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seanvb

Blog - 2017 KL International AV Show

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Here are my impressions of the 2017 KL International AV Show held over 28 - 30 July 2017 at the Sunway Putra Hotel in Kuala Lumpur. I stayed at the same hotel in order to maximise my time at the show. It was my first visit to an audio show and featured well over 100 exhibitors spread over two floors, using rooms ranging from very small to quite large. Based on this experience I'm keen to get to a bigger show. I've left with an appreciation of how tough it is for an exhibitor to overcome so many environmental limitations (especially the competing noise from other rooms) in order to 'impress'. The response of many  exhibitors was to play at higher and higher volumes which to me was not a good strategy as it merely highlighted even bigger constraints in their equipment, or their room, or often both. My favourite systems happened to be those that played to their strengths and allowing the cream to rise to the top. I'll now post some notes and images of the more memorable rooms which stood out for either the right or 'not so right' reasons.

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Gear

·         Gauder Akustik Berlina RC 7 speakers

·         Analog Domain Audio GmbH ‘The Athene’ mono blocks (2,000W into 8 ohm)

·         Audio Note M10 Line Signature preamplifier

Room

Poor room - medium size, hard walls, busy corridor and among other noisy rooms  

Verdict

This room was always popular, mostly with a younger audience that seemed impressed with the unabashed power on display. However, I found the volume to be uncomfortably high and when combined with the many reflective surfaces (and absence of room treatments) it all amounted to a slightly soupy mess that probably didn’t do the equipment justice.

1 Gauder.JPG

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Gear

·         JBL S4700

·         Mark Levinson (No. 536 mono block, No. 523 preamp, No. 519 audio player/DAC)

Room

Reasonably well segregated from other rooms, but too small for this system. Speakers placed along the long wall,  with insufficient distance between the front and rear wall.

Verdict

The size of this room required that the volume be kept to a low-ish level. The resultant sound seemed a bit constricted, and not enough sparkle in the mids to make it truly involving. I was putting that down to the room constraints and theorising the speakers needed more breathing room and volume, but others were questioning the amplification. I dunno.   

2 JBL and ML.JPG

Edited by seanvb

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Gear

Triangle Art (not to be confused with the French audio brand Triangle)

Room

One of the best rooms to work with due to generous dimensions, high ceilings, isolated from other rooms, and well insulated walls

Verdict

Probably the most expensive gear being showcased at this event, but delivering something fairly special! It played everything in a completely effortless and musical way. I came back several times, and was always reluctant to leave. IMHO this and the Silbatone room were a class ahead of everything else.

3 Triangle Art.JPG

Edited by seanvb

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Gear

Audio Note

Room

Small room, no treatments, located along a busy corridor

Verdict

I was told that someone from Audio Note UK had come in to set this system up, and they clearly knew what they were doing.  It was excellent. It avoided the 'loudness competition' going on with other nearby rooms and played to its strengths that rewarded listeners with impressive transparency, detail and air.  

4 Audio Note.JPG

Edited by seanvb

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Gear

·         Silbatone amplification

·         Kronos TT

·         hORNS Mummy speakers

Room

Small room, no treatments, busy corridor and directly opposite a room with a very distracting home theatre system.

Verdict

As with the Audio Note room, it was unnecessary to turn up the volume in order to overcome the external noise and distractions. Rather, the system was played to its strengths and as a result it attracted a more discerning (and slightly older) crowd. The sound was extremely neutral (devoid of any sound signature or colouration that might otherwise be associated with tubes or solid state), impressive transparency, and just so musical and enjoyable. For me this room and the Triangle Art room were best at show.

5 Silbatone.JPG

Edited by seanvb

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Gear

·         Kronos TT

·         Absolare Passion preamplifier

·         Mark Levinson mono blocks

·         Yamaha NS 5000 loudspeakers

Room

A good room to set up in but an odd speaker setup. The room itself was a good size, reasonably well isolated from other rooms, and included various BYO room treatments. Strangely, the speakers had been set up at the half way point between the front and rear walls. 

Verdict

An interesting room.  I had not previously heard the legendary Yamaha NS-1000 speakers, so looked forward to hearing these. While the speakers did sound quite capable through the entire frequency spectrum, the volume was very high and the speakers felt too close to the listening position and rear wall. A case of less would have been more, as listening quickly became fatiguing.  

6 Absolare and Yamaha.JPG

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Gear

Gryphon (Mojo S loudspeaker, Diablo 300, DAC, Colosseum Scorpio CD player)

Room

Medium size room, along a busy corridor  

Verdict

Many other systems struggled when playing in close proximity to other 'competing' systems - but not this one. A popular room producing a big, strong and coherent sound. Impressive as it was, I'm a tubes kind of guy and this sounded on the far right of the solid state spectrum. So while this is not the sound that I would ordinarily go for, I absolutely get why it is for many others. This was close to being my favorite solid state system and I'd be very happy to listen to it more.

7 Gryphon.JPG

Edited by seanvb

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Gear

·         Sonus Faber Amati Tradition loudspeakers

·         Audio Research (Ref 6, Ref Phono 3, GS 150 and Red CD9)

Room

Probably the best 'raw' room at the show to work with for a large-scale system. High ceilings, insulated wall panelling but enough hard surfaces to keep the room lively.  

Verdict

This system was playing on the louder side but the room's acoustics accommodated that with relative ease.  A very fine sound, definitely one of the best at the show but perhaps lacking that bit of magic in the mid-high range to challenge the Triangle Art and Silbatone systems.

8 Sonus Faber Audio Research.JPG

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Gear

·         B&W 802 D3 loudspeakers

·         Rotel components

Room

Small and untreated  

Verdict

I really wanted to spend a while listening to these speakers but the room was tiny (with only a single listening chair) and a crowd that was packed in like a tin of sardines. What little I did hear sounded promising.

 

9 B&W.JPG

Edited by seanvb

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Thanks for the very methodical reviews....:thumb:

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