THE Kuala Lumpur International AV (KLIAV) Show, held this year at the Vistana Kuala Lumpur Titiwangsa hotel on July 26-28, is usually an indicator of consumer trends, especially when it comes to analogue equipment.
For 2019, it appeared that digital could be winning the war as only a dozen or so rooms had turntables in them. There was, however, a good spread of the gargantuan Triangle Art and Kronos duopoly contrasting with the Teac and Denon featherweights, with a smattering of Pro-Ject, Cambridge Audio, Rega, Linn, Audionote and Transrotor turntables.
Kronos, Triangle Art and Brinkman demonstrated their complete in-house turntable/tonearm/phono stage solutions, while the rest of the cast comprised mix-and-match set-ups. A pity that some promising turntables, such as the Dr. Feickert Blackbird, were without a cartridge. I would have loved to listen to it, especially after the Brinkmann Continuum made an impression on me.
Some new products made their debut at the show; enthusiasts basked for hours in the music from the direct-drive VPI HW-40 turntable while feasting their eyes on the glow of the new entry-level DS Audio DS-E1 optical cartridge. Kronos, meanwhile, quietly slotted in its new super-capacitor PSU for its turntables.
It was disappointing to see so few cartridge brands at the show; only DS Audio and Sumiko caught my eye. Tonearm enthusiasts had only only Brinkmann and Rega to browse.
As for phonostages, the Brinkmann Edison Mk II made an impression on me. There were a handful of other brands – Kronos, Vertere, Rega and Pro-Ject – to suit all budgets. A minimalist trend seems to be surfacing – some turntables were hooked up to preamplifiers with phono stages on board, such as Audio Research.
On the accessories front, Furutech showcased its record flattener and demagnetiser, and I spotted vinyl cleaners from Pro-Ject and Okki Nokki. One could also pick up inner and outer LP sleeves, stylus cleaners and record brushes.
If it was a bit quiet on the hardware front, this year’s show was a treat for vinyl fans. It was delightful to be greeted by a great selection of records from The Groove Shop, in a room that was bursting at the seams with vinyl fans. Newleafz Records filled the niche for used vinyl while Caruso displayed a stash of rare pressings to tempt your ringgit. The show is never complete without the M.A. Records and its brilliant recordings. There were even a few exhibitors from Taiwan and Hong Kong selling a wide selection of Chinese music and audiophile pressings. I’m all smiles.
My wish-list for next year would be to have more rooms with turntable systems and a wide selection of turntables, cartridges and tonearms for enthusiasts who are supported by the vibrant vinyl market today. Until next year, happy spinning, folks.