Monday, December 13, 2010

How should the bass be presented?

There is no question of the bass sound reproduced
from our hifi system has always being in the mind's
eye of most learned audiophiles to be/ should be
taut/tight/tuneful/with correct amount of decay &
no overhang whatsoever. So far so good? So what's
the big deal about the bass sound, as long as the
above are fulfilled or nearly there?!

However, to the audiophile community there is
still the question of preferences clouding the
thoughts & making some adjustments to the much
subjective(presumably it is) taste of like and
dislikes! As there are audiophiles who will
listen to bookshelf speakers with very little bass
and probably will continue to do so all their life.
And there are others who must have a pair of
floorstander speaker for their sonic diets!
Yet another even smaller group of listeners
who will and can only listen to their music
with subwoofer or subwoofers augmenting
the low registers and may even be the
lowest of frequencies that we could humanly

So we have different tastes and different
preferences and variously different hearing
acumens and ability. How about getting the
bass to sound closer to what we find in real
life events? (Now you are talking!) I now
throw a question to readers : Should the
bass sound be tuned to be close to or like
those of real events? Yes, no?

No! You say! We can never get there!
Alright then, how about a little bit of
excitements to entice our sonic diet?
How about some "chest hitting" bass?
(Are you nuts?) No! Seriously, we can
if we are willing to come up with the molah!
Actually, we can that is if we really want
those earth shaking bass! There are lots
of expensive hi end subwoofers out there
to choose. Make a google and one will find
plenty of brand types!

That seems easy enough, right?! Now here
comes the difficult part! How do audiophiles
tune the bass to get the 'chest hitting' bass
and at the same time have that bass sound
to be a important part of the soundstage?
I will let our readers here ponder for a while
with this idea. Please provide your comments
if you think it could be done!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A diy task: Refurbish a subwoofer unit

Though this task was performed and completed
in June 2010, it is only now that I could put
this as a blog entry( I mean diary entry)
The dismantle of the subwoofer was a nerve
wrecking event at the beginning, as most of the
circuits are placed at the bottom of the cabinet
and have to be removed in parts, but when I
got a hang of it, I picked up the momentum
to proceed at a faster pace. The several
minor tasks include removing dust from the
components, after I had removed the cover from
underneath the subwoofer unit as it's one
of down firing design. The unit a NEC
subwoofer of the 1970s period, definitely
needed a change of capacitors to the power
supply section, I have to decide if the
original specifications be changed to suit
the type of sound of today or retain the
same signature sound of that period.

Since this subwoofer is part of a pair
(I've 2 units of the same) and to be used
as a stereo pair after the refurbishment,
so I followed back the same component
change as the other earlier acquired
unit but previously used in a mono
configuration. The handiwork was pretty
tedious, as it required dexterity of both
hands, magnifying glasses, and a strong
light source to enable me to see what
I'm doing! And yes, even before the change
of the electronic components, the woofer
cones were worked on, the rubberised(not
rubber but of another material that akin
to rubber like feel) surrounds needed a
change, and my friend Uncle Chew a design
engineer supplied me with a glue that
do not harden with age, and one of several
methods to change the surround. I finally
incorporated some of his method with that
of my own, to get the job done.

The 12" driver I discovered was a JBL
driver with a pressed metal chassis and
not the cast iron chassis frame that JBL
enthusiasts liked so much. Anyway, after
the surround was replaced and double
checked for correct alignment, the new
electronic components were replaced and
the circuit assembly put back in place, and
left to stand for a short while before it's
incorporated into the multi subwoofer
system that I've been using all this while,
and then the final test, the powering up.
This is always the nervous part of any
redo of the system's component units!
The reality test!

All went well and the usual thoughts about
the unit to go thru the customary running in
for the new driver surround and electronic
components change, which I reckoned needed
a few hundred hours. Sure enough the sound
did change, but very subtle indeed! A couple
of months had passed since June! The sound
remained the same, more or less. So a simple
check on the tuning sufficed, and it's music
again! A word of caution though, those who
are diy challenged in this area, should not
attempt this without proper supervision from
the learned hifi & diy gurus.

Friday, December 3, 2010

R's Music System

If one has followed the evolution(or development if u like
to call it that) of friends' hifi system, one will be probably
be amazed as to how the change of equipments could
affect the sound so much! I have one such experience to
document in this diary entry. I've followed my friend Mr.R,
in my neighbourhood over a few years, to know this to be

Then, the time of KEF floorstanders driven by Passlab
amplifications and Classe CD source and now, Marantz
sacd 1, Parasound preamp and parasound monoblocs
driving a pair of Proac 3.8 speakers; depicted a very
significant difference in the sound/music reproduction
of those 2 time periods! As I recalled the big differences
and gradual changes of the sound as the equipments
get some further 'running in' , have me anticipating the
possibility of much greater improvements of the the
overall sound presentations and even more enjoyable
listening sessions to come! From what I heard over
the recent past few weeks when the changes to the
sound of new replacement equipments started to be
more apparent, I have to dismiss the idea of a quick
writeup, but instead waited out to do a writeup till the
sound gets even better!!!

Now what I perceived of the sound presentation, was
centred around the keyword: control. That good control
all round, not superlative yet, maybe there will be more
surprises to come, that I may not know yet. Maybe the
gears could still show sign of greater improvements to
come, as I could find more differences with each visits.
signifcances of those room Pretty sure those room
treatments (to be detailed in part 2 of this writeup)
which were progressively put in place, contributed to
the comfortable sound of the system. One matter is
clear in my mind, room treatments do brings out more
of the music!

Mr.R being more of a music lover than a hifi enthusiast,
is clearly shown with his choice of music spinned for his
visitors. Very varied and nonetheless shows his love of
music from his very large & impressive collection of CD
based softwares of redbook CDs, SACDs and have
many a visitor salivating over his many CD boxsets!!!
And yes I know he also enjoys fine wines and good coffee.

Alright, you have to ask, and what did I listen to with every
listening sessions. You name it, Classicals, jazz,
progressive rocks, country and western, music from the
60s, 70s, 80s, and some 90s. Each of the listening
sessions, between an hour to sometimes 2 plus hours,
were made up of a good cross section of various music
genres. Almost always calling it a night followed with a
supper session too.

At the first ever listen session of the Parasound monoblocs,
I asked specifically for the replay of the Dream of the Opera
CD, followed by Fleetwood Mac's 'Dream' track, Tracy
Chapman's "Baby Can I Hold You', Diana Krell's 'Look of
Love', some Police tracks, some Karajan's work, Bob
Marley and even Tsai Chin. The content of the music
replayed, come as no surprise, good control at least as
much as the Proac 3.8 could take it! If one don't go for
that brute force test that is. The high, mid range & bass
were more than sufficient for a not so overly aged person
like myself. It will still take some much younger listeners
to provide their views of the overall sound, to know if
different age groups have listened to the same sound.

At subsequent listening sessions, the listen materials
were all different, still the system could hold the music
together and the overall sonic presentations still
provided those many enjoyable listening sessions and
we have always set the sound loudness at a comfortable
level for those many listening hours! And I am grateful to
have The Wise One and Village Boy to keep me
company during the many listening sessions and
contributing to the discussions over supper.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

B's Vintage Setup

One sunday afternoon, blog master, Kenneth, Uncle Chew
and myself, visited a friend with some vintage gears(for the
purpose of this write up,only the gears in used were
mentioned) that we were not familiar with. The setup was
placed in the spacious living hall of the house, which
was just about in many of opinions to be generally suitable
for speakers of that size. However, I thought this could be
flexible and one has to listen to be very sure, though
general opinions point towards empirical experiences and
proven practical knowledge that big speakers should be
placed in large rooms.

The speakers, a model of infinity series the Q2, from the
late seventies period, and a sound typical of that time.The
speakers appeared to be in the first instance different from
modern day design. First the number of tweeters that were
on each speakers, 3 pieces of ribbon tweeters, front firing
to the listeners and 1 more firing from the back of each
speaker! Arranged in a vertical array with each piece
individually angled inwards to the middle between the
speakers, seemingly able to cater for several choices of
listening positions along a dividing line between the
speakers. Besides the ribbon tweeters there were 2 more
dome tweeters also firing front to the listeners and common
beliefs has it that the dome tweeters would work over a
lower frequency range from those of the ribbon tweeters
and probably into the midrange too, as indication has it,
there is a single midrange driver that could have
complimented the tweeter arrangement design.

A bigger woofer cone type 15 inch driver, one each to
each speaker cabinets, completed the arrangement of
drivers and tweeters combination. The cabinets in it's
original form and aged over the many years of different
ownerships, dark wood coloured and probably some
wood polish or wood oil may bring back the good look
to the wood veneer. A back firing port covered with a
speaker cloth indicates that the speaker placement
could make for careful choices and may influence
how the speakers may sound with different placements.

We did some test listens as the visit was a fact finding
visit which the owner kindly accomodated. We listened
to a jazz sampler courtesy of Interglobal music and the
'Dream of Opera' CD which I may have mentioned in the
write up of visits to other music lover's music room. Not
to confuse readers about how the music sounded, my
personal choice of descriptions will not be provided here,
as different persons in their music or hifi journey
conceived good sounding presentations to be utterly
different from each other. So the opening drum sound
of track 6 of the Dream of Opera cd will have different
meanings to different persons. So to some a drum
sound is just a drum sound, to some others who may
have moved on to be able to perceived the skin of the
drum and how that skin vibrate and how the subsequent
resonating low hz would sound like, and to some others
it may be again with some ever more slight differences,
and again there will be some who have not reached this
level and may not be able to perceived the sonics or
otherwise too subtle to be perceived yet or that the
perceptions of low frequencies may be a very personal
choice, and how low the low bass one wants may
dictate the choice of listening materials.

We have a choice of amplifications between a preamp
unit plus the Odyssey power amp and a vintage
Yamaha integrated amplifier CA2010. Both of which
we tried, and both sounded just as good. However we
unanimously preferred the vintage speakers with the
vintage amplifier as the colourations (called it distortion,
ifyo u like it) add to the flavour of the music for that
afternoon's listening session. It would probably have
been different at another listening sessions with
some other listening materials. As we listened to
some vocals besides some jazz and some chinese
music. We even tried listening at different listening
positions, middle of the hall and all the way to the
back wall, which we thought the presentations of
which to be different, depending on personal choices.

That afternoon we looked for a 'comfortable' music
presentation and a listening session that we can
call 'enjoyable' and not a loudness test, and hence
look into rearranging the speaker placement(the
owner asked us to do the placement for him
anyway) and looked at the choices of listening
spots. We did found one but it wasn't what the
owner would call his ideal choice. So we worked
out something he could like and suggested he
listen for a while to see if he will like it and could
listen over a long listen session.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Consensus on a good sounding system

How often do we need to agree upon if a setup sounded good to one's hearing? The answer would be probably not! As human we can't agree upon anything, in fact nothing at all, unless we are signatories to an agreement! So will an arbitration by say 10 or even 100 learned & experienced audiophiles to listen to a setup(which could only be conducted at different times), be or would be able to judge if a setup to be considered good sounding, if even at all? Again probably not! Why is it so difficult to even judge if a setup sounded good enough to meet some of the important hifi parameters of good sound? Personal preferences, prejudices, likes and dislikes, used to a certain signature sound, and not used to other types of presentations?

Do you think that experienced audiophiles could provide some insights into this 'All Time Arguments' as to why different persons would perceived the sound reproduction of a system to various degree of excellence or lack of it for that matter? We have seen/read arguments some even out of hand in some blogs, forums and mailing lists, as to what quality of sound constituted.
Will there be a sort of ISO for music/sound reproductions in the near future?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

BIG AND BRASSY– KLPAC Symphonic Band concert

BIG AND BRASSY celebrates the diversity of band music with an eclectic programme that will be brought to life by the 40-strong klpac Symphonic Band under the baton of Music Director & Resident Conductor, Bruce Lee, and Guest Conductor, Mitsuo Nonami.

Sit back and enjoy this wonderful journey that will take you from classical pieces like Mozart’s The Magic Flute rarely heard in band repertoire to almost forgotten band favourites Incantation and Dance and to Broadway numbers like Seventy Six Trombones. In addition, the Tsun Jin Choir under the guidance of Wong Wai Quan will also be performing Cantate Dominum, Chinese folk song Alamuhan and I See You from the epic motion picture Avatar with the band.

Mentor and protégé will be reunited in this upcoming concert once again. BIG AND BRASSY promises to bring you on a fascinating musical journey. For more information, please visit

Presenter: KLPAC
Conductors: Bruce Lee & Mitsuo Nonami
Artistic Director: Joe Hasham OAM
Executive Producer: Dato’ Faridah Merican
Featuring: klpac Symphonic Band
Guest Choir: Tsun Jin High School Choir

Show Details
Date: 13 November(Sat) @ 8.30pm ; 14 November(Sun) @ 3.00pm
Venue: Pentas 1, The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC)
Sentul Park, Jalan Strachan, off Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (location map & directions available on
Ticket Price: RM35 / RM23 (students & the disabled)

Box Office
Call / Walk In: klpac @ Sentul Park (03 4047 9000) or The Actors Studio @ Lot 10 (03 2142 2009 / 2143 2009)
Walk In only: Axcess HQ (Jln. Semangat) & 1-Utama outlet

Thursday, October 7, 2010

That Vintage Feel part 4: The Music Must Go On

Listening to a piece of hifi equipments
inserted in a hifi system, is mostly about
evaluation of sound reproduction, yes
no? What then of listening to just music
irrespective of whether one is listening
in a car, in the office or at home? Many
would call it 'just listen to the music'
or 'just enjoy the music', never mind
the hardware.

So most of the time I would over the
time I know Koo. Until much more
recently, it's listening to the music
mostly and some friendly chit chat
thereafter the music sessions. Of
course we do enjoy the music listening
sessions as much as the chatting over
a hot cup of tea or coffee.

A brief account of the listening
sessions will more or less make up
for the remaining writing of this
diary entry of visiting Koo's music
room. Why didn't I call it 'hifi cave'
(?) because to Koo and his regular
visitors it's always about music.
With the exception of those first and
perhaps second time visitors who
came in from the 'hifi jungle' out
there to see and explore and to make
comparative inferences, and only to
find out that they may have forgotten
about the music and the enjoyment of

Over the years, I have listened to a
GRP's big band swing CD, from the
time of the open baffles thru the single
drivers to the now vintage pair of
Isophon bookshelf speakers. It's only
now that the enjoyment of listening to
this cd that I felt myself immersed in
the music much more than I first listen
to it many many years ago! The
changes in the setup has brought out
more of the music enjoyments. One
other CD that I particularly like is Nina
Simone's "Forbidden fruit", and I
especially like the track 'Golden
earrings'! I wouldn't go thru the
listening sessions without a listen
to this track!

I was introduced by Koo to Aretha
Franklin's Gospel singing when I
was mesmerised by the shouting
and singing style from the recordings
of her 'Amazing Grace' 2cd album.
I certainly could sit thru & listen to the
whole works if not for the limited time
spend each time in front of Koo's music
machine! So I have got to get this
album to listen at my own time. This
album portrays her gospel singing
and much of the church venue
ambience was captured pretty
well on this album as it's a live
recording. She would sing right to the
top of her voice and shouting most of
the way yet holding up well with the
background singing, hand clappings
and people murmuring and at times
shouting phrases after phrases with
praises for God.

On the lighter side I have listen to
Judy Collins, Neil Diamond, Neil Young
and even the more sombre Leonard Cohen.
I especially enjoyed listening to the
Weavers and Harry Belafonte live at the
Carnegie Hall. Even with rarity such as the
Clancy Brothers, and the much popular
Peter, Paul and Mary.

If this aren't enough, Koo would even
finished off the listening proper with
some classical music from Reiner, Heifetz,
Anne Sophie Mutter - Karajan and even
more recently from works conducted by
Ernest Ansermet. And occasionally Koo
would obliged with my request of tracks
from Bread, Eagles and even Jennifer
Wearne! And much to my surprise recently
he even entertain my request to replay
track 6 from the "Dream of the Opera"
which I perceived as quite listenable
with good control of the bass contents
though I felt not the best I have heard
and I have heard even worst! I still felt
he has done well with the setup though
not really an expensive system. Isn't the
meaning of expensive rather ambiguous
to different people?

Monday, October 4, 2010

That Vintage Feel part 3: The Music Presentation

That's The Blogmaster at the emperor's throne..................

In part3 which is an extension of the earlier 2 parts
article of the same topic, I will like to touch on the
type of music that the owner like to listen to and
what he may replay for his visitors to listen. Even
at the time of writing of this part3 article, Koo has
already decided on not keeping the QUAD 306, he
has always surprised me with his choices of

So I could only guess that he is working on some
changes to his setup. Could he be getting an amplifier
more powerful than the already very listenable QUAD
306? That I have to wait to see. So at the moment
I get to listen to the diyed 0.75w darling amplifier
a few more times before I decided to write this
part3 article.

What I listened now of the 0.75w darling amplifier is
one of more tweaks being done to it in the last few
months. If that is not enough there were more tweaks
to the non oversampling dac, since it's undergoing
listening tests I'm can only say the detail/nature of the
tweaks is along the signal path. What I perceived is a
change, depends who is listening so it may or may not
be that person's idea of an improvement. Firstly I
noticed the highs(I hear more of it) have improved
over the period, this was also being reported by
other visitors who came several times over that
same period.

And I perceived the bass presentation is more
controlled,whereas others who listen often
may only want to consider this insignificant and
that only more bass weight as a significant
improvement. So different listeners may give
credits quite differently! Here I gave him points
just for better bass control, not alot of bass sound,
just enough to get by. How do I know this? I
heard the replay of track 6 of the Dream of the
Opera CD, as I said not a lot of heart thumping
bass, nothing that shake the chair I sat on, nothing
to move my stomach fat around the middle, just
bass sound that I'm comfortable with.But hey,
that's my poison I guess!

Other tracks I heard replayed include the last
track of the Manger Demonstration Disc, again
just about enough to get by, nothing in the room
vibrated in unison with the drums and bass sound.
Perhaps it's not anybody's idea of bass sound,
but I would give him some marks for trying at it
rather than just talk to some 'armchair critics' at
some forums and can't do any 'transfer of
technology' to improve the sound of his setup
even after much discussions!

Do I have to repeat that the vocals come
around very nicely, if not lustfully with female
vocals and with enough details on the male
vocals? Now, now don't get me wrong that
is superlative, there are many other setups
with even more mesmerising vocals than this
setup, but I'm just looking at the price point of
a few thousand ringgit to get me glued to the
chair long enough to be 'seduced' by the sound
and not want to get up and go! At least not yet
after a mere hour of listening in front of the

Another thing I like about the setup is how
the hue of the afternoon sun bath the room
with that yellowish tint we know so well! A
lovely feeling of sort. What a wonderful listening
experience I thought with a wash of beautiful
colour mix of yellow to orange hue to feast the
eye too! Yes the room was not to be darken for
those afternoon listening sessions.

It's always being enjoyable listening sessions
whenever I listen, whether in the daylight hours
or at night.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Room Acoustics Part 2

Some background reading..............if you like.............

Three Acoustical Issues that Room Correction Can’t Correct

In a nutshell............

Issue number 1: place a subwoofer at the corners of the room.

To reduce the problem of speaker boundary interference
response(SBIR for short).

/I choose to have 1 subwoofer each in the front section of
room, 1 on the left corner and 1 more on the right corner.

/That's will be 2 subwoofers specifically used to for this
and not doing the main task of reproducing enough
bass contents
to add to the sound of the main speakers.
This helps explain 1 of
several reasons for the introduction
of additional subwoofers for
the sole purpose of reproducing
bass contents to emerge with
those of produce by the main
speakers, ie. integrate the bass
contents. A total of 7
subwoofers are in placed at the time of

Issue number 2: reduce/control of early sound reflections
the many surfaces of the room relative to those direct
from the speakers.

/Work out a suitable combination of direct and reflected
for that particular small room with acoustic treatments.
The level of reflections can only be controlled through
appropriate use of absorption or diffusion or by selecting

/I choose the use of the ceiling treatments for a small room
at the 1st reflection point from the position of the speakers.
the choice of speakers happens to be very unorthodox.

Issue number 3: rt60 cannot apply in a small listening room.

The decay time of the room can only be brought to the level
needed for high quality sound reproduction through
decorative choices, furnishings and the use of

/A simple hand clap will tell! Reduce the long reverberation
time to bring up the sound quality, by reducing any overlapping
of sound to perceive much readily the time gaps between
individual sounds if any.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Audio Terrorists of Blogs

There are audiophiles and there are audiophiles of many kinds.
One of the modern day of internet, found only in the audio
circles are the 'audio terrorists'!!! The kind that is utterly
unhappy about what is written except maybe the sort of writings
that he/she tended to write or want to be able to endorse, to
be allowable to the audio public for reading. The vigilante who
goes around reading the various blogs to check out and weed
out those he/she deemed who do not conform to their way of
thinking and verbal expression.

1st these audio terrorists will when first appearing at a blog
will at the very start, antagonize the writer/ blog owner while
at the same time wish to get information useful to himself only.
That's the sign number 1. Whether this being a personal attack
on the writer is yet another issue, someone the writer knows
and that they have never agree on many issues. A audio
terrorist who is vindictive and has a long memory of past
unpleasant events. A person who is badly hurt perhaps and
can't let bygones be bygones. On the other hand if it's not
a personal attack but one out of habitual/obsessive impulses,
then I recalled psychiatrist called a manifestation of a troubled
childhood, one of a failed sex life or an inability of a shared
married life.

2nd, sign number 2, they usually are not able to relate themselves
to the topic writer, being unable to communicate their intent(s)
and purpose, they tended to show some sort of aggression in
their line of questionings and think that anyone they encounter
on the 'net owes them a favor/an answer/an explanation/a
greeting. Never thought that they have to be nice to others
to be able to receive the same treatments.

3rd the audio terrorist take it upon themselves to be the
vigilante to 'clean up' the seemingly mess he thinks has being
around long enough. Anyone else who gets in their way will
also be brutally 'mulled' down. It will be always their world
with the exclusion of all others they don't like. Sort of the
pond is not big enough for all fishes!

If these sort of repeated attacks keep appearing on blogs,
and seeming from the same persons, then it only go to show
there is harboring of deep hatreds and if built up over a
period will tended to hurt the audio terrorist psychologically
more than the readers of the blog who would usually enjoy
a good fight if there is one, if not amusing and entertaining
at times. At the most readers & writers alike will just disregard
and ignore the comments of the audio terrorist, with absolutely
no feeling whatsoever.

Here is another disadvantage, a non benefit faced by the
audio terrorist is that, even if he/she stops momentarily
or absent from the blog for even a short while, and if
another different audio terrorist comes into the scene
and does almost similar misdeed or mischief, readers of
the blog would just simply 'lump up' all the uncalled for
events and placed it into the 1st terrorist 'account'.....
...and anymore audio terrorist attacks forthcoming too
get dedited into that account. So the 1st terrorist will
be 'surfing around' the internet with a couple of knives
on his back without him even knowing about it. And if
he really does appear again, some readers will just give
him a piece of their mind out of disgust.

So it does not pay to be a 'audio terrorist'! Do consider
how much psychological damages the audio terrorist
would have sustained over the period he/she terrorizes
the blog! The rest of the readers, writers and blog owners
included just sit back and enjoy the fiasco, especially
when blog master do not intend on strict censorship.

That Vintage Feel part 2: The Complete Metamorphosis

In the previous article I mentioned the changes that have taken over the years on this particular setup. The changes have being very gradual and spaced out over a couple of years. It is during this time that the listening and at the same time the enjoying of the music, has brought about many critical listening on the part of the owner and many of his visitors who have given valuable feedback and suggested likely directions that could be taken.

The sound has taken a change from that of lack of bass contents to finally today a setup that has enough bass to give a very enjoyable musical presentation. It takes someone brave enough to try unchartered territories, such as attempt to work with a subwoofer. The integration of which many would probably know it isn't easy, and takes time and effort to work out a workable solution, perhaps even a workable compromise to provide a presentation the owner could enjoy most of his collection of music software. And it was also during this time, that the owner tried variously different equipment isolation devices such as the Qi cones, marble and granite slabs.

Besides this there is the issue of speaker placements, which I personally witness has taken many different positions and the tirelessly tried and tested placements of late being one of the best for that room. Not forgetting that the sitting position has to couple with the speaker placements, make for a long process over the years. With this done, next came the room acoustics, and how much to do and how much of it to be left alone. It's not surprised I find bricks, wood, additional carpets over carpet floor, and more recently diyed helmholtz resonators. And check on the room acoustics with test tone cd when tuning those resonators.

And finally, I find a setup I could sit down to listen for hours. And some of the time, I get to know some of the owner's other hifi buddies and friends. Least to say the tea session that always follow after the listening has always being interesting. I thank Koo for the permission to write this 2 parts article and him being a gracious host all these many years.

Friday, September 17, 2010

That Vintage Feel

We audiophiles like to listen to the music of our choice most of the time(some music lovers said more like the sound of audiophiles' choice and forgotten about the music!). How true could this be, depends if we are already practicing it without knowing it! So whenever I want a different diet of music I will make a choice as to where I will go listen for the evening if not I will remain at home and listen to my kind of music presentations the way I have chosen to live with, that is listen in my own 'hifi cave'!

So on 1 particular day, I choose to visit my good friend and hifi buddy I met on the 'net at the Star Forum a long time ago. The drive was an easy one, as he lives in the next neighbourhood of Cheras, just a short drive from Setapak, in Kuala Lumpur where we stay. When I first met him, he was into open baffle with Isophon single drivers and he has always sign off his chat in the forum as 'crossoverless', as the setup he had then hasn't any crossover circuitry at all! Then much later he moved into horn loaded fostrex speakers with external tweeters and still running with the 0.75w darling amplifier. Then he began signing off the chat sessions as 'crossoverleast'! I always thought it to be amusing way of slowly getting people to get used to his changes in his setup.

Just about less than 2 years ago, he made a dramatic change when he bought a 50 years old vintage Isophon speakers and shortly after being influenced by me with the use of subwoofers(I'm using multiple subwoofers), he bought a subwoofer to integrate with the pair of vintage speakers. Till date the integration of the main speakers and the 8" Audiopro 175w subwoofer has being a great success!

And of late I was to be in for more changes and surprises!!! He bought a QUAD 306 solid state amplifier which he and his friends thought it'a one of those amplifiers that sounded with much less solid state sounding characteristics. There were more surprises as soon as the integration of the subwoofer and main speakers was completed. I heard it several more times to know for sure it is!!! Though I was (still is) of the opinion that it's different kind of bass sound from that of a 10" subwoofer or a 12" subwoofer, different roll off point I reckoned and different drivers with their own inherent sizes driver sound with different behaviour and characteristic sound! Now his friends called him "crossallover"!!!!!

Then there he was test listening various different CDP used as transports into his diyed non oversampling DAC, that has gone thru several changes (of metamorphosis) including the use of different valve tubes and changes of premium parts and the addition of a buffer stage. There was this Pioneer dvd 310, the much rave about in the 'net, the Marantz 63(his resident CDT) and the vintage Philips CD 160 with the time tested CDM pro 2 mechanism. One thing I noticed haven't being changed, moved or displaced or replaced is a 'ferrite clock' design which I especially designed and made for his setup, it's a device for power conditioning making use of the electronic clock timing mechanism, to remove part of those uneasy to the ears type of electrical harmonics in the main power supply, if anyone wants something better than what I have mentioned, he has better get one of those megabuck power conditioners.

All in all, he has a not so expensive costing setup to suit his musical tastes and preferences which at the same time it's a system that many of his friends would like to come by for a listen, eventhough it may not be a setup they may want to have or live with in your own home!!! Again it comes down to personal preferences.I would agree with many of his friends that the system sounds musical(again it's so subjective that much arguments can go a long way) and enjoyable. So those looking for lots of bass to shake everything else in the room will probably want to come listen only once. However, those who are looking for 'lusty vocals' will come again and again!!!! Those who like to listen to soundstage will also come again and again!!! And those who are diehard hi end brand seekers will probably not even give a second thought about asking for a listen. We know what we are in for whenever we decide to go for a listen at some friends' place don't we?! We always do!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Logo

It been a year and it is time for me to update this blog with a new logo.
It means listen with your ear, close your eyes and other senses.
Hope you like it.


Thirst for more 'Hakka Song".

Lately i've been listening to a lot of hakka song.
But the hakka language that i know is different.I can't understand any of the lyric but it would not prevent me to enjoy the music
Ah Tao hakka song.If you don't own this you have miss alot of music.

I come to this cd  when i ask Jo ki any alternative good hakka song beside Ah Tao.Thanks Jo,you should get the "getting dark" CD.

Planting trees album

The first cd is "chung su" means planting trees by Lin Sheng-Xiang and by 2 japanese guitarist, Takashi Hiroyasu and Ken Ohtake.(I'm surprise )

Lin sheng-xiang, Ken Ohtake and Takashi Hiroyasu
Although only using with a pair of guitars, i can felt like i'm easily been "absorb" in that environment.A very involving album.Superb recording.I can play both of this cd over and over again and the!  i want to listen again tonight.This song arrangment is good.

My only grin is the whole cd tempo almost the same.Why this album use less instrument?.

Getting dark album
The 2nd cd is "lim am" means getting dark also by Lin Sheng-Xiang.
Use more instrument but the guitar is better play in the "chung su' cd.Song is arrange with more variety.


Monday, September 13, 2010

My Room Acoustics

 Ceiling treatment behind listener

It's not often one writes about his/her own hifi setup, details of the gears or even about the room where most part of the listening are done. However, after all a blog is like one's diary in which case a written records of one's hifi journey, seems quite proper, irrespective of whether any readers may or may not like what he/she reads or find the article not of any use at all, or even at times deemed offending to some particular readers!

 From listener's position

What I have in mind is a brief write up of my hifi journey in room acoustics. It may not be any readers' idea of room acoustics, and may even be deemed doubtful as to its effectiveness for the purpose of enhancing the listening pleasure of any listeners in the room! No 2 ears are the same, so probably no 2 persons could agree on what he/she may perceived of the sound. And lastly I'm not here to suggest that having a room made acoustically 'comfortable' for even a brief period of listening can replace the need for really good sounding hifi equipments and any ancillaries used with those hifi gears! So if one thinks getting the best equipments one could afford is the first and foremost the most important factor over room acoustics or nevermind the room acoustics, and the need for room acoustics treatments are not that important to him, there is no need to argue on this till the cows come home. It's your listening time, you could do whatever 'floats your boat'!

My involvements with room acoustics started with the need to address the already bad echoes and bass sound in my 8ft by 14ft smallish room with a sloping ceiling. The cross section of which depicts the shape of a true trapezium! There I was deciding to live with the disturbing sound from the system's playback, or do something about it! Doing something would seems to, going to take forever........a really daunting idea, and really frightening at that time!!! So it was decided, at some time 3 years ago, that I would do the surface treatments of the ceiling as there isn't enough floor space in the room to do anything really significant. Neither could I do anything much to the walls of the room because of the width of the room, though the first reflection points in the room as regards to the placement of the speakers have to be addressed properly, accurately or not, I thought that may be another issue.

Off I went to collect recyclable materials of cardboard, pieces of wood and even foams made from different materials, from electrical shops, and asked friends for these recyclable stuffs. When I have gathered enough of these materials, it was time to sit down to look at them and to get ideas and raked thru the brain for any useful data and information. Took about a couple of weeks of material collections and doing google search of information on room acoustics to finally come up with some idea of doing ceiling treatments. Then the need to have those designs hold up to the ceiling permanently, and came up with the idea of using very thin metal wires to hold them against the ceiling surface, and should be removable in the event of wrong placement or the wrong design and to even cover the worst of my thoughts, to have them removed and reused in the event that I have to shift house!!!

Side panels: Composite design

So after much experimentations, with design and choice of placements, finally came up with a design that was kept till this day. All in all it took just about 100 manhours to complete the task of doing the ceiling treatments. So far the room could now 'support' the use of multiple subwoofers reasonably well(meaning it's just about tolerable), I could do better if I had tried other ways, but there is no way to find out now for sure, I thought. So ended the 1 major project I have ever undertaken, and I considered it 1 big step for me along the way of my hifi journey.

 Written by Uncle Vic

Monday, September 6, 2010

Music Exchange at the KL Performing Art Centre, Sentul West

There I was on sunday, 5th september 2010, at the Sentul West, at the Performing Art Centre(PAC) with other writers of the H1F1 blog. Earlier Erik Goh had called up the group to inform of a music performance by the KLPAC orchestra and the visiting Penang State Symphonic Band(or PESSBAND) at the PAC. It was a music exchange program cum charity drive. So we quickly got together at our meeting place in Rampai, Setapak for a drink with the 'Wise One'(a very close and good friend of the group), check our stuffs/ photographic gears, etc., got a drink and grab a bite, and off we go to meet Erik who was already waiting in his car near the Sentul West to go with us to the PAC.

The PAC is situated in a pristine, clean and peaceful place with lots of greenery and open spaces, just the right place for an auditorium for music and play performances! We don't feel the need to do things here in a hurry which includes parking our cars and the slow walk into the PAC, followed by a short climb up to the 1st floor entrance, where we were greeted by some young people presumably from the young peoples' music groups. Entrance was by donations only into a donation box for disbursement to charitable organisation(s). So there were no ticketing and it's free seating for all.

We were guided into the right side of the auditorium and we had a pretty good view of the performance area. I thought it was just about right as I need to take some really neat pictures of the performances without disturbing the audiences. I had brought along an Olympus DSLR camera that has a very low level of shutter noise and I have taken along a AF ED short range zoom lens and another longer range lens for that really close up shot to capture the scene with the available ambient lighting as it's simply not right to use a strobe light for photography during the music performance proper.

Most if not all the performers were very young people, I reckoned in their late teens and very early 20's! The performers(combined Penang musicians and those from the Klang Valley) included the string section of violin and cello group, other group further into the performance area included wind instruments group of flutes, the brass section of trombones, saxophones and the timpanis are on the left with the electric guitar and the hand drums and modern drum set and percussions on the right. Several conductors took turns at directing the group performances.

The music presentations and performances reminded me of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO)performing classic rock music from the likes of Beatles, ABBA, Rolling Stones and Stephen Bishop and music from the movies as well as TV themes!!! If you could take out your CD of LSO performances you will surely know how I felt about the music being performed. It's very own style of presentations and not an exact duplication of the original music presentation as per the movie or tv theme! Very original style and presentations.
After the music performances, the crowd were simply exhilarating and there were shouts of encores!! Probably most of the people from the crowds were the parents, relatives and friends of the performers and many more regular visitors to the PAC.

 Photography sessions soon followed and the atmosphere was filled with an air of joy and jubilation!

From left to right, Uncle Vic,Uncle Chew,Eric Goh,Kenneth Lau, Yee

Our group too took the opportunity to have some photographs of ourselves taken too.

By: Uncle Vic
Edited by:KLau

Friday, August 6, 2010

Which new 12ax7?Full Music,Electro Harmonix or EI

From left to right,Full music Gold pin 12ax7,Electro harmonix 5751 gold pin,Ei 12ax7
All new production 12ax7 tube.Ei had stop production and will be more difficult to get.

Full Music 12ax7.
A completely new design rather than follow the construction on famous NOS tube.Previously Full Music is more famous for the triode type of tubes like 300b and 2a3. Now this Company from Tianjin,China release a 12ax7 tube.

The first thing I notice is lower noise floor. I suspect this tube might be a good candidate for phono. I like the tonality of his tube and the imaging is good.Sound is balance. I don’t have any complain much for a new production tube.I tends to like this tube more than others in this group.Kudos to Full music.

Electro Harmonix 5751 gold pin.
This is a premium version from electro-harmonix, Russia
5751 is a close family of 12ax7 with a lower gain.
The song  presented with more “muscle” and imaging is bigger than my reference tube. High is a bit artificial.In tends to dislike this tube in my system.

Ei 12ax7
Said to have bought all the equipment and stock from telefunken.
This tube is said to follow the construction of Telefunken smooth plate.Ei tube is made in Yugoslavia
The Ei tube which I am  testing here is originally selected by Jadis for the JPS2 pre amplifier. The plate is silver colour(There is another version where the plate is black).
Music is presented with a lot of “air”I feel it is a bit over from what I used to be.Extended listening i feel it is more of some echo at the high.
No wonder in another setup where a system using Jadis JPS2 + JA500  when playing the cd "Jazz at the pawn shop"give me the best atmosphere feel.("pub feel").
On the vocal  the singer is presented much younger and the bass is not as low.

**Tube tested in my diy Marantz 7 and using telefunken smooth and rib plate as reference.I think the 5751 tube is not showing the full potential as the specification of 5751 and 12ax7 is different.My pre amp operating point is tune more favour of a 12ax7 tubes.
*Thanks  Wong Chai for the tube.


Thursday, July 22, 2010


假如你喜欢听MANGER这张CD,又对封面的星形单体照片感到好奇,可以告诉你,这就是本文主角(Manger)铭阁喇叭的全音域单体原貌。提起这个“星体般优雅”的单元,不得不谈谈它的背景。其实Manger是一间单元制造厂,由已故的Josef W. Manger博士发明这颗著名的MSW(Manger Sound Transducer)单元开始。他费了30多年的岁月研究“听觉和音响”方面所获得的经验而发明了BWT(Bending Wave Transducer)曲波传导器。这单元是根据人类耳朵的结构,以及神经等的生理学上要素,转换成扬声器的发音原理方面,而加以开发出来的。

其实Manger MSW全音域单元在90年代就已经被其他喇叭厂用过而闻名,比如德国的Audio Physic - Medea和瑞士的Acoustic Lab - Stella Elegans。而这里所介绍的铭阁喇叭,则是Zerobox系列的103,107及109三个款式。109是书架型,其他2款则是落地型。

这次在马来西亚的代理商Sound Precision负责人陈先生引入的铭阁(Manger),挟着它40年的声誉,让本地音响爱好者又多一种品牌聆听心爱的曲乐。而它也在明日的KLIAV影音展览上一展身手,让参观者试听它的魅力,也可同时一窥全豹。

参展房址是吉隆坡万豪(JW Marriot)酒店8楼8034号。据陈先生表示,他将展示Manger的107落地式喇叭,配搭美国Inex Innovation前级A200和放大器Amplicable Elite。这全新的尝试届时将会让大家耳目一新。

Manger 107在8034号房展示


Sunday, June 27, 2010

TAD speakers launch

The soft launch was on 26th june, saturday 2pm at AV design's showroom at Rohas Perkasa Building, Jalan P Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur. Those invited include their customers, hifi bloggers, some hifi sifus, the young and talented and as well as the wise & learned senior ones. I was there early, and met up with Jo Ki, the LS3/5a guru & moderator of the LS Malaysian Chapter and a friend Yee, I met about a year ago at a Yamaha Music and Audio equipments sales in PJ. As the quests kept coming in, the gathering picked up momentum, & the host suggested we start off with slight refreshments and drinks and what follow were exchange of the latest happenings and updates, as most of the guests more of less know each other or have met previously at some other hifi social events.
When the music listen proper began, James of AV design started off with a rock track, Stairway to Heaven from Led Zeppelin, and it was rock, rock and more rock music thereafter. Later James played some audiophile tracks and some of past favourites. And it was followed by more coffee and drinks, and food! It was the rock music that everyone have their eyes glued to where the setup was placed, the TAD Reference 1, the Bryston amplifications and source. Everyone's attention and interest have moved to where the speakers were, after the light refreshments. This is an event reporting not a audio review, so will leave the technical information to other hifi bloggers present at the meet to write in detail of the equipments in used.

Then there were the photographing session, besides the listening session. Most guests have a closer look of the speakers and the ancillaries used for the music demonstrations. Followed by photo sessions with guests posing beside the R1 speakers.
It was much later when most of the guest have left, the guests who were still around played some old favourites followed by some trance music with beats as fast as 133bpm!!! The speakers handled this very well, and I was still comfortable with the pace of the music!
I left the place after this, still thinking how loud & well the speakers plus the setup could replay the various types of music!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Guang Zhou Trip

I need to apologize as I have forgotten to bring  my camera during this trip but here are some of the system that I have listen.
Westlake tower 12 + boulder 500ae(pre + power) .I listen at the "new tao ge" Guang Zhou at the top floor.Using TAD speaker wire.I like this system.

B&w 805 + onix integrated amplifier + onix cd player.I listen to this setup at the cd shop at Hai Yin Complex.Every cd shop got serious setup. I like this so a bought a few cd's from this shop.Yes, i like this setup.

Ayon speaker + Kondo M77(pre) + Kondo power amp(sorry I forgot the model).This setup is at the ground floor of "Wan Shen" building.I don’t like this

Tannoy srm15(added elac super tweeter(like a mushroom), + single ended(Don’t know what power amp)amplifier+ vintage marantz 7.This setup is at the New "tao ge" building GuangZhou.The speaker is just being fire up.The sound is still changing while i'm at the place.An Elac super tweeter(look like a mushroom) is being added at the top of the Tannoy.Sound Moderate.

Tannoy Kensington +Accuphase pre and power.At the "Wan Shen"building ground floor at Shen Zhen  Sound ok

Wilson audio Maxx + Big boulder silver in colour.At the "Wan Shen" building  ShenZhen.Nice talking to fella "Old Lee"Nice guy but I don’t like the system.Just beside the Wilson maxx there is the famous B&W Nautilius but too bad it is never connected to any amplifier.Many mention that this speaker is very difficult to drive.

Westlake bbsm10vnf +Plinius (pre and power) 250watt silver colour.At the "Wan Shen" building Shen Zhen.I request for the Manger CD gtrack 15.The seller agreed there is room boom. i don’t like this.

Orgue pm610,Orgue PM610 reference, Archion 12 + melody parallel 2a3 + Jungson cd player.I like the normal PM610 rather than the reference PM610 that use solid wood cabinet.Overall,I don’t like this.

China clone proac response 2.5 + China Kt88 amplifier.I don’t like this.

During this trip, i found that everyb system either violin music or "chai chin" cds.Why?

"I don’t like" doesn’t mean the equipment is bad. Maybe at that moment my mood is not good or ....too many maybe.