Event: KL International AV Show 2022
Venue: InterContinental Kuala Lumpur
Date: Oct 28-31
AFTER a two-year hiatus, we finally got the chance to have another KL International AV Show. Post-pandemic events are a little weird to me. You see the unmasked mingling with people wearing masks, while some were trying to maintain physical distance in a cramped 12 x 4 hotel room! However, whether or not you were observing pandemic safety measures, the turnout was amazing and everyone seemed to have fun.
There was a good number of new set-ups – understandably so since things had moved on in the past two years – and exhibitors brought along their A-game. The first floor was occupied by heavy hitters in the industry, totally setting the bar for the rest of the exhibition.
The most imposing set-up to me was by Centre Circle Audio on Level 1. The Kharma Exquisite Grand 3.0 speakers towered at over six feet, being driven off a pair of Pilium Hercules monoblock power amplifiers and the Aries Cerat Impera II Reference preamp. Their VPI Avenger Reference turntable sounded sublime via the Aries Cerat Talos mk2 Reference phono stage.
Absolute Sound showcased an array of Linn products ranging from their LP12 turntables to their Klimax and Selekt DSM. Providing sound were their Majik and Klimax speakers.
I absolutely love the set-up in YL Audio’s room. The Lawrence Audio Penguin speakers (interestingly, they DO look like penguins!) driven by an all-Absolare system sounded great. I was hoping to get to hear how it sounds with the Kronos turntable, but didn’t get the chance. I had to make do with the iPad source being played off an Apple Lightning-to-headphone jack dongle.
Moving on to the second floor was when things got a lot more fun. There were booths selling speakers, amplifiers, records, and CDs. There were also tidbits such as cables and tuning accessories for those who love to tinker with their hi-fi systems.
Asia Sound Equipment brought a bunch of Harbeth speakers, Rega turntables, and various equipment. I browsed around the show floors but couldn’t find a set-up with Harbeth speakers which was unfortunate, but there were plenty of rooms with superb systems to mend my broken heart.
The showstopper to me was the all Nagra electronics paired with Vivid Audio speakers by Perfect Hi-Fi. They sounded effortless and big. A sizeable crowd formed behind my listening position but the presentation was so captivating, I was glued to my seat.
The Vivid Audio speakers were brought in for the first time to Malaysia; previously, you had to travel to Singapore to find them. Their funky shapes also reminded me of Klein bottles, although I’m not aware whether it was on purpose or just a coincidence.
An honourable mention would be the JW Speaker Lab room. Their JWA-150 and JWA-170 standmount speakers are proudly handcrafted in Malaysia and were unveiled just yesterday on the first day of KLIAVS. The speakers were powered by a pair of Kinki Studio monoblocks and a Hifi Rose streamer. They’re also offering a bundle consisting of the JWA-150 or JWA-170 speakers, a Bluesound Powernode streamer amplifier, plus a Divini Audio SP-ES3/2 power cable for below RM9,000.
Nobody can resist the glowing blue VU metres on a McIntosh, and Audio Perfectionist definitely displayed them as prominently as they could. A full McIntosh system powered a pair of Børresen floorstanding speakers with room-filling authority – which is great considering this showroom had drawn a large crowd.
I simply cannot end this walk-through without mentioning Ruark Audio and their very chill showroom. Elsewhere, a sea of front-facing chairs were positioned perfectly to achieve the best imaging, but Ruark Audio had placed their seats in a more relaxed manner with an open space in the middle of the room.
Their speakers are aimed at the lifestyle market but still offer high-fidelity audio. A non-critical audio set-up does not demand a critical seating position so the whole vibe inside the room was invigorating.
Creative AV opted to drive their Mission and Elac speakers with a full Dartzeel set-up and I loved it. Having never heard a Dartzeel, I was wowed by their clarity. There were plenty of silver and black boxes throughout the four showroom floors, but not many hot-rod gold and red!
Some other set-ups worth mentioning were the Classé and Bowers & Wilkins set-up by The Expert Group, the Aavik and Børresen setup by Audio Perfectionist (the speakers disappeared into the ether), the WiiM streamer and Hivi Swans active speakers by TechX, and the Devialet Dione soundbar in Atlas Sound & Vision’s room that was pumping so much bass that I started to look for a subwoofer underneath the covers.
The event was amazing and the venue couldn’t have been more perfect with many large rooms to let the speakers breathe. If this is the quality of presentation for 2022, I can’t wait for KLIAVS 2023!