Amps in HK: Antique Sound Labs OTL MK III
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lojay

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I spent half a day in Shum Shui Po, Hong Kong today, and what an experience! (Especially how my shirt got stuck to my back by goey sweat under the heat and humidity)

First destination was a famous Tube Amp showroom that sells Houston and Duntonic intergrated amplifiers. Not famous for the amps itself, but rather for the hit local movie "Infernal Affairs Part 1", where in a particular scene Andy Lau (a local celeb) auditioned their systems. (I've never seen the movie, but everybody talks about it; the word "Hi-Fi" seems to link with "Infernal Affairs" in HK these days)

Suprisingly, the Duntonic 3i, which is priced around the OTL32, gives quite a sweet and tubey sound on Diana Krall's Look of Love, while giving the cannons on some-CD-like-1812 (forgot!!!) quite a lot of authority. The tubes tend to make the resonances and trailing sound of the cannons longer and giving them extra detail - which appealed to me. Anyways, I didn't stay for long, as the owner didn't seem to like me
. So if you know anything about this intergrated amp, please let me know.

I had some spare time at Ap Liu Street afterwards, so I went up to ASL's showroom to have some 'phun'.

NOW HERES WHAT YOU WANT!

Joe Lau wasn't there that day, but a very nice representative, Mr. Poon, invited me to audition the OTL32 and the OTL MK III.

According to Mr. Poon, the MKIII should be better for my Grados as they are designed for a wider range of headphones, while the OTL32 was made to be a pre amp. He told me that neither amps actually does a good job at driving the k1000, actually.

I gave the OTL32 a shot, with the A900, 225 and 497, the OTL32 plugged into a Sony XA77ES.

I switched between the Sony and the amp repeatedly, but circumstances didn't allow me to make clear judgement. I can say the most noticable thing in common between the OTL32 / MKIII and the Sony is how the Sony sounded harsh and sterile (it's NOT, just in comparison, it is) and how smooth the amp sounded. We tended to listen primarily on the Sr225's, as they sound better than the rest on the amps.

I did go_vtec's blackness test on the OTL32, which people talked about its background hiss. But since the surroundings (the ground floor was playing techno with thumping bass) were indesireable for audition, I can't hear the noise floor on the Grados, though my friend who accompanied with me did (I have insensitive ears)

The OTL MK III wasn't such a different beast. We played Dave Brub'z Time Out back and forth and back and forth, only to find differences subtle, between ampless, OTL32 and OTL MK III. Subjectively, I'll call it subtle, but I agree that this dissapointment or small difference was only because I didn't have the chance to listen carefully. Sadly, we had only 30 minutes to an hour (didn't keep track) to audition, but I didn't want Mr. Poon to get home late that night as it was getting late. I was aware that the amp's tubes weren't even warm enough! (Not to mention if the MK III was burnt in yet) DAMN!!!! Luckly Mr. Poon was kind enough to invite me for a second listen, and I could stay much longer to do the comparisons.

So I conclude that today's trip certainly didn't do the amps any justice. But I DID believe once that amps were night and day differences with unamped source, but the "wow" factor was literally zero today, and that is what both my friend and I found too sad to be true.


Side stories:

1) http://www4.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=70235

According to that post, how is it said that the OTL MKII only a cosmetical upgrade to the not-so-decent OTL MKII?

2) The salesperson advised me to replace the center tube (12AXX something) with a better one. True?

3) The OTL MKII is 3/4 and less the price of the OTL32, which makes it great. And supposingly it drives low-Z headphones like CD3K and Grados much better. Definetly recommend some head-fi'er to do a review with these babies - shoot, they're real bang-for-thy-bucks !!

4) There are two outputs in 1/4. A switch allows to to choose between OTL mode and transformer mode, which Mr. Poon said that one of them (forgot which one) bypasses the power supply on the module with the tubes stuck in. (Note that there are two power supply's / transformers)

5) My version has no ugly metal cage on it, just pure tube beauty.

I've been told, "You'll be amazed how well the xxxx sounds when you plug it in an amp!" more than once. This xxx, is the Grado 225, Sennheiser 497 and ATH A900 in todays case. Too bad I didn't have that amazement as told. Can you guy stop exagerating please?


:BS warning!: But still, I'm probably buying the MK III for its looks. Unless you guys think that my source, the E-MU 1212m sucks too much to match the MK III aaiiight.


PS: The rep told me I was free to come at 2 PM next time (I came at nearly 7
), bringing my fav. CD's. So until then I'll give you some real impressions...Peace!
 
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gunfire

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Hello lojay, it is nice to meet HK headphone player here. Recently I want to get a 1212M as my new source, can you show me where can get it in HK? Thank you for your kindness
 
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lojay

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I'm asking Permonic to jointly organize a headphone meet soon. Hopefully we'll have the R-10 too~ I'll bring my E-MU then, with Blacksilver IC's, ATH a900's, Grado SR 225's, and hopefully a RS-1 or CD3000 ^0^. Around mid-early July.

I've got mine's from eBay (auctioned for a used one), so I guess you'll have better luck asking the other guys here to ship their $165 ones to you (see recent threads
I'ev asked Creative HK, and they said the E-MU would be selling widely in HK after September (I think first in actualmusic.com.hk and Tom Lee) But I still think that the fellow head-fi guys can ship it much cheaper to you from US. Shipping's around $10 priority air mail, $5 insurance. Or you can try your luck at eBay like I did~
 
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lojay

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bumpidy bump~
 
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augustwest

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A friend of mine in Seattle just received his brand new ASL OTL MKIII this Monday, via Fed-X. He called me to say he was extremely impressed, with the value for the money. He is using his Sennheiser hd 600 & 650 primarily, but has also given it some limited use with his Grado RS1s'. . . . I think he now ready to try some tuberolling.

His other point of reference, amp-wise, is the solid state Grace 901.

- augustwest
 
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tiberian

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lojay: i will bring my etys, cd3k, apogee dac, ray samuels xp-7 and headphile XRS if you guys are going to met around july...i am in HK at that time.
 
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TN98

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lojay, I'm going to Hongkong next two weeks. Please recommend me some shop (have some good tubes headphone amp) address that I should visit.
 
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lojay

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OK, I'll mark down all your contacts, and open a new thread in the meet disscussion forum later tomorrow. Got something to do right now, I'll find Permonic asap anyways! TN98, go to ASL's showroom at Shum Shui Po, I think I've given you the address thru PM before. As for all-tube shops, go to Tak Fat Basement Mall, which is right next to the infamous "Women Street" or "Lui Yan Street" in Mong Kok, infamous for its fake watches and other cheap fake goods. Tak Fat has a few tube dedicated shops.

Augustwest, is your friend a head-fi'er? May I ask him for detailed impressions? The OTL MK III is not so common here (since its so new), but it does has great potential to surpass the OTL32, so that's why I started this thread. Thanks!
 
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augustwest

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Lojay -

My friend is not at this point a "headfi-er", in fact he doesn't even own a computer, nor does he know how to use one. Which is unfortunate since he has an outstanding collection of hi-fi gear, and I would guess, one of the largest collections of classic recordings in Seattle. Although I have been, via "phone and print-outs", keeping him abreast of some of the postings here at "headfi". I have floated the idea of him writing a review, comparing the "solid state" Grace, and the "tube" OTL MKIII. Telling him that I would gladly transcribe his review, and post it for him, but so far he is not convinced.

- augustwest
 
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chiefroastbeef

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hey! i'm in HK right now too, just got back from ho chi minh city(now i feel back for the Nam soldiers fighting in jungles

what are some good places to look for amps in HK(not that i'd buy one, but pretty bored) i know Mong kok has a building that speciallizes in electronics, where is that place you talk of in some shui po?

currently i brought my sr 225, ety er4p, and larocco pr with me



yea... i'm been getting major swampass in hong kong(where your buttcrack flows like the nile river) friggin disgusting
 
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lojay

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Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now! are two of my fav. movies. Also "Me So Horny" from 2 Live Crew, which features this Viet hooker voice-over / sample is my fav. rap song.
LOL Lotsa sweating's usual, you're just paying tribute to the HK audio gods physicaly you see~


Shum Shui Po is a station on the MTR (our subway system). The amps I've mentioned can be found on a street right next to the exit, just ask for "Ap Liu Street" and any person in HK can give you exact directions. Just look for a very old looking and narrow building enterance that says "ASL" and you're there! But its much more difficult to roam on your own than in Mong Kok, even I, a local, found difficulty to find good headphone / amp showrooms in Shum Shui Po, whereas Mong Kok has quite a few malls or even entire 10 story buildings dedicated to Hifi.

Be sure to check our headphone meet (preliminary) in HK if you are staying long enough! We can bring you to more audio / tubie places then you'll imagine!
http://www4.head-fi.org/forums/showt...954#post856954
 
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