20 August 2009
|Abbingdon Music Research’s distributor for Hong Kong and China, Avantgarde Hong Kong (“AHK”) (www.avantgardehongkong.com), kindly invited AMR to exhibit its range of Reference Class components at the 2009 Hong Kong High-End Audio Video Show. Held in Hong Kong, the "city that never sleeps", this year, the Show ran from the 7th (Friday) through to the 9th (Sunday) August.
The Hong Kong High-End is Show is organised by “Audio Technique” magazine,
Hong Kong’s premier and one of the most highly respected hi-fi magazines in the territory.
This Show is perennially held at the Convention and Exhibition Hall in Wan Chai district on Hong Kong Island. The Convention and Exhibition Centre since hosting the handover ceremony in 1997, has gone on to establish itself as the venue for every major exhibition in the territory.
AHK’s room S225, was one of the largest rooms at the Show. This should come as no surprise as AHK is one of the largest distributors covering HK/China.
The exhibition system comprised of:
AMR PH-77 Reference Class Phono Equaliser
Dr. Christian Feickert “Woodpecker” Turntable with Ortofon SPU 90 Anniversary cartridge
AMR CD-77 Reference Class Compact Disk Processor
Kondo Audio Note KSL-M77 pre amplifier with MM phono stage
Kondo Audio Note GAKUOH mono block power amplifiers
AMR AM-77 Reference Class Pre-Main Amplifier (static display)
Avantgarde 4+Bass Horn
||The total cost of the whole system was in excess of HK$3 million (equivalent to EUR300,000) which out in Asia, represents a system for the well-heeled. The AMR CD-77 and PH-77 were right at home with the gigantic Avantgarde speakers and the luxurious Kondo Audio Note amplification.
The Show: Large Turnout? No Problem
Hong Kong boasts some 8 million inhabitants which is approximately the same population as London. The Show exhibited little signs of the economic malaise that is affecting the West. Year-on-year, attendance was up significantly to around 10,000-11,000 visitors and when compared to last year’s event, this represented a healthy rebound on the back of an improvement in the economic outlook for HK/China.
Virtually all visitors were from Hong Kong or China. There were some attendees from South East Asia. The AHK room was often fully packed. So much so, that AHK had to post doormen for safety reasons to restrict the number of visitors into their room. Not something usually seen at shows in the West!
Talking to the organisers, as for the overall High-End Audio Video show itself, it was a great success as illustrated by the fact that attendees were required to queue for up for an hour just to purchase entry tickets. Even on Sunday afternoon, the final day of the Show, the Convention and Exhibition Centre was still packed full of visitors.
With regards to the sound in the AHK room, the feedback from visitors and reviewers was a unanimous “superb”.
A few of the typical quotes from visitors:
Since this was the first showing of AMR in HK, we were pleasantly taken aback by enquiries from visitors seeking out the AMR LS-77 monitors and the 777 Premier Class series, all of which were regrettably, not on display.
- “I spent about 30 min there, our friends and I agreed that was one of the best sounding room [sic]”
- “Very musical, open and expressive with unparalleled emotion.”
CD-77: so vinyl like
From the visitors to the AHK room, many commented that the CD-77 was so vinyl like and organic sounding that many mistakenly assumed that the sound was coming from the vinyl setup.
Being the first time that visitors from this part of the world saw the CD-77 up close and personal, they were smitten by the various OptiSampling modes which the CD-77 offers. Most preferred the Direct Master II mode (non-oversampling with AMR in-house analogue filter).
PH-77: running silent, running sweet
Even with the 109dB efficiency of Avantgarde’s Trio Classico horn speaker system, the PH-77 Phono Equaliser was so quiet and along with a distinct lack of clicks and pops from the Feickert Woodpecker, visitors understandably but wrongly assumed CD was being replayed. When corrected, they could not believe the sound was coming from a vinyl setup.
We noted visitors could not help but nod their heads and tap their feet throughout; a sure sign of a good and satisfying music system.
What lovely curves you have…Equalisation Curves on the PH-77
Enhanced RIAA EQ
Visitors made very complimentary remarks to the AHK team regarding how much they enjoyed the Enhanced RIAA (eRIAA) setting for playing some of the RIAA equalised records. When playing records using the classic RIAA EQ, the sound from the PH-77 was already exceptional. However, with eRIAA selected, that extra bit of air and openness transported the audience to audio heaven.
Decca (FFSS) EQ
Niccolo Paganini - Konzert Für Violine Und Orchester - Nr. 1 D-dur Op. 6
Cat#: C147-81 323/4
Conductor - Lovro Von Matacic
Orchestra - Das Philharmonia Orchester, London
Violin - Michael Rabin
When playing this record using only the classic RIAA EQ, the sound was somewhat on the lean side; the violin did not have the full body and the highs were slightly edgy.
This record was manufactured in Germany in the 1960s, so we switched to the Decca (FFSS) equalisation curve instead. Once the Decca (FFSS) equalisation curve was deployed, there was now a properly “filled out” body to the violin and the texture was so right and colourful that one could virtually reach out and touch it. Further, the highs became silky smooth and sweet, without even the slightest hint of edginess. The full potential of this rare collector’s item has now finally been fully unleashed.
At the end of the demonstration, some visitors made a beeline to remark that the Decca (FFSS) curve was easily, the preferred equalisation setting for this record and they had learnt something new!
The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Time Out
Cat#: CS 8192
When playing this popular record using the classic RIAA EQ, the sound was a bit bloated, slow and heavy, most of the musical energy was concentrated in the lower mid range. The highs had a metallic tint and the customary “playfulness” of this classic jazz record was nowhere to be found.
Once the Columbia EQ was used, this record became a much more balanced affair; the sound was just right on this classic jazz record. With airy and silky smooth highs, a sweet and accurate midrange and a very lively and powerful bass. The correct EQ transformed what was, an above average sounding record into an exceptional one.
Visitors were unanimous in their choice of the Columbia EQ curve as the preferred equalisation setting for this record.
||We would like to thank the AHK distribution team who were thoroughly professional and showed why they are one of, if not the most successful distributors in “the city never sleeps”.
While the food, beverage and overall hospitality of other cities we have visited for audio shows held around the globe is on the whole, of a very high standard, we at AMR noted that for those who have never been to Hong Kong, they must pencil in a visit as the food, beverage and overall hospitality is of the highest order.
| Last but not least, we were more than happy to meet up again with Dr. Christian Feickert – who was making the second exhibition (after the Munich High-End Show) of his new Woodpecker Turntable. Dr Feickert was certainly in agreement that beverages in the territory went down with ease.
All we can say is that given the success and feedback from this Show, AMR is presently making preparations to exhibit at the forthcoming Guangzhou Audio Video Show (Nov 27 - 29, 2009). We look forward to seeing you there.