Capsule Review Section
Of course, the best test is to listen to equipment yourself, but I've
decided to put up a small section on my very preliminary opinions
on some equipment I've heard around the Adelphi.
JMLab Electra 915 at Asia Sound
This is the smallest floorstander in the Electra series, but its actually
quite big. Jeffrey at Asia Sound advises from purchasing it if you don't
have a room as large as Asia Sound's listening room. I kind of agree,
though I'm disappointed as I was seriously thinking about it. The 'problem'
is the great bass. Theres probably too much of it for a small room.
This is a neutral speaker with no real flaws that I could discern
from first listening. But note: I compensate for the fact that its my
audition of it was the first time they played the 915. They're
concentrating more on demo-ing the Mini-Utopia and Mezzo Utopia.
Tannoy 'R' Series, including the R2 at Emjay (Peninsula)
Apparently, Emjay has managed to bring in the R series even before
Tat Chuan. Anyway, the sound quality of the R2 is a step in the right
direction as compared to the M series. It has a lighter, more delicate
touch with the sound. Though it still does not sound particularly transparent
in absolute terms (compared with more expensive speakers), the sound is
well balanced and the bass is well controlled and not boomy (which is
a good sign - but note, I'm not talking too much about definition, absolute
depth etc. Thats too much to expect from a budget speaker).
Manley Stingray Integrated Tube amp at Stereophile Audio
You can check www.soundstage.com for their usual positive review, but
really, I'm still not impressed. I just guess it goes to show that its
really hard to make an inexpensive integrated tube amp.
Initially, they hooked up Wilson Cubs to them and they really sounded
ummm problematic. The bass seemed to be going off on its own and
didn't seem to have any relation to what the midrange was doing. It could
be that the Cubs aren't that good (I found them OK at SAVE, but then,
they were hooked up to very very expensive amps and sources). Recently,
they're being demoed with Soliloquy speakers and the sound is a bit better.
My initial opinion is that it doesn't have the midrange liquidity or
other tube amps including the Audio Note Oto SE (a bit overpriced in Singapore),
without this, whats the point, cos' a cheaper solid-state amp will give
you about the same sound quality (perhaps with better bass even). Manley
also makes brilliant mono-bloc tube amps which drove Tannoy Westminsters
beautifully [you must listen to this combo - Amanda McBroom's voice is
to die for].
Opera 1.5 speakers at Margil (small standmounts)
I do like these speakers. I didn't check the price (for some reason they
don't seem to be listed in Hi-Fi Choice but I think they're cheaper -
perhaps in the Concertino range) but I daresay they had more 'air' in
the top end then Sonus Faber Concertos. without sounding brighter. Perhaps
its just the Red Dawn cables. But basically, in my view, there were no
serious flaws and so, the entire Opera line is worth a listen. Not everyone
likes the Sonus Faber sound (--shocked gasps from SF owners) or the finish
System Audio 1130 (small floorstanders)
Recommended by Hi-Fi Choice (but note the UK list of 499GBP vs the S$1.3k
price). Its such a small cute standmounted speaker that I wanted to love.
Unfortunately, this is a specialised 'classical music' and audiophile
recordings only speaker. It does sound lovely, unfortunately, there is
a definite midbass 'hump' that increased warmth but really, it makes popular
music a bit 'boomy' and murky. This could be cured by aggressive room
treatment but since people who buy this speaker are probably short on
space, its critical that such speakers are relatively 'room-insensitive'
which does not seem to be the case here. Sometimes, I think that my Triangle
are too dry and thin, but this swings too far to the other end for me.
Conrad Johnson MF2500 / PFR etc at Kingsley's new room
Very, very good soundstaging. If I put this system in my more fully treated
room, I think it would knock my socks off. I've never been able to find
anything wrong with the sound from Conrad Johnson. Their lesser products
don't get coverage in the audio press - they seem to be always focusing
on the Premier series (save for a short flurry of publicity for their
integrated amp the CAV50) - but the good stuff is in the 'middle'.
Nautilus 805 (sooo cute standmount)
Oooh, its so cute that I could forgive any idiosyncrasies. However, the
price ELPA is selling it at makes one have to think hard about the purchase.
(make it $3k flat and I'll almost certainly whip out the cash...) The
idiosyncrasy of B&W speakers is the slight nasality of the kevlar
drivers. Some say its because the drivers are run in yet. I don't really
know. Fortunately, the strange bass that the CDM1SE is famous for is minimised
in the N805. I can definitely live with the sound... now, about that price...
Joseph Audio RM22 and 25. (KH marketing in Kampong Ubi)
Big speaker with big sound, its no wonder that they often get rave reviews
at hi-fi shows. The sound is arresting, there is also subtlety and delicacy
in the sound. Transients are of course superb. But... its a really dry
sound. This is the sound of metal drivers. It all depends on whether you
like it like this. The other metal driver we all know about is the lovely
but rather coloured Monitor Audio PMC series. But, if you're in
the market for this kind of speaker, you must compare them to
Hales Revelation - various models (Reference Audio)
The 'big speaker' 'big sound' stereotype. Without the dryness, and the
compromise is weaker transient performance. But note that the Revelations
are the 'budget' (ahem, ahem) line for Hales...