By Lam Seng Fatt
Perhaps the most interesting part of the Analogue and Digital Fellowship dinner at Holiday Villa, Subang Jaya, on Wednesday was the talk by TK Han of Reference Audio/Rave Systems Sdn Bhd on trends in the hi-fi and AV industries.
About sixty audiophiles turned up for dinner, lots of lucky draws and listened to the panel of experts talk on various subjects.
TK Han showed the depth of his knowledge and experience of the hi-fi and AV industries when he talked on a list of trends.
First was the trend of ever increasing cost of components which he doesn’t see changing any time soon. This is because there is demand for expensive, high-end components and audiophiles these days are very knowledgeable and read a lot and are very discerning.
Second was the level of performance of today”s high-end products compared with high-end products of 20 to 30 years ago. The margin is very wide and there is no comparison. Today’s high-end systems far outperform those from the past.
This has also resulted in few good mid-level products. The gap between the entry-level and the high-end in terms of price is very huge and if you want to upgrade from a lower range component to a better one, you have to pay a lot more.
“CAS is getting to be very big. In the last two years at the CES and Tokyo shows, 80 to 90 % of the exhibitors used computer playback and everyone wanted to find the latest in CAS technology. If there was no CAS, people were not interested,” he said.
Chips these days can do a lot more. They can handle DSD and sampling rates up to 768kHz and it’s only a question of the designers figuring out how to exploit the potential of modern DAC chips.
“There’s also a trend of DACs handling DSD with DSD over PCM technology,” he said.
Han added that using servers and streaming devices is also a trend.
What about analogue? There is a trend towards high-mass designs with better motors being able to spin heavy platters.
“Twenty years ago, high-mass designs were not acceptable. Now people are going for high-mass designs,” he said.
Digital amps are also getting to be popular, but he feels they are more suitable for AV functions and digital amps are already widely used to power active sub-woofers. Digital amps these days also sound better than previous models.
There are also developments in tube amps with high-end companies using the KT-120 tube.
“Speakers are getting bigger because people have larger listening rooms and line array speakers are getting popular,” he said.
The other speakers were Dr Paris Ng, Danon Han and Gan Hock Ho. Guest speakers from Thailand were Wijit Boonchooijit and Vattana Prasertnasung. The facilitator for the Q & A session was Jo Ki.
Among those who attended were some of the top dealers and distributors in town. The Analogue and Digital Fellowship is a Facebook group of people who love music and audiophilia.