This is another HIFI visit we have made for the Penang audiophile folks! The Penang audiophiles had a chance to visit FS that owns a high end and unique audio setup in a very nicely built dedicated audio room.
Here are the details of the setup.
- Loudspeakers: Wilson Audio Sasha
- Preamplifier: Audio Research Reference 5
- Power amplifier: Lamm Audio Laboratory Model M1.2 Reference Series
- Transport: CD/SACD GNSC Statement modded Wadia 781i (GNSC – Great Northern Sound Company)
- Support: Finite Elemente Pagode Master Reference rack and Signature platforms, DIY cable elevator
- Cables: mish mash of Nordost Freys, Synergistic Research, PS Audio and Transparent power cords.
- Mains: Running Springs Haley for the stereo system and Chang Lightspeed Power conditioners for AV
Both the side walls are treated with RPG Absorbers and Diffusers to treat the unwanted sound waves.
Right wall is treated with RPG diffusers/absorbers as well.
RPG - Hemiffusors
CDP and Preamplifier on Finite Elemente Rack
The player used is not the normal Wadia gear. It is the modded Wadia by GNSC. GNSC is formed by ex Wadia and Audio Research employees. They’re expert especially in modding Wadia, Audio Research gears, as well as some other electronics and are highly rated on the web apparently. Do check out their website if you’re interested to know more. For FS’s player, they’ve added Black Gate capacitors, Bybee purifiers and etc, amongst other things.
Audio Research Reference 5 Preamplifier
This is the top of the line in LAMM hybrid amplifier. It is a pure class A amplifier with MOS-FET transistors in the output stage with no overall feedback and switch-selectable bias/voltage settings. A 6922 vacuum triode is used in the second stage to make up the hybrid topology. It boasts of 100W into 8 and 4 Ohms in pure class A operation, and is capable of 400 Watts into 1 Ohm continuous! This is scary!
For details, visit: Lamm Industries.
M1.2 with Resonator test sample from Finite Element
FS is still fine tuning the placement of the Sasha to fully optimize the performance.
DIY cable elevators
Transparent PowerLine XL
Running Springs Haley
Chang Lightspeed Power Conditioner
The dedicated HIFI room is 12.5ft wide, 26ft long and 10ft high. It is designed by Rives Audio and built locally by FS’s carpenters. There are ample of space in the room for freedom and optimum placement of the speakers and gears. FS and Damien did comment that it is possibly too small for the Wilson Audio Sasha.
How did it sound? Let’s summarize it in bullets form. Perhaps KC, CF and D-man could comment more on their findings.
- PRAT is excellent! Haven’t heard such a dynamic setup for quite some time. We had played The Sheffield Lab Drum and Track Disc and we were simply stunned and pinned to our chairs. The kick drum has amazing realism and body. We can virtually see the drum set in front of us!
- CF is a classical fan and this setup did not disappoint. He played many classical tracks, with extreme low bass like pipe organ, or cannons and such and all are handled with poise, full composure and authority even if played at extreme volume.
- When it comes to vocals, many will think that it would not be as good as the other aspects but they’re wrong here. It could be due to the employment of tubes in the system – in preamplifier and the front-end of hybrid power amplifier. Whether it is Norah Jones or the famous Cai Qin from Taiwan, the vocals are presented with great warmth, body and tone.
From the conversations we had with FS, a lot efforts had been thrown in to the setup. We understood that FS has worked on the mains, speaker placements (height, room position, and toe-in), listening seat location, equipment isolation/support, room conditioning, equipment matching, resonance tuning, and etc! It requires not just time and patience, but knowledge and know-how to get the system to optimum performance. Salute to FS for that!
From previous HIFI visit we had almost a year or two ago, the sound has evolved and matured substantially. It was a bit hard sounding and not as warm when we visited previously. FS was still working on the wall sockets as I remembered. To me, this is a well balanced setup that every audiophile dreamed of, including me! So what’s next for FS? Vinyl playback! We will report again once the new gears arrive and run in in another HIFI visit.
Below are some pictures taken during the listening session. You can see very well the room settings as well as the lighting that are very warm and inviting.
Till then! Enjoy the HIFI visit pictures taken from my Iphone3.
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