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February 2015
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
An Audiophile On Vacation...
Singapore's stereo shops serve up serious sounds.
Article By Steven R. Rochlin

  Two days later plus a $10 taxi ride and Heather and I found ourselves at The Adelphi. The Adelphi is a splendid mall filled with high-end audio stores and is currently rebranding itself into more a lifestyle products location. Of course there is more than just audio within this mall as i could not help but stare, eyes all glazed over, at the selection of used Leica and Hasselblad cameras plus a wide variety of lenses for sale. Remember that scene at the beginning of the movie A Christmas Story where Ralphie is looking at the store display in wonderment as he sees the moving trains, dancing figurines and then spots the Red Ryder BB gun. Yeah, it was like that only worse because i have credit cards.

 

Our first stop is TriTone, with our host Mervyn Augustine Log. Mervyn and I met on Facebook and kindly volunteered to be our host today. He graciously showed us around the mall and introduced us to quite a few other stores besides his own. It is refreshing that one store owner gladly brought us to other stores he felt were important to visit. While not ever previously discussed, or expected, he also treated Heather and I to lunch. So for those seeking any conflict of interest, lunch was at Pizza Hut and we all shared a large meat lovers pizza between the four of us. Ok, ok, we're in Singapore and have already enjoyed food at the various stalls, the Four Seasons, etc, and thus Pizza Hut was a nice 'normal' meal. Color me a cheap date I guess, yet no conflicts here, no $500 bottle or rare wine, no $100 cigars or $200/plate meal. Those days are, thankfully, long gone and manufacturers should never allow being put through such abuse by self-impotent reviewers (no typo there). With that said, our first stop was of course to learn more about Mervyn's store with his enthusiastic partner Edwin Teo.

  
Accuphase rack including their correction unit. McIntosh rack system.

We heard the Legacy Aeries speakers with McIntosh front end and the music was Halier Loren with piano and Diana Krall too. The music was wonderfully smooth, with seamless imaging both wide and deep. Rooms in Singapore tend to be smaller than their American counterparts, and so system/room optimization is mathematically calculated by the folks at TriTone to ensure equipment positioning says Mervyn. Singapore's building/construction tends to be solid concrete, and thus diffusing first reflections is also key. Furthermore, employing room treatments might not always be harmonious with the interior design, so a shared audio / living room needs to have a pleasing integration as an important factor. The staff at TriTone are open to using great devices such as the McIntosh MEN-220 room correction device with active crossover. With high processing power now available, there is getting to be less need for passive crossovers that can add time and phase anomalies.

Personally, my feelings are that the high-end audio industry needs to rid itself of passive crossovers in favor of 384kHz or higher digital crossovers with proper high quality room correction that integrates with computer software and a calibration microphone. Why are we as an industry not taking advantage of state-of-the-art 2010 technology, let alone the possibilities available today (2015) that is the norm within $2000 mid-fi gear. This is simply beyond my comprehension how we call ourselves high-end audio yet refuse to employ modern technology. Can 'old dogs' learn new tricks? About two years ago I was at the RMAF asking many manufacturers why they do not offer apps to control their $10,000+ devices. Well, now that some have taken note and are only now just beginning to follow suit, i challenge this industry to form a standard for digital crossovers/room correction. Ok, enough of my yapping, back to TriTone.


Within TriTone's entry room is a Piega system and Kaleidscape music server system.

They, TriTone, have devised a way to achieve a better understanding for the listener's preferences. Triton is programming their own software that first flattens the system's response and then they once again setup a mic. Then different volume and tones will be played as they ask the listener what they hear. Because we all hear differently, plus have our own preferences, TriTone can better shape the sound to their client's desire. Think of it akin to a custom suit where the fabric, shape, and fit are tailored to the client's taste. Of course being faithful to the recording is key, as is understanding the intent of the equipment designer too. In their Big Room were Theta monoblock amplifiers and Legacy Focus SE floorstanders. The music came forth with a splendid delicacy and gentle micro dynamics. Of course you could crank it up for concert-level sound! Dream vision projector with Screen Excellence screen are also part of this system. In fact quite a few stores also had home theater setups.

 

Next up is Sound Decisions operated by Sammy Low. He graciously showed us Bel Canto, AVM, German Physics and of course Joseph Audio. High quality monitors speakers sell quite well here in Singapore as smaller rooms would simply get overloaded with large floorstanders.

 

Dynaudio does direct sales by distributor Nicholas Leong, who gladly showed Heather and I many models. Note that many stores within Singapore tend to be physically small, and so stack 'em high and as deep as you can.

 

Vinyl sales are also getting stronger in Singapore says Modular Audio owner Chee Kee Hoe. Sales are increasing as many people want to buy turntables and new vinyl releases. He did have us listen to one of those 'mystical audiophile tweaks' and frankly is was snake oil. You know, just like Magic Chips, Casual Clocks and the like, as Barnum was right. A fool is born every minute and those who fall for this crap deserve what they get. And no, i could care less about a 30-day return policy as scamming people is simply wrong, wrong, wrong. Send them to Singapore for 40 lashes!  

 

Coherence Audio is operated by Ron Ong and they feature MBL. His store gets my vote as the best decorated, with a decidedly Asian look and feel that is very tastefully done. Seen here is MBL's Reference line, which is the best gear MBL offers. It was very effortless sounding as it gracefully fills the room.

 

Another room has the Corona series of MBL. Once again, my eyes were greeted with a very delightfully decorated listening room.

 

AVP Sound Vision owner Rick Ong played Viola monoblocks with Sigma Acoustic speakers and the imaging was spectacular! Very dynamic too and capable of high SPL levels. Atoll served for front end digital duties.

 

  

Clarity AV is one of the largest, and youth generation-minded, in Singapore. They are very innovative with hi-fi, whole home integration, IT, HVAC , security, etc. They carry Mark Levinson, Revel, Wisdom Audio, T+A, Savant Audio, Acoustic Signature... Manager Renjit Wijedasa feels it makes sense having a dealer who can provide a full home solution ensures for ease of use. Manufacturer Savant Systems has an Android and iOS app for ease of customer use and so they wisely take advantage of that. Having a portfolio of brands that integrate well is very important and Clarity AV is there to be of service to their clients both before and after the sale.

 

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