November 18, 2011

Listening at CMY

One purpose of my visit to CMY's showroom in 1 Utama (you can get a tour of the place here) a couple of weeks ago was to have a listen to its main system.

This system was a scaled-down version of the big system CMY demo'ed in this year's KLIAV show (see here). All the main components came from the same brands as the KLIAV system - Wadia, Jeff Rowland, Dynaudio, except that they were one model below the ones in the KLIAV system.

Doing the frontend duty was Wadia's 571 CD transport (RM 33,680) and 521 Decoding Computer (i.e., a DAC) (RM29,500). Note also the very new Shunyata Hydra Triton power line conditioner (RM20,590) on the bottom shelf.

Amplification was Jeff Rowland's Corus pre-amp (RM54,550), which has won praises from us when we had it for review here a few months ago, and Jeff Rowland's Model 312 power amp (RM68,850), which could give out 500w per channel into 8 ohms, double into 4 ohms.

The loudspeakers were the Dynaudio Confidence C4 (RM90,550), its handsome look very much a follow-on from the awesome Dynaudio Evidence Temptation used in the KLIAV show. When we entered the demo room, our gaze was immediately attracted by the slim and tall profile. Standing at 175cm (5'9"), the Confidence C4 was as tall as an adult. The elegant glossy veneer on this pair was a special finish, we were told, and came with extra cost.

The Dynaudio Confidence C4 looked majestic, my photos don't do them justice. You have to see them in person to understand the visual impact they can have on you.

Being the local distributor for Acoustic System International (ASI), CMY also used ASI's resonator products in its listening room. Here you can see ASI's tuning wood blocks (called SugarCubes) and resonator cup installed on the front wall.

The back of the system, as expected, was full of cables. There were a mixture of Siltech, Shunyata and ASI. First glance gave the impression that it was all a spaghetti soup. But if you were to look again, you'd notice that the cables were nicely dressed. They were kept away from each other, never touching; and where close proximity was unavoidable, they were separated with Shunyata Dark Field Minis. All cables were also lifted off the ground with Shunyata Dark Field cable lifters.

The performance of this system echoed the immaculate care that went into its setup. It was one of the better dealer demo's I had the good fortune to sit through. Given the more conducive listening environment compared to the KLIAV show, this system indeed sounded better, except in term of scale, the bigger system did sound even bigger.

As I am not personally familiar with every component in the system, much less the room, I'd attempt to describe the sound from the system as a whole, instead of dissecting the sound of each piece of equipment.

As expected, the sound from this big system was, well, big. The system conveyed an excellent sense of scale, with a cavernous soundstage conjured up in front of the listener, perfectly formed just behind the loudspeakers. Width, height, depth were all very good. Listening to Nils Lofgren's 'Acoustic Live' CD could get us to believe the illusion that we were sitting in front of the stage, listening to the performance together with the live audience.

This is a very transparent system. Nothing in the music escaped its analytical capability. The music threads were cleanly delineated and clearly portrayed, never blurred. The listener could choose to zoom into any part of the performance and follow it through. The good thing was that the musical details were not thrown in your face, the system never degenerated into aggression like it was force feeding you the information. I did not feel pressured or fatigued listening to it, a good sign of a system that would allow long term listening enjoyment.

To use an analogy, I'd say the system cruised along just like a big Merc, no matter what we played with it. It certainty had the poise and composure as experienced in the big sedan. Nothing could unfaze it. This system will not go 'crazy', sound frenetic or worse, falling apart with any music. If anything, I felt that just the very last ounce of emotion in the music was not fully released perhaps, as the system always maintain a grip throughout the proceedings.

A further highlight of this system was its dynamic expression, both macro and micro. It scaled the entire dynamic range with ease and without compression, even when the goings got tough. This was amply demo'ed with some Chinese orchestral music that CMY's Steve played for us. The sound appropriately 'exploded' when the big crescendos came, while at the quieter passages, the sound was kept bouncy and lively. There wasn't one dull moment.

The high-mid-low of the system was all of very high quality. Bass was punchy and well defined, the mid was rich and clear, and the high was grainless and nicely extended. They were well balanced and and well integrated together. Probably a sign of the quality of the drivers used in the Dynaudio.

This big system is an excellent example of what a modern, high end system could achieve. If you visit CMY 1 Utama, make a point to listen to it.

Contact Steve, CMY 1 Utama, 03-77266893 / 012-6535703.

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