Monday, October 29, 2007

Some thoughts~ Lesson learnt

Having been playing with Hifi for the past few years, I have come to a point where I think quality is more important then quantities.

There is always a strong desire to own more and more gears owing to peer pressures, or competitions among the various audiophiles. Luckily, I have managed to keep a clear mind and focus on what I need vs what I like to own. In the end, I believe that rare and valuable amplifiers will forever be in demand ~~as the demand comes from the international market and not from one or two individuals.. Leak TL12.1 is a great amplifiers among the Leak famalies...Western Electric will always be in strong demand as its reputation went as long as the 1930s~~~Marantz & Mcintosh will always appeal to those who want reputable brands...and so on..~~~~

So, if one want to start getting into hifi, one needs to know what type of sound one desires...and start with the speakers and then move backward as the sensitivity of the speakers will determine what type of power amplifiers you will need. One example is my AR3 speakers. My 12 watts amplifier was unable to optimize the performance of the AR3 which require 35 Watts power and above in order to push its to its opitmum. Perhaps a Marantz 9 will be a better amplifier for the AR3. I was unwilling to change the gear which resulted in my parting with the AR3.. : (

In addition, if you have the talents and the time (I have no talent or time) may wish to try DIY...

Cheers and have fun...

DIY Tube amplifiers

I have come to realise that i am not much of a DIY person. There are many DIY audiophiles who has built amplifiers claiming to be the best. In addition, there are many who aspires to build their amplifiers like those of the Mcintosh, Marantz and Western Electric ..

However, so far, other then the US or European I can only see the Japanese (brands such as Leben, Yamamoto etc) and some mainland Chinese (brands such as Sparks, Melody, etc), there are not many who can claim to be successful.

At the various forum, one can easily see expert giving out advices and acting like big Masters..In the end, my personal view is that the success of the brands will be determined by the market forces or demand and supply. Alternatively, one could joing the once a year DIY contest organized by the hifi magazines..where glory is earned by convincing the judges and not by writing in the forum like R33. What do you think?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hifi set up as of 28 Oct 2007

After my Vietnam trip and Kuala Lumput trips, I have finally managed to take a short break today for some listening of hifi before going to Macao tomorrow for stratgy day meeting.
My current set up consists of WE 124b (power amplifiers) + Acxiom passive preamplifier + Linn Genki CD player + Matisse conductor + Altec 755a speakers ( and spare 10 inch WE speakers & Rogers LS3/5a Gold Badge). I have found keeping vintage speakers easier then amplifiers as they are relatively easy to maintain..
I am quite happy with the sound from my current set up ... and to make space for the apartment, I have put on sale my spare B&O CD player as well as the spare set of speakers cabinets. Anyone keen can write to me...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Arrival of Linn Genki CD player

After waiting for 2 weeks, my new Linn Geni CD player has finally arrived rfrom USA! I could not wait to get home to try my "new" modern CD player. With its compact size, it can easily fit into my shelf together with my Western Electric Isolation transformer as well as the Matisse.

The Linn CD playeris visually attractive with its minimalist design..Zen feel. In term of sound, it has better sound stage, and better overall musical feel. The vintage B & O, on the other hand, has better warmness..

Nevertheless, both CD players are excellent in their own ways, functionally and visually : )

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Great CD - Dan Forgelberg

Recently, i have managed to find one of my old Cd from the 1980s Dan Forgelberg. It was great as it brought back great memories of my school days with songs like Leader of the Band, Run for the Roses and Same old lang Syne...

Listening to this Cd bring me back to the very reason why I have invested so much time and energy and money in setting up the hifi system. Afterall, music is for leisure..

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Zenn 300B Preamplifier

As early as 1997, my Singaporean audiophile friend Zenn Audio has already created the first preamplifier using the 300b tubes!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Established brand vs new brand Hifi

There are a couple of highly publicized new hifi gears which has received great noise and interest among the audiophiles in Hong Kong (examples Pure Matt speakers and Eleckit amplifiers). From the threads, one can easily see lots of supporters. Initially, I was also tempted to try. However, the pricing of the items seem to be moving southward, i.e downward (with entrepreneur parallel importers by fellow audiophile in HK).

Moreover, more and more people are letting go these "seasonal" hot items. The price of the Elekit amplifiers is about HK$4800. However, I have seen audiophile using very expensive GEC KT66 and even Western Electric 350B to drive the amplifier. The tubes alone costs more then the amplifiers. Is this a right approach? I don't know... My view is that the tubes should not costs more then the amplifiers. If one has extra cash, one should upgrade the amplifier first (as there are the heart of the hifi set up) or the Speakers and then the tubes..

My hifi path has always been to focus and use only the well "tested" and good reputation branded gears such as Mcintosh, Marantz, Western Electric, Fishers, Pye etc.. as one tend not to lose money when selling them... : )

Great CD - nat KING Cole

Last weekend was another round of spring cleaning. I ahev sold off my spare set of spakers cabinets as well as the Jensen speakers in order to make space for my brother and sister in law holiday visit.
Originally, I have the inetention of getting a pair of Fisher 50c. However, the seller has changed his mind. I have sold off a pair to a "close friend" and initially I have thought of asking him to cut love back as he has already found another pair of Pilot 913. However, with more then 30% markup, it has made it so unattractive for me to even think...
Well, I guess that's the price of "friendship"...
With this dissappointment, my desire to own more hifi gears has reduced drastically. Instead, this setback has allowed me to look at the positive side of things and give me an opportunity to look at what I need vesus what I desires. Since I could not change the situation, my changing of attitude has allowed me the be more at ease with things and afterall, hif is just a hobby...
This 1994 Nat King Cole CD ahs all the favoutite NKC songs...22 songs all together. Wonderful vocal, good music being played by WE 124 & 755a..what more can one ask? Enjoy!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Great CD - Georges Bizet Carmen

With the near completion in my hifi set up, I hope to start appreciating some classic opera.The first on eon the list is George Bizet Carmen!

Leben RS-28CX Premium Pre Amplifeir

Beside the Nagra PLL, this is one of the two most elegant preamplifiers that I like!

Sony Playstation 1

While waiting for the arrival of my LinnGenki CD players, I have decided to experiment with the Playstation 1, using it as a sourec for my music.

According to the 6moons review: "This kid's video game player really does have outstanding audio performance. I'm guessing you'd have to spend more than $6000 on a one-box CD player to equal let alone better it...." For a detail, please see the link below:

With the use of the very affordable passive preamplifier, I feel that good music reproduction need not be expensivce! Unconventional approach is in..

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Great CD - Katie Melua

This a great CDs with great and unique vocal and some great guitar. These are not the tradiional audiophiles CD but more of the modern rock CD for the yound people. So old farts...please forgive me for recommending these CDs if these are not up to your taste or standard.. Ha ha

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Linn Genki CD player

Many of us have been concentrating our efforts on the speakers, power amplifiers and preamplifiers when coming to upgrading our hifi system. As for the CD players, I have always been using the 1980s technology (i.e Philips CD 100 & Bang & Olufen). However, given the important of sourse, I have also been searching for 1st edition CDs as well as good recodng XRCD Cds.
As for the CD players, I have always wanted to "try" modern CD players. During my serach, I have realised that there are many China made modern CD players & Japanese brand CD palyers as well as expensive European ones such as Wadi, Naim and Linn etc.
With the intention to search for a European model, my hunt were narrrowed to Linn Ikemi and Linn Genki, with the former being more expensive model...

For a review, please read:

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Hifi & human heart

I have always treated Hifi as an hobby rather then a life. However, from the hobby, I get to know many audiophiles. Among the various audiophiles, we can see all kind of people. I have always thought that music is supposed to help one relax and therefore help to ease the stress and help one's heart to be more balanced. However, I was wrong as there are some audiophiles who tended to be self centered and profit driven. I am not against making money..but I guess making money from friend is just abit too much..

Nevertheless, I am quite happy with my recent set up of combing old (WE124b) with the new technology (Passive preamplifier) in achieving the clarity in sound, quiet background and improved soundstage. Previously, my belief is only in vintage preamplifiers (such as Fisher 50C, 80, 400CX) but there is a need to ensure that vintage preamplifier is fully functional in order to bring out the best in music. Power amplifier's function is much straight foward. As such, after mixing amd matching the various preamplifiers for my WE124b, I must say that my current set up fully met my own expectation.

With the issue of pre & power amplifiers solved, I need to relook at the source of my music, i.e the CD player. Currently, I am using the B & O CD player which is quite musical. Should I try the vintage Studer CDP or modern one such as the Linn?

: (

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Axciom Passive preamplifier - ultimate in clarity

I have tried many active vintage preampliers (e.g. Marantz 7, Pliot 216a, Fisher 80C, 50C, 400Cx, WE120a etc). The Marantz 7 in my opinion is one of the best fit for Leak TL12.1 as the 12.1 has a relatively high gain, while the Marantz 7 has a strong Mid which help to compliment each other.
For the Western Electric 124b, many of the Taiwanese audiophiles have tried matching them with Marantz 7, Fisher, Pilot, Mcintosh amplifiers but they have came to a conclusion that the WE124b by itself (using no preamplifier) is the best in sound as these are wonderfully built amplifiers.
I have tried matching my Western Electric 124b with the Fisher 400CX, Fisher 50C, Pilot 216a and the WE120a. For the former 3, the sound is a bit too hifi, while the WE120a is too mallow.
As such, I am now trying to match it with a passive preamplifier where my aim is to have the ultimate in clarity. Since there is no current, no capacitors etc in the preamplifier, there will be very distortion and colouration...
Quite like the natural sound! Simple but great design with truely transparent and natural sound.
The equipment must serve the music, not the music the equipment as is often the case in audiophile circles
According to a review, there are some significant advantages using a passive volume control:
1. Cost savings. A very high quality passive volume control is cheaper than even low quality preamplifiers.
2. Improved sound quality. The non-linearities, noise and distortion from the preamplifier are avoided. Even the most expensive preamplifiers add coloration and distortion to the sound.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Great CD: 閔慧芬

Information from the net:

閔慧芬是中國民族音樂領域的傳奇人物,她的二胡演奏被小澤征爾評價為:“即使在休止符時,也有情感!”近年來,閔慧芬飽受病魔纏繞,曾隱退舞臺相當長的一段時間。去年底(2000年),她到加拿大溫哥華短暫居留,巧遇馬浚先生(First Impression Music(一聽鍾情)由華人主理,極少數能在國際上得到認可的發燒唱片品牌的主腦者),應邀為FIM灌錄一張發燒級製作。參與此次錄音的,還有古箏名家李煒和揚琴演奏家李麗君,曲目除《江河水》、《二泉映月》、《賽馬》、《漁舟唱晚》等二胡演奏,還有《春江花月夜》、《昭君出塞》等古箏名作,可說薈萃了中華民樂的精華所在。  馬浚先生長袖善舞,竟使該錄音計畫得到SACD始作俑者SONY的全力支持。SONY的SACD技術部董事Gus Skinas親自攜帶全球為數不多的DSD現場錄音器材前往溫哥華,並在錄音室監控了整個製作過程,務求使錄音品質達到DSD科技的最高水準。本碟主題曲《江河水》,是源于東北遼南鼓吹樂笙管曲的同名曲牌。初為雙管獨奏,後被移植改編成二胡獨奏,成為一首膾炙人口的二胡名曲。這首樂曲演繹了一個淒涼悲淒的故事:某地有一對恩愛夫妻,丈夫服勞役離鄉而去,忽遭不測死於外城。妻子聞訊,如雷轟頂,在當時與丈夫依依惜別的江邊,面對著滔滔河水嚎啕痛哭、悲憤欲絕,訴之泣之,遙相祭奠……據馬浚先生介紹,閔慧芬一曲錄罷,竟然泣不成聲,身體不住顫抖,可見其發自內心的真情投入。這是一種怎樣的境界?!難怪在錄音現場,即使不諳中樂的外籍工程師也被感動得動容。馬先生回憶道:“新力公司SACD技術部董事Skinas說,自聽過閔女士的演奏,十多天來晚上都造夢。夢中總是聽到她的琴韻,無法忘懷,這是他從未有過的經驗。我笑道,這就是繞梁十日吧!”  很顯然,縱使生就一副鐵石心腸,像這樣的音樂,我也是不敢多聽的,更不敢將之視為一張純粹的發燒碟來隨意試音。

Great CDs Aaron Neville, Chet Atkins..

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Western Electric 274b tubes

I have started to use the WE 274b tubes on my We124b amplifiers. I must agree with Alan that the WE274B's harmonic extension will be almost double of 5U4, the high and mid-high is very pure and transparent too..

One of my audiophiles sifu has told me that with the WE274b, even without using the WE350 tubes (i.e other normal 6L6 tubes), the sound extension will be much more superior then using other 5U4Gs and once used, one cannot "un-use".

As a result, I have decided to keep the extra set of WE274 tubes as spares are these are getting harder and harder to find..especially NOS. Cheers : )

Monday, October 01, 2007

Spare set of NOS WE 274B

Initially, I have the intention to keep only one set of the WE274b. Since there are no serious buyers for the spare set, I have decided to keep them as spares fro future use.