within the community.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Now It Comes with A Tail - UD120 USB DAC

Just received this today... thanks to Stoner Acoustics for the review sample.
This must be the smallest 32 bit 384 kHz DAC at the moment...
Review sooooonnn.

It has been nearly 2 weeks now that I have been playing with this review unit. And boy.... how does Stoner Acoustics cramp all the juicy quality into a small device like this... is beyond me. Yes, people may think its exaggerated, but hey.... do you see many companies going for thumb drive sized USB DAC? You have Dragonfly Audioquest but I can tell you, StonerA Acoustics was already launched his first model of UD100 before Dragonfly was out. 

BUILT

Not only it now comes with a 'tail' but the designer has also shy away from the naked  and heat wrap design previously found on UD100 and UD110.


 UD100 UD110

 UD 120...

It was professionally packed similar to any other USB thumb drive and comes with a plastic protective cap. The output jack is also gold plated. 

Overall, its more towards a rugged portable USB DAC.... and a true definition of portable.

SPECIFICATIONS

Mirrored from Stoner's blog, its stated as below.
-TRUE ASYNC
-USB Audio Class (UAC) 2.0
-16/24/32 Bit @ 32/44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192/(352.8/384 asio) kHz
-DAC PCM5102A
-ULTRA LOW NOISE TPS7A4700 LDO
-OUTPUT IMPEDANCE AT 470OHM
-ATTENUATION, -6dB/STEP
-WINDOWS (DRIVER PROVIDED) | MAC | UBUNTU

There is also warning that the unit runs hot and needs good ventilation but I did not face that experience.

Further research in the DAC chip it is actually a Texas Instrument DAC which is also used in the higher priced M2Tech HiFace DAC.


REVIEW GEAR

  • iMac playing ALAC, MP3, FLAC
  • Dell Windows 7 based laptop (for function test only)
  • BOSE Companion II speakers using QED interconnect
  • RHA MA750 earphones


REVIEW TRACKS

To make it consistent to the review of previous models, I have used the same tracks (except for Andrea) with an addition  of a 384 kHz music sample I have from my review on Kingrex DAC last year.

1. La Mer – Kevin Kline (MP3 48kHz, 320 kbps)

2. La Mer - Charles Trennet (MP3 48kHz, 320 kbps)

3. Siboh Kitak Nangis – Zee Avi (MP3 48kHz, 320 kbps)

4. Enter Sandman – Metallica (FLAC 192kHz)

5. Time to Say goodbye (replaced by Amazing Grace) – Andrea Bocelli (FLAC 192 kHz)

6. Hotel California (LIVE)– The Eagles (FLAC 192 kHz)

7. 384 kHz sample.... some classical music.

THE SESSION



Kevin Kline deep voice is more apparent and toned. The sound of the hi-hat also sounds crisp and lively. Though it is a mellow song but during the music sounds very 'cheerful'. During the violin solo,  it sounded layered and rising up across my work station.

On the original track of La Mer by Charles, the UD120 is unforgiving for bad recording quality. The version I have is actually was not really a remastered copy hence it sounded a bit noisy and harsh. The hissing is much more evident from the predecessor DACs.

My favourite local lass artist, Zee Avi.... again is the highlight. The UD120 further enhance the ambient from this track. The overall presentation sounded elevated and just airy that it makes you feel like it was coming from a grander speakers than just these BOSE speakers.

Enter Sandman was presented in a rather heavy and bold fashion as intended by the group themselves. It puts a more genuine originality presentation from the heavy metal quartet. The weight of this track can really make your adrenalin flowing and it was definitely the UD120 that injected that realism.

Andre Bocelli's rendition on this literally made me shed a tear. It was really soulful and the UD120 delivers that very high emotion on this track. It cooks out the simplicity of his vocals and minimal instrument as background. I may upload a sample of this track soon.

On Hotel California, there is some natural improvement from its predecessor. A more energetic experience where the performance was close to a live performance ambient. It was still not really 'there' with regards to a full fledge Eagles standard.

Now the bombshell of why someone should have this unit. Testing of a raw and native 384 kHz file. Recorded and digitized such.  I dont know the track name but its some classical piece. This track just further reconfirming of Stoner's design specialty....soundstaging. Everything just sounded uplifting, airy, alive and just boosted in every way possible....and all in the right amount which provides a very tonally balanced presentation. And this is just coming through a pair of computer speakers!!!

As an addition, I tried the DAC with my RHA MA750 earphone that I really love. Despite everyone keep saying that these USB DACs are not capable of driving earphones or headphones, I find it that it has no issues to present a very faithful experience though earphones.

NOTE: On functionality, I also installed the driver supplied by Stoner for Windows based laptop. And I can confirm that it has no issues for Windows 7. Just a few clicks and its all installed with no hick ups.

It can also be used directly with Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (I did not test but it is stated in Stoner's blog. 

FINAL VERDICT

A fiiiinnneee improvement from the siblings UD100 and UD110. Stoner has taken into account all the feedback given by his loyal supporters on physical design, updated resolution requirement and still provide a fun musical experience at a modest man pay scale.

It excels in soundstaging where the improvement can be easily experienced on modest computer system. Do note that I did not test it on my full scale hifi set up as I only see the usage of this unit for my office workstation.

I also believed this is currently the smallest 32 bit 384 kHz capable USB DAC. 

This unit can be ordered directly from him via his email stoneracoustics@gmail.com

At USD69 per unit.... relatively about RM250..... its a bargain.

And on a final note.... here is the sample of the UD120 in action.