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Gadgets & Home Improvement

$20,000 for audio bliss

Audio buff Clement Teo tells ALFRED SIEW his high-end hi-fi set offers the feeling of being in an actual performance
The Straits Times - September 21, 2011
By: Alfred Siew
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$20,000 for audio bliss -- PHOTO: JULIAN TAY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Whenever he fires up his hi-fi system in his living room, audio buff Clement Teo feels like he is at a live performance, as if he is sitting right in front of his favourite musicians, savouring the sweet melodies they are playing.

He had his first taste of audio bliss back in his secondary school days when he listened to a friend's hi-fi set. Mr Teo was instantly hooked and has never looked back.

He has spent a small fortune building and upgrading his home hi-fi system over the years. His current audiophile set-up alone costs about $20,000. It consists of a powerful amplifier and pre-amplifier made by Plinius Audio from New Zealand, a CD player by Ayre and a pair of floor-standing speakers from Totem - high-end brands most ordinary Singaporeans would not have heard of.

But the magical moments he gets from his sound system is worth every cent spent, said the communications head of a tech firm who is in his early 40s.

'The wizardry is in the naturalness of the setting, hearing each and every little detail of the song as if I was actually there at the concert hall," said the father of two primary-school children.

When he got his first pay cheque in the mid-1990s, a hi-fi system was top on his shopping list.

First came a popular set-up of the time - a pair of bookshelf speakers made by Britain's Mission that were driven by an integrated amplifier from Roksan, of the same country.

Like most audiophiles, he was not happy for long. He soon dabbled with a home theatre system, adding surround speakers to the mix as well as a subwoofer to produce the low hums and sound effects from movies.

More recently, he did an about turn and decided to stick to a simpler, stereo set-up and sold off the rest of the home theatre gear. Out went the surround speakers and the subwoofer, so music - not movies - have become the main focus now.

'It was taking up too much space anyway and there were too many cables,' said Mr Teo, who enjoys jazz, rock and metal.

At night, he turns to his Sennheiser RS180 headphones to enjoy his movies, games and songs without disturbing the rest of the family.

Mr Teo has other gadgets including the Apple iPod, iPhone, iPad, iMac, Mac Powerbook, Canon DSLR camera, and a Panasonic Lumix compact camera with Leica lens.

For the kids, he gave them a Nintendo 3DS and a Sony PlayStation Portable game console. They also love the iPad.

Besides using the tablet as an e-book reader and to surf the Web, the musician, who also plays in his own band, takes the tablet to his performances.

'It's really handy for music gigs, because you don't have to carry folders full of printed song sheets any more.'

Alfred Siew is a freelance writer

This is the third of a four-part series on people who are passionate about their gadgets.



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