My hifi journey

My hifi journey

It's been an interesting journey, and my first pair of speakers was the TDL RTL 3. Capable of deep bass, the cabinets were massive. They showed me what a deep soundstage was. Easy to drive too.
But home theatre (HT) beckoned and I knew that this will be where I spend most of listening diet subsequently. So each speaker I bought had to have a matching Centre speaker.
The Kef Reference 100 followed, partnered with the q30 and a sub30. Great centre speaker. Doesn't play too loudly but it had a great smooth voicing. The Q30 was a bookshelf speaker in a bigger box.
Then came the dynaudio audience 50 and the c120+. Great bass from a rather small speaker and what a soundstage. Hard to drive though. It was neutral to smooth allowing partnership with most gear if it had the ability to drive them.
As I journeyed into ht, I explored Monitor Audios which provide more excitement and decent bass.
The journey began with the BR, moving to the Silver RS and the Gold GS. Each bringing more resolution. But they were brighter and required proper partnering to tame that treble.

An opportunity to try the B&W 805s was something I always wanted to do, they were one of the best bookshelf speakers ever. The 805s is one smooth operator, with mid bass that is quite meaty, and vocals that rival any floorstander. In due course I also acquired the HTM4s and then the 804d in search of scale. The diamond series afforded even more resolution but the price was that treble. And in my small place floor standers couldn't perform at their best.

In between, I also used Usher for a smaller setup, and for a mini system for the bedroom. It's a quiet pocket rocker, with a nice sound that far exceeds it's cost. Add the corresponding centre, and you have a very impressive yet value system. If you are looking for something to match a budget amp, you can assemble a HT system for under 2k with the Usher S520, 525 and a sub.

So I knew that even as I enjoyed HT, the next speaker setup will be based on a solid Centre accompanied by a pair of bookshelf speakers. Good ones with a more neutral balance.
So with that, I went back to the brand that stayed with me the longest : my Dynaudio audience. I owned that for five years, trying new stuff and each time I gained new insight into my music and movies, going from Dolby surround to Dolby digital in the process.

Now with the Confidence series, I am hoping my speaker journey can come to a stable state and I can try out different sounds and gear with these lovely speakers.

So if I may give a crude overall summary of the sonic signatures:

- Dynaudio
Neutral, transparent, but needs power

- smooth (Reference series), transparent (haven't tried the newer ones except for the X300A)

- Monitor Audio
Vivid, exciting, great for music and HT, just watch the treble

- Usher S520
Pocket rocket, superb value, expressive, but lacks deep bass, so it may sound a little bright

(S series, and CM series)
- smooth, music friendly, easy to drive
- although, not hard to drive, they need power to bring out the best
- treble lifted up
- floorstanders and even the 805 gives solid bass, giving music a great deal of scale

Budget 2016

Budget 2016: What you need to know right now

Singapore has entered a new phase in its restructuring journey.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat delivered his first Budget in Parliament on March 24. Here are key points from Budget 2016:
  • Budget 2016 marks a new phase in economic restructuring through more targeted approaches.
  • Budget 2016 aims to drive scale and create value by build resilience in workers, enterprise, industries.
  • The budget position needs to strike balance between the rise in expenditure and accommodating to support businesses in current climate amid economic restructuring. Should the climate turn, Singapore should stand ready to respond
  • Expenditure needs will grow faster than revenues, so the government should spend only when needed. There will be a surplus of $3.4b or 0.8% of GDP in FY16.
  • The rise in expenditure is supported by increases in operating revenue and NIR contribution due to one-off factors  which are not expected to be sustained. In addition, the addition of Temasek to the NIR network will act as a greater source of revenue in the long-term.
  • In FY15, the budget recorded a deficit of $4.9 billion, or 1.2% of GDP. In FY16, total spending will rise to $5bn, 7.3% higher year-on-year.
Building a more caring society
  • We will set up a new fund call Our Singapore fund. Like the SG50 fund, it will support projects that build the spirit of resilience and promote unity and sense of being Singaporean. The fund size is $25m and will be set up by 2H16.
  • From 1 July 2016 to end-2018, business that help employees volunteer will receive 250% tax deduction.
  • Building a caring society: Businesses well-placed to run impactful programs. There is a need to boost corporate social responsibility (CSR) and promote corporate giving.
  • Provide support to households in general, by raising basic monthly cash allowance. Government pension ceiling will also be raised, which will benefit 10k pensioners.
  • Successful ageing: Seniors urged to stay active and healthy, and meaningfully engaged. Pilot community networks for seniors will be established. These will be made up of local stakeholders, including community volunteers, schools, businesses, which will be drawn together to provide coordinated support for seniors.
  • Even if they do not qualify, other seniors will continue to receive other support like elder care subsidies and GST vouchers, which comes on top of support received from their children.
  • To identify the truly needy, three criteria will be used: Lifetime wages, housing type, and household support.
  • There will be an increase in retirement support. For instance, the Civil Support Scheme will cover up to 30% of seniors. Modest but meaningful supplement to retirment incomes. Not to substitute other forms of support like personal/family savings.
  • There will also be higher payouts depending on age and income. For instance, those earning $1,000-1,600 a month will see a payout of $100 to $500. Qualifying criteria will also be simplified, and payout systems will be enhanced. Now, workers will get pay every WIS for every month worked. Workers can see quicker payouts, monthly instead of quarterly. 
  • Worker Income Supplement (WIS) scheme: Raise qualifying income saving to $2,000 per month, which will help bottom 20% income workers. It will benefit 460,000 Singaporeans.
  • New outdoor campus will be built on Coney Island, in order to foster a spirit of adventure among children, build confidence and build camarederie across schools. This is expected to be ready 2020 and cost $200m.
  • The FreshStart housing scheme: provide grant 35k to let families with kids own a flat with shorter lease. To qualify, parents need to stay employed and make sure kids attend school.
  • New measures for the young, namely KidStart and YoungStart.
  • YoungStart: New child development account for Singaporean children. Parents will automatically receive $3,000 for their kids, starting with infants born today.
  • KidStart: Focus on kids in their first 6 years, particularly for parents who need more support to help their kids get a good start in life. Expected to cost $20m. 
  • We need to find new ways to forge a caring and resilient society.
Transforming the economy through enterprise and innovation 
  • We seek to transform economy so we can continue to have the resources and opportunities for our home to be safe and our people to find fulfillment.
  • Budget 2016 seeks a new way to transform our economy through enterprise and innovation, with stronger partnerships between stakeholders.
  • Strong focus on ICT. We need more experts in varied skills like designers and prgrammers. The IDA estimates we will have 30k more positions by 2020. Major ICT corporations to partner with IDA and pioneer a new way to engage in the fast-growing ICT sector
  • With the adapt and grow initiative, laid-off workers will get help in building new careers. Wage support schemes will be expanded. Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to roll out $35m in support initiatives.
  • Enhanced employment support via adapt and grow initiative to help workers deal with retrenchments.
  • We are investing significantly into life-long learning. Education system is also changing to adapt to new job market, with polytechnics offering courses such as cybersecurity.
  • Like firms, people too are facing structural challenges. I understand it is not easy for those who are retrenched to find new skills and new jobs, but we must remain adaptable.
  • Firms need to restructure so workers have better prospects. Firms with higher productivity have higher wages. It is important to raise productivity to innovate or workers will have low wages and bad prospects.
  • This budget sets the direction by taking into account insight by businesses. We will adjust but we must start to move in new direction early.
  • Broad-based measures, including the PIC scheme, will continue to taper off in coming years.
  • Spending will depend on take-up rates. For instance, the government will allocate $300m to food manufacturing over the next 5 years. There will be greater support for firms and TACs. The government will roll out a more integrated and targeted approach across more than 20 scetors covering 80% of GDP.
  • As a whole, the government will set aside $4.5b under the industry transformation program to support enterprises and industries. This will include increased funding for SPRING, IE Singapore, and the Economic Development Board to support economic development.
  • Infrastructure development: Further $1 billion top-up to the Changi Airport development fund.
  • Jurong Innovation District: First phase to be completed in 2022.
  • Launch of Jurong Innovation District, which will create the industrial park of the future. It will focus on learning, research, and production. It has the potential to transform how we live, work, play and create.
  • Enhancement of R&D capability: $40 billion will be directed towards industry collaboration, with a top-up fund of $1.5b to enterprises.
  • Promote startups in new and existing industries. New entity called SG Innovate to help link startups with mentors, venture funding. SG Innovate will build over what has been done to expand accelerator programs to new industries.
Greater support for SMEs
  • Trade associations and chambers (TACs) will reach out to firms, particularly SMEs. SMEs will get wider funding to attract talent, develo capabiliies, and strengthen partnerships. SPRING will partner with TACs on 30 projects to reach 3,000 SMEs. The government will provide $30m over the next 5 years to support TACs.
  • National robotics programme: Solution providers will offer cheaper packages for SMEs. It can help create value added jobs in various sector such as healthcare, construction, manufacturing, logistics. The government will provide $450m in support of the national robotics programme over the next 3 years.
  • For instance, robotics technology can boost productivity, but is too expensive for most SMEs. 
  • Enterprises can transform if the entire industry also transforms. This will help firms achieve scale and drive down costs. Industry-level transformation works best if firms work together. 
  • In the coming years, IE Singapore will support more firms in their internalisation efforts. IE expects to help 35,000-45,000 companies in their internalisation.
  • We will offer automation support package for an initial period of 3 years. Currently, there are no incentives to promote automation. The government will shoulder up to 50% of the cost of qualified automation projects, with a maximum grant of $1m. Qualifying projects will also receive 100% allowance for automation equipment. Access to loans will also be improved.
  • Incentive schemes confusing for SMEs. Business grants portal to be launched in fourth quarter of 2016. Firms will not need to go from agency to agency to access incentives. Various support schemes will be reviewed and simplified.
  • Even as we provide immediate relief and support, we must press on with economic transformation. We have a narrow window. We will help firms create value & drive growth by: 1.) Maximise impact of initiatives; 2.)Targeted sector-focused approach; 3.) Deepening partnerships between government workers and industry players to identify industry challenges; and 4.) Stronger emphasis on technology adoption and innovation
  • Premature to relax property cooling measures.
  • SME working capital with loans u to $300,000 for SMEs. It will catalyze $2b of loans over 2 years. Encourage greater lending for SMEs.
  • Help heartland shops. Enhance revitalisation of shops package in HDB town centers. SPRING to strengthen capabilities of heartland businesses. 
  • Defer levy for offshore, manufacturing workers for 1 year, These measures to address near-term concerns while supporting restructuring
  • Special Employment Credit, which is due to expire this year, will be modified and extended to 2019. It will cover 340,000 workers
  • Re-employment age raised to 70.
  • This year, total spending is expected to $5 billion dollars, higher than in 2015. The transition support package that was introduced in FY13 will continue to support firms. Public sector demand for construction projects is expected to pick up the slack from depressed private demand.
  • Support for SMEs: Corporate income tax rebate from 30% of tax payable to 50% of tax payable.
Intensifying economic headwinds
  • We face near-term cyclical weaknesses as well as medium-term structural challenges
  • Technological changes are disrupting business models across all sectors. Some call the coming changes industrial revolution 4.0. All these changes pose intense challenges to our business, which will have to succeed in a more competitive environment while manpower is shrinking. The need to restructure is both urgent and critical.
  • Prospects in the labour market are mixed.
  • It is a complex transition. We expect sectors such as manufacturing to face subdued demand
    But while overall growth is subdued, our business landscape is varied. Domestic-oriented sectors such as retail, healthcare, and education remained stable
  • I’m aware that business conditions are difficult and uncertain. Workers are anxious as retrenchments has increased. Uncertainties in the global economy will create strong headwinds. Current business conditions are weakened. The pace of economic recovery is uneven.We therefore expect externally-oriented sectors to continue to experience weak demand.
  • Budget 2016 is beginning of journey towards SG100.
  • We must come together as partners to transform our economy. Potential for innovation has never been greater. Over the last decade, the government has stepped up social spending, but we must continue to build both individual and collective responsibility.
  • We must continue to strike a careful balance between what we spend today and what we save for the future. GDP growth will slow as the economy and workforce mature. We will find ourselves in a tighter fiscal position.
  • Compared to a decade ago, education spending has increased six-fold. Transport spending will grow to $5.1bn. Security: More investment in intelligence and technology. Our expenditures have grown to almost 2.5x in the past five years.
  • Invest in stronger enterprises, education and healthcare. Spending on education in FY16 is expected to hit $12.8 billion dollars.
  • This year, we start our journey for the next 50 years. Our first 50 years was an extraordinary story of overcoming challenges together. Every move was uncharted. Today, we are in a much better position than our pioneers, but we also face new challenges.
- See more at:

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - Movie Review

Sigh, this is a movie with so much potential, and with the hype of the matchup, plus the introduction of Wonderwoman, I guess it just didn't meet the expectations I had.

On the plus side:
Lots of good action, explosions and the new cinema was a throwback to the past. 

Now the down side:
This is one movie that was filmed in MTV speed, hurtling from one scene to another. Despite the long movie runtime, it has the daunting tasking of putting origin stories along with how they hate each other to the introduction of a new hero to the fights with the villains. Too much, even for fanboys to swallow. 

Superman was well played by Henry, and Ben did look decent as Batman, but his fight scenes were so awkward and poorly done. Christian Bale was the benchmark, and despite his best effort, he was no match for Bale. Miss Israel is no match for Ms Texas USA aka Linda Carter, the original Wonderwoman.

The movie was busy, far too hectic, with too many side plots, and too angsty. This is a Batman's Superman. Henry frowns, gets angry too much and I wish they would go back to less dark movies. This whole dark side appeals to those who like the Batman type of hero, but I prefer a lighter mood, and the cheerful sort of show.

Action fans will still be pretty satisfied, despite a less than agile Batman. And his fight with Superman in his "anti-hulk" Ironman suit - what was that?
Gal Gadot, Amy Adams are a tad too old, and Amy looked more like Superman's mum, and if Diane Lane looked any younger, she should have been Lois Lane.. Rachel McAdams, could have been a better Lois Lane, and they need someone to play Wonderwoman. What's with the Maori like Aquaman? 

BTW, I don't recognise the half-body chap tied to the experiment wall?
2/5 for me.

My Setup March 2016

This is my new Atmos / DTS-X setup:

Benq W1070 for movie nights
PS64D8000FM Samsung plasma TV 
Marantz PM 11S3 : 2 channel stereo amp with HT bypass and 100W per channel driving the front pair of Dynaudio Confidence 1 Platinum
( )
Oppo BR player BDP 101CI as CD transport and HT source
Oppo BDP 83 Nuforce 
Rotel RMB 1585 – 200w X 5 driving the centre, side and back surrounds.
Marantz NA11S1 as a DAC and network player 
Apple TV (Gen 1) X 2 for music and photos 
Dynaudio Confidence Centre Platinum
Radius 90HD for front height 
Usher 520s for rear back 
Monitor Audio RXFX in dipole mode for side surrounds 
JL Audio E112 (two units)  located at right front and near field left
Anthony Gallo A'Diva for ceiling Atmos placement and "Voice of God" placement
QED XT Revelations for front and centre speakers
QED Micro speaker cable for the surrounds
Audioquest Cinnamon HDMI for Oppo to amp
Audioquest XLR King Cobra from NA 11 to PM 11
Wireworld Chroma from amp to TV
AQ Forest HDMI cable - amp to TV and other sources
Audioquest Snake subwoofer cable 
Blue Jean subwoofer cable 
Wireworld Equinox RCA from Oppo 83 Nuforce to Marantz PM 11
Wireworld Oasis 6 & 7 Interconnects
Wireworld Oasis 6 power cables
Assorted Xindak, PS Audio and other power cables
MK wall power sockets
Shunyata Venom Distributor and power cable 20A for high current items
Rhodium Right Angle Plug adapters for USA power cables 
Auralex subdude platform and Mopads under centre speaker
Da lite screen 
Glass optical cables

Choosing A Centre Speaker

The Center speaker is the most important speaker in your system for Home Theater.

What's " LOBING"

2 centres do not give you a better central voicing. A single high quality centre always does better. Hence I changed my system a few months ago based simply on the desire to get a better centre speaker.

This will give you an idea on why 2 centre speakers are seldom used:

Look around the local retailers and web dealers for speaker systems. You'll find most 5.1 speaker systems build a center speaker that matches the other speakers in the system, about the same size drivers etc. Some speaker systems will give you the option of larger front speakers. For home theater this isn't necessary, although larger speakers with larger woofers can produce deeper bass the speaker should be set to "small" in the receiver. The small setting means that sounds below the crossover frequency will be diverted to the subwoofer. A typical crossover is 80Hz. So, the front speaker won't produce any of the lower bass instead those sounds will be diverted to the subwoofer. If you have a competent sub in your system the effect of setting your speakers to the "small" setting will produce more bass. We won't delve too much into bass management, that's another topic. Suffice it to say that for Home Theater it's a good idea to set all your speakers to "small" even if you like to switch it back for dedicated two channel (music) sources.

The center speaker arrived back in the days of Dolby Pro-Logic. Dolby Pro-Logic was the improvement on Dolby Surround that had a problem with hard to hear voices. By giving the midrange its own dedicated speaker dialogue in film could now compete with splashy sound effects and musical scores that dominated the front and rear speakers in a surround system.

The center speaker is responsible for reproducing sounds in the range from about 500 to 5000 Hz. This isn't a hard limitation of the center channel just an estimate of the midrange. In a 5.1 system the center channel can receive sounds from any frequency.

There is a lot going on in that center channel. Not just voices but a lot of sound effects too. Virtually anything that goes on front and center to the camera's perspective can be heard through the center channel. A frail center speaker will rob explosions, gunfire and all those other splashy effects of the bang they should have, despite the big sub and giant front left and right speakers.

One of the most common complaints when you have a center speaker that isn't up to the task is muted voices. Dialogue gets drowned out when the action or musical score gets loud. Chances are the center speaker isn't able to produce enough midrange or the midrange has some dispersion problems which can be associated with the speaker's build.

Sound Speaker Build Quality

One of the classic "cheap" center speaker builds is the MTM (midrange, tweeter, midrange) build. This is a two way design. One tweeter sits between two woofers. Since this design has no midrange it's already off to a bad start. To make an effective center channel speaker of this design is a challenge to the speaker's builder. The design opens you up to acoustic dispersion problems called the lobing effect.

Lobing is a bend in a circle. The circle of sound from your speakers should converge on the audience. But if your center speaker is exhibiting lobing it's difficult to accurately judge the sweet spot. The net effect is the midrange suffers.

Look for a center channel speaker that has a midrange and tweeter stacked on top of each other with woofers on either side. This is a three way design and isn't usually found in the most budget speakers. Most manufacturers only build their top end center channel speaker in the desired three way design.

Not to pick on Paradigm, a fantastic Canadian speaker manufacturer. But you must go well up Pardigm's product line to get into a three way center. If you can afford it you'll be glad you did. The mainstream line is the Monitor series, they're an excellent buy. But the CC-370 (pictured at the top) is an MTM design. I have not auditioned them or put them through the test. To really determine if they exhibit lobing problems you'd have to try it for yourself in your own livingroom. But I would automatically avoid that speaker when looking to spend a bit of money on a quality design.

To get the three way design you have to go two rungs up the Paradigm ladder to the CC-570. The 570 is part of Paradigm's "Reference" series of audiophile quality speakers. The 570 is an amazing speaker that will knock you back into your seat. The CC-370 is a $300US speaker where the CC-570 retails at almost a grand.

Think of it this way, a center speaker should include a midrange! A real center will make a dramatic difference for movies. For two channel music (CD, MP3 etc) it can only serve to fill in the central soundstage, not exactly a critical job if you have well positioned front speakers. But, if you've upgraded a two channel stereo to 5.1 surround for Home Theater and skimped on the center speaker reasoning you'll upgrade it later, you might be wondering why some soundtracks seem robbed of oomph and sometimes dialogue is a bit thin. Well, later is now.

This speaker is the centrepiece of a good HT system, and we should give it the utmost attention if The Home Theatre Experience is the most important aspect of our sound system.

Some useful info:

A little info on centre speakers & lobing:

Here is the message that has just been posted:
Sooo... Regarding that product announcement... Well, this is the reason why we have a policy not to comment on future product announcements: The product has been delayed, and I can't tell you when to expect it (just as I never should have given you this expectation!) Just to make myself feel better, it wasn't my call alone to allow the teaser to be made, but in hindsight it was a mistake. I know some of you will feel "cheated" by me for teasing and not delivering, but this is what it is, and giving you more information now would only repeat the same error. SORRY!! Shoot me now.
Anyway, that should not hold me back from giving you the promised answer regarding our view on center speakers and lobing. However, it is not a simple one.
First off, I would like to say that there is no way to "handle" lobing in a horizontal center speaker without causing drawbacks. If there were, we would not be discussing it.
Any speaker with a horizontal driver alignment will have some degree of lobing. This is a physical fact, and while different alignments will cause different degrees of lobing, they can't be completely avoided. This means that if you want to completely eliminate it, you need to change the alignment. As mentioned, there will be drawbacks to any of the available choices, either sound quality wise, economically, or practically.
You can arrange the drivers vertically. If space allows, this can be a very good choice, but most people need (or want) a relatively low profile speaker to place below or above a flatscreen tv. For a no-compromise solution however, this is probably the best choice. It also allows for three identical front speakers. Note: Three physically identical speakers do not sound identical if one is closer to the floor, or mounted horizontally etc. So the goal of three completely identical speakers in the front can only really be realized by using an acoustically transparent projection screen. Please notice that we DO offer a solution for this purpose: Any speaker in our passive home audio lineup, from Emit to Evidence, can be bought as singles at a 10% surcharge. If you always dreamt about using a Consequence as a center channel speaker, we're not the ones holding you back. There is no acoustical arguments to not using any speaker that you find usable as left and right speakers, as a c
enter channel. Practically though, for many this will not be an option.
You can use a fullrange or coaxial driver. Whichever variant, this causes limitations and/or acoustical artifacts that are in our view much more severe than lobing, and not compatible with the performance we want to present to our customers.
You can use a single midrange, still in a horizontal alignment, either as a 2-way with one mid/bass, a 2.5-way, threeway or similar. This is actually not a bad choice, however, you don't eliminate lobing - you change it to something that may or may not be more acceptable.
You can use a three-way with a small midrange below the tweeter, and bass drivers . Aligned properly, this can minimize lobing (depending on the crossover to the bass drivers). However, it is not without cost: You have to use a small midrange, that might not have the performance of a larger one. You have an extra crossover frequency and a more advanced crossover, which isn't always a good thing if you are cost-constrained (which you basically always are!)
There are also possibilities within the "normal" horizontal 2-way alignment, that will minimize (but not eliminate) the issue without necessarily causing these drawbacks: Using a relatively low crossover point to the tweeter - which is done in most Dynaudio speakers anyway. Also, placing the mid/bass drivers as close together as possible decreases the amount of lobing.
To conclude, to answer how we handle lobing, there are two overall answers: First, We do not design a center speaker with the specific purpose to eliminate lobing. We design it to deliver the best overall performance. This is a balance between a lot of different factors, and so far we believe that the amount of lobing left in our center speakers is negligible, compared to the sacrifices that would have to be made to completely eliminate it. This balance is sometimes bent in different ways depending on the needs, and I am not saying that the solutions we have now will be used in any Dynaudio speaker ever. It's just to say that the overall performance is our goal, not the individual benchmarks. In our judgement, there are other, more pressing concerns that might not be as easy to visualize, but has at least as much impact on the performance.
Second, if you really want a no compromise setup, the best center speaker is a third speaker identical to your left and right speaker.

The centre speaker is the lynchpin and does about 80% of the work:

Dynaudio Contour S 1.4 review

The Contour is about mid way in the pecking order of Dynaudio, and covered a wide range of products. However they have recently removed most of their Contour speakers from sale, leaving only the recently introduced S1.4 LE and S 3.4LE in this range.

The technical specs off their website :

Review equipment:

Marantz PM 11 S3
Marantz NA 11-S1
Oppo BDP 83 Nuforce Edition

I had recently tried using this amp with a pair of C1 Platinums and the newer S 1.4LE, so my previous  concerns, about this 100w ‘only’ amplifier driving the 4 ohm bookshelf speakers evaporated. I guess part of the reason was the ability of this amp to double it’s power into 4 ohms and then again into 2ohms and was able to provide a stable 400w per channel of power into 2 ohms.

It is also a testimony that Dynaudio has been listening, and has been making their speakers more easy to drive and compatible with a wider spectrum of amplifiers.

So how does it sound?

Well like the Confidence 1s, I did find out that they can be quite fussy with speaker position. Toeing in, and moving back and forth, you will need to move them around to see how they sound in your own room. Positioning is a little more demanding, and that rear port does not help.

Once properly set up, the sound was a real revelation. Simply put, they were neutral, truthful and yet forgiving. For a relatively compact bookshelf speaker, there was real mid bass, and good weight to the sound. It will be as good as a small floorstander, but with pace and tightness.

The soundstage is deep, the imaging is precise, and three dimensional, and despite having only two drivers, will be able to resolve everything from vocals, to small ensembles and even big orchestras.

In a small room, their simple two way driver arrangement actually makes them easier to integrate.

If anything, the treble does not come across as bright, and this may displease those looking for a hotter higher frequency range. You should aim to avoid very warm sounding amps.

I also had the opportunity to listen to the older MK II and the new Contour 1.4 LE, and the C1 Platinum.

The main difference between the S1.4 and the LE version was that the treble was lifted up a bit more in the LE. So if you like a hotter treble, then pick the LE. As for the C1s, both had a smoother treble relative to the LE, with the MK II closer to the LE in sound compared to the LE, and the newest Platinum edition having the most neutral sound. Pick with your ears.

As for sound imaging, the C1 is also superior, but that pair will cost you about twice or more.

My final thoughts?

This is a good pair of speakers with a good soundstage, bass weight and a smooth treble. They aren’t hard to drive, but thrive on power and need a little more care in placement than the average speaker.


 I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

Where to go to buy Blu Ray in Hong Kong

Where to buy in HKG:

First you walk out of Mongkok MTR station exit E2, cross 2 block and you will see Properity Building on your right, a staircase leading down to basement. (Blue arrow)

There are now more headphones shops and hair dresser than Hi Fi shops now, but there is a super Blu Ray shop in the middle. Walk to the end and climb out of the basement onto the street level, turn right (red arrow again) and there are 2 more CD shops very close to each other, Beat Records and Win -Win Records.

Try this outlet in Wanchai.

The Rock Gallery has more music stuff and less movies. 
It's about 5-10hkg$ more costly for movies. 

The SACD collection is fantastic! Spent way too much at Rock. 

CSL offers free wifi all over HKG. Just sms then. 
Very impressive. 

DTS upgrade process

The log of changes:

1) Ability to use "Rear Height" instead of "Surround Height" with Auro 3D (which then allows using FH+RH for all 3 formats: Atmos, DTS:X, Auro 3D using a single Audyssey calibration)
2) HDMI 2.0a(HDR)
3) Add the "DTS: X" and "DTS Neural:X" sound mode feature.
4) When the customer plays DD + stream that exceeds 504kbps at specific Media Player (Tmall Magic box TMB300A), the sound might not be output from the AV receiver. The symptom is a problem that the product has the failure in playing DD + stream that exceeds 504kbps. (Improvement request from Dolby Laboratories, Inc.)
5) Even if the customer sets "Tone Control" to "ON" with the WEB control setting screen of the AV receiver, and the numerical value of Bass or Treble is changed, the AV receiver doesn't reflect a set value. The symptom is a problem that the AV receiver cannot set Bass or Treble from the WEB control.
6) When the input source of AV receiver switches automatically from Blu-ray (function during SACD playback) to TV Audio, the sound of the broadcast via ARC from specific TV (Panasonic) might not be outputted. The symptom is a problem that the sound of the broadcast via ARC from specific TV (Panasonic) might not be outputted.
7) Even if the customer sets Level FR from the WEB control screen of the AV receiver, the customer cannot confirm a set value of Level FR because the display on the WEB control screen doesn't change. The display of Level FR on the WEB control screen doesn't change but Level FR on the AV receiver side is changed. The symptom is a problem that the customer cannot confirm a set value of Level FR because the display on the WEB control screen doesn't change.
8) When the customer connects MAC Book to the AV receiver and then the specific MP3 file (Album art size is bigger than 1000x1000 pixels) is played from iTunes via the AirPlay, the AV receiver reboots before starting the playback of the MP3 file. The symptom is a problem that the AV receiver reboots before starting the playback of the MP3 file.
9) If the customer inserted the iPod classic to USB-A terminal on AV Receiver with standby mode (over 8 hours or more), when the customer turns on the power of AV receiver, the AV receiver cannot connect to the iPod again. The symptom is a problem that the AV receiver cannot connect to the iPod when the customer turns on the power of AV receiver.
10) When the customer connects the AV receiver to HDMI output of specific Streaming Media Player (Roku 4) that the output setting of the resolution is set to 4K, the AV receiver doesn't output the video or the AV receiver has a latency until the output video. The symptom is a problem that the AV receiver doesn't output the video or the AV receiver has a latency until the output video.
11) Custom 2CH Playback added (AV7702MKII only)

This takes a total of 40 minutes or so, and you go through a series of screens, and the amp will turn off it's display, with only the porthole active, showing you the progress.
I would suggest using the LAN line for safety, as a choke whilst doing this can be deleterious to your amp.

Otherwise has been done in many countries for other models, and now, it's due for the 2015 Marantz models like the SR 7010, 6010 and AV 7702 MK II.

It has been suggested in some forums that one should avoid being in the Dolby Surround Mode when doing the upgrade.

Will see if the bugs reported are still present in this upgrade:

1: Upmixing of 2ch DTS content with Neural:X. - causes very audible distortion.
2: To use DSU on DTS and Neural:X on Dolby, set the player to output PCM

If you are a fan of Donnie Yen
Give 14 Blades a spin. 
It has amazing surround effects and with DTS X it's even better !

Food joy kitchen

Simple decor but the prices are reasonable and the food isn't bad. Parking is easy and the place is kid friendly too.