Sunday, 9 July 2017

Rilisan LP Orak Orek - Legasi Diteruskan


Beberapa bulan dahulu, peminat Zainal Abidin telah disajikan dengan rilisan semula album Hijau di dalam bentuk LP. Ketika itu, peminat juga diberitahu yang album-album Zainal Abidin akan terus diriliskan untuk memberi peluang kepada peminat-peminat memiliki LP-LP ini. Rilisan semula album Hijau menerima maklum balas bercampur daripada peminat. Ada yang amat teruja terutama kepada mereka yang berputih mata dengan harga jualan rilisan pertama album ini, ada yang sedikit kecewa kerana satu lagi 'killer song' yakni Ikhlas Tapi Jauh tidak dapat dimasukkan ke dalam rilisan kedua ini dan ada juga yang tidak berpuas hati dengan mutu audio di dalam rilisan kedua album Hijau ini. Pada pendapat penulis, semua komen dan pendapat dari pembeli dan pendengar adalah betul belaka kerana penilaian dibuat berdasarkan pendengaran dan sistem audio masing-masing. Walaubagaimanapun,  penulis anjurkan supaya pendapat atau komen diberikan dengan ilimiah dan etika supaya industri muzik tanahair terus maju. Agak menyedihkan apabila penulis melihat artis atau pemuzik lain dari pelbagai genre muzik memberi pendapat secara kutukan atau sindiran yang tidak membina. Agak menyedihkan apabila melihat status sebegini memandangkan industri muzik kita ini bukanlah se gah mana pun berbanding dengan negara lain. Bahkan, sudah pasti penulis juga akan terkena tempias secara langsung atau tidak langsung dengan penerbitan ulasan ini. Itupun kalau ada yang membaca heheheh.

Berbalik kepada rilisan seterusnya dari Zainal Abidin, Orak Orek merupakan rilisan kedua di dalam siri Legacy beliau yang bakal menemui peminat pada penghujung Julai 2017. Ini adalah agak menarik di mana album 'live' ini belum pernah dikeluarkan di atas format LP sebelum ini. Sebelum ini, peminat menikmati persembahan live ini dari format CD atau digital yang lain. Apabila diberi peluang oleh pihak Dream Studio untuk memberi sedikit ulasan tentang LP ini, tidaklah saya dapat menolak kerana ini adalah Zainal Abidin!.... Zainal Abidin! Saya ulangi...Zainal Abidin! Heheheh.. Memang saya amat meminati bakat beliau yang amat terserlah terutama di persembahan2 live. 



Kulit LP ini diterbitkan secara gatefold glossy dan lagu-lagu dimuatkan ke dalam sekeping LP sahaja. Justeru itu, jikalau dibanding kan dengan format CD, ada beberapa lagu yang sekali lagi tidak dapat dimuatkan di dalam LP ini. Senarai lagu adalah seperti di bawah. Sekeping poster juga telah disertakan.


Lagu-lagu yang tidak dapat dimuatkan:

1. Inayah
2. Baba
3. Debu Liar



MUTU AUDIO

Terus kepada ulasan tentang mutu audio LP ini. Sesi mendengar telah dilakukan beberapa kali menggunakan dua pemain piring hitam yang berbeza yakni Lenco L78 dan Technics SL1200 MKIII.


Senang Senang (Technics SL1200 MKIII)

Jelas terperinci seawal lagu pertama Senang-Senang. Dengan pembukaan bahasa Jepun dan permainan perkusi yang jitu, tidak kedengaran ada unsur-unsur bunyi gemaan. Petikan gitar bass di dalam lagu ini sangat menggetarkan jiwa dengan setiap nota yang dipetik. Dari segi vokal juga, intonasi suara Zainal lebih beritma dan bertenaga kalau dibandingkan dengan LP Hijau dahulu. Masih ada sedikit frekuensi tinggi yang agak tajam terutama bunyi hi-hat dan splash cymbal tetapi tidaklah sepanjang lagu. Apa yang sangat ketara ialah frekuensi rendah atau bass yang lebih jitu dan bertenaga. Agak santai sesi pendengaran lagu ini.



Telaga (Lenco L78)

Tidak perlu mendegar keseluruhan album untuk mendapat kepastian tentang kekuatan frekuensi rendah LP ini. Permainan perkusi di pembukaan lagu ini jelas memperdengarkan betapa bertenaganya dentuman bass pada pengeluaran LP kali ini. Mutu vokal masih tidak terjejas atau tenggelam walaupun bunyi bass amat dominan dalam pengeluaran LP kali ini. Frekuensi tinggi sekali boleh kedengaran agak tinggi di beberapa ketika di dalam lagu ini tetapi tidaklah sehingga bingit. Lapisan-lapisan berlainan di dalam genre muzik nusantara seperti ini juga berjaya dikupas di dalan pengeluaran kali ini.


Manis (Lenco L78)

Di dalam lagu Manis, ianya lebih santai di mana persembahan secara keseluruhannya lebih neutral dan tidak begitu menekankan kepada frekuensi rendah. Pada pendapat penulis, pada lagu ini lah vokal Zainal amat terserlah. Getaran dalaman vokal Ziainal dapat dirasai, dapat dibayangkan betapa emosinya beliau semasa membuat persembahan ini. Ini bukanlah merupakan kekuatan utama LP ini tetapi cara lagu Manis ini dipersembahkan, ianya begitu penuh emosi.


KESIMPULAN

Secara keseluruhannya, telah banyak pembaikan dimuatkan ke dalam pengeluaran LP ini. Adakah ianya bunyi analog yang diidam-idamkan oleh otai-otai piring hitam tanahair? Atau ianya akan menjadi perbincangan sensasi sekali lagi? Pada pendapat penulis, ada beberapa ketika, penulis diserap masuk ke dalam linkungan emosi analog tetapi ada juga ketika di mana penulis tidak rasa begitu. Masih ada ruang unutuk melengkapkan pengalaman analog di dalam pengeluaran LP ini tetapi buat masa ini, penulis berasa bahawa LP ini sudah memberi kepuasan yang agak tinggi untuk penulis mendengarnya berulang kali. Bass yang padu, vokal yang jelas dan keperincian yang tinggi!

Kepada yang berminat, boleh lah cuba-cuba intai-intai Facebook penjual2 LP di Malaysia dan Singapura seperti Sezali Zakarai, Jpari Din, Hafeez Crossroads, Radzi THR, Nick Mun HGR dan ramai lagi. Harga masih tidak diberitahu oleh pihak pengeluar semasa ulasan ini dibuat.



Saturday, 27 May 2017

Aubrey Suwito & Friends With The MPO


So here I am thinking that MPO did not have that many good shows for 2016/17 period. Then, as I pass by the ticket counter when I was heading up to the office, I noticed that Aubrey Suwito was going to be having a show here. This is the first time that MPO will have a non artist heading the bill in this magnificent venue. To top it, vocal maestros of Malaysia will be part of the show as well. Dayang Nurfaizah, Faizal Tahir, Jaclyn Victor and Sean Ghazi will be Aubrey's friends for the show.



Managed to get rather good seats. So on Friday 19th May, I took the Mrs for a date night before Ramadhan kicks in. And what a night it was. We arrived KLCC at about 815 pm. We still managed to grab a quick dinner at our favourite Nyonya Colours kopitiam and got our nasi lemak pandan fix. The show started on time at 830 pm. From there on, it was just a musical bliss till 1045 pm.




Aubrey started with a brief history of his involvement in the music industry. He was actually one of the early members of the late Sudirman Hj Arshad group of musicians. He stayed on until he became the musical director for him. But its when Aubrey wrote his masterpiece Seribu Impian which became a hit for an artist called Casey in early 90s that he became more well known....well at least to me. For this concert, Aubrey opened the show with an instrumental version of Seribu Impian, backed up by the MPO, led by the conductor Ahmad Muriz Che Rose. 

From there on, Aubrey entertained us by inviting his chosen friends to perform songs written by him or songs that inspired his musical approach. Tanah Pusaka was very well delivered by Sean Ghazi but what worked for me that night was Faizal Tahir's and Dayang Nurfaizah's strong performances, delivering the chosen tracks by Aubrey.

The Mrs and I came out from the show feeling well entertained not only by Aubrey and friends but also classy performance from the MPO. It made us realise even further that there are classy local artists that have very highly talented but under appreciated. Most probably because they don't get themselves in petty controversy or popularity contests like others.


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Kualiti Audio Pengeluaran Semula LP Fenomena oleh Search - Mitos atau Sejarah?

Gambar Ihsan Kosmo. Jangan lupa baca Nota Untuk Pembeli Di Bawah.

Semasa pembukaan rasmi kedai muzik terbaru Fenomena Music beberapa minggu lalu, peminat Search juga telah diberi peluang untuk menempah 100 keping pertama pengeluaran semula LP buat album lagenda Fenomena mereka. Seperti penghasilan semula LP artis tempatan dan Singapura yang lalu seperti Wings, Zainal Abidin, Ella, Rusty Blade, Lefthanded, LP Fenomena ini sudah pasti tidak akan terlepas daripada kritikan membina atau menghina mutu penghasilan semula LP ini dari segi audio mahupun corak kulit LP. Apatah lagi pengeluaran semula LP sebelum ini boleh dianggap sebagai 'teaser' berbanding dengan LP Fenomena ini yang rata-rata rakyat Malaysia menggelarkan album ini sebagai album 'puaka' disebabkan oleh kekuatan lagu Isabella. Dalam erti kata lain, ini akan menjadi cabaran terbesar bagi syarikat Dream Studio yang bertanggungjawab sekali lagi untuk projek ini. Bahkan, saya juga tahu ramai yang mengkritik kredibiliti saya sebagai pengulas audio dan visual tetapi saya sudah biasa mendengar suara-suara sumbang seperti ini dan tahu yang ulasan saya adalah neutral dan berdasarkan apa yang didengar dari sistem hifi saya. Untuk sahabat2 sebenar yang memang mengenali saya di dalam industri hifi tempatan dan luar negara memang tahu aspek2 yang saya tekankan di dalam setiap ulasan yang diterbitkan.

Perlu diingatkan di sini bahawa penilaian mutu audio amatlah subjektif di mana terdapat pelbagai aspek yang boleh membuat pendengar suka atau terluka. Langkah terbaik ialah untuk pembeli mendengar dan menilai sendiri menggunakan sistem hifi masing-masing.

Berbalik kepada pengeluaran semula LP Fenomena ini dicetak di Amerika Syarikat berdasarkan LP Test Pressing yang dibekalkan kepada saya untuk menilai mutu audio. Seperti biasa, saya berasa amat berbesar hati kerana diberi kepercayaan untuk mengulas serba sedikit mutu audio yang bakal disajikan kepada peminat2 Search tidak lama lagi. Dianggarkan selepas Hari Raya Aidilifitri, LP ini akan berada di pasaran. LP ini juga akan dihasilkan semula dengan mencetak ke atas 2 keping LP 150 gram berbanding dengan sekeping LP 180 gram.

Buat kali ini, saya diberi peluang lebih lama untuk membuat ulasan ini. Maka saya telah lakukan sesi pendengar dari dua sudut berbeza:
  1. Pementasan audio menggunakan sistem hifi
    • Dua pemain piring hitam digunakan - Clearaudio Concept (moden dan kartrij MC) dan Lenco L78 (vintaj dan kartrij MM)
  2. Butiran audio menggunakan headphone 
    • Beyerdynamic T1 Tesla headphone dan Oppo HA-1 amplifier
Rakaman juga telah dibuat dengan video kamera HD berbanding dengan rakaman menggunakan telefon bimbit yang biasa saya lakukan.


CLEARAUDIO CONCEPT



Ku Taklukkan Dunia

Ini merupakan lagu kegemaran saya di dalam album ini. Ketrampilan utama yang saya dapat rumuskan di sini ialah kekuatan nada vokal Amy yang penuh emosi dan alunan gitar yang memang menepati citarasa saya. Bahkan, nada rendah dari gitar bass Nasir dan paluan deram Yazit melengkapkan pementasan lagu yang begitu bertenaga. Secara keseluruhannya, setiap nada dari lagu ini memang dilanjutkan capaiannya untuk memberi pementasan audio yang agak besar and bertenaga.


Isabella

Tidak boleh membuat ulasan audio tanpa mendengar lagu ini. Bunyi gitar bass semasa intro lagu ini walaupun agak sedikit lemah, ianya masih timbul dengan agak jelas sepanjang lagu ini. Vokal Amy masih memaparkan kekuatan dan kenyaringan yang berpatutan. Tiada rasa 'kelesuan audio' sepanjang sesi pendengaran ini. Paluan deram Sang Gendang juga amatlah bertenaga di mana setiap bunyi paluan snare, tom2 dan crash cymbal amat padu. 


Purnama

Ini merupakan satu lagi lagu yang intronya mempunyai kekuatan tersendiri. Dengan efek gitar yang agak 'metal' memberi nafas tersendiri kepada lagu ini. Rentak dan alunan (pace and rhythm) juga dititikberatkan dalam penghasilan semula LP ini. Saya amat yakin lagu ini adalah antara lagu yang bakal pembeli LP ini akan memainkan berulang kali. Dengarkan bahagian gitar solo lagu ini di mana setiap nada memang jelas kedengaran seperti dilanjutkan capaiannnya.


Pawana

Kita musnah dihembus pawana. Begitulah perasaan saya semasa mendengar lagu ini. Bukanlah musnah harapan tetapi musnah sudah kesangsian saya mengenai pengeluaran semula LP ini. Mengapa? Kerana antara semua lagu2 di dalam album ini, saya anggap ini adalah lagu yang paling kompleks terutama semasa deram solo Sang Gendang di mana jikalau tidak diadun baik, akan berbunyi tertutup dan juga mampat.  Cuba dengarkan deram solo di bahagian hujung lagu ini. Setiap paluan jelas diperdengarkan satu persatu.

LENCO L78

Purnama

Merujuk kepada pernyataan saya di atas mengenai betapa subjektifnya ulasan audio, saya ulangi sesi pendengaran saya dengan menggunakan pemain piring hitam Lenco L78 pula. Hanya dengan menukar pemain sahaja, jelas kedengaran perbezaan bunyi. Apatah lagi apabila dimainkan di sistem hifi masing-masing, pastinya ada kelainan. Bunyi dari lagu Purnama ini lebih menghala kepada penekanan terhadap nada tinggi. Bunyi gorengan gitar Kid/Din/Hillary agak tajam diiringi oleh kenyaringan vokal Amy. Mutu audio secara keseluruhannya lebih berbunyi kepada ketrampilan 'raw'. Ciri2 audio yang diperdengarkan semasa dimainkan dengan Clearaudio masih dapat didengari tetapi tidak se-emosi sesi sebelum ini.



Ku Taklukkan Dunia

Apabila lagu kegemaran saya ini dimainkan semula, dapat disimpulkan yang ciri2 audio sebelum ini masih kedengaran (kekuatan vokal dan alunan gitar yang melodik) tetapi tahap emosi dan pementasan audio yang saya nikmati sebelum ini, agak berlainan. Lebih tertutup walaupun nada tinggi sekali lagi agak ketara menggunakan Lenco L78.


Isabella

Bunyi gitar bass semasa intro lagu ini jelas lebih bertenaga dan jelas kedengaran sepanjang lagu. Walaupun sekali lagi kenyaringan nada tinggi jelas kedengaran. Ia memberikan pementasan audio yang agak besar tetapi ada sedikit kemampatan bunyi masih boleh didengari. 

MELALUI HEADPHONES

Ulasan melalui headphone bukanlah kaedah baru tetapi ia amat berguna untuk mengasingkan lebih banyak aspek2 yang boleh memberi efek kepada mutu audio yang didengari. Antaranya, dengan menggunakan kaedah ini, pengulas boleh mengasingkan aspek akustik bilik daripada mutu audio yang didengarkan. Saya hanya menggunakan Clearaudio Concept untuk ulasan ini.

Dengan lagu Ku Taklukkan Dunia, butiran piano juga lebih timbul dan bersepadu dengan instrumen muzik yang lain. Jelas agak neutral mutu audio yang boleh didengari dari lagu ini. Lebih emosi dapat dilahirkan dengan penapisan efek2 luaran. Vokal Amy sekali lagi merupakan kekuatan LP ini walaupun secara keseluruhannya agak neutral mutu audionya.

Bagi lagu Purnama, petikan gitar semasa intronya lebih jelas dan koheren dengan vokal dan instrumen lain. Efek metal yang dimasukkan kepada lagu ini memang bertepatan dan penghasilan semula LP ini berjaya memaparkan satu persembahan yang agak neutral. Setiap instrumen sememangnya timbul bunyinya.

KONKLUSI

Secara keseluruhan, saya amat berpuas hati dengan pengeluaran LP Fenomena ini. Jauh lebih berpuas hati berbanding dengan LP-LP pengeluaran semula sebelum ini. Di masa penulisan ini, saya masih tidak dapat pengesahan mengenai samada sumber audio adalah dari master tape atau tidak tetapi mutu audionya tetap boleh diterima. Kekuatan utama sememangnya vokal dan nada rendah tetapi iringan nada tinggi terutama kenyaringan petikan gitar masih dapat diterima adunannya. Pementasan audio yang besar dan bertenaga mengalirkan satu emosi rock yang sememangnya berpuaka.

Walaubagaimanapun, persepsi mutu audio masih adalah hak masing2. Sedap di telinga saya tetapi mungkin bagaikan 'bunyi di dalam gua' kepada peminat Search dan 'otai' hifi yang lain. 

Dengan harga RM300 untuk edisi 2 keping LP ini, sememangnya akan di cabar hebat oleh 'otai2' hifi terutama warga Malaysia. Dengan harga sebegini, harapan golongan ini semestinya mahukan mutu audio terbaik. Jikalau 'otai2' hifi ini mempunyai sistem yang boleh mengeluarkan bunyi yang terbaik buat mereka, saya berpendapat yang mereka tidak akan begitu kecewa dengan pengeluaran semula LP Fenomena ini. 

Buat peminat2 sejati Search pula, ia sememangnya satu peluang keemasan untuk memilik LP ini kerana pasaran pengeluaran pertama telah pun mencapai tahap baru yang kebanyakan orang tidak dapat mencapainya. Dengan harga semahal RM 1200 sekeping untuk pengeluaran pertama, pengeluaran semula LP ini dengan harga yang lebih rendah akan memuaskan peminat2 Search. 

Jadi, mitos atau sejarah?

Anda cari jawapannya sendiri!

NOTA UNTUK PEMBELI:
  1. Tempahan 100 keping pertama telah habis. Walaubagaimanapun, pihak Dream Studio akan membuka tempahan untuk 400 keping yang lain tidak berapa lama lagi.
  2. Hanya 500 keping yang pertama ini akan diterbikan dalam edisi 2 keping LP di mana 2 lagu tambahan telah dimasukkan yakni Mencari dan Malam.
  3. Pengeluaran seterusnya akan dilakukan dalam edisi 1 keping di mana tiada lagu bonus disertakan.
RALAT - edisi 2 keping LP adalah 150 gram dan edisi 1 keping LP ialah 180 gram

Senarai alatan hifi yang digunakan untuk ulasan ini:

  • Pemain piring hitam - Clearaudio Concept (kartrij MC) dan Lenco L78 (kartrij MM)
  • Phono stage - Musical Fidelity M1 ViNL
  • Amplifier - Musical Fidelity M6i (tweeter) dan monoblock/supercharger 550K (bass)
  • Speakers - ProAc Response D18 dan kabel Black Pearl Vermouth Audio
  • Headphone amplifier - Oppo HA-1
  • Headphone - Beyerdynamic T1 Tesla



Wednesday, 10 May 2017

When You Put Current Into Digital Cable - An Acoustic Revive Perspective


Just like any other engineering based industry, the audio industry is never short of advancement. Whether these advancement is valid or not, that is another challenge that this industry faces (or more likely the consumer faces). I now come across a coaxial digital cable that comes with a power supply. Although its not a new design, it is relatively uncommon at least for yours truly to see this being used in a system. When I was offered to try this Acoustic Revive DSIX cable by a colleague, I quickly accepted. The on challenge I face is that I no longer subscribe to the usage of CD player (well at least for the past year). So the only means for me to test this cable is with my Minidisc player.

DSIX stands for Digital Signal Isolation Exciter. Based on their website, this unit electrically isolates the signal loop from equipment by the use of the isolation transformer. In return, the throw rate (start up speed of a digital shape wave) is up to five times faster and the transmission energy is up to twelve times more in a circuit equipped with DSIX.

For further technical talk, please head towards the website. What I am going to explain now is how all these effect the sound.

THE SESSION


As this is an old design from circa 2007/8 and the fact that I am using an MD as a source, it might not be the best representation of the cable. However, I still look forward on how it fairs on a RIP format, feeding into a more modern DAC. In this review, I connected my SONY MDS JA20ES minidisk deck to Musical Fidelity M6 DAC.


This is not a fully loaded review as I only had the cable for about a week. First if all, the power cable is not optional. You have to plug it in a power source to allow digital signal to pass through from your source to DAC.

I was playing random music from pre recorded and recorded MDs. Specifics observation as below:




  • My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion - Vocal was transparent and instrument sounded less compressed. Quite free free following. but I lost some level of bass and warmness. there is a stint of improvement in openness. 
  • September by Earth Wind and Fire - Disco era came alive. Again, the DSIX opens up the music to provide quite a lively music ambience. But somehow I did not get the weight that I like. Can sound a bit flat at times.
  • Whiskey in The Jar by Metallica - Now, with heavier music like this, the weight of metal music was more evident. Pretty psyched listening to this tune as the guitar riffs sounded heavy. I could do with a little more bass impact form Lars's drums and Jason's bass.  James's vocal energetic and didn't sound restricted. This was a recorded version from the original CD.
THE CONCLUSION

I continued playing various songs using this cable and I get a mix of experience. The common parameters that I experience is mainly on clarity and openness of the music when played via this cable. The bass, warmth and weight seems to vary from one music to another. One thing for sure, the addition of the power supply to the cable as a DSIX does play a role in giving the character to the cable. It would be better if it comes with a switch to turn on and off the DSIX so that I can compare between cable alone and cable plus DSIX. Nevertheless, if your digital system needs some clarity and openness, give this cable a demo if you can grab a hold of it.

Special thanks to a colleague of mine a.k.a a new hifi friend Rozmee for introducing me to this cable.




Wednesday, 3 May 2017

SONY Knows How To Impress


When SONY does something, they really do it. Taking the KL Intercontinental Hotel as the venue, SONY Malaysia held an EXPO on Saturday 29th April. SONY basically leased the whole ballroom floor on Level 2 with various ballroom sizes to showcase their new products on TVs, soundbar, Hi Res Audio, HTIB, One Box Solution Audio, Camera and Photography and VR Gaming


 

Having to own several SONY Hi Res products, I first visited their Hi Res section and first on my list to demo was the TA-ZH1ES headphone/pre amp/DAC amplifier. This sleek and chic looking unit boasts a DAC capability up to 32/768 PCM and 22.4 MHz DSD decoding/upsampling. Equipped with it is also their proprietary DSEE technology that enhances any sources you feed through it. First impression of this unit left me mesmerized. Could not test it for too long as there was queue behind me to test this.

Second was to to see the PS-HX500 Turntable. It was paired with the TA-A1ES amplifier and SS-NA5ES speakers. The set up looks neat with the SONY rep was also ripping the vinyl to DSD files over his laptop. Good to know that the editing software that comes with this TT will allow user to edit or cut the converted DSD files.



In the other ballroom, the heavily awaited SONY OLED TVs were showcased. Slim, sexy and beautifully designed piece display. Pre-orders were open for interesting buyers where they will get their TV sometime in July. If only I had the dough.






Lifestyle design were also available where SONY proudly showcased their version of DOLBY ATMOS capable soundbars.




The One Box Solution audio section showcased various tall standing units of the MHC series to suit your simplified requirement of audio.


Last but no least were the photography and PlaySation 4 VR sections. There were various products to be tested and I could see that gaming and photography enthusiasts were having loads of fun here.
 



It was indeed a joyous affair for SONY fans. Its a like a mini SONY haven in that venue. Visitors and SONY reps were friendly and cheerful. Yes, I can't but help to test them with some basic technical questions on the hi res section and the reps seem to know a bit or two on hi res. Thats just me being cocky hehehe.

If there was one thing that did not meet my expectation is the unavailability of the SONY 4K UHD BD player. As we have seen Samsung and Oppo releasing their units here locally, I have yet to hear any news on SONY's 4K UHD BD player offering.

Overall, congrats to the SONY Malaysia team for a show well done. Enjoyed it and would seek for a longer demo on the headphone DAC amp and the turntable.


Monday, 24 April 2017

Fenomena Music Is Here To Rock!


While thousands around Malaysia celebrating Record Store Day, there was one venue that took this special day to launch a new music shop. Its not just another music shop but it comes with a theme...a theme known by all rock kapak fans.. Its called Fenomena Music. Located in Plaza Damas, right beside the existing Dream Studio. It is under the same management of Dato Zaharul Anuar.



It was also not just a launch as there were several special events planned on that day:
  • Launching of the reissue of Fenomena Double LP which was opened for pre-order for the first numbered 100 copies at a discounted price of RM275. Expected to be released by June 2017.
  • Listening session of the double LP Test Pressing
  • Special RSD issued 2 tracks Fenomena EP and the full album signed by the cover design artist Tapa Otai
  • Meet and Greet session with Search
  • Wings Belenggu Irama green vinyl that comes with a T-Shirt.


I arrived slightly early at 1120 am instead of the start time of 12 pm. Mainly to get a good parking! So it was still a quiet affair at that time. The crew were still busy doing lats minute preparation. It didn't really look like an RSD day but more of a Search day which I am ok with that. The main reason I was here is because of Search.






Music is fun but when I see Datuk and his crew breaking their back preparing the venue, I realise that it is hard work to ensure things are in order for the artist and fans. Most people think it is a walk in the park for those working behind the scenes to get the music to the fan base.


By 1245 pm, the Vespa team arrived lead by the one and only, Amy Search.



Amy came in a full coveralls, maybe oil and gas companies can take him as a resident artist for the offshore operations (joking). Soon after, the rest of the band members arrived but of course still without Yazit the drummer.


By 2 pm, the Fenomena Music shop was officially launched by Search. ... and soon after that the door was open for fans to start shopping and pre order the Fenomena double LP.

All and all, it was  a different RSD atmosphere here where the guests were mainly here for Search.  Thank you to Fenomena Music for bringing new opportunities for local music fans to meet their favourite artist and also to have the chance to own the Fenomena LP at a more practical price compared to the ones online.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

To SLAT or Not To SLAT?


In hifi world, Lenco turntables are legendary for its idle wheel design and also among the most tweaked or custom made turntable that I have seen over the last few years. Its interesting to see how this notion created different school of thoughts on the capability of a Lenco. While I have owned 2 Lenco (GL78 and L78) with different plinths, I have only listened to a custom made Lenco in other people's system.

I first was introduced to a simple tweak of the SSS mat (Sien's Stainless Steel) which I have reviewed here. While it did provide a different sound perspective, I wanted to hear a full custom made Lenco in my system. The obliging Captain Sien (SpH) offered to loan his own personal unit to me for a week so that I can experience what the buzz is all about. My personal big thanks to Capt Sien for this opportunity.


It does look really grand and at first glance, it does not look like a Lenco at all. At least if it is compared to mine. But when you see underneath the hood, then the famous idle wheel mechanism can be recognized immediately.

THE DESIGN

There are a few parts that are completely different from my Lenco.
  • SLAT - Sien's Lenco Alternative Top Plate
  • SLAB - Sien's Lenco Alternative Bearing
  • SSS - Sien's Stainless Steel Mat
  • Golf ball Tonearm 
  • Plinth - wood base and Corian material top
  • Knob and screw in to lock speed adjuster
  • IEC socket to allow your choice of power cable
  • Denon D103 cartridge
  • The base unit is a Lenco L75 as oppose to mine an L78 unit
It is a heavily custom made unit which SpH aims at getting his preferred sound signature. The built is relatively solid and sturdy. The critically acclaimed golf ball tonearm is however is a bit of a personal concern. Mainly because I have shaky hands. I was expecting a heavier tonearm but it is not much different in weight compared to the stock Lenco tonearm. I particularly concern on the lift mechanism where you have to hold it for a few seconds at the lift position. If not, the tonearm will drop on its own slowly. I was informed that this lift mechanism design is being looked at to be improved. Even the full golf ball design is going through an enhancement towards half ball design. 








FIRST IMPRESSION

Quiet. Quieter background. Thus revealing more. Dispersed bass but goes down deep as opposed to hard hitting. On this Dire Strait So Far Away, the sound stage seems to be elevated and airier. The vocal's breadth was also quite forwarding. It is a completely different sound from my L78. It does give listeners a different perspective. As this was a 45 RPM LP, I had to use the unscrew, slide to adjust speed and re-screw knob to get the right speed. A bit cumbersome as oppose to the stock Lenco which was at a flick of the speed adjuster. I am quite fascinated by the 'big picture' of the sound reproduced from this SLAT design as it had a touch of revealing more details of the music.


So Far Away

COMPLIMENTING EQUIPMENT
  • Musical Fidelity M1 ViNL phono amp
  • Musical Fidelity M6i integrated amp as pre
  • Musical Fidelity KW550 superchargers/monoblock
  • ProAc Response D18
  • Vermouth Audio Black Pearl speaker cable

TEST TRACKS

  • Dire Straits - So Far Away
  • XPDC - Kau Bukan Milik
  • Andrea Bocelli - Era Gia Tutto Previsto
  • Diana Krall - Temptation
  • Metallica - Atlas Rise
THE SESSION

This reissue LP of XPDC is one of my favourite local LPs. On this track, the guitar sounded melodic and energetic. Wider soundstage with enough airiness to have that analogue feeling. Vocals again is very upfront with high clarity. Bass is a bit shy, hiding behind the guitar strength. Given this is a melodic rock song, the heavy presentation of guitars and vocal might just do the trick for most but I could do with a little bit more bass punch.



Kau Bukan Milikku

With the track Era Gia Tutto Previsto, the warm vibrato vocal of Andrea was brought to another level. Very forwarding and wholesome at the same time. You can sense the energy in the vocal enveloping the listening session. At certain peak, the highs can be a bit dominant but I tribute this to the cartridge rather than the SLAT itself. Another evidence here how the SLAT package reveals a bigger soundstage.


Era Gia Tutto Previsto

I really want to hear this SLAT to blow me away with some shocking vibes. So, opening of this track Temptation in which I usually experience a sensation zing when that snare is hit. On the SLAT is sounded dispersed and not energised, echoing my experience in the first 3 tracks for this review. In trying to get most of the energy to go to the vocals, it somehow miss out on some key roles on percussion. Diana's vocal of course became the spotlight. The strength can be felt to be dominant again with some genius strokes on the double bass. It is still not earth shattering but it blends in nicely for a jazz tune like this.

Temptation

Now that I have established a good reference for vocals and soundstage, I wanted to push the limit with some heavy music and see how this model holds up especially in the bass. For metal music, the SLAT definitely can rock it out as well. The bass is not what I expect but the high tonality and separation on the vocal and ferocious guitar works makes up for the lack of bass reproduction. It still managed to move my feet and follow the beat to Lars's drumming. The overall sound seems to be heavy on the highs but quite adrenalin heavy as well. It did manage to create that heavy metal sound that moves you. 
Atlas Rise

THE CONCLUSION

Its a tough one here. The design itself brings out a different sound character from Lenco. This SLAT unit should be seen on its own glorious self as it does provide its key characters - revealing details, quieter background, forward vocals and clarity and airy and bigger soundstage. The bass which is a more dispersed presentation may be preferred by non bass heads and definitely it helps in creating that live jazz feeling. I cant really pin point which part that created the bigger impact so I believe its the combination of SLAT, SLAB and golf ball tonearm. Alternatively, you can also try different cartridges.

For someone whom is looking for a Lenco Turntable, may want to demo this unit at Capt Sien's place. It may provide you with a different perspective on Lenco like what I experienced. I would still recommend for Capt Sien to look into the tonearm lift issue to ensure the built is sturdier. This SLAT unit is custom made by Capt Sien, so do contact him to demo and discuss the design that you fancy. Capt usually will require for audiophiles to bring in their own stock Lenco L75/78 for him to work on. Have fun Lenco-ing!


POST REVIEW INFO
The ball in the bearing originally was a tungsten carbide ball which was replaced by a ceramic ball in this review. The tungsten carbide ball sounded more dynamic as reported by a few customers who had theirs changed. The golf ball is now changed to a 1/2 ball-1/2 aluminum top which is easier to align and adjust.