Author Archives: maggielurva 愛美姬

mini maggie with rega brio: a blissful marriage

the perfect couple: maggie and rega
we read HP's parting shots in issue 213 of TAS about maggie 3.7: "if they don't almost knock you out, they are set up wrongly or by an incompetent".

we applaud generously. i think HP, (alto' a bit old in the tooth), besides the former HI-Fi+ editor, roy gregory, is about only one in audio journalism that calls a spade a spade without fear or favor. too many hifi reviewers, past and present (more in the present than in the past actually) are merely doing lip service to the dealers for the fear of losing their advertisement income. in being politically correct, they also lose credibility and trust. well, audio journalism... too much we can and have to say and we will leave it for another day.  

since the arrival of the too-good-not-to-cuddle mini maggie, we have been looking high and low for a suitor. a suitor with enough money (power) in the saving accounts (transformer). if you buy the maggie for RM6K, you are not going to pair it with an amp costing Rm10K, are you? since mini maggie is touted as the "best desktop speaker in the world", its natural habitat has to be a study room or a bedroom. and it happened that we have cleared out the mess in our bedroom with enough room for a smallish hifi system.

so we set the budget of sub-RM2K for an integrated amp. just for memory's sake, we haven't played an integrated amp since 1988 and the last great integrated amp we had was the magical, ARC-aspiring musical fidelity A100, which you could double up as mini grill for your fried eggs or bacon and sausage.    

we auditioned a couple of great integrated amps, namely amp #A and amp #B, both award winning in that lets-count-the-stars magazine. amp #A  has a refined sound but guess what, it clipped many times driving the lustful mini maggie, even playing at moderate volume! had it not been the power issue, amp #A would have been our choice at this amazing price point of RM2,200. amp #B  has so much more brunt and muscle, but lacking the ultimate refinement that goes in tandem with the mini maggie's superb resolution.

so we have only the rega brio-R left in the competition. its satin-finished shoebox casing is attractive in its own way. in fact, it is the most handsome of the three amps. the rega engineering is first-class, even the user's manual is classy. according to the specs, the 70w into 4ohm, almost class-A rating can satisfy crazy loads, not to mention the 4ohm of the mini maggie. rega warns that with 4 ohm, the amp can run hot and hot it does, almost 40 degree celcius on the casing!

but the sound! the sound has meat and body that is lacking in amp #A. it is supple and energetic, feeding plenty of required juices to the mini maggie. harmonically it is also the richest. it has refinement aplenty (british amp what!) which is lacking in amp #B. everything just sounds and looks right.

so, deal la. RM2,500, that's all you need for a blissful and lustful marriage. the mini maggie has been satisfied.

Original Resource is desirable audio boutique 欲望:音响

珍袖小巨人 [the tiny but mighty mini maggie]

having left the hifi scene for close to 3 years now, i am still keeping a tap on the latest, most talked-about, most sensational hifi products in the market.

i am a strong proponent of this brand of speakers called "magneplanar", also affectionately known as "maggie".  it belongs to a category of speakers called the planars and they are normally huge in size thus making it inconvenient for typical malaysian households. 

to cut a long story short, save for a few die-hards like yours truly, maggie wasn't popular in malaysia in the past until some rave reviews from some authoritative gurus in the USA starting this year. all at once, maggie became a hot name in malaysian hifi with the release of a new generation of models. it won't be too far off to call maggie "the hifi speakers of 2011" or to call 2011 "the year of the maggie".

not ready to upgrade my current big maggie to the latest model, so i bought the smallest model of them all: the mini maggie. the reason for my eagerness to buy this speaker is also because it  is a limited edition product and it is so cute and almost cuddly.

mini maggie is every inch a marvel of sound. even fresh from the box, it tells you that it will trash the competition at RM6k a pair. as it breaks in, it unravels a sound that is larger than its physical limit: pristine true ribbon highs, pure and uncoloured mids and a bottom that's tactile and bouncy. most precious of all, it is a seamless sound that is continuous and integrated, not like many mini monitors within this price range. it is, in every sense, a true high end bargain.

i may not dabble in hifi anymore because i enjoy live music (and making it) much much more nowadays but for moments when i need some pure unadulterated good sound, the mini maggie has become some sort of a new found joy for me.

for those with RM6K to spare for a pair of truly high-end speakers and those without the space in the house but wanted high end sound, this is for you. absolutely kick ass.

Original Resource is desirable audio boutique 欲望:音响

thank you for the music

guys, the time has come to draw the curtains....

it has been a glorious 3.5 years blogging for desirable audio. i am proud to be the pioneer hifi blogger in this region. looking at the scene now, there are no less than 5 hifi blogs in malaysia! it is heartening to see that.

desirable audio has garnered its fair share of supporters and detractors over the years. for that, i thank you for your support and i am sure the new generation of hifi bloggers like panzer and hifikaki would emulate what i have done and do even better than me.

i am full time into music production now, you can follow my adventures in poppopmusic blog. again, i am proud i am a pioneer in the audiophile music production in malaysia... let's see if i can bring the malaysian flag to the international arena.

again, thank you for the music. may the spirits of good music live forever!

goodbye, farewell and amen.

Original Resource is desirable audio boutique 欲望:音响

alternatively yours – another great project is born

it was funny, i was asking my singer for "songs for heartbreak" whether she could cover this
and she said "she can't relate to this kind of indie alternative music". i told her the song is by leonard cohen and covered by tones of other singers, including the late jeff buckley in this definitive version.

suddenly, it dawn on me that i could do an audiophile album for alternative music, in a minimalist style like what jeff buckley done in "hallelujah"! wow! that would be terminally cool!

all at once, these songs came to mind:

1) radiohead "high and dry"
2) the verve "the drugs don't work"
3) new order "bizarre love triangle"
4) the cure "friday i am in love" (katie melua did a jazzy version of it!)
5) jeff buckley "hallelujah"
6) coldplay "yellow"
7) damien rice "the blower's daugther"
8) jesus and mary chain "about you"
8) and many others of similar genre

and the greatest thing is - i have already a male singer in mind! this guy used to imitate robert smith (the lead singer of the cure) like no others and he is a great indie singer..... i am sure he would agree to do an album like this!

an alternative album recorded in an audiophile manner, this must be a breakthru!

Original Resource is desirable audio boutique 欲望:音响

candidate for “songs for heartbreak”

check out my next candidate for the "songs for heartbreak" project...

she scores high in my "sonic checklist"... my only worry being that she is too "big" for sentimental ballads. she needs to subdue her power and dynamism and channel it into other departments like tenderness, sensitivity and delicacy.

i have full confidence in her!

Original Resource is desirable audio boutique 欲望:音响

bad news for cd – an email from hong kong

The audiophile music market has been slowly shrinking here for the last 10 years or so.

But since the outbreak of the financial tsunami, the market suddenly worsened at a much accelerated pace. Now the economy is getting better but CD sales doesn't pick up at all. People are talking about digital download will replace CD. But the problem is when you sell one download, the paid download copy will be freely distributed to friends and then friends of friends of the one who actually pays.

Who will bother to fill in his or her name and credit card no. to download when his or her friend can share a free copy which is exactly the same as any paid download one? Some audiophile labels are starting to sell 24 bit 96k wave files via the net. I believe they are in fact killing themselves. The 24 bit 96k wave file are of course better sounding thanh the commercial CD. But how can they recoup the money they spend in a brand new production? Of course there is no question of recouping the investment if it is old master. But sooner or later, download sales of old master will exhaust. If these labels invest in new recordings, they will not be able to recoup.

So much for the bad news, a few days ago, I received a test pressing of the HQCD version of Susan Wong's first CD and it sounds really beautiful, much much better than the normal CD or XRCD. I hope HQCD might bring some excitement to the CD market.

Keith Yip, Rock In Music

Original Resource is desirable audio boutique 欲望:音响

listen again

bondy chiu hock-e strikes again! the follow-up to her successful debut "listen", this time it is called "listen, listen" will be out in late september!

i am certainly impressed with ms.chiu's fast-paced production. it shows that with money and dedication, one can churn out album after album... unlike yours truly who is still struggling with 2v1g's sophomore album :-(

the special edition of the album was on sale during this month's AV show in hong kong. this time bondy sings in mandarin.

watch out for it at you favourite record store!

Original Resource is desirable audio boutique 欲望:音响

yet another avenue for hifi

i was introduced to veteran hifi reviewer from the star newspaper, lam seng fatt, yesterday and he too has a blog called hifi avenue ...

since lam is a journalist, he brings the latest update from the local industry. of great interest to me is lam's interest on the hard disc players and its progress and evolution. readers who want to know more about this topic would definitely find great info from lam's blog.

so besides desirable audio, we now have hifi-unlimited and hifi-avenue! the more the merrier!

Original Resource is desirable audio boutique 欲望:音响

cai qin is not happy

in a recent interview conducted in a hifi saloon in taiwan, in conjuction with her latest album release, cai qin, raised a few eyebrows about what she expects from audiophile recordings....

fact #1 - cai qin's real voice is not as thick and bassy as most audiophiles would believe

most audiphiles would tweak her sound until really "kao kao" (concentrated and thick-sounding) and think that's how cai qin sounds like. in real life, cai qin's voice is actually quite clear, precise and light. she sounds definitely younger than her age. so the next time you tune cai qin, don't make her sound like 70 year-old!

fact #2 - cai qin's doesn't think any of her albums so far are close to her real voice because no one album does sound the same. every time she listens to the monitor speakers in the studio, she always disagree with the sound.

cai qin is not being arrogant. her explanation is that every recording studio and the equipment it uses has its unique sound and all the engineers tend to beautify her voice to a certain degree.

fact #3 - which albums then is closest to cai qin's real voice?

cai qin tactfully answered that it must be the best-selling album because it is endorsed by most people.

i don't have any evidence of her sales, but i would hazard a guess - it must be "lao ge" album.

fact #4 - what's cai qin's definition of a good recording?

cai qin thinks a good recording must represent the era the recording is made. a 1960's recording must conjure up images of that era - the hairstyles, the clothes, the culture, the colors, the setup... all the visual cues that is related to that era. it is really up the the recording engineer's imagination to capture all these cues.

Original Resource is desirable audio boutique 欲望:音响