The 6th AE Super Hi End Audio Gala

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  • Dear friends of AE.

    To be part of the 6th AE Super Hi End Audio Gala, was as great as always. The re-union of the Super Hi End team, both from AE, the manufacturers and Audio Technique Magazine, is such great fun.

    I feel proud of the common achievement we made, and from the reactions and excitement all friends of AE showed, the efforts were all worth it.

    I’m especially glad for the warm welcome to our latest product ARNE, that some of you got the chance to audition when I made a short demo during the Sunday session.

    Always looking forward to my next trip to Hong Kong.

    // Timo

  • This is such a great show.  I thought last year was already excellent, but this year is better and truly world-class.  There are so many surprises in the show -- the planar speakers sounding like a compelling full range speaker, the smaller Divin speakers sounding as good as the big ones, and the digital Wadax deck sometimes confusing audience that we are playing analog.  The list can go on.  We live in a world full of disruptions (e.g. e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence).  AE is playing the role of the disruptor in hifi and redefining the frontiers of high-end every year.

    The star of the show was in my view Zanden.  The tone of the music reproduced from the Zanden sounds so right, so warm, and so glorious.  I already have the preamp and made the "mistake" of asking Chris to try the 仁風 phono.  This is without doubt the best phono I have heard -- I ended up buying it.
  • 707708 6th AE Super Hi-End Audio Seminar

     

    Still trying to fathom the barrage of information from the "Seminar", I start off with the word seminar.  Now this was a little convention of audiophilia where four very different settings were presented:

     

    1.  Gobel Noblesse/Zanden Kaun/ Wadax and Vertere/ Topwing Red Sparrow

    2.  Cessaro (Brahms/Firebird)/Engstrom Monica, Eric and Arne, Hartvig Statement/ Wadax

    3.  Alysvelox Botticelli/ trinity golden reference / Da Vinci Gabriel

    4.  Full suite of JMF Audio

     

    Room 1 started off with a slight disadvantage because returning connoisseurs would be very used to seeing overstated speakers in this room (Divin Majestic, Cessaro Carmen, Cessaro Universe etc.)  Another slight disadvantage would be for those who have been to the Divin Laboratory as well,  as expectations and comparison would come naturally.  But putting preconceived opinions to a side, this room is more mortal and down to earth. The speakers would just about meet the value proposition of price vs size vs living space vs wife.  When listening to the  pieces of music on friday, when the room was not filled with seats and people, it was surprising that the "baby Divin" was able to voiced out bars and bars of melody that filled that huge room.  The traits of the Divin Majestic could be felt in the Noblesse.  It delivers that balance of umph and sparkle when needed.  This is obviously music and distortion (chairs, people x100 on the Saturday) dependant.  The accuracy transcribed by Koichi-San’s Red Sparrow cartridge set at RIAA reverse on the Zanden Phonostage to the music of Yamamoto Tsuyoshi Trio – Midnight Sugar (USA reissue) was phenomenal.  The Kaun redeemed itself from last years problems.  It worked effortlessly in the environment given and showcased it unmistakable double push pull Zaden signature.  Well done Yamada San….   This is another mini Divin Lab in the making…



     

    My adventure in Room 2 started on Friday when I was told by Chris that tension was running high because the long awaited Firebird was still “flying”.  Arrival and custom clearance meant that it would only arrive at 0700 on the day of the event.  SO the Cessaro Brahms was hauled in to hold up the fort.  And IT just did that!  With the Wadax transport and Hartvig Statement/thales statement/Blue Dragon leading the way, the Engstrom Monica/Eric combination married it matrimoniously with the Cessaro Brahms.  I cannot remember of such effect back in 2016 when the Eric was paired up with Carmen.  Track after track, digital or analogue, the non-fatiguing flow of music kept on coming. 


    The Ferrari red, Cessaro firebird stood tall and majestic on Saturday morning with an extra shine from Ralphs smile of relief.  With no time to waste, it was made to work hard for the next two days straight out of the box.  Is it a horn or a conventional speaker?  The horn is not big.  There are two front loaded drivers and 6 subwoofers driven by 6, 500watt amplifiers.  Now this beast has a completely different character to its brother of the previous day.  It has characteristics of both a horn and conventional box speaker.  The Firebird has a control panel in the rear with a myriad of connections.  Apparently this will be able to be controlled in the future via apps on your smart phone.  I like the firebird for its control and pinpoint accuracy and imaging.  The subs go really low.  The air from the horns is unbecoming of the small spout.


     

    300B or not 300B?

    When is a 300b tube not a 300b tube?  This is the situation when you line up 4, 300b tubes in a Engstrom entry level integrated amplifier called Arne (Ar ne).  I was especially interested to know the capability of this integrated amplifier as it was paired up with the colossal goliath, Living Voice in Munich.

    Arne is a common first name for Scandinavian males.  Now this Arne is far from being common, originates from the old norse word for eagle also means the central stone in Norwegian Homes.  Powerful in its name and powerful in its delivery.  Lars has done magic again with the Arne.  He has been able to extract bass from the crypts of the 300b tubes where no man has gone before. Absolutely amazing!  Reminds me of the Lars2….


    Due to the Firebird configuration requiring control to the subwoofers, the Arne was used as a stand alone amplifier without running the subwoofers and once as a power amplifier via the Monica.  I must say that it’s a true winner in delivery and aesthetics.   The looks is unmistakably Timo Engstrom and its sound is unmistakably Lars..  Kudos gentlemen!


    Sorry too long like usual.


    More to come.


    Khairul

     

     

     

  • 707708 6th AE Super Hi-End Audio Seminar

    Continuation.... 

    Room 3 came as a surprise to me seeing a super accurate full range panel speaker being represented. Interestingly enough it was paired with the preciseness of the Trinity Golden Reference suite.  My love for panels go back a long way. Its holographic accuracy, eeriness and presences in unbecoming.  The Alysvox Botecelli / Trinity Golden Reference just brought this up by notches.  The material used and the 1-2 cm displacement in the panels is far greater than the 1-2mm in yester years.  The unrestricted flow of music produced by this combo was phenomenal.  I will be very interested to hear more…


     

    Room 4 was without a doubt the JMF room; from powercords all the way to the speakers.  This was actually the first room I visited on Friday.  Laurant explained the history and philosophy that started the company back in 1985 by his father and how the passion evolved over the years.  Providing products for the industry made it very special and probably explains why I am unable to explain my emotions for this room.  The most eyecatching piece was the speakers.  With the large drivers facing forward and the GIP like ala Goto horn, one would wonder how difficult it would be to synergistically marry these two synchronously.  But wow, didn't it just do it right?!!!  Absolutely superb.


    Last but not least are 4 words that could not have made the show possible: Skogrand, Dalby, Tripoint and Argento.  They lay on the floor, plugged in and out and when selected carefully brings out the very best in everyone.  Kudos to Knut, Lee, Miguel and Ulrik.


    Chris and the AE Family, thank you for another mind boggling event for the senses.  The amount of information attained was extraordinary.  I wonder what else you have up your sleeve.....


    Khairul

  • 上星期六我向老闆請假去參加於香港會展舉行的第六屆御品音響演示會。展覽,當然離不開為產品宣傳,爭取商機,是一次對外公開展示實力,相信這同時大概也是Chris對自己的公司上下由團隊至各代理產品的一次大檢閲吧。

    對四間房間展示的高級音響器材,當然印象深刻,每一件都是精品,然而整個展覽給我更深刻的體會反而跟那些高級器材沒直接關係,而是成就一個維期兩天的展示會背後的難度和難得。

    第一難是展覽場地佈置,從會展中心供電的穩定性至房間聲學上的各種缺陷和限制,可想而知事前要多少人力物力,花多少時間心血去調整測量才能成就?

    第二難是觀眾,要辦一個展覽而又可以盡量讓大多數觀眾有正面回應真的非常困難吧,可知道設計師,音樂人,主辦單位,千辛萬苦創造和選配,就如一封情書,意義不在情書上所用的文字,而是在於發信人與受函者的心能否引起共鳴。每一個選配的含義和效果,是隨著每一位觀眾的不同品味、不同經歷和不同情懷而變更的。一首樂曲由某一選配器材播出,在一百個觀眾心中,會有一百個不同的印象,不同的意見和感受。從器材的角度來看,聽一首樂曲就如交一個朋友,要選配人的品味,學養,格調與觀眾的相近,才能產生共鳴,才能情投意合,否則就格格不入了⋯

    第三難,是難得。從宣傳影片中看見各位名設計師在展覽前對每一個細節都親力親為的準備和檢查,調整,較正,當中既有國際知名悠久的老師傅,也有漸露頭角的後起之秀,各路頂尖的專家,從不同文化背景,不同國籍,持著對心目中「好聲音」、「好設計」的不同理念,走有一起各展所長,合力把事情做好,實在難得!

    第四難 ,是Chris 所要面對的艱難和他那份堅持,還有背後妻兒默默支持的難得。
    當Chris準備時見到地上一團一團的線材時,心想若把投資在些東西的資金用作投資房地產,他相信回報會更好,亦無必要如此勞心勞力吧?為什麼Chris要取難不取易?為的就是堅持自己的信念,更是對兒子的身教,就如他當日所說,他想告訴兒子「做嘢係唔可以求其,香港唔係只有炒樓炒股票」,相信亦是他對自己要求的體現。Chris令我想起香港茶業泰斗陳國義先生當年擁有石油事業之餘,為興趣為理想排除萬難成功開托自己的茶葉的王國的故事。相信所有成功的故事的主角,背後總有一個十分支持自己,萬般照顧和體諒自己的伴侶,沒有這個他,相信主角所面對的會難上加難,實在難能可貴,亦難怪Chris當日如此由衷感謝他的賢內助。

    最後一難,跟展示會無直接關係,既不是艱難,也不是難得,是難為。難為我這一類打從心中欣賞Chris的器材,但無奈德不配位,只有遠觀份兒,卻無緣褻玩的人了。Chris説:「香港唔係只有炒樓炒股票」無奈對於我這階層的人,既無資金投資房地產亦無能力或知識投資股票,我實在想不到若沒有一個富爸爸,亦沒有六合彩加持的情況下,又有多少人有能力負擔得到眼前的任何一件器材呢?唉~明河可望不可親,愿得乘槎一問津。

    雖然展覽活動當日各組合的聲音已經達到相當高的水準,但以個人淺薄經驗,別的不說,單單以Trinity組合而言,基於種種原因,跟我不久前在Chris的神曲工作室所聽到的仍有一定的距離,在此向各位大膽提意,若要體驗御品的器材真正實力,要聯絡Chris,參觀他的陳列室,聽一聽便明白我的意思吧。
  • 又完成了一個一年一度的音響界盛事,AE super high end show

    我相信在未來日子𥚃,這盛事不單是香港的發燒友的每年朝聖必到的展覽,同時也吸引了越來越多亞洲其他地區發燒友的注視,祝願AE show 規模一年比一年壯大

    我其實替Chris 頭痛,因為每年都要突破去年的表現,實在是非常困難,皆因平台已經被推得很高很高,所以真期待下一屆Chris又會有什麼新產品開發,這已經變成Ae fans 每年的期盼

    說回今年,我最欣賞是JMF 這個展房,由頭到尾都是自己聲音個性,十分自然,非常耐聽,在AE 中也是相對比較價格相宜,但絕對不是便宜,可是質素卻非常高。

    當然其他三間房都有各自特色,視乎用家品味,正所謂百貨百客。

    最後,希望Chris 8月會展show 再創另一高峰


  • I really wonder what you could do next year but I think that will be another year of surprise! Your show gets more amazing every year. The characters of each room are so different and they are all interesting in different ways. 
    The planar speakers really shocked me on the smoothness and seamless coherence in all frequencies. The violin playback was too beautiful and elegant, very intoxicating. The bass was presented in a very elegant way too, with waves of energy sweeping through the floor. It is surprising that the bass energy of these speakers is quite rich, even in such a big room. Can't imagine how it would perform in a normal living room. 
    Divin performs very well as expected, with the same picture rendering ability of Divin Majestic, really having turned the place into another Divin Lab. 
    However, personally, I like Firebird most as it shocked me with the speed, energy and liveliness in sound. The bass was so vivid and it made all music becomes cheerful and effortless. 
    I wish I could have more time listening to all these systems. 
    Man
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