Louis' comments on his visit to audiophiles in Hong Kong:
It was two nights before Christmas, when all through the City, all the creatures were stirring in Hong Kong, even the mouse. The jewellery stores and high end watch shops were filled with Christmas shoppers, picking up last minute gifts, Rolexes and diamond rings for their wives and mistresses. There is a queue outside every designer shop on Canton Road.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to an audiophile Christmas dinner party, hosted by the gracious hosts Andrew and Jane Leung. The Leung's live in a flat that overlooks the Victoria Harbour up on a hill above Tin Hau Temple with a breath-taking view of HK at night. There were 14 of us in attendance. The audiophile gatherings in HK seems to mirror those of Greater Toronto Area Audiophile Club (GTAA), lots of gourmet food, fine wine and interesting bantering between good friends and music plays second fiddle so to speak.
I discovered during this trip that I share a common passion with my friend David Wong....cooking. His nickname is Daiwok among all his audiophile friends and on Lenco Heaven. Daiwok literally means Big Wok in Chinese or "Oh shit" in Cantonese slang. David started learning how to cook at age 8 at his father's restaurant and has followed several chefs over the years. David treats many of his audiophile friends with his culinary skills at many of the HK get togethers. This night was no exception, he cooked up stir-fried jumbo prawns, live mussels imported from France in white wine sauce served with French baguette and Indian curry beef brisket with naan bread. Jane Leung served up more food like fresh crab salad, fish cakes, imported French cheese and so on from 7 until 9:30 at night when the first tune was heard. Meanwhile Andrew kept pouring aged fine wine for his guests throughout the evening and then champagne was poured around 11:30 p.m. to toast the festive evening. Thankfully everyone in HK takes a taxi so there was no need to worry about drinking and driving.
There were two notable guests at the party. One is Mr. Yu who is known throughout the entire audiophile community in HK. He is considered to be the pioneer of high end audio in HK and was responsible for bringing in many high end brands to the then British colony. The other is Dr. John who writes an audio blog at http://cheaptubeaudio.blogspot.com/
Now on to the real reason of my visit to Andrew's. Like most other audiophiles in Hong Kong, Andrew has a myriad of equipment in the house. It was impossible for me to list all the audio gears, so I will simply highlight a few.
Linn LP12 with Naim ARO tonearm, mounted for this occasion with a Acutex MM cartridge
Three other turntables which include a Lenco, a Pioneer Exclusive P3 and a Luxman
MBL 101E loudspeakers
A pair of Mark Levinson ML-23.5 mono blocks driving the bottom end of the MBL (I assume)
A pair of Mark Levinson ML-20.5 mono blocks driving the top end of the MBL
Mark Levinson Preamp (did not catch the model number)
The star of the show was the pair of MBL 101E which at 67 inches tall is a fairly large and imposing speaker. In the elegant piano black finish, it is almost Darth Vader like, tall, authoritative and has that "don't mess with me" attitude. One of the lady guest at the party commented that the MBL looked like a pair of lamp shades, damn expensive lamp shades as I chuckled to myself.
I had a brief encounter with the MBL 101E at the Montreal Audio Show back last year and was quite impressed by the special omnidirectional Radialstrahler drivers. The MBL 101E, at 81 dB efficiency at 4 ohms, really scream out for beefy solid state amps that can give them the juice. Well the 4 Mark Levinson mono blocks did not disappoint. When Andrew put on an LP by Grammy winning jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding in her 2005 recording debut Junjo, the bass notes were deep, tight and tuneful. Another standout LP played was Blue Bogey by Wilton "Bogey" Gaynair, which was first introduced to me by David Wong. This jazz LP is a must buy for all jazz lovers. When played back through a highly resolved system like the MBL and ML, the saxophone sound has a "you are there" feeling. Naturally all the trademarks of the MBL Radialstrahler were evident here, open, transparent, holographic imaging, and slightly larger than life soundstage.
All in all it was an amazing evening. Superb food, great wine (from what I was told), stimulating conversation, the joy of meeting new audiophile friends and listening to good music on a great system. What more can you ask for..........nothing I would add. Thanks David for introducing me to Andrew and other audiophiles. And a special thank you to Andrew and Jane for being the consummate hosts.
Roaming unofficial reporter of Stereopal.com & The GTAA